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Showing posts from 2008

The Mumbai Massacre: One Degree Of Separation

The most gruesome stories about the terrorists attack on the Trident-Oberoi and The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai and a Jewish congregation are unfortunately just beginning to emerge. As are the identities of the scores who were out dining at the fine restaurants in the two hotels that evening.

There is perhaps no aspect of this attack on Mumbai that is less revulsive and deserves any less condemnation. But if there is one element that stands out for further scrutiny, as I see it. And it is the manner in which innocent diners at the Tiffin and Khandahar restaurants at The Oberoi (the smaller Oberoi hotel next to the larger Trident-Oberoi at the southern tip of Mumbai's Marine Drive) were dragged out, made to stand in a line against a wall and executed.

Reports also have it (from some of those in that line-up who survived by pretending to be shot) that the shooter sought instructions from someone on the phone before carrying out the act. The voice on the other end of the phone, suspected …

State of Insecurity

In the last two months, shops and establishments near my office in central Mumbai have been shut down some six times. This is how it happens. One moment the road is buzzing with activity. The next, it’s deserted, the scores of makeshift food stalls and hawkers have vanished. The shutters are down. Only a few onlookers remain, gazing intently at the cars passing by.

The first trigger was the apparent suicide or murder of a Buddhist monk in distant north Mumbai. The second one was to do with a bus going off a cliff between Mumbai and Nasik. The third, fourth, fifth and possibly sixth occasion could be credited to the politician Mr Raj Thackeray. The first day, the news that he was contemplating sending out the boys was enough to send everyone scurrying home. The second time, the boys did actually emerge from the shadows to wreak havoc.

The next occasion was the possibility, just the possibility, of Mr Thackeray being carted off to gaol. The last time was a day or two later amidst an a…

Why Blame Ratan Tata For The Nano ?

Ratan Tata is chairman of Tata Motors. He is passionate about cars. Not just driving or admiring them but about building them as well. Ten years ago he unveiled the Indica, the country's first indigenous car. The Indica was greeted with much acclaim. On the road, it was a different story. The car had several glitches and it took several years before they were resolved.

Tata acknowledged the Indica's failings from start. It was not easy. Possibly he turned the criticism as encouragement to work even harder to create an error-free product. But the Indica experience, as traumatic as it may have been at outset, did not deter him from thinking even bigger - A project to build the world's cheapest car.

So if Ratan Tata is a car maker, then all he can do, presumably, is to think of better, cheaper and bigger cars or dream of doing all of that. So he is only doing what he set out to do, or the founders of Tata Motors did when they set up the Tata Engineering & Locomotive Compa…

The Rise Of Dhirubhai Ambani

(This blog's author is attempting to return to the fold, as it were. This is not the first attempt nor I suspect the last. The plot this time round is to make it simpler, shorter and easier to read. Which may prompt the conclusion that it was not so earlier. True, is the author's own objective assessment.)

Actually the book is called The Polyester Prince. Copies of the book suddenly appeared all over Mumbai on Sunday evening at traffic signals and pavement book shops. Prices ranged from Rs 100 to Rs 400 I was told. A colleague picked it up at Rs 100, the urchin selling it at a traffic signal in central Mumbai quoted Rs 250. The timing of the book's release - a day before Anil Ambani's mega Reliance Energy IPO opens for subscription - is curious to say the least.

The Polyester Prince was first published in 1998 and was supposed to be an authorised biography of the late industrialist. Somewhere along the way, possibly following a somewhat negative article the author (Hami…