Category Archives: Economy and Business

US vs India – The Outsourcing Controversy

Recent hike in H1B visa fee by the US Government was a token measure to pacify the growing anger towards Outsourcing. In reality, this move is more of a token measure as it only affects the employees of the Outsourced companies deputed to the US. There is very little the US Government can do to influence the Outsourced work being carried out outside the US.

The Outsourcing controversy has become an emotional issue after thousands of people in the US lost their jobs since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. Public sentiments do not care for business logic. Governments, all over the world, have to respond to public sentiments as the same may have an impact on the results of future elections. When public sentiments and business logic are at loggerheads with each other, the government has to delicately balance its actions. In such situations, Tokenism is taken to a different height.

If the jobs have dried up due to the economic downturn what should be the right approach to address the issue? Bringing the economy back to track is the only sustainable solution. This would mean taking measures to restore the profitability of the business entities. Discouraging outsourcing would work in the wrong direction. It may have a temporary effect but it won’t last long. If the companies are forced to bear higher cost, this would only delay the recovery process. Some, if not most, companies may not survive this hardship and would get pushed into liquidation. What would be the end result? Even fewer jobs in the market!

If companies have to incur higher cost, they will naturally pass on the additional burden to the end users in form of costlier products and services. What would be the result? Higher inflation, reduced demand, dropping bottom lines, more liquidations and finally fewer jobs in the market.

Finally, let’s break this myth that Indian Labour is horribly cheaper than its US counterpart. At a first glance, it does appear to be significantly cheap if we consider the exchange rate between the USD and Indian Rupee (INR). Presently the exchange rate is 1 USD to 45 INR. This means that a person earning say INR 45,000 per month would cost USD 1,000. However, applying exchange rate conversion to compare salaries in two countries is not the best way as it does not take into account the respective cost of living in the two countries. Best conversion to use is the PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) conversion. As per IMF, in 2010, India’s per Capita GDP (Nominal) was USD 1,176 while the same in PPP terms was USD 3,290. Based on this, the PPP equivalent of INR 45,000 p.m. would be approximately USD 2,800 p.m. This is a win-win situation for the both the sides. Continuing with the same example, it costs only USD 1,000 p.m. to outsource the work while the person employed gets an equivalent of USD 2,800 p.m. It keeps the costs of services down in the US at the same time providing decent employment opportunities in India.

Most people in the US would say that this is indeed the crux of the problem and Indians are getting employment at our cost. My answer to them is that this is not a one-way traffic. How?

During the recent visit of Obama to India, nuclear power deals worth USD 10 Billion were signed. According to the statement issued by Obama, this deal would generate around 50,000 new jobs in the US. Do people opposing outsourcing take this into account?

Another common misconception is that Indian IT companies like Info Sys, Wipro, TCS and HCL etc. are mainly responsible for the large scale outsourcing. Not many Americans know that American front-line companies Microsoft and Intel have huge offices in India which employ hundreds of thousands of people. Not just IT companies, but other major US Engineering & Construction companies like Bechtel and Fluor have significant presence in India for outsourcing detail engineering work. Additionally, these companies also employ thousands of Indian construction workers and send them to their construction sites in Middle East and Africa. There is nothing wrong in this practice. If the American companies have to remain cost effective and competitive in the international market, they have to optimize their resource management.

Employment generation normally precedes economic growth. Government has to encourage economic growth to generate real and sustainable jobs. Constraining businesses based on short-term and emotional populism is neither good economics nor good governance.


Obama! NO, YOU CAN’T

On January 2nd, 2011, Barack Obama signed into law a bill that would provide free health care to the first responders of the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York.

The Healthcare bill provides for a fund of USD 4.2 billion for the free health care to 9/11 responders, a portion of which is being raised by extending an increase in some categories of H-1B visa fee that would mainly affect Indian IT companies. It also imposes a two per cent levy on goods and services the US imports from certain developing countries, including India. An extension in increase in H-1B visa fee is estimated to cost Indian companies USD 200 million.

In signing this bill, Obama appears to have been single-mindedly driven by the desire to improve his sagging popularity ratings. The hype created during the elections was bound to fall flat one day and faced with the stark reality, Obama, has realized – it is easy to coin slogans like “Yes, we Can” but to convert the slogans into action is not that easy.

By creating an unnecessary linkage between the 9/11 Healthcare Bill and H-1B Visa, Obama appears to be more focused on playing to the domestic gallery than honestly addressing the problem of Heath care. Recovering USD 200 M through H1-B visa out of the total expenditure of USD 4.3 B, is more of a tokenism than a funding solution.

Obama, or for that matter any of his predecessors, clearly lack the political will and courage to tackle the rot in US Healthcare sector. The real problem behind the unusual high cost of US Healthcare is the nexus between private health insurance companies and healthcare providers. The performance incentives in the private sector boost the expenditure in a commercialized context. Invariably expensive drugs and procedures are prescribed. Insurance companies provide health cover to the young, the employed and the rich, and avoid those who are elderly, unemployed and poor. There is a cozy relationship between the insured, the insurance company and the healthcare provider. For the same treatment, an uninsured person would be charged almost three times as compared to the charges for an insured person.

The United States spends a greater share of its wealth on health care than any other nation. Yet 22 developed countries have longer life expectancy at birth and 25 have lower infant mortality rates. This clearly proves that a large part of the money being spent on Healthcare is utterly non-productive.

Instead of candidly admitting the real problem and trying to demolish this unholy nexus, Obama has chosen to add insult to the injury by unnecessarily intervening into the natural flow of business. It is a well known fact that the affected IT Companies would pass on the cost of the hike in the H1B visa fee to their customers who would in turn pass it on the end users, which is the common man. Indirectly, the additional burden would have to be borne by the common man, whom Obama is desperately trying to woe. This is nothing short of cheating. It’s like first stealing someone’s money and offering it back to the same person as charity.

Through this bill, Obama, would also try to take the credit for discouraging outsourcing and creating more job opportunities for American citizens. Firstly, the whole idea defies simple business logic and secondly even if one assumes that the scheme would creates a few job – but at what cost? By burdening the common man with the cost of more expensive goods and services? It’s like giving with one hand and taking it back with another.

If funding of the so called Healthcare Reforms is an issue, why doesn’t Obama focus on reforming the US Tax System which undercharges the rich and exploits the common man? A man of the stature of Warren Buffet himself has admitted that he pays less tax than the lady who cleans his office adding that he is willing to pay more tax.

Why is it so important for Obama, the darling of the masses, to keep favoring the rich and not focus on improving the life of the common man? If he continues like this, the day is not far when people will start saying – “NO, HE CAN’T”.

Radia Tapes – Are Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi Guilty?

Radia Tapes have kicked off a huge controversy over the role of the media and has raised a question mark over the impartiality of the Fourth Estate. Involvement of top journalists, Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi, has raised an unprecedented outrage, especially in the Indian internet community, which has in the last few years emerged as an alternate media. While the press and media initially tried to black out the news, presumably to protect their fellow journalists, the alternate media, most notably Twitter and Blogs, thwarted these plans. #Barkhagate hashtag become the symbol of emergence of the new media and end of the era of doctored news coverage.

Barkha Dutt tried her best to put up a brave face by responding to the mob fury over Twitter and Facebook. NDTV too came out in her defense and tried to put back the blame on OPEN Magazine and its editor Manu Josef who first published the story. NDTV threatened to take “appropriate action” for defamation. Response of Hindustan Times was more subdued which published Vir Sanghvi’s response on its website and not in the main news paper.

Once the old media realized the futility of the black out, they slowly started to come out of hiding. Having missed out on a juicy “Breaking News” opportunity, they didn’t want to continue to fight a losing battle and tried to cash in on the fall out news.

We must bear in mind that the leaked tapes represent only 10 hours of recording from the total of 2000 hours of taped conversation available with the Government. Although, the Government has initiated an enquiry into the leaks, it is a foregone conclusion that the leaks were deliberately planted by the ruling Congress Party to send out a strong message to certain individual and parties that it is in the possession of the ammunition needed to fix them if they went against Congress.  Union home secretary G K Pillai says, “The 100-odd tapes that are now public have nothing to do with the ongoing probe into the 2G scam case. The real details on the spectrum scam are in the remaining 5,000-plus recordings that haven’t yet come out in the open but will become public at some point of time.”

To start with, Lobbying in India is invariably disguised as PR, Media Management, Communication and Consultancy. It is an open secret that all the top business houses use political lobbyists and the top lobbyist are well known in political, business and media circles. However, this is the first case that has come out in public domain about a lobbyist being put under surveillance by the government. This must have let the cat loose amongst the pigeons and forced people (who use lobbyists) to be extremely concerned about loss of their privacy. Phone tapping has always been a contentious issue in politics but this is probably the first occasion when tapped conversions have been leaked into the public domain. After the Radia Tapes controversy, what would be the future of lobbyists in India? In spite of the danger, in all probability, businessmen and politicians would still continue to use them albeit now with a greater caution. People will try to find new and innovative ways of communication to counter surveillance. These may work for a short while but the intelligence agencies would finally catch up with them and find ways to monitor them. The recent standoff between the Indian Government and Blackberry is an indication that all means of communication would have to allow intelligence surveillance.

What is worth noting is that the majority of the public anger on Radia Tapes was directed towards Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi. No one had any complain against Kanimozhi or Rata Tata or Mukesh Ambani. Why? Possibly because today in the eyes of the public politicians and businessmen are expected to indulge in dirty dealings but most people thought journalists, especially the top ones, were above suspicion. We Indians love to idealize of idols. We think they have descended from the heaven as our saviors. We don’t want to think of them as normal human beings as vulnerable to the temptations of this world as we are. When this dream shatters our worship transforms into hatred and anger. There was a time when we used to idealize our politicians and public servants in the same way but not any longer. Our dream leaders now exist only in our dreams. This realization about politicians is the results of tens possibly hundreds of scam stories that we have read, heard and seen in the media over the last many years. This is the first scandal involving journalists. We would become more and more pragmatic after a few more scandals.

So the real reason for the public outrage against media personalities was shattering of our myth about them. It always hurts the first time. As a consequence, most of what has appeared in the old and new media is all about how journalists must behave and how these two have blemished the noble profession. We need to ask ourselves whether our high expectations and subsequent outrage is fair. Have they committed a crime in the eye of the law? If we only go by the leaked conversation, they haven’t. But their biggest crime is betrayal of public expectation.

To understand the issue, let’s look at what happened from a logical angle. Who was Niira Radia working for? Ratan Tata for sure. From the tapes, she also appears to have worked for Kanimozhi and also Raja during UPA 2 cabinet formation. Were these people her independent clients? Perhaps not. Ratan Tata wanted Raja to continue as the Minister of Telecom. Sunil Mittal, his rival in the telecom field, was unhappy with Raja and was lobbying to have Raja replaced by Maran. This also means, Tata didn’t want Maran. Kanimozhi was lobbying to keep Maran out. She was comfortable with  Raja. Karunanidhi was almost inaccessible and although he held all the cards for DMK, there was no way, at least for the Dilli walah’s to approach him directly. Karunanidhi was also  apparently reluctant to name an official negotiator for DMK as he had to strike a delicate balance amongst the family members (Kanimozhi, Maran, Stalin, Azhagiri etc) as well as senior party leaders (Baalu and Raja). Kanimozhi, in spite of being Karunanidhi’s daughter, was not in a position to directly influence the decision. She wanted help from Congress to keep Maran out and was using Nirra to lobby for her in Congress. Maran, taking advantage of Karunanidhi’s inaccessibility, had managed to convey the impression to the Congress that he was the official negotiator for DMK. Kanimozhi wanted to dissuade the Congress from talking to Maran and talk to her instead saying that she would provide access to Karnunaidhi. She also wanted Congress to drop Maran and Baalu. Nirra apparently did not have a direct access to the people who mattered (Ahmed Patel and Gulaam Navi Azad) in Congress and was using Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi for her lobbying.

