Tuesday, December 15, 2020

I Swear , I am alive

 Visitor to note : This is a post on submission of Life certificate by pensioners, and if the subject does not interest you. . . . .Bye

In case you are still reading, hello dear Pensioner / well wisher.

This is an account of the travails of a pensioner who would like to assert that he is alive!

In India, many categories of people receiving Pension were expected to appear before the Pension disbursing official , who will certify that he/she is alive on that day, thereby becoming eligible to receive pension until the next appearance at the specified date. The process of appearing before the official in a short window of time every year, was causing concern for some people who are immobile due to age or those who travel out of India and also those who are abroad with their relatives, as the non submission would be taken that the pensioner is not alive leading to suspension of the pension.

As part of Digital India process, the Government of India , introduced an alternate scheme of submitting this Life Certificate digitally, making use of the Unique Identification process with the Aadhaar card, dispensing with the personal appearance requirement. As is with Banks in India, initially many were reluctant to embrace this process more due to their lack of initiative to understand the process as evidenced in the stakeholders learning their lessons out of computerization late which the representative bodies of employees stoutly resisted only to realize later that it actually eases the work of their members in addition to sizeable incentives in the name of allowances.

The banks in their misplaced defiance had the audacity to drag its feet on a scheme introduced by the Prime Minister of India in 2014 and it took some legal arm twisting by some pensioners to make them fall in line.  

Some banks took to the scheme reluctantly but did its best to drive the pensioners away from it and recommended physical submission ! Even now a pensioner in Karnataka lamented that the bank official there said that it is illegal to submit life certificate digitally !!! 

As pressures mounted, the banks adopted the Digital Life Certificate as part of the process and started including this in their circulars giving legitimacy to DLC. But, the communication from banks to its pensioners wildly varied. While a stringent circular announced that failing to submit Life Certificate before the stipulated date will result in the stoppage of pension disbursement, the circular itself was never made to reach all the pensioners. It is time the banks realize that their formal directive of displaying the circular at the branches is not serving the purpose as the aged pensioners rarely visit  branches due to Internet banking & ATM. While banks like Union Bank of India informed their pensioners with SMS and Emails, many banks did not even care to inform their pensioners about these requirements. Wonder why the banks should not use the same electronic channels to communicate to the pensioners, which they do to their advantage ?

In the meanwhile the system of Digital Life Certificate (DLC) submission through Jeevan Pramaan (https://jeevanpramaan.gov.in/)  using a simple Finger Print scanner was getting more popular and had started attracting more pensioners with every passing year. The govt has done well to give a very detailed process and an unambiguous FAQ in the Jeevan Pramaan website.

I decided to try this method in 2019 and with some efforts was able to submit the DLC successfully and detailed the steps I undertook in my blogpost at: https://bankerkapali.blogspot.com/2019/11/digital-life-certificate.html  for the benefit of others.

This year , based on earlier experience and egged by the confidence attempted the same and was pleasantly surprised that the DLC was generated and submitted with minimal efforts. 

My assumption that the issue settled there was belied when my bank dragged its feet to recognize the submission.

We are used to adapt any process hesitantly and in line with that the yearly circular on life certificate  carefully avoided mention of individual acknowledgement of DLC from the bank to pensioners. This created some anxiety for the pensioners , as even after submission one is not sure whether the same is being recognized by the banks concerned despite clear directives from the Government of India.

I submitted my DLC on 10-Nov-2020, well ahead of the stipulated deadline of 31-Dec-2020. Though Jeevan Pramaan clearly states that the pensioners need not follow-up, knowing the process in our banks and by way of abundant caution, I communicated to my Pension payment branch about the same enclosing the DLC, for their records.

Keeping with the tradition, the branch kept silent with no response and slowly I escalated the issue to the pension cell, which was also silent on the communication.

Wanting to create a more visible evidence, I chose to lodge a grievance in the Pensioner's portal of the bank, despite the discouragement of seeing my earlier grievance of 2018 in an OPEN status !!! So much for online grievance redressal system in a nationalized bank ???!!

Undeterred, I lodged a complaint and waited for a response , which was expectedly absent. 

Then, I chose to lodge a 'Customer Complaint' through provision in the bank's portal , but  was stonewalled with a repeated 'Run Time Error' , at the last stage of submission.

