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The country is shaken by back-to-back bank scams. The latest to jolt the system are the fraudulent deals running into thousands of crores of rupees involving international diamond "tycoon" Nirav Modi and ‘pen king’ Kothari. Both of them drew mind-boggling amounts from the public sector banks and simply did not repay. One of them fled the country before the lid was off the scam.

Banks should certainly extend big credit to big industries, which is essential for the economy to grow. But it should be done with proper checks and balances so that fly-by-night operators would not simply cross borders after looting the banks.

In sharp contrast is the banks’ attitude towards to the poor and the underprivileged. A marginal farmer or artisan—whether a Tribal, Dalit or of any caste or community—often find it difficult to get small credit from banks. Students seeking education loans are made to run from pillar to post. The poorer they are the greater the chances of getting the loan denied.

When 14 leading banks in the country were nationalised by the Congress government headed by the late Indira Gandhi in 1969, it was a revolutionary step towards financial inclusion anywhere anytime in the world. A few years later, the Congress government opened Rural Development Banks across the country to help the marginalised sections like small-scale farmers, small traders and artisans. Unfortunately, over the years, there has been a slide with the banking system overly tending to serve the interests of only the rich and the privileged.

Much has been written, analysed and commented upon the recent scams. The big question, still awaiting answer, remains: Does the BJP Government have the guts to track down the big defaulters, whichever part of the world they are hiding, and bring back the money plundered by them? Or the steps being promised will remain as hollow as the electoral rhetoric of retrieving the ill-gotten money stashed in foreign banks?

They can fool some for some time. But they can’t fool all for all the time. The day of reckoning is not far off; the Karnataka elections will certainly be a pointer.

#alpushpa #jagalur #pushpalakshmanaswamyjagalur

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