Thursday, 1 August 2013

A flex banner has been put up by SBI Theni branch
 has ill-treated students by publishing their photos 

SBI puts up student loan defaulters on notice board, students to agitate

Pramila Krishnan
Chennai, August 2:  State Bank of India, it appears,  has incurred the wrath of the student community in Tamil Nadu after its branch in Bodinayakanur (Theni district) down south chose to put up on a large notice board the photographs and family details of about a dozen young men and women who had defaulted on their student loans. The picture of the ‘offensive’ banner outside the branch manager’s cabin has been shared by many students on the Facebook and a campaign is on to question SBI on the “ethics of putting up those pictures of such poor defaulters when millionaires are allowed to go scot free and their loans are written off”, according to state president S Kanakaraj of the Students Federation of India (SFI). 

TN MPs Tamaraiselvan (DMK) and Thol. Thirumavalavan (VCK chief) have said they would meet Finance Minister P Chidambaram to protest against the “ill-treatment meted out to the students by the SBI branch”. Customers at the SBI branch, according to a local, were shocked to find the large flex board with the pictures and family details of the defaulting student borrowers and tried to plead with the bank officials that such proclaiming could mar the careers of the young graduates. Among the ‘defaulters’ on display were four girls, one of them with an outstanding of just Rs.57,147 plus interest. A boy’s name and picture got onto that board for owing a mere Rs.47,813. 

“The banks have selectively written off millions of rupees borrowed by big business houses but this SBI branch has chosen to humiliate poor students for defaulting on paltry loans borrowed just to better their careers. The bank’s action could jeopardise the future of these young people. Worse still, the girls could face problem getting married”, said K. Srinivasan, convener of the Education Loan Task Force (ELTF), a voluntary forum based in Chennai guiding students to get bank loans. "It is legally wrong as per the banking regulation act," added Mr Srinivasan, a former senior bank officer.

When contacted, a senior SBI officer in charge of the southern branches told me that the Bodi branch resorted to publicizing the defaulters of student loans “only because they did not repay loans for a long time”. How else could the bank recover its loans, asked the officer, requesting anonymity. “If beneficiaries of student loans do
not repay on time, we will not be able to disburse loans to other deserving students. We are asking them for repayment after many years, so please support us”, he said.

Asked about the big borrowers defaulting on much larger loans, he said, “But we must extend credit to such business houses as they contribute to improving national economy and giving employment to many”. He preferred silence when pointed out that Finance Minister P Chidambaram had announced easy loans to the student community only to raise the education levels and the overall economic health of the nation.