Mar 2, 2018

The Great Bank Robbery

Our biggest strength as a species is our ability to realize our fate. When we are conscious of the consequences of our actions, we have the ability to pause, evaluate and correct our course. 

When the Great Recession of 2008 struck, millions around the world were outraged by the sheer greed of the super-rich bankers. The scandal was so convoluted that many never understood how we could actually allow a few dozen bankers manipulate billions around the world. We swore to never let them cheat our trust again. 

Earlier this year, India's second largest national bank reported a scandal that should change our financial and political futures. 

Unless you've been living under a rock the past month, it is inevitable to miss the finer details of how a single man managed to choreograph a heist of $2 billion over a period of 6 years. So I won't tire you with the details.

Once billed as the youngest billionaire, he is the now the poster boy of how perfect greed can make any enterprising businessman a Forbes billionaire. 

Depending on whose bed they shared, politicians are having a field day mud-wrestling each other with accusations while the common tax-paying public (all 2% of us) are buckling under the collective weight of taxes, both direct and indirect since the last 4 years. 

Nirav Modi and his cronies have been lining their wallets with the money of a million investors. 
This was just the dessert the opposition ordered. Former rulers of our nation wasted no time in piling in the usual litany of blame. 

But I won't blame the ruling regime. They have enough blood on their hands. 

We have a flamboyant PM with a penchant for diplomacy and hugs and a fervent urge to rename every social scheme from the previous regime and an itch to travel. 

Over the course of the past 2 years, he and his party have done what no other politician/dictator/tyrant has ever dared to do to their country. He and everyone in his crony party have been trying to defend demonetization and GST.

In between traveling the world, he has been relentlessly campaigning for his party in internal elections whilst also managing a well-greased PR machine. Yoga is surely doing wonders for the platform tea-seller.

Alas, his white knight routine is slowly waning. He won a shaky majority in Gujarat by the skin on his teeth and now this. For a country that lampooned Manmohan for being silent, Modi's silence is familiarly loud. 

The last few years have seen more fraudsters pulling off financial scams with impunity and frankly, it isn't the sin of a single regime. 

While farmers and salaried tax-payers have been harassed by bankers the moment they miss a payment, how did one jeweler manage to fly under the radar and swindle $2 billion of public money? 
This is the singular important question in our collective minds.

If this is what one non-descript jeweler can do, I'd shudder to think what larger conglomerates are doing with the custodians of our wealth. 

Ofcourse the government won't allow its second-largest bank go bankrupt. Our politicians will bail them out, pretty much like any other crony capitalist would. But consider this - If only our government didn't resort to bailing out entities and practiced fiscal discipline, then we'll have enough money to fund things that our nation really needs without the burden of taxes. 

How is it that banks like ICICI have been able to track down defaulters when they miss 2 payments but our national banks are not able to flag and stop willful defaulters leave the country to a country with poor extradition records?

How is it that our government still doesn't know where Nirav Modi is? Or maybe they don't want to know that. 

How is it that businessmen like Nirav Modi were able to accept cash transactions when the government has been trying hard to push for digital payments?

Why aren't we asking the hard-hitting questions? If you ask me, every RBI governor and finance minister must be in the dock for looking the other side.

How is confiscating a used Porsche and Maybach going to matter? Our archaic laws will ensure none of what is confiscated will ever be monetized to cover our losses?

How did one man mastermind the failure of all the checks and balances that were supposed to protect the wealth of the country?

Ofcourse the guilty will run scot-free. Because if he could engineer an eloquent plot to hoodwink the second-largest national bank in India, then you can be pretty sure the rot runs all the way to the top. Everyone, on both sides of the fence, would have been paid off to look the other way. And admitting it now will have untold repercussions for our fragile nation.

When Harshad Metha rigged the national stock exchange, the government made an example out of him. 
When the fake stamp paper scam broke up, the government in Karnataka made sweeping changes that made sure this never happened.

To all the Westerners who think Slumdog Millionaire when they hear India, we aren't a poor nation. 'Fraudstars' like Nirav Modi, and Vijay Mallya and countless others prove that we are a nation of serious money. 
We are a nation where the 2% of the population pay an exorbitant amount of tax every month. Money that will eventually end up in the wallets of our fraudsters.
We are a nation which Forbes lists as the country where the number of billionaires has grown the most. Why not? The PM is our answer to Trump.
We are a nation which lost of the highest number of billionaires, simply because they chose to get out while they still had the chance.
We are a nation where the chasm between the rich and the poor have deepened.
We are a nation where our fraudsters can buy anything, including the silence of our prime minister, for the right price.
I could go on.. but you get the point.  

The real victims here aren't the millionaires or the poor. They neither pay income tax and every 5 years the government will always pander to their greed.

The real victims are the middle class. Period.

'There has been no government other than Modiji's that has taken prompt and most stringent of action against any frauds...' - Spake Amit Shah (BJP President)
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please - Mark Twain.
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