Some years back, seven small-scale companies, all located in the same industrial area, incurred heavy losses in the first year of operation. Coincidentally, all seven companies had been set up by first-generation entrepreneurs, and all had purchased a machine each from the company I worked with. Their losses were due to a combination of various reasons, but these entrepreneurs claimed that their losses had been caused by the poor performance of the machines and demanded that we take back the machines after refunding their payment with interest. When we refused, they took up the matter in the consumer court, but their case was dismissed.
One morning, one of them telephoned me and told me that all seven of them wanted to meet me in my office at 11.00 am the next day. I agreed to meet them, stating him that, even though the consumer court had dismissed their case, we sympathized with them and would try to help them in whatever way we could. I took pains to assure him that we bore them no grudge for having approached the consumer court.
The group of seven entrepreneurs entered my office the next day at 11.00 am. This was my first personal meeting with them since I had assumed charge as the company’s Area Manager a month earlier. A few minutes after 11.00 am, I received a phone call. When the caller identified himself as the PA (Personal Assistant) of the MP (Member of Parliament) of the area where these factories were located, and told me that these seven entrepreneurs had met the MP the previous day, I assumed he would proceed to ‘persuade’ me to agree to our customers’ demands. The triumphant look on the faces of my visitors confirmed my fears.
However, before I could say anything, the gentleman continued, “Sir, I have not called you to put any pressure on you. After discussing with these gentlemen yesterday and studying their file later, the MP is convinced that their problems are not due to your machines, but due to many other factors. However, these gentlemen are in a severe financial crisis and are even talking of committing suicide. Hence, the MP asked me to speak to you to request you to try to help them on humanitarian considerations. If you think there is any way the MP can help to solve these gentlemen’s problem, please telephone me. Let me assure you once again that the MP is not trying to put any pressure on you. I have telephoned you now because I want these gentlemen to know that I have spoken with you.” I assured him that we would try to help our customers in whatever way we could.
While I had no reason to doubt the sincerity of the MP’s PA’s words, I was not sure how to react since I had read and heard many stories of politicians arm-twisting people. I told my visitors that the MP’s PA had called to request my company to see how we could help them. I said that I would discuss the matter further with the management and would revert to them as soon as possible.
After my visitors left, I discussed the matter with my seniors. We decided to take the MP’s PA’s words at face value and handled the matter without letting his phone call affect us in any way. A week later, I informed the seven customers that we could not take back their machines, but we would help them sell their machines to interested buyers. They were not happy with our stand and said that they would report to the MP that we had not tried to help them. I don’t know what transpired at their meeting with the MP, but there was no further phone call from the MP’s PA.
We all talk about the disgusting behaviour of our MPs and MLAs. As this incident shows, there are quite a few decent politicians around.