The aim was to get purposefully defaulting customers to repay their dues without further delay.

Driving home the point Kerala bank employees protest outside houses of willful defaulters
news Protests Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 19:01

“When nothing else works, we have to make efforts to awaken people’s conscience,” avers PV Surendranath, Ernakulam Zonal Manager of the Catholic Syrian Bank (CBS), while speaking to The News Minute. 

On Thursday, Surendranath, along with 150-odd employees from various branches in the city, staged a protest march to the homes of ‘willful loan defaulters’ in Ernakulam.

The aim was to get purposefully defaulting customers to repay their dues without further delay. 

According to Surendranath, these were customers who had borrowed loans of Rs. 50 lakhs and more, and had then willfully defaulted in repaying them. The bank has had to even move legally against a few of the defaulters.  

Headquartered in Thrissur, the Catholic Syrian Bank was established in 1920. In the first two decades, the bank sought to establish its presence in Kerala alone.

Presently however, it has 423 functioning branches across India, with Rs. 470 crore as Non-Performing Assets alone. 

Elaborating on why such a unique method of protest was undertaken, Surendranath continues:

"Once a customer defaults on three installments, it automatically becomes a Non-Performing Asset (NPAs). This initiative should be viewed more as an attempt to generate awareness, rather than a protest march per se.

We want the defaulters to be aware that they -despite being affluent businessmen- are not setting a good example for others in society. Such an alarmingly high rate of NPAs is not good for the future of the bank. We hence undertook this march to make them willing to repay their dues.” 

Armed with placards that urged the borrowers to repay their dues on time, many employees had turned up for the silent protest with their mouths bound with black bands.

Urging the borrowers to take up responsibility for their liabilities, the placards read:

- Repay your loan, live up to your reputation.

- Business is built on trust, beware your customers are watching you.

- Bank money is public money, not repaying is a crime to the public.

All the employees of the bank -cutting across ranks- participated in the hour long protest that began at 9.30 on Thursday morning. By 10.30 am they were back at work.

Simultaneous protests were carried out at 20 locations spanning across all 4 districts in the state. 

Terming the protest as a wholly employee-driven initiative and not one sponsored by the Management, Anitha P Emmanual -Assistant General Manager at one of the CSB branches told The New Indian Express:

"These are people who have deliberately defaulted on the loans. They are leading an extravagant life, at the expense of the bank. Because of bad debts, the bank's profits are hit, and our employee benefits are affected." 

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