Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking Back - Episode – 9

BGR was definitely successful in introducing Canara Bank systems and procedures in the merged Pandyan Bank branch at the Sultan Pet branch. But he could do nothing about the God-forsaken premises of the branch. However, the things changed totally with the shifting of the branch to the first floor of Dhondusa Building in Subedar Chatram Road. The bank also posted a new manager called C N Nagaraj (CNN). A well-built man with an excellent personality, CNN was a dynamic manager. He mobilised very good business by securing number of accounts of traders and readymade garments’ manufacturers. These businessmen were selling their goods to traders in West Bengal, Orissa and Northeast. They were in need of bills/cheques discounting facilities. CNN offered them the same and the branch business grew fast. He also brought in the account of Mohan Aluminium Pvt Ltd. It later became one of the biggest corporate accounts of the Majestic branch.
BGR had an issue with CNN regarding charging interest on bills purchased. The bank used to keep a margin on certain bills and credit only the net amount to the party’s accounts. BGR used to charge interest only on the actual amount credited to the party. His work used to be checked by CNN who would tell him to charge the same on the entire bill amount. BGR then wrote a letter to HO under CNN’s signature seeking their clarification. HO agreed with BGR’s contention. CNN had to fall in line and he took the matter sportively.
CNN was transferred after two years and Mallya was posted in his place from Mumbai. Mallya had habits like drinking and smoking. But he was a knowledgeable man with good connections with higher ups. He was also a moody and short-tempered man. He would be in good mood on one day and spoil the branch atmosphere with his ill temper on the very next day! Sometimes he would not be in his seat for hours together with no information to the next person in-charge!
BGR remembers about the way Mallya dealt with K Annappayya, a gold medalist in B Com, who was posted to the branch as apprentice pupil. Annappayya was an intelligent, young and pleasant personality. He was closely observing the way BGR was working. He told BGR that he had only studied theory in the college and had to go a long way to pick up practical banking. Mallya used to ill-treat the apprentices. One day he called Annappayya to his cabin and shouted at him at the top of his voice for no apparent reasons. Annappayya was totally disheartened and disgusted. He sat in front of BGR and told him that he was never ill-treated by his teachers/lecturers or parents in his life so far. He could not bear such insults anymore and he decided to submit his resignation. Somehow BGR managed to pacify him and stopped him from resigning.
After about a month, Mallya again shouted and insulted Annappayya in the banking hall in front of all the staff. This time he wrote out a resignation letter on the spot. BGR managed to take him out for tea. He told him that Mallya was not Canara Bank and he should not quit the bank hastily just because of one person. There will be definitely other managers who would consider his merit. Annappayya agreed and withdrew his resignation. BGR encouraged him to learn work and after three months he was transferred to another branch. Eventually Annappayya retired as a General Manager. BGR had an occasion to meet him when he was a divisional manager. He was in a meeting with executives and he introduced BGR as his Guru. He also told them that if at all he was still in Canara Bank it was only because of BGR!
Mallya was indeed a typical personality. But he had very good relations with BGR. Many times he would enter into arguments with BGR. There was even one occasion when he called him inside his cabin at 10.30 am and went on arguing some matter till 1.30 pm! BGR told him several times in between that he had lot of work to complete, but to no avail! The beauty of it all was that Mallya would never misunderstand BGR despite of the never ending arguments!
Even though BGR had completed his CAIIB in 1965, he was not eligible for promotion as officer as per the policy prevailing then. Realising this, he joined the Renukacharya Evening College in 1966 and successfully completed the B Com in June 1969. In the month of May 1969 BGR was eligible to become a special Assistant. Even though he had sufficient seniority, he was not hopeful as thirty marks were reserved as discretionary marks by the management. BGR was very much involved in trade union activities and apparently there was no love lost between the management and a trade unionist!
To the surprise of BGR, he received a telephone call on 14 May 1969 that he had been promoted as Special Assistant! The message came from A C Nayak (ACN), a well known trade union leader in Canara Bank. Later Mallya told BGR that he had given him full discretionary marks. He had also strongly recommended that even though BGR was an active union member, he was the backbone of the branch in view of excellent work put up by him.
Mallya also told BGR that he had some vested interest in getting him promoted as Special Assistant. He would become automatically eligible for appearing for the promotion test as Officer/Accountant (as per the agreement then to appear for promotion test one had to be necessarily a Special Assistant). Mallya wanted to retain him in the branch after the promotion! But could he succeed in his strategy? Whether BGR had other ideas? Await the next episode.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
11th May 2012

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