Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Others
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Prime minister of India Manmohan Singh has been accused of changing ministerial portfolios at the behest of the Reliance group. There have been claims that the group deliberately ‘squatted’ on reserves of natural gas and curtailed production in anticipation of higher prices that are administered by the government, to the detriment of the interests of the country’s people. Spokespersons of the group deny these alligations and contend that gas output from the Krishna-Godavari basin came down on account of unforeseen adverse geological surprises. Sections within the Indian government do not buy these arguments. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has alleged, among other things, that the contract between the government and Reliance Industries Limited is deeply flawed, thereby encouraging excessive capital expenditure and lowering potential benefits to the exchequer. With painstaking research, a meticulous perusal of press reports, as well as a few surprising exclusives, Gas Wars highlights cases of crony capitalism that allowed the Reliance group to blatantly exploit loopholes which were consciously retained in the system to benefit it. The book points out how, even when laws and policies appeared fair, rational, and reasonable, the way in which these rules and procedures were framed and implemented by bureaucrats acting at the behest of their political masters exposed the deep nexus between business and politics in India. Even as Gas Wars tells the story of how a corporate conglomerate, in this case the country’s largest, has benefited from the way government policies are structured, it lays bare the alarming facts of a natural disaster waiting to happen due to the ruthless exploitation of the country’s natural resources in order to swell the fortunes of a few. The book also highlights the examples of those within the government establishment who have refused to be intimidated by the rich and the powerful, and who have against all odds valiantly attempted to uphold the interests of the people of India.
Author details –
PARANJOY GUHA THAKURTA is an independent journalist and an educator. His work experience, spanning 37 years, cuts across different media: print, radio, television and documentary cinema. He is a writer, speaker, anchor, interviewer, teacher and commentator in three languages: English, Bengali and Hindi. His main areas of interest are the working of the political economy and the media in India and the world, on which he has authored/co-authored books and directed/produced documentary films. He teaches and speaks on these subjects. He participates frequently in, and organizes, seminars and conferences, He is a regular contributor to publications and websites and frequently appears on the radio and on television channels as an anchor as well as an analyst.
SUBIR GHOSH is a Bengaluru-based journalist and writer. He started out his career in sales, before switching over to journalism in 1991. He has worked as a journalist for various news establishments, and handled communications for leading environmental NGOs. He specializes in conflict, environment and human rights. He has a keen interest in north-east affairs and is the author of Frontier Travails: Northeast - The Politics of a Mess published by Macmillan India in 2001. He has published two 'e-zines': The Reviewer (one that reviewed books) and Northeast Vigil (one that aggregated news and information pertaining to north-east India). His writing can be found on www.write2kill.in.
JYOTIRMOY CHAUDHURI is an independent researcher and editor based in New Delhi. His main interests have revolved around the environment, aviation and strategic affairs and he has worked in the print medium across magazines and books. At the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, he has worked in Down To Earth magazine as well as with the teams that brought out the 5th and the 7th State of the Environment Reports. Earlier, at the United Service Institution of India, New Delhi, a defence think-tank, he edited publications at their armed forces history centre. He was also associate editor at the Vayu Aerospace and Defence Review, a New Delhi-based aviation trade journal, and had a brief stint with the Tehelka group as a special correspondent.