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The Real Story of Dhirubhai Ambani - Banned in India
INSIDE IS THE STARTLING REVELATION THAT THE AMBANI FAMILY HAD PLOTTED TO MURDER NUSLI WADIA. THE AUSTRAILIAN JOURNALIST HAMISH MCDONALD WAS THE REPORTER WHO WROTE THE BOOK, UNRAVELLING THE PLOT.
Hamish McDonald has pulled this one off with a master's touch. It covers decades of Dhirubhai's life - his dreams, struggles, failures and successes.
The Polyester Prince is a balanced book on India's own robber baron. Mr. McDonald pays tribute to Gujarati traders/ Banias in the first few chapters by acknowledging their exuberance of speech, inventiveness, and commercial drive. Dhirubhai first displayed his diplomatic and negotiating skills during the Junagadh freedom struggle. At Yemen, he exploits the fact that silver content in rial was higher than the pound. There he also learned the fundamentals of business by taking position in rice, sugar, and other commodities. At India, Dhirubhai progressed to trading in REP licenses and later textile manufacturing. One of Dhirubhai's greatest attributes was that he networked and lobbied furiously. He cultivated several journalists, politicians, and bureaucrats including Girilal Jain, Murli Deora, Yashpal Kapur, T.A. Pai, R.K. Dhawan, P.C. Sethi, Pramod Mahajan, and Pranab Mukherjee. Several policies such as the High Unit Value Scheme were introduced for the sole benefit of Reliance and tariffs mostly for the detriment of competitors like Kapal Mehra (Orkay Silk Mills) and Nusli Wadia (Bombay Dyeing). Reliance was the first to recognize the most important external environment- Government of India. Dhirubhai used the government to destroy Indian Express and Bombay Dyeing. Wadia, Mehra and the journalist Gurumurthy were arrested on fake charges. He is alleged to have tried to get Wadia assassinated through Kirti Ambani and contract killers. Reliance also resorted to envelope journalism and later buying out a newspaper to unfairly cast DMT as inferior to PTA. Dhirubhai is rightly called father of Indian equity cult as he patronized convertible debentures. One out of every four investors in India is a Reliance shareholder. The Ambanis used loopholes, shell investment companies/ tax havens in Isle of Man, duplicate shares, insider trading, and financial engineering tricks to ensure that Reliance was the largest zero-tax company and a pure cash flow operation. Though correctly described as ruthless and daring, Mr. McDonald overlooks that Dhirubhai was an innovative financier, brand builder (Only Vimal etc.), and an industrialist way ahead of his times (vertical integration, GDR etc.).
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