Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched his government's mega scheme 'Jan Dhan Yojana', declaring that it was aimed at eradicating financial untouchability by providing bank accounts to the poor.
On the inaugural day, a record 1.5 crore bank accounts were opened across the country, the largest such exercise on a single day possibly anywhere in the world.
Later the account holders will be provided an overdraft facility of up to Rs 5,000.
"If Mahatma Gandhi worked to remove social untouchability, if we want to get rid of poverty, then we have to first get rid of financial untouchability. We have to connect every person with the financial system. And for that this programme has been given impetus," he said, adding, "when a bank account is opened, it's a step towards joining economic mainstream."
Modi recalled the bank nationalisation of 1969 with the avowed objective of spreading the reach of financial system to the doorsteps of poor. "But I regret to say that after 68 years of independence, not even 68 per cent of population is covered by the banking system," he said.
The scheme was simultaneously launched at multiple places by 20 Chief Ministers, several Union Ministers, including Information Minister Prakash Javadekar at Pune, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at Chennai, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at Bhopal, Home Minister Rajnath Singh at Lucknow and HRD Minister Smriti Irani at Surat.
There were in all 600 programmes and 77,852 camps were organised on the opening day to open bank accounts.