Last night I spent a pleasant half hour on the phone talking with Ekta Batra, a reporter with India's CNBC TV 18.
She asked if I'd be OK with getting up at 5 am, my time, to be part of a live 20-minute program about Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) and a recent lawsuit filed by Shivinder Singh (cousin of the RSSB guru, Gurinder Singh) against his brother, Malvinder Singh and an RSSB insider, Sunil Godhwani, who used to run a company founded by the Singh brothers.
No, I said, 5 am is way too early for me.
So we recorded a 20 minute interview, portions of which was neatly edited into the live program, a recording of which can be seen here: "Shivinder Singh will be held accountable for the mess in Fortis Healthcare, says Sandeep Parekh."
UPDATE: Someone in Australia said the link above was blocked by his Internet provider's server. I found a video of the program on the CNBC TV 18 You Tube channel. So you can watch it by clicking below.
Before I talk about the program, a screenshot from which is shown above, I've got to deal with some very important personal stuff.
First, this isn't the first time a reporter has used what probably is the worst photo I've ever taken of myself, which somehow found its way onto Google Images. The photo I usually use is shown above.
I like it for a couple of reasons: (1) It was taken about ten years ago, so I look younger in it, and (2) the image is cropped from a photo where I was holding my one-year-old granddaughter while we were talking a walk around a lake near our house, so it brings back good memories.
Next, I'm pleased that CNBC TV 18 chose to use the only part of the interview where I mentioned the name of this blog. Yay! Publicity! I wasn't so pleased, though, to realize that I used "you know" an annoying number of times, completely without my knowledge as I was sitting on our living room couch, phone in hand, trying to respond coherently to the reporter's questions
Anyway, have a look and listen.
That CNBC TV 18 web page has a transcript of what one of the Indian guests on the show had to say near the end of the program. Since he was a bit difficult to understand, here's what he said.
JN Gupta: Shivinder cannot absolve the responsibility because he was knowing very clearly that there are financial dealing between the company and RSSB. The moment you involve religion in to the business, what type of business you are running.
I am a religious Hindu, you may be a religious Hindu, but that does not mean that I will take shareholders fund into my faith. You have given up your fiduciary responsibility, you have failed in your fiduciary responsibility because you were put in the board to safeguard the interest of the company and shareholders, and you cannot be using shareholders money to propagate your belief in religion.
The following image from a Bloomberg story about the Singh brothers' downfall illustrates what Gupta was getting at.
Note that the four arrows on the right side of the illustration show investments and loans flowing to entities affiliated with the guru's family. The three cross-hatched arrows on the rightmost side are loans associated with the guru, which total 25 billion. I assume this is 25 billion rupees, which equal $357 million dollars.
So, yes, as I indicated in the interview, the guru is indeed acting as much or more like a businessman than a guru. And a rather shady businessman at that, given the revelations in both the Bloomberg story and other stories by Indian financial publications.
Gupta says (if I heard correctly) that he feels an audit should be conducted of RSSB finances. The other gentleman on the program wasn't confident this would happen, at least not anytime soon, given religious sensibilities in India.
Lastly, here's a comment that Spence Tepper, a frequent Church of the Churchless visitor, left on one of my posts a few days ago. I can't vouch for everything Tepper says in his comment, but it's a cogent general explanation of what is going on here. I've corrected a few misspellings.
Michael Cooke is Gurinder Singh Dhillon's lawyer. Baba Ji is another name for the guru, Gurinder Singh. Satsangi means an initiate of RSSB. Maharaj ji is a reference to Charan Singh, the guru prior to Gurinder Singh.
Dear Michael Cooke
Fraud is fraud.
The Singh brothers, along with Shabnam Singh Dillon (Baba Ji's wife) and Sunil Godhwani, engaged in purchasing companies on credit, then leveraging their projected valuation for loans used to buy more companies and land, making loan payments by shuffling loans, and giving loans to themselves that have yet to be repaid.
They overextended their credit speculating on the growing realty market, letting ambition cloud judgment.
I'm a devout Satsangi. And I love Baba Ji very much. And tonight I'm heartbroken, because I see it very clearly.
My meditation has sharpened my understanding, not dulled it.
So when the Singh brothers write that they wish to restore their pride, it's clear they haven't learned the lesson of humility. Their pride is the problem. Their intentions were fine: The ones they paraded about and believed to be true. Their hidden ambitions were their undoing.
They didn't come forth. They were exposed. Years of shuffling money, siphoning money has been exposed. I'm sure they meant well. But that's how corruption works, subtly. You find yourself hiding things you know are wrong rather than being honest and making them right.
Corruption has its hands untied when you stop listening to your own inner voice, when you stop meditating.
How do people skilled in hiding their actions repent and do the opposite?
By blaming other corrupt people? LOL!
No. Integrity doesn't work that way. They left the Path long ago.
Their crime wasn't a one-time thing. It happened over a series of decisions over at least two decades to cut corners to leverage growth, to grow assets at the expense of service and quality; grow personal wealth instead of solidify company and service performance, over and over, year over year.
The greatest investment fraud in India's history and the largest Food and Drug Administration penalty in the history of the United States both at the hands of the Singh brothers, under the tutelage of Gurinder's chosen mentor for them, Sunil, with the support of Gurinder's wife, Shabnam. Yes they all became famous. Infamous.
This shame will forever be connected to Baba Gurinder Singh Ji and Radha Soami Satsang Beas. If he wasn't famous before, he is now. And this will be something he will never be able to recover from. It serves no purpose to cheat, nor to allow that to proliferate. No Saint has ever advocated any such behavior.
Michael, we don't need explanations / excuses. These guys who wanted fame got it. They are infamous, and now, so is the Master. Over one hundred years of toil; Jaimal Singh's careful and loving development of his beloved Sawan Singh and the foundation of the Dera; Sawan Singh's lifetime of devotion and toil to His master, to the colony and the disciples; Jagat Singh's life's work and love; Maharaji's decades of work and love, building free hospitals, giving his entire life, and all his time to the Sangat; all destroyed in a career tainted by ambition over land speculation.
We should have seen it coming when Baba Ji started acquiring lands all over the world. They were donations. What corruption could be connected to it?
But why build such large sites, built for a crowd that might only be seen once in many years, and which today, mostly sit empty?
But by linking RSSB investments to these various Religare companies, and those to Fortis and other larger acquisitions, the valuation of these donated lands became the paper collateral for an obscene number of unsupportable loans. The very largess of their value was the irresistible Tolkien's ring.
And then efforts to sell the lands to help pay back the loans were thwarted, because in India, donated land cannot readily be sold. And as land values softened, depts exploded, and bankruptcy abounds in truth, though not quite yet on paper.
Baba Ji knew better. Material wealth is meaningless. Sad beyond words.
Inner wealth, inner peace of mind is everything. When was the last time Baba Ji actually sat in meditation and submitted all this to Maharaji?
Divided interested, and lost focus. The sword has slipped from his hands.
The kingdom razed to the ground by the nefarious and secret actions of GurindEr's closest relatives, including his wife. His own ambition, taken to corrupt ends by those near him who loved him and were, in their eyes, emulating Him.
But not the Practice. And not the Truth of the Inner Realms and of the Spirit.
But that mantle will now be passed to someone else, whom life and nature has already been grooming for the purpose. Someone who values those things more than life itself.
I look forward to meeting them.