‘Ca­nara Bank is a peo­ple’s bank’

FrontLine - - K - BY A SPE­CIAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

In­ter­view with Chair­man T.N. Manoha­ran.

UN­LIKE most chair­men of banks in In­dia, Ca­nara Bank’s Chair­man, T.N. Manoha­ran, did not as­sume of­fice af­ter serv­ing as a ca­reer banker. And, un­like most oth­ers in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion, he as­sumed this of­fice af­ter an il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer as a top­notch char­tered ac­coun­tant (CA) over a ca­reer span­ning 35 years. Best known for the fi­nesse he dis­played in set­tling the Satyam Com­puter Ser­vices im­broglio fol­low­ing ad­mis­sion of fraud by the com­pany’s top lead­er­ship in 2009, and for sav­ing it from an out­right col­lapse, Manoha­ran is at the helm of the bank to guide it through the chal­leng­ing times that In­dian bank­ing is go­ing through. Although Manoha­ran’s is a non­ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion, he has brought to the ta­ble a breadth of strate­gic drive while si­mul­ta­ne­ously ne­go­ti­at­ing the pit­falls with a mas­tery he has de­vel­oped over the years as a re­puted char­tered ac­coun­tant.

Manoha­ran qual­i­fied as a char­tered ac­coun­tant in 1983 and founded Manohar Chowdhry & As­so­ci­ates in Chen­nai the same year. He joined the Coun­cil of the In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants of In­dia (ICAI) at the age of 44 as elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Later, in 2006­07, he presided over the cen­tral coun­cil of the pro­fes­sional body that reg­u­lates the pro­fes­sion. How­ever, his em­i­nence in the field arises not just from his pro­fes­sional com­pe­tence and achieve­ments but from the broader role he has played as an em­i­nent ed­u­ca­tor of char­tered ac­coun­tants in In­dia. Manoha­ran has trav­elled widely across the coun­try, lec­tur­ing and teach­ing aspir­ing young CA stu­dents. He is also a well­re­garded au­thor of sev­eral books that are re­ferred to by stu­dents. “Teach­ing is my pas­sion,” he says mod­estly, with­out re­fer­ring to the fact, vouched for by oth­ers, that he reg­u­larly reaches out to help less­priv­i­leged as­pi­rants who do not have the where­withal to af­ford the ex­pen­sive “coach­ing” camps that help as­pi­rants clear the gru­elling ex­ams for en­try into the pro­fes­sion. Soon af­ter his stint at the apex of the ICAI, Manoha­ran quit “ac­tive prac­tice” as a char­tered ac­coun­tant and be­came a “men­tor” in the firm that he founded.

Born in 1956, Manoha­ran has come a long way from his hum­ble be­gin­nings in a vil­lage near Gudiy­atham in Vel­lore district in Tamil Nadu. The son of a free­dom fighter and hail­ing from a fam­ily of farm­ers, his school­

T.N. MANOHA­RAN,

ing was en­tirely at Gudiy­atham. He re­calls the re­luc­tance of his fa­ther, a dry­land farmer, to send both sons away from the town to study (Manoha­ran’s brother was al­ready study­ing medicine in Bel­gaum). He re­calls with nos­tal­gia how the prin­ci­pal of the Gov­ern­ment Arts Col­lege (where he did his Pre­uni­ver­sity) was in­stru­men­tal in con­vinc­ing his fa­ther to “send the boy to Madras” for col­lege ed­u­ca­tion. “The prin­ci­pal told my fa­ther that I was the first stu­dent in the his­tory of the col­lege to have ob­tained a First Class and there­fore de­served to go to Madras,” re­mem­bers Manoha­ran. Af­ter com­plet­ing his bach­e­lor’s and mas­ter’s de­grees in com­merce, he also ob­tained a de­gree in law, a rar­ity in the highly com­pet­i­tive world of ac­coun­tants.

In 2008, fol­low­ing a Supreme Court rul­ing, he was nom­i­nated as a di­rec­tor in Sa­hara In­dia Fi­nan­cial Cor­po­ra­tion at the in­stance of the RBI, specif­i­cally charged with pro­tect­ing the “pub­lic in­ter­est” in the resid­uary non­bank­ing fi­nance com­pany that owed huge amounts

Chair­man, Ca­nara Bank.

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