Drabu’s Calendar Day: JK Bank has world’s biggest fire fighters

FinMin Dr Haseeb A Drabu signing the ‘wall of fame’ – portraits of 12 youth featured by J&K Bank calendar (KL Image: Mehraj Bhat)

KL News Network

SRINAGAR

Terming J&K Bank staffers as “biggest fire fighters” of the world, Finance Minister Dr Haseeb A Drabu on Saturday said he is sure that they will bring the premier financial institution out of the “rough times”. He said he knows the human resource of the bank better because he has worked with them in his two terms as CEO of the bank.

“The government will do its bit, if required, in the bank,” Drabu said, “But the strength of the bank are its people and they are aware of the challenges the bank is facing both from inside and outside.”

Finance Minister said he is sure that the human resource of the bank will leave no stone un-turned in “revitalizing” the bank and “take it to place where it belongs to.”

Interestingly, however, when Drabu with the people he had worked with, he felt everyone had grown old. He said he understands well why he is seeing it around.

Drabu had flown from Jammu to unveil the yearly wall calendar of the 2017 that, for the first time, featured 12 young “achievers”. He said while bank and all other institutions have traditionally been featuring the beautiful landscape in their calendars, he said, he has been suggestive of giving some space to the people who live in this beautiful place and their rick culture and heritage. “It is a sort of self discovery,” he said.

Explaining in his brief speech after unveiling the calendar – 13 lakh copies printed, Dr Drabu said that J&K has a massive youth bulge and part of it has “lost its way”.

“The biggest challenge that J&K as a state faces is youth. The image that today is…a youth who has lost its way. The first image that will come to your mind today is of a youth pelting stones, anarchy, social disorder. I do not think it is a political problem. It is a social issue,” Drabu said. “It is great in terms of its timeliness as the counter-narrative that exists today in the world is that we have a world champion (eight-year old kick boxing champion Tajamul Islam) coming out of Kashmir.”

“I do not think, it is a political problem,” Drabu said, “It is a social issue.” He said the phenomenon requires a counter-narrative and the individuals featured on the wall calendar can demonstrate that. “These boys and girls have achieved their goals on their own and I am sure the government would have been their roadblock,” Drabu said.

Terming the featuring of these boys and girls as “an intervention in the social space,” Drabu said the wall calendar is a signal that needs to be sent. He said J&K Bank being the best communicator in the state so it communicated the message so well. He termed the 12 boys and girls as “star achievers” and “pride of the state” that will “inspire the young generation”.

Later, talking to reporters Drabu said in his third budget, he is keen to make certain interventions that will help the people who are on the margins of the system. He was referring to the daily wagers whose fate has remained hanging for many years now. He said he will be improving the GP Fund norms further.

“Last year, I did a lot of reforms on provident fund. This year also, I will continue doing some reforms…basic trend of my budget has been to make things easier for the people and finance should not be seen as a constraining department, but something that aides development,” Drabu said. “But, because I presented the last budget in July (2016) its been only six months and I think this budget will also consolidate and do a stock taking of the previous three budgets. It means a lot.”

“There are two ways about it, one is a very short-term kind of interpretation where it has caused a lot of distress in terms of transactional demand for money has not been met,” Drabu told reporters seeking his response to demonitization. “But I take a slightly more long-term view and feel that this is going to set us on a path of much superior digital payment system and (comes) also as a shock to the system which should eventually yield better results. So, I am not negative on it but yes there have been short-term pains.”

The minister further said that the long-term impact of demonetisation is going to be far more important than what is being seen at the moment.

J&K Bank executives with the youth who were featured on the JK Bank Calender 2017 (KL Image: Mehraj Bhat)

Asked whether he and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti were not on the same page over the issue demonetisation as the latter has praised the Centre’s move, Drabu said he speaks as a professional, while the CM has given a general opinion about it. “Why should one be (on the same page)? I mean demonetisation is a national macro-economic policy measure. It will affect different people differently. I take a view which is professional,” Drabu said.

Acknowledging that they can have different views on the same matter, Drabu said: “She was giving a general opinion about it. But even then I do not feel any dissonance”.

Asked about SARFAESI, the minister said that opposition to it is misplaced because the apex court verdict reaffirms the Transfer of Property Act actually prevails.

“I think opposition to the SC ruling is completely misplaced. The Opposition has been doing this for very long,” Dr Drabu told reports. “In the event of a bank taking recourse of property, they can’t sell it to a non-state subject. In the last budget, I had already made a provision for Asset Recovery Company, which can buy these impaired assets.”

Drabu said the op[position has no clue to what they are saying and bear no relation to what the act has and it is not new today because this has been going on since 2003. He said the law department is discussing if J&K will have its own law.

Interestingly, Drabu spent December 31, unveiling the 2017 calendar. In Jammu, he launched the official calendar of J&K Grameen Bank (JKGB). This bank’s calendar displayed of nature’s beauty.

Drabu also unveiled Culture Department’s calendar in Jammu that showcases J&K’s treasure-trove of its past. Conceived by him personally, an official spokesman said, it is a collective voyage of rare manuscripts, priceless paintings, ancient scriptures and beautiful calligraphy that is already in possession of the J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages.

“Aimed at rebuilding a culturally conscious society, the Calendar designed by the Department of Culture presents a visual narrative of J&K’s treasured heritage and history,” said Dr Drabu. “It is like engaging with our past, to reorient our present and redefine our future.”

Dr Drabu said that some of the rare manuscripts and ancient scriptures incorporated in the Calendar include 300 year old Wasay-e-Luqman, a calligraphic masterpiece based on the legendary Hakeem Luqman’s advice, Sharda Script, personal hand-written dairies of Shair-e-Kashmir Mehjoor, Thangka Painting of Ladakh, Mahabharata in Kashmir, gold-plated copy of Quran calligraphed in 1711 AD and other similar priceless possessions.

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