By Devaiah Bopanna
Vijay Mallya deserves worse. He is after all, the second most expensive thing the British owe us after the Kohinoor. Mallya’s extradition order to India has been cleared by the UK home secretary, but first, a small digression: Over the years, India has adopted a unique strategy to bring the Kohinoor back. Every quarter they send Shashi Tharoor to England to deliver an eloquent and sure-shot viral speech to shame the Brits and guilt them into returning whatever is rightfully ours. This method has failed mainly because the English just can’t seem to follow Tharoor’s English. In fact, even Queen Elizabeth shared one of his videos with the caption, “Sorry, no follow, myself coming from village area.”
Because the “farrago” strategy has clearly not worked for us, the Indian government decided to take the legal route to bring back Vijay Mallya, failed human being and businessman. Mallya’s team has tried everything possible to ensure he doesn’t come back. They touched a raw nerve in the country by claiming the prison cell allocated to him was not habitable. Hang the fuck on.
First of all, Arthur Road Jail is located in Worli – one of the toniest parts of Mumbai. A furnished 300-sq-ft place in Worli costs upwards of 50k a month. And this fugitive isn’t happy with a cell that opens into a yard, has a window with sunlight streaming in (usually, windows in Bombay open to somebody else’s window), a western commode with — hold your breath — a jet spray (or as my broker innocently called it “gaand ka shower”), and a freaking 40-inch plasma TV. This isn’t jail! It’s a bachelor pad with fucking round-the-clock security!
If I do well in my life, this is the kind of place in Worli that I’ll aspire to. All this is more than what most white-collared, hardworking folks who pay every single EMI diligently can ever afford. Not only is the government paying for this luxury for Mallya, this fraudster is even going to save big on brokerage. I mean, please bro! You’re an out-of-work single dude who owned an alcohol company before. With that history, and that mullet for a hairstyle, no landlord would give you a place to stay in the whole of Mumbai. In fact, a better punishment would be to move Mallya to my house in Andheri where my landlord didn’t even give me a TV. The only thing he left me with is a faucet with zero Pascals of pressure.
And before the next calendar comes out, the airline would fold up and Dr Mallya would take the next private jet out to Antigua and be the fall guy for everyone to make fun of.
But thankfully, this idea didn’t work and his legal team failed, so Mallya will soon find his ass back in India. And I’m pretty certain the first message he will receive when he lands and turns off flight mode will be from SBI. “Your SBI available balance in A/C XXXX69 as on 21st Dec-18: INR -9000 Cr. Transfer money fast, asshole. We are in deep shit.”
Instead of sending him to jail, I propose a harsher punishment to a fraud of this nature. We should appoint Mallya the CEO of Air India with immediate effect. With a debt of Rs 48,000 crore, the airline continues to bleed taxpayer money on a daily basis. No government has been able to run an airline properly in this country. Although, Mr Modi did try to employ a radical method to turn around the airline. Since becoming PM, he has looked for reasons to travel the world on Air India so that he can accumulate a shit ton of miles. He probably thought that he could convert all those miles into points, which could then be used to furnish the debt. Much like demonetisation and GST, the plan seemed perfect on paper until he went ahead and actually executed it.
The problem is that Air India is run by a bunch oldies who probably still refer to a plane as “aeroplane”. At best it’s a family airline. Grandpa is the chairman. Uncle sits at the check-in counter. The father is the pilot, grandmother gives you food, and the mother serves you coffee. Just that the pretty daughter is never at home; she’s away working for Indigo or Jet. So the best punishment for someone who defaulted on a Rs 9000 crore loan is to entrust them with a babu-led organisation that has loans worth Rs 48,000 crore to be paid back.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. Because if Mallya is successful, then the government officials still have a state-run airline at their disposal to misuse. If he fails, which he mostly will, he would have done what nobody has achieved before — shutting the damn thing down.
I can really see this now. His strategy will be predictable. Like Kingfisher Airlines, he will immediately sign Yana Gupta as the brand ambassador of Air India. He will plaster her everywhere: inflight announcement, on the menu cards, hoardings, airport, and maybe even tattoo her face on his face.
In fact, I think the downfall of Kingfisher Airlines started when Mallya signed on Yana — a woman whose claim to fame is the song “Babuji zara dheere chalo” — as a brand ambassador. It just ensured that every flight got delayed further because the pilot would see Yana’s photo next to the logo and shift straight from 5th to 3rd gear.
After plastering the airline with Yana’s pics, Mallya would stop giving a fuck about Air India. And this is perhaps the most crucial step to shut down the airline and save our money. He’d spend his time overpaying cricketers for an IPL team, not paying drivers in his Formula One racing team, and annually providing employment to models and photographers for a calendar that nobody bought but everyone just downloaded.
And before the next calendar comes out, the airline would fold up and Dr Mallya would take the next private jet out to Antigua and be the fall guy for everyone to make fun of. It’s perfect. Nobody will talk about the state-owned banks that enabled him by giving him high-risk loans without checking for collateral when it was evident that the airline couldn’t recover. Nobody will talk about the politicians who enabled him. Nobody will talk about the look-out circular being changed by the CBI at the last minute to help him scoot. Nobody will talk about him meeting the finance minister a day before he left. And most importantly, nobody will talk much about Urjit Patel’s resignation.
Nothing would matter as the airline is now shut and there’s a fall guy to blame. And in what would be Modi ji’s final masterstroke in this Air India saga, he would then appoint Yogi Vin Diesel as the Chairman of Air India. Yogi Diesel would then go on to change the name of the airline to Air Pakistan and shift the blame across the border.
So yes, I feel, this is a much harsher punishment for Mallya compared to living the good times in a state-sponsored bachelor pad in Worli. After all, it takes a King to shut the Maharaja down — and vice versa.