Financial Inclusion: Lessons From Rural South India
Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration
South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies
Financial inclusion/exclusion has recently been emphasised as an important policy option aimed at alleviating poverty, minimising social exclusion and enhancing economic growth. In this article, we review the growing interest in financial exclusion and inclusion, define them and demonstrate their existence in developing and developed countries. Our empirical focus is on whether financial inclusion has been successfully implemented in four sites in rural South India where banks claimed that financial inclusion is complete. Although many rural people in South India are financially included, the concept of financial inclusion is more complex than usually portrayed. Our findings show that social and personal deprivation contributes to financial exclusion and should be viewed as key barriers to financial inclusion. We also suggest that financial inclusion is not a monolithic phenomenon and should be studied in a multi-layered fashion, ranging from having a bank account to making full use of modern financial instruments.