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Financial Inclusion in India: A case-study of West Bengal

Chattopadhyay, Sadhan Kumar (2011): Financial Inclusion in India: A case-study of West Bengal. Published in: Reserve Bank of India Working Paper , Vol. July 2, No. WPS(DEPR): 8/2011

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The study observes that although there has been an improvement in outreach activity in the banking sector, the achievement in respect of financial inclusion is not significant in West Bengal. An index of financial inclusion (IFI) has been developed in the study using data on three dimensions of financial inclusion. It is revealed from the index that Kolkata district leads with the highest value of IFI, while rest of the districts show a very low level of financial inclusion. This implies that the State has to go a long way in achieving financial inclusion. Apart from this computation, a survey has also been conducted in the state in order to gauge the financial inclusion in rural Bengal and the results reveal that around 38 per cent of the respondents do not have sufficient income to open a savings account in the bank. It is also revealed that moneylenders are still a dominant source of rural finance despite wide presence of banks in rural areas. It is also observed that although various measures have been undertaken for financial inclusion in the State, the success is not found to be significant. However, only supply side factor is not responsible for the financial exclusion. Demand side factors are also equally responsible for this exclusion. Thus there is a need to solve both these problems with the help of appropriate policies. A whole-hearted effort is called for from all the corners of the society, viz., bankers, beneficiaries and regulators in order to make financial inclusion more meaningful and effective.

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