One of the successful experiments of the Banking Sector in India has been the formation of the Regional Rural Banks (RRBs). Experts in the field have acknowledged this fact taking into account the recent enormous progress achieved by the RRBs, which have travelled a long way in the last 30 years, on a journey that can best be described as arduous. Close on the heels of Nationalization, when the focus shifted from Class Banking to Mass Banking, the RRBs emerged as a low cost Bank designed to cater to the needs of Small and Marginal Farmers, Rural Artisans, Petty Traders etc., who operate in Rural Areas.
The initial period was marked with innumerable challenges as the RRBs had to deal with illiterate, superstitious people, not exposed to the changing world scene. It was indeed an uphill task, as they were expected to play the role of not just a Banker, but also that of a friend, philosopher and guide, leading them on the path of development.
Malaprabha Grameena Bank, Bijapur Grameena Bank, Varada Grameena Bank and Netravathi Grameena Banks were the four RRBs, sponsored by Syndicate Bank, in the State of Karnataka. When the above RRBs were established without much ado way back in the 1970/80s, people may not have had the slightest idea about the ripple that these RRBs would create in the banking industry and the impact that they would have on the rural scene. In the formative years, the main concern was to reach out to the rural poor through its strong network of branches. The Banks were playing a pivotal role in bringing about a metamorphosis in their respective areas of operation through implementation of the various schemes and programmes tailored to suit the requirements of their customers.
As part of the measures which will lead to strong, efficient and vibrant Banking System, the mergers and restructuring phase of the recommendations of the Narasimhan Committee is now being implemented and thus the four RRBs sponsored by Syndicate Bank in the State of Karnataka were amalgamated to form the KARNATAKA VIKAS GRAMEENA BANK by a Government of India Notification dated 12/09/2005. The combined business level of this Bank was Rs.3263.73 Crores with Deposits of Rs.1620.46 Crores and Advances of Rs.1643.27 Crores as on 12/09/2005
The Banks have come a long way from those initial years and after amalgamation the Bank has a network of 448 branches cutting across the length and breadth of the nine districts forming its area of operation. Surmounting the initial problems of bringing about uniformity in the working of these Branches after amalgamation, the Bank was able to record a growth of 24% as on 31/03/2010 in comparison to the figures as on 31/03/2009. The Bank plans to achieve a business level of Rs 10000 Crores by the end of March 2011.
Apart from conducting the Banking business, the Bank is intricately involved in the social fabric of the people it serves. The activities undertaken are –
Recognising that health is a neglected sector among the rural people, the Bank has been organizing various health camps free of cost. Also in association with the District Blindness Eradication Centre, it has conducted free Eye Check-up Camps followed by cataract surgery and implantation of IOL. Bank also runs a free clinic at one of the villages in its area of operation.
When the river Krishna was in spate, thousands of families were rendered homeless. Bank was quick to respond by distributing rugs at a relief camp and donating a day’s salary of the Staff to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
Responding positively to a news item in the local daily, a village situated close to the Dharwad town was gifted solar light. This village had no electricity till the Bank took it upon itself to provide it.
Bank has adopted several balawadies run by the Akshara Foundation in the slum areas, adopted a rural school for overall development, donated steel plates to the children of Government Schools at many places, recognises meritorious rural students by awarding cash prizes etc., etc.
Thus, the Bank has fulfilled the aspirations of the rural people with its total involvement.
To continue as the leading and visible Grameena Bank, acting as a catalyst for the growth of Agriculture/Allied and Non-Farm Activities, encouraging customers to pursue gainful vocation to maximize returns for a decent living, to liberate vulnerable sections from the clutches of money lenders and finally build a vibrant and pro-active Financial Institution is the mission of Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank.