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Jharkhand adivasis receive letters in English on how to use debit card: State Bank of India's "digital" drive

The letter sent to Kusheshwar Paharia
By Our Representative
In a cruel joke on Jharkhand adivasis, State Bank of India has sent debit cards to its poor clients with instructions in English on how to use them, says a report.
The letter, says Anumeha Yadav, who has reported on this, contains instructions on how the client could use his first debit card – “check for tampering. Sign the reverse of the card. Change your PIN to a more familiar combination. Make sure your four-digit PIN stays confidential”, and so on.
Quoting one such instance, of Kusheshwar Paharia, a resident of Nathgoda village in Jharkhand’s Godda district, who received the debit card in “a thick packet” by mail, Yadav says, “It contained a letter from the State Bank of India, with which he has held an account for the past seven years, and a Kisan Card with the image of a farmer couple.”
“Kusheshwar, the manjhi or headman of Nathgoda, never went to school. He speaks fluent Paharia and Santhali, and a smattering of Hindi, but no English”, reports Yadav, adding, “The letter Kusheshwar received from the bank is entirely in English, which no one in his village can read.”
The report quotes Kusheshwar as regretting, “I take the cattle out to graze every morning, and stay in the forest the whole day. How do I know how to use it? The letter they sent is in English, no one in our village can read it.”
Others in the village, says the report, received similar packages by post. This happened soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remonetization dreams began fading after the November 8 noteban misadventure, creating a publicity blitzkrieg about the need to go digital even in rural backward areas.
Khusheshwar Paharia
The tribe to which Kusheshwar belongs is designated a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) and has the smallest population among adivasi communities in Jharkhand. There are 2.2 lakh adivasis in Jharkhand who are included in the PVTGs, and Kusheshwar’s group makes up 13,682 of this number, Yadav reports.
The adivasi group the lowest health and education indicators, she says, adding, some residents of Nathgoda even received similar plastic cards in 2015 after opening bank accounts.
This made four of them had made the 10-km trip downhill to Chandana, to the State Bank of India branch there, where one of them, Dharmendra Paharia, reportedly met the bank manager and asked him what they were to do with the cards.
“The bank manager asked, ‘Do you sign, or do you put a thepa, your thumbprint? Do you know how to count 1, 2, 3?’,” Dhamendra is quoted as recalling. Adds, Yadav, “Most of the villagers count in the Paharia way, calculating in sets of 20 or kodhi, where they use the term kodhiyon for 20, dokodhiyon for 40 and so on. But this is not numeracy by the government’s standards.”
“When we told him we cannot sign or count, the manager told us, ‘This is of no use to you. Go home and burn the card’,” Dhamendra is further quoted as saying.

Comments

Rudra Biswas said…
A great story. We rarely get to read such stories. Congratulations.

Schemes are formulated and implemented . The agency responsible for execution/implementation of the schemes never bothers to find out if the schemes give the desired benefits to the targeted beneficiaries. This is the problem every where. The people, for whom schemes are drawn up and executed, are left far behind.

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