Public Interest   Exclusive
Bloomsbury withdraws 'The Descent of Air India', with an apology to Praful Patel!

Bloomsbury withdraws all copies of Jitender Bhargava's book that chronicles the fall of Air India and tenders an apology to former aviation minister Praful Patel, even as the author has refused to back down and avers that whatever he wrote was factual

In a sudden and shocking incident, Bloomsbury Publishing India Pvt Ltd has withdrawn Jitender Bhargava's 'The Descent of Air India' with an apology to Praful Patel, the leader of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and union minister. In his book, Mr Bhargava detailed all the people, including Patel and events that led to Air India's downfall. But Mr Bhargava is not planning to take it lying down. In his post of facebook, he has made it very clear that he does not agree with the publisher's stand and will stand by his charges recorded in the book.  Here is what he says in his facebook post:

 

"This decision of Bloomsbury was unilateral, and without discussing with me, as an author. Their stand thus naturally came to me as a surprise. And it may surprise you too when you see the apology of Bloomsbury published in the newspapers," said Jitender Bhargava in an email.

 

According to Mr Bhargava, after the book, 'The Descent of Air India' was formally released on 11 October 2013 in Delhi attempts were made by Praful Patel to obstruct its distribution. "Besides ensuring that the books were not sold at airport book stores (he still appears to wield clout with airport operators) had TV channels to drop scheduled programmes relating to the book - in the case of one news channel even after the interview had been recorded; he served a legal notice, alleging that the book contents were defamatory," says Mr Bhagava.

 

"He (Patel) filed a case in the court of the metropolitan magistrate, Mumbai. While I told the judge on 6 January 2014 that everything stated in the book about Praful Patel is true, backed by documented evidence and will be duly justified and contested in the honourable court, the publishers, Bloomsbury, on whom also the notice was served, decided on not pursuing it, and instead agreeing to offer an apology to Praful Patel," Mr Bhargava said.

 

Earlier, in November, Moneylife Foundation organised an event in Mumbai where Dr Subramanian Swamy, former minister of commerce and law launched the book. On the decline of Air India, Dr Swamy highlighted a few reasons: harmful bilateral agreements, all profitable routes of the airlines were shutdown and made available to other airlines. He also mentioned that the airline bought aeroplanes that were probably overpriced and recently they sold these brand new planes as junk to Etihad, at one-third of the buying price.

 

Mr Bhargava, who was the executive director of the airlines till January 2010, mentioned that every decision was being taken by the government as Air India never had a culture of speaking up. Those who voiced their opinion were asked to leave. Instead of implementing decisions that should have been taken, the airline was bleeding because of decisions that should not have been taken. Impractical expansion plans and thoughtless use of the airline's resources contributed to the national carrier's collapse.

 

Highlighting one such instance in his book, Mr Bhargava wrote that when India won the T20 cricket world championship, Praful Patel, former aviation minister who oversaw the airlines for some seven years, awarded the entire Indian Team and their families’ free tickets on Air India for five years. The loss making airlines was also made to spend Rs3.5 crore on advertisements to celebrate the T20 win. A media house, for its annual summit, was given Rs30 lakh verbal commitment of free tickets from Air India, again by Praful Patel, in return for publicity! This oral commitment too was honoured since it was made by the minister.

 

Mr Bhargava also explains how the airline reached a point of no return under chairman V Thulasidas who acted as ‘His Master’s Voice’ to minister Praful Patel who seemed bent on decimating the airline. The story is important for all concerned citizens, at a time when opposition to privatisation is based on false romanticism about it being a national carrier. Politicians will continue to plunder the airline as long as it remains under State (minister’s) control.

 

Speaking about the publisher’s decision to withdraw the book, Mr Bhargava said, "As everything stated in the book is true, based on documents, I will have the book, 'The Descent of Air India' reprinted either on my own or through a new publisher. Simultaneous action is being initiated to bring out ' The Descent of Air India', as an e-book. I am told this can take up to four-five weeks. I will be back soon because neither can I be bulldozed into submission nor can facts be allowed to be suppressed."

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    COMMENTS

    Manish

    6 years ago

    A blogger has written a brilliant article chronicling Air Indias descent and ascent of another private airline : Must read : http://kaipullai.com/2011/11/28/the-curi...

    Dr Paresh Vaidya

    6 years ago

    Mr Praful Patel could have given his version of facts rather than chasing the book.

    KARTAR SAINANI

    6 years ago

    More power to Mr Bhargav & Moneylife.

    True Indian

    6 years ago

    Patel had surely pressurized the publishers.I suggest mR bhargava to make it ebook for free download on internet so that every one will read it.
    Nextly he should demand AAP's ticket against Patel from Gondia(patel's constituency).

