The Maya Declaration
On the occasion of the 3rd Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) Global Policy Forum—the annual flagship event of the AFI (touted to be the most vital forum for financial inclusion policymakers in the world)—held at Riviera Maya, Mexico, in September 2011, the AFI fraternity pledged to the establishment of and adherence to the commitments of the “Maya Declaration.”
The Maya Declaration, as the AFI member initiative geared towards promoting and inspiring national commitments to financial inclusion, is the testament to the global dedication towards the initiation of determined domestic and global actions to ensure concrete financial inclusion. It is the flagship commitment platform that facilitates for the AFI-members to situate tangible financial inclusion aims, implement country-specific policy alterations, and present improvement feedbacks periodically. Subscribing to the Maya Declaration essentially means committing fully to the endeavour of championing financial inclusion.
Endorsed by over 70 financial institutions emanating from emerging economies and developing nations, accounting for around 57% of the world’s underserved (poor) population, the Maya Declaration contributes to the primary United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), viz. the Goal 1 — No Poverty. AFI Members having subscribed to Maya commitments embody 72% of the AFI network (now accounting for 107 financial regulatory and policymaking institutions of 92 developing and emerging countries.
The Maya Declaration, India, & the RBI
As of July 2018, among the 66 commitments reported in the Maya Declaration, 42 have as their focal point the formulation and execution of a National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS). The standalone approach based NFIS of India—the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana: A National Mission on Financial Inclusion—was approved in 2014 by the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. A number of crucial events discussed below occurred before and after this milestone. These primarily entail a foremost mention of creating in 2012 the coordination structure in the form of a Financial Inclusion Advisory Committee (FIAC) to lead financial inclusion initiatives in India.
The policymakers of India have commendably included an active address to micro-insurance issues and financial literacy in the NFIS. It should also be noted that the micro-insurance regulations and policies started developing in India early in 2005, preceded by rural insurance initiatives in 2002. This was later followed by the emerging trends pursuant to commitments pledged by the government under the Maya Declaration (2012). These included developing regulatory frameworks for bank agents and for establishing new payments banks and kiosks, and steering electronic payments (2015).
The Reserve Bank of India subscribed to the AFI Membership as the 92nd Member in September 2012, weeks prior to the 2012 Global Policy Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, on 26 – 28 September 2012. Importantly, in the AFI Global Policy Forum, September 2011, Shri Bipin Nair (Assistant General Manager, RBI) acted as a panellist (accompanied by Flora Lugangira Rutabanzibwa of the Bank of Tanzania and Giovanna Priale of SBS Peru also as panellists) during the session of the Working Group on Financial Literacy and Inclusion. The focus was on case studies on national financial literacy initiatives in India, Tanzania, and Peru. At this very event, the implementation of a risk-based approach by India, South Africa, and Mexico in regards to AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering / Combating of Financing of Terrorism) was exemplarily applauded.
On 26 December 2011, India’s Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) initiated the specialised financial inclusion service by having RBI Deputy Governor, Dr. K. C. Chakrabarty inaugurate the six Mahabank Gram Seva Kendras (MGSKs) in Navghar village of Raigad district (Maharashtra). These innovative MGSKs, under the auspices of the FI plan of the BoM, were established on a testing basis in six villages namely Navghar in Raigad, Dhuktan in Thane, Panoli in Ahmednagar, Koli Boddkha in Aurangabad, Solu in Pune, and Survadi in Satara. Under the MGSK-led financial inclusion drive, the permanent staff member of the nearest located bank branch visits the villages with a laptop to provide various doorstep banking services.
In 2012, the RBI attended the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) Conference on Standard-Setting Bodies (SSBs) and Financial Inclusion. The conference was themed, “Promoting Financial Inclusion Through Proportionate Standards and Guidance.” It was hosted by the Financial Stability Unit of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Basel, Switzerland, on 29 October 2012. In 2014, India scored 61 out of 100 and ranked 5 out of 55 countries in the Global Microscope 2014—the enabling environment for financial inclusion—published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). In the Global Microscope 2018, India ranked 4 out of 55 countries and scored 72 out of 100.