India urges millions of poor to open bank accounts

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's state-owned banks are conducting a massive campaign to open millions of accounts for the poor.

The measure is aimed at some 150 million Indians who are off the financial grid and vulnerable to black market money lenders.

Bank managers said Thursday that tens of thousands have already lined up to open accounts since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the campaign in his Independence Day speech on Aug. 15.

The four-year program may also help beat back the endemic corruption affecting almost every level of Indian bureaucracy, by channeling government welfare and work payments directly into the accounts of individuals rather than through regional and local offices.

As an incentive the federal government is providing 100,000 rupees ($1,650) in life insurance to every account holder.