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Raju ban gaya conman

  • Posted On: 11th June 2013
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What could possibly drive a farmer’s son to aim for the skies, to achieve all that he did and then fritter it all away: drive down in his Mercedes to surrender to a life of a common
criminal? I guess greed could be the only motivator perhaps and why not? Look at the kind of India we’ve built in the last few years. There is now a rich list which gets published almost every day; there are more and more corporate awards and then, we have the enduring saga of the stock markets. But the sad bit is that Raju was just not clever enough. There is a Raju in every nook and cranny of the corner office in India’s corporate offices. Many years ago, ITC was benignly referred to as The Insider Trading Company. And like ITC, I am sure many companies have earned their fine sobriquets. The truth of the matter is that we lack the transparency we so often tout at public forums. We lack the honesty of purpose since vested interests reign supreme and the tragedy is that everyone is playing their part in creating this bubble: a bubble which when bursts hurts the poorest of the poor.

Enough has been written about the damage that this whole Satyam episode will inflict on
Brand India. I don’t agree. I believe that Brand India, to those who know it well, know it is a brand which also embraces sleaze and getting deals done. When the Prime Minister of this country knows that he has crooks in his cabinet and does nothing about it, what kind of signal are we sending? And then, when you hear of scams in the telecom space or for that matter in the whole realty sector, who are we fooling? You also have the magnificent saga of television anchors on business channels making pronouncements with a sure view towards influencing the markets and driving up (or down) stock prices. Therefore, in circumstances such as these, the Ramalinga Rajus become the fall guys. Nothing more. The reality that we must confront today is that this cancer has spread deep and spread wide. We need systemic changes not just in corporate governance but in the values with which these corporate honchos are building their businesses. In a country where values have been replaced by valuations, the dangers are only too apparent to avoid. It is this harsh truth that we must face up to and begin to make these changes.

The Satyam saga will only be a footnote in the history of nexuses in India; the nexus between business and politics, the nexus between the media and business, and the nexus within businesses themselves. The sad part is that there is a cartelisation of behaviour itself and we are players in this unique orchestra of corruption. Price Waterhouse Coopers and their ilk are more dangerous than the Rajus of the world because they have sacrificed their core belief system: honesty. I am surprised why their partners have not been arrested. I sit as an independent director on many national and international boards and the role we play is significant. We cannot be mute spectators to management and then distance ourselves when the damage is done. I believe the Satyam saga has exposed the underbelly of corporate India sooner than later. This is a kind of high tide which will wash up many more corporate crimes and many more scandals. It will highlight the manner in which business is done in India. It will bring to the fore the futility of corporate awards and the manner in which we venerate some of these corporate rogues. I guess it is at times such as these that people like the Tatas and Munjals must feel satisfied that they have not strayed away from their value architecture. I am of the opinion we are living in troubled times: when the economy slows down as it has, the pressure to report healthy earnings will be more than ever before. Promoters will hide the realities that exist within their sordid businesses and it is at this time, we must say a silent prayer of thanks to Ramalinga Raju. For confessing, whether by choice or under compulsion, and letting the world know what we always believed but were cowards to admit. If in the process, Brand India gets hit, so be it. I would much rather have a brand that gets knocked down and rises again, than one which is built on the twin pillars of deceit and avarice!

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