Annual Appraisal Report

Jitendra Sanghvi

Jitendra Sanghvi joined the Customs Department in the year 1972 and took voluntary retirement in 2003 as Deputy Commissioner. He served as a faculty member at the National Academy of Customs and Central Excise Mumbai for 8 years. Upon voluntary retirement he started Sanjosh Consultants with two former colleagues. He was also a special counsel to Central Board of Excise and Customs. A keen sportsperson since childhood, he played cricket for his college, the Customs Cricket team and several clubs. He practises Vipassana and is a keen environmentalist.

Amirchand and Zaverchand worked together in a non-descript government department. Amirchand retired on superannuation and Zaverchand followed him. I was a new entrant in the department and thus looked at them with curiosity. They were like inhabitant of a pond where water was stagnant and life meaningless. The only sparks in their life was pay commission reports, mandatory promotions etc... Their working can be summed up - The dusty files made its journey from table to table and crumbling yellow paper bore the meaningless notes and remarks like – pl. speak & put up draft.

Amirchand continued to lead his mundane life after retirement without much change, but it was not so for Zaverchand. He was in for a different experience altogether.

Zaverchand hoped to do some part time job for companies he was dealing with. His hints fell on deaf ears and his expertise turned out to be not useful. Private enterprises would look for willing and dynamic person who can deliver the results. First day dawned with expectations. He got up early, went for a morning walk, met some of his friends and returned. Wife served him the tea. He leafed through newspapers. He looked at clock repeatedly wondering why it was moving so slow. TV programs were boring. Yawning and shifting from one sofa to other did not change his plight. Demand of 2-3 cups of tea, gave a disturbing hint from his wife. Within a week, he noticed that his repeated demands for tea was resolved in the form of a Thermos flask. He hated the tea kept in flask. He was pro-active, advising wife in her work with directions and found faults with the maid. His valuable suggestions were not appreciated. One day, the maid revolted and gave a threat to quit. This ensued a battle-royale resulting in wife passing a decree – he would not interfere with home chores and will not deal with maid at all.

Wife began to push him to share the household work. Unwillingly, he did them but wife found faults with him for everything. His attempts to make tea led to milk boiling and spilling, effectively his entry to kitchen was banned. His visits to market were found to be unsatisfactory for reasons like buying at higher price, bringing substandard stuff etc. Dropping grandchild to school could have been disastrous as dashing child barely survived an accident. His biggest grouse was his wife openly blamed him for all this.

One day, he overheard his wife discussing about him with Amirchand’s wife. She was grumbling that his retirement had led to disturbance in her house. That he was cranky and uncooperative. That he created work without contributing much. She wondered how a man like him was tolerated by his bosses for 38 years. This devastated him. He was bewildered and walked out of the house. He visited a bar and drank but for the first time the drink was bitter and not relishing.

He met Amirchand and poured his heart out. He repeatedly observed that his wife believed that his bosses would have found difficult to handle him. He repeatedly asserted that she did not know how difficult it was to get “Very Good” or “Excellent” in annual appraisal. He exclaimed, she did not know the effort required to get such appraisal – “kitne papad belene padte hai.”

Amirchand listened to him patiently and then spoke for the first time. He told him that he should have avoided being in limelight and should have adhered to the tried and tested method.