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!
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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