Thursday, November 29, 2012

Looking Back – 52

The Regional Inspectorate (RI) was functioning from the 3rd floor of Spencer Building on M G Road. During 1995 it was asked to shift to Church Street where the Corporate Cell of Cantonment branch was functioning earlier. The shifting could have caused a lot of inconvenience to RI. Right from part-time employee, daily wager when needed, canteen facility and above all proximity to Inspection Wing/Circle office which used to be a plus point in day to day functioning would have been lost.  BGR told the AGM about the difficulties and his preference to stay back. Fortunately, the matter came to the notice of the Inspection Wing Executives. RI was then provided space on the 5th floor where the Inspection Wing was located - by making some rearrangements. This helped the RI to function still better.
The IC&I Section and Shri Dinesh Nayak – The Professional Manager
The inspection reports of the branches were followed up for rectification by the IC&I Section at Circle Office after the same were received from RI. The rapport between RI and IC&I Section was very much essential for mutual discussion and clarification on many matters. The IC& I Section was headed by a Senior Manager. However, for dealing with Special & Confidential reports, there was a separate Manager who was functioning independently till all such reports were closed. He was Shri Dinesh Nayak.  BGR had occasion to meet him when he was working earlier at Yediyur and Jayanagar T Block branches.  BGR was pleased with some of his excellent qualities during his first meeting with him in his Section.  He had an excellent and clear voice and spoke very good English.  He had in-depth knowledge. His analytical ability was excellent.  He had clear cut views in the area of his working as also on many of the general matters. 
Some of the Managers used to send Special Reports where confidential reports were required to be sent and vice versa.  Moreover, some of the reports were incomplete/unclear. Dinesh Nayak used to point out in a clear cut manner the deficiencies in the report. His processing of the reports was excellent. It was a pleasure for BGR to meet him and discuss matters frequently.  Since then, BGR has been keeping contact with him till date. The two used to discuss many general topics and BGR feels that the discussions with him have enhanced his knowledge.  Dinesh Nayak took VRS in May 2000 (before SVRS) and is now leading a happy retired life after getting his two daughters married.  He reads a lot.  He presently owns an iPad, which he regularly operates and updates himself. For Dinesh Nayak, operating an iPad is a pleasurable job. He is a meticulous reader and observer. The writer of this biography also had the opportunity to meet him and found him extremely knowledgeable and unassuming. He has been giving valuable feedback on this write up very frequently.
The Composition of RI
There were 75 Field Inspecting Officers.  Average age group was about 52.  Most of them had worked as in-charge of branches.  Some had joined Inspection willingly, some reluctantly and some unavoidably.  Some were prepared to work anywhere i.e. locally and outstation.  Some had reservation to go out of station due to domestic reasons.  Some had ailing parents.  Some would come and inform that their son/daughter’s marriage has been fixed to be held shortly.  Some had their own health problems.  BGR used to interact with the field Inspectors when they personally came to the Section or wherever he used to receive phone calls from them.  Some were capable of taking up any category of branch Inspection i.e. VLBs, ELBs, SSI branches and Foreign Department. Some were not eager/competent to take up such Inspections.  So within about 6 months of joining BGR could assess and give them programmes suited to them.   If he came to know that an Inspecting Officer needed to stay locally for some time, he used to ensure that programme was given locally without their asking. 
At that time Concurrent Audit of ELBs/VLBs every month was in vogue.  So such of the Inspecting Officers who were finding it difficult to go outstation, were allotted 2-3 Concurrent Audit branches.  Another set of Inspectors who were always ready to go outstation, were given mostly regular inspection of outstation branches.   Sometimes, if Inspection of branches of our RI was up-to-date, Inspection Wing would ask RI whether it could depute Inspectors to other RIs.  To go to out of State, there were about half a dozen Inspectors always ready.  RI had deputed them to Calcutta, Patna, Delhi, Bombay and Hyderabad branches during different years.  Thus BGR could fairly balance the programmes so that the Inspectors willingly took up the work.  There were competent Inspectors who were capable of conducting “In-depth studies”.  There were several excellent Inspectors like K S Somayaji, Umesh V Prabhu (who is also a writer in Kannada language), K V S Raju, S R V Kamath, J P Prabhu, K Bhoja, R S D B Gowda and L M Pai.
Outsourcing of Regular Inspection – A Failed Initiative!
During 1996, Inspection Wing, HO decided to outsource the regular inspection of some branches to Chartered Accountants and in Bangalore RI 10 branches were outsourced.  They were given the guidelines booklets as also relevant latest circulars.  RI had apprehensions about the quality of inspection as the Audit firms were not experts in the audit of day-to-day functioning of the branches even though they were conducting Statutory Audit of yearly Balance Sheets.  Only two auditors did fairly good job (subsequently RI came to that they had engaged some retired Bank Managers to do the job).  RI could process and grade them by obtaining some information not covered by them from the branches. For the remaining eight branches, RI had to depute the Inspecting Officers to do supplementary Inspection to cover the left out areas/statistics. 
One classic example was the inspection of the biggest branch in Bangalore, Cantonment-Bangalore. This was entrusted to a large audit firm having headquarters in North India.  When RI received the file containing over 200 printed pages, except mentioning “Yes” or “No” there were no other comments.  The statistics provided were incomplete/wrong.   RI was unable to proceed further.  Then AGM suggested sending a team of Inspectors to conduct supplementary inspection and prepare a fresh report.   At the end of the year, the Inspection Wing, HO asked for feed-back about the Inspection conducted by External Auditors and RI gave all the deficiencies and from the very next year the outsourcing was discontinued.  
The Skewed Bank Promotion Policy!
During 1997, BGR submitted appraisal for promotion to Scale IV as his AGM was very eager that he should get it on the basis of his excellent performance and he would push up his case.  During May BGR went to his native place to attend a marriage and some other work.  While he was there, he received a message that his eldest brother, who had retired from RBI as GM, had a heart attack at his sister’s house at Indapur (Pune District) and was hospitalized.  Immediately, BGR went there and stayed there for some days till he recovered.  At that time, the promotion announcement was due.  BGR telephoned to Shri Damle in RI and asked him about the result.  He told BGR that the results would be announced by 3 PM.  He also told that one of the Executives from Inspection Wing told him that his name was on the top of the list.  He told it on the basis of the information that Personnel Wing had asked Inspection Wing to suggest one name as only one SM would be promoted from Inspection and BGR’s name was recommended. 
