The second article by my husband Prof N Natarajan in the ‘affaire VM’!!
‘I don’t think that the time to return is right’ is the quote from Vijay Mallya (VM) in The Hindu’s front page top headlines (Monday 14th March). VM may not have been the King of good times or bad times or any other time. One thing is sure. He is ruling all Times. He has been in command this time and every time. In his history of business and personal decision making, he has always landed on his feet, except perhaps when he was born. He would have been born a Google baby, cut his mom’s umbilical cord, walked from the delivery table and eyed every nurse (remember the Google ad?) if that brand had been in existence at that time!
In the brewing business handed down to him by his father he was the bubbly star, foam at the top. From beer maker he turned into a deal maker winning a heady cocktail of brands by sleight of hand. He made deep inroads into the most celebrated international liquor businesses through a series of timely strategic decisions and became almost world’s number one in that field. He timed his dramatic entry into the Aviation sector launching and incorporating his own unique brand called Kingfisher.
Mallya became a high flyer by concentrating on the quality of service for which every air passenger was pining. There was none who did not admire his ability to feel the pulse of the passenger. He treated passengers as guests, served great meals, provided on board entertainment gifted a pen and a few other things to every passenger and abolished the class distinction between executive class and economy class. For a while his airline was the first choice. In retrospect you may say that KF lived beyond its means, but the fact is that it might have survived if aviation fuel costs had not simultaneously hit the sky.
His foray into the sports arena was also a streak of success. Formula 1 was definitely not for the common man. However even in that sport he put India on the world map and won kudos from those for whom it mattered. His innings in the IPL was also impressive.
VM entered the Indian Parliament in style and stayed there for close to 10 years with the help of all political parties. No political party had any differences with him even though they were otherwise at each other’s throat.
An entire consortium of SEVEN banks backed him to the hilt and queued to lend him money. Again, in retrospect, banks may cry foul, but they were in a dreamland when they yielded to political bosses and lent unwisely. They were in a trance when they released each tranche of credit.
VM timed all his moves in a deft manner. His final move to London was the master stroke, in between ‘look out’ and ‘don’t look out’ notices by our number one sleuths. His departure was not an undercover move but he openly travelled first class with his ‘bag and baggage’. He had seven pieces of luggage and a companion to boot.
The common man knows that it is the lousy banking system which has cheated him by throwing caution all regulations to the winds and lending VM recklessly and failing to recover even the most easily recoverable money. It is difficult to believe that all this was done without any quid pro quo. God and the beneficiaries alone know the details of this sordid affair.
Our concentrated wrath on VM is unwarranted. Even in the present mindless tirade against VM there are unintended beneficiaries in the media. They gained when he was doing well and splashing money for publicity and they are again prospering with high TRPs while taking pot shots at him. I call them news brokers, not news breakers since it is the broker who makes money whether the market is going up or going down.
We the people need a hot topic to discuss in our armchairs in the cosy comfort of our drawing rooms. It was Bofors and Quattorachi once, then it was Harshad Mehta. Then came 2G and CWG nextscam followed by the Coal scam. It is now the VM season. Sit back and enjoy before the next scam makes it the Breaking News!! Nothing has happened to any of the protagonists of these scams. Nothing will happen to VM or his associate bankers. He can choose his time and return if he likes. He is the Captain of all times!!
Prof N Natarajan