Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It was in the middle of December 1976 that I went to Imphal, the capital of Manipur, on posting as Depot Superintendent. With me was my wife and three and a half year old son, Monis. We reached Imphal at about 10 O’clock in the morning. Weather was very cold.
We straightaway went to our house, which was kept for us by Mr.Ujwal, the outgoing DS. Our neighbour Mr.Datta and his wife came and gave us a helping hand. Our belongings, which we sent from Calcutta two days earlier, were yet to reach. We could not manage the climate with what we had carried with us. We shifted to a hotel. Our belongings that we had sent from Calcutta arrived almost after ten days.

Imphal is a beautiful town surrounded by hills and is capital of Manipur state. I worked in Imphal from December 1976 till June 1980. Majority of Manipuris are Vaishnavites (a sect among Hindus). Tribals such as Kukis and Tankhuls inhabit surrounding hills. All of them are Christians. Chritian missionary work is appreciable, particularly in the field of education, in Manipur. All well managed schools are missionary schools. Kukis inhabit the hills of Churachandpur and Tankhuls the hills of Ukharul.

The valley population is Hindu vaishnavite. Roughly two hundred years ago Shanti Das, a desciple of Chatanya Maha Prabhu with missionary zeal, visited Imphal and under his influence the tribal king of Manipur valley converted to Vaishnavism. The ‘praja’ followed the king and accepted vaishnavism. Their earlier dieties are worshipped even now. In fact there was a movement for revival of the past.

Imphal was the only Depot where a full CRPF section was posted. They lived at one end of depot with their tents almost touching tankform of two vertical tanks.

Imphal was a road fed depot and the supplies were from Khatkhati, a town in Naga Land. Road between Imphal and Khatkhati war hilly and some stretches were as high as 7000 feet. During the rainy season there used to be landslides resulting in blockage of roads. We had the storage capacity of a month’s requirement. The depot had hardly any facilities. There was no TLF bay, which meant I had to climb each Tank truck twice-once on arrival and second time after product was decanted or topped up for despatch. Topping up was necessary because there was at least 5 to 6 degree teperature variation between loading temperature and temperature on arrival at Imphal.We received about 15 to 20 trucks each day. This had its effect on my health. I developed lower back pain. Even to this day I suffer.
My junior in Bombay University and hostel mate, Dinamani Singh, was an officer of State Government. Through Dinamani I got to know Sattar, who was his colleague. Both were in state public service. They included my name in the state VIP list. I got invitation for Republic and Independence day parades in the VIP enclosures. I along with my family enjoyed State government hospitality. I also received invitations for tea party at Chief Ministers residence on both the occasions every year.

It was in 1977 that during the rainy season our stocks depleted to about a week’s requirement. The other oil company was Assam Oil looked after by Mannalal, a dealer of AOC. Under secretary in the ministry of civil supplies called for a meeting, which was attended by all our dealers and AOC representative. Mr.Sharma, under secretary, told me that IOC was given licence to operate the depot on a clear cut condition that a month’s stocks would be available at any given time. He threanened that he would cancel our licence sinca we did not keep the promise. All my explanations were not accepted. I excused myself and came out of the meeting and booked a lightening call to our DGM Mr. Datta, who was at Calcutta. He told me to go back and ask Mr. Sharma if he could cancel immediately and that we were ready to pack up.
I went in and told him what I was told by my DGM. There was a stunned silence. Mr. Sharma had nothing to say. Meeting was abruptly concluded. By the time I reached the depot there was a message from the secretarit that Additional Chief Secretary wanted me to meet him immediately. I rushed back to the secretariat and went to Mr. Mathur, who was the additional CS. He received me with warmth and told me to forget what happened with Sharma. He said Sharma was a fool and did not know IOC and the implications of cancelling the licence.

There was a theft of lubricating oilcans from the depot. I sent a letter to the police station. The DSP called me but I could not go. He came to our depot and was very harsh and said that without my complicity theft could not have taken place. He left asking me to see him in his office. I rang up IG Mr.Lal and told him what had happened. He assured me that he would talk to the DSP and that I was not to go to DSP’s office. Never heard from the DSP again.