Peeved at the indifference and lack of avenues , I chose to approach a General manager of the bank , giving details of all the efforts , copying the branch. Within hours came a reply from the branch that the DLC, submitted on 10th Nov has been approved on the 15th Dec, 2020.

The question is why should the pensioner be allowed to go from pillar to post to register a compliance that has been made by him?

What prevents the branch management to update the status or acknowledge such an important action by the pensioner, as the Jeeva Pramaan clearly states that a message will be sent to the bank immediately? 

What is the Accountability of the Senior Manager of the bank who failed in his duty?

Of what purpose is the online Grievance Management systems and where is the accountability for an issue that has kept open for over 18 months !!

Should  an Executive be dragged and his attention drawn for making such simple updates??

Last but not the least, what is preventing the banks from communicating with the customers directly through email (whoever has), while this data is being collected every year ??

Despite all the talks of computerization and digital banking, it is sad that  some banks in India still require names to dropped to shake them up from their Rip van winkle like slumber.

Greater accountability, not only in Non Performance Assets , but in every facet of official duties is the need of the hour. The erring bankers should also realize that it is futile to compare themselves with better organized corporate sectors when they do not match their service standards. Such indifference to customers in corporate sectors will be considered sacrilege and the doors will be opened for officials exhibiting such dereliction to be shown the exit path, into oblivion.

 Such bankers, should realize that it is not enough to compare them with corporate sector just for the purpose of wages but should also learn to perform like them.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Digital Life Certificate

Many steps are being taken by the Government of India towards alleviating the pains of senior citizens. One such effort is reaching out to super senior and immobile citizens, in RBI directing the officials of the bank to get the life certificates by visiting them, at a mutually convenient time. One of the laudable steps towards submission of Life Certificate (LC) by pensioner, which is required to be given once in a year normally in November for Bank pensioners, is to introduce submitting them electronically. The scheme was inaugurated way back in 2014, but it took so much of time for many banks to bring in the systems in place to enable the Pensioners to submit Digital Life Certificate (DLC). This is a boon to the pensioners, particularly those who are away from India to be with their children towards mutual support.

Through some followups, support and gathering data, I was able to submit the DLC for the first time,  yesterday (29-Nov-2019) from home and this post is an attempt to walk through the steps I took, so that it could be of some guidance and use to others who want to emulate.  I would hasten to add that these are the steps 'I took' towards successful completion of this task and it is to be noted that the hardware or the approach adopted here are not 'the' method and there could be many more, better and efficient ones too !

Hardware used:
a. A Laptop with Windows 10
b. Mantra MFS100 Finger Print Scanner (refer picture below)

I spoke to many who were using such FP scanners and also to one who is actually running a business organization, supporting pensioners in submitting DLC. In fact, Canara Bank , in its circular has mentioned eight such machines but, I was recommended this and so used this. This is available at Amazon (https://www.amazon.in/ ) or one could also get directly by approaching the manufacturers (refer: https://www.mantratec.com/ )

Following are recommended steps based on my experience:
  1. Visit the Jeevan Pramaan website: https://jeevanpramaan.gov.in/ 
  2. Go to its 'Download' page, as shown below:

3. Download :       JeevanPramaanInstaller_v3.6
4. For the hardware, I was using as referred above, visit the website: https://download.mantratecapp.com/Forms/DownLoadFiles

5. Download the Driver:  MFS100Driver (Refer: Below)

6. Download the Driver: MantraRDService  

Following are the Downloads made: 

7. Double click on all application files (in your downloads folder) and install all of them, guided by the prompts made

Aadhaar Authentication:
8. Double click on Jeevan Pramaan shortcut on your desktop , which should appear like this : 


9. Provide all details requested in the screen, as below:

10. On giving the required inputs, a OTP is sent to both the Mobile number and email.
11. When successfully given, a confirmation email is sent, with a reference code as below:



To Generate Digital Life Certificate:
12. Again click on Jeevan Pramaan shortcut (as in step-8 above)
13. A screen from Life Certificate System will appear as below:
14. To complete the above , following details were provided :
a.       Type of Pension is ‘Service’
b.       Sanctioning Authority is ‘Banking Staff’
c.       Disbursing Agency is  ‘Bank’
d.       Agency  'Indian Overseas Bank' was chosen
e.       After providing all the details, DO NOT FORGET to tick the Check box near “I the holder of Aadhaar…” and keep your finger (I kept Left hand thumb) firmly on the specified place in the scanner

