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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

the new 'Bharatiya Mahila Bank' (BMB) ..... at Chennai...

This morning stepped into a new premises and met an energetic person – Ms M.  Nijasundari, no ordinary woman ~ as she is in news all over the Nation. She is the Branch Head of the newly inaugurated “Bharatiya Mahila Bank” – Chennai Office. Bharatiya Mahila Bank has been set up with an initial paid-up capital of Rs 1,000 crore. Led by Usha  Ananthasubramanian, all the eight on the board of directors of the bank are women.

First myth dispelled : Mahila Bank is not exclusively for women and men also can have account !!

In 1980s the dream of youth was to write BSRB, get selected and work in a Bank…… lakhs wrote the competitive exams that one would find the entire building or at least the floor filled with the same names as centres were allotted to candidates on alphabetical basis.  For a long time in the history of India, banks in India except the State Bank of India were  owned and operated by private persons. By the 1960s, the Indian banking industry had become an important tool to facilitate the development of the Indian economy. At the same time, it had emerged as a large employer, Ms Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, made the swift move of nationalization through an ordinance and from midnight of 19th July 1969 (some of you were not born) … 14 large commercial banks were nationalized.  In 1980 another 6 were added.  Now you have 21 Nationalised banks, SBI and associates (8); scores of Regional Rural banks, Private sector banks, branches of Foreign bank and more…

Now there is one more ~ or it that a special one ~  it is “Bharatiya Mahila Bank”  ………. the only-for-women bank, conceptualised by the Union Government and announced by the Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram in the Budget 2013 launched in Chennai and  six other cities as well.  In Chennai it functions in a lane off Mount Road, opp to HDFC Bank ~ inaugurated by Ms Snehalatha Shrivastava, Additional Secretary in the Union Finance Ministry, in the presence of M. Narendra, Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Overseas Bank and T.M. Bhasin, Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Bank.  She is quoted as staing that women were grossly an under-utilised economic asset in the world scenario. Women literacy and empowerment will not only strengthen the gender, but will also contribute to the GDP in a big way, she said. She also handed over loan agreements and deposit certificates to a few women on the occasion.

Though there could be questions on the success of the bank in achieving its objective of economic empowerment of women in remote villages, the opening of its first office in Chennai is indeed a momentous event for the women of India.  “The setting up of the Bharatiya Mahila Bank is a small step towards the economic empowerment of women. It is also a reflection of our commitment to this cause. I am sure that the bank will fulfil the objective with which it is being established, namely financial inclusion of women and providing them equal and easy access of financial services,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while inaugurating the bank's first branch in Mumbai's Nariman Point.

There are apprehensions that the bank will find it tough to differentiate itself from rivals and will face stiff competition from state-run and private-sector lenders, and microfinance companies, which already have an established presence in rural India.

BMS will operate pan India, accept deposits as well give out loans.  The objective will be to be a profit making, commercial organization. Going by the objective, the bank is to focus on lending predominantly to women and companies that focus on women’s activities/products but there will be no restriction on deposits by men. It will lend to women or to businesses which are either managed by or make products for women. There will also be emphasis on funding for skills developments to help in economic activity. Moreover, the products will be designed in a manner to give a slight concession on loan rates to women.
the team of Ms Nijasundari at Chennai....

Wishing the women [the Bharatiya Nari] – all success

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Nov. 2013.

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