Chandigarh,04.12.19-NABARD, the apex development financial institution catering to agriculture and rural development has been providing grant support toScheduled Commercial Banks, RRBs and Cooperative Banks for various Financial Inclusion initiatives including developmental and promotional activities, adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions and Capacity Building & Awareness creation to all individuals.

In order to create Financial literacy awareness among the rural areas and to adopt various Banking technologies by Regional Rural Bank and Cooperative Banks, NABARD has cumulatively released Rs.40.07 Cr to various Financial Institutions in Punjab.

During the current FY 2019-20, NABARD adopted differentiated approach on Financial Inclusion initiatives, wherein, more thrust is provided on districts constrained by various Physical, economic, sociological characteristics, which are now termed as Special Focus Districts (SFDs)as informed by Shri. J P S Bindra, Chief General Manager, NABARD Punjab Regional Office.

In order to deepen the Financial Inclusion activities among the weakest and least accessed segments, NABARD along with India Post and India Post Payment Bank (IPPB) made a joint initiative for leveraging the vast network of India Post in the Financial Inclusion efforts in Punjab. As part of this joint effort, an MoU was signed between NABARD, India Post and IPPBto deepen the efforts of financial inclusion, wherein NABARD will be providing grant assistance to IPPB for generating demand for Banking Services such as Digital Financial Education and Financial Literacy Infrastructure and Building Base for Digital Banking such as Interface for Technologies, Payment/Acceptance Infrastructure.This MOU will enable NABARD, IPPB and India Post to work together for Creation of financial and digital literacy awareness in 22 districts of Punjab through 3852 banking access points of IPPB. For the year 2019-20, IPPB proposes to conduct 500 financial literacy awareness programs in excluded areas of Punjab through NABARD support under Financial Inclusion Fund (FIF). As a part of its mandate, IPPB will deployMobile Signal Boosters and VSATs in areas, having difficulty in network connectivity. Special projects like creation of digital transaction facility at weekly Haats, Mandis and villages will be undertaken by IPPB and NABARD with eligible support under FIF.To commemorate this occasion of joint initiative by NABARD, India Posta and IPPB, a Special Cover on Financial Inclusion was releasedby India Post. During the event, NABARD also issued sanction for conducting 207 Digital Finance awareness camps in Punjab to IPPB.

Shri Bindra informed that NABARD will continue providing support for financial literacy and strengthening the banking information technology. During the year, it has been planned to sanction one mobile demo van per district for spreading financial literacy. Further, all Cooperative Banks have implemented the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) system with the total grant assistance of Rs.58 lakh from NABARD, which shall facilitate DBT and easy monitoring of subsidy distribution at ground level. Financial literacy is an important tool for creating demand for financial products. Considering this, NABARD proposes to conduct 6000 Digital Financial Literacy Campsin rural areas of Punjab through Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative Banks. NABARD also supports Cooperative Banks to deploy 1900 Micro ATMsin the Branches and Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) in the current FYwith the grant assistance of Rs.4.27 Cr, to upgrade the payment acceptance infrastructure of Cooperative Banks and to improve the digital transactions in rural areas.

As part of Financial Inclusion initiative at SHG level, NABARD also launched E-Shakti project to capture real time data of the SHGs in 75 districts during 2018-19. In Punjab, District of Patiala is covered under this project and as on date 1120 SHGs in Patiala have been digitalized so that they can avail timely and hassle free credit from banks. During current year, NABARD will cover 09more districts in Punjab under thisproject to digitize 3900 SHGs. Further, in order to create financial literacy awareness with local appeal and feel among the rural masses, NABARD is conducting NukkadNatakProgrammes through Cooperative Banks.