Home Opinion Acche din: Ho...

Acche din: How Gautam Adani’s fortune changed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came into power

0

Modi Adani pic

By Harshmeet Singh

Gujarat. 1980s. A grey coloured Bajaj Super scooter, making rounds of the Government offices, was a common sight on the roads of Ahmedabad. While the driver, Gautam Adani, was looking for a breakthrough to make it big in life, the pillion rider, Malay Mahadevia, had the responsibility of interacting with the Government officials in fluent English. Cut to 2015. That Bajaj Super scooter owner today owns a Ferrari, a fleet of BMWs, three helicopters, three Bombardier and Beechcraft planes. And what’s more? He is considered as one of the closest aides of the country’s most powerful man – Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

For decades now, the top of the tongue examples for leading industrialists in the country have been ‘Tata, Birla & Ambani’. But in the past decade or so, this settled order has seen disruption and is taking a new shape – ‘‘Tata, Birla, Ambani & Adani’. But interestingly, while it took many decades for the other business houses to become the flag bearers of Indian industry, the Adani group managed to gain similar limelight in a relatively lesser time. All thanks to a magic wand? Or is there something else that fails to meet the eye?

Adani – Modi bonhomie

Gautam Adani’s closeness with Narendra Modi is no secret. This, perhaps, has worked in his favour. From the time Narendra Modi was declared as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate (13th September 2013) to even before the general elections in April – May 2014, the net market capitalization of Adani Enterprises, Adani Port and SEZ Ltd and Adani Power had risen by 85.35% to value over Rs 95,925 crore. During the same period, the jump in Sensex was 14.76%.

Having diverse interests including real estate, oil, power, gas, coal and logistics, the Adani Group is today the largest private power producer in the country. The group is also the largest private coal importer in the country and handles the largest private port in India at Mundra.

By the time Modi took over as the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, the Adani Group had transformed into an infrastructure company, leaving behind its humble beginnings as an export house. Under fire after the Godhra riots and the devastating Bhuj earthquake in the state that took place soon after he assumed office, Modi tried to divert everyone’s attention by asking the industrial houses to invest in the state. While Modi’s first such call was overlooked by most of the industrialists, it was a group of Gujarati businessmen, flocking behind Gautam Adani who ensured that Modi’s idea of an industrial Gujarat didn’t become a flop. Since then, Adani-Modi duo has been inseparable.

Modi the PM – Adani’s saviour

In January last year, the Gujarat High Court declared Adani owned Mundra SEZ in Gujarat as ‘illegal’. The High Court found that the SEZ was built without attaining the requisite environmental clearances. According to the law, the central environment ministry needs to approve the project before the construction of SEZ can begin. The Supreme Court declined to change the High Court’s order but allowed the existing tenants to continue working in the SEZ.

Realizing that the closing down of the SEZ would results in heavy loss of job and infrastructure, the High Court allowed the Central Government to look into the matter and grant a belated clearance, if it finds it satisfactory. While the UPA government didn’t take a decision on the issue, the Modi Government, within a couple of months of assuming office, gave the required clearances and prepared the ground for upcoming ‘Achche din’ for Adani.

Modi’s travel companion

While Narendra Modi’s frequent foreign tours have caught the attention of everyone in the country, co-travellers during such trips have remained under the wraps. During PM’s recent trip to France, Adani was amongst the audience in the UNESCO when Modi took the stage to deliver a speech. Some sources say that Adani also interacted with Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French President. He was also spotted with the Prime Minister during his trips to Australia, Japan, Brazil and the USA. The PM’s UNGA (United Nations’ General Assembly) speech was also heard by him in person in New York.

Even when Modi undertook tours to China, Singapore and Japan as Gujarat’s chief minister, Adani was a permanent fixture with him.

The latest in the line of Adani’s blockbuster deals during Modi’s tenure was reported in China a couple of days back. Business deals worth $22 billion were signed during Modi’s China visit, a majority of which were bagged by Adani and Bharti. Through these deals, Adani group is hoping to gather finance for its upcoming power projects at the Mundra port in Gujarat.

CAG posed questions to the Gujarat Government

In July last year, the CAG came out with 5 reports highlighting the undue favours given by the Gujarat Government to business houses such as Adani Group and Reliance Petroleum in the financial year ending in March 2013 (Modi was the Gujarat CM then).

According to the report, “non-monitoring of the construction quay in phase 1 of Adani Group-owned Mundra port led to short recovery of Rs 118.12 crore.” Unsurprisingly, no action was taken on the report and it was dumped without giving much attention.

SBI’s $1 billion loan to Adani

One of the most controversial deals that the Adani Group has been a part of since Modi took over as the PM was SBI’s approval of a $1 billion line of credit for its coal mine project in Australia’s Queensland. The largest state run bank in the country faced flak from many corners after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Adani Group on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Australia.

