Friday, August 21, 2009

I, me, mine a mindless pursuit

The Times of India in a front page story has said that the PM is keen that a middle ground is found by the two warring Ambani brothers in the ugly gas row. Is it possible that the two brothers can kiss and make up at this late stage of the no holds barred fight? Will the PM's words cap the flare up? A flare up which has seen an unprecedented vitriolic attack on the oil ministry and a high decibel advertising campaign in all small and large dailies in the country. The only positive after the government issued a statement is that the advertising did not appear on Saturday morning, but the breather could well be due to the onset of the weekend.

The PM's soothing words to the brothers may well see some sort of conciliation between the two camps, but the question is who will play interlocutor. Will matriach Kokilaben Ambani play mediator again? Will the battle be resolved within the confines of Seawind, the family residence? Interestingly, the non compete agreement between the two brothers ends in June 2010. Can the two brothers sit down and resolve all ending issues? The PM's take is that both are two big to fail and fall now. The two groups are the biggest in Indian business. Against this backdrop, Anil Ambani has written a very illuminating piece in Speaking Tree in the Times of India where he highlights the Trust factor, saying that it is everything and that it needs to be nurtured.

Suggesting that his father Dhirubhai built his business on the foundation of trust by naming his company Reliance, Anil believes that the message that was being sent out to one and all in public domain was that - you can rely on me. Increasingly since his death, Reliance is something that cannot be trusted is the allusion that Anil gives through his article. That Reliance Industries under his brother has turned into a 'I, me and mine' type of corporation and institution only highlights the erosion of Dhirubhai's value systems and a major trust deficit. Anil Ambani writes, "How easy it is to let the obsession with self - I, me, mine - vitiate even the purest, most selfless of relationships - the bond between a child and his mother.' Clearly hinting at the trust deficit again between Mukesh Ambani and the mother Kokilaben by not honouring the tenets of the family settlement initiated by the matriach.

Does the fine print of this piece by Anil Ambani in ToI's Speaking Tree make you believe that there can be any sort of rapprochement or mediation. Doesn't seem so. Mukesh Ambani only believes in might is right to get his own way. The last few lines of the article which reflect the inner pain go like this - "Can one break a word spoken solemnly in her presence (mother)? And if one does - in the mindless pursuit of power, ego or material riches - what has one gained, and more importantly, what has one lost?

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