UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Thursday launched Swabhimaan, a campaign aimed at expanding banking and financial services in rural areas.
Under the programme, small and marginal farmers and rural artisans will get easy access to credit at lower rates.
Gandhi said the primary objective of Swabhiman - a mass campaign for financial inclusion - was empowering common man by providing access to financial services at the doorstep.
"One of the most important objectives of the campaign will be to enable small and marginal farmers obtain credit at lower rates from banks and other financial institutions insulating them from exploitation of the moneylenders," she said.
Gandhi said banks need to take proactive steps in helping the marginalised segments.
She said banks need to simplify their procedures in these areas while increasing financial education and literacy.
Under the financial inclusion drive announced by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in the last budget, the government had set a target of covering 73,000 new habitations, with a population of 2,000 and above, under the banking services by March 2012.
Banks will also have to open 5 crore new accounts during the period.
Mukherjee said an effective banking system would be key to a growing economy and the new programme would boost credit demands of rural masses.