Loss of face
A bank manager at Bayana in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur says the waiver has rendered useless all his efforts to get defaulters to pay up.
On the record: Vijaya Bank officers in Mandya, Karnataka’s sugar bowl 100km south-west of Bangalore, put up lists naming farmers whose loans will be written off under the loan waiver scheme. Banks across the country have been told to display lists of the names of beneficiaries of the waiver by 30 June.
Before the government announced its loan waiver package, he used to display the names and photographs of farmers whose payments were due on a board at his branch.
“I did it to put pressure on defaulters. Also, it was to encourage those who paid on time,” he says.
He adds that what upsets him more is that he now has to organize meetings with farmers to give them information on the loan waiver scheme.
- Sangeeta Singh/Bayana, Rajasthan
Change of heart
Displaying the names of loan defaulters at bank branches often has very little impact. That is why banks hire people to get a bit tough. One such “tough guy” in Uttar Pradesh’s drought-hit Bundelkhand has now changed his mind.
He no longer wields hockey sticks and chains to threaten farmers and seize their belongings when they can’t repay loan instalments regularly. Instead, he is now working among distressed farmers as an activist.
That he decided to quit being a “bully” long before the waiver package was announced looks prophetic in hindsight. He would have anyway run short of targets.
The world isn’t fair
Purushottam Kevat of Bundelkhand says he is unlucky because he is only a daily labourer and not a farmer. He adds that he has nothing to look forward to. “Some farmers will benefit from the grand loan waiver, but what about us?” he asks.
Kevat works as a daily labourer under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. “I haven’t received wages for the past one week. And every time we get them, the village head takes a cut,” he says.
- Padmaparna Ghosh/Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh
The age of computers
In casual conversations, senior public sector bankers seldom fail to mention the progress made by their banks in computerizing far-flung branches. The statistics, while impressive, do not give an inkling of the tortuous progress of computerization in the banking system.
Early last week, even as reports trickled in of finance ministry officials sending in clarifications on details of the loan waiver scheme which required bankers’ to revisit calculations, senior bankers at different headquarters said no one would lose sleep as computers would take care of additional calculations.
Subsequently, a visit to rural branches showed some bankers were struggling to handle finance ministry’s clarifications.
A public sector bank’s branch manager in Madhya Pradesh’s Datia points to the fact that many bank employees had begun to use a computer rather late in life and creating additional “fields” in the software to handle new calculations was intimidating. “Age does have an impact (on computer skills),” the banker adds.
- Sanjiv Shankaran/Datia, Madhya Pradesh