Millennium Post

Loans to freed juvenile offenders? Banks not too keen

The move of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to bring juvenile offenders into the mainstream by providing loans through Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana has got a lukewarm response from nationalised banks. According to sources, the NCPCR, an arm of Women and Child Development Ministry, has sent a proposal to public banks to consider granting a loan to juveniles lodged in different jails after their release from prison.

According to sources, the banks have expressed their reluctance in granting loans to 'juvenile criminals' citing the reason that offenders' mindset would not change at one go, which would mean non-payment of the loan amount and credit would become a bad-loan after a few months.

Though the NCPCR had a detailed discussion with different stakeholders, including leading NGOs working on child rights and nationalised banks over the issue, but the dialogue failed to yield any results as banks are still sceptical about the outcome of the initiative.

According to the proposal that has been submitted to leading public banks such as Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India, Bank of India, etc, the NCPCR has asked them to provide loans ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh or above to released juvenile inmates to start their small businesses.

As per the proposal, the granted loans would be used for setting up small enterprises in accordance with their educational level. "The released inmate may be given a loan to run tea stalls, fruit and vegetable stalls, beauty parlours, mobile recharge shops, etc after providing some basic training. The idea behind this is to help them get out of the jail syndrome as well as providing an opportunity for livelihood," the source said, adding that talented inmates may also be provided loans to run start-ups under Start-Up India programme.

When contacted, representatives of some banks said that the proposal was still under consideration, while expressing their doubts over recovery of the loan amount from released 'convicts'. "No doubt the idea is very innovative, but it depends on as how they take it forward. Since they become accustomed to getting money through illicit means, the chances of them doing hard work under the scorching heat are very bleak," a senior bank official said.

Child psychologists have supported the NCPCR idea to rehabilitate juveniles. "There is nothing wrong in providing loans to jail inmates on their release. But, it's true that jail inmates face societal indifference and their motivational level is much lower than any normal person as they get branded with the crime they had committed. But that doesn't mean that they should not get an opportunity to start their life," said Dr Rajesh Sagar, a child psychologist at All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

The AIIMS doctor, further stressed that even after serving some years of jail term, inmates have a desire to live a respectable life.
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