Slip that spawned a laugh

OUR BUREAUS | Updated on December 17, 2011 Published on November 20, 2011


It is shareholders' speeches that make annual general meetings, which are otherwise dully legal, lively. Not so much what they say — which is more often than not about the quality of coffee — but how they say it. The ‘gotcha' spirit with which they take on the management, the tempestuous rally-around that happens if the management dares to cross a fuming shareholder, the innuendos, barbs, sarcasm — AGMs are fun. But more than the tumult, the fountain of fun lurks in the language.

Mention has been made in these columns of an instance when a shareholder, who was upset with the zig-zag working results of the company, wanted to know “why your performance is so erotic?” In another meeting, a particularly nitpicky speaker, keen to find out if the management was filling its board with its relatives, spotted a female name among the directors and asked the chairman what was between him and her.

But the brilliant semantics does not need to come out of feistiness. It can come even in a hand-shaking, congratulatory spirit, as happened at the recent AGM of SPIC. The company recently resumed manufacture of fertilisers after being shut for long, and a shareholder wanted to know: “how did you start reproduction after 42 months?”

Not quite ours

Funny, how the Tamil Nadu government officials wax eloquent about the enviable port infrastructure in the state. Chennai has two ports — Chennai and Ennore — and will soon have L&T's. Then there is Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Tuticorin.. and what with Colachel too coming up, why even look at other States to invest?

This correspondent has sat through several such presentations, (the most recent being an interaction of the State government with Ficci), but a conspicuous omission is the mention of Karaikal port, which is owned by Marg Ltd. When this correspondent inquired about this some time ago, a government official joked that the port was not the government's. But neither, for that matter, is L&T's, right? Can't really explain these things.

Disappointment of ‘no-shows'

The number of last-minute ‘no-turn-ups' by key dignitaries, always a lurking danger, seems to have increased now, going by empirical evidence. People go to conferences hoping to hear or meet such-and-such person, but when he is “inextricably held up somewhere else”, the result is undisguised consternation. This is precisely what happened at a recent seminar in Chennai, where the Joint Secretary, Shipping, and Director-General of Shipping were to be present. Neither turned up. The audience was not amused.

A similar thing happened at the recently-held Bancon conference in Chennai. The organiser, Indian Overseas Bank, was obliged to shift the venue from the spacious, sea-side resort at Mahabalipuram to a hotel in the city, because the Finance Minister wanted a different date, and the resort was not available on that date. Finally, Pranabda never came, and the discomfort of the over-packed hall went in vain. The higher the position, the less the keep-your-word spirit, it seems.

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Published on November 20, 2011
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