By RP Marathe
BARELY three months short of his 69th birthday, falling on June 27, Dr Sahab, as we Barodians fondly called him, shed his corporal shell to keep his appointment with his creator.
When nationalised banks in India started recruiting specialist (planning) officers, Dr Chakrabarty, who had a PhD in statistics and a few years teaching experience at Banaras Hindu University, bagged this cherished post at Bank of Baroda in 1979.
After working in the planning department and climbing the corporate ladder to the position of a general manager, he went to London as head of the UK territory. In the last 19 years, he scaled new peaks of his career as executive director of Punjab National Bank (PNB), then chairman and managing director (CMD) of Indian Bank, as CMD of PNB and later as deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India till March 2015.
He was a man of strong conviction and believed in the trilogy of data, information and knowledge, which he used effectively to scale various positions of prominence. He was a workaholic and working under his leadership was a tough job. He hardly enjoyed any Sunday or holiday as he was always busy completing one project or assignment after the other.
At Bank of Baroda, he would insist on his colleagues and juniors becoming knowledge workers who knew what they were doing and why they were doing it. Working with him, they also understood the real meaning of everything from merit, professionalism, recommendation to bullet points and bird’s eye view.
As head of the bank’s planning department, he would draw up business plans and also conduct the performance review of all zones and regions under the four-tier operational set-up which included the head office, zonal offices, regional offices and branches.
The bank’s operational heads – zonal and regional managers – were on the receiving end and the joke those days used to be either you accept the target given by Dr Sahab or become his target.
Because of his strong analytical skills and burning desire to shape the organisation through meticulous planning, he had carved out a niche for himself. Working under him, officers got immense exposure to corporate planning, data analytics, profit analysis, risk management and policy analysis.
As he believed in creating his own demand, he loved to take up new assignments, at times even beyond his jurisdiction. He was part of and later, head of a large number of committees within and outside the bank, on a variety of subjects in the banking industry. He believed in taking things or projects to their logical conclusion, which demanded a lot of patience and perseverance both of which he possessed in great measure.
He was a man of strong logic and reasoning, and with a backup of statistical data, he would not easily let go of any argument once taken up.
He was a unique kind of specialist (planning) officer who was equally or more successful than a generalist officer in the field. As general manager (risk management and treasury) he made an immense contribution to the bank. During his tenure, the bank successfully set up an integrated treasury operation, combining domestic and overseas treasury operations.
His tenure as head of Bank of Baroda’s UK territory, where he managed multifarious tasks of branch operations, treasury operations, offshore banking and HR, speaks volumes of his calibre and capabilities.
He was a kind-hearted person and always cared for even the last man in the hierarchy of the organisation.
He left his indelible mark on whatever he handled. Dr Sahab will always be remembered by me and many of his colleagues and juniors as a successful banker and a great human being.
RP Marathe is a former chairman and managing director of Bank of Maharashtra.