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Drop in SLR- sparing lendable resources Banking on Risk Rationalised Who is the real beneficiary? Governance in Reverse Gear? Managing NPAs... Two banks: their jubilees and performances Reaching out: is it slowing down? Ernakulam excels... Grows Bigger From lazy banking to easy banking Big bank merger, bigger expectations Bottomlines shrink, bad loans rise... Banking overhauling or reorganisation? Perhaps small is more beautiful than big! The paradox: clamour for the Goliath and David How okay are new banks? The collaboration suite of cyber criminals Smart banking in smart cities United India Insurance - Rs 110 crore losses have been claimed till now due to floods in Tamil Nadu Growing volume of stressed assets… Bank deposits account for 46.3 per cent of household savings Reaching the Unreached… Why any time money? Small is ‘more’ beautiful How ‘secure’ are the secured loans? Needed a Banking Atlas Holy or unholy? Anytime banking to anywhere banking Thirty more cities seek to become SMART Indian customers are tech savvy All that glitters is not gold... Mega merger is on Financial inclusion vs unclaimed deposits It’s a war on black money, support it. Good, bad and ugly Well-lived... One down in private sector Drastic decline in asset quality Nothing much can happen…. Why priority status? Aadhaar, niraadhaar and banking Cut in repo rate – lower than expected Capital base of regional rural banks raised Cradle of banks to a smart city... Lacklustre credit expansion Just 660 days! Target over-ambitious... Merger mania haunts banks Small finance banks offer high interest rates Monetary policy continues to adopt dis-inflationary path Greet Lakshmi the banking robot Emerging crisis Hesitancy in announcing year-end results Targets continue to be ad hoc Small finance payment banks... Growing gainfully A bank for women, by women Fund healthcare clinics in villages... Too big to fail and too small to sail Cautious and considerate Ferrying digital banking to Lakshadweep Banking in Telangana New bank licences, at last... Another route for achieving financial inclusion A new development bank rising in the east… What is the priority – mergers or NPA reduction? LVB- A supermarket of financial services A development bank for BRICS Stage set for Indian ‘avatar’ of foreign banks New capitals of Migrant banks Insatiable appetite for credit Payment banks have arrived
Why priority status?
Recently, the charismatic Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram G Rajan, raised an important question: “should a student loan for study abroad come under priority sector?”

Priority sectors have, over the years, become an omnibus carrying all types of passengers. Successive committees have widened the definition without bothering to fix uniform targets across banks.

Domestic educational loans do qualify to be included in the priority group. And happily no targets are fixed for such loans. The total amount lent as on March 2012 is Rs 52,004 crore. These loans have enabled thousands of young students to pursue higher studies. The number of borrowers is 26.47 lakh, of which about 55 per cent (15.48 lakh) are from rural and semi-urban areas.

Originally, education loans were extended for students from the middle-income groups to pursue higher studies. Taking advantage of the readily available schemes, parents from the richer sections also began availing such loans, especially for education abroad. There are now indications of defaults in repayment and that too after securing their plump jobs. Tracing defaulters in an alien country after a lapse of three to four years is difficult for bank mangers stationed in remote towns. The dollar-earning borrower, changes jobs like changing his shirt. There are also instances where the old parents, who stood as guarantors, are abandoned by the beneficiaries.

It is therefore desirable to confer the priority status only to domestic education loans and to treat foreign study loans as any other commercial loan. Incidentally, even in domestic education loans, there are problems of recovery.


When medicos refuse to service in rural areas

Since the implementation of the programme Health for All, more medical colleges have come. Banks have financed many of these colleges and have extended educational loans to students. It was expected that these medicos would spend at least two years in rural service. Unfortunately, most of them are looking for greener pastures. Atleast in one highly reputed medical college in the south, after completion of studies, the young doctors were insisting upon refunding the stipend obtained rather than serving the rural term!


Improving the efficiency of banks’ human capital

The banking sector in India has grown very large, functionally and geographically, during the last couple of decades. The size of bank personnel has also enlarged. The banking sector now trains the new recruits by out-sourcing. The Reserve Bank of India has appointed a Committee on Capacity Building in Banks and non-banks, under the chairmanship of Gopala-krishna, former Executive Director, Reserve Bank of India and currently Director, Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning.

The committee has made useful recommendations on improving the efficiency of the banking sector. “The recruitment process should not be sporadic or lumpy but ensure regular in-take so as to ensure growth in manpower in tandem with business needs. The recruitment process needs to be re-engineered to reduce the time lag between conduct of exams and issue of appointment letter.” Further it has argued for a transparent and comprehensive performance assessment exercise. The factors to be taken into consideration include clear Key Result Areas (KRA), a holistic performance evaluation framework which includes 360 degree feedback, ensuring adequate performance differentiation among employees and suitable reward and recognition. Creation of the position of Chief Learning Officer in banks is one of the other important recommendations made by the committee.

A minor omission is that no reference is made to the need for improving the skills of the lead district managers in the context of the accent on financial inclusion. When the lead bank scheme was introduced in 1970, there were less than 330 lead districts, whose number has gone beyond 630 at present. The recruitment, training and promotional prospects of this group of officers is grossly neglected in most of the banks. In order to make the Jan Dhan project a success, this cadre of managers has to be properly selected and trained.

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