But when the list was out, BGR’s name was missing.  It was a shock to his colleagues in Inspection including his AGM.  When BGR returned to the Section, one Executive jocularly told him that  he had worked hard throughout the year, but the person who got the promotion applied for 3 days Casual Leave and worked hard to get promotion by pursuing with the right Executives! So that was the scenario in the bank!
BGR had thought that if his name was considered for promotion, he could have worked in a higher capacity in his balance three years of service in the bank. He could have contributed at a different level. But that was not to be. And that was the life and the reality in the banking service. Thereafter BGR did not submit his appraisal for promotion. He carried on with his devoted service as hitherto.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
29th November 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Looking Back – 51

BGR reported at the Regional Inspectorate (RI) during the fourth week of May 1994. He took charge of the Section from Raghavendra Rao who was under transfer to Madurai on promotion to Scale-IV. He explained the working of the Section and advised BGR to assess the branches carefully and objectively while recommending for gradation as there was a provision for appeal by branches/Circle Office. The next day he was relieved and BGR took charge.  The Section had an Officer, three Managers for processing, two typists, one clerk and a peon.  All of them had put in 2-3 years of experience in the Section.  RI was headed by Shri N R Suvarna as AGM after the reorganization of Inspection Department was done as an independent entity.  It was located on the 3rd floor of Spencer Towers on M G Road where the Bangalore Circle office was functioning.  All the branches of Bangalore Circle Office numbering about 230 as also Currency Chests and Foreign Department were to be covered.   There were totally 75 field Inspectors and most of them were Senior Managers.  Apart from Bangalore, Inspectors were stationed at Mysore, Davanagere and Gulbarga.
The functions of the Section included the following:
  1. Giving Programmes to the Inspectors and follow up of their movements
  2. Processing the Inspection Reports received and grading 
  3. If any deficiencies were found in the Inspection Reports , guiding and addressing Inspectors with suitable letters as also issuing appreciation letters wherever large scale income erosion is detected and recovered 
  4. Sending periodical returns/reports to the Inspection Wing 
  5. Guiding the newly joined Inspectors 
  6. Conducting a week’s training programme for the newly inducted Inspectors during the last week of September and a General Training Programme during the last week of March every year
  7. Attending annual RIs Conference called by Inspection Wing, HO  and other meetings
The staff in the Section was efficient and experienced.  Shyam Sunder, Accountant, was doing a very good job in preparing programmes and other connected matters of Inspectors.  Umanath Damle, Manager, too doing an excellent job in inwarding Inspection files and handling them till the same are graded and then sent to Circle Office.  He was also properly interpreting new guidelines issued by the Inspection Wing, HO, and used to issue Circular letters to the Inspecting Officers, wherever necessary. He was assisting BGR in preparing training programmes and the required materials/files for conducting Training Programme for inspectors. The other two Managers were fully engaged in processing of files for the purpose of gradation.  
All the three lady clerks were also very good at work. While Rajni Gopal was looking after all the clerical work, Gayathri and Rajni Prakash were excellent in typing and computer operations.  Peon Ramaiah (who is no more now) was short and weak but knew his work well.  He had a good handwriting and in all the new files, he used to beautifully write the names in coloured ink. AGM Suvarna trusted BGR and gave him a free hand and used to permit the implementation of suggestions and ideas.  Thus for BGR managing the section was a pleasure. There used to be frequent Phone calls from the field inspectors– either seeking clarification or reporting some problems.  The AGM of the Inspection Wing used to call whenever some new guidelines were received from RBI/HO for discussion before implementing them.
Launching of a Revised Training Programme for Inspectors 
BGR’s innovativeness came to the fore as in-charge of RI. During the last week of September 1994 the Training Programme for the newly inducted Inspectors had to be organized. Normally, STC faculty members used to draw the time-table and conduct the training by themselves earmarking one or two periods to RI.  BGR suggested to the AGM that there was a case for revision of topics.  BGR also suggested to him that he would take 5-6 classes.  He also told AGM that there were some excellent Field Inspectors who also could be drawn for covering specific areas of Inspection where they had excelled.  The AGM readily agreed.  BGR sat with the Faculty member of STC who was asked to organize.  He suggested some changes in the topics and the STC member readily agreed.  STC was also happy that RI had come forward to take more responsibility in training.  So the revised time-table was drawn and Inspectors were identified.  It was decided that out of the 21 classes RI would take 10 classes. BGR himself decided to take five classes out of the 10 classes.
After the introductory address by the AGM, BGR took up the topic “Approach to Field Inspection”. He told the Inspectors that some of them had willingly joined Inspection whereas some would have joined reluctantly.  But he suggested that everybody should willingly accept one term in Inspection.  As most of the trainees were earlier in-charge of the branches, BGR told them that naturally they would feel like “A KING WITHOUT KINGDOM”.  Yet he wished them that after the term of Inspection all of them would get a good Kingdom and they would be more equipped to lead.  BGR also advised them to accept Inspection as an opportunity to observe the working of many branches, see many places, observe secret of success of some Managers as also why some Managers fail to manage the branch.  He also told them to start the Inspection with an open mind and without any pre-conceived notions and “Be a friend, philosopher and guide” to the branches. 
He told them that the reception for Inspection would be different as some branches would welcome, some feel as it would be inconvenience and some would be concerned.  But the inspectors have to create an impression that attending to Inspectors and Inspection observations is part of the duties of the branches for the improvement of the working of the branch as also making the Bank’s working more efficient.    He also cautioned them that “Excessive hospitality by the Manager/or any other staff in the branch could be a sign of weakness”.
For the topic “Special & Confidential Report” an able Inspector Umesh V Prabhu was asked to take up classes.   For “Income Erosion” S R V Kamath who was expert in locating short collection of interest/commission was entrusted.  R S D B. Gowda, a direct recruit and young and successful Manager who had worked as AEO was asked to take up the topic “Inspection of Agricultural Finance”.  He later took VRS (before SRVS) and started his own venture.  BGR gathered that with his technical knowledge and skill and ability to manage, he succeeded and earned a good fortune. The training programme with changed topics went off quite well and was appreciated by the participating Inspectors and the STC team as well.
Once in six months the training exercise had to be conducted and during BGR’s five-year term in RI, he could improve the basic approach for better and objective understanding.  Umanath Damle, Manager in the Section did a marvelous job in preparing the file containing Inspection guidelines, latest changes, relevant circular numbers and also some write ups. The RI team made continuous improvement in the programme to achieve better quality of training. 
