Tons has already been written on Radia Tapes Exposure. People more enlightened than Media Watch have already analyzed the tapes and reported on it. So there is nothing new we can add to what ever that has already been written.
However, What we want to do here is to analyze on whether Media delivered what they had promised to Radia representing corporate houses? or was it just plain talk which most of them are claiming. For this purpose Media Watch has analyzed Vir Sanghvis’ counter point article which was written after Radia and Vir Sanghvi’s discussion on 20 June 2009.
You can call it divine providence that the said Counter Point article was titled Time for some transparency. Who can argue on that… Yes… its time we had some transparency! Thank you Vir for being part of the Cause (albeit on wrong side).
One of primary points which Radia asks Vir to cover is the High Court Judgment on distribution of Gas between Anil and Mukesh. She wants Vir to criticize High Court and Judge for his decisions and in a way discredit it. Following are the instructions from Radia -
RADIA: point is what has happened as far as the High Court is concerned is a very painful thing for the country because what is done is against national interest.
RADIA: It cannot be the basis of the way how we can proceed on these sorts of issues. I mean, you have to attack the fact that the judge has only gone into the MoU. His entire judgment is on the basis of the MoU.
RADIA: Yeah. But you want to say that you know, more importantly that here a family MoU has taken precedence over national interest, and what the judge has done… I mean you’ll have to attack the judge here because the judge has, what he’s done, he’s given preference to an MoU. He has held on to the MoU and said, ‘Okay, this had to be implemented.’
RADIA: I think that’s the underlying message.
Now lets a look at what Vir actually wrote in Counter Point Article.
Few of us laypeople understand what the recent court battle — which ended in a victory for Anil — is about but from what I can tell it relates to the purchase of gas from the government.
I have great respect for the courts and little understanding of the law but as far as I can tell, the judge basically said that the MoU between the two Ambani brothers had precedence over everything else because this was a special case. They should go back to Mummy who would decide how to divide our gas between her two children.
Here’s what I don’t understand: why is this a special case? And why should an Indian natural resource like gas be sold at prices fixed according to an MoU between two brothers? I’m sure they love their mother and that she loves them but is this how gas is allocated? The Ambanis are welcome to their fight but do we have to pay the price?
So as asked, Vir criticizes High court Judgment and even subtly ridicules Judge saying Ambani brothers were asked to “go back to Mummy” . Also its amusing how he feigns ignorance of Law when the fact is he knew exactly what he was writing and intended effect!
Second point which Radia wants to highlight is how Anil Ambani got the Gas fields cheap
RADIA: Yeah, but Vir, you have to keep in mind that he has been given the gas field by the Government to operate. He spent ten billion dollars on it.
RADIA: Anil Ambani is getting the benefit without spending a cent on it…
VIR: I’ll make those points, no?
And this is what Vir delivered
Mukesh had paid for the gas and Anil argued that he deserved to also get it at a lower price because of some agreement with his brother.
Thirdly, Radia wants Vir to highlight the issues of allocation of resources. For this Vir suggests
VIR: So I’ll make those points. The people, because the system is so corrupt and open to manipulation, by manipulating the system, by not paying anybody you can get hands on resources. Therefore the only way Manmohan Singh hopes to survive is to get a handle on the resources and have some kind of way of allocating them that is transparent, fair and perhaps done by him.
But this suggestion was rejected by Radia as it would have shown Mukesh in bad light
RADIA: But there you will be attacking Mukesh only, no.
VIR: Why, why, why, explain that.
RADIA: You see, because a resource has been allocated to Mukesh in this case.
Having lost his train of thoughts, Vir asks guidance from Radia herself
VIR: So, what point do you want me to make?
Radia asks Vir to propagate a formula independent of ‘courts and ministers’ to distribution resources mechanism. In fact, Vir asks Radias permission on whether he can include ministers as one of resource allocation approving authorities which Radia rejects outright
RADIA: The point I’m making is that here, the point is limited to the fact that you cannot have a High Court deciding on this. You cannot have a tribunal deciding on this.
VIR: What about ministers?