Considering that some of best known International Banks such as Goldman Sachs, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Citigroup have stayed away from the project, citing environmental reasons, SBI’s decision seems all the more surprising and fishy. But then this isn’t the first time when the public sector Banks are being pushed to risk a bad credit due to political pressure.

While the Government maintains that the Australian project would help get the much needed coal into India for power production, a number of Australian organizations are already up in arms against it due to the possible damage it would cause to the Great Barrier Reef.

According to some news reports that surfaced a couple of months back, SBI decided to reject the loan request, although SBI marked such news as ‘rumours’ and continued to say that the final decision is still pending approval from the executive committee.

There is no fault in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of pushing development in the country. But a country of over 120 crore people can’t flourish if the benefits of ‘development’ remain confined to the old and close aides of the people in power. Even if all the allegations of Modi’s friendship with Adani are false, it surely doesn’t give a positive signal when the Prime Minister is seen far more often with a particular industrial baron than with the Aam Aadmi.

Next Story

Finance Minister’s Announcements Will Boost MSMEs: PM Modi

Modi praised the announcements made by the Finance Minister in a tweet

0
Prime Minister
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to appreciate the announcements made by the Finance Minister. Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday hailed the announcements made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to aid the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which have taken a beating during the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

Modi tweeted, “Today’s announcements by FM @nsitharaman will go a long way in addressing issues faced by businesses, especially MSMEs. The steps announced will boost liquidity, empower the entrepreneurs and strengthen their competitive spirit.

He also used the hashtag ‘Atma-nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, which is a reference to self-reliant India, something which he vowed to turn the country into during his televised address to the nation on Tuesday night.

TV, LED panels, Finance Minister, India, import duty
Sitharaman announced to widen the definition of MSMEs and raise the investment limit on Wednesday. Wikimedia Commons

Speaking to the media here on Wednesday, Sitharaman announced to widen the definition of MSMEs and raise the investment limit. Another criteria, turnover of the company, has also been added to the required norms for classification of MSMEs.

Read More: Bars, Guest Houses Allowed to Open in Lockdown 4, Urges Goa Minister

Sitharaman also announced a collateral-free automatic loan for MSMEs of up to Rs 3 lakh crore, among other liquidity measures.

In a move to provide more scope for Indian companies, including MSMEs, the Centre has decided to disallow global firms from participating in government procurement tenders up to Rs 200 crore.

These were part of a multi-pronged approach of the government to rejuvenate the sector which has been badly hit by the suspension of economic activities in the country in the wake of the nationwide lockdown which is place to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. (IANS)

Next Story

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Warns About Complacency in The Fight Against COVID-19

Modi Warns Indians Against Complacency in Fight Against Coronavirus

0
Indian Prime Minister
The researchers did find that public health measures, including school closures, social distancing and restrictions of large gatherings, have been effective. VOA

By Anjana Pasricha

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned the country about complacency in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in a Sunday radio address and appealed to people to strictly comply with a nationwide lockdown that has been in effect for over a month.

He stressed the need to sustain India’s “people-driven” war against the coronavirus.

The prime minister, a popular leader in country of 1.3 billion people, urged Indians to wear masks, follow social distancing norms and avoid spitting in public places calling these measures “the biggest medicine to fight this disease in the days to come.”

Indian Prime Minister
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned the country about complacency in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Flickr

The message comes as India takes tiny steps to restart the economy, raising worries that this may cause a spike in coronavirus cases. It is also seen as targeted at areas which remain unaffected by the virus — most of India’s infections are racing through densely packed cities while its vast countryside is largely unaffected.

Modi said people should “not be trapped into over-confidence and nurse the belief that in our city, in our village, in our streets, in our office, coronavirus has not reached and that is why it will not reach.”

Please follow NewsGram on Facebook to get updates on the latest news

Indians have so far adhered zealously to the calls for a stringent lockdown as the dreaded infection spread a wave of fear. Several neighborhoods in cities have imposed their own strict guidelines while volunteer squads in many villages do not allow outsiders to come in.

Whether such strict compliance will continue remains to be seen as the country begins to unlock  on Saturday it allowed shops in rural areas and neighborhood stores in cities to open. Farm based businesses and some factories restarted earlier this week.

Indian Prime Minister
Indian people stand on the lines drawn to maintain safe distance as they wait to receive free food being distributed by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Chennai, India, April 1, 2020. VOA

However not everyone is rushing to open their shutters and some traders remain wary about doing business while the infection is still raging. “Many shop owners told me they may not open immediately because customers are unlikely to come, so why should we expose ourselves,” according to Praveen Khandelwal, the Secretary- General of the Confederation of All India Traders. “It will take time for them to pick up confidence.”

But as calls grow to open up more sectors of the economy, specially from big business, the government is expected to draw up a strategy on Monday about how it plans to exit the lockdown that is due to end on May 3.