As usual the training for newly inducted Inspecting Officers was held during Sept 1996.  As there were only four newly inducted Inspecting Officers at Bombay RI, they were posted to the Bangalore Course. M D Kamath, Senior Manager, who had successfully worked in STC at Bombay as faculty, was posted to Inspection there and he was one amongst the four.  When the training was in progress, Kamath met BGR and told that only the STC people used to conduct this training in Bombay whereas here in Bangalore RI was taking lot of interest as also asking some successful Inspectors to conduct classes which were really good and interesting.  He had all the praise for the file prepared by Bangalore RI and given to all the new Inspectors.  He also told BGR that he was very much impressed by the way he and other Inspectors used to conduct classes on a very practical basis.
Kamath who also spoke on the valedictory day stated that the method of conducting classes and giving inputs to the Inspectors was excellent which was not the case in Bombay.  This platform gave BGR immense satisfaction as sharing of knowledge and training juniors were practiced by him from his clerical days.  BGR was also used to be the guest speaker at STC on topics relating to Inspection during the other courses conducted by them between 1996 and 2000.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
28th November 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Looking Back – 50

The Bellary Main Branch - The Trade Unionism of a Different Kind!
Bellary Main branch was facing lot of problems due to total negative approach of the Union leaders working there.  It was a “C” grade branch.  The Senior Manager (SM) and a Sub-Manager were trying their level best to improve the situation.  The Bank had also provided adequate staff at the branch.  The Canara Bank Employees’ Union representing workmen was recognized and negotiations at the apex level used to take place periodically for the smooth functioning of the Bank.  But the Union leaders here had their own style of working according to their own whims and fancies.  Their motto - cause maximum inconvenience to the Officers!  But according to SM there were no branch level issues. 
Led by their Union leaders, the staff had their own schedule of working. The branch was to start officially by 10.30 AM. The staff would arrive by that time. But they would not occupy their seats. They would discuss in groups all the events of the previous day. The discussion would also cover the current affairs based on the morning news. The Bellary clientele of Canara Bank were well accustomed to the attitude of the branch staff. They would visit the branch only after 11 AM! There was an arrangement for supply of coffee at the branch. But the staff would go out one by one for enjoying a Kadak Chai (Strong Tea) and pan at 12 PM. The customers had to simply wait till they got back to their seats. There was no way of persuading them as according to them they were ‘ruling’ the branch!
Even though the official lunch break was for half an hour, the staff would take another 15-30 minutes for pan eating or cigarette smoking. Even though the official closing time was at 5.30 PM, they would stop working and leave the office by 5 PM itself. The worst part of their agenda was - misplacing or destroying of vouchers (slips) and certain daily records that would hold up the preparation of Trial Balance and Day Book. The whole idea was to give maximum trouble and headache to the Officers for no fault of theirs. There were some clerks who were efficient and had positive attitude. But they were not allowed to co-operate with the Officers. The SM had brought the state of affairs to the notice of the higher authorities. But he was advised to handle the matter tactfully at the branch level!
The Branch Meeting and the Silent (Mouth-Sealed) Staff!
As the Inspection was coming to an end, BGR suggested calling for a Branch Meeting. But the other members of his team felt that it may not be of any use and on the other hand they may have to face those leaders and perhaps their abuses too.  BGR assured them that he would handle the situation. The staff meeting was convened by the SM.  He commenced the meeting and told the staff about the observations made by the inspectors and sought their co-operation in improving the internal work and the customer service at the branch.  Then BGR addressed the meeting.  He told them that the branch was quite an old one and the location of the branch was very good for increasing the business.  He also told them about the inconvenience faced by the officers in day-to-day working for lack of adequate support and the extra time they had to put in to complete the internal work. The same time would have been otherwise utilized by them for the business development of the branch. BGR welcomed the views of the staff members. But there was absolutely no response and everybody just kept quiet. 
BGR further cajoled them and asked why they were not one with the Officers as far as day-to-day working was concerned and whether they have any specific grievances/issues to be sorted out.  Again none of them opened their mouth.   Further, BGR asked them whether they were happy to work in a branch which was graded “C” Unsatisfactory or do they want the same to be improved. Again there was no response.  BGR then concluded that they had come with a plan - not to open their mouth! The SM then suggested closing the meeting.  It was a pity that the workmen were stabbing the back of their own Officers!  But they called it their spirit of Trade Unionism!
The Regional Inspectorate graded the branch “B” satisfactory. This upgradation was due to the hard and determined work and business progress made by the SM and a Sub-Manager and also due to maximum rectification of the observations made by them during the course of Inspection.
Shahbad – The Stinking Village Branch
Shahbad was a village branch in Gulbarga District.  The operating station for this branch was Gulbarga from where BGR had to travel 17 KMs by train as the roads were very bad.  Some of the morning trains would not stop at Shahbad.  About 75 people used to generally travel to Shahbad from Gulbarga in the morning daily.  If the train was not having a stop at Shahbad, some of the regular commuters would go to the driver and request with folded hands to stop. Some drivers would oblige by stopping for a minute not on the platform track but on the other track. One had to jump down and walk to the main platform.  Some drivers would not oblige.  Regular commuters would know in such cases as the driver would not slow down. The commuters would then pull the chain as the train approached Shahbad. The train would stop and then all of them would get down.  The driver knew who the culprits were but he would not enquire. He would simply start the train and proceed.  However, while returning this trick would not work and commuters had to wait for the train which would stop at Shahbad.
BGR had never seen a village like Shahbad.  The entire village headquarters where the branch was situated was so dirty, dusty and unhygienic.  Within two minutes of walking, the shoes and pants up to knee would get soiled and dust would cover your face.  The road was full of mud which was like Fevicol.  BGR could not walk straight and after each step he had to examine the depth of the soil and then put the next step.  It was a delicate balancing act! Actually the branch was located about three-minute walking distance from Railway Station but the journey used to take about 8 minutes.  There was absolutely no sanitation and pigs were roaming everywhere.  Somehow BGR reached the branch 15 minutes prior to the opening of the branch. 
The Secret of the Closed Window - Pigs on Duty Here!
The look of the branch was pathetic.  It never looked like a branch of the Bank.  Only the sign board helped in confirming that the Shahbad branch was located there.  The branch Manager who was from Bangalore was sitting in his small enclosure. BGR introduced himself along with his colleague.  The Manager asked them to sit.  BGR was feeling unbearable stinking smell and he asked the Manager from where it was emanating.  Manager then opened the window and asked him to see the outside open field that was used by public as urinals during day time and to shit at night!  About half a dozen pigs were busy on clearing duty!  He then closed the window doors.  
