Satyameva Jayate

Have you seen the cult movie “Quiz Show”? Its about the scandal surrounding the 1950s TV quiz show “21”, a precursor of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”. The show’s sponsor Geritol threatened to pull the plug, unless the ratings of “21” improved. So, the show was rigged by its producers in NBC, who favored some contestants by providing them the right answers ahead of time.

In the movie, Congressional Investigator Dick Goodwin can’t help liking  tainted “21” contestant Charles Van Doren. But, Goodwin is an idealist & like most painfully ethical people, is unforgiving of lapses in conduct. Strangely, he is unable to denounce Van Doren. He struggles with his conscience, unwilling to bring Van Doren to justice. For Van Doren isn’t a scumbag – he’s an intellectual, a writer & a lecturer in Columbia, possessed with real erudition.

As Satyam unravels, I find myself unwittingly in Goodwin’s shoes. Forgive me dear Lord, for I’m unable to dislike Ramalinga Raju. I’ve never really been a fan of Mr Raju, but there’s enough of Van Doren in him – privileged upbringing , clean-cut appearance, soft-spoken gentlemanly airs. And unadulterated ability.

I hardly ever break laws. I doubt if I even jay-walk. I don’t cheat on taxes, even when ample opportunities present themselves to me. I don’t lie, unless I have to withhold the truth for a “greater good”. I neither litter the streets nor jump the red when no one’s watching. This very same person – I – can’t bear to see a frazzled Mr Raju in hand-cuffs. The sight somehow – deeply torments me.

My family is astonished by my reaction. My grief is misplaced, they tell me. The fraud is – reportedly – to the tune of $1 Billion. Not a paltry sum that can be put down to a transitory error in judgment. Many investors have lost their shirts. Customers are left high & dry, as Satyamites attempt a mass exodus to rival companies. Industry sources say that about 500,000 people – Customers, Employees & Investors – are impacted by the ignominious failure of Satyam.

It took Mr Raju 20 years to build Satyam, painfully, brick by brick. He started his business with 20 associates in 1987 & slowly built it, with blood, sweat & toil, to a 53,000 strong organization, whose ADR was listed in NYSE. Yet, it took less than a month for everything to unravel. The very associates who fondly called him “Raju Garu” are wailing & sobbing, because suddenly, their future looks very bleak. The very associates who were proud to be a part of Satyam, hide their faces in misery & flee from relentless media attention. Some of them have received eviction notices from their lenders, because they can’t pay the mortgages on their homes anymore.

Stunned customers have reacted in many ways. Some have called Satyam’s competitors, begging them to take over projects entrusted to the care of Satyam. Some of them may cancel their contracts with Satyam. And a few staunch supporters have expressed their solidarity, by declaring their intent to continue working with Satyam.

Why, oh why did Mr Raju throw it all away? In an attempt to find some answers, I turned to the old staples, Scriptures & Literature.

According to the “Old Testament”, Devil started out in Heaven. He was called “Lucifer” – which roughly translated means, “Morning Star” or “Light Bearer”. He was God’s most beloved Angel & the most beautiful of them all. Unfortunately, his pride turned to hubris. On a fateful day, Lucifer decided to snatch supremacy from God. He cobbled together an army of other disgruntled Angels & waged an acrimonious battle against God.

Arch-angel Michael led the onslaught on behalf of God, defeated Lucifer & his minions soundly & expelled them from Heaven. God doomed these Fallen Angels to eternal torment. Lucifer had a new handle now – Satan, meaning “Adversary”.

Mr Raju was once – not long ago – acclaimed as a visionary. He was a powerful, politically connected man. His lieutenants struggled to keep pace with him, as he moved too quickly for their taste. A bold man, with an audacious dream that struck gold. He was the recipient of numerous awards – organizations absolutely fell over each other to laud him. Oh, he was also the Chief of NASSCOM, India’s high-profile Consortium for the IT & BPO industries. People swooned over him wherever he went. And now, shunned by everyone, he has no shoulder to lean on.

Some may think I’ve been taken in by his extra-ordinary letter of resignation. Who knows, maybe they are right. I’m quoting from his letter here:

  • It is with deep regret, and tremendous burden that I am carrying on my conscience, that I would like to bring the following facts to your notice
  • Every attempt made to eliminate the gap failed.
  • It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten.
  • That neither myself, nor the Managing Director (including our spouses) sold any shares in the last eight years — excepting for a small proportion declared and sold for philanthropic purposes.

Here comes the clincher:

  • l am now prepared to subject myself to the laws of the land and face consequences thereof.

There exists, in all of us, a desire to see a little bit of ourselves in others. We all hope to live up to our cherished beliefs, even – or especially – under adverse circumstances. An inner chord buried deep in our Cardiac muscles is moved by Contrition. If Mr Raju worded his letter to tap into this instinct in people & thereby evoke their compassion, he got it dead right.

