Dr Subash Chander Gupta
The economic success story of a society begins with the vivacious roles played by its sentient citizens and other conscientious organizations to thread in inclusiveness and sustainability of all the sections of society. Now a days CSR has gone a way beyond the old philanthropy practices. J & K bank has emerged as a brand that integrates economic, social and environmental objectives to further promote the paradigm of development in the state.
“The historic Rajinder Park has always remained the Epicenter of community entertainment and bonding in the city of Jammu well before the partition days and we at J&K Bank in our humble ways wish to revive the tradition by enriching the experience of the visitors to the park”. The words look quite strange when the CEO of a financial institution is the voice behind it. After listening to the words of the Chairman JK Bank, it quite shook me out of my cocoon as being a protagonist of J&K tourism and heritage even I have not thought at the micro level about the vanishing cultural heritage of Jammu region. It is really a positive philanthropic move of the JK Bank as responsible corporate citizen and prompted me to pen & share my thoughts on the role of J&K Bank which is interwoven in the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir State. It is really amazing to know that the Bank is having a customer base of 1.12 Cr out of a total population of 1.30 Cr of J&K and silently the bank is serving the people for providing, now a days, indispensible and quasi essential banking services in every nook and corner of the state. No wonder Bank’s calendar is one of the most sought after commodity on the onset of new year keeping in view the intertwining of the lives of the people with the Bank.
That was on a personal note. Seeing it as a Business Institution, it is one of the few institutions of the state which has grown progressively over the years as a brand of Jammu and Kashmir. Starting from a modest journey in the year 1938 with a mandate of the then Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, it has moved leaps and bounds to a 1,50,000 crore business turnover out of which 1,05,000 Cr is the contribution from the J&K state. It is no doubt a preferred brand in all three regions and all J&K residents agree, that it feels like coming home when they walk inside a JK Bank branch anywhere in India. Bank has turned around after a loss of 1632 cr and now after showing a profit of 250 Cr in nine months of the current year has projected a humongous profit of Rs 2000 Cr in FY 2022; a commendable effort indeed.
The present team of the J&K Bank has done serious effort in extrapolating the brand of the bank much beyond the boundaries of the financial institution. The visionary leadership of the Bank has visualized the role of the Bank as an instrument of economic upliftment of the people of the state and rightly so as being a first generation entrepreneur I can endorse with a fair amount of confidence that it is the only bank which is providing growth capital to the entrepreneurs in all nooks and corners of the state. It is a solace not only for the bright youth but also their families that the JK Bank offers a hope either as a direct / indirect job opportunity for fruition of their dream projects as entrepreneur.
The Bank has also been a good story of collective growth and cultural amalgamation of all three regions- Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh just like the story of its logo- a falcon with three colors representing the three regions. A fair sense of collective growth is revealed by its business parameters in all three regions with dominant contribution in the overall banking services be it deposit or advances. J&K Bank makes a good amalgamation of social integration of all the regions of the state.
Modern economies expand and emerge with the sustenance of the available banking systems and financial institutions in the state, whose active role and contribution towards economic growth and social development cannot be slighted. In contemporary times, when a cross section of society is marred with wide disparity in social and economic development and a positive shift on these fronts is a need of the hour, the bank has emerged as a pioneer in social banking arena in the state along with its CSR projects that are focused on people and their health, environment, education and society at large. Bank has been in news for many CSR initiatives which is commended by the public and administration alike. Be it dedicating a fully furnished dormitory and smart classes for girl children at Balgran, Channi Rama Jammu or identifying schools in remote areas of Rajouri where e learning tools like laptops, projectors, Interactive screens were installed, the bank has always been on the forefront to extend a helping hand to all the organisations that focus on bringing the individuals and groups at the margins of society to its secure and dignified core thereby further strengthening the philosophy of inclusion in its CSR programme. The Governor J&K Satya Pal Malik has been on record multiple times appreciating the role of bank as a responsible corporate citizen most recently during the dedication of the musical fountain and open gymnasium installed by the Bank under its CSR at the historic Brig Rajinder Park. The main objective of the Bank’s CSR Policy is its commitment to operate in economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner that ensures upliftment of the marginalized and under-privileged sections of the society to promote capacity building, environment protection, and promotion of environmentally viable technologies.
