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Where’s The Chowkidar?

Where’s The Chowkidar?

Hollywood animation movie fans may please note that the hashtag ‘FindingNimo’ on Twitter (unabashedly lifted by a leading national daily) is not a promo for a sequel to 'Finding Nemo’, but joke on the Narendra Modi Government’s pledge to bring a fugitive businessman to justice after first allowing him to quietly leave the country, just as it did in the case of businessman Vijay Mallya.

If the money Mallya owes is around Rs 7,000 crore to 17 banks, the new scam amount stands at Rs 11,000 crore at the moment to many more banks. The Modi Government tells us that the man in question, designer diamond jeweller Nirav Modi, has been raising money for his companies by fraud in collaboration with an employee of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) since 2011. Whether there are similar frauds with other banks is not known at the moment. As seen in the Harshad Mehta scam, fraudsters usually do not limit their activity to just one bank. So, this may be just the tip of the iceberg.

“There are many people with the surname Modi,” said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to make it clear that Nirav Modi, now nicknamed ‘Nimo’ in social media, was not related to ‘Namo’, the endearing name by which Prasad and other Narendra Modi fans address the PM.

The scam began with PNB’s Mumbai deputy general manager overseeing import payments in its foreign exchange department, Gokulnath Shetty, issuing several letters of undertaking (LoU) for different Nimo companies without collecting surety.

A LoU is a guarantee given by an Indian bank to companies to draw loans abroad from overseas branches of different Indian banks. If the company fails to pay back the loans, the guarantor bank pays the debt and recovers payments by taking possession of deposits and other assets the company received as surety from the company before issuing the LoU. The facility is meant to enable businessmen who have assets in India to raise the right amounts abroad on completion of purchase negotiations.

In this case, Shetty issued LoUs for Nimo’s companies to buy diamonds abroad for his designer jewellery business. However, the guarantees were given without receiving any surety. PNB claims that Shetty bypassed the bank’s internal messaging system to avoid fraud detection and sent instructions through a global payment system, asking overseas branches of Indian banks to give cash loans. This sounds too improbable. Usually such frauds involve the top-most officials of the bank who collaborate with big politicians who guarantee protection. At the moment, we have only Shetty — who retired but never thought of even fleeing the country with the pecuniary benefits accrued for facilitating such a huge fraud — holding the bag.

Nimo and family used the fake PNB guarantees to encash $1.8 billion abroad and used it for personal purposes. To prevent turbulence to the banking system, the Government has advised PNB to honour the guarantees given to other banks. Since it is a public sector bank, the money for PNB will come from honest taxpayers. And even as the Government struggles to find the money to fund PNB, bizarre news reports claimed the Enforcement Directorate seized gold and diamonds worth Rs 5,100 crore, almost half the amount Nimo owes PNB, from raids on his properties in a day. These reports are unlikely to be true as Nimo could not have left behind so much diamonds and gold that could have been easily seized.

Since Jawaharlal Nehru and the Gandhi family have to take responsibility for all frauds and scams in India, let us for arguments sake go by the Modi Government’s contention, parroted by the lapdog media, that the UPA Government should be blamed for the scam ‘since it began in 2011’.

But the question Modi Government should tell the public is why the Registrar of Companies did not act on a complaint filed, in July 2016, by whistle-blower S V Hari Prasad to the PMO against Nimo’s uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi. The complaint was just forwarded to the Registrar of Companies, which closed the case without even asking Prasad for evidence.

However, there is no angst against Modi or his Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the media as most media barons are either RSS pracharaks or frauds like Nirav Modi in their own right, if not both. Modi has demonstrated that you don’t need Emergency to censor a tainted media.

Bhagwat’s Worldview

Before you start lampooning him, please be a little considerate to RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat. I don’t think there is any need for political parties to attack him for his comments that the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh has the ‘ability to raise an army within three days, while it would take the Indian Army more than six months to mobilise troops’.

The remark has to be seen in the context of his exposure in life and his perceptions. It takes a real committed pracharak to become the head of the RSS. So if Bhagwat was chosen for the post, it goes without saying that he must have been one of the most dedicated pracharaks of his generation.

What is special about such people? They receive no exposure to realities of life but live in a make-believe world, listening to mumbo-jumbo of their mentors. Disinformation and legends are passed off as truths. As a result, the RSS has a worldview detached from reality. Hence, it’s not a joke when some among them talk about Ganesha undergoing the first plastic surgery or pushpak vimans flying over the skies, eons before the Wright brothers got it right. These are myths passed off as real in the shakhas.

The dedicated lot among the RSS cadre does not look for knowledge or wisdom from anywhere else. It’s all provided to them in the shakhas, just like the madrasas they often criticise for keeping Muslim children in the dark.

So when Bhagwat said what he did, he was being frank of his idea on how ‘trained, efficient and disciplined’ the RSS is in organising itself to perform any task. If anyone has any doubts, ask him how long it would take for RSS cadre to prepare for space travel. The answer is unlikely to be any different.

There are people whose attitude and mind set are those of cavemen or worse even though they may live in modern cities. One should appreciate their honesty when they come up with such remarks, although one may laugh in private. The problem arises only when voters pick such persons to head the nation’s government and lead India in the new millennium. And that’s one disaster we are living through at the moment.

(abey.kay@gmail.com)

(Published on 19th February 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 08)