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Religion can't be marker for availing banking services: Financial advocacy group

Counterview Desk
Well-known advocacy group Financial Accountability Network India (FAN India) has taken strong exception to the reported move by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) asking banks to introduce a new column in ‘know your customer’ (KYC) forms for their depositors and clients -- mention of religion.
In a statement endorsed by 50 several top civil rights activists and organizations, FAN India says, “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Act”, insisting, “Religion cannot be a marker for availing banking services and this amendment should immediately be withdrawn by RBI.”
Among those who have endorsed the statement include Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan; Devidas Tuljapurkar of the Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation; Thomas Franco of the All India Bank Officers Confederation; Gautam Mody of the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI); Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People’s Movements; Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD; Leo F Saldanha of the Environment Support Group, Bengaluru; and Shripad Dharmadhikary of the Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune.

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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 Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, push towards online banking have all only increased the pressure on banks and the people! 
The move also indicates the willingness of RBI to be used as a political tool of the Government of India
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.

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