August 2006

White Collared Thieves

There is a proverb called ‘Not all are saints that go to Church’. At least with respect to India, in movies and cinemas, to portray thieves and robbers, we depict them like persons of low income group, wearing dhotis and/or lungis, with unwashed face and uncombed hair and sometimes with kind of torn shirts or no shirts. But these portrayals are kind of very olden times. These days, even these thieves are going high tech.

Sometime back, when I was travelling by bus the conductor was saying about a pocket picker. He looks like a decent college guy with a notebook on hand, a very exorbitantly priced parker pen in his pocket, a pompous showing costly camera mobile brandishing in his hand with a high pitched ringtone. This guy, he says boards the bus near Meenambakkam only when the bus starts and near Ashok Pillar jumps off. A few moments after he gets down, there would be complaints like ‘Missing Wallet’ to the conductor. But the poor conductor is helpless. He can only give an indirect warning to the public ‘Go front Go front. Don’t crowd. Disperse and spread out into the bus’. But if he retalitates to the pocket picker, he has to face the music and sometimes during the return or the subsequent trips, he might be thrown with a cool drinks bottle or the vehicle would be pelted with stones.  Somebody asked him, why can not you make a complaint to the police station? He replied that there is no use. Once the crew took a pocket picker at about 8 PM to Vadapalani Police Station.

It seemed the SI (Sub Inspector) there had known this pocket picker before and he was cooly responding to the crew “Ivan nalla payyanachappa. Ivan intha thappalam panna maatanae?” [This guy, I know is a very good guy. He would not resort to these crimes]. He was also refusing to book the pocket picker and forcibly took him with him in the duty government jeep. This is the sad state of the city. And if the same police sees a poor man on the road, they would harass him and they would threaten him that they would book him under petty theft and other consequences.

Today, being Thursday, I went to temple in the evening. While returning, I encountered a piquant situation in the bus. Two guys (brandishing ID card of SRA Software) were travelling and they were standing near me.  The bus was quite a new bus and the seats were really well maintained except for the conductor’s seat which had a nail intentionally driven at the center and bolted since the conductor’s seat being single, many people lift it and take it to the homes when the bus is parked at isolated terminuses. One of the guy was telling his friend that why is Metropolitan Transport Corporation putting all these nails into the conductors’ seat. Otherwise we can easily take it and go to our home. The quality of these cushions is also really nice and we can use it in our homes.

I would like to put a straight simple question — Is this a common sense? Is this a civic sense that Chennai people are nurturning? I am sure that SRA would have a centrally airconditioned ambience and paying these jerks really in good amounts. But the poor conductor has that only thing to relax during the hot days and journey in the rough terrain and for his meagre earnings. 

The top authorities in Police and state administration should wake up to all these latent menaces in the state rather than just bieng in the deep slumber always.

Readers: What do you think? Share your views.

Queue is Dead but not the Stench from the Dead Corpse

Sometime back there has been huge hoardings at the prime locations in Chennai with a small black portrait of the letter ‘Q’ garlanded and with a condolence message ‘The Queue is Dead’. It had been very much surprising and after that there was a launch of website called by Sathyam Cinemas. At the outset, we should appreciate this novel initiative of bringing in greater levels of comforts to the customers and helping community commuting since the traffic snarls would greatly come down if long serpentine queues are avoided. At the same time, the implementation had (and has) interesting downsides too and this had been a discussion for us sometime back. Check out this post.

Well! The inner crux of this post is how effective is Chennai Metropolitan business houses in managing queue systems. What would be the general public opinion on the way businesses transact during the course of normal  business hours, be it a trading agency, commerical house or a banking or a financial institution or a telemarketer. I really doubt, that Chennaites would really give a big negative nod to the ethical business conduct since the way time management is achieved in Chennai is deeply disgusting and discouraging.

I have some distinct examples from two premiere banking branches. One is ICICI Bank. You can always find long long queues at the ATM counters. And for strange reasons all thier ATM counters, inspite of serpentine queues follow the bad practices like the one below.

  1. Inspite of the crowd, most of the ATMs only have a single machine.
  2. The ATM centers do not have even a helpline telephone in case you want to alert the Police or the Bank Helpline in case of emergencies.
  3. It is a good practice that is recommended by all banks that you should ensure you are the only person near the ATM while the cash is being dispensed to you. But the security folks at ICICI ATMs always allow the next two guys to stand very next to you. Unless you raise the volume of your vocal cord (shout) these onlookers would not relent.

    Perhaps for the curious reader, I would like to share an indepth comprehensive study on ATM security that I have made in Check it out here.

  4. Even in the branch, they follow some sort of token system but seldom it is obeyed. Unless you are always near a teller and try to sneak in after somebody moves out of the slot, your token number is never called.

Now coming to the second interesting follower of the token system is State Bank of India. I think, they have the most stupid implementation of the token system.  Though a security guy (in case of manual issue) or a machine issues the token and the counter staff religiously follow this, there is a steep disadvantage with respect to State Bank of India. The following are them:

  1. If a close friend of the staff comes, they preempt you in availing the counter service and you need to take a wait.
  2. The services are awfully slow. The SBI Management has to do something to step up the speed of services at the counters.

