About 4,500 women from Jharkhand's villages have changed the banking scenario in the state. These women, working as 'Banking Correspondent Sakhi' (BC Sakhi), are making transactions worth Rs 120 crore every month and with their efforts the banking services are reaching the doorsteps of people even in the remote villages.
Now the elderly do not have to stand in long queues after travelling 10-20 km for pension. Be it the farmers, who save money by working in the fields, or the students, who get benefits of government scholarships, everyone is getting banking services at home. The people of the villages know the women as 'Bank wali Didiya'.
These women are associated with self-help groups -- 'Sakhi Mandals', which have been formed under the Centre's National Rural Livelihood Mission. In Jharkhand, the mission is being run through Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS).
According to JSLPS CEO Nancy Sahai, as many as 4,619 women are working as 'BC Sakhi' across the state. The government aims to have one BC Sakhi in every panchayat.
Currently, every month these banking correspondents do around 2.75 lakh transactions.
During the first and second wave of coronavirus, the popularity of these banking correspondents increased significantly in the state.
Adhering to the Covid protocol, the banks were functioning in a limited manner and it was these 'Didis' who performed the day-to-day banking tasks such as dispersing pension and scholarship in the rural areas, deposit-withdrawal in bank accounts and Aadhaar updation among others.
They are like mobile banks in themselves.
Snehlata Jojo of Raikera panchayat under the Bano block of Simdega is also a BC Sakhi. Wearing slippers, carrying a plastic bag in hand and a laptop bag on her shoulder, about 30-year old Snehlata walks eight to 10 km on foot every day in her gram panchayat to provide the banking facilities at doorsteps.
As per the NITI Aayog, Pakur in Jharkhand is one of the most backward districts of the country. Shaista Parveen, a resident of the Littipada block of the same district, is also a banking correspondent. She does transactions worth over Rs one crore every month. Similarly, the monthly transaction of Gumla's Nisha Devi is Rs 1.08 crore.
In lieu of providing banking services, they get a certain percentage of commission on every transaction.
Anita Kumari, a resident of the Sikid village of Ormanjhi block of Ranchi district, joined the Sakhi Mandal in 2019, when she came to know about the works of banking correspondents.
Anita bought a laptop and an e-posh machine by taking a loan of Rs 50,000 from the Sakhi Mandal. Now, as a banking correspondent, she herself earns Rs 8,000 to 10,000 every month by providing banking services to people at their doorstep. She has also insured 300 people.
Sonia Kansari of the Karra block of militancy-affected Khunti district says that she easily performs responsibilities like deposit-withdrawal, linking Aadhaar with bank accounts, filling insurance policy, payment of pension, etc.
She says, "I am happy that I have also connected those villagers with banking services, who do not want to go to the banks due to problems in reading and writing."