    I will request AAP to raise voice against Patel

    REPLY

    MOHAN

    In Reply to True Indian 6 years ago

    Why should Mr. Bhargava join the "Aamwadi" Party, the motley crowd of disgruntled ex-communists, Marxists and Maoists ?

    Abhijit Gosavi

    In Reply to MOHAN 6 years ago

    :) I agree, AAP doesn't need Mr. Bhargava. I think they need Shobhaaaaa De ;) Their "culture" minister is in trouble anyway.

    Ravindra

    6 years ago

    It is a pity that Bloomsberg fell to the pressure tactic of Praful Patel and his Foreign supporters. In fact not only Praful Patel but most of the NCP Leaders are involved in the loot of their respective fields of operations, inside or outside their areas of operations.

    S P D Sudhakar

    6 years ago

    I support the book "The descent of Air India" which is based on facts.The withdrawal of the publisher Bloom's Burry is nothing but arm twisting tactics of political bigwigs to supress the facts. It is surprising that all the government agencies like CAG/CVC/CBI are silent and spine less on the issues raised in the book not making any effort to enquire into the issues raised in the book. Air Corporation's Employees union which has called for two conventions and raised these issues before various Central Trade unions , Parliament members were made scape goat by terminating the top leadership around 42 employees to cover up the meisdeeds of the Minister and top management.Sudhakar S P D, Regional Secretary,Air Corporations Employees Union, Hyd Region.

    Veeresh Malik

    6 years ago

    A comment on my FB pages by an inter-actor there about this article . . . "India is ALREADY a superpower! After the conquest of the International Cricket Board by Sharad, the protege Praful gets an International chain to withdraw a book with an apology to boot! "

    Saarcastic, no doubt, but apt too.

    We are the superpower of self-destruction, it seems.

    SuchindranathAiyerS

    6 years ago

    The long hand of Khangress Sibalism! But Praful will escape. As will every Indian Neta-Babu a la Bofors, Bhopal and Adarsh. India is made for criminals to rule in comfort and with impunity. Rahul Baba has meekly acquiesced to Digvijaya's proteges Roshan Baig and Shiva Kumar being included in the Karnataka Cabinet and has agreed to obey "the elders". Withe threat of AAP being smothered under the weight of the unseemly haste and ambition of every opportunist clambering on board to push their personal agendas, Its back to crime and corruption as usual! As Shinde puts it. aptly in an India made to be raped, looted and plundered, "This too will be forgotten".

    shadi katyal

    6 years ago

    It is rather very surprising to
    read the power of a politician in India that even a publisher has withdrawn the book. What a shame .we claim freedom of speech but this sound more like KGB. Is the former minister not happy after all the loot he accumulated during AIR INDIA purchase of new planes.
    WHY IS BOTH PRESS AND TV MEDIA QUITE.
    It is true that most of Indian newspapers will not let you publish anything which might cause loss of Tender publications revenue and thus people are kept ignorant.
    We thank this paper at least not being dependent on GOI revenue has freedom of speech.

    Amith

    6 years ago

    Streisand effect, just ordered the book on amazon.

    REPLY

    Suresh Prabhu

    In Reply to Amith 6 years ago

    Just a few copies available with Amazon. I bought one today.

    Abhijit Gosavi

    6 years ago

    Wow! This is an international publisher! And yet it can be pressurized? Tells you how much money some people have made from "serving people."

    rajivahuja

    6 years ago

    Money Life has highlighted the Minister's role in the descent of Air India.

    DEEPAK KHEMANI

    6 years ago

    The power of politicians!

    Suresh Prabhu

    6 years ago

    While people at large have a idea about the downfall of AIR INDIA , this article is expected to throw more light. Will look forward to read this book.

    Suresh Prabhu

    6 years ago

    While people at large have a idea about the downfall of AIR INDIA , this article is expected to throw more light. Will look forward to read this book.

    Milind Deora takes up Mumbai rail issues with Kharge

    The Mumbai MP has sought urgent intervention of the railway minister to reduce the gap between platforms and trains and also made available ambulances at all suburban railway stations

    Milind Deora, union minister of state for Communications, IT & Shipping, and member of Parliament (MP) from Mumbai South constituency has taken up the suburban rail commuters' issues with the railway minister. This follows a memorandum from Moneylife Foundation and Samir Zaveri Railway Helpline on behalf of Mumbaikars to the MP urging his urgent intervention in stopping deaths on Mumbai rail tracks due to the wide gap between platforms and trains.

     

    Deora, in a letter written to Mallikarjun Kharge has requested the railway minister to initiate strong measures to ensure passenger travel safety in Mumbai. He urged the minister to take following steps to prevent rail accidents like the recent one where one young girl lost both her arms after falling through the wide gap between platform and local train at Ghatkopar station in Mumbai.