BGR asked the Manager why can’t he get the area fenced for which he was told that the fence would disappear within a day!  He also told that the whole area where offices, shops and market are located was stinking.   Additionally a big cement factory was situated within 2 KMs and the dust from the plant was freely spreading to Shahbad adding fuel to the fire. Moreover, Shahbad slabs were dug in and around the village which again created lot of dust. Whenever it rained, the roads would become extremely slippery and walking on the road would be a misery.  Even driving a motor cycle was very difficult. 
The Rural Service for the Manager and ‘Vanavasa’ for his Wife!
The Manager had come on transfer to the branch in the previous year and he had to undergo this unbearable suffering called ‘rural service’ for one more year.  Coffee/tea served was just not gulpable.   For lunch, the Manager asked BGR to go to the next road where a person was serving roti and subji. Nowhere else one could eat as eatables were served on the roadside covered with lot of dirt coupled with bad smell.  When BGR and his colleague took the lunch, the subji was too hot and there were no curds.  They had to manage with two rotis with a very small quantity of hot subji.  In the evening, after returning by train to the Hotel at Gulbarga, BGR used to take a bath immediately to clean the dust on his entire body. 
Before the closing of the inspection, the Manager took BGR to his so called “quarters”.  For the Shahbad standards it was supposed to be good.  But actually it was not a livable house where also dust was the main problem.  The wife of the Manager expressed her difficulties in living there.  She was telling that she was not able to understand the Kannada language which locals spoke.  The family was getting vegetables very rarely.  Only Toor Dal was available cheap as it was grown in that area.  The water was hard and not drinkable.  Life was miserable and she was spending everyday like ‘Vanavasa’. 
The inspection was over within four weeks.  The Manager co-operated well during inspection to ensure that the “B” gradation was retained which would help him to get out of the stinking village next year.  What a pathetic Rural Service some Managers had to undergo!
------o----- --o--- -----o------o-------o-----o------o------o-------o------o-------o-----
The Field Inspection Ends
S M Shenoy, the Senior Manager, who was heading the Section in RI retired during early 1993.  He was replaced by Raghavendra Rao who was BGR’s team leader on joining field Inspection at Marathahalli.  Raghavendra Rao was promoted to Scale IV in May 1994. In those days it was very rare for a person working in Inspection to get promotion to Scale IV - but Rao fully deserved his promotion. He was posted to one of the branches in Madurai. 
One day during fourth week of May 1994, BGR received a call from RI that he had been identified to replace Raghavendra Rao in the Section and he was asked to give his consent.  It was a pleasant surprise for BGR.  He told the Section that he needed a day’s time to think over.  He then analysed from all angles and gave his consent on the next day. Immediately thereafter he received the internal transfer order.  At that time he was inspecting Malleswaram-Bangalore branch and had to hand over the report by giving final touches.  He was asked to report at RI at the earliest. 
The very next day BGR handed over the Inspection Report to the CM of Malleswaram branch and reported at RI.  Thus ended his 20 months of field inspection.  In almost all the branches he got good co-operation.  It was also a good opportunity for him to observe the functioning of different sizes of branches and meet new colleagues and some successful Managers and Officers.  By God’s grace, BGR’s left forehead shooting pain never recurred even during his outstation duties.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
25th November 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Looking Back – 49

BGR was moving back to an Administrative Unit after a gap of 12 years. He reported at the Regional Inspectorate (RI) located on the 3rd floor of Spencer Towers on M G Road on 2nd September 1992. The RI was at that time headed by K P Kamath, DM and the Section in-charge was S M Shenoy, Senior Manager (SM). Shyam Sunder was the Officer with three other Managers to process the Inspection reports for the purpose of gradation of branches. Shyam Sunder gave him the Inspection Report of one of the branches along with the processing and gradation sheets and asked him to go through. BGR had received many inspection reports in his capacity as branch Manager. But here he was to look at them as an auditor. It was a simple role change! BGR went through the report and the gradation sheets and sought some clarifications from Shyam Sunder. He then gave BGR the guidelines booklet (the Red Book) as also the guidelines for submission of Special/Confidential Reports. He also gave BGR the orders to join S Raghavendra Rao (SM), at the Marathahalli branch on the next day.
Marathahalli in those days had complete village surroundings. Raghavendra Rao had already completed the inspection of most of the departments. He was an experienced, knowledgeable and cool-going person whom BGR already knew well. He gave a short briefing to BGR about the inspection job. BGR was then asked to take up guarantees. BGR made some observations and Rao concurred with his views. He was then given some miscellaneous areas to cover. Marathahalli was then known for its brick units. Rao took BGR for one of the brick-manufacturing units for inspection. He also took him to a mango garden which was financed by the bank. The inspection was completed within a week and ratings were dispatched to RI.
BGR inspected 19 branches during September 1992 to May 1994. The branches included: 1) Marathahalli, Bangalore 2) Chandapur Circle, Bangalore 3) Harohalli 4) Kallambella 5)Bargur 6)Bevoor 7)Bellary 8)Shahbad 9)Sarakki Layout, Bangalore 10) Peenya, Bangalore 11)Ulsoor, Bangalore 12)Infantry Road, Bangalore 13) HAL II Stage, Bangalore 14) Chamrajpet, Bangalore 15) Currency Chest, Bangalore 16) Gokula, Bangalore 17) Madhavanagar, Bangalore 18) Indian Institute Campus, Bangalore and 19) Malleshwaram, Bangalore.
Raghavendra Rao continued to be the leader of the team during the inspection of Chandapur Circle, Bangalore and Harohalli branches after Marathahalli branch.  He had clear cut knowledge about each and every aspect of banking including Foreign Exchange.  He had handled Foreign Exchange business at N R Road, Bangalore branch as early as during sixties and continued to update his knowledge.  So whenever BGR asked for any clarification he used to guide him by explaining pros and cons.   K G Kedlaya, SM, who had earlier worked at R&L Section, Circle Office, Bangalore, was BGR’s leader while inspecting Kallambella and Bargur braches.   He was explaining many aspects of mortgage, hypothecation, pledge, lien and others with his vast experience in Legal Section.  BGR was the team leader for inspecting the other branches. This write up will cover the inspection of only four branches.
The Bargur Branch – The Manager Comes Back to Clear the Mess!
