Friday, December 18, 2015

THE CHURNING OF THE OF OCEAN OF LIFE - MY OWN STORY PART 10 - GAME OF LADDERS AND SNAKES BEGINS IN RIGHT EARNEST- SNAKE II





THE CHURNING OF THE OF OCEAN OF LIFE - MY OWN STORY PART 10 - GAME OF LADDERS AND SNAKES BEGINS IN RIGHT EARNEST- SNAKE II

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A man can be destroyed but not defeated.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY,


PROLOGUE to 10th part.


I saw a news item, in a local news paper this week that Senior officers of ten or more banks held a silent protest against non-repayment of about Rs.1000 crores, by M/S Progressive Constructions Private Limited, owned by ex-Congress Minister KS Rao. My tussle with top management of our Bank started with this account only. I refused to recommend renewal of credit limits of this account. I quoted at least ten defaults in the account and recommended, "If the higher authorities feel, they can renew the limits. Personally, I feel the limits must be suspended" Soon, I got a call from Chairman's Secretariat but I did not budge." My Manager suggested that I go on leave and he got it recommended by the next officer. That was the start of my end. My career ended but today, I am a happy man that officers of ten banks are on streets unable to recover the amounts. My premonition proved right. And from then on, I had a running feud with the Company Officials and a direct threat was issued by one Sri BK Rao, brain behind Sri KS Rao, that he would see how I would continue in the Bank. And I did not. More on this in the coming parts.

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This is part 10 of my own story. I already explained why I preferred to write my own story. I am not that great. But there is something that tells you a story in my life, the story of great success and great failure, all at a time. Those who see this first time may refer to the earlier parts.

Life is a mix of ups and downs for many. I am not an exception. But, my psychology did not fit to the world and its ways. Still, I continue in the same mindset.  Hence, my rosy life has many thorns, even now, unseen by many. Hopefully, I will live like this leave the world like this, unsung.





I just turned twenty five. I earned experience of a life time by then. Death of my father, shunning responsibility of family by my three elder brothers and my sisters and mother depending on me , my wife who was carrying by then, forced change of job and the snakes ready to bite at every opportune moment in the new job all made me tougher by the day. Even before I shifted my job my maternal uncle Sri Ramachandrarao advised me against joining the Bank. He told, "We, in Reserve Bank of India, consider it as a family-owned retail shop. They do not allow others to grow. Outsiders are eased out on one pretext or other" But "Buddhi Karmanusarena". My decision was made. And at that time I was not fearing any one or anybody. But fate had it otherwise. 

After the training in Mangalore I was posted to Bellary, considered as punishment posting, in the Bank. In the Bank this belt, Bellary, Anantapur, Chitradurga etc., were hot beds of Trade Unionism where Officers were sweating it out to get the routine work going on, leave alone, development. Managers in these Branches were always on their toes fighting it out with the Union leaders. I reported for duty in Bellary under Mr.Vikramaditya Nayak, considered in the Bank as one of the most dynamic Managers. Reception was contemptuous, as expected. I was asked to learn basics sitting in clerical counters. It took me hardly a week. The Manager, initially, was very hostile. He was continuously complaining to the Regional Manager that he asked for a regular officer and not one who had to be trained in basics. His grouse was understandable. He was short of officers, who could look after the Branch work, in his absence. I understood the dynamics very fast. Managers were unwilling to stay in the Branch and face the staff. They used to go away in the early hours for deposit mobilization and come back only after the staff left. But as I was only a trainee, it was not possible to hand over the keys of Cash chest to me. The Manager had little confidence on the other officer, Mr.Raghupathi. 

After a fortnight of my joining, the Regional Manager, Mr.Aiyar paid a visit. His first target was me. He called me inside and asked the same question that was asked in the Head Office. "With whose recommendation you got the job?" I gave the same reply, "God's recommendation". He was furious and started dancing. My manager was trying to explain that I was very sharp and picked up work very fast. No! He said he would see me out of the bank soon. He resigned within a month from then as he was facing serious charges of corruption. His place was taken over by one more hostile Regional Manager, Sri K.R. Mallya, with whom I had a running feud for four years almost. 

Three to four months on, my Manager developed a special affection for me.He was awe struck. He told anyone who visited the Branch that in his whole service, he never came across a sharper brain. I almost became second man in the Branch within four months, having effective control on the whole staff including my Senior Officer, who never grudged my taking over the Branch. He was thanking me for helping him out of tricky issues. We were a team along with few youngsters who joined as clerks.   I started controlling the whole branch operations effectively by then. He started handing over the keys of Cash Chest to me. But one guy from North Canara District, Monja Ganiga, an attender-promoted-as-clerk was the most unhappy of all. Thither to, he was the most trusted assistant of the Manager, carrying canards from here to there and back, thus keeping the gulf between the Manager and staff. He was so close to the Manager that he was paying a visit to his house at least once a day "carrying news". This was , is and will be a bad habit with many senior officers. As I slowly took over, I rubbished his claims. I was seeing that the Manager spent more time with staff. This, naturally, incensed Ganiga. But he was helpless. Though trainee, I was the most loved one in the Branch. I was having a very good time climbing the ladder. But a snake bit me in the form of the Regional Manager.