I skimmed thru the play “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe, which paints a bleak picture of what happens to people with over-reaching ambition. In the play, Faustus, an eminent scholar strikes a deal with Satan. He sells his soul to the devil, for 24 years of unbridled power & knowledge. When those 24 years are over, Faustus suddenly realizes that he has to spend a long, long time doomed to hell. Frightened, he laments thus:

Accursed Faustus, wretch, what hast thou done?
I do repent, and yet I do despair.
Hell strives with grace for conquest in my breast.
What shall I do to shun the snares of death?

Did Mr Raju repent? Was his contrition real? A brilliant man, now disgraced, purely because of the choices he made. What was his mental state, when he wrote that gut-wrenching letter? How did he face the furore & the interminable wait for his doom? Why does it matter terribly to me?

Very soon, Satyam may be no more. The new board may decide to break the company into smaller chunks & sell it off. The buyer takes it all – the business, paying customers, billable employees & capable support staff. The investors may get at least part of their money back. That’s good news, in a manner of speaking. But what of the entity called Satyam?

We never know what matters to us, till we are on the verge of losing it. Our psyches are propped up by  edifices. The choice of edifices is almost unconscious, subjective & personal. The traditional may choose Religion or Rituals, while for the Avant-garde, it could be Art. The World Trade Center was such an edifice, for the ingenuity & supremacy of the Americans. I never realized how much the idea of Satyam, the fruition of one man’s dream meant to me. It was one of my edifices. To me it represented the economic upswing of India & the intrepidity of one Indian to make it big.

Let me close my soliloquy – my attempt to come to terms with the changed landscape – with these lines from Marlowe’s play, recited by the chorus when the devil carries Faustus away to hell.

Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough,
That sometime grew within this learned man.
Faustus is gone.  Regard his hellish fall,
Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise
Only to wonder at unlawful things,
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits,
To practise more than heavenly power permits


  1. Quote

    Why the comparison of raju with lucifer ? Are we supposed to infer something there ? You think raju was over ambitious ?

    Anyway we still don’t know the whole story , the guys who are digging the accounts of satyam have to come back and deliver, i dont think we can conclude anything before that, it would be judgmental i think.

    Nicely written post , i have always admired the way you write. 🙂

  2. Quote


    Very well written. Can understand your anguish completely. I feel sorry for RR, but don’t necessarily appreciate what he did. The story is always sad and gut-wrenching when you look at it from Raju’s shoes – and thank you for doing that for all of us.

    My thought is this – RR started believing in his abilities so much that he thought he was infallible and could overcome even the market by playing god. The fear of an eventual failure is always greater than the actual event. In this case, he would have been better served to take the hit in stock prices by lowered margins, than cooking the books.

    Founder-CEO run companies turn in the highest profit numbers (OSU’s business school published a report on this a few years ago) because of their investments in R&D. However, in my opinion, founders have to figure out when to relinquish control and help the companies grow further without their thumb-hold. Those will eventually turn out to be better companies in the long run.

    The side of human tendency that I hate, but can’t get away from it all the time – Love our heroes who can do extraordinary things, but once they fail, love to see them fall.

  3. Quote

    Wonderful post, More than the subject the narration kept me engrossed till i the last word.
    I have been following Satyam in the media for a very long time and was very much impressed with certain policies of theirs. But now I wonder whether most of those news /proclaimed strategies were just speculations.

    My feelings for Raju resembles with yours .May be as you claim he could have drafted his letter and persona to evoke such sympathy from slushy hearts.

    Now the media is digging the history of each and every move of Satyam in the past and finding intense delight in it. Arent they supposed to do as and when things happen .(Satyam’s acquisition of india world is getting much attention now than what it did in 2001?) Arent there able analysts and watchmen in media / Government who can sniff such things?

    Its strange to think of how such cookups was possible.Though I have sympathies for Raju, i feel that judiciary should act swiftly and give him the maximum possible punishment.

  4. Quote

    Jass – Thanks for your comment.

    The higher you fly, the harder you fall. Raju was feted & admired, so his fall from grace is all the more traumatic. Hence the comparison with Lucifer.

    I wonder if we’ll ever know the whole story. People bigger than Raju may be implicated, so the truth may never out. In the meantime, we can catch some glimpses of what might have happened. Perhaps he padded the balance sheet to make his flagging company appear more prosperous. Which is ambition, ego – pick a word – on his part.

    Perhaps, he skimmed from the top (wonder how he did that) and/or bottom.

    I wonder if human beings can ever resist temptation. Each of us has a different threshold for different baits, and maybe that’s all there is to it.

  5. Quote


    Very good post!! I relate to your anguish. It is indeed very unfortunate that Ramalinga Raju and Satyam had to face this situation. Especially in Hyderabad, Ramalinga Raju was very popular among Engineering students as a role model.

