Reliance Sues authors of “Gas Wars – Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis”

A day after its launch in New Delhi, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has served a notice on the authors of "Gas Wars - Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis" as well as his co authors and distributors and even an individual from a media foundation who sent out invites to the launch function.

A day after its launch on Tuesday April 18th in New Delhi, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has served a notice on Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, lead author of "Gas Wars - Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis" as well as his co authors and distributors and even an individual from a media foundation who sent out invites to the launch function.

Mr Guha Thakurta and his co-authors Subir Ghosh and Jyotirmoy Chaudhuri have been accused of defaming RIL and its chairman Mukesh Ambani in the book, which chronicles the rise of the Ambanis through their quest for control over gas from the Godavari basin.

There are several interesting elements to this notice starting with the fact that the book has been self-published by the author, precisely in anticipation of such an action.

In the recent past, two books – Descent of Air India by Jitender Bhargava and another on the Sahara group were withdrawn by their publishers who succumbed to the pressure of defamation notices. Mr Guha Thakurta had the help of Authors Upfront in the editing and production of the book and an independent distributor -- Feel Books Pvt Ltd for distribution. They have been served notices too, along with global e-book distributors Flipkart and Amazon. All have been accused of a "common conspiracy" to defame Reliance for "personal gains".

Ironically, in the past few months, the Ambanis have been repeated attached by Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the Aam Admi Party on all television channels (including the TV-18 group which is owned and controlled by the Ambanis) without attracting legal action from Reliance. This, despite the fact that the reach of main stream media, especially television channels, is significantly greater and pithy defamatory statements do far more damage than a detailed, well-researched book, which the company refers to as a “pamphlet”.

The notice has asked for a recall and destruction of book already sold, stoppage of further sales, and an "unconditional public apology".  It has threatened "civil and/or criminal proceedings" in case of failure to comply.


The defamation notice is also curious for the following reasons. First, Gas Wars extensively quotes Reliance’s senior officials on all major charges. Secondly, it has collated large chunks of previously published work by journalists across the media spectrum, which did not attract charges of defamation when they were published. Thirdly, it has detailed segments on charges leveled by Anil Ambani during the bitter and truly nasty legal battles that were fought in the media and in court. Fourthly, there are charges leveled in cases that are even now filed in court by a set of former bureaucrats. Fifthly, the book includes and puts in perspective a damning report by the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) on hydrocarbon production sharing contracts, which indicated that Reliance had reaped massive profits because of various acts of commission and omission by various government officials.  Any charge of defamation would probably have to explain what is new and defamatory after eliminating all that is previously published without similar action.
Reacting to the notice, Mr Guha Thakurta and his co-authors have issued the following statement:

1. The book ‘GAS WARS’ has been "more than fair" providing version of events, circumstances and controversies based on research made from various public documents, opinion of individuals available in public and media reports.

2. The authors are exercising, being journalists, right to free expression enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.

3. This communication is without prejudice to the author, rights and privileges as per law. The notice is being reviewed by our legal experts and an appropriate response will be provided as per the legal process.

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COMMENTS

CHANDU CHARTIST

5 years ago

AMBANIS
HAVING A BAR CODE READING MACHINE WHICH READ TAG ON MOST LEADERS HAVING BUT FAIL IN CASE OF ARVIND KEJARIWAL BECAUSE HE HAS NO TAG FOR SELL

CHANDU CHARTIST

5 years ago

AMBANIS
HAVING A BAR CODE READING MACHINE WHICH READ TAG ON MOST LEADERS HAVING BUT FAIL IN CASE OF ARVIND KEJARIWAL BECAUSE HE HAS NO TAG FOR SELL

Peter Menon

5 years ago

Hang on a minute. In Crony Capitalism the Parties are equals and have a relatively similar share in the spoils, directly or indirectly. Ambani is "Baap Capitalism" with his humongous 56 MT refinery in Jamnagar, the Indian Petrochemical Industry revolves around RIL, no single governmental or business entity can make any petrochemical decision without involving RIL. The KG6 Gas is just a super dessert for after dinner :))

R Balakrishnan

5 years ago

Ab ki Baar Modi Sarkar. Ambani zindabad. Adani Zindabad

CHANDU CHARTIST

5 years ago

AMBANI ADANI ARE EXAMPLE OF CRONY CAPITALISM

CHANDU CHARTIST

5 years ago

AMBANI ADANI ARE EXAMPLE OF CRONY CAPITALISM

Wipro FY14 net profit up 17% on better margins

For FY14, Wipro reported 17% higher net profit on better margins in its IT services business

Wipro Ltd, India's third largest IT company, in FY14 posted 17% higher  consolidated net profit of Rs7,797 crore from Rs6,639 crore, its total revenues grew 16% to Rs43,755 crore from Rs37,685 crore in the year ago period. Wipro achieved better margins in its IT services business during FY14.

