If you not committed any crime, but you are forced to spend some time behind bars because of some other fraudster, here’s what you can do to survive
The concept of subordinates taking a hit for their bosses, whether in politics or business or some other professions, is as old as the hills. Drivers take the blame for road accidents, junior combatants become prisoners-of-war and rot forgotten while the generals escape even with post-war tribunals and judgements, minor public servants get suspended while the bada sahib continues to go for his evening single malt, and so on and so forth. Chances were that if you were a member of the correct clubs, then you will not really go to jail, but somebody else will.
However, it is only recently, in India at least, that reasonably senior people from the corporate world who could easily be defined as "second-rung-will-go-far", have started going into the state and central big houses as guests of the government or have suicide "committed" on them, and unwillingly too.
Whether it is the now almost forgotten case of Shekhar Mukund Deorukhkar, a close Kalmadi aide, who was at one time treated with the utmost deference as well as fear everywhere in Pune that his association with the many commercial ventures from the Kalmadi camp entitled him to or from the many companies who supplied products and services to the CWG (Commonwealth Games), or the managers from companies like Hero Honda, HSBC, Reliance ADAG, Unitech and DB who appear to have played with thousands of crores without their controllers knowing, or even the most unfortunate Batcha from Raja's Chennai—there is a new trend. Corporate employees are now fair game—and are going to be left to hang out to dry when the long arm of the sarkar reaches out to their bosses.
Very briefly, it appears that it does not matter what the cut of your suit was, Savile Row Bespoke or Lodi Road Wonder—if you were in a reasonably senior position with any entity in India, then you also need to be prepared for a term in jail at some stage or the other. It can happen to the best of us. No longer are the "Constitutional Arrangements" in India designed only to oppress the already depressed. Living and working in a country where with any luck we could likely be party to breaking a dozen laws every time we land at the airport of a new city, this essay and correspondent makes it very abundantly clear that what you will never learn in your management courses is how to prepare yourself for time-out, on behalf of your bosses.
Truly, a new era is on us, and people from Public School backgrounds who may have been to the best of colleges are also fair game.
The big fear is: Lord, I am now going to be in there with the other under-trials? How long will my enhanced blood pressure keep me in hospital?
Actually, getting to work the whole under-trial in prison thing is very simple, and opens with a deep breath. Take one, now, and then read. As mentioned before, I live in a part of Delhi which provided a large number of spies /shakers/movers/fixers and the rest, many of them went to jail and came out too, till they moved further out into their farm-houses. The same part of Delhi now provides abode for many who are 'corporate enhanced' and therefore the current favourites in the Tihar stakes. There are a few who are not seen out for their morning walks lately, and the guys walking their dogs are not talking, either. A few of them have come to me for advice, on confidential basis, because for a variety of reasons including first-hand exposure—I know.
To start with, the first step is to accept in a realistic and pragmatic way that as a manager or officer of a company, you are at risk. And that often you walk into these risks with your eyes open, because over time, these have become accepted norms, for commercial considerations, or otherwise. So there is no point trying to convince yourself or others that you were in any way tricked into things. That's the most important step number one—accept the truth. On your climb to the top, you compromised, and that was a calculated gamble. In addition, you antagonised and left more than a few people below you, who were unhappy with this. And they have the daggers and pins and needles out for you too.
Next most important point—nobody cares about the victim. Like in a drought as popularised by P Sainath, or after a road accident, everybody else other than the victim will be busy making as much personal benefit out of the episode. And the larger entity, be it the corporate or the political party or anything else, will not be dispensable. You are dispensable. Accept this fact also-from the day you join the organisation where you promise to give your sweat and mind.
If you need to be reminded about this, join the older retainers sometimes as they gossip about the sahibs who have come and gone—very illuminating. You are not only dispensable, but you are also a liability in a twinkling of a television report, and the corporate entity or party from being your friend will likely soon be your biggest enemy—so be prepared for it.
Third, "they" will always have access to better lawyers and investigators than what you can ever dream of in a month of Sundays, and then some more. You as an individual or even as a group of people will be totally out of your depth here, as thousand of people from mill workers and their union leaders to others who thought they could buck the system as individuals, have learnt. In this day and age of tax havens, you often will not even know who "they" are, as you are left shadow-boxing with ghosts listed as Directors of the holding companies which actually owned things, while all you had were long conference calls and emails, from people who will no longer give you the time of day.
