Jaipur district administration is holding bank camps for those working in the unorganised sector
The first week of December is expected to see a rush among people to banks as salaries get credited to their accounts. Although banks usually see big crowds in the first week of every month, there have been serpentine queues across the country ever since the November 8 announcement on the ban of 500 and 1,000-rupee notes.
As banks brace for the challenge ahead, there is also an urgent need to bring more and more people into the ambit of banking.
In Rajasthan's capital Jaipur, the district administration is holding bank camps for migrants and those working in the unorganised sector, urging them to open zero balance accounts. Workers are allowed to open an account with an identity proof and a letter from the industry or factory where they are employed.
"So far we have had 376 camps through which we have opened 7,000 accounts," said Jaipur district collector Siddarth Mahajan.
The drive has seen a good response among the labourers. "We never had enough money to open a bank account. Since they are offering zero balance account, we thought of opening one," said daily wage labourer Anita.
Her husband, Shyam Kishore, a migrant from Bihar, had a more direct reason: "We will have to open the account as the factory owner is saying he will not be able to pay us in cash this month."
These camps will, however, touch only the tip of the iceberg. Jaipur has an official population of 33 lakh, but at any given time 38 to 40 lakh people reside in the Pink City. People like Raja, a rickshaw puller and a migrant from Uttar Pradesh, who are a part of the city's floating population, are out of the banking net.
"Bank officials claim that I have to deposit Rs 1,000 to open an account, but I don't have that kind of money," Raja said.
Financial inclusion is one of the biggest challenge for demonetisation, and the statistics are grim for the rest of the country as well. Only 300 million people are linked to banks in a country of over a billion.