India’s first all-women bank, the Bharatiya Mahila Bank, began operations on Tuesday after being inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the presence of finance minister P Chidambaram and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
The Prime Minister said that social and economic empowerment of women in the country was a distant goal and that women in India faced discrimination and hardships.
“The sad reality is that women in India face discrimination and hardship at home, at school, at their place of work and in public places. Their social, economic and political empowerment remains a distant goal,” Singh said at the inauguration of Bharatiya Mahila Bank’s (BMB) branch in Air India building in Mumbai.
The bank begins operations with seven branches and will primarily serve women. The number of branches will go up to 25 by March-end.
The finance minister said the bank will be listed on the stock exchanges in the due course of time.”The government will divest part of its stake in the bank to the public and list it on the stock exchange in the due course of time,” he said.
Chidambaram said he had requested the RBI to relax rules relating to branch opening for BMB for one year. “We are keen that BMB should open a branch in all the state capitals initially,” he said.
He said BMB will be a universal bank and will provide all services and facilities that is provided by comparable public and private sector banks.
BMB chairperson and managing director Usha Ananthasubramanian said the bank has envisaged a business of Rs 60,000 crore by 2020. “The bank will offer 4.5 per cent interest on savings bank deposits. This is 0.5 per cent more than other PSU banks,” she said.
The bank also announced its first board of directors. The prominent among them are Chhavi Rajawat, a sarpanch from Rajasthan, Kalpana Saroj, who turned around Kamani Ltd, Renuka Ramnath, former MD of ICICI Ventures and founder of private equity firm Multiples and Tanya Dubash, daughter of Adi Godrej and Nupur Mitra, former CMD of Dena Bank.