Around October, 1978, eight months after joining the Branch,  my Manager showed me a confidential letter from RM. Usually these letters were addressed personally in the name of the Manager and were not shared with any one. But by that time my Manager developed so much affection towards me (he was able to develop the Branch business by 250% as he got a good officer at last) that he shared the contents with me. The gist was that one Mr.Prabhakar Sheth (related to the RM closely, it was said) , working in Mandipet Davangere was facing lot of issues with the union leaders there and requested  for a transfer and he proposed to replace me in his place. Naturally, our Manager was furious. He showed me his reply too, saying that he could not spare my services. There was continuous correspondence and phone conversations between the two. Finally, my Manager had to consent to transfer me after the year end, 31st December. Orders came. Sheth, who was waiting in the wings, joined immediately and my relieving was set for Second of January, 1979. Seeing my personality, the heavy weight Mr.Sheth commented, "There are lots of snakes in Davangere. I applied for two months' leave unable to bear the torture. I think you may not survive there for even fifteen days. There are two powerful forces there by names Shivayogappa and Maheswarappa. They will suck your blood no sooner you join there." I just smiled away. Even my Manager told me while relieving that he was feeling like his son was being sent to war front. He called me and my wife for lunch, the first in his service, his wife told us. Ganiga was happy, he could get back to his old ways.

So, on 2nd January 1979, I set out to Davangere with my wife, a six month old girl child, a mat, two pillows, bed sheets, a kerosene stove, few utensils all packed and carried on top of the bus. I was not owning a chair or transistor radio too that time. I set foot in Mandipet, Davangere Branch. The same evening, I was relieved to report in PB Road, Davangere Branch, as there were no officers there and the Manager here, any how, did not want a trainee officer. His name was M.S.Adiga. 

Next morning, I reported in PB Road Branch. This Branch was the hot bed of Union Politics. In this Branch, the National Secretary of the Union, Mr. Joshi, was working as a senior clerk. A soft spoken but hard nut, this man read the rule book from first to last and last to first pages. It was becoming difficult for Managers and officers to argue with him. He was not a bad man. I observed this within a week. He was branded bad as Managers and officers who were ineffective to tackle him. 

Our Manager was Mr. P.B. Kamath here. His weakness was he worked his whole service in Head Office and was very poor in Branch operations. The second in line was on long leave, so effectively I was second in line. He was not happy. A trainee and a Manager, who can not train. I made friends with Joshi first and sought his guidance on the Branch operations there. He was helping me in the counters. This surprised the Manager. Other clerks followed Joshi. Within a fortnight, I started clearing the pending work in the branch. Mr. Joshi and other clerks used to complete daily routine sitting late hours. The message went to Mandipet. Shivayogappa, who was on leave the day I joined, came particularly to see me. He wanted to see how I looked and what was so special in me that made Mr. Joshi, one of my best guides. He was not knowing English and my Kannada was good but was breaking. Soon after I was introduced to him I folded both hands and said "Namaskara". His reaction was surprising. "Did nobody tell about me?" he asked. I said I heard a lot about him, but I heard lot about Mr. Joshi too, He said I was too clever and Mr. Joshi diverted the subject. That was my first encounter with a man, who was branded demon in the region, but who became my best friend in three years.

Within my deputation period, I cleared almost the whole pending work in the Branch and the Manager refused to relieve me.  There was a tussle between him, the other manager and Regional Manager. RM forced him to relieve me. (Irony was that the Manager was later reverted and posted to Mandipet Branch and was taking instructions from me, as I was de facto number two there. He was my father's age almost).

Back in my parent branch, I was greeted with enthusiasm this time around. Manager was skeptical, though. He already earned a very bad name as ineffective and corrupt to the core. Most of the time he was sleeping in his quarters.  Branch was being managed by one Mr. Ramnath Nayak, who was the blue eyed boy of the Regional Manager.  He was very efficient, though cranky. My role was limited to playing second fiddle to  this Senior Officer. He guided me in the Branch profile and soon I was my own self. As his promotion and transfer were in the offing soon, he slowly delegated the work to me and soon he left on promotion. 


Trade Unionism in Banking and Insurance sectors could not be called "militant", but the very nature of operations make it a pain in the neck for officers on the job. Both sectors are directly dealing with customers, who demand better service always. In Banking it is more so, as the customer is to be served within a time frame say from 10.30 AM and 2.30 PM and the day's account had to be tallied and closed by 5.30 PM. It was all manual. There was no permission to use even a pocket calculator, leave alone computers. Only in the middle parts of the eighties we were permitted to use calculators. But these too were supplied to only big branches. 

To add to the pain, there were two strong unions in these parts of Karnataka, one BMS affiliated NOBW, the minority union and the majority union Communist leaning AIBEA. There was constant tussle between these two unions thus making lives of officers miserable. Working hours used to stretch to midnight some days. In Mandipet, there were two AIBEA stalwarts Shivayogappa and Maheswarappa, each controlling his own group and at loggerheads all the time, sometimes physical too. NOBW was represented by Ramesh Prabhu, who was equally vociferous. Whenever a new recruit joined the tussle used to multiply, in order to enroll him in respective unions. I observed officers were indirectly promoting interests of one group or the other in a "divide and rule" policy. This boomeranged usually. Unless the leader takes all with him, the going will be tough for all.

Thus, life at Davangere left an indelible mark on my life. My family life suffered. My prolonged working hours troubled my wife who was struggling with two  children and carrying again. It went to such an extent that she was picking quarrels with my Manager's wife, in broken Kannada. Once, she told her that she needed family life and "leave my husband to me and to  my children" . I took it lightly.  Even now, it looks funny to me. (Me and my Manager used to stay in the same building, attached to the Bank).

Please be reading. Telugu version follows for both ninth and tenth parts soon.

It is boring to read minute details of one's family and working life. But in each step, I faced challenges. If I look back, I feel, all decisions taken by me were wrong prima facie, but a deep introspection convinces me I was right at every step, uncompromising and stubborn. Or, would I have been in a position to recollect each incident and write this? I kept my mind clean and my brain sharp.  That was and is my singular achievement. As I go further you will understand.

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Always have the situation under control, even if losing. Never betray an inward sense of defeat.