Thirty-one-year-old Munna Nayak is a resident of Cuttack district in Odisha. He lost his eye sight at an early age but was able to pursue his education in a special school for the blind. Due to financial constraints, Munna had to give up studies after Class X and start a small business to sustain the family. He sold small items like mobile cases, key chains et cetera but his source of livelihood was adversely affected by the pandemic.
Two years later when things began to settle down, he thought of setting up a cosmetics shop, and applied for a loan of INR 50000. The nationalized bank denied his request on grounds of blindness, contrary to the equal rights of banking mandated by law for all persons with disabilities.
Eyeway contacted National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC), a company set up by the Government of India to provide financial assistance for income generating activities to disabled people. A circular issued by NHFDC was shared with Munna, asking him to submit a copy to the bank. When the application was rejected, Eyeway pursued NHFDC officials to issue a letter to the bank instructing them to process the loan request. But our efforts yielded no results.
Another visually impaired person from Rajasthan applied for a home loan with the bank where he held his salary account. Prakashchand, a government school teacher was also denied the loan due to his lack of sight. And this was not the first time he faced rejection from the bank authorities. His request to issue an ATM card was denied previously. Eyeway shared the RBI and Indian Banking Association’s guidelines that mandate extension of all financial extensions irrespective of disability.
Prakashchand pursued the matter with his bank but the officials refused to comply.
Munna and Prakash are not alone in this fight against discrimination. The Eyeway Helpdesk receives similar calls from across the country where time and again visually impaired people are denied their banking rights. While few are lucky to find resolutions, for most it’s an arduous battle.