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Lalit Modi admits closeness to Sushma, Vasundhara
IPL's controversial former chief Lalit Modi on Tuesday admitted close relations with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and said he has been "over criticised" and "taken to task" by the former UPA government.
"At the end I have done nothing wrong. I've gone by book... I have been over criticised, have been taken to task by the (UPA) government for no reason for all," he said in an interview to India Today TV.
"The entire UPA government was against me," he said.
Modi added that former finance minister P. Chidambaram tried to deport him to India.
He challenged the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to prove charges against him and said "Swarajs" have been his friends for over 20 years, and that Vasundhara Raje is a "family friend".
Asked if he was cool about External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj possibly losing her job because of her support to him, he said: "I am not perfectly cool and calm about someone doing an honest losing their job. (Shashi) Tharoor lost job because he lied. He lied he had nothing to do with the Kochi team..."
He said he sought help from Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje so that he could be with his ailing wife, and admitted making call to Sushma Swaraj.
He said he could have given up his right as Indian citizen and taken another citizenship but he did not do so because he wanted to prove that his passport was taken wrongly.
Modi also said Sushma Swaraj's daughter Bansuri has been his lawyer for four years.
"I am close to a lot of politicians," he added.
"Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel also helped me with travel papers... Rajiv Shukla also helped me with travel documents," he said.


Toyota Must Come Clear
The car major is a victim of workshop gossip over the issue of airbags
Toyota is facing global queries on the issue of faulty airbags supplied by Takata Corp, manufacturers of safety devices, including seat belts, for major car companies across the world who constitute its consumers. Toyota is taking rapid action all over the world to fix the issue. Here, in India, the news is that the manufacturers are still ‘considering’ what action needs to be taken, beyond some small gestures here and there. ‘Voluntary recall’ of safety feature is seen as a big favour to customers and diluting the message is par for the course. (According to news reports, airbag inflators made by Takata are exploding with too much force and government officials and regulators in many countries, including the US, are investigating.)
What’s even worse is the disinformation campaign being spread: genteel queries with taxi-operators, on the airbag recall issue, reveal that most taxi-operators don’t have airbags even in their top-end cabs and, if they do, very often, these airbags have either been de-activated or have simply never been tested. In one case—and I am talking about one of the oldest cab companies going—the middle-level staff told me that they stay clear of the issue of airbags as it makes drivers careless.
Another rumour, which has gained mileage, is that replacing airbags will reduce fuel efficiency of larger vehicles. I have no idea how these things start; but can only assume that this is workshop gossip. The message is everything—one would have expected Toyota to have issued full advisories on the subject of safety.

Different Approaches


On the subject of safety and cars, one manufacturer, which does not appear to be diluting any global standards as far as safety is concerned, is Volvo cars. Here, I must point out that this is totally different from the approach taken by Volvo heavy vehicles, buses and trucks, which have permitted major changes, especially to their buses, to ‘adapt’ to Indian standards.
Volvo buses appear to have bowed to market forces by permitting buyers to build ‘sleeper’ coach configurations which would not pass muster in most other countries. Even China has stopped registering fresh sleeper bus coaches on safety grounds. But, in India, this risky approach continues unfettered.
Volvo cars, on the other hand, simply do not permit any flexibility with safety on cars sold in India. This is unlike most other manufacturers who smartly delete safety features, passive as well as active, without really letting customers know.
If you care for safety and are spending good money on your car, the simple question you should ask the seller of the car is whether the piece you are getting in India is exactly the same as what is sold in the manufacturer’s home country or in, say, the United Kingdom. And take that answer in writing. You will be surprised.

Tough Task

In summers, when manufacturers choose to throw press conferences, getting hold of the motoring media willing to come to an air-conditioned hotel for a mediocre meal and to meet even more mediocre middle-management-level people is a tough task assigned to public relations (PR) entities. One such PR agency, obviously, couldn’t gather enough headcount for a Monday afternoon press conference in heat wave wrapped New Delhi. Come Sunday, then, the barrage of plaintive emails and messages started flowing in—it will be followed by lunch, can I send you a taxi?
Just to see how far they would go, I asked them if they could specifically send me a high-end SUV, made by a global rival, as a taxi to pick me up and then drop me back after the event. As I type this out, I am told they are working on it and will revert. Such is the reality behind ‘exclusive’ press conferences too! 
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.)



Kiran Chitnis

2 years ago

Agree on the sleeper coach configuration bit. While at that, shouldn't buses by TATA, AL and Eicher built on a truck chassis be stopped as well?


Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Kiran Chitnis 2 years ago

There is a cost-benefit issue here too - ladder (truck) chassis with bolt on bus bodies do have their role, especially on the back-roads.

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