Monday, April 29, 2013

A tribute to Rukmini Akka

My beloved second elder sister Rukminiakka passed away on the 24th of April 2013 leaving behind her vast family, friends, well-wishers and relatives. It was a great shock to all of us as none of us were prepared for her such sudden departure. She had been a pillar of strength to us all these days.
Rukminiakka was a sentimental, straightforward and outspoken personality. She had witnessed all sorts of difficulties in her younger days in our Adekhandi family. With six sons and three daughters, our parents had little time to spare for their younger ones.  Akka took upon herself the responsibility of bringing up her younger siblings! While our eldest sister Gowrakka was a softy, Rukminiakka was made of sterner stuff. Also Gowrakka was married and left Adekhandi at the age of 16 years. Rukminiakka took full charge of us thereafter.
Rukminiakka was a total disciplinarian. In our Malnad village-life there were plenty of household jobs to be done by the younger people. However, as children we just wanted to spend our time in eating, playing and reading Chandamama stories. Akka would delegate the daily jobs to us like a Project Manager. In her regime there was very little scope for under/non-performances! Besides, she was very particular about cleanliness. She would personally give us hot water bath. The concept of soap was just being introduced and it was a costly affair. Our Malnad families were using the soapnut powder in place of soap. Akka would brush our skin with the soapnut powder so roughly that tears would flow from our eyes!
By the time Akka got married and left Adekhandi, we had grown up to the stage of appreciating her role in our daily life. Hence she left behind a great vacuum. We used to be very happy whenever she came back during the delivery period of her sons.  The days would run fast and the period of vacuum would come back again.
In her later part of life, Akka had a vast networking. At the first generation level, she would keep a track of her brothers, sisters and their spouses. She would also keep in close touch with the families of our brother-in-law's sisters and cousins. There were two levels in the second generation – the first being of her four sons and daughters-in-law. The other one was that of sons and daughters of her brothers and sisters. The last level was that of the third generation comprising grandsons/granddaughters of her own and those of her sisters and brothers. The entire network has virtually collapsed now with her sudden departure.
The collapse of our ancestral Adekhandi house was a major cause of worry for Akka. I remember how she became speechless, when we visited the vacant and damaged house last time. She was particularly pained to see the non-maintenance of the arecanut plantation that was so dear to us. We left the place silently leaving behind the ruins of our dearest sweet ancestral home.
Rukminiakka had studied up to fourth standard only. I was worried that she could not read any of my writings that were in English. In the year 2008, my colleague in HCL Mr. Jagan told me that I could write in Kannada using special Google software. The first thing I did was to write three poems on my late eldest brother and two elder sisters. I dispatched the poems to my sisters through post. Unfortunately the postal department misplaced the poem on Rukminiakka. She was hesitant to ask me to send another copy. But once I came to know the non-delivery I sent her another copy. She was quite happy with my writing. I feel it appropriate to reproduce it below:

ನನ್ನ ಪ್ರೀತಿಯ ಅಕ್ಕ (ರುಕ್ಮಿಣಕ್ಕ)

ಚಕ್ಕನೆ ನೆನಪಾಗುವುದು 
 ಚೊಕ್ಕ ಸಂಸಾರದ 
ನಮ್ಮ ಅಕ್ಕರೆಯ ದಿನಗಳು

ನಮ್ಮನೆಲ್ಲರ ನೀನು 

ಬಿಮ್ಮನೆ ಬೆಳೆಸಿದ್ದೆ 
ಒಮ್ಮೆಯೂ ಕೆಡದಂತೆ 
ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ಕಾಲಹರಣ ಮಾಡದಂತೆ

ನಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ನೀನು 
ಅಮ್ಮನಂತೆಯೇ ಇದ್ದೆ 
ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ಹೇಳಿಲ್ಲ ನಾನಿದನು 
ಅಮ್ಮನೇ ಇದಕೆ ಸಾಕ್ಷಿ

ಸೋಮಾರಿಗಳಾಗಿದ್ದ ನಮಗೆ
ಛೀಮಾರಿ ಹಾಕುತ್ತ 
ಯಾಮಾರಿಸಿ ಬೆದರಿಸಿ 
ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯರಾಗಿಸಿದೆ ನೀನು

