[Reader-list] Changing banking practices in udaipur

faraaz mehmood faraazmehmood at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 26 20:09:39 IST 2005

	     Picasso paws away petty cash
It is a common practice in banks across the country to
hold a certain amount of money in cash reserve for the
daily expenses of running the branch. This is called
petty cash & it is given in charge of an employee. The
branch buys diesel for the genset, stationery,
cleaning materials, pantry supplies, postage & other
extra-ordinary miscellaneous expenditures. Even the
audit parties benignly ignore the nitty-gritty of
petty cash spending. A margin sometimes narrow
sometimes wide can always be allowed. 			The twist in
the tail forms when Picasso steps in!! Picasso is a
art & craft center situated in the bank building. It
has a wide variety of objects in glass, wood, metal,
rare handicrafts & exquisite paintings. My bank
regularly deals with Picasso while handing out gifts
to elite clients on diwali & New Year occasions. The
bank relationship with Picasso is more than meets the
eye. Some things elicit goes on between the curios
store & the top-notch of the bank branch. Since no
auditing is done of petty cash reserves one cannot say
off hand how much amount of this loose reserve is
pawed away in the name of Picasso store. The bank
environs bare a steady business like look. Sleek ness
& efficiency adorn the huge walls of the bank floor.
If we believe the amount of money, which is being
stashed away to the Picasso coffers, is for real then
the bare walls of the main floor would have covered
with admirable beauty in a carpet like fashion. This
is not to be so. The question remains where the money
is being drained out when it is being credited to
Picasso? 										As it becomes the operations head
of the branch Maithili Bhanawat is a shrewd woman,
money-wise & worldly wise. Whenever there is a
shortage or a deficit in the daily dealings on the
cash counter, Maithili has to step in. if the teller
or the tellers’ are not to her liking then she
reprimands them with snide remarks, a few threats &
eventually make them pay the deficit after a long
wrangling match. But when the tellers belong to her
camp, loyal followers with meek submissions then the
scenario gets changed. First they make a great show of
counting, re-assessment & accountability. The two or
three chaps doing the sorting on a meager salary of
Rs. 2200 are put under the scanner. They are
physically checked, minutely questioned & instructed
to be more careful in the future. When the rituals are
over then Maithili quietly summons bharti, the person
in charge of petty cash & a teller herself. She is
asked to credit the exact amount of day’s deficit to
the Picasso store. In turn the Picasso store sends
bills of that exact amount. The day’s deficit is
settled without the bare walls of the bank getting any
richer. So much for Picasso!																								
Bhavesh bares the brunt!!						
Private commercial banks treat their high net worth
clients as celestial beings. Their foibles & follies
are always connived at  & their tantrums are borne
with good humor. This is a rule rather than an
exception in my bank branch. A client with score of
lakhs stashed away in the vault can ask for the stars
& the prediction is he will always get it. The irony
lies in the fact that the price of the stars has to be
paid by employees slithering on the lowest rung of
The other day in the middle of the rush hours, an
elite client stepped in to deposit a few lakhs. He had
kept away 1000 rs. In ten rupee notes in a black
plastic bag. Conveniently he forgot to pick up the bag
when he had dealt with the teller. The bag remained in
the cash counter for some time before it ignited a
ruthless incident in the branch. Bhavesh from the
sorting team stepped in at that moment. He picked up
the bag, counted the notes & made inquires about it
with the persons standing in the queues. On not
getting satisfactory replies he tiptoed over the cash
counter & tried to catch attention of Bharti sitting
as a teller. Bharti was too busy to take any interest,
she shooed him away & called up the next person in the
queue. Bhavesh decided to keep the money with him for
the time being & would give away to Bharti after 4
p.m. when the cash counter was closed. This was no to
be so. 						
After an hour or so the worthy client turned up with
an injured look asking for those Rs. 1000 he had lost
in the bank. He inquired among the persons in the
queue, had a verbal match with bharti  & went up the
operations head Maithili for a speedy redressal of the
grievance. As her post demands Maithili always carries
a sturdy umbrella to protect high net worth
individuals. She immediately stepped in to fish in the
troubled waters. Elaborate inquires were made about a
black plastic bag. When no clues sprung up then
Maithili turned her glare towards the sorting team
busy at the back of the cash department. On inquiring
bhavesh readily admitted to finding a bag & keeping
the bundle of Rs. 1000 in his pocket for a safe-keep. 
All hell broke lose. Bhavesh was dragged out in the
open floor space & was kicked by the high net worth
client. Speedily Maithili threw away the suave
corporate mask she was wearing. She abused bhavesh,
threatened to fire him right away & then rang the
outsourcing agencies who had sent bhavesh as a member
of the sorting team. The employer Khotla arrived &
started kicking the vulnerable boys in his buttocks &
in the pit of his stomach. The cash queues started
wavering & then receded to give space to the whole
show. I was at the back of the bank looking after the
clearing with my colleagues I ran to the center of the
hall to rescue bhavesh but it was of no aware. The
poor boy of eighteen, the sole earner for his family
had mortal fear for his job. He was in fits, shouting
incoherently & would not get still even for a moment.
While his trauma lasted for an hour, the corporate
ruthlessness came out in full flow. Eventually bhavesh
was fired & sent home. No one ever thought of blaming
the idiocy of the elite client, the Picasso
convenience nor the petty cash reserve, which could
have pulled  a poor family from the brink of


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