It was 26 years ago on this very day, 23rd of April that Sucheta Dalal broke the Harshad Mehta scam story and what happened then is history of sorts. Sucheta Dalal has a Belagavi connection as well as she did her schooling from St Joseph’s convent school Belagavi for 3 years and later pre university from RLS College. Her parents stayed in Belagavi for many years until they sold their house in 1996.
Sucheta Dalal is an award-winning business journalist and author and her career is founded on many newsbreaks, insightful analysis and high integrity. She has been a journalist for 25 years and was conferred the prestigious Padma Shri for journalism in 2006 and Femina’s Woman of Substance award for her work on the Harshad Mehta scam in 1992 and related writing. She has been a columnist and consulting editor for The Indian Express group until 2008. She is now a Consulting Editor for MoneyLIFE a personal finance fortnightly (www.moneylife.in).
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Of course, nobody really knew that first day, how big the scam was and how it would unravel. Rs 500 crore seemed a huge number then. Eventually the scam was Rs 5000 crore, which seems tiny today, as compared to the big loot that has been going on in telecom, realty, coal etc.
But Rs 5000 crore was a stupendous number when India has just embarked on economic liberalisation and it is sizeable even by today’s standards, when you adjust for inflation!
What is sad however is that the court cases continue to drag on even in the Special Court, which was set up for “speedy trial”.
Worse, we have discovered that a slow, interminable investigation and litigation is the way to deal with scams.
But the biggest regret of all is that people are unconcerned. Apart from the rhetoric and cynicism and loud proclamations that nothing will change, we the people, are happy with the benefits of liberalisation: much more money, lots of goodies and entertainment . Nobody want to devote even a tiny portion of their time to give back to society or participate in its betterment.
Oh yes, we will all contribute large chunks of money on religious functions, to godmen and to temples — God will take care of it all.