My case is cleared, na?" said the politician who wanted to be telecom minister to the lobbyist for a telecom major four days before the present Union Cabinet was sworn in last summer. The middle-woman, Nira Radia, was coy and comforting in her first-name-basis response: "Your case was cleared last night only."
The truly touching aspect of the politician's piteous plea is a syllable, na. It has every shade of pathos, not to mention every variation of bathos, kneaded into it. The lobbyist is in command, and why shouldn't she be? She knows something that is privy to perhaps three or four people at the very highest level of the present government. She has a vested interest in telecom, and therefore a direct stake in the person who will run this department. The minister-to-be, A. Raja of the DMK, is in her debt, and he better not forget it. She does not convey how she knows the decision was taken the previous night, but she implies that she has intervened on Raja's behalf. Raja does not care whether a corporation got him this job or not. He is merely desperate to get it.
We know this today, a year later, because of some sterling journalism done by the television channel Headlines Today, which obtained transcripts and audio recordings of the taped conversation and honored the profession of journalism by doing the story. Text demands context for greater clarity. Raja is an intimate associate of the Karunanidhi family and Radia must now be the most famous middle-woman in the world. She is on the payroll of some of the most important corporates in contemporary India, both those with a tradition of grease and those with historic claims to probity.
From M. J. Akbar's take on Spectrum controversy in his blog.To continue reading click here.
In less than a decade, Vaishnavi has emerged as the biggest PR player in an industry whose influence within the media and policy making circles is disproportionate to its commercial size. What earned her Ratan Tata’s redoubled confidence, say sources, was her deft handling of a controversy around Tata Finance’s accounting irregularities in 2001-02, an issue that was sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction—all-willing—before it could blow up into something seriously traumatic.
By 2005, as she ascended the VIP curve as a mega-success in her own right, Radia’s ambitions had soared higher still. With low-cost flying the hottest business idea in town, she planned a no-frill airline of her own called Magic Air. But she hadn’t yet made quite so big an impression on Delhi’s power structure. Her plans were grounded by a failure to get the requisite regulatory approvals. “Radia has few equals in understanding the aviation business in India,” says the former CEO of an Indian airline Radia was once an advisor to, “If Magic Air had taken off, I have no doubt that it would have been amongst the most successful even in a bleeding market.”
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