15. An acknowledgement screen will then flash  as below:
You can print the DLC, if a printer is connected to your device 

16. An SMS will come on the mobile as below: 
17.  An email will also be received as below:
To Print the Digital Life Certificate:
18. Click on the link provided in the email acknowledgement
19. You will be led to a page as below:

19. On providing the Pramaan ID, a screen will appear as below:
20. Click on 'Download Life Certificate', from where the LC could be downloaded in pdf format
21. Note to Logout , after completion of the task.
Some points to ponder:
A.  The above procedure was adopted by me for submitting DLC from my laptop. For using mobile, it may vary and I guess some Apps are also to be used for this purpose

B. As already mentioned above, there are many finger print scanner devices available in the market.  On my analysis, this appeared to be popular and so I used this. One could analyze and choose according to their comfort level.

C.  I feel this facility of DLC will be more useful for Pensioners who are away from India, as the OTP comes both through the mobile as well as through Email and people away from India should enjoy this instead of dependence on OTP through mobile only. Of course, for whose who are in India and could afford, a better method will be to go to ANY branch and submit the LC, until the system and staff settle down with the procedure.

Some queries and my suggested responses:
1. Will submission of Digital Life Certificate be accepted by our Bank?
Answer: Facility of DLC is provided by the Government of India and a bank does not have any option of accepting or otherwise. RBI in its circular (given below) has clearly directed the banks to create awareness about facility of DLC through its branches, website and other means.

2. Is Digital Life Certificate facility available for our Bank Pensioners?
Answer: Our Bank circular clearly states that the " ....branch can update Life Certificate through Jeevan Pramaan ..."- See extract of the circular below:

3. Should the pensioner (after submitting Digital Life Certificate through Jeevan Pramaan) , go to his/her  Pension branch and submit details?

Answer: 
As per law - "Not Necessary", as the above mentioned circulars from RBI and IOB clearly state that the Pension Disbursing Authority (PDA) could get the updated status of the Life certificate of Pensioners from the Jeevan Pramaan website. Please also refer to the Jeevan Pramaan FAQ , quoted below: 




However, in Banking we are used to Law and Practice ! So, to be on the safer side, the individual pensioner could track the status through Retirees Portal, where the status is updated. Also, one could meet the Pension officer and inform him/her about submitting DLC. Normally, experiences, as shared by some other Bank Retirees, is that the Pension officer asks for the Pramaan ID to extract the DLC. Though not required to share, one could give this just to ensure that the process is complete and that the pension continues to be credited.


4. Even after submitting DLC, will the pensioner be asked to come to the branch to sign physical copy of the Life certificate?
Answer: No need, as explained above. At best, the pensioner could direct the Pension officer to get the DLC.

5. Life Certificate issued under Jeevan Praman is essentially based on biometric authentication. One cannot do this at home simply based on aadhaar OTP


Answer: No , one can do it from home.
   a.  Jeevan Pramaan FAQ states that it can be generated from Home. Please refer to the screenshot below:

      b. IOB circular 7D-26 of 24.09.2018 also confirms this. Please refer to the extract of the circular which is given below


6. “. . . as any one can misuse it after the life time of pensioner. . . “


 Answer: No- As it is a real time finger print verification, it is not that easy to misuse

7. “…  Pension Payment Authority should have been enrolled under the scheme and will issue a notification to pensioners that Life Certificate under Jeevan Praman will be accepted….”

Answer: Very True.

a. IOB has already been notified about this – Kindly refer to Jeevan Pramaan list dated 10-Oct-2019, downloaded from JP website – Refer enclosure: DLC_PDA_Authority_1














b. IOB has also mentioned about this in its circular 7D-26 of 24.09.2018 requesting branches to sensitize about the JP scheme and its process

c.  IOB in its circular 7-D no: 30 of 25.10.2018 has already confirmed that “Jeevan Pramaan has been implemented in our bank since 2015..” – See enclosure DLC_PDA_Authority_2

8. “… Pensioner has to go to the Authorised centers/ outlets , where one can submit Life Certificates using bio metric authentication …”
Answer:
No, Not necessary. If one has the infrastructure, then one can generate DLC , even from home, as quoted above

The above are based on my experiences and every other person is likely to have different perceptions and experiences. Will be happy to be shared with other thoughts, if any, on the subject. I would also recommend interested persons to spend some time on the world wide web, which has tonnes of information on DLC.

