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Bank employees shouldered worst impact of demonetisation: Unions

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By Bappaditya Chatterjee and Venkatachari Jagannathan 

Kolkata/Chennai, Nov 2 : As bank customers suffered by waiting in long queues to withdraw their money from November onwards last year, another group of people — bank employees — endured the hardship of extended work hours and customer anger.

The employees, say bank unions, bore the major brunt of the sudden decision announced on November 8 last year by the Prime Minister.

“Banking personnel were rigorously working towards recovery of bad loans before the announcement of demonetisation, but the entire drive of recovery got derailed after the announcement as employees had to work day and night for giving service to depositors,” Sanjay Das, Assistant General Secretary of the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation, told IANS.

The bank unions said that of the more than 100 persons who lost their lives during the demonetisation chaos, over 10 were bank employees and officers.

Das said that despite the enormous amount of extra work put in by the employees, very few were compensated. “Over 50 per cent of employees and officers are yet to get their compensation for the extra work they did during the demonetisation period,” Das said.

According to C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary of the All India Bank Employees’ Association, the whole experience had left “a big scar in the minds of bankers”. He said a million bank employees handling 1,000 million people coming to branches to deposit old notes was certainly a big task.

He said the bankers were abused by the general public for not disbursing new notes and diverting the same to others. “The RBI made matters worse by saying that sufficient number of new notes were disbursed to banks,” he added.

He said the bank managements were not bothered about the problems faced by branch officials. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also asked bankers to work on Saturdays and Sundays. Officials in the branch were in office till late in the evening. Although some clerical staff, he said, were paid overtime, officers were left out.

Pradip Biswas, General Secretary of the Bank Employees Federation of India, said that not only employees but even the banks had not been reimbursed by the government for the cost incurred on recalibration of ATMs.

Criticising demonetisation, Biswas doubted that the whole exercise was done to unearth black money as claimed by the government. “The annual report of the RBI revealed that Rs 15.28 lakh crore, or 99 per cent of Rs 15.44 lakh crore of scrapped notes, came back into the system after demonetisation. Now the question arises: was the demonetisation scheme designed to convert black money into white?” Biswas wondered.

He said the government had described it as a fight against black money, funding of terrorist outfits and counterfeit currency. “But all their claims have fallen flat,” he said.

“The scrapping of notes failed miserably in addressing its objective of striking a blow against the black economy. Instead, the side effect of the note ban has impacted the banking industry adversely,” said Das, who is also the West Bengal State Secretary for the union.

The massive inflows of bank notes put a strain on the banks’ daily operations and banking personnel were not able to focus on credit disbursement, which resulted in potential loss of banks’ income, Das said, adding that bank credit growth came down to about 5.1 per cent in 2016-17 from an average of 11.72 per cent in the previous five years.

The apex bank too has mentioned that banks’ preoccupation with exchange of notes and deposits was one the factors for low credit growth. “Credit growth touched a low in more than two decades on account of factors such as subdued state of economic activity, risk aversion of the banking sector… loan repayment by use of specified bank notes (old notes) and banks’ pre-occupation with exchange of notes and deposits following demonetisation,” said the RBI’s latest annual report.

D. Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev, General Secretary of the All India Bank Officers Confederation, said that, initially, they had welcomed the government’s move. “But it turned out to be a nightmare for the bankers.”

He said people thought bankers were at fault for not disbursing the new notes, but “the RBI supplied new currencies only to private banks daily and not to government-owned banks”.

Read more…Negative impact of demonetisation on economy transitory: Rating agencies

Dev said the government should probe whether new notes found their way into the hands of industrialists and businessmen directly from the currency printing presses.

But some senior bank officers differ with the unions about the impact of demonetisation on the economy in the long run. “Right now people are complaining, but one thing is certain that (huge) money has come into circulation. Banks have accessed low-cost deposits and, subsequently, lenders have reduced the lending rates,” said Punjab National Bank Executive Director Sanjiv Sharan.

One year down the line, economic conditions would improve, and with the government’s thrust on low-cost housing and infrastructure development, credit demand would grow, he added.

“For the time being it may seem that demonetisation is disturbing the economy. But in the long run, it will help it,” Sharan contended.

IANS

(Note Ban Series)

Health

AIIMS doctors assaulted by cop in MP, blamed for spreading Coronavirus

Both the doctors who were assaulted are PG resident doctors at the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at AIIMS, Bhopal.

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AIIMS Doctor Yuvraj Singh

BHOPAL: Doctors continue to come under attack in Madhya Pradesh, but this time they haven’t been assaulted by local residents in any coronavirus containment zone. Instead, they came under attack by a man in khakhi.

