Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Real Life Thriller

This happened shortly after I had taken charge of one of the Branches of my Bank at Jamshedpur.

At that time, most Bank Branches had not been computerized and everything was done manually. In the preceding years, additional staff had not been provided to the Branch to handle the growth in business. So the Staff Members had adopted what can be called a ‘restrictive trade practice’. New Savings Bank Accounts were agreed to be opened only when the prospective customer made a Term Deposit of not less than Rs. 5000. (Later, with a lot of difficulty, I could persuade the employees to abandon this practice but it took some time.)

One day, a young man in his twenties came to me. He said that he wanted to open an S B Account and was ready to make a Fixed Deposit of Rs. 5000. As per rules, a prospective customer has to, among other things, get himself introduced by an existing customer of the Bank. He said that he did not know any of our customers and requested me to introduce him. Knowing that an Account could be used for committing frauds, I declined as I did not know him. He left but came back a little later. He said that he was from a nearby village and that he did not think it to safe to take back the money and keep it in his house. I thought over the matter. Savings Bank Accounts could be used to commit frauds but such risk was almost nonexistent in case of a Fixed Deposit. Moreover, there was the scope of increasing the Deposits of the Branch, although by a small amount. So I told him that I would introduce the Fixed Deposit Account but he would have to bring in an existing customer for opening the S B Account. I reasoned to myself that once he brought an old customer to open the S B Account, the F D Account would get ipso facto introduction. He agreed and the F D was made.

Then he played! He went to another staff member, told her that I had introduced the F D and requested her to introduce the S B Account. Without asking him whether I had not agreed to introduce the S B Account and if so why, she introduced the S B Account. The Account was opened. Even afterwards, she did not find it necessary to tell me about it.

The real act came to the light a little later. After making a couple of nominal transactions in the S B Account, he defrauded the Bank of Rs 70,000.00 by using that Account. This came to light when balancing of the Accounts was taken at the end of the month.

The Officer looking after S B Department brought this to my notice. We had a brief discussion on the matter and decided to go to that person's village. The Officer drove the bike and I sat on the pillion. Luckily for us, we found that the man was not smart enough. The name was fictitious but the address was correct. (At that time, submission of address-proof for opening of Bank Accounts was not required.) With the help of the photo submitted by him, we made local enquiries and located his house. His family-members told us that he had gone to meet a Share Broker in the city (the place of our Branch). We were doubly lucky; the share broker was the owner of our Branch Premises! :)))))) We were lucky for the third time. When we went to the Share Broker, the man was there and was selling some Shares. Seeing us, he fled hurriedly, dropping the Share Certificates. Quickly, we explained the matter to the Broker (our landlord), took possession of the Share Certificates and chased the man!!!

It was a cat-and-mouse game. He was running fast ahead of us. We raised an alarm shouting, “chor, chor”. A couple of persons tried to catch him but he escaped and went out of sight. In desperation, we slowed down, discussing where he would have gone. And then we saw him (!!! :)))) ) coming out of a thick bush where he had hidden. Seeing us he started running again. We again shouted “chor, chor". This time he was not lucky. A few people overpowered him. We went to our Branch taking the man with us.

When we were talking to the miscreant at the Branch, our landlord came. The man was a regular customer of our landlord. Since our ultimate aim was to recover the Bank’s money, together we thrashed out a plan of action. The land lord agreed to buy the Shares and pay the money to us. We got the young man’s signature on the Share Certificates required for sale. I kept the Share Certificates safe. The man was about to leave when a policeman came. The police station was not very far from the spot where we were chasing him. Some people there would have informed the police. After inflicting on him a few hard slaps, when the policeman was talking to the man, the landlord and I, by exchange of glances, came to an understanding that we would not inform the police about the Share Certificates; otherwise they would seize them and the matter would become complicated.

The policeman took away the miscreant. Our landlord and I along with a few of my colleagues followed them to the Police Station. The man was beaten black and blue and was then thrown into the lock up. Then our landlord and the Officer-in-Charge of the Police Station went into a huddle in another room and had some discussion. When they came back, the landlord took me aside and told me that the matter could be closed and we need not proceed further. Since he had helped us in recovering the money, I nodded silently. He telephoned to his son who came with the cheque for the value of the Share Certificates. I collected it and all of us left. It was understood that the miscreant would be let off after we left the Police Station

Then I returned home to a worried family. By then, it was 11 P.M.

Next morning a Press Reporter met me and asked me about the incident. Like a seasoned politician, I declined to say anything on the matter. Then I reported the matter to the Controlling Office of our Bank. Separately, I told them over phone the whole thing, including the part which I had not reported in writing. The newspaper whose reporter had met me, carried the news on the next day, adding that I had neither confirmed nor denied the happening. Within a couple of days, an internal investigation into the matter was conducted by the Bank and I was instructed to file an FIR. I was advised that even though the Bank’s money had been recovered, the laid down procedure had to be followed as a preventive measure and as a deterrent against such incidents in future.

I filed an FIR in the Police Station. Later, I was told by them that by the time they went to the village, the miscreant had absconded! This news appeared in most of the local newspapers. However,the real inside story was known only to a small inner circle.

I became a hero to my children but the Lady of the House was not impressed:((((( She cautioned me against such bravado in future! What if the man was carrying a dagger or a pistol!!! :))))))))))))

Had I done the right thing? Was what I did wrong?

How the person had committed the fraud is another story.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Week Days

Here is an interesting item from the Comic Strip ‘Between Friends’ published in The Times of India:


-Office Mondays are all about starting fresh.

-It’s time to organize and set your agenda for the incoming week.

-Determine your goals and set your priorities with designated time


-And after wasting the day with that, push the work you avoided today to



-Tuesdays are the most critical days of the work-week.

-Focus on your organizational chart and stick to your agenda.

-Getting a jump on your schedule is the key,

-To avoiding last minute high pressure deadlines later in the week.


-Wednesdays are the days you begin to breathe a sigh of relief.

-Your big work-load days are behind you and you can begin to coast,

…unless you’re still finishing up Monday’s and Tuesday’s work and have to

finish today’s work on ‘Count Down’ Thursday-

-Then Wednesdays are the day you begin to hyperventilate.


-Thursdays are ‘Cruise Mode’ days’.

-It is also the last day of the work-week before the last day of the work-


-Which means it’s the day to deal with loose ends, minor problems, major

problems and last-minute fiascoes.

-It’s also ‘Drink Six Cans of Red Bull for Lunch’ Day.


-The motto of Friday is ‘I’ll take care of that FIRST thing Monday




-What are you waiting for? A punch line? Didn’t you read panel one?

( the first line of this day)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Letters from a Daughter to Her Father

During my school days, I had read Jawaharlal Nehru’s book ‘Letters from a Father to His Daughter’.

In late nineties, my daughter, who had then just crossed the age of 18, flew off to a small but very prosperous country in the East, to do a 4-year Engineering Course on a scholarship from the Airlines of that country. After landing there, she did contact us over phone but her letter came about a month after she left India. The letter was perfect; all our queries – asked and unasked – had been answered. The letter had been neatly arranged; it had sub-headings like My Room, Money, Food, Address, Health, Market, Weather, Seniors and Friends etc. Except for the outpouring personal touch, the letter appeared like a composition written by a school student as a class work or home work assigned by the teacher.

Without due apologies to Pandit Nehru, I opened at home, a file titled ‘Letters from a Daughter to Her Father’. I carefully preserved all her letters in that file.

Six months after, she came to India and home on vacation bringing back, as I had advised, all my letters to her. Without bothering about copyright, I opened another file and named it ‘Letters from a Father to His Daughter’. Does naming files come under Copyright Laws?

But I am digressing.

Her letters came as a steady stream and the file became thicker and thicker. I relished going over her long hand-written letters several times, lifting a phrase from the poem 'Daffodils' by Wordsworth, wheneverI was in a ‘vacant or pensive mood’.

