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Dainik Bhaskar’s Financial Inclusion Conclave focuses on ‘reaching the unreached’

The initiative was supported by leading stakeholders in the financial sector and LIC was the title sponsor of the Conclave

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | August 31, 2012

The ‘Dainik Bhaskar Financial Inclusion Conclave’, focusing on a national priority, was held on August 29, 2012 in New Delhi. Dr C Rangarajan, Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, was the Chief Guest for the inaugural session, and Sachin Pilot, Minister of State, Ministry of Communications & IT, was the Chief Guest for the valedictory session.

The event was a success with top-level representation and participation from various stakeholders. Twenty-four experts brainstormed over five sessions. The initiative was supported by leading stakeholders in the financial sector and LIC was the title sponsor of the conclave. NCDEX was the partner exchange and India Core was the knowledge partner.

Commenting on the initiative, Jaideep Dhagat, Senior General Manager and Business Head, National Government Vertical, Dainik Bhaskar Group, said, “There are various institutions, governmental and non-governmental departments working to achieve the goal of making formal banking and financial services available to every Indian. The Dainik Bhaskar Group, being the largest spread newspaper group in India, understands the importance of this major initiative in nation building and decided to create a platform to bring together the various stakeholders, policy makers, financial institutions, banking and non-banking organisations, IT and technology providers, NGOs and social activists to find ways and means of strengthening the country`s financial inclusion process and achieve the dream of ‘reaching out to the unreached’. The Financial Inclusion Conclave is a new addition to the series of events conceptualised by the National Government Vertical.”

In his welcome address, Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, Chairman, Dainik Bhaskar Group, emphasised the need to bridge the gap between the urban and rural areas and to reach out to the rural masses in their vernacular language.

Dr C Rangarajan

Dr C Rangarajan appreciated the role of microfinance institutions in providing doorstep delivery of credit. He said in his inaugural address, “MFIs must modify their business models and become responsible lenders. A network of strong microfinance institutions can play significant role in achieving financial inclusion. He also emphasised the need for a strong regulatory framework which prescribes a reasonable limit on interest rates and conformity of certain standards in terms of provision of credit. He made a case for introduction of new products and simplified procedures by banks to meet the needs of customers in rural areas. He also highlighted the important role technology has to play in the task of making banking services available to everyone.”

In his keynote address, V Sathyakumar, Executive Director (Micro Insurance), LIC, focused on financial inclusion through micro insurance. MK Ananda Kumar, Chief Corporate Services, NCDEX, in his theme presentation, pointed out the need for empowering Indian farmers to pave the way for their financial inclusion.

In Session 1, there was a panel discussion on broad basing Financial Inclusion for inclusive growth. Rohit Saran, Consulting Editor, Dainik Bhaskar moderated the discussion which focused on issues like policy & regulatory framework - need of policy activism or a calibrated approach, role of banks & insurance firms in broadbasing financial inclusion, how can banks & insurance firms create financial inclusion as profitable business, the big opportunity at the bottom of the pyramid: can banking, insurance and non-banking sector build a new business model. The panelist included Sonali Sen Gupta, General Manager- Rural Planning and Credit Department (RPCD), RBI; Sunil Pant, Chief General Manager, SBI; Alok Prasad, CEO, Micro Finance Institution Network (MFIN); Arindom Datta, Senior Director and Head - Rural & Development Banking/ Advisory, Rabo India Finance and T N Jha, Divisional Manager (P&GS), LIC of India

Session 2 deliberated at length on the critical issue of creating rural entrepreneurship and business opportunities. Dr Usha Gopinath, Director - Client Education Programs - India, Accion moderated the session. The panelists included Dr Raj S. Dhankar, Dean and Professor of Finance, Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), University of Delhi; Ashoka Chatterjee, Head Institutional Finance, Bandhan; L V Saptarishi, IAS (Retd.), Co-Chairman of Confederation of NGOs of Rural India (CNRI); Sunil Kumar, SBM (P&GS), LIC of India and Sandeep Nath, Head – Empowerment, BASIX. The panelist dwelled on topics covering social development and economic growth - two sides of a coin; challenges and innovating for inclusive growth - key focus areas & interventions; micro products - mega opportunities; how can micro-enterprises be created and funded; setting up of rural self-employment training institutes; role of micro finance - rebuilding a stronger microfinance sector; role of micro insurance & pension in financial inclusion and how can NGOs/ SHGs help in distribution/selling of banking, insurance, healthcare, micro housing loans and other micro products.

Sachin Pilot

Session 3 dwelled on the role of ICT and alternate payment methods to drive inclusive growth and financial literacy for investor protection & service delivery. The session was chaired and moderated by Rajesh Bansal, Asst Director General, UIDAI, Planning Commission. The panelists focused on issues including fast tracking technology adoption to drive financial inclusion; Aadhaar based financial inclusion; will technology curb leakages, lead to higher rural demand and help in mobilising low-cost deposits?; increasing broadband and mobile penetration to reduce cost of transactions; role of digital money; incentivising mobility & electronic money transfers; pre-paid way to financial inclusion; imparting knowledge of money; setting up of financial literacy & credit counselling centres (FLCCC). The expert panelists in this session were Ambarish Datta, MD & CEO, BSE Institute; Ajay Ranjan Mishra, Global Head of Industry Environment-India & Emerging Markets, Nokia Siemens Networks; Abhishek Sinha, Co-Founder, Eko India Financial Services; Anurag Gupta, Founder & CEO, A Little World and CEO, ZERO-Mass Foundation; Vijay Pratap Singh Aditya, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ekgaon and Shekher Srivastava, Vice President Marketing, ItzCash Card. The panelists were unanimous that digital money and mobile banking will be able to reduce the cost of transactions.

Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and IT, in his valedictory address, spoke very passionately about the need to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots. He mentioned that our generation will be judged by the opportunities we create for today’s youth. He felt that ICT will be the enabler to strengthen the wider agenda of financial inclusion. He highlighted the unique initiative approved by the government to extend broadband and communication network to every panchayat in India. He mentioned that the postal department with its huge branch network is upgrading its infrastructure to start offering banking services in the interior and rural parts of India.

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