Sunday, 22 April 2007

Phoenix [1]

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No blaming a Scale
There could be vultures to prejudice the weight
Accuse not the weighmen
Wait instead Phoenix rising from the ashes

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Nothing like calling it a day it was when I retired from the service of State Bank of India on 31st January’1995. Much against my desire tobe at my base office at Kanpur on my last working day, I remained harnessed to the job representing various negotiational channels pertaining to Wage Revision settlements both at the level of State Bank and the Banking Industry unmindful of the conspiracies being hatched against me to ensure my ouster from trade union movement misusing my retirement from service of the Bank as a basis for the purpose -a basis unheard in the past, a basis devoid of precedents, a basis pasted on the transparent fact that majority of the major bargainers at the national level including Banking Industry were and are retired persons for decades besides a large group of persons being fully outsiders. Infact this was a joint action nefariously but calculatedly launched by certain individuals maliciously seeing some kind of a threat to their future if my representative character remained intact -there were some who took it as an irritant to their propensity of trespassing unbridled causing a sort of functional anarchy to their advantage and sadistic pleasure.


Ill designs so hatched did succeed -they rather got support from the fact that I myself withdrew from different important positions I was holding one after the other as a measure of my own inclination to sum up the odyssey and be off retiring to a peace oriented zone of activity longing as I did to be “..far from the madding crowd”. It was like what a soldier could have done to relax after fighting out many a battles for long 37 years. Such an inclination had its roots in the situation that obtained in the Organisation during National Emergency declared in June’1975 by the then Prime Minister of India.

It was flood of tortures let loose against the Bank employees particularly those belonging to State Bank in Lucknow Circle (then Kanpur Circle). The reason of more aggressive an attack against the said section of employees was that they were most powerful, well knit and solidly organised Trade Union with hardly any parallel and demolishing their strength, as political pandits of the then Prime Minister advised her, could have given life to the Trade Union wing of the then ruling party.

National Emergency having been declared in the night of 26th June, it was just the next day that several employees of Ballia Branch of State Bank were arrested under MISA besides District Magistrate, Kanpur, assisted by half a dozen officers from State Bank itself especially deputed for the job, working out the grounds to arrest me some way or the other with a view to demoralise the membership. Spree of suspensions in hundreds was let loose with first two being my real brothers. My entry as well as that of my team of office bearers in the Union office was banned with strict instructions from the Bank/Government to meticulously follow the same. Total atmosphere resulting out of victimisations, harassment and coercions was that of a sheer panic and fear. Management was at their worst with their new series of action for harassing the employees in the name of misusing DD facility and Leave Fare Concession.

I took up these cases with all the channels that could be tried. From an M.L.A to the Prime Minister, from a sepoy to the D.G.(Police)/ Chief Secretary and from anyone in the streets to the Cabinet Secretary in the Centre besides every functional tier within the Bank’s administrative system, there was hardly any door I didn’t knock for the purpose. Reply of the then Chairman of the Bank was “.....whatever be the merit in your argument, you can’t expect me to lose my job for your men”. This was followed by the remark of the then Prime Minister of India in one of the two meetings I had with her in this context “..... no leader with an image should take up the cases of dishonest persons....... My advice to you is not to persue bad cases”. I did assert my view point but it was all invain in the kind of an anti Bank employees atmosphere then prevailing. It was an atmosphere where Bank employees as a class were looked upon with a contemptuous wrath both by the Government and the public.
Worst kind of a setback I had to suffer in that nightmarish atmosphere was that the then top leadership in the SBISA/AISBISF virtually abandoned me in the lurch for the reason that I did not heed to their advice not to take up “bad cases” in Lucknow (then Kanpur) Circle. It’s a different matter that continued struggle ultimately brought results and hundreds of employees so sacked were re-instated restoring to them and their families the light of smiles to fill the lids that overflooded with tears.


This was the time when my functional boundaries were not vast enough to attract sabotage from within nor my immediate colleagues had any bargainable temptation falling prey to evil designs with reference to power and position in the organisation. For them, “Rome” was important -it was not a commodity tobe compromised for petty gains -their commitment to the Circle and leadership was chaste enough to drive away an aggressor -it was a Lilliput or a monster, a dwarf or a giant. (tobe continued)
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