[Banking in India] History

  • Banking in India started with setting up of two banks in the last decades of the 18th century. The banks were:-        1.  The General Bank of India  (1786)    2.  Bank of Hindustan (1790)    Both of them are now defunct. 
  • Indian merchants in Calcutta established the Union Bank in 1839, but it failed in 1848 as a consequence of the economic crisis of 1848-49.
  • The Allahabad Bank, established in 1865 and still functioning today, is the oldest Joint Stock bank still functioning in India. The first one was Bank of Upper India, which was established in 1863, and which survived until 1913, when it failed, with some of its assets and liabilities being transferred to the Alliance Bank of Simla.
  • Foreign banks too started to arrive, particularly in Calcutta, in the 1860s. The Comptoire d’Escompte de Paris opened a branch in Calcutta in 1860, and another in Bombay in 1862; branches in Madras and Puducherry, then a French colony, followed. HSBC established itself in Bengal in 1869. Calcutta was the most active trading port in India, mainly due to the trade of the British Empire, and so became a banking center.
  • The first entirely Indian joint stock bank was the Oudh Commercial Bank, established in 1881 in Faizabad. It failed in 1958.
  • The next was the Punjab National Bank, established in Lahore in 1895, which has survived to the present and is now one of the largest banks in India.
  • The period between 1906 and 1911, saw the establishment of banks inspired by the Swadeshi movement. The Swadeshi movement inspired local businessmen and political figures to found banks of and for the Indian community. A number of banks established then have survived to the present such as Bank of India, Corporation BankIndian Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank and Central Bank of India.
  • The fervour of Swadeshi movement lead to establishing of many private banks in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district which were unified earlier and known by the name South Canara ( South Kanara ) district. Four nationalised banks started in this district and also a leading private sector bank. Hence undivided Dakshina Kannada district is known as “Cradle of Indian Banking“.

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