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