We need to keep in mind that 2G Spectrums were allotted in January 2008 and the Radia Tapes on UPA 2 Cabinet formation were recorded in May 2009. It is worthwhile to note that Radia’s conversation with Ratan Tata veers around 3 G Spectrum allocations. Keep in mind that, in December 2007, Ratan Tata, in a handwritten letter to Karunanidhi, reportedly praised Raja’s “rational, fair and action-oriented” leadership, stressing the spectrum controversy had been created by “vested interests”. Tata was a victim of Raja’s predecessor Dayanidhi Maran, who had reportedly tried to arm-twist the group to give an equity share in its direct-to-home venture to the Sun TV group.

From Radia’s conversation with Tata, another interesting angle emerges which is Tata’s rivalry with Anil Ambani in the telecom field as both were trying to lobby for the 3 G Spectrum allotment. See this in light of the rivalry between Mukesh and Anil Ambani and also the fact that Radia was working for Mukesh Ambani brings another interesting alignment between her two most important clients – Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani. Although Mukesh has no interest in telecom and Rata Tata doesn’t get along very well with Mukesh, but from Radia’s angle checkmating Anil Ambani would have pleased both Mukesh and Tata using “Enemy’s enemy is your friend” theory.

This theory coupled with “Friend’s friend is your friend’ also seemed to have worked in the case of Kanimuzhi. Radia may not have been working directly for Kanimozhi but here Maran is the common enemy and Raja is the common friend. Ratan Tata and Kanimozhi both didn’t want Maran. Tata specifically didn’t want him as the minister of Telecom and Kanimozhi didn’t want him in the cabinet. Tata wanted Raja back in the same position and Raja is acceptable to Kanimozhi also.

Putting two and two together, it is not too difficult to conclude that Radia was primarily lobbying on behalf of Ratan Tata to ensure that Raja is back as the telecom minister and at no cost Maran gets this position. How would Radia go about achieving this? She would have had to work on DMK and Congress both. So she would try to find out who are the most influential people in DMK, after Karunanidhi of course and amongst them who is opposed to Maran and preferably also favourable to Raja. In Kalimozhi, she found the perfect match she was looking for. Raja was always on her side as he stood to benefit by what Raida was trying to achieve. Another important person in DMK was Azhagiri who was opposed to Maran but given his limitations in English language, Radia would have found it very difficult to deal with him directly but working with Kanimozhi and Raja she made sure that Azagiri was on their side. On the other hand, Radia would have had to work on Congress but she didn’t have direct access to Sonia’s inner circle (read Ahmed Patel). Gulam Navi Azad was somewhat important because Tamilnadu was under his charge and therefore he was in the loop. So, Radia used Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi and Tarun Das to lobby in Congress. It is interesting to note that during this lobbying while Kanimozhi and Raja were on the same side, they didn’t seem to be directly talking to each other and most of the communication or alignment between them was being managed through Radia.

Coming back to Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi’s role. In spite of being a huge embarrassment for both, they do not seem to be on the wrong side of the law and nobody has so  far suggested a legal action against them. But is all this so simple? Certainly not! Barkha and Vir both, in their responses, have tried to justify their dealing by saying that they were trying to extract stories from Radia. Have a look at conversation, at no place you would get the slightest hint that any one of them was showing any interest in extracting any information from Radia. The impression you get is that Raida was practically directing both to do what she wanted.

Why would top journalists like Barkha and Vir take orders from Radia? The answer is obvious – this is only possible with a quid pro quo arrangement. What did the two get in return or at least what were they hoping to get in return? First thing that comes to one’s mind is MONEY. Yes, quite possible and why not. What else is a better way to compensate someone who does your work?

We can easily guess who was getting what – Radia was getting money from Tata. Kanimozhi was getting political benefit. Raja was getting both. Radia may have received money from Kanimozhi and Raja as well but that was certainly not her primary objective. The only two people left are Barkha and Vir. They both had good jobs and had no apparent interest in getting a better career deal through Radia. So, what else could be their interest if not money?

Is there any substance in Barkha and Vir’s argument that they were dealing with Radia with a hope to extract news bites? Possibly to some extent because Radia would have definitely had lot of inside information about political and business field. But the question is – would she divulge any confidential information related to her clients or dealings related to them? Certainly not – that would have been suicidal for her. All she could have or might have done is to provide some juicy stories about the rivals of her clients but that was her job. In fact, in such case, the direction of the favour is reverse. The journalists would have done Radia a favour by publishing the joucy stories about the rivals of her client. So following simple logic – one can’t think of any other way Radia would have returned the favour to the two journalists.

So, have Barkha and Vir compromised their professional ethics? Barkha in her response has painstakingly tried to convince her viewers that “Judge us (meaning NDTV) from our coverage.” She is somewhat right – NDTV’s coverage may not have been influenced by Barkha’s dealing with Congress for the simple reason that NDTV couldn’t have been any more pro Congress than it already was.

One last question is – why were the Congress boys listening to Barkha and Vir and the obvious answer is – each party, and especially Congress, has got its blue eyed journalists with whom exchange of favours is not surprising. It is an open secret that NDTV is virtually a Congress mouthpiece and Barkha Dutt plays a big role in that. Owned by the Birlas, Hindustan Times, traditionally, has been a pro congress news paper and therefore Vir also fits perfectly in this picture.

Radia Tapes – Ratan Tata

(Source :

Jun 11, 2009 15:57:59

Venkat: hello

Niira Radia: Venkat Hi.

Venkat: Hi

Can you talk?

Venkat: Yeah, yeah, tell me

Niira Radia: I just wanted to check. I just got a call from … R.S. Thakur to go to TACO [Tata AutoComp]. I believe Mr Tata has given some
clearances… on is it some of the JV thing is disbanded, right?

Venkat: Yes, that’s right.

Niira Radia: I just wanted to get some heads up from you because earlier we were briefed by Taco on it and I just wanted to get a heads up from you in terms of what was the final approval that’s being given so that beforeI meet him on Monday, I know what’s the plan for media that one needs to adopt

Venkat: I don’t know the details. Either Mr [unclear] or Mr Gopal can fill in

Niira Radia: OK, I will talk to them

Venkat: But thing is Mr Tata’s no longer the chairman of Taco

Niira Radia: I know that, yeah

Venkat: Yeah

Niira Radia: OK, ok, are you gonna be in office later?

Venkat: Yes, I am there in office. I might be back a little late but otherwise..

Niira Radia: You are with Mr Tata, right? I need to brief him on telecom, haan, just let him know

Venkat: Yeah, just one second

Niira Radia: Yeah, ok
Ratan Tata: Hi.

Niira Radia: Hi, how are you?

Ratan Tata: Fine, thanks.

Niira Radia: I haven’t troubled you last few days, I said let me call you once. I was hoping to come to Bombay but then I know you are not going to go away next week, you aren’t there next week

Ratan Tata: I am going away day after tomorrow

Niira Radia: I was going to come on Sunday but then I remembered you aren’t there next week so I thought let me try to shift my travel to come week after, when you are there. Is that going to be okay?

Ratan Tata: Yes, that’s fine

Niira Radia: Yeah? Would I get a chance to meet you

Ratan Tata: Yes, of course

Niira Radia: See I just need to brief you on Telecom. But maybe… shall I speak to you when you are at home in the evening, would that be better?

Ratan Tata: No, I am in the car… up to you…

Niira Radia: Ok. I just…just… Ravi and I had… I mean Anil and I had gone to meet up with minister.

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: And I have been meeting him separately on…. The sense I am getting… and that’s the sense I have been getting is that whilst he is moving ahead
as far as 3G is concerned…

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: …the sense I am getting is that he seems to be pretty hellbent on this 6.25 MHtz to go to Anil Ambani.

Ratan Tata: Uh, huh

Niira Radia: And I have told him that we will oppose it vehemently … it will not… unless we get all our spectrum.. so we have moved 2-3 processes… one is that we want harmonisation of spectrum to start…with harmonisation taking place, a lot of the Spectrum will get clear in some of the areas.

Ratan Tata: Uh, huh

Niira Radia: The second thing I have said to him is that there is about 5 MHtz that is coming in from Defence on 2G

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: What I am proposing to him is that you first give us our 4.4 in Delhi…on that…

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: …because that holds us up…. We’ve moved 3-4 processes separately with the department … I have met Dr Sarma also. But the sense I am getting is that Dr Sarma will not say no to his own judgment. He’s been given the… the minister’s gonna involve him in the consultation process

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: On this whole 6.25 issue…

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: I have …Given that it was Dr Sarma’s own judgment in TDSAT that they are reling on, he is obviously not going to obviously contradict his own judgment. So I told you…

Ratan Tata: And his judgment is 6.25?

Niira Radia: Correct…yeah…

Ratan Tata: I see

Niira Radia: It’s 6.25… meaning that… DoC’s recent committee has given a report, which was set up during a time when the election process was on, which said that we should limit it to 4.4 as being the licence condition and then thereafer we should just move to proceeding towards either a fee-determined model which is what you had earlier you had proposed in the 3G segment but in the 2G also they are saying let’s agree on a fee, and what is the basis we agree on that fee, let’s work out whether it is … over a period of time or whether it is…

Ratan Tata: But …Would Sarma subscribe to a view that 6.25 would only give it to one person?

Niira Radia: No, what Dr Sarma has done is… it is a very clever judgment, Ratan. The judgement says your licence condition earlier used to be limited to 4.4 and then you were entitled to another 1.8 which took you up to 6.2. Between the 4.4 and the 1.8 additional was the root of subscriber base…

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: So you got 4.4 as your entitlement when you became a licence holder…

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: …and thereafter you had to have X amount of subscribers to qualify for additional 1.8

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: What has happened here is that Dr Sarma’s view is, in the judgement, that all subscribers…uh, that all licence holders should be entitled to
6.25 in any case so that they can plan their network.

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: And thereafter there should be an agreed fee-determination that should take place. And what is that fee can be determined either be through an auction route or it can be through a model of what has been an cap-ex and op-ex [?] spend that you’ve had to incur if you were taking spectrum up. And all work out… Basically, he’s given two to three different formulas that one could apply which would in effect all end up taking your EGRs [?] up to 9 to 12 %

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: The challenge is that whilst he’s given a very innocent, uh, judgement, the other side has upped the subscriber-base by having false subscribers. For example, today, in Jammu they have been deactivated by 36,000 of connections because they were supplying them to militants [?]. And they were doing all sorts of wrong stuff. I know, we know that their subscriber-base is fudged almost to 50% By giving false subscriber-base — where Dr Sarna is silent in his judgement on that — they will be able to secure 6.25 in all circles and they’d almost end up jumping the queue again So I told Raja that your 6.25 can only happen to one party if Anil Ambani … if first Tata Tele Services …as from my point of view is the second licence.. if you’ve given Anil Ambani …already 4.4, we are entitled to Spectrum after that immediately. But, actually, my first complaint is that, no, we were entitled as #1…
Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: …but you have now made a fait accompli and given them 4.4, oky? So okay, before you give Unitech, before you give Swan, before you give anybody else, we should be the first in queue because as far as we are concerned, dual technology was an existing licence for all and in your criteria, when you made submission to court, you said ‘existing licence holders’ first. So We automatically get entitled to that and then after that whether Sunil Mittal gets 1 MHz in Delhi or whatever, then the new licences operate… He… there is an interpretation issue on that and they are playing very cleverly on it again… My worry is that after they give 6.25 to Anil Ambani…

Ratan Tata: Um, hmmm

Niira Radia: …including in Delhi, because he has just gone in and given an application for Delhi and key metros, and we will be struggling because there is only 5 MHz being released by Defence for Delhi and we will be again struggling…

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: …Because we would not have built up our subscriber base any case– between 4.4 and 6.25… because we are just launching now.

