Rasheeda Bhagat

Leading by mission, commission, omission

Rasheeda Bhagat | Updated on February 22, 2018 Published on February 22, 2018

Nirav Modi Scamming gamer

Puns aside, how long will the people of India continue to pay for the misdeeds of inglorious scamsters and callous leaders?

What is it about Gujaratis that fetches both admiration and amazement as well as derision and contempt, depending on the context? Admiration, of course, for their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, and contempt for the harakiri they commit in business.

Nearly a decade back when I started ‘The Small Investor’ column in BusinessLine and got a passing acquaintance with the vagaries and pitfalls of the Indian equity market, one comment that rankled but struck a chord — after all I am a Gujju myself — was: “Take any stock market scam in India, from Harshad Mehta to Ketan Parekh, they are all Gujaratis.”

The person who made this comment then added: “A Shah scam is yet to happen!”

Once again a Gujarati, Nirav Modi, has defrauded the Punjab National Bank of a whopping ₹11400 crore!

Fodder for the social media

Predictably, the social media erupted with taglines such as ‘Finding NiMo’, and posts like “Gujjus have stolen ₹11,000 crore of Punjab National Bank. Why shouldn’t Punjabis now loot Bank of Baroda in retaliation?” and “PM Gujju, RBI Governor Gujju; Nirav Modi Gujju, aur loota becharey Sardaro ko” are doing the rounds.

But in all these and yet another popular tweet/ WhatsApp message on the latest Gujju greeting being “Scam chho?”, lies a distressing and disgraceful message. The inability of our bankers and regulators, or rather their complicity, in preventing such mega frauds. After all, whose money, or rather sweat and tears, is it?

How dare our netas — and this is happening in all the noise being generated in the Karnataka electioneering too — give us all that song and dance about a corruption-free India when such scams of preposterous dimensions continue to rock the country?

How long will these fraudulent crooks, who go under the garb of industrialists and businessmen, continue to operate as leeches, sucking out huge dollops of the people’s money? Nationalised banks being refinanced at taxpayers’ expense so that these scoundrels can siphon off unimaginable sums of money, seems to have become the norm.

It is infuriating to learn the same painful truth day after day that the nexus between our netas, bankers, and criminal businessmen continues, irrespective of the political party the netas belong to. And that slogans such as “Congress ka haath aam admi ke saath “ and “Sab ka saath sab ka vikaas” have been coined only to make donkeys of us, the people of India.

Raining LoUs

But for Nirav Modi and his partner-in-arms Mehul Choksi’s political and business clout — after all, those who make a mockery of our banking systems and their supposed checks and balances are some powerful industrialist’s son-in-law or minister’s brother-in-law — would he have got the outrageous number of LoUs issued by the PNB? The plethora of collaterals and documents a small entrepreneur has to produce for a mere ₹2 to 5 lakh loan is well known and so are the arrogance and rule books our bankers throw in our faces before such a loan is sanctioned.

Within a week of the Modi fraud, another one, involving Rotomac pens and its promoter Vikram Kothari, came to light. This time, reportedly the Allahabad Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank and Union Bank of India compromised their rules to sanction loans to Rotomac, and the amount allegedly swallowed is a whopping ₹3,695 crore! No small numbers will do for our fraudulent business brethren it appears!

Small wonder that hapless Indians are now yearning for the virtually impossible return of Raghuram Rajan as RBI governor. He had really started using the whip to make PSBs accountable for their mounting NPAs. Was that the reason the high and mighty of this land prevailed upon the Government of the day to ensure that he didn’t get a second term is the legitimate question being asked. Derisive comments are once again doing the rounds: While the present incumbent Urjit Patel was busy counting ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes post demonetisation, over ₹11,000 crore was being siphoned away!

While Prime Minister Modi asks the voters of Karnataka during campaigning for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the State to choose between “mission ki sarkar” or “commission ki sarkar” (Congress), his words have started ringing hollow. Even as the Congress and the BJP trade charges over the Nirav Modi scandal having begun in 2011 during Congress rule —and we’ve had enough and more scams during the UPA rule too — what cannot be denied is the breakneck speed at which letters of understanding were issued under the NDA watch 2016 onwards.

So, more than mission or commission, we Indians have a knack of ending up with omission ki sarkar!

Published on February 22, 2018
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