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Moving up the ladder

All the while I continued my involvement with the Mysore State Inter Bank Sports and Arts Council which I founded in 1963 and of which I was the Secretary for all but the last two years. The pressure of work first as Head Clerk and then as an Officer forced me to give up the Secretary-ship eventually. However I continued my association with the Council as Vice President. On return from my training at Tiruchi I was posted to our Regional Office and handed the charge of starting a Staff Training Centre, the first in Bangalore. Within six months the Training Centre was set up, thanks to my untiring efforts. The job having been accomplished successfully the Regional Office handed me the transfer order to report at the Bijapur branch. Ironically on the day of inauguration of the Training Centre by the then Chairman of the Bank I was reporting at Bijapur branch in North Karnataka as an Officer, the first of several such outstation assignments, although the big wigs in the Regional Office requested me to stay for the inauguration which I politely declined. Here is a small story. After setting up the Training Centre, I was named as its Care Taker which had it come about would have ensured my continued stay in Bangalore for a few years at least. But just as I was waiting for the Order, the Personnel Manager called me over to tell me that “your sishya has overtaken you” and explained to me that the Care Taker’s job which should have been mine has been handed over to G.R.Viswanath, the great cricketer for whose appointment in the Bank I was personally responsible a few years ago. The Bank planned to use him for Public Relations work as he was a well known figure being a great national and international cricketer and every one including prospective customers could easily identify with him. I was reminded of an occasion when the then Managing Director, Mr.Ramananda Rao (yes the same gentleman who helped and inspred me to start the cricket team in 1963) was invited by me to distribute prizes at a Table Tennis tournament I had organized utilizing his presence in town on an official visit. In my welcoming speech I had eulogized the services rendered by Mr.Rao to the cause of sports in the Bank over the years. In his reply he dismissed the import of my praise saying that his promoting sports in the Bank was purely selfish only with an eye on the enormous publicity it would generate among people especially the sport minded ones which could attract more and more people to invest in the Bank. To illustrate this he said that when a match involving our teams was in progress the spectators would identify the players with the team he belonged to and if the team is State Bank of India the name would make an impact in their minds and when they think of a Bank they would like to deal with it would be our Bank. The Bank should have thought that a post like the care taker did require the services of an experienced officer like me. But then in its wisdom the Bank decided it could be handled by an inexperienced official whose only qualification was playing cricket. That ended my aspirations to remain in Bangalore finally. It was Bijapur chalo!

As soon as I accepted promotion I knew that the time of separation from my family was soon to come. Within a few months after promotion as Officer I was to go on transfer to a place called Bijapur which was a good 24 hours bus ride from Bangalore. After much deliberation I decided to leave the family back and stay alone in the new place in order not to disturb the children’s education. My daughters were in college and my son in a good public school. Had I shifted the family to Bijapur their education would certainly have suffered. Further the higher ups in the Regional Office assured me that I would be transferred back after a few months.

Though efforts were made by the Officers’ Association to cancel the transfer it was a futile attempt. Assurances were given to me by various people to help me out but it was all an eye wash. At this time I have to recall a small drama played by the Regional Manager whom I met before leaving for Bijapur. I had planned a detailed program for the varied activities of the Mysore State Inter Bank Sports & Arts Council for that year which was to commence soon and wanted to discuss what should be done about it now that I was leaving town. The Regional Manager was well aware of this as he was the President of the Council while I was the Vice President. He had been taking a lot of interest in the running of the Council as he was also a keen sportsman. I had gone to meet him to discuss the fate of all these activities once I leave Bangalore when to my surprise he spoke and acted as if he was the least concerned about what happened to the nearly decade old organization built up by my sweat and toil. He had the compunction to tell me that such activities did not find a place in the Bank’s working and I should not even think about them. If I wanted to do such work I should quit the Bank and join Ramakrishna Mission to do social work, he suggested. He even mocked me by handing me a sheet of paper to write a letter of resignation. It was simply a great shock to me. I just stood up and without even saying good bye left his room. All the enthusiasm and work I had put in during the last several years to bring a sports culture in the Bank appeared to mean nothing. The incident left a bitter taste in the mouth. In the next couple of days I left Bangalore on way to Bijapur to begin the next phase of my life. It is another matter that the Council wound up shortly thereafter. Even the files which were with the then Secretary went missing without a trace.

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