Random Reflections

The largest bank in the country has earned the trust of the people. That’s why there are 48 crore accounts in the bank. But its recent request seeking more time to furnish the data on electoral bonds is not sitting well with the people. It is high time for the bank to introspect!

State Bank of India was in the news recently because of the downgrading of its ratings by Goldman Sachs. Before that, the economic research wing was questioned by economists for defending the Government by saying poverty and unemployment have reduced drastically.

Before that, it was on the news for granting a fresh loan of Rs.34000 crores to the Adani group.

But its recent appeal to the Supreme Court to provide time till June 30th to provide the list of purchasers of electoral bonds and parties which encashed them has brought a very bad image for SBI. In the digital era, the bank which is a pioneer in technology saying that it can’t reconcile the transactions and provide the list after 18 days of the Supreme Court order is unacceptable.

Whom is it shielding? Why the Chairman of SBI has taken this decision? Is it under threat, or is it because of some offer? There have been rumours already that he got an extension of service due to an influential businessman. He should care for the bank and not a businessman or politician. History should remember him for good things and not the wrong things.

Due to all this, the political parties have now launched an agitation against SBI. This will affect the image of this prestigious bank.

Why is SBI being coerced to take this stand? Is it because of some fear? Then we should know, who is afraid and why.

The Supreme Court has termed the Electoral Bonds scheme unconstitutional. Media outlets have conducted research and published the list of companies which donated to the ruling party after a raid or investigation against these companies by the agencies of the government.

In a letter to the Director (Budget) Dept of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance dated 25/06/2018 SBI has stated that it has spent Rs.60,43,005/- for IT system development for Electoral Bonds.

Now, how is the bank saying that it needs more time to provide these records?

In an RTI reply to Shri. Sanjeev B. Ezhava, dated 22.11.23, the SBI has provided details of electoral bonds for 6 years in just 6 days. Now, why does it require months? (letter attached below)

It is surprising that a company ‘Future Gaming’ has donated Rs.100 crores to a trust named “Prudent Electoral Trust” a trust approved by CBDT under the Electoral Trust Scheme 2013 (letter enclosed below). Is this trust playing the role of a broker between political parties, the Enforcement Directorate, CBI and companies that are doing illegal transactions?

The answer will be there in the list. Supreme Court must ask SBI to provide the list immediately. SBI should have a serious introspection. There should be an Officer Director and an Employee Director in the bank to question wrong decisions. To go down is easy. Climbing up again is difficult.

Thomas Franco is the former General Secretary of All India Bank Officers’ Confederation and a Steering Committee Member at the Global Labour University.

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