How is it that CEOs of Indian Private banks don’t say anything different on any policy?

It is rare these times to read such an interview albeit of a former head of a bank.

There was a time when even banking heads appointed by the government had the courage to speak/criticise government and RBI decisions. You read banking histories of whichever bank and you come across quite a few of such stories of individuals standing up and expressing themselves even when appointed by government.

Now we have come to a time when even the heads of Private bank just agree whatever policy is made on banking. They all sing in similar tunes. See any budget or any monetary policy in last few years and you see most heads of private banks say the same thing. The same thing usually is:  It is a good budget/policy and in line with our expectations. And this is not seen just in this government but even previous governments as well.

They don’t realise by singing in a chorus they create more damage than good. By agreeing to whatever policies they may prevent immediate attention but create a long term damage.

Take the recent currency withdrawal case.

It is stunning that no banker said anything different. How is it possible that all have similar views? Not all criticism is negative and some of it could have helped the government/regulator positively.

When the government suddenly moved its goalpost to the cash-less and less cash bandwagon, bankers should have told the government that let us not do this in haste. They should have released analysis on how and whether these “less cash transactions”are happening at their bank. Instead of giving a reality check, they just joined the bandwagon bombarding customers with messages to go cashless irritating them further. On one hand, these private banks tell us that the bank belongs to customers but clearly was not the case here.

I mean leave criticism, one hardly read any head empathizing with their branch managers.

But then here even the media is responsible. Anything you say is categorised as either for or against the government by the media itself which is just shameful. So even if a banker shows some courage, his/her remarks will be reported out of context and there will be all kinds of chaos around the statements. With the recent episodes of a government official blasting a private company, the banker/bank could have been rebuked as well.

Having said that, I am sure there are ways to express oneself. There is no point in saying things which don’t add any value to the ongoing debate on developing Indian banking and financial services. Healthy criticism (both positive and negative) is as crucial to development as anything else. We should allow it to flourish and not limit our views just to praise whatever the policy may be..

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