While serving as a branch head at a town in Tamil Nadu, I and an acquaintance of mine, arranged with many primary and secondary schools just for one hour on a day of school celebration for a demonstration….
My acquaintance was a customer of our branch, who rarely comes to my cabin, just entered once with 4 persons and wanted to talk to me. This man seemed at peace but the other 4 looked angry. I first asked them to sit, my cabin had room for 7 persons to sit. As I was taking tea at that time, my staff brought tea cups for all the four inside the cabin. It seemed they did not expect or want to accept the tea offered. One of them cleared his sore throat and was about to talk. I said in my room, when tea is offered to anyone, he can start talking only after finishing the tea. I said jokingly that the tea is proved as an energy boosting beverage, that will boost energy even in an angry mood. My acquaintance first finished tea, he said he never drank tea for almost a decade, and now willingly took it as it is offered by a good man. Next all else finished tea. I asked them to start telling the purpose of meeting me.
Just then, my ABM called me in and showed the queue. Passbook entries are taking a lot of time and many people are in the queue. Just the day before, one passbook printer worked for the last day of its life.
I went to the queue and asked them to tell me since when each one’s passbook remained to be updated, I had a notebook I started noting down, 1 month, 2 months, 5 months, 6 months, 8 months, 14 months. There were at that time over 70 in the queue and about 42 of them did not get the passbook updated for over 6 months. I phoned up the teashop and offered tea to those 42, telling them you are my rare guests and that is why I offered tea.
While they were drinking tea, I sent an officer to collect the passbooks from the remaining persons, borrow a passbook printer for the day at a nearby branch for getting them updated there, which he did complete in 40 minutes and came back with updated passbooks into my cabin where I called the 28 customers and gave each one his passbook with one sweet for him to take.
All the 28 who took the passbooks went to the banking hall with sweets in hand/mouth and as expected there was commotion. The ‘rare guests’ shouted at me that I am showing partiality to some customers by offering them sweets but only giving tea to the majority.
I did not reply until all the 42 persons’ passbooks were updated and given. I told them that many are elders in the 28 persons’ group whose requirement of few entries took less machine time and that’s why, to show that Bank recognizes the regular customers with sweet and rare visitors just with tea, and assured that sweet will be served to them next month same date if they come for updation of passbook.
That was the time when the passbooks were printed inside the branch by the bank staff and when Passbook self-printers were not provided in ATM rooms.
Among the five persons who came into my cabin, two had taken tea again and three had taken sweets. I came to my cabin and called the five inside. And asked what was their complaint. The two who were previously with red eyes are now cool, said that the only complaint is there is too much sweet in their tea, but their eyes were set on the uneaten sweet in the hands of the remaining three.
My acquaintance said there is an urgent work and all the 5 left the branch in a whiff.
Next morning my acquaintance came into my cabin exactly at 10 AM, told the press is outside with videocamera for a 5 minute interview. I flatly refused any interview, said it is customer time and even if they come later, I will not give permission for an interview, saying that talking to media as a staff of my bank is not OK as per our rules, I may take their questions if they come to any branch celebrations for which I will take prior permission from my higher ups. They left, the day was otherwise normal.
Next day, I heard that local TV channels are beaming on local cable TV, a 10 minute video about me offering sweets to passbook customers and refusing to talk to the media during customer time which was beamed frequently.
The head of a high school who refused my canvassing for accounts of teachers and children (students) of the school for SB accounts campaign, phoned up to me, stating 700 SB opening forms have been filled up for students and another 20 from teachers which will be delivered to the branch in two days with all necessary ID proofs, saying the local TV video was an eye-opener for him.
Next day when my acquaintance came, I first asked his name and who is he. He told me that he is TS, around age 32, a practicing naturopathy doctor, a writer and a social activist.
He said all the five of them who came in to make a complaint became the most satisfied even before they could find time to tell me their problem.
He said it was his duty to tell the local residents that there is such a bank branch in the town and such a branch manager who is available here.
He told of his practice of talking to schools about the ills of packaged baby foods and asked me if I would be interested in coming along for his next demonstration at a school.
He asked me the date, I said a date, a week ahead, and the name of the school.
He left, I rang up that school principal to arrange for a meeting for our delivery of passbooks to the students and teachers on that date, stating before delivery of passbooks, there will be a short demonstration for 30 minutes by a person about babyfoods and health of children. I also told him that the person he saw on local cable video will come to the school next day to make some requests. The principal was interested and assured to do all the things required by him.
That day came.
Our acquaintance had earlier gone to the school, had discussed with the principal and teachers about the bad health effects of using packaged baby food and health products and asked them to allow him to prove it to them on the day of the function. Teachers made all students bring alive, in small boxes, normal insects found in homes, like ant, fly, small insects etc and a three spoonful of the baby foods they use at home, along with the original box/pack/bottles with printed matter pasted around it in tact.
When his demonstration started, he asked how many insects they had, it was found to be 30 insects, how many baby food etc, it was 7 branded baby food and health supplement popular powders.He then asked the school staff three jugs of water from three sources, she brought water from municipal tap, water from a boring pipe, eater from the well. A teachers gave a bottle of mineral water.
The naturopathy doctor asked the teachers to pour the four waters into the glasses separately, using water from one source in some bottles kept in a row, thus arranging four rows of water glasses with 4 different waters. He asked the staff to pour one spoon of one brand in one glass and dissolve in the water. After 10 minutes, he called the boys and asked them to drop an insect, if it is alive in the box, into one glass and like that some 28 live insects were dropped into 28 glasses.
He asked the school staff to pour each water in 4 glasses without dissolving any powder. A school watchman son had brought some 10 ants 5 white ants in a packet. Four ants were dropped in the four glasses without any powder.
After two minutes, one by one the insects gave up their escape efforts and all insects died in 5 minutes.
The ants in the plain eater glasses also gave up the efforts to escape but when the water was poured down, they became conscious and started to climb up and escape from the vessels.
A sceptic teacher asked him why don’t he pour out the dissolved water with insects all out and see what happens. He said he expected this question and told her to pour out all glasses and count how many insects become alive. She poured all glasses into a big plate kept on the table, but even after 10 minutes, no insect moved and it was decided that the insects dropped in water dissolved with the branded powder had died.
This demonstration was repeated in 7 other schools and many teachers and parents gave up feeding their children with such branded ‘health’ drinks.
This was reported in local papers next week without my name and my bank name. But a borrower of our branch who was dealing in a leading FMCG’s products, phoned up me and said by arrangements ng for such meetings, I had become his enemy as his sales of such products are adversely affected.
As is usual in our bank, came a ferocious “love” call full of “affection” from my higherups asking me to mind my business, which I said I was doing, and dared the CM at ZO to catch me wrong and take disciplinary action as he deems fit.
But nothing of that sort happened to me based on the demonstrations.
(End of the story)