Chanda Kochhar has had a severe fall from grace. From an iconic leader, who gave new direction to ICICI Bank, she seemed to have come the full circle after the Bank’s board decision to terminate her services, claw back all incentives given to her since 2009 and cancel all the stock options granted to her which had yet not been vested! Awarded a Padma Bhushan, the highest civilian honour in 2011, the question is does she deserves the end that has been meted out to her by her institution that she served with so much distinction over the years?
Without going into the details of her illustrious career and her meteoritic rise as the head of the second largest bank of the country, which is a stuff folklores are made up of and which can be perused all over, including in Wikipedia on her, the question is when are we going to get over this patriarchal mindset? Her Board approved sanction of certain facilities to Videocon group, who also had some dealings with her husband! Chanda, in her lifetime, received several felicitations and earned substantial monies through salary, bonuses and stock options, the scale and extent of which could well be beyond the imagination of most of us! That she agreed to compromise her position and propriety for gain of few crores to her husband is hard to digest! The proposal for sanction of loan to Videocon came through proper channel after due assessment and was sanctioned by the Bank’s board after following the laid down process. Was any material information on the financial profile or dealings hidden from the Board and could be attributable directly to Chanda? Can it be conclusively proved that Deepak Kochhar brokered the deal for Videocon and got gratification or was that a separate unconnected deal between Deepak and Videocon?
It’s a matter of great worry and shame that women associated with business world in India continue to be treated at two extremes! On one hand, we have businessmen unabashedly using their wives’ for balance sheet and tax management, though women are blissfully unaware of all the consequences, putting their signatures on the dotted lines as directed by their husbands. On the other hand, highly independent, qualified and successful women like Chanda have to bear the brunt for alleged misdemeanours (alleged because still not conclusive) of their husbands!
Let the women lead lives of their own – whether home maker or professional- without compulsively or necessarily dragging them into acts of omission and commission of their husbands! After all, all that Chanda achieved over the years (academically, professionally and personally) cannot be slave to one act, proper or improper, by her husband. She deserves to be heard and given an opportunity to clarify her position before the world at large fixes its opinion on Chanda.