ಸ್ನಾನವ ಮಾಡಿಸಿದೆ
ಧ್ಯಾನವ ಕಲಿಸಿದೆ
ಮಾನವ  ಉಳಿಸುತ್ತ
ಜ್ಞಾನಿಗಳಾಗಿ ಮಾಡಿದೆ 
ಬೆವರೆಷ್ಟು ಸುರಿಸಿದ್ದೆ 
ತವರೇ ಇಲ್ಲದಂತಾಯ್ತೀಗ 
ಬೆವರಿಗೆ ಬೆಲೆಯಿಲ್ಲದಂತಾಯ್ತು
ತವರಿನ ನೆನಪಷ್ಟೇ ಉಳಿಯಿತೀಗ 

ಅಂದಿನಾ ನೆನಪುಗಳು
 ಸ್ಪಂದಿಸುತಿಹುವು ಮನದಲ್ಲಿ
ಮಂದದಿ ನರ್ತಿಸುತಿಹುವು 
'ಅಡೇಕಂಡಿಯ' ಸಂದು ಗೊಂದಿನಲಿ 

ಇಂದು  ಕವನವನು
ನಿನಗಾಗೆ ಬರೆದಿಹೆನು 
ಒಂದು ಅವಕಾಶ ನನಗಿದುವೆ
 ಬಯಸುತಿಹೆ ನಿನ್ನ ಆಶೀರ್ವಾದವ
 .ವಿ .ಕೃಷ್ಣಮೂರ್ತಿ

May her soul rest in peace!
A V Krishnamurthy
30th April 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My Days West - Episode-16

So far I have been writing my experiences as an auditor exactly in the order in which I inspected the branches in Bombay and other places. The reader might have felt that while some of the branch visits were worth writing about, the others were not so. Besides, the order in which I visited the branches may not be very relevant to the reader. In view of this I have decided to change the style of my narration from this episode. I welcome the reader’s feedback in the matter.

Our bank introduced a system of quarterly surprise inspection of branches some years after I joined the inspection department. The branches in Bombay were divided among the inspection teams. Our team was assigned the Kalbadevi, Chembur main, Sindhi Society Chembur, Currency Chest Sion-Koliwada (monthly), Bhat Bazaar and Mulund Camp branches.

The first time I visited the Kalbadevi branch it was headed by Mr. G A Shenoy, who was on the verge of being promoted as a Divisional Manager. The Kalbadevi branch was one of the oldest branches of our bank in Bombay in the busy textile market locality. It had become notorious for some time as it had many office bearers of rival employees unions among its staff. But Shenoy had brought it fully under control under his able leadership. In fact the branch had attained ‘A’ gradation in inspection.

I had been assigned six man-days for inspection at the branch. Shenoy received me well and told me to sit in his cabin only for conducting the inspection. He asked the Manager to make me available all the documents/files/ledgers there only. He was particular that all my observations were set right ‘then and there’ only. I found him to be an extremely nice gentleman. He ensured that I could work comfortably inside his cabin. I was to concentrate mainly on fresh advances granted during the previous quarter. I found most of the things in order with very little scope for me to make observations. However, I made a list of some of the items which were to be set right and gave it to the concerned manager to be attended before my completion. The things went on smoothly for me.

On the final day I found the Manager having rectified all the observations except one particular remark. It was a remark on a loan granted against the NRI fixed deposit of a party. As per the bank rules, the depositor was supposed to sign the deposit receipt on the reverse across a revenue stamp without putting any date (called ‘blank un-dated discharge’ in the bank terminology). I had observed that the depositor had put the date below his signature. The manager told me that he could not rectify the same as depositor had returned abroad after availing the loan during his short stay in India.

I included the observation in my final report and handed it over to Shenoy. He went through my report and was quite happy till he came to the particular observation. He asked me about the observation and I told him that I was constrained to make the observation as per rules and procedure. Shenoy was not at all happy with my observation. His whole countenance changed within seconds! He simply told me, “Ok Mr. Murthy” and handed over my copy of the report duly signed by him and bid me goodbye!

This particular experience left a very bad taste in my mouth quite for some time. I made an introspection in the matter. While I was perfectly right in making my remarks as per bank rules and procedure, I could make out that nothing would have happened if I had overlooked the matter. Either the loan would have been cleared by the party or the deposit would have been adjusted on due date. On the other hand there was no way the branch could set right my observation as the depositor had proceeded abroad. I decided to be more practical in my approach in future.

