It is for the first time that a government has been pro-active towards the SC and ST entrepreneurs by providing financial schemes that do not make collateral mandatory. This is a move in the right direction, says Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), about the government's Stand Up India Initiative for Dalits, women and tribals.
The initiative, launched on Tuesday, is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and women, by facilitating loans in the range of Rs 10-100 lakh. Each branch of a scheduled commercial bank shall facilitate at least two such loans. Launching the scheme, prime minister Narendra Modi flagged off 5,100 e-rickshaws in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Pointing out that the initiative will encourage youth towards entrepreneurship, Milind Kamble, Chairman and Founder, DICCI, said financial inclusion or economic empowerment in a society enables youth to have dreams and make it a reality.
With elections in a few states in the country, the decision to favour the marginalised community at this juncture smacks of vote bank politics. But Kamble says it is foolish to expect any government to be altruistic, adding that any party in power will try and further its reach and cause. “But that is not my concern,” says Kamble. “This is the 125th year of Dr Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. I am glad that for the first time since India’s independence that we have an initiative for marginalised communities that does not ask for any collateral.”
Kamble was part of the PM’s committee to suggest different programmes and activities to be undertaken by various ministries and departments and states and Union Territories to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr B. R. Ambedkar.
“We made a few suggestions to the PM in August last year and they have been taken up in the Stand Up India inititiative. If the government thinks in terms of politics, what is wrong? Hasn’t Adam Smith said that a farmer does not grow rice to feed the hungry but for his own personal growth? So I don’t see anything wrong in the announcement,” Kamble said.
What is now needed, says Jayanta Sinha, former Head of Rural Business at State Bank of India, is the willingness of branch managers to get out on the ground and help the communities for whom the scheme has been initiated.
“The disadvantaged community is unawares of such schemes, especially if they are not educated or lack opportunities to education. Banks in the rural areas must step out and create an awareness about the initiative.”
Kamble is happy that the scheme is not about just giving loans to the needy. “Bank managers will have to mentor, train and connect the debtor to the market. Since the banks have business accounts, managers will be able to facilitate connectivity between businesses and those who take loans.”