Saturday, August 18, 2012

Looking Back - Episode – 26

BGR arrived in Bangalore in May 1977 and reported at the newly formed Government Accounts (GA) Section at the Head Office in J C Road. He soon found out that the workload and the responsibilities at the HO were nowhere comparable to what he was doing at the branch in Shimoga. The fixed timings and the routine file-based work at the HO was a cakewalk compared to the holding of cash and premises keys, handling of over 40 employees and the vast number of customers at the branch. Perhaps BGR deserved that break!
B V Baliga (BVB) – the True Gandhian
The GA Section was then headed by B V Baliga (BVB), the Assistant General Manager (AGM). BVB was a typical Gandhian who used to wear a white Dhothi, a white half-shirt and a white (Gandhi) cap. The dress suited his personality. The employees would get a feeling that they were working under a freedom fighter! A true Gandhian, BVB was an upright and fearless person, who would stick to his principles always.
The GA section had five staff in all. The Superintendent B Balakrishna Baliga (BBB), the Accountant R N Srinivasan B.Com, BL, CAIIB, and ACS, (who had acquired virtually all the qualifications one could aspire in the banking service), two clerks and a peon completed the team. The work handled pertained to collection of direct and indirect taxes and remittance to RBI and payment of Central & State Government pensions. BVB asked BGR to go through the files and assured him the necessary guidance wherever required.
B Balakrishna Baliga (BBB) – the Sleeping Boss!
BBB, a close relative of the Divisional Manager U K Kini, was a tall, fair and intelligent personality. He had earned a very good name as a manager in several Bangalore and Mumbai branches. A shrewd and successful manager, BBB had developed the drinking habit at some stage in his career for reasons quite unknown. The problem was quite serious with BBB resorting to drinking even during office hours. It was said that he went to the extent of keeping bottles in his table drawers while working as a manager at the N R Road branch! The management thought enough was enough and posted him to the Head Office as Superintendent in GA Section under the Gandhian BVB! The idea was perhaps BVB the Gandhian could enforce the anti-liquor policy of Mahatma on BBB!
But the transfer made only one perceptible change in BBB’s daily routine. He knew he could not store the bottles in the Head Office under the very nose of the Gandhian BVB. He chose the easy option. He would arrive at the office in the morning fully drunk! However, he would rarely disturb his colleagues. Within ten minutes of occupying his seat, he would start snoring peacefully! He would get up after about two hours and go out for lunch. After lunch he would have some more drinks and get back to his seat. The post-lunch sleeping and snoring session would start then! Whenever he was awake BBB would talk on current affairs and past incidents in his life! He was an authority as far as the game of cricket was concerned. He used to say that Sunil Gavaskar was a very good batsman. But he was not comparable in his style and technique to the all time great – Sir Don Bradman. He would quote statistics to prove his point!
BBB had made it a policy not to interfere in any official work! It suited him well. Perhaps it suited the management also! He was staying in Jayanagar and had married away his two daughters to Mumbai and US. BGR had an occasion to meet him before his retirement in the eighties. He told BGR that he had stopped drinking three years before his retirement. He later left for US to stay with his daughter for some time.  BBB could have retired at least as a DGM. He had that type of capability and qualifications. But it was not to be. His drinking habit spoiled his career in the bank.
With two chargesheets over his head, BGR had to face different type of comments from different persons. Some would see him with suspicion, some would seek the contents of the chargesheets, and some would say that they were the result of his continuing his membership in the Union and some that the charges could not be proved during the enquiry. The bank appointed M N Nayak as the enquiry officer for one chargesheet and T S Kamath for the other. Both of them knew BGR very well. But the enquiries were never taken up. M N Nayak even told BGR there was nothing to enquire as he had given the explanation why he could not handover the keys!
While one of the chargesheets was withdrawn in 1977, the other was withdrawn in 1978. The proceedings merely stated that it has been decided not to proceed with the chargesheet. In effect both the chargesheets were thrown to dust bin ultimately. But they had done sufficient damage to the career of BGR. More than 2000 officers had overtaken him by the time he was promoted as Manager Trainee in 1979 and as Manager in 1980.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
18th August 2012

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