Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Looking Back – 39

The influential person (IP) who helped BGR in securing the building for the bank in a single day was in fact the promoter of the society that developed the prestigious Girinagar extension from scratch. He was an employee in Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) and hailed from Puttur in the district of South Kanara. He resigned from ITI in the sixties and founded the Housing Society that developed I, II and III phases of Girinagar in an excellent manner. He was like a one man army that built good roads with footpaths, asphalted the roads and planted trees. He dug up four borewells, laid pipelines and pumped water to the households as a regular arrangement.  He also developed parks, built four temples, one marriage hall, one school, a good playground and a Mutt for Dattatreya Swamiji of Mysore. Naturally he carried the immense goodwill of the residents of the extension.
Right at that time B Ratnakar’s term had ended in Canara Bank and N D Prabhu (NDP) had taken charge as CMD. It was decided by CO/DO that NDP would inaugurate the new branch. The work at the new premises was going on a war footing and everything was in place by 6th July 1988. Once the telephone lines were installed, BGR found it convenient to invite the important personalities over phone. Besides, he visited the residences of several of them including the retired executives of our bank.
BGR’s team did an excellent job by visiting each and every household in the locality soliciting opening of new accounts. The local residents were quite enthusiastic as Canara Bank was the first commercial bank to open its branch in the locality. As the branch was not having a strong room, the cash had to be kept in the only safe provided. The officials in the DO wanted to know on the previous day, whether BGR could secure deposits of around Rs10 lakhs to Rs15 lakhs on the opening day. BGR simply told them that he aimed at much more.
On the evening of 6th July, BGR was asked by DO to extend an invitation to the retired CMD Ratnakar. BGR decided to visit him on the way back home. Ratnakar had not yet vacated the quarters at Canbank House in Basavanagudi near M N Krishna Rao Park. BGR entered the bungalow at 8.30 PM. But it seems the two ferocious pet dogs of Ratnakar were not quite happy with the new visitor! They pounced on him the moment he opened the gates! But fortunately Ratnakar came out immediately and rescued BGR from the ferocious pair. BGR was lucky to come out unwounded after extending invitation to Ratnakar!
7th July 1988 was a red letter day in the career of BGR. The bank’s safe was almost overflowing with the cash collections! BGR had requested the Currency Chest to lift the cash on the opening day itself. He had also contacted K Kannan, his colleague in Tamarind Lane branch who had moved to Canfina by then. He had assured a sizable term deposit. BGR could also secure Rs3 lakh term deposit of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) through Madhavanagar branch. He was also assured support from Chamrajpet branch by way of deputation of three clerks and an officer to handle new customers on the opening day.
The branch had been beautifully decorated for the ‘D’ Day. The inauguration time had been fixed at 9 AM. For ND Prabhu, the new CMD, it was the first function after he took charge. He arrived well in time. The local residents had started arriving by 8.30 AM itself. All the executives and some local managers including K P Kamath had arrived by 8.45 AM. The inauguration took place exactly at 9 AM and ND Prabhu spent 15 minutes thereafter speaking to customers and other dignitaries. Capt. Raman, the DM, was quite happy. He asked BGR whether he could reach Rs20 lakh deposits for which BGR replied that he had already mobilised Rs60 lakh! Both DM/DGM and CMD were quite surprised and asked him whether he was aiming at Rs1 crore to create a record of sorts. When BGR replied in the affirmative, they found it difficult to believe.
Even though BGR’s team had already opened several accounts of the residents, many more came on the opening day and opened their accounts. The staff including those deputed from Chamrajpet gave them excellent service. At about 11.30 AM BGR received a call from the Accounts Section telling him that a term deposit of Rs50 lakh had been arranged by Kannan from Mumbai for the new branch and the funds have been received by them. A R Madhavan, the Accountant , took the necessary details to open the term deposit in the books of the branch. The deposits of the new branch at the end of the day stood at Rs1.16 crore. When BGR conveyed the same to DO/CO, they told him that it was unbelievable and congratulated him profusely. The very next day both DO and CO came out with circulars hailing the performance of the new branch under the leadership of BGR. Indeed BGR had set a new landmark in the history of Canara Bank in Bangalore. It became a big news in the city. For BGR it was one of the best moments of his life and he cherished it all through.
The account opening spree continued from the next day onwards. BGR made it a point to interact with all the customers eliciting information about potential customers. He could also secure some NRE accounts in the next two months. He could mobilise some deposits from a leading criminal lawyer (who had worked for a short time as Probationary Officer in our bank). Meanwhile, Capt. Raman, the DM, wanted BGR to maintain the deposits at Rs1-crore level even after the short-term deposit from Mumbai was withdrawn. Fortunately for BGR, the deposit growth had gained momentum by then and the deposits stood at Rs80 lakh even after the Mumbai deposit was withdrawn. Within a month thereafter, the deposits figure touched Rs1 crore again and the DM was quite happy. Bulletins after bulletins were issued by the DO highlighting the performance of the branch as the deposits kept pouring in at Girinagar! The branch showed tremendous progress under the leadership of BGR.
The residents of Girinagar mostly belonged to the educated class - respectable and decent. BGR made it a point to visit most of the households to explore deposits. He would also collect the addresses of the persons who were building houses in and around Girinagar. He would send them letters informing about the opening of the branch and to avail the services. He would ask them to open the accounts even before they occupied their houses so that they could issue cheques through the branch account. He also secured a list of persons who were allotted sites in Girinagar but had not built the houses through the Housing Society and addressed them letters to visit the branch. There was not less than 25% response to his efforts with a good number of people opening their accounts with sizable balances in the accounts. Overall, the business of the branch grew fast.
The branch achieved both the year end (YET) and average deposit target (ADT) for 1988 with a very good margin. The branch also celebrated its first birth anniversary on 7th July 1989 by reaching the figure of Rs1 crore under term deposits. The regular inspection of the branch was taken up in August 1989. The branch was able to set right over 90% of the observations during the course of inspection. The first reply to the inspection report was submitted on the day of completion of inspection itself. The branch was awarded ‘A’ grade in inspection and that was one more feather on the cap of the branch and BGR.
A. R. Madhavan, the Accountant, played a very good role in the development of the branch.  He was very good at customer service and in securing new accounts.  He kept the internal work up-to-date.  Loan papers  were checked properly before keeping  in the double lock.  Follow up was also very good. He personally handled the year-end work with his beautiful handwriting.
N. S. Nagendra, Clerk, who came along with BGR from Chamarajpet branch was very loyal, intelligent and an able hand.  Whether opening the SB account, or issuing a term deposit receipt or preparing  loan papers, he would attend carefully to ensure perfection.  He was always ready to attend any pending work and supported the internal work very ably.
BGR was 49 by then. He had a flair for driving right from his younger days. Even though his branch in Indore had become eligible for a car, he had left the place by the time the car arrived at the branch. A posting in Bangalore to a branch provided with a car was very much uncertain. BGR decided to have his own car and purchased a second hand Premier Padmini car in July 1989 for Rs68,000. The vehicle was quite good. He enjoyed driving the four-wheeler and handed over his scooter to his children for their use.
Having achieved quite a good number of milestones, BGR was well settled in Girinagar branch. He was thoroughly enjoying his posting and had chalked out a development programme for the branch for the next three years. But one fine morning in November 1989 (not during general transfer) he found a transfer order in the tappal from the Circle Office. It was his own transfer order posting him as Senior Manager at Langford Town branch in Bangalore! So that was the typical Canara Bank management for you! It always carried a surprise packet up on its sleeves!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
24th October 2012

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