The Bank has been very proactive and very sensitive to preserve greenery and promote pollution free environment under Environment Excellence Programme. JK Bank has on multiple occasions launched cleanliness drives under Swachh Bharat Mission in collaboration with JDA to promote upkeep of surroundings and environment for healthy living. Notably, J&K bank has been actively taking up initiatives towards environment and maintaining pristine natural beauty of the state through massive tree plantation drives, construction of amenities and adoption of parks/play areas in Jammu. Bank has been upgrading the golf courses, maintaining parks, installing smart classes in public schools, installing equipments in public hospitals, developing IT infrastructure for different organizations having limited resources and so on.
Sometimes I wonder why a Bank is doing this job but it certainly gives a perception of how infused the Brand is in our society as coming across something with JK Bank logo is fairly common on a daily basis. Bank is often sponsoring initiatives by the schools and universities including sports tournaments. Such initiatives give a positive feeling and a sense of pride that the state has been able to produce an entity by the people of J&K, for the people of J&K and with the people of J&K.
One can proudly say that J&K bank functions not only as a main commercial bank in the state but also as a responsible corporate citizen of the state, very much in line with its vision and mission statement of socially empowering the people of J&K. Whether it is providing the initial hand holding to the green projects of young entrepreneurs or designing customized and tailor-made products for all the sections of the society, J&K bank has always been a forerunner, which make that J&K bank is not only a financial institution but a living entity with emotions of public attached to it.
Community Development (Eradication of poverty), Promotion of Education, Healthcare, Sanitation, Upgradation of Old Age Homes/Orphanages, Preserving Ecology/ Heritage are some of the key areas of J & K bank’s CSR Projects. This year alone, under the initiative, Bank distributed handcarts fitted with state-of-the-art solar lighting system among the poor. While monitoring and evaluating the impact of the initiative, the result has been found quite encouraging. The Bank brought socially and financially weak children (mostly orphans) and underprivileged children under the ambit of Remote Child Sponsorship Programme (RCSP) seeking primary education. The Bank also donated Eco-friendly battery driven vehicles to the University of Kashmir to make the movement of differently-abled students within the campus hassle free. In addition to this, the Bank made a donation into the students’ welfare fund of the university meant for poor children who find it difficult to get the admission despite being meritorious. Bank also adopted differently abled children through registered NGOs like Voluntary Medicare Society, Chotey Taarey Foundation & Bijbehara helpline under Project MUSKAAN. J&K Bank donated specialized life saving treatment machines including Computed Radiography (CR) System, Multipara Monitors and Boyles Apparatus (Anesthesia Machine) to GMC Jammu Hospital and Super Specialty hospital. A good number of patients suffering from Hemophilia & Hepatitis C were provided with life saving drugs under Preventive Healthcare programme of the bank. The Bank carried out a massive sanitation programme under “Swachhta Hi Seva” where cleanliness drives were carried out in hospitals, public places, schools and district headquarters to enlighten the people about the importance of keeping their surroundings neat & clean. At the same time, important machinery like mopping machines were supplied to hospitals & courts to keep such important public places free of dirt. Extending its CSR reach to the remotest part of the Ladakh region, the Bank contributed a substantial amount to an International Old Age Home “Mahabodhi” which houses elderly citizens, visually impaired children, monks, nuns, volunteers & children from under-privileged families. Two other organizations in Jammu region namely Association for Social Health in India (ASHI) J&K Branch & Samaj Kalyan Kendra, working for the cause of orphans, particularly girls were provided financial assistance to carry on their welfare programmes.
Amid such initiatives and holistic positive efforts, most essentially the employment avenues, I feel pained as a citizen of this state when I come across negative sentiments for a Brand by some vested interests in the society for the Bank which is doing a great job for the state and for the people. A Brand which has flourished well with time needs to be preserved. I look forward to seeing the Bank transforming economic lives of our people in the state with time.
(The author is Former Principal Govt. SPMR College of Commerce Jammu)
Dr Subash Chander Gupta