  6. Quote

    Well written post Priya. Somehow I thought that you will write some post on Satyam.

    Role models fail sometimes. It doesnt mean one cannot dream. I see the fall of RR is also a lesson and inspiration for all. We can dream to go high in the right and honest way. If we start faltering or live upto our ego, we will end up like RR. If we dont, we may become like Narayana Murthy. What RR did to himself is a pity. Such a fall after such hard work and dedication.

    I believe that there is inherent flaw in the Indian business model itself. Law is often is an opinion for most. I know many colleagues who fudge and produce fake medical bills for tax rebate, pad resumes, business friends who maintain anamath(fake) accounts for tax evasion, do petty crimes every single day like Red light crossing etc. So, personally I think many of us has no moral right to call RR a criminal.

  7. Quote

    NK – Thanks for your comment.

    Its consoling to know that I’m not alone in seeing Mr Raju’s side of the story – that doesn’t mean I approve of his actions.

    You make a very insightful point – “The fear of an eventual failure is always greater than the actual event”. How I wish Mr Raju had accepted a short-fall in revenue or profits, instead of padding them. Audacious people tread a thin line between the bold & the fiendish. A slight shove is probably all it takes to push them in the wrong direction.

    Perhaps, as you say, Mr Raju shouldn’t have exercised so much control over Satyam. At his wake, Satyam was left rudderless & clueless – there was no one to step up to the plate.

    “The side of human tendency that I hate, but can’t get away from it all the time – Love our heroes who can do extraordinary things, but once they fail, love to see them fall.”

    Such puerile interests drive people to see the gaping hole, where the old World Trade Center once stood. I couldn’t bring myself to go anywhere near that hole, where a magnificent building, a testament to the financial might of the Americans, New York’s own Tower of Babel stood.

    I’m not saying, let’s absolve Mr Raju & give him a ticker-tape parade. I’m just saying, I can’t bear to see his denouement. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  8. Quote

    Saraswathi – Thanks for your comment.

    Anguish – that’s the very word. Its as if somebody died. This Shankaranti must be rather dismal in Hyderabad, a pall of gloom must hang around the air.

    The burden of being a role model must be tremendous. I wonder how many of us can live up to it.

  9. Quote

    Deepak – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    You are exactly right. The Media does take a ghoulish pleasure in digging out the dirt, now. As you say, what were they doing in 2001? Or even in 2008, before the Maytas fiasco?

    When INFY – the darling of Indian Media – misses its projections, I’ve seen reports by drooling rookie journalists, mooning over how INFY “Did it again”. Sickening. If reporters covering the financial sections of newspapers do their job, if SEBI took action instead of scratching its head, if companies had whistle-blower hot-lines – the impact of such problems can be minimized.

    I agree with you. Raju must be punished. This being India, we’ll never know the political angle – who was on the dole? How could this happen?

  10. Quote

    Vamsi – Thanks for your comment.

    Yes, I’ve been unburdening on twitter, licking my wounds. You hit it: “What RR did to himself is a pity. Such a fall after such hard work and dedication”. If you & I can’t bear it, one can only wonder what goes on in Mr Raju’s mind now.

    It takes enormous strength of character to not let success & power go to your head. Perhaps very few people will be able to avoid the quick-sand that sucked Mr Raju in.

    Yea, Indians – many of them – lack introspection. “Illegal” is what others do! Piracy is par for the course; when they willingly take a wrong turn, there’s always a “valid” reason. And indeed – this makes Indians immoral, all the more when they are ready to jab their fingers at others screaming “Guilty!”.

  11. Quote

    An appropriate title for the post..

    /** It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten **/

    This is what the exact position of raju is now.. in tamil “puli vaala pudicha maathiri” ..

    Let him undergo the punishment he deserves.. and at the same time, let’s appreciate his vision and dream that he had.. i feel, Over ambition can be the only reason for his fault, and not selfish greed or deliberate attempt to swallow the funds..

    As you said, it would have been better for him to have disclosed this gap in the initial days rather than allowing to accumulate for so long time..

    Surely there were lot of other people involved in this, including the politicians.. but RR had better opted to take all accusations on him and his families..

  12. Quote

    Senthil – Thanks for your comment.

    In all fairness, the title was suggested by Sukumar.

    Yes, Raju deserves punishment. I too, hope that he didn’t appropriate Satyam’s funds. Let’s see if the new board is able to uncover at least a part of what happened. I have a feeling that the investigation will drag on for a long time. And we the people, may never know the whole truth.

    I wonder whom Raju listened to. As in, whose opinion & advise he valued. When someone amasses power, it is imperative that they surround themselves with trusted advisers. Perhaps if someone had advised Raju to disclose the shortfall – Satyam will still be around, as a cherished company.