The next time when I went to the branch Shenoy had been transferred to Tamarind lane branch. I was later assigned tamarind lane branch for regular inspection. But Shenoy had just left by the time I reported. Shenoy headed the newly floated Canfina and later retired as a General Manager of the bank.

This time the branch was headed by another stalwart, PKN Kamath, affectionately called PKN by one and all. I had met him earlier when he sat for sometime in the Marshall building after his deputation to NIBM.. PKN also wanted me to sit in his cabin for conducting the inspection. The things were quite easier with him as he was very friendly. I had another advantage. PKN was staying in Santacruz West. He used to drop me in his car on his return trip.

PKN was a highly popular senior Manager in Bombay. I could myself make out the reasons during my short association with him. He knew the art of making other peoples’ life comfortable! His whole countenance was such that any person would like to spend some time talking to him! I had the privilege to share the special masala tea exclusively prepared for him in the office canteen. He used to tell me a lot about his experiences, which were indeed interesting. I never felt any uneasiness with him despite my being a junior officer and having only a short acquaintance with him.

At that particular juncture, PKN was in the process of availing a housing loan for purchase of a flat in Santacruz West. The bank was granting only a housing loan of Rs75,000 in those days. It was nowhere near the value of a two-room flat in the posh Santacruz West locality. PKN used to jocularly tell me that the bank was granting only the margin amount to him! PKN also used to take me to some of his customers’ residences during our return journey to Santacruz. Some of them were in the posh Malabar Hill area and for the first time I could see the luxurious lifestyles of the aristocratic families. I visited the branch two times during the tenure of PKN. The third time, he had left the branch on promotion and Mr.V P Kamath, the then Officers’ Association President, had taken charge. I had to revert to my normal sitting arrangement outside the cabin! PKN retired as a General Manager of the bank. More than 25 years have elapsed since I met him last. But the short association with him still lingers on…….

Chembur Main branch was another major branch in our surprise inspection itinerary. It was my first visit to the branch located just outside the Chembur Railway Station. I went there with Arnab Das, my Bengali colleague. We had heard that the branch had become a mess during the earlier regime of a certain senior manager. But a new regime had taken over under the leadership of a Senior Manager by name R N Pai. For the first time we found the branch management anxiously waiting for the arrival of an inspection team! Pai had an able lieutenant in a second line Manager by name M P Kamath. We found both of them dressed up like young executives wearing ties, which was quite unlike the general culture in our branches.

We indeed found the duo’s dresses quite in agreement with the branch’s current status! I mean to say things were as tidy as their dresses! They had made tremendous progress in setting the house in order. They had cleaned up the entire mess and brought the branch to good health. They gave us the comparative details of the position as it stood at the time of their taking charge and at the time of our visit. As for the business, the figures spoke themselves! While the business had seen a quantum jump, the duo had shunted out excess manpower in the branch to the tune of 6-7 clerical hands! It was quite an achievement and very rarely resorted to in those days.

For the first time during our surprise inspection, we ended up highlighting the performance of the branch as against listing out the irregularities! The duo was immensely pleased with our report, which was a factual statement of their achievements.

Funnily enough, in spite of such performance I could point out short recovery of interest amounting to Rs10-15,000 on all the three occasions I visited the branch. As per the norms we had to check in detail all the interest calculations for advances over Rs10 lakh. The branch had the multinational corporate account of the Indian Schering Company Ltd, the manufacturers of the well known tablet for headache - Aspro. The company came out with an IPO later (with none of us getting any allotment!).  The company later changed its name as Nicholas Laboratories Ltd. Presently it stands merged with Nicholas Piramal India Ltd.

The overdraft account of the company was being handled manually in those days. There was the system of extending the daily products. I could easily find out some mistake in multiplication every time and in view of the huge limit the same turned out to be a big amount. M P kamath was so frustrated that he threatened the officer in-charge that he would issue a memo to him on the next occasion.

