Sunday, November 11, 2012

Looking Back – 44

BGR reported at Jayanagar Shopping Complex (JSC) branch during the third week of June 1991. He had already been told that the Chief Manger and the Senior Manager were not seeing eye-to-eye with the result the internal work was in a very bad shape. The earlier Senior Manager reportedly had some unpleasant experience in the previous week. He had been relieved during office hours without a formal send-off party. The Chief Manager Bhoja Shetty had also been transferred and the new Chief Manager had taken charge. BGR took the keys from the Sub-Manager and occupied the empty cabin.
The JSC branch was the only branch in Bangalore with split business hours and was working on Sunday as half-day and Monday as a holiday.  Other branches which had split hours had already been converted to single shift.  The branch timings were from 8.30 am to 11 am (business hours) and till 12.30 pm (Office hours) and again in the evening from 4.30 pm to 6 pm (business hours) and till 7 p.m.   The branch was located in three buildings - a) Deposit Section in the present place b) Current account, advances, DDs, Bills and other matters in the first floor of Raghavendra Complex which was located after the 10th Main Road (presently NRI branch is situated in half-portion of that first floor) and c) Locker and Government Business such as collection of water and electricity bills, etc. in III Block where presently Mahila Banking branch is located.  In all the three places cash transactions were taking place and cash was maintained in each building and the same had to be amalgamated in the Main waste in Deposit Section as also in the Cash Abstract register in the evening (night!).
The Chief Manager was sitting at Raghavendra Complex and BGR had his cabin in the main building and he was to manage the Deposit Section.  In Deposits Section there was one Sub-Manager who even though sincere was not capable enough to handle staff/customers.  He was, however, supposed to be a seasoned stockmarket operator and used to go out at least twice a day saying he had some personal work! There were two accountants, four Special Assistants, 20 clerks and 3 sub-staff.  In the Raghavendra Complex, there were two Sub-Managers, three officers, one special assistant, 8 clerks and 2 sub-staff.  In the III Block there was one Officer, two clerks and a peon.   
The Deposits were around Rs30 crores and advances about Rs50 crores mainly to Indo-American Hybrid Seeds group and some SSI units at the Industrial Estate in 6th Block Jayanagar.  The deposit target was fixed at Rs36 Crores for the year-end and Rs.32 crores as average for March 1992. 
The Complexity of the (Shopping) ‘Complex’ Branch
BGR made a thorough study of the Deposit Section for which he was in-charge. Shopping Complex being located at the heart of Jayanagar had a huge depositors’ base. Most of the customers would rush to the Senior Manager’s cabin with all sundry requests/complaints. Since the Chief Manager was sitting in the Raghavendra Complex he was mostly uninvolved in the Deposit Section affairs. As already mentioned BGR could get hardly any assistance from his Sub-Manager as he was more into stock markets!  The complexities were as under:
As the business hours used to start at 8.30 am, staff members including Officers – particularly ladies - used to come just around opening hours.  The first task of removing cash from double lock and handing over to two cashiers (third cashier was for only receipts) and ascertaining whether cashiers were present took sizable time.   In the morning hours, there used to be rush in the counter but manageable.  However, in the evening between 4.30 pm to 6 pm, it used to be unmanageable – particularly till 10th of the month.  Large number of PSU employees from HAL, ITI, HMT and others having SB accounts would get down at Jayanagar by their Company buses and come to the bank between 5.15 pm to 6 pm and used to crowd the whole branch.   Cash cheques were passed by the three supervisors and the peon used to pick up 20-30 passed cheques at a stretch and put the same in the cashier’s cabin.  Sometimes, cashiers used to have, at a time, 50 to 100 cheques to be paid and it used to be herculean task for the cashier to call the token number and make payment as per token number order in the large crowd.  If there was any deviation in the serial order some of the concerned depositors used to shout/complain.   BGR’s cabin used to be always busy with depositors seeking TODs, against CCs enquires or complaints, etc. 