    I agree with you. What was Satyam’s top management doing? I would suspect all P&L heads in Satyam, pending information. And all senior people in the Finance team. Not to mention, auditors, banks (perhaps) & politicos. This must have been a concerted effort.

  13. Quote

    Which is ambition, ego – pick a word – on his part.

    The word is GREED, Priya!

    I would suspect all P&L heads in Satyam, pending information.

    Absolutely. The question is was Satyam a one-off or are there more to follow!

  14. Quote

    Hi Priya,

    I really felt that Raju has done a wrong thing by withholding the information. But the way you narrated evoked my sympathy. Great way of expression. Wow.

    I just hope Satyam is a one off case of such of a big fudge and no other companies have done such things..I feel all the good he has done to the society doesnt matter because he has cheated (though he may have never thought so because he would have been trying to make good the loss somehow) and as it went out of his hands he had to accept that. Only if he would have made this confession 7 years back ..

    This is why honesty is the best policy and your title ‘Satyameva Jayate’ is apt.

  15. Quote

    Raj – Thanks for your comment.

    Greed? Maybe you are right. I thought that the Raju family was worth $650 Million. When someone has that kind of money, they move onto other frailties – like power, success, infallibility (AKA playing God) etc.

    I could be wrong, but I think Raju couldn’t handle Satyam being branded anything other than a success. And he hadn’t mastered the art of running a public company, listed in the stock market.

    In India, where law is so lax – yes, I agree with you that the balance sheets of other companies (not just IT companies) should be looked at. Plus, something stinks about SEBI. How prompt are they in acting on complaints? How did the banks sanction loans to Satyam without proper documents? (This is what the media claims now)

  16. Quote

    Ananth – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    I don’t take any pleasure in defending felons, but somehow this case has sucked some happiness out of me. For some strange reason, I’m taking it personally. Anguish of that kind has a way of seeping out in a blog post.

    You make an interesting point – probably, Raju never realized he was making an irrevocable mistake. He was always trying to set it right. Unfortunately for him & Satyam, the mistake grew to monstrous proportions & got out of hand.

    I, like you, wish this had never happened. But you are right – he needs to be punished. I just hope that his good deeds will be taken into account, during sentencing. I also hope that the legal battle gets over quickly & mercifully for him.

  17. Quote

    Priya, If you have a chance, pick up the book “The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America” by Alex Berenson. Available in India at ( )

    I had read it about 4 years ago – it covers all the financial scams from early 1900s to as late as the fall of Enron, Anderson etc. It is a must read to see how innovative the companies become to fudge on the financial data and how they cheat everyone – employees, shareholders, customers in the process destroying the companies, trust and lives in the process.

    Also, read this interview ( where the gentleman says that 1 in 500 companies listed on BSE have accounting problems.


  18. Quote


    I just cannot see your point. What next – try and see things from Bernie Madoff’s POV and maybe see some saneness in what he did. For gods sake, he was once a chairman of Nasdaq.

    Character is revealed when a person continues to become more humble as he/she moves higher up in society. Citing a person’s dream and them not wanting to see that be shredded does not vindicate them or make me see from their POV when they commit atrocious crime. I am just not that empathetic. What about the number of lives that folks like RR and Bernie Madoff managed to screw because of their greed/vanity/narcissism. People have lost their life savings betting on the decency of such people.

    Yes, we can question the banks, PWC and other auditing agencies, but the final responsibility lies with the person who cheated. If RR took the glory for Satyam’s past success, as a leader he needs to share the blame for its failure.

    Maybe I am wrong, but I have read that he was not that truthful in his contrite letter – he mentioned that he did not benefit 1 Rupee by his fraudulent activity. But I hear his family did. To me, it looks like he was just trying to avoid a larger punishment by surrendering and probably crocodile tears.


  19. Quote
    pk.karthik said January 13, 2009, 9:49 am:

    Nice post Priya and your comparsion with Lucifer is apt…..
    If govt bails out Satyam then we will see more of these as promoters will continue to do these mistakes at our expense …

    I dont have any sympathies with RR (this is my opinion).He had no right to play with people’s money.He was playing with hard earned money of investors….He may have done all the good in this world…he may be an avatar..but then when you act irresponsibly then you must be punished….but other side is that politicians who do worse things go scot free but why should RR alone be punished?But we never take these people aws role models…but Raju has been an inspiration for millions…so thats where its hit people hard.

    I feel that man has some honetsy in him as way he has handled police etc .Let c how it proceeds

  20. Quote

    Hi Priya… Nice post, though I have to humbly submit, not well researched this time 🙂

    RR was & is an intelligent person. For his ideas & the grit with which he pioneered lots of new ideas. But then, it ends at that.
    Indian IT is a number game .Nothing less, nothing more. Period. And that’s precisely the reason why ppl jump ships like monkeys on a tree and still go about their job from day1 as if nothing happened. If there is an example of an Industry that by its own building principles has mitigated risk anymore on the employee front, I don’t know about it.

