God's own country is on the threshold of a banking revolution.
By September-end, Palakkad in north Kerala will become the country's first total banking district, with every household having their own bank account. Around five lakh families of the district are set to flaunt their passbooks and in many cases ATM cards too. The State-Level Bankers Committee selected the district, about six months back. Since then, there has been no looking back for the officials. At first, surveys were conducted to identify the families that did not have accounts. Various banks were set targets. They then launched a campaign with the local panchayats and civic bodies to inculcate a banking habit. Many resisted. "What is the point in having an account without money?" — was the most frequent question. But soon, the people were won over.
In the last three months, around two lakh fresh accounts have been opened in the district. Some account-holders them will also get credit cards as bonanza. "We are really excited. After Palakkad, we will target the remaining 11 districts," a spokesman of the SLBC said. If all goes to plan, all families in Kerala will have their account by March 2008.
Artiste of the soil
A 76-year-old woman has come all the way from Chhattisgarh to decorate the Durga Puja pandal of a club in Kolkata, with Bhitichitra, a form of wall painting.
Sonabai Rajwar’s is an art born and bred at home. Married when she was 14, she came into her own when the couple broke away from their joint family to build a house of their own. On the walls of her house, the young woman’s creativity found full expression. Her fame soon spread. But it was a photographer from Switzerland who discovered her talent while touring Chhattisgarh in the late 70s. In 1985, she won the prestigious President's award. Age has not worn away her verve — she promises her pandal will be one of the best in the city.