The file became my favourite resort. I read her letters over and over, again and again, savouring the familiar hand writing, noting a few, if any, mistakes and smiling to myself. While reading those letters I experienced her presence before me, as if she was personally narrating all that was written there. I imagined her sitting at her table, her head bent over the paper, her left hand clutching the paper and her right hand holding the pen and moving on the paper, leaving the calligraphy on sheets of paper. I also imagined her taking small breaks, leaning against the chair, eyes closed, thinking about us. On occasions, I would imagine her taking longer breaks, putting aside the half-written letter, going to her studies, canteen or library and then returning to the letter after a few hours or after a day or two. These imagined visuals added to the life and flavour of the letters.

All the letters were invariably long, narrating in detail almost all the happenings around her.

Then it all changed. Sometime after she went back after sending a vacation with us, there was a total transformation. The letters completely changed their form. I received two covers from her. The first contained a computer print out of an e-mail. Its first sentence was, “It is a test mail.” In the other cover, there was another print out, the first sentence of which read, “It works!” And thereafter flowed what was stated to be a letter from her. It explained that there is some ‘online site’ in India to which she could send e-mails and the people there would take its print out and send it to us.

The spirit was the same, the contents of the letters had the same flavour but the form was completely different and not so appealing. The message was the same but the medium was different. I really realized the meaning of the adage, ‘Medium is the message’. It was her letter and her message alright but it was not her handwriting. And the next thing that dawned on me was that the paper did not carry her touch.:)))))))))) Her fingers had played on the computer key board but not on the sheet of paper which was in my hands. Earlier, while reading her letters, I was moving my finger over them was feeling as if my finger was touching hers! She had explained that the system was fast and efficient and that it saved time. Of course, she had promised to “really write in the physical sense“ to us periodically.

Months passed. She visited us during vacations and went back and during this whole period, we received just one not very long (to be honest, a very short) hand written letter from her.

After this, she wrote (sorry e-mailed) to me almost daily but can one call these ‘letters’?

Now, she mails me regularly, but where is the flavour of receiving a hand-written letter. Is a ‘virtual’ letter same thing as a physical letter?

Years ago, when T V came to be widely used in Indian homes, it changed the social relations in India beyond recognition. I had then come across a small article written by a sad child. Its caption was ‘How T V Ate My Friend’.

Here is a similarly sad parent ruing how e-mail ate my daughter’s letters. :)))))))))))))))


A recent episode in ‘Archie’ comic:

Archie to Dilton: The gang is going to Pop’s corner. Want to join us?

Dilton: I don’t like to spend too much time hanging out with friends.

Dilton, sitting before a computer (to himself): It cuts into my social networking.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Oh, To Be A Student Again!

There are 3 little words (abbreviated as I - L - U) which, when whispered by a sweet young thing in the ears of her suitor, makes the latter feel at the top of the world. There is another set of 3 little letters, which when added as a suffix to to the name of a young person in search of a job, opens up many a closed door to promising careers in industry and commerce. These sweet little letters are M, B and A. This is the reason why the doors of the Management Institutes are always crowded by young men and women, wishing to arm themselves with an M.B.A. degree for fighting the battles for employment.

But why does a man on the other side of forties in the middle of his career (and a generous middle in the body) take a fancy for these letters? I do not know, for I did not know my mind at that time nor do I know it now.

So, when I sat (it was 22 summers ago) at the Test for Admission to the Management Course of a University along with 1186 other hopefuls for one of the 60 seats, I did not exactly know what I would gain by adding that 3-letter suffix to my name. I did not aspire to enter the Guiness Book of World Records by degrees. (Once I came across the Visiting Card of a gentleman, about 80% of the space of which was covered with the Degrees and Diplomas he had acquired!) Luckily I secured one of those coveted seatsJ))))))

Soon after the classes started, an unsolicited title Bade Bhai was conferred on me. Most of my class-mates were half my age and so the honorific title was not unreasonable. When she heard about it, the wife consoled, “You are lucky; they are polite enough not to call you ‘uncle’.”

As I took a seat in the class room, the first thing that attracted my attention was an engraving on the desk. A name was written in the form of a deep cut on the top of the desk. Obviously, it was the work of a student who wished to immortalize his name in the manner of Ashoka, the Great, who had got the Buddha’s teachings engraved on rocks.

