Saturday, July 12, 2008

Book Review: The Polyester Prince - The banned biography of Dhirubhai Ambani

Book Review: The Polyester Prince - The banned biography of Dhirubhai Ambani

This book on Dhirubhai Ambani's Empire is a thrilling experience as it talks about the toughest times of Reliance which has gone into the making of it and is kept away from public domain for obvious reasons. Even if people close to Ambanis are aware, they don't dare to speak against the mightiest and the fastest growing invulnerable business house of India. RIL as on date is the most profitable and most revenue generating private company of India and the tactics (yes, the word is used deliberately) used by Late Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani which has become the trademark of the group may be appreciable in terms of financial acumen but when it comes to ethics, value and principles they are big zero.

You name it and Reliance had been all through it - from stock market rigging, undercutting, under invoicing, non payment of duties, cheating share holders, havala, harshad Mehta, bofors and framing of Nusli Wadia, they are involved in every damn scam. Though Reliance gathered lot of International attention due to increasing profits and revenue, it could not avoid getting into controversies too due to n number of cases running against it. I feel ashamed on discovering that some of the political leaders whom I thought to be man of ethics where puppets in the hands of Dhirubhai. For those who tried to raise their voice against Reliance like Nusli Wadia, The Indian Express and a chosen few political leaders had a bad fate as with the ascent of time, Dhirubhai became bigger than the government and if the political party tried to take any step against him, he threatened to pull down the government.

The author says that the Indian political system was driven by the prices of polyester and he has made a right remark as Indian corporate war between the Wadias and Ambanis started with polyester and later on spread among political parties with one supporting the Ambanis and very few who were the real preachers of values and principals supporting the Wadias. But the influence of Dhirubhai on New Delhi was so strong that everything worked the way he wanted it to whether it was getting a license or getting action against his business competitors and creating troubles for him like it was done for Nusli Wadia. Dhirubhai manipulated the laws and customs rules in the way he wanted them to be and by the time government realized the loopholes in the rules, he had already made his buck. He exploited the Indian government, their rules and tax system to the best of his ability which is very clear from the fact that Reliance is the only company which never paid taxes even after three decades of listing and went on giving bonus and dividends to shareholders. It took too long for the government to react and it was only for Reliance that Minimum Alternate Tax was brought in action. There had been a sheer injustice against the competitors of Reliance as all of them were not allowed to flourish in a similar environment but at the end of the day what matters is the return on investment. This is where Reliance had been right there by declaring dividends and bonus to stake holders. So it would be right to say, it was government and the system which was at loss. Billions of rupees which should have gone to the coffer of government went into building Reliance Empire and also went for paying bribes to the government babus.

Rich, powerful, intelligent, shrewd but a man sans ethics and values - this is how the author has described Dhirubhai Amabni in his book.I hope by know all of you must be aware of the reason for the book being banned in India. Someone who smuggled entire factory into India, who purchased the government can easily get the book and the author banned in India if he dares to raise voice against him. I really appreciate this work of Hamish McDonald who went against the stream to expose Dhirubhai and his group to the public. It is an interesting and must read for those who are interested in India Inc but the only option left to them is to smuggle the book into India from some foreign location as Dhirubhai smuggled the entire factory set up at Patalganga because the book is banned in India.

Extract from the book

'Today the fact is that Ambani is bigger than government,' said the lawyer in all seriousness. 'He can make or break prime ministers. In the United States you can build up a super corporation but the political system is still bigger than you. In India the system is weak. If the stock exchange dares to expose Ambani, he tells it: I will pull my company shares out and make you collapse. I am bigger than your exchange. If the newspapers criticize, he can point out they are dependent on his advertising and he has his journalists in every one of their departments. If the political parties take a stand against him, he has his men in every party who can pull down or embarrass the leaders. He is a threat to the system. Today he is undefeatable.'

But two of India's sharpest business journalists did get Dhirubhai to admit that stroking government was his biggest task. 'The most important external environment is the Government of India,' he told India Today's T N. Ninan and Jagannath Dubashi. 'You have to sell your ideas to the government. Selling the idea is the most important thing, and for that I'd meet anybody in the government. I am willing to salaam anyone. One thing you won't find in me and that is ego.'


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Warm Regards

Aditya NADIG :)

http://nadigonline.blogspot.com


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