Bargur was a village branch in Tumkur District. The previous Manager Ramachandrappa had disbursed a large number of agricultural loans and the new Manager had taken charge a couple of months ago.  Majority of loan papers were blank (not filled up) and had only borrowers’ signatures.  Post sanction inspection appeared to have not been done.  Bills/receipts were not obtained wherever necessary.  Mortgage papers were incomplete.  When BGR pointed out to the new Manager he told him that the earlier Manager has to do it.  BGR told him that he should have got it done before relieving him and whether he would co-operate now was doubtful. The previous Manager was working at Bangalore some 100 kms away.  BGR then asked the Manager to contact him and inform him that the matter would be serious in case loan papers were not updated. 
To BGR’s surprise the very next day Ramachandrappa arrived at the branch.  He was a tall, dark and well-built person.  He came to BGR and assured him that he would set right all the loan papers and clear the other pending matters.  BGR told him that it would take at least 15 days for him to set right.  Ramachandrappa told him that he would come to the branch on Sundays and Holidays and also apply for leave and ensure that all pending documentation was completed and requested him not to report.  BGR could not believe him. But still he allowed him three-week time.   As promised, Ramachandrappa sincerely attended all the unfinished work.  He also took BGR for spot inspection.  He told BGR that because of the pressure of work due to large disbursement of loans in that unbanked area, he could not attend the matters then and there.  BGR was quite happy with him for keeping up his assurance.
The Bevoor Branch - Inspector or Mentor? – BGR in a Dual Role!
Bevoor was also a village branch about 12 KMs from Channapatna.  Here also a newly promoted Manager Gopalaswamy had taken charge of the branch. The branch had large number of small loans including borewell loans.  More than 200 loans had completed 30 months and AODs had not been obtained.  Some of the loan papers were already time-barred and some others were due within a fortnight.  There were two clerks and one Special Assistant who were fully engaged in day-to-day work and the Manager had to look after the entire advances.  Gopalaswamy was new to working in a village branch.  He was in utter confusion.  He sought BGR’s advice and guidance as to how to handle the situation.   BGR advised him not to get disheartened and charted out a programme for him:
  1. To sort out the work on priority basis. 
  2. To seek the co-operation of other staff members 
  3. To ask a clerk (the branch had a good clerk) to make out a list of AODs to be obtained and then get it checked 
  4. To utilize the services of one clerk and a peon, who knew the addresses of the borrowers 
  5. Conduct visits area-wise and obtain AODs and also try to recover the arrears to the extent possible 
Gopalaswamy took it on right earnest and could manage to obtain more than 90% of AODs within 15 days.  He felt confident and relieved.  BGR also suggested him to reduce the number of SB ledgers by transferring the inoperative accounts to separate ledger which helped in attending customers more efficiently. There were many small irrecoverable loans since many years. BGR suggested to Gopalaswamy to make visits and if he found them irrecoverable to recommend for write off. Gopalaswamy followed BGR’s advice meticulously and at the end of his three-year term he brought the loan portfolio under full control.  He also disbursed many loans subsequently including housing loans, which boosted the advances figures of the branch. BGR completed the inspection of the branch in six weeks.  He had spent a significant portion of his time in guiding the new Manager!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
23rd November 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Looking Back – 48

During the year 1992 there was a talk of computerization in the bank. Initially the bank wanted to take up back office functions. BGR pleaded with the CM to utilize the opportunity to computerize at least some functions at the branch. But the CM continued with his ‘wait and watch’ approach. The result was – JSC branch was not among those first branches where the computerization work was taken up. BGR was totally disheartened as he was sure that with the existing composition of supervisors the internal work could never improve.
During the entire year BGR was totally tied up with the internal work and customer service at the branch. He could never go out for deposit canvassing, meeting the clients, etc. The branch could achieve the average deposit target for the year ended 31 March 1992. However, it missed the year-end target by Rs2 crore. The savings bank (SB) deposits crossed the Rs10-crore mark for the first time. The branch stood among the top five branches in the bank in this respect. But the CM was unmoved and unconcerned. He remained as cool as a cucumber!
The balancing differences persisted in the Deposit Section. As 31st March was a business holiday, BGR requested all the staff members to take the balancing and tally all the ledgers. The efforts went half-way and the differences persisted in about 25% of the ledgers. The same could not be traced on subsequent days also in view of the beginning of the month rush and holidays.
BGR was surprised to receive another transfer order in May 1992. He had been posted to Sampangiramnagar, Bangalore branch as branch-in-charge.  A G Kini, the Senior Manager from Jayalakshmipuram, Mysore branch was posted in his place. Kini joined the branch in June and BGR handed over the charge to him and got relieved from the branch. He felt sad that he was handing over the charge with backlog for the first time in his career.
BGR came to know later that Kini suffered a lot at the branch. He was an efficient and intelligent manager. But he was a diabetic patient and could not improve the things. He was transferred after one year along with the CM. He was reportedly harassed by the new set up. He was asked to tally all the ledgers before his relief. Immediately thereafter the branch computerization started and the new set up took full credit for the improved situation.
It is now more than 20 years since BGR left the JSC branch. The branch is now working with straight timings and Sunday as a holiday. With the rapid mechanization of the branch working, installation of ATMs and centralization of clearing work, the situation has totally changed. The bank has vacated the other two buildings. The entire operations are handled at the main branch. The building has some spare space even after providing extra space for the customers! But there were many sufferers before the revolution took place. Their names remain buried in the history of Jayanagar Shopping Complex branch. Thanks to the great Gandhian! May his soul rest in peace!
------o----- --o--- -----o------o-------o-----o------o------o-------o------o-------o-----
The saying ‘history repeats itself' turned out to be quite true in BGR’s case at least. The same Senior Manager who had worked in the Langford Town branch for three years and downgraded it to ‘C’ grade had worked in the Sampangiramnagar branch for the next three years and created a similar mess. He had retired in April 1992. Almost in a similar fashion (The Senior Manger from inspection unable to manage and going back to inspection) a blue-eyed Senior Manager from Head Office had succeeded him at Sampangiramnagar. He was already in the waiting list for promotion to Scale IV. He worked hardly for two months and went back to HO on promotion.
While handing over charge the would-be DM told BGR that the quality of handling the advance portfolio was very bad. When BGR asked whether he could make some improvements during his two-month term, he told him that he had written a thesis on one of the LPD (loans past due) accounts after making an in-depth study! He kept repeating the same. BGR then asked him whether he could recover some amount and what was the next course. There was no specific answer for that question. The gentleman had worked mostly in HO and was quite happy with his thesis, which suggested no steps for recovery! He also never bothered to make an effort to contact the party for recovery! He was pleased to hand over the charge and pack off back to HO!
