ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our respected colleague, Shanta Raghavan .
Posted by Gita Narasimhan on October 18, 2020
Path-breaker
by Ananya Sarkar
(Kolkata, India)

And the hoary heads combine
To shake their hands in censure
The lips part
And the river of words flow
Implicating, ceaselessly…
Their eyes wells of wisdom
Their fingers pointing darts
Fixing you with hate.

And yet you move with long, bold steps
Some newfound land to discover
With eyes that dare
To stop and stare
At all that makes you wonder.
The hand that rises to bid farewell
Is a burning torch aflame
The words that come, being spit forth
Plunk like pebbles in the stream---
Creating ripples.

Tradition and custom tugging at your feet
Your neck craned by duty,
And yet, break out of the mould you must
Labour through the protective strictures
Hammer at the anvil of destiny
Swim through the string of nos
To make that one Yes possible.

And though the darkness settles like dust
And the clouds begin to gather
In the midst of the thunder
That threatens to tear asunder
The tenets of reason
Pull along you must
Through the storm and the dust
To make the Light visible.

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Gita Narasimhan on October 18, 2020
Path-breaker
by Ananya Sarkar
(Kolkata, India)

And the hoary heads combine
To shake their hands in censure
The lips part
And the river of words flow
Implicating, ceaselessly…
Their eyes wells of wisdom
Their fingers pointing darts
Fixing you with hate.

And yet you move with long, bold steps
Some newfound land to discover
With eyes that dare
To stop and stare
At all that makes you wonder.
The hand that rises to bid farewell
Is a burning torch aflame
The words that come, being spit forth
Plunk like pebbles in the stream---
Creating ripples.

Tradition and custom tugging at your feet
Your neck craned by duty,
And yet, break out of the mould you must
Labour through the protective strictures
Hammer at the anvil of destiny
Swim through the string of nos
To make that one Yes possible.

And though the darkness settles like dust
And the clouds begin to gather
In the midst of the thunder
That threatens to tear asunder
The tenets of reason
Pull along you must
Through the storm and the dust
To make the Light visible.
Recent stories

Baptism by fire which threw light -- CES Azariah

Shared by VELLUR KANNAN on October 18, 2020
In Memoriam
Mrs Shanta Raghavan : Senior, Mentor, Friend , Philosopher & Guide
       by C.E.S.Azariah (1972 batch SBI PO ; retired as CGM ,SBI )

