A New Account

Sorabji N. Pochkhanawala, and his wild ambition

In 1910, a young Parsi assistant accountant with the Bank of India in Bombay had the far-fetched idea that he could set up a bank of his own. When news of this alarmingly ambitious enterprise reached his Manager, H.P. Stringfellow, he sent for the young man seeking confirmation of such vaulting intent. At first, Stringfellow regarded it as a ‘huge joke’ but when he realised that the young man was serious, gravely advised him to abandon his scheme of a bank promoted and managed by Indians. Stringfellow was concerned about the young man’s career. The young man had served the bank well and since no other Indian had attained the status he had, Stringfellow told him that he would be foolish to throw it all away in the search of a chimera. He asked him to ponder his advice and reconsider his decision. But the young man had already made up his mind and told his manager, ‘Sir, I have made up my mind. I resign the bank’s service. One day, my bank will be bigger than yours.’ In this seemingly precipitate manner was the decision taken from which a premier banking institution in the country was born. The young man: Sorabji N. Pochkhanawala. The bank: The Central Bank of India. Sorabji nurtured Stringfellow’s ‘huge joke’ into a living reality and if his manager was amused, it was Sorabji who laughed all the way to his ‘own’ bank.

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