There was a time when you were either in or out. You were either a player or a bystander. It was only in the early 2000s that people figured out that to be a player you needed to be included in the game. This issue of Forbes India carries two tales of inclusion. The first tale talks about how India is waking up to the idea of financial inclusion. About time, you have to say, because there is growing evidence to say that access to credit and financial services lifts people out of poverty.
India has experimented with the idea of priority sector lending in the past but this time there seems to be a convergence of intent and actions between the Government of India, the Reserve Bank of India, microfinance institutions, and technology providers. The government wants every village with more than 2,000 people to be offered basic services like savings, credit and remittances. And believe it or not, there is a silent revolution that is brewing. There are places in Upper Assam that are experimenting with this. There are companies which are using mobile technology to deliver payments.
Our Special Report on Financial Inclusion captures all of this. It was planned months in advance and was meant to be released on the eve of the annual Microfinance India Summit to be held in November in New Delhi, organised by ACCESS Development Services. Forbes India is a special partner of the event. In many ways, the event couldn’t be better-timed. More than 1,000 delegates from India and abroad will reflect on the future of the micro-finance sector. And our report should provide enough food for thought on the way forward.
Our irrepressible Senior Editor S. Srinivasan and Principal Correspondent Shloka Nath managed this two-month long effort with some great support from Udit Misra and N.S. Ramnath. Our Director of Photo, Dinesh Krishnan, has chronicled the entire phenomenon through some fascinating pictures.
The second inclusion refers to the one on the consumption side. One of the best ways of delivering a product or a service to people is to simply get its price down without compromising on quality. Toyota has done exactly that. For the first time in its history, this company is developing a small car that is made for India and which will then be sold in other emerging markets. Principal Correspondent Ashish K. Mishra and Associate Editor T. Surendar have spent months on researching the story of how Toyota learnt to love India and stopped worrying about the small car. I must also say that we owe a hat-tip for our cover to the legendary Bill Bernbach of DDB who created the legendary Volkswagen “Think Small” ad. It may be a bit cheeky but on our cover it is as counter-intuitive as the original advertisement was in its times.