The Sindhi Society branch at Chembur had already been inspected by me when Mohan Rao was in-charge. This time when I went there along with my colleague Hegde, the branch was headed by Gajanana Rao, an office bearer of Officers Association. We completed the surprise inspection in two days and could handover the report in the first hour of the third day. We were free thereafter and left the branch. We wanted to enjoy the rest of the day in the city.

We thought of seeing a morning show and proceeded to a theatre in Chembur. The theatre was exhibiting a Hindi film starring Sanjeev Kumar and Moushumi Chatterjee. I was actually very fond of seeing Hindi films till I came to Bombay. Three of us –me, Pranesh and KNV Murthy - had made it a point to see one Hindi film as a matinee show on each and every Saturday afternoon. Saturday being a half day we used to rush out of the branch at the closing hour, have tiffin at a hotel and proceed to a theatre. We maintained this unbroken tradition so long as we were in Shimoga for nearly six years. Indeed I really wonder whether it was a kind of Guinness record that we had actually achieved!

Coming back to the Bombay theatre, we found only a small queue in front of the booking counter. The film had already run for more than a week. We stood in the queue waiting for our turn. But suddenly we found a man asking us to purchase the ticket from him in the black.  He started pestering us. We were indeed surprised and could not really make out why the fellow was asking us to purchase a ticket in the black when it was available at the normal price in the counter. But he continued pestering us and told us that we had to pay only two rupees more than the actual price. He told us that they were for seats in the first row on the backside. When asked as to what difference it makes for us if we sat in the front, he smiled at us telling that we would understand it later! We simply ignored him, went ahead and purchased our tickets. The film started almost immediately after we took our seats.

I had seen many Hindi films right from my High School days. I have also mentioned above the regularity with which we saw films in Shimoga. I used to fully enjoy most of the films. But this was one film which was simply unbearable. There was no story and the whole thing appeared to be simply a farce! My colleague Hegde also felt the same thing. We wanted to enjoy our spare time for the first time in Bombay and this was our fate!

After sometime we felt that we could not stand it anymore. We wanted to simply get out of the theatre. We stood up and thought of moving out. We were in the middle of the row. Somebody shouted at us asking us to sit down. We sat down and tried to bear the agony! But alas! It was really too much! We could not bear it anymore. We just started moving out without minding the curses by the other audience. It was really tough to get out. We somehow reached the back row near the exit. We found it totally empty. We could make out that the people sitting there had moved out comfortably without the kind of trouble we had to undertake!

When we were just moving out of the theatre, we could see the man who had tried to sell the tickets to us in the black. We saw him smiling at us sarcastically! It was as if to tell us “I told you so!” He really had made his point. We really felt that it was worth paying him two rupees more for those valuable back-row tickets!
 ------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
9th August 2009

