English summary- Chitralekha Gujarati issue dated 05 March 2018

The Great Indian Bank Robbery

As the nation is still reeling under the massive impact of the great Indian bank robbery committed by Nirav Modi, Ketan Mistry in this cover story in the latest issue of Chitralekha gives a lowdown on what actually happened, the strategies of the conmen involved and the red flags the fraud raises. Most importantly, it asks a very pertinent question: what now?

During the week preceding the days when the details related to fraud began to surface, Priya Prakash Varrior was in the limelight, as she emerged to become the Internet sensation for her wink-video that went viral. This blink-video was eclipsed by the great Indian bank robbery that was, so to say, committed in a blink by the suave diamond merchant Nirav Modi, whose products wowed many international celebrities. Nirav Modi’s accomplishes in this heist are his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi and Gitanjali Group he heads. However, in a belated clarification, Nirav owns up the responsibility for the mess, stressing that his younger and uncle had nothing to do with the scam.

The story reminds us that Nirav Modi’s PNB fraud is reminiscent of Jatin Mehta and his Winsome Diamond Group who had perpetrated a similar scam on PNB, plunging thereby the Indian corporate world in its biggest credibility crisis. The fraudster now cannot be touched by the Indian authorities, as he is safely ensconced in the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis where he has obtained a citizenship.

The earlier scam gives us a sense of déjà when Nirav Modi struck in a similar fashion. The sordid saga surfaced with the PNB complaining to the Central Bureau of Investigation that Nirav committed a scam worth over rupees eleven thousand crores. Ironically, the actual net worth of the PNB is a little over thirty eight thousand crore, one third of which appears to have been siphoned off by the scamster.

The blatant way in which the fraud has been committed sent the whole nation in a tizzy, from media to the country’s political corridor all seem to have been shocked by the sheer audacity of the whole operation. The reactions ranged from outrageous rants to humorous and satirical forwards targeting the fraudsters and the politicians.

Away from the din, the conman along with his family cocked a snook at the Lookout Notice issued by the Indian investigative agencies and fled away to New York where he has been staying at an expensive suit since. Given the huge amount of the scam, the hotel bill running into lakhs looks like a peanut.

It may be recalled here that Nirav Modi had given an exhaustive interview to this author four weeks ago where he had narrated his childhood days and how he rose from his initial struggle days to become an international success story. Born in Mumbai, Nirav later settled in Antwerp. He got admitted to the Wharton University for his MBA but abandoned it to join his uncle Mehul Choksi’s firm for a monthly stipend of Rs 3500/-

Nirav’s uncle Mehul Choksi was a name to reckon with, in the field of gems and diamonds. In 1999, Nirav left his job to start his own venture in a 500-sq ft office and from there he went on to found his company Firestar International in 2004. He however shot to limelight in 2010 when his necklace was auctioned at the prestigious Sotheby’s for a whopping twenty three crore. In the following years, a string of his chain of stores opened and his staff strength rose from 15 people to nearly 2000

The author notes that during the whole interview Nirav Modi betrayed no sign of any impending crisis looming in the distance. Also, there was no bragging involved in his talk nor was displayed any sign of vanity.

However, there has been a twist in the tale now, as the chief protagonist Nirav Modi has now chosen to play a victim card, writing to the bank that it is the latter that destroyed his brand, thereby shutting the doors for any settlement of debts.

In a boxed piece (by Jwalant Chhaya), Digvijay Sinh Jadeja of Bhavnagar says he was the first whistleblower to point out that Mehul Choksi would be the next Malya. In another accompanying piece, details regarding the mounting NPA have been revealed. One more boxed article discusses another scam committed by Vikram Kothari of Rotomac, who has thankfully not fled away and been arrested.

Lakshmipati Group: Creativity & Innovation

Sanjay had started looking after his father’s business since he was 14 years old, when a series of misfortunes hit his father Govinprasad Sarawagi. Having migrated to Surat, Govindprasad had dreamt of making it big in this land of diamonds. But unfortunately, the Anamat Andolan of 1885 gutted his factory he had taken for job work, reducing his dreams to ashes.

As if this was not enough, he was struck down by Appendicitis that confined him to bed. That was when Sanjay stepped in and later went on to become a success in his own rights.

Today, Sanjay Sarawagi is the Managing Director of the Lakshmipati Group that boasts an annual turnover of Rs 500 crores. From the age of 14 years to his present age of 47, this businessman has become synonymous with the textile business of Surat.

In this Jewels of India series, Faysal Bakili decodes the success mantra of Sanjay Sarawagi.

Happy Birthday, Ahmadabad

On 26 February 2018, Ahmadabad will celebrate its 607th birthday. This would be its first birthday since the city earned the coveted status of World Heritage City, thanks to its distinctive Indo-Islamic architecture and a unique Pod (street) lifestyle.

Mahesh Shah however feels that the powers that be have let down the city by not caring for it the way it should. There is a lot that could have been done for the city that has buildings that are over 300 years old, and 585 pols. For the government it will be a daunting task to maintain its heritage identity and the global honour it has been bestowed with.

Authorities have vowed to turn it into a Smart City in next five years. Let us see if they have the required money and man power to achieve it, the author wonders.

Besides the above, the issue carries some more stories that are equally engrossing. Samir Paleja writes about the financial irregularities of Gupta Brothers who have brought about earthquake in the political scenario of South Africa. The brothers can give Malya, Modi et al run for their money. In his Business Page, Jayesh Chitaliya lists the lessons we need to learn from the PNB fraud, while in Digital Duniya, we are told by Himanshu Kikany how to make your listless keyboard an exciting one.

We also have regular Political and Humour Columns, Palak, Cardiogram, Priyadarshini, Jalsaghar, Health Helpline, a short story and Mukhwas.

Ishita’s Elchi:

When the heart was dissected, I realized that YOU were written all over the pain that I thought was personal..!!

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