Monday, February 25, 2013

I Don’t Know, Son! - 61

The Karnataka MLAs in a Demat Format!
Son: There was a time when Haryana was called the State of Aaya Rams and Gaya Rams, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: That was because the State was recording highest number of defections of MLAs, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: Now Karnataka seems to have snatched the title away from the North Indian State, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: As the elections to the State Assembly are fast approaching, the current MLAs, especially the Independent ones, have started the jumping games, dad.
Father: Disgusting. Go on, son.
Son: The Independent MLAs had fetched fantastic prices after the last election with money bags of Mine Kings of Bellary, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: This time there is a suggestion that the independent MLAs may be converted to Demat form immediately after the election, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The idea is that they may be traded freely by the parties – BJP, Congress, JDS and KJP, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Once the Government is formed, these Demat accounts (MLAs) may be converted back into physical form so that they may be nominated as Ministers or heads of some State Government Corporations, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Manmohan’s Wry Sense of Humour!
Son: The Government of Karnataka has not been happy the way the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh handled the issue of Cauvery water in the current season, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: The complaint was that he was giving a step-motherly treatment to Karnataka, dad.
Son: The PM has now seized an opportunity to treat Karnataka at par with Tamil Nadu even though Karnataka has been allocated a lower share of 270 million cusecs against 419 million cusecs allocated to Tamil Nadu as per the award, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: It is reported that the expenses of the proposed Cauvery Board will be shared in the ratio of 40:40:15:5 between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The PM feels at least on this one aspect, Karnataka cannot ascribe him a step-motherly treatment as it got the same share as Tamil Nadu, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Professor Arrested for spreading itching Powder!
Son: As students in our school days we used to spray ink on the seats of bench mates, to create nuisance, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Now a ToI report says that Vadodara’s MS University law faculty head Ghanashyam Solanki has been arrested for allegedly smearing itching powder on the chair of Vice Chancellor (VC) during a national seminar, dad!
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: The VC was forced to leave the seminar midway, dad.
Father: Unfortunate. Go on, son.
Son: Solanki is said to have confessed his act, but claimed that his target was not VC but another Professor S S Bhattacharya, dad!
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son:  Solanki had a grouse that his application for promotion had been rejected recently, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Now the Registrar of the University is itching to teach a lesson to the cranky professor, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
A closed Police Station in Sweden!
Son: The criminals in Europe are said to be a confused lot now-a-days, dad.
Father: How come? Go on, son.
Son: I had mentioned about a bank robber in Austria (refer series no.55) who had been asked to keep the cash he had stolen from a bank, dad!
Father: True. Now what? Go on, son.
Son: A fugitive in Sweden sought for murder who wanted to surrender was turned back by his hometown police station, saying that the station was closed, dad!
Father:  Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: The suspected criminal was on the run for 15 months before he decided to surrender, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: According to The Local, the fugitive arrived at the Malmo police station at 6 pm and rang the bell. But he was told that the station was closed, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: A totally confused criminal found the situation bizarre and shouted back over the intercom, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Finally he was directed to another police station and was much relieved when he was placed under arrest there, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
A V Krishnamurthy
25th February 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Days West - Episode-8

By the time I completed my assignment at the A R Street branch, a decision had been taken by the department to form regular teams under the leadership of different managers. Till then there were no fixed teams and we used to visit branches with different officers every time. Also fresh assignment was given only after the earlier assignment was completed. But it was now decided that each team will have three officers headed by a manager. Each manager would be allotted three to four branches at a time to be inspected at his discretion by distributing the programme among the team including himself. I was told that the team formation was not a smooth affair. There was a great demand for certain senior officers as the new managers wanted to get trained through their association. There was an equal resistance against allotment of certain ‘difficult officers’ in the team. 

By a stroke of luck I was placed in the best team. It was a general opinion and I was congratulated by the people known to me. Our team Manager was Mr. Surendra Kamath who was the only manager who had earlier worked in Bombay and had joined the department on promotion. We had the best senior officer in our team. It was none other than Selvaraj, about whom I have written in my previous episode. Other than me there was Hegde who had worked with me in Girgaum during my first assignment in Bombay. Kamath was known as a thorough gentleman and came from a very good background including his professional career.

