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The Serial Mess-ups of the SBI Demand Major Course-correction

  • March 7, 2024
  • 3 min read
The Serial Mess-ups of the SBI Demand Major Course-correction

State Bank of India (SBI) has hit news headlines repeatedly over the past few months. And every single time it has been for the wrong reasons. One of the major instances in this series of “headline-hitting-for-wrong reasons”- was through the downgrading of SBI’s Ratings by Goldsman Sachs. Before that the Economic Research Wing was questioned by renowned economists for defending the Government by saying poverty and unemployment have reduced drastically. Around the same time, the SBI had granted a new loan of Rs. 34000 crores to the Adani group and that action and its unethical nature were also questioned and criticised widely.

Historically, the largest bank in the country had earned the trust of the people. That is why there are 48 crores accounts in the bank. But the present appeal by SBI to the supreme court to provide time till June 30th to provide the list of purchasers of electoral bonds and parties which encashed them has aggravated the bad image that SBI has acquired in recent times. In the digital era, the bank which is a pioneer in technology is saying that it could not reconcile the transactions and provide the list. And that too after 18 days of the supreme court order. This is completely unacceptable.

Now, the current state of affairs raises the natural question as to what the bank is covering up and who it is shielding? Other related questions that have come up are as follows. Why SBI is being coerced to take this stand ? Because of fear? Who is afraid and why? Why the Chairman, SBI has taken this decision? is it under threat or is it because of some offer? Already some people are saying that he got extension in service due to an influential businessman. He should care for the bank and not a businessman or politician. History should remember him for good things and not wrong things. 

Already political parties have launched agitation against SBI. This will affect the image of this prestigious Bank. The Supreme Court has termed the Electoral Bonds scheme unconstitutional. Several media outlets have done research and published list of companies which donated through electoral bonds after there was raid or investigation against these companies by agencies of the government. (Refer Newslaundry Report)

In a letter to The Director (Budget) Dept of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance dated 25/06/2018 SBI has stated that it has spent Rs. 60,43,005/- for IT system Development for Electoral Bonds. Now, how is the bank justified in saying that providing the records needs more time? If this is the situation what is the use of new age IT systems that have been acquired?

In an RTI reply to Shri. Sanjeev B. Ezhava, dated 22. 11.23, the SBI has provided details of electoral bonds for 6 years in just 6 days. Now why it requires months now ? (letter attached). It is surprising that a company ‘Future gaming’ has donated Rs. 100 crores to a trust named “Prudent Electoral Trust” a trust approved by CBDT under Electoral trust scheme 2013 (letter enclosed). Is this trust playing the role of a broker between political parties, Enforcement Directorate, CBI and companies which are doing illegal transactions.

The answer will be there in the list. Supreme Court must ask SBI to provide the list immediately. SBI should have a serious introspection. There should be the positions of Officer Director and Employee Director in the bank to question wrong decisions. To go down is easy. Climbing up again is difficult. The SBI top brass should remember this well known adage.

About Author

Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev

Former General Secretary, All India Bank Officers Confederation, Joint Convener, People First.