In the late 80s and early 90s, there was a poverty alleviation programme by the name of Integrated Rural Development Programme popularly known as IRDP. The programme had all the ingredients of ‘GaribiHatao’except ‘Integrity’. The programme was meant for poorest of the poor, below poverty line people.
I was then posted as Branch Manager of a Nationalized Bank branch at Shahkot. There were 5 branches of different banks in the area.. Those were the days of Loan Melas.
It was the month of February and District Administration wanted to achieve its targets.
Though my branch was the oldest and the biggest, yet District Administration chose the State Bank of India for ‘Loan Mela.’
The Manager of SBI and Officer-in-charge responsible for implementation of programme visited my office on Monday and informed that the next Monday has been fixed for the Loan Mela which will be inaugurated by the DC Sahib himself. DGM of SBI will also grace the occasion. Both requested me for making the Mela a success. I assured them of all cooperation.
The duo again visited me on Friday and advised that in all, 22 applications have been sanctioned by all bank branches. Both appeared to be quite worried, nervous and trepid and requested me for contributing more. The District official told me that with this little achievement, DC sahib will chew mealive. Manager of SBI stated that his boss is very strict and will start scolding me in the presence of all.
Looking at their pathetic state, I gave them a suggestion that if they want to make a good show, they may include other advances as well. I told them that I have many Crop Loan cases with me. After all, DC Sahib, while distributing loans, is not going to open the envelope and ask the borrower what for he is having the loan.
Listening to it, their faces lit up as if Lord Krishna has come to save honor of Draupadi on disrobing.
The suggestion was followed meticulously but the total cases sanctioned could not exceed 43 amounting to ₹11.1 lac.
On the loan Mela day, I too was seated on the dais beside DC Sahib. The programme was covered by Doordarshan, JALANDHAR.
Just to tell my wife how big a boss am I, I switched on the TV at 7.00 pm for evening news and made my wife sit beside me to show her my photo.
Of course, the ‘fotu’ satisfied my bloated ego, but the news read by the news reader surprised and amused me as I heard that DC JALANDHAR distributed143 loans amounting to ₹111.1lakhs. (prefixing 1 to both the number of cases and the amount lent).
Needless to mention that when now, I view data on TV screens, I view it with a pinch of salt.
The writer Anmol Rattan Narang is a Retd. Principal, Staff TrainingCollege of a Nationalized Bank,Chandigarh.
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