Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Looking Back – 54

The Woman behind the Successful BGR – Arundhathi Rao
Behind every successful man there is a woman. So goes the saying. Some people call it a cliché. But at least in case of BGR it turned out to be true. It was his life-partner Arundhathi Rao who stood for him through thick and thin. This writer feels that the biography of BGR will be incomplete without a sketch of her personality at least in brief. He is making this exception even though he had stated earlier that the write-up will be restricted to BGR’s career.
Arundhathi Rao hails from Ujre near Dharmasthala in the Dakshina Kannada district. In those days (sixties) there were no colleges in the area even though presently there is even a deemed University. After SSLC, she had to move to Mysore. She was a brilliant student throughout. She did her PUC at Mysore, Intermediate at Bombay and graduation (B.Sc.) in Goa. She had studied Hindi and Sanskrit as well. After graduation, she worked as a High School teacher in Dharmasthala for two years till her marriage to BGR in 1970.
Arundhathi madam is disciplined, well organised, focused, and clear in her thoughts and decisions. She had very few friends. By nature she is not a person to seek friendship. But quite interestingly many others sought her friendship on their own. At Bombay, the daughter of the Principal of her college became her only friend and she had the privilege of taking lunch along with the Principal and her daughter.  She never indulged in show-offs. Apart from being a mother, she was a good teacher for the two sons and brought them up very well.  She has led a systematic and orderly life.  She is a good house maker.  She does all her work without reminding. She is a great cook and is an expert in preparing South Kanara delicacies including Pathrode and Mangalore Bajji.  Reading has been her main hobby from younger days including reading of good English novels. She was always supportive of BGR.  Even during the difficult days of Emergency when BGR faced two charges sheets, she used to console him and tell him that if he had not done anything wrong, he need not worry and he was sure to get justice later.
Arundhathi madam again got an opportunity to teach at Indore when BGR was posted there. She enjoyed the teaching job, which gave her lot of confidence and enhanced her dignity further. The BGR couple maintained good neighbourly relations wherever they lived. They are also very good hosts. This writer can vouch for that as he and his wife have been the beneficiaries since long. As a part of BGR’s biography, this writer also conducted an interview of the madam. He found her quite outspoken and straight forward in her answers – a reflection of her attitude and personality.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q: The Bank Officer’s post was a coveted job in the seventies and in fact banking industry was referred to as a high-wage island in those days. What was your reaction when your marriage proposal with BGR came up?  Did you feel lucky?
A: I did not have any knowledge of banking industry.  But my father knew that Canara Bank has expansion plans and the career in the bank is good.  Besides, my father acknowledged the fact that BGR has come up by his own hard work and was a self made man.
Q: Did BGR tell you that he was a staunch Unionist even after his promotion as an Officer? Did you expect any problems in his career as a consequence?
A: After marriage he did tell me that he skipped his promotion test the previous year.  
After six months of our marriage he was promoted and transferred to Shimoga.  I didn’t foresee any problem.
Q: BGR has been a workaholic. As a bank Officer/Manager/Senior Manager he had huge responsibilities. He was always under work pressure. How did it affect his family responsibilities! Did you feel over burdened at home?
A: Though he was workaholic, when he was at home he was always pleasant and helpful.  Even the neighbours praised him as a very good person.
Q: BGR faced tough time during the emergency period. He was served two charge sheets. His promotion was held up. His juniors moved ahead of him. You firmly stood by him in those days. What was your state of mind in those days? Can you look back?
A: During those days he was a bit depressed.  I felt things would not remain the same and it will pass. He had the goodwill and best wishes of his dear friends.  His juniors moving ahead was not the concern as he stood for some trade union rights and principles.
Q: I know BGR was never cash surplus. He helped many deserving people financially. But he also lived a good life. He built a very good house in the prestigious Jayanagar locality. What do you say about his financial planning?
A: Somehow he felt when the need for finance came up; it would take care on its own.  He didn’t care much for the savings.  The good house, we own, is really a great satisfaction -   the precious reward to live after retirement, after, rather a strenuous working life of 42 years.
Q: BGR has been a restless person and hard working. It affected his health particularly when he was SM at Shopping Complex Branch. How did you manage the situation?
A: The authorities would never take care of you and you have to take care of yourself.  It was a period of concern as his health was affected.  His friends suggested he should not take the branch’s burden on himself.  He could not take it so easy.
Q: BGR mentored a whole lot of youngsters particularly in Shimoga branch. What do you say about this quality of his?
A: I am very happy the youngsters he mentored in Shimoga branch have all come up very well and glad that they all remember him and acknowledge his qualities as a mentor.
Q: You always had guests at home (BGR’s relatives, friends, colleagues and others). How could you handle them?
A: Whenever we had guests, he would bring 2-3 bags full of vegetables and fruits and never bothered about other things.
Q: BGR could have retired at least as a Scale-IV Executive. He fully deserved the promotion. But circumstances were otherwise. What do you say in the matter?
A: I don’t really understand this thing about promotions.  It is the quality of life that matters to me.
Q: In banking service, transfer from one place to another is unavoidable.  As a house-wife, how did you feel living in different places?
A: Travelling to different places is an experience in itself.  You get to know the different cultures of different places.  We had good neigbourhood in Shimoga, Bombay, Indore and also Bangalore.
Q: BGR had planned post retirement perfectly. Unlike many others he never wanted to work gainfully. He chose to engage in social service. Did you support it wholeheartedly?
A: I have never been contradictory in his decisions.  I enjoyed simple pleasures like gardening, reading a good book, a morning walk and a useful conversation in day to day life.
Q: Both of your sons are well settled with their families. How much credit you want to give to BGR?
A: We are happy and contented that our two sons have settled well.  Both Adarsh and Anil consider their father as their hero and role-model. I am thankful to you for having recorded the eventful career of BGR.  I am sure the next generation will know the banking system of pre-computerization era - if they happen to go through it.
This was the first time the writer was attempting an interview playing the role of a journalist. He felt satisfied that he did a fairly good job in eliciting interesting answers from an intellectual lady. However, it is for the readers to judge. But he is 100 percent sure of one thing. BGR is lucky!
----- (To be continued) ------
A V Krishnamurthy
5th December 2012
The final episode (No.55) will appear on BGR’s 72nd birthday on 12th December 2012

1 comment:

Narain said...

BGR is lucky! Tathasthu!! The lady is a perfect foil for the lovable great gentleman!!!