“It always seems impossible until its done” – Nelson Mandela
Have you ever found two branches (with different names) located in the same village with a population of less than five thousand? But I found it when I was Regional Manager of Region-IV of Ranchi Module in Patna Circle of SBI. After taking over the charge of the Region in April, 2002, I started visiting branches (48) and in that process, I went to Katkamsandi, Head Quarter of Katkamsandi Block in Hazaribagh District. It is 24 KM from Hazaribagh town. Our Katkamsandi Branch was located in the Block premises. It took me around two hours to complete the task. As per the programme, I had to visit two more branches viz. Chatti and Pathalgada in the same route. My next destination was Chatti Branch. Exactly after two minutes, the car stopped and to my utter surprise, I found myself in front of our Chatti Branch. Any stretch of imagination, nobody can think of such a small branch. It is housed in a room having an area of approximately 250 sq.ft. There was hardly any activity at the branch. Moreover, it was a loss making branch. On my query as to how the branch is located in Katkamsandi, the Branch Manager told me that the branch was originally located at Dantokhurd, a village 12 K.M. away from Katkamsandi and Chatti is an adjoining village but as no pucca house was available at the material time, the branch had to be shifted at its present location in the name of Chatti (as there was already a branch at Katkamsandi). For any further details, he told me to talk to Shri B S Rathour, the then District Co-ordinator (who was also the District Secretary of SBIOA).
As gathered, the branch was opened in a Christian missionary campus (managed by nuns) at Dantokhurd, located in a difficult area without proper road and to reach there one had to cross two rivulets. Both Branch Manager and Assistant used to stay inside the missionary campus. After almost three years, the nuns objected to their continuing inside the campus and as it was impossible to commute from Hazaribagh, shifting of the branch was the only option.
Next day, after reaching office, I wanted to know if any attempts were made to merge those two branches. After some time, Deputy Manager (General Banking) came to me with a bulky file. I glanced through the file and found that sporadic efforts were made over a period of 15 years but without any result. I, however, decided to complete the task within a short time. I discussed the issue with the District Co-ordinator and chalked out the plan. We then met the Deputy Commissioner, Hazaribagh District and sought his co-operation. He was convinced and agreed to our proposal with the unequivocal understanding that targets of both the branches under various government sponsored schemes would be met by Katkamsandi Branch, post merger. Accordingly, our proposal was put up to District Level Credit Committee (DLCC) and it was approved without much hassles. It took us around one month to get the letter of approval from DLCC.
Next step was to submit our proposal to the Department of Planning & Programme Implementation, Govt. of Jharkhand. With a view to knowing the formalities, myself along with the Dy. Manager (DM) went to meet the Secretary of the concerned Dept. However, as he busy with an urgent meeting, we met the Deputy Director(DD), the second officer in rank in the Department. We discussed the matter with him and as suggested by him, we submitted the proposal within a week. As per discussion, we expected that necessary permission would be granted within a maximum period of two months. I, however, directed the officer concerned in our office to meet the DD after a month. Meanwhile, while attending some other meeting with the Secretary, Planning & Programme Implementation, I took the opportunity to brief him on our proposal. He assured me of quick action on this score.
After expiry of a month, the officer visited the department with the sole purpose of following up the matter. When he reached there, the DD told him, ‘Don’t worry, your work will be done shortly’. When he narrated this to me, I told him, ‘Let us hope so’. Another month also went away but without any result. The officer again met the DD and he was told, ‘There were huge pressure of work and as such, I could not look into the proposal. I shall now dispose it of in quick time’. On hearing this, I got little upset though we had no choice but to keep on following up. This time I told the officer to visit the DD after a week and then at weekly intervals till the permission was received. The process continued for about two months. Then one day I decided to meet the Secretary and before meeting him I met the DD. I requested him to let me know if we needed to provide any further information in that matter. He said, “ Sorry, Boss. Aapko ane ki zarurat nain tha. Aapka officer to mereko yad dilate rahate hain. Magar is type ka kaam mein samay lagta hi hai. Chinta mat kijiye aapka kam ho jayega.” (Sorry, Boss. You need not come for this. Your officer is constantly in touch with me. However, this type of works take some more time, don’t worry your work will be done.) I, however, requested him to expedite the matter and left his chamber. I then went to the Secretary and requested him to give necessary permission at the earliest.
After almost a month, my colleague who was religiously following up the matter gave me some good news. He told me, “Sir, I have seen the file with positive recommendation and I am told that it is being put up to SLBC this week.” After a week, one day around 11.30 a.m., I got a call from DD. He told me that our proposal had been approved. I thanked him profusely. I was so happy that we celebrated that news in the office. After almost 10 days, we received a letter to this effect from the Government. Though it took more than six months to get the permission, we were happy because we believe in the principle ‘ Nothing succeeds like success’.
I joined SBI as a Probationary Officer in 1981. Since then, I have worked in various capacities as Branch Manager, Regional Manager and Deputy General Manager at different places. My specialised areas are Credit and General Banking.
I also was Chairperson of Reserve Bank of India Working Group on Evaluation of Feasibility of Aadhaar based Biometric Authentication as Additional factor of Authentication for card present transactions and related issues.
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