Central Bank of India History
Established in 1911, Central Bank of India was the first Indian commercial bank which was wholly owned and managed by Indians. The establishment of the Bank was the ultimate realisation of the dream of Sir Sorabji Pochkhanawala, founder of the Bank. Sir Pherozesha Mehta was the first Chairman of a truly ‘Swadeshi Bank’. In fact, such was the extent of pride felt by Sir Sorabji Pochkhanawala that he proclaimed Central Bank of India as the ‘property of the nation and the country’s asset’. He also added that ‘Central Bank of India lives on people’s faith and regards itself as the people’s own bank’.
“No Indian is competent to manage a bank” was the opinion expressed by Mr. H. P. Stringfellow, the Manager of Bank of India in 1910, at the height of the swadeshi movement. He was quite naturally taken aback later that year when he was told that an assistant accountant in his own bank, twenty eight year old Sorabji Pochkhanawala, was planning to start a bank on his own.
Regarding this as a “huge joke” he called the young man into his office and advised him to abandon what seemed to him a “chimerical” scheme and to avoid taking any hasty decisions for atleast 24 hours. Mr. Pochkhanawala’s response was, “Sir, I have made up my mind. I resign from the Bank’s service. One day my bank will be bigger than yours.”Sorabji Pochkhanawala, though only twenty eight had been a banker for twelve years. He was the first Indian to be a certificated associate of the Institute of Bankers, London. Though he had discharged, when required, the duties of a Manager of a bank, he was not recognised as one. Nor was he given employment as “Manager” when he applied for that position at various banks such as the Bombay Merchants Bank because of the “deeply entrenched notion that ‘native gentlemen’ would be unable to conduct a bank according to western principles and that natives will not trust natives.” “Banking by Indians for Indians” became his driving obsession. He believed that unless all the executive functions were entrusted entirely to Indians, Indians would be discriminated against.On leaving Bank of India, Mr. Pochkhanawala with the support of a prominent cotton merchant, Mr. Kalianji Varadhman Jetsey rented premises formerly occupied by the Eastern Bank for Rs. 600 per month in the Gresham Building. He purchased two chairs and tables and began planning.The Bank’s first employee was Mr. Sorabji Vicaji as Chief Cashier at Rs. 500 per month.
Mr. Pochkhanawala’s immediate family was shocked at his resigning from a secure job with ‘prospects’ and urged him to take back his resignation. Undeterred and with the support of Mr. Jetsey, he approached many prominent businessmen for their help to establish a bank. Mr. Munchershaw F. Khan, Mr. Kalianji Varadhman Jetsey, Mr. Ardeshir Bomanji Dubash, Mr. Manekji Jethabhai Varadhman, Mr. Moolji Haridas, Mr. Radhakison Lakmichand, Mr. Motilal Kanji, Mr. Haji Dawood Haji Elias and Mr. Jamsetji Hormusjee Chothia agreed to serve as directors. Mr. Kalianji Jetsey paid all the preliminary expenses. The memorandum and articles of association were drawn up and the Bank was registered on December 21, 1911. The birth of Central Bank of India is unique in Indian banking history. While other Indian banks were established by Englishmen or wealthy businessmen and managed by Europeans, this was the first bank established by Indians and managed by Indians.
Logo: The four Squares in the logo with bars that represent the Man, Finance, Industry and Nation evolving their two way effective interrelationship reflects the services rendered by the bank and its role in the economy [Source]
Tagline: “Central” to you since 1911
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