Posts Tagged ‘Reliance Industries’

Will TV news channels show Kejriwal ‘live’ again?

10 January 2013

ambani_keriwal_0111

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, and India’s most powerful business house, Reliance Industries, are believed to have served a legal notice on several TV news channels for airing anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal‘s allegations against them in October and November last year.

However, it is not known if Kejriwal, a former IRS officer, and his advocate-partner, Prashant Bhushan, have heard from RIL’s lawyers on the charges made by them at the  press conferences which were covered “live” by the TV channels with accompanying commentary.

It is also unclear if  newspapers which reported Kejriwal’s allegations of Ambani’s Swiss bank accounts and hanky-panky in the Krishna-Godavari basin by RIL have attracted similar legal attention from the less-litigious of the two Ambani brothers.

In the seven-page legal notice shot off in the middle of December 2012, Mukesh Ambani and RIL have demanded “a retraction and an unconditional apology in the form approved and acceptable to our clients” within three days from the receipt of the notice.

The notices have been served by the Bombay legal firm, A.S. Dayal & Associates.

***

Besides accusing the channels of “deliberately and recklessly” airing “false and defamatory statements” with an intent to “defame our clients and bring them into disrepute”, the legal notice makes the following points:

# “Your TV Channel provided a platform and instrumentality for wide dissemination of the false and defamatory statements and allegations made at the said press conference.”

# “Live telecast of these press conferences amounts to permanent publication of defamatory material relating to our client by you.”

# “Each of the two press conferences were telecast live without making any attempt to verify the truth or veracity of the statements and allegations being made during the press conference.”

# “Apart from having telecast the press conferences live, Your TV Channel  in the course of several television programmes and televised debates that followed after the said press conferences, continued to telecast, transmit and retransmit the defamatory footage of the press conferences.”

***

More ominously, the Ambani-RIL notice reminds the channels:

# “Our clients have instructed us to state that Your TV Channel is bound by the Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking from India dated 5th December 2011, issued by the ministry of information & broadcasting, government of India.

# “Our clients have instructed us to state that since Your TV Channel is a news and current affairs TV Channel, the provisions of the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines apply to Your TV Channel, which inter alia provide that a Company, like Your TV Channel, which runs a news and current affairs TV channel, is obliged to comply with the Programme Code as laid down in the Cable Television Network (Regulations) Act, 1995, and the Rules framed thereunder.

# “Our clients have instructed us to state that in telecasting the aforesaid press conferences and repeating the false and defamatory material relating to our clients in the manner aforesaid Your TV Channel is in complete violation of the said Uplinking Guidelines, and the said Downlinking Guidelines as also in complete and material breach of the Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Network Rules.”

***

The RIL legal notice brings to question the wisdom of broadcasting “live” Kejriwal’s near-weekly press conferences towards the end of last year, sans any filters or fetters.

On the other hand, the authoritarian tone of the legal notice—reminding the recipients of uplinking and downlinking norms—throws light on the egg-shells on which private TV stations are walking in the “free” Republic.

The legal notice also swings the spotlight on big business ownership of and shadow over the media, especially when it is alleged to have both the main political parties, the Congress and BJP, in its pocket.

For the record, RIL is in the media business too. Both CNN-IBN and IBN7 are part of the Reliance stable following a controversial and circuitous takeover at the turn of 2012 that now has earned the OK of the competition commission of India (CCI).

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Photograph: courtesy IBN Live

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Also read: ‘RIL has no direct stake in media companies’

Mint says SEBI looking into RIL-Network18/TV18-ETV deal

Rajya Sabha TV tears into RIL-Network18-ETV deal

Will RIL-TV18-ETV deal win SEBI, CCI approval?

The sudden rise of Mukesh Ambani, media mogul

The Indian Express, Reliance & Shekhar Gupta

Niira Radia, Mukesh Ambani, Prannoy Roy & NDTV

Why the Indian media doesn’t take on the Ambanis

CHURUMURI POLL: Does Mukesh Ambani run India?