9. “So far I have not come across any circular issued by our Bank (IOB) on the acceptability of Life Certificate under Jeevan Praman.”
Answer:
It is already done by IOB- Please refer IOB circular 7D-26 of 24.09.2018 and also the latest circular LC_7F_105_2019_NOV_01, wherein it is clearly stated about submission of Digital Life certificate through Jeevan Pramaan – Refer: Y_IOB_CIRCULAR, below


10. “For JP LC we have to take print & despatch to the bank branch”
AnswerNot necessary. The DLC is available to the Pension Disbursing Authorities electronically and they can download them- Refer: DLC_to_bank below:


 Note: I have also created a document of this post and should anyone need the same for reference, kindly send me an email at mail2kapali@gmail.com and I shall respond at the earliest.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Maligning the culture !!


Of late, it has become a practice to attribute things and activities to  'Corporate culture'- mostly when they go bad or wrong. And this has become the whipping boy for everyone, even from those who would find it difficult to spell the word ‘corporate’. While every culture has its points for review leading to growth, the tendency to sweep this off with a single stroke is disappointing.  But then, amongst other things, there are also many practices in corporate that are worthy to emulate. Some such are 'Innovative thinking' and 'Art of Appreciation'. Unfortunately, the lack of these practices in some are hurting the current banking scenario and this is an attempt to highlight their need for the serving and retired bank men, whose comments could impact the bank staff morale.

Taking cues from the corporate or other culture, some bank men from a popular nationalized bank in Chennai have thought innovatively and decided to hit the road, catch the customer or prospects on their early morning walk to get first hand feedback and to propagate some of the bank's offerings as well . And so they were spotted at the Chennai Marina beach near Gandhi statue early in the morning by around 6 AM, with a proudly perched uniform cap that glowed with the bank’s logo prominently - seen distributing pamphlets of the products and encouraging the walkers to visit  the branch for further inputs.

At the outset, the staff involved in such innovative thoughts have to be encouraged as they have gone some extra miles to take the bank to the place where the common man throng. One is not sure whether it is done at the suggestion or prompting or behest of the senior management or on their own. Either way, it requires a friendly pat!

But, the amount of cynicism, snide remarks, pessimistic thoughts aired by the fellow bank men (in service or retired), towards such a step, shows the extent of frustration and negativism that has been allowed into their system.

Here comes the second of the Corporate Culture - Appreciation. The said bank staff have chosen to hit the road early in the morning towards improving bank's image, offering and also customer contact, instead of availing the hard earned second saturday which the Government has given to them for an extended sleep to compensate for the extra hours put in through the week. This gesture of foregoing an opportunity of family time itself calls for appreciation as a first step and a pat for that would help the otherwise beleaguered staff to keep their morale high.

Instead, sarcastic remarks of this being a 'circus', ' a publicity stunt' etc., from the arm chair critics, will really hurt the hard-working staff.

A valid point has been raised that the customer service at the branch needs to be improved and there can never be a second opinion on this. But then, such innovations need not be halted for an existing malady! I am not critical of those expressions and do not mean to say that they are wrong. But, their frustrated or high-handed expressions could dampen the spirits of the few who still believe that they could put in their bit towards the upliftment of the bank, otherwise battered from all quarters. 
 
Let us first learn to appreciate others’ gesture and their efforts in going that extra mile, instead of putting dampeners and road blocks. If we can, let us join and contribute or simply turn the other way instead of hampering positive progressions.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Beware of Bankers' bungling

Computerization in banks have brought smiles all over the place with the staff, despite being the biggest beneficiary,  initially protesting under the pressures of their Unions only to accede later to the lures of additional sops and the ease of work the move has brought in. It is ironical that the current genre of staff may not fully realize to appreciate the benefits as they have not been exposed to the tough pre-1990s rigours of manual banking. Customers too have started realizing the benefits in a better way in that their visits to the branches have been minimized with the advent of Internet banking, increasing number of ATMs and various types of cards offered to them.

