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Super rich defaulters push Indian banks towards collapse

What is worse is that just the top 30 cases of default account for a Rs 1.21 lakh crore, which is almost 40% of the Non Performing Assets (NPAs) in banks. The upper middle class, who usually takes loans of over Rs 1 crore, accounts for 33% of the total NPAs.

It's not the poor farmers or the middle class who are defaulting on their loans. It's the country's super rich, businessmen and the upper middle class with loan amounts of over Rs 1 crore who account for a staggering 73% of the unpaid loans to banks.

What is worse is that just the top 30 cases of default account for a Rs 1.21 lakh crore, which is almost 40% of the Non Performing Assets (NPAs) in banks. The upper middle class, who usually takes loans of over Rs 1 crore, accounts for 33% of the total NPAs.

Finance Ministry documents as accessed by dna show that both public and private sector banks are equally in the red, struggling to recover even a part of the public's deposits lent to India's super rich. What is worrying is that while most banks are readily giving loans to unreliable people of high net worth, ordinary people are struggling to take loans to even educate their children.

The mounting bad debts have forced banks to clamp down on wilful defaulters. As on March 31 this year, banks have declared 7,035 wilful defaulters with outstanding of Rs 51,442 crore. The worst hit among PSBs is SBI, which accounts for over a 1,000 cases worth Rs 11,510 crore.

Banks are also taking the legal option proactively against defaulters. Apart from filing FIRs against willful defaulters, banks have initiated legal action against more than 6,000 individuals and companies who are habitual offenders.

Despite the aggressive intent of banks, the default situation in India might soon snowball into a crisis of existence for the Indian banking system. Banking data studied by dna indicated that gross NPAs of seven Public Sector Banks (PSBs) have increased by more than one percent against advances. The worst culprits are UCO bank, Indian Overseas Bank and State Bank of Travancore which have registered negative advances in the last financial year. The books of these banks are under severe stress and many depositors feel that they might be in danger of losing their hard-earned money deposited in these banks.

It's not just a handful of PSBs which are staring at an existential crisis owing to their piling bad debts. India's banking sector is walking a tight rope between salvation and collapse. Loans and advances by banks delined by 50% over the last one year, indicative of the fear mong bankers to lend to big corporates who are brazenly and willingly defaulting on their loans.

Non-payment by big corporate and the ultra rich has also caught the eye of the RBI, which stated that banks are free to take over the ownership of a company if it cannot repay its debts – a directive unprecedented in India's banking history. However, with many defaulting companies unable to run their businesses, this might further endanger the country's banks who will then be forced to invest public deposits to restart the business of rogue defaulters.

Sources in the Finance Ministry told dna that some banks may soon be forced to knock on the doors of the government to bail them out of a default crisis which could force many banks to down their shutters.

For Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' programme to be a success, it would require an immediate end to the culture of 'Steal from India' by the country's rich and rogue business houses.

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