Decades ago, Mr NR Narayana Murthy, lamenting about the Indian education system, had said, “More than 80% of youngsters are not trained enough for getting jobs.” Since then, a lot of industrialists and CEOs have repeated, that a majority of educated Indian youth are ‘unemployable’.
I always thought they were exaggerating, or maybe talking about students with questionable degrees from obscure colleges.
But an incident yesterday reminded me…
Many years ago, a new Relationship Manager from my bank called, saying she wanted to discuss something important. On confirming availability with the wife, I invited her over. The bank, just for the record, is a leading private bank, and not a sarkari one.
After saying she would come at 10, she arrived at 11. She did apologise, but sounded like she didn’t really mean to. To make her comfortable, I asked for her choice of refreshment, and she chose coffee. Wife was in the kitchen, so I called out, “Mom, she would like a coffee, please.”
Married couples often call each other ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’, especially when children are growing up, and sometimes that habit continues.
While the wife was busy in the kitchen, this lady asked me my age, which then was 52, and my retirement plans. She was going to offer some lucrative investment options for a happy and comfortable old age, so I told her everything.
That’s when the wife joined us with a cup of coffee, gave it to her, and sat down.
Since she is the primary holder of the account, I told the young lady to explain the investments to her.
That lady surprised us both when she shot her first question, “Ma’am are you over 60?”
“What do you mean?” Wife shot back, eyebrows arching. “If he is 52, how could I be over 60?”
“He called you ‘Mom’, so I thought you’re his mother.”
I sank into the sofa as wife got up to show that the meeting was over.
That lady apologised again, as unconvincingly as the first time, and I only nodded. While she was stepping out, just to change the subject, I asked, “Are you MBA?”
“Yes,” she smiled, “MBA in marketing.”
As soon as she left, the wife said, “Change the RM.”
“I can’t,” I said, “because the bank makes those decisions.”
“Change the bank then,” she said with finality.
Luckily, without my having to say anything to anyone, the bank itself replaced that RM.
But after having been in the Air Force for decades and then in civil aviation, this first direct brush with an MBA left me shocked.
I didn’t change the bank, and the bank graciously introduced me to more MBAs.
A few years later I walked into the bank, a rarity thanks to net-banking, and searched for my RM. Since I hardly get to see him, I have privately named him the Runaway Manager, because whenever I visit, he is missing; and whenever I text or call, he is in a meeting.
Once again, he was not in his chair that day, so I asked another RM staring into nothingness while sitting in the next chair, “Excuse me, where is Mr Raj?”
Guess his reply?
“He is not here.”
Suppressing my instant Fauji reaction with a forced smile, emphasising the first word, I asked, “Where is he?”
“Must have gone somewhere.”
Unable to hold back, I blurted, “That’s quite obvious, which is why I am asking you, where is he and when would he come back?”
“I don’t know.”
I smiled a bit more. “He sits next to you; don’t you back each other up?”
I stretched my smile further and asked, “Are you MBA?”
“Yes,” he said, with a touch of pride.
“Ivy league, of course?” I couldn’t help asking.
“What’s that?” He looked like an LBW batsman, silently making faces at the umpire.
“Nothing,” I said, and went home.
Yesterday I walked into the same bank and the same branch, looking for yet another Runaway Manager who inevitably was missing; but someone directed me to another RM, a young lady.
I stated my problem, and she gave a very vague answer. Her information was like what the government Babus used to give in the olden days before things became available online, and their motto, ‘Knowledge is Power’ got diluted a bit.
“Sorry, but that does not solve my problem,” I told her, and she gave another long and equally beating-around-the-bush reply.
Her answer reminded me of Harry Belafonte’s words, ‘It was clear as mud, but it covered the ground; and the confusion made me brain go round.’
With a sigh, I got up, thanking her, and just when I was about to step away, she said, “I could guide you on highly rewarding investment options when you come here next time.”
For someone I had met for the first time, and who had done nothing to solve my problem, I thought her remark was rather cheeky. So, I asked my oft repeated question, “Are you MBA?”
She nodded with a huge grin, and although she hadn’t helped at all, she inspired me to write this.
I would like to believe these three are exceptions, possibly blinded by chasing annual targets.
But I also think Mr Narayana Murthy is right about our education system, because, like the engineers he was talking about, these MBAs were Most Brutally Amazing!
Images courtesy: Unsplash