Governor Satya Pal Malik electronically inaugurated J&K Bank’s 35 Ultra Small Branches (USBs), aiming at financial inclusion and empowerment of Ladakh, connecting 111 remotely located villages, besides, 5 USBs and 1 Business Unit, spread in districts of Samba, Poonch, and Rajouri. He also e-inaugurated social infrastructure initiatives like parks, smart classes and street lights under the CSR program.
“Inauguration of 35 Ultra Small Branches by J&K Bank to connect 111 remote and unbanked villages of Leh Ladakh is a great step towards facilitating the people of these areas. Not only will the people avail the different banking services through these outlets but will witness steady development in their economy as well. Especially the youth of these places engaged in studies and different means of livelihood shall also be able to get access to much-needed finances in different circumstances. For all this, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the bank led by its dynamic Chairman Parvez Ahmed,” said Governor Malik made these remarks today after e-inaugurating the J&K Bank’s 41 Ultra Small Branches (USBs).
Advisor to Governor B.B Vyas, CEC, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Dorjey Mutup, Principal Secretary to Governor Sh. Umang Narula, Principal Secretary Finance Sh. Navin Kumar Choudhary, Chairman and CEO J&K Bank Parvez Ahmed, besides other senior officers of State Government and of J&K bank, were present on the occasion. Councillors of LAHDC also participated in the event through video conferencing.
Notably, with the inauguration of these USBs, the network of the bank’s banking outlets has reached to a milestone of 1000 branches across the country.
Governor Satya Pal Malik, who was Chief Guest on the occasion also lauded the people of Ladakh for being exceptionally honest in their dealings with the banks.
“In times, when so many people have defaulted on bank loans worth millions, there is no money of banks stuck with the borrowers in Ladakh,” he said.
Appreciating the bank’s role in creating a vibrant financial ecosystem across the state that keeps on empowering the people of all sections of the society, Governor said, “Today is going to be historic in another way as well. For, responding to my request of looking into the adjustment of some candidates, who had already qualified the bank’s written exams during the last recruitment drive, Chairman Parvez Ahmed and the bank’s board have done the impossible task of adjusting these youth.”
“Since every country derives strength from its youth, it’ new generation; our real wealth is our youth. Therefore, I feel personally indebted and am extremely thankful to the Chairman and bank’s board for changing the lives of these 582 educated and talented youth for good because I had thought it was just about 30-40 candidates. It will be a changed and more dignified world for all these youngsters and their families once they get their respective designations as Banking Associates,” he further added.
Urging the bank’s management and staff to show equal attention to all customers and serve all the sections of society with dignity and honour, he said, “It is a common observation across the world that the rich and high worth customers do get full ear of the bank staff but J&K Bank must have such an approach to customer service that seeks to respect the dignity of every customer who visits your branch.”
Addressing the jam-packed gathering at SKICC auditorium, CEC LAHDC Leh Dorjay Motup thanked the bank for fulfilling this difficult task that, he said, would translate into the financial development of the people of all the connected areas USBs.
Dorjey Motup said, “I would like to pay gratitude on behalf of LAHDC and the people of Ladakh region to J&K Bank Chairman and other management for drawing up a plan for financial inclusion and inaugurating 35 USBs in Ladakh region which will contribute a long way in the overall development of the region. The J&K Bank is the biggest lender and has the largest footprint among other banks in the region.”
“On this occasion, I would like to emphasize J&K Bank has zero NPA in Ladakh region and it is a success story. Ladakh is spread in 45 thousand Sq km area and it is difficult to open bank branches in far-flung areas. People have to travel 100-150 kilometers to avail the banking services, but today’s inauguration of USBs in these areas and surrounding villages will ease the difficulties faced earlier. These USB’s will be beneficial for the nomadic people who can now deposit their hard earned money without any fear. The government officials posted in these areas shall also benefit from these banking outlets,” he added.
