That is precisely what one should not do with any State bank of India Staff circular. One can look fairly at the language used only at one's peril. I suppose, nobody reads the circulars for its literary merit or to make oneself conversant with the correct and idiomatic use of the English language. Certainly, not after the Scots and Irish left and the Iyers and Iyangaars and Bhadralog took over drafting of the circulars. Certainly not after these preferred children of Macaulay were replaced by the cattle from the gangetic plains and the 'once born' hordes from the South. The circulars became mere carriers of information and misinformation written in admirable gobbledygook. English language in the Bank as a whole became colourless, and tasteless and grammarless and style-less. An occasional comment like " This file is maintained as shabbily as the undergarments of a Roman Catholic woman".enlivened things a bit once in a while, but those were rare exceptions. ( I cannnot testify to the factual correctness of the sweeping statement quoted, but doubtless SBI then had on it's ranks quite a few who could!)
The trigger for this rambling thoughts was the far more rambling speeches by some of the former livestock of SBI in the 10th.Annual Conference of the Pensioners association at Pearl Regency, Trissur. The script and the actors couldn't have been truer to form and tradition. The welcome speech was by a serving official of the Bank who was apparently not briefed properly. He was half way through his welcome address when the 'old maidens' selected for presenting bouquets to the dignitaries were in place. One of them rightly identified the General Secretary of the Staff Union as the most important guest and was presenting the bouquet to him when she was virtually pushed forward and made to give it to the circle Chief General Manager to the accompaniment of insipid hand clapping. The remaining bouquets were also disposed of somehow and the speeches on predicable lines completed. CGM extolling the Bank for it's enlightened HR policy; the General Secretaries appreciating the helpful attitude of the Circle authorities; the Officers association representative assuring the Federation's fraternal support; and the General Secretary of the Union going hammer and tongs against the Bank dripping militancy from every pore of his body.
The charade of the day however is not the main subject of this posting. I suppose there is a dominant and recurring theme in every field of human endeavour. In staff matters in the Bank , it used to be a complicated calculation chart showing " Had I continued as a Head clerk...." which invariably came in the wake of every salary revision/fixation. After considerable research and effort some guy will come up with two tabular charts, one showing the paid amount and the other the payable amount, claiming that he would have been benefited by an amount of, say, Rs.113.25 had he continued as a head clerk. I dare say the benefit to the Bank in most cases would have been far more tangible if he was not promoted at all.
The Government, Management, Association/Unions all know when a settlement is going to end. But by design they all conspire to ensure that a new settlement is not in place sufficiently before. The discussions start after the expiry of the earlier settlement. A series of discussions and a couple of token strikes later an ambiguously worded settlement is reached leaving enough opportunities for the union leaders to agitate on 'anomalies' whenever they feel like. In the process 'staff experts' get entrenched in administrative offices colluding with associations/unions and abetting irrational Management whims and prejudices. Confidential reports are rewritten/ replaced, appraisal marks juggled with, postings manipulated and what not.
The reign of the VI th.manu was especially turbulent with the Bank embarking on a rationalisation of staff. Like in all such cases, rationalisation meant downsizing and attractive VRS schemes were offered to induce people to go. And quite a few left, mostly good staff. That was when the Government realised that the VRS scheme offered had a major flaw and the retirees benefited more than what was intended. The Govt. apparently decided to withhold extending the benefits of the bipartite settlement to all who retired during that period. And ever since this recurring theme as an agenda item in all Pensioners' meets. The office bearers of the Pensioners'.association would have been happy with such a convenient agenda item but for the fact that they are also aggrieved parties.
Incidentally, one other dominant and recurring theme which had helped me considerably during my tenure as Development Manager (C&I) was the Jayankondan power project.. It was a time when there was hardly any demand for corporate advances. I was having a tough time explaining away the negative variance in advances in performance review meetings. It was then that I stumbled upon 'Jayankondan' thermal power project which was to come up somewhere near Trichy. I found out that my predecessor had managed to get away for over twenty four months by stating that the project take off was imminent and once that happens all growth targets would be met. Jayankondan helped me also to survive in the post for over twenty months.
I don't know whether the project was ever implemented.
Note: That brings me to an incident which illustrates clearly what Rowlatt must have meant. There were allegations of irregularities in extensive DIR lending in a branch near Varanasi. The Agent was changed and an old bandicoot of pre- independence vintage posted there with instructions to ' personally verify all the loans and submit a report, pointing out inter alia whether there is any malafide in the lending". The old war horse had no intention of submitting any report and filed away the letter. Soon he started getting reminder letters and telegrams. So he decided to act and shot off a reply.
" With reference to your letter No.. dated... I have verified all the DIR lending and have to confirm that the question of inter alia does not arise"
The file was closed without any further correspondence..