The bank was started to facilitate loans for Sikh taxi drivers and other Sikhs who found it difficult to raise loans from nationalized banks at the time. Along with taxi drivers, several well-off Sikhs played a crucial role in raising initial funds through shares.
“It was the brainchild of late Gurcharan Singh Kochhar, who used to ply his own taxi in Bombay after retiring from Indian Air Force. There were several Sikh drivers in Bombay at the time and it was not easy for them to get loans from big banks to purchase taxis or for other needs. Kochhar went to Gurdwara Panja Sahib (in Pakistan’s Punjab province) in 1982-83 and performed ardaas (prayed) to get strength to start a bank for the Sikhs in Bombay,” Charan Singh, 74, a founder director of the bank, TOI on phone from Mumbai.
Kochhar, whose family had migrated from Rawalpindi during Partition, returned from his pilgrimage and started working on the idea. “We got the licence in 1983 and incidentally, Dr Manmohan Singh was the governor of Reserve Bank of India at the time. The cooperative movement was very strong in Maharashtra and we too were motivated by it to have our own bank,” said Charan Singh, who too was driving his own taxi at the time….