As you entrust the realm of managing your investments to the banks and they in turn outsourcing the job to IT organizations some of whom are good in technology but not necessarily in the domain, the move has also brought in its own share of woes to the banks that have mostly been conveniently passed on to the hapless customers. The accompanying cyber risks and the banks' initiative and preparedness to guard their customer interest is another area that is beyond the scope of the topic of discussion here.

       With the banks keen on reducing the customer footfalls and with some banks even levying nominal charges for personal discussions ,  customers have started avoiding branch visits. Bank customers, belonging to the pre computerization era were used to issuing cheques and then having it tracked through passbook entries. The current trend is to make online payments and track them through related messages and online statements. But there are some who are keen on issuing cheques and many who could still not be electronically credited and this post is meant to share the travails of some such customers only.

One of my friend, a former bank official, issued a cheque to Tamilnadu Electricity Board for a very nominal amount but was shocked to be informed by the Manager that his cheque is being returned, despite having sufficient funds in the said account ! When queried the official has replied that 'the cheque has already been paid earlier and so is being returned'.

On further enquiry it is revealed that a cheque with a different cheque number has been paid few months back wrongly using this cheque number and so when the cheque with the genuine number is presented , computer has warned that the cheque has already been paid.

To elaborate , a customer will normally be issued with a series of cheques from numbers say 123451 to 123460 of ten/20  leaves. An earlier cheque bearing number 123453 would have been wrongly paid by keying in the cheque number as 123457 (say) and when the actual cheque with the number of 123457 is presented for payment, the system will rightly throw up a warning that the cheque has already been paid.

Being an obedient servant of the 'system', the bank (official) without applying its mind has returned the cheque with the reason' Refer to Drawer...', roughly meaning "we are not sure why this cheque has been issued by the customer. Better check with him/her". And it is generally believed that this is one of the rudest reasons given while returning a cheque.

As many of us are aware TNEB is very strict in cheque payments in that once a customer's cheque is returned for non-technical reasons, it will never accept cheque payment anymore for that account and the customer has to pay only cash from then on. In the case under discussion,  for its collecting cheque being returned the bankers of TNEB have also levied heavy penalty charges and TNEB has obviously passed on the same to the customer whose payment has been 'defaulted'.

The hapless customer , for having his cheque wrongly been returned by the bank first suffered the disruption in electricity services as TNEB promptly disconnected the supply ! First he had to run around, explain the situation and pay cash towards for the amount of cheque returned to restore the services !

When questioned as to why the cheque, which was otherwise in order in every way and also with sufficient funds in the account to meet, was returned  his bank official had the temerity to say that the cheque  was wrongly returned by TNEB's bank (sic) and so the charges have to be collected only from them !!

It is a clear case of inefficiency, indifference, professional arrogance and deficiency in services on the part of the bank official to have put the hapless customer into such a predicament and also had the cheek to advise the customer to approach payee's banker for redress.

Where the bank(er) failed :

1. Any return of cheque is carefully analysed more importantly for payment to TNEB, as any bank worth its name should know of and any banker with an iota of common sense is expected to be aware of the importance of payment to utilities.

2. Further, the bank official has completely failed to apply his mind in analyzing how a paid cheque could have been presented again for payment??

3. A simple browsing of the customer's account on the computer could have revealed the faux-pas of a data entry error committed earlier by the bank in keying an incorrect cheque number.

4. An additional sense of caution should have been exercised when a cheque is returned for technical reasons not related to availability of funds.

It is a fit case to be taken up with the consumer forum, claim the damages for penalizing the customer for the bank's fault, damaging the reputation and highlight the banker's inefficiency in the media, my lawyer friend specializing in Consumer issues, says.

