New Delhi: The Financial Accountability Network India (FAN India) has condemned the RBI’s amendment of the Foreign Exchange Management Regulations (FEMA) Act that requires customers with NRO (non-resident ordinary) accounts to identify their religion for KYC details.
The collective, which comprises civil society organisations, unions, people’s movements and concerned citizens, and which raises issues surrounding the accountability and transparency of national financial institutions, called it a “well-designed and planned move to further divide the secular country” at a time when the banking sector was in a crisis.
The statement released by the collective said that the changes enacted by the RBI were in tandem with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), were designed to exclude Muslims and atheists from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan from buying property in India.
Drawing a parallel to demonetisation, the collective held that the move indicated the willingness of the RBI to be used as a political tool of the government. Criticising several “anti-people policies” implemented by the RBI along with the government, the statement says that these policies, which have “been in tandem with the government’s push towards privatizing public sector units through disinvestment” have systematically weakened public sector banks.
Calling the decision to include religion in KYC details “an unconstitutional move”, the collective said that it was”deplorable” that the RBI was toeing the communal agenda of the government at a time when there are nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Expressing alarm at the prospect of the policy being extended to all accounts and holding that religion could not be a marker for availing banking services, the Financial Accountability Network India called on the RBI to immediately withdraw it
The full text of the statement has been reproduced below.
New Delhi, December 27, 2019: Financial Accountability Network India condemns RBI’s amendment of Foreign Exchange Management Regulations (FEMA) Act, that requires customers with a Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) account to identify their religion for their ‘Know your Customer’ (KYC) details. The changes, which are in tandem with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) excludes Muslims and Atheist from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan from buying property in India.
At a time when the banking sector is unable to come out of the crisis that it is already in, this is a well-designed and planned move to further divide the secular country. Moreover, this move also indicates the willingness of RBI to be used as a political tool of the government. Just like demonetization, that is only going to create more confusion and panic among the people. In recent times, the RBI along with the government have involved in successive anti-people policies instead of finding effective solutions for the corporate loot of the banks. From the merger of banks, giving more corporate tax cuts, shifting the loss to the people through bank charges, attempts to bring FRDI Bill, push towards online banking have all only increased the pressure on banks and the people!
These policies have also been in tandem with the government’s push towards privatizing public sector units through disinvestment and systematically weakening the public sector banks. What we need is a resolution of the existing crisis and not one that would create more stress among the people. To include religion in KYC details is an unconstitutional move.
This is the first time that banks are introducing religion as a criterion for any banking activity and must be steadfastly opposed. It is deplorable that RBI is lining with the communal agenda of the government, especially when there is a country-wide protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act! This move is even more dangerous if such a policy is extended to all accounts. With the government not scaling back on its idea to bring in National Register of Citizenship (NRC), such a move from RBI to dove-tail its policy on communal lines is alarming.
Religion cannot be a marker for availing banking services and this amendment should immediately be withdrawn by RBI.
- Devidas Tuljapurkar, General Secretary Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation & Joint Secretary, AIBEA
- Thomas Franco, former General Secretary, All India Bank Officers Confederation
- T R Bhatt, Former Banker and Writer
- Gautam Mody, General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
- Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD
- Leo F. Saldanha, Environment Support Group
- Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune
- Dr. Virendra Vidrohi, General Secretary, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
- Girija Pathak, National Convener All India People’s Forum (AIPF)
- Ashok Choudhary, All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP)
- Vijayan M J, General Secretary, Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD)
- Shreedhar Ramamurthi, Environics Trust
- Anil T Varghese, Delhi Forum
- Dr. Bharat Patel, Machimar Adhikar Sangarsh Samiti
- Ram Wangkheirakpam, Indigenous Perspectives, Manipur
- Senthil Babu, French Institute, Pondicherry
- Arun, The Media Collective
- Rajendra Ravi, Institute for Democracy and Sustainability (IDS)
- Anivar Aravind, Indic Project
- Srikanth, Cashless Consumer
- Anivar, Indigenous Perspectives
- Srujana Merugu, Independent Machine Learning Researcher
- Ravindranath, River Basin Friends, Assam
- Raj Kumar Sinha, Bargi Bandh Visthapit Avam Prabhavit Sangh, Madhya Pradesh
- Vimal Bhai, National Alliance of People’s Movements
- Vickram Crishna, Independent Researcher
- Deben Sharma, Manipur
- Sanjeev Kumar Danda, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM)
- Vineet Tiwari, Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies
- Musthujab, Delhi Solidarity Group
- Kailash Nadh, Swanthanthra Malayalam Computing
- Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA)
- Sanat Chakravarti, Journalist, Manipur
- Amit Kumar, Student, Faculty of Law, Delhi University
- Purnima Gupta, New Delhi
- Urvashi Vashist
- Nadeem, New Delhi
- Gunjan Jain
- Macherla Mohan Rao
- Uzra Bilgrami
- Vivek, Hyderabad
- Karuna Miryam
- Jayasree Subramanian
- Vishrut Aggarwal, New Delhi
- Working Group on International Financial Institutes (WGonIFIs)
- Financial Accountability Network India (FAN India)