Archive for March 21st, 2017

Five remaining Associate State Banks to merge with SBI: A comparative history (data driven)..

March 21, 2017

The Government of India had earlier announced to merge the remaining 5 State Banks with SBI. There were 7 associate State Banks and two of them State Bank of Indore and State Bank of Saurashtra were merged with SBI in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

After some deliberations, finally the 5 banks shall merge with SBI on 1 April 2017.

This blog had earlier written and lamented about lack of history of these Associate State banks. These were unique banks which were formed with support from Princely State. Some like Hyderabad were full central banks as it issued its own currency. Most others were quasi central banks and acted as banker to the State and even offered commercial banking services to public. It shall be fascinating to compare all these different banks across their functions.

Only State Bank of Travancore has released its history and even developed a museum.

Always curious to figure financial history, this blog dug up some bit of history from several RBI publications.


Meet Lakshmi: the country’s first banking robot at City Union Bank

March 21, 2017

Fascinating story.

City Union Bank is one of the oldest surviving banks in the country.It was established in 1904 in the sleepy town of Kumbhakonam. It was also called as Kumbhakonam Bank before changing its name amidst some mergers.

What is remarkable is that it is the oldest private sector bank in the business. The other older banks like Presidency Banks (Calcutta in 1806, Bombay in 1840 and Madras in 1843; merged into Imperial Bank in 1921 which became SBI in 1955), Allahabad Bank (1865), , Punjab National Bank (1894) became government owned banks.

So to see CUB  have a first customer centric robot in its branches (right now in Just Coimbatore branch) is some homecoming.

Just a few years  ago, use of robots may have seemed to be many years away from reality, but it now appears that we are reaching a tipping point in human-robot collaboration.

Meet Lakshmi, the two-foot robot that is pushing the Kumbakonam-based City Union Bank (CUB) towards a new self-service era. CUB Lakshmi, as it is fondly called in the bank, speaks English, can gesture and engage in conversations. It can interact on more than 125 subjects with customers, and can answer queries around interest rates on loans, checking the account balance and more.

“This artificial intelligence (AI) powered robot will be our first on-site bank helper and answer generic banking-related questions of customers. We felt that in a branch this robot will be in a position to answer basic questions to our customers. Over time, it can support other banking roles with insightful data and analytics, making humans smarter and more efficient in value delivery,” says N Kamakodi, MD and CEO, CUB.

Lakshmi took around six months in the making, and has been customised in Coimbatore to provide basic information about the bank’s history, deposit and lending rates, special schemes and number of branches among other things. Though launched in November last year, the full fledged roll out took a back seat due to the demonetisation drive.

“The first step now is to program the humanoid to greet customers in Tamil. It will also be integrated with the Core Banking System through Application Programming Interface (API) to enable it to do multi-tasking such as providing account details and ordering cheque books,” says Sankaran G, Deputy General Manager, Computer Systems Department, CUB.

A five member team is constantly monitoring the responses from Lakshmi and also working around chatbot among other things.

And what if the question posed to Lakshmi is out of syllabus? “In such a scenario the question is escalated to the manager or the subject matter expert. We will then update and feed it with answers for questions that it has not been able to answer or referred to the manager,” explains Kamakodi.


UP’s new Chief Minister’s connection with Mangalore’s Kadri Math..

March 21, 2017

The media is rife with discussion on the new UP CM. It is just too early and we need to wait to see what happens there.

Keeping politics aside, one came across this article in today’s ToI which is really interesting. It says how the new CM is a key player in appointing head of Kadri Math in Mangalore

I was once told how Pashupathinath temple in Nepal is managed by Brahmins from South India. I checked and was amazed. It is really fascinating how temples are governed not just in India but outside too.

Back to Mangalore:

Yogi Adityanath’s appointment as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has put the Kadali Sri Yogeshwar (Jogi) Math here in a celebratory mood. For, he’s central to the affairs of this math which is about 2,000km from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

Yogi Adityanath is the Mahant of the Akhil Bharath Varshiya Awaduth Yogi Maha Sabha Bhek Bharaha Panth, which elects the head of the Mangaluru Jogi Math once in 12 years. The seers of 12 sects elect the Mangaluru Math ‘Raja’ in Triambakeshwar (near Nashik) during the kumbh mela in the presence of Bharaha Panth’s office-bearers.

Last year, the Panth elected Sri Yogi Nirmalnath, of the Bairag sect, as the new ‘raja’ or matadhipati, to succeed Sri Sandhyanathji. The Kadali Math has a history spanning over 1,000 years. Only seers from the Bairag, Kaplani, Nateshwari and Ganganath sects are eligible to become the matadhipati. Each sect gets its turn after 48 years.

Natha Pantha Karnataka secretary P Keshavanath said: “It’s a matter of pride and joy that a person from the Natha Pantha is heading the largest state of the country. We’ll draw up plans to celebrate his elevation as CM when the Pantha committee members meet on March 26.”

Keshavanath said: “He is central to this math’s affairs since the panth headed by him elects the next Raja of the Kadali Math here. He has a say in the running of all the Maths. Whoever gets the maximum number of approvals is chosen to head a particular math.”

There is more here.

There is mo much similarity when we think about representing regional affairs in regulation and governance (like Federal Eeserve). We appoint members based on rotation just like it has been happening in religious bodies for so many years.

We are just so clueless about all such temple matters.  How are India’s many temples run? What are the migration linkages as seen in Pashupatinath temple?

Temples have been central to economics historically. They were the first such economic (and political) institutions if one may call them. Their governance matters will be really interesting to figure..


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