about 10 months ago
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Venkatesh Nayak. It is doubtful that many of us would have even heard about him.

But he is a much bigger hero than the one’s we worship. Nayak is a ‘Transparency Activist’ and he has got out so much information through RTIs. Getting answers to an RTI, especially the sticky ones is not easy; it needs some tremendous amount of patience and the ability to keep on persevering, probing till the answers come.

He was the one who made the RBI answer to his RTI pertaining to the demonetization process. And in a telling statement by Nayak, he revealed, “the DeMon minutes reveal that a Deputy Governor of RBI was working with the Central Government on the initiative to withdraw legal tender of the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes, for six months. But his name is not mentioned anywhere in the minutes. The language of para #4.4 of the minutes seems to indicate that the Board was simply not aware of this planning prior to the tabling of the Deputy Governor's memorandum on the subject at its meeting less than six hours before the Hon'ble Prime Minister announced the decision to the country.?

Some time ago, Nayak had filed an RTI, asking details of employees penalised in FY18 along with their designation, branch, and the nature of the penalty imposed on them. And the answers seem to have finally come. Here is a quick synopsis of what we now know:

  • Maximum penalized were managers across different scales
  • Details from Oriental Bank of Commerce showed that 17 single-window operators (SWOs), five head cashiers, two clerks, one clerk-cum-cashier and one peon-cum-housekeeper were also among those penalized.
  • The penalties imposed on these peons and cashiers was the same as that imposed on managers.
  • Punishment includes no promotion, demotion for one year and censure under provisions of bipartite settlement.
  • 15 Public Sector Banks, including SBI and PNB did not divulge data on staff delinquency
  • SBI had the highest number of employees who were delinquent at 8035, followed by PNB at 4488.
  • Though PSU banks were the biggest culprits, not a single top level management was penalized as they are exempt.

Nirmala Sitharaman had said in the Lok Sabha in July that in current fiscal, some 41,360 bank employees were held accountable for the NPAs which piled up over the past five fiscals. And now we know, thanks to Nayak, who these employees were. Peons and cashiers? Seriously?

When we read this, there is really no surprise or shock; we all know how this works – the scapegoats are always those in the lower ranks though the truth is that values, good or bad percolates from the top to the bottom. And at the PSU banks, the top management, continues to remain exempt while those below get penalized. This is the irony of the system. This is not peculiar to India, it happens all over the world where the low hanging fruit is always pulsed to juice while those on the top remain untouched.

Wish our politicians work on making the country stronger from within by fixing the troubles economy and beleaguered banking sector instead on putting all their energies and money on NRC.  

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