"Nirav Modi has escaped, dear viewer, with your and my hard-earned money," he repeated. This time, I was not bothered. I know Punjab National Bank is a public sector bank and public sector banks are supposed to be public and all. But excuse me, I don't have time for lies so early in the morning.
At the risk of sounding illiterate, let me reiterate: these banks may be government-owned but in no way give us the feeling that we own them. Neither does the government. Now that Nirav Modi has swindled over Rs 11,000 crore off PNB’s coffers, I tried, really tried, to find some sympathy for the victim of this fraud, Punjab National Bank.
I am sorry to say I did not find any. I don't have any sympathy for the banking system that mistreats the needy and caters to the greedy. The truth is these banks are complicit in all kinds of frauds by fat cats of the social set and do not have time or money for the common people. If your account is depleted of the minimum balance, they will pile on penalties and then interests on those penalties till you start coughing blood.
Farmers commit suicide all over this vast land because banks hound them, paste notices on their doors, seize their wares and auctions their tracts. If you default on a small car loan, banks have goons who will snatch the car and your belongings after beating you up. Your home isn't your home if you miss a couple of instalments, but bubbas in business suits default on thousands of crores and banks pray to them for a settlement.
The weak-hearted and less-connected like Vijay Mallaya leave the land in a huff. The scheming ones like Nirav Modi milk the milch cow till the last moment and plan their escape well. The real, hardcore borrowers stay back in their palaces here and fly in their copters to 18-hole golf courses where big bank babus wait to chat with them over a nine-course meal. Those who sway together, stay together.
The greed-driven do not deal from across the counter. They stand in no queues. They make deals through loopholes where the bank guy gets a few bones and the lion's share goes to, of course, the lion. It’s a jungle out there in the financial world where the need-driven is made to pay bribes, sit at the babus' feet and beg for their mercy.
Even at the height of demonetisation, the rich managed to exchange their millions in wads without a whiff to the hundreds waiting in the queue before dawn only to be told, "cash nahin hai". Forget then, the demonetised currency continues to be exchanged as I write this. Recently, over Rs 100 crore in old notes were seized from Uttar Pradesh while the poor and the middle class couldn’t celebrate festivals because of a cash crunch.
So, excuse me, if my schadenfreude sounds silly, but every time a member of the public robs these houses of horror, I do not feel sorry for them. Like they do not feel sorry for me. I have called the Punjab National Bank multiple times for the 30-odd thousand rupees they owe me and every time I get is a complaint number. I have stopped noting them down. I do call once in a while because it's as they say hard-earned money.
My current bank, a private one, has nearly succeeded in bluffing me into something I stand to lose in. But I have tried to stay on the right side of these modern-day exploiters. Because one late payment can affect your CIBIL score. It's always good to pay them more than what they ask for. Else, your credit-rating will be spoiled.
The anchor who startled me this morning is either naive or his dad actually owns the bank. In the latter case, why does he scream from a studio when he should be holidaying in Davos with Nirav Modi?