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20 Jan 2022

The ‘Kalpana’ of Financially Literate Rural Women in India

By Bhagyashree Parulkar


Holding the phone at an angle and trying to strike a perfect pose, Kalpna radiated differently in a room full of women trying to learn about digital banking transactions. Kalpana seemed quite confident in her use of the smartphone.

Kalpna, a 19-year-old final-year B.A. student, hails from Jhuntrhi village in tehsil Kherwara. When asked about how familiar she was with the banking system, Kalpana joyously shared, "I was in 6th grade when I first visited our nearest branch. Our master Sahab took the entire class to the bank twice. Once, we went there to open our accounts, and the next time we went to make a deposit. Since then, I have been going to the bank on my own. I handle my family's funds and deposit savings in my parents' accounts as well."

Her parents are involved in daily wage manual labor. She is the younger of the two children. Her elder brother could only finish high school and had to take up a clerical job to support the family. Kalpana happens to be the first generation to be enrolled in a university and is also the most educated in her family.

On being asked what her takeaways from the financial digital learning training organized at Kaya were, she said, "I am very comfortable using my smartphone." She has access to the internet in her village. Her phone also had digital payment apps pre-installed, but she never really understood how she could use them. She said, "As an economics student, I was familiar with the concepts of debit and credit, bank accounts, checks, and insurance. However, I was unaware of the various state and national savings and insurance schemes I could avail myself of. Through the two-day training offered by Seva Mandir, I learned about new schemes and benefits and how to use digital wallets to make payments. I might not need to go to my nearest E-Mitra anymore!."

Kalpana hopes to finish her degree soon and then prepare for a B.Ed. She hopes to get a job as a teacher and educate women and children in her village.


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