Profiles: Bankable Performance

DQI Bureau
New Update

Saraswat Bank bagged Technology Awards for two consecutive years in 2004 and

2005 from the Indian Banking Association. The 2004 award was a special one for

creating a distributed database to connect all branches of the bank. The 2005

award that followed was a recognition for being the first cooperative bank to

deploy core banking. As head of IT of the bank, Urvashi Dharadhar has changed

the paradigm of banking in the cooperative banking space. Today, Saraswat Bank

is the first and only cooperative bank to have deployed core banking and provide

ATM facilities to its customers. Says Dharadhar, “Today we are competing with

MNC and private banks and we would like to use technology as an enabler to match

the standard of service.”


A qualified chartered secretary, Dharadhar has spent 26 years with Saraswat

Bank where she started her career as an officer. Varied responsibilities and

roles across various departments over the years have stood in good stead for

her. Says Dharadhar, “Different job roles over the years have not just helped

me understand the nuances of banking but also the culture of the enterprise.”

Domain knowledge is key to any industry and exposure to different aspects of

banking gave Dharadhar a holistic perspective to recognize the business needs of

Sarasawat Bank and how technology can play a key role in providing a strategic




head, IT,

Saraswat Cooperative Bank & CEO, Saraswat Infotech

Change management is a key component of any system and a big challenge too,

especially in a public sector setup. One, there is resistance to change and two,

there are lots of bureaucratic hurdles. Given the circumstances, Saraswat

Bank's project on 'Any Branch Banking' which was about connecting all

branches was completed within a record span of one month. Today, Saraswat Bank

is the only cooperative bank to offer Internet banking. Under the directives of

the RBI, an IT coordination group comprising heads of all departments, meets to

discuss the business requirements of the bank and how IT can play a role to take

on competition in the market.


Today, core banking has not just helped the bank to meet its revenue target

of Rs 10,000 crore for the fiscal ending March 31, 2006, but has helped it

surpass the target. Saraswat Bank's customer base has increased significantly

and stands at over 10,000. Says Dharadhar, “We have managed to attract

customers from both foreign and private banks.”

There is one challenge that still remains-the need to create a comfort

level towards technology for the employees, especially the ones who form the

interface with the customer. There are extensive and detailed training programs

conducted for this purpose which Dharadhar personally leads at times.

Today, Saraswat Infotech, a subsidiary of the bank, has been spun off as an

independent entity to primarily support the IT needs of the bank as well as

translate IT into a profit center. Apart from banking, Dharadhar is passionate

about social work. She heads the Ladies Entrepreneurship cell of the Maharashtra

Chamber of Commerce. That is what she would like to devote herself to when she

ceases to be banker. Way to go!