Former MP and Saraswat Bank Chairman Eknath Thakur passes away

Aug 07, 2014, 16:51 IST | Agencies

Eknath Thakur, chairman of the country's largest co-operative sector lender, Saraswat Bank, died on Thursday after a prolonged fight with cancer 

Eknath Thakur, chairman of Saraswat Bank and former member of parliament, died here Thursday, family sources said.

He was 73 and breathed his last at his Dadar home following a prolonged battle with cancer.

Thakur was a Rajya Sabha MP from 2002-2008 and was also the director of several public and private sector banks. He was a Shiv Sena leader.

After quitting the job as an officer with State Bank of India to protest the emergency in 1976, Thakur started the National School of Banking (NSB) to train graduates, which has been instrumental in getting placements for 80,000 such youngsters.

He took over as Chairman of Saraswat Bank in 2001 and continued being at the helm till his demise.

The 13-year-period has seen the bank's total business grow nearly nine times to Rs 36,000 crore and expansion in presence outside Maharashtra to states like Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Goa and Madhya Pradesh.

With most of its peers from the cooperative sector in bad shape due to multitude of reasons including poor governance, Saraswat Bank continued doing good business and also acquired seven ailing banks to expand its reach.

The bank is now contemplating changing its character and becoming a private sector bank.

Born in coastal Sindhudurg district's Mhapan village in Vengurla tehsil, Thakur lost his parents at a very young age and was supported by an elder sister to complete secondary education in Kudal, which was followed with completing a bachelors' degree in English with honours from Pune.

He joined SBI as a probationary officer in 1966 and during his ten years with the bank, was fairly active in the Unions and is also credited with playing a pivotal part in the 1969 strike of officers.

However, in 1970, he was diagnosed with cancer and had been successfully fighting the disease till his demise, the bank said.

Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan described Thakur as "a respected person who laid his imprint on the socio-economic life of (the people of) the state in more ways than one."

"Thakur had a sincere urge to serve the society. As an MP he often raised issues of concern for the common man...Through the NSB, he prepared several youths for a career in the field of banking and encouraged them to become entrepreneurs," Sankaranarayanan said.

He also served as a trustee of the Indian Education Society, one of the largest educational organisations running 75 institutions in Mumbai.

A few years ago, he founded the National School of Banking (NSB) which has trained over 3,00,000 students aspiring to join the country's banking industry through its 50 centres across India.

Thakur's last rites will be performed at Shivaji Park here Friday.

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