Has Akshaya Thrithiya become a major scam?

ANANTH SHENOY writes: On Friday, April 20, I went to ICICI Bank and was shocked to see a notice on the glass door that read: “Today no banking transactions, Only Gold Coin Sale (Akshaya Thrithiya).”

Amused, I checked with an official, who confirmed it.

Though Akshaya Trithiya is an age-old ritual and an occasion to buy gold (don’t know whether platinum is a good investment), it’s only a few years ago that some smart jeweller turned into a high-profit business proposition.

With banks and non-banking institutions like Reliance Money also taking it up, genuine banking customers have to give way to gold shoppers. Should we be surprised if, in future, ICICI puts up a notice that says: “Today no banking transactions, only Fish sales”?

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What is the primary purpose of a bank? And who is its primary customer: an account holder with her varied needs or a shopper looking to making a killing through the rest of the year by buying a spot of gold?

Can banks become “shops” as and when they please, selling gold, mutual funds, insurance, and any other “product” where there is money to be made? Can they close “shop” as and when they please? Would we so quietly walk away if a public sector bank had said “No Transactions Today”?