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Public Sector Banks (PSBs) are banks where a majority stake (i.e. more than 50%) is held by a government. The shares of these banks are listed on stock exchanges. There are a total of21PSBs in India.
The Central Government entered the banking business with the nationalization of the Imperial Bank of India in 1955. A 60% stake was taken by the Reserve Bank of India and the new bank was named as the State Bank of India. The seven other state banks became the subsidiaries of the new bank in 1959 when the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959 was passed under the Nehru government.
The next major government intervention in banking took place on 19 July 1969 when the Indira Gandhi government nationalised an additional 14 major banks. The total deposits in the banks nationalised in 1969 amounted to 50 crores. This move increased the presence of nationalised banks in India, with 84% of the total branches coming under government control.
The share of the banking sector held by the public banks continued to grow through the 1980s, and by 1991 the public sector banks accounted for 90% of the banking sector. A year later, in March, 1992, the combined total of branches held by public sector banks was 60,646 across India, and deposits accounted for Rs. 1,10,000 crore. The majority of these banks were profitable, with only one out of the 21 public sector banks reporting a loss.
The nationalised banks reported a combined loss of Rs. 1160 crores. However, the early 2000s saw a reversal of this trend, such that in 2002-03 a profit of Rs. 7780 crores by the public sector banks: a trend that continued throughout the decade, with a Rs. 16856 crore profit in 2008-2009.