Kamath was particular about taking Selvaraj with him. He was given a programme to inspect five branches including two outstation branches. He took the other two officers with him to cover a big local branch. One of the branches given to him was our Versova branch. It was comparatively a new branch with a very small advances portfolio. I got an opportunity to inspect the branch independently. Besides I could reach the branch from my quarters hardly within half an hour. I had to travel by train up to Andheri (second station from Santacruz). The journey was in the opposite direction of peak hour traffic and hence was very comfortable. From there I could reach Versova by bus within ten minutes. In those days all the suburban branches used to work in two shifts (morning and evening). But inspecting officers were permitted to work in normal office timings of 10 am to 5 pm. Branches used to accommodate us by asking one or two employees to stay with us during the long break.

The branch was headed by a Manager called Mallya, who had kept everything in a perfect manner ably assisted by a team of dedicated employees. He ensured that the defects pointed out were rectified immediately. In those days all the suburban branches in Bombay used to achieve steady growth in deposits with absolutely no necessity to go out for canvassing. The ‘walk-in’ deposits were more than sufficient to meet the targets effortlessly. Versova branch was not an exception. Besides, the area was just taking off as a residential area. Later the area developed to such a prime locality that the top film stars chose it for their residence next only to Juhu. Our bank had purchased a big apartment to be used as bank quarters. The branch was located in the ground floor of the apartments.

The Versova inspection was a highly satisfying experience for me. I could prove that I was capable of completing a branch inspection independently within a short period of joining the department. But things were to turn very bad for me by the time I completed the assignment.  I was hoping against hope that I would not be asked to take up outstation inspection. While Hegde was a bachelor at that time, Kamath and Selvaraj had well-entrenched families in Bombay. There was absolutely no problem for them to proceed out of Bombay. But it was a big problem for me. I was just married and my wife was new to Bombay. It was very difficult for me to leave her alone in the quarters.

But Kamath decided that the two outstation branches were to be covered by Selvaraj and me. I had no alternative than to leave my wife alone in Bombay for nearly two months. Both the branches were in MP. We had to first inspect Saugor (Sagar) branch and then proceed to the branch at the legendary city of Ujjain.

I should place it on record that I was really fortunate to have the company of a senior officer like Selvaraj. He was a Chartered Accountant having gained vast experience in inspection - especially in the matter of corporate advances. While he was meticulous in covering all aspects needing attention of an inspector, he had a highly balanced and pragmatic approach to the problems faced by the branches. What was more important, he was highly organised and at the same time very understanding in dealing with a ‘novice’ like me. He was equally meticulous in handling all his personal matters.

For me it was the first long distance journey by train towards the Vindhyas. Selvaraj handled everything and kept a record of all expenditure and for me it was a question of sharing half the cost in the end. In those days bank was paying a meager daily allowance of Rs20 per day with which we had to manage our lodging, boarding and all other expenses. Selvaraj used to manage the finances like an intelligent housewife. He treated me like a younger brother accompanying the elder. In all it was a huge ‘learning experience’ for me.

The Sagar branch was headed by a Maharashtrian Manager called Garpure. It was the first posting for him out of Maharashtra as a Manager. He was ‘all at sea’ in the branch and was just counting his days to go back. The earlier Manager had made a mess of the branch and Garpure had ‘maintained’ the mess without his own contribution. As the earlier Manager had been charge sheeted, Garpure wanted to just save his skin!

Our main problem in Sagar was to get proper food. There were absolutely no good hotels even though Sagar was a district headquarters. The branch had a good Accountant by name Parshi. Both Selvaraj and I thought that he must be a Muslim or a Parsi (Zoroastrian). Imagine our surprise when we came to know that he was a Brahmin from Andhra with Kannada as his mother tongue! He gave us good company. He agreed that there was no proper food available for us. In fact we had to manage without any lunch in the afternoon. Parshi introduced us to a north Indian hotel where they were serving good rotis for dinner. But the problem was the dirty wash basin! Parshi had warned us that whatever good food we enjoyed and ate wood be out (!) when we went to wash basin in the end. How true he was! We were forced to take a mug of water and go out for washing after food. There was absolutely no scope for eating rice. It was available, but in a half-baked condition. It appears nobody taught them how to cook rice correctly.

