Home Columns Anantha Narayan King of good crimes

There’s a new villain in the grand narrative of India. It’s the diamond watch-wearing asura who lives the rich life in a castle in a faraway land, even while his impoverished company owes `9,000 crore to a nation where poor farmers commit suicide due to their inability to pay piffling sums.
Let’s analyse Vijay Mallya’s crime before we crucify him. The award-winning airline that created 4,000 jobs bled from day one. It accumulated a pile of debt in full public view, right under the nose of the RBI. Air India did what Kingfisher Airlines did at an even larger scale — yes, the Maharaja owes the government `30,000 crore. Strangely no one screamed, shouted or shed a tear. Not even Arnab!
So, clearly, what is bothering most people is not that VJ defaulted loans, but ‘how he continues to live it up remorselessly. The public would have probably loved it had Mallya lived a life of penury and penitence, walking street to street with a begging bowl. But Mallya being Mallya, he will always do what comes naturally to him. Because the life number and name number of Vijay Mallya is five. Ruled by the planet Mercury, he will continue to punt all his life, take risks and enjoy large slices of luck.
And by the way, Mallya is more pluck than luck. He’s the guy who started his career as an intern at Hoechst and ended up as its chairman. Having inherited his dad’s brewery business, he took it to even greater heights. Capturing 9 per cent of the world whisky market doesn’t happen that often in our country, no?
Where he probably went wrong was, instead of being a Richard Branson, he chose to be a Donald Trump — who incidentally declared bankruptcy not once but four times.
In the first instance, Trump owed $3 billion. That’s nearly 2.5 times more than Mallya’s bad debt. To think that Trump is in the race for presidency today just goes to show that Mallya still has hope. Lots of it.
The surname Mallya means ‘caretaker of palaces’. He’s been true to his name by amassing property after property. But can he retain them given the current crisis? Or will he capitulate? For answers, we’ll have to look at the names of the horses he owned at Kunigal Stud Farm. There’s one named ‘Capitulate’. It went on to be a winner, against all odds.

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