    Coming back to RR, rightfully in your words, he should have exited from the management long back and handed it over to professionals. Now we know the reason why.., but then the system has finally taken care of the fraud. It had to come out someday, it has come. I don’t think we need to give anymore importance to this event than that. In a country where everyone from the traffic cop to the sales tax officer to the highest netas & babus commit fraud, I don’t understand why everyone expects the private Industry , especially the IT industry to be clean & honest. After all they are the ppl who have the most incentive to commit fraud. Forget the famous Auditor, show me one CA in our country who has built his bungalow with all goodie goodie money. As Rajeev Srinivasan said in a rediff article, world bank is perhaps the last entity which should talk abt corruption. I don’t think anything is different when it comes to Indians talking about fraud. Exceptions excluded of course . But the rule stays.

    Entity called Satyam ! Too early to comment. I definitely hope that your wishful thinking of it being sold in parts never comes true. People do cheat in exams and get caught. To ask them to stop studies and expecting them to commit suicide is taking things too far. Everyone falls, as for ppl, same for businesses.
    And even if it fails, its just a business at the end of the day. I think we need to somewhere distance ourselves from attaching an emotional baggage to any business entity. Companies come, companies go…some last 20, some a 100. But go they have to , some day.
    I am still hopeful 🙂 Hope has made a black man president of the United states., lets see what it does in India ! Merging/selling Satyam off is the low barrier ,easy way out strategy. Let someone sit at it and turn around things. We definitely need a Lee Iacocca here.

  21. Quote

    Ranjit – Thanks for your comment.

    Research? I’m sharing my opinion on what happened 🙂 No research is needed to support this – other than delving into the recesses of my mind.

    Indian IT is a numbers game now. I joined the IT industry when it was unglamorously called “Software” – at that time, most people had no idea what the term meant. It wasn’t a numbers game then. Ramalinga Raju started Satyam in 1987, when “IT” wasn’t a buzz word, when clients had to be cajoled to part with their projects, when India wasn’t quiet the IT giant it is now.

    I agree with you, many Indians are corrupt. It is rather hypocritical of them to pan Raju.

    End of the day, if Satyam survives this as an entity, I’ll heave a sigh of relief. There are 2 viable options for Satyam – Unless something totally left of the field happens. (1) a Private Equity firm can buy it – it seems unlikely now. PE firms that were eyeing Satyam have said “Nada” after the fiasco. (2) The more likely scenario – which is what happened to Silverline – is, competitors would buy parts of Satyam. There is a precedent for this scenario.

    “And even if it fails, its just a business at the end of the day. I think we need to somewhere distance ourselves from attaching an emotional baggage to any business entity. Companies come, companies go…some last 20, some a 100. But go they have to , some day”.

    Well, that’s your opinion & you are entitled to it. People come, people go – that doesn’t stop us from grieving the loss of a near & dear one, does it? Actions can be regulated – Not emotional baggage. As long as I don’t carry a placard asking SEBI & SEC to acquit Ramalinga Raju, I’m free to mourn this waste of human endeavor, this nullification of grit & determination.

  22. Quote

    Karthik – Thanks for your comment.

    Yes, many people have raised serious concerns about the govt bailing out Satyam.

    Of course, there’s no doubt in my mind that Raju should be punished. Politicians – Mass murderers among them go scot free, because there’s no “evidence”. But still, that doesn’t mean lesser offenses like Raju’s should be ignored.

    Raju was a role model, wasn’t he? Cue my intense grief over what happened. Almost 1 week into the incident, I’m still licking my wounds.

  23. Quote

    Ganesh – Thanks for your comment.

    Do you think comparing Raju with Madoff is fair? Madoff’s business was handling the money of his clients & he cheated them with Ponzi schemes. His fraud tag is $50 Billion. He was a crook that targeted a largely Jewish clientele. He used his contacts with philanthropic institutions to steal their funds. Some of these charitable institutions folded because of him.

    Raju’s main business was IT. He’s charged with defrauding his investors, not his customers. Its not an apples to apples comparison.

    “Character is revealed when a person continues to become more humble as he/she moves higher up in society”

    How many people can pass such a stringent test of character? I predict that the % of the people behaving like jerks will be directly proportional to their wealth & power. With $650 Million & the position of Chairman of a large organization at stake, not even 1% of humans would have any integrity of character left. I’m not asking for Raju to be acquitted, I’m merely wondering what his breaking point was.

    High gains come at a high price. So yes, Raju should take responsibility for his actions. But justice will be served only if all his colluders are punished.