The Sampangiramnagar branch was situated in the main road and one could hardly cross the road due to heavy traffic. The employees at the branch were mostly unenthusiastic and as a result, the customer service was very poor. There was no proper follow up of advances and inspection queries were long outstanding. There used to be quarrels at the counter every now and then.
The branch had a Sub-Manager. He would say everything was excellent whenever BGR asked him about something. He was a zarda eater. He would consume zarda/pan every two hours and enjoy it for half an hour. Most of the time he was unable to talk to anybody as his mouth used to be full with pan. He was unable to take telephone calls and would ask others to help him out. Whenever customers approached him with some queries he would signal them to wait till he enjoyed his pan to the full extent! If he was called by BGR inside the cabin, he would only tell him ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with his hands! He used to be always very happy and in his own world despite no progress in the branch performance!
BGR had thought that by moving to a smaller branch he may be able to cope up with his health issues. He spent about 15 days reviewing the various areas in the branch. But one evening the same shooting pain started in his left forehead. It got repeated after another 5 days. Being helpless, BGR went to Dr.Sudhir Pai once again. The doctor told him that he had already evaluated his health and told him about the accumulated stress and suggested that he would better move into some administrative unit. He even told BGR that he would put a word to some executives known to him at the Circle Office. BGR was in a fix. His wife also told him that health was more important.
Eventually BGR went to Circle Office in August 1992 and explained his position. The Executive had already been briefed by his doctor. BGR was asked to put it in writing. Immediately after he gave his request, he was posted to Regional Inspectorate (RI), Bangalore.
BGR had planned to report at RI on 1st September 1992. However, he came to know his close friend and Union-Associate Mr. U Krishnamurthy Rao had been admitted to Maiya’s Hospital in a serious condition. BGR went to the hospital immediately. Mr.Rao was breathing heavily and he breathed his last in the presence of BGR. Mr. Rao was only 50 at that time. BGR took leave on that day. He reported at RI on 2nd September 1992.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
19th November 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Looking Back – 47

BGR had to handle another interesting complaint during his tenure at the JSC branch. The complaint had been lodged even before BGR had taken charge. The bank had the account of a High Court advocate. He gave a complaint that a local cheque for Rs6,000 deposited by him had not been credited to his account. He produced the counterfoil of the bank challan, which had the branch the branch seal with initials. The branch could not locate the cheque. It was also not possible to identify the staff who had put his initials on the counterfoil. The advocate wanted the amount to be credited to his account and was pursuing the matter.
BGR visited his residence in Jayanagar one day to collect the details of the cheque. However, the advocate told him that he does not have any details. BGR requested him at least to inform the name of the person who had issued the cheque, the cheque number and name of the bank. But the advocate repeated that he had none of the details and he simply wanted the bank to credit the amount to his account. BGR came back and addressed a letter to him requesting for the details. But the advocate gave the reply that he doesn’t possess any details and insisted for the credit as he had the initialed and sealed counterfoil!
The advocate took the case to the State Consumer Court and the branch received a notice to appear. BGR forwarded the notice to the Legal Department (R&L Section) and he was told that the case would be entrusted to the Bank’s advocate by them. BGR then gave the following inputs to the department:
  1. The depositor being a High Court advocate must be an income-tax payer.
  2. As an advocate he is supposed to maintain books of accounts and is obliged to furnish the details of the cheque to the bank
  3. It was possible that he would have collected the cash from his client telling him that the bank has misplaced the cheque. In that case it would be a double payment to him if the bank makes the payment.
  4. He could have also taken another cheque from the party after issuing a stop payment instruction for the misplaced cheque and encashed it through some other bank account.
  5. Being an advocate he should be definitely able to remember the name of his client. It is his moral responsibility to furnish the details to the bank and cooperate in the matter.
To the surprise of BGR, the Consumer Court upheld the case and asked the bank to pay the amount with interest. However, it did not ask the advocate to furnish the details of the cheque to the bank. The Circle Office then asked the branch to make the payment and fix the responsibility. BGR argued with the legal department that the bank had a good case and it should go to the National Consumer Forum in Delhi. The department agreed. The advocate at Delhi asked the branch to remit his hefty fee even before he took up the case. But again the bank lost the case. BGR’s assessment was that both the lawyers at Bangalore and Delhi did not argue the case properly and were more interested in collecting their fee! There appeared to be no seriousness on the part of the Legal department either! BGR left the branch at this stage. He came to know later that the bank could not fix the responsibility on any of the employees.
The Job Stress Leads to Health Problem
The Garden City Hospital was opened in III Block, Jayanagar in 1991, partly funded by NRIs.  The hospital had good visiting doctors.  One of them was Dr.Sudhir Pai, the neurologist.  He wanted to conduct one health camp in Shopping Complex and wanted the branch to associate.  BGR agreed and the camp went off successfully.
At JSC BGR was  sandwiched between the “Yenu Prayojana  Illa”, “Parkalaam” and  “Chalta Hai” CM of the branch and a totally biased and hyper AGM of RO. He could not take forward the necessary changes and actions required for  the improvement of the branch.  He was working almost 12 hours in the branch with only about 45 minutes break to go home and have lunch and get back. Many retired Executives/Officers/friends used to visit the branch on Saturday evening and Sunday morning which used to be the busiest time of the week.   They were observing the number of telephone calls BGR used to receive, number of clients coming to his cabin with their requests, complaints, etc.
One Sunday, a General Manager from HO came to BGR’s cabin to get some work done.  He was astonished to see the rush and the pressure with which BGR was working.  He frankly asked him why there was so much rush for which BGR told him that it was the only branch of Canara Bank working on Sunday and with shift hours. That was the reason for the rush/mess. The GM felt that it was high time for the branch to fall in line with  other branches.  BGR told him about the obstacle in the form of the Gandhian SR Prabhu.  But the GM could not understand why the Bank is taking his threat so seriously.  According to him, unlike in the pre-1969 era the Bank was now a Public Sector unit and it should not heed to the threat of a retired GM just because he was a Gandhian. 
One evening at about 5.30 pm in February 1992, BGR was attending a customer at his cabin when he felt a sudden unbearable pain in the left forehead. BGR thought that it may subside after sometime. But the pain persisted and became unbearable. He then telephoned the Garden City Hospital and found that Dr.Sudhir Pai was available. BGR visited the hospital and Dr.Pai made the initial check up and enquired about his past service history. He prescribed some tablets and asked him to undergo some laboratory check up. The pain subsided and BGR came back to the branch.
