Kashmiris miss all time favourite JK Bank calendar
It used to be a domestic ‘planner’ for local households
Srinagar: This year homes and work places in Kashmir would be missing one, otherwise, permanent feature – J&K Bank wall calendar.
The walls of most of the kitchens and living rooms and offices would have Bank’s calendar hanging to keep the dates, days and events, particularly holidays handy. While some people would plan the month long activities marking the dates on the calendar, it would help women folk to keep the accounts of milkmen and sabzi-walla up-to-date.
However, Kashmiris are missing this “planner” as the J&K Bank, for the first time in decades, has stopped the practice of printing its uniquely representative calendar this year.
Apparently, the bank has stopped the publication of calendars on the directive of the union finance ministry, which came in September 2020, asking all government organizations including banks to go for digital calendars and dairies in 2021, for ‘economizing the expenses’ and for the ‘wider reach and efficiency’.
JK bank Chairman and Managing Director Kumar Chhiber recently unveiled the mobile calendar application for 2021, in a function at Corporate Headquarters of the bank. The application is available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store free to use.
“The decision of not printing wall calendars, desktop datebook, and dairies this year was taken under the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for COVID-19, on the guidelines of the central government. I am sure the decision is not permanent. Hard copies of the calendars will come up in the future continuously,” an official at JK bank’s corporate headquarters told Kashmir Images.
According to the sources, the bank used to print 11 to 12 lakh wall calendars every year for free distribution. “Last year, the bank had printed more than 11 lakh wall calendars, besides a huge number of table calendars and diaries, spending 4.5 crore rupees. A wall calendar costs us 30 to 32 rupees,” a senior official of the bank told Kashmir Images.
The bank had started printing wall and table-top calendars and diaries for free distribution to customers as a public relations exercise in the 1970s. With time, these gifts created an emotional bond between the institution and the general public to the extent that come December, every household in J&K would make effort to get at least a copy of the wall calendar.
Since the JK Bank has been issuing and distributing calendars and diaries as a gift to its customers on the eve of every year, the practice had developed an emotional attachment of the general masses with these beautiful offerings.
“I have grown up seeing these calendars everywhere in Kashmir. Each household and shopkeeper would ensure a copy of the colourful calendar from the bank to hang it on the wall. It is really saddening to see that JK Bank has stopped printing calendars this year,” Farooq Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Srinagar told Kashmir Images.
As substitute, Farooq has hanged previous year’s calendar on the wall of his shop, putting the month of May to the view, as May 2020, like January this year started on Friday and ended on Sunday.
The most alluring part of the JK bank calendars used to be the breathtaking photographs with a nicely written description on every page.
“Earlier we would use random pictures for the calendars but in the 1990s, we started using thematic photos, which people liked and appreciated most,” Aijaz Ahmad, a retired bank official told Kashmir Images.
“Using thematic photos based on creative ideas calendar was an innovative decision by the bank. Many of the thematic calendars got immense popularity. For example, a few years ago, the bank came with a calendar themed as ‘golden hands’. All pictures were of the artisans belonging to Jammu, Valley, and Ladakh. This calendar was liked the most. Four of my pictures appeared in this calendar,” said Mukhtar Ahmad, a professional photographer, who has been contributing his work for the JK Bank calendars for the past 18 years. In 2011, JK bank wall calendar carried all of its pics by Mukhtar Ahmad.
He says, “I have been lucky enough to get my more than 200 photographs printed on the JK Bank calendars since 1992.”
Many times the bank authorities had to face objections for using contentious photographs. A few years ago, a woman had complained that her picture appeared on a thematic wall calendar of the bank, without her consent. The bank denied the charge, but it had to settle the matter by giving compensation to the lady.
Meanwhile, with the absence of JK Bank calendars this year, wall calendar markets are running out of stock in the Valley. “Earlier people did not pay attention to the privately printed calendars, but this year everyone comes to buy one. I am out of stock now,” said Gulzar Ahmad, a way-side vendor.