How can we as customers be more alert to avoid such gaffes of the bankers which ultimately affects us:

a. It is a good practice to browse through your account periodically through Internet banking or keep updating your passbooks. Having issued a cheque, better track it until its payment and ensure that it is being paid with all the correct details mentioned there.  If this had been done, the said customer could have noticed the wrong cheque number, though he would not have anticipated the pain that is to be inflicted upon him later ! This is strictly not expected of the customer, but then if one is keen to protect oneself from others' gaffes, such measures are advisable.

b. Of late, banks are now levying 'unheard of charges' arbitrarily and this could reduce your perceived balance. Periodical review could help you to be aware of the real balance status.

c. Such periodical glance through the account  will also help you in knowing your balance status before issuing cheques, which could potentially be returned for want of funds.

d. Old timers growling with the reason of not being conversant with Internet Banking, OTP etc.,  -  - - - -  better learn them fast from their grand children, in their own interest !

So,  as a customer whose investments have been entrusted to the banks for their maintenance and disbursal as per our directions, it is for the customers in their own interest to keep track of their accounts.

Such measures, though not strictly mandated,  is certainly desirable, in your own interest to save some leg work and also to keep one's blood pressure under check !!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Depositors, Be(a)ware !

For sometime, the Government has been after the bank depositors, even those with small sums of deposits, in ensuring that every rupee of interest they earn on deposits is taxed and the recovered tax finds its way into the coffers of the government. Fine, No issues with that  and I for one would urge every citizen to pay their taxes and ensure revenue for the government to serve the people again. But, in the modus operandi that is being adopted lies so many loopholes, making the poor depositor gasp, squeezed between the banks and Income Tax authorities.

Banks, happy to have got some one to point the finger at, deduct taxes at will, on the interest paid on deposits and  some banks do not even care to listen to the depositors about the investments towards tax. In my opinion, even this is fine as banks  nowadays claim that they are not equipped with enough resources to have a one to one with customers on their tax plans and so escape by quoting the Government's directive in deducting tax at source (TDS), whenever the same exceeds the threshold value, as per their records.

The TDS thus recovered from the depositors have to be remitted by the banks to ITO and the status of the same could be seen by the individual depositors by periodically by logging into the Income Tax website  http://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/   and look for Form 26AS.

Where the banks are erring is in outsourcing passing of this TDS data to ITO ,  to some third parties, mostly through the Bank's auditors . The data entry havoc that is being wreaked is a problem greater than the tax deducted itself..

The travails are in many forms:

1. The transaction dates mentioned in 26AS are not in sync with the actual date of credit of interest to the customers, making it difficult to identify the entry for reconciliation.

2. There are entries which do not belong to customers, increasing their taxable income, unnecessarily, at times even pushing the depositors to higher brackets . This is ostensibly because of messing up while keying in the PAN number, which is the key identifier of the depositor, during data entry.

3. After observing the discrepancies from the downloaded 26AS , when the depositor draws the attention of the banks to the discrepancies, some  banks simply throw up their hands saying 'this is not being done by us' or 'check with our auditors to whom we have entrusted the job'. This is ridiculous and most irresponsible, to say the least. While the bank has made the credit entry and are performing a legal obligation to report the credits of the depositor to the Income Tax department, should it not own the accuracy of data being passed? Banks are choosing to entrust this job of passing data , on their own volition without consulting, to a third party and the depositors could in no way be made accountable for errors and discrepancies created by such outsourced agencies chosen by banks for their own convenience.

4. To cap it all, its surprising that the Income tax authorities too would take only the version of 26AS as the final data and would not buy depositor's disputes on the same. Realizing the limitations of Banks, Income tax department could also arrange to provide some grievance redressal mechanism, instead of blindly taking what has been given by the banks.

If the depositor happens to catch up with such gaffes at the last stages before filing of the tax return, he is pressed for time and so has to suffer the injustice imposed by the bank and pay tax for interest amounts that have not been received by him !

So, what the depositor can do:

1. Keep track of your periodical credits from these sources by maintaining your own records .

2. After every quarter of the year , extract Form 26AS (from the website address given elsewhere in this post) and validate the entries there with your records.

3. Request for Form 16A, from the bank branches and make sure that the data passed by them to the ITO are correct and are actually received by you.

4. If you have deposits in more than one bank or branch, please note to get 16A from ALL the banks or branches where you hold deposits and receive credit from them.

In case of discrepancies, like entries not belonging to you,  take up with the bank(s) with a written communication and follow up.