Eighty percent of bank branches are in rural areas and J&K Bank is making good headway in this direction by opening these USBs. J&K Bank has handheld the economy of J&K State in difficult times and has remained strong and kept growing with the time, he said.
The members of LAHDC and other senior functionaries of the state government in Ladakh were also connected to SKICC event through the video-conferencing facility. Short films on the conception and implementation of these USBs besides bank’s CSR initiatives were also screened on the occasion.
Highlighting the bank’s slogan for the occasion, Advisor to Governor B B Vyas said, “I was just looking at slogan of J&K Bank ‘Taking Banking to new heights’.
“I think today’s event marks more like taking banking to new distances, to new requirements. It is a landmark initiative by J&K Bank and I congratulate J&K Bank on this initiative. As you’ll see there are two parts of the function, first is the Opening of the USBs, a great initiative taken by Union finance ministry under dynamic leadership of PM of India and a good start by J&K Bank by initiating the USBs in a region like Ladakh where we have great discipline and work execution and commitment besides best organization of SHGs,” he said.
“USBs are not only about financial transactions alone, they are about financial empowerment, they are also about introducing people to technology through banking. With this initiative Ladakh region will go a long way towards financial empowerment,” he added.
He further asserted, “In fact J&K Bank is seen as ‘Panun Bank, Sadda Bank’ and I think it’s a great thing that you are taking such CSR initiatives particularly smart classrooms is extremely praiseworthy because it improves footfall of students and will increase enrolment of students and will also bring down the dropout rate from school. It also is in line with the current administration that is laying great emphasis on sports and education of youth for overall development.”
Emphasizing the need to reflect upon the essence of banking, he asserted, “While thinking about the definition of the banking, I think it is all about trust and faith of people and it is something which we need to reflect upon. The faith comes out of the safety of investment, financial fundamentals and we need to work more to address all that affects our visibility, our footprint and overall the trust and faith of people in us.”
“The stakeholders get connected to the bank on three counts: safety of investment, comfort in terms of infrastructure, staff behavior and convenience in the range of products, quality of services and quick disposal of the services,” he said.
Earlier, welcoming the dignitaries, Chairman and CEO Parvez Ahmed extended gratitude to the Governor Satya Pal Malik for his presence on the occasion and personal keen interest in the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said, “It is a matter of great pride for us today as we are extending our outreach to each and every village of Leh District through first of its kind banking model called J&K Bank Easy Payment Units. This day is a befitting tribute to our recently observed 80th Foundation Day as we are taking a step which strongly supports the vision of the founders of J&K Bank who started this Bank to catalyze the socio-economic development of the region.”
“We intend to map the whole geography in the state in such a manner that nobody in the state should be traveling more than 5Km for availing the banking facilities. Our aim is to take the financial inclusion in the state to next level in line with the national priorities for improving the socio-economic profile of people which shall simultaneously open up immense direct and indirect employment opportunities for the bright educated unemployed youth of the state.”
Giving a brief backdrop of circumstances in which he assumed the bank’s Chairmanship, Parvez Ahmed said, “I started this journey two years back with my team, in a challenging environment wherein all banks were hit badly by the mounting NPAs and our bank too suffered not only due to Corporate NPAs but also on account of the restructuring of the state credit portfolio due to effect floods in 2014 followed by civil unrest in our state. Our team proactively adopted the path of transparency, Consolidation, and Cleanup of the Balance Sheet and registered a loss of 1632 Cr as on March 2017.”
“We adopted the path of resilience and took the initiatives of professionalizing the Board, strengthening of balance sheet by preferring provisions over profits, setting up a separate vertical to exclusively focus on recovery, settlement & resolution of NPAs, Improvement in Regulatory Compliance, Quality Lending in Rest of India and focusing on state-centric lending with hand holding, of fragile businesses in the state. The Banks’ Board invested itself in making systems more efficient & transparent to create a future-ready organization by proactive & consistent interventions to steer the Bank during turbulent times in the Banking Industry.
