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Canara Bank going strong after 100 years in business

Special Correspondent

On July 1, 1906, Ammembal Subba Rao Pai started Canara Hindu Permanent Fund Ltd., rechristened in 1910 as Canara Bank

BANGALORE: On July 1, 1906, Ammembal Subba Rao Pai, a Gowd Saraswat Brahmin (a community known for trading and banking in Kanara), started Canara Hindu Permanent Fund Ltd., rechristened in 1910 as Canara Bank. One hundred years later there is no looking back for Canara Bank.

From seed money of Rs. 10,000, the bank has grown to mammoth proportions, and its market capitalisation now is over $2 million. It is rated among the best banks in the country.

According to M.V. Kamath's book "A Banking Odyssey — The Story of Canara Bank," the Gowd Saraswat Brahmins had a custom wherein on the birth of a child in the family, a certain sum of money was deposited with wealthy persons called "Pattan Shetties" on the understanding that the same would be paid back to the beneficiary when the child became an adult. The money deposited carried no interest. The trouble was that the 18-year span was too long and there was no written understanding. This led to disputes and many widows reportedly went to Subba Rao for seeking redress in courts. This, it is believed, prompted him to start a bank.

Another reason, it is said, was the existence of only a branch of Madras Bank, a British bank in Mangalore, and this was for the rich. It charged exorbitant interest rates and employed only British officers. When Subba Rao started the bank, he ensured that only Indians occupied top positions.

Thus from a humble beginning, Canara Bank has emerged in the forefront of the Indian banking scenario.

In the words of the present Chairman and Managing Director, M.B.N. Rao, the "bottom line will continue to be service to the customer."

States Mr. Rao: "As we reflect, the past 100 years for Canara Bank has been a long voyage with success rewritten at every possible milestone.

"It has been a saga, a banking odyssey that stood up resiliently to the environmental odds and cashed in on every possible opportunity that helped in the process of nation building. For the bank, the centenary is not just a one-off event, it marks the reinvigoration of the bank's commitment to carry on the mission."

Canara Bank has over 2,500 branchesand an aggregate business level of Rs. 1,57,300 crores.

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