Can New SBI Chairman Meet Great Expectations Amid Hard Times?

On October 6, 2020, erstwhile State Bank of India chairman Rajnish Kumar stepped down and paved the way for SBI managing director Dinesh Kumar Khara to take charge of the bank’s top post.

Under the previous leadership, the SBI’s advances grew to Rs 23.47 trillion. The bank’s bad loan share also shrank by half. Kumar was also a key decision-maker during the pandemic, who turned around SBI’s fortunes amidst the economic slowdown and united the money lenders of the Indian banking sector. One of his crucial decisions was taking control of the bankrupt Yes Bank during a period of fund shortage.

Kumar is also credited with embracing the nuances of digital banking for SBI, introducing the customer-bank interface YONO which streamlined the bank services and improved the customer experience for SBI’s millions of customers. YONO became SBI’s most ambitious and successful initiative with 27 million registered users to date.

Kumar was widely hailed for his quick and decisive actions and his ability to think clearly during emergency times, which is a necessary skill sought in top leaders of any industry.

As Kumar completed his three-year tenure at the Chairman’s office this month, his successor Khara was recommended by the Banks Board Bureau that usually takes up the responsibility of short-listing candidates for senior management roles of public sector banks in India.

Khara’s association with the SBI dates back to 1984 when he joined the public bank after graduating with a Master’s in Business Administration from Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi. Khara is also a certified associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers.


In his nearly 40-year career with the SBI, Khara has headed commercial banking initiatives of the bank, handling small and corporate credit as well as large, mid, and retail credit. He was active in branch management and deposit mobilization, too.

Khara was also instrumental in materializing the crucial merger of the public bank with five minor subordinate banks and the Bharat Mahila Bank. This propelled the SBI to the list of top 50 banks of the world. Before assuming the post of SBI’s chairman, Khara was the chief executive of SBI Funds Management Pvt. Ltd. He is believed to be responsible for making SBI boast the fifth-largest mutual funds management service in India. SBI is hoping that Khara can repeat his past performances in his new all-important post.

Khara is taking on the responsibilities of SBI Chairman at a time when the public sector bank is struggling to reclaim its market share that has been poached by the newer entrants in the money lending market. While Kumar was able to bail SBI out of the economic crisis created by the pandemic, Khara faces the herculean task of pushing the bank towards a period of financial growth in a slowly recovering market. The deposit share of the bank has been nearly stagnant since 2017 and the board deems that Khara will be able to bring in the necessary proactivity in the top management to increase its market share of loans and deposits. Other crucial responsibilities of the experienced banker will be to boost credit growth and enhancing the human resources of the bank.

The biggest public sector bank of India has great expectations from its new chairman. Only time will tell whether Khara can write a new chapter of growth for the bank in a post-COVID-19 market.

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