India Inc's gold standard

Published: 24 October, 2013 07:29 IST | Malavika Sangghvi |

His present situation has disturbed Indian industry, already suffering from a crisis of confidence. After all, Kumar Mangalam Birla is something of a gold standard in corporate circles

>> His present situation has disturbed Indian industry, already suffering from a crisis of confidence. After all, Kumar Mangalam Birla is something of a gold standard in corporate circles.

Kumar Mangalam Birla with wife Neerja

And whereas word is that he’s been made a scapegoat in the ongoing power struggle between the CAG and the UPA, there seems to be a silver lining in Birla’s clouds: his wife Neerja who had been spending time abroad with their daughter, who has begun studying there, flew to Delhi with her mother-in-law Rajshree Birla to be with her beleaguered husband recently. Meanwhile, with the outrage his FIR has caused, it looks like there’s been an attempt to do some serious fire fighting and reinstate Birla’s name to its former glory.

Fatima comes calling
>> Next week, we have been invited to lunch with Fatima Bhutto, whose masterful book Songs Of Blood And Sword on the life of her slain father Murtaza, we loved. Bhutto will be in town to talk up her latest book, a novel The Shadow of the Crescent Moon (Penguin) that follows the lives of a family in Waziristan near the Afghanistan border.

Fatima Bhutto

Conde Nast Traveler, of which Bhutto is a contributing editor, is hosting the lunch at the Oberoi’s Vetro. There are many things we’d like to talk to Ms Bhutto about, but on top of our list will be her thoughts on Malala Yousafzai, who is an ardent admirer of her aunt Benazir, who as everyone knows was not a great favourite of the attractive author activist. Will Malala’s blazing superstardom and her stated ambition to be prime minister of Pakistan interfere with that of another young charismatic Pakistani woman? And wouldn’t opposing Malala be somewhat akin to taking on Bambi?

George Clooney

Of course, books will also be on the agenda. Bhutto writes well and her literary career is a serious one. What else? Ah, yes, now that we think about it there is another topic we’d love to discuss with Ms Bhutto: George Clooney. The two were said to be friends.

Come to think of it, putting aside political and literary pretensions, Mr Clooney is on top of our list. Top of most women’s lists we believe.

Wadia’s new res
>> For some time now we had been hearing that Nusli Wadia had taken up residence at the Four Seasons at Lower Parel. Now, we hear the low profile but powerful businessman has moved into an apartment in the plush Island City Center in Wadala, constructed by his group’s real estate division, where his son Jeh too resides.

Nusli Wadia

Insiders say that the move, coming on the heels of reports of the 69-year-old workaholic taking charge of the group’s realty business — is to be closer to work.

Within radiation’s radar 
>> The building came into prominence recently when it was reported that a billionaire investor had purchased quite a few sea facing apartments in it for a staggering sum of almost Rs 200 crore.

Juhi Chawla

But now word comes in that it might not be such a wise investment.

A couple of considerable wealth, which was in the market for a plush Malabar Hill residence, was informed by their real estate agent that the building is unsafe, as it lies within a toxic radiation range from a cluster of nearby cell towers. It seems the lovely Juhi Chawla who lives near it, has been crying herself hoarse about the situation.

Be that as it may, it is heartening to note that the issue has become a talking point in Mumbai circles that matter.

All my truffles were so far away…
>> Oh dear Ritu Dalmia what you gone and done now? Our funny bone was tickled when we heard about the storm in a gazpacho cup, that’s been brewing over a dinner the Delhi-based restaurateur will be catering in Mumbai on November 1. Apparently, the hosts, a wealthy Marwari couple had come up with what they thought was the ultimate foodie delight: a seven-course sit down dinner predicated on that most precious of gourmet delights truffles! Except that they didn’t quite factor in their guest’s response.

Ritu Dalmia

“Arrey bhai yeh truffle kya hota hai?” one of our friends was asked. “Mushroom hi to hota hain na?” said another invitee. While a third said “Hai Babes! The entire meal is going to be based on truffle chocolates! What will happen to our diets?”

Now whereas we are not food snobs, we cannot help thinking that it’s a bit of a fuss over what are essentially smelly subterranean Ascomycete fungi!
Welcome to Mumbai Ritu! Chaat anyone?

Salaam Mumbai: Everyone’s invited!
Of all the words that have been given short shrift by people, I think the foremost is inclusivity. These days when people describe something as being ‘exclusive’ I find myself recoiling in horror.

Exclusive for me says just one thing: Some one can’t get in, or have it.

And it makes that thing or experience instantly undesirable in my mind.

Inclusive, on the other hand, acknowledges that everyone is welcome, invited, included, respected.

Of course, we live in a highly hierarchical, divided world in which people are not equal by a long shot.

But even so I would like to believe that given the uneven playing field that is our world, everyone has a fair chance, an opportunity, a shot like every one else if they have the same means.
Because we are, even though we often forget it, basically the same.
‘Exclusive’ to me militates against the human spirit and reeks of the putrefying smell of decadence and death.
Which is why I am such a big fan of the French Spanish singer Manu Chao, who I heard perform at the Blue Frog last evening.
I love him for his music, but most of all because he stands for inclusivity, that great doctrine of the human race. 

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