End of J&K Bank’s signature calendar known for its cultural and symbolic significance has created a solemn farewell filled with wit and worry in the valley.
By Mohsin Manzoor
AS J&K Bank’s iconic calendar ran out of its days at the fag-end of the Covid-plagued year, many Kashmiris term it ‘another dent to the already battered identity’.
It was the quintessential Kashmir wit dominating the calendar discourse amid a torrent of disconcerting events in the frosty valley.
“Many of us joke about it, as how we would maintain our milkman’s daily account in absence of the J&K Bank calendar in our home now,” said Asad Rafiq, a Srinagar-based trader.
“I don’t think this move is laughable. We Kashmiris always celebrated the cultural spirit and symbolic significance of this calendar. Its demise feels personal.”
As per the circular leaked on social media sites, the J&K Bank received communication from the Ministry of Finance on September this year to stop printing of the annual calendar and diary.
The communiqué cited the growing digitalization around the world as the grounds for stopping the paper version.
“But after ending their signature household presence, J&K Bank came out with a ridiculous e-calendar,” said Sakib Hameed, an IT professional from Anantnag.
“This poorly-designed e-calendar is a telling comment on the falling standards of the bank, just like its tumbling shares. One really feels sorry for the growing mediocrity in Kashmir’s premier institution.”
The bank would reportedly publish around 25 lakh copies of calendar annually at the cost of Rs 3.5 crore.
“This Rs 3.5 crore was not a liability,” Zahoor Ziyam, an online user, reacted to the demise, “it was publicity and love worth Rs 350 crores.”
Even many bankers are not happy with the move.
“You can’t disturb certain institutional practices maintaining the brand image,” said Akhar, a J&K banker employee.
“This step is like robbing the bank of its far and wide publicity. We must understand that J&K Bank calendar was more than a day and date document for Kashmiris; it was the identity wallpaper, now gone in the rising institutional fiddling.”
Such concern is also being witnessed in the virtual world where the demise is linked with the larger institutional crisis.
“Despite being in the state of war from last three decades, Kashmiris threw their weight behind J&K Bank, the institution now losing its say and identity,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a J&K Bank account-holder. “Who knows what’s next stored for the bank.”
However, many bank officials are calling the calendar move as the need of the hour.
“First of all, if people are holding us bankers responsible for this calendar issue, let me ask them: How could you resist a directive from Delhi?” a senior J&K Bank executive said.
But beyond this noise over the calendar, the banker continued, the goal is to strengthen digital operations of the bank.
“And therefore, most of us see this move as the need of the hour and a step towards digitization.”
However, not many are buying this argument from J&K Bank executives facing the social media scrutiny over the move. Most of them are also drawing flak after the bank produced a “lackluster” e-version as an alternative.
“When you easily give up on your brand product without putting up any resistance, it makes the motives of executives clear — that they are also seeking change by disturbing the status quo,” said Nazir Geelani, a fruit merchant from Sopore.
“But then, what can you do?” he added. “In the so-called ‘Naya Kashmir’, new orders are being unleashed at the cost of undoing the existing ones.”
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