Public Interest   Exclusive
What is common between Ambani, Subroto Roy or Praful Patel?

How the powerful threaten our basic freedom

It is the Polyester Prince story all over again. In the 1990s, Reliance Industries used the courts to bully a meek publisher and stopped the India release of a book that dissected Dhirubhai Ambani’s path to fabulous riches. In the days before social media or online book distribution options, the stay by a lower court was enough to stop it from getting into shop shelves. Nearly 15 years later, Indian industrialists, especially those in politics or with great political clout, are using the same bullying tactics.

In January, Praful Patel, the powerful minister from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) pressured Bloomsbury India to withdraw The Descent of Air India—a tell-all book that exposed how India’s national airline was systematically looted and pushed into the red. Naturally, Mr Patel’s stellar role, as aviation minister, in giving a huge push to the airline’s collapse through venal senior management and reckless purchase of aircrafts is described in detail. When Mr Patel filed a case with the metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai, the author Jitendra Bhargava (for decades, the public face of Air India) decided to fight back, while the publisher, Bloomsbury, chose to issue a public apology and destroy the remaining stock of the book. Mr Bhargava says on his facebook page that this was a unilateral decision without any discussion with him; he has also told the judge that he can substantiate everything he has said in the book. Mr Bhargava will soon self-publish it as an e-book.

In the very same week, the Sahara parivar decided to take the Ambani route. It filed a Rs200-crore defamation suit against journalist Tamal Bandopadhyay for a book that has not even been published and managed to obtain an interim stay against its publication from a Kolkata court. While Sahara claims that the book is defamatory, it has been the subject of innumerable adverse news reports ever since August 2012 when a landmark judgement of the Supreme Court (SC) ordered it to refund a whopping Rs24,000 crore raised through two group companies. In the subsequent months, the group patriarch, Subrata Roy, has been restrained by the SC from going abroad. The group has been rebuked by the apex court for trying to ‘fool’ it and has a contempt petition filed against it by SEBI for calling the market regulator a ‘sarkari gunda’. It will be interesting to see whether Jaico, the publisher of Sahara: The Untold Story also caves in or fights back.

Meanwhile, both Bloomsbury and Jaico would do well to look at what happened with The Polyester Prince. While the publisher chickened out of a fight, photocopies of the book were in great demand and author, Hamish MacDonald, grew in stature. A decade latter, when Anil and Mukesh went to war over the division of the family business, the dirty reputation that they washed in public began to make the revelations in Mr MacDonald’s book seem mild by comparison. More interestingly, Dhirubhai Ambani’s story, warts and all, became a popular Bollywood movie with the blessings of his son. Hopefully, the judiciary will take this into account while deciding on how much credence they should give to the claims of controversial corporates and politicians who want to use their financial muscle to gag whistleblowers and publishers.
 

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COMMENTS

Saurav Bhattacharyya

4 years ago

Just stumbled upon your site Ms Dalal, I had been an avid listener to your appearances in TV channels a few years ago, but you are not so frequent the TV media any longer, please do come over, you are beautiful and gutty, your site says it all. Its admirable that the articles in your site are bold and revolutionary and above all informative to the retail investors. Please don't buckle under this BJP-cum-Ambani nexus to scuttle your voice...please remain bold and beautiful in the true sense of it. Hats off to you and your writers.

chandra sekhar

5 years ago

These things have been happening for very long. The famous troika, that is lala (businessman), babu (bureaucrat) and neta (politician) haven been working in tandem looting the nation right from the days of Jawharlal Nehru. Good to see that public are becoming aware of these things.

nilesh sharma

5 years ago

I hope someone take over on Tata's LOW Cost Housing project in Boisar, Mumbai suburbs too.
I came to know the real face of Tata's only when i purchased a flat in the so-called Nano housing project in 2009. They promised a time frame of 2 yrs to give possession by June 2011.
The payments were taken on quarterly basis. Till June 2011 approx.75% of selling price was taken but Tata kept on delaying the possession.
1st date was June 2011.
Afterwards postponed to DEc. 2011.
Then again postponed till March 2012.
Till today after having several meetings with the senior officials of Tata's they had not completed the work and not even given the dates of the possession.
Just give a thought, how a lower/middle income group family will suffer from it. It's now 5 yrs.

http://www.realestateindiaonline.com/new...

REPLY

VIDHANI

In Reply to nilesh sharma 5 years ago

It is better to go to consumer court and get back themarket value
of your property
vidhani

sathyacumaran

In Reply to VIDHANI 5 years ago

sathyacumaran
operational head india
singapore media and channel group
if we go to consumer court and if we get the verdict in our favour client do you mean to say will it have any impact on the Ambani or Sahara international chief or Shri praful patel please let me know in which case we can go for

Gurparkar Singh

5 years ago

All are Chors.There is only one word for all of them.Problem is no one can catch them as they are big thieves & no punishment for them.Smaller thieves can be caught & punished.