Parshi invited us to his house one evening for dinner. You can imagine our excitement. We were just desperate to eat proper home-food at least once. We were not disappointed. His wife served us excellent south Indian food. We really enjoyed it thoroughly. But Parshi had a problem thereafter. When he was leaving the office in the evening daily, we started looking at him in anticipation! Our desperation to eat good food, at least once in a way, was so visible on our faces! But Parshi was helpless. He had his own limitations after all!

When I took up the Nitya Nidhi accounts (similar to Pigmy accounts in Syndicate Bank) for inspection, the Manager Garpure told me that the scheme had been stopped in the branch as the agent had resigned one year back. He thought I would not cover it by telling so. But I immediately asked him whether he had followed the procedure by giving a newspaper advertisement, approval from Divisional Office, etc.  He had overlooked all the procedural aspects by simply taking a resignation letter from the agent. He also revealed a shocking information to me and asked my advice. As per him the agent had only stopped remitting the money to the bank after tendering resignation. But he had continued the collections from the depositors, who were not aware that he was no more representing the bank!

I advised Garpure to immediately report the matter to the Divisional Office. I also told him to give a publication in a local newspaper that the agent’s service had been terminated and he was no more authorised to collect money for the bank. It was also important to notify all the existing depositors that they should confirm the balances and not to hand over any money to the agent as his services had been terminated.

Garpure had committed another blunder. Sagar was well-known for Tendu leaves (patta) business. Madhya Pradesh (MP) was the biggest producer of Tendu leaves in India. These leaves are used in the manufacture of bidis. These leaves are ideal for bidi rolling on account of their agreeable flavour, flexibility, resistance to decay and capacity to retain fires. Patel & Co, who were the biggest traders in Tendu leaves, were the major clients of the bank with large credit limits. The party had a key-shut cash credit facility under which the stock was to be held under bank’s lock & key. The stock was to be released only on payment by keeping the godown in bank’s possession. Garpure was totally in awe of the party (it was a fact that Patels were a highly prestigious and aristocratic family in Sagar). Even though he had used the bank lock for the godown, he had made his job simple by conveniently handing over the keys to the party! He was also afraid of taking us to the godown for inspection as he thought that Patels may take it as an insult. The case was handled efficiently by Selvaraj.

We could not enjoy our stay in Sagar on account of non-availability of proper food. Besides we were under continuous pressure of work on account of the inexperienced and inefficient Manager. But we were aware that Sagar was a beautiful city otherwise. I am giving below a brief account of the city in the interest of the readers:

Called the city of lakes, Sagar is a city in a picturesque situation on a spur of the Vindhya Range and 1758 ft. above sea-level. It is a handsomely built university-town with great natural beauty and cultural heritage. Hindi is the official language of the city, while Bundelkhandi is the local dialect. Sagar is well known for its contribution to Hindi literature, and hosts a number of writers, poets and other artists leading in their respective fields. Sagar has its own hospital and medical research centre called Bhagyoday Tirth, as well as an army cantonment unit.

Sagar owes its importance to having been made the capital of the Maratha governor Govind Pant Bundele who established himself here in 1735. By a treaty concluded with the Maratha Peshwa in 1818, at the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Maratha War, the greater part of the present district was made over to the British. The town became the capital of the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories, and then attached to the North-Western Provinces. The Saugor and Nerbudda Territories later became part of the Central Provinces (afterwards Central Provinces and Berar) and Sagar District was added to Jabalpur Division. During the Revolt of 1857 the whole district was in the possession of the rebels, except the town and fort, in which the British were shut up for eight months, until relieved by Sir Hugh Rose. The rebels were totally defeated and British rule restored by March, 1858. In the early 20th century Sagar had a British cantonment, which contained a battery of artillery, a detachment of a European regiment, a native cavalry and a native infantry regiment. Upon India's independence in 1947, the former Central Provinces and Berar became the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

