Customers matter! Sitharaman asks banks to prepare cadre of officials well versed in local languages

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Updated: October 01, 2020 9:16 PM

"We need to have a cadre of people who will have to understand the language of the state in which the posting happens," FM Sitharaman said.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman


Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday asked banks to prepare a cadre of people who can speak and understand a regional language in order to serve the customer better. This will bring them at par with other All-India services like Indian Administrative Services in true sense, she said while launching the Uniform Training Programme for Induction and Mid-Level Training, including a module on preventive vigilance for officers of public sector banks (PSBs). She said there is no point in banks claiming that they have pan-India presence when in some pockets, where Hindi does not work, their executives still need to learn native language to serve the customers. “We need to have a cadre of people who will have to understand the language of the state in which the posting happens,” she said.

Observing that recruitment in banks happens in an All-India fashion, she said officers are unable to speak the language of locals if the postings are deep into a state where Hindi is not spoken. “Of late, I have come across several friction points in some branch-level cases where because the locals come to the branch, and the branch officials are not able to speak the local language,” she said.

The minister added that therefore, it is important for officers, especially new recruits, on a voluntary basis to decide on a language in which they would want to specialise. Last year, several Members of Parliament from southern states had raised the issue of regional language proficiency.

Replying to that, the finance minister had said she was looking into demands of MPs from southern states such as Karnataka for conducting bank recruitment exams in local language as well. Echoing similar views, Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari during the occasion said like in the civil services, the banking sector should look at exploring the possibility of learning one more language other than the mother tongue so as to have a better understanding of the people of India.

Observing that CVC has brought in many changes since Kothari took over, Sitharaman said he has endeared himself to the banking sector by constructively engaging with them by giving them positive ideas. “By working together with them and telling them that you will probably cross a big distance if only you enabled your own officers and staff to be better informed, to be better assured and to be better aware. Therefore, the CVC is no longer part of the ‘3Cs’, which banks have been talking to me about,” she said.

Sitharaman added that he is enabling a generation of banking officers to become a lot more powerful, understand the roles and be responsible and need not fear the CVC. ‘3Cs’ refer to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). Highlighting the importance of training programme, Sitharaman said such versatile programme is the need of the hour. The curriculum for a uniform training system has been designed in consultation with all stakeholders, including the CVC and the bank management.

The system seeks to institutionalise and standardise the training imparted to young bank officers at the time of their joining, and subsequently, at the mid-level stage of their career. The training is aimed at equipping bank officers with a proper understanding of banking rules and procedures, as well as errors and deviations that could potentially result in vigilance cases. She expressed hope that this initiative will go a long way in enabling bank officers to handle their responsibilities prudently, without making unintended mistakes due to the lack of awareness of rules and procedures that could expose them to vigilance-related proceedings. She further stated that the initiative will enable young officers to assume leadership positions in future. Sitharaman emphasised that bank customers will also be benefitted as a result, as well-trained officers attending to their banking requirements would make their banking experience pleasant and hassle-free.

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