Saturday, November 30, 2013

Oh Kolkata! - Episode No.8

As it always happens everywhere, a weak management invites trouble from all quarters. So much so that certain ordinary characters also take the advantage of the situation and behave in a high-handed manner. Mr. Hassan Sab, Manager at the Gariahat branch who was staying with me in Komala Vilas, had told me about one such character in his branch. The Union was supposed to be so strong there that the Senior Manager had become quite ineffective and would allow the things to take their own course. There was one senior employee in the branch, who had the practice of going on shouting loudly for about 5 minutes daily during office hours at a particular time for apparently no reasons! The shouting was aimed at nobody! He was as regular in doing this as a Moula praying in a Masjid or the playing of Suprabhatham in a temple in the morning! It was a fact that nobody had the guts to ask him why he was engaged in that non-sense! Of course the benevolent customers also took it in their strides!
Our branch also had one such character. The gentleman was an ex-service man called Dey who was known as a toughie. As an ex-service man, he was getting some pension through our branch. The pension department also fell under my Deposits Section. Kayal, the officer in-charge, had told me that Dey had been paid some excess pension by mistake. All efforts to recover this amount from him out of his monthly pension had failed. The matter had been kept pending by the previous Manager. I was told that Dey was not amenable to any type of settlement. Within a month of my taking charge, there was an occasion to make some payment of arrears of pension. Kayal told me that this was the right occasion to recover the amount.
I called Dey for a discussion in the matter. He was very rude in his behavior and was not prepared to hear anything. He merely said that he had not received any excess payment. He also threatened me with dire consequences if the amount was recovered from his arrears. I made some discreet enquiries and understood that there was no support from the Union leaders for Dey’s eccentricities. I could even make out that heart-of-heart they would be happy if Dey was made to mend his ways.  I asked Kayal to proceed with the recovery.
We effected the recovery from Dey on the date of payment of arrears and dispatched the confirmation to the concerned authority. Dey was in the cash department and came to know about the adjustment only after the closing hours. He came to me running. He created quite a scene first with Kayal and then with me. Both of us simply kept quiet and did not respond to his intimidations. He then went to the Union leaders. But they simply told him that they were helpless as it was a genuine recovery.  Dey had to simply call it a day! That was my first Managerial experience in dealing with a toughie.
My victory (day!) over Dey encouraged me to effect another change in working in our department. Our bank had a system called writing of payment-waste. All the cash payment instruments like cheques, pay orders, DDs and other debit vouchers had to be entered in this payment-waste sheet before they were handed over to the cashier for payment. At the end of the day, the total of this sheet was to be tallied to the total payments made by the cashier.
The bank had later changed this system by introducing subsidiary sheets to individual ledgers wherein the cash payments were recorded separately. The total of these sheets were directly tallied to the cashier’s book and the writing of payment-waste had been discontinued as it was duplication only. I was surprised to find this waste-sheet being written in the branch even though the system had been discontinued many years ago. As the Manager in-charge of deposits I had to write this sheet!
I found this work most unproductive and quite unnecessary. Besides it was also delaying the payments, as all the instruments had to pass through me. On checking up with the previous Manager Rajgopalan, I was told that the stumbling block was Sen Da (the Union leader) who was in charge of consolidation of payments at the Main-Cash in the branch. I had to hand over the sheet to him daily for consolidation with other departments. It was a fact that very few had the guts to talk to Sen Da as they were afraid of his vocal cords!
I could not really appreciate as to how Sen Da was affected by my not writing the payment-waste, which had been discontinued years ago by the bank. In fact, the bank had stopped printing the sheets long back! God only knows from where this branch was getting the stock of sheets! I discussed the matter with my two SB supervisors – Dhar Da and Sanghursha Dan. They had no objections to my discontinuing of payment-waste. They also felt that Sen Da was only concerned with the figures from our department and had nothing to do with writing of payment-waste.
Sen Da was the zonal secretary of the Union and was leaving the branch early for his Union activities. He used to talk to me over intercom many a time asking me to hurry up as he had to complete consolidating the figures and leave the branch early! He believed more in shouting than in discussing! Smooth talking was not his forte! I chose a particular time with him when he appeared to be in some sober mood. I told him that the work of writing payment-waste had been discontinued by the bank long ago and I desired to end this practice in the branch once for all. He asked me why the hell then it was being written at the branch all these days! I told him that was exactly what I was also asking! Then he told me that it was my business as Manager to decide and all he wanted was the figures for consolidation in a written format! That was exactly what I wanted. I discontinued the payment-waste from the very next day!
The above incidents only proved that the branch management used to be very much hesitant to introduce certain changes or initiate certain actions wherever necessary, by attributing the reasons to the Union leaders as an excuse. This was said to be true in most of our branches in Kolkata.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy

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