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New capitals of Migrant banks

Shifting of banks’ headquarters into metros adds to the growing pressure on the core urban facilities in over-populated cities. In the digital era, the location of a head office is not crucial. New Delhi is one of the most polluted cities. And Bengaluru faces the problems of traffic jams through the day.  It’s time to move away from them. 

Though banking in India has been historically an urban-oriented service, many smaller towns had nurtured quite a few banks. While the growth of banking businesses was faster in metropolitan centres, local banks also have flourished in certain towns. However, there has been a noticeable trend of medium-sized banks migrating to urban centres. It was influenced more by the desire to be seen in the financial or political cities than strictly for business considerations. 


Centres accommodating migrant banks...

Among the five top banking centres, four house the head offices of migrant banks. The reasons for migrating are different. The Lahore-based Punjab National Bank decided to shift to Delhi in March 1947, due to partition: Ditto was the case with the Oriental Bank of Commerce, moving from Lahore to Delhi in 1951. The Punjab and Sind Bank migrated from Amritsar to New Delhi. 

Kolkata  has nurtured two local banks: the United Commercial Bank (UCO) and United Bank of India (UBI). The only migrant bank here is Allahabad Bank.  Mumbai has a very strong banking base. Six big banks,  namely State Bank of India, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Central Bank of India, Union Bank of India and Dena Bank, are omnipresent in this urban prima. Among them, Bank of Baroda is a migrant from Gujarat. One bank, which has grown outside Bombay in Maharashtra, is Bank of Maharashtra.  It has remained steadfast in Pune.

Chennai has two local banks, Indian Bank and Indian Overseas Bank, and no migrant banks. The case of Bengaluru is entirely different. Though it has seen the growth of two local banks, now only the migrant banks are dominating this city. The century old State Bank of Mysore is on its way out due to its impending merger with SBI.


Non-migrant banks

In three of the southern states, there are nine banks in the private sector, operating in smaller towns, which have resisted the temptation of migration. Tamil Nadu has four local banks, which have a record of strong survival. In the temple town of Kumbakonam, City Union Bank Ltd has been serving the local people for over 113 years. In the port-town of Thoothukudi, there is Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Ltd. In Karur, there are two banks, one of which, Karur Vysya is a century old. The other bank is Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ltd, which has been in operation since 1926.

Thrissur in Kerala has the unique distinction of supporting three local banks. The oldest among them is Catholic Syrian Bank, born in 1920. Dhanalakshmi Bank was established in 1927. South Indian Bank, the biggest among them, was founded in1929. Alwaye is the other town in the state, which has nurtured Federal Bank since its inception in 1929.

In Karnataka, the only surviving bank in the private sector, which has not thought of migration, is the 91-year old Karnataka Bank Ltd, based in Mangaluru. n

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