The corporate malfeasance confessed to at Satyam has shocked the nation with words like “financial 26/11” and “India’s Enron” being used to describe this catastrophe for India Inc. Satyam has been subject to ritual humiliations like having their corporate ethics award withdrawn and being taken off stock indices. The economic pundits are baying for blood. On the board floor.
But what does the man in the street think of all this?
Let’s find out in this exclusive GB TV news report.
[Background music: Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Ishwar Satya Hain. Satya Hi Shiva Hain. Shiv Hi Sundar Hain. A haaa A haaaaaaa]
Samar is 16 years old and is in Class 11. This is what he had to say.
I don’t see what’s wrong in making a few untrue statements in the balance books. I mean come on dude. Everybody does that at school while doing lab reports. I mean how can one really get a straight line graph while plotting V vs I? It never happens. So you massage the data so that it “fits”. The teachers know it. The students know it. The teachers when they were students did it.
Mona is 33. She works in a cell center.
If you don’t have it, you pad it. Be they balance sheets or bra cups. That’s common knowledge. When prospective grooms come to our house, I always wear padded bras. My aunts told me to do so. Are they asking me to cheat? I don’t think so. And just to balance out that exaggeration, I also under-estimate. I say I am 25 years old.
And it’s not just the younger generation who are supportive of the management at Satyam.
Raghavan is 45. He works for the government.
So what’s the crime here? Using shareholder money to buy shares in the company your son runs at outrageously elevated prices? I mean if you are dragged over the coals for looking after your family, what is a man to do? Apne to aapne hote hain. What next? Ban the Congress Party?
Lalaji is 65. He has run a grocery for 45 years now.
My dad always used to tell me “Before you decide to be Harishchandra, remember what happened to him. And let that serve as a warning.” I have always followed that dictum and every successful business has to. I keep a metal weight below my scales, I put small bits of stone in the rice, I adulterate the cooking oil. I have two ledger books.
It’s not just me. The dairy-boy who my wife buys milk from has more water than milk. The asli desi ghee I buy is hardly asli. Everyone is tampering with numbers and ratios. Thats how it always has been with dhanda-giri.
There is just one crime in business. Just one.
And that’s getting caught.
Not everyone was so outspoken however. When we asked Ajay, 53, himself an accountant how despite audits by a major accounting agency, nearly ninety four percent of the cash on Satyam’s books just does not exist, he merely smiled and said.
In other news, unconfirmed reports suggest that the embattled CEO has been seen in half-sleeve shirts and suits and is reportedly currently working on developing 8 pack abs. This has lead many to speculate whether a “Ghajini” defense of anterograde amnesia may be mounted against a 7 year jail term, a defense that is intensely popular among powerful business owners. Viewers may recall that such a defense was successfully used by Sanjay Singhania, the telecom giant, to get an acquittal after he went on a murderous rampage for which he was not only accused of mass murder but also of gratuitously breaking all the laws of Physics and of good cinema.
Fade out music: (paraphrased song from movie “Gunda Mawali”) Raju awaara barsaat main, chori chori kya kar baitha…..