D. Murali

Chennai, Oct. 3

Business as usual. That's how Mr V.S. Kulkarni, Zonal Manager of erstwhile United Western Bank (UWB), describes the situation on the ground, speaking to

Business Line

from Mumbai.

He should know. For, he is at the helm of the Mumbai zone of the new entity IDBI, after having served UWB for decades. "Customers have reposed full faith, along with the employees, on the IDBI, a pan-India global bank," says Mr Kulkarni.

It is difficult to dismiss his statement as rhetoric. Because the reality of `no exodus of deposits' is apparently contrary to common expectations that as soon as the moratorium is lifted, there would be a rush of withdrawals. Traditionally, banking has been a business based on trust, and any bad news is often a trigger for a hasty flight of customer base.

Going by the ground feel, through the eyes of an insider like Mr Kulkarni, it seems that a merger with a stronger bank can assuage many negatives that go with a failed bank. The IDBI, too, has benefited from the deal, climbing up a few notches in the tally of big banks.

Day 1 as a new bank may sport perceptible changes such as a new name-board in UWB premises. What is not equally evident, though, is clarity on many employee-related matters, one gathers. "I think there won't be any employee issue," hopes Mr Kulkarni.

He concedes, however, that on difference in pay post-merger, the position is not yet clear.

What is the impact of the merger on the promotion prospects of employees? "Will be sorted out in course of time," says Mr Kulkarni.

Fast-paced

Looking back at the whole process of merger, he says, "It has happened fast." And adds, wryly, "Whatever pinch is there it is there. We have lost an institution that was there for about seven decades. Something that was cherished by all."

A sombre observation, that is, but Mr Kulkarni is positive about a reconciliation. "Asu ani hasu," he says, citing a Marathi proverb, which means `tears in one eye and smile in other.' A philosophical view that can remind Maharashtrians of a play by that title by P.L. Mayekar, produced by Chandralekha.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 4, 2006)
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