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    Punjab under the British especially after annexation in 1849 witnessed a period of rapid development giving rise to a new educated class fired with a desire for freedom from the yoke of slavery. Amongst the cherished desires of this new class was also an overriding ambition to start a Swadeshi Bank with Indian Capital and management representing all sections of the Indian community. The idea was first mooted by Rai Mool Raj of Arya Samaj who, as reported by Lala Lajpat Rai, had long cherished the idea that Indians should have a national bank of their own. He felt keenly "the fact that the Indian capital was being used to run English banks and companies, the profits accruing from which went entirely to the Britishers whilst Indians had to contend themselves with a small interest on their own capital".

    At the instance of Rai Mool Raj, Lala Lajpat Rai sent round a circular to selected friends insisting on an Indian Joint Stock Bank as the first special step in constructive Swadeshi. Lala Harkrishan Lal who had returned from England with ideas regarding commerce and industry, was eager to give them practical shape.

    PNB was born on May 19, 1894. The founding board was drawn from different parts of India professing different faiths and a varied back-ground with, however, the common objective of providing country with a truly national bank which would further the economic interest of the country.

    The Bank opened for business on 12 April, 1895. The first Board of 7 Directors comprised of Sardar Dayal Singh Majithia, who was also the founder of Dayal Singh College and the Tribune; Lala Lalchand one of the founders of DAV College and President of its Management Society; Kali Prosanna Roy, eminent Bengali pleader who was also the Chairman of the Reception committee of the Indian National Congress at its Lahore session in 1900; Lala Harkishan Lal who became widely known as the first industrialist of Punjab; EC Jessawala, a well known Parsi merchant and partner of Jamshedji & Co. of Lahore; Lala Prabhu Dayal, a leading Rais, merchant and philanthropist of Multan; Bakshi Jaishi Ram, an eminent Civil Lawyer of Lahore; and Lala Dholan Dass, a great banker, merchant and Rais of Amritsar. Thus a Bengali, Parsi, a Sikh and a few Hindus joined hands in a purely national and cosmopolitan spirit to found this Bank which opened its doors to the public on 12th of April 1895. They went about it with a Missionary Zeal. Sh. Dayal Singh Majithia was the first Chairman, Lala Harkishan Lal, the first secretary to the Board and Shri Bulaki Ram Shastri Barrister at Lahore, was appointed Manager.