Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Bank on post office for your ladli

Most poor families in Jharkhand may not have heard of the word "bank". But they are banking on a better future for their daughters, thanks to the ubiquitous village post office, which they are now embracing to reap the benefits of a thoughtfulgovernment scheme.
Over 2,000 saving accounts have been opened at different post offices across districts in just one month to tap the Mukhyamantri Ladli Laxmi Yojana that wants to provide financial security to girls born in poor homes with two daughters after November 15, 2011.
When it decided to get the flagship welfare scheme, launched by chief minister Arjun Munda on Foundation Day in 2011, off the ground, the state government did not immediately realise that families owning the lal card were still too poor and diffident to approach a bank ' seen to be a middle-class urban financial bastion.
They seemed more comfortable with post offices. Last month, the state government decided to get practical and sign an MoU with the postal department to reach out to the poorest of poor families with a daughter born after the November 2011 cut-off.
And now, the numbers are growing.
Yes, for a government scheme that dreams big ' 33 lakh BPL families in the hinterland ' 2,000 is chickenfeed. But it heralds an impact more potent than mere numbers.
For young mother Sukri Oraon, an anganwadi worker in Namkum, the scheme means a whole new life for her infant daughter Pulki.
"Thanks to the chief minister, I don't have to send my daughter outside to work as a domestic help. She will stay with me and study here. If she has brains, she will compete with the best and win," she proudly said, after registering at the local post office.
So far, in Ranchi district, 329 postal accounts have been opened, while in the region comprising the twin Singhbhums and Seraikela-Kharsawan, the number has crossed 1,400-plus. In Dhanbad and Bokaro, the figures are around 230 each.
Jharkhand Postal Services director S.S. Kujur said the MoU happened at the right time. "Postal accounts are clicking with the poor. Slowly and steadily the Yojana is picking up at the village level, even in families that eat only one meal a day," he said, adding that their main target now was to go full steam with child development project officers and nodal officers.
"It's a social security net for poor families. I am proud that the postal department is playing a vital role to empower the really poor," said Satyakan, senior superintendent of Ranchi General Post Office.
Functionaries at the villages have been asked to make the scheme as lucid as possible for villages, most of whom are illiterate. No obfuscation or tall claims. For starters, every year the state government will deposit Rs 6,000 in the newborn girl's account till she reaches five years of age.
Then, there is a lull. But once she completes primary school and is promoted to class VI, she will get Rs 2,000. In classes IX and XI, she will get Rs 4,000 and Rs 7,500. In class XII, she will get Rs 200 a month as stipend. Finally, at 18 years old, she gets Rs 1.08 lakh.
"It's about Laxmi and Saraswati joining hands for daughters of the really poor," summed up a nodal officer.

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