Baba saga on the bourse: The curious case of an NSE ex-chief and her ties with a faceless yogi

A so-called spiritual baba pulls India down with his faceless presence, and yet it is absolute silence up there!

India’s largest bourse was run by a Himalayan yogi with no physical coordinates, whatsoever! Sounds funny, but it is much more than just a joke. It, in fact, is a matter that could make India a laughing stock in front of the world.

The story has Chitra Ramakrishna, the former Managing Director and CEO of India’s largest stock exchange National Stock Exchange (NSE), at the centre of the controversy.  NSE’s former boss, who had to quit in 2016 after she ran the high-profile bourse as per the instruction of a faceless spiritual ‘baba’, has virtually put the nation to shame.

Chitra Ramakrishna had allegedly shared confidential information with this godman. She even carried out critical decisions including top appointments under the instruction of this so-called yogi. It may be recalled that Chitra Ramakrishna was in the top seat at the NSE between 2013 and 2016, before quitting the position citing personal reasons. Revelations that she had shared with the ‘baba’ crucial info about the bourse’s day-to-day functioning, including financial projections, business plans and board agenda, have baffled not just the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), but the whole nation. The shame would even spill out on to international terrain, making India a laughing stock.

What has the Union government done about it is a question that is doing the rounds at the moment. In fact, nothing! While Sebi calls Chitra Ramakrishna’s actions nothing but “bizarre misconduct” and a “glaring breach” of regulations, one would expect a statement that has clarity and action from the Prime Minister or the Finance Minister.  

Sebi has only slapped penalties on Chitra Ramakrishna and other NSE top executives, stating that sharing of financial details and business plans of the NSE “could shake the very foundations of the stock exchange. The government at the Centre, in the meantime, is not shaken a bit, at least till a moment ago.

Chitra Ramakrishna and her Himalayan baba

A so-called baba running the exchange making use of Chitra Ramakrishna’s servile attitude isn’t a small error that needs to be forgiven. She had even made crucial appointments that proved to be a bane for the exchange as a whole. And no one bothered! Anand Subramanian, who was appointed and promoted as group operating officer (GOO) by Chitra Ramkrishna, had been having a free run and he had been promoted without any performance evaluation.

Going by Chitra Ramakrishna’s words, the information was shared with a person who was “spiritual in nature” and that did not compromise confidentiality or integrity! Such arrogance and irresponsible attitude coming from the boss of the country’s prestigious stock exchange calls for severe punishment. Interacting and abiding by the diktats of someone who she calls a “spiritual force that could manifest itself anywhere it wanted and did not have any physical or locational co-ordinates and largely dwelt in the Himalayan range” is a shame on the country’s forward looking minds and system as a whole. But then, the country’s top brass, who are accountable to the people of India, are sitting put, not knowing or not willing to act. What a shame!

Post-forensic analysis of the NSE ex-chief’s computer, and CBI raids and what not, the debate on why Chitra Ramakrishna had a free run in a system that is closely monitored by the nation’s powerful agencies and the government refuses to die down.

A top official of a top institution repeatedly saying that the so-called baba manifests at will and that’s she sought his guidance whenever she felt the need, leaves the nation flummoxed.  He even had an email id on which Chitra Ramakrishna sent her requests and received advice on how to run the exchange!

All said, Chitra Ramakrishna is in for some serious criminal probe. It has also become imperative that an investigation be launched on the role of NSE so as to unearth the reasons to why she was allowed to resign and leave honourably. The NSE board was in the know on the email exchanges between Chitra Ramakrishna and her Himalayan baba, but that hasn’t been investigated as yet.

NSE baba saga India reduced to laughing stock

Though the PM or the FM haven’t spoken much, the Opposition Congress is making the most of the opportunity. Asking what the Sebi had been doing when scandalous facts were reported and why the case was not transferred to investigating agencies, the Congress has lashed out against the Prime Minister and Finance Minister’s silence on the whole issue.

As the party points out, the state of affairs at the largest derivatives exchange in the world is at a new low. An unknown Himalayan conman allowed to call the shots at the National Stock Exchange has taken the whole nation to a fresh low. And, it needs some serious investigation.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »
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