Wipro said, “IT Products segment delivered revenue of Rs11.1 billion ($185 million) for the quarter ended 31 March 2014, a YoY increase of 3%. Revenue for the year end 31 March  2014 was Rs38.8 billion ($646 million), a decrease of 1% YoY.”

Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro, said, “The steady improvement in global economy, coupled with the exciting pace of technological advancements, presents us with opportunities to create innovative solutions to help our customers differentiate, compete and succeed in their respective markets.”
In its quarter to end-March said its net profit 28.80% to Rs2,227 crore from Rs1,729 crore, its total revenues 21.75% to Rs11,704 crore from Rs9,613 crore a year ago period.

“We continue to systematically work on improving our operational efficiencies resulting in expansion of full year IT Services operating margins by 195 basis points,” said Suresh Senapaty, executive director & chief financial officer of Wipro.

The IT Services segment has 1,46,053 employees as of 31 March 2014. Wipro added 59 new customers during the March quarter.

Wipro shares closed 2.39% on Thursday at Rs585.55 on the BSE, while the 30-share benchmark Sensex closed 1.58% up at 22,628.84

For more stock results, check out this page

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Outlook brightens for Cairn India

Cairn India is positive that its gas find would be commercially viable and that they would be able to supply piped gas to the Gujarat market by laying an additional pipeline

In the eighth round  of NELP (New Exploration Licensing Policy) Cairn India won 1988 sqkm block in 2010 (KG-OSN-2009/3 block) but work could not start due to certain objections raised by the Ministry of Defence.  This block is next to the prolific Ravva fields and hence Cairn India had shown great interest to explore the same. Thankfully, now that the Ministry of Defence has withdrawn their objections, in the next couple of months, Cairn plans to explore by seismic shots (or imaging the earth below by sending shock waves and capturing reflections).

This has been made possible after the Cabinet Committee for Investments cleared Cairn to go ahead with its plan in one part of the block, of about 60% of the area, since the Ministry of Defence cleared the same.  Cairn India is optimistic to find hydrocarbon resources there, and expects to have gas results in the first quarter of 2015.

The upward revision of gas prices from 1st April was withheld due to the instructions received from the Election Commission, but it is generally felt, at least by the petroleum industry that this increased price would make it viable for contractors to explore for such hydrocarbon resources.  

Because of the prospect of increased price, which would make exploration worthwhile, Cairn has turned its attention to Rajasthan south block and in Rageshwari fields.  The Vedanta group is already producing 200,000 barrels (boepd) and they are stepping up efforts to find gas in this area. Drilling is in progress, and, as mentioned above,Cairn expect to have positive gas results in the early part of 2015.  Initial estimates show that the gas reserves could be higher than Cambay Basin.

Cairn India is positive that its gas find would be commercially viable and that they would be able to supply piped gas to the Gujarat market by laying an additional pipeline, to the existing Barmer-Boghat (Gujarat) pipeline. Once the final assessment is made, all that they would need to do is to lay this additional line!

At the moment, this Barmer-Boghat pipeline is designed to carry 1.75 lakh barrels a day, but it is  actually touching close to 2 lakh barrels and  we feel that this could even be increased to 3 lakh barrels by setting up more booster pumps, till possibly the second pipeline is laid.

At the moment, Cairn India has a production sharing contract valid till May 2020, which can get a five-year extension on general merit.  Also, a 10-year extension may be allowed if gas availability is beyond the original 2020 expiry date. It appears that the Barmer block has the commercial potential to go beyond 2040. Cairn India have already sought a ten-year extension.

In the meantime, Anil Agarwal, Vedanta group chairman is reported to have stated that "the government should  consider the Barmer oilfield contract in line with those signed under the hydrocarbon auction rounds under which the contracts are valid till the life of the field."  Such a move will enable the contractor to work most earnestly to get the best out of the fields and
invest enormous sums to achieve the end results.

It is in this context the new proposals from the Petroleum Ministry, when approved by the Cabinet, would enable the contractors to carry on the exploration work without any hassles and bureaucratic hinderances.

As matter of interest for our readers, it may be recalled that Cairn had announced a buy back plan to secure 17.09 crore shares (or 8.9% of its equity) at a price of Rs335, because of the enormous cash reserves of more than $3 billion it has and set aside Rs5,725 crores for this purpose.This proposal had to be called off because of the dispute with the Income Tax Department, which, as we write, is still in process.

Meantime, Cairn India prices in the stock market has reached Rs360 and the chances for a good dividend are bright, once again.

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)

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