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Mumbai boy at heart

You can take the boy out of Mumbai, but never Mumbai out of the boy. Dapper Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal, ran a successful Mumbai CA firm before being cherry picked by PM Narendra Modi, to take charge of an important portfolio in his cabinet.

Piyush Goyal. Pic/Twitter
Piyush Goyal. Pic/Twitter

A quintessential Mumbai lad if ever there was one, Goyal chose Mumbai over Delhi and his ministerial bungalow, to celebrate his birthday this week. What’s more, the event, hosted by his wife and him at a SoBo five star, was noted for its simplicity and intimacy.

The powerful minister, said to be amongst the PM’s favourites, because of his no-nonsense approach, had made sure to call a bunch of his oldest and dearest pals. “About 20 people, all low key professionals, many Rotarians,” says a source. “None of the high profile top industrialists or city leaders you would expect,” says a guest familiar with the behaviour of politicians when they are in commanding positions. “Goyal said that the people he’d called to celebrate his big day with, were amongst his oldest and dearest friends.”

Incidentally, Goel’s Ganpati celebrations are something of a landmark event in Mumbai given that the star attendance features every mover and shaker the city boasts of. “Before he became a minister you could say that a hundred top names would come - now, it’s almost 300,” says the source, adding, “But nice to see the ethics of a low key, down-to-earth public servant is in practice. And of course, that old Mumbai friends are not forgotten by those who assume power in Delhi.”

New York State of mind
The effervescent Monica Dogra, we are informed, was recently in New York for a photo shoot for a lifestyle brand by Sussanne Khan, Malaika Arora and Bipasha Basu.

Monica Dogra
Monica Dogra

Shot by Pressy Nathan, said to be one of Arora’s close friends, the photographs feature Dogra at her gravity defying best, flanking famous New York rooftops. The Incredible Lightness of Being Monica Dogra?

Mumbai style Shakti
“I love celebrating my birthday with happy, talented women. There is a special Shakti that creative women from different walks of life bring to the table, and it is now my birthday gift to honour myself surrounded by such terrific women,” says Shalini Sharma, editor of a celebrity lifestyle magazine, who hosted a gathering of some of Mumbai’s best and brightest at her charming home in Bandra on Monday night.

Shalini Sharma (sitting, in white) with friends
Shalini Sharma (sitting, in white) with friends

“This year I invited two stars, Raveena Tandon and Sonali Bendre, both of whom I started my journalistic career with. We have survived the decades together and never miss a chance to get together and chuckle about the good and the bad days,” says the hostess.

Pinky Reddy and Sonali Bendre
Pinky Reddy and Sonali Bendre

Along with them, chatting, laughing and of course posing for selfies, we spotted art collector and interior designer Kavita Singh, author and columnist Shobhaa De, entrepreneur Devita Saraf, movie producers Elahe Hiptoola and Krishika Lulla, Pinky Reddy said to be the inspiration behind Mumbai’s international airport, Bollywood spinmeister Rohini Iyer, jewellery designers Farah Khan Ali and Bunty Bajaj, dermatologist to the stars Jaishree Sharad, television producer Shristhi Behl and Anna Singh Bollywood costume designer, amongst others.

And though it was a girly do, the celebrations were heightened by the presence of the sole male entrant designer, Manish Malhotra, a neighbour who arrived post midnight; by which time alas we had already driven through the rain drenched city, to the other end of town and had fallen asleep to the rain against the panes.

A return to responsibility?
The corporate world might yet pull up its socks and revert to a more responsible role. Ever since cases of unserviced debts running into thousands of crores have become a talking point, corporate circles are buzzing about a return to old values of austerity and sensible ways of conducting their affairs.

Rahul Bajaj, Rajiv Bajaj and Niraj Bajaj
Rahul Bajaj, Rajiv Bajaj and Niraj Bajaj

“The current heroes are the Bajajs, whose adherence to values laid down by the group’s founders are still strictly followed and have resulted in it being one of the most cash rich in the country,” says a Dalal street insider.

“The family has never been known for its conspicuous consumption, no fancy yacht and mansions. Most of the Bajajs live in modest apartments, they don’t throw lavish weddings and they have stuck to their core businesses,” he says. “Today’s biz men are looking to their example when they are faced with cases of Vijay Mallya and his ilk.”

A return to corporate responsibility and prudence? Perhaps the shameful chapter of unserviced loans and recalcitrant industrialists will have a silver lining yet.

Auditing party funds
It’s been whispered about in awe as a sea change in the way money is being handled in politics, and the one instance where this party has actually delivered on its electoral promises. “Ever since it’s come into power, the system of election spending has been completely overhauled,” says an insider who was witness to one of its recent regional elections. “Everyone knows that most corruption occurred during the husting when party funds are deployed for campaigning,” he says.

“But now, every penny is audited by top international firms like Ernst and Young, whose cadre arrives unscheduled to audit party spending,” he says. “It’s become so strict, that when for instance expenses are invoiced for a banner displayed for five days, evidence in the form of pictures of the particular banner have to be supplied with photographs of the banner for each day lying besides with that day’s newspaper in the frame - so no one can fudge any thing and the party gets exactly what it funds.” Nice!

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