Officials well versed in local language to serve better: FM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday asked banks to prepare a cadre of people who can speak and understand a regional language in order to serve the customer better.

This will bring them at par with other All-India services like Indian Administrative Services in true sense, she said while launching the Uniform Training Programme for Induction and Mid-Level Training, including a module on preventive vigilance for officers of public sector banks (PSBs).

She said there is no point in banks claiming that they have pan-India presence when in some pockets, where Hindi does not work, their executives still need to learn native language to serve the customers.

“We need to have a cadre of people who will have to understand the language of the state in which the posting happens,” she said. Observing that recruitment in banks happens in an All-India fashion, she said officers are unable to speak the language of locals if the postings are deep into a state where Hindi is not spoken.

“Of late, I have come across several friction points in some branch-level cases where because the locals come to the branch, and the branch officials are not able to speak the local language,” she said. The minister added that therefore, it is important for officers, especially new recruits, on a voluntary basis to decide on a language in which they would want to specialise.

Last year, several Members of Parliament from southern states had raised the issue of regional language proficiency.

Replying to that, the finance minister had said she was looking into demands of MPs from southern states such as Karnataka for conducting bank recruitment exams in local language as well.

Echoing similar views, Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari during the occasion said like in the civil services, the banking sector should look at exploring the possibility of learning one more language other than the mother tongue so as to have a better understanding of the people of India. She further stated that the initiative will enable young officers to assume leadership positions in future.