                                                 “   Lives of Great Men & Women all remind us
                                                    We can make our lives sublime ,
                                                     And departing, leave behind us,
                                                     Footprints on the sands of time; 
                                                      Footprints that perhaps another,
                                                    Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, 
                                                    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother/sister,
                                                    Seeing shall take heart again “
She is a tough, formidable lady, and you have to be very careful you do not make mistakes while handling such high value Foreign Exchange transactions and talking to her on the Telephone !!
That was the warning given to me by Mr Mathew Anthraper, when I took over as “Superintendent , Foreign Exchange Dept, “ SBI Main Branch, Visakhapatnam,(Vizag) Andhra Pradesh in 1977 .
That “Tough, Formidable Lady” was destined to become by Mentor, Friend, Philosopher and Guide, and whose Eulogy I am moved to write in October 2020 , after she decided to leave for her Heavenly abode on the unique date 10.10.2020 !
We referred to Mrs Shanta Raghavan  as “Mrs R” and call her  “Ma’am” on the phone during our early years of acquaintance ;  many years  later after my retirement, she  insisted to me “Don’t call me Ma’am, call me “Shanta” or “Akka”.
 In 1977 , She was a Scale V Officer and  Deputy Chief Officer,(Currency  Operations ), SBI , Foreign Department Calcutta, located at “Tata Centre” Chowringhee Road, Calcutta . The designation “Chief Dealer” for the post Mrs R held , came much later in 1983/84 (?).
Those were the days when the mode of communication was Telex or Telephone . No mobile phones, no Reuter/Refinitive/ Bloomberg screens, no colour TVs showing CNBC TV 18 scrolling FX and Stock market rates . No STD calls either ! The quickest mode for  communicating  between Vizag and Calcutta was a “Lightning Call” on the telephone at an “exorbitant” cost . However, in an FX Course in  in Staff College , Hyderabad we were taught  “Use a Lightning Call. Do not consider the cost . In Foreign Exchange , much more can be lost if you book an ordinary call for reporting a high value transaction  “
My First lesson from Mrs R came when I reported my first MMTC Iron Ore Export  to a Japanese firm under a USD  Letter of Credit opened by Dai-ichi Kangyo Bank, Tokyo . I had booked a “Lightning Call” from Vizag and when the operator connected me,
 I nervously started “Ma’am – I have an Export Bill negotiation – Purchase- YGZUZ (we have debited you through Branch Clearing General Account ) to Report !” 
“Go ahead ! the Lady replied ; 
Me : “YGZUZ , Rs  equivalent of USD 1,525,000 representing export of Iron Ore to Tokyo, from Vizag by MMTC, under LC opened by Dai-Ichi –Kangyo Bank, Tokyo ”  “Please give me a firm rate , to enable me to advise you the Rupee Equivalent” .
The Lady : “Ok, you can take ……. as the Firm rate” ; what is the name of the Correspondent Bank where we will received the funds ?”
Me (very confidently)  :” Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank , Tokyo , Ma’am!”
The Lady : “It cannot be   Mr Azariah ! Look at the Letter of Credit again and tell me name of the Correspondent Bank !”
I looked at the Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank LC again ; the LC was opened by the Tokyo Branch and the LC Opening Branch  name “Tokyo” was staring at me in front of my eyes ! What was the Lady talking about ??
The Lady : “We are on Lightning Call, Mr Azariah ! Don’t waste my time !!”
Me (very nervously) : “It says “Tokyo” Ma’am” !
That is when the hammer –blow came ! 
You see, Iron Ore was being exported from Vizag to Tokyo, but the payment for the export was coming in US Dollars.
The Lady : “Mr Azariah, please understand this . Payment for USD will be received in USA only, not in Tokyo . Look at the LC again .”
Me (the rookie that I was, without looking into the LC, blurted) : 
“Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, New York , Ma’am !!”
The Lady (softening her tone) : “If you say, so, but you are wrong ! Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, does not have a branch in  New York !  Look further into the body of the LC and you will find the name of an American Bank where cover funds  will be credited by Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Tokyo after they process the Export Bill under the LC.”
That completed the Lesson . I read through the LC and found the name “Chase Manhattan Bank, New York” 
Me( with a smile) : It is “Chase Manhattan Bank , New York , Ma’am !”
The Lady : “Thanks and Congratulations!”
It was a costly lesson no doubt ! But money well spent on a Lightning Call , and burnt into my memory !!
Fast forward, to 2000, and that  costly lesson helped me as GM Treasury , find the problem in the Nostro Reconcilliation of Foreign Department Calcutta on account of their posting a debit in the Mirror Account of US Dollar Foreign Offices when the Nostro USD credit was in the US Dollar Correspondents Account . This mistake resulted in the Bank’s Balance sheet for 31st March 1999  ending up showing a Debit Balance in the Inter-Office Accounts , resulting in the Bank providing  Capital Adequacy for the same ; Mr Janaki Ballabh, the then Chairman appointed   a special team headed by me under Mr Rajendra Asthana CGM (Accounts & Compliance ) to find where the error was !
During my tenure in Vizag, the forieign exchange and export business of MMTC was in the eye of every bank opened in that port town . 
Syndicate Bank , Vizag decided to come on head on competition with SBI , and I was in the eye of the storm .   Syndicate Bank gave an open bid to MMTC “We will improve whatever  quote SBI gives by 2 cents” . 
In those days (1978)  USD/INR was being quoted as an Indirect quote . i.e. Rs 100 = USD 12.2100 .
I informed Mrs R about this nuisance  ,  obstructing day to day  functioning in haggling and begging  with MMTC.  Mrs R : “Don’t worry , Mr Azariah . Can you give me one day advance notice , when you expect MMTC to submit the export bill for negotiation, and the approximate amount  ?”
By that time, the Vizag Outer Harbour had become functional and I could see the ships filling up with Iron Ore on my way to Office every day . I got a fair hang of predicting the day the export bill would come for negotiation, as we had advised the export LC, and the export  bills  used to land at the branch  2 days after the ship’s departure.
Me: “Yes , Ma’am” ! I can do that ! “