Friday, April 19, 2013

The School Textbooks of Our Times - Episode - 2

While the 2nd Standard textbook covered the legend Ramayana in different chapters, the 3rd Standard textbook similarly covered the epic Mahabharatha. The most important chapter turned out to be the escape of Pandavas from the Araginamane - the house made of wax. The picture of Bheemasena carrying the other Pandavas and his mother Kunthi on his shoulders remains permanently etched in our memory. Almost at the same level of interest were the chapters covering the killing of Kichaka and Bakasura by Bheemasena.
One of the many stories in the book was a funny story called Jambada Koli (dA§zÀ PÉÆý). The story is about an old woman in a village. The woman lived alone in the company of a hen (PÉÆý). She also maintained a firepot (CVζÖPÉ) - a vessel containing charcoal, which is kept burning 24 hours. The matchbox had not been invented in those times. Hence it had become a routine for the village folk to get up in the morning on hearing the clucking of the hen of the old woman and rush to her home to collect the fire from her firepot.
After sometime the old woman starts thinking that the entire village is at her mercy for the sunrise in the morning and igniting their ovens at home. She thinks but for her hen’s clucking the sun would not rise in the village and there would be no morning! Also but for her firepot, there would be no cooking of food in the village! She feels herself very proud. So much so she gets an idea to test her ability to stop the normal life in the village.
That evening she carries her hen and the firepot and moves to the nearest forest. She spends the entire night and the next day in the forest. She returns to the village in the evening. On her way back she meets Ranganna, one of the villagers. The following was the conversation:
Ranganna: Where had you been auntie? How is that you are carrying your hen and firepot with you?
Woman: I will tell you. But first tell me know what happened in the village yesterday?
Ranganna: Everything was perfectly normal here and nothing special happened. But why do you ask this question?
Woman: Are you sure Ranganna? Do you mean to say there was sun rise in the village and people could cook their food normally?
Ranganna: I am quite sure, auntie.
Woman: I don’t think the sun would rise without the clucking of my hen and there was the morning! I am also sure they could not have cooked their food in the normal course in the absence of fire from my firepot!
Ranganna: Now I understand. Oh! You the proud hen (Jambada Koli)! You thought that but for the clucking of your hen, the sun would not rise and there would be no morning! Also people could not cook their food without the fire from your firepot!
Woman: I am sure. But….. I don’t understand!
Ranganna: Let me tell you Jambada Koli (the proud hen) that there was the normal morning with the sun rising promptly in the east! He did not wait for your hen to cluck! Only some people woke up late as they did not hear your hen clucking.
Woman: But the people definitely had no fire to cook their food!
Ranganna: You are wrong again! On seeing your house locked they collected the fire from the firepot of the blacksmith in the village.
Woman: Are you sure?
Ranganna: Your absence here did not bring the life to a standstill as you perhaps thought! I can only pity your line of thinking!
The story ended here. We really enjoyed the story. The picture of the old woman (Jambada Koli) carrying the hen and firepot engaged in conversation with Ranganna remains etched in our memory.
Among the other lessons was the story of the origin of the legendary Panchatantra - the animal fables. The story tells the efforts of a King to educate his sons who were going astray. When all his efforts grow in vain, the King entrusts the children to the care of his court scholar (Asthana Vidwamsa) – Shri Vishnu Sharma.
Vishnu Sharma finds a novel way to educate the hardened sons of the King. He takes them home and starts telling them the animal stories titled Panchatantra. The animal stories were so interesting that the boys were totally smitten by them. The collection of the stories is considered as a treatise on political science and human conduct. The story has five parts with each part containing a main story which in turn contains several stories emboxed in it. The following were the five main stories:
  1. Mitra Bheda – The Separation of Friends
  2. Mitra Labha – The Gaining of Friends
  3. Kakolukiyam – Of Crows and Owls (War and Peace)
  4. Labdhapranasam – Loss of Gains (Monkey and the Crocodile)
  5. Apareekshitakarakam – Ill considered Action
At the end of the storytelling sessions, the boys found themselves fully educated to take forward the traditions of the royal family.  Such was the power of the Panchatantra stories. Even though the lesson told us the origin of Panchatantra, we had to wait for reading the entire Panchatantra stories for some more years. The stories were written in a poetic format in Chandamama by Navagirinanda.
Among the poems was another legendary Kannada work – Govina Haadu-UÉÆë£À ºÁqÀÄ (Punyakotiya Kathe-¥ÀÄtåPÉÆÃnAiÀÄ PÀxÉ). This was one poem which every Kannada student knew by heart. The poem tells the story of a cow called Punyakoti. The cow is caught by a tiger called Arbuda while grazing. The tiger is about to kill Punyakoti when it begs to allow it to go back and feed its calf. It promises the tiger that it would return after feeding its calf and making alternative arrangements for its keep up. The tiger allows it to go back.
Punyakoti goes back, feeds its calf and requests the other cows to look after it in its absence. It keeps its words and gets back and surrenders to the tiger. The tiger is moved by the truthfulness of Punyakoti. It refuses to eat the cow. Rather it commits suicide by jumping from a hillock. The story is elaborately told in the poem in a very appealing manner. As students from Malnad we were very familiar with tigers attacking and eating our cows. Hence the story was more relevant to our daily life.
One of the other poems in the book was a poem called Marnoumiya Padagalu. The poem is sung on the occasion of Mahanoumi falling in the month of Ashvayuja during Navaraathri by a group of boys. The boys visit all the houses and sing this traditional poem seeking gifts from the house owner. The conclusion of the poem is very interesting.  Obviously it is applicable only to those who refuse to offer gifts to the boys! I am reproducing the poem below from my memory:
D²éÃd ±ÀÄzÀÞ ªÀiÁ£ÀðªÀ«Ä §gÀ¯ÉAzÀÄ
±Á±ÀévÀ¢ ºÀgÀ¹zɪÀÅ ¨Á®PÀgÀÄ §AzÀÄ
¯ÉøÁV ºÀgÀ¹zɪÀÅ ¨Á®PÀgÀÄ §AzÀÄ

