Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Unforgettable moments Part 3

I am continuing this after a long time.

My next Unforgettable moment came in 1982 when there was a severe recession particularly in the Automobile Industry. Since I was employed in an Automobile company, I could feel the direct effect of recession. It was difficult to sell; more difficult to collect payment !

The company naturally had to undergo a lot of difficulties in meeting the finance needs,like payment to suppliers, payment of salary to employees etc.

I was then working in our Calcutta Sales office, looking after the sale of Spare Parts in the Eastern part of India. Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) was one of our valued customers. But it was a white elephant and they found it difficult to make both ends meet even on normal days. They were then purchasing a few hundreds of vehicles from us with World Bank aid. But the payments were always delayed.

It was around 25th of Sep 1982 that our Regional Manager(RM) got a call from our Head Office Finance Manager that they were desperately in need of about Rs 4 Crores to make the Salary payment. And he wanted us to collect as much from CSTC as possible within a day or two !

Our RM deputed me for this job ,( even though another colleague of mine was dealing with Sale of Vehicles and it was his duty to collect the payment.) I collected the details of outstanding payments from him ( it came to about Rs 5 Cr )and proceeded to CSTC. I met the Accounts Manager of CSTC, told him the urgency as a matter of fact and requested him to help our Company .( This person was a very honest and straightforward officer and I had established a good rapport with him , may be because, we were on the same wavelength, in the course of my dealing in Spare Parts Sales to CSTC.)

Being a finance man , he understood the urgency and immediately swung into action. He spoke to all the concerned departments, like the Stores Dept, Inspection Dept, Technical Dept, Finance Dept and Audit Dept and advised them to expedite the processing of pending bills within 24 hours. He asked me to get in touch with him the next day.

I went there the next day straight from my home and was in Accounts Manager's cabin even before he entered ! A lot of bills were on his table waiting for his signature before the cheque can be prepared. After attending to some urgent works, he took up our bills and after scrutiny , passed them one after another. By about 12 noon, bills for a value of Rs 4.2 cr had been cleared and sent for Cheque preparation.

The cheque was ready by about 200 pm. Then came the shock. The Govt cheques are to be signed by two authorised officers and in CSTC, totally four officers were authorised to sign the Cheques. The Accounts Manager was one and the other three were officers from other departments. After the Accounts Manager signed the cheque, the clerk took it to get the signature of another officer. But he came back within half an hour with the news that none of the three officers was available in the office. One was on leave and the other two were attending a conference in the Oberai Grand Hotel which was a cool 15 Km's from the CSTC office ! The accounts Manager pleaded his helplessness in handing over the cheque the same day and asked me to come the next day. But I was unrelenting and told him that I would like to get the cheque the same day. He was rather stunned when I suggested that we go over to the Hotel and obtain the signature of the officer there. Such a thing has never happened in the history of CSTC and he wondered whether it would be a proper thing to do in a Govt Office.

It was 300 pm then and the time was ticking by. If the conference gets over, the officers may leave for their home ! We had to catch before they leave. I pleaded once again. The Accounts Manager then consulted the Managing Director of CSTC and got his permission to go to the Hotel with the Cheque. He then rang up the hotel, called one of the Officers, told him the matter and requested him to be at the Hotel till we reached there. The Accounts Manager took all the relevant files, rubber stamps and the ink pad and we two then proceeded to the hotel in my car and reached there at about 445pm. The conference was just over and the officer was waiting. He signed the cheque in the lobby of the hotel and put his rubber stamp! It was about 500pm when I finally got this cheque for Rs 4.2 Cr.

After profusely thanking the officers for the trouble they have taken, I took the Accounts Manager back to his office ,and then drove straight to our RM's house and handed over the cheque to him at about 800 pm. He spoke to the Finance Manager at Chennai and as per his suggestion, asked me to fly to Chennai the next morning to hand over the cheque to the HO.( In those days, there was no immediate transfer of money from Calcutta to Chennai and it normally took one , if not two days , for the transfer to take effect. Hence my flying to Chennai.)

The Finance Manager was a relieved man when I handed over the cheque to him ! After all it was more than Rs 4 Cr ( equivalent to more than Rs 40 Cr at todays price, considering the inflation )and his worries about the Salary payment for the month were over !!

I was happy and at the same time thrilled to have handled such a situation. You know, it gives immense pleasure ,if you achieve something. And this was not an ordinary achievement,in any case .


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