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Monday, April 27, 2009

Money talks Democracy obeys

There is an old and very revealing book by (alas!) a foreign journalist about a certain Indian tycoon and his political connections, which has remained largely unread for a good reason. It is available as photocopy with a few friends I know in Delhi because an agreeable judge seems to have been persuaded in some state or district of the country to proscribe it. Actually we do not really know how the book was banned or who banned it. But we do have a gut feeling about who must have got it removed from the bookshops the moment it was published in 1998.

Many MPs in the current parliament are openly identified with this tycoon or that. And so while Dhirubhai Ambani passed away some years ago, he continues to influence the course of Indian politics through his progeny. His two sons have proven access to most politicians at home and important ones, including, often enough, American presidents, abroad. It is they who are invited to a presidential inauguration in the White House, not any representative of the Indian government.

At this juncture in the multi-phased elections, very little is known about the next government in India. The nature of coalition politics and a history of money-induced defections by MPs from one camp to another or even by parties to swap partners, political punditry is just that – political punditry.


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