A retrospect of the events clearly indicates that the Indian banking sector has come far away from the days of nationalization. The Narasimham Committee laid the foundation for the reformation of the Indian banking sector. Constituted in 1991, the Committee submitted two reports, in 1992 and 1998, which laid significant thrust on enhancing the efficiency and viability of the banking sector. As the international standards became prevalent, banks had to unlearn their traditional operational methods of directed credit, directed investments and fixed interest rates, all of which led to deterioration in the quality of loan portfolios, inadequacy of capital and the erosion of profitability.
The recent international consensus on preserving the soundness of the banking system has veered around certain core themes. These are: effective risk management systems, adequate capital provision, sound practices of supervision and regulation, transparency of operation, conducive public policy intervention and maintenance of macroeconomic stability in the economy.
Until recently, the lack of competitiveness vis-à-vis global standards, low technological level in operations, over staffing, high NPAs and low levels of motivation had shackled the performance of the banking industry.
However, the banking sector reforms have provided the necessary platform for the Indian banks to operate on the basis of operational flexibility and functional autonomy, thereby enhancing efficiency, productivity and profitability. The reforms also brought about structural changes in the financial sector and succeeded in easing external constraints on its operation, i.e. reduction in CRR and SLR reserves, capital adequacy norms, restructuring and recapitulating banks and enhancing the competitive element in the market through the entry of new banks.
The reforms also include increase in the number of banks due to the entry of new private and foreign banks, increase in the...