    Was Raju tugging at the heart-strings of people, without meaning a single word in his resignation letter? That’s a distinct possibility. I think he deserves a fair hearing, like anyone else.

    No one is more surprised than I am at my – {pity, sympathy, empathy} don’t know which – for Raju. I’m usually very unforgiving of illegal activities.

  24. Quote

    Raj – Thanks for the recommendations, I’ll check out the book & the link.

  25. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said January 13, 2009, 3:13 pm:

    Interesting contrarian view Priya. I don’t have any sympathies for Ramalinga Raju. Half a million people are affected by conservative estimates. His actions have dented the IT industry’s image known for its well-run businesses. We need to bring him and his accomplices to book quickly and resurrect Satyam.

  26. Quote

    Sukumar – Thanks for your comment.

    Yes, I have to agree that Raju’s actions have tarnished the image of the IT industry. Perhaps this is a much-needed wake-up call for SEBI. Then again, knowing India only too well, SEBI will go right back to sleep in a few months.

    And I agree, with a heavy heart, that Raju deserves punishment for his crime – how many people were reduced to penury thru his actions, I don’t know. I just wish he had been a more responsible citizen of the world.

    I wish I can go back to blaming Satyam for cutting the price of the project or to whine about Chandrababu Naidu treating Raju like royalty.

  27. Quote


    From the discussion, i understand that RR was a role model, both for How we should, and How NOT we should be 🙂

    Btw, i dont if i am right in comparing american sub-prime crisis with satyam fiasco? Is satyam, that much worse, when compared to the american sub-prime crisis, which is sinking the whole world? How many in america got punishment?

    i am reminded of reliance forgery during their IPO some three years before (during their partition).. My friend who studied MBA at that time, told, that it was a fraud, that was technically and legally right.. (what i was told was, that one of the reliance comapny issued primary shares, which was bought by the company through proxy, and then raised the share values artificially, and then atlast sold it 6 times the original price by the company proxies.. But i am not very sure of it)

    Now we are discussing about Raju’s confession, and we have a dilemma, whether he is genuine at his confession or not.. but suppose, if we assume, that he could have covered up his fault through other means, (like hawala etc), is there any possibiity for him? that will give us an idea of how genuine he was in his confession..

  28. Quote


    Yes – comparison between Bernie Madoff and RR is apt and here is why –

    1. Both of them willingly defrauded people of their money. Now the folks whom you call customers of Bernie are investors – they invested their life savings in his ponzi scheme. Stock/stake holders in Satyam were also investors.
    2. Both Bernie and RR were held in high esteem by the public and are public figures
    3. They knowingly cheated a large section of the population and people who trusted them to feed their own ego.


  29. Quote

    Senthil – Sadly, I have to agree that Raju also showed us what not to do.

    The sub-prime crisis, was a mixture of sloppiness, inability to understand complex financial instruments, greed, failure of regulation & wickedness. It hit the whole world like a ton of bricks. The Satyam fiasco is peanuts by comparison – and it was primarily driven by – what, we don’t know yet.

    What you say about Reliance sounds like a fraud to me! Please see Raj’s comment, where he notes that 1 in 500 companies listed in BSE indulge in fraudulent practices. SEBI, SEBI, where art thou?

    Regarding his confession – Merrill Lynch found out about the accounting irregularities. I think Raju had to write his mea culpa in a hurry because of that. He was still trying to “set things right”.

  30. Quote

    Ganesh – I think the comparison is unfair because:

    How many people lost their life savings because of Satyam? Do we have a number? I have a feeling it won’t be comparable to Madoff, even slightly.

    Madoff set out to cheat everyone that interacted with him professionally. That wasn’t Raju’s agenda. He wanted to build an IT company, hire people & deliver projects to his customers. Plus, investors were only a part of the people Raju dealt with in Satyam.

    There’s no room for doubt in Madoff’s case – that maybe he was partly misguided. He’s a financial expert & he knew what he was doing. Raju was an IT & Mgmt guy. He might have been partly misguided & ill-informed.

    Poor awareness about Corporate Ethics is very common in Indian companies. Founder managed companies are at especial risk. They have trouble in understanding that they can’t do anything to keep their company afloat.

    I’m not justifying what he did, I’m saying it like I see it. Raju made a terrible mistake that impacted the lives of many people, but he isn’t a blood-sucking fiend like Madoff.

  31. Quote

    Ganesh – Please read this statement by Raju. You may not believe this, I don’t know if I should either. Relevant lines in italics here:

    I raised an amount of Rs.1,230 crore (Rs.12.30 billion) by pledging the shares held by our family and inducted the amount into Satyam Computer Services Limited but it could not fill up the deficit.

  32. Quote

    /** He was still trying to “set things right”. **/

    Priya.. this is what my intuit says.. he tried to set things right.. and NOT to divert money out..

