The nation bids farewell to VG Siddhartha
VG Siddhartha's last rites took place today. The nation has been shaken to the core by this terrible tragedy.
V.G. Siddhartha was a father, a husband, the founder of Cafe Coffee Day, the son in law of a former Karnataka Chief Minister, and so much more. He was a well-renowned businessman who was recently facing hard times and alleged harassment from income tax officials. He had gone missing from a bridge near Mangalore two days ago, and his body was found today in the Nethravathi river. His body was discovered by a trio of fishermen floating in the water at 6 AM, on Wednesday morning.
His last rites began today at 6.30 pm at his coffee estate in Chethanahalli.
Siddhartha held almost 33% of the shares in Coffee Day Enterprises, which is a holding company for several other businesses. The flagship brand under its ambit is the well-known Cafe Coffee Day, which has 1500 cafes across India, and is present in more than 200 cities internationally. In March, Siddhartha had begun liquidating his assets, by selling 20 per cent of his stake in tech company Mindtree Ltd to L&T.
On Monday, when he was first reported as missing, Coffee Day Enterprises wrote to the exchanges saying, "This is to inform you that, Mr. V G Siddhartha, Chairman an and Managing Director of Coffee Day Enterprises Limited has not been reachable since yesterday evening. We are taking the help of concerned authorities. Company is professionally managed and led by competent leadership team, which will ensure continuity of business. We will keep you posted as and when we receive further updates." Their shares instantly fell, by as much as 20 per cent, touching a 52 week low.
The Mangalore Commissioner of Police, Sandeep Patil, directed the police personnel to send the body to government-run Wenlock Hospital to conduct a post-mortem examination. “The body was found in Hoige Bazaar at 6am. We have also informed the matter to his family. The body has been sent to Wenlock Hospital for taking up formalities. We will continue the investigation,” he told reporters.
A letter, purportedly a suicide note and a final farewell from VG Siddhartha was found on Tuesday. The veracity of the letter has not yet been determined. Speculation is rife at the moment about his reasons to take his own life, as seems to be the case as of now. It is believed that he was under immense pressure from private equity partners and the Income Tax department. It was reported that nearly 76 per cent of the 54 per cent holdings held in Coffee Day Enterprises by the promoter group led by VG Siddhartha was pledged at the time of his death.
The nation has been shaken to the core by this terrible tragedy. Voices came to the fore from many quarters, condemning the economic ecosystem that pushes entrepreneurs to such lengths, and offering their condolences to his family.
Very sad to know about the unfortunate death of Shri. V G Siddhartha. His contribution to Karnataka & India through his entrepreneurship shall be an example & always be remembered.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) July 31, 2019
My deepest condolences to Shri. S M Krishna and family members & well-wishers of Siddhartha.
As is always the case, this tragedy was politicised as it was unfolding.
#VGSiddhartha case is very unfortunate.— Karnataka Congress (@INCKarnataka) July 31, 2019
Result of harassment by IT officials & decline of India’s entrepreneurial position turning virulent by the day, with Tax Terror & collapse of economy
Companies which flourished under UPA have been shut down with many people being jobless pic.twitter.com/rbwUymoM3B
All political parties made thier voices heard:
Opportunistic political vultures flocking in full force totally disconnected from the emotions of family members of #VGSiddhartha— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) July 31, 2019
Investigation will reveal the facts behind this tragic incident.
Until then respect the sentiment of masses & display some humanity if left with any https://t.co/X37Ef71jh9
People who had met him, and those who hadn't, people who were connected to him, and those who weren't, all made one thing clear: they felt his loss deeply.
