Impact of Globalisation on Banking Sector in India Pradip Biswas General Secretary, Bank Employees Federation of India.

There are three distinct spells of development of Banking industry in post independent India, the pre-nationalisation era from 1947 to 1969, the post-nationalisation cum preliberalisation era from 1969 to 1991 and the neo-liberalisation era from 1991 onwards. The first phase was mostly city-centric private Banking marked by frequent failures and liquidation of Banks and consequent pauperisation of numerous poor and middle class depositors and loss of jobs for the employees. The post-nationalisation era saw a seachange in the Banking scenario : financial stability of Public Sector Banks (PSBs) controlling more than 84% of Banking business of the country, PSBs commanding trust and confidence of the Banking-public, expansion of Branch net-work of Banks – particularly in hitherto unbanked rural and semi-urban centres, opening up the banking services accessible to the rural poor, expansion of credit to agriculture, small scale industries and small entrepreneurs, artisans – even to the marginal farmers, small shopowners, vegetable vendors etc. Such expansion of Branch network, coupled with such mass-banking, created considerable job opportunities on the one hand, and, on the other, it helped a green revolution on the agricultural sector, obviating dependence of import of foodgrains, as also a spurt in the development of Small and Medium Scale Industries. It also rescued a vast section of the rural poor from the exploitation by village-money-lenders. By tapping the hitherto untapped huge rural savings, the PSBs could help the growth of large-scale and capital intensive industries too. Even the most ardent critics of Public Sector too have had to recognise and appreciate the laudable role of PSBs towards development of economic self reliance. During this post nationalization era, Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) were established in 1975 onwards under the auspices of PSBs to cater to the credit needs of rural-India. Till 1990, priority sector lending constituted over 70% of the advance portfolio of RRBs giving further fillip to the rural economy. During the last four decades of their productive existence, the PSBs have taken up the services of employees and the liability of depositors of a number of Private Banks going on liquidation due to mismanagement by and the greed of their private owners. With the onset of World Bank-IMF dictated reforms, euphemistically called liberalisation, successive Governments at the centre have consistently been trying to undo all the good work of the PSBs as also to dismantle and privatise the PSBs altogether. On 14th August 1991, the Government of India (GOI) appointed a Committee headed by Mr. M. Narashimham (called “Narashimham Committee – I”) to suggest the modus operandi for reforms of the Banking Sector. On 16th November 1991, the said Committee submitted its Repost suggesting downsizing of PSBs through closure of Branches, merger of PSBs, reduction of priority sector lending from the then prevailing 40% to 10% of total advance portfolio, abolition of Banking Service Recruitment Board, granting of more autonomy to PSBs in respect of both financial and administrative matters, to reduce the supervisory and regulatory control of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Central Bank of the country, and, to top it all, dilution of Government Holding in PSBs through suitable amendment of relevant legislations. Thereafter, a number of committees, such as Narashimham Committee – II, Khan Committee, Verma Committee, S.C.Gupta Committee, Raghuram Rajan Committee, Anwarul Hoda Committee, to name a few, have been appointed to assess the progress in implementation of the Recommendations of the “Narashimham Committee – I” as also to suggest measures for carrying forward the reforms of the Banking Sector further as per dictates of the World Bank-IMF. Following the Recommendations of these Committees, successive Governments have persistently been trying to carry forward the reforms dictated by World Bank-IMF. In the process, law has been amended to pave the way for reduction of Govt. holding of shares in PSBs from 100% to 51% and, in pursuance of such amendment, most of the PSBs (except two major PSBs and two subsidiaries of State Bank of India) have made public issue of

on the other outsourcing even the regular and core banking jobs to outside agencies. in the main. none of the depositors in any Bank has lost a single farthing of his/her deposit. . RRBs have been directed to give more emphasis on conventional Banking and. Bank employees in India have been fighting relentlessly against the machinations of the successive Governments to the reform the Banking Sector at the dictates of the World Bank-IMF combine. the Bank employees have undertaken. The PSBs still retain their Nationalised character. not a single Bank-employee in India has lost his job just to accommodate the financial health of his/her employer. has not yet been able to introduce outsourcing to the extent they would have liked. employees in financial sector in particular. united in principle. hence no TU opposed the said merger). when the financial giants all over the world have been happily off-loading their employees in thousands to tide over the crisis. the only postsuperannuation succor of employees. Because of the presence of a strong and dominant Public Sector. however. to dismantle the PSBs that they would have liked. though affected. the PSBs have reduced its workforce through Voluntary Retirement Scheme on the one hand. not less than 19 one-day strike and 3 two-day strike programmes (total 25 days of strike). these strikes are apart from the strikes undertaken jointly with other sections of Trade Union movement on popular demands. Pension. I am very happy to report before this august house. India. the successive Governments have not been able to push through their much cherished reforms-programme to the fullest extent they wished they could have done. apart from other forms of struggle-programmes. all is not yet lost altogether. against the reforms. The recent cabinet decision to increase the cap on FDI in insurance sector from 26% to 49%. is concerned. GOI has not yet been able to privatize the Pension Fund. and. The top echelons of PSBs. has not crushed down with the melt down of the financial sector in the United States and other major economies of the capitalist world. on their part. The role of RBI. we are confident. no other PSB has so far been merged with any other by way of reform (merger of New Bank of India with Punjab National Bank was actuated by commercial considerations and not by way of reforms. as least. its priority lending stands reduced to around 40% (from 70%) of total advances today. Since the onset of the reforms regime in 1991. The left parties of our country have always remained with us in these struggles and they will continue to do so in future. have been redefined and undermined considerably. All the Unions are. It is most encouraging that all the nine unions having all-India presence in the Banking Industry – five Workmen’s Unions and four Officers’ Unions – representing almost 100% of the workforce in the Industry – have joined hands to form a United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU). the left-parties have also voiced their strongest opposition to such reforms both inside and out of legislative bodies. There is the added danger of their intentions to allow proportionate voting rights to the private shareholders of PSBs by amending the relevant law. as also to amend the law to allow proportionate voting rights to the shareholders in Private Banks are indications of the road-map drawn for the desired reforms. have. The working class. as the regulatory and supervisory authority over the Banks. Because of all these strike/struggle of Bank Employees and the role played by the left parties. save and except State Bank of Sourastra ( a subsidiary of State Bank of India) which has been merged with State Bank of India. consequently. Still. still remain assured. the financial sector in our country. The present dispensation at the centre of our country has not learnt any lesson from the prevailing convulsion in the world economy and is still hell bent on going full steam with its reforms agenda. The result is there for all of us to see. that the left political parties in our country have always extended their unequivocal support to all our struggles/strikes against the World Bank-IMF dictated reforms of the financial sector. reducing Government holding. There is. Instead of filling up more than one-hundredthousand vacant posts through employment. thus. to carry on the struggle unabated. so far our country. not a single copper of public money has to be spent to dole out/save any PSB.2 shares. therefore. Notwithstanding all their intentions. no room to be complacent.

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