University of Sagar was the first university to be established in Madhya Pradesh, and the 18th university of India. A precursor to this university was established well before Indian independence. Situated on top of hills overlooking the town it has an extensively large UTD Campus. Sagar also has a Government Engineering College and its very own Sagar Medical College to train doctors and nurses.
------- (To be continued)------
A V Krishnamurthy
10th June, 2009

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Days West - Episode-7

The next morning saw both of us at the currency chest located at Mangalore Street in Fort area, very close to our circle office. There were already two other officers doing the inspection and we joined them. In due course some more officers also joined and it almost became a crowd. But it was a nice opportunity for me to know my other colleagues. I was the only new officer there and the senior officers introduced themselves to me. Some of the officers did another favour. They introduced to me all the other officers in absentia by describing their personalities in their own way. One of the officers absent was Albert Touro, whom I met later. Touro retired later as the CMD of Vijaya Bank.

When those officers came to know that I was staying in Santa Cruz Quarters, they asked me whether I had met an inspector by name Manian, who was also staying there. I replied them in the negative.  One of the officers summarized the personality of Manian in his own way. He told me, ‘you can be sure that he will not help you if you are in need; but you can also be sure that he will harm you at the earliest opportunity’. Indeed it was an appropriate description of the officer as I came to experience later. All the officers were also quite clear about the best officer in the department, he was one Mr.Selvaraj. They were cent percent correct as I could confirm myself later.

Some of the officers had just got married and were in the process of setting up their families just like me. In those days (the year 1977), the purchase of furniture was the first and foremost in the agenda while setting up a family. There was no way one could purchase all the items at a time for want of that much money. Almost all officers were committed to remit a significant portion of their earnings to their parents/family. This being the case, the disposable income out of the take-home pay used to be very meager. The order of priority was the fans, teapoy, cot, almirah, sofa set, mixer and fridge/television set.

While sharing their experiences, one of the officers told an interesting event. Our Malad quarters had a number such officers. Each officer was using his own ingenious methods to set up the family at the earliest. One of the officers thought that purchasing second hand items was the best way to use his meager resources. His wife had her own reservations in the matter. By coincidence, he came to know that a particular officer was vacating his quarters on transfer and was looking to dispose certain furniture. One of the items on sale was a double cot. Our friend was in a hurry to purchase the same as he was fed up with sleeping on the floor with his beloved partner! He started the negotiations. He was told by the seller that he had purchased the cot for Rs400 and was offering it to him at a bargain price of Rs300 after using it only for one year. The item was of course in a good condition. Our friend made a tough bargain and brought down the price to Rs250. The seller agreed with lot of reluctance and made it appear that he was losing heavily in the bargain. The transaction went through and the seller left Bombay immediately thereafter.

Our friend and his wife enjoyed sleeping on the cot for sometime; but not for long. One particular day, our friend had an occasion to visit a furniture shop near the Malad Railway station along with his colleague. While the colleague was making his purchases, our friend found a cot there which was similar to the one he had purchased for a bargain price. He just enquired its price. He was told that it carried a price of Rs200 and with a discount of ten percent he could get it for Rs180! When the shopkeeper came to know that he had purchased a similar second hand cot for Rs250, he merely exclaimed, “Voh tho dukandaar kaa baap nikla!” He also told our friend that the particular officer had purchased the item from his shop earlier at a cost of Rs150!

Our friend was shell-shocked to know that he had been cheated by one of his colleagues, who had since moved out of Bombay. He found it difficult to swallow, as an amount of Rs50-100 made a vast difference in those days. But he committed another blunder. He told his wife that he had been cheated. The result was - he was made to sleep on the cot alone! His wife moved back to the floor leaving him alone on the cot to repent for his superior bargaining powers! He had really not ‘bargained’ for this type of boycott from his beloved wife! Suffice to say his deal with the ‘dukandar kaa baap’ had turned out to be a very costly affair.

