Indian Banks: The Story of Punjab National Bank

Punjab National Bank History

Punjab National Bank logo
Punjab National Bank logo

Way back in 1895, in Lahore, a group of visionaries and patriots —  Lala Lajpat Rai, Mr. E C Jessawala, Babu Kali Prasono Roy, Lala Harkishan Lal and Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia and others — got together to create a national bank. The idea was first mooted by Rai Mool Raj of Arya Samaj who, as reported by Lala Lajpat Rai, had long cherished the idea that Indians should have a national bank of their own.

Punjab National Bank Head Office at Mall Road, Lahore
Punjab National Bank Head Office at Mall Road, Lahore

Punjab National Bank was born with an authorised total capital of Rs 2 lac and working capital of Rs 20,000.

Founders of Punjab National Bank
Founders of Punjab National Bank

The first Board of 7 Directors comprised of Sardar Dayal Singh Majithia, who was also the founder of Dayal Singh College and the Tribune; Lala Lalchand one of the founders of DAV College and President of its Management Society; Kali Prosanna Roy, eminent Bengali pleader who was also the Chairman of the Reception committee of the Indian National Congress at its Lahore session in 1900; Lala Harkishan Lal who became widely known as the first industrialist of Punjab; EC Jessawala, a well known Parsi merchant and partner of Jamshedji & Co. of Lahore; Lala Prabhu Dayal, a leading Rais, merchant and philanthropist of Multan; Bakshi Jaishi Ram, an eminent Civil Lawyer of Lahore; and Lala Dholan Dass, a great banker, merchant and Rais of Amritsar. Thus a Bengali, Parsi, a Sikh and a few Hindus joined hands in a purely national and cosmopolitan spirit to found this Bank which opened its doors to the public on 12th of April 1895. They went about it with a Missionary Zeal. Sh. Dayal Singh Majithia was the first Chairman, Lala Harkishan Lal, the first secretary to the Board and Shri Bulaki Ram Shastri Barrister at Lahore, was appointed Manager.

33% of its offices in west Pakistan constituted 40% of its deposits — PNB had to lose these during partition. 15 of its employees died during the partition frenzy. The registered office was shifted to Delhi and the Bank honoured all the deposit claims of the refugees even on the basis of whatever little evidence they could produce.

Punjab National Bank - Cheque
Notice the old logo with elephants?

In 1951, the Bank took over the assets and liabilities of Bharat Bank Ltd. and became the second largest bank in the private sector. In 1962, it amalgamated the Indo-Commercial Bank with it.

Punjab National Bank was nationalized in 1969. In 1993, it acquired New Bank of India, a bank that was nationalized in 1980, the second wave of bank nationalization. Later in 2003, it acquired Kerala-based Nedungadi Bank, a private bank founded by Appu Nedungadi

Lala Lajpat Rai is regarded as the ‘Founding Father’ of the bank.

Lala Lajpat Rai, founding father, Punjab National Bank
Lala Lajpat Rai, founding father, Punjab National Bank
The first office of Punjab National Bank at Ganpatrai Road, Lahore
The first office of Punjab National Bank at Ganpatrai Road, Lahore

 

Did you know: “Stability” was this bank’s telegraphic address.

The Jallianwala Bagh Committee account was opened in the Bank in the late 1920s, which in the decade that followed, was operated by Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Tagline: The name you can bank upon

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