But does that mean you, as an individual, do not have a chance?
Far from it. Apart from the very popular concept of "power of one", you as an individual who is likely to be left standing up alone, squeezed and left to your own devices, have a vast variety of tools and implements to choose from. And they were never better or easier to use than in this day and age of the Internet, incidentally, which is where you are probably reading this essay.
First of all, get used to learning about the environment, start visiting the places that you will have to frequent if and when you are in a jam. Go to the local courts, visit people in jail or lock-ups, and accompany other unfortunates on their treks to their thanas, mulaqats or courtrooms. Check out the websites for realities in jails. Certainly, if you can swing it, join an NGO that works with prisoners and under-trials. You will learn first thing off the bat and pad that it is absolutely not like anything you ever saw in any movie. What is it like?
It is like any other habitat which evolved around humans, with room for more, and rules as well as adjustments geared towards the here and now. And comfortable survival of the fittest. Try to go there in a bus or other hired public transport, though, and dress conservatively. Get a cheap haircut. Merge with the crowd.
In other words, like everything else, these are all part of a system. An environment of its own, in a manner of speaking, which will not change just because you were not aware or part of it. This is like travelling by train, and never getting to see what things are like in the unreserved wagons on either end of your train—they were always there, you were too comfortable to get out of AC. Look at it this way—if you are travelling to a cold country, then you make some preparations, right? Likewise, if there are even the remotest chances that you will need to know how to co-exist in the rehab system of any country, then you need to know more than what you saw on a television or movie show. The RTI (Right to Information) declarations on jails in India, for example, is a minefield of information. Very interesting too-email, for example, is a statutory right, as is some exposure to the Internet.
Next, read the writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Start with any one of his many biographies, especially the ones which have a genuine view on his earlier days in South Africa or England, Even Anil Kapoor's movie on the subject will be of great help, it was called Gandhi my father, and never got the mileage it should have received. Another good book that I found of great help was Homer Jack's The Gandhi Reader: A Sourcebook of His Life and Writings, which is also available online as well as at most second-hand book shops. This is from his early writings, before myth overtook facts, and contains many articles which give brilliant observations on how the mind of the world's best strategic thinker worked.
Read Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and since you also must know how the other side thinks—John Birch. A simultaneous reading of George Orwell's 1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and a re-read of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland will explain things from the perspective of excess of denial (Orwell), excess of availability (Huxley) and the need to maintain a balance between the two while keeping your sense of humour alive (Carroll). In all cases, if you cannot read the full books, just go through the many condensed versions available online-and they are free.
Now, read up on the real laws in India, the Indian Penal Code to start with. One good way to do this is to join a correspondence course in law, the Masters in Business Law from the National Law school in Bengaluru is particularly recommended. Much of their study material is available online, and for the rest, they send very interesting course books written in a simple and lucid style. Incidentally, if you do get locked up, then you can and should ask for books on the subject of law—you will have a lot of time to read up on them, and at this juncture, nothing else will be more important. You do not have to be a lawyer or practice at the bar to understand more about this fascinating subject.
As I never tire of repeating-the lack of a formal education did not prevent me from heading a Silicon Valley tech company's India operations, but the lack of knowledge of a variety of laws helped others take it away from me.
A brief read-up on the subject will bring you to the next step—asking for bail automatically is not necessarily the best thing you can do. As a matter of fact, the same or far lesser money spent with common sense will provide you a much better lifestyle while in custody-and time thus spent will be adjusted against the sentence, when and if it comes to that. Besides, bail comes with so many conditions, that it is often not really of much use-and believe me, society looks at you very differently when they know you are out on bail. Till as long as they remember, of course—bail is best sought when you are no longer in the limelight is a simple truth too.
Another aspect of bail is that if you do not challenge your custody then you take away one big weapon from the other side—which comes in useful at a later stage when the deciding authorities have to figure out whether to keep you in or enlarge you to the rest of the world. I know people who have "gone in" for a variety of reasons—from family squabbles to corporate warfare to criminal offences and more—and in all cases, if they have followed some simple rules of engagement, like not making the bail application the end-all and be-all, then they have made life easier for themselves while inside as well as their family and friends outside.
Now, while inside—it is the first couple of days that are relatively tough. I use the term "relatively" because friends who have been inside tell me that even this is nothing compared to the ragging some of us endured as juniors on a Training Ship, or in engineering/medical colleges, or certain establishments training people to wear certain uniforms. Or in many of the hostels that dot our educational system.
