Anaaj Bank That Feeds The Poor But Charges No Interest

For centuries, banks have been known to lend cash or kind whenever a person needed. But it always comes with a catch- a steep interest that many find unreasonable. However, a new type of bank has arrived in town which too lends people items that are indispensable. Only this time, there is no such interest charged as this bank’s only interest is the goodwill of the common people.

Sunit – The Messiah

For decades, the inhabitants of Koraon and Shankargarh, two small towns in Uttar Pradesh, going to bed with an empty stomach became a ritual. Without any proper source of income, their poverty forced them to deprive themselves of even the most basic necessity of life – food.

It wasn’t until a year ago when Sunit Singh, a professor of GB Pant Institute of Social Sciences in Jhunsi, pitched a brilliant idea to a local self help group (SHG) in order to eradicate the hunger of those people.

The SHG, run by an NGO called Pragati Vahini Federation, decided to implement Sunit’s idea and set up an anaaj bank in their villages. The bank aimed at providing food to the locals from a tin drum capable of holding 300kg of grains. The locals have to refill it as a form of repayment of the loan, but without any interest.

The Unconventional Bank

With the large drum being a food reservoir for all the locals and no interest levied on the food loan, success in eradicating hunger was inevitable. Soon, the SHG put up such drums in every village in the vicinity which allowed every local resident to borrow some grains as and when needed.

The bank’s food store is thus replenished by the members themselves or through donations received. Presently, around 300 families in over 20 villages like Dhoof, Antreji, Nai Basti, Deoghat, Chaachar, Hardia, Pathraa, Machgawan and Katha are being benefited by this unique initiative.

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“Anyone can become a member of the bank by donating a kilogram of rice. In case of need, the members can take a loan of five kilogram of rice which has to be returned within a period of 15 days, without any sort of interest,” says Sunit.

Expanding into newer horizons

But that’s not all! Sunit and his colleagues are now planning to expand their initiative to other blocks of the district and have even formed a special organization called Bhook se mukt Allahabad (Freedom from hunger for Allahabad), for the purpose of eradicating hunger from the city of Allahabad. 

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The organization, which will be formally launched on September 22, would comprise 40 members including academicians, doctors, lawyers and businessmen of the city. It aims to benefit a large number of villages in blocks like Jasra, Bahadurpur, Handia, Pratappur and Phulpur. The organization’s members will collect the donated rice and place such drums in villages where such tribal communities live so that no one sleeps hungry. 

Sunit has his eyes set on United Nations’ goal of a “Zero Hunger World by 2030” and he believes that though his initiative is not widespread, it surely is enough to change one person’s life at a time.

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