The day was set when the Lady would come out and show her mettle and the might of SBI in the FX markets , although I have to admit I was a bit skeptical myself, not having seen what SBI Dealing Room and Foreign Department actually looked like, and how it functioned !
In those days, SBI used to announce “Card Rates” and “STC/MMTC Rates” which would be an improvement over the card rates . These rates used to be available at 10.00 am when the Branch opened , and available till 2 pm . 
On that date, at 10.00 am no Card Rates, no STC/MMTC rates were made available throughout India. 
When MMTC asked for the rates , I replied, “Sorry Sir , no rates have come from FD Calcutta”.    I also advised Mrs R  about MMTCs enquiry, and she said “Sorry ! am unable to quote, let Syndicate Bank quote their rates.” “ Trust me !!”
I conveyed the message to MMTC “ Let Sydicate Bank quote”   Remember , those were not the days of the Reuter and Bloomberg screens or  of colour CNBC TV screens where one could immediately get an idea of the Exchange Rates in the market .
MMTC came back ‘’Sorry Sir, Syndicate Bank is also unable to quote “ they said !
It was then that my trust and respect for  “the Lady” started taking root ! I guessed she must be up to something useful for the coming battle for MMTC business !
In those days , the FX market for the branches would close at sharp 2 pm. Any business done after that would be at a “Provisional” rate, subject to application of a firm rate the next day after the market re-opened  .
On that eventful day, the “Card Rates” were released at 12 Noon, but no “STC/MMTC” rates . I offered the “Card Rates” to MMTC, but MMTC wanted their special rates ! 
We waited .            It was 1.45 pm, and still no STC/ MMTC rates !
At 1.50 pm, Syndicate Bank gave their quote  for the USD 2,000,000  MMTC Export Bill  negotiation .    I called Mrs R and conveyed the rate .
1.55 pm (with another 5 minutes for the “market” as far as the Branch was concerned , to close) : Mrs R said :  “ 4 Cents better than Syndicate Bank rate !” 
When I conveyed to MMTC, they came back saying, Syndicate says “2 Cents better than SBI Rate” !
Mrs R  (at 2.00 pm ) : “Let MMTC go to Syndicate Bank . We don’t want this business !!”
I felt really down-hearted, conveying the message to MMTC ! This was the first MMTC Export bill which I had lost to Syndicate Bank, despite all that study of the Ships unloading at Vizag harbor and working out the date on which MMTC would bring the bill for negotiation, etc  !
At 4.00pm, MMTC came back to me : “Sorry Sir ! Syndicate Bank is unable to handle the Bill, and we want SBI to put through the transaction  . Please !!”
I got annoyed:” I cannot go to the Iron Lady at 4.00 pm when the market closed at 2.00 pm ! I will lose my job ! “ I replied !
MMTC Official : “Sir, we will lose our jobs if this bill is not negotiated today ! Please Sir !!”
Very reluctantly, I called Mrs R  and told her MMTCs predicament !
Mrs R : “ Don’t worry Mr Azariah ! Tell MMTC , the Rate now is 8 cents worse than the original Quote I gave ! Take it or leave it ! (It would make the rate 2 cents worse than what Syndicate Bank’s first quote was !)    MMTC tried to haggle, but Mrs R told me that she cannot handle the transaction at any other rate !
MMTC gave in and submitted the Bill at the final rate quoted by Mrs R !
The Battle for Rates was over ! Syndicate Bank was defeated once and for all !
There was no other incident of MMTC trying to play SBI against another Bank’s quote till the rest of my tenure, which ended in June 1980, when I went off to Narsapur , West Godavari Dt , to head the Branch and do my “Line Assignment” as a JMG !
After 1980 , my career seems to have been steered by Mrs R , as Mr Vepa Kamesam (an officer , though from Hyderabad Circle, whom I had never met or known ) wanted me as as “Assistant Dealer” in FD Calcutta from  November 1983 . 
Then, I got posted as  Dealer, Chief Dealer, Bahrain from 1986 to 1990.
In 1991, when Mrs R was GM (Planning) Chennai, LHO, she brought me to Chennai Circle to head the Regional Dealing Room at Overseas Branch, Chennai .
I remember going in a tie and suit to her office , before reporting to OB Chennai , with a bottle of French Perfume ! 
Mrs R :” You are currently floating in the clouds  ! You will soon come down to Earth!” 
True to her prediction, as soon as she was transferred to Bangalore Circle, I was shunted to SBI Thiruvalla Branch, Kerala  as AGM in 1992 !
From 1995 to 96, I was in Staff College Hyderabad, and interacted with Mrs R as she was CGM (Inspection & Audit). Our closeness grew .
In 1996 , I was promoted as DGM and posted as DGM , Overseas Branch , New Delhi .        Mr Murunjan, the then CGM and Principal, Staff College , refused to relieve me .
I turned to Mrs R for help !
She said : “What can I do ?” “You can see my position “  “This is your battle ! Fight for it !” “This opportunity missed , will never come back !” 
And fight I did ; much to the chagrin of Mr Murunjan !
Finally, I did DGM , OB Delhi, from 1996 – 2000; GM Treasury and CGM Treasury Corporate Centre , Mumbai  from 2000- 2005 ; CEO, Fixed Income, Money Market and Derivatives Association  , Mumbai from 2005 – 2014 .
Mrs R , visited me at FIMMDA on her way to Washington to visit her brother, and that was the last physical meeting I would have had with her , in 2013-14 ! We had lunch arranged with her Broker friend of FX days  , Mr Abdulli Macklai , and a Dinner arranged by Ms Anuradha Rao  and the ladies in Mumbai who knew her !
I talked to her after the Lockdown (after March 2020 )  and she was critical of the singer  Kanika Kapoor who came back from the Middle East and went partying with Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Derek O’Brian and other  politicians in Delhi , after testing Positive for Covid -19 !
We discussed the Templeton Mutual Fund Collapse on e-mail  in May  2020 ,and she raised some pertinent questions, on why RBI was asking Banks to bail out the public stuck with the MF investments  ! 
Just when I was thinking  of calling her again and checking up on her,  Mr V.G.Kannan messaged and  delivered the blow “ Mrs Raghavan passed away on 10th October “.
I can visualize  her smiling and saying “Did you notice the Unique Date  10.10.2020 ? When I decided to come Home !”
But then , you were always Unique , Akka !  Rest in Peace !!  
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow 
 Is our destined end or way; 
But to act, that each to-morrow 
 Find us farther than to-day. 
In the world’s broad field of battle, 
In the bivouac of Life, 
Be not like dumb, driven cattle! 
Be a hero in the strife! 
Let us, then, be up and doing, 
With a heart for any fate; 
Still achieving, still pursuing, 
Learn to labor and to wait. 
 (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow )
  " ONCE A DEALER ALWAYS A DEALER "