Banking: The urban bias

Despite all talks of inclusive banking of the last decade, figures available from the Reserve Bank of India suggest the opposite trend. Banking continues to be the prerogative of urban and semi-urban elite.

While the urban elite enjoy the benefits of internet banking, phone banking and mobile banking, the poorer country cousins are still deprived of bare minimum banking facilities.

While banks have been expanding their reach, the focus continues to be on well banked urban metros and semi-urban pockets; often at the cost of rural India. The number of rural bank offices has fallen from 37.93 per cent as on September 2010 to 37.71 per cent in December 2010, further to 37.39 per cent in March 2011, 37.17 per cent in June 2011 and 37.05 per cent in September 2011.

The fall may not have been marked and dramatic. But it seems to be a persistent and inexorable fall. Figures available from earlier Economic Surveys reinforce the case. As on June 2003, the number of rural office of all scheduled commercial banks was as high as 48.4 per cent. By June 2006, when the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, had introduced the idea of financial inclusion, the percentage of rural bank offices had already fallen to 46.8.

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Source: Business Line

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