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: And we are not fudging like they have done.
Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: So they will now make us wait another one and a half to two years for getting Spectrum. So I am saying to Raja that the moment you shift from this … because there is an interpretation … and I have said this to Dr Sarma also, I said Dr Sarma, don’t take this report because you will have no credibility because you have already given a judgement and you can’t be doing this report because you are in conflict technically speaking because y’know you are looking at your judgement again this time as TRAI…So there is a grey area there

Ratan Tata: You need to find a way that he doesn’t oppose this judgment and you still gives you what you believe is right

Niira Radia: Which is why I told him I told him that if you say you give me 6.25… er, that you are going to give the other side 6.25 first, please first assure me that there is 4.4 available for us everywhere else… everywhere that we are entitled to get When we do our sums on the Spectrum spread that is available…we get stuck in Delhi and some key areas

Ratan Tata: Yeah because if he wants a way to oppose his judgment and clarifies that in the fairness of things, everyone should get the base of 4.4

Niira Radia: 4.4… yeah, that’s what I am telling him Ratan and that’s what he is not in agreement with
Ratan Tata: Why?

Niira Radia: Neither Raja nor him…are in agreement.. because his basic premise is that I think the operators must have 6.25 because that is what his judgment says they should have 6.25 even if that’s on …subscriber base…

Ratan Tata: That’s fine but there’s no sense in this if Spectrum is not available…

Niira Radia: hmmm

Ratan Tata: … that you stick by that so that only one subscriber gets it

Niira Radia: No, he is giving us another carrot and that is if you go to TDSAT now you will get helped and you come to me somehow and I will say that you were second in the queue and that operators like Swan and Telenor who should not have got spectrum…or Unitech… who should not have got Spectrum because it was not rolled down, their spectrum should be taken away and given to us. I said no body is gonna allow that to happen because they will get a stay

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: They’ll go to Supreme Court and they will buy their way through a stay and we’ll never get it … so don’t show us something which you and I know is not going to happen. So when I went to Anil Sardana on Monday and took him to meet the minister on Tuesday, I told him that, I said don’t accept this because this is just.. they’re just showing you a route which is going to be unacceptable… let’s look at what’s available on the ground… the moment we allow 6.25, we are stuck. So this is…So I just wanted to tell you this.. I am seeing him again. Raja’s promised me that he’s not going to do anything in a hurry, which I think he will not. I made Kani speak to him as well. He’s not going to do anything in a hurry at all, he’s promised that. So we’ve got some time and we’re.. I am gonna to meet Dr Sarma again on Monday. I will try not to come to Bombay and finish this in the course of next week. I just wanted to tell you that this is actually what’s actually going on on the ground… I wanna go with this thing that 4.4 is the entitlement and everyone must get that before we even start talking on 6.25

Ratan Tata: Yeah, but if he can word it… so that he agrees to 6.25 but he just makes this a precondition…

Niira Radia: Yeah…

Ratan Tata: …or clarifies that it would be fair that this be so otherwise it would be a monopoly…

Niira Radia: Hmmm

Ratan Tata: ….or not a monopoly…but a… a .. disparity…

Niira Radia: Disparity, yeah. It’s a grave disparity… it’s craziness and I mean… y’know, they are getting [unclear?]…. in various cricles to agree to their figures which are fudged … and there’s no way… there has to be a mechanism of actually verifying subscribers… of all operators.. I mean, they are saying, fine, y’know, we are comfortable if you verify our subscribers as well…We have no problems with that as long as … we can launch a service and you don’t put us at a disadvantage … we need our basic 4.4 to even launch

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: So, yeah, that’s the sort of thought process… Just want to tell you that Round II of the telecom battle starts. I don’t know how many more battles there will be.

Ratan Tata: I’m surprised that Raja after all that you supposedly did for him is playing this game.

Niira Radia: I met…I explained to Kani. I met her yesterday on the way home last evening. I told her, Kani, look, this is what is happening. You need to have to have a word with him. And so…She said, give me a note and I’m gonna just call him up and tell him that he has to behave. He (Raja) very clearly told me, ‘Tell me, Niira, how can I go against what the court has said?” So I said, ‘Hello, Mr Raja, you can go against the court. You don’t have to accept what the court has said because 4.4 (megahertz) is what the licence entitlement is and it’s for you to interpret.’ So there is this little game going on.

Ratan Tata: But now with the new attorney-general or whatever he is…

Niira Radia: No, Ratan, that’s a good thing. I’ll tell you why—because he can only handle constitutional matters. The solicitor-general is the gentleman—I told you about the swimming pool thing—Gopal Subramaniam. He’s the guy who has to do the interpretation.

Ratan Tata: I see.

Niira Radia: I’m going to see him. I sent him a message and he said he will call back at around 5.30-6 when he gets free and he reaches home. So I will be briefing him…. Actually, he hates them (the Anil Ambani group). I’m not sure he’ll agree to what they say.
Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: He’s a very upright person….

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: I think Raja will be trying to get in the Attorney General. He briefed Prime Minister yesterday about 3G saying he wants to put up a 3G cabinet note and doesn’t want to go to the GoM. I think that’s a bit of a hogwash.

Ratan Tata: Uh huh

Niira Radia: I think They’ll do all this drama but I don’t think there’ll be 3G auctioning before March next year.

Ratan Tata: Uh huh

Niira Radia: I don’t think… they’re not gonna do it in a hurry.

Ratan Tata: Uh huh

Niira Radia: And the only reason they want to do 6.25 (MHZ) for Anil is so that he can get AT&T to buy into his company. AT&T is talking to him right now, Ratan.

Ratan Tata: I see…

Niira Radia: Yeah, coz he needs an equity partner otherwise he can’t survive with the debt he’s got. His avenues have closed on raising more money unless he
fudges some other things and raises money.

Ratan Tata: Why isn’t all of this getting exposed?

Niira Radia: Ratan, they’re buying up the media. They’re using their buying power with the media. For every ad they place…I can’t explain to you the discussions I have had with the media, in particular the Times Group and Dainik Bhaskar—the Aggarwal guys who came and met you….

Ratan Tata: Yeah…

Niira Radia: They say, Niira, every time we do a negative story on them, they withdraw advertising. So, I said, fine, others can also withdraw advertising…. So just because we are upright about how we do things and we don’t leverage … They leverage every dollar of their media-spend to ensure they don’t get any negative publicity I am sitting on, you know, the sort of stuff, you know, that I’ve got is unbelievable and the same thing… I’ve made even Mukesh’s people talk to them but then ultimately it’s come down to the… media-spend.
We need leverage with the media. The media has become very, very greedy….
It will eventually come out. When the first time happens… when the barriers get broken, then it’s a different thing altogether … then everybody starts saying, oh we are the men with integrity… we are this thing… but they are as bad as … [hell? ’em?]
I have already, y’know, very quietly, through journalists who are straightforward… I have done a lot of stories already … All on his debt I have done lots of stories already all on his debts… I have had most of the analysts community writing reports on it which is circulating … I have done all that … through analysts… like UBS has done a report, Kotak has done a report, Mcquiry [check?] has done a report… on both the power sector as well as telecom in which… in that he’s got huge problems … that his [?] are not correct, his revenue figures seem to be a little problematic and that he would find it difficult to raise any further funds. So all that is already there…but what happens: the media doesn’t carry that, or when they carry, so that they don’t get… they dilute it because he’s there sitting on their heads… he’s got two people just monitoring [?]…play in the media… So I am saying to Anil… I told Anil Sardana also the same thing… I said… we have have to advertise because these are our brands… and we do what we have to do… but we gonna have to also start… we have to leverage… some part of it … you know we have to tighten this thing… We can’t work in isolation.. Working in isolation is causing this challenge.. I told Raja very clearly that you are going to have negative press because.. anything above.. because you give this guy 6.25… [unclear] Because Sunil Mittal is not going to sit quiet. And he’s told me that he’s not going to sit quiet.

Ratan Tata: Hmm

Niira Radia: So there’s.. a … so I will talk to Anil again…Anil… he and I were supposed to touch base today…

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: … But I am meeting, Ratan, everyone I am required to meet… I don’t think the report will happen in a hurry so we will go through a consultation process

Ratan Tata: OK

Niira Radia: So let’s see what we can … best do. We’ll be aggressive about our approach.

Ratan Tata: OK

Niira Radia: Yeah? I will see you then when you are back

Ratan Tata: Yeah

Niira Radia: OK then, bye

Radia Tapes – Vir Sanghvi, Former Editor Hindustan Times

(Source :

In some of the following transcripts, Niira is spelt as Nira or ‘Mira’

May 22, 2009, 13:03:19

Vir Sanghvi: Hi Mira.

Mira: Hi Vir. Where are you Delhi or…

Vir Sanghvi: I’m in Jaipur. Coming back this evening.

Mira: Okay. I just wanted to, I’ve been talking to my Tamil Nadu friends.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: I just need to, I don’t know whether you are in the position to get through to anyone at Congress. I just met Kanni just now.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: And I’ve been, you know, we reunited since yesterday. The problem is…

Vir Sanghvi: I was suppose to meet Sonia today but I’ve been stuck here. So, now it’s becoming tomorrow. I’ve been meeting with Rahul but tell me?

Mira: No, I’ll tell you what – they are not understanding that they are actually communicating with the wrong guy. Not because I detached Maran but actually the father has not nominated Maran to negotiate. Now, you know, it’s like a banana republic where the cabinet…

Vir Sanghvi: Then why Maran became the face, they all hate Maran.

Mira: No. He is not, he is not. I know, no. But the Congress is under the impression. They have already apparently indicated to Maran that the Prime Minister will not give infrastructure berth to DMK, which, but he himself is desperately pushing for an infrastructure berth for himself.

Vir Sanghvi: Right.

Mira: But the problem is that there is a leader which is Kanni’s brother which is Alagiri, who’s won that election and he is a mass leader.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: Now what has apparently Maran has gone and indicated to Congress is that he will accept a MOS independent and you leave it with me, everything will be okay.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: Which blames Balu, Raja and Maran Cabinet posts independent to Alagiri and MOS to Kanni.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: Now, Alagiri is a very, you know, he is, he is a mass leader. He controls half of Tamil Nadu for Karunanidhi’s point of view.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: He is far too, too senior for Maran. So, what he has told his father that if you make Maran a cabinet minister…

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Mira: …I’ll not come into the cabinet. And the father cannot afford to upset him because…

Vir Sanghvi: Obviously.

