Monday, October 8, 2012

Indian Citizens who abide by (their Private) Laws
Robert Vadra, belonging to the ruling dynasty of India, (i.e. the Nehrus who have quite unobtrusively, inconspicuously taken over the Gandhi surname to establish a permanent bond with the Freedom movement, and a place in public minds) is in the midst of a storm, a smaller one. Like the storm in a tea-cup compared to the many storms raised by scams worth billions of dollars.  [Now do not blame me for calling this family a ‘dynasty’ arguing that they are elected to power. I somehow hate the “Centrality of The Family” which even a journalist of the calibre of TJS George accepted (NIE article by TJS George 5/9/04 ‘Cost of Power, the enigma of India’).] It is thus: India Against Corruption activists Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal alleged that reality giant DLF (and yes, big-time Cricket promoter) gave the husband of Priyanka, daughter of Soniaji, properties currently valued at above Rs.500Cr as a possible quid pro quo for the favour of Congress-ruled States of Haryana, Rajastan and Delhi allotting prime real estate for the DLF.  This, for us Indians, is not entirely an astonishing or unbelievable story in the current political climate. Rs.500Crore bribe is small change these days. A blunt, brutal, inept and corrupt regime run by a decent gentleman who has a reputation for being incapable of personal corruption is heading a virtual empire of corruption, my sources say.

I am, however, on Mr.Vadra’s side. If somebody like Jagan Mohan Reddy, whose father was a two-time Chief Minister of not-so-rich Andhra Pradesh (2004-2009, could have amassed Rs.3000Cr by way of bribe, Robertji should be chastised for under-performance in Indian economy that grew 9-10% annually as his mother-in-law masterminded its destiny. This man is moderate and humble. It is a crying shame that Robertji did not demand/receive bribes commensurate with the overall performance of his family in governance. This man is a gem. Remember, he had modestly mentioned in private to the Press that given the proper opportunity, he wouldn’t mind taking the plunge into the service of the nation. An unfair comment on this was a report I read in a magazine with a headline: “UP polls 2012: Robert Vadra bids for a place in Gandhi family power structure”. We want such modest people. Jagan, you impetuous upstart, take lessons from this fellow-Christian!

Bhushan and Kejrival, appear tough guys who do not fear libel-infamy-black-mail laws of the land and freely allege that Robert and mother promoted five companies with a combined share capital of Rs.5 million and before long, without the benefit of any obvious revenue stream, acquired around 31 properties in the three States mentioned earlier between 2007 and 2010 with the help of an unsecured and interest-free loan of Rs.65Cr. Priyaka, Robert’s wife and the daughter of the dowager empress living in No.10.Janpath was insulated from the deals after introducing her as a director in the companies. That was indeed thoughtful of Robertji, not dragging Priyankaji into business deals.

And when a controversy broke about this very modest (did you mutter that this guy had a lot to be modest about?) person another modest and suave gentleman, the Union Finance Minister joined this affair wise-cracking to the media that ”transactions between two private individuals (?) could not be questioned on the basis of imputed or implied act of corruption”. Another legal luminary, the Law Minister of India, Salamn Khurshid shed light on the controversy “rubbishing” the allegation that DLF giving soft-loans to its competitor in business, the Skylight Hospitality was quite suspicious. Arrey bhai, if your mother-in-law was ruling the country anybody would give you a loan, give you a directorship, and try to make you happy with cash or kind. You don’t have to do anything in return. They are just happy you were at the receiving end of those nice deeds! Congress Party’s spokesperson the irrepressible Manish Tiwari took the political line that Kejriwal and company were the B-Team of the BJP in the grand old tradition of the GoP that only it could use anything politically against the rival political groups.

As a private citizen, I have only personal regrets that I did not have the good fortune to marry into a dynasty or a business family that flourishes. I however, do not grudge Robertji who is fortunate enough to own the Artex (exporting jewellery and handicrafts) the Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd (owned partly by his mother Maureen Vadra, which incidentally, is a partner along with DLF Hotel Holdings in a company that owns Hilton Garden Inn in the posh South Delhi business district Saket;  the Blue Breeze Trading Pvt Ltd (aircraft chartering), North India IT Parks Pvt Ltd, Real Earth Estates Pvt Ltd, Sky Light Realty Pvt Ltd. From the family export business to the unrelated realty-hospitality areas and air-chartering, and IT Park are progressions in tune with the improved economic conditions under Manmohanji. This is how one should “make a difference” outside politics. And if he comes in, sky is the limit, not only for Skylight, but for the mother India’s earth, its un-used, un-mined ores and the blue sky above us, and the blue breeze blowing over us. 

Robert Vadra is quoted saying that he was quite capable of handling this or any controversy, and also that he was a private law-abiding citizen who is engaged in business over the past 21 years. And he says Kejriwal and company are spreading malicious and utterly false lies against him for cheap publicity. That is a pretty tall talk and a very arrogant statement. While I like Robert Vadra for his kind thoughts on the lost loved ones, his cheerful face, and his business acumen, what I do not like is this kind of confidence that comes from a category of people who believe that they can abide by only certain private laws made by their money and influence; that is, those who have become a law unto themselves.

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