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Published on: July 29, 2020, 1:05 p.m.
Union Bank's century of trust
  • Inaugurating the Centenary Year celebrations of the bank, Arun Jaitley recalled the glorious history of the bank

By Business India Editorial

Last fortnight, Union Bank of India celebrated its 100th Foundation Day and thus joins the select club of Centenary Year organisations in the country. Established on 11 November 1919 in Bombay, the bank has the unique distinction of being blessed by Mahatma Gandhi, who inaugurated the bank’s corporate office in Mumbai. “We should have the ability to carry on a big bank, to manage efficiently crores of rupees in the course of our national activities. Though we have not many banks amongst us, it does not follow that we are not capable of efficiently managing crores and tens of crores of rupees,” said Gandhi at the inauguration of the bank.

Inaugurating the Centenary Year celebrations of the bank, Arun Jaitley, Union minister of finance, recalled the glorious history of the bank and commended its role in nation-building. While tracing the evolution of banking in India, current challenges and opportunities, the finance minister argued for stronger and efficient banks, to meet the needs and aspirations of young India. He emphasised the reforms undertaken by the government, such as the insolvency and bankruptcy code, goods & services tax, monetary policy committee constitution, and ease of doing business.

He said that various schemes, like Make in India, Digital India, Jan Dhan, Jan Suraksha, Mudra, Stand-up India, Skill India, etc, are all geared towards realising the aspirations of New India. He also exhorted banks to continue credit flows to varied sectors of economy, especially micro, small and medium enterprises, which depend on timely financial support for their growth and liquidity support for NBFCs as they also play an important role in nurturing the enterprise.

Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister, Maharashtra, and Shiv Pratap Shukla, Union minister of state for finance, attended the centenary celebrations as guests of honour. Shukla commended the bank for its active role in furthering financial inclusion, emphasising that trust in financial institutions is key for the progress of the nation and, therefore, both banks and borrowers should respect the trust of depositors.

Fadnavis expressed happiness over a Mumbai-born bank completing a hundred years in the service of the Nation. He said that Maharashtra has emerged as a leader in entrepreneurship, with his government enabling an ecosystem for business and enterprises. He emphasised the fintech phenomenon as being a game changer for financial intermediation in economy.

Welcoming the dignitaries, Rajkiran Rai G., MD & CEO, Union Bank of India, expressed his gratitude to all stakeholders, especially the 70 million customers, who stood with the bank through thick and thin in its century-long journey. He emphasised that the Union Bank is ready for the future, with investment in people, product and technology.

India Post released a stamp to commemorate the Centenary Year of Union Bank of India. A coffee table book, A Century of Trust was released by Fadnavis too. Also, on the occasion, Union Bank of India launched two new variants of Cards – a combo card (debit & credit) and Rupay contactless card (debit & prepaid); a new single app for mobile banking facility (U Mobile); a new web & tab enabled module for credit growth in the MSME sector – Union Mudra and environment friendly, energy efficient & limited carbon footprint Green Data Centre.

Such a long journey

At the time of India’s independence in 1947, Union Bank of India had four branches – three in Mumbai and one in Saurashtra. When the government of India nationalised it in 1969, it had 240 branches. Shortly after nationalisation, Union Bank of India acquired Belgaum Bank, a private sector bank established in 1930 that had itself merged with the Shri Jadeya Shankarling Bank (Bijapur; incorporated on 10 May 1948) in 1964. Then, in 1985, Union Bank of India acquired Miraj State Bank, which was established in 1929, and had 26 branches. In 1999, the Reserve Bank of India requested that the Union Bank acquire Sikkim Bank in a rescue after extensive irregularities had been discovered at the non-scheduled bank.

Union Bank expanded internationally in 2007, with the opening of offices in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Shanghai in the People’s Republic of China. The next year, Union Bank established a branch in Hong Kong, its first branch outside India. In 2009, it opened a representative office in Sydney, Australia.

The bank now operates through over 4,200 branches across the country. It has a team of over 36,000 members of staff to serve 70 million customers.  Currently, it has total assets of Rs4,91,146 crore

 (This article is reproduced from Business India Magazine. It first appeared in our issue dated November 19-December 2, 2018)

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