Let’s Imagine! Imagine Charlie Chaplin not being the legendary comedian that he was. Or Arnold Swarzeneger not the action icon we all know him as. Imagine Sachin Tendulkar not being the celebrated cricketer but a regular 9 to 5 school teacher or if electricity was never invented. What would it be like if Newton had never discovered the Law of Gravity or Einstein had not made those elaborate inventions? What if Elvis continued driving trucks or Satyajit Ray wasn’t an illustrious story teller? Difficult and rather unfamiliar and absurd hypothesis! Would these people be still famous, brilliant and celebrated if they were not in their chosen professions? What would have our lives been like in the absence of these people or their world changing contributions to humanity? The answer can only be left to one’s imagination and with no certainty can anyone claim that they be who they are today or what would our existence been like, if these men were not true to their calling.
Now for a moment, let’s imagine a bit further. Would Sahara India have avoided the existential crisis, they are in today, had they not chosen to provide a sound, secure & lawful financial structure to a stratum of the society who has always stood ignored amongst the tall claims of social and economic development? What would the lives and future of these millions of depositors would have been like if they didn’t have a secure medium to invest and save and flourish? What would the future of the children growing in these millions of households have hold? Would they be educated? Would there be employment for the unemployed or the less skilled or the poor? Would there have been economic empowerment for the have nots who do not have the means or the sanction to even hold a bank account or a legitimate Id? Would the chief of Sahara India, Subrata Roy, have saved himself the witch hunt by a National Regulator or avoided jail had he chosen to create a lush empire and focused on serving himself rather than serving the people? Such a swarm of hypotheticals starting with just one simple question, “Imagine?”
Sadly, there are no simple answers. Only simple questions. The answers are complex, unfathomable and lead down to a road of nefarious possible motives, juxtapositions & outcomes. SEBI’s motives juxtaposed with the Court’s senseless brickbat blows on the Sahara Chief only adds insult to the common man’s understanding of productive regulation and fair justice. Even more dangerously, the imagination of SEBI and the Courts have taken a turn for the worse and seem to be more heavily invested in feeding their own egos, their illogic and mindless banter rather than using that imagination to serve and secure.
Currently, SEBI has been claiming that investor accounts provided by Sahara are fictitious and the regulator’s independent verification has failed to make any headway. SEBI so far has been able to repay less than 1 crore rupees to OFCD investors even though its been 18 months since Sahara deposited 5,120 crore rupees with the market watchdog. Interestingly, in 2008, Sahara had paid back around 4 crore depositors under strict supervision of Reserve Bank of India. The central bank, then, did not stumble upon any such fictitious account and the OFCD issue had almost same set of investors. So is SEBI imagining these investors as fictitious or is it disguising its incompetence. To further add to the comedy of errors, the Supreme Court has expressed its displeasure over SEBI’s tardy pace in verifying these investor accounts in Sahara’s OFCD issue. I can only imagine the embarrassment the courts must be facing at the hands of the regulator’s malfunction. And who is paying the price for all this mockery. The innocent, the lawful and the poor!
Let’s tax our imagination one more time and explore another set premise. What if Sahara is innocent? What if the Sahara supremo is being wrongfully accused and punished? Is SEBI acting in the best interest of the depositors or is it blinded by its punitive sense of dominion? What would it be like if SEBI realized and acknowledged that these investors in question are for real? What would it be like if there was no Sahara to begin with? Are these questions that have real and heavy implications or are they just plain rhetoric?
The answers can only be left to unfold as time and events pass by. The outcomes would be real and the consequences can either set unhealthy & dire precedents or can pave way to a truthful, mindful and fair premise. Just