After reading Arvind Kala’s article, “India’s drivers licensed to kill”, Mint, 12 September, I would strongly recommend that driving schools should be run by institutions such as IITs or IIMs. The present driving schools only help “manage” the officials issuing licences and are launch vehicles for “road rage”. An Indian driver does not respect traffic regulations, nor does he adhere to international driving practices. There should be an autonomous regulatory authority granting licences and all licences should be recalled and reissued after going through a rigid exercise to inculcate discipline, patience and responsibility while driving. The government on its part should phase out old vehicles and improve carriageways on par with international standards.
Apropos “Banker’s trust”, Mint, 17 September, it is high time that employee unions and officers association stopped blocking the path of merger between associate banks of the State Bank of India (SBI) and the parent bank in the name of a “cultural fit”.
The question to ask is whether associate banks will be culturally “unfit” with SBI or with multinational banks such as HSBC after the banking sector opens in 2009.
It is clear that the interests of associate bank officers and employees will be more secure with SBI, not with a multinational bank. Consolidation will have a good impact on the health of the economy, banks, and deliver benefits to employees. Was there any staff retrenchment in the Tata-Corus merger? Was there any issue of cultural misfit when the two cross-border organizations were merged? It will be better if union leaders concentrate on matters of staff welfare.
Associate bank officers are not at par with SBI officers, though they are recruited by the same central recruitment board. These associations should demand parity of associate bank officers and employees with SBI. The pension structure is different in associate banks and the SBI and the unions should cooperate with the management to resolve these issues. If the officers and the unions stop being obdurate on the issue of merger, most employees will prefer the move.
S. Mitra Kalita’s column, “Return of the native” , Mint, 14 September, just cracked me up, but at the same time sounded too close to home. I guess I can consider myself one of Prakash Grama’s followers, except that its been only a year since I returned to India as an RNRI. After being more than settled in the US for 15 years, I made an about-turn to take up a window of opportunity to move up the career ladder. While it has been a great ride and I am glad to see the joy on the faces of my ageing parents and in-laws, it certainly hasn’t bound me down to my original roots. The frustrating part remains the same: bad traffic, managing servants, work ethics, etc. However, the bigger concern is about our son’s well-being at school, the health environment, a decent place to stay (you are still house poor in Mumbai after moving from Houston). I am still in touch with my colleagues, relatives and friends back home (as in the US for now), and while I try to rekindle old relationships, school friendships are far from what they used to be.
However, for the next three to four years, the opportunity seems to be here in India at the senior levels with only a hope that some day I will return to my adopted country. I am soaking in all the experiences and look forward to my second visit to the temple this weekend as Mumbai welcomes Ganesh. It was nice reading your column as one feels “more American than Indian in your own mother country”.
Keep writing and one of these days, I am sure we will find our way home...