NATION WIDE BANK STRIKE CALLED ON MARCH 15-16 AGAINST PRIVATISATION OF PUBLIC SECTOR BANKS

Debasish Chattopadhyay

Kolkata: All India Nationalised Banks Officers’ Federation (AINBOF) was formed during 2009 to look after the welfare of the Officers fraternity of all Nationalised Banks, with its office at Chennai. It is the only largest All India Trade Union exclusively for the welfare of the officers of the nationalised banks.

AINBOF is an apolitical organization and Second largest trade union for the Bank

Officers in India with 68,000 officers’ members. It is an organisation with an undivided interest to guard the welfare of the officers of the Nationalised banks.

Besides opposing privatization primarily, AINBOF is also seeking various other demands for the benefit of its members and retirees.

It is only a myth that the private sector is offering personal service and better customer services as they provide services to a particular class of customers who can afford their charges whereas nationalized banks never discriminate on their customers and serve all, said Sanjay Das, state secretary, West Bengal, AINBOF on March 9.

He said that the banking sector is the back bone of Indian economy and it contributes for the development of the Nation despite of its many limitations. Nationalized banks have rendered selfless service for the growth of the country.

The Nationalisation of Commercial Banks in July 1969, was the most significant, step that Government of India took with the principle objective of encouraging even the poorest to join the economy as an active participant in nation’s socio-economic development Ever since, Nationalisation, Public Sector Banks opened branch across the country at even remote places/hamlets where even less than 500 people live. Public Sector Banks have presence at nearly 28800 rural places and at 24599 at Semi Urban places to cater the needs of public at unbanked areas. Due to Nationalisation by the end of

March 1990, over 46,000 bank branches (77%) were located in rural and semi-urban

areas. A large number of these branches were opened in under-banked and under developed eastern, northeastern, and central regions of the country. Almost 93 percent of bank branches in rural and semi urban areas represented public sector banks, including regional rural banks.

The participation of the nationalized banks as per India’s Five year plan stands testimony for that. Be it the Green Revolution, White revolution, Blue revolution nationalized banks

have shown their might.

The growth of sectors like Agriculture, Micro & Small Enterprises, Services sector are a

result of the public sector banks lending to these areas. Gross bank credit as of March

2020 to Agriculture & Allied activity stands at 12,39,575 cr and bank credit to

Industries stands at 32,52,801 cr, of which loans to Micro & Small industries

constitutes 4,37,658 cr; Medium enterprises constitutes 1,12,376 cr and Large

Industries constitutes 26,11,369 cr.

Dreams of crores of youngsters in realizing their ambition of professional degree was

made possible through Education Loans. Bank credit to Education loans stands at

79,056 cr as of March 2020.

Lending to Weaker Sections by Public Sector Banks as of March 2020 stands at

6,83,876 cr.

The success of various Government Sponsored schemes, creation of millions of

entrepreneurs is a result of the nationalized banks’ only. When Government gave a call

for opening accounts under Jandhan Yojana, Public Sector Banks opened about

33.17 crore accounts and the share of Private Sector Banks is 1.25 crore only

The various infrastructure projects completed in sectors like Power, Ports, Transport, & Telecom, over the past two decades which helped in the manifold growth of the Indian economy can be safely attributed to the Public Sector Banks.

Even after 50 years of nationalization, public sector banks still command more than 75% of the market share which proves the confidence enjoyed by the public sector banks with the general public.

Privatization will primarily impact the General Public only as the social objectives will be lost in the name of profitability. Service Charges will be increased and customers who are able to bear those charges only will be serviced. This will take banking beyond the reach of the common man which was the primary objective of nationalization.

Though the Government’s agenda of privatization started way back in 1991 immediately after the liberalization the trade unions were successful in thwarting the ill-conceived moves of the successive governments over the past three decades and maintaining the public sector status in the interests of our country men.

Of the many Private Sector Banks that came into existence, today only a handful of Private Sector Banks which were promoted by the financial houses like ICICI, UTI, IDBI, HDFC are surviving and many of the Private Sector entities that commenced their banking operations after 1990 were either closed or merged.

Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan also viewed that privatization alone won’t solve the problems of the banking sector, and even private lenders are not immune to the problem of bad assets in a slowing economy.

AINBOF believes that creating public opinion and awareness among the public on the ill effects of privatization will persuade the Government to rethink on its agenda.

To achieve this AINBOF is conducting various programmes to reach out to the general public to like conducting street corner meeting, customer meets, conducting of demonstrations, wearing Black badge and protest masks, display of posters and banners branches / offices, distribution of pamphlets to customers and public, social media campaign among others.

The response has been overwhelming and many of the customers felt that privatization should be opposed and were prepared to extend their support. With no other recourse left with us, we are compelled to call nationwide bank strike on March 15-16, Das said.

As a responsible organisation we understand the difficulty the common people will face due to the proposed strike but looking at the larger danger of privatization of profits and nationalization of losses policy adopted by the government a the centre we are compelled to restore our last weapon of going for strike. We would be compelled to intensify our agitation further if the government at the centre refuses to listen to the common people’s plight for which we are fighting tooth and nail by sacrificing our two days salary to start with, he added.