102 years of Statistical Tables Related to Banks in India..oldest running annual database/publication in India?

I have mentioned this publication/database few times in previous posts and even said will write a post on this in future.

It is fascinating to note that Statistical Tables Related to Banks in India, an annual publication released by RBI is running into 102nd year! I would guess this would make it the oldest running publication/database of India.

The first volume was released in 1915 and was published by Department of Statistics by order of Governor General in Council. The publication was printed by Superintendent Government Printing in Calcutta.

The need to have a publication assessing banking conditions was needed due to multiple banking failures in early 20th century. The British Government finally decided to collect and publish data following large banking failures in Punjab in 2015. Between Nov-13 and Dec-14, around 57 banks had failed with 22 of them from Punjab.

Thus, we see the Government collecting data on failed banks right at the beginning. Infact that is the focus as introductory memorandum suggests:

The object of the statistical tables appended to this memorandum is to show in detail the latest available statistics relating to banking, and the results of a statistical enquiry into bank failures in India in 1913 and 1914. The tables are divided into (1) summary tables and (2) general tables. The summary tables (1 to 3) show the capital reserve, deposits, and cash balances of the three Presidency banks, the Exchange Banks, and the Indian Joint Stock Banks w. ith a minimum paid-up capital and reserve of R5 lakhs. 

Table 4 gives the proportion per cent of the cash to the liabilities on deposits of the several classes of banks. ‘Tables 5 and 6 relate to bank failures and show the number of banks liquidated since September 1913, with their capital (in thousands of rupees), in each month and in each province. The general tables (Tables 7 to 11) give in greater detail the capital, reserve, deposits, cash and investments of the Presidency Banks, and the capital, reserve, deposits, and cash· balances of the Exchange Banks and the Indian Joint Stock Banks.

Table 12 contains detailed statistics of banks liquidated since September 1913. The statistics relating to the working of these banks have been furnished direct by the banks in India, except in the case of the Exchange Banks, the returns of which, as in previous years, have been obtained through His Majesty’s Secretary of State for India. The statistics relating to bank failures in each province have been obtained from local authorities.

Over a period of time, the publication expanded and collected data from banks spread across the country. In the first publication, there was financial data only for 13 banks which expanded significantly over time.

in 1917, the third publication orgainsed Indian joint stock banks into two types of banks:

  • A category with capital and reserves more than Rs 5 lakhs. In 1917, the publication had data on 21 such banks.
  • B Category with capital and reserves between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. The publication had 28 banks.

This classification continued till 1938. The Government was now collecting data of 48 A banks and 142 B Banks!

In 1934, RBI came into being. But it took sometime to take over this publication. From 1939, RBI started publishing this database, RBI made some changes and added a lot more to the publication:

1. This publication is a continuation of the “Statistical Tables relating to Banks in India” which was previously compiled by the Department of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, India, and published by the Manager of Publications, Delhi. The Government of India have transferred the publication to the Reserve Bank with effect from its issue for the year 1939, as they considered that as the Central Banking authority in India, in close association with the more important banks in the country, it could more appropriately be entrusted with the duty of issuing it, especially as it has already in the course of its business to collect most of the statistics contained in the publication for its own use, so that a considerable amount of duplication of effort could be avoided. The present publication covers the two calendar years 1939 and 1940 and in future it is intended to issue it as soon after the close of eaoh calendar year as possible.

2. ‘With the object of making the publication more useful to banks and businessmen and others interested in banking in India a number of changes have
been incorporated in the present issue. Special care, however, has been taken to see that statistical continuity is maintained as far as possible with the previous publications of the Director General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics. 

The more important of these changes are as follows. In the first place, certain tables have been recast and expanded so as to give greater details of the position of the several classes of banks. Secondly, statistics regarding scheduled banks which are now oc’cupying a more predominant position in Indian banking have been shown separately. Thirdly, statistics in respect of the smaller banks, i.e.,banks with paid-up capital and reserves of less than Rs.l lakh have also been collected for the first time in order to make the picture of Indian banking as complete as possible. Fourthly, statistics regarding Burma Banks which have not been included in the Tables since 1937 on account of the separation of Burma  from India have now heen included as the Reserve Bank is also the central bank for that country and the two banking systems are closely connected.

So, we now had 2 classes of banks:

  • Scheduled Banks: RBI started including good A banks in the Second Schedule of its Act. These banks had paid up capital and reserves of Rs 5 lakh and above.
  • Non-Scheduled Banks: Those banks which were not deemed fit to be included in Second Schedule. This was further broken into more categories:
    • A2 banks: These banks had capital and reserves of Rs 5 lakhs and above but were not inclused in Second Schedule.  This was because any bank merely crossing the 5 lakh mark was not automatically included in the second schedule. RBI kept them under a watch-list before including them in the schedule.
    • B Category: Paid up capital and Reserves between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh.
    • C Category: The banks having capital and reserves between Rs. 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh

There were 43 A1 banks, 17 A2 banks, 121 B Banks and 122 C Banks.

This classification continued till 1960. In 1960, Palai Central Bank failure led RBI to push most small banks into either liquidation or merger with the bigger banks.

From 1964 onwards we just had two classes of banks just like in earlier series with different names – Scheduled banks and  Non-scheduled banks.

In 1960, there were 78 A1 banks, 41 A2 banks, 148 B Banks and 73 C Banks. In 1964, there were 65 Scheduled banks and 173 Non-Scheduled Banks, By 1969, the space in both had shrunk to 59 Scheduled and just 16 Non-scheduled banks!

This evolution of classification of Indian banks is not just fascinating but highly important as well. We see how the whole sector has evolved over a time.

Though, there is one big disappointment. These historic tables are not available for public and researchers. We not just need to release them but even convert them into excel files for historical analysis.

We are often told that data in India is a huge issue. But this is one area where data is both of good quality and available for a very long time..



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