The Great Indian Bank Robbery Edition II
The Great Indian Bank Robbery Edition III
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Th eGreat Indian Bank Robbery Edition IV
Chor Machaaye Shor
Source: The Indian Express
Unfortunately, that was precisely what the series on unpaid loans-or non-performing assets, in officialese-was all about: showcasing industrialists who lived caviar lives but refused to pay back thousands of crores in public money. Meanwhile, Ritu Sarin, head of Express’ investigative team and a master of digging out uncomfortable facts, had wriggled her way into a Ruia guest house in
‘‘Come on, what jet set? Going to
‘‘Arre yaar,’’ he said after running through many financial arguments. ‘‘Timing galat hai, hamara GDR vagera hone wala hai (the timing is wrong, we’re going to float global depository receipts).’’
The Great Bank Robbery Series wasn’t something sensationally exclusive. Everyone in the financial world and the government knew of the impending crisis caused by the purloining of loan money. The logic behind doing it was simple: if you and I don’t repay a couple of installments of that car loan, the company is likely to snatch your car. Yet, here were
It all got began with consulting editor Sucheta Dalal hauling out the shennanigans of some companies. I simply had to put together a team of reporters and photographers nationwide to track down the defaulters and investigate their lifestyles, contrasting their comfort with the penury of their laid-off workers.
From Chennai, the minders of SPIC, chairman and business baron, A C Muthiah, made frequent calls trying to stop us from writing how he, a defaulter, was about to become chairman of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). ‘‘Write if you want later,’’ said one of them on his umpteenth phone call. ‘‘You come to Chennai as our guest and chairman himself will explain everything to you.’’ At least the bigger companies tried to talk their way out. There were a host of smaller companies that had pretty much stopped functioning as companies. Some promoters had even fled the country. Our brief was clear: every owner must be given the chance to defend himself or herself.
Reporters and photographers from Indian Express and Financial Express also travelled to remote interior factories to track down factories and factory workers. They brought back tales of overambition, deceit and often hopelessness among workers. In many small towns, the greed and mismanagement of a few had squelched the dreams of hundreds, for whom the factory was a lifeline, an opportunity to join
It became evident when one evening I got a call from the secretary of former Union Minister for Heavy Industry, Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil of the Shiv Sena. The minister would like to meet me, ‘‘casually’’. So I went one dark, foggy evening to his Lutyens’ bungalow and joined him for a simple meal of dal, rice and ghee. After some pleasantries, he came to the point. I was writing that he had influenced a bank to bail out a steel group, but the fact was he had never pressured anyone. It might be his former secretary who used his name. I was flabbergasted. It was indeed true that I was going to write how he had pulled strings for this baron. Only, I hadn’t written it yet!
Fallout: Banks Clamp Down
Many banks and financial institutions intensified their loan recovery process after The Great Bank Robbery series. Rs 1,10,000 crore was the amount India Inc owed banks, we said, enough to build an expressway in every state, a school in every village. The series also coincided with the passing of the Securitisation Bill in the Parliament. Some of the major recovery measures initiated by banks and financial institutions include: • ICICI Bank seized the plant of Mardia Chemicals, one of the largest defaulters in