Village Bikhandi, 25th Oct
It was one of the hottest days of the summer. Despite the blazing sun out there, villagers had lined up in front of the local dispensary for their medicines since 6 am. The supply usually came on the 1st of every month but this time it was different. Their patience gave way when till 3:00 PM, no supply came and then they called their Sarpanch.
‘Why are all of you standing outside? Is the dispensary not open today?’ the Sarpanch Mahabal Rane came limping on his stick.
‘No Bhaau, we are waiting since morning and no one knows about the medical supplies. My wife needs the medicine immediately Bhaau. Please help.’ one of the villagers said.
‘Where is the person in charge?’ he asked.
‘He is also standing outside with us. Even he doesn’t know anything.’
‘Please send him to me. Where is he?’ he asked again. The villagers beckoned to the person and introduced him to the Sarpanch again.
‘Namaste Bhaau. They haven’t sent the supply yet. I am trying to reach the company officials in Delhi, but they are saying that they haven’t got the order this time. Maybe, if you can talk to Ahaan Bhaau or his officials….’
‘Yes, why not. After all his company has adopted our village. They can not stop the supply. I will talk to him, don’t worry. Ask everyone to go home and come tomorrow again and at least dispense medicine to those who need it urgently. I will pay for it’, he said and took out his phone to see two other missed calls from his daughter-in-law. He called her first before calling anyone.
‘Yes bahu, what happened?’
‘Baau Ji, is there something going on in our village?’
‘Pintu’s School is not open today. There was a notice outside the gate that the school will remain closed for an indefinite period.’
Delhi: 27th Oct 2019
Dear Gauri, love of my life,
I love how you sit with me whenever I write to you.
‘Aww, here I come’
I guess this is the final letter before we finally meet.
Wait; let me read it to you what they wrote about our company in the newspaper two days back.
TELECOM BIGGIE ON FIRING SPREE. FUTURE LOOKS BLEAK.
“For the third consecutive day in a week, one of the biggest mobile manufacturing companies in the country, AG Telecom has fired 25 more employees. This takes the number of retrenched employees to 370. When everyone in the country including the tech-experts was considering it to be a part of some internal policy change, the situation seemed fishy when last evening another lot of 25 people lost their jobs. All eyes are on the latest news coming out from the main gate of the company with an expected protest from the employees left with no option. Speculations are that the company is going to be merged with some big company but then who other than AG Telecom has the potential to acquire the giant? Are these some indications of a foreign company trying to invest in? Mr Ahaan Gupte has been unavailable to answer the questions related to conjectures floating in the tech industry. The impact can be seen on the other telecom companies as well. Is it because of the anticipated market slow down or something bigger going on? “
Gauri, they want me to clear the situation. To be honest, I was expecting an article of that sort to be served with my morning tea. I was more worried about future events that would take place following the recent one. Two days were all I had to settle everything Gauri, just two days. Yesterday when I looked outside from my cabin window, the employees had gathered outside to protest. Imagine that Gauri!
I could vaguely remember my employees’ faces. You know Akriti informed me that we have a total strength of 1700 employees off and on the role. I mean, we had.
‘This Akriti is your assistant, right? Isn’t she worried about what’s going on around here?’
Hmm…, are you jealous Gauri? Okay, okay, I’m just kidding, my love. Akriti did ask what was troubling me. Poor soul. You know she is still working, and tomorrow is a big day for her as well. Let me show you one more article from yesterday’s newspaper. They have written about how I became what I am today. They have mentioned you as well.
MESSIAH OR JUST ANOTHER BUSINESSMAN?
“Everyone these days is talking about drastic changes happening in AG Telecom. The company which is undergoing turmoil is run by Mr Ahaan Gupte. The burning question on everyone’s mind is, just how exactly did he make it big? Let’s take a look.
Ahaan was a sharp kid in school. Hailing from a business class family, he always thought of starting his own business while growing up. At 17, he started working in a small tech company while pursuing his studies. Technology had been his forte all his life. He always wanted to start his own technology company. He switched multiple jobs, experienced various technologies and then finally he knew what he wanted to do.
At 27, Ms Gauri Karmakar came into his life. In one of his interviews, he said that he believed that Gauri was very lucky for him. He loved Gauri more than anything. Gauri’s dream was to help the poor and Ahaan lived the same dream along with her. Both wanted to do something for the society and then 9 years back, they founded AG telecom. The first two years proved to be extremely crucial for them. The product quality was poor and they were not giving enough margins. Forget fulfilling their dream, they couldn’t even show their balance sheets in positive.
The turning point came when Gauri was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. Her health deteriorated rapidly. Within 4 months, she passed away leaving Ahaan with a company, a dream, and no hope. Months passed and hope revived. With the sole motive of fulfilling Gauri’s dream, Ahaan started working again with the team. Together they designed a phone design that did wonders in the market. The business model was unique and one of its kind. AG telecom scaled dizzying heights.
Within a few years, the company achieved the year on year growth of 129%, the highest in the industry. He lived the dream and as a part of CSR activity, AG Telecom adopted one complete village in Maharashtra and started employing people from relatively poor backgrounds. Not just that, they started giving perks like no other company in the industry
From the ‘best company to work for’ to ‘Company who fired 90 employees in just 3 days’, the company has seen it all”
They still think that we will revive. They don’t know that it was not because of this business model, we could do all the wonders. We became the best selling phone in the Indian Subcontinent for other reasons. Our phone had almost all the smart features at one-fourth of the competitor’s price. The company grew tremendously well but no one could understand the strategy.