“Notwithstanding the challenges and understanding fully well our systemic importance the bank continued to expand its business aggressively in the state to create direct and indirect employment opportunities besides continuing CSR support to various activities for upgradation of social infrastructure especially in tourism, education and health sectors,” he added.
Regarding the bank’s recent drive to strengthen institutional relationships, he stated, “Simultaneously we have been working towards fostering Entrepreneurship and startup culture in the state besides promoting Industry-Academia Partnerships with all major institutions across all regions including a very recent MoU with Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh.”
On the occasion, he acknowledged the support of stakeholders saying, “I must acknowledge the Bank in its journey towards recovery and growth received enormous support from our promoters and major stakeholders the State Government, besides consistent loyalty and faith in our brand by the esteemed customers. The guidance from the state government and other stakeholders, directions from the Board coupled with the commitment of our staff have resulted in 6 continuous quarters of profitability after the loss of 1632 Cr in March 2017.”
“I am privileged to share that bank has registered a profit of Rs 146 crore in the first Half of the year with a gross business turnover of 150000 Cr including more than one lac crore from J&K state,” he added.
Seeking continuous support from the Governor, Chairman stated, “The Bank seeks your continuous patronage, guidance along with support and cooperation of the administrative team for playing a dominant role in achieving your vision of upliftment of socio-economic profile of the people of J&K.”
Meanwhile, the function was attended among others by Principal Secretary Governor Umang Narula (IAS), Principal Private Secretary to Governor, Varinder Rana, Vice-chancellor of Islamic University of Science & Technology, Mushtaq Siddiqui, Vice-chancellor, SKUAST, Dr. Nazir Ahmed, Excise Commissioner (J&K), Talat Parvez, Principal GMC, Srinagar, Dr. Saima Rasheed, DDC Srinagar, Dr Syed Abid Shah, Ex-Chairman, JK PSC, Mohammad Shafi Pandit (Rtd. IAS), Secretary CAPD, Dr. Abdul Rashid, Political & Social activist, Sanjay Saraf, other senior functionaries of the government and members of LAHDC were present on the occasion.
Notably, bank’s Board of Directors, D K Pandoh, Dr. Sanjeev Aggarwal, Mohammad Ashraf Mir & Mohammad Maqbool Rather, were also present on the occasion. The Bank’s Executive Presidents, P. K. Tickoo & R. K. Chibber, Presidents, Vice Presidents and other officers of the bank too attended the function.
Notably, 35 USBs inaugurated on the occasion are spread across Leh in Ladakh include Chemrey, Tsaga, Anlay, Hanu,Domkhar, Shukpachan, Lamayuru, Chilling, Taru, Phyang, Alchi, Wanla Khaltsi, Saboo, Wanla Zampa, Sakti, Egu,Gia,Liktse, Kargyam, Charasa, Kuyul, Korzok, Chushul. Terchey, Maan, Shashukul, Digger, Khardong, Largyab, Waris, Hunder, Basgo, Mangue, Spituk, and Chumur.
Meanwhile, 6 additional banking units inaugurated during the event include 5 USBs at Katli Samba, Ari Poonch, Tareru Rajouri, Chokian Rajouri, Nunual Rajouri, and 1 Business Unit at Chinigund Anantnag.
Various Social Infrastructure projects in health and education sector under CSR programme of the bank were also inaugurated during the event. The projects inaugurated included the lighting of pedestal pathway at Khaltsi in Leh besides various parks like Wazir Bagh Park, Padshahi Bagh Park, Pahalgam Lidder View Park and Smart Classes for Government GHSS Bijbehara and Open-air gym at Wazir Bagh Srinagar.
Lastly, Waheed Jeelani and Qaiser Nizami – two renowned singers of the state- enthralled the audience with their melodious musical performances on the occasion.
The function concluded with the vote of thanks presented by the Executive President P K Tickoo.