Alas, poor Chanda Kochhar, who reluctantly resigned her office as managing director of ICICI Bank last October.
Yet there is some merit in the assertion that all too often, success doesn’t sit lightly on women who rise to high positions. They fall precipitously from grace because they easily succumb to the sins of hubris and impunity.
Prima facie the evidence against Kochhar, who attained iconic status when she was appointed chief executive of the blue-chip private sector ICICI Bank in 2009, is formidable. Within a day of the bank sanctioning a weighty loan of Rs.3,250 crore to Videocon Industries, Venugopal Dhoot, chairman of the company, paid a sum of Rs.64 crore into the bank account of Nupower Renewables Ltd, a company promoted and chaired by Deepak Kochhar, Chanda’s husband. Worse, by her own admission Chanda was a member of the committee of the bank which sanctioned the Videocon loan, although she says she abstained from voting in favour, a weak defence.
Undoubtedly the superstar status she acquired as CEO of the country’s arguably most profitable bank went to her head, prompting her to disregard the unwritten rule of uberrima fides which went with her office. But that’s not unusual for women in high office, who perhaps to demonstrate that they aren’t weak and vulnerable, transform into rude, arrogant and hard-as-nails medusas.
Several women CEOs including Naina Kidwai of the Hong Kong Bank who never returned calls or answered her email even as she recklessly encouraged the bank’s clients to make deposits in its Geneva branch; Vinita Bali, former CEO of Britannia Industries and Kiran Mazumdar of Biocon who unfriended your editor without rhyme or reason.
Therefore, even if one is a champion of gender egalitarianism, one can’t help experiencing a sense of schadenfreude when one or more of the monstrous regiment of women plunges from her high meridian into oblivion.