Imphal, Feb 27 : In a first of its kind initiative, the United Bank of India and the State Bank of India have decided to provide customised loans for HIV patients in the country. The scheme to “support entrepreneurship” will be launched under the aegis of the Reserve Bank of India on a pilot basis in Imphal East district. It will then be extended to the rest of Manipur and other parts of the country.
The scheme was announced at an outreach programme of the RBI in Imphal East on Saturday, attended by a high-level team from Guwahati and RBI executive director R Gandhi.
RBI deputy general manager Thotngam Jamang said the scheme had been conceptualised to help HIV-positive people gain meaningful economic activity. “Many of them have skilled knowledge and are well versed in traditional economic activities such as crafts etc. But there are few employment opportunities. These loans will support entrepreneurship. We are also looking at facilities like health check-ups etc,” he said.
“We have already received two applications today from HIV-patients for loans to set up embroidery and weaving enterprises. We will consider these applications, the loans may go up to at least Rs 5 lakh. We will also be looking at providing loans to family members of HIV patients to ease their financial burden,’’ said UBI chief regional manager R Bhattacharjee.
Manipur has one of the highest number of HIV-positive people in the country — around 38,000 according to the 2011 figures of the Manipur State Aids Control Society. “Out of these, at least 70 per cent have contracted the disease through injection of drugs, while the rest are sexually transmitted — it is usually the spouse of the drug user who becomes HIV-positive after marriage,” said L Deepak Singh, president of the Manipur Network for HIV Positive Persons.
“Most of them are school dropouts. Even when they are rehabilitated and cured of their drug problems, they cannot find employment. So starting their own business is the only way out. Since most of them come from poor families, the move to provide loans is a welcome step,” said Singh.
Made to work as slave, says Indian housekeeper
A senior government official in Britain kept an Indian housekeeper as a “slave” and fed her leftovers for four years, according to a media report here.
The counsel for 43-year-old Pratima Das, Ian Wheaton, said she was forced to work 15 hours a day while employed as a nanny and cleaner for Shibani Rahulan, 40, the principle legal officer at the Department of Health.
According to The Sun, Wheaton told the court in London that Das claimed her passport was confiscated and she was not paid. Wheaton went on to allege that she was “a victim of human trafficking...”