Mira: …simply because of his position.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Mira: Right now the Congress doesn’t seem to be understanding this.

Vir Sanghvi: So, who should they talk to?

Mira: They need to, look, they need to talk directly to Karunanidhi, they need to talk to Kanni.

Vir Sanghvi: Sonia spoke to him yesterday, you know.

Mira: No, she didn’t speak to him. Only Prime Minister spoke even that was Kanni was translating for him. It was very brief that, you know, let’s try and resolve this issue. There is nothing at all and whatever. They need to get Ghulam Nabi Azad to speak to Kanimozhi.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: Seriously, that’s the only thing that will work and Kanni will take them to her father.

Vir Sanghvi: I won’t get into Sonia in the short term, let me try and get through to Ahmed.

Mira: No. But they need to speak to Kanni and Kanni will take him to their, her father directly.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: He has no problem with three cabinet berths at all. In fact it is the Congress that messed it up.

Vir Sanghvi: Mm-hmm.

Mira: Had they, had they not kept on insisting and kept on pushing Maran forward themselves have been pushing Maran forward. They would have left it to Raja and, and Balu even if they wanted or Raja and Alagiri and Kanni would taken independent, nobody will, it is Congress they started this whole Maran dialogue.

Vir Sanghvi: Oh, I have been thinking that DMK nominated Maran.

Mira: No. No. No. No, they did, they’ve sent a list earlier with five portfolios and Maran’s name because father was pushed … so he had to send a list with everybody’s name on it. But he was hoping that Congress would come back and say okay we will accept Raja or we will not, or not Raja, we will give you only three portfolios right? But they have not able to, the communication that’s been happening in Congress with DMK has been complete warped. They are talking to the wrong guys.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay. Let me try and get through to Ahmed.

Mira: The, the simplest way is Kanni [Indiscernible] [0:03:24].

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Mira: And Kanni [Indiscernible] [0:03:27] will take them to her father directly.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: And they can have this, you know, whatever are the, the concerns, whatever they want to say, let them say in front of Kanni.

Vir Sanghvi: And he’ll never mind. He will not mind.

Mira: Yeah, they should say, they should say we don’t want Maran.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay. Done. Let me just try and get through and I’ll let you know soon.

Mira: But the moment you drop Maran, your problem gets resolved because Alagiri has done okay.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: Yeah.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: Okay. Give him this message. She is right now…

Vir Sanghvi: I just…

Mira: [Indiscernible] [0:03:51] She is in her South Avenue residence.

Vir Sanghvi: They have a mobile no, you know?

Mira: I just met her.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: And some Tamil Nadu Congress guys also want just now to meet her.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: I don’t think it needs to be done at that level. It needs to be done at, at Ghulam Nabi Azad level or…

Vir Sanghvi: Well, I’ll talk with Ahmed. I’m going to talk to him.

Mira: Yeah.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

May 22, 2009, 13:27:07

Vir Sanghvi: Hi Nira.

Nira: Vir, just one thing, you know, explain to him…

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Nira: …that when they send their list of five cabinet ministers, they had sent Maran for Railways…

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: They had send Surface Transportation for Balu…

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: …Telecom for Raja.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: …Health for Kanni…

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: …Power for Balu, Power for Balu.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: And Surface for Alagiri…

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: …knowing because, because Karunanidhi was under pressure from his family…

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Nira: …knowing Power and Railways would never be accepted.

Vir Sanghvi: That’s right.

Nira: Both people would have been dropped.

Vir Sanghvi: Oh, I see.

Nira: And he says, you know, this whole, because he doesn’t know how to explain the man, you know, old…

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Nira: …but actually and then they could have got away with two with Alagiri and Raja and Kanni would have happily accepted MoS as independent.

Vir Sanghvi: That’s right. Yeah, yeah. So, basically its Maran know?

Nira: Yeah. So, the moment you drop him you solved your problem.

Vir Sanghvi: Who was he dealing with?

Nira: They are dealing with Maran, Congress is talking to Maran.

Vir Sanghvi: No. But who in the Congress?

Nira: I believe various people, I know he is in touch with Ahmed Patel, he is in touch with Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: But Ghulam Nabi Azad doesn’t like him.

Vir Sanghvi: No. Even Ahmed doesn’t like him. Nobody likes him.

Nira: So – yeah, but I think we just need to – seriously there is only one route, talk to the daughter she will take you to him…

May 22, 2009, 22:16:23

Nira: Hi.

Vir Sanghvi: Hi, can you talk?

Nira: Hi.

Vir Sanghvi: Can you talk?

Nira: Yeah, yeah. Okay.

Vir Sanghvi: You know, Maran did not meet Sonia.

Nira: He did not, they are not telling everybody.

Vir Sanghvi: He will not meet Sonia, he is been there, they say we’re not treating him as official spokesperson at all. He called just now, I saw your message, he is nonstop calling up Ghulam Nabi Azad every half an hour and making new demands and all that.

Nira: Mm-hmm.

Vir Sanghvi: As far as we’re concerned there is two wives, one brother, one sister, one nephew it’s all got very complicated for us. We’ve made a basic offer, if Karunanidhi responds to us and tell this that he would like to respond directly, he would like to talk to Ms. Gandhi. He spoke only to Manmohan Singh. We would be more than happy but we’re not going to chase them now. We’ve told Maran that also they’ve to come back to us and tell us what they think of our offer. And apparently the DMK is getting very bad press in Chennai.

Nira: Mm-hmm.

Vir Sanghvi: So, he said we’re going to wait for two days. Let them come back, we are of the line that this is not a Congress DMK problem, this is an internal DMK problem because they can’t get their act together between all his wives and children and nephews and all of that. He is got to get his act together and nominate one person and we would be very happy to deal with him. We are not happy with this Maran who keeps calling up Ghulam Nabi and saying talk to me, talk to me. They are not taking him seriously.

Nira: Very interesting. I’m glad of – you spoke to Ghulam Nabi, is it?

Vir Sanghvi: I spoke to Ahmed.

Nira: Ahmed [Indiscernible] [0:01:35].

Vir Sanghvi: Ghulam Nabi is not very key figure, Ahmed is the key figure.

Nira: Right, right, right.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah. So, Ahmed he says Ghulam has been dealing with Maran. But Ghulam is not our official person and we’re not taking Maran seriously. As far as they are concerned they’ve asked for five crucial ministry, they’ve asked for five crucial ministry, it’s an idiotic and unreasonable demand. We’ve made them a perfectly reasonable demand. Now, it is for Karunanidhi to get back to us, Kanni come and see us, anyone can come and see us and say I’ll put you on the line with my father et cetera, lines are, doors are open to her. But we can’t have a situation where Maran keeps calling us and saying I’m the person and telling Ghulam, I want this, I want that, who is Maran?

Nira: Mm-hmm.

Vir Sanghvi: Maran has gone back apparently today to Chennai?

Nira: Yeah. He has gone back, yeah. I’ll tell him to call back.

Vir Sanghvi: He says, we told him – we told Maran also that we’ll deal with Karunanidhi, so he has gone back. So, they are quite hopeful they say, we made a very reasonable offer, we’ve lot of regards for Karunanidhi, we would like to deal with him. We have no regard for Maran.

Nira: Okay. That’s interesting.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Nira: I better tell them this.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah. Then he further, I mean, just let me know and I’ll take it further.

Nira: Okay, great. And…

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah. And 1:30 tomorrow, you know…

Nira: …we meet 1:30, 1:30 yeah, yeah.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah. Yeah. See you then, bye, bye.

May 23, 2009, 22:26:42

Vir Sanghvi: Hello.

Mira: Sorry to disturb you.

Vir Sanghvi: Hi, no problem.

Mira: They had a meeting.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: M.K. Narayanan had come.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: And as suggested it was Kanni only.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: And they had a, they are still stuck to their four formula and one independent.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: But these people will also think about it and let him know tomorrow morning. He is…

Vir Sanghvi: But they will not send him about the family or whatever, right?

Mira: No. He clarified everything that you had told him.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay, very good.

Mira: I think that there was no issue and there was, and there was lot of relief from this Chief Minister’s side.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: And he realized that, you know, this is all being done by…

Vir Sanghvi: By Maran.

Mira: …yeah. [Indiscernible] [0:00:42] But the thing is that it appears that he is still under a lot of pressure to take Maran, you know, so…

Vir Sanghvi: Where is this coming from this pressure?

Mira: It’s coming from Stalin and his sister Sylvie.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: So, I believe Maran has given about 600 crores to Dayalu, Stalin’s mother.

Vir Sanghvi: 600 Crores, okay?

Mira: 600 Crores, is what I’m told.

Vir Sanghvi: It’s hard to argue with that kind of pressure?

Mira: Isn’t it. So, he is…

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Mira: …but no, but he doesn’t know, the father doesn’t, I mean,

Vir Sanghvi: Doesn’t realize what?

Mira: Doesn’t realize that. But this is the feedback that Alagiri has got.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: And …

Vir Sanghvi: So, basically what they want is a little more flexibility and posts right? They want probably more cabinets or something?

Mira: They are saying one more cabinet and Kanni was independent charge.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Mira: But if they stick to three and give independent charge, then Kanni gets her independent and then Alagiri, Balu and Raja come in?

Vir Sanghvi: That is not so bad, you know.

Mira: Yeah, so I think…

Vir Sanghvi: …unless Maran is one of the cabinet.

Mira: Yeah. But yeah, unless Maran is one of the cabinet. But I don’t think he can give it to three family members.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Mira: That will send a very wrong signals.

Vir Sanghvi: That’s right.

Mira: So, the best thing is, you know, if I don’t know whether Narayanan can say that, I mean he can’t say who should be the people. But he could probably go back and say that, you know, Balu and Raja and Alagiri is the best option and Kanni, you know.

Vir Sanghvi: And it’s good for the government also, that doesn’t seem to be giving it to the family.

Mira: Yeah. Yeah but then I don’t know whether he is in the position to take names, you know.

Vir Sanghvi: Because Balu and Raja are saying it is being spread by Maran saying that we don’t, nobody wants them because they are crooks to advance his own career, you know.

Mira: Yeah. Yeah. So, if there was anything that could be said which is, that, that you know, you know, if, if Narayanan was to come back tomorrow and say by looking, I think, we think that may be the three and we’ll see a little later for the fourth one. But for now let’s just look at Alagiri, Balu and Raja…

Vir Sanghvi: And, and, and see Maran…

Mira: …and we can give independent to Kanni.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah. Makes sense

Mira: And, and that would be a, a good thing for him to say. And they are asking for environment and forest.

Vir Sanghvi: See Narayanan will talk to PM. Then they have to communicate, he won’t talk to the Congress President

Mira: hmm?

Vir Sanghvi: He won’t talk to Congress president. So, somebody … he’s PM’s man, he has gone on behalf of PM. So, they will, PMO will send its feedback to Congress party. So, that stage my friends will get a ….

Mira: So they will in any case speak to Ahmed, you know.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah. Yeah, they will. And nothing will happen without his getting involved.

Mira: Yeah.

Vir Sanghvi: So, I’ll speak to him right away and convey this?

Mira: Yeah. But maybe that, you know, he would have to specify then that we are not too comfortable with Maran…

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Mira: …and let it be Balu and Raja because so much has been said and then it would also, also send a wrong message that if you don’t take Balu and Raja now. But I don’t know whether they will say that?

