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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Kursela Days 6 – Bade Babu



R K Prasad, the Head Clerk at the SBI Kursela, and known to everyone, inside or outside the branch as Bade Babu, was one of the most unique and interesting personalities I have met. A soft spoken man with a lot of family responsibilities and associated problems, he commuted daily from his village (Dumar) which was about 5 – 7 kms away. He was a BA in Economics from Bhagalpur University and had refused promotion to the officer cadre so as to avoid being transferred away from his home and family. He was the person from whom I finally learnt the basics of account keeping which used to be considered the be-all and end-all of banking (most if not all of it having been taken over by computers, bankers of my generation and earlier are nearly clueless as to what banking is all about), having frittered away my probation days doing virtually nothing. Accounting was totally manual, and to keep track of the accounts and ensure that all transactions were properly and correctly accounted for, there was a whole range of checks and balances. Things like maintaining day books, progressive books, balancing books, ledgers, and the holy bible of something called the clean cash book and General Ledger had remained deep mysteries to me. It was Bade Babu who patiently and logically explained to me their utility, functions, and how and, more importantly, why they were maintained in a certain way. Within a week all the things which had remained exotic and mysterious for two long years, suddenly became simple and logical.


Bade Babu giving a speech at my farewell
 
Even in his personal life Bade Babu was somebody one could look-up to. In spite of his numerous personal and financial problems, he was one person who was not just always ready, but went out of his way, to help others – quietly and unobtrusively. He had three sons, whom had named consecutively with a Christian name (Peter), a Muslim name (Jeta) and the youngest had a Hindu name (I forget the kids name now).

Bade Babu had made a number of innovations in the internal functioning of the branch (which had no approval of the management), that not only simplified but also made the functioning more efficient. He had given a brand name to his innovations, “Bhagat & Sons”. So, whenever, we came across any of his innovations we just had to ask him “Bhagat & Sons?”, and he would give one of his slow, shy smiles by way of reply in the affirmative. For example, for authorizing customer transactions we were required to maintain customer’s signatures. This was maintained on security papers, kept in bulky folders which were overnight retained in fire proof cabinets. It was cumbersome and time consuming accessing these folders. Bade Babu started a practice of taking an additional specimen signature in a register, which he used to keep with himself and refer to at the time of confirming payment of cheques and withdrawal forms. There were many such innovations that he implemented.

His ever smiling face with extremely sad eyes is one of those images which always stay with me.

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