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Bank of Rajasthan is dead, long live Rajasthan

Bank to continue association with the desert state even after its merger with ICICI.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 14, 2010, 01.01 AM IST
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JAIPUR: Bank of Rajasthan will lose its identity after its merger with ICICI Bank, but its association with Rajasthan — specifically, with the name of the state — will remain forever. The bank was instrumental in the state being renamed Rajasthan, in January 1949, according to the archives of City Palace, Udaipur.

In 1943, six years before the state was renamed, Bank of Rajasthan was set up, with Udaipur as its registered office. It was the brainchild of late Rai Bahadur PC Chatterjee, the then finance minister of what used to be Mewar. Mr Chatterjee roped in two mining businessmen from Bhilwara — Seth Pusa Lalji Mansighka and Seth Damodar Lalji Mansighka — to set up a bank with an initial capital of `10 lakh. It was formed as a public company, with shares owned by investors, including founder-chairman Seth Govind Ram Seksaria, an eminent industrialist of his time.

In line with the common practice, the stakeholders suggested two names: Bank of Mewar and State Bank of Udaipur. But the promoters, especially Mr Chatterjee, had other thoughts. Mr Chatterjee felt that Rajputana — a union of nine princely states, of which, Mewar was a part — was the preserve of royalty, and the bank’s name should reflect that exalted status.

He proposed Rajasthan, or the ‘place of royals’, the name symbolising the line of rajas and maharajas who had ruled there. The other promoters accepted it. And evidently, they did so with a clairvoyant eye on what that name could mean in the years to come, with India poised for independence and some form of regional consolidation. According to the Bank of Rajasthan website, the promoters felt: “The word ‘Rajasthan’ will be more advantageous in the future to expand activities to other princely states as, under the new constitution, grouping of the local princely states was expected under one umbrella.”

The cards fell the way they expected. India became independent in 1947. The painful process of consolidation began, with home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel meeting rulers of princely states for their integration into India. Rajasthan was formed after a long process of integration, which began in March 1948 and ended in November 1956.

When the integration started, the state was called Rajputana. According to City Palace, Udaipur, it was renamed Rajasthan after a meeting on January 14, 1949, between Sardar Patel and the princely states of Rajputana. The meeting was convened by the then ruler of Udaipur, the late Maharana Bhupal Singh, who was also the Rajpramukh of Rajputana. At the meeting, the Maharana suggested renaming Rajputana as Rajasthan. He cited the example of Bank of Rajasthan and its wider identity. Sardar Patel accepted his suggestion. Rajputana was renamed Rajasthan, and Bank of Rajasthan got its place in history.
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