31 October 2012

Long years ago, when Doordarshan was the only TV option for the mango people, the weekly serial was the sole form of entertainment in the back of beyond. Each evening, thirsty masses waited with bated breath for what Hum Log and  Khandaan, Ados Pados and Jaane bhi do yaaro would throw up that week.

That done, the waiting would begin again.

In the age of 24×7 news television, editors and journalists appear to have outsourced one hour of each week to Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan to allow them to air their libel-laden soap opera.

One week, they show the wheeling-dealing of Sonia Gandhi‘s son-in-law Robert Vadra; another week it is Atal Bihari Vajpayee‘s son in-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya. One week, it is Salman Khurshid, another week it is Nitin Gadkari. One week, it is DLF, another week it is Reliance Industries.

And so it is, this Wednesday evening, when the producer-director duo behind India Against Corruption have merrily stated that it is RIL’s Mukesh Ambani, not Manmohan Singh, who is running the country. Using the cabinet reshuffle, in which the oil and petroleum minister S. Jaipal Reddy was shunted out to the lesser science and technology ministry, as the peg, the two have alleged:

# Reliance’s arm-twisting ways have caused a massive loss to the nation. Reliance has promised to deliver cheap gas for 17 years, but it has never delivered…

# Reliance has the contract to extract oil from KG Basin. Under an agreement of 2009 with the government, they are supposed to sell gas at $ 4.2 per mmBTU upto 31 March 2014. Midway now, RIL is demanding that the price be increased to $ 14.2 per mmBTU. Jaipal Reddy resisted that and he was thrown out…

# The then petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was replaced and Murli Deora was brought in to benefit RIL. Pranab Mukherjee gave undue benefit of Rs 8000 crore to RIL in 2007. Now, Jaipal Reddy has been ousted for objecting to raising RIL’s demand to raise gas prices.”

“The government is succumbing to the illegitimate demands of RIL. Even the PM was very sympathetic to RIL. And as a result, Reliance has gained more than Rs 1 lakh crore, that the country lost.”

Question: Are Kejriwal-Bhushan right? Do Mukesh Ambani and Reliance run the country?

Also read: Rajya Sabha TV tears into RIL-Network18-ETV deal

The sudden rise of Mukesh Ambani, media mogul

The Indian Express, Reliance & Shekhar Gupta

Niira Radia, Mukesh Ambani, Prannoy Roy & NDTV

Why the Indian media doesn’t take on the Ambanis

POLL: Should Kingfisher Airlines be shut?

20 February 2012

To no one’s surprise, Kingfisher Airlines has floated into yet another stormy spell of turbulence.

For the second time in four months, flights are being cancelled without “guests” being told in advance; employees haven’t been paid for months; the airline owes money to the oil companies and airports; the airline’s bank accounts have been frozen; there is no food on flights due to “technical reasons”; Yana Gupta isn’t exhorting us to tighten our seat belts because the in-flight entertainment systems are off, and…

And the king of good times, the pasha of profligacy—the honorary doctorate in “business administration” from South California University—is once again trying to hoodwink his friends in the government. No, not to “bail out” the airline, because as someone who believes in the free market, he is ostensibly against it. No, he just wants the government to tweak its civil aviation policy, which is short hand to bail out all the airlines which are similarly floundering.

Last time round, when “Dr” Vijay Mallya‘s airline was gasping for breath, the government had forced private sector banks to pick up a stake in Kingfisher at a premium—yes, at a premium—in the name of corporate debt restructuring (CDR), convincing sceptics that modern-day capitalism seems to have become about socialising losses and privatising profits, conflict of interest be damned.

Even so, the plight of the excellent but poorly managed airline struggling to stay afloat, even as rumours swirl around of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) being interested in it, prompt a simple question: should Vijay Mallya—he of Royal Challengers Bangalore, Formula One, the yachts, the calendars,  and of course the booze—be rescued? Or should Kingfisher be allowed to breathe its last, even if it has a domino effect on other airlines, thus endangering civil aviation in the country?

