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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Munching the past.



In the long span of my career with this great organisation, nearly forty two years, there were two spells, when I I had more to learn .

The first one in 80s when I travelled from place to place throughout south India. From Sholapur in the west  to Medak and Parvathipuram  (now possibly Telengana ) down to Kaladi and Kanyakumari, in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, I travelled wide and far  (by road or rails) through rain and shine, and met my own colleagues to know and record  how  they did jobs better or worse than how I could do.

The second one, in later 90s, when I was pinned to a place like the Street Corner VINAYAKA  when people from all corners visited and dined with me and not only that,  listened to me (!) too.

In both, to introspect, I had too many learning points.

In mid 80s, my job was to visit various offices, pick up holes in the performances and pen a thesis on them.  Most times  you just scratch the surface, The unseemly ants appear from nowhere, so many that you stop counting and just take a snap of the scenario.  Enough is enough. You call it a day. You need not quote 500 instances when just five will prove what you intend to.

In some places however you will have to dig and go deep . You get disappointed at the first instance no doubt, but no sooner, it dawns on you that people are there amidst us who always strive for perfection whether at home, or at office or even at junctions where  six-roads cross. There are enough people who keep cool despite the turmoil all around.  .

In Audit and inspection, it was then our practice to sum up as we finish.  There existed no statistical method to rank various offices, but the minors and majors we found summed up to show before the higher-ups whether the office shines or shivers.   (Ratings of Excellent to Poor, I mean.). Questions Papers were pre-designed and previous years' reports provided the road. A lot of people even when bitten several times, never get shy. We call them REPEAT MAJORS.

Did I not say earlier, "that I had too many learning points"?

Yes. On one fine morning,  our team landed where   Lord Shiva @ Nataraja dances in ecstasy with his left foot  up tempting or challenging His Spouse to dance with Him. If you so feel, you can get lost in that rhythm of this cosmic dance HERE.



We had a good  breakfast at the sky high temple kitchen..  Hot idlis vadais and pongal. Coffee however was not that good.  Lord Nataraja in his days did not have Coffee Plantation A perhaps.

We proceeded to the Office which was very nearby. It was customary to see the Head of the office before the leader of the Team, shouts "START". 

As we neared his cabin, a big lock mocked at us. The next-man-in-charge told us he was on leave.

"When will he be back?" we asked him.

"We do not know. .."....Pausing for a few minutes, he murmured, "Perhaps he himself does not know..." 


Though a couple of us were eager to know WHY, I thought we should start the work for which we were there.  "That does not matter. We will start the work" I said to my team and as was usual, allotted the jobs to my other colleagues.

I allotted to myself the Departments of NEW BUSINESS and OFFICE SERVICE. My good colleagues were given PS and Accounts and Sales Departments.

It was all usual as I  finished and had answers for the NB Department. A few minors here and there and in between a major or two. That would be enough, I thought. Two days had already rolled. I was left with one and half days. The afternoon of the last day has to be for discussion with the Head of the Office.

I checked up whether the man in charge of the OS was there.  I neared him. Said " A fine morning !"
He responded with a smile with folded hands.

In a moment, I was in for a pleasant surprise too. All that I had to examine, I mean, the leave registers, leave application forms, attendance registers, pay rolls of employees, Registers of tax deduction details, etc., stock registers, were already stacked on a table nearby. I was happy about the person who I thought had much forethought.

"So nice of you" I said. "that you have kept all the papers ready for our looking into"

He just smiled.

Little did I know as I opened the registers, I was in for a shock this time.

Yes.  Almost all the registers were blank.   Here and there, a few pencil entries were found.

"My good friend ! Possibly, the current files are elsewhere" I suggested.

"No. These are the current files and registers." He asserted.

"But no entries in any  of the books. ! " I exclaimed.

"Yes. " he kept his cool. you see all the other papers are stacked here." He showed a side rack which revealed bundles of papers in all colours, shapes and sizes.
 
For a moment, I did not know  how to proceed. There was little to be checked.  I called my colleagues and explained that when apparently no work is done, what to check for ?

That Colleague who was allotted SALES department, said, "you then give that department to me, take SALES . I am not able to finish this one."

Would it not be better I consult the Man-in-charge ? So, I called on the Second Man in charge of the Branch. He confided that that was the position for the last six months.

My discreet enquiries revealed that OS -in-charge  had an issue with the Head of the Office. He has a score to settle. But  that Head is missing now, why and for how long he will be missing, none knew.

Anyway, we are to return back to Head Quarters after four days. We did.

For several days, months, I used to recollect what had  happened  at that pilgrim centre where Shiva and Vishnu are comfortable to be tenants at the same Apartment. But a  a BM and his deputy could not be at peace between themselves but would not see the other man's face !!

But then.....!!!

NO WORK !!  AND THEN NO MISTAKES TOO !!

THAT MADE ME  recollect what my immediate Officer (then called Jay Oh) told me in 1962.

That was when all the work was centralised at Divisional Office. Early 1960s.

At the Loans Department, in the quotation Section itself, there were as many as 5 assistants, two HGAs.  Papers from HGAs (me included) went straight to Jay Oh

Those were the days when all the calculations, such as paid up value, bonus, surrender value factor multiplications, were to be done manually.  No calculators were available.

Luckily, one day a hand driven calculating machine came along and the then AO (Sri N.V.Parameswaran who was later to become DZM) offered it to me and suggested I could use it.

 
FACIT CALCULATOR.
Facit CI-13

With the help of this machine, I could do a little more than 25 calculations per day, whereas my colleague doing manually could do no more than 5 to 7 per day.

{"how do you multiply 3468 x 45.65 ? you appear to do fast ? " asked my Supdt. one day. He was the tallest man I ever found inside our office. More than 6 ft. Believe me. He was about to retire. A workaholic. Despite his age, the spirit of learning continued till his last day.
I told him you just press digits 3468 and then rotate the handle 45.65 times. I thought of playing a joke. Poor old man. Believed what I said. He started immediately. After two minutes, he stopped. Asked I did 45 rotations. but how to rotate .45 times? " I said: " Order me a cup of coffee. I shall teach you "}

Everyday, as the calculations were checked and came back for preparing the covering letter, I was sad to see that I erred in at least 3 to 4 on some value, resulting in a wrong loan value.

In such circumstances, the JO was persuading me to do more also.

One day, I went to the JO told him in a loud voice ( you know, I was then an union man ! ) that because I did more work, I did more mistakes. I quoted my colleague who, I said, did only five and all the five quotations were 100% correct.

The J.O. (I do not remember whether he was a first batch officer ) asked me to sit before him."

"Sury !" He said, calmly, looking friendly at my eyes.

"I will not do more than 5 hereafter," I continued. "And you must know why. I do not want to be known by my colleagues as a person who commits mistakes."

"Let it be. Will you listen to me ?"  He suggested.

"yes."

"you know ! only a person who works commits mistakes . If you do not do any work, or work commensurate with your skills, you will never commit any mistakes also.!"

I kept quiet.

"you can decide. Whether you need to know your maximum potential or be stagnant and remain complacent. "

"But I am committing mistakes.!!"

"To find out , I am here. Why for then I am paid and be here also ? . See the moment I put my initials for having checked it, it is my responsibility"

For a moment, I could see in his eyes the love of a father. The shining Grace of a teacher.

Decades after, I saw him in 90s in one of the 5 x 8 cabins at Central Office.

The board at the entrance said: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR  (HRD) IT WAS NOT A SURPRISE FOR ME.  HE DESERVED TO BE IN MUCH HIGHER A CABIN.

Respected Krishnan Sir !

Where are you now !!




 

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