It would not be far-fetched to say that the change has come because of the well-thought-of policies of Modi government to have financial inclusion of women. Moreover, this is one of the biggest reasons why women, irrespective of caste, religion or status, should vote for this government to come to power once again
As the whole of Bharat discusses the achievements of the present government right before the elections, there are those who have made up their minds to vote for Modi and of course, there are people many who would not vote for the BJP, irrespective of the news reportage. In the din of the debates, the women of the country are also making up their minds on whom to vote for, notwithstanding what the men say. As a woman voter of Bharat, my vote categorically goes to Modi because for the first time in independent Bharat we have a government which directly and indirectly has helped us women find a voice in financial matters. Let us discover how.
Jan Dhan Accounts
There was a time in Bharat when the woman of the house would manage the finances of the house. In fact, the lady with the keys of the Almirah was the most powerful woman in joint families. Even when the joint family system broke down, and we started having nuclear families, it was the woman of the house who managed the finances, the purchases to be made, the holidays, the jewellery purchases and more. However, this changed when salaries were credited directly to bank accounts of the working men. This resulted in only men having bank accounts, insurance policies and savings in their name alone. The wife became just a nominee and she started getting only a portion of the income for household expenses.
Bharatiya Women are being empowered through several schemes dedicated to women by the Modi Govt.
When the Modi Government insisted on Jan Dhan accounts being linked to Aadhar and to receive subsidies, many women for the first time had a bank account in their names. This may seem inconsequential to the elite and city dwellers, but any underprivileged or rural women would narrate the kind of Independence that this single move has brought for them. For the first time, women can access their own bank accounts, for the first time they can take decisions for remitting money to their near and dear ones and are also able to save without using the chit-funds which usually cheated them. This has lead to financial inclusion and financial empowerment for millions of women who earlier were kept out of the banking system for various reasons.
- When the Modi Government insisted on Jan Dhan accounts being linked to Aadhar and to receive subsidies, many women for the first time had a bank account in their names. This may seem inconsequential to the elite and city dwellers, but any underprivileged or rural women would narrate the kind of Independence that this single move has brought for them
- The Solar Charkha Mission supports Khadi production by offering a total of 5 crore employment opportunities exclusively to women. An investment of Rs 40,000 crores in every Lok Sabha constituency has been proposed and 1 lakh women will be employed in every parliament constituency through the Social Security Scheme
- An increase in income, opportunities to earn from various sources, being able to manage such income and savings, all bring about better lifestyle changes. Educating children, caring for their health, encouraging them to explore the world, all automatically follow better financial planning
Mudra Yojna and Government eMarketplace (GeM)
Imagine you being a resident of a village or a town, having a lot of creative and entrepreneurial spirit but no avenue to mass produce your creativity! This is only because of the lack of collateral you can pledge for a loan to start a business, or because you do not know how to access far off markets. Well, the Modi Government decided to wave a wand and grant the wishes of millions of such creative and entrepreneurial women in small towns, villages and even cities. The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA (Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd.) Yojana provides financial assistance to the small and micro enterprises for their activities in the non-farm and non-corporate sector, whose credit needs fall below ₹10 Lakh. Under this scheme, there are three stages which mark the funding needs and growth of the beneficiary organisation or person in question. These are:
Shishu: This covers loans less than "50,000
Kishore: This covers loans more than "50,000 and less than "5,00,000
Tarun: This covers loans more than "5,00,000 and less than "10,00,000
Eligible business segments under this scheme include food-service units, fruits/vegetable vendors, service sector units, truck operators, machine operators, food processors, repair shops, small industries, and much more. And to further help these people, PM Modi, based on recommendations of the Group of Secretaries, decided to set up a dedicated eMarket for different goods & services procured by Government Organisations / Departments / PSUs. This meant transforming DGS&D (Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals) to a digital eCommerce portal (GeM) for procurement and selling of goods and services. This, in effect, meant that people who produce could sell directly without an agent. Consequently, many women led self-help groups have taken advantage of both these schemes and today are earning their own income and leading a better life. As of today, ₹22,708 crores worth of transactions has been made through GeM.
Solar Charkha Mission
Honourable President Ram Nath Kovind launched Solar Charkha Mission on June 27, 2018. The scheme supports Khadi production by offering a total of 5 crore employment opportunities exclusively to women. One lakh women will be employed in every parliament constituency through the Social Security Scheme. The Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) will cover the 50 identified clusters across the country including in the Northeast. People who start the solar-powered cloth production unit can sell their products to the Central Government and to the State Government through the Khadi Commission (eg. bed sheets, pillow covers, towels, duster cloths and also garments). The businessmen have an additional choice where they can sign contracts directly with the companies and supply it to them. The aim is to increase sales of Khadi from Rs 26, 000 crores to Rs. 1 lakh crores.
The Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana
This scheme was launched by the Government of India on January 22, 2015. This scheme is also a part of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. It encourages parents with girl child to set up a fund for them which will take care of their marriages and future educations expenses. This savings scheme provided tax benefits and an interest rate of 8.5% from October 2017 to December 2017. The account can be opened at any commercial bank’s branch or an India Post office.
An increase in income, opportunities to earn income from various sources, being able to manage such income and savings, all bring about better lifestyle changes. Educating children, caring for their health, encouraging them to explore the world, all automatically follows better financial planning. For so many years, we kept learning about how deemed employment or hidden unemployment meant that rural folks never had a chance of earning enough to live a life above the poverty line. But because of the above schemes, women have been able to add to their family income, even while working from home. It is well known that when women earn, future generations benefit the most.
Thanks to the robust economic reforms by the Modi Government, about 44 Indians come out of extreme poverty every minute and is one of the fastest rates of poverty reduction in the world (report by Brookings Institutions). Renowned economist Surjit Bhalla in an article says that actually about 100 Indians come out of extreme poverty every minute and he explains it in a chart (Graph 1). He further writes that India is vaulting towards becoming Middle-class.
It would not be far-fetched to say that the change has come because of the well-thought-of policies of Modi government to have financial inclusion of women. Moreover, this is one of the biggest reasons why women, irrespective of caste, religion or status, should vote for this government to come to power once again. Doles by any Government is NOT ENOUGH. Upliftment of people is genuinely possible only when people better their living conditions due to their effort and with confidence and self-respect. We need this rate of reforms and this process of transformation to continue, so that ‘Garibi Hatao’ is not just a slogan, but a reality. The future generations of our country, especially women, deserve this.
(The writer is Mumbai-based columnist)