We have finance channels like CNBC18, CNBCAwaaz, NDTVProfit, ETNow and print media like Economic Times or Financial Express. What do these media outlets do? Especially the TV channels! The TV channels run 24X7 doing nothing but stock market scores and interviews with top guns of companies. Not once have these financial channels ever been able to expose one single fraud in any of the companies they cover. Wonder why? All the glorious reports they do on cars and bikes and financial companies are based on scripts handed out to them. During the crash of 2008 CNBC in the US was exposed as even betting on companies that were definitely looking to sink. Some anchors also worked with inside information. Famous among them was the company of Sir Allen Stanford. Remember him? He was the guy who organised the rich cricket tournaments between England and West Indies. Here he is:
During the 2008 sub-prime crash the reporter from CNBC asks Stanford how he survived the crash. Interesting, eh? And then asks him “is it fun being a billionaire”? Well, that’s what financial channels do; they suck up to the billionaires for their share of the crumbs. And yes, as Stanford tells him “Yes, it’s fun being a billionaire”. Turns out Allen Stanford ran a Ponzi scheme (named after the scamster Charles Ponzi) to the tune of $7 billion. Fortunately, the justice system in the US is a bit faster and Stanford is now cooling his heels in prison under a 110-year sentence. In contrast, what do you estimate will happen to the scamsters that ran the Saradha Chit Fund in Kolkata?
History is proof that scams and corruption don’t begin from the bottom. They begin at the top. Be it Richard Nixon, Ramalinga Raju, Sudipto Sen (MD of Saradha Chit Fund), Bear Sterns, Meryl Lynch or any other company. Take any scam in the last few years; 2G, Coalgate, Adarsh Housing to name a few. All of them involved people in the highest offices of the country. Invariably, it’s the small guy who pays the price. Prior to his arrest Sen had written a long letter to the CBI describing events that led to the crash of his chit fund company (read it on Rediff). While the media has been quick to call the Saradha scam a ‘ponzi’ scheme it is actually a lot more than that. Their fall has been driven by the ambitions of Sen and the greed of many a politician and media persons and outlets.
The opening tagline to “The Godfather” rightly says “Behind every great fortune there is a crime”. It would be an apt line for politicians, businessmen and media persons who have acquired a fortune in a relatively short period. Robert Vadra has been given a clean chit in all the land scams he was accused of. Why would anyone pay a price for the Saradha scam except the ordinary poor people of Bengal? The letter by Sen to CBI even quotes Nalini Chidambaram (wife of P. Chidambaram) being paid 1Crore and mentions deals worth 42Crores. Really, is NC such a famous lawyer to command such extraordinary legal fees or deals? And while our media conveniently mentions others like Mithun Chakraborty (who hasn’t been accused of any wrong doing) and media persons like Kunal Ghosh not one single channel dared to mention the name “Chidambaram”. So on what grounds did they name the others mentioned in Sen’s later?
I have often mentioned that the media is the “first line of defence for the corrupt”. I guarantee that if the IT officials go through the bank accounts and incomes of many a media celeb with a fine tooth comb, the chances are that a lot more financial crimes will be exposed. But they won’t. And nor will the media ever expose any financial scams. After all, they are partly beneficiaries of these crimes.
The audacity of the whole episode is that not only have the poor in Bengal (and investors of other places) who invested in the Saradha Chit Fund lost all their money and some their lives too, the Bengal CM is now promising to compensate them from the state funds. Wonderful! Scamsters loot people and then the state conveniently will again use your money to compensate. So you lose both ways. Even if some compensation is paid from the state funds the first condition has to be that all the scamsters should be arrested and charge-sheeted. It is highly unlikely something like that will ever happen. The image from IndiaToday is a good example of how scams are negotiated: 1) Screaming in the media 2) Political wrangling 3) Handover case to CBI 4) DEAD END!
People who argue that politicians are a reflection of society might want to think again. If that were indeed true then apply the ratio of corrupt politicians to the whole population. That would make for a frightening figure. There is corruption everywhere but the fountainhead is always at the top not at the bottom. The “bottle-neck” in a bottle is always at the top, that’s why impediments are known as “bottle-necks”. The message being repeatedly sent to the ordinary people is that crime pays. My bet is that nothing will happen to Sudipto Sen or anyone involved in the Saradha scam. After all, most of the money went to politicians and media.