When Bankers talk!
They forget small people! They forget their high positions, their social responsibility!
When bankers make news it is always about big finance. Big money speaks loud and hence makes news. Have you ever read about any big banker or bankers talking about priority credit targets? Or, the social responsibilities of public sector banks? Even private banks thrive on the deposits of the public! The most simple truth is that there is a huge un-met demand for timely, rational and transparent credit delivery mechanism is missing.
The Nabard, after a very long period of neglect got a chairperson and a CEO! But one is not sure how these two professional bankers, accustomed to produce the magical balance sheet figures would have the vision and the resolve to bring about a rural transformation! Too much to ask them? Even the great Dr.Varghese Kurien’s well argued cooperative vision is given a short shrift by the government, first, by approving the NDDB going in for a commercial type company. Now, after this ignorant step, the department of company affairs had given the NDDB the status of a financial institution and to behave like a bank! That, says Kurien, is against the spirit of the cooperative, where farmers, members must decide what is good for them and not the bureaucrats or bureaucratic type management!
Now, there is some isolated news here and there, not from the top, about Nabard giving some subsidy to rural development by NGOs.
Mr.K.V.Kamath, the boss of the ICICI had spoken glowingly about the current consumer credit demand in the region of 100,000 crores! Fine. Consumer demand is basically urban demand, for consumer articles, like cars and housing loans. What about rural consumer demand? Consumer credit for farmers? Kamath won’t mention the word farmer, obviously! Not before the captains of industry! Not even before those who manufacture tractors or two wheelers! Are these not bought by rural people?
Fantastic! Indian development paradigms are noted for their series of ironies! The rich-poor divides! Urban rural divides! The hypocrises of the professional classes! The banking sector had transformed itself in tune with the urban customer expectations. Three years ago as many as 93 per cent of ICICI Bank customers preferred to transact through the branches. The rest used the automated teller machines (ATMs). Today, only 27 per cent used the branches; 50 per cent the ATMs; and the balance transacted through the Internet and call centres. ICICI Bank had 5.4 million Internet banking customers.
But ICICI hightech branches have become impersonal. There is no customer-friendly personal touch. That means ICICI, HDFC are all exceptions. They don’t mean much for the mass of bank customers. For the mass of middle classes, poor classes! But at the same time he had mumbled something on micro-finance. Reserve Bank of India, Governor, Y.V.Reddy says: Micro-finance activity was concentrated in Southern and Western parts of the country. However, the RBI cannot go ahead and allow such entities to accept public deposits,” What alternatives RBI has for micro-finance companies to have laudable funds?
Micro-finance entities comprise self-help groups and non-government organisations. We are not banking experts! We don’t talk the magic numbers game! But we see everyday, even in the most well-known PSU banks, at even the most sophisticated branches, at prominent places like Bangalore Brigade Road, customers at bank shouting at branch managers!
Yes, our banking is still primitive!
Polaris MD Mr.Jain says that per transaction costs in banks can be reduced to Rs.2 if IT is adopted. But what prevents banking leaders to reduce the customers’ woes? So, we would ask top men, Dr.Reddy, Mr.Kamath and IBA president Mr.Dalbir Singh to give thought how socially priority credit delivery can be made easy, life made easy for the unfortunate farmers and small men!