The inspection of currency chest is the most boring job one can come across in our department. Actually it is a question of counting from 1 to 100. But the counting of soiled notes is indeed a punishment, comparable to the imposition work used to be given by our teachers in schools. Our Bank had two currency chests in Bombay, the other one being located in Sion-Koliwada. Currency chest is actually a set up where the bank holds huge currency stock on trust for Reserve Bank. Each chest has a certain capacity to hold cash depending on the denominations. The bank takes out the currency daily to meet the requirement of cash by its various branches in the city. It will also collect surplus cash from the branches and puts it back in the chest daily. At the end of the day it sends a statement to the RBI furnishing the details of the withdrawals and deposits. The net amount is either credited or debited to the bank’s account by the RBI depending on whether the deposits exceeded the withdrawals or vice versa. The currency held in the chest is only a stock and represents the amount which is not in circulation. As per RBI rules, the physical stock is to be verified every month by the bank inspectors on a random basis (fixed percentages) and certified to the effect. The bank is required to sort the currency into issuables and soiled notes. Only issuable notes and fresh notes received from RBI are remitted to the branches. RBI would from time to time lift the soiled notes for destruction at its ‘crematorium’. Also it will arrange to lift the surplus stock or recoup the empty bins as the case may be.

My next assignment was at our Abdul Rehman Street (A R Street) branch. The branch was again at a walkable distance from New Marine Lines station. It was located very close to the well known Crawford Market. This time I went with another senior officer by name Jayaraman. He was a Chartered Accountant by qualification. He was highly knowledgeable; but somehow I felt he was not giving his full output. He was a cool guy and was quite in contrast with our ‘stormy petrel’ Viswanathan. He taught me a good number of new things. He found me over-focused on my work, and used to frequently advise me not to take the work too seriously. Overall, I liked his company.

A R Street branch was headed by an upright Senior Manager by name K R Nayak. He was like an army commander both in his personality and in discharging his duties. He used to be so upright that the people working in the Circle Office were simply scared of him. He was in total control of the very large branch with about 100 staff on board. I would even say that I never came across such an upright personality in my auditing experience of more than 60 branches.

The first time he called me to his cabin, I should admit that I was also scared. I had been entrusted with the coverage of the entire bills department. This department was located in an adjacent building under the charge of a senior officer by name Shetty. Shetty was an efficient officer and was under the impression that I would hand him over a clean report. But I could find out several irregularities mainly by way of deviations in sanction terms. When I handed him an interim report, he was shocked and tried to convince me offhand. But he found me unrelenting. He took the report to Mr. Nayak complaining about my observations. Nayak summoned me to his cabin immediately.

I was already aware of the stern handling nature of Mr. Nayak. I had my own apprehensions in facing him for the first time. But I was equally sure that my observations were quite appropriate and needed rectification. Mr. Nayak asked me to take a seat along with Shetty. He went through the report word by word. He asked Shetty whether what I had observed in the report was true or not. He had to admit them to be true. His excuse for the same was - such deviations existed since many years and nobody had objected so far. Also all the bills were paid in time and there were no overdues.

Mr. Nayak asked me what type of rectification I was expecting for my observations. I told him that the branch needed sanctions for such deviations and also approvals for having deviated so far from the sanction terms. He sent away Shetty and summoned his steno to the cabin. He went on dictating letters addressed to circle office seeking the necessary sanctions and approvals case by case. He also contacted the Circle Office over phone and told them bluntly that he required the sanctions urgently. He then asked me whether I was satisfied with his actions.  I was really stunned by the way he handled the things in my presence. I simply said that I was fully satisfied. Within a few days Nayak produced all the approvals received from the circle office. He also told me to give him my observations daily to enable him to set them right. He did set right all my observations by the time I handed over my final report. It was a great satisfying experience for me. I found my work worthwhile and fully recognized by a stalwart like Mr. Nayak. He had not disputed any of my observations in the end.
------- (To be continued) -------
A V Krishnamurthy
1st June, 2009

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Don’t Know, Son! - 60

The Costly Beer break!
Son: It is reported that a man who broke out of the police station cell in Pennsylvania was caught within minutes, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The man had been arrested on an assault charge and his handcuffs had just been removed after placing him in cell, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: He is said to have ran away after knocking the cell door off its hinges, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: But his temptation to have a beer at a bar within a short distance from the Station, proved his undoing, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The police caught him just as he was enjoying his first sip, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Wake Up Judge!
Son: A sleeping Russian judge is said to have sentenced the defendant for five years after waking up, dad.
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: The video footage shot during the trial showed the judge Yevgeny Makhno slumped in his chair during the defence advocate’s speech, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: But the judge woke up soon after and announced a five-year hard labour sentence to the defendant – a businessman accused of fraud, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Mamata’s beating, whipping and slapping controversies!
Son: The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee appears to be in an upbeat (?) mood nowadays, dad.
Father: Go on, Son.
Son: She had previously denied having stated that she would ‘beat’ the Prime Minister on the issue of fertilizer price hike, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: Just last week she had publicly shouted at the guards that they ought to be ‘whipped’ for making her wait for the car, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Last Sunday she did the ultimate, dad.
Father: Like what? Go on, son.
Son: She told the journalists that she would ‘slap’ them unless they behaved properly, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Security Guards or Nuts!
Son: The Bangalore Police have solved a murder case and arrested the killers in a jiffy, dad.
Father: Fantastic. Go on, son.
Son: A law firm owner was found dead in his flat in Mahadevapura on 8th February. The police team found two guards of the building missing, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Both the guards were from Assam and Police suspected that they must be on their way to Assam by train, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: A Police team led by Inspector Nagaraj took a flight to Kolkata and waited at the Railway station for their arrival, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The two nuts got down in Kolkata to catch another train to Assam, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The Police team received them with pleasure promptly and brought them back to Bangalore, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The nuts told the Police that they killed the law firm owner thinking that he had a lot of cash in his apartment, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: But they found virtually nothing as he used only plastic money, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The two admitted that they lost on both counts, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: They made no money and were caught by the Police in an operation that was as good as a cakewalk, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
A V Krishnamurthy
11th February 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Days West - Episode- 6

The situation in our department had undergone a major change by the time I came back with my family after my marriage. Till that time the department had only two Managers, one of whom sat in the office for follow up of reports and looking after the administration matters. The other Manager used to go out for branch inspection as team leader. As there were a number of teams, all other teams were headed by the senior officers only. These senior officers had a good clout in the department as they had wide experience visiting branches with huge volumes of business.  There were also two senior officers in the office for follow up purposes. These two had vast field experience having covered all types of branches. Their job needed some special skills as they had to deal with senior managers of large branches who often disputed the observations of the inspectors. Sometimes the issues involved used to be very sensitive. The two were handling the work excellently in a professional manner.

One of the new Managers who had joined the department recently had formed a coterie with another senior officer about whom I have made a reference in my first day at office. These two did not like the clout of the senior officers in the department even a little bit. They wanted to show these officers ‘their place’! They had already taken the DM and another manager into their confidence. As a first step in their ‘operation clean up’ they shunted out the two senior officers at the office to branch inspection. They were looking at some innovative ways to cut the other senior officers to their size. They were not to wait for long. The bank management itself came out with a policy, which helped the coterie in achieving their motive.

The bank decided all of a sudden that each team of three officers in Bombay would be headed by a Manager. With this in view it posted about nine Managers to the department. Most of them arrived from Bangalore, while one Manager was posted from a local branch on promotion. In order to train these Managers, they were asked to take a senior officer with them for branch inspection. The bank wanted to form separate teams once the Managers were trained. It all boiled down to one thing at the end. The senior officers were no more free birds. They had to work under the supervision of a Manager.

I was asked to report for inspection at our Kakad Market (Kalba Devi) branch. This branch was at a walking distance from New Marine Lines Railway station of Western Railway. A Manager (newly posted) called D’Souza had already started the inspection along with a senior officer by name Viswanathan. While D’Souza was the most inefficient Manager I ever saw in my career, Viswanathan was a firebrand officer born and brought up in Delhi. It was a strange combination. The management had thought that D’Souza would discipline Viswanathan and at the same time he would get trained by him! It was a weird thinking and in fact neither thing happened. While D’Souza was least interested in learning work (he was under the wrong impression that he knew everything without knowing anything!), Viswanathan was least interested in teaching anything to him. They developed a sort of mutual animosity, which ended only at the end of our programme. As regards the disciplining aspect, I would only say, D’Souza found himself at the receiving end!

