LONG before corporate social responsibility (CSR) became a buzzword among Indian corporates eager to advertise their commitment to social causes, Canara Bank had quietly and with little fuss embarked on worthy social causes. In fact, even before Ammembal Subba Rao Pai founded the Canara Hindu Permanent Fund Ltd in July 1906, he was already well regarded as a passionate promoter of education. He was associated with several institutions—including the Canara High School, the Canara Girls’ School, the Canara Hostel, the Mangalore Union and the Depressed Classes Mission—founded to promote worthy social causes. To paraphrase a famous corporate tagline, he also founded a bank. In that sense, the idea of the bank being a socially responsible corporate citizen was sewn into its DNA at the time of its founding.
The idea of setting up the Canara High School was born in Madras (now Chennai) where Subba Rao Pai had his collegiate education, including his qualification as a lawyer from the Madras Law College. The school started functioning from June 30, 1891, and Subba Rao Pai was among the trustees of the board. It functioned from rented premises before shifting to Dongerkery Road in Mangalore (now Mangaluru). Today, the school functions from a large campus in the heart of the city. In 1894, Subba Rao Pai founded the Canara Girls’ School.
Canara Bank established the Canara Bank Jubilee Education Fund (CBJEF) in 1956 in commemoration of the bank’s golden jubilee. The fund was initially meant to offer scholarships to students, particularly girls. Later, a book bank was established in Bengaluru, which now has nearly 14,000 textbooks for students preparing for professional courses. It has more than 9,000 members. Under the bank’s CSR initiative in 2017-18, the bank has contributed Rs.3 lakh for a book bank in Sagar and Rs.2 lakh for the one in Bengaluru.
In 1961, the bank sponsored the Canara Bank Relief & Welfare Society (CBR&WS) to run holiday camps for rural children. The CBR&WS later transformed into a big institution that runs Sevakshetra Hospital, a home for abandoned children called Mathruchhaya and an old-age home in Bengaluru. Under the CSR initiative of the bank, an amount of Rs.35.6 lakh has been released for 2017-18 towards renovation of the society’s Braille Resource Centre in Bengaluru.
Canara Vidyajyothi is a scheme specially formulated to provide scholarships to meritorious girl students from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories and it was launched in 2013-14. The scheme is implemented through rural, semi-urban and urban branches of the bank. A total amount of Rs.14.38 crore has been distributed since inception until March 2018. Nearly Rs.4 crore has been released as scholarship for the year 2017-18. The bank has also contributed Rs.41.69 lakh for the Swachh Bharat scheme.