India Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers speech to mark Independence Day in New Delhi, 8/15/2014

"New Delhi (AFP) - Premier Narendra Modi has put a pledge to give bank accounts to all Indians on a war footing, but experts say taking banking to rural areas where many people have no identity papers will be a huge challenge."

"In developed nations, bank branches are everywhere. But banking services in India leave out nearly half the 1.2 billion population, putting poor people at the mercy of moneylenders who charge usurious interest for emergency loans for sickness or routine purchases such as buying seeds."

"'Why are our farmers committing suicide? It's because they have to take money at huge interest rates from the moneylenders,' Modi declared in his first annual Independence Day speech."

"Just 145 million of India's 247 million households have access to a bank account, census figures show. According to the World Bank, 73 percent of farmers have no formal source of credit."

Penelope Macrae, "India faces huge job in giving bank accounts to all," Business Insider, August 27, 2014, accessed September 2, 2014,