SuchindranathAiyerS

5 years ago

Even the committee of certain "elite" clubs throttle freedom of speech. The whole of India is in a process of covering up in a situation where the power they wield seems to be co variant the extent of what they need to cover up!

AS

5 years ago

Let Us see after 2014 Lok Sabha poll if BJP comes in to power what they do ? will they follow UPA-II or not ?

Darius M Bilimoria

5 years ago

And Praful Bhai is sauve, articulate and down-right .... don't know the strong word.... would corrupt be an apt description? He has distributed the loot(Aircraft purchase commission and Traffic rights between carriers)from Air India amongst the politicians of ALL parties, with the result that no one is complaining. Can the opposition not take up the matter as elaborated by Jitendra Bhargava in his book? Why would they? They would be only hurting themselves.
Praful Bhai should have hauled up Jitendra Bhargava,if he knew what was good for him. We will have to wait for justice to be delivered on this one yet.

Darius M Bilimoria

5 years ago

A well-written article. The contents is correct. These are our 3 prized gems.They take away your money without you realizing the loss.
The shareholders of the listed Company need to be careful and not blindly follow the brothers. A new scam is brewing in Reliance Telecom and Reliance Jio where ownership of Reliance communications will pass onto Reliance Jio. Watch the skillful act unfolding soon.

Mahesh S Bhatt

5 years ago

Power Corrupts Absolute Power Corrupts absolutely.

Hence Wealth gets destroyed to be recreated elsewhere as Values are compromised.

Mahesh

REPLY

sreenath

In Reply to Mahesh S Bhatt 5 years ago

sathyacumaran
the corruption should be totally wiped off means then we can say that the country is in the path of progress for which the law should be simplified and tax payers should not be penalised or victimised they should be free then country could grow even the money earned by corruption is not good for the anybody because all are illgotten money the person who had involved would have many problems in their family if this is understood then corruption would be curtailed let us pray for GOD to bestow his blessings against corruption

nagesh kini

5 years ago

What's the point now Mr. Patel?
In which age is he living in?
With the book already released and in circulation and e-version also available is the former Civil Aviation Minister afraid that it will adversily affect his re-election pospects?
Banning or proscribing any publication in the ultimate analysis only will increase the demand and bring in more pirated editions easily available at traffic signals as in the case of Polyester Prince!

pravsemilo

5 years ago

In this digital age the authors can consider releasing the book under creative commons license and host the text of the book on cloud. The text can be downloaded free of cost with a donation link or it can either be a paid download. Since the cloud wouldn't be hosted in India, not much can be done.

sathyacumaran

5 years ago

sathya cumaran
operational head india
singapore mediaa nd channel group
please donot name Ambani brothers with Sahara international and praful patel case we as sharehodler and wel wishers of ambani brothers we request you withdraw your remark on Ambani

REPLY

nagesh kini

In Reply to sathyacumaran 5 years ago

Whether it is A or B - when both are in any way no better than the other why demand withdrawal of remark? There is freedom of speech in India as much as in Singapore!

Rajesh Premani null

In Reply to sathyacumaran 5 years ago

So tomorrow if Ambani murders a non - shareholder you'd still want to withhold the information since you're a shareholder? What if I tell you that you're holding blood money where Reliance has walked over corpses to amass wealth? You'd put me behind bars is it?

Stampede in South Mumbai kills 18

Huge crowd had gathered to pay last respects to Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the spiritual leader of Dawoodi Bohra community

At least 18 persons were killed in a stampede at Malabar Hill area in South Mumbai during the wee hours on Saturday. The incident occurred after 1am in the Malabar Hill area, where an overwhelming crowd had gathered to pay their last respect to the departed spiritual leader of Dawoodi Bohra community, Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.

 

His followers had started thronging his residence at the Hill after they came to know about his death.

 

According to sources, over 40 people were injured in the stampede. The injured have been admitted to the Saifee Hospital.

 

Dr Syedna was to celebrate his 103rd birthday in a few weeks, a spokesperson of the Bohra community said.

 

The 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq of the worldwide Dawoodi Bohra community, Dr Syedna expired at his Mumbai residence at Saifee Mahal.

 

Born in Surat, the leader was the eldest son of Syedna Taher Saifuddin. He succeeded his father upon his death in 1965. He was credited with transforming Dawoodi Bohras into a vibrant community.