Once I was getting back from my depot and a few yards from my house a cow rushed out of a bush and hit my scooter. I was thrown off the scooter. My thumb was crushed; nail was almost out and was profusely bleeding. There were many people watching but none came to my help. I managed to get up and lift my scooter and reach home.

Manipuris always considered people from other parts of India as foreigners. They always said that we had usurped their land.

From 1979 onwards Peoples’ Liberation Army, a cecessionist organisation of Maitis (manipuri hindus call themselves maitis), was very active. Their leader was Bhishan Singh, a legendary figure for manipuris. Ambushes of army convoys harassment of non-manipuris particularly Bengalis was very common. They believed that the root cause of their problems was Bengali domination. In their private conversations after a few pegs they would talk of how their culture was eroded by the bangalis who brought vaishnavism to the valley. Since I had business relations, I was respected. Manipuris refer to non-manipuris as ‘mayang’, which means a foreigner.
During this period they revived their old and forgotten deities and celebrated their old festivals with gusto. Many talked about abandoning vaishnavism. They are vegetarians and fish for them is a vegetarian item. They cannot think of a meal without fish. They make a number of dishes with fish and each tastes different from the other.

Serous trouble started in early 1980.The CRPF posted in the depot were withdrawn. When I met IGP he said they could be easy target for the extremists. There after the depot and the depot staff was feeling unsafe. There were curfews and flag marches. Army and paramilitary people used to come to my house and take me to depot and after their requirements were given they used to drop me back home. For civilian requirement I operated from my house. Loaded tank trucks were safe in Assam rifles. I issued sales documents from my house. With escort I used to go to SBI and deposit Demand Drafts. This continued for almost a month. We were confined to the house. The anti ‘outsider’ feeling among the people was very venomous. Many Bihari labourers left Imphal. Many non-manipuris were beaten up and told to leave. A large majority took shelter in schools.
Amrita Bazar Patrika’s staff correspondent wrote an article’ Behind The Manipur Violence’, which appeared in their May 14,1980 edition (the paper called it a communal violence. It was violence for independence and deportation of all non-manipuris from Manipur.) and an editorial in the same paper on 19th May 1980. Statesman of May 20, 1980 carried a small news item ‘ banks reopen in Imphal’it says the clearing house of banks was closed for 22nd day today’ it was a very significant news item and I am sharing a scanned copy along with some more scanned news reports with the readers.

The 'foreign Nationals' is infact what Manipuris called Indians 'mayang'.

Click on images to enlarge.

The amount of tension and insecurity felt by the non-manipuris cannot be described. It was very unfortunate that my office in Calcutta, despite my day-to-day reporting on the situation, remained silent. One – a sardar in Gauhati, I do not remember his name and come to think of it it is not worth remembering, and the other, head of the region in Calcutta, who was a mean character but thought very high of himself, were callous on what was happening.
Many army and para military vehicles used to come to my house to escort me to depot for their requirements and I think I must have been a noted person among the extremists. One morning three boys forced themselves into my house, closed the door from within and pulled out their revolvers from under the shawls they had wrapped around their body. They thought I owned the depot and demanded Rs 20000/-. My wife and childeren were frightened. They rummeged all my belongings and found just Rs 500/-. They warned me and left. My landlord was watching from outside. DIG of police was staying next door but no one came to my help. We decided to quit Imphal come what may.
Here are my letters to Gauhati and Calcutta:
There was no response.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

IOC-Waragal days

'Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy'. From Whitman's 'song of myself'

From Davanagere I landed in Warangal, a disrtict head quarter of Andhra Pradesh. I enjoyed my stay at Warangal. I got married immediately after going to Warangal. And my son Monis was born on 21st December 1972. Pratap Singh, who was additional SP, was very friendly. He was staying alone because his wife, Indira was working in Hyderabad and used to visit Warangal almost every weekend. I became a member of officers’ club, where I regularly met Bhaskar rao, SP; MadhavRao, Collector and Krishnamacharlu, DIG.  I  was a part of this group of officers  for picnics.We visited Ramappa, Pakal etc.

