Apropos of the Shombit Sengupta article “Customer as muse” (FE, November 16), I would recapitulate here what Mahatma Gandhi said on customer: “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.” This sense of respectability towards a customer is almost absent nowadays and, often, he is treated with a professional approach without a human touch.
Debabrata Sengupta, Howrah
Fewer, bigger banks needed
The issue of convergence in the Indian financial sector is once again coming to the fore. Consolidation in the public sector banking (PSB) space has been extensively debated for a long time now but without any concrete steps initiated. The point is it requires political will, which is missing. Agreed, even the smallest PSB now has the total business of around R2 lakh crore and a fairly large network and its merger with other banks is not an easy proposition, requiring many administrative and technical issues to be sorted out. But, for a sound, strong and vibrant banking system, the country will need to have fewer, stronger banks instead of a large number of smaller banks that have the potential to cause systemic risks. A beginning can, therefore, be made in this direction by identifying large, medium and small banks from amongst the PSBs existing now and merging the identified small banks with their bigger cousins in such a manner that the merged entity gains geographical reach to acquire a pan-India presence and enjoy a host of other, accompanying benefits. For instance, a North-based bank forming an alliance with a South- or East-based one will be more meaningful not warranting much rationalisation of branch network, thereby minimising the complexities associated to that extent. Unlike in the yesteryears, the consolidation exercise now need not necessarily be construed as a distressed merger, for it will create a win-win situation for all concerned. Smaller banks have limited resources and a low-risk bearing appetite. As a prelude, it is necessary that all remaining subsidiaries of SBI now go into the parent soon to create a mega unit. Even so, the country’s largest bank doesn’t even come closer to the largest