Book review of The First Scam: A Detailed Story Of Haridas Mundhra by Mahendra Arya
Independent India finally became a reality on August 15, 1947. While we may have managed to oust tyranny, scams are something that has been around and surprisingly right from the post-Independence itself, eating away at the stability and the stoic financial, and political foundations of our democracy. We may have done away with the external pressures and challenges, but when it comes to the very core foundations of our own democracy and economy, it is no hidden fact that they are pilfered and littered with malpractices, corruption, scams, and frauds that go way beyond political or even corporate level sabotaging. They are beyond the national level, defiling and besmirching the reputation as well as the stability of the nation on a global platform, keeping many factors sort of shady in the minds of our own citizens. Scams, which are an element of this distrust, The First Scam: A Detailed Story Of Haridas Mundhra by Mahendra Arya is a well-researched factual narrative, enlightening the readers about Haridas Mundhra and his trysts and role in bringing about the economic disruption and instability in the Indian economy and the subsequent chain of events.
The hustler knew that all that people ever wanted in the world was what they could not have and what they had already lost.Stuart Stromin
Yes, it is always the hustler who does this. Taking advantage of the market and consumer behaviour is something any good businessman does, but a hustler is one who looks beyond the current scope of his vantage, adopting a 360-degree approach and giving forth much better than what is expected of him. However, in case such a hustler becomes a victim of his own greed, then all hell breaks loose. Not only do people suffer, but the whole nation suffers, politically, economically, and most importantly, on a level where a turnaround is extremely difficult.
Whilst the Harshad Mehta scam might have done the rounds of the financial circuit forever, it was not India’s first one. The first financial scam of India was right post-independence when Life Insurance Corporation of India was manipulated into buying shares worth almost 1.26 crores, of companies that were owned by Calcutta-based businessman Haridas Mundhra. A scam that involved a relatively smaller amount but was considered humongous owing to the presence of bureaucrats and politicians and the involvement of Feroze Gandhi, Indira Gandhi’s husband, as well as Mohammed Chagla, Justice Vivian Bose, and many other noted names.
In a bid to provide facts and actual data, “The First Scam: A Detailed Story Of Haridas Mundhra” by Mahendra Arya is a book that gives us the exact detailed account of the first scam that shook the foundations of stability post-independence, providing complete fact-corroborated data as well as a detailed blow-by-blow account of the events as and how they took place. Commencing with how Mundhra, who started from scratch with virtually no education, proceeded to build a formidable industrial empire by acquiring maximum stakes of controlling interests in cash-rich firms and managing agencies that came across as vulnerable. Depending on banking funds for his needs, he met margin requirements by manipulating the share prices of stocks. This technique, while giving him huge financial success, unfortunately also whetted his appetite the wrong way, making him a victim of his own greed. His financial adventures, which took a serious mid-turn, his alleged trysts alongside the LIC, his complete fallout, and destruction brought about by Feroze Gandhi and others such as Mohammad Chagla, and Justice Vivian Bose.
Kudos to Mahendra for putting forth all the relevant info episodically in a clear, concise manner, making the readers privy to the first scam of India – the Haridas Mundhra scam. The best part is that the book not only talks about the infamous LIC scam but provides game-changer recommendations suggested by Chagla back then and surely could be a viable manual, I feel, for today’s times too. A brilliantly written book, this one is unbiased, written simply, and yet puts forth all data for readers to know about the first scandal that shook the core of our financial stability.
A well-researched narrative, the differentiator for me in this one is the way the data has been set down in a clear, concise, and unbiased manner, presenting the chain of events chronologically as well as shed light on the selective sort of data dispersion that has been practised for ages now, as regards this one. A fine revelation-based write-up by Mahendra Arya.
So, I hope you guys liked my book review of The First Scam: A Detailed Story Of Haridas Mundhra by Mahendra Arya.