Dear Mr Roy,
Namaskar and Sahara Pranams!
I will not ask how you are, because the morning papers fill us all in with every detail of your current state of health and happiness: how you ate one chapatti in barrack Number 4 of Tihar jail, with daal and the weight of the items down to their last gram, ("chapatti of 400 gm grain and 90 gm daal') ; how you sent for additional food from the jail canteen, how late you and your lawyers conferred in to the night, the fact that you did not sleep on the floor but on the bed that was provided for you at the last moment on the grounds that you are over 60 years old, and how you 'took bread and tea for breakfast.'
And if there were any questions left over your current state of mind, we have your own lengthy verbose statements issued from your jail cell and published for the world to peruse in prime newsprint space which make up in emotion and detail what they lack in grammar and syntax.
Other papers and news channels of course have taken it upon themselves to undertake lengthy investigations into your past life: the staggering opulence of your ' palaces', fleets of cars, personal style etc.
How your company has assets of more than $11 billion (Rs68,000 crore) how your interests span New York's landmark Plaza Hotel and London's iconic Grosvenor House hotel, until recently the Indian cricket team, the current Indian hockey team, 42 per cent stake in a Formula One racing team, media, real estate, aviation, a luxury township outside of Mumbai, and over 30 (mostly) million small time investors to which the Supreme Court has instructed you to pay almost $4.5 billion plus interest.
'With capital of 2,000 rupees in the Seventies, Roy built Sahara into a giant that, had assets of more than $21 billion' went one article, typical of the general trend of mock horror and breathless awe.
Now here's what's puzzling to me and why I write to you Mr Roy:
Thirty million investors, assets that run in to billions of dollars, luxury townships, TV stations — the Indian cricket team until recently for God's sake — this immense mountain of achievements, assets and alleged transgressions and misdemeanors, allowed to build up and exist for close to three decadesv right under the noses of the regulating authorities, politicians and media?
What are we missing here? For almost three decades India lived with you, watched you, in many cases aided and abetted you and in others as in the case of cricket and hockey team sponsorships, happily took your money, without so much as a whimper of inquiry or protest?
The humongous weddings you held, the iconic hotels you bought abroad and in India, the armies of executives and the endless list of celebrity friends and well wishers – all this went on under the blissful eye of those who now feign surprise?
Either they are lying or we are fools. Because I may not be well versed in the details of your case but even I know that if what you did by running your Para banking enterprise (which you say helped small investors outside the banking system whom you claim to have never defaulted on) was illegal then why was it allowed to continue and flourish for so long?
And if it was allowed to flourish and thrive for so long why was it stopped now?
The papers say that you took money from the poorest of the poor (sometimes as little as two rupees) and offered returns that no bank would give.
Farmers, traders, tailors were your investors and you sold dodgy financial products to the most vulnerable in the country. People who could be ruined by the loss of a few thousand rupees.
Something doesn't quite fit here Mr Roy and until we look deep in to the mirror of our own self-serving hypocrisy and seek the reasons for it, it is these very people who will ask us how we managed to sleep at night through it all.
They will not ask that of you of course, because we all know how you slept last night. 'He slept soundly and woke up to a breakfast of bread and tea.' The papers say.
Have an eventful time in your new surroundings Mr Roy; I am sure we will read all about it.
Yours sincerely etc,
Malavika Sangghvi can be contacted at malavikasangghvi @hotmail.com