Narayanan Vaghul, the Bhishma Pitamaha of Indian Banking, Cremated in Chennai

Former chairman of ICICI bank Narayanan Vaghul passed away at the age of 88. (PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)

Narayanan Vaghul, a prominent figure in the Indian banking sector, was recently cremated in Chennai, marking the end of an era and leaving behind a legacy comparable to that of Bhishma Pitamaha. With a career spanning several decades, Vaghul played a pivotal role in shaping the modern banking landscape in India.

Born on May 5, 1935, in Chennai, Vaghul’s journey in the banking industry began in the 1950s. He joined the State Bank of India (SBI) as a probationary officer and quickly climbed up the ranks due to his exceptional skills and dedication. During his tenure at SBI, he worked in various departments, gaining valuable experience and insights into the functioning of the banking system.

Vaghul’s true potential, however, came to light when he was appointed as the Chairman of the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) in 1985. Under his leadership, ICICI transformed from a development finance institution to a full-fledged commercial bank. Vaghul’s vision and strategic decisions played a crucial role in establishing ICICI as one of India’s leading financial institutions.

During his tenure as the Chairman of ICICI, Vaghul pioneered several groundbreaking initiatives that revolutionized the banking sector in the country. He played a significant role in introducing retail banking services, which were relatively new at the time. Additionally, he led the institution’s foray into international markets, forging strategic partnerships with global players and expanding ICICI’s presence globally.

Vaghul’s contributions went beyond just ICICI. He served as the Chairman of the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), where he spearheaded efforts to strengthen the Indian banking industry as a whole. Through his thoughtful leadership, Vaghul played a key role in formulating policies and implementing reforms that enhanced the efficiency and transparency of the banking sector.

His expertise and profound understanding of the financial domain earned him the reputation of being the Bhishma Pitamaha of banking in India. Just like the legendary character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Vaghul was known for his vast knowledge, unwavering commitment, and ability to navigate complex challenges with wisdom and composure.

The news of Vaghul’s cremation in Chennai has saddened the banking fraternity and the nation as a whole. His demise marks the end of an era and leaves behind an indelible imprint on the banking landscape. Many leaders and industry veterans have paid tribute to Vaghul, acknowledging his invaluable contributions and the profound impact he had on the sector.

As we bid farewell to Narayanan Vaghul, it is crucial to remember his legacy and the lessons he imparted. His dedication, vision, and unwavering commitment to excellence continue to inspire generations of bankers. The Indian banking sector owes a great debt to this visionary leader, and his contributions will be cherished forever.

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