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.

Saurav Bhattacharyya
10 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
1 decade 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
1 decade 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.


Replied to nilesh sharma comment 1 decade ago
It is better to go to consumer court and get back themarket value
of your property
Replied to VIDHANI comment 1 decade ago
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
1 decade 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.
1 decade 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!
1 decade 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
1 decade 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
1 decade 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
1 decade ago
Power Corrupts Absolute Power Corrupts absolutely.

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

Replied to Mahesh S Bhatt comment 1 decade ago
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
1 decade 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!
1 decade 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.
1 decade 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
nagesh kini
Replied to sathyacumaran comment 1 decade 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
Replied to sathyacumaran comment 1 decade 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?
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