The Strange, True Story of How a Chairman at McKinsey Made Millions of Dollars off His Maid

Nilita Vachani in The Nation:

Manju_das_close-up_otu_imgDas’s daughter-in-law hadn’t produced her own milk and the newborn had to be bottle-fed. The cost of Nestle’s formula had eaten into the money kept aside for the daily help who worked at the shack, so they had to let him go. Then the baby got dysentery and almost died. She was kept in the hospital on a drip for a week, and their savings went into “the bottles of life,” Das said, that were injected into her veins.

In their broadest contours, none of these struggles make Das’s story remarkable. Das is one of India’s 250 million poor, surviving on less than $1.90 a day, the international benchmark that defines extreme poverty. She lives life on the edge, without a safety net. But Das might have enjoyed a different fate. Not so long ago, she was a millionaire. And not the slumdog kind that’s the stuff of fiction. Until recently, she held subscriptions in the Galleon Group’s Captain’s fund and Buccaneer offshore fund in the Bermudas, and in Ambit in the Marshall Islands. From roughly 2003 till 2009, hundreds of thousands of dollars were deposited each year in her name. Quite possibly, Manju Das was once the richest housemaid in the world.

More here. [Thanks to Shan Manikkalingam.]