Sunday, May 26, 2024

Holidaying banks


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A banana republic is one that is poor, corrupt and badly ruled. It is also one that’s having a government that “functions poorly for its citizens while disproportionately benefiting a corrupt elite group or individuals.” It also refers to a nation where the system of democracy is in a state of decline. On the surface, in several respects, India is closer to being a banana republic other than for the fact that some systems retain their verve – the election process, for example. Yet, the decline is evident on multiple fronts. Governments bend before the organised might of vested interests. When men with feet of clay, who are interested in holding power and positions at any cost, run the affairs of a nation, it eventually transforms itself to the level of a banana republic and vested interests will rule the roost. Indian democracy is facing a serious threat to its very existence, over time, due to the gradual degradation of its fundamentals. Politicians in power are out to please every organised segment, be it the workforce, the caste outfits, or much else so as to please all and win maximum votes in successive elections. National interests are sacrificed at the altar of vested interests.
Take for instance the fact that banks across the country would remain closed for nearly 15 days this month, on account of holidays linked to religious festivals, week-end holidays and the like. Banking sector employees are led by powerful unions that keep making demands and getting these accepted by successive governments through the instrument of the RBI. They fought and got two-day weekend holiday twice every month and are seeking its extension to all weeks. Different government sectors have different holiday systems, and the unions that have the clout to demand more holidays get this done. If banks remain closed for half the month, the disruption to economic activity is beyond comprehension.
An argument is that money transactions can be done online or via ATMs. This is only one part of the banking sector business. Loans, for instance, involve paperwork and several visits to banks. What happens in a developed nation with too little population, like a weekly two-day holiday for banks, cannot suit a nation of 1.40 billion. Question is also, why one segment of the workforce should enjoy more holidays while the rest are made to work for six days a week, 26 days a month. Bank employees are among the best-paid workforce, and the additional benefits they fought and got runs into a long list. The tendency is, those who get more seek more. The crying child gets the milk. More so when unprincipled, uncouth men run the affairs of a nation or state. In democracy, this too is a fait accompli.


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