Then my eyes traveled to the walls. The ancient building (which was not built by Ashoka) had very high ceilings. On the top-most portion of the wall just below the ceiling, were the words in multi-coloured graffiti, ‘ELECT RAMESWAR PRASAD AS VICE PRESIDENT’. The height at which the words were written reminded me of the ascent of the Everest by Tenzing and Hillary!

A sentence at another spot on the wall read, “Girls are requested to attend M.Com Classes regularly, please.” At yet another spot, I found the sketch of a heart ridden by Cupid’s arrow followed by a declaration of unrequited love, accompanied by a notice of dire consequences, “Monalisa, if you do not love me, I shall end my life by consuming Baygon Spray.” Yet another spot carried the words, ‘Prem Kumar Pyarelal + Prem Kumari’. At the corner of the wall, there was a pin-pointed declaration of love, “Sunaki, I love your beautiful long nose.” All these reminded me of a young man who went up to a girl and said, “Please say those 3 little words. I shall win the bet with my friends if I can make you say at least 3 words.” Without batting an eye-lid, the pretty girl said, “You lose.”

It was pretty hot and I looked up to see if the fan was not working. And what I saw! The blades of the ancient fan had been drawn down in such a way that the fan had taken the shape of an inverted lotus! Such inverted lotuses were hanging from all over the ceiling. And bits of darkened wires with cut ends hanging from the upper ends of their stems looked like tendrils of creepers.

As I was contemplating on these inverted lotuses, the teacher entered the hall. When my Roll No. was called, I stood up and said, “Yes, Madam”. She must have been of the same age as my younger cousin-sister. I was reminded of the title ‘Bade Bhai’ conferred on me earlier!

Thus, I started my student-life all over again!!!


Boy: I shall tell you two words.
Girl: Go ahead.
Boy: I love you.
Girl: But those were three words!
Boy: No, 'I' and 'you' are not two words but are one!!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Rose Will Smell As Sweet Sniffed By Any Nose

In my last post, i had quoted Shakespeare’s Juliet as saying that a rose would smell as sweet in any name.
The fragrance of rose can be enjoyed only with nose. And talking of Shakespeare, rose and nose, one’s mind travels to Cleopatra’s nose. It is said that had Cleopatra’s nose been a little shorter, world history would have been different. It was her long sharp nose which was the high point of her beautiful face for which princes fell. Faces are known to launch a thousand ships, but here, a part, albeit a small part of the face had triggered a thousand battles!

Why did God give the human nose the shape it has? If the nose is meant for use as the breathing organ, are two nostrils essential for this function? One single nose-hole, like the mouth, may be a smaller one, would have done the job! But imagine the face of a beautiful woman with a nose-hole! How would it have looked? Perhaps God had foreseen that nostrils would be used by Indian women to wear nose-rings! Try to visualize Sania Mirza without her trade mark nose-ring! It sits cutely on her pretty nose!
The Dictionary defines nose-ring also as ‘ a ring in the septum of the nose for controlling a bull or swine’! Ironically, while wives sport nose-rings, it is the husbands who are ‘led by the nose’! God made ear-lobes for ear rings but did He really make nostrils for nose-rings? The nostrils perhaps act like silencer-pipes of bikes, reducing the noise of sneeze!

There is the story of the lady with the nose-ring. She was the pretty daughter of a man with moderate means. Each of the eligible bachelors of the village asked for her hand. Her father had only one condition. He would give his daughter in marriage to the young man who would give her a gold nose-ring. The village was not a prosperous one. Only one of the young men could manage a small nose-ring. He was the winner, just like Arjuna had won Draupadi by winning in the Archery Test. The girl brought good luck to him. Soon after the marriage, his business and income grew. The steady increase in his earnings was reflected, in direct proportion, to the size of the nose-rings that he presented her, one after another! Her happiness increased in the same proportion. But then came the optimum point. Her next nose-ring was a little heavier than that suited her comfort but she wore it with fortitude lest her husband’s happiness would be reduced. When the next and still heavier ring came, she hesitantly told him her problem but he insisted that her nose-ring reflected his status in the village! (What kind of a husband!) The ever-obedient and docile Sita that she was, she gave in. After a time, a little blood oozed out of her nostril but she hid it from him. The next nose-ring was the final blow; her nostril got torn apart and the nose-ring fell off.

