‘Footprints’ – SBT Banking Museum and Archives
"The more you know about the past, the better prepared
you are for the future."
"Of all national assets archives are the most precious.
They are the gift of one generation to another, and the extent of our care of them
marks the extent of our civilization."
Banking also has a story. A story of changes and transformations. The story of growth and innovations. It is interesting and a matter of curiosity to find out the environment that prevailed in Travancore when the Travancore Bank Limited took birth in 1945. The Imperial Bank of India, the Indian Bank and the Central Bank of India were the main banks operating in Travancore at that time. There were any number of small private banks too, but they had little base to support any meaningful economic activity in the region.
Ups and downs are par for the course in the fortunes of any business. Several banks had collapsed in the late 1930’s in Travancore, undermining public confidence in the banking system. It was also the time when the Princely State was waking up to industrialisation. The situation demanded the emergence of a strong bank commanding not only credibility among the public, but also the financial capacity to participate in the economic development of the land. Maharaja Chithira Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore, had the vision to set it up as a fully State-backed bank dedicated to the prosperity of the land and its people.
“Footprints”, the Banking Museum set up by the State Bank of Travancore (SBT) at Kowdiar in Thiruvananthapuram, traces the evolution of the Bank from a small bank to its transformed identity as the SBT, one of the leading nationalised banks in the country and a vibrant subsidiary of the State Bank of India. The museum was conceived when the bank celebrated 70 years of its existence in 2015.
The museum gives you the broad outline of the track the SBT had - its genesis, growth and transformation to the status of the premier bank of Kerala, with branches spread over entire India, besides numerous key centres outside the country including representative office in Dubai, and Exchange houses (managed by SBT) in Dubai and Oman. The pictorial representations in the museum reflect what SBT has been to the society of Kerala and it places the history of the SBT in the context of the banking history of Travancore, Kerala and India. SBT’s success, as its journey this far shows, has been in staying in tune with the changing times, while performing its role as the State’s most potent tool for executing both its banking activities and welfare initiatives.
Artefacts are monuments of changes left by Time. On display at the museum are original documents, memorabilia and artefacts, portraits of key personalities down the bank's history, busts, statues and also dioramas. A micro-artefact displaying a projected lighted image of the first head office building of the bank in Thiruvananthapuram is one of the exhibits. Some of the exhibits represent times dating back to a hundred years and more. Old ledgers, passbooks, code books, proclamations, notifications and newspaper cuttings relevant to the banking history of Travancore are also on display at the museum.
The Museum will be a corridor of events of past and present, which leads to future.