     

    1. An ambulance should be made readily available at all stations along with first-aid kits so that the injured persons can be attended to immediately and rushed to nearby hospital, if needed.

    2. Bridging the gap between the platform and the train should be expedited.

    3. Emergency medical rooms should be made available at all suburban stations to treat injured persons, as ordered by the Bombay High Court.

    4. In case of emergencies and accidents, there should be a mechanism in place where primacy is given to saving lives of accident victims by providing them necessary medical attention without delay. It has been observed that the officials tend to give more attention to paper work than saving the precious life.

     

    Moneylife Foundation , Samir Zaveri Railway Helpline  as well as Coalition of Safe Rail Travel have been pushing for the raising of platforms for over a year. Samir Zaveri has taken up all these issues for several years now. He has even got the Courts to issue orders to Railway officials on these issues, however so far there is not much response from them.

     

    Adv Bapoo Malcolm, who is a part of Moneylife group, managed to get the railway authorities to raise platform height at Grant Road station on a priority basis by filing a complaint and following it up. RTI activist Gaurang Damani, has successfully tried to close the railway track with a boundary wall with the help of certain efficient rail officials.

     

    Here are more specific articles from DNA newspaper on the wide gap between train and platforms across Mumbai suburban network. 1. Mumbai: Hop on to lifeline, with care http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-mumbai-hop-on-to-lifeline-with-care-1946601 and 2. Mumbai local: Central Railway platforms provide height of horror http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-mumbai-local-cental-railway-platforms-provide-height-of-horror-1947035

     

    Here is the memorandum sent by Moneylife Foundation and Samir Zaveri Railway Helpline to Milind Deora…
     

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    COMMENTS

    Simple Indian

    6 years ago

    These are petty issues compared to the abysmal quality of travel in suburban sections in Mumbai. It is a miracle how more people don't have accidents, with many forced to travel dangerously on train-tops risking life and limb. What has Railways done for easing the overcrowding problem plaguing the Mumbai Suburban Railways in all three sections - Western, Central, and Harbour lines ? The root cause of majority of rail accidents is overcrowding.

    Ramesh Iyer

    6 years ago

    It is strange no Railway Minister, or MP of Mumbai ever addresses the root cause of most accidents and deaths on railway tracks in Mumbai - overcrowding of trains. In fact, those who travel by suburban trains, particularly by Western and Central line would know that "overcrowding" would be a gross understatement.
    Moreover, it takes ages for the Railways to do any major work to ease traffic on suburban routes. Though Navi Mumbai was supposed to be developed by CIDCO in the 1980s-90s to decongest Mumbai, the builders' lobby successfully scuttled that long-term alternative for their own vested interests. Not sure why only Harbour line doesn't have fast trains like the Western and Central Lines do. The new International Airport in Panvel, when it becomes operational, will likely move many businesses to that part of Navi Mumbai and put greater strain on the already constrained Harbour Line. Wish our politicians and town planners had the vision to cater to future population explosion, not just current demands.

    CAG says MNREGA execution delay cost Maharashtra Rs80 crore

    The CAG said Maharashtra undertook projects that were not permissible under the MNREGA while delays in execution cost the state over Rs80 crore

    Irregular expenditure and delay in execution of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREGA) scheme in Maharashtra cost the state exchequer Rs81.47 crore.

     

    According to the annual report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), works not permissible under the scheme were undertaken leading to irregular expenditure of Rs47.19 crore while due to delay in execution of work, a number of works were abandoned leading to another unfruitful expenditure of Rs34.28 crore.

     

    The annual CAG report tabled in December said, project completion report was not accompanied by report of Vigilance and Monitoring Committee or photographs of completed work.

     

    The CAG said there were delays in payment of wages and unemployment allowance. Also, differential in wages due to revision in wage rates too remained unpaid.

     

    There were shortfalls in verifications and inspection works and conducting of social audit. The management information system database did not provide an assurance on its reliability, the report added.

     

    The implementation of MGNREGA in the state was 'deficient' as eight of the nine test-checked districts did not prepare the District Perspective Plans (DPP) to facilitate advance planning for effective implementation of the scheme.

     

    The annual development plans were also 'unrealistic' as the quantum of employment actually provided against the estimated demand was substantially down, the CAG noted.

     

    The CAG has also found that in the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, irregular price escalation amounting to Rs17.84 crore were allowed to contractors in respect of 61 works though none of the works were completed within the specified time limit in the contracts.

     

    Also, item rates were revised during execution, leading to an irregular payment to the tune of Rs92.43 lakh to the contractor, the report said.

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