Bankers start 4,000 km ‘Save Banks, Save Nation’ campaign

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Bank employees from public sector banks have initiated a 4,000-km-long campaign named ‘Save Banks, Save Nation’ in an effort to seek justice from the public, as the government expresses its interest in the amalgamation and privatization of PSU banks.

Similar campaigns have been launched in various cities like Chennai, Hosur, and Coimbatore, with a public meeting scheduled in Tiruchi on July 22 as the culmination of these efforts.

The campaigners express concern that the current government, led by Narendra Modi, has been actively pushing for the privatization of all public sector banks since coming to power in 2014. Moreover, they believe that cooperative banks are also at risk of privatization, and the state governments may lose their authority to administer these banks directly. They warn that if the proposed plan to sell 49% of rural bank shares to the private sector goes ahead, the rural poor will face difficulties accessing loans, even for their urgent needs.

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Privatizing banks, according to the campaigners, poses risks to deposit safety and essential financial services offered to the common man. They argue that private banks may eliminate certain services and benefits currently available due to the presence of public sector banks. Furthermore, loans for agriculture, small businesses, higher education, and other essential sectors could be adversely affected, while corporate firms might receive massive loans without proper guarantees, leading to potential financial instability.

The campaigners recall historical instances of private sector financial institutions going bankrupt before 1969, causing significant losses for investors. Conversely, during the 2008 economic meltdown, Indian banks, primarily public sector institutions, withstood the crisis better.

The campaigners accuse the Union Finance Ministry of deliberately crippling public sector banks and assert that around 10 lakh employees and officers are vehemently opposing these actions. They criticize Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for reviving the privatization attempt despite earlier protests and accuse the government of pushing banking operations towards outsourcing and imposing excessive service charges on financial transactions. They argue that corporate firms escape accountability even when their loans become non-performing assets.

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The ultimate aim, according to the campaigners, is to strengthen corporate firms waiting to enter the banking industry to control vast deposits. Thoothukudi Corporation Mayor Jegan Periyasamy inaugurated the campaign, and various union leaders from the banking sector, Life Insurance Corporation, and Thoothukudi VOC Port have addressed the campaigners in their efforts to protect the public sector banking system.

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