In the Ramayana, Lakshman cuts off the nose of Suparnakha, the sister of Ravana when after trying to seduce Ram, she tries her luck on Lakshman. Since her beautiful nose was an enhancing factor in her pretty face, Lakhman put an end to it so that with a disfigured face she would not be able to entice any other male.   

An eligible bachelor must train his nose to discern subtle differences while choosing his bride. His nose must be able to tell a Padmagandha ( a lady whose body gives out the fragrance of lotus flowers) and a Kasturigandha ( a lass with the fragrance of musk) from a Matsyagandha (a woman who smells like fish) . And he must be able to know this without having to rub his nose on her! Males are forewarned that women dislike body-odour. The French are known to be the highest users of perfume; yet French males are said to find body-odour appealing! Napoleon, while returning from his campaign in Egypt, is reported to have sent to Josephine a message saying, “Don’t wash; I am coming.”

Leadership requires an eye for detail and an ear to the ground. And a nose for? For smelling the trouble ahead! The principle of justice in the medieval age was ‘an eye for an eye’ and ‘a tooth for a tooth’. Why was there no ‘nose for a bloody nose’?

Nose has contributed not a little to English language. One ‘cuts one’s nose to spite one’s face’, some have to ‘pay through their nose’, and some walk with ‘their noses in the air’! A ‘nosey Parker’ pokes his nose into other people’s affairs. For going strait, one follows one’s nose. ‘Keeping one’s nose clean’ is to keep out of trouble. A not-so-vigilant boss does not notice ‘what is going on under his very nose’. Some bosses ‘cannot see beyond their noses’.

A research reveals that there are 14 types of noses. The shapes are varied, from 'fleshy' to 'celestial'. The study says, whether aquiline or snub, a person's nose indicates her/his personality traits as well, ranging from how smart and ambitious to how generous or spiritual the she/he is. That means we cannot hide who we are, from nosey Parkers. Female film stars are known to get their noses reshaped to remove some actual or perceived blemish or to enhance their attractiveness. May be it is time for such nose jobs to project one's personality!

Management jargon advises us to ‘start work with one’s right foot forward’. Since ages, Indian pundits and mothers have been advising their patrons/wards to start a new assignment and start for the examination only when the breath is coming out of the right nostril.

During my school-days, i read a poem about the claim of the nose that glasses belong to it and not to the eyes. The dispute is referred to lips as the Judges. The nose engages tongue as its pleader to argue its case but the eyes only keep on looking helplessly. After listening to the argument, the Judges pronounce their verdict: Let the nose have its claim but whenever it wears glasses, eyes should be shut!!!

Talking of body-fragrance, i am reminded of the cruel fate of a legendary musk-deer. It wanders and runs fiercely to locate the source of the fragrance, unaware of the fact that it emanates from its own navel. The poor creature is said to have met a sad end out of exhaustion in its search for the source of the fragrance. The nose fails him.

Roses and noses not only have an intimate relationship but also rhyme together perfectly. The other day, a friend was waxing eloquently about his love for roses. Another friend shot in, “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose; why make a song and dance about it?”

Reading about fragrant roses and beautiful noses, would you say, “A nose is a nose is a nose?"

Friday, 1 April 2011

Name of the Game

Juliet: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose;
By any other name will smell as sweet.

-Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet

The bills for correcting the spelling in the name of the state of Orissa and its language as Odisha and Odia (as these words are written and pronounced in the state), respectively, have been passed in the Rajya Sabha. These have already been passed earlier in the Lok Sabha. The corrections will be effected in the Constitution after the bills get the assent of the President of India.

