India now claims to offer banking services to almost 100% of population

With over a 100 million new bank accounts opened in the five months since the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, India now claims to be a "nearly 100 per cent banked country", with universal access to financial services to all its citizens.

Since the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana five months ago, over 100 million people have opened bank accounts, Mayank Joshi, a first secretary in India's UN mission, told the Commission for Social Development on Thursday.

"These figures are, frankly, staggering," he said. "India is today a nearly 100 per cent banked country. This, we expect, will enable demand, growth and development."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, however, told the meeting that the level of development must be based on quality and not just quantity.

"We are the first generation that can wipe out extreme poverty," he said. "We are the last generation that can address the worst impact of climate change. Let us reaffirm our commitment to promoting social development and social justice and building a better, more sustainable world for all."

Besides, Joshi said, the government has undertaken several other programmes in the areas of housing and shelter, health insurance, employment generation, and family planning.

He quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's declaration, "Elimination of poverty is fundamental to me; this is at the core of my understanding of cohesive growth," to express the government's resolve to reach the fruits of development to all its citizens.

Joshi also highlighted the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme and the Aadhar programme – the "the world's largest" cash-for-work programme and the world's largest citizens' identity system linked to government services.

He said that while " 'social integration' is critical" it should "not be construed as achieving uniformity," adding, "It needs to respect diversity and promote equal opportunity and participation of all in order to create a 'society for all'. Both targeted and universal approaches in national policies, are key to social development of vulnerable sections particularly, women, children, elder persons and persons with disabilities."

Joshi also spoke of the Modi government's sustainable development strategies that include a transition to a green economy and use of new technology.