Vir Sanghvi: I don’t know. Well let’s, let’s. No, harm trying.

Mira: But therefore Kanni, is asking for, he is not told Narayanan this but they’ve suggested a couple of ministries.

Vir Sanghvi: Which one?

Mira: But they are saying okay, telecom is going to Raja in any case.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: That, the old man is very clear about.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: But as far as the other two are concerned, he doesn’t mind. He is not very fussed about chemical, fertilizer and labor.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: How funny, he would prefer that she gets independent charge Environment and Forest or something like that. You know, where she can get her teeth in and she is I think, she is very upright with it. So, they shouldn’t have any problem with that or by the way aviation also.

Vir Sanghvi: What about Civil Aviation?

Mira: And Civil Aviation.

Vir Sanghvi: It gives her the, it gives her the profile she would need, you know.

Mira: She wants the aviation because, why she says aviation because she can do Chennai airport, Salem and Madurai and all that, you know…

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Mira: …it gives her the, the foothold for the political side.

Vir Sanghvi: We don’t have anyone there. Let me talk.

Mira: Yeah. And she is intelligent and she will do just, because they are saying Environment and Forest and Aviation for Kanni in independent charge.

Vir Sanghvi: I’ll pass this on?

Mira: Yeah. Thanks. Thanks to you.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah.

Mira: That was really great, you know, you all, I mean it was exactly as you had said and…

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Mira: They were very relieved and she was so relieved. So, wants to say thank you to you personally.

Vir Sanghvi: I’ll pass it…

Mira: Let’s hope tomorrow it will – and Alagiri has got all those messages. My person came back and confirmed.

Vir Sanghvi: Oh, very good.
May 24, 2009, 12:27:06

Nira: Vir.

Vir Sanghvi: Yeah hi. Tell me.

Nira: Hi, hi. Currently they had given a list just for four people to Narayanan

Vir Sanghvi: Okay. Okay.

Nira: Then today when Narayanan went back there, they gave three – they got, I mean, Kanni got her father to agree to three…

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: …thinking that they will have this independent charge issue. But Congress came back and said we’ll not do independent charge.

Vir Sanghvi: Independent charge for anyone or independent charge for anyone or for Kanni

Nira: For Kanni because three for the cabinet which was any case what was the original formula…

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: …and the only the extra that they asked like we don’t want a fourth cabinet post but you give us an independent charge post…

Vir Sanghvi: Okay.

Nira: …and then the independent charge.

Vir Sanghvi: Right.

Nira: And that Congress seems to has, not agreed to.

Vir Sanghvi: Okay. Let me find out.

Nira: Yeah. [Indiscernible] [0:00:52] Narayanan has left with the list that…

Vir Sanghvi: But, I mean, Narayanan is just a messenger. So, now the decision will be taken.

Nira: If they can…

Radia Tapes – Barkha Dutt, Group Editor NDTV

(Source :

May 22, 2009 09:48:51

Barkha Dutt: Hi Niira

Niira Radia: Hi, did I wake you up?

Barkha Dutt: No, no, no. I’ve been up, yaa, most of the night. The stalemate continues, yaa.

Niira Radia: Yeah. Listen, the thing is that they need to talk to him directly. That is what the problem is.

Barkha Dutt: Apparently now, the message from the other side is, that why did he go? Why did Baalu [T.R. Baalu, former DMK minister] go public? They claim that at this point will they had offered him this formula and this guys said, “no”. This guys never told them they were going to withdraw support. Not withdraw support. But outside support. Apparently, PM was really pissed off ‘ cause they had went public.

Niira Radia: But that’s Baalu’s doing, naa… he was not instructed by Karunanidhi to do that.

Barkha Dutt: Oh, he wasn’t?

Niira Radia: This is not. He was told to come away and tell Congress that.

Barkha Dutt: And he went public

Niira Radia: Well, the media… media, the media was standing outside.

Barkha Dutt: Oh God. So now what? What should I tell them? Tell me what should I tell them?

Niira Radia: I’ll tell you what it is—the problem and I have had a long chat with both his wife and with the daughter, right?

Barkha Dutt: Haan, haan.

Niira Radia: The problem is if the Congress has a problem with Baalu, if they have no problem with anyone. They need and go talk to Karunanidhi. They have very good relationship with Karunanidhi directly.

Barkha Dutt: Correct, haan.

Niira Radia: Because you see, in front of Baalu, in front of Maran, they can’t talk.

Barkha Dutt: Yeah

Niira Radia: So they have to tell him directly, there [are] enough Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu. They need to go in and tell him exactly—the biggest problem is that the following of Azhagiri is saying that you cannot give Maran a cabinet post and keep Azhagiri in the MoS state.

Barkha Dutt: That’s right. But will Karuna drop Baalu?

Niira Radia: He… look, if you tell him that Baalu is the only problem. I would imagine, he will drop him.

Barkha Dutt: But you see the problem right now is also over the choice of portfolios, naa…

Niira Radia: No. They’ve not said anything. The portfolios have not even got discussed.

Barkha Dutt: Congress claims, for whatever it’s worth, that the DMK wanted surface transport, power, IT, telecom, railways and health.

Niira Radia: Wo tho pehle se list gaya tha

Barkha Dutt: Haa, abhi Congress has offered IT, telecom, chemical, fertilizer and labour

Niira Radia: Yes

Barkha Dutt: So this is where it’ll stand off. Will DMK accept all (or both)?

Niira Radia: Maybe no, because they have to drop Maran if you want them to be accept… Maran is wishing coal and mine.

Barkha Dutt: Who’s wishing?

Niira Radia: Now Maran is saying, you give me coal and more mine. If he.. my honest advice to… is that you need to tell them… tell him directly that we are happy because Kani (M.K.Kanimozhi, Karundanidhi’s daughter) got no issue about being even as independent but Azhagiri is now telling her that you cannot take an independent charge if Maran remains cabinet minister. And congress is sending messages through media and through various sources saying that… Maran is going around telling everyone that he is the only acceptable person.

Barkha Dutt: Ya, ya, ya. That I know.

Niira Radia: But that’s not correct na?

Barkha Dutt: No, I know and we’ve (NDTV) have taken that off… We’ve have taken that off.

Niira Radia: But also… Congress needs to tell Karunanidhi that we have not said anything about Maran

Barkha Dutt: OK. let me talk to them again

Niira Radia: Yeah? The choice of candidate we will leave to you. We have some reservation about Baalu. And let them tell the reservation. And we have not said anything about Maran. We are not asking…

May 22, 2009 10:47:33

Barkha Dutt: I think they have told Maran.

Niira Radia: Yeah, now what they need to do is, they need to speak to Kani so she can set up the discussion with her father, because even the Prime Minister’s discussion was … she was the one who’s translating, and it was a very brief discussion for two minutes.

Barkha Dutt: Okay.

Niira Radia: That we’ll try and work it out, and the let’s not you know take it any hasty easy decision. That’s the type of conversation that happened.

Barkha Dutt: No, I’ll set it up as soon as they get out of RCR.

Niira Radia: What she saying is that, you know, that someone senior like Ghulam [Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader]—because he is the one who is authorised to speak. ….

Barkha Dutt: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Niira Radia: Right? Was to speak to her then she can tell her father that I have got this message from the Congress.

Barkha Dutt: Theek hai, not a problem. That’s not a problem, I’ll talk to Azad—I’ll talk to Azad right after I get out of RCR [Race Course Road, presumably, the PM’s residence].

Niira Radia: Yeah, and then she said when father lands, I can speak to him.

Barkha Dutt: Okay.

Niira Radia: And the problem is that the congress is not understanding that nobody is coming and telling my father anything so they are talking…

May 22, 2009 15:31:29

Barkha Dutt: Nirra?

Niira Radia: Hi

Barkha Dutt: Now, their saying, “We’ll take whoever!”

Niira Radia: Whoever matlab? It doesn’t matter Maran or whoever? Baalu or Raja or anything na?

Barkha Dutt: Ha, now their saying that

Niira Radia: But tell me one thing..

Barkha Dutt: I’ve had a long chat and they promised me that Azad will speak to him

Niira Radia: Who? Ghulam?

Barkha Dutt: Ghulam. Yeah.

Niira Radia: You know, the problem is she’s catching a flight at five, haan? Going back. Dayanidhi Maran is attending the swearing in when only Raja has been authorised to attend, so he’s gone and told his leader that Ahmed Patel has called me especially to attend the swearing in.

Barkha Dutt: Ahmed says this is rubbish…

Niira Radia: But I am telling you but this. Karunanidhi’s very confused.

Barkha Dutt: No, but why can’t Kani stay also and attend it?

Niira Radia: She doesn’t want to attend no because her father told her to come back. She has to follow what she’s father says, no?

Barkha Dutt: Let me call Ghulam then. Let me call him.

Niira Radia: Tell him she’s leaving at five. She’s catching a flight at five.
May 22, 2009 18:09:16

Barkha Dutt: Ha, not true!

Niira Radia: I don’t know where she’s (Navika Kumar from Timesnow) getting this from?

Barkha Dutt: No, but the thing is it fits with the Congress formula. So it might be a…

Niira Radia: Congress is already…

Barkha Dutt: No, you see Congress’s only condition is … DMK should not get surface transport, beyond individuals. Right?

Niira Radia: Correct, correct, and they are not individuals. Let me tell you one thing’s for sure. 3 plus 4 was yesterday; because of Maran, they wanted to make it 4 plus 3.

Barkha Dutt: Okay!

Niira Radia: So, now it is back to… 3 plus 4 was already what was on the table!

Barkha Dutt: No, so why does this formula not sound right then?

Niira Radia: Because of Azhagiri naa! He’s not got cabinet.

Barkha Dutt: Oh, Azhagiri got what, according to these things?

Niira Radia: You see, according to her, he’s got Health, but he can’t be cabinet. Either Maran is not cabinet, either Raja is not cabinet or Baalu’s not.

Barkha Dutt: Azhagiri’s got Health and that’s a big compromise by Congress because they said we won’t give them Health. So that’s their face saver. No, but Azhagiri, Health can be cabinet?

Niira Radia: Agreed, but then Raja is MoS.

Barkha Dutt: Raja is MoS!

Niira Radia: Then is Baalu MoS? Nahin ho sakta.

Barkha Dutt: Nahin, nahin, nahin, if Baalu gets Heavy Industries and … Baalu gets chemicals and fertilizer; Azhagiri gets this thing – Health.

Niira Radia: Maran gets Telecom and IT.

Barkha Dutt: Maran gets Telecom and IT. Raja gets demoted.

Niira Radia: Who gets…?

Barkha Dutt: Raja? Nahin hoga! [Won’t happen] haha

Niira Radia: I am telling you nahin hai (laughing). Trust me, nahin hai. Trust me, nahi hai [It’s not]

Barkha Dutt: Achcha, theek hai.

Niira Radia: I’ll tell you what is… paanch minute pehle… main tumko ek baat batati hu. Kya hogaya hai. Ek baat hogayii. Ye teeno Baalu, Raja aur Maran ko hatake, teen naye faces le a ayenge [Five minutes back… let me tell you what has happened. One thing has happened. They will remove Baalu, Raja and Maran and get three new faces]

Barkha Dutt: So this is not true basically, na?

Niira Radia: I don’t know where they are getting it from? I’ve been telling Navika Kumar that you’ve gone hammer and tong. And Maran doesn’t even want IT by the way. Maran wants coal and mine.

