Bridging the Rural Divide: How Technology & Swamitva Scheme Propel Financial Inclusion

Keshav Hingonia

Keshav Hingonia, Special Secretary (Revenue), Government of Punjab, recently shared his insights at 4th Elets BFSI Gamechanger Summit, which took place from 9-11th June 2023, in Goa. He focused on the role of technology in financial inclusion at the summit.

One of the key initiatives Hingonia discussed was the Swamitva scheme, a project launched by the Prime Minister of India. The scheme aims to create land records for rural areas from scratch using drone-based survey technology. Historically, there were no land records for rural areas, a legacy from the British era when the focus was on collecting land revenue. The Swamitva scheme is a significant step towards financial inclusion as it makes land assets ‘bankable’.

Before the scheme, rural landowners without formal land papers could not access credit or monetize their land. Now, with the creation of land records, landowners can sell or mortgage their land, making it a viable asset for securing credit. The scheme also benefits the government by generating revenue through stamp duty.

Hingonia also touched upon the challenges of financial inclusion in rural areas. While the government has made significant strides by opening 40 crore accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme, Hingonia believes that financial inclusion is more than just having a bank account. It should also provide access to insurance, credit, and investment opportunities.

The shift towards a cashless economy, facilitated by Jan Dhan accounts, Aadhaarenabled payments, and mobile banking, is a significant step towards financial inclusion. However, Hingonia pointed out that the transition to digital payments presents its own set of challenges. For instance, the lack of banking infrastructure in rural areas and the uneconomical nature of opening bank branches in areas with low business potential are significant hurdles.

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