The pain came back after two days. It persisted for more than half an hour and then subsided. BGR went back to the doctor on the third day along with the laboratory reports. The doctor examined him again and told him that the problem was due to accumulated stress over a period. According to the doctor, the persons who carry the accumulated stress are susceptible to such pain attacks that last for 30 to 45 minutes. He prescribed some more medicines and asked BGR to come back after a week. The pain came back twice during the week and BGR was just helpless and unable to work.
BGR visited Dr.Pai after a week. The doctor then reiterated that the problem was the accumulation of stress over a period of years. He referred to:
  1. The stressful work load at the JSC branch (The doctor had personally seen BGR’s work load while sitting in his cabin)
  2. Work pressure at six branches in the last 12 years
  3. The situation of helplessness in the last 18 months with no support to implement a programme to rectify the situation in the JSC branch
  4. BGR’s basic nature of having an urge to set right the things early - leading to build up of internal stress when the situation was unfavourable
The doctor advised BGR to take a change and go to an administrative unit to overcome the problem. BGR then realised that unless he takes a break he may spoil his health further.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
18th November 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Looking Back – 46

The Invisible Gandhian and the Hyper AGM!
One particular day during January 1992 BGR was quite busy attending several VIP customers in his cabin. Suddenly his telephone started ringing. He took the phone and came to know that it was from the AGM of RO. The following was the conversation:
AGM: I want to know the name of the clerk who asked a depositor to go to Post Office and bring a 10 paise revenue stamp to affix on the fixed deposit receipt for encashment.
BGR: Let me enquire, Sir.
AGM: I want to know the name of the person right now. I want to suspend him immediately!
BGR: I will check up and let you know, Sir.
AGM: I am giving you ten minutes time. If you do not let me know his name by then, I would place you under suspension! (Hangs up)
BGR had never heard such threatening expression from his superiors in his entire service. He was totally in shock. Then he realised that the AGM was well known for such brazen behavior, habits and biased nature. He consoled himself and kept his cool. He disposed of the VIP clients urgently and summoned the Accountant (lady) to his cabin. She was surprised to hear the allegation and told him that they have been trying to extend their best services and it was a pity that a complaint had been made about 10 paise revenue stamp. However, she could not remember any such instance.
BGR then told her to check up with the clerk Smt.Nanda. Nanda could recollect that about two months back a lady customer had come with her aged mother on a busy working day.  She wanted to encash a fixed deposit (FD) for a small amount for which revenue stamp was needed. Normally FD Section itself used to keep stock of revenue stamps for such occasions. It had been exhausted on that day. Nanda then made enquiries with other departments in the branch but unfortunately they also had no stock. The lady customer saw her searching for something and came to know that the required revenue stamp was not available at the branch. She then asked her where else it would be available and was told that it was available in the nearby Post Office. Then the lady asked her mother to sit in the branch, went to the Post Office, got the revenue stamp and encashed the FD and left the branch along with her mother.  There was neither a complaint nor any dissatisfaction expressed by the depositor.
Nanda was an efficient clerk and was excellent in customer service. A married lady, she had a very pleasing personality. Even during rush hours, she would keep her cool and would not give any scope for complaints. Even on a first impression one could form that opinion on her.
BGR then asked the Accountant to find out urgently the date of transaction and also the name in which the deposit was held.  She found out that the depositor was the mother of one Mrs.Devaiah who was working at Canara Bank Relief and Welfare Society in Banashankari.   BGR telephoned to AGM and told him that according to the Section such a situation had happened some two months back and he would get the full information and get back to him at the earliest.  The AGM was angry and told BGR to give the feedback without loss of much time.  Immediately after business hours in the morning, BGR along with the Accountant and clerk Nanda went to CBR & Welfare Society and met Mrs.Devaiah. BGR told her that the bank seems to have received a complaint that when she visited the branch some two months ago, she was asked to go to Post Office and get the revenue stamp.   She recollected the incident.  But she could not understand why they had come to her now even though she had not given any complaint!   She told BGR that both the Accountant and Nanda were very helpful and gave her the best service considering the fact that her mother was old. 
BGR and others then started wondering how the complaint could have originated without the knowledge of the supposed to be ‘complainant’! In fact it had gone to a level where the AGM who had sat on a proposal for sanction of Rs9,500/ car repair expenses for over five months to become hyperactive! So much so that he wanted to suspend the clerk or the Senior Manager within ten minutes!
All of a sudden Mrs.Devaiah recollected that during one of the meetings in the Canara Bank Relief and Welfare Society, while discussing customer service in the bank, she had casually mentioned that on one occasion when she had gone to JSC branch they had no revenue stamps and she went to Post office and got the same. She told that she never meant the expression as a complaint. She also remembered that S R Prabhu, the retired GM (the Gandhian), was also present at the meeting.
The things started falling in place the moment the name of the Gandhian came into the picture. Obviously the Gandhian had picked up the thread from there and rushed to the Head Office to meet the top executives. He told them that it was a shame that the branch had not kept the stock of revenue stamp and had asked the depositor to go to Post Office. He asked the Executives to investigate and punish the guilty. So the complaint had originated from an unconnected person even though the depositor never wanted to complain in the first place!
BGR then requested Mrs.Devaiah  to speak to the DGM at CO over phone and tell him that she had no complaint. She said that she knew the DGM quite well and wouldn’t mind talking to him. She then and there spoke to the DGM over phone and convinced him that she had no complaint. She told him that she had made only a casual mention in the meeting and both the Accountant and the clerk had given good service on that day.
BGR and the other two felt much relieved and came back to the branch. BGR rang up the AGM and tried to brief him about the incident in detail. He also told him that Mrs.Devaiah had told the DGM that she doesn’t have any complaint. But the AGM was not ready to hear him and told him that he would visit the branch on the next day. All the while the Chief Manager was a silent spectator to the developments and was behaving as if nothing had happened! He was as cool as a cucumber!
Next day morning the AGM came to BGR’s cabin along with CM with a furious look.  On that day also there was a heavy rush in the branch.   BGR again told him that the clerk Nanda was an excellent hand and she  should not be treated with suspicion.  With anger AGM told BGR that he always supported the staff as he was a Union man.  BGR told him that he always tried to be fair.  At that stage somehow it struck to BGR that he should take the AGM to  the Deposit Section and ask him to personally see the services rendered (by both ladies).  The AGM agreed to BGR’s suggestion. But he was still angry.  BGR took him there and first introduced Nanda and the Accountant.   The moment AGM saw Nanda all his anger vanished and he started enquiring about her, her husband and her young son in a very pleasant and attractive manner!  At the end, he advised her to keep up her good work and seek any help from him in case of any difficulty! He left the branch thereafter as if nothing had happened!