After all these take the easiest of the steps -  just sit back and pray that your hard earned money is not squandered away by others' inefficiencies. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

வாராக் கடன்களும் தேறா வங்கிகளும்

"கல்விக் கடனால் கலங்கி நிற்கும் மாணவர்கள்"
"கடனை வசூலிக்க வங்கிகள் காட்டும் கெடுபிடி"
"கந்து வட்டி கும்பல் பாணியில் கடன் வசூல்"

இப்படிப்பட்ட தலைப்புகளுடன் தொலை காட்சியில் ஒரு விவாதம் நடந்து நடந்து கொண்டிருந்ததைப் பார்க்க நேர்ந்தது.

இந்த கூற்றுகள் உண்மையானால் , இந்த மாணவர்களை விட ஒரு நன்றி இல்லாத சமூகம் இருக்க முடியாது!

பல போராட்டங்களுக்குப் பிறகு கல்லூரியில் இடம் 'வாங்கியபின் ' எப்படி வருடா வருடம் கட்டணத்தைச் செலுத்தப் போகிறோம் என்று விழி பிதுங்கிக் கொண்டிருக்கும் பொழுது வந்து கை கொடுத்த வங்கிகளை இப்படி நினைப்பது எந்த விதத்தில் நியாயம் என்று புரியவில்லை.

இதற்க்கு வங்கிகளும், அவர்களுக்கு கொடுக்கப்படும் அழுத்தங்களுக்கும் ஒரு பங்கு உண்டு . சில காலங்களுக்கு முன்,  கடன் வேண்டுபவர்கள் வங்கிக்குப் போய் வரிசையில் நின்று வேண்டுவார்கள் . ஆனால் இன்றோ அண்ணா பல்கலைக்கழகத்துக்குள்ளேயே வங்கிகள் வரிசையில் நிற்கின்றன .

இந்த அழகில் "வாங்கிய கல்விக்  கடனை கட்டவே தேவை இல்லை" போன்ற தேர்தல்  வாக்குறுதிகளும் அள்ளி  வீசப்படுகின்ற இந்தச் சூழ்நிலையில், கடனைத் திருப்பிக் கட்டலாம் என்ற எண்ணத்தில் உள்ளவனும் தயங்கி நிற்கிறான்.

போதாக்குறைக்கு 'ஆயிரக் கணக்கான கோடிகளைக் கடனாக வாங்கியவனை வெளிநாட்டுக்குப் போக விட்டு விட்டு இப்படிப்பட்ட ஏழைகளை மட்டும் குறி வைக்கிறார்கள்' என்று வங்கிகளை வசை பாடுகிறார்கள்.

இப்படி தொலைக் காட்சியிலும் தெரு மூலைகளிலும் கூவி விற்றால் எப்படித் திருப்புவார்கள் ?

அரசியல் அழுத்தத்தில் கடன் கொடுத்த வங்கிகளும் , கடனை குனிந்து வாங்கிக் கொண்டு, பின் நிமிர்ந்து நடக்கும் கடனாளிகளும் எக்கேடோ கெட்டு போகட்டும். இதற்க்கெல்லாம் நடுவில் மாட்டிக் கொண்டு தவிக்கும் வங்கி மேலாளர்களின் பாட்டை யாராவது நினைத்துப் பார்க்கிறார்களா??

கொடுத்தவைகள் வாராக் கடனாகி விட்டது என்று வேலையிலிருந்து ஒய்வு பெறுவதற்க்கு சில நாள்கள் முன்தான் விழித்துக் கொண்டது போல் ஒரு ஓலை அனுப்பி , ஓய்வு காலத்திற்கென்று நம்பிக் கொண்டிருக்கும் நாற்பது வருஷங்களாக சிறுக சிறுக சேமித்த பணத்தைக் கொடுக்காமல் போதாக் குறைக்கு தாற்காலிகப் பணி நீக்கம் வேறு செய்து விடுகிறார்கள் . இந்த மேலாளர்கள் என்ன ஆசைப்பட்டா இந்தக் கடன்களைக் கொடுத்தார்கள் - 'ஏன் கொடுக்கவில்லை' என்ற அழுத்தத்திலே கொடுக்கப் பட்டவைகள்தானே , இப்பொழுது வாராமல் போய்க் கொண்டிருக்கிறது !

