Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with Kejriwal’s rants about banking irregularities in India.
This one is a memory from childhood. I must’ve been about 9 or 10, which makes it around 1987-88. We lived in Keshod, which is a small town in Saurashtra area of Gujarat. Papa worked in the State Bank of Saurashtra at that time. I knew he was chief accountant, but I liked to call him Manager of the bank because I knew he was manager in a bank in the posting before this one (at Sanakhada- a small village near Una on the Coastal area near Diu) and it was just difficult for me to understand why would he be an officer again if he has already been a manager just because we have moved to a bigger town. To me, it felt like going back to class 4 because you have changed school even if you have passed class 5 in another school.
We (I and two sisters) were little, it was just past Diwali time and as is quite usual, many guests would come home to visit us for Diwali and New Year and when they go they usually gift some money to children. 2 rupees or 5 rupees it used to be, can’t remember if had 10 rupees from any particularly generous relative. We created a haul of something under 100 rupees between the siblings, and it was big deal for us, both due to the age and the time. We were thinking on what to blow this money, when mummy taught us how it is a good idea to not spend but save money. It was a lovely idea, I thought. What if I blow all the money I have on something that I think I want now, but in a few days I realise that I actually want something better; or simply something else and have no money left to buy it? It sounded like a good idea to save the money somewhere safe until I make up my mind about what I actually want. (Don’t we all have this constant struggle with ourselves all our life?)
Mummy bought us a small ‘Gullak’. It was a steel box shaped like an iron safe or cupboard. It had a little lock and key and all. It was my little treasure!
Then within a few days something better happened; I can’t remember whether I read a billboard somewhere or an advertisement in a newspaper (yes, papa put that habit in me at very young age) that there was a particular Children’s’ saving scheme in a few banks. I talked to papa about this- why would someone put money in bank and not in their own Gullak? He explained how money is safer in banks as Gullaks can be lost and furthermore that bank gives you ‘interest’.
Mind-blowing!! Bank will add more money to my money just because I let them keep it safe for me? To me, it felt like almost a cheat; but a good one. I wanted to do this. But then, I wanted to do this on my own. I knew if I went to Papa’s bank (State bank of Saurashtra at that time), I would be treated like a baby and things taken care for me and it will all become papa’s work rather than my own little enterprise. No. I wouldn’t have it that way. I wanted to do it all on my own. I asked around and found that Dena bank also had same scheme. Dena bank it is then!
It was a bit of a distance, about 40 minutes walk from home. I went to the Dena bank branch with my Gullak and went up to the counter. Obviously I had never been in front of the counter at a bank before. I have done a few ‘fun’ transactions with papa’s account at his bank- when he wanted to withdraw or deposit some money in his account, he would sometimes let me handle the money and ask me to bring it to the cashier-uncle or so on, but I would be on the inside of papa’s bank with him and they all would just play along like they are doing some transaction for me. But this time was different. I didn’t have to be thought of as a child and things made easy for me. I was to stand on the customer side of the counter and talk to the officer and get my work done.
I went to the counter, told the guy there that I want to open a Children’s’ saving account in his bank. He chuckled, I think. He asked me how much money I had- I told him. Then he said something utterly stupid. He said “You can’t open savings account by yourself, you need to bring your father for it.”
This was completely incomprehensible to me. “What’s the point of having a Children’s account if you need parents to open it”, I argued back. He tried to explain how it is supposed to be an account that parents open in name of their children so the parents can keep putting money in it regularly so the child can have a considerable sum when s/he grows up. It was all utter bullshit to me. If my papa wanted to save money to me, he could just keep it in his own regular account. Why would he have to open a separate account for that? And anyway, when I am going to grow up, why am I going to need my papa to give me some money that he has been saving? Ain’t I gonna make my own money when I grow up? This whole concept that he tried to explain to me was complete bull-shit to me.
He gave me a bunch of forms and said “Take this home and get your father to fill them out and bring him with you, then we can open the account”. I took the forms but I knew, I wasn’t going to do it that way. I kept my money in my Gullak.
Never liked Dena bank all my life.