The Telegraph
Friday , February 10 , 2012
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RBI reaches out to Naga hamlet

Changki village (Nagaland), Feb. 9: On a quiet winter morning on Wednesday, bosses of the country’s banking sector descended on the sleepy village of Changki, about 30km from the Assam-Nagaland border, to highlight the importance of financial literacy at the grassroots.

“Changki has never witnessed such a huge gathering of dignitaries, that, too, from the banking sector. We are privileged. I hope Changki will be connected to the financial world from today,” village council chairman Rongsen Changkiri said.

With a population of about 400 people with only about 60 families below the poverty line, this Nagaland village was chosen by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to hold its financial outreach camp yesterday.

Despite a literacy rate of more than 80 per cent and 97 per cent of the population being engaged in agriculture, the village lacks connection with the financial world — the nearest bank is about 40km away — and only a handful of villagers has a bank account.

RBI executive director V.S. Das flew all the way from Mumbai to take part in the event.

“We have a vision from Changki and we have chosen this picturesque village as a model village for financial security of its residents,” Das said while addressing the gathering at the community hall.

He said the apex bank had embarked on organising such outreach camps in villages throughout the country after its platinum jubilee celebration in 2009-10 to create awareness about banking facilities, and to try and make such facilities available to every adult citizen in the targeted areas.

The Changki camp was the third such programme in the state, after Khonoma in 2009 and Chumukedima in 2011.

Giving a strong message to all nationalised banks in the country to offer better bank services to customers, Das urged all banks to provide better services by going to the customers’ doorsteps.

He also laid stress on the need to provide quality facilities and identification of priority areas to accelerate the tempo of economic development in the country.

Allahabad Bank general manger M.M. Misra announced that the bank had decided to open a branch in the village very soon. “We have already conducted a survey and the village chief has provided us with a plot of land to set up the bank. The process will start very soon.”

Allahabad Bank, along with HDFC, Axis, Bank of Baroda, UCO, Nabard, NEDFi, Nagaland Co-operative Bank and Nagaland Rural Bank, set up stalls during the daylong event, where villagers were made aware about the various benefits they could receive from the banking sector. Other government departments, including agriculture, also set up stalls at the venue.

Villagers of Changki and neighbouring village under Mangkolemba sub-division attended the one-day camp.

Axis and HDFC bank did brisk business during the day, with several villagers opening bank accounts. These banks have branches at the headquarters town of Mokokchung. “Our agents will visit this village frequently,” a HDFC bank employee said.

RBI regional director, Guwahati, Surekha Marandi, top officials of nationalised banks of the region, Mokokchung deputy commissioner Lithrongla G. Chishi and other officials from the state government were also present during the event.

Such was the enthusiasm at Changki yesterday that the entire village welcomed the guests and organised a public feast.

The villagers also took the opportunity to serve the guests with an exotic lunch that included barbequed pork and roasted fish cooked in ethnic style and served it under a soothing afternoon sun on a rooftop.

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