When the Indian Supreme Court turned down disgraced ex-Satyam Chairman Byrraju Ramalingam Raju’s bail appeal on Tuesday, huge cheering could be heard over the high compound walls of Hyderabad’s Chanchalguda prison where he is housed. And if you are thinking that the inmates of this particular establishment were ecstatic because they have something against the man, let me tell you, you could not be further from the Truth. I am reasonably certain that Raju, who was arrested on charges of cheating, embezzlement and insider trading, in early 2009, is loved by one and all at the prison. After all genius is always respected, even in jail!
The real reason for the frantic cheering and general merriment was that prison officials have set their hearts ( Oh shut up..! They must have hearts! It’s a biological requirement) on making Raju Chief Executive of India’s first Prison-Business-Process-Outsourcing centre!
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Local media reports suggest that prison authorities hope to utilise Raju’s enviable expertise at running a BPO company to make a success out of a prison BPO firm, all set to go into action from November 1st.
Talks have been finalized between Tata Consultancy Services and IT firm Radiant Technologies, which will provide hardware support for the venture.
Of Course, it is only understandable that the powers that be are keen to rope in Raju for the project!
“The prison is an ideal place to start a BPO firm. There is absolutely little chance of attrition and we may be sure that no other companies can poach our employees (some of whom happen to be poachers – of course in the Forestry and wildlife aspect of the word!)“ Prison warden Choreshwar Singh said.
And Choreshwar, obviously wants Raju to help run the enterprise. After all, it is not every other day that you have at your disposal, someone who has managed to dupe nearly 6 million shareholders out of something like $1.5 billion.
“If he can dupe so many and for so much without training, just imagine how easily he can get foreign companies to cough up the cash, once we train him,” Choreshwar Khan said. (No the reporter did not make a mistake about the name… Long association with criminals has left Choreshwar a scarred man and he often uses various aliases just for kicks!)
And Choreshwar Bose, (… Duh!) intends to milk Raju’s skills fully.. Er.. only figuratively – the prison’s dairy business is doing tolerably well. ( and in any case who wants skimmed milk? Which is all Raju may be capable of producing. What with his years of expertise at skimming cash off the books! )
“We will seek his opinion on how best to utilise manpower available at our unit,” C N Gopinatha Reddy, the Director General of the prison said. (I swear I did not make this bit up… he actually said that !)
No doubt Reddy clearly recalls that the chap he wants to consult with, regarding manpower problems, is understood to have faked pay checks for thousands of non-existent employees! Now that what I call, superb manpower management!
Reddy also proposes to get Raju to guide the firm’s financial accounts department in advanced creative accounting.
The firm, apparently christened Jhutham Inc, is in advanced negotiations with a number of banking sector firms from Canada. I am sure the Canadians will be simply thrilled at the prospect of convicted criminals scanning every check that they write. (and if a few go missing here and there, perhaps pocketed by up and coming BPO employees, who find old habits hard to shake off, it is only understandable! )
U.S. President Obama has of course criticised the move.
“This is not the kind of change I was talking about! We must protect our jobs. What’s wrong with our own home grown criminals? Why can’t we do this here? “he is understood to have said in an e-mail sent from his Blackberry. (JournoOnTheProwl was unable to see the e-mail for himself since the message was encrypted and the Indian Govt. would not release it citing ‘national security concerns’. Blackberry maker Research In Emotion, when approached, could not help because apparently they have misplaced the code key book and nobody knows how to decrypt the messages any longer! )
And Obama may not be the only one to object the plans. Indian BPO Association chief Mr. Knight Shift was very vocal in his protests against the venture.
“As it is, my wife feels ashamed that I am working in the BPO sector. Somehow I have managed to convince her that it is respectable. What will happen when she finds out that Natha Ram our ex-watchman, who is serving time at Chanchalguda for petty theft, is doing the same work as me?” he hyperventilated.
Meanwhile Bal Thackeray has said that the whole thing is a conspiracy to cheat the Marathi Banmanoos of job opportunities.
“Why are they setting this up in a south Indian state? What’s wrong with Maharashtra? We have world class criminals here. Just look at me. For years we have been exporting best in class dons to Dubai.. You think we cannot manage a little outsourcing?” he said, in Marathi, of course.
As soon as news of the upcoming venture broke, a spate of petty robberies and assaults took place in and around Hyderabad. The police, however, have not taken a serious view of these cases.
“There is a lot of unemployment and people will do whatever they have to, to get a job. We have advised our constables to only arrest the most serious of criminals… Obviously we want to rope in the best talent for the new venture,” the Inspector General said.
When asked if he will be attending the inauguration ceremony of the new firm on Nov. 1 he said he definitely will.
“Of Course, I will leave my wallet and other valuables at home, before going there,” he said.
At the time of going to press JournoOnTheProwl got unsolicited quotes from two prominent media personalities.
The first of these was from the celebrated author of Crooker-winning novel ‘God of LOL Things’ Arundhati Roy.
“Hyderabad prison has never been and never will be a part of India. I think we should involve Pakistan in this venture,” she said. She also insisted that her comments could not be termed as seditious since she has been on drugs for some time now.
Union Law and Justice Mr Oily agreed with her.
“When in sedation, there can be no sedition,” he said.
The other unsolicited comment was from Suhel Seth who apparently has an opinion about everything. His comment, however – much like his opinions – was too ridiculous even by the lax standards of this blog, so we shall not bother with it.
Raju, when contacted, refused to comment. Close associates have, however, hinted that the man has asked the state government to provide him with a tiger.