ICICI Bank wants to teach banking to schoolchildren, in fact to anyone who wants to learn. And its main muse for this cause was the Reserve Bank of India, which has been exhorting banks to educate the public about the basics of banking. Hence, when ICICI asked for help, the RBI was more than willing to don the role of publisher and teacher for the cause.
Last week, Disha, the NGO front of the bank, launched the first of the series of its school comic books on banking. And RBI was in full force at the release. Said RBI's general manager, Kamala Rajan, "This is one venture which has been done totally in-house starting from the animation done in the book to the text and ideas."
RBI has gone ahead and put the Disha comic book on its website, saying it is open for anyone to see. School principals formed the majority of people attracted to this and Disha says it will be confined to Delhi for now and it plans to have different formats for different schools.
ICICI and Disha's chief counsellor Nutan Lughani says that other banks will also be involved in the school programme in order to scale it up. The book is just one step in the agenda of Disha.
"We are also providing assistance to the lay man in debt management and counselling. It is already six months old and ordinary people are encouraged to walk into Disha offices where they are provided counsel on managing their debts. If someone has Rs 20 lakh loan and he is overwhelmed, we try to help him by talking to his bank and re-scheduling his instalments. Often people don't know how to manage their credit cards and are ignorant of interest rates and we provide them with advice, says Lughani.