Allusive statement

Modi gives in to 'microscopic minority', refers to Dadri lynching at a Bihar rally

The prime minister's silence troubled the Opposition at the Centre as well as coalition partners in the states.

After a week of pointed silence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken on the Dadri lynching. At an election rally in Nawada in Bihar on Thursday, Modi referred to President Pranab Mukherjee’s speech on Wednesday, where he had spoken about India's “core values” of tolerance and plurality. “I want to appeal to everyone not to listen to hate speeches,” Modi said. It was an oblique reference, at best, but it seems to respond to a growing demand that the prime minister speak out against the mob killing.


At first it seemed as though the Bharatiya Janata Party had declared open season on Dadri. Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma prattled happily about “accidents”, Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan suddenly felt it was the right time to assess beef exports, BJP MLA Sangeet Som dove in, sleeves rolled up, and promised a “befitting reply” if innocent men were framed. There was much talk of cow as mother.


Then the BJP seemed to recollect itself. The central leadership told party members to pipe down, the home ministry sent out a strongly worded circular on “zero tolerance” for actions that damaged the “secular fabric”, senior leaders like Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh voiced the condemnation that should have come days earlier. Oddly enough, this babble of voices at the top only made the radio silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi even more glaring.


From the verbal dysfunction of the BJP, the focus shifted to the prime minister’s stiff upper lip on Dadri, not unlike his stiff upper lip on Gujarat 2002. Cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari dismissed the call for Modi to speak as noise made by the media and a “microscopic minority” of “Left-thinking people”. Here’s a closer look at the microscopic minority which forced Modi to speak out at Nawada.


Opposition at the Centre

Naturally, the Congress was among the first to jump into the fray, as party spokesperson RPN Singh pointed out that the prime minister tweets about everything but had not spoken about Dadri, and demanded that he do so.


The Trinamool Congress joined in, as member of Parliament Sultan Ahmed said the prime minister’s silence was spreading “communal poison” across the country.


Opposition in the states

In Bihar, where Modi finally spoke up, the BJP’s rivals in a fiercely fought electoral contest were not pulling any punches. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, with his characteristic flair for the bon mot, chose the BJP’s favoured rhetorical device, the epics, to lash out at the prime minister. He called Modi a “Dhritarashtra”, one who was deaf and dumb as well as blind.


On Thursday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed his opinion that the “real Modi” had finally revealed himself, maintaining a “deafening silence” on the Dadri incident. It was, Kumar felt, a “brazen attempt to add communal texture” to the polls.


The prime minister’s silence also resonated in Jammu and Kashmir, where a beef ban created political havoc, a beef ban suspension created some more havoc and an MLA was beaten up by BJP members for throwing a beef party. As Modi tweeted about former BJP MP and cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu’s health, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah was indignant.




Coalition partners in the states

As the beef issue continued to roil Kashmir, even J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, whose People’s Democratic Party runs a coalition government with the BJP, had some gentle advice for the prime minister. Modi is “here to stay for the next 10 years”, Sayeed said, and he has to put up a political fight to the growing trend of communalism.


Left-thinking people

Was Gadkari referring to the Communist Party of India? Because the CPI lost no time in condemning the “inhuman and uncultured” remarks of the culture minister and professing itself “surprised at Modi's silence on such irrational and intolerant killing of innocent people”.


Microscopic minority

Or did he mean All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president, Asaduddin Owaisi, who punches far above his political weight and who also made a trip to Dadri to call the lynching a “pre-planned” murder?


A few days later, Owaisi dropped the conspiracy theories for a dose of patriotism: “When the father of a corporal is killed inhumanly why should not the PM talk. He should up the moral of the son who is serving the country,”


Public intellectuals

The anger over the prime minister’s reticence took on a certain gravitas as author Nayantara Sahgal returned her Sahitya Akademi Award. It was accompanied by a letter titled “The Unmaking of India”, where she mentioned the murder of rationalists who questioned Hindutva, the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq as well as the silence of Modi in this “reign of terror” as reasons for returning the award. She was joined by author and former chairperson of the Lalit Kala Akademi, Ashok Vajpeyi, and other writers.


Social media

What must have really tipped the scales for Modi is the outrage on social media, where his detractors were as vocal as his supporters and assorted Hindutva trolls. Twitter developed a sense of history as #BabriseDadriTak took over news feeds.


 


We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.

Play

In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.

Play

Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.

Play

The people discussed above have one thing in common - each one of them was well respected and celebrated for their industry prowess and social standing, but got sucked down a path of non-violent crime. The question remains - Why are individuals at successful positions willing to risk it all? The book Why They Do It: Inside the mind of the White-Collar Criminal based on a research by Eugene Soltes reveals a startling insight. Soltes spoke to fifty white collar criminals to understand their motivations behind the crimes. Like most of us, Soltes expected the workings of a calculated and greedy mind behind the crimes, something that could separate them from regular people. However, the results were surprisingly unnerving. According to the research, most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do–on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. They often didn’t realise the consequences of their action and got caught in the flow of making more money.

Play

The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

If financial drama is your thing, then block your weekend for Billions. You can catch it on Hotstar Premium, a platform that offers a wide collection of popular and Emmy-winning shows such as Game of Thrones, Modern Family and This Is Us, in addition to live sports coverage, and movies. To subscribe, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.