The seeds for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana may have been sown in Goa in 2001, when a social welfare scheme first used the Electronic Clearance System to transfer doles to senior citizens, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday.
The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last August.
Parrikar, a former chief minister of Goa, was addressing a function organised by the state social welfare ministry, to mark the 15th anniversary of the Dayanand Social Security Scheme.
"In 100 days, our prime minister implemented electronic transfer facility across the entire country. There is definitely an element of pride that the first step (towards such a scheme) was taken (in Goa) in 2001," Parrikar said.
In 2001, Parrikar, Goa's first BJP chief minister, had launched the landmark social security scheme which provided senior citizens, most of them from economically weaker sections, Rs.500 every month deposited in their bank accounts by electronic transfer.
The scheme had necessitated creation of bank accounts for thousands of senior citizens, who earlier had no access to the banking system. Nearly a tenth of Goa's 1.5 million population are beneficiaries of the scheme.
Jan Dhan Yojana has been touted as a major financial inclusion initiative, intended to bring a large section of the underprivileged class under the banking umbrella.
Over 17 crore accounts have been opened since the launch of the scheme, thanks to unprecedented outreach by the government machinery as well as the banking sector.
"When the Jan Dhan Yojana was announced on August 15 in Goa, I had said that Goa had taken the first step in this regard. Some people thought I was trying to take credit for it. Goa was small, it worked as a model," Parrikar said.
He also said because of electronic transfer, the likelihood of a "cut" or harassment of the recipient was greatly reduced.