It’s a big day. The courtroom is packed. With journalists, shareholders, programmers & Barkha Dutt. After all, today’s the day when the Satyam Chairman & CEO, B Ramalinga Raju, is in the dock. The judge is looking solemn. The public prosecutor is looking smug. In the background, the national emblem adds gravity to the proceedings. In order to remove any trace of bias, the words “Satyameva Jayate” have been masked so that it reads “eva Jayate”. Ramalinga Raju has taken the oath and the crowd too has been quietly swearing at him. The public prosecutor purposefully walks up to the witness stand.
Public Prosecutor (gravely courteous) : Would you prefer to remain standing or would you rather sit down?
Ramalinga Raju : Oh, I’ll sit down. This might be a witness stand, but I am a chairman. Heehee.
PP : You have been accused of serious corporate fraud. Do you plead guilty or not guilty.
RR : Actually, I am golti. But, to answer your question, not guilty.
A startled gasp runs through the courtroom.
PP : Not guilty??? Do you actually deny that you falsified the books to show inflated results?
RR : No. No. I admit to that. What I mean to say is that, there was no intention to defraud. I was merely running my company along Web 2.0 lines. Including the accounting. You could call it Accounting 2.0.
PP (looking a bit out of his depth) : Er…. Could you elaborate.
RR : You see, the buzz-phrase these days is the social web. Where the power of crowds is used to create and refine content. That is Web 2.0. So, with my Accounting 2.0, I was being social, not anti-social.
PP (sarcastically) : Thanks for the tutorial. But what does this have to do with Satyam?
RR : My company had enough of writing programs, providing services and shopping bodies. So I decided to move with the times.
PP : And how exactly is declaring false revenues, “moving with the times”?
RR : In the early part of my life, I had been a hard-working entrepreneur who used to slog to get revenues. But I decided to have an easier, better SecondLife. So my revenues were just an experiment in Virtual Reality.
PP : Hmm, interesting. And does that justify cooking the books?
RR : Well, I did cook them in such a way that they were deli.co.us. And people were ready to Digg in. As long as my books are popular, who cares if some critics like SEBI object. In fact, the Satyam books were bestsellers in the fiction section of Amazon. You could call it Long Tale Economics.
PP : But your balance sheet was blatantly false.
RR (dreamily) : What is true? What is false? That is so 1.0. In today’s world, truth is what the crowd says it is. Constantly shifting but eternally true. My books, you see, were a Wiki.
PP (thunders) : Sir, I think you are just hiding behind a façade of self righteous philosophy. Didn’t you effectively loot the public?
RR : Sure I did. In fact, I’m proud to say that I’m a Flickr.
PP : You know, just for that admission, I can throw the book at you.
RR : And I will face it. I have spent a lot of time in Facebook. Look, you can’t do much to me. I have a great social network. My status has been constantly updated. Higher and higher.
PP : But if you were held in such high regard, why get into this mess?
RR : Well, people were always poking me. So I decided to poke them all back.
PP : All this is fine. What I don’t understand is how your auditors never caught on.
RR (mockingly) : What, that PWC crowd? I knew they wouldn’t StumbleUpon anything. They are just a bunch of Tweets.
The crowd twitters in mirth.
PP : So do you really expect to get away in spite of all that you have done.
RR : Oh No. The health minister can have me banned because with all this 2.0 stuff, I have spread a social disease. Everybody in this room has it. It’s called SIFYlis.
Pandemonium breaks out in the courtroom. The judge bangs his gavel for order. Case adjourned. The spectators quietly disperse avoiding contact with one another.
Disclaimer : All characters in this trial are as fictitious as Satyam’s profits.
References : Second Life, Deli.co.us, Digg, StumbleUpon, Flickr, Wikipedia, Facebook & Twitter are all up there leading the Web 2.0 revolution.
Update : I’ve subsequently found out that Satyam exited SIFY a few years back. So I guess I shouldn’t have dragged SIFY into this article. But then, if you really look at it, I shouldn’t have dragged all the other companies in either.
If you liked this post, you may want to read some other encounters like Lalit Modi & Narendra Modi, Shivraj Patil & Sardar Patel, Manmohan Singh calling Customer Service, and Ramadoss meeting Devadoss.