In the aftermath of Café Coffee Day founder V G Siddhartha’s death what refuses to go away is the abounding speculation over the trigger for his suicide. Was it the mountain of debt? Was it the taxman’s scrutiny that he was subject to? Was it his inability to cope with the stress of managing a big business empire and the bigger debt it inevitably involves? Or, was it a lethal combination of all three?
Whatever was the last straw that made Siddhartha take the extreme step and plunge to his death, there are good reasons for the government, the business community and other interested sections to know, understand and draw the correct conclusions. Doubtless, there would be lessons, too, to be learnt.
At the same time, to pick on particular officials and question them for the harassment alleged by Siddhartha would be unfair. There is no case whatsoever for such a course of action. In such cases, officials, particularly tax and enforcement officials, are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. Diligently doing their duty risks the charge of harassment. Failure to go by the book can invite accusations of negligence or favouritism. And, it is easy to make a scapegoat of an official especially if the political class wants to.
Precisely for that reason, the political class must desist from giving in to the temptation of picking on an official unless there is direct culpability with proof of personal enmity or vendetta. In the absence of these, questioning an official for “harassment” in the vague sense would be a fishing expedition.
Therein lies a lesson for government officials: to discharge their duty, at all times, without fear or favour and shun political bias, influence or instruction.
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