This photo was taken during a picnic.
Mr. T V Swamy was Depot Superintendent and became a good friend. He retired in 1990. I last met him about two years ago. Sudarshanam, DM apsrtc was another good friend and he too was member of officers' club and part of the exclusive group.

R M Sodhi was District manager and Chandramouleshwaran was ADM. Sodhi's wife had (fake) upper class demeanour. (Sinha sahib once told me that Sodhi’s good position was because of his wife).
Sodhi wanted me to send proposals for retail outlets in Hanamkonda and Bhongir. In Hanamkonda I finalised a site of Vijaypal Reddy right opposite Subedari, where collector office was located.
I also finalised a site at Bhongir very next to circuit house on the national highway. For both submitted operating analysis and financial justification. Both the proposals were economically viable. Later I realised he just wanted proposals for the reasons one can infer.
Interesting part was he once called me to Bhongir and asked me to wait for him at around 10 am. He arrived by his car, got into dealer’s car and went for darshan to Yadagiri gutta and returned after four hours. After spending about 15 minutes got into his car and left for Secunderabad.
He returned my TA claim on filmsy grounds. I was not the one to keep quiet. In my reply I narrated the purpose of his journey to Bhongir at official cost, as he did nothing official. My TA claim was promptly approved.

Maripeda was a small place near Mahabubabad, where Surendra Reddy had our RO. Those days he was a member of parliament. Laxma Reddy looked after RO. Once I went to see Surendra Reddy to his house near Maripeda. It was a huge house surrounded by huts and small houses. Even now his photographs can be seen in Ceccan Chronicle as an owner of racehorses, proudly escorting one of his winning horses.
During one of my visits I found the outlet closed. I reported to my office, which in turn wrote to Surendra Reddy. Laxma Reddy replied making allegations that I demanded money, drinks and woman. I told my office that my visit was clubbed with Sudarshanam and Pratap Sing and that all three stayed in the circuit house. And my visit to outlet was with them. Ofcourse no one could take action against Surendra Reddy. Years later I heard from Dwijendra Reddy, a nephew of Surendra Reddy, who was my colleague, that Laxma Reddy was killed by Naxalites.

Sodhi was a comfort loving man. Once he planned a visit to Warangal for just a few hours and asked me to book a guest huose for him. His wife and kids were going to Delhi and were travelling by train from Secunderabad and he planned to board the train at Kazipet. Those days my relationship with Sodhi was sour,infact it was never good. I booked him in railwat retiring room just to put him in his place. He was very upset. After entering the room and looking around he started shouting at me. I just turned back, walked to the door, closed it turned, and went a few steps ahead and just stared at him. His anger gave way to fear. After a couple of minutes I walked out. He never visited Warangal till I was transferred.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

INDIANOIL-Paharpur Kolkata

I was working in Paharpur Installation in Kolkata. Some time in the last quarter of 1974 Mr Rath discovered Mr Goshal. Mr Rath was good at discovering talent. Ghoshal was posted as Sr. Accounts Officer in Regional office. Mr. Rath prevailed upon the management and had Ghoshal posted as Installation Manager at Paharpur. That was the turning point for Ghoshal. I knew Ghoshal when he was a magagement trainee when I was Sales Officer trainee. We met in Kochi and again in Chennai in 1970. We spent some memorable time. In Chennai we stayed in the same hotel in flower bazar.

He pulled me out of shift duty and made me in-charge of Supply and Distribution cell in IOBL at Ramnagar. Within a year he was tranferred to Divisional office.

Ghoshal was a gold medalist in Physics from ST. Stephens, Delhi. He was brilliant, very analytical and sharp. He was man in a hurry. The last I met him was in 1983 in Chennai, when he was not with Indianoil anymore. Mr Rath took me to Coromandal hotel where we met him.

