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Cheque books are printed in Hindi and English. This means that details to be filled on a cheque leaf are asked in both the languages. However, customers can use any regional language while using cheque leaves at a bank. A customer can fill the details such as her name in any scheduled regional language and can even sign the cheque in that language. But the signature in the bank records should match the one made in the regional language.

RBI’S STAND

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor, Raghuram Rajan, recently stressed that use of regional languages while engaging with banking customers can go a long way in penetrating banking services. He was speaking at the occasion of presenting the Rajbhasha awards for the financial year 2013-14 to banks. Rajan emphasized that it is the responsibility of the government and the banking sector to provide banking facilities to those who have money, but have no access to formal banking channels in a language that they would understand. He added that in these efforts, Hindi and other Indian languages can act as a bridge between the banker and the customer and also pointed out that financial literacy should also be provided in regional languages because customers can connect better when they can speak in their native tongue. Rajan also mentioned the fact that a lot of people fall prey to Ponzi schemes because of lack of financial literacy.

In fact, according to a master circular dated 1 July 2014, RBI has stated certain guidelines regarding use of regional languages in banking communications for public banks in general.

COMMUNICATION MATERIALS

As per the norms, in order to ensure that all customers are served well, all display indicators showing scheme details, announcements and other messages should be in Hindi, English and in a regional language, usually of the state in which the branch is located. This is especially necessary for rural and semi-urban bank branches. Business posters should also be in three languages.

Apart from that, the guidelines state that to ensure facilities extended by banks reach majority of the population, it should provide printed materials meant for customers such as account opening forms, pay-in slips, passbooks, among others, in a trilingual format.

OTHER FACILITIES

Even in terms of business transactions between customers and bank employees, it is advised in the guidelines that employees should be able to communicate with customers in the language of their choice in which they are comfortable.

Also, messages for other facilities such as drop box facility and cheque collection acknowledgement at counters—which is mandated to be available at all bank branches and are not to be denied to a customer—should be displayed in three languages including Hindi, English and the regional language of the area.

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