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Vijay Mallya

How namma Vijay floored Captain G.R. Gopinath

The non-cricket picture of the IPL season, so far

22 April 2010

On the ground, the son of a businessman who owned a ball bearings and valve factory, who has been the breadwinner of his family of a mother and five sisters, and a bulwark of India’s bowling attack. In the air and in his arms, the petite wife of India’s richest, most powerful businessman. The occasion: the triumph of the Mumbai Indians against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first semi-finals of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Photograph: courtesy Samay Live

Also read: ‘IPL threatens cricket’s democratisation trends’

Should India do to Pakistan what it’s done to us?

16 February 2009

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: Arun Shourie is one of the strangest cases on the Indian intellectual landscape if not its most disappointing. A living, walking, moving advertisement of how rabid ideology can addle even the most riveting of minds, stripping it of all its nuance and pretence; its very soul and humanity.

***

Once a fiery critic of Reliance Industries as editor of the Indian Express, he was happy to deliver a eulogy at Dhirubhai Ambani‘s first death anniversary; even changing the law as minister to benefit Reliance Industries, as alleged by the son of Girilal Jain, the former Times of India editor who held shares in the company, no less.

Once a symbol of middle-class integrity and probity for various scams unearthed his watch, his stint as disinvestment minister was pockmarked with allegation after allegation (although an unattributed Wikipedia entry claims he was ranked “the most outstanding minister of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government” by 100 CEOs).

A slow, scholarly, Chaplinesque demeanour hides a cold, clinical mind that piles the rhetoric and the stereotypes on the poor, the marginalised and the disenfranchised while taking up high faluting positions on terrorism, governance, internal security and such like, through long, meandering essays whose opacity could put cub journalists to shame.

And, as always, selectively twisting and turning the facts to fit his preconceived conclusion, and hoping no one will notice.

To paraphrase Ramachandra Guha, Shourie has become the Arundhati Roy of the right:

“The super-patriot and the anti-patriot use much the same methods. Both think exclusively in black and white. Both choose to use a 100 words when 10 will do. Both arrogate to themselves the right to hand out moral certificates. Those who criticise Shourie are characterised as anti-national, those who dare take on Roy are made out to be agents of the State. In either case, an excess of emotion and indignation drowns out the facts.”

But what should disappoint even his most ardent fans, and there are many, is how easily and effortlessly a pacifist penman has regressed from “a concerned citizen employing his pen as an effective adversary of corruption, inequality and injustice” (as his Magsaysay Award citation read) to a hate-spewing ideological warrior with fire blazing through his nostrils.

A son of a Gandhian who now openly advocates “two eyes for an eye and a whole jaw for one tooth” with barely any qualms.

***

At a series of lectures in Ahmedabad on Saturday, Shourie bared his fangs some more:

“India is still a passive country when it comes to taking a stand against terrorism….

It should, in fact, take an extremist stance and must prove that it can also create a Kashmir-like situation in Pakistan.

There are many places like Baluchistan, where a Kashmir-like situation can be created but, “hum abhi bhi Panchsheel ke pujari hain (We still worship the tenets of Panchsheel)”….

“Pakistan has been successfully carrying out destruction in India for the last two decades and has still managed to escape problems, while India on every occasion has failed to present a unified response to terrorism and has suffered as a consequence….”

Really?

An eye for an eye? Two eyes for an eye? A jaw for a tooth?

In the name of Swami Vivekananda, should India do unto Pakistan what Pakistan has done to us? Is this a sign of vision on the part of a man who some believe should be the next prime minister, or tunnel vision?

Is such barely disguised hatred and vengeance, hiding behind vedas and upanishads, going to make the subcontinent a better place to live in? Should the people of Pakistan, the poor, the marginalised, the disenfranchised, pay the price for the sins of the generals?

Should a great, ancient civilisation become a cheap, third-rate, neighbourhood bully?

Has Arun Shourie lost more than his soul and humanity?

Has Arun Shourie just lost it?

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu Business Line

Also read: How Shilpa Shetty halted the Chinese incursions

Crossposted on sans serif

CHURUMURI POLL: Good for them = Good for us?