Barkha Dutt: I heard that Maran coal and mine…

May 22, 2009 19:23:57

[Lots of blank in the beginning]

Niira Radia:  Nahi hai, Barkha. Maine abhi phirse baat ki hai [I again had a talk].

Barkha Dutt: Apparently this story is not coming from Dwivedi[?] but from Chennai… Some section of the DMK

Niira Radia:  No, it’s coming from.. hmmm

Barkha Dutt: You see what happened was everybody I know in the congress was at the swearing in. So I haven’t been able to speak to the top guys. Now I just finished and I am going to make my set of calls.

Niira Radia:  Kani has just landed in Chennai. Just now. I just spoke…

Barkha Dutt: Where is Daya? Where is Maran?

Niira Radia:  Daya didn’t turn up for the swearing in because he was called back, because he went and told Karunanidhi that I have been asked by Ahmed Patel to come for the swearing in. But then the Leader said then you join the Congress.

Barkha Dutt: (laughs) So now?

Niira Radia:  So Raja was the only one who’s authorised to attend which he’s done and Raja’s catching the 8:40 flight…

Barkha Dutt: Okay

Niira Radia:  Karunanidhi from the time he’s landed has been sleeping. Has been resting. He’s got a back issue if you know. And the meeting is going to take place tomorrow.

Barkha Dutt: Ok

Radia Tapes – Prabhu Chawla, Editor India Today

(Source :

Jun 20, 2009 14:32:07

Niira Radia: Hi Prabhu

Prabhu Chawla: Yaa tell me now

Niira Radia: Nahii nothing, I was just wanting to understand things from you. You always have a very good perspective.

Prabhu Chawla: On What?

Niira Radia: On everything bhai, ha ha ha ha. Generally you have a good perspective of everything. Trying to understand what is your view on this great historic judgment above the national interest.

Prabhu Chawla: You see when the brothers are involved, the nation also gets involved, naa?

Niira Radia: Yaa, but probably not a good thing naa. Not good for the nation.

Prabhu Chawla: Not good for the nation, but the brothers don’t talk to each other. There is nobody who can force them to talk also naa?

Niira Radia: Wo to ho gayii naa Prabhu tum bhii jaante ho

Prabhu Chawla: Maine koshiosh kii thi., nahii huaa. maine kahaa ho jayegaa

Niira Radia: Nahii. Abhii nahii. I was speaking to him even recently, I spoke to him this morning, the question of ..

Prabhu Chawla: (interrupts) is he back from wherever he had gone, Mukesh?

Niira Radia: He is very much here, he has been here the whole week.

Prabhu Chawla: He was abroad last week I think.

Niira Radia: No no no.

Prabhu Chawla: Anyway, somebody told me that he is abroad.

Niira Radia: NONONO. He has been here the whole week. He is not due to travel till next week.

Prabhu Chawla: because maine to. Sometimes he responds. Abhii I have stopped talking to him, calling him…

Niira Radia: No. He’s been here the whole week. I just spoke to him this morning also. He is very much here. He is not supposed to go anywhere till next week.

Prabhu Chawla: Nahii. Maine to usko… somebody… I didn’t… Usko maine 15-20 din pahle message bhejaa thaa. The he responded. Then I asked again. Then he never responded. Maine usko message nahii bhejaa phir. Because the whole judgement was coming, I wanted to forewarn you.

Niira Radia: Kyaa judgment uske khilaaf aa rahaa hai?

Prabhu Chawla: Haan, Arrogant hai naa. uske saath kyaa kare? Uske arrogance, dono bhaaiyyon kaa samajh bhi nahi aatii mero ko

Niira Radia: Prabhu tell me one thing. Judgement is fixed, right?

Prabhu Chawla: Dekho in this country, dono side mein fix karne kii capacity hain. Par baRaa bhaai hain naa.. Chhotaa bhaai mobile jyaada hai. Paise kam kharach kartaa hai, kanjoos hai sabse jyaadaa. But he is more mobile than the elder brother. Elder brother doesn’t want to go beyond what Dhirubhai left behind with him. Men or people, whatever. I think… You are getting what I am telling?

Niira Radia: I understand.

Prabhu Chawla: He is totally depending on the people who Dhirubhai created. They were relevant at that point of time. Now they are not relevant. Anilbhai has done… has developed new sources, new contacts , new way of thinking. That can be possibility ki Mukesh ko apnaa… ek uskii wife bhi thoRaa dictate jyaadaa karti hai. Anil kii wife nahii kartii hai. The way things are moving, Mukesh poor fellow is not able to get the right feedback because of insulation from various other sources. And I know what he is doing on the Supreme Court front. Various things. Which is not the way to go about.

Niira Radia: Hmm.

Prabhu Chawla: What he doing it is known to the rest of the world. Which is not good. Usko thoRaa… If he has to…. because everything is fixed now these days.

Niira Radia: Ab Supreme Court mein reverse ho gayaa, then he is finished for ever, yaar! If he doesn’t get a favourable response from Supreme Court, then he is finished, naa?

Niira Radia: But Prabhu ek baat bataauuN?

Prabhu Chawla: HaaN?

Niira Radia: Abhi tak Supreme Court kaa, between you and me, kuchh finalise huaa nahin?

Prabhu Chawla: Finalise kaa matlab kya hai? Bhai Murli Deora bhii jaayega court mein. Prime Minister is also putting pressure on Murli Deoa to settle it. Because ultimately it is national loss naa, as you put it. Itnaa mehanga ho raha hain fuel, ab 90 dollars ho jayegaa 2-3 mahiine meiN, if you are not able to take out gas from your own sources, then there is a problem, naa. Country should not bloody suffer because of these two brothers.

Niira Radia: That’s right. Which is what Mukesh has told Anil very clearly. That’s right. Which what Mukesh has told his brother very clearly. What is the issue? Anil …usne apne gas ke liye kabhii manaa nahin kiya. Usne kaha tera 28 mm sidhi ban tha hai. Agar NTPC 12 nahiiN letaa to teraa wo bhii ban taa hai. Yeh 2.34 who government ki price hai, mein us mein decide nahin karta huun as an operator. Uska point limited woh hai. I don’t know, aapne MoU dekha? I don’t know whether you have seen it, but I will show it to you. Un mein aisa kuchh likhaa nahiiN hain.
Prabhu Chawla: Nahii. MoU mein pataa nahiin, maine dekhaa nahiin isiliye I can’t say, frankly speaking , and MoU mein, agar court ne order kiya, toh kisii basis pe kiyaa hogaa naa. Padhaa hogaa court ne.

Niira Radia: Nahin. Uska court kaa order meiN, 328 pages meiN I can give you anything, I can tell you, woh pen drive use kii hogii naa, Prabhu, woh jo telecom kaa TDSAT kaa judgement huaa naa, dual technology kaa Vahanvati ne jo karvaya hain, Dr Sarma.. Baad meiN Raja ne phir Dr Sarma ko TRAI chairman banaa diya. Woh, [abrupt change] … guaranteed kii same pen drive use kii hogii

Prabhu Chawla: hahaha (laughs)

Niira Radia: Mein tumko dono judgement aamne saamne dikhaoongii, tun dono paRlo. Usme jo… Dono wordings meiN…
Prabhu Chawla: Goolam Vahanvati is an old friend of mine. When I was editor of Indian Express, he was our counsel. Meraa bahut achhaa dost hai puraanaa. Nusli Wadia ke saath thaa pahle. He was a good friend of Nusli, I think even now he is with Nusli… Nusli wadia plotting [abrupt cut] We were goods friends of Nusli. Even now a good friend. [inaudible] Sharad Pawar also. But he is very close to Anil Ambani. Everybody knows about it. Appointment.. Anil Ambani, Nusli Wadia and our power minister, kya naam hai?, Shinde, they all went for him naa for the appointment of [inaudible]. Bhardwaj never liked him. Bhardwaj would not have made him the attorney general agar Bharadwaja law minister hotaa. Ab ban gaya wo. The question is these brothers have to come to the conclusion themselves first. Kyuunkii agreement to hogaa Court meiN jaa karke Supreme Court ne order dono ko acceptable de diya, that is one way of looking at it. KyuuNkii abhii to you are basically the whole judgement will decide the future of both of them naa? More of Mukesh than of Anil. Ki Anil kaa to saalaa power plant hii shuruu nahiiN huaa, usko gas kyaa karni hain saale ko?
Niira Radia: Judgement meiN usne 17 saal to likhaa nahiiN hai. mujhe lagtaa hai gas to de denii chaahiye kal se. Usko bolo chal tu le. Kya karegaa uske saath? Kuchh nahiiN kar saktaa
Prabhu Chawla: Aur le nahin sakta. Thiik hai, bolo utthaa lo gas jaa kar ke

Niira Radia: Aur paise do uske liye.

Prabhu Chawla: Haan paise do, bech nahin saktaa kisii aur ko. Judgement you can’t sell it to anybody else naa?

Niira Radia: Correct, correct.

Prabhu Chawla: Theek hai, bhai. That, that… let Mukesh sell it wherever he wants to sell it. That should be the… Ab Mukesh kaa objective kyaa hai, I don’t know. You are not clear. Because unkaa yahaaN jo Anand Jain to baahar ho gayaa mere khayaal se. He is out, naa?

Niira Radia: Nahii nahiin, he is very much there. Again ye Anil ki philaaii hui baateiN haiN. Yeh galat baat hai. MaiN usko itnii baar khud dekh chukkii huun.

Prabhu Chawla: I don’t know, because people on both sides are haraamis, advisors.

Niira Radia: Nahiin, ek baat, sach baat, bataa duun tum ko. Anand Jain is very much there. Manoj Modi is very much there. Mukesh is very much there.

Prabhu Chawla: Manoj Modi is little more professional

Niira Radia: He is very professional

Prabhu Chawla: Manoj Modi very much professional. Anand Jain thoRaa politics kartaa hai kii uskaa apnaa dhandaa bhi hai. He has more influence on…

Niira Radia: But is matter meiN Manoj Modi jyaadaa hogaa na najdiik?

Prabhu Chawla: Haan, Manoj Modi jo bhi hain, but now Supreme Court mein aana hi hai case. Anil Ambani ne caveat file kardii. Kal parson kii.

Niira Radia: Woh toh karegaa naa. He has to safeguard his interests.

Prabhu Chawla: But since you have access to Mukesh, you should should convey to Mukesh that the way he is going about the supreme Court is not… I won’t give you anything more than that. It is not the right way.

Niira Radia: Nahin, “not the right way” matlab? He is going to Supreme Court, he shouldn’t go to Supreme Court?

Prabhu Chawla: No, no, no. The way he going to the Supreme Court. I wont tell you more than that. The people he is using, they are not the people who can be trusted for keeping it to themselves.

Niira Radia: Hmm..

Prabhu Chawla: Bol dete hain, ab London mein baith ke kuchh bhi bolte hain. Achchaa nahiin lagtaa naa, it gets back. London is like… London is not London. It is a phone call away.

Niira Radia: Hmmm..

Prabhu Chawla: Usko thoRaa… He must be… Political system hain Delhi meiN. Change ho gayaa. Mukesh. Mukesh ne bhi.. People may be projecting whatever he is close to Sonia, he is close to Rahul, he is close to this. But may be Mukesh got access, but he can’t influence anything. Collective jyadaa ho gaya naa. Kamalnath can decide one thing but he can be overruled by Pranab Mukherjee. So ye saare loose ends ko tighten karnaa hai naa?

