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Of ruthless social climbers and Indrani Mukerjea

By Shyamal Majumdar
August 28, 2015 15:40 IST
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There are many who don’t mind leaving more than claw marks on people around them in their march to the top, notes Shyamal  Majumdar

Pori Bora might have lacked the wealth and lineage to arrive at the so-called upper crust, but she obviously had one thing in abundance -- a naked ambition to become part of the swish set. That part of her character is evident from the name she gave to her human resource consultancy firm based in Kolkata. No one seems to have any idea about her qualifications to be an HR consultant or when she changed her name to Indrani, but that’s another story.

Mumbai Mirror quotes her friends to say that INX, the name of her HR firm, stood for ‘Indrani with the X-factor’. That was the time she, with two failed marriages and three children behind her, married Peter Mukerjea, then a hotshot CEO -- a man who was 17 years older than her. Five years after the marriage in 2002, the couple co-founded 9X Media.

Along the way, the woman who spent her growing-up years in a lower middle class colony in Guwahati, started dividing her time between a luxurious bungalow in Mumbai and another at Bristol in the United Kingdom and managed to get into the Wall Street Journal’s list of top 50 most influential women in business in 2008. Most of the details of her roller-coaster journey into high life is widely known now, thanks to the sensational murder of her daughter, Sheena Bora.

The final word has not been delivered yet on who committed the murder and much of it is still mostly what the Mumbai Police says are Indrani’s confessions, but the details are bizarre. For example, her current husband himself has said he had no clue that Sheena was her daughter as Indrani has all along said she is her sister. Indrani’s son also said in countless television interviews on Wednesday that he was introduced by his mother as her brother.

Psychologists have a name for such people -- ruthless social climbers who won’t mind leaving some claw marks on people around them in their relentless march to the top. But the moot point is that she belonged to the club of people, who are firm believers of the theory that every time you achieve a goal, you set your sights on the next one and try to achieve it, whatever it takes. Such personality types are also known as Machiavellian, in which the use of craft and deceit is placed way above morality.

They are not hard to find either. Next time you are in one of those countless cocktail parties, look out for those who come in designer labels from head to toe and start scanning the room for bigger fish even while chatting with you. They will do anything to make sure you know the cool, exclusive, elitist things they are doing.

An HR consultant says history is full of people who have done everything possible to rise to the top. Take Eva Peron, for example. Though the movie and the stage musical, Evita, paint a Cinderella story about the astonishing life of a girl from the most mundane of backgrounds, who became the first lady of Argentina, the real Eva Peron was something else. History tells us she, a second-rate radio actor, actually brokered her charms up the ranks to become the wife of Argentina’s dictator, Juan Peron, and was as corrupt, vengeful and power hungry as her husband.

In their book, The Social Climber’s Bible, Dirk Wittenborn and Jazz Johnson give valuable advice to spot social climbers. For example, if you are rich and famous enough, social climbers might try to get chummy with you by reminding you of some clever thing you did or said -- even if they are making it up on the spot. Even if you can’t remember when exactly you said or did such a clever thing, you won’t mind that little bit of flattery.

But here is a statutory warning: Your place under the sun isn’t guaranteed. For, the incorrigible social climber will always look for a wiser and better-connected mentor. Read this: “If Big Fish A can enable you to make a $100,000 profit, even bigger Big Fish B could help you net a million. In short, your beloved Mentor Big Fish will need to be upgraded about as often as the operating system on your Mac,” write Johnson and Wittenborn.

Siddharta Das, Sanjiv Khanna and Peter Mukerjea, Indrani’s first, second and third husband, respectively, have learnt it the hard way. The second gentleman on the list, who has been arrested on charges of being an accomplice in the murder, could brush up his knowledge about femme fatale -- a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her companions, often leading them into compromising, dangerous and deadly situations.

Photograph: Indrani Mukerjea/Facebook

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Shyamal Majumdar
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