The Greed!
Ethical Living

The Greed!

श्री गुरुभ्योनमः

न निर्मिता के न दृष्टपूर्वा न श्रुत्वा हेममयी कुरङ्गी
तधापि तृष्ण रघुनन्दनस्य विनाशकाले विपरीतबुद्दिः ||

[It has not been made by anybody so far, neither it has been seen by anybody nor it has been ever heard by anybody about a deer made of total gold;  but you see the desire of Lord Sri Rama to satisfy his wife, Alas ! when difficult periods are waiting in the corner, the brain does not work logically]

When I returned home, exhausted and tired, but with full satisfaction after completing a successful tour assignment, in which my company included me in the team to explore the possibility of extending of our companies business into various states; I found the atmosphere in my house is somewhat a little bit different. All the three ladies i..e female members of my family, my mother, my wife and my nine years old daughter (I call my darling daughter also, affectionately, a lady), are behaving in such a manner as if they are going to pull a surprise on me or they are going to place a proposal with an apprehension that  I may or may not like.

They are showing a little extra care towards me than usual, which I thought initially, that is because I returned home after a long period, but their smiles and hush-up murmurings led me to think otherwise. But as I know that ultimately they will reveal their scheme themselves, I too played along with them as if I have not noticed anything unusual.

After I refreshed myself and had a bath etc., all we sat together to have breakfast and coffee. They started asking some questions, in the answers of which they are not at all interested. I assumed that it was a prologue of something which is going to come in due course. After  some chit-chat my wife suddenly opened the discussion by asking me,

“Dear, you know that recently a fantastic agency has been opened in our city ?”.

Even before I asked what was that agency and what was so fantastic about the said agency, all the three ladies, competed to tell about the matter in detail with a little bit exited voices. The gist of the whole thing is that a private financial investment company has been opened newly in our city, which accepts deposits towards the one third value of any item and the customer will be given the said item after certain period without any further payment. The period depends on the value of the item.

Suppose one wants to purchase for example a ceiling fan which cost about say Rs.600/- he has to deposit with the company Rs.200/- today and he will get the fan after say a two/three months period. (The story belongs to those days when the ceiling fan used to cost around Rs.600/- only). No doubt that the company is first of its kind and I never heard of any such thing previously. It took some time before I grasped the salient features of the scheme.

I am a professional qualified Accountant and have a professional degree to prove it. My company’s top bosses including our Chairman have recognized my expertise in dealing with financial matters. But even for me it became very difficult to catch the head and tail of the scheme. But sensing the excitement of all my dear ones, I restrained myself from making any adverse comments on the matter.    Then they insisted on going to Mrs. Nagamani’s house then and there, to see the beautiful steel dinner set they have got. As my boss granted me a complimentary few days leave and there is nothing else to do, I said o.k. and we proceeded to their house.

As we were about to open the main gate, Mr. C.S.Rao, (Mrs. Nagamani’s husband), saw us and came to invite us very cordially and accompanied us into their house. After a few pleasantries passed between both the families, we declared the purpose of our visit. Having already sensed our intention, he immediately felt happy and with a beaming face he said, “Yes sir, you must see it, please come…”, and took us to another room. There on a dining table the said steel dinner set was so beautifully arranged as if it is meant for display.

Systematically all the items, big and small, about fifty or so in number,  were neatly placed one after another and all the items are thoroughly polished; and meanwhile Mr. Rao’s son followed us and switched on a  light that was hanging directly on the table. And the light enormously enhanced the esteem value of the already shining utensils. Both Mr.& Mrs. Rao started giving a lecture about the dinner set and how cheaply they have got and various ways how to use the items, for which my people also contributed giving their valuable comments now and then. In this background I started guessing what is going to happen in my house. We returned home and talked for sometime about the same.

I sincerely feel that all ladies generally knew what is the correct time to put forward a proposal to their husbands. After dinner that night and when we gone to the bed room, my wife temporarily postponing the very purpose for which we have occupied the bed after a gap of five months, asked me, “Darling, what you think about the scheme and why don’t we too invest for some item?”. I played very safe and said, “OK dear, I will definitely go to their office tomorrow itself and I will study all the details and we will take a decision tomorrow”. This of course temporarily satisfied her.   

