This Christmas, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had not only donned the Santa cap but was also seen playing the smart moves like a master chess player, only to checkmate the Opposition, especially BJP that gave a run for money to the party in 2017 rural polls.
The worth-watching move made by CM Patnaik had been the announcement to engage women SHG members as Banking Correspondents - Sakhis- in unbanked panchayats in the State.
Political observers term it a smart move as CM Patnaik made the announcement on December 23, within 24 hours after PM Modi's much-publicised meeting with 'Bank Sakhis' at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh.
In order to increase the outreach of banking services in unbanked areas, the Reserve Bank of India in 2006, acting on the recommendation of the Committee on Financial Inclusion headed by former RBI governor C Rangarajan, had introduced the BC or Business Correspondent model of banking.
Moreover, when the much-touted PM Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) was launched by PM Narendra Modi in 2014, the scheme's one of the biggest policy intervention had been the mapping of the 6 lakh villages in the country during the period of 2015-18, in order to make one fixed point banking outlet catering to 1000-1500 households.
Terming it as one Sub-Service Area (SSA), the scheme had proposed to cover all such SSAs by at least one such fixed banking outlet - from bank branches to business/banking correspondents.
Unbanked Panchayats In Odisha
As per the data available with State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC), Odisha, the State has over 4,920 unbanked panchayats, when the total panchayats in Odisha stood at a whopping 6,794. Going by the data, a massive 73 percent of panchayats in the State are unbanked.
Though in every SLBC meeting, successive Finance Ministers from the State had put the onus on the public sector banks to increase the banking outreach, for 5-long years the Naveen Patnaik -led BJD government didn't broach over the idea of engaging women SHG members as banking correspondents or bank Sakhis to provide banking services in a large swathe of gram panchayats in the State.
Is CM Yogi The Trigger Factor?
Even though the scheme of bank Sakhis had been framed by the Yogi Adityanath government in May 2020, it seems CM Naveen Patnaik had not given a thought to the scheme until PM Modi's meet with UP Bank Sakhis held at Prayagraj on December 22 was aired in a big way.
The Impact: On December 23, while laying the foundation stone of Mission Shakti Baazar, a dedicated market to sell SHG products, CM Naveen Patnaik had made this big announcement of engaging women SHG members as 'Bank Sakhis' in the unbanked panchayats in the State.
How PM Modi Is Trigger Factor?
Here is the main argument: On Sept 2, 2016, a year before the 2017 rural polls, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had proposed to the then Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India Arvind Subramanian at the State Secretariat to open bank branches in the gram panchayats not having the facility.
The Key Takeaway, therefore, is Odisha government had not touched upon this idea, though the model was in place since 2006, more so even after the conspicuous launch of PMJDY in 2015. Even, the State gave it a miss in 2020, when the UP government launched the Bank Sakhi scheme.
But the airing of Modi meet with UP BCs sparked the idea of 'Bank Sakhis', and CM Patnaik announced so the very next day.
What Is Yogi's Bank Sakhi Scheme?
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath started this special employment scheme for women on May 22, 2020, with the main objective to tackle Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread as people will not have to queue up in lines at the bank and can stay at home during the lockdown.
Besides, the scheme was tailored to give rural women employment opportunities. The UP govt then had decided to recruit women as BC Sakhis to work in rural areas. All the appointed BC Sakhis will get Rs. 4000 per month plus commission on every transaction they make.
The BC Sakhi Yojana was launched in 640 gram panchayats (out of total 682 GPs) in UP. Through this BC Sakhi Scheme, Yogi govt intends to make rural women self-reliant (atmanirbhar).
Naveen As Santa
Like in 2016, 2021 too saw the CM on dole out mood. The years prior to the rural polls usually witness raining of sops for the panchayats in Odisha. Take a look at the trend.
- On June 1, 2016, the State government declared creation of 500 more panchayats.
- The idea was to secure the votes of the new panchayats, as the government had brought them into existence.
- On June 17, 2016, The State Government revised the honorarium and sitting fees of elected representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI).
- On July 27, 2016, Odisha Government hiked the salary of teachers and employees of Government aided privately managed ( 3,701) schools by 25 per cent.
- On July 28, 2016, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at a State level seminar of Cooperative Department handed over appointment letters to 100 Assistant Managers in District Central Cooperative Banks.
- On Aug 4, 2016, State government declared to upgrade the quality of education, facilities and infrastructure in 100 state-run schools so as to get the National Accreditation Board on Education and Teaching (NABET) certification
- On Aug 8, 2016, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced a new scheme envisaging financial assistance to senior handloom weavers.
- On Aug 12, 2016, Odisha govt announced distributing free mobile phones to women farmers.
Taking a leaf from PM Modi's Mann Ki Baat radio programme, the Odisha government on Aug 31, 2016 launched a 10-minute radio programme called 'Apananka Paeen', where Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will connect with the rural mass. The programme was then termed as "Biju Gaon Radio Programme."
The State government's programme is seemingly not in the currency now, though the 'Mann Ki Baat' continues till date.
- On Sept 3, 2016, CM Naveen Patnaik, launched 'Biju Kanya Ratna Yojana' and inaugurated 1,000 newly constructed Anganwadi Centres.
- The objective behind is boost to Angaanwadi centres will create more opportunities for female anganwadi workers in rural areas, and more women votes.
- On Sept 9, 2016, CM Patnaik launched pension scheme for construction workers in the State.
- On Sept 21, 2016, Odisha Government reduced the stamp duty by one per cent on purchase of land and houses in names of women or gift deeds of immovable property.
- On Oct 28, 2016, State Government decided to establish legal assistance cells in each gram panchayats (GPs), despite the scheme to establish legal aid cells was launched in the country in 1995.
- On Nov 1, 2016, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched ‘Odia Panchayat Samachar,’ a weekly magazine on various developmental programmes and welfare schemes.
- On Nov 3, 2016, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced that his government would provide loan at one per cent interest to Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the State.
- On Nov 4, 2016, Radio Swayashakti, the first community radio of western Odisha, was launched in Khariar in Nuapada district by Principal Secretary, Rural Development.
- On Nov 10, 2016, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced 100 percent bonus for kendu leave pluckers of the State for the year 2016.
- On Nov 29, 2016, the CM announced that his government is working on plans and schemes that are intended to double the income of women SHG members.
- On Dec 25, 2016, Odisha govt announced to name Rs 6,600 crore mega lift irrigation scheme after popular freedom fighter Parbati Giri.
- On Dec 26, 2016, CM Naveen Patnaik handed over work orders to 11,228 beneficiaries for the construction of houses in the first phase under ABAAS – Odisha Urban Housing Mission.
- On Dec 21, 2021, CM Naveen Patnaik announced financial assistance of Rs 3,000 to each beneficiary of Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana, and Rs 5000 to people not included in the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
- On Dec 22, 2021, CM Patnaik announced livelihood assistance of Rs 1,000 each for Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) cardholders in the state.
- Beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and State Food Security Scheme (SFSS) can also avail the assistance.
- The State govt claimed that this will directly benefit around 96 lakh families.
- On Dec 31, 2021, the State govt increased the DA of State govt employees and pensioners by 3 percent.
- On the same day, the State govt approved a proposal, whereby, 42000 teaching and non-teaching staff of newly aided non-government schools (higher to UP (ME)) will receive salary as per 7th Pay Commission.
- The State govt had also decided to regularise over 8000 contractual junior teachers. On Dec 18, the contractual teachers had held a demonstration in the State Capital demanding regularisation