So heartbreaking. Had met him a few times - an absolute gentleman. How can someone get pushed so far to the edge in business, that they decide to take a fall themselves. I will always see his legacy as a very successful entrepreneur who brought coffee in our lives. My prayers ???????? https://t.co/bXHh2vyKmW— Kunal Bahl (@1kunalbahl) July 30, 2019
I had known #VGSiddhartha personally and was always amazed at his energy and positivity. Distressed by his disappearance. He has been an inspiring entrepreneur and investor.— Sachin Bansal (@_sachinbansal) July 30, 2019
???? saddened beyond words. https://t.co/4N935t9OSs— Vijay Shekhar (@vijayshekhar) July 31, 2019
I can't stop replaying in my head the last conversation I had with V. G. Siddhartha on the flight to Udaipur; he was always smiling, humble & dignified. It’s an unimaginable loss for his family, friends & India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. #RIPSiddhartha; may God bless your soul.— Raghav Bahl (@Raghav_Bahl) July 31, 2019
Very sad day , salute his entrepreunership ..some of us were daydreaming that he may not have jumped off the bridge ...wish he had stayed alive to fight . My heart goes out to his family. May his soul RIP. https://t.co/ThU8hwzi3s— CP Gurnani (@C_P_Gurnani) July 31, 2019
Cafe Coffee Day Owner's Body Found By River 2 Days After He Went Missing - My deepest condolences to VG Siddhartha’s widow Malavika and his sons and to Shri & Smt SM Krishna and family. RIP https://t.co/DvP410pxTT— Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (@kiranshaw) July 31, 2019
Many used this opportunity to point out the systematic failures that led to a brilliant entrepreneur taking his own life:
I am indirectly related to VG Siddhartha. Excellent human and brilliant entrepreneur. I am devastated with the contents of his letter. The Govt Agencies and Banks can drive anyone to despair. See what they are doing to me despite offer of full repayment. Vicious and unrelenting.— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) July 30, 2019
I did not know him & have no knowledge of his financial circumstances. I only know that entrepreneurs must not allow business failure to destroy their self-esteem. That will bring about the death of entrepreneurship. https://t.co/H4ysr8Ov3U— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) July 30, 2019
And once again, this had its political arguments as well:
Few 'Bhakts' are quick to criticize opposition, for blaming ruling govt of favouring capitalists, as they feel Siddhartha's case disproves it.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) July 31, 2019
We blamed govt for favouring 'FEW' 'CRONY' capitalists.
Make it a level playing field for compassionate visionaries.
"Ease of Doing Business" under BJP translates into "Ease of Ending Business". The #VGSiddhartha tragedy reflects the worst of a broader, deeply worrying trend: https://t.co/9aeN6930Hk https://t.co/52ZmK3toDj— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) July 31, 2019
Many paid tribute to the light he shed upon the thousands he employed, and all the people he came across:
One fine legacy of #Siddhartha is that he ensured that every CCD outlet employed a large number of differently abled people. RIP— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) July 31, 2019
#VGSiddhartha a role model for all the young entrepreneurs, who was a helping hand for #startups ,gave a new life to coffee growing farmers, provided employment to lakhs of people is no more— Amod Sirsikar ???????? (@withAmod) July 31, 2019
We Kannadigs urge for a impartial&fair investigation against tax terrorism #RIPSiddhartha pic.twitter.com/SAWpitdEaX
To millenials like myself , CCD introduced the concept of networking over coffee,.— Pranitha Subhash (@pranitasubhash) July 31, 2019
A venture can fade away with time, but the legacy will be etched into history nonetheless.. #RIPSiddhartha
Om Shanti. ???????? pic.twitter.com/w54W0BsiGE
#VGSiddhartha introduced Karnataka's coffee to the whole of India. After helping thousands of families by creating jobs and creating a business that touched every single Indian deeply, he didn't deserve to go this way.— Roshan Baig (@rroshanbaig) July 31, 2019
My condolences to his family#RIPSiddhartha pic.twitter.com/KjyFwv0s45
In farewell, we echo this:
Today we remember the legend that inspired us all. Thank you Chairman VG Siddhartha for your vision, leadership and the great legacy. pic.twitter.com/tYMiglgofe— Cafe Coffee Day (@CafeCoffeeDay) July 31, 2019