Staff turn nostalgic as SBM fades into history tomorrow

Founded in 1913, the historic bank will merge with SBI

Staff turn nostalgic as SBM fades into history tomorrow

Boards identifying the headquarters of State Bank of Mysore (SBM) on K G Road in Bengaluru, have been erased and the logo, taken down, as the bank readies for its merger with State Bank of India (SBI) from April 1.

On Thursday, nostalgic employees gathered in front of the statues of  Sir M Visvesvaraya and Mysore Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, to click one last picture as the staff of the bank they had set up.

Those who worked at the bank for decades consider it their family and are emotional about the merger.

K Muralidhara retired last year, after serving for 39 years, but still refers to SBM as 'my bank'. “As a cashier, when a customer entered the bank, I would talk to them like a friend and even enquire about their family. The relationship was personal but it is not so in SBI," he said.

Muralidhar is concerned about how customers will be treated after March 31.
“Our bank has a history of 100 years and it has an identity of its own in Karnataka. We are losing all that,” he said.

Rich history
A museum on the premises of the head office tells the history of the bank which was established in 1913 as Bank of Mysore Ltd, under the patronage of the government of Mysore, by then Dewan of Mysore, Sir M Visvesvaraya.

The bank’s first balance sheet, loan documents from the 1900s, typewriters and adding machines displayed in the bank trace the history of the establishment which
became home for its employees.

A few months after her husband passed away due to a heart attack in 1989, M G Nagarathnamma had to step into work life, as a cashier at SBM, to support her two children.

“I got my husband's job in the bank on compassionate grounds. I was a housewife until then and I knew nothing about banks. But my first day at work went smoothly because my colleagues were helpful,” she recollected. March 31 will be Nagarathnamma's last day at work and she is happy knowing that she retires as an employee of the SBM, not the SBI.

Former director of SBM, Koppal Nagaraj, is pained by the merger and compares his sadness to that of a son who has lost his parents.

“Everything that I am, I owe it to the SBM. I am indebted to the bank and to customers for my social status today,” he said. Nagaraj retired in 2014 after 40 years of service in several posts including president of the SBM Officers’ Association. “I started my career in SBM as a typist. It is unimaginable in any other bank that a typist could become the director,” he recounted.

Many employees are wary of the changes the merger will bring and have chosen to take voluntary retirement from service.

 B Gopal has been a security guard at the SBM for 21 years and has two more years of service. “I have decided to take VRS because I have poor health and kidney problems. With the SBM, I was able to get leave to visit the doctor in emergencies. I don’t know if I will be able to do that once this becomes SBI,” he said.

Employees from branches across Bengaluru will come together on Friday at the head office, to perform a puja and to pay a final tribute to the founders, before returning to work as employees of SBI.

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