The shocking incident happened in Bhopal on Wednesday evening, when two resident doctors – Dr Yuvraj Singh and Dr Rituparna Jana – of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, Bhopal) were returning home after emergency duty at the hospital.

“We were returning home from emergency duty, when we were stopped by a police patrol party. Despite showing our identity cards, the cops not only assaulted us, but even abused us and blamed us for spreading coronavirus,” alleged one of the two doctors Dr Rituparna Jana.

With the cops continuing to abuse and assault the two PG resident doctors, both the medicos had no option but to leave their belongings behind and escape from the spot.

Both the doctors are PG resident doctors at the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at AIIMS, Bhopal.

While Dr Yuvraj Singh’s hand was fractured, Dr Rituparna sustained injuries on her leg.

The AIIMS Resident Doctors Association (RDA) condemned the assault on the doctors and demanded strict action against the perpetrators within 24 hours.

SP (Bhopal South) Sai Krishna Thota attached police constable Sunil Naharia, who was blamed in the incident, to the district police lines till further orders.

Importantly, the bulk of the 90-plus COVID-19 positive cases in Bhopal are from the state health department staff and the police force.

This is the second time within a week that doctors have come under attack in Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier on April 2, two state government doctors, Dr Zakiya Sayyed and Dr Trapti Khatdhare, and a team of health workers assisting them had come under attack by local residents in Taat Patti Bakhal locality of Indore (one of the COVID-19 containment zones in Indore).

Thirteen men were arrested then and later the National Security Act (NSA) was invoked against four of them.

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Cities

50 contractual doctors resign in Gwalior

One of the doctors on the condition of anonymity said that once they accepted the new contract, they would not be able to quit. ESMA could be a new deterrent.

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Gwalior, April 10 : At a time when Madhya Pradesh is facing acute shortage of doctors, 50 doctors appointed on contractual basis at Jayarogya Hospital of Government Gajra Raja Medical College here resigned on Thursday.

Their resignations followed an order from state Medical Education Department seeking their consent for renewal of contract beyond three months. Of the 82 doctors on roll, 50 have resigned refusing the offer.

Dr. S.N. Iyenger, Dean Gaja Raja Medical College, said: “The contractual appointment was temporarily given for three months to 82 doctors who had completed MBBS and internship at Jairogya Hospital. A new order from the state government sought the doctors’ consent for continuation of contractual appointment. 50 said they did not want to continue working.”

Dr. Iyengar said these resignations have nothing to do with the order pertaining to enforcing Essential Services Maintenance Act that was invoked on Thursday.

He said one year’s service is mandatory in government hospital as a medical officer after completion of the MBBS course and internship. A three-months temporary contract appointment was given to these doctors. Now while 32 of these doctors are still working. Currently patients suffering from corona are being treated at Jairogya Hospital and most of the doctors have been dedicated to corona cases.

One of the doctors on the condition of anonymity said that once they accepted the new contract, they would not be able to quit. ESMA could be a new deterrent. The scare of corona had forced them to rethink on continuation.

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100 days and running: Coronavirus has only got deadlier

The deadly respiratory disease came to light in early January and on Thursday, it had infected over 1.3 million people worldwide, with the US on the top.

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New Delhi, April 10 : April 9 marked the 100th day of the first cases of new coronavirus being reported, which began its deadly journey from a seafood market in Wuhan in China and brought the entire world to its knees.

In a tweet on Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Today marks 100 days since @WHO was notified of the first cases of what we now call #COVID19. Over 1.3M people have been infected & almost 80K have lost their lives. This pandemic is much more than a health crisis. It requires a whole-of government & society response.”

The deadly respiratory disease came to light in early January and on Thursday, it had infected over 1.3 million people worldwide, with the US on the top.

The Director-General said that the WHO has been working day and night to fight COVID-19 in five key areas. Supporting countries to prepare & respond, providing accurate information & fighting the infodemic, ensuring supply of medical equipment for #healthworkers, training & mobilizing health workers and accelerating R&D.

“Our focus has been on working with countries & partners to bring the world together to confront this common threat together. We’ve been especially concerned with protecting the world’s poorest & most vulnerable, not just in the poorest countries, but in all countries,” he emphasised.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged support for the WHO after US President Donald Trump threatened to freeze American funding.

“It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19,” Xinhua news agency quoted Guterres as saying in a statement.

Trump on Tuesday criticized the WHO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and threatened to freeze US funding for it.

Again on Wednesday, Trump while addressing the White House daily briefing claimed that the WHO has gotten the pandemic “wrong”

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