Mr. Rath was Terminal Manager of three Installations- Paharpur, Mourigram and Budge Budge.
One day he visited my work place in IOBL. Though I was in ‘A’ grade I had a small cabin.
He just sat before me in a corner chair and kept smoking and sipping tea. He asked me to continue with my work. While I was attending to phone calls, talking to visitors and passing instructions to subordinates, he was just there. After about three hours he said he wanted to go and left.
After a couple of days he called me to his office and reviewed my work, which he had observed during those three hours. His commets, analysis showed, how keen an observer he was and I found it a unique way of assessment. I never heard him raise his voice. He would tell a man his weaknesses without making him feel small.
When I was posted in Chennai in 1982, he was heading HR. He was always free to receive people. He had down delegated work but had his system of perfect feed back. He was a great manager.

Monday, March 9, 2009

INDIANOIL- Good and Bad

India is a secular democracy. But, do not go by dictionary meaning or western concept of secularism in Indian context. Here, broadly speaking, secularism has a different connotation. In India, one is free to practice one’s own religion. But in practice it is more of patronising secularism. Something like majority saying, look we are broad minded even after creation of Pakistan. But Pakistan is not the only issue. The majority syndrome is that the Muslims were invaders and forcibly occupied India. They forget that except, perhaps, adivasis, all others settled after invasion. Aryans invaded and destroyed our city civilizations and settled down in India. Then came Kushans, who called themselves suryavanshis and chandravanshis. They were accommodated as kshartiyas. Then came Hans. Turks, Mongols, who also made India their home, followed them. All were invaders. Infact my argument is that a vast majority of Muslims in India are the original inhabitants. They were outside the fourfold Hindu society. They converted to Islam for various reasons including monetary. The main reason was social upgradation.
The case with invasion of Portugese, French and English was different. They made India their colony. They carried our wealth to their lands.

Right from my childhood to this day I have heard majority members calling me names. I have taken it as part of life. In educated circles it is sophisticated and subtle. It does exist.

I cannot forget what happened in 1992. I was at Sanatnagar depot. Mr Kutty from S&D SR visited the depot. We were sitting in Mr Krishnamachary’s cabin. Mr Kutty was talking about indian problems and very forcefully and with all the venom said all the Muslims should be thrown out of India as because of them India faced problems. Mr Chary very politely suggested to Mr Kutty that it would also include Mr Bangi. Kutty’s embarrassment was worth seeing. He kept apologising to me and said he had many Muslim Frieds. I did not take both of his stands seriously. It strengthened my faith in our constitution. Here was a man who was ashamed of his own remarks and apologising, realising that what he said was not his conviction. We became good friends. Sense of shame makes you a better person.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


It was sometime in 1971. Divisional manager was B.C.Rai. It was my fist posting at Davanagere as Sales Officer (UT). Vinay kumar, who joined a couple of months after our batch, was at Bangalore for training. Saturdays were half working days. I was summoned to Bangalore for a review, which those days meant dressing down sessions. No opinions were sought, no solutions given, it was just a municipal school class room ( I studied in a municipal school) with a teacher who never smiled and used his cane liberally. Only thing missing was cane. But the verbal onslaughts made up for the cane. No one came forward with suggestions, not even the assitant District managers.
Vinay was married and his wife had come from Hyderabad to spend a weekend with her husband. At 1230 Vinay saught his leave from office from an ADM, who disapproved. When Vinay wanted to see the DM he was told that he would be torn apart. Nonethe less Vinay entered DM’s cabin and saught permission. DM came down heavily on him. Vinay told him his wife was waiting for him and that it was necessary for him to go. DM told him he too had a wife. Vinay just said may be your wife does not wait for you but my wife does and left.

B C Rai was a sick person, I mean mentally. On one occasion, in a meeting, he pulled out a photograph from his pocket, showing it to us asked, do you know this handsome man? At times he would ring up Branch sales Manager and tell his PA, “your future BSM is speaking”. I thought he needed psychiatric treatment. But the fact remains that many officers had to suffer him.
He managed my transfer to Warangal. Before my relieving letter was given to me, I had to attend a review meet. B C Rai had worked for about ten years in Burmah Shell before joining IOC. I was on tranfer and had nothing to lose, so I decided to ‘give’ him. I very politely asked him in the presence of all officers, “Sir, how long did you work for Shell and what was your position”. He very proudly said,” For ten years as DSR (District Sales Representative)” I again very politely asked him,” Sir, you must have done great work.” He nodded. My last question was, “ how come you did not get a single promotion in ten years?” There was stunned silence.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

INDIANOIL-Travesty of truth

During my farewell, a very senior manager, spoke a lot of good things about me. Though at a farewell party it is customary to speak good words, I knew he was right. He made one reference to my having “blasted” an ED for mispronouncing my name. He had obviously heard it by word of mouth. We all know what happens when narration of an event goes from one person to another. He may have heard exacty what he said. But it was a single fact of the entire incidence.