With all the above state of affairs of the branch, evening cash closing was a herculean task.  Even though the business hours would close at 6 pm, the branch could clear all the customers who entered the branch before that time, not earlier than 6.30 pm.  Then the SB Section has to prepare dummy cash slip which somehow they would do with great hurry (many times with mistake) and leave the branch.  By the time the cashiers enter the cash cheques and arrive at their totals most of SB counter staff would leave the branch.  Very rarely the dummy used to tally.  Then the search would go on and on. But it was not an easy task to find as there were 90 ledgers with 9 control books of nine clerks amalgamated to another consolidated book.  Most of the time the efforts yielded results and the figures tallied with the cashiers’ total.  But at least 3-4 days in a month, whatever the efforts, it would become impossible in the night to trace and there were days when cash was kept inside the strong room without tallying the dummy and next day with fresh efforts used to tally.  Moreover, main cashier had to get the cash waste of other two buildings and amalgamate in his cash abstract.  The hurry and tension in closing the cash always used to be there.  Sometimes, there used to be shortage of cash and by the time it was located/identified it used to be late and if the cashier happened to be a lady and her house was far away, one of the officers had to drop her to her home.
Among the four Special Assistants, three were aged and were to retire within 1-2 years.  Some of them having worked for long in Administrative Units were incapable of supervising the ledgers and attending to customers.  Moreover they were physically not so fit.   One of them used to lose his temper either with staff or customers on a couple of occasions daily and others had to go to him to cool down.  In the SB counter, the supervisors had to move and also check in standing position during rush hours.  The quality of supervision was wanting.  One Special Assistant was assigned the exclusive work of combining all the three building waste sheets and daily tallying of SB and preparing the Day Book slips.  Sometimes, there used to be arrears of tallying for 4-8 days.   There used to be many mistakes in the waste sheets too.  Another Lady Accountant in the SB Department was always complaining about her difficulties in standing and checking and expressing that her health was not good enough to shoulder the workload of this branch. The Accountant at Term Deposit Department would sign whatever comes to her table first and then would casually looks at the contents!  Fortunately, the clerk allotted there was good and the damages were less, yet the balancing used to be a casualty. 
There were differences in the SB balancing.  The ledgers were in bad shape.  Part of the clerical staff was very good but supervisory and Officer Staff were not good enough to cope up with the work.  Moreover, most of the staff members/officers had a grouse about not converting the branch to single shift when all other branches were converted to single shift.  They also used to blame the mess in the branch because of the evening shift.   In most of the days in the evening within 1&½ hours business time, the transactions used to be more than morning session of 2 ½ hours causing difficulty in completing the work neatly and correctly. Clerks were also finding it extremely difficult to take out monthly SB balancings in the night as posting of slips, preparing dummy slips and preparing control register used to consume time till 7 pm. Lady staff members used to be specially inconvenienced as they were able to reach home after 7.30 to 8 pm and were not able to devote time to their family as in the morning they had to start by 8 am even before they could send their children to school. Even the efficient workers used to be disillusioned and were not able to put their best efforts.  For Officers, even though there was gap of 4 hours in Office hours, after taking lunch some dedicated officers  used to be there during lunch hours to attend unending pending work resulting in their working from 8 am to 8 pm invariably which was again a dissuading factor.  Moreover, as Monday was a holiday for the branch, a couple of Officers had to come to the branch to attend to inward clearing and return the dishonoured cheques.
The Gandhian and his Dharna Threat!
As the recruitment was stopped long ago and the banks were thinking of computerizing the working, additional staff was not being provided to meet the increasing business. BGR was told that the earlier branch-in-charge had tried to convert the branch to single shift.  But Shri S R Prabhu the GM and a great Gandhian had insisted that the branch should retain the shift system from the point of rendering best customer service.  By the time BGR went to that branch, he had already retired from the service.  However, BGR was told that in case the branch stopped the evening session, the Gandhian had threatened to sit in a Dharna in front of the branch!  The Executives at HO were not ready to face the wrath of the Gandhian (even after his retirement) by making changes even though some were for change.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
11th November 2012

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