For years, the brilliant, elegant Chitra Ramkrishna, and her wary, calculating boss, Ravi Narain, a consummate networker, were the czars of the Indian stock market. On a long rope from bureaucrats and the finance ministry, they ran the largest bourse, National Stock Exchange (NSE), with absolute control – crushing rivals, stifling dissent and influencing policies of the market regulator Sebi. A near monopoly with overflowing coffers, NSE, a closely held company, positioned itself as a national public institution that was virtually beyond reproach.

With foreign investors betting more and more on the India story, NSE’s size and clout grew rapidly. Shareholders lapped up dividends, somnolent directors and loyalist lieutenants endorsed every decision, and Chitra (CEO) and Ravi (former CEO and later VC) were the toast of Corporate India.

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