Guest Column

Banking on a relationship

By G Mohan

If you are someone belonging to my generation, it is highly unlikely that one or the other Public Sector Bank (PSB) has not touched your life.

On 19 July 1969, the Government of India nationalised 14 banks and they became PSBs. They were chosen from across India, so whichever part of India you lived in, one or the other PSB would have been round the corner.

The first ever bank I entered was a PSB. My father had his salary account in UCO Bank (it was called United Commercial Bank then). Withdrawing money from one’s account was an eventful day back then. Employers would give half a day off just to draw salary. Queues at the beginning of the month were long.

My own first bank account opened during my college days was with SBI. The bank was not part of the 14 banks because it had been nationalised earlier. But for all practical purposes in terms of products and services, it was a PSB.

At my first workplace in Ranchi, my salary account was with Union Bank of India. A quiet and efficient bank. My transactions were also minimal so I hardly have any good or bad memories of their service.

My second job was with TCS. Being a Tata company, it mandated all their employees to have an account with Central Bank of India. CBI was owned by the Parsis and the Tatas used to patronise them. I was pleasantly surprised to read that at the time of nationalisation, Central Bank was the largest in terms of deposits, number of branches and profits. The Government of India paid Rs 1750 crore to nationalise it, the highest among all.

I got my first credit card from CBI.

My experience with CBI, mostly at their Calcutta branch was not very pleasant. In the 1990s, strikes to oppose computerisation were at their peak. Long delays and general apathy was the norm.

That was the time when new generation private sector banks were coming up. They offered better technology and service compared to the PSBs albeit at a higher minimum balance. I moved to private banks for bulk of my banking requirements then and have stayed with with them, ever since.

I however, still have some legacy accounts with PSBs. Some for sentimental reasons, like a joint account with mother in Canara Bank. One or two accounts have become dormant and even dead because I hardly use them.

I have also met some very nice people in the staff everywhere. They were often constrained by the processes, which bound them. Unlike a private sector guy who approaches you only when he has something to sell or a target to meet, the PSB officer usually has no hidden agenda. I have never felt cheated by them.

Yet I have little business with them. Once I moved to use a private sector bank, I am with them. I rarely visit any bank branch and I don’t even know the face of the relationship manager mapped to me.

All I can say on the 50th year anniversary of nationalisation of banks is thankyou for all the service you gave. I wish you all the best and some day when you change, do call me, I am open to a relationship with you, once again.

(G Mohan is a Professor based in Hyderabad)

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed within this guest column are the personal opinions of the author. 

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