Srinagar, June 24, : The appointment of Zubair Iqbal as Managing Director of Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited has hit a major controversy after Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised queries over it.
Days after joining office, Iqbal, who was working as Senior Vice-President of HDFC Bank, disappeared from the scene and has not joined back the office.
“He (Iqbal) joined the office and came for almost three days. After that we didn’t see him,” said a bank official.
“We have heard that RBI has raised some queries over his appointment and also it has got stuck in a legal wrangling,” he said.
According to news agency Kashmir DotDot Com (KDC) the Finance Department has written to the Company Secretary, J&K Bank Ltd, informing that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has, in exercise of the powers under Article 69 (i) of the Articles of Association of Jammu and Kashmir Bank Ltd, decided to appoint senior Vice-President of HDFC Bank, Zubair Iqbal, as Government Nominee/Director on the Board of J&K Bank Ltd. for a period of three years or till further orders, whichever is earlier.
“The Board of J&K Bank Ltd. may appoint/elect him as Managing Director of J&K Bank Ltd,” reads the order issued by Finance Department, Jammu and Kashmir Government.
Iqbal is known for his immense contribution in the growth of HDFC Bank in J&K.
He worked for 15 years each with J&K Bank and HDFC Bank earlier. He has played a key role in growth of HDFC Bank in J&K and is known as architect of the bank’s growth in J&K.
A retired JK Bank official told news agency Kashmir Dot Com (KDC) that “JK Bank was an empire within an empire in the erstwhile state of J&K. Not anymore. Imagine this bank at one point of time had a Chairman who was having a minister of state status as well. And today a Vice President rank banker is appointed as its MD.”
He said Iqbal’s appointment was another step in further demeaning the J&K Bank.
“A former regional head of HDFC having 70 odd branches in J&K and who was recently sidelined by his own organisation reportedly after receiving complaints against him, shall now be heading an 80-year-old 1000 branch strong back which has a pan India presence,” he said.
He said HDFC was a bank known for its robust systems. “It has top brains of the country strategising its growth and business in its corporate office. Every single thing is thought out and defined to the smallest detail. The operational levels at best are a sales force chasing targets given by the top management. The regional heads et al have absolutely no role in decision making and strategising,” retired bank official said.
He said the business model of the HDFC bank was more inclined towards marketing than banking. “Banking is a backend job managed by a top few, rest only do the sales job. As one would sell soap and shampoos,” he said.
He said JK Bank was fraught with many issues currently. “It is struggling an existential crisis. The August 2019 , the CoVID-19 and post-CoVID economic scenario has dealt a double whammy. The bank needs a strong leader at the top. A leader who is strong enough to stave off the pressure from various quarters. A leader who can take decisions; who has a vision and who can transform the bank to survive in a changed environment. Zubair Iqbal in my opinion does not fit the bill,” he said.
He said Zubair Iqbal could at best be an ideal candidate for marketing head of the bank.
“Plus there are internal challenges he will have to face. He will have to deal with a hostile top management. The presidents of the bank are way senior to him in banking. The Vice Presidents have been his batch mates. The board of the directors of the bank will be another thing to deal with. There is no Muslim , no Kashmiri in the Board. The board looks at everything with suspicion. That has stalled the normal growth of the bank to a great extent,” he said.