I woke up with a startle in the morning, when someone was calling my name very loudly and excited. My wife hurriedly came into the room to tell me, that, “Your friend Mr. Ganesh came to see you and he is telling that the matter is very urgent.” I adjusted my clothes properly, combed my hair and rubbed my face with a towel and making myself presentable, I came out and asked my friend what is the matter.

Instead of telling anything, he handed over the newspaper and pointed out to a news item in very bold letters. The managing director of the financial company has been arrested by the police as somebody complained that the company is fraudulently duping the public by offering impracticable schemes. My friend was already on the verge of weeping and not able to speak as he also invested a considerable amount in the company. I pacified him somehow and asked my wife to arrange breakfast for him also and after getting ready we left to the place of the company’s office.

By the time we reached the place, there already gathered a huge crowd and everybody shouting agitatedly not caring whether somebody was listening or not. We stood there bewildered as the small staff were trying in vain to pacify the crowd. Somehow we managed to approach a person who appeared to be somewhat a spokesperson of the company.

He told us, ‘A civil case has been filed before the magistrate and hearing of the case is going on and “Sir” (the boss) is also there at the court, please bear with us’.

This is all they could offer. As there is nothing else to do and also could  not do anything else, we have also started to mingle with the crowd and wait. After a considerable time of waiting, about at 2.00pm, a big car arrived there and a person wearing a  neatly pressed white dress came out of the car and started waving to the crowd with a huge smile on his face as if he was a political leader just released from jail. All the people who were shouting so agitatedly a few minutes back, suddenly developed cold feet and wanted to know what happened at the court.

The information which was passed on to us was that the magistrate set aside the case as the prosecution side could not prove anything wrong with the company. The company has not deceived anybody (yet), it has not failed to honor its obligations, no checks issued by the company have been bounced. The magistrate asked ‘Where is the fraud ?’.

Later, I met the M.D. and when I introduced myself and when he came to know that I am a qualified Accountant, he felt very happy to discuss his company’s scheme and tried to explain all the subtle nuances of the scheme at length to me. The M.D. appeared to me very well erudite as far as financial matters are concerned, though his speech was a little bit pretentious and the minutiae of the scheme were somewhat convoluted. The incident has convinced me and any doubts lingering in my mind hitherto have been completely erased, and I too took a decision to invest immediately.

I went home and told the happy news to my family members who were waiting with bated breath and invited their ideas about investing in the company. They have expressed their own views and various choices of the articles for which we should invest. But when I told my plan, all the three faces immediately gleamed like a glowing light bulb. I told them that I wanted to invest in gold by purchasing various types of ornaments to all of them. I also told the amount that I can manage at a short notice by pooling all my savings, foreclosing  fixed deposits etc., and my mother also offered the balance lying in her pension account. Without making any further delay, the very next day I went to the bank and drew a draft on the company for the available amount.

Since the case against the company has been dismissed by the court, the image of the company has enhanced considerably in the minds of the public, more and more people started to invest and the queue lines before the office started to lengthen day by day. I was treated like a hero in my house for some days…………

Yes, as you are expecting, the inevitable thing happened after some months.  Closing the office overnight the “Sir”, ran away with all the deposits of the public, which considered to  be around a few crores. The news spread like a wild fire in the city. By the time I reached the company’s office, again there was a huge crowd much more bigger than the crowd gathered on that previous occasion, and this time all the available furniture consisting of a few chairs and tables etc., have already been consumed by the angry crowd. No office staff or spokesperson was available to answer any questions. Police arrived there to maintain law and order and they started to assure the public that all necessary steps will be taken to nab the culprit.

I managed somehow to keep my cool and returned home to find all the three ladies were sitting in a corner and grieving for the loss. In one stroke all our savings including my mother’s, were erased as if they have vanished into thin air.

I told them not to worry. Whatever bound to happen, has happened and nothing we could do. There is a lot of life left and we will earn again. Finally I told them that when Lord Sri Ram could not think logically when difficulties are bound to come, then what are we? After all, just ordinary human beings. However, it took considerable time before normalcy returned to our home. We have learned a very costly lesson………

~ Syam Prasad Gundavarapu, Retd., Senior Manager (Finance), Coal India Ltd.