India Today [Sept 20, 2010] loves to glorify the rich. It will even deify them provided such an action will sell more copies.
The latest issue of India Today features Anil Agarwal on the cover. The ‘stories’ inside tell of “the politics of Vedanta.” Vedanta is Anil Agarwal’s latest acquisition en route to his dream of creating “the world’s biggest aluminium corporation.”
One big man’s very big dreams piggyback on thousands of small people’s very small dreams. Publications like the India Today refuse to look at the small dreams of small people. In the great struggle for topping the Forbes list of the wealthiest, the tigers that can’t catch and the deer that can be caught will be the losers. Anil Agarwal is a tiger and India Today is a deer.
According to India Today, Anil Agarwal is a loser in the murky game played by Rahul Gandhi, Mukesh Ambani and Naveen Patnaik.
Rahul Gandhi is Don Quixote, according to India Today. Jairam Ramesh “is his Sancho Panza.” Mukesh Ambani is jealous because he doesn’t want a rival in the Forbes list of the wealthiest. Naveen Patnaik is going out of his way to sell the whole of Orissa to Anil Agarwal provided Rahul Gandhi and Mukesh Ambani will agree. That is what India Today says in short.
India Today goes all the way to prove that Anil Agarwal is a man who rose “from rags-to-$7.9-billion” and hence the attack is against a man who wants to rise like Dhirubai Ambani but is hamstrung by politics.
India Today highlights certain ‘facts’ such as that Vedanta has spent Rs350 crore on a cancer hospital in Raipur, 5 lakh children are covered under a mid-day meal scheme (where, not mentioned), 45,000 people trained annually in computer education and adult literacy classes, and so on. One wonders why the poor tribal people who are displaced from their homeland in Niyamgiri will be benefited by all these. One also wonders why India Today failed to highlight the Rs 5,000-crore Vedanta University Project in Puri.
What India Today does not say
1. Vedanta acquired 6000 acres elsewhere in Orissa for the University project.
2. 730 acres of the land acquired by Vedanta are forest lands occupied by tribal people.
3. The Central Empowered Committee had reported against mining in Niyamgiri, a report which the Supreme Court of India chose to ignore while giving the go-ahead to Vedanta.
4. Vedanta has not got clearance under the Forest Conservation Act
5. Anything about the fate of the 8000 Dongria Kondh Adivasis whose life, land and culture will be wiped out by Vedanta.
What India Today does say
“… [Anil] Agarwal isn’t immune to scandal. In 2001, the Securities and Exchanges Board of India punished Sterlite [Anil Agarwal’s company] for allegedly manipulating share prices. In the same year, a British employment tribunal found that Agarwal had wrongfully sacked his company’s vice-president of mergers and acquisitions for raising concerns about the legality of proposed stock market transactions. Agarwal and his brother, Naveen, Vedanta’s deputy executive chairman, have been charged with allegedly violating foreign exchange rules…”
Postscript: “The evil is not that you cannot change human nature. The evil is that human nature cannot change you.” [Barrows Dunham, Man Against Myth]