Tales from Corporate India

Corporate India is a fertile place for crime fiction.

With a diverse mix of personalities, motivations, temptations and disappointments, each new day sees the entire range of human emotions playing out. This milieu is a perfect setting for stories, both fictional and real.

Bright, aggressive men and women, possessing admirable drive and energy, power ahead with single minded ambitions to get to the top. On the other hand, erudite minds opt out of the CEO race citing reluctance to put profits before people. They are to be admired too. But the ones to be admired the most are those who put their organisation before their personal gain. We could do with more of them.

In this vast, variegated melting pot, we have our black sheep too – men and women for whom greed is the driving factor; whose ends justify any means. It is about such people that I will write. Along with it will come stories of the unsung, faceless victims who are caught up in a web of deceit that begins with white collar crime and then spirals out of control.

White collar fraud is not new to India, but the scale is.

The spectacular growth the country has enjoyed in the past decade has driven the stakes higher than ever before, and has had an unintended casualty – ethics.

The growth that brought a flood of opportunities and created entrepreneurs has also enabled scam artists. Businessmen who had nothing to do with power generation, for instance, try to set up power projects. Colleges sprout on vast acreages in the middle of nowhere, with few students and fewer teachers. Warehouses and retail space sometimes serve as facades for real estate plays.

In this occasionally unholy dash, aspiration sometimes outpaces ability, and men resort to murky means. Access to funds and approvals become the tallest hurdles to profiteering, but some enterprising ones find ingenious ways around these obstacles.

In this, they are abetted by another consequence of our dramatic growth – greed. Men who held staid jobs for years suddenly find themselves as gatekeepers, controlling the flow of money and approvals. Some fall to temptation.

Fraudster is my first story about the black sheep of corporate India. Insider is the second.

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