Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The King of Goof Times!

I have been doing some heavy reading on Kingfisher and the Mallya ‘dynasty’ though much of my information comes from magazines like GQ where the chiselled-chinned Mallya junior adorns the cover this month. If investors were to read that article, I don’t think it will bring in any bread to the business, let alone confidence in people who run it. I think to myself, a guy who talks about such issues as virginity and how he lost it at 17 just cannot be serious about running a business or activities like strategizing unless it is about yachts or throwing a party or who to be seen with in the next edition of IPL circus.

Now we come to his father, brand ambassador, party goer, wearer of gastly red couture- all rolled in one. He is also a patriot mind it! Mallya senior brought home Tipu Sultan's sword and Mahatma gandhi's letters. As a stakeholder in Deccan Aviation which is now Kingfisher, I want to know if tha cash he used was his own or the he dipped into the till. This colourful person has been fooling investors for years and leaching off his brewery business to fund his other ventures most notably among them- Kingfisher airlines. It is really a sad state of affairs and you only have to step into Kingfisher lounge (where you pay for what you consume) to gauge where it has fallen to. The waiters and bartenders are chatting with flies and I don’t want even talk about the quality of food; alas I must. The burger was chewy, the tikkas were just cooked pieces of meat with some seasoning on top. All in all, it was a shocker and of course a nice end to a lovely holiday that we had in a remote village in the Yorkshire Dales in England. Did I forget to mention (by the way) that I opted for a chicken meal on Kingfisher flight and was given a lamb/ mutton meal. I politely told the airhostess (I never show my authority to those who service us, the fear of a spit going ballistic is always present) that I do not eat mutton.
“ You don’t want it?” I stared at her incredulously. It was like asking a vegetarian to shut up and eat what he was given so what if it was beef!
“No please, I do not eat mutton, could I have the chicken mean or if you have run out of it, I can have a vegetarian meal.” She made a tch tch sound and walked away even as I could hear her feet stamping in a huff. She returned after making me wait a while and plonked a box on the tray. If the box were open the contents would be flying everywhere.
Today the Economic Times is carrying a front page article about an auditor questioning Kingfisher’s ability to keep flying. Of course they owe fuel companies money (and not to tune of 500 or 1000 rupees, we care talking probably a couple of thousand crore), they are suffering losses to the tune of 4K crore and to top it all they are defaulting on PF and TDS. As a citizen of India who pays her taxes and whose salary gets deducted for PF, I find this completely outrageous. Of all crimes, Provident Fund Chori is the worst chori of all. You are deducting amounts as employees’ contribution to provident fund and then withholding it from the government. This puts the Mallya business group at par with Jog tuition Classes of Pune.
Jog’s Classes were the premier tuition classes in Pune. Among the elite who attended their classes were those who topped the board exams and medical entrance exams. Jog Sir was quite a figure, effeminate in his mannerisms, he was anything but feminine in his dealings with the staff who he used to treat like his personal and bonded labour. I have never seen anybody being treated with such scant respect. I had a chance of teaching in his institute where at the end of the month the salary would be transferred to an account and his chief administrator (and his personal punching bag, who for years suffered silently all the insults meted out to her and now is the principal of Jog School. I admire her tenacity) passed out a big fat ledger for us to sign. It was a signature against the column titled PF. I asked her about it and she smiled apologetically and was quite open about it telling me that even though the amount for PF was deducted, it was never paid to the government. The guy was ripping us off our hard earned money. Later when I had to go to the PF office in Pune, he figured prominently in the PF defaulter’s list. So where’s the difference between Mallya who holidays with the other buffoon Branson and Mr. Jog who has an aviary which is nothing but a nuisance for the neighbours. There is absolute nothing that differentiates the two businessmen who don’t care two corn flakes about it. It’s just sad that his son who will inherit the empire (or what remains of it..hic) is talking about his progeny somewhere in the world (I know he is joking about it and also attributes it to his ‘British’ sense of humour) and how to avoid it always ‘don’t be a fool and wrap your tool’. Somehow I really find it hard to believe that a guy who spouts such premature wisdom can do better than to practise the fool and tool gem.
Ahoy there!

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