¢£À¢£ÀPÉ gÁd ªÀÄ£ÀßuÉ ºÉZÀѯÉAzÀÄ

Cwð¬ÄA ºÀgÀ¹zɪÀÅ ¨Á®PÀgÀÄ §AzÀÄ


§½AiÀÄ ¸ÀA§¼ÀªÀ®è ¤AvÀÄ PÉüÀĪÀgÉ?
ºÀ¼É¸Á®ªÀ®è ºÀUÀ°gÀļÀÄ PÁqÀĪÀgÉ?
ªÀÄ°£ÀªÀÄ£À ªÀiÁrzÀgÉ QÃwð UÀ½¸ÀĪÀgÉ?


PÉÆnÖj¹ PÉüÀ§AzÀªÀgÀ®è £ÁªÀÅ
©nÖ ©ÃqÁgÀªÀ vÉUÉAiÉÄ£Àߢj ¤ÃªÀÅ
zÀlÖ ¯ÉÆéüAiÀÄ §½UÉ §gÀ°®è £ÁªÀÅ!

zÀÈqsÀ«®èzÀªÀgÀÄUÀ¼À ¨ÉÃr ¥sÀ®ªÉãÀÄ?

The last lesson in the textbook was another interesting poem. The poem is an extract from a collection of Kannada moral writings called Subhashithagalu. It highlighted the responsibility of fathers in giving education to their sons/daughters in their childhood:
QjzÁzÀ «zÉåAiÀiÁUÀ° ªÉÄgɪÀÅzÀÄ vÀ£Àß°è

If the father fails to educate his children in their childhood,
It is as good as killing them!
If he leaves lot of money for them,
It is only bad for them!
Education in childhood only saves them!

Even a little education helps you come up in life
Provided you have those qualities
Even a small stream of water
Can reduce the impact of drought
------To be Continued-----
     A V Krishnamurthy
    19th April 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Days as an Auditor - Episode-15

It was another opportunity for me to travel to Mangalore by air, this time on an official visit. Our bank had about ten branches in Mangalore. I had been assigned a new branch located in Car Street (Ratha Beedhi). The branch had just completed one year and already earned a very good name in the locality under the leadership of a manager by name Achyutharaya Kamath. Kamath was an energetic middle-aged person and was in full command of the branch. When he came to know that I had arrived from Bombay, he started telling the customers I had been specially sent from Bombay to study the reasons (case study) for the excellent performance of the branch! Mangalore had a divisional office of our bank and also had an inspection team headed by a Manager called Prabhu. Kamath’s presumption had some strength in the fact that Prabhu was also unaware of our programme till I landed at the branch.

Kamath was particular that his branch should be rated ‘A’ in inspection. He was supported by the Divisional Manager, who had come on a visit to the branch and told me that the he was also expecting such a gradation. By the time I was half-way through, I found that indeed the branch deserved the top gradation. Ultimately I recommended ‘A’ gradation for the branch.

I could comfortably complete the full inspection in about a month. I used to be with my wife and new born son during the weekends. But just on the verge of completion, I suddenly fell sick. Actually I had a programme to visit Mysore to attend the marriage of my friend and ex-colleague KNV Murthy. But as I had a high fever I could not undertake that journey. I wrote a letter to KNV expressing my inability. But he never excused me for my failure!

I had two other rural branches to inspect – Brahmavara and Tekkatte. They were located on the Mangalore-Bombay HighWay (NH-17) between Udupi and Kundapura. I had a brother-in-law (my wife’s elder brother) in Kundapura. He was a reader in economics in the local college. I landed at their house along with my sickness. But my stay with them was so comfortable that I recovered within a short time – thanks to the care taken by the couple.

