Uday Kotak, the chief executive officer of Kotak Mahindra Bank, on Tuesday warned that the true test of nations is now and doing what is right and not populist is crucial.

"The Russia Ukraine war goes on and the going gets tough. True test of nations is now. Strength of institutions like the judiciary, regulators, police, Government, Parliament will matter. Doing what is right and not populist is crucial. A "burning Lanka" tells all what not to do!" tweeted Kotak.

This comes a day after Sri Lanka's prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa quit amid mass protests over the country's worst economic crisis since independence. Lanka was brought under curfew as supporters of the Rajapaksa family clashed with anti-government protesters. A member of parliament has also died in the clashes.

Last week, the Indian government cautioned that many countries in the immediate neighbourhood are facing severe fuel shortages and chaos due to high fuel inflation at the current price levels of crude oil.

"If suddenly, now, as a huge importer of crude oil, India pulls back on its diversified sources, concentrating on the remaining, in an already constrained market, it will lead to further volatility and instability, jacking up international prices," the government had said.

Earlier in a chat with Tata Sons' R. Gopalakrishnan, Kotak had admitted that his biggest mistake was in believing what The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times had to say about the global financial crisis in 2008. "I became very cautious. It made me feel that the world is coming to an end. If I had not read those papers, I would have been bolder with my expansion between 2008 and 2011," Kotak said.

Kotak, who will step down from an executive role by the end of 2023, shared the lesson he learnt from the 2008 episode: "Don't let your instincts get curbed by what other people say."

Meanwhile, in the pandemic-ridden FY21, Kotak Mahindra Bank went slow on its unsecured lending portfolio but built its secured retail loans. In an interaction with Fortune India, Dipak Gupta, joint managing director, reveals that over the past several years and, especially during the pandemic, the management's efforts were directed at ensuring the right quality of liabilities. "Once you onboard a deposit customer, the relationship is practically lifelong. So, you first need to attract deposit customers before you can start offering products and services to them," says Gupta.

Though the bank stayed away from growing its unsecured lending portfolio, its home loan portfolio grew 12.8% in FY21, secured consumer banking loans rose 10%.

The private lender standalone net profit rose 65% year-on-year to ₹2,767 crore in the fourth quarter of the financial year 2021-22. Net profit during the last fiscal jumped 23% to ₹8,573 crore from ₹6,965 crore in FY21.

The bank's net interest income (NII) rose 18% to ₹4,521 crore in the January-March quarter from ₹3,843 crore in Q4FY21. NII increased to ₹16,818 crore in FY22 from ₹15,340 crore in FY21.

Kotak Mahindra Bank's net customer additions in the fourth quarter stood at 2 million against 1.1 million in Q4 FY21. As of March 31, 2022, its total customers were 32.7 million, up from 26 million as of March 31, 2021.

The lender’s gross non-performing assets fell to 2.34% in the fourth quarter from 3.25% in the corresponding period last year.

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