The financial world post global crisis of 2007 is vastly different than what it was before. Many factors that were paid little or no importance prior to crisis can no longer be ignored. Increasing number of multinational banks got their branches or subsidiaries opened globally. With their increased presence and dominance, it was assumed that the formula for success in this sector has been discovered and mastered. Massive size, wide diversification across the entire spectrum of financial activities, intermediation, investment and insurance and global presence, combined with large pecuniary incentives were, apparently, the most effective way to achieve and sustain competitive advantage (Insan, Pinki & Warne, D.P., 2011). The global crisis has made it clearly visible that these ways do not possess the required capability to sustain the financial businesses for long term. More so over, it was discovered that two key factors, rapid expansion and diversification, which were presumed to be contributing to success of banks were actually responsible not only for this downfall of banks but also for the financial industry globally. Though the banks were growing big but they failed to match their capabilities in risk identification and mitigation at the same pace. In this highly tangled economy, bank’s failure to manage risks effectively can result in its collapse causing a ripple effect on all other banks and ultimately resulting in failure of industry as a whole ,as seen in current global crisis (initiated by American banks) or during the Asian crisis of 1997-1998 (Aduda and Gitonga, 2011). Beyond the banking industry, it is also governments that are pulled in (when having to bail-out the industry thus saddling them with large debts) and the economy as a whole as the lifeblood of economy, i.e. financing is slowed down during the credit crunch. Banks become more & more reluctant to lend money to anyone but the safest of all clients.
The banking sector throughout the world is going through momentous changes and the banking sector in India is no exception to it. It is rapidly improving itself to be at par with global banks and survive the competition from foreign banks operating in India. Indian banking sector has undergone significant changes since its independence in 1947 and specifically major changes since the economy liberalization in early 1990s. The banking sector in India has extensive network, developed in order to support its growing and fast paced economy. The banks of India perform the dual role, one that of preserving country’s wealth and second that of a reservoir of resources required for development of country’s economy. For the growth of any country, it is of utmost importance that it’s financial industry and banks are developed and matured. Similar is the case in Indian scenario. Indian banking industry saw a surge of foreign banks in late1980s and early 1990s, post Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations under the aegis of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). During this period, there was significant increase in share of foreign banks in parameters such as income, deposits, investment, loans and advances and assets. However, in late 1990s it was observed that share of foreign banks in terms of profitability fell considerably. Two major factors that influenced this change were increase in efficiency of public sector banks and entry of private sector banks in Indian banking industry. Indian banks, both private and public, in their process of integration and globalization adopted international banking standards and practices. Currently, Indian banking sector comprises of 84 organizations, including 27 public sector banks, 27 private sector banks and 33 foreign banks operating in India. The Reserve Bank of India, i.e. Indian central bank, also identifies 30 state cooperative banks, 95 regional rural banks and 55 urban cooperative banks. The public sector banking sector consists of 19 nationalized banks, State Bank of India (SBI), seven associates of SBI and the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI)  .
The Reserve Bank of India is the central banking institution of India, established in 1935 and nationalized in 1945. RBI is the governing authority that plays the pivotal role of formulating, implementing and monitoring India’s monetary policies. Being the backbone of Indian economics, Reserve Bank of India also helps government of India and state governments in developing their finance strategies. In addition, RBI also acts as regulator and supervisor of country’s financial system. It defines the parameters within which any bank or financial agency has to operate in Indian market. Under the section 42(1) of the RBI act, it is mandatory for all commercial banks in India to maintain an account and deposit defined cash, called as Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) with Reserve Bank of India. Besides CRR, RBI also requires Indian banks to maintain Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) i.e. to put prescribed amount of liquid assets such as gold, cash and approved securities with RBI. It uses variance in bank/interest rate to not only maintain ample liquidity in the system but also to roll back excess liquidity, once the required economic growth has been attained. Ensuring that there is sufficient liquidity available in the market restores confidence of investors into banks and into financial markets. All these measures are used by RBI to hedge against uncertainty of outcome’s country’s monetary policies  . According to World Bank report, GDP growth rate of India was 9.8% in 2007 and 3.89% in 2008. The sharp decline in growth rate was the direct impact of global financial crisis. As a measure to curb this sharp fall, RBI introduced number of fiscal stimulus packages and other measures to cushion the impact and enhance the economic growth. For a long term fiscal consolidation, RBI uses combination of monetary and debt management tools to streamline government borrowing programs and consequently, spurs investment demand. In first half of 2009-10, RBI launched Open Market Operations (OMO) purchases and Market Stabilization Scheme (MSS) which will reduce CRR by three percentage points and thus, will leave adequate resources with banks to expand credit to potential investors. Besides regulating, country’s monetary and fiscal policy, Reserve Bank of India also provides commercial banks with payment and settlement infrastructure. All inter-banks transactions are routed via RBI.
With the increasing globalization and ever increasing participation of India in world trade, it would have been immature to expect that global crisis had no impact on Indian economy. Though the Indian banks did not have significant presence outside India and were not directly exposed to sub-prime mortgages by foreign investments banks, still the global crisis created an impact on Indian economy and thus, on its financial sector, trade flows and exchange rates (Kumar and Vashisht, 2009). The three main entities that constitutes Indian financial sector are banks, equity markets and external commercial borrowings. Each of these entities was differently affected by global crisis. RBI maintains very stringent controls over Indian banks and during this period, it further tightened its controls. One of such significant steps taken by RBI during the crisis was the increase of requirements in loan evaluation for all real estate related requests, which in turn help to decrease the probability of real estate price bubble. Except one bank, ICICI, most Indian banks were not exposed to sub-prime mortgages. ICICI got jitters from global crisis but its strong balance sheet and support by government helped it sail smoothly through the crisis. The banking sector as a whole declared a profitability of 43% for the third quarter of 2008, maintained a capital risk weighted ratio (CRAR) of 13% and brought non-performing assets well within the acceptable norms  . Though Indian banks did not have considerable direct impacts but indirect impacts were quite large. As soon as Lehman Brothers collapsed, there was high liquidity squeeze in global market which was immediately passed on to squeeze in Indian market. The banks and corporations which were earlier relying on foreign sources for their credit demand had to then focus completely on domestic banking sector, and this in turn fuelled the short-term lending rates. Also, seeing the collapse of major banks world over, Indian banks became more risk averse and consequently resulted in decline of credit expansion rate. The other indirect impact which prominently surfaced during this period was the transfer of capital from private banks to public banks. Under the Indian bank Nationalization Act, it is stated that all obligations of public sector banks will be met by Indian government in case of any failure. This was a huge factor which made investors believe that their deposits will be way safer in public banks and thus gravitated their capital towards public banks (Viral V. Acharya1 and Nirupama Kulkarni, 2012)  .
The significance of risk management in Indian banks
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