வங்கி அதிகாரிகளின் பாடு இப்படி கேவலப் பட வேண்டாம் - கேட்பாரற்று போன இவர்களுக்கு உறுதுணையாக இருந்த சங்கங்களும் ஒதுங்கி நின்று வேடிக்கை பார்த்துக் கொண்டிருக்கின்றன .

இப்படிப்பட்ட விவாதங்களினால் வரும் விளைவுகளால் இன்றைய தொலைகாட்சிகள் நாட்டுக்கு  நல்லது செய்வதா இல்லையா என்று மற்றொரு விவாதம் கூடிய சீக்கிரம் வரும் என்றே தோன்றுகிறது.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Grateful IOBian

IOB is 78 years old , so I learnt from a social network post today. Am sure I am only one amongst the lakhs of well wishers and employees who acknowledges gratefully the bank for its services and support it has lent. May the Bank continue to serve in the decades to come.

One major difference between the public sector institutions and other private organizations is the deep rooted connection the employees feel they have with them. With the current scenario of employees looking over the shoulder for the next better opportunities, services extending for 30 and 40 years will soon be a thing of the past. Having been associated with IOB for 25 years, I can certainly feel nostalgic about those days, particularly as an employee.

When I joined the staff department in 1976, the bank has already grown and was still climbing. I can still recall people talking animatedly in buses about IOB declaring a 14.4% bonus to its employees, an astonishing figure when the more stable banks were contended to declare the statutory 8.33%.

It was a pleasure working at the Central office in the then 'Staff Department' and learning the ropes of administration and more importantly the art of letter writing from stalwarts who will beckon you with a circle around your initials in the office copy, to point out some omission. The respect for the organization was cultivated by advising us not to put the pins across the bank's symbol in the letterhead! The empty superintendent's chair will never be occupied even by staff working on holidays!!

The learning at the branches were priceless; From seniors who taught us customer handling, tallying of books, official discipline, cash handling, avoiding manual mistakes and the list goes on. The door to door Deposit campaigns made in the neighborhood taught me finer aspects of marketing and also enabled me to bring customers closer to the bank.

The bank not only created trust in the minds of customers but also the staff . The facilities offered to the bank men were enormous. Housing loans were given at 5% rate of interest and most of the bank's employees who own a house now would not have done it without this support. The yearly 'Festival Advance' offered free of interest was the first savings point of every employee with an eye on the future. I have known many employees, who used to buy jewels using the Festival Advance and other accumulations and then pledge the same under Jewel loan scheme, thus creating the precious bullion, which was a must in those days for the girl's marriage.

Had reasons to be happy whether it is rain or shine as they would attract either Flood loan or Drought loan. The employees were offered financial support to buy vehicles and at one point of time, we used to joke that everything we moved around belong to the bank. The house supported by housing loan, the vehicle through vehicle loan and the marriage of the employees were also assisted with 'Marriage loans' ! Assuaging the yearly income tax worry, the bank supported its staff  by offering loans on the investments one make like loan against NSC etc.,

'To deliver the best of judgments the judges have to be kept above wants', it used to be said. Adapting the adage, the bank offered support on all fronts and at every opportunity to keep their staff comfortable. Perhaps that is the reason the bank men were always in neck deep of various bank loans and drew minimal net salary at some point of their career.  But, at the end of one's service, a prudent bank employee could go with a handful of cash bag by making clever use of the loans offered and pooling in his own meager resources. IOB was always the first bank to offer such facilities and every IOBian will be proud to recollect such supports. I am yet to come across a common man who could use the bank's 'Recurring Deposit' scheme to better use than a bank employee !

It was the first bank to create its own home-grown software, when computerization was introduced in Indian banks and it is to our credit that people used to say proudly that one of the foreign banks in the neighborhood of our head office visited our computer department and appreciated the efforts and nuances used by the team.

An organization with over 2500 branches across the globe and more than 30000 serving employees is bound to come across many bottlenecks in its run and it is commendable that the bank has risen to the challenges and has covered its path with glory over 77 years. I am very confident that the bank will continue with its trail of glory and service to the people, despite the contretemps that could come from time to time. As an IOBian my heart always skips a beat when I pass through the Central office building in Mount road and see the towering building standing tall !

The current and future employees of the bank has the onerous responsibility of keeping its flag high and it is a matter of satisfaction that there are all signs of these IOBians surpassing this expectation.