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A Master of Queries
by A. J. Rao Bookmark and Share

Mr. Deshpande, a middle-level officer of a public sector bank, had a formidable reputation as a master of queries. It was believed that no loan proposal would get past him without a slew of tough queries. His subordinates would shudder to submit any loan proposal to him for sanction as that would mean months of back-breaking work trying to answer his all-encompassing queries. At the end of it all no sanctions take place, for Mr. Deshpande would raise further installments of even tougher queries. The staff as well as the Bank's borrowers would curse their fate if the loan amounts fall under his discretionary powers. A few intrepid borrowers had tried their luck with him but found to their dismay that they had lost their precious time in chasing the loan proposal with him which they could have profitably utilized in running their businesses.

The appraising officers tried to build up a whole body of literature covering all types of queries that could be raised by him so that these could be taken care of at the time of the appraisal. This had not helped them one wee bit because no matter what queries one would anticipate from him he would come out with absolutely new queries. The better the quality of the appraisal ,the greater would be the number of the queries and tougher it would be to answer them. The borrowers tried to build up a personal rapport with him with the hope that this would ease their problems a bit. Little did they realize that Mr. Deshpande would raise his famous queries even to his mother. Querying was in his blood and there was nothing one could do about it except give up the proposal and go to another bank which was what they eventually did.

A formidable scholar, Mr. Deshpande had an inexhaustible supply of queries. He knew everything about the industry and there was no way of preempting his queries on any subject. If the loan proposal related to exports of castor seeds he would ask for detailed estimates of the global prospects of castor cultivation for the next five years. If it was an agricultural loan you had to satisfy him on the likely rainfall prospects and the availability of minor irrigation facilities backed up by expert studies on the subject. Despite all this data Mr. Deshpande would not sanction the proposal if he was not satisfied about the end-use of the credit facilities. He frowned upon the existence of multiple associate concerns and insisted that the balance sheets of all these concerns AS ON A COMMON DATE should be submitted in order to rule out the possibility of inter-locking of funds. The last-named was one of his favorite queries which would virtually mean the death-knell of the loan proposal. Everyone knew that no businessman would ever prepare balance sheets of all his concerns as on a common date.

Mr. Deshpande retired from the Bank's service recently .In the farewell speech rich tributes were paid to him extolling his contribution to the bank. Somebody remarked that his contribution to the Bank lay in the fact that during his long years of service he had not sanctioned a single loan thereby saving the Bank from the hassles of recovering them. The crowning glory was that he retired with a query ' somebody raised a mischievous query on his pension papers thereby delaying the settlement of his pension.

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16-Dec-2001
More by :  A. J. Rao
 
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