The Chamrajpet branch performed exceedingly well during Gurpur’s regime. The business doubled in three years with the targets achieved for all the years. The branch was also able to set right all the observations of the inspection team during the inspection period itself. The result – the branch secured the coveted gradation of ‘A’ for the first time since its inception in 1961. Gurpur gave full credit to his team and recorded the same in the employees’ appraisal reports.
Gurpur was a man devoted to literature. He had personal contacts with several Kannada writers of the period. In fact the well known Kannada poet Gopal Krishna Adiga was very close to him. Adiga would visit the branch often. Gurpur would entertain him by ordering dishes from Prakash Café. Gurpur also granted an agriculture loan to Adiga’s son. He even guided him in the matter of growing cash crops. Seshadri Gawai was another artist whom he used to invite and spend some time. Gurpur also sanctioned a loan to Gawai.
Gurpur had invested in a number of good shares. He had a huge collection of first day stamps having invested over Rs50,000 on them. He was nearing 50 years when he arrived in Chamarajpet branch. He was a high BP and diabetic patient. He used to lose his temper even for small things. Despite his ailments, he never controlled his eating habits. He would often visit Prakash Café and relish his choicest items in total disregard of medical advice. He had a late marriage with a lady who was a manager in Syndicate Bank, Gandhinagar branch. The couple had a son who had imbibed all the qualities of his gifted father. He is reported to be doing well in his chosen field. Gurpur had built a house at Hanumanthanagar as a bachelor. Later he sold it and moved to Malleswaram 18th cross, where he built a house suited to his special taste.
Once DGM Kamala was promoted as GM and moved to Head Office, Gurpur lost his support at the Circle Office (CO). After he completed three years in Chamrajpet, he was transferred to Lucknow. As he was over 50 years of age, he was not expecting a transfer out of State. He was totally upset. His health was deteriorating. He was even hospitalized for a few weeks. His limited well wishers advised him to submit a representation to retain him in Bangalore. But he was unwilling as he felt that the management was quite aware of his ill health. According to him, it had issued the unhealthy transfer order deliberately!
Gurpur did not join duty after recovery and he went on leave for about two months. Meanwhile, his well wishers finally persuaded him to submit a representation for retaining him in Bangalore. Gurpur wrote out a detailed two page letter covering his journey in the bank highlighting the treatment meted out to him vis-a-vis others. He ended the letter saying having served the bank for over 32 years, he expected the management to at least provide a 5’x5’ space somewhere in a corner of the Head Office/Inspection Department! But with more adversaries than well wishers at the top, Gurpur’s request was declined on the grounds that he had not worked in North-India. Eventually he resigned the services in the bank. His long and distinguished career in the bank had come to an unfortunate end.
Gurpur spent his retired life by engaging himself in literary activities. He started reviewing TV programmes in Kannada daily Prajavani under the title ‘TV Loka’ with the pen name ‘RP’. BGR had an occasion to meet him at his residence in Malleswaram. He personally prepared tea for BGR and served the same with eatables. He told BGR that he was an expert in cooking. While he was critical of some top people in the bank, he told BGR that he was quite happy to lead the life as a free bird reading and writing at his convenience and pleasure. He also told him about his future plans to write more on various topics. But his health deteriorated fast due to severe diabetes. Eventually he died three years after resigning from the bank. A rare personality and a treasure of knowledge had ended his journey early. Gurpur’s colleagues/friends remember him till today for his extraordinary personality.
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The Lopsided Promotion Policy of Canara Bank
Shortly after BGR joined the Chamrajpet branch, the promotion results for Scale-III were announced and his name was missing. It was a huge disappointment for him after such a wonderful performance at the Navlakha branch in Indore. Gurpur was also expecting the promotion of BGR. He asked BGR for the reason. BGR told him that he could not tell any specific reason except that he had missed the target for 1983. He also told him that when he was promoted to Scale-II, he was told by HO that it has been decided to transfer all the promotees out of State. However, after coming back to Bangalore having worked as Sub-Manager in Mumbai for two years and as in-charge Manager in Indore for three years, he had found to his surprise that many of his juniors had been retained in Bangalore as Sub-Managers! What was more shocking – some of them had been promoted to Scale-III, even though they never handled any branches independently as Managers! This skewed promotion and transfer policy had upset him no end.
Gurpur asked BGR to make an appeal for review, which was submitted by BGR. Gurpur forwarded it with his well-worded strong recommendation. However, the same was not considered. Meanwhile M N Shenoy who was the DM at Bhopal was transferred to Davanagere DO and he visited BGR at his house. He asked BGR how was his name missing in the promotion list. BGR told him that he only should be able to explain. MNS felt very sorry that with all the good work done, BGR’s name did not find a place in the list.
By that time, R S Pai who was the DGM at Mumbai had been promoted as GM and posted to Personnel Wing in HO Bangalore. When BGR had an occasion to meet him he also expressed his surprise and assured him that he would ask the department to find out the reasons. A month later, he told BGR that his assistants had made an analysis and found that three other Managers also had missed their promotion in spite of excellent performance. The obvious reason was missing the target for one year. In BGR’s case it was courtesy A V Sharma, DM, who had fixed the most unreasonable and unbelievable target for 1983. BGR then told him it would have been better for him to continue as Sub-Manager instead of accepting the challenge of moving to Indore as branch-in-charge. R S Pai agreed that there were loopholes in the promotion policy and he was helpless!
BGR’s Colleagues at Chamrajpet
Mohandas Pushpanadan the other Sub-Manager at the branch was a cool guy. Having worked previously with Gurpur he was well accustomed to his erratic behavior. He would not be unduly bothered and would go on with his job methodically. He was a jolly and cheerful personality who would mix with all his colleagues freely.
K Suresh Rao, Accountant, was a very pleasing personality and was very good at customer service. Under Gurpur’s guidance he became an expert in correspondence with NRI customers. The deposits saw an excellent growth under his charge. Eventually he moved to Canfin Homes and retired as an AGM. DL Ajanta Kumar was another Accountant who handled the advances portfolio excellently. He won the confidence of Gurpur. He got his promotions and retired as AGM.
K S Naik was another Accountant who gained the confidence of Gurpur through his pleasing personality, good personal relationship, good knowledge of all the departments and cool attitude. He handled the advance department competently and won appreciation of Gurpur. Naik retired as Senior Manager at Town Hall Branch. He created a sort of records by working at the prestigious branch for 5 &1/2 years under four different AGMs/DGMs! The total business of the branch had touched Rs6,000 crore when he bid adieu to Canara Bank in 2011.
BGR also remembers Dayananda Rao, Accountant, another knowledgeable person who retired as Senior Manager. Meenakshi Naganna, Special Assistant, was another excellent hand who managed the SB counter efficiently.
BGR missed his promotion in 1985 and unfortunately there was no promotion process in 1986. He got his promotion eventually in 1987. After a few months Gurpur wrote a letter to the DGM recommending his posting as in-charge Senior Manager as he had enough experience and capability to head a branch. He highlighted the role of BGR in the overall development of Chamrajpet branch. He specifically wrote – “BGR is not only the first person to arrive at the branch but also the last person to leave after all the loose ends are tied up”.
BGR was posted as designated Senior Manager for the proposed new branch at Girinagar during the first week of June 1988. By that time he was in-charge Senior Manager at Chamrajpet as Gurpur had already been relieved. He handed over the charge to M I S Iyengar, the new Senior Manager, in the third week of June to take up preliminary work for the new Girinagar branch. A new chapter in BGR’s eventful career had opened up!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
17th October 2012