Back to normal: Business as usual
by Virendra Parekh on 01 Mar 2009 2 Comments

My sister-in-law quarrels with me whenever we meet. The reason is too unimportant to matter. Quarrelling is her way of announcing that everything is normal. On rare occasions when she is sweet or reasonable, I feel apprehensive that something is wrong somewhere.

Most people in the stock market and corporate world are feeling a similar sense of normalcy. Thanks to Ramalinga Raju, founder chairman of Satyam Computers, whose genius transcended the barriers of information technology and spilled over into finance and accountancy. When he informed the world of his hitherto unknown achievements in these fields, he showed appropriate modesty by resigning and making way for an abler successor. 

While most investors felt shaken and shook the stock market in turn, the seasoned ones felt that things were back to normal. If once in five years the country is not rocked by a corporate or stock market scandal, something somewhere must be wrong. The Satyam affair has convinced us that it is business as usual.

That is why he became an instant celebrity in the Chanchalguda jail where he was lodged after arrest, in the company of pickpockets, thieves, robbers and other petty criminals. According to unconfirmed reports, some uncouth inmates referred to him as sharief badmaash, but most respectfully addressed him as Guruji.

We are here for transferring 5000-10,000, but you have handled much larger amounts, so large that we can even write them properly on paper. Surely, Guruji, we are no patch on you. Your saga will continue to inspire generations of people like us, long after we are all gone from the scene,” said one of them reverentially to Raju.

The more enterprising inmates submitted informal job applications to him. They said their services will be at his beck and call once both parties were out in the open. 

Another recent arrival at the jail aroused the curiosity of the old tenants. They were keen to know more about one Vadlamani, who they learnt had been of great help to Guruji. However, they were disappointed. Every question put to Vadlamani drew the same answer, “I don’t know. Ask Sir (Raju). I shall do whatever he asks me to do.”

Outside, the popular nursery rhyme, ‘Johny, Johny, Yes Papa’ has made way for “Raju Raju, Yes Baba, Cheating us, No Baba, Telling Lies, No Baba, Open your accounts, Ha Ha Ha.”

Course correction!

Some commerce colleges are seriously considering revising their curriculum. Currently, they teach students to work out profit and loss account on the basis of journal entries. Raju’s genius lay in cutting through all that complexity and deciding on a profit number right at the beginning. This innovative business (or accounting) model is sure to gain more popularity in the days to come. Students would certainly profit by acquainting themselves with it at an early stage, say some educationists.

At a higher level, some chartered accountants are thinking of requesting Raju to conduct advanced courses in creative accountancy, a rich blend of fact and fiction. Not that they are altogether unfamiliar with it, but they feel that some amount of higher studies at the feet of a Master can equip them better for really tough challenges and great opportunities the future may throw up.

All art imitates life. We are therefore inclined to believe unconfirmed reports that film producer Ram Gopal Verma is in two minds about the theme of his next film. He was planning one on the terrorist attack in Mumbai. But now he is reportedly thinking of a film on the Satyam affair which has terrified people in its own way and which too has all the elements of a thriller: surprise, suspense, double-dealing…

Strange as it may seem, even spiritual leaders are taking a deep philosophical interest in the Satyam affair. “We have been telling people all along that there is a great difference between appearance and reality. Now, thanks to this New Age Guru, many people have realized overnight that what appears is not what actually is. There is only a thin screen between Satyam and Maytas (a touch of maya),” said one thoughtfully.

At this rate, we need not be surprised if there is a demand for Raju’s statues at public places. Far more people are inclined to follow in his footsteps than, say, Gandhiji’s. Perhaps Mayawati could provide some consultancy on the statue business.

The author is Executive Editor, Corporate India, and lives in Mumbai

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