What lies beneath
Shantanu Guha Ray’s new book walks the razor’s edge as it digs up dirt on a ‘corporate chakravyuh’
EVEN as the name Jignesh Shah continues to remain tainted with the NSEL (National Spot Exchange Ltd) scam of 2013, investigative journalist-turned-author Shantanu Guha Ray’s new book, The Target, takes on the task of telling the untold side of it all. The premise of the book, as the author candidly states, is “the fact that Jignesh Shah was grievously wronged”. Shah, the then chairman of Financial Technologies India Ltd (FTIL), NSEL’s parent company, was jailed for having defaulted nearly 13,000 so-called investors of a total sum of R5,600 crore. While the charges against him are yet to be proven in court, Ray, in his book has attempted to probe the motives of those who, according to him, drove Shah out of the exchange business.
The tagline under the title of the book reads, “The decimation of Jignesh Shah’s global empire. How he broke the market monopoly and the price he paid”. It appears, though, that Shah wasn’t the only one to have paid the price. Ray had to face a number of roadblocks, in getting the book published. “The publisher I was in talks with had initially agreed to, but developed cold feet at the last minute. Mine was also a leading publishing house, whose lawyers advised them against publishing the book, as they found it accusatory. I told them I have evidence to back my claims, but they were not convinced. They did not want to be in a situation where they would have to fight a very expensive legal battle.” So, Ray went ahead and self-published the book. He, however, landed on Shah’s story “by fluke”. The journalist had worked on a cover story for a publication titled India Legal, whose editor asked him to probe Shah’s case. “He said that a significant section of the media was painting him as villain. As journalists, our job is to peel the onion.”
When Ray came to Mumbai, he had no luck meeting Shah. But, during his research, he spoke to people from Shah’s office and the jail officials where he was imprisoned. Ray minces no words in his book as he goes on to connect the dots and point fingers at the then finance ministry of the UPA government that, he alleges, conspired Shah’s downfall. “That’s why I have called the book The Target. I believe he was made the target of a corporate chakravyuh, just like Ayn Rand’s John Galt — the protagonist of Atlas Shrugged — who dared to challenge the establishment,” says Ray. The author is aware of the niche appeal of the book, considering the story is set against the backdrop of the markets. “It is a heavy-duty subject, but I have tried to humanise the story as much as I could.”
Ray, who has previously authored two books set in the cricketing world — Mahi: The Story of India’s Most Successful Captain, and Fixed! Cash And Corruption in Cricket — says that he has a knack for scratching under the surface. “I see no point in penning anthologies. My next is about India’s nine unsolved murder cases and is titled Found Dead. As an author, I use the same technique and methods as that of a journalist. In the end, it’s all about telling a good story.”
‘I believe he [Jignesh Shah] was made the target of a corporate chakravyuh, just like Ayn Rand’s John Galt of Atlas Shrugged’
Shantanu Guha Ray has accused the finance ministry of the UPA government for conspiring Jignesh Shah’s downfall