As the government pushes its various financial inclusion initiatives, a new survey today claimed religious and gender bias makes it more difficult in India to get jobs or credit.
As per the survey results released by global financial services giant Mastercard, as many as 58 per cent of respondents in India said “it is difficult for them to get access to credit, savings, and jobs because of their gender, compared with 33 per cent across the surveyed countries”.
“Again, 58 per cent also said it was difficult to get jobs or credit because of their ethnicity or religion, compared with 28 per cent across surveyed countries,” it added.
The government last year had launched an ambitious Jan Dhan scheme to provide bank accounts to every household in the country.
Taking forward the government’s financial inclusion initiatives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday launched three social security schemes including a life insurance cover for less than Re one per day, as also a health and accident cover at a premium of Re one per month.
Modi also said that the Jan Dhan scheme, launched on August 15 last year, has already seen opening of more than 15 crore accounts with Rs 15,800 crore deposited in them.
As per the Mastercard survey, “closing the perception gap of how accessible financial services are is key to building confidence and more inclusive forms of growth in India”.
Mastercard said its “quantitative research on economic inclusion in India” showed that quality of life on the subcontinent is better than other surveyed countries by certain measures like Civic Life and Infrastructure.
However, there are issues like “access to basic financial services, especially on the part of women and ethnic and religious minorities” that need to be addressed.
The survey also showed that 67 per cent of respondents worry about money they owe to others and 82 per cent worry about their future prospects.
When asked about the issues that were important to them, 40 per cent said it was finding or keeping a job, while 20 per cent said it was “religious discrimination or persecution”.
The survey is part of Mastercard’s Connectors Project, where it has studied the role of networks in the developing world and how people move to greater economic inclusion, and crucially, who helps them on that journey.
Ari Sarker, Country Corporate Officer, India and Division President, South Asia, MasterCard, said, “As India continues its innovative and large-scale economic inclusion initiatives, The Connectors Project has put names and faces on the roles people play in that journey.
“Closing the perception gap of how accessible financial services are is critical to building confidence and more inclusive forms of growth in India.”
Mastercard said its quantitative research showed that respondents in India do not believe there is any dearth of formal education.
“However, 50 per cent strongly agree that more focused education and job training would be beneficial to them. Most respondents opt out of higher education and job training (a long-term investment) because of time constraints, cost and the presence of other more pressing priorities,” it added.
Overall, the survey found that gender-based discrimination is not readily reported and 34 per cent of women agreed that gender makes it difficult for them to get job or credit.
“For women in much of the developing world, marriage is a non-optional obligation to family and community values. Education often is viewed with suspicion,” MasterCard said.
It further said that building direct incentives for family and community facilitates the journey toward inclusion.
“It can take the form of material support (communal services, infrastructure improvements), increased security or the establishment of social programs that promote the benefits of education of women for the communities they live in,” it added.
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