13 March, 2010

repo 105

The internet is ablaze today with repo 105. Everyone is searching for it and twittering about it. "Repo 105" is one of the top 100 searched terms on Google today.
The world of high finance - with its exotic products - has to fall back upon simple lies to dress up its balance sheet. Lehman's financial pundits did basically this - 'sell' something toxic off their balance sheet every quarter with a guarantee to buy it back soon after. It appeared as a sale, when it was actually just parking. You had to do more and more of it every quarter. Oh yes and the CEO was not aware of it - not $50 billion worth of it.
Ernst and Young were ok with it - they reported for numbers till nov 2007 that the numbers were fairly presented inspite of whistle-blowing by an insider.

I would love to retain E&Y any time I need help with the HMRC. Oh yes and Linklaters as well.

Crooked E and PWC have company now. And given the similarity of events, this line will only grow longer.


I was a 20 year old bachelor. I lived in Mastichak,a village close to Seetalpur, just north of the Ganga. The independence movement was getting restless. So was I. Youth is a wonderful thing - it lets you dream and it makes you act. 
My father had died when my brothers and I were still young boys. Responsibility at a young age had made my elder brothers very cautious. They decided to get me married. They hoped that a new bride will calm me down and keep me at home. I got married to Ms. Rajkumari on May 6 1942. She was 18 years old. I remember this date because of the events which were about to happen.My wife thinks otherwise and is equally sure that we were married in June. After 68 years of being married, it is hard to remember.
On Aug 8th, Gandhiji had asked us to ' Do or Die'. The country shook into action. every day, we heard reports of arrests and torture. All Congress leaders were jailed. The movement however continued and gained in strength.
Kilometers of railway track was uprooted and laid waste. Telegraph and telephone lines were cut. In Ballia, a small town closeby in UP, the British administration was overthrown. The jail was broken into and everyone was released. A local leader called Pandeyji led the revolt at Balliia. 
There were rallies, sit-ins and speeches everyday. We hoisted the national flag on a police station. The district administration caught us in the act and we made a run for it. The DC was sympathetic. He ordered the police to fire in the air and not at us. There was a police investigation nonetheless and my house was visited a few times by white policemen. I went into hiding for a few weeks. My sister-in-law's husband went to jail during this period for some time. 
In 1947 my country was liberated. It was a humbling experience. We were elated but saw the horrors of partition.  I was at the Gandhi Maidan at Patna on Aug 15 1947. It was as if all of Patna was also there. The air rippled with excitement. We did not know what would happen next, but we were free.
I wanted to take part in the  first Congress session of free India. I took leave from the Chapra post office. My supervisor thought I was crazy as I was not even a member of the Congress then. I took a loan to pay for my travel. I boarded trains, buses and bullock carts and made my way to Jaipur. I was there. I saw everyone - 
Acharya Kriplani, Nehruji, Sitaramayya, CR, Azad, Patel. India seemed safe in the hands of these men. The crowd was even larger than Patna in 47. 
Now that I look back, I am amazed at the times I have lived through.
I did not go to jail pre-1947 because of which I was not able to claim being a freedom fighter. 
Had I been one, I would get free train tickets, which would make my wife happier. 
As narrated to me by my grand father who will turn 88 this year. 

Post script: My grand father passed away a year later. He was very happy when I wrote this out as a blog. He was quick to write out another story for me. I have that piece of paper with me. It is very precious. I only wish I had spoken more to him about his youth.