Monday, January 12, 2009

Satyam all the way

Conscience is a bothersome thing. The more I think about it the more annoyed I get.
Hitler did fine without one. Gandhi had loads and still got shot.

It is that persistent nagging voice that makes a mess of a great bank robbery.
Or lands you in jail for fudging your company's profits.

Ramalinga Raju, the tainted former chairman of Satyam Computer Services Ltd. wrote to the board of directors that his fantastic profit figures had started to become a “tremendous burden on my conscience”. In other words Rs 5040 crores of inflated bank balances and cash just did not exist.

It is hard not to feel sorry for the guy. Termed as the biggest corporate fraud India has ever seen, Raju pulled off a stunning feat that will put his name in history for ever a wrong reason as there ever was.

You might argue that with the failed Maytas (Satyam spelled backwards) acquisition deal, the truth was to come out sooner or later. But writing out that dramatic letter must have been hard.

How do you step away from a company that you built over two decades? How do you go from leading the industry as a roaring IT whiz to sharing a tiny cell in the jail with your brother, stretched out on a thin blanket?

Such is conscience.

When he gets out, after a long long time (if law takes it's course, which in our country merits another blog post) I hear the West Bengal government is looking to set up a public-private partnership with him.

They are simply delighted to finally find a man who represents what they stand for. Inflated development figures on paper, non-existent rubbish on ground.


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