    If his statement of 1230 crores is true, then he has paid a heavy price already for his mistake..

    The following point is also significant..
    Since I have been instrumental in starting Satyam Computer Services, I wished it to be one of the leading companies and I could not bear the thought of it coming down and that is the reason I have invested money to save the situation,’

  33. Quote

    I am kind of getting what you are trying to point to. Still, I can’t make myself to mourn someone/an entity which is on deathbed. Let it die first and then we can mourn to our hearts content. If someone/an entity has been one’s role model, I believe it’s our duty to stand by it’s trials & tribulations.

    Coming on to the denting of Image of Indian IT industry, make it ‘percieved’ image. Fraud is a term that ppl can use with great convenience. As you know, there are 4 broad categories of stake holders for any IT industry in India – Investors, Employees, Customers & Society. Give me the name of one company which hasn’t committed fraud against any one of them. Having worked in the Industry for over 5 years, I don’t think theres any Indian IT company which doesn’t over charge its customers in it’s estimates/billing hours – Fraud’ against customers. Why do all Indian IT companies bill their Indian employees for 9 hours when all onsite operations are billed for 8 hours ? Work loads assigned to Indian techies and their counterparts in the US have no comparison , How concerned are all companies about employees personal/family life ? – Fraud’ against employees. I am not even bringing in society, for all the unearthly profits that these companies make, I don’t think anyone has even made a decent attempt at helping out society, except may be the a couple of them, Raju included.

    All the goodie goodie image of the Indian IT industry is because of their ‘until death’ competition to excite investors. And that’s the only community that benefitted the most. And that I believe is one of the main reason why the Satyam episode has become so painful for the Industry to digest cos it’s the Investor community that has been hit the most. Though it sounds highly logical & compelling for any business to give prime importance to Investors, it’s only when all stakeholders are excited does the Industry become truly mature & fundamentally strong.

  34. Quote

    Also, an email from one of the satyamite.. reflects the employees mentality immediately after the news broke out..

    The following lines are to be noted..

    In the end i’ll ask only one question to all of my friends,” for whom he has created this bubble, if it was he who was going bankrupt? ”

  35. Quote

    Ranjit – Your comment is not connected to Satyam or Raju. Please stick to the main theme of the post, while making comments.

    You are generalizing with very little data. I have extensive experience in handling a vertical’s finances & in managing contracts & we never once cheated the customer. And that was the mandate from the company, I’m glad to say. I’m not a lone beacon of ethics. Some companies may be sleazy, that doesn’t mean all are.

    You are making fraud into an omnibus, by piling on work-load differences between onsite & offshore, personal & family life etc. None of this is relevant to fraud.

    Before you decide IT companies make unearthly profits, please review an IT company’s balance sheet to see what they really make.

  36. Quote

    Senthil – Yes, Raju’s confession is heart-breaking. But, the Rs 1230 crores that he allegedly paid out of his pocket didn’t prevent the collapse of Satyam. If it had, we can certainly commute his sentence. As things stand, he deserves punishment.

    Regarding the email from the Satyamite – It made me sadder still. Coming to the point, the bubble created by Raju impacted the investors.Now, all his customers are impacted, as Satyamites panic. Those can’t be forgiven.

    There’s no doubt that what he did was wrong, but his intent (if good intent can be proven) may be a mitigating circumstance to lessen his sentence.

  37. Quote

    Oops ! Sorry ! 🙂 Can’t comment too square on Satyam/Raju cos I myself am a Satyamite.
    And yes, agreed that mine is a rookie-bottom up point of view. Was just trying to think at the issue from a techie’s point of view and what I gather everyday from friends/other techies in the Industry at the bottom of the pyramid.

  38. Quote

    Ranjit – You work for Satyam? This must be a trying period. My heart-felt wishes to you, for things get sorted out in the best possible manner. Let’s hope things get sorted out & normalcy reigns in Satyam, for the sake of employees, customers & investors alike.

  39. Quote


    We can agree to disagree on Bernie Madoff and RR comparison. Yes RR may not have set out to cheat everyone that interacted with him professionally like you say Bernie Madoff did, however RR was a big party in abetting and committing crime. We can talk semantics about the number of dollars/rupees that investors/stake holders/customers lost between the 2 of them and which one was greater, but the fact remains that both of them *knowingly* cheated huge gobs of dough from innocent folks. For a person like me the amount that they embezzled is *so* large that I do not care about the difference and that is my opinion.

    If RR is getting brownie points for potentially trying to salvage the situation (which is all theory without much proof at this time), who knows – given enough time Bernie would also have worked on some plan that would have helped him recover from the mess that he got into 🙂


  40. Quote

    Well written Priya.