These are only corrections and not changes as was the case when the names of Madras State and Mysore State were changed to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka respectively. Earlier, ‘Bombay’ State had been renamed as Maharashtra, after Gujarat was separated from it. The new names were only revivals of old names of these States. However, the leaders of Odisha, in their wisdom, opted only for correction in the spelling in English and Hindi, and not going back to the State's ancient names. They had the option of choosing either ‘Utkal’ or ‘Kalinga’. The historic war which saw Emperor Ashoka being transformed from Chandashoka (the violent Ashoka) into Dharmashoka (the spiritual Ashoka) is called Kalinga War. Before the British rulers made Calcutta (now Kolkata) their principal seat of governance, the Bay of Bengal was known as 'Kalinga Sagar. Ever since the State Unit of the Congress Party was formed during pre-independence days, the name of its State Committee has been Utkal Pradesh Congress Committee. In the National Anthem Jana Gana Mana also, the State is referred to as ‘Utkal’. Odisha was the first State (then ‘Province’) in India to be formed on the basis of language. It was separated from the Province of Bihar & Orissa on the 1st of April, 1936. Much before that, both Odisha and Bihar were parts of the Province of Bengal. 1st of April is celebrated in Odisha as ‘Utkal Diwas’. The oldest University of Odisha, set up in 1943, is called Utkal University. The Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya was established by the State Govt. to promote music. A Guest House, Utkal Bhawan, has been set up by Odisha Govt. in Kolkata. The late Biju Pattanaik, one of the builders of post-independence Odisha, established Kalinga Foundation and instituted the the annually awarded 'Kalinga Prize', administered by UNESCO, for popularisation of science. There is a privately-managed and very renowned university called Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) which also runs an Institute called Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) for the children of socially-disadvantaged families. Thus, ‘Utkal’ and ‘Kalinga’ are widely used in the State.

Many countries, especially those which were under British control earlier, have changed their names to revive their old names. Ceylon has become Sri Lanka; Burma has become Myanmar. The names of many cities of the world have been changed. The spelling of ‘Djakarta’ was changed to simple ‘Jakarta’. “Peking’ has become Beijing. Many places in India have shed their names given by the British. ‘Bombay’ has become 'Mumbai'; ‘Madras’ has become 'Chennai'; ‘Calcutta’ has become 'Kolkata'; ‘Panjim’ has become 'Panaji'; 'Trivandrum' has become 'Tiruvanthapuram'; and 'Bangalore' has become 'Bengaluru'. The spelling of ‘Cawnpore’ was changed to the more convenient ‘Kanpur’. ‘Pondicherry’ (a former French colony) has become 'Puducherry'.

When the British came to India, they could not pronounce the names of Indian places; so they called them as per their convenience. A place called ‘Brahmapur’ in Odisha was called ‘Berhampur’; a place with the same name in West Bengal, was called (and is still called) ‘Berhampore’ to avoid confusion. Sometimes, the British created funny names. Till recently, a place called ‘Ali’ in Odisha was spelt as “Aul’! The erstwhile capital of Odisha is still spelt as ‘Cuttack’ although it is pronounced as ‘Katak’. The capital of the State was shifted to Bhubaneswar on the 13th April, 1948.

When many States in India took the initiative in changing their names, West Bengal, while taking steps to change the name of its Capital to ‘Kolkata’, preferred not to shed ‘West’ from its name, even though after Partition and formation of East Pakistan (which later became Bangladesh), there is no ‘East Bengal’. Perhaps it has something to do with the fond hope of Bengalis that someday in the distant future, ‘Opar Bangla’ (the Bengal on the other side) will be re-united with ‘Epar Bangla’ (the Bengal of this side) and they will have free access to Ilish machh (hilsa fish) from the river Padma on the other side! There are some people in India who still believe that a time will come when India and Pakistan will forget their mutual animosity and along with Bangladesh, will again become Akhand Bharat (undivided India). I read somewhere that some dreamers hope that one day there will be a United States of India, comprising all the three parts of pre-partition India.

