From a 'Bank of Tomatoes' to 'Ram Ram Bank': UP's quirky banks

Last Updated: Fri, Aug 04, 2017 13:38 hrs
Tomato Bank

As tomatoes' retail price is at Rs 90-100 a kg, Congress workers on Friday sold tomatoes outside Uttar Pradesh Assembly charging Rs 10 for every kg. Image: ANI

The Congress party in Uttar Pradesh has decided to attack the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party by launching an Indian Bank of Tomatoes. The move, satirical in nature, is aimed at bashing the BJP-led state government for the rocketing prices of basic commodities such as tomatoes.

This unique political move came with a variety of offers, such as getting a low interest rate on tomato deposits, free locker facility for keeping tomatoes safe, or the facility of getting tomatoes on instalments.

The move by Congress may be a satirical and political one but is a reminder of at least half a dozen unique banks that are running in the country. Some of these banks are functioning on their principles whereas majority of them are operating in a thorough professional ways.

Ram Ram Bank

The process of establishing a unique bank began nearly four decades ago when a school teacher and a devotee of Lord Rama, named L K Tiwari, left his job to set up Ram Ram bank at his residence, in Lucknow. The bank works on the philosophy of spirituality. There is no formality for opening an account in this bank. Just approach any of its branch (being run on voluntary basis by dozens of people), collect the passbook (which is a notebook) and the account has been opened. However, the interest (which is blessings of Ram) start when the customer deposits that notebook after scribbling the name of Ram in it.

The philosophy behind the bank is quite simple: The more passbooks (notebooks) one fills with the name of Ram, the more the interest in the form of God’s blessings one gets.

Today, there is a road crossing in Lucknow city, which is known by the bank’s name - Ram Ram Bank crossing!

Bakari Bank

Then there is the Bakari Bank or the Goat Bank. In the latter part of 2000, a few farmers established this bank. Presently these banks are operational in Rajasthan and in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. The bank works on the philosophy of shared farming of goats and ducks and the facilities the bank provides to farmers include micro finance as well as shared profits.

Unlike Ram Ram Bank, the Goat Bank is functioning professionally under a trust by the same name – the Goat Trust, which also has a website by the same name All records of the bank’s activities can be found on the website. At least 600 farmers are the customers of this bank.

The tales of unique banks does not end here.

Roti Bank

There is another bank, known as Roti Bank, which is based on philanthropy. The bank’s motto is to ensure that no one sleeps hungry. Of all the quirky banks, this one is perhaps the most professional. The bank has nearly a dozen branches, spread in at least half a dozen states.

The bank's sleek website provides details to its clients on how to invest in the bank.

Gullak Bank

The most recent in the list is Gullak Bank (Piggy Bank). This is a new initiative by the teachers of a Higher Secondary School in Amethi town in UP, which is also the parliamentary constituency of All India Congress Committee Vice President Rahul Gandhi. The concept of having a Gullak Bank emerged after a student failed to deposit his fee in the last session.

The Gullak bank was set up on the insistence of the school teachers. All the teachers of the school deposit Rs 100 every month. This year, the bank was able to pay the fee for two students whose families could not afford their children’s education.

Such banks are helping society in some way or the other. It seems they have also been able to motivate the Congress party, which got an idea to hit the ruling BJP by beginning a bank of their own.

Thus begins the tale of the Indian Bank of Tomatoes!

Alka Pande is an independent journalist, travel blogger & photographer based in Lucknow. She writes on issues relating to government policies, environment, health, business, and human resources.

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