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Banks’ front desk must know local language: Sitharaman

Mumbai, Sep 17, 2022

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has asked banks to ensure that frontline staff of banks speak the local language and do not invoke patriotism and question the customer for not knowing Hindi. “We cannot have staff who do not speak the local language and who demand from citizens that they speak in a particular language and say that unless they do it, they are not Indians,” said Sitharaman addressing the Indian Banks Association.

She asked banks to review the staff who are posted at branch levels. Sitharaman said at an IBA event that if banks had a problem mixing andmatching staff and had staff who could not communicate at the local language, they should be kept away from customer-facing jobs.

The finance minister’s statement comes at a time when instances of public sector bank staff asking customers to speak in Hindi in branches in South India have caused outrage on social media. According to bankers, recruitment is skewed to the North because youngsters graduating in the South prefer IT jobs which do not involve transfers.

“Your recruitments will now have to have a lot more sensible ways of recruiting people. If you need ‘x’ number of people in a particular re-gion, make sure you recruit x plus some more who can speak the language,” she said. She told bankers that inclusivity does not end with loans and it needs to extend to operations.

“What is the difficulty in learning a language? I am from the South. I do try to learn a bit of Hindi, however poor my delivery. As long as my karmabhoomi is here, I have to learn the language. I can’t understand how IBA can entertain officers who get posted in an area and cannot speak the area's language,” she said.

“I speak in strong words because that is the nature of banking. You are dealing with people, and you may as well respect them and their language,” the finance minister said.

[The Times of India]





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