The idiom ‘Child is the father of man’ was not coined without a reason. The looking at these children in Patna, the banks all around in India, faced with piling bad debts can learn a lesson or two.
There is a bank in Patna – Gullak Bachcha Bank, which is run by the children and for the children. As at 31st March 2017, this bank had clocked transactions to the tune of Rs.58 lakh – the highest by any bank managed by children in the country.
This Bank was an experiment of Bihar CM, Nitesh Kumar was began operations on Children’s Day, November 14, 2009. The first year, the bank had some 447 accounts and today, it has 3,463 account holders, all below 16 years and the waiting list for those wanting to open accounts is long.
The process of opening the account is simple – all that is required is Rs.10 to open the account, after which they can deposit or remove, even Re.1. Deposits attract an annual interest of 6% and those with balance of over Rs.500 are given an incentive of Rs.75 at end of the fiscal. Once in three months, the best account holder is recognised and awarded. When a child turns 16, his or her account is automatically transferred to a nationalised bank.
The Bank is managed by a ‘Committee’ of four children who work every day for two hours each and their duties include accepting applications, opening accounts, handling the cash book and ledger, and ensuring that all transactions are entered through the accounting software Tally.
Most of the clientele in the Bank comprises of children from the not-so-economically well to do category and most study in government schools. With the small suns saved they buy essentials like school books, stationery and clothes and some stories of abound of how children help their parents - one child helped his father buy a new tyre for his cycle rickshaw, another withdrew Rs.5,000 for his sister’s marriage.
Now this is what we call empowering children, teaching the value of money and saving from such an early age. Wish we could do the same in our big cities; maybe the schools can encourage this habit by having their own banks, linking it to the academics.