Friday, October 17, 2014

Last mile gaps - financial inclusion and toilet usage

Last mile gaps are pervasive with many social policy issues. Two flagship programs of the government are most certain to be only the latest to realize that supply-side strategies are unlikely to address this challenge to any degree of satisfaction.

1. Jan Dhan Yojana aims to increase financial inclusion, thereby enabling access for the vast majority of unbanked Indians to formal financial institutions.

2. Total Sanitation Campaign aims to address India's shameful open-defecation problem by provision of heavily subsidized toilets to those without toilet facilities.

In both cases, formidable last mile gaps come in the way of access to bank accounts translating into actual usage and new toilet owners using their toilets. Such gaps can be overcome only through massive social mobilization involving painstaking and long-drawn campaigns that resist the temptation for targets-driven quick wins and band-aid solutions. Does the Indian state have the capability to successfully manage such efforts?

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