30 May 2017 | Last updated 11:41 PM


 
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Still a long way to go, for Indian banking system
Anjali Marar | Sunday, 20 November 2016 AT 01:45 PM IST
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Testing patience of the common man
The sudden move and the objective might be appreciated by all, but till when should patience levels of the common man be put to test, must be finalised. The government better roll out improved measures for money management  or it will not be too long when the people of this country will unite against the government.


Ten days since the world’s largest economy did away with its highest currency notes, it can now be said with full assurance that none of the banks ever trained their staff with managerial skills and customer-relation lessons ever during their bank-training days.

Albeit, banks are places where people of all strata of the society turn up, it is mostly a floating population they are used to handling. However, most of them say they have handled ‘real’ customers in these few days, an experience which they think will haunt them for some time now. The initial two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetising of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes, it was panic, utter confusion and above all fear that gripped people which drove them to queue up outside banks, as if all their money would suddenly be buried into a ditch permanently.

Like any other big city in the country, Pune’s nationalised banks – mostly State Bank of India (SBI) and Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) attracted maximum crowds as queues spilled onto the roads, adding to the vehicular traffic chaos the city is already dealing with. The queues to me resembled the ones commonly outside liquor shops in Kerala, where every day ‘disciplined’ men stand for hours together to get their daily quota of liquor.

It was nothing short of a nightmare for private banks, especially those with a small customer base, having not more than five staffers including the branch manager, seated in a cozy air-conditioned cabin away from all this national din. Which is why these branches were also the ones that bore the worst brunt as neither were they allotted the quoted sum of new currencies nor were they able to provide services required. This again leads to the question, whether all branches of the banks had to be pulled into this mess, even derailing the normal functional activities of banks?

The operationalisation of ATM centres did give some respite to people but the government once again failed to inform people on time, that mostly on-site ATM centres would be minting out money, that too, only the most talked about – ‘pink’ currency (Rs 2,000 notes). While most people were inconvenienced, the banks kept introducing new strategies to tackle the uncountable number of people. Adding to already existing woes, the timing of refilling currency at these ATM centres was frequently changed, which was by now tracked by intelligent Puneites who added ATM visits to daily schedules.

Morning walkers, joggers, cyclists and pet walkers - all de-routed themselves to nearby ATM centres. This was soon met with disappointment as the large section of working class could not be in the queue after a certain time during the early morning hours. Joint families introduced all their family members in the new pass time in the form of relay-queue standing exercise.
The indelible ink was the latest addition to the various ‘pranks’, which people started to feel off late. All said and done, the common man – be it a daily labourer, a housewife, an elderly man etc; is at the wit’s end to see the mess being cleared and is yearning for the smooth and normal functioning of banks and ATMs in the city.

Well, the sudden move and the objective might be appreciated by all, but till when should patience levels of the common man be put to test, must be finalised. The government better roll out improved measures for money management and identify centres apart from banks where money can be exchanged, like its latest move of allowing SBI-affiliated fuel stations to give away cash, else, it will not be too long when the people of this country will unite against the government.


 
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