Gauri, No one knows that it was all about showing the false cost of raw materials and it was all planned. The small raw material providing companies were backed by big data analytics companies in the world. All this while, AG Telecom was only earning through the data that we have sold to these big telecom companies. All the data which we have gathered from the specially designed OS exclusively for their phones.
Every phone out there is an unauthorized data generating point producing data worth millions of dollars. The salaries, the CSR activities, and the materialistic growth were there because someone out there was buying all the data to utilize it in every possible way. I thought it was a win-win situation for all the stakeholders, but I was wrong Gauri. I was so wrong.
‘What about the people of Bikhandi? Haven’t they written anything about them?’
I wish they wouldn’t have written about them. But, this time they directly broadcasted from there yesterday. Let me show you that as well. I have watched it over 100 times since the initial broadcast.
Village Bikhandi: 26th Oct 2019
“It is day two from the village Bikhandi. The ignorant villagers don’t even know about when they became part of all this corporate tension. The truth is that no one has any idea about how their life will be upside down because some corporate has decided to move on from their responsibilities and without giving any valid reasoning. The village Bikhandi was adopted by the AG Telecom Pvt. Ltd to provide all the medicine and school funding three years back. The company grew and with them, the people of Bikhandi also prospered. Never did they know that their source of prosperity would become dysfunctional all of a sudden. The company fired some 90 employees in the last three days and now the impact can be seen on the beneficiaries here as well.
The people have gathered once again for their medical supplies, but as expected there is no sign or response from the company. If Mr Gupte is listening, this is our message to you.
Mr Gupte, you cannot be a Robinhood as per your convenience. You will be held fully responsible for whatever happens to the innocent people of Bikhandi. Reminder for you Mr Gupte, they are innocent but very agitated and the country will stand with them. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!!
This is Baljeet Singh from News7 with Cameraman Rajeev, Village Bikhandi”
Have you watched it along with me?
‘Yes, I did. The situation is worse, no?’
Yeah, I turned off the TV when I watched it. Gauri, who gives media, the right to pass judgement without knowing anything? Who made them in charge? I am not a Robinhood Gauri, am I?
‘Oh my darling, my heart bleeds for you.’
Anyway, Rane Ji called Akriti sometime back and I know she was feeling helpless as well. He only wanted to talk to me. She came to tell me. I had the gun out, Gauri. Oh Gauri, she saw me with it. I know that scared her. I could see it in her face so I pretended to be examining it hid the gun.
I spoke to him. He was very disappointed. He said that Bikhandi was my responsibility and I couldn’t leave them just hanging. He wanted to know if I was going to do anything or not as people were dying. What could I do Gauri? What could I say to him? I told him the reality. I told him that the company was shutting down. I couldn’t misguide him further, I just couldn’t. You Are the voice of my conscience and I know, you won’t allow it. But there is no other way out, my love. You know that, don’t you?
‘But they will only be unhappy when they will know how you helped them for these years. It’s better to come clean.’
I hope so. Akriti was so clueless when she saw me talking to Rane Ji. I asked her to leave me alone. I know she has questions, but I don’t have the answers to assuage her.
‘She interrupts too much, but she is a good girl.’
Tell me if I am doing this right or wrong?
‘You know what you are doing and your people will soon know that too. They will understand’
I am more worried about their lives. These employees will not get a job of this type. Think about their families, the people of Bikhandi. How will they manage?’
‘They have to manage. Remember, they will be most disappointed when they will know the source of happiness.’
Gauri, you know that all I wanted is to fulfil your dream, our dream. You know it, right?.
‘I know it, Ahaan, but not at this cost. They won’t share the pain you will suffer. This is the least they have to suffer so that the future will shine.’
I hope they forgive me
‘They will, eventually.’
I guess, this is it then. I hope, I am correcting all of what I did wrong and now you will meet me as you promised me. This is not the dream, I lived for.
I love you
AG TELECOM, 28th Oct 2019
In a shocking incident, famous business tycoon and Founder MD of AG Telecom Pvt. Ltd has been found dead in his office. He committed suicide last evening. According to sources, Ahaan had asked his assistant to not interrupt. She was there on the premises when Ahaan took the step. The news of his suicide has come with big revelations about AG Telecom. He has left a file with a lot of unsettling disclosures.
Before taking this step, Ahaan ceased all the operations of the company with immediate effects. The company has a market share of 70% as far as the smartphone market is considered. Further revelations say that the phones have a special operating system which gathers all the unauthorized data of every user. AG telecom used to sell those data to data analytics companies as its primary business, the information of which is present in this file. Considering it a good deed fulfilling many dreams, the company continued doing the same. Recently, the company got its biggest deal from a South Korean Data Analytics company. The process of data transmission from the company’s data repository was already done but later they got the information that the South Korean company will further sell-off these data to different companies and groups. Some of these groups provide intel to our neighbouring countries and money involved is further used for terror funding. Every phone out there in every hand from a small Rickshaw driver to the big government officials and is in a way is compromising the national security along with a crime of data breach. Every phone out there is a potential bomb. As per the knowledge, the complete data transfer to the South Korean conglomerate happened last week and as a policy, data cannot be manipulated for 7 days in a new data repository.
Mr Ahaan started dismantling the company’s operations exactly seven days ago, to save its employees, but we guess, this was his way of repenting for his sins; the price of which will be paid by his employees and the people of Bikhandi. As they say, a crime is a crime, but the realization is important.
Ahaan left with a suicide letter, two newspaper cuttings and a file with all the information. He was watching a video of Bikhandi village on loop.
This is Baljeet Singh from News7 with Cameraman Rajeev, Village Bikhandi”
Photo By: Pixabay
(This is an entry in ArttrA-4, a room8 writing game at ArtoonsInn. We’d much appreciate you rating the story and leaving a review in the comments.)