Our topic today is commercial geography. As you know, scams are our country’s chief product. There are many types of scams, ranging from hanky-panky, which is available in vast quantities in every nook and corner of our country, to the really big scandals like that of Adarsh housing society, which call for considerable skill and resources. What was that, Bunty? No, you can’t get a flat in the society.
In the north, the capital of the country has built up an enviable reputation as a major centre of scam production. The spectrum scam and the CWG scam are shining examples of world-class scams. Clearly, New Delhi has a competitive advantage in scam technology. Veteran scamsters say there is something about Delhi’s climate that is conducive to scams. Technically speaking, it has a good scambience. What did you say, Guddu? No, UPA doesn’t stand for the United Pickpockets Alliance.
The west has also been a hub of scam making. The Harshad Mehta scam, the UTI scandal and the Ketan Parekh fraud all occurred in Mumbai. But the truth is that the city hasn’t produced a decent stock market scam in years, the little ones that come to light these days being mere rackets. The stock exchanges have set up a committee to investigate the problem and they hope to come up with a major scam soon. Thankfully, the Adarsh society scam has restored Mumbai’s reputation, as has the IPL scandal. No, I don’t know about any Shiv Sena demand for reservation of scams for sons of the soil.
The south has been a prodigious scam manufacturer, with connoisseurs opining that Bangalore’s mix of a mining-cum- buying-of-politicians scam is very fashionable. As for Hyderabad, apart from its well-deserved reputation as a premier producer of land scams, you must not forget that it also produced Satyam, our answer to Enron. No, Srinivasavadivelu, I haven’t heard of any dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on the sharing of scams.
The east owes much to Madhu Koda, whose speciality is mining scams. The north-east of the country, though, has a genuine grievance. Even though large scams in the public distribution system (PDS) have been unveiled in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the locals complain they don’t make it to the national headlines. This injustice has fuelled a secessionist movement. No, they do not want a separate state of Scamland.
Unfortunately, our international ranking has been slipping in these competitive times. We haven’t been able to produce a scam of the calibre of the Bernie Madoff swindle in the US. Our investment banks have not produced top quality swindlers. And our recruitment scams, mid-day meal scams, college admission scams are classified as mere rip-offs in the Guinness Book of Scams. We have, however, been able to produce far better political scams than expense-account padding by MPs in Britain, which is just a fiddle. What is it, Bobby? No, the USA is not the United Swindlers Association.
So that, my friends, wraps up this lesson in the commercial geography of the country. Which country? India, of course — no, Babli, I’ve never heard of any country called Scamistan. Any questions?
What are scams used for? Good question. Scams, dear child, are used to line pockets. Handbags? Yes, I suppose they line handbags too. Yes, Raj? You no longer want to be a nuclear scientist and want to be a scamster instead? I wouldn’t advise that. What’s that? No, you can’t change your name from Swaminathan to Scaminathan. Thank you.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint The views expressed by the author are personal