In many ways, Rajendra Singh Sethia, the world’s biggest bankrupt in the 1980s, long before the insolvency and bankruptcy code emerged in India or the US saw its share of Chapter 11 bankruptcies, represents the archetype of a Greek tragic hero.
The Nigeria and Sudan experience meant that the wheel of fortune had taken a dive, a death spiral which plunged him to depths of despair. Overnight, the king had become a pauper.
He lost his two-storeyed $225,000 ‘White House’ in Hendon, north London, he lost his three Rolls Royce, two Mercedes and even a Boeing 707. He lost his businesses in Nigeria and Sudan. His Holland hotel in mid-Manhattan, his tea company in India Jokai, and he lost his family (as some members chose to desert him). Yet karma, God and yoga kept him alive. Sethia is the same man who once paid $ 3.6 million for his Boeing aircraft and spent another $600,000 to install a boardroom, bedrooms, sauna and jacuzzi in the plane. The high-flier, who belongs to Sujjangarh, near Bikaner, became a Londoner after spending his childhood in Calcutta.
where his great grandparents moved to in the early 1900s and then onwards to London in the 1920s.
Here is the second part of an incredible tale where imponderables and vicissitudes have strewn an indefatigable Sethia’s path. He tells us about India and his interminable expedition to clear his name. He may have lost his hair, what is left is tied up in a pony tail, but not his mojo, the
moustache remains as fierce as ever, the Marwari in him defiant: