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Agitation by Young Bankers - A Small Beginning and Long Way To Go



Rajesh Goyal 

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A large number of our readers, specially the young bankers must have been waiting for 13th September, 2014, as for last few weeks our social media relating to banking sector was abuzz with the new movement.   So, finally the D-Day arrived and the days of preparations by young brigade resulted in demonstration at Jantar Mantar at Delhi. 

Although I did not have specific invitation to join the agitation, but being the karta-dharta of, I felt this to be my moral duty to go there and assess for myself the happenings at the venue and if possible encourage the new movement.     Therefore, I reached the spot around 3.10 PM.   Let me give my readers some interesting facts to which I am only privy and not the younger generation.    This was the place where I have visited hundreds of  times  (if not thousands) as in mid and late 1980s I was posted at a Branch which was hardly 300 yards away and at it was during that period that Jantar Mantar bus stop was created here (Now that has been shifted and this place is used only for demonstrations) and I used to board my bus from here for my home every evening.  The re-laying of the whole area and opening of the small shops selling south Indian foods were inaugurated  in front of us and we were among the first few customers to have tasted that street food.   This is now almost 30 years old story and there will be only few to vouch this.    Thus, I felt totally comfortable in the environment and there was nothing new for me in the surroundings.

When I reached the venue, the demonstration was on the verge of starting as dias was being cleared of the crowd so that the formal speeches for demonstration could be started.   The sun was shinning with full flow and thus I took a chair on the side footpath under tree and decided to watch the proceedings to have my own assessment of this movement.  Being non-affiliated to any of organisation, this was the best strategy.

A glance at the crowd, clearly indicated that it was a certainly a Young Banker demonstration as I could see only five / ten  senior bankers in the crowd.   The crowd had just started swelling.  This being a crowd of young bankers, I was hopeful that nobody will be able to recognise me as there were non of my colleagues.   I was sure that I will be able to cover the proceedings without being noticed.  

Soon speeches by young bankers associated with the movements started and these bankers were from across the country.  Most of these speakers shouted slogans and created the necessary environment for such a start.  After that some senior leaders (all those I have seen  for first time) were called on the stage.   


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At this stage, suddenly a young man approached me and asked me whether I am Rajesh Goyal.   Immediately I realised that my hopes of covering the event as an Aam Banker are over.   These are the perils of putting your photo on the internet.   Thus, I too was called on the stage.    I hesitantly decided to go to stage as I felt refusal my be taken as running away from the responsibility.    Surprisingly, I was given a warm welcome as a majority of these young bankers could recognise me immediately.   Different speakers (some of them from known unions) were called one by one for giving the speeches.  I am some of these speeches will be available on youtube and our readers will be able to listen to most of them.  Therefore, I am not going to discuss individual speeches.   Below I give my own overall impressions about this new movement, which some people may not like it.   However, I have tried to be impartial as I do not have leaning for any particular group or association or union.   Let me share my, free and frank impressions,  of the whole event which I witnessed from the stage :-

  • It is the first movement at all India level in the banking industry after a long time, which has the potential to snowball into a bigger movement PROVIDED it remains focused;

  • This was fairly good gathering of beyond 500 bankers and can be called successful  as it was  called by a people who are first timers for such events;

  • It was all around young movement and seniors were missing from the movement;

  • There was lot of energy and enthusiasm among the bankers at the rally, which is rarely seen at such demonstrations.  The way slogans were shouted and hands raised is a rare phenomena at bank union rallies, specially in recent times.

  • A Memorandum was got signed from the bankers who have come to rally and around 5.00 PM was sent to be submitted to FM, and later on  it was informed that receipt for the same will be available only on Monday i.e. 15th September, 2014

  • A press Release was issued to people who have come from press to cover the event.   Usually Press people ignore such agitations, but the group seems to have managed press well and was able to ensure that actual news is published / shown on some of the TV channels and national dailies (e.g Times of India ). Press Release asked for immediate settlement of wage revision and equalizaion of pay and allowances with central government.  It also demanded minimum wages for canteen boys.

  • The stage was managed well and there were no hick ups.  

  • There were also young women bankers, many of  who continued to remain there till the end of the demonstration.

  • However, there was no clear cut thinking or what is the next step that will be taken by this young brigade.  They were not sure to term the protest against UFBU or their leaders or against IBA.  It was in doubt whether a new union / association has been formed or what will be the status of this new group.  These were the major gaps.

  • The speakers who addressed the gathering had no clear cut instructions as to the boundaries within which they have to speak or the agenda they have to stick.   Thus, most of the speakers drifted to their own agenda and spoke in different voices.  All the speakers should have been asked to keep their affiliation talks separately and talk only on wage revision for 10th BPS.  It is possible that the organisers were forced to call some of these leaders to get the political support.

  • In the absence of any specific agenda, I spoke only the purpose for which we are running our website i.e. for creating awareness among the bankers on issues of their interest which includes wage revision and knowledge updation for young bankers.

  • At the last Kamalesh Chautrvedi was given a chance to speak, but the crowds had thinned by then.   It was inspiring speech and was independent of his affiliations with other groups.   He advised the young bankers for the need to be focused and create their own path.  He give them an out of box idea i.e. to protest in the branches on continuous basis by keeping them open on 24x7 hours where family members come to branch in evenings and join them in demonstration.   The idea is difficult to implement but if done with proper planning, it will shack the bank administration and MoF / GoI, and if forced to issue order that branches to be closed after office hours, it will give a relief to officers from late sitting !!

Thus, in nut shell, I would say it is a great attempt by young brigade but lot of hard work and planning needs to be done for  future events.   In the press release they themselves admitted that it was a symbolic portest.   To be successful and counter the existing unions, it will not be advisable to exclude the senior bankers altogether.    You can fight and make rules that there should not be any retired leader and people beyond the age of 50+ should not be more than 25% in the Committees, but to fight for only young brigade will be more difficult to sustain as it can lead to frictions and clash of interest.   Therefore, there is a need to sit down and draw up new strategies based on the experience gain in their maiden attempt.  

Let us see what are the ripples of the movement and what effect it has on the forthcoming negotiations - may be they have hastened the same, and half cooked settlement may be in the offing ?????  Mr Kamlesh rightly told that we do not what is being cooked by UFBU leaders to counter this new movement.  Anyway, things will unfold in a week's time.




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