Talking of changing names, one remembers that India is perhaps the only country in the world which has 2 names; 'India' in English and ‘Bharat’ in Hindi. Article 1 of the Constitution of India states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” The 269 members of the Constituent Assembly, which framed our Constitution, were learned people, all nationalists and were leaders of our Freedom Movement. In their collective wisdom, they decided to continue the name 'India' in English along with an alternative name in Hindi. Perhaps they wished to continue our association with the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation. It is believed that the name ‘India’ is derived from the name of river ‘Indus’, around which this Civilisation evolved. After partition, the river is now in Pakistan. Or was it that the Members of the Constituent Assembly who framed our Constitution, wished to emphasise that legally, India continued to be the same country and that it was not a new State like Pakistan?

Many people highlight the economic disparity between the rich India and the poor Bharat!

Happy Utkal Diwas to the people of Odisha!

One of the ways of making employees happy without spending anything, is to give them high sounding designations. Salesmen are called 'Sales Executives'; front office staff are called 'Vice Managers'; receptionists at hotels are given the designation of 'First Impression Executives'. The other way is to dilute the high sounding designation of Top Executives to bring them closer to the other employees. In Sahara India, the CMD is called 'Chairman and Managing Worker'.

This has inspired interesting suggestions. Could the Prime Minister be persuaded to change the position into 'Prime People's Minister'? So could be changed the designation of Chief Ministers to more clearly demonstrate where their offices derive power . One can recall what the oxymoronic designation 'People's Princess' bestowed upon the late Princess Diana by a clever Tony Blair did for her image.

In the same way, Chief Secretaries of Govt. could be called 'Chief Public Servants' and the designations of other top Govt. Officers could similarly be realigned to bring them closer to whom they are contracted to 'serve'.

A move is afoot to shed the prefix 'West' from 'West Bengal' and to make the name as simple 'Bengal' or 'Bongo' or 'Bangla' or 'Bongodesh'. In addition to the nonexistence of 'East Bengal', a reason put forward for the name-change is that as the present name begins with W, it comes last in the alphabetically arranged names of the States in India. At inter-State discussions and functions the State's representative gets to speak at the fag end by which time many of the members of the audience have left!

It is said that during British Rule in India, the Maharaja of Ulwar would get frustrated at having to wait for long before he could pay obeisance to the Viceroy and other royalty at durbar meetings in Delhi. His clever Minister suggested that the spelling of the princely State's name be changed to Alwar. When this was done, the alphabetical order of precedence catapulted the Maharaja to the top position!

During partition of India in 1947, Bengal was bifurcated into East and West Bengal and East Bengal became a part of Pakistan. It was re-christened as 'East Pakistan' in 1956. In 1971, it became the independent nation of Bangladesh.

During the current discussion on the choice of a new name for West Bengal a view has emerged that if you are changing the name of the State, you are denying history, Partition being an important part of the history of India and the name 'West Bengal' being associated with it.

However, it may also be remembered that during Partition, Punjab also was bifurcated into East and West Punjab. West Punjab went to Pakistan. When the Princely State of Patiala was merged with India, the area was was called 'Patiala and East Punjab States Union' (PEPSU). During the States Reorganisation in India in 1956, the State was named simple 'Punjab'. Perhaps, the nostalgia of Bengalis and the dream of East Bengal being re-united with its western sister one day, prevented the State being named simple 'Bengal'.

Post Script II

An all-party meeting in West Bengal has decided to change the name of the State to 'Pashimbanga' in all languages. At present the State is called 'West Bengal' in English and 'Paschim Banga' in Bengali and other Indian languages So, Bengalis do not wish to snap the emotional tie with 'Opar Bangla'.

However a question has started being raised: Why does the State persist with a historically outdated western prefix? More so, since the other side has cleverly dumped its classification as an eastern rump (East Bengal) and asserted a monopoly inherent in the name Bangladesh?

If West Bengal's Ministers were greeted with yawns of a dwindling and dozing audience at meetings in New Delhi, just 'Bengal' or, better still, 'Banga' (as mentioned in our National Anthem) would have been a better option. With 'Paschimbanga', they will have to hold their yawns and save their 40 winks till 'P' arrives!