Indians also save cash, in bank savings or certificates of deposit, and increasingly invest in property.
Buying shares just doesn't figure for most.
Fewer than 5 in every 100 Indians buy equities either directly or through mutual funds, regulatory data show, compared with Gallup's estimate of more than half of Americans - many through their 401k pension plans.
In China, an estimated 86 percent of average trading on domestic markets is carried out by retail investors.
The investment scheme is the brainchild of Thomas Mathew, a former finance ministry official, who reckons more than 23 million Indians - out of a population of 1.2 billion - could be eligible targets. If they all invest the maximum, there could be a potential inflow of 116 trillion rupees - more than double the country's gold assets.
"We need to go forward with a lot of investor education and financial literacy to drive home the point that equity is not a dangerous animal," he told Reuters. "We have to tap the psyche of people. The dinner table conversations, the tea shop talk. That's how the education takes place."