Also Read- UNICEF Warns That COVID-19 Crisis Prevents Shipment of Vaccines for Children

India saw its biggest spike in cases of coronavirus infections on Saturday with nearly 2,000 new cases taking the nation’s total to about 26,500. 824 people have died.

Although those numbers are modest compared to many countries, many fear they may not reflect the accurate spread of the infection because testing has been limited so far and is only now being ramped up in areas that are “hotspots.”  (VOA)

Next Story

After 40 Days of Lockdown in India Now is the Time to be Realistic

Even with such partial lockdown, the intensity of virus spread in India was not high compared to several other countries, considering the population density of India

0
india lockdown
Even with such partial lockdown, the intensity of virus spread in India was not high compared to several other countries, considering the population density of India. Pixabay

By N.S.Venkataraman

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared lockdown all over India around 40 days back, which caught the country men by surprise and feeling of uncertainty.

At that time , neither the Prime Minister Modi nor anyone else in India knew as to what was in store for India due to  COVID 19 break out.

At that time,  the news from China and some  European countries regarding the spread of virus was alarming. Mr. Modi had no alternative other than imposing nationwide lockdown , as a measure of abundant precaution to save India from virus spread.

It was a  pleasant surprise that entire India (population of more than 1300 million people) responded to the call of Mr. Modi without questioning. While some indifferent persons violated the lockdown proceedings, the number of such persons were miniscule compared to Indian population.

Please follow NewsGram on Instagram to get updates on the latest news

Central and all state governments cooperated and the lockdown was implemented with maximum level of efficiency , considering the overall Indian scenario.

india lockdown
While lockdown has been implemented in India efficiently, one gets a feeling that in the coming days , implementation of lockdown would not be better than what has been achieved in the last 40 days. Pixabay

Actually, it was a partial lockdown,  since agricultural operations were allowed and transportation of essential and non essential goods between states was permitted. Some industries producing goods such as pharmaceuticals, sanitisers, detergents and inputs required for the manufacture of these goods also operated , though at much reduced capacity.

Even with such partial lockdown, the intensity of virus spread in India was not high compared to several other countries, considering the population density of India.

Though people were put to enormous hardships,   particularly those belonging to lower income group, unorganized sector and deeply deprived people like visually impaired, hearing/speech impaired, mentally retarded persons, destitute women, aged people in poor health etc. during the lockdown period of 40 days, there was no big social  unrest due to such sufferings. The government was able to buy peace with them by offering freebies such as free rice, cash transfers etc.

Obviously, it is no more possible to continue with such grim situation of joblessness and slowing down of economy anymore. Therefore, lifting of the lockdown has become a matter of necessity and priority all over India.

In a population of 1300 million people, only around less than 35000 people have been infected by COVID 19 and more than 20% of the people have recovered. Till date, around 1100 persons have died due to COVID 19 and it is possible that some of these people who have died could have been suffering from other serious ailments too and lacking in immunity level.

In the normal time, on an average , seven persons die for thousand population every  year in India . This translate to around 90 lakh death in a year in normal times on an average , around 15 lakh deaths every two months.

In the case of COVID 19  in India, till date less than 1100 people have died. This figure is a small fraction of deaths that have been taking place in normal year in India.

india lockdown
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared lockdown all over India around 40 days back, which caught the country men by surprise and feeling of uncertainty. Flickr

Further, it is gratifying to note that the recovery rate in India is reasonable and certainly the recovery rate would improve, as the recovery is declared only after the quarantine period of more than 14 days.

While lockdown has been implemented in India efficiently, one gets a feeling that in the coming days , implementation of lockdown would not be better than what has been achieved in the last 40 days. Continuing the lockdown in the same level would certainly provide diminishing returns.

It is time now to relax the lockdown and gradually improve the economic activity and prevent the intensity of the joblessness scenario.

Please follow NewsGram on Facebook to get updates on the latest news

While lives and livelihood are both important factors in a welfare society, optimisation of both these factors based on ground reality would only be a pragmatic exercise.

India has gained a lot during the 40 day lockdown period , by creating awareness among the people about the COVID 19 crisis and the need for preventive measures to ensure that the virus would not spread further. People are bound to cooperate in the coming days , even if the lockdown would be steadily lifted in the interest of their self protection and it is unlikely that the situation would become worse than what it is today.

Also Read- Is COVID-19 Testing Possible at Home? Read This Article to Know

 All said and done, lifting lockdown is a  cost benefit decision and the fact that the virus spread and death rate has been kept well under control during the last 40 days of lockdown and the experience gained in implementing the lockdown,  should give confidence to the governments to take decision on gradually lifting the lockdown.

While lockdown decision around 40 days back was a pragmatic decision, lifting lockdown at the present time gradually would be an equally pragmatic decision.