Unintentional misrepresentation is one thing. Though damages the truth, it may be considered innocent. Travesty of truth is quite another matter. An incidence has many facts. If you pick up only one fact and keep highlighting it, it amounts to travesty of truth.
A particular fact picked up on intention from a group of facts distorts the real incidence.

In 1996 I was in Chennai as a Manager Marine. New GM was posted from OCC just then. From the day he saw me he let it be known he did not like me. He behaved like a senior student bully in a secondary school. He accorded me non-person treatment. He would ask me something and even before I said a thing he would say, “ I know you don’t know it”. I am basically very courteous, but if insulted I give back come what may.

Many of the senior officers who knew me advised me to ignore, as it was GM who was involved and he could damage my already damaged career. I took their advice. But GM continued to target me. When I narrated this to my friends in the guesthouse, I was staying in transit guesthouse; they could not believe that I was swallowing the insults without a murmur.
He was very arrogant. Whenever I went for his signature he never permitted me to sit and ordered coffee for himself. He was like a schoolboy bully.
One day he called for a meeting of all section heads. Since my section head was not in the office I was summoned. There were about ten of us attending the meeting. He asked me if I called on the PhoomPuhar office for collection of outstandings. Even before I could say anything he said, “ I should know you cant even talk leave alone convince”. This remark infuriated me and I said, “this kind of bullshitting has to stop”. He shouted saying I should mind my language. I told him “ you are lowering the prestige of the chair you are occuopying. You have been insulting me for no fault of mine. What is it that you don’t like in me—my name, my face, or my identity. You deliberately mispronounce my name knowing fully well what it means”.
( bangi in persian means one who calls for prayers and bhangi in Hindi means a scavenger. And all those who have lived in the north know it, and this man lived in the north India for a long time.). A functionary of officers’ association, who was present in the capacity of a section head tried to interrupt me and I told him to shut up as he never bothered to protect his officers from being humiliated. GM was dumb founded and did not utter a word and proceeded with the meeting.

I was surprised to find all officers congratulating me on my “courage” after the meeting was over.

An hour after the meeting was over GM called me to his office and asked me why I chose to say all I did in the oresence of all the officers. I told him I had to do it since he insulted in the oresence of all. He offered me a cup of coffee.

Thereafter he was very courteous to me, pronounced my name properly. At times when he saw me in Sarvana Bhavan, he insisted on paying for my coffee.

It is another matter that he did take revange. That is another story.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Just a thought

Truth half spoken is truth not spoken. Truth, normally, is a group of facts. If one picks up one or two facts from a group of facts, one is not speaking the truth. This happens often. It cannot be called a lie, as the facts chosen and given are facts. This is an art; every journalist is required to master.

In any organisation the wrong decisions, when they come to light, are viewed seriously and if necessary the wrong decision maker is reprimanded, if grave, punished. But Judiciary is different. A lower court passes a judgement based on the investigated facts by the police presented by the prosecutor with evidence to prove the charges, which the defence fails to defend. If the aggrieved has means he appeals in high court. High court reexamines and passes its judgement. If the aggrieved is acquitted, the high court condemns police for failing in its investigation, but spares the lower court whch passed judgment based on the same investigation. If the high court judgement acquits, the police go to Supreme Court. The highest judiciary passes a judgement, which is different from judgements of both lower court and high court. The apex court also passes strictures against police, but spares both the lower courts. If there were to be still higher courts!
Judges can pass wrong (is this word in this context contempt of court?) judgements without fear. What happens to a person who cannot afford to appeal to a higher court?
NGOs are very selective in rendering help.