Today, I had a chance to visit State Bank of India, Velacherry and it had been a simple 30 minutes just to make a very small five hundred rupees cash deposit in the savings account.  And during the wait time, a old retired Accountant, was chatting with me. Some of the things which formed part of the chat and which I truly feel that State Bank of India can take positively and include corrective actions are as below:

  1. No doubt that State Bank of India is India’s premiere bank. They also claim ‘Safe Banking with SBI’. Everybody agrees to this. There is no iota of doubt in that. But the degree or quality of services has been deteriorating day by day.  For a retired person, it is ok to wait at the branch for two hours, make the necessary transactions and go back home. But for working professionals, this type of service deterioration is a serious hazard. They would applied for one hour permission and come to the bank and with this type of lethargy of the staff, they simply have to waste three times the permission times and then express apology tones to thier superiors in thier workplace.
  2. The gentleman expressed one more shocking news. Not everybody that comes to bank are customers. He had known a person near his house, basically a shopkeeper’s brother, who just walks into State Bank Velacherry, gets a token and sits there the entire forenoon and goes to home for lunch. When questioned of his activity, he had replied that his place is hot and since electricity charges are high, he is resting in the newly air conditioned branch of SBI Velacherry.

    Extrapolating this, we can forecast that there might be a significant percentage of visitors to the bank who practice this unhealthy habit. I think it is high time that State Bank steps up vigil in the branches to contain this menace.  It would’nt be a much loss if just a lazy guy takes rest in the branch except for resource waste but it would be disastrous if a bank robber or a terrorist takes shelter under this pretext.

    Hence I think, SBI Management should wake up to be proactive in containing this menace than being reactive.

  3. The gentleman also expressed one more interesting fact, which I would like to share with everybody. The  coupon that is issued by the branch has the following details:
    1. State Bank of India
      Velacherry Branch
      Date: — | — | —- (This is anyway blank when issued too)
      Token Number: xyz
  4. Visiting back to (3), and relating to (1) above, can you ever escalate to State Bank Top Management that you have been waiting for more than 30 minutes but some guys who have come later are availing services by shortcuts? He also suggested that SBI should imprint two more data in the token:
    1. Token Issue Time
    2. Token Service Time
    3. These two times have tremendous advantages. A few of them would be
      1. SBI could easily gather data about the employees are very capable and performing and thus can be rewarded.
      2. Shorcuts like in (1) are easily avoided.
      3. Gathering of enough data to improve service quality, better resource utilitsation etc.

There has been great financial downsides that have also been encountered because of Queue and Time Mismanagement. You would have noticed that most of the banks have something called BillPay system. But lot of times, a significant amount of BillPay systems with ICICI and CitiBank does’nt go through and there are fine prints in thier ‘Terms and Conditions’ that this service only facilitates you and they are not liable for any late payments due to ‘technical faults’. The end result is that your service provider would levy you penalties in subsequent bills and your good credit standing would be affected, because of incorrect bill pay processing, which is the result of bad queue management and time management.

We hope that business houses in Chennai would try and correct thier time management strategies to help their customers and in fact help themselves, without that the caption befits and conveys the truth to the absolute. The queue problem is resolved but the sideeffects and garbage cleanup failure resulting in bad stench emanations.

Readers: What do you think? Feel free to share your views about Effective Queue Management and/or similar experiences that you would encountered.

Featured Blog in ‘Social Concern’

I am glad to share the happy news with my readers that I observed in WordPress tag Social-Concern, ‘Views and Reviews‘ has been categorized as ‘Featured Blog‘. I have also attached a small screenshot of the webpage here for readers’ quick reference.

[WordPress Featured Blog in Social-Concern]

With the grace of the Lord, this also crosses the Silver Jubilee post of 25.  I sincerely thank the readers for continued patronage and support and assure you with the grace of Almighty that Views and Reviews would bring in more content that is of great utility value to you and social awakening. I hope to get the continued patronage, encouragement and support as always. Thanks again.

Is India truly secular?

Is our motherland truly secular? Our history and civics teachers take pride in teaching us that our motherland proudly professes and propagates the policy of being Soveriegn Secular Democratic Republic. But going by the current trend of activities by the various state governments and the central government, there is a light taint of doubt whether publishers of history books and syllabus team of the various educational board should reconsider before using the previous lyric.

Though these religious conflicts existed in petty fashion as has been always, the things seem to have gained worser momentum in the current periods. Even the most quietest state of Tamil Nadu seems to join the bandwagon by resorting to withdraw the act of “Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion (2002)”, just for the sake of strenghtening the vote banks from minority segments.

Time and again there has been inhuman and barbaric acts against the various Hindu temples by uncivilized hoodlums and inspite of all media doing a greatest job of picturizing this, the government chooses to remain as a mute spectator, just to satisfy and safeguard its vote banks from minority communities.

Turning back the pages of history …

  1. Akshardham Temple attack by Muslim terrorists.
  2. Selling of Tirumala Tirupathi Devastanam lands by Mr. Samuel Rajasekhara Reddy (Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh) to christian minority and presumably with the blessings of Italian Barmaid Antanio Miano (aka) Sonia Gandhi.
  3. Unnecessary intervention of movie makers into the most sacred temple in the world (Sabarimala).
  4. Deliberate and Possibly fraudlent charges backed by Political vendetta against the Chief Tantri of Sabarimala (Kanduru Mohanuru)

I think, no religion supports and professes violence and these types of unethical activities. These type of barbaric and uncivilized activities just show that people resorting to these acts are helpless and want to satisfy others in some way of other and do all sorts of such gibberish things.

Readers: What do you think of this? Are we truly developing country with all these loop holes? God alone can help correcting these blackspots.

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