Two brothers and a lot of gas

It is quite unfortunate that the prime minister of India has to intervene in a business rivalry, that too between two brothers. Mukesh and Anil Ambani are fighting over the Krishna-Godavari gas case. I understand that due to this quarrel, the price of gas will be affected, the output has been kept limited, claims made of more expenditure, therefore denying the government its share.

There is a family Memorandum of Understanding which Mukesh is not willing to concede to. Anil has brought out the dirt in the open, including allegations against petroleum minister Murli Deora.

That’s the short story. A report states:

It is felt that the nature of the dispute is such that it could well spill over to other arenas where the two face off as competitors. “The PM’s views on the subject are quite well known,’’ said sources.

There has always been lobbying in the corporate sector. Their father, Dhirubhai, was a master at it. However, he did manage to not rock the boat because he was alone and could afford to keep certain people happy. With the two brothers’ parting of ways, there will naturally be different lobbies, and at the political level those will demand their pound of flesh. It can and will get dirty. Manmohan Singh has been finance minister and knows just how these things can work and even work against governments. Political parties thrive on business interests and not the small shareholders.

It is also a matter of image in a world claiming its slice of globalisation:

Comment in foreign newspapers that the dispute had put a focus on how business was done in India and the ability of “Indian oligarchs’’ to capture policy has been enough to make the government squirm.

The level of such economic incest is not to be chuffed at. It exists to a mind-boggling degree. The Ambanis are the visible face. Every FICCI meeting is about how to get the government in your pocket.

However, we should not worry too much about what the foreign media thinks. They can be reminded about how they appoint Lords and how the US works business deals. It is more transparent. But then we are getting there.

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