Next day morning the DGM visited the branch and came to BGR’s cabin along with CM to enquire about the complaint with not so much anger as the AGM.   Again BGR played the same tactics.  The DGM also visited the Deposit Section and started talking to Nanda.  At the end he commented that because of the good staff like Nanda, the bank was flourishing and progressing! He went away fully satisfied! The ‘Flop Show’ had come to an end!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
15th November 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Looking Back – 45

Unlike in his previous two branches where BGR was independent in-charge of the branch, at JSC he was to work under the leadership of the Chief Manager (CM). Hence to chart out a programme of improving the working conditions at the branch BGR needed the blessings and support of CM. The CM was sitting in the other building with comparatively better staff and sealed from the crisis like situation in the Deposit Section. BGR jotted down the points and went to him for a discussion. He briefed him in detail about the current situation at the Deposit Section. The CM heard him without any comments. The following was the dialogue:
BGR: Sir, both of us are new to this branch. I have now briefed you fully about the current situation in the Deposit Section. We need to chalk out a programme to rectify the situation on priority.
CM: Let us see!
BGR: I will draft a detailed letter to the DGM (CO) and AGM (RO). I suggest if necessary let us go and meet the DGM and AGM personally. Let us explain to them the state of affairs for finding a right solution.
CM: (Shaking his head) Yenoo prayojana illa! (It will be a wasteful exercise!)
BGR: In that case what exactly you expect us to do, sir?
CM: We have to manage somehow!
BGR: There will not be any improvement if the present state of affairs is allowed to continue. Rather the situation may go out of our hands!
CM: (Casually) Let us see! (Noduvaa!)
(BGR understood that the CM was not at all serious and was taking the things very lightly and casually)
The Struggle Starts
Having got no support from the Chief Manager, BGR thought of at least improving the working of the SB Section.  He discussed the matter in the staff meeting.  However, the response was not good as they had a number of grievances.  BGR asked them to try to tally their ledgers for which they said they have time constrains unlike other branches due to shift in business hours.  Subsequently, BGR discussed with the Officers and also sought the help of Officers in other buildings.  Overall, they assured to help but not very enthusiastically.  Subsequently, 3-4 clerks and 3-4 officers spared some time and tried to up-date the balancing but it was not enough.  BGR was also devoting his time for balancing during lunch hours.  In some counters, where clerks were efficient, tallying could be done with minimum efforts.   But in more than 50% of the ledgers, the number of mistakes was more and tallying was time-consuming.  The efforts were not good enough to bring the balancing up-to-date even though the number of untallied months was brought down.  It was a herculean task for the Sub-Manager to find out how many ledgers were not tallied, for how many months and what was the difference to prepare PR-18.   While tallying work was in progress, every month some additional ledgers were being added to the list of untallied numbers. 
Meanwhile, the number of ledgers was increasing due to opening of new accounts and there was no space.  BGR then formed a group to remove the used and inoperative sheets to reduce the number of ledgers which gave some relief to the clerks working.  The branch could send NIL PR-18 statement in October 1991.  However, again due to many holidays and leave-taking the position started slipping away and it became almost impossible to tally with the concerned supervisors taking no responsibilities.  The Chief Manager would not call and advise the supervisors as he was afraid that the staff relations in the branch would get spoiled!
Another major challenge in the branch was the clearing department.  During the first week, outward clearing items used to exceed 800 consisting of salary cheques, dividend warrants and interest warrants.  Sometimes, even if two clerks handle the outward clearing there used to be backlog which used to result in complaints/request for TODs.  The Inward Clearing used to come in large numbers after 12.30 pm after all the clerical staff had left for lunch. The Officers had to verify and keep the cheques in the respective folios and also prepare the return memos for the dishonoured cheques.   In the evening at 4.30 pm apart from passing the cash cheques, they had to post the clearing cheques for which they would be hard pressed thus making the evening session hell for both clerks and supervisors.  Sometimes, the cheques kept in the ledger used to slip inside the ledgers making the day’s tallying a herculean task.
On most of the days the branch used to look like a market place almost similar to the adjacent vegetable market inside the Jayanagar complex.  Whenever continuous holidays were declared for 2 or 3 days, the number of cash cheques used to exceed 1000.
The Dakota Express or the Chalthi ka Naam Gaadi (Bank Car)!
BGR had been told by the Circle Office that one of the reasons for disturbing him from the Langford Road branch within 18 months was to reward him with a car branch. However, he found the reward not so cute! The Senior Manager at the Complex branch had been provided with a 9-year old Premier Padmini car that had logged in 94,000 kms. The previous Senior Manager had sincerely warned BGR not to drive the car unless it was repaired and had several parts replaced! BGR took the vehicle to a known garage owner and left it at the garage requesting him to make a thorough check up and give detailed quotation for repairs. The owner who was an expert mechanic made a cursory glance at the vehicle and gave a sincere advice – to dispose of the vehicle and go for a new one! However, at the insistence of BGR he gave a quotation for Rs9,500.
BGR forwarded the quotation to the Regional Office (RO) under the signature of the CM seeking permission to incur the expenses. He also made a mention that the mechanic had advised for disposal and to go for a new car. The AGM at that time was the brother of a previous CMD of the bank. There was no response even after 15 days. When he telephoned to the concerned Manager he was told that the Bank cannot go in for new car as it had not run the minimum of one lakh KMs.  But BGR told him that exception  could be made as it was not worth spending Rs.9,500/-.  He then told BGR that  he would convey RO’s decision . 
As BGR had his own car, he was using the same.  RO had not responded even after one month and the Chief Manager was reluctant to speak to AGM in the matter.  BGR was not willing to talk to AGM because he had heard about his moody and biased nature.  He sent a reminder after one month. But the Manager told him that the papers were with the AGM.  BGR told him to remind the AGM.  But there was no response.  The car was lying in the garage of the mechanic all the while.   Ultimately it took 5 months to get the permission from RO!  BGR then asked the mechanic to proceed with the repairs.  He took another one week for delivery.  The car was giving very low mileage of about 7 KMs.  BGR had to manage somehow. 
At this stage BGR thought of disposing of his own car.  He sold it to a friend of Shri Holla who was working in the Foreign Department for Rs.71,500/-  Quick negotiations fetched him a premium of Rs3500 over his purchase price! 
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
13th November 2012