The branches assigned to me were very comfortable for operation as there were excellent bus facilities on the national highway. My other Bengali colleague Arnab Das joined me and together we completed the two branches. It was for the first time that I was visiting the rural branches. There was lot of respect for the bank staff in rural places in those days. The fact that we came from Bombay also made a difference! It was around January 1979 and I came back to Bombay along with my family, my son joining us as the additional member.
------o----- --o--- -----o------o-------o-----o------o------o-------o------o-------
There were some major changes in the inspection set up in Bombay. The inspection follow up section in the Marshall building was wound up and the work was shifted to head office in Bangalore. We lost our only office in Bombay. The co-ordination of various teams headed by managers was assigned to a manager stationed in our Fort branch. This manager was also given the role of a concurrent auditor at the said branch. The post of a concurrent auditor was created in Fort, Fort market, Tamarind Lane and Worli branches.

The Head Office also took over the work of assigning the programmes for the team managers. This created a real problem for the teams. So far while assigning the branches, the residences of the concerned team members were taken into account. The idea was to allot the branch nearest to the residence. This ensured minimum journey period and savings in travel expenditure to the bank. But for a person sitting in head office, the geography of Bombay was quite unfamiliar. An attempt made to familiarize the concerned officer failed miserably.  The officer had been briefed by somebody that Kandivli and Borivli were close to each other. On the same analogy, he allotted Dombivli to an officer staying in Borivli, little knowing that one was on the Western Railway and the other in Central Railway!

The monthly travel bills of the inspecting officers used to be at the minimum level. All along we had been claiming only monthly first class train pass charges as local conveyance. We were not claiming any fare from the Railway station to the branch. For the branches which were to be covered by bus, we used to claim only bus fare. The minimum bus fare used to be only 20 paise. We used to send a monthly bill for as low an amount as Rs10 on many occasions.

The credit for improving the earning capacity of the inspecting officers in Bombay goes to a gentleman called Pundalik Pai! Till his arrival in Bombay as a Manager, nobody knew that they were eligible for claiming taxi/auto fare for local journey. But if you thought that he enlightened the other officers in the matter, you are totally mistaken! Rather Mr. Pai kept his cards close to his chest! While he went on claiming the taxi fare and got the reimbursement, he kept it confidential by not revealing it to his colleagues.

In the normal course an officer posted to inspection department for the first time tries to get a briefing about the nature of his job and the responsibilities. That is what most of us did on being posted to the department. But Pai was a practical man. He really meant business! Immediately after knowing about his posting to inspection department Bombay, Pai straightaway went to Head Office and met the person in-charge of TA bills. He collected all the relevant information from him about claiming the maximum TA, while posted in Bombay. While he took his own time to understand the nature of inspection duties, he was already a master as far as TA bills were concerned!

The result was - his account used to receive a credit of Rs300-Rs400 every month against his actual expenditure of much less than Rs100, even with a first class monthly pass! All other managers/officers continued to claim the meager amounts being the actuals.

But Pai could not hold on to his secret of ‘money-making’ for long. One of the officers of the branch where Pai was having his account developed some curiosity. The branch also had the accounts of two more inspecting officers. The officer enquired with them why they were not getting similar credits. These officers checked up the matter with a team-mate of Pai. The said team-mate managed to go through a TA bill of Pai secretly. Finally the cat was out of the bag! The news spread fast. All the officers were happy to follow the footsteps of Pai. But there was a hitch. The officer passing the TA bill at the head office witnessed a sudden spurt in the bill amounts of the Bombay officers. He smelt a rat. An instruction was issued stating that the taxi/auto fare can be claimed only from the nearest Railway station. It was also made mandatory that if a team is inspecting a branch, the entire team should travel in a single taxi and claim fare accordingly. But Pai had made his name. He had etched his name permanently in the history of Bombay inspection department! The Bombay inspecting officers remained permanently indebted to him!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
4th August 2009

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kabir Rolls over!

The Yugadi is here again
The start of the New Year
This time it is very special
With our grandson Kabir!

Kabir appears quite smart
He creates a lot of suspense
He was due for his rollover
But kept it postponing so far!

It appears he had his own ideas
He liked to do it on his terms!
Wanted to have his new garments
As presents from his grandparents!

Along with grandmother and mummy
He went to the store Mom & Me!
He saw them buying two dresses
And  rolled over on his tummy!

It was the time for celebration
His mum’s family came rushing!
They wanted another rollover
Kabir did not disappoint them either!

