Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Moments of truth

I get many SMSs, mails and letters from readers of this column. Many conscientious citizens encourage me to write on social issues, others share with me their day to day experiences.
After the November 27th article “The issue of tissue” in this column, I received two interesting mails from Colonel (Retired) Prabir Sengupta, Vishisht Seva Medal, which touched my heart. I felt his views carry weight and must be shared with our readers.
Col (Retd) Sengupta mailed me on two issues `Kolkata clean up' and `Kolkata calling'. Both the letters are, as expected of an ex-army man, straight from the heart.
First mail: Kolkata clean up
Your weekly articles in HT City have inspired me to pen this thought to make Kolkata a cleaner city. There are a number of Pan Shops in the City of Kolkata – with KMC having given license to some of them to operate. It should be made mandatory for each of these shops to place a small ‘waste-bin’ next to their shop.
The paper littered in and around the city (which is also a major reason for clogged drains) will reduce by 45 per cent if these shops place a waste-bin. The Cigarette wrappers, gutka sachets et al will find a rightful place for disposal.
This small initiative will go a long way to clean up the city. Through your articles the ‘Powers that be’ could be told to enforce this, resulting in a cleaner city.
PS: While I was posted in Ranchi, I had got this implemented in the road where the unit was located (not within the Cantonment) and the local bazaar. It had fabulous results!
Second mail: Kolkata calling
There have been a number of instances where the ordinary citizen interact with the ‘face of the Government’ in their daily interactions. These ‘Moments of Truth’ (Jan Carlzon) are experiences through which we evaluate the Government / governance. I would like to pen a few lines on “The Moment of Truth – WB Police”.
My better half lost her mobile and to block the number the online service people recommended that we lodge an FIR with the local police. Since the incident happened in Chandannagore (my Father-in-laws place), the two of them went to the local police station to lodge an FIR.
The three officials were lounging in their seats with a current ‘hot’ number blaring in one of their mobiles. My father-in-law, a doctor by profession, is mild mannered and well respected in the locality. He knocked and sought permission to enter. The OC was writing something on a piece of paper and continued to do so – without looking up. He growled to come in. Despite three chairs placed opposite – he did not offer them to sit.
The three officials in the meantime continuing with their discussion on the wonderful effects of liquor and how it helps looses ones inhibition. The conversation, let alone being decent, was lewd to say the least (all this while Sheila with her jawani kept playing on the mobile). And all this while the three continued to ogle – despite the presence of my father-in-law's respected gentry.
After much ado the OC, thoroughly bored with life, asked my father-in-law and better half to sit down and asked what their problem was. On hearing the incident of loss of mobile, he went on a discourse as to why the ‘fairer sex’ should not be given anything of responsibility and how they invariably misuse/ misplace the responsibility / faith. Finally the FIR was lodged with prayers on their lips my FIL and better half left the police station – praying that never should any bhadralok should have the ignominy to visit a police station.
The ‘rich culture’ of the state and its people truly stands shamed if the men in uniform perform their task the way the Chandannagore police station performed on the evening of 31 December 2011.
I am Colonel (Retired) Prabir Sengupta, Vishisht Seva Medal.

It is very interesting that Col (Retd) Sengupta mentioned Jan Carlzon, the Swedish businessman, who, as the CEO of SAS Group, turned around Scandanavian airlines from the brink and revolutionized the airline industry through focus on customer service quality.
Carlzon's quote was rewritten in the book Moments of Truth where he said, "Last year each of our 10 million customers came in contact with approximately five SAS employees, and this contact lasted an average of 15 seconds each time. The SAS is ‘created’ 50 million times a year, 15 seconds at a time. These 50 million ‘moments of truth’ are the moments that ultimately determine whether SAS will succeed or fail as a company. They are the moments when we must prove to our customers that SAS is their best alternative."
The Kolkata and West Bengal Police probably has 5 billion such “moments of truth” each year. I wish we had our own Carlzon to set things right. I shall end with two of his famous quotes which seems so relevant in our context.
  • "An individual without information can't take responsibility. An individual with information can't help but take responsibility."
  • "Problems are solved on the spot, as soon as they arise. No front-line employee has to wait for a supervisor's permission."
I hope someone's listening.
ess bee

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