 

Bohras thronged to the Syednas sermons. Dawoodi Bohra is a sect of Shia Muslims spread all over the world. One of the key principles of the sect is 'patriotism as part of the faith’.

 

He was honoured with highest civilian titles like the Star of Jordan and Order of the Nile by the respective governments of Jordan and Egypt.

 

Syedna was conferred Honourary Doctorates for his efforts in social and educational development by renowned institutes like Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Aligarh Muslim University and University of Karachi.

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RTI Katta: How Pune is spreading the movement though open meetings

Pune’s traditional katta culture, wherein like-minded people gather informally to chat in public places, has now, RTI, as the new topic of discussion

Although Maharashtra is one of the states with a large number of users of Right to Information (RTI) Act, knowledge and information about the Act, is still found wanting. This is amply reflected during my RTI workshops or public lectures on this topic.
 

In an innovative and fun-loving approach, leading RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar, who is the founder president of Surajya Sangharsha Samiti, launched the `RTI Katta’ last fortnight at Pune’s premier public garden, Chittaranjan Vatika, in the upper crust Model Colony neighbourhood. More than 50 Puneites attended the meeting, out of which several of them came from across the city. Within a week, the ‘RTI Katta’ fervor has spread to five more public gardens, with the respective local residents taking initiative to host them.
 

The objective of the `RTI Katta’ is not to preach about the RTI Act, says Kumbhar, “but to empower oneself through discussions amongst each other. It is an umbrella where the attendees get an insight into various issues that crop during the informal chat. A person’s query or problem is answered by several people which results in a healthy and relevant solution than one RTI expert providing the answer. Moreover, it strengthens the belief in RTI movement which is time and again scuttled by the government through various circulars and amendments.”
 

Kumbhar has laid down some rules for forming an RTI Katta, one of which will soon be launched in Ahmednagar: RTI Katta should be formed in such a public place where no official permission is required, a public garden is the best bet; the name of any individual or organisation should not be added wherever the RTI Katta is being formed; the meeting should be  purely a discussion forum and there should be no one-sided speech; any attendee is welcome to seek advice on his RTI applications; any attendee is welcome to give his opinion, however he or she should ensure that he is not misguiding the person; no one should object or scorn if an attendee, new to the RTI Act asks an irrelevant question – he/she should be enlightened through this forum; there should be no exchange of money for either asking a query or answering it; since this forum is all about individual empowerment, no person should try to solve the problem of the other but encourage the individual to fight his/her own RTI battle.
 

Shamala Desai, a noted social activist who had attended the maiden `RTI Katta’ stated, “there was tremendous curiosity and eagerness to be a part of the RTI movement. It also showed that many people put a RTI application but do not know how to follow up if they do not get a reply. Several youngsters too who attended it were keen to make this citizen-friendly law, stronger, by its constant use.”
 

Pune is the pioneer of the RTI Library, which was named after stalwart journalist-activist Prakash Kardaley and inaugurated by Arvind Kejriwal in 2008. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is also the first city to introduce the 3pm to 5pm walk-in for citizens, every Monday, in all its departments. Pune was the first city wherein Inspection of files under Section 4 of the RTI Act was conducted, the RTI activist being Vijay Kumbhar. With Pune having so many firsts to its credit in the RTI movement, its latest addition–RTI Katta–is sure to bring more people close to RTI.
 

Here’s wishing that many more cities, towns and villages start `RTI Kattas’ which is a real cool way of gaining knowledge about RTI and using it to good effect. For more details on how to start a RTI Katta get in touch with Vijay Kumbhar at [email protected] or call him on 09923299199
 

(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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COMMENTS

sivasankaran

5 years ago

yes.THREE CHEERS TO YOU!

nagesh kini

5 years ago

Thanks a million Vinita!
We need to replicate the Pune Khatta in amchi Mumbai too.
For this we have enough open spaces in Mumbai when public meet in large numbers - beginning with Shivaji Park, Ravindra Mandir, Oval,Caret Road, Worli Sea Face, Priyadarshini, Five Gardens, Chembur Ambedkar Garden.
I liked the PMC Walk-in-RTIs.
In fact the PRO of the BMC once told me that they would any day prefer Sec.4 inspections over other responses, simply because of the least haasels and the applicant obtains just the right stuff of his choice rather than vague replies conveying nothing very significant.
Only you and MoneyLife can promote this here more widely!
A talk here on the Pune experience by Vijay Kumbhar and yourself can help take this onwards.
Eager looking forward to the Mumbai launch.

REPLY

Vinita Deshmukh

In Reply to nagesh kini 5 years ago

Sure. I have forwarded your message to Kumbhar. cheers

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