1. A business story with an overriding complex human element: Rarely in India do business news stories acquire a strong, dramatic/tragic core. Siddhartha’s purported letter says, and hints at, business difficulties, possibly including personal financial obligations, were a motivating factor. This should be contrasted with dozens of other cases where noted businessmen have faced huge debts, defaults, loss of ownership and attracted savage newspaper deadlines. No one in these cases disappeared leaving a ‘goodbye’ note. Indeed, in most of these other cases, the news story remained confined to business/financial arcana – debt levels, insolvency procedures, investigative action. Vijay Mallya’s and Nirav Modi’s examples are different. They just upped and fled. Ramalinga Raju went to jail – plain and simple. In Siddhartha’s story, the business arcana will be hugely important, but as will be how the current mystery evolves. What led such a until-recently celebrated entrepreneur, married into a prominent political family to do what he did, leaving his management, employees, many well-known friends and family in shock – that’s at the core a complex human story, a story of how a person who’s confidently walked the corridors of business and finance finds himself in a state of mind that the purported letter suggests he did.
2. Both the bright and dark sides of this story have huge connect: Siddhartha got so much good press for years for a good reason: in the stuffy business culture of this country, he got the ‘Starbucks’ culture to urban Indians much before anyone in Starbucks thought about India. CCD will figure prominently in any list of new entrepreneurial ventures that reshaped India’s business culture. As some have already said he got a largely tea-drinking India get a taste for coffee. CCD has far more connect with urban India than most new business ventures, and to that extent the bright side of Siddhartha’s story is something millions of urban Indians relate to. They can also relate to the dark side. For no matter the complicated business/financial transactions and/or liabilities backgrounding the story, the decision by a privileged, seemingly successful and very wealthy urban Indian to leave a ‘goodbye’ note and disappear is a dramatic negation of life’s certainties that makes everyone think. Indeed, the fact that the purported letter mentions a private equity firm, a lender and a senior tax officer lifts these entities/individuals out of their usual habitat of finance and policy to a broader and easily relatable story.
So, however the story of VG Siddhartha pans out, it will be that rare story of a businessman that’s so much more than a business story.
The VG Siddhartha mystery: A businessman’s story that’s so much more than a business story – Economic Times