K.C. Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India, has said the primary challenge for the banking industry at present was to restore credibility and trust that the banking and finance profession enjoyed before the onset of the financial crisis. He was addressing a national seminar on ‘Banking as a fundamental right’, as part of the ongoing national conference of All India Bank Employees’ Association here on Sunday.

He said the demand for making banking a fundamental right would make sense only when the banking system acquires the ability to do so. The country has failed to ensure availability of food as a fundamental right, he pointed out, but added that even without banking being declared as a fundamental right, banks ought to treat it as such since it is inextricably linked to their very survival. “However, my view is that all of us are collectively responsible,” he said. “The bank managements are responsible, the employees are responsible — in not willing to work in the rural areas – and even the unions can’t escape their share of the blame”.

As the prime movers of the economy, banks have to remain profitable and efficiently serve the interests of the real economy. Thus, asking banks to provide basic banking services and credit to all customers with genuine needs, is not a misplaced demand, he said. Accessibility, affordability and transparency would be three pre-requisites for making banking a fundamental right.

Unless banks make their services affordable, they would exclude a fairly large segment of population from seeking banking services which would make its declaration as a fundamental right meaningless, he said.

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