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14 October 2013

The good, the bad and the ugly: 14-Oct-2013

Long time since I posted on this series.
First, the Good.
Arundhati Bhattacharya has been posted as the first ever Chairperson of State Bank of India, the oldest bank in India. With this the last (may be not last, there is the RBI and the Finance Ministry) bastion of Male CEOs in India’s Financial Sector have been breached. I don’t know about Arundhati Bhattacharya as a person, but as a liberal who has the good fortune to work with many good lady Managers, I am very happy that a woman has been selected to head the largest bank in the country
It is not that India do not have Women heading the banks. We have Usha Thorat, Vice-Chairperson of RBI,  Chanda Kochhar of ICICI Bank, Shikha Sarma of Axis Bank, Kalpana Morparia of JP Morgan, Naina Lal  Kidwai of FICCI to name a few. One could almost say that Indian Banking Industry is being run by Women...
But always there was something lacking. A woman to head SBI. That would have been path-breaking.
For one SBI is the largest bank in India, other private banks are dwarfs in comparison. Also SBI impacts a large number of Indians on a  daily basis. SBI is also the oldest bank in India with more than 100 year history. Add to that the fact that SBI is a Public Sector Bank and never had a woman heading it...
Now you know why Ms.Bhattacharya’s elevation is path-breaking.
It is not just in India. Across the world you see a few women in Finance. But these are few and far between. Head of IMF, Christine Lagarde and the current nominee to head the US Fed , Janet Yellen, are both women.  Other than these, you would find it difficult to spot women at the helm of affairs of the Banking and Finance Industry across the world.
That is why so many women leading Banks in India is significant. Women bring a different perspective to Banking and Finance with focus on Prudent lending and borrowing. Women are also able to take a more longer term perspective than men.
One should give a lot of credit to KV Kamat of ICICI Bank for starting the trend of letting women take leadership role in Banking Industry. The women friendly policies of ICICI Bank are case studies in leading management institutions.
The Bad...
My heart goes out to the large number of people affected by Cyclone Phailin. This is the worst hurricane to have hit Indian coast after the disastrous hurricane in Nagapatanam that killed more than 100000 people and left swathes of land destroyed. (Did I say that I was bang in the middle of Nagapatanam, about 2 kilometers from the Sea on the day of that hurricane in 1977? I must have forgotten. May be I will write a post on that later).
Compared to the Nagapatanam hurricane, the human damages have been significantly limited this time around. This is a tribute to the better disaster management practices that we have adopted since 1977.
All of us should help the people affected. Let me check out let you know how we can help.
And the ugly...

The political climate in India, turning nastier by the day. Communal Polarization, Muzaffarnagar,  outright badmouthing....These have become the norm rather than exception. I guess this will continue till  the elections to the five states by the end of the year. 

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