As Andhra Bank Fades Into the Pages of History, an Emotional Sting for Telugu States

Today, 6 public sector banks were amalgamated with 4 banks:

  • Union Bank amalgamates Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank
  • Indian Bank amalgamates Allahabad Bank
  • Canara Bank amalgamates Syndicate Bank
  • PNB amalgamates United Bank and OBC

Gali Nagaraja pays tribute to Andhra Bank in this Wire piece:

Andhra Bank, a premier public sector bank with deep roots in the erstwhile undivided Andhra Pradesh, is all set to vanish from public view from April 1, in a move that draws the curtains on a significant chapter of regional history.

The bank was founded by Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya, a veteran freedom fighter and close follower of Mahatma Gandhi on November 23, 1923. Its beginnings were modest, with a single branch, and later grew by leaps and bounds over the past nine decades.

The state-run lender has now been merged with the Union Bank of India and the Corporation Bank in line with finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman’s decision to merge ten public sector banks (PSBs) into four big-ticket banks. The move, Sitharaman has asserted, aims to bring down the volume of non-performing assets and build a strong banking system, while making banking cost-effective.

The move, however, will snap an emotional connection that hundreds of thousands of Telugu-speaking customers had with the bank. With the merger, the bank will lose its identity and logo as it becomes part of the Union Bank of India. Reports say that the new entity will have its headquarters in Mumbai.

The AB merger had led to protests:

When the merger was first announced in September 2019, it sparked a widespread backlash.

The Modi government was accused of exhibiting its bias against the two Telugu states in pushing through its merger proposal. The decision to not merge some banks based in the Hindi-speaking belt and a few lending institutions in a few BJP-ruled states, which have “region-specific” names, were cited as pointers for the alleged discrimination.

These include Punjab and Sind Bank, Punjab National Bank and UCO bank with bases in Delhi and West Bengal respectively, Canara Bank, identified with a region in Karnataka, Bank of Baroda in the PM’s native state of Gujarat and Bank of Maharashtra.

Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee Legal Cell chairman C. Sundararama Sarma said the way the merger of Andhra Bank was forced through deeply hurts the sentiment of Telugu people.

What is perhaps more worrying is the stoic silence maintained by the governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The two governments, headed by Telangana Rashtra Samithi and YSR Congress Party, were expected to adopt a resolution to push for the retention of Andhra Bank as its own entity.

The two states have 42 MPs, but none have registered their dissent either in Lok Sabha, pointed out Sarma. The Congress leader wished that the government had at least retained the name of Andhra Bank and let it lead the other two banks as part of the merger.The employees of Andhra Bank, under the aegis of the All India Bank Employees Union (AIBEU), launched a series of agitations since the merger was announced in November 2019.

Leader of Opposition in Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu, and Telangana’s minister T. Harish Rao mailed representations to the Centre, requesting to leave the Andhra Bank untouched from the merger proposal. But their appeals seem to have had no bearing on the Centre.

Lot of history of Indian banking is just disappearing thick and fast…

 

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