Niira Radia: Maine tumharaa London kaa point catch nahiin kiyaa

Prabhu Chawla: Matlab, he is trying to understand how to go into the Supreme Court.

Niira Radia: I don’t think so Prabhu, tumko yeh kisne bataya?

Prabhu Chawla: ChhoRo na ab.

Niira Radia: Nahiin seriously, main tumse kyuuN chupauuN baat? Sach-much. I mean. Come on.

Prabhu Chawla: He has to go to appeal in Supreme Court or not finally?

Niira Radia: Agreed. He is appealing to Supreme Court. He will have to appeal in the Supreme Court, the question doesn’t arise.

Prabhu Chawla: If he is appealing to Supreme Court, he must be trying to find out the right people. Harish Salve to uskaa advocate hai hii. He will appear for him. Because he is an outstanding advocate. But he must be thinking if there any way of, like, Anil can use various ways, he can also use various ways or not. And you know what? Brothers are not… Clean to dono mein se… apne apne tareeka dono lagayanege naa?

Niira Radia: Haan. Anil Ambani apnaa lagaa hogaa, apne logo ke through, DMK ke through , apne Chief Justice ke paas yeh sab.

Prabhu Chawla: No, Chief Justice Kerala kaa hain.

Niira Radia: Haan. Kerla kaa.

Prabhu Chawla: He is not… Yeh bhi lage hoNge naa kisii ke through? Mukesh bhii to kar rahaa hogaa naa? Phir? Wohii kah rahaa huun. Mukeh jis tariike se approach kar rahaa hai, if that’s what I heard, is not the right way to go.

Niira Radia: Thiik hai. I understood what you are saying.

Prabhu Chawla: Now you understand naa?

Niira Radia: I will… Mein baat karuungi thoRii der meiN, I will tell him to speak to you.

Prabhu Chawla: Yeah, Because, I sent him messages, 10 bar messages bhejaa, he doesn’t reply. I don’t want to come into. Because my family is a retainer for Anil. I don’t want to discuss with him at all. Lekin sun to letaa huuN naa kai baar, idhar udhar political logoN se. But he not appearing for him. My son is not involved in this case at all.

Niira Radia: Your son, naa?

Prabhu Chawla: Haan, he is not involved at all

Niira Radia: Why?

Prabhu Chawla: He doesn’t trust my son also, in this case. (laughs) Anil doesn’t trust my son (in this case).

Niira Radia: Your son is with whom now?

Prabhu Chawla: He is a retained by Anil naa. He is independent. He is running his own independent company. He is not with Ryan [?] any more. He is running his own solicitor firm. He was retained by various people. Anil’s mobile is one company which retains him. But in this case he is not involved. But idhar udhar se pick up to karte hain na chiizen sab.

Niira Radia: Right right

Prabhu Chawla: My information is through the legal sources. Once you tell him that Prabhu was saying something about you talking to people in London, he will understand.

Niira Radia: Chalo I will tell him

Prabhu Chawla: Chhota Bhai baRaa haraami hai.

Niira Radia: Harami to hai lekin har waqt haraamii panaa last nahiin kartaa naa, Prabhu you also know.

Prabhu Chawla: Question is, abhii, when you are working in a system which is not clean, you have to be… bhaii tumhaare ko nuksaan to ho gaya naa? Udhar recovery karte raho apne aap. It is better to do it in a manner so that you are not the loser.

Niira Radia: Thiik hai

Prabhu Chawla: Main kal jaa rahaa huuN Bombay. Ek baar usne kahaa thaa dinner pe aana ghar pe. That is about… He called me one day. You remember [inaudible] mein gaya tha uske liye. I was the only senior editor there. After that I tried to meet him but nahiiN mil paayaa. I went a couple of times to Bombay recently but he was not there. I have been trying to reach him par uske baad baat hii nahii huii.
[abrupt end]

Radia Tapes – Tarun Das, Former CII Chairman

(Source :

Jun 12, 2009 12:52:56

Niira Radia: Hi Tarun
Tarun Das: Hi, just driving into Bombay
Niira Radia: Ok, you’ve landed?
Tarun Das: Ya, I landed
Niira Radia: Ok, so Mukesh (Ambani) is expecting you at 4 o’clock
Tarun Das:
Niira Radia: Great
Tarun Das: I’ll see him and then I’m having dinner with Ratan (Tata) in the evening
Niira Radia: With who?
Tarun Das: Ratan!
Niira Radia: Oh good *laughs* You’re gonna tell him you met Mukesh?
Tarun Das: I have to…
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: I would normally…
Niira Radia: Huh?
Tarun Das: I’m like that, no? I tell everyone, I don’t have anything to…
Niira Radia: Hmm…
Tarun Das: …not to say, you know, I think no issue…
Niira Radia: Hmm, hmm
Tarun Das: And, uhhh…actually, the reason I was coming was because of the dinner
Niira Radia: Ok, ok, good…
Tarun Das: So that was the reason
Niira Radia: Good…good, good, good
Tarun Das: How’ve you been? What’re you doing?
Niira Radia: No, nothing, i’m trying to look at a few issues, back on the fighting thing with telecom. I met Sunil (Mittal) by the way.
Tarun Das: Uh-huh?
Niira Radia: I met Sunil last week
Tarun Das: One to one or with others?
Niira Radia: Sunil Mittal… No, no, one to one
Tarun Das: Achhaa
Niira Radia: So I met him, just to try and get a…a understanding of where we are and whether we can…Ratan still doesn’t trust him…
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: …refusing to…have anything to do with him in any way at all
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: But I think he doesn’t realize that this time around we’re going to need each other’s help. I can see it, I can see exactly where we’re going to need it, which is what I told Sunil also, don’t be so arrogant with Raja.
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: I think he’s not uh…I think you’re, you’re just letting…and his arrogance…competition is getting the better of him
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: So…likewise, with Ratan, he…he can’t just, you know, wish Sunil away
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: He has to give him credit for what he’s achieved all these years
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: I don’t think he can’t, otherwise we’d have to challenge that.
Tarun Das: So how did you find Sunil…or what did you think of him?
Niira Radia: Good, good, good, I’m still…the trust factor still has to build, you know? I don’t know…
Tarun Das: You met him at the office or home or what?
Niira Radia: At his house…
Tarun Das: Ok, ok
Niira Radia: Ya, I refused to go to…
Tarun Das: He keeps asking about you
Niira Radia: Ya? He said “I always thought you were out of bounds.” I said,”No, look, I can’t work for you because I know Ratan has a view, but I think maybe I can help you. There are certain areas where I think this needs to come together, but let’s see.” I spoke to Ratan, I told him I met him. I told him, “Look, we have to be a little bit more reasonable how we approach things, we can’t…”
Tarun Das: Why are you thinking you’ll run into trouble on the telecom side again?
Niira Radia: umm…Anil Ambani’s active, I met Raja…
Tarun Das: Ok
Niira Radia: And the attempt is to try and garner as much spectrum. You see, I can’t understand how the government is not moving against him, this is the Satyam… I keep on telling you. Prime Minister is going to have to…this is going to be an issue that is going to come up. I’m not saying because of Tatas or Reliance…
Tarun Das: The issue is…
Niira Radia: Hmmm
Tarun Das: The issue Is this, Mukesh has any objections to Reliance Infocomm being bought over by somebody else?
Niira Radia: Hmm? What’s that?
Tarun Das: You heard my question
Niira Radia: No, no, I didn’t hear, I did not, sorry?
Tarun Das: Will he? Will the elder brother have any objections?
Niira Radia: Hmm?
Tarun Das: Will he be ok, in other words, with Reliance Infocomm being bought by a foreign multinational?
Niira Radia: Completely, 100%! You can’t do a 100%, you can only do 74% max.
Tarun Das: Haan, whatever…
Niira Radia: So, Anil will still have to own 26 naa?
Tarun Das: Ya, that’s fine, but he will be basically, be…uhhh…a majo…a minority partner .
Niira Radia: I think, anything where he’s there, he’ll have a problem…*pause*
Tarun Das: Umm…
Niira Radia: It’s like what Maran did to Shiva in Aircel…
Tarun Das: So, so …if he can exit completely and the 26% goes to someone else?
Niira Radia: Yes
Tarun Das: That is alright, haina? That will …
Niira Radia: Ya, maybe…
Tarun Das: …Because, uhh…we need to know what Mukesh’s position will be on this, because, uhhh…there is a buyer…
Niira Radia: AT&T, no?
Tarun Das: Whoever, now, I, uhhh…
Niira Radia: No! I know AT&T is talking
Tarun Das: So, what do you think?
Niira Radia: No, Tarun, let me tell you one thing first. AT&T, I know AT&T is talking to them, they’re well entrenched. I am aware of it. But the thing is that AT&T is not aware that this is a company that is completely…I’m not saying this because of Mukesh or…uhh…Rrr…Ratan…
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: But AT&T is comp…doesn’t realize that these are fudged revenues…if you…
Tarun Das: No, absolutely…
Niira Radia: 70 million subscribers is no…uh…is no longer there. Even Sunil will tell you, it’s not even 40 million!
Tarun Das: Quite a lot they know, quite a lot (…round off?)
Niira Radia: So, given that they…
Tarun Das: They still want…they still the company
Niira Radia: Haan, haan?
Tarun Das: They want the company worth this, do we have a problem? Do you rather have them or do you rather have Anil continuing?
Niira Radia: *Pause*
Tarun Das: Think about it. This is an issue which has been discussed with me by other people.
Niira Radia: Mmm hmm
Tarun Das: And Mukesh’s position, people want to know, where it is…where would he…what would he want? Nobody wants to cross him
Niira Radia: You see, he won’t tell you the truth, my worry is that he will, when you…see if you raise it with him today…why don’t you raise it with him today?
Tarun Das: *Pause* no, I am going to meet him because you wanted me to meet him…I have no agenda *laughs*
Niira Radia: Please don’t tell Ratan that, that I wanted you to meet him, please, you can say to him that you were in Bombay, no? *laughs* If you tell him that Nira wanted me to meet Mukesh…
Tarun Das: Hmm…
Niira Radia: …then you know…you know how he is, he’s extra sensitive naa…
Tarun Das: Don’t…uhhh…you have to…uhhh, we have too…you and I have to handle these things, don’t…let it be, let him be sensitive, it’s not necessary to be senstivie…
Niira Radia: Hmmm…
Tarun Das: uhh…if he, if he, knows that you know, you have facilitated this and , I don’t think it is an issue and we should take it up front with him
Niira Radia: Hmm…
Tarun Das: You know, don’t…I think we should not shy away from that ‘coz Ratan also has to get over all these hang ups…
Niira Radia: Hmmm…
Tarun Das: Because, today, Mukesh is gaining more and more respect, not only in the country, but internationally.
Niira Radia: Correct
Tarun Das: …he has set aside the past reputation, he is earning respect…
Niira Radia: Hmmm
Tarun Das: …from people, so I think Ratan also has to admit …that he is not a bandit king
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: That’s why I’m saying again, the fact that you’re working there with him and are involved with him, for me, gives a new legitimacy to him, in a way, that, I mean look, 2 years ago he had said you must go to Jamnagar, I want you to go and all. I had agreed to go, just haven’t, you know, found the dates and all that and…
Niira Radia: But, but, Tarun and you…you and I’ll go to Jamnagar together haan…Kakinada and Jamnagar…
Tarun Das: Ok, fine…
Niira Radia: I still haven’t…uhh…been, you know?
Tarun Das: Oh, you haven’t been?
Niira Radia: Noo…
Tarun Das: I though you had been…
Niira Radia: No…no, no, no, no, I’ve been saying to him I’m not just gonna’ go like that, we’ll go
Tarun Das: sure…go together…but uhh…he must not be…shy away from this…Ratan is to get over the Sunil Mittal allergy, he must get over the Mukesh Ambani allergy, he needs friends also, no?
Niira Radia: He’s not willing to do that, that’s what I’m trying to tell him. I had the same discussion with Mukesh, that, you know…Mukesh is saying, look, as far as Sunil is concerned, that Nira, we need to all align…
Tarun Das: Ya, absolutely…
Niira Radia: …and so, if Ratan can come on the table and align also, that’s a good thing, you know?
Tarun Das: Hmm…
Niira Radia: So when I raised this with Rataan he said I would still not trust him
Tarun Das: You don’t have to trust him but you can still align, why trust anybody?
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: You know
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: Let people say what they have to say at the table and sign off , that this is what we all agreed to, whatever the minimum is, agree to something and in this…uhh, business of govt policies and areas like telecom…
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: …you need to be aligned, and if you’re not aligned then all the other sources will divide and rule and, and…uhh.. get away with murder
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: .. but you have to align and agree on how much you’ll align, If you cant align on everything, align on 10%,whatever,
Niira Radia: yea, here you have to align because of policy issues
Tarun Das: Ya, absolutely, you have to align. I’m glad you met Sunil, because he has been talking to me, about you, I have told him about you…
Niira Radia: hmm
Tarun Das: you asked to meet him or he asked to meet you?
Niira Radia: Sunil?
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: Well it started this way, I sent him an sms, because Anil Ambani’s group was under… they were attacking his MTN deal
Tarun Das: Haan
Niira Radia: And they were circulating whitepaper and talking to the media to play up this whole issue of compliance.
Tarun Das: Right.
Niira Radia: So I then sent him one of the sms’ that I got from the editors, saying “Nira, just to let you know this is happening on Sunil Mittal and he’s not going to be compliant.” So I reacted to the ET editors saying, listen guys, you know, for once in your life, allow something go through properly.
Tarun Das: Hmm.
Niira Radia: So I copied Sunil in all those smses, saying, “Listen, I just want you to know that this has happened and this has been my response and I think that it’s about time that we all grew up.” So he replied back saying, “Can we talk?” (Laughs)
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: And I said sure, then he called and we talked after a couple of days and then he said can we meet and then he said you know I always thought you were out of bounds, I never realized that you’d actually, you know, do this? And I said look, Sunil, I have nothing personal against you, I am fighting a battle which is to protect my clients’ interests…
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: But I see there is a possibility of an alignment, I see a common minimum agenda coming through
Tarun Das: Ya
Niira Radia: and I think it makes sense for both of you, but he says you know, I have no problem at all, but Ratan has to agree. I separately spoke to Mukesh also…
Tarun Das: He told me that, he told me the same thing… *mumbles*
Niira Radia: Hmm
Tarun Das: He told me the same thing many times…
Niira Radia: Who? Rrr…uhh… Sunil, no?
Tarun Das: Sunil, yeah
Niira Radia: So then I rang Mukesh also, I said Mukesh I’m starting this dialog, do you have any prob…He said absolutely not, Sunil is a friend and no, no problem at all.
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: So then I told…when I spoke to Ratan and of course Ratan had a different reaction to it and when I spoke to Anil Sardana, he had an even worse reaction to it
Tarun Das: HMM
Niira Radia: And I’m telling them listen I’m seeing a problem, you guys are going to get into trouble, because I’m talking to Raja everyday, you know?
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: And I know where he’s… I can see his body language;
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: Raja will be very cautious in what he has to do but we have to step in and Tatas and Mittals telling him “listen, we will take you all the way”
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: …he’ll backtrack and he’ll do what is right…
Tarun Das: Mmm hmm
Niira Radia: Right now he is being pressurized to give extra spectrum to Anil
Tarun Das: Hmm
Niira Radia: Because Anil wants to sell to AT&T and wants to realize the best uhh…the best…uhh…valuation
Tarun Das: Hmm, hmm *LONG PAUSE*
Niira Radia: So that’s where it is…
Tarun Das: Ok
Niira Radia: Well yes, have a…YES…
Tarun Das:
Niira Radia: Gimme a call and have a good meeting
Tarun Das: Ya, ya
Niira Radia: Ya
Tarun Das: So how do we push on? How does one get in the building? Must be a fortress
Niira Radia: No, no, simple, your…your car number…you have your car number?
Tarun Das: Ya, they’ve given…given to his office
Niira Radia: Given to his office no? That’s fine and they’ll be somebody downstairs, I’m sure, waiting for you. I’ll just speak to Venkat and make sure somebody is waiting. So 4 o’clock, yeah?
Tarun Das: 4 o’clock, Yeah
Niira Radia: Great! Let me know how it goes
Tarun Das: Ya, ya, sure, sure

