Monday, April 23, 2012

Looking Back - Episode – 7

The fact that BGR and his three other colleagues could complete the CAIIB examination even though they were matriculates was not a simple achievement. In fact the passing the exam was a tricky affair. There were several qualified officers in the bank who could never complete this exam in spite of their best efforts. Indeed the exam was a great leveler of sorts. One could even call it highly secular or democratic or whatever! The exam had a reputation of delivering shocking results to those who were very proud of their abilities. One could even find officers with CA qualification failing in the Accountancy subject and Post-graduates in English failing in English!
Some of the directly recruited officers were afraid of taking the exam as they could not envisage failing in some subjects - thereby denting their self-assumed reputation! Some of them were even giving some strange reasons for their inability to take the exam. However, the most bizarre explanation was offered by a popular manager to me when I was inspecting his branch as a junior officer in the early eighties. The following was the conversation I had with him:
Me: Sir! You are a very popular and reputed manager and your branch has performed excellently. You are a post-graduate. How is that you have not completed your CAIIB?
Manager: I have specific reasons for the same. Are you interested to know?
Me: Sure. Please.
Manager: It is actually a matter of principle for me. I am against two principles laid down in two major subjects in the exam.
Me: Interesting. Will you kindly elaborate?
Manager: Sure. You know the basic principle in accountancy – ‘debit what comes in and credit what goes out’. I find it ‘morally incorrect’!
Me: How come?
Manager: In my opinion we should give credit to what comes in and debit to what goes out. How can you give credit to something that is not interested in you and wants to leave you for good! On the other hand the thing that comes in deserves the full credit! Is there a thing called morality or not?
Me: Amusing! What about the other principle?
Manager: This one is from the foreign exchange subject. Here the basic principle is supposed to be – ‘buy high and sell low’. I find it logically in correct!
Me: How come?
Manager: The very basic thing in any business is to buy the commodity at a lower rate and sell it at a higher rate. Is it not?
Me: Sir! But…..
Manager: What surprises me more is that even the so called Bible for the subject – Foreign Exchange by Keshkamat - also highlights the same principle! Can you believe Kamath Maam telling somebody to lose money in a business?
Me: Sir! But will you kindly allow me to explain?
Manager: No way! I know you have completed the CAAIIB exam! You will naturally support the theory! But let me stick to my principle!
(The conversation ended there. I leave it to the imagination of the readers whether the manager really meant it! He told me he was quite serious and it was not a joke)
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Six months after joining the bank, BGR was appointed as the probationary clerk by the bank and his emoluments were fixed as follows:                                   

Basic Pay

In the year 1959 when BGR joined the bank it had aggregate deposits of Rs22 crore and a network of 63 branches. The bank was classified as a grade B bank as the deposits were less than Rs25 crore. However, the deposits rose to Rs25 crore as on 31 December 1959. The bank was reclassified as A grade bank with effect from 01.01.1960. As a result, all the employees were rewarded with two increments. BGR got the benefit almost immediately after his joining. Again the Bangalore City was upgraded as A grade city from B grade with effect from 01.01.1962. It resulted in payment of CCA and additional HRA to the employees.
The year 1963 saw the Administrative Office of Canara Bank being shifted to the new building in JC Road. It was inaugurated by the then Governor of Mysore (the ex-Maharaja of Mysore) Shri Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar. The building stands as a landmark for over 50 years now.
BGR worked in the Administrative Office for three years and thought it was right time for him to move on. He needed basic training for the purpose. It needed lot of pestering and ultimately he was posted for an 8-week training programme at the Staff Training College (STC). He was clearly told by R K Ghotgolkar that he should get back after completing the training. But BGR had other ideas!
There were 24 persons in the training batch including graduates and post-graduates. The training covered deposits, advances and general matters. B V Bhandary, the DGM, attended a function at the end of the programme. The principal K K Shenoy told him that BGR’s performance during the training was exceptionally good. Bhandary assured him that he would post him to a good branch so that his knowledge is put to good use. He kept his assurance. BGR was posted to V V Puram branch much to the chagrin of Ghotgolkar! So BGR had his first opportunity to deal with the customers in the bank.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
22nd April 2012

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