The Telegraph
Saturday , March 15 , 2014
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Banking on she power

Banking in the state capital just got a fair edge.

Bharatiya Mahila Bank, which started operations four months ago, opened its first branch in the state on Kadru Diversion Road, Ranchi, on Friday with the aim to primarily cater to women. Usha Ananthasubramanian, the bank’s chairperson-cum-managing director (CMD), inaugurated the branch in the presence of six staff, four of whom are women.

“Our bank started functioning on Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary (November 19) last year. This is the 16th branch to be launched in the country,” she said.

On its first day, the new branch boasted 200 customers on its records. It also sanctioned the first home loan of Rs 10 lakh to one Sangeeta Bhalla.“So far, around 200 customers, most of whom are women, have opened accounts. We plan to increase the number,” said branch manager Meena Mittal.

The first five customers, including Meera Shahdeo and Zohra Nabi, received welcome kits from the CMD.

Ananthasubramanian made it clear that though banking services at the branch near Doranda Lake were open to all, women would be their priority. “It’s a bank for the women. They will be given preference when to comes to sanctioning loans. The bank will help ladies become financially independent by granting loans for setting up MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises), beauty parlours and catering units. Educational loans will be also provided. Self-help groups engaged in income generating activities will be encouraged,” she added.

Asked about the need for an exclusively women’s bank at a time when gender equality is advocated, Ananthasubramanian replied: “Women will feel more comfortable while interacting with a woman banker the same way they do while dealing with a lady doctor or a teacher.”

RBI general manager Saurav Sinha, who was present on the occasion, pointed out that the fair sex was a better credit prospect because of their saving habit.

Nabard chief general manager K.C. Panda felt that as Jharkhand’s women were mostly engaged in agricultural, they often needed small credits.

State women’s commission chairperson Mahua Maji also welcomed the move.

Last year, Jharkhand got five all-women branches of Bank of India in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Bokaro and Hazaribagh. The Ranchi branch is located in Dhurwa.