|Khan Bahadur Haji Abdulla Haji Kasim Saheb Bahadur's portrait at the Founder's Museum, Udupi|
Adios Corporation Bank.
Being a banker's daughter, daughter-in-law, and niece, this somehow feels like a very personal loss. My Dad, maternal Aunts, Uncles, all worked in various branches of this institution, and visiting the branch and head office was a routine thing since childhood. That was where I saw my first computer, in the early 90s. It looked like a magic box back then. That was where my first ever library membership began. That was where we bankers' kids took part in many a competitions , be it singing or drawing, and won as well. I remember knowing the founder's name, a really long one, correctly! Those LFC vacations and holiday homes, the yearly scholarship, incentive for faring well in exams - so many fond memories! My closest friend in school was from a banking family too.
Even back then, there were rumors and concerns of various banks merging. The employees' union vehemently opposed it, and I remember watching some employee demonstrations against this act, as I accompanied my Dad almost everywhere. I didn't understand it much back then, even now I don't, to be honest. They say it's good for the economy. Maybe that's true. Towards his retirement (and even now), Dad kept saying the banking culture is changing. The love for the institution and to see it grow, to nurture it, a value prevalent in the 80s and 90s, was fast disappearing, he said. Customer service, something that bankers of that period lived by, was no longer the core of banking. The capacity to build lasting bonds with customers was an art.
Merger was imminent. And now, it has happened.
What hurts is to see that the identity of these banks, built by great visionaries in the pre-independence era is over. The "Mangalore" touch is gone!
These were institutions begun by great men back then. Khan Bahadur Haji Abdulla Haji Kasim Saheb Bahadur, a staunch Nationalist and follower of the Swadeshi movement, began Corporation Bank (called as Canara banking Corporation Limited in those days, not to be confused with Canara bank) with few other visionaries of those times, on March 12th 1906, in Udupi, with a balance of 5000 Rupees! It grew leaps and bounds, till it flourished.
The relation to Corp Bank is more personal, as half my family worked here. An Uncle's Grandfather had bought a house from Abdulla Sahab as he was fondly called then. An apartment stands in it's place today. My Aunt reminisces her childhood memories of walking past the old European Bungalow that housed the head office located close to our home. She says her dream was to work in that bank, and she joined immediately after graduating.
The same story holds true for the other banks that took birth in this glorious land called Tulunad.
(From Left, Dr T. M. A Pai, Shri A. B Shetty, Shri Ammembal Subbarao Pai, Shri Khan Bahadur Sahab)
Dr. Tonse Madhav Anant Pai, another great visionary. A doctor. A philanthropist. An educationist. A doctor who would personally visit patients irrespective of their social status or ability to pay his fees, at any time of the day or night. A man who converted a tiny unknown village on a hill into a global educational hub. MANIPAL. The name is pure emotion; I am a proud alumnus of the first ever public private partnership venture in Independent India started by him. Grandpa used to say Dr. Pai would personally come to Mangalore too see the work progress of the college building on Light House Hill Road, back in those days! Dad remembers him from his visits to one of the colleges begun by him, Vijaya College, Mulki, from where Dad graduated. Dr. TMA Pai, Shri Upendra Pai and Shri Vaman Kudva started the Syndicate Bank in Manipal in the year 1920. It is believed he got the idea when he helped poor fisher-folk of the region, especially the women, save money.
Shri Ammembal Subbarao Pai. A Mangalorean. The founding father of the Canara group of institutions, and again I am a proud alumnus. This great man started the Canara Bank in Mangalore in 1906.
Shri Attavara Balakrishna Shetty. Most Mangaloreans would know a circle named after him, the AB Shetty circle. And Mangalore's oldest dental college which is also named after him. A Congressman who served as Minister in various portfolios, he started the Vijaya Bank in 1931 at Bunts Hostel, Mangalore.
These four Mangalore - Udupi born banks provided job opportunities for thousands of youth from the region in those times. Times were different. People did not join the banks with the idea of jumping to a better opportunity with the first available chance. A bank job meant a secure future. A bank job also meant building of small communities amongst the families of bankers. We formed the quintessential "middle-class"; we didn't have a luxurious life, but no hardships either.
One quality of banker parents common across all banks was their penchant for good education. It is no wonder then that a large proportion of banker kids are professionally well placed! This was a sentiment echoed by the teachers at school too!
Times were different. Things have changed over the years, and now. After all, change is the only constant, they say.
Maybe mingling of different banking cultures is for the greater good? Maybe not?
Let's wait and see. For old times' sake, even amidst this lockdown, Dad went to the branch to draw money. One last time from Corporation Bank, when it's still Corporation Bank.
For now, I still cannot believe that from tomorrow, Corporation Bank will NOT be Corporation Bank, anymore.
The following is directly copied from the Corp Bank website, as it's going to change very soon: