Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Days West - Episode-11

On completion of our Ujjain programme, we reached Indore where another team from Bombay was conducting inspection of our Siyagunj branch. From here we went on a tour to visit Khajuraho along with the other members our team. I am not writing anything about this visit as people are generally aware about the temples of art there. Khajuraho had an airport and a Star-hotel even in those days. On return, we were advised to visit a place called Mandu about 60 kms from Indore. Accordingly we visited the place on an arranged tour. This visit was indeed very memorable for me. I have always liked to visit the ancient ruins like our own Hampi (Vijayanagar). In these places one can visualise the events that had taken place there once upon a time. When you know the history of the place, there is no limit to your imaginations! I am tempted to give below a short account of Mandu:
Perched along the Vindhya ranges at an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mandu, with its natural defenses, was originally the fort capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. Towards the end of the 13th century, it came under the sway of the Sultans of Malwa, the first of whom named it Shadiabad - 'city of joy'. And indeed the pervading spirit of Mandu was of gaiety; and its rulers built exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions, as graceful and refined as those times of peace and plenty.
Each of Mandu's structures is an architectural gem; some are outstanding like the massive Jami Masjid and Hoshang Shah's tomb, which provided inspiration to the master builders of the Taj Mahal centuries later.
Mandu is a celebration in stone, of life and joy, of the love of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful consort, Rani Roopmati. The balladeers of Malwa still sing of the romance of these royal lovers, and high up on the crest of a hill, Roopmati's Pavilion still gazes down at Baz Bahadur's Palace, a magnificent expression of Afghan architecture.
Under Mughal rule, Mandu was a pleasure resort, its lakes and palaces the scenes of splendid and extravagant festivities. And the glory of Mandu lives on, in legends and songs, chronicled for posterity.

We were back in Bombay after nearly a gap of two months. I was pleased to get back and hoped that I may not be given such outstation programmes at least for some time. As for my wife, it was indeed a tough time. She was new to city life, that too for a metropolitan city like Bombay. But she did manage well. She could also pick up Hindi fast. It stood her well in the long run.

My association with Selvaraj almost ended with our MP-adventure. He was promoted as Manager shortly afterwards and was transferred to his own place, Coimbatore. I have already mentioned the gains made by me in his association. I never got a chance to meet him again. In the late eighties, I was working as Corporate Credit Manager at our Cantonment, Bangalore branch. I was handling the then well-known BPL Company account. The company had units in Kerala and hence our Trivandrum Circle Office was involved. Selvaraj was handling the accounts as Senior Manager of Advances section in the said office. I used to come across his well drafted letters often.

Our bank had an unwritten, but well-established, policy since long. Even though it had a very fair promotion policy, it was only up to the Senior Manager level. Thereafter one had to fend for himself, whether he deserved the promotion or otherwise. Lobbying was a necessary qualification at the selection grade level. All other processes were for formality’s sake only. While a good number of merited candidates were indeed getting promotion, a significant number of undeserving candidates also came through the lobbying channel! The merited, but non-lobbying type, found themselves stranded at that stage. People like Selvaraj were not expected to win in this rat race!

The result was - the merited got out at the earliest opportunity. But the undeserving continued and survived whether the bank wanted them or not! Selvaraj was in the first category. He left the bank and joined the Lakshmi Machine Group of Coimbatore. He could have been a valuable asset to the bank in the matter of corporate advances. But that was not to be! I end this paragraph as a tribute to my learned colleague.

My next assignment was at our Kandivli branch in the western suburbs. Kandivli was a beautiful and peaceful residential suburb in those days. The travel was in the opposite direction of peak-hour traffic and hence very comfortable. Our branch was located at a 5-minute distance from Kandivli station. All in all it was a comfortable assignment for me after the tiresome tour.

The branch was headed by an elderly Senior Manager (SM), who was in total contrast with Mr. Nayak of A R Street branch. The branch had two major corporate accounts and the SM knew very little about the corporate advances. But the problem was - he was not aware that he did not know! He had some very good young officers. They were eager to learn and handle important work. But the Senior Manager lacked the knowledge and patience to guide them. He was also handling the credit in a piece-meal manner by keeping the things incomplete. I was forced to give two special reports for non-registration of charges under Sec 125 of Company’s Act.

One of the major corporate accounts was that of Ipca Laboratories Ltd. It was an export-oriented pharmaceuticals company with its plant in Kandivli industrial estate. It had been promoted by one Premchand Godha and Chandurkar. The company was doing very well and was giving substantial export business to the branch. It is doing well even to this day and is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange. But it was famous at that time because of one main reason. The famous cine actor Amitab Bachchan had acquired a major stake in the company. Amitab’s investments were being handled by Ajitab Bachchan (his brother) at that time. If I remember correctly both Amitab and Jaya Bachchan were Directors of the company. The credit limits were covered by their personal guarantees. We had an opportunity to go through their wealth tax and income tax assessment orders at that time. Ajitab also used to visit the branch on occasions. This was one investment which stood well for Amitab even in his difficult days. I came to know that he sold the stake in full only a few years back.

I came across an interesting case in the branch during the course of my coverage of current accounts. There was an overdrawing of Rs15,000 in one of the personal current accounts of a party, which was outstanding for more than three months. On enquiry I came to know that there was a wrong credit in the account. The proceeds of an outstation cheque of some other party had been wrongly credited to this account. The accountholder had drawn the amount knowing fully well that it was a wrong credit. When I called for the correspondence, the officer-in-charge told me that they had a complicated case on hand and it was not a simple case of recovery of overdrawings. He told me that the bank was in soup and asked me to give my opinion in the matter.

As the party had failed to pay the amount, the bank had served a registered notice to the party. The reply given by the party was indeed interesting! So much so that I felt he deserved full marks for the point he raised in his letter! I have tried to reproduce the contents of his letter here below:

Dear Manager,

I am in receipt of your registered letter informing me that there was a wrong credit in my account. You have also asked me to reimburse the amount drawn by me against the said wrong credit. In this connection I would request you to kindly go through the matter printed at the bottom of your current account statement. It states – “the constituent is requested to notify the bank any discrepancies in the statement within ten days of receipt. Otherwise, the bank would presume that all the entries are correct and no further claims would be entertained thereafter”.

In the instant case the statement was received by me, showing the credit mentioned above, more than a month back. I have not notified any discrepancies to you within ten days. The ‘no claim clause’ printed in the statement becomes applicable automatically. If a customer can be denied a claim after ten days by the bank, the customer also can equally take a stand that bank has no claim against him after ten days! Accordingly I am denying the claim of the bank, purely as natural justice. Please bear with me.


--Surely there was food for thought for the bank regarding the advisability of  such printed clause in the current account statement.

There was another interesting thing connected with this case. The bank management had asked the branch to furnish the name of the officer who was responsible for the wrong credit in the account. The branch had acted very intelligently in the matter! One of the officers working in the branch had unfortunately died a few months back. All his dues had also been settled in favour of his wife. The branch had furnished his name as the officer who was responsible for the wrong credit even though he had nothing to do in the matter! The officer who was really responsible told me that the branch was only trying to save him from the recovery of the amount by the bank. He told me that he would only pray that the soul of the deceased officer may rest in peace!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
27th June 2009

1 comment:

psvasan said...

The way the customer turned the tables oh the Bank with the no-claims clause is wonderful. Brainy fellow!