Rajnish Kumar, former Chairman of the State Bank of India (SBI) released his memoir, The Custodian of Trust, in October 2021 in New Delhi. The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) hosted the book release at the Taj Resort & Convention Centre, Dona Paula, in February 2022.
“During COVID-19, with nothing much to do, I decided to utilise my time to put together this book. I realised that because we have computers, today, it is much easier to write a book. You write down whatever comes to your mind and rearrange it later,” reveals Rajnish Kumar.
The Custodian of Trust is Rajnish Kumar's writing debut. The memoir, in three parts, narrates his journey from joining the SBI (in Meerut), in 1980, as a probationary officer to becoming the Chairman of the bank, in 2017.
He was a frontrunner in the race for the post along with another managing director, PK Gupta. So, after a long time, SBI was finally going to be away from the clutches of Bengalis! Prior to Ms Bhattacharya, it was Mr Chaudhury, who was at the helm of affairs.
“My tenure as Chairman was a momentous period as I shouldered responsibilities that cannot be termed as ‘normal’.” The Indian banking community was experiencing its most turbulent phases during this time – issues of post-demonetisation, Goods & Service Tax (GST), the Yes Bank crisis. When there was uncertainty over the bank’s future, he spearheaded the bailout, appointing a former SBI executive, Prashant Kumar, as the administrator, and was applauded for his explicit handling of the process.
The collapse of Jet Airways, and other seminal significant issues in the operations of the bank, impacted the country. The sinking economy, the rise of e-commerce companies created a paradigm shift in operating environments. Meeting the needs of the underprivileged citizens had its own challenges, along with the mandate of fulfilling the high expectations of stake holders, where the SBI played a critical role.
“Among these conundrums, the fact that I got the opportunity to lead one of the most coveted institutions in the country, was something I didn’t expect when I joined SBI,” says Kumar.
“SBI is considered a proxy to the Indian Economy. In that sense, the book is also an account of the tremendous progress made by the country, as well as the banking and financial system in the last four decades,” says Kumar of the book.
The memoir contains many untold and unknown incidents, narrating his journey through engaging anecdotes, which readers will find interesting and inspirational.
Part III of the book has glimpses of his personal life, the struggles before and after joining SBI, the ‘hits and misses’ and family tragedies. Towards the end of his career, were the health and economic crisis due to COVID-19. The devastating impact of many employees succumbing, the unfettered compassion, empathy, the unimpeachable character and will power of the staff to perform their duties in adverse circumstances, is a lasting testimony. “This book is a tribute to their spirit,” says Kumar.
The book has also received rave reviews. Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus, Tata Sons, has called the book “a chronicle of contemporary economic history.” Uday Kotak, CEO, Kotak Mahindra Bank, said the book has the potential to be a “Bollywood blockbuster”.
At the book launch in Goa, Vincent Ramos, Area Director – IHCL, and General Manager – Taj Resort & Convention Centre, said, “India is evidently among the fastest growing economies in the world. In the service sector, the travel and tourism industry is a major engine of growth, contributing to a significant number of the total employment in the country, and the market size is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.”
NAME OF THE BOOK: The Custodian of Trust
AUTHOR: Rajnish Kumar
PUBLISHER: Penguin Viking
PRICE: ₹460 (hardcover edition)
BUY IT FROM: Amazon.in