RBI also strikes out Sikhs from 'minority' list Written by Satnam Singh
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Chandigarh: Weeks before the Punjab and Haryana High Court said Sikhs weer not a minority in Punjab, the Reserve Bank of India, India's federal bank, has already told all Indian banks not to consider the Sikhs a minority in the state of Punjab anymore for the purpose of granting priroty sector loans. Also, the banks will not consider the Muslims a minority in Kashmir.
Even as the UPA Government on an initiative by Congress president Sonia Gandhi ensured that the RBI included ‘minority communities’ in the list of ‘weaker sections’ for the purpose of priority-sector lending by banks, Sikhs will not be in it. Domestic banks, both government-owned and private, are mandated to lend 10% of the their total loans to ‘weaker sections’.
RBI said banks can decide on the minority-community beneficiaries on the basis of the demography of the respective state. So Christians also will not be a minority anymore in Mizoram, Sikkim and Nagaland.
Domestic banks are required to give 40% of their total loans to priority sectors, which include agriculture, housing, small-scale industries and weaker sections. While the agriculture sector constitutes half of the priority-sector lending or 20% of the total bank loans, weaker sections are mandated to be given 25% of the total priority-sector loans or 10% of the total bank loans.
In 2006-07, commercial banks gave Rs 4,10,285 crore as loans. According to RBI guidelines, out of this, around Rs 35,000 crore would have been given to weaker sections, which would be a little less than 10% of the total credit, said a banker. This is because foreign banks are not mandated to give loans to weaker sections from their total prioritysector lending requirements of 32% of their total credit.
So far, the SGPC and the Akali Dal have been silent on the issue.