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New India configurations

Malavika SangghviSo, as we had predicted members of India Inc converged on Goa in their private jets, their helicopters and their convoys of limos to attend the wedding of top lawyer Cyril Shroff’s daughter with industrialist Gautam Adani’s son.

From the two Ambani brothers with their wives and mom Kokilaben, to Anand Mahindra, Malvinder Singh and Shashi Ruia, everyone whose shadow has ever fallen on the Forbes billionaire’s list had turned up to show solidarity to the legal eagle.

However, what was very apparent was this piece of delicious irony. Whereas the professional (Shroff) attracted an all-star cast of heavyweight industrialists, the industrialist (Adani) had one-half of the country’s political class queuing up in the baraat.

Sharad Pawar Narendra Modi
Sharad Pawar and Narendra Modi

We say one-half because whereas the BJP was superbly represented, (with Narendra Modi, Adani’s alleged godfather leading the pack) along with NCP top brass like Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, industrialist friends of Adani’s were conspicuous by their absence.

Cyril Shroff Gautam Adani
Cyril Shroff and Gautam Adani

“In many ways it was an indictment of the new power alignments in post-reform India, where some industrialists cannot move without their lawyers and others without their political allies,” says our source.

The ‘don’t you know who I am’ syndrome
‘Don’t you know who I am.com’ is a Facebook group whose time has imminently come. Driven by blogger and adman Amitabh Nanda it is an attempt to discourage the arrogant public behaviour increasingly displayed by the privileged classes of our country who feel, quite unfairly, that they are entitled to an easier ride, a greater share or a better deal out of the commonweal.

Julian Assange Jemima Khan
Julian Assange and Jemima Khan

“From the brusque politicians who believe that they are above the law of the land to the smug economic arrivistes who think they can spend their way around it, we shine a spotlight on those who seek to abuse their status in our society, and who attempt to impose their savage sense of privilege over our common civil boundaries,” says Nanda. Recent posts have highlighted such instances of entitlement as Narayan Rane’s son Nilesh abusing a female traffic warden and the long whine Jemima Khan had issued last week about her one time hero Julian Assange in the New Statesman (of which she is associate editor.)

“There’s a theory about fame,” wrote Imran’s former wife. “The moment it strikes, it arrests development. Michael Jackson remained suspended in childhood, enjoying sleepovers and funfairs; Winona Ryder an errant teen who dabbled in shoplifting and experimented with pills; George Clooney, a 30-year-old commitment-phobe,” concluding, “After WikiLeaks released the infamous Collateral Murder video in 2010...I jokingly asked if Assange was the new Jason Bourne.

It would be a tragedy if a man who has done so much good were to end up tolerating only disciples and unwavering devotion, more like an Australian L Ron Hubbard.” As for Nanda, he says, “The next step is to get membership to double figures and to file a pre-emptive lawsuit under Section 66A, whereby we will claim our right to be outraged by the outrageous behavior of the DYKWIA crowd, before they can claim to be outraged at ours.” We like!

Anoushka rises
We recently wrote about her dignified appearance on the Grammy stage along with her sister to accept her father’s posthumous Lifetime Achievement award but yesterday when we watched sitarist Anoushka Shankar speak about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child we couldn’t help marvel at her courage.

Anoushka Shankar
Anoushka Shankar

Published on YouTube in support of the anti-violence campaign group One Billion Rising, Anoushka Shankar stared unflinchingly into the camera saying, “As a child I suffered sexual and emotional abuse for several years at the hands of a man my parents trusted implicitly.” The courage that takes is unimaginable. Salut!

The taxi driver billionaire
’Tis the time for billionaire lists and whereas the Indian ones feature more or less the usual suspects, the one we were most interested in was Arabian business.com’s list of ‘50 richest Indians in the Middle East. And that’s because the pole position holder Mickey Jagtiani, the enigmatic and soft-spoken founder of the Landmark Group makes for a fascinating and inspiring story.

Mickey Jagtiani
Mickey Jagtiani

Starting his retail giant chain with a single store in 1973, Jagtiani who we had the pleasure of meeting over a cup of tea at a SoBo club not so very long ago has a pretty interesting CV for a billionaire. “I drove a taxi for many years,” we recall him saying to us on that occasion. “Jagtiani’s operations have a turnover of $4.7 billion a year,” says his post.

“Today, his Dubai-based company is one of the largest retail conglomerates in the region with interests spanning children’s fashion, footwear and cosmetics, with additional interests in leisure, hotels and electronics.” How did he do it? That’s something we shall ask him when we meet him at his old friend’s Vinod and Gopee Grover’s son’s wedding next week in Mumbai which is a big ticket Mumbai affair. Meanwhile, make a note never to be rude to taxi drivers!

Who started this one?
We find the business of rumours an interesting anthropological exercise. How do they start? Why do they gain credence? How do they die? We have been trying to ignore this particular rumour for a while now, but this weekend when it achieved its zenith it was hard to continue our stand. It’s the one about Bollywood’s top stars and alleged lovers tying the knot four-five days ago in Dubai where they allegedly jointly own a property. Will we ever know why or who started this piece of gossip? And more to the point who’s gaining by it? 

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