Punjab National Bank (PNB)—which is at the heart of India’s biggest ever loan fraud, involving diamond trader Nirav Modi and his partner Mehul Choksi—has accepted the suggestion of a shareholder that the national anthem be sung at Annual General Meetings (AGM) and Extraordinary General Meetings (EGM).
The decision was accepted by PNB’s Non-Executive Chairman Sunil Mehta at the 18th AGM of the bank, reported the Indian Express.
The AGMs and EGMs are usually conducted to seek shareholders’ approval on key decisions. However, the Securities and Exchange Board of India and Reserve Bank of India rules do not require companies or banks to play the national anthem at AGMs and EGMs.
The report however evoked sharp reactions on Twitter.
“I don’t think any other company in India plays the National Anthem at AGMs and EGMs. It is strange to impose the anthem on shareholders,” Shriram Subramanian, Founder and MD, Ingovern Research Services, a corporate governance advisory firm, tweeted.
Many Twitter users, taking a swipe at the bank, wondered, “why don't they also get an army tank in each branch, to instil patriotism!” Others suggested, “How about installing a 150m high national flag on every branch of the bank! This is definitely a good plan to prevent another #NiravModi like event.”
Invoking Lord Hanuman, who seems to be the flavour of the month, a user advised the public sector lender—which is struggling to recover thousands of crores from its non-performing assets, “Maybe if they sing Hanuman Chalisa, Nirav Modi might actually return their money.”
The bank has been hit by India's biggest banking scam worth ₹13,700 crore. Of late, fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, in his reply to the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) plea to declare him a fugitive economic offender in the PNB fraud, had blamed the “fiasco” on the “mismanagement of the public sector bank”.