As for me, I found an excellent company in Viswanathan. Having been brought up in Delhi, he was very fluent in Hindi and I could pick up the same from him. I also liked his daredevil attitude. Besides I hated the casual nature and the inefficient ways of D’Souza. He had started the work of covering the cash credit accounts and was showing no progress as he got stuck there. The reason was simple; he was spending most of his time in talking to the manager and other officers on subjects least connected with our official work. Actually he was expected to take up some other work after completing the cash credit accounts. But it was not to be. We two completed all other work and one fine morning Viswanathan told D’Souza that we two were reporting back at the department as we had no other work to do.

D’Souza was in a state of shock. He was supposed to complete the work along with his team. Besides, as he was new to the department, he was unsure about giving finishing touches to the final report.  He wanted us to stay with him till he completed his work. But Viswanathan would have none of it. He rang up the department and told them to assign a new programme to us. When they asked D’Souza about the state of affairs, he told them that there was some other work for us to complete. Meanwhile he had found out that ‘Current Accounts’ had not been covered. The department advised Viswanathan to complete the same and get back. They thought that we would be there for another three-four days. But they had underestimated Viswanathan. He was like a genie, which could complete any job within no time! He entrusted me with reviewing the account opening forms and took over the other aspects. By the end of the day I had finished my portion and Viswanathan told that he had covered all other aspects! We told ‘good-bye’ to D’Souza and landed at the department in the evening asking for a new programme! Both D’Silva and the department were dumbfounded. We were asked to join inspection of Currency Chest on the next day.

I should mention here that Kalbadevi area in Bombay is well known for its textile market. The famous Mangal Das market was supposed to be the biggest textile market in Asia at that time. Our Kalbadevi branch was located very close to the market. Even a trader occupying an area equivalent to a small pan shop used to have huge turnover running into lakhs of rupees. Most of them used to be Gujarati businessmen. It was very difficult to even walk in the road as it used to be so overcrowded. Besides a number of push carts carrying textile garments used to move on the road.

Our bank had a very good business. Many of the traders would have huge cash credit limits, but used to maintain huge credit balances in the accounts most of the time. The business grew so big that the bank decided to carve out another branch to divert business. It was the Kakad market branch in a nearby location. Within a short time this branch also secured so much business that it grew as big as the original branch. As most of the accounts were of the traders and hardly there were any industrial accounts, there was no value addition for me during the course of inspection.

I wish to end this episode by quoting an incident in which our department miserably failed in its efforts to discipline our Viswanathan. Our bank had just introduced a monthly diary for inspectors. We had to submit the same in the first week of succeeding month showing the names of the branch/office we were on duty each day. While preparing the same in one particular month, Viswanathan had shown a branch name on a Sunday inadvertently. It was a genuine mistake, which could have been overlooked. But the Manager reviewing the same sent it back to Viswanathan asking for his explanation and for resubmission.

Any other officer would have sent it back after correction with a regret note. But not our Viswanathan! I quote below the reply sent by him along with the diary without any corrections:

To the divisional manager,

Dear Sir, 
I am sending back herewith my monthly diary returned by the Manager to me with a query about my showing a Sunday as a working day at our Goregaon branch. In this connection I wish to inform you that I had to work on the particular Sunday for visiting a godown for stock checking. The Manager had specially requested me as the party was going out of station from Monday. You will kindly appreciate, as inspectors we are expected to accommodate the Manager’s genuine requests. However, if you feel otherwise, I will note not to work on Sundays hereafter. I am returning the diary herewith without any corrections as the question does not arise in the instant case.
Yours faithfully,

I wish to mention here that Viswanathan had already spoken to the branch Manager and requested him to confirm what he had stated in his reply if he was contacted by the department.
------ (To be continued) ------
A V Krishnamurthy
26th May, 2009