An ad of Kingfisher, the lager beer brand in which liquor baron Vijay Mallya once owned a controlling stake, could not have been more misleading than in the case of the jet-setting flamboyant tycoon. The king of good times, it had proclaimed.
While Mallya is still his flamboyant self, his lenders, mostly state-run banks, are fuming. The reason: He owes Rs 9,000 crore to them for lending to his collapsed airline, which incidentally was also named Kingfisher. Meanwhile, the flamboyant tycoon has reportedly fled the country to the cool climes of United Kingdom.
The wilful defaulter's vanishing act came even before the troubled lenders could seek legal recourse in the supreme court. Mallya is also a lawmaker in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament.
Meanwhile 'The King of Bad Times' as he is known now, proclaimed in a Tweet that he will comply to the law of the land and that he respects the Indian judicial system. Read more:Vijay Mallya resurfaces online, says he is not an absconder
Mallya is not alone. There are countless tales of corporate raiders hoodwinking public sector lenders and still having a free run.
The pattern that unfurls in the country is alarming. The non performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans are mounting in state-run banks.
But the same narrative is not being played out in the case of the agriculture sector, considered the largest employer in the country. Cash-strapped, debt ridden farmers who availed loans from banks but fail to repay mostly due to factors beyond their control, are committing suicide in hoards.
In 2016 so far, 57 farmers suicide cases have been reported all from Maharashtra. In the last 5 years, Maharashtra alone has seen around 12,000 cases of farmer suicides.
As many as 1,690 cases of farmer suicides were reported in 10 states during 2015. The maximum number of farmers suicide cases was reported in Maharashtra at 725, followed by Punjab at 449, Telangana 342, Karnataka 107 and Andhra Pradesh 58.
Mallya's payment defaults could be traced back to 2012, but it took years for the banks to cry foul. This clearly is a case of preferential treatment for the rich and the influential over the humble farmer.