17 January 2009

When General Motors president Charles Wilson was appointed secretary of defence by President Dwight David Eisenhower in the early 1950s, the possibility of conflict of interest was very real. Asked if he could make a decision adverse to the interests of GM, Wilson said he could not, but added he could not conceive of such a situation, “because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for GM and vice versa.” That statement has sinced morphed into “What’s good for GM is good for America.”

In a week when captains of Indian industry have plumped for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Damodar Modi as the next prime minister, it is worth asking: “Is what is good for Indian industrialists, good for India, too?”

# Airtel chief Sunil Mittal has said: “We have seen CEOs running good companies, but Modi is that successful CEO who runs an entire state. We need him in Delhi.”

# Anil Ambani of ADAG has said: “If one Dhirubhai Ambani could do so much just imagine what ten Dhirubhais could have done. For Modi, too, one can say the same thing. He is the next leader of India.”

While such a rousing endorsement must be sweet music for Modi, 58, it does two things.

One, it throws the BJP leadership issue into a tizzy. The designated PM-candidate Lal Krishna Advani, 82, is waiting in the wings, 85-year-old Bhairon Singh Shekawat has thrown his hat into the ring, and there are other claimants. And two, it opens up the old debate: can a state, or a nation, be run like a company? Can a nation be run like a business, with all the focus on the “bottomline”? Is what is good for India Inc, good for India?

In other words, because Gujarat has shown good growth under Modi, is it naturally presumed that Modi has it in him to overcome all the big issues of the day?

Coming soon: Reliance Hair-Cutting Saloons?

13 July 2008

Our Lactose-Deficient Correspondent in East Delhi reports that he has started drinking “Reliance Milk” from today. A half-litre packet of full cream milk, branded Dairy Pure, costing Rs 13 and made by Reliance Dairy Foods with its offices in Bombay, landed at his doorstep while he was asleep.

Tongue firmly in both cheeks, OLDCED writes: 

“After textile fabrics, petrol, petrochemicals, plastics, power, vegetables, wellness, mobile phones, mutual funds, chappals, groceries, books, spectacles and broom sticks, the mighty empire of Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani has deigned to sell me doodh.

“Only two things remain untouched by Dhirubhai Ambani‘s sons: haircutting saloons and autorickshaws. If India legalises the sex trade, Reliance will be the first to bid for it, too. After that we can stop holding elections and ask Reliance to bid for the government.

“A modh bania from Porbandar called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi wanted to fetch us self-reliance. What the modh banias called the Ambanis from Chorwad are giving us is Reliance, plain and simple.”

Photograph: courtesy India Retail Biz

Also read: Why the Indian media doesn’t take on the Ambanis

Surprise, Reliance gets fresh without fanfare

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Ambanis be selling avare kai?

Why the Indian media doesn’t take on Ambanis

16 June 2008

Anand Giridharadas has a lengthy profile of Mukesh Ambani, the bossman of Reliance Industries, in Sunday’s New York Times.

As usual, there are a couple of paragraphs on the Ambanis’ messy relationship with the media.

“Critics say Reliance has been especially effective at managing the press. [Two] former Reliance executives, who requested anonymity for fear of angering Ambani, say the company has actively curried favour with journalists to help it track the progress of negative articles.

“A prominent Indian editor, formerly of The Times of India, who requested anonymity because of concerns about upsetting Ambani, says Reliance maintains good relationships with newspaper owners; editors, in turn, fear investigating it too closely.

“”I don’t think anyone else comes close to it,” the editor said of Reliance’s sway. “I don’t think anyone is able to work the system as they can.”

“And the net result is plain: although India’s raucous news media have brought down many a powerful person and institution, Ambani and Reliance are rarely the subjects of hard-hitting Indian reporting.

“Reliance disagrees, regarding itself as the target of relentless media attacks. “There is malicious and negative stuff being written all the time. So where is the influence?” the Reliance spokesman said. “Ambani has told me that he will never pick up the phone and talk to the owner of a publication to say, ‘Write positive stuff’ or, ‘Stop writing negative stuff’.”

Read the full profile: Indian to the core, and an oligarch

Link via Chetan Krishnaswamy


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