We have all heard and seen boards which say , “ Litter free” or “Hawker free” but have you ever heard and seen a board which says “ money lender free” zone? Well, unless you lived in the Kunjupannai village in Nilgiris district, it is unlikely that you would have ever come across such a board!
This small village in South India, 20 kms off the Mettupalayam road, on the way to the tea gardens of Kottagiri, there does exist this village, which Canara Bank has declared as “money lender free”. The Bank had adopted this small tribal village housing around 350 families and it set up a ultra small branch there. The villagers were paying upto Rs.125 per week for a Rs.1000 loan and the Bank conducted an awareness camp and educated the people about the advantages of banking with Canara Bank rather than a money lender. The Bank was able to convince around 90 villagers to get the loan from the bank rather than the money lender. It made a deal to swap their debt and the maximum loan per individual is not more than Rs.20,000 and the money has been given at 4% interest rate.
This is an excellent move by the bank and hope all others follow suit. This is the true meaning of banking where it helps changes lives. And money lenders remain like sharks, typical as shown in the Hindi movies. One hopes that these villagers do not return back to the money lenders; that is the biggest risk.