According to AIBEA, while there are clear-cut rules and guidelines regulating the conduct of bank employees and officers, there were no such regulations for executive directors and CMDs
The All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) has urged the union government to frame a set of rules and conduct regulations applicable to executive directors (ED) and chairman and managing director (CMD) of banks.
CH Venkatachalam, general secretary of the AIBEA, said that while junior-level officers and employees were sacked by bank managements for bribery and misconduct, top executives committing major frauds often go unpunished. "If there be a rule for the entire staff of the bank, why not for the top executives?” he asked in a statement.
Last Saturday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested six people including Sudhir Kumar (SK) Jain, CMD of Syndicate Bank in a case of alleged bribery of Rs50 lakh.
“This is not the first time that top executives of banks seem to have indulged themselves in," Venkatachalam said, adding "earlier, in the 90s, the CMD of UCO Bank was arrested for involvement in the Harshad Mehta scam and was jailed. There have been cases coming up now and then and many cases get hushed up."
“It is high time that the Government should frame a set of rules and conduct regulations applicable to the EDs and CMDs of the Banks,” he said. Venkatachalam goes on to add that, “In a context where Banks are facing huge bad loans, the accountability for the same at the top should be ensured.”
The statement from AIBEA goes on to note that, cases of high level officials at the State Bank of India and the United Bank of India were either hushed up or buried. This is especially problematic when you consider that ordinary employees of these banks suffer swift action for much less serious misdeeds and misdemeanours.
Nobody knows whether Modi Sarkar will modify Congress programmes like Aadhaar before implementing them and how it plans to control inflation
It is not yet three months since Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister (PM) with the biggest popular mandate in the past three decades. And it is a fortnight to Independence Day when he will address the nation for the first time from the historic Red Fort. That speech may well provide a road map to the achche din that he promised those who voted him to power with a thumping majority. But the PM cannot fail to notice that even his most ardent supporters are flummoxed and worried.
While writers at pro-Modi niticentral.com may choose to segment critics and ascribe personal motives to their criticism, it would be sad if the PM and his core team is satisfied with the explanation. Pratap Bhanu Mehta put it well in a recent article, when he says that the Modi government is “fast confusing the trees for the forest and ignoring the sense of restlessness brewing outside its hallowed circles.”
Such restlessness must not be confused with the disgruntled elite seeking rewards and gratification for their support to the BJP; or the forever-ranting mainstream media which has not come to terms with its loss of privileged access to those in power.
This mass of Mr Modi’s supporters is seeking action and a clear direction. They can no longer be kept busy in pointless discussions on a Facebook-like platform called mygov.nic.in which has just been launched to interact with India. Mr Modi’s numerous followers on the social media will quickly realise that mygov.nic is more like a meaningless forum for the argumentative Indian rather than a way to participate and contribute to the governance process. And, unless it changes, it will soon fizzle out. But more about that later.
Mr Modi was voted to power because people believed his promise of change. This may mean different things to different people—to some, it may be a shift towards aggressive nationalism, or more hindutva. But the majority, including some of the rabid elements, voted for administrative reform (the promise of less government, more governance), growth, efficiency and infrastructure development at the very basic level.
Contrary to what some commentators may believe, Mr Modi’s supporters are not concerned by his silence. In fact, they welcomed his decision to speak less and to gag and discipline his ministers. They were also delighted at reports that the bureaucracy is being forced to work, for the first time in their careers.
Their restlessness is out of concern over issues like galloping inflation and the decision to carry forward several initiatives of the previous government with no explanation about whether Modi sarkar will do things more efficiently, or differently.
Mr Modi’s supporters wonder why the government is not in ‘mission mode’ about tackling inflation, when every politician knows that high vegetable prices can lose elections. When the finance minister addresses the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the next few days, they are concerned that financial inclusion and not inflation will be on top of the agenda.
As I have written in the Crosshairs section, there is no indication from the many media reports that Modi sarkar’s version of financial inclusion will not be a loan mela, with government banks and insurers picking up the tab for all defaults on the Rs5,000 overdraft that will be provided to 150 million householders.
Similarly, what are we to make of media reports about the continuation of Aadhaar? It was astonishing to read a report in The Economic Times that one visit from former UIDAI chief Nandan Nilekani to the PM was enough to bring it back on the agenda. The UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) has also been sanctioned more funds in the Budget and Mr Modi plans to use his brute majority in parliament to get the scheme cleared, apparently without addressing the many concerns about it. Is this the sign of a government that communicates with the people?
It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had stayed the backdoor attempt to make Aadhaar mandatory by taking note of the many concerns over privacy, data safety and costs that were raised in public interest litigation. This government has simply ignored this key fact.
Dr Bibek Debroy reflects the thoughts of many in an article in The Economic Times, where he says that Aadhaar will not even help in deciding on the criteria for inclusion in Antyodaya schemes, to direct subsidies more efficiently to the poor. Till date, that has been the only ground on which Aadhaar has been justified.
For the really poor, who have no other identification, Aadhaar does not even address simple concerns about faded fingerprints, unclear Iris scans and biometric changes due to simple aging. So there will be nothing to prevent the misuse of cards to such people, or they will remain without an identity.
The issue of who will pay for the huge number of biometric readers needed to make Aadhaar effective has not been addressed by Modi sarkar either. Will the cost be dumped on nationalised banks again?
Most worryingly, the ‘nationalistic’ government has not even clarified whether the shoddy Aadhaar data will be cleaned up to ensure that identification, subsidies and benefits are only for Indian citizens and not illegal immigrants.
While it is early days as yet, the government is also silent on Mr Modi’s promise of ‘less government, more governance’. Neither the Budget, nor the many regulatory changes announced by various ministries indicate a move to cut red-tape that subjects entrepreneurs to endless harassment and extortion by government officials.
Instead of engaging with people on issues that concern them, Mr Modi grandly announced the launch of mygov.in on 26th July. It is a web portal that claims to allow the common man to reach out to the government and the PM himself.
Several things about the portal suggest that Mr Modi, operating inside the government, through the National Informatics Centre (NIC) does not have the same touch and understanding of people that allowed him to craft one of the most dramatic and technologically savvy election strategies and victorious campaigns in the world.
Mr Modi is one of the biggest influencers on Twitter with nearly 5.5 million followers. Shouldn’t mygov.nic.in have anticipated the rush to log in? Four days later, many Modi supporters sheepishly admit that they had been unable to register.
The registration process is cumbersome and has bugs. But what is worse, those who managed to register quickly found that the PM is uninterested in their ideas and suggestions, unless they fall in six specific buckets—job creation, cleaning the Ganga, boosting girl child education, cleaning India, skill India and digital India. There is no way to convey our thoughts and suggestions to the PM on dozens of other important issues that affect people.
The biggest problem with mygov.in is that it is just another social-media-like platform, like a Facebook or Twitter, open to the babble of millions of Indians. Is it only meant to keep restless supporters engaged in mindless discussions among themselves?
The design and process is certainly off-putting for those who thought the PM was interested in serious, clearly thought out ideas for participation in the governance process. Unless the site expands the scope of interaction, makes it more accessible and differentiates between the serious and uninformed, or frivolous comments and suggestions, it would have failed in its objective of seeking genuine public participation.
To repeat, the restlessness among the vast majority of Mr Modi’s supporters is not from selfish self-interest. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta says,“… for a government that promised a new narrative, the adjustment to old ways is striking.”
Sucheta Dalal is the managing editor of Moneylife. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2006 for her outstanding contribution to journalism. She can be reached at [email protected]
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