    When I saw the resignation letter of Ramalinga Raju posted in the internet, I read it in entireity and for some reason the very same bullet points that you have quoted from letter made me come back and read the letter multiple times. I was trying to picturize the emotions and his state of mind when he wrote it. When I read your post, I felt you had exactly expressed the same what I felt (though you have articulated it very well).

  41. Quote

    Ganesh – Fair enough, we don’t know if Raju really tried to salvage the situation. I think he did, if only to get away from the mess he himself had created.

    Would Madoff do something similar? I don’t know, maybe you are right.

    “For a person like me the amount that they embezzled is *so* large that I do not care about the difference and that is my opinion”

    LOL 😆 Valid point. Who am I kidding, $1 billion, $50 billion – does it really matter beyond a certain point?

    I still think Raju ain’t Madoff, but I maybe wrong. The jury is out on this.

    This whole issue torments me enormously, as the media continues to derive ghoulish pleasure in the downfall of yet another former hero.

  42. Quote

    Srini – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    Raju isn’t our idea of a villain, so people like you & I are – shall I say, heart-broken – at the turn of events? We want to give him the benefit of doubt, we hope against hope, that maybe he didn’t set out to defraud everyone.

    Media meanwhile continues feasting on the puerile, digging into the past deeds of Raju – what the hell where they doing back then, I wonder? Now, they are playing judge & jury, and they are itching to play the executioner.

  43. Quote

    Thanks Priya. Doing fine ! (at least for the moment)

  44. Quote

    All your posts , try to just think different . Thinking Different leads to innovation but not necessarily make you right.

    I dont feel pity for the guy who amassed 10000 acres of land so cheaply and cheated thousands of investors who put in their hard earned money into an “INDIAN” firm (thats how they market themselves to indians).
    They have just started digging. Wait for the bhootham to come out.

    His Punishment has to be a lesson for others.

  45. Quote

    Rajesh – Thanks for your comment.

    I don’t think I quiet get you:

    “All your posts , try to just think different. Thinking Different leads to innovation but not necessarily make you right.”

    Are you saying I should try to think differently about all my posts? Or, are you saying I’ve tried to be – somehow forced myself to be – different in all my posts? Neither are exactly complimentary. If I’ve misunderstood your comment, please let me know. If not, here’s what I have to say to you:

    I’m not trying hard to think differently. I am what I am. With all due respect, you are judging me & you don’t know me from Eve. I’m not a confused young woman that needs to draw attention to herself by being “different”. Next, I’m not innovating – not inventing the next i-pod – simply giving a vent to my feelings. “Right” & “Wrong” don’t apply to that terrain. You can agree or disagree with my feelings, but that’s different.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Mr Raju deserves his punishment. But, not all bhoothams will come out. The whopping big ones – politicians – will get out unscathed.

  46. Quote

    My comments are my opinion about your writings and nothing related to your character or a personal attack. Also i felt a deliberation to be different in your writings, again a opinion and not a conclusion. I do compliment you for the amount of work you do before writing a post.

    About Satyam, when a person from very humble beginnings could commit himself to such cheap means for money and fame, it definitely evokes a lot of anger. The politicians and criminals have the surroundings and society to account for their deeds to certain extent, but this scam is entirely attributed to greed.

  47. Quote

    Rajesh – Thanks for your kind words about the amount of research I do.

    If a person writes differently or holds a view contrary to your own, they must be deliberately trying to be different. Interesting point of view. While that’s clearly an opinion, I have to point out to you that its wrong. As I stated in my previous response, “trying to be different to get attention” is the ailment of the very young & the unsure. I have enough accomplishments, age & confidence to be myself. Let me say this politely – You don’t know me.

    I was under the impression that Mr Raju comes from a wealthy family, born with a silver spoon. But yes – he will pay for his crime. I don’t condone what Mr Raju has done, I’m very sad about his fall from grace.

  48. Quote


    My heart went out to RR as well. I think he got carried away with all the ‘Satyam’ glory – I think he cared for Satyam’s image – that he was blinded – he did not know that he was creating a huge mess for himself and other Satyam stakeholders. You are right- ‘he did not know how to run a public company’- he took personal risks that were unnecessary.

    While his fall is a big punishment in itself – do you think that he is really apologetic now? I feel that he will try to ward away justice by making use of corruption – influential folks in India… Also, do you think that he will lose all the wealth he has amassed over the years (over and above what was his fair share?).
    Also, we will never know- whether he went down this fraudulent path to safeguard Satyam’s image or because of greed /to make more money…
    Though my heart goes out to him in someways- I am not sure if he is really a changed man- if he really deserves our sympathies…

  49. Quote

    Some say, humankind has been endowed with the quality of empathy, because s/he sees a little bit of self, no matter how less, in every single entity of its species. And the one that empathizes without inhibition shuns all guile, reflects the divine, so to say. I think it is all good to say he floundered, fell to the greed that plagues humanity. It is only human, I know.

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