It was the time for Kaaju Barfi
With the traditional Payasam
This Yugadi is memorable
Thanks to our grandson Kabir!
       --------A V Krishnamurthy
                  11th April 2013

The Taxation Conundrum

(This skit was written by me in 2009 when Pranab had just taken charge as Finance Minister from P Chidambaram who had moved to the Ministry of Home Affairs)

The other day my friend was telling me about a dream he saw in the previous night. In the dream the God appeared and asked him to seek any boon as per his wishes. My friend being an ex-banker made some quick calculations. He thought if he could get Re1 crore as boon, he would invest it wisely and live in peace for the rest of his life out of the returns. So he asked the God to grant him Re1 crore as boon. The God immediately handed over to him a bagful of currency notes. My friend, being a true banker, did not want to take the God for granted as regards the quantum of money. He started counting the pieces of currency. To his surprise, he found only Rs55 lakh in the bag! He looked at the God with a question mark on his face. The God simply smiled at him and asked him to see the other documents in the bag. My friend found a working sheet showing the following details:

Ø  The amount of boon: Rs1,00,00,000. 00
Ø  Less Service Tax:      Rs    12,00,000.00
Ø  Less IT at Source:     Rs    33,00,000.00
Ø  Net amount in cash:   Rs   55,00,000.00

He also found two certificates signed by the God for having deducted the tax at source and remitted to the exchequer.

My friend was not amused at all. He protested to the God strongly. Here is their conversation:

Friend: This is too much. I had heard of God-fearing men; but never heard about tax-fearing God! I am cheated! Had I known about this I would have asked for more.

God: That was your fault. I am simply helpless. I have to be tax-compliant. You Know PC. He has brought everything under the tax net. The income tax is all-pervasive! Nobody can escape from it.

Friend: I had heard of all-pervasive (omnipresent) God.  You are talking of a new concept! By the by, what is PC?

God: Oh my God! This is too much. You are an ex-banker and you don’t know PC? I was referring to P. Chidambaram, the Finance Minister, Baba!

Friend: Oh my God! You have to update your website! He is the home minister now. The good-old Pranab is the present Finance Minister.

God: You are updating me, the God himself! But I know for sure PC continues to be the man who runs the Government finances.

Friend: How is service tax made applicable to boons? By the by, you have calculated it at 12 percent. You must know Pranab has brought it down to 10 percent. You refund Rs2 lakh to me right now!

God: Don’t exhibit your Bank Manager-brain to me! The change in rate will come into effect only after the amendment is gazetted. As regards the applicability of service tax to boons, please be aware that PC has seen to it that anything one does for others is treated as a service and attracts tax! I don’t want a taxman to come to me tomorrow and tell me that I have defaulted! You know the recent case of a Kannada actress!

Friend: I don’t read filmy stuff! But if it pertains to tax matter, you may please enlighten me!

God: The case is interesting. This small-time actress had acted in a few Kannada films about a few years back. She mostly played the role of the sister of the hero. You know the Kannada film producers. With the limited market they can offer only a few lakhs to the hero and the heroine. The hero’s sister is placed in the third slot and at the best can expect Rs2-4 lacs depending on the length of the role.

Friend: I understand. The tax officials will not even bother to look at the assessment of such artists. Forget about raiding their residences!

God: But that is exactly what happened! This actress’s house was raided by the tax officials!

Friend: I pity the officials! They must have returned empty handed after sipping a cup of coffee offered by the artist!

God: You are absolutely wrong! The tax officials laid their hands on a bonanza and seized cash and other valuables amounting to crores of rupees!

Friend: Oh my God! What happened then? Did they confiscate the entire bonanza?

God: No! You are wrong again! The actress convinced them that she had an annual income of Rs9 crore. The Department assessed the income and collected tax and penalty amounting to about Rs3.5 crore. The raiding party was rewarded by the Department for their efforts in unearthing the undeclared income.

Friend: That is understandable. But don’t you find something fishy? How can a Kannada actress convince the tax authority that she had a genuine income of Rs9 crore?

God: That is what even I have not understood! But I will give credit to the tax consultant who represented the artist! Full marks to him!

At this stage my friend was rudely woken up by his wife telling him that it was already 7 AM in the morning! He cursed his wife; but realised that he had only witnessed a dream!
A V Krishnamurthy
6th March, 2009