No Islamic Banking in India: RBI

In a major move, the Reserve Bank of India has decided not to pursue a proposal to introduce Islamic banking in the country.

The central bank said the decision was taken after considering “the wider and equal opportunities” available to all citizens to access banking and financial services. Islamic or Sharia banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest, which is prohibited under Islam.

The issue of introduction of Islamic banking in India was examined by the RBI and the government of India, it said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on August 28, 2014, launched Jan Dhan Yojana, a national mission to bring about comprehensive financial inclusion of all the households in the country.

In late 2008, a committee on Financial Sector Reforms, headed by former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, had stressed on the need for a closer look at the issue of interest-free banking in the country. “Certain faiths prohibit the use of financial instruments that pay interest. The non-availability of interest-free banking products results in some Indians, including those in the economically disadvantaged strata of society, not being able to access banking products and services due to reasons of faith,” the committee had said.

Later, on the instruction of the central government, an interdepartmental group set up in the RBI examined the legal, technical and regulatory issues for introducing interest free banking in India and has submitted its report to the government.

The RBI had in February last year sent a copy of the IDG report to the finance ministry and recommended an “Islamic window” in conventional banks for gradual introduction of Sharia-compliant banking.

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