One of the first things to get used to is that your nakedness will be used as a weapon against you—if that doesn't scare you, then you have confidently gone over the first hurdle. This is a mind thing, especially in India, which we simply have to overcome. I have no idea how you can do it, in my case, at the ripe young age of 16-18, over a hundred of us were made to trot around without our clothes in shower stalls that did not have curtains and toilets that did not have doors.
Next, for the first few days till you establish alignments and matters, your sleeping area will be right next to or maybe even in the toilet area—learn how to accept that too. A simple walk around most slum areas will fix this for you. Terrible on the nose till you get used to it. Likewise, sleeping in a small room with a large number of people for company, after decades of the best in hotel rooms—will take getting used to. An annual trip to the family dharamshala helps. Or maybe some social service of the get-down and get-dirty sort—fix drains in semi-urban locales.
Another hit is the sudden lack of "possessions", wrist-watches, expensive pens, small computers, big plastic, the works. For many people in the corporate and political world, this means a lot, so the removal of these symbols can be quite traumatic. The other side knows it. Practice living without them.
Will you get beaten or buggered? Chances are that you may certainly get threatened with both, and even slapped around a little bit, but if you have taken care to make life easier inside then this will soon end. How you do this is by the oldest method in the book, and there is no need to spell out the process, again—being forewarned and forearmed helps. Ask your consultants who know about these things, and ensure that more than anything else, this aspect is taken care of before going in.
Building up a medical case history is another viable approach. Discuss this with your doctor, as you are aware, there are a vast range of ailments which have vague symptoms which can be used as methods to spend quality time in hospital or under observation. Spinal issues, for one, seem to be a hot favourite.
And finally, this is not to be laughed at either, but a simple jail diet seems to cure many urban maladies. You lose weight, your arteries get unclogged, and when you come out—you are able to wake up early and go for long walks. Truly, helps the golf, too.
Update: It is a known fact that certain criminals, like those accused of heinous crimes involving innocents, are at the bottom of the social structure inside jails and face a very rough time. Reports filtering back indicate that political corruption seems to be reaching that level, too. Which, if correct, changes the picture a lot—especially after the Kalmadi reports today.
UCO Bank has tied up with Religare Securities to offer online trading to its customers as part of expanding the product bouquet and has drawn up ambitious expansion plans
UCO Bank said it has tied up with Religare Securities to offer online trading to its customers as part of expanding the product bouquet and has drawn up ambitious expansion plans.
"We are looking forward for greater brand recall of the bank and adding new facilities like mobile banking and internet trading facility to customers," UCO bank executive director Ajai Rai said on the sidelines of signing the MoU with Religare.
Kumar said the bank planned to open 800 new branches and 2,400 ATMs across the country in the next two years for stronger presence.
"New branches will be pan India, but focus will be given to places like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and the North East," Kumar said.
The bank would surpass the Rs2.45 lakh crore business target for 2010-11, with 20 per cent growth in credit and 18 per cent in deposit, Kumar said.
The bank has about 2,200 bank branches and 600 ATMs across country as of now.
Speaking about the tie up, Religare CEO Gagan Randev said it was the eighth bank and the alliance would go a long way in generating business in future.
On Monday, UCO Bank ended 0.63% down at Rs118 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex declined 0.09% to 19,584.31
Wockhardt has received tentative approval from the US health regulator to sell a generic copy of Aricept tablets, used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Pharmaceutical and biotech firm Wockhardt Ltd said it has received tentative approval from the US health regulator to sell a generic copy of Aricept tablets, used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
The tentative approval by the US Food & Drug Administration (USFDA) is for marketing of Donepezil HCl tablets in 5 mg and 10 mg strengths, which is used for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, the company said in a statement.
Donepezil is the generic name for the brand Aricept, marketed in the US by Eisai in partnership with Pfizer.
"Wockhardt will be launching the product in the US market on May 28, 2011," it said.
Citing IMS Health, the company said the total market for this product in the US is about $2.5 billion.
Commenting on the approval, Wockhardt Chairman, Mr Habil Khorakiwala, said: "We are continuing to get a steady stream of FDA approval and are able to launch them on the date the generic market opportunity opens."
On Monday, Wockhardt ended 2.13% up at Rs359.80 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex declined 0.09% to 19,584.31