Sub-Prime, Credit Crisis, Financial Meltdown etc. etc.

Since last one year the pot was boiling with the discovery of the sub-prime. The boiling pot has now exploded. Suddenly, the big investment bankers are all on the road. The big names are vanishing one by one. The US government is proposing to inject 700 billing USD to revive the patient but who knows it may be too late by now. The G 7 leaders are scratching their head to decide how to deal with this crisis. The G 20 finance ministers (including our own P Chidambaram) are going to meet soon for the same reason. There is a panic everywhere. Some have suggested that the CEOs of the big investment banks should be punished as they were responsible for all this. Some 80,000 persons all over the world may have lost their lucrative investment banking highly paying jobs – 2500 in India alone.

You will find financial experts all over the place (news papers, TV, internet, offices, parties, roads, trains etc.) painstaking explaining the A to Z of the sub-prime to the lesser mortals like me. We don’t have any option but to keep nodding our heads as if we fully understand what is being explained. The other day I was reading an internet joke which said that even George Bush finds it difficult to understand what hit the Wall Street and how the 700 billion USD bail-out package is supposed to help the situation.

Not so long ago, many thought that the world was going to come to an end when Y2K was supposed to hit the global computer networks. On 1st January 2000, did anyone find any mention of Y2K even on the last page of the news paper? What followed shortly was the software bubble burst and hundreds if not thousands were handed over the pink slips. Many retuned back disheartened from the USA.

From 2006 onwards till recently, we have witnessed the big economic boom supposedly fuelled by the Chinese Olympic. China was driving the world economy like mad. This boom had a big impact on almost every country in the world. India too made hay when the Chinese Sun was shining. Even sick public sectors like SAIL, NMDC and MECON suddenly turned into big profit making companies. Indian Railways too rode on the bandwagon and Lalu managed to hog all the credit and publicity. If Lalu got the laurels for the turnaround in Indian Railways, why no one got similar credit for turnaround in SAIL, NMDC and MECON? Everyone’s order books were overflowing. Everyone was getting bigger and bigger. Mittals gulped Arsenal, Tatas got Corus, Birlas got Novelis. These are only the big ones. The Indian M&A list is endless. Investment bankers were in huge demand. Even Hindi films started featuring Investment Bankers as their heroes with palatial mansions and BMWs. Remember Farhan Akhtar in Rock-on?

The Bull outside Bombay Stock Exchange

The blue eyed boys of investment banking were driving everyone to dream big. Loans were no longer being offered, but literally being forced. Remember every second day you would get a call or sms on your mobile to either offer you a loan or a free credit card. There was money everywhere. Real estate and stock markets cashed in on free flowing cash. Luxury Housing schemes and Shopping Malls were being built everywhere – even in B and C grade cities. Sensex knew no bounds and was heading north in big leaps. It managed to reach where no one would have thought it would reach. It crossed 20,000 marks before anyone could understand what was happening. Although NDA had paid the price for claiming it a bit too early but no one not even the Congress Party could deny that India was indeed shining like never before.

Lehman Brothers Head Office in New York

But if anybody thought that the boom was going to last forever, he had not heard what Sir Isaac Newton had said years ago – “What goes up comes down!”

Come 2007 and the whispering had already started amongst those who knew better. That’s when we heard the word “sub-prime” for the first time. Initially everyone thought it was some problem in the US and had nothing to do with us. But we were so wrong. The sub-prime crisis started getting bigger and worse with every passing day – the Domino Effect started hitting economies beyond the US. The economists had already started talking about the “R” (recession) word. Early in 2007, most people would have rubbished the idea but today no one can take that liberty. The fall of Lehman brothers has hit the final nail on the coffin. The paradise is over!

Amongst all this, there are questions which no one is asking and no one is answering. If the Chinese Olympics was driving the world economy since 2007, what will drive China now? Why the USD was plunging against all other currencies in the past two years and just when one would have expected it to dip even faster, all of a sudden, it bounced back like – what you can call – rising from the ashes! Newton never said it but the Americans were always sure – “What goes down comes up one day!” The oil price was rising all the time with falling dollar (some may like to put it the other way round) and there was a similar turn around perfectly synchronized with the USD. There was a time not too long ago when experts were talking about oil crossing 200 $ mark and now the same experts are wondering if it could go below 30$. When the oil prices were rising, everyone would have thought that OPEC was trying to take advantage and deliberately not increasing oil production. What do we say now? OPEC has already hinted at the possibility of cutting production to check the drop in oil price.

The world leaders swung into action immediately after the big boys of the Wall Street started tumbling. US announced the 700 billion USD bail-out scheme. EU leaders are talking about similar bail out. Finance Ministers of various countries are appealing for sanity and assuring the nervous masses that the fundamentals are good and all’s well with the economy. The big bear also hit the Dalal Street and worst affected was ICICI Bank which lost 25% in one single day. There was panic everywhere. People started queuing up in all branches of the bank to withdraw their money fearing a repeat of the Lehman Brothers. ICICI started fire fighting in a big way – sending sms and emails to all their customers, initiating action against a few brokers for deliberately causing the panic and even the FM had to come to the rescue. Next day the Sensex bounced back and so did ICICI.

This is not the end of the story it might just be the beginning! Pinching the famous dialogue of SRK from OSO – “Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!” (“The movie is not yet over, my friend!”).

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Maharashtra farmers vote against Reliance SEZ

Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani

In a first-ever referendum, farmers of the Raigada district of Maharashtra have voted against handing over their land for a 1 Lakh Crore SEZ proposal of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Group.

The Maharashtra government has taken this step keeping in view the experience of West Bengal in Tata’s Nano Project.

The outcome of this referendum was not very difficult to predict and it can be said with reasonable confidence that the result of any other referendum conducted anywhere in the country would be same.

Except for Mukesh Ambani of course, this referendum would have made everybody happy – the political parties, NGOs and the farmers. But the question is – Does this mean curtains for any major industrial project in India? Is there no political will in this country to support developmental projects?

We need huge investment in the industrial sector but how is this investment possible if we are not ready to provide land for these projects. We must not forget that today investors are queuing up with billions of dollars to invest in India and it is the responsibility of state and central government to facilitate the investment. The investors are not going to wait for ever and if we don’t provide a conducive atmosphere, they will go somewhere else. The governments must provide effective governance and come up with more constructive solutions. Referendum is no solutions as we all know its outcome.