The 20 cities selected for developing as Smart Cities appear as a group of mixed cities, big and small, fast-expanding urban agglomerations and sleepy towns, a few on the global business map while a big Indian Atlas is needed to locate a couple of them. But all of them could be seen in the banking map of the country with sizeable business.
Fourteen out of the 20 cities are within the first 50 centres among the top 100 banking centres identified by the Reserve Bank of India and the next five in the list of centres are ranked from 51 to 100. Only Davanagere comes beyond the top 100, ranked 139. The rankings are based on the volume of advances outstanding in these centres as on 30 September 2013.
Demographically, there are vast differences among the selected cities. At the lead, Ahmedabad has a population of 55.77 lakh while at the pit, Kakinada has a population of just 3.12 lakh.
A British Gazetteer observed in 1858: “Coimbatore is not fit for human dwelling, with air and water unsuitable for humans.” Within a couple of years, this town was put on the railway map, connecting to Cochin. Since then it has grown into a major industrial hub. In 2011, the World Bank Report on Doing Business ranked Ludhiana as India’s most accessible city to do business. The other cities mentioned were Bhubaneswar and Ahmedabad. Ludhiana, the cycle manufacturing hub, produces half a lakh cycles per day providing employment to five lakh persons in the city. Eighty per cent of India’s demand for woolen garments is met by this city.
Surat has risen like the phoenix from the devastating plague of 1994. It has a predominant role in diamond business. Similarly, Bhopal has gone through the gas tragedy of 1984, which has killed a large number of people in the city. From the north-east, only Guwahati could make the cut. According to the Economic Survey, the urban population in the state living below the poverty line is 20.19 per cent, one of the lowest among cities in India. Karnataka has Belagavi and Davanagere. The former is the ‘bread basket of north Karnataka’ and the latter has seen the rise and fall of the textile industry.
One of the notable features of all the 20 selected centres is the existence of universities in each one of them. Among them, Pune stands high as the educational hub and was rated as Oxford of the East.
Banking wise, Delhi has 2786 branches of all banks functioning. The total volume of advances is Rs 7,302,223 million, the second highest among all the banking centres. Chennai, which has a much longer banking history than Delhi ranks 3rd with 1526 branches and advances of Rs 2,976,111 million. Coimbatore, the Manchester of the South, has promoted 29 small banks since 1878 though none of them has survived. Incidentally its counterpart in Gujarat, Ahmedabad, the Manchester of the East, also could not provide sustenance for the survival of two banks born in that city. The total bank advances in Ahmedabad were Rs 1,130,604 million.
Pune and Jaipur ranked 8th and 9th respectively, have head offices of two middle-level public sector banks. Jaipur has a credit-deposit ratio higher than that of Pune. Since 1943, Bank of Jaipur was operating here, which has now become State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur. Bank of Maharashtra, born in Pune in 1935, has a relatively significant share in the city’s total advances of Rs 846,116 million.
The port city of Kochi is far ahead of Visakhapatnam. With 375 branches, bank advances in Kochi were Rs 367,266 million whereas the 334 branches in Visakhapatnam have lent only Rs 191,723 million. Kakinada having 96 branches could get credit facilities amounting to only Rs 38,609 million.