Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Canteen Story - Part 2 : Opening moves - research and report

Part 2 of "The Canteen Story" written by late Professor E.F. Bartholomeusz is published today. Use the link below to access Part 1.

Part 2. Opening moves - research and report

As a first step volunteers from this body were posted with permission at the service counter of the canteen for successive short periods of time to maintain a running time-demand tally through each day, over a span of one working week. From this data, reliable estimates of demand over prescribed intervals of each day of the week were readily extracted.

Detailed tea production studies were next undertaken by actual experimentation under normal canteen conditions within the canteen itself; key objectives in the exercise being quality control and production costing. These studies revealed some facts in direct conflict with the prevailing wisdom in 'experienced' canteen- management circles in the University! 

The data gleaned from these separate exercises were demonstrably reliable and served to form the basis of a feasibility report whose preparation was entrusted to the three student initiators in our small group, and which was awaited by the rest with anticipation and growing excitement.

The report turned out to be a carefully crafted, optimistic, and wholly persuasive document which established beyond doubt that the canteen services as envisaged, and all its running costs, and its entire wage commitment, were sustainable by profits from tea alone, provisional on a grant of short-term borrowing rights with a cap of Rs 5000.00, for initial investments in service equipment such as cutlery, crockery, and the like.

This document was forwarded unchanged, to the Vice-Chancellor through the Dean Engineering, for their joint approval of both the project and the requested drawing rights. The Vice-Chancellor, Mr M. J. Perera, supported the idea but insisted that full repayment of loans within six months be indemnified by acceptable guarantees.

In this dilemma, the chairman of the nascent committee offered him his personal guarantee as a token of his own faith in the project. This was accepted, and the project was truly launched.

Continued: Part 3: The first Canteen Committee (C.C.) - its composition and preliminary activities

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