RADIA: Even ministers.
VIR: Spectrum and co is ministers, no?
RADIA: Yeah, even ministers. You want to really look at, maybe there’s an EGoM [Empowered Group of Ministers] that got set and is looking at the pricing issue, and natural resources should be decided not by any of this arbitrary mechanism. It has to be one for the country. And there should be some sort of a formula that Manmohan Singh has to...
VIR: Yeah, that is the message, you know. There should be a formula by which resources will be allocated in a transparent, non-arbitrary sort of way. That has to be a message, no?
And this is what Vir wrote in Counterpoint article
Most of us do not get too self-righteous about corruption; we have been brutalised by decades of it. But I think we feel differently about attempts to sell off our scarce resources.
It’s one thing for an industrialist to pay off a politician to build a factory; quite another for him to corner our gas, our coal, our spectrum, our iron ore or whatever. Allow industrialists to do this and you will end up with a new league of super-businessmen, not unlike Russia’s oligarchs who nobody can ever touch and who become laws unto themselves.
And yet, as long as allocations are done by corrupt ministers, bent regulators, dishonest chief ministers and on the basis of family agreements, this is exactly the direction in which we are heading.
He must recognise the danger to our scarce resources. He must know that we cannot afford to become a land of oligarchs. And I’m sure he realizes that this goes beyond corruption — it touches the core of the kind of India we want to create.
Surely, he can come up with some transparent system which allocates resources fairly and without corruption? Anything would be better than the present system.
Vir brilliantly delivers whatever he was asked for. Resources allocation free of corrupt politicians ..Tick; Criticize present system… tick, Asks for a new system to replace present system … tick. Lastly, It is hilarious that how in process Vir also manages to shed some crocodile tears on being ‘brutalised by corruption’ and how strongly he feels for India's scarce resources! I can only say amen to it!
Lastly, As a sweetener Vir do suggest some feel good points like resources being cornered by few; how manmohan singh should put an end to allocations of scarce resources on the basis of corruption and arbitrariness at the cost etc etc
VIR: Okay. That message we will do. That allocation of resources which are scarce national resources of a poor country cannot be done in this arbitrary fashion to benefit a few rich people.
VIR: So I will link it to the election verdict. The fact that there has been so much Narega, that Sonia has commit•ted to including everybody, that it should be inclusive growth. It shouldn’t just benefit the few fat cats. It shouldn’t be cronyism. It shouldn’t be arbitrary. That’s how the message for this five years of Manmohan Singh should be—that you have to put an end to this kind of allocations of scarce resources on the basis of corruption and arbitrariness at the cost of the country, otherwise the country will not forgive you.
Here also Vir delivers as he had promised to Radia. He writes in couterpoint
He must recognise the danger to our scarce resources. He must know that we cannot afford to become a land of oligarchs. And I’m sure he realises that this goes beyond corruption — it touches the core of the kind of India we want to create.
During the last government, we said that the Congress was not in a position to prevent the allies from making money. That’s no longer true. The distinguishing feature of this government is that the Congress is strong and the allies are weak.
Manmohan Singh is better placed to crack down on corruption than ever before.
As promised to Radia, he do link this to election results, how allocation of resources should not enrich few, he even calls on Manmohan Singh to crackdown on corruption.(Talk about people living in glass house throwing stones at each other!)
One of statements made by Vir which will haunt him for ages to come is
VIR: What kind of story do you want? Because this will go as Counterpoint, so it will be like most-most read, but it can’t seem too slanted, yet it is an ideal opportunity to get all the points across.
RADIA: Okay. And you’ll do it for next Sunday, is it?
VIR: No, no tomorrow
So this leaves one with no doubt that Vir was talking about the Counterpoint Article which he is going to write.
It is amply clear that counter point article was written as per the directions and instructions from Radia and business interests she represented. It is natural if Media Watch wonders whether there is a selffish motive of some interests group behind every counter point article written by Vir Sanghvi? One also wonders what was in it for Vir?
Its time Vir Sanghvi clarify.
Screenshot of Said Counterpoint Article