Title

× Close
Family Ties

Responding to Kejriwal charge, Gujarat petrochemicals minister admits he is related to Ambanis

Admission is another example of how potential conflicts of interest between ministers and their family businesses are going largely unscrutinised by media and government.

It is not often that the famously reticent Reliance Industries feels the need to explain itself. Yet, last month it issued a video statement, also posted on YouTube, titled No Undue Benefits from Gujarat Govt. In the video a company spokesperson responds to alleged allegations that it had received special benefits because of its relationship with one Gujarat cabinet minister.

The minister in question is Saurabh Patel, who currently holds the portfolios of Industry, Energy and Petrochemicals, Mines and Minerals, Cottage Industry, Salt Industry, Printing, Stationery, Planning, Tourism, Civil Aviation and Labour and Employment. The Aam Admi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal made the accusation. Kejriwal, according to media reports, in a speech in Ahmedabad said: “You [Modi] made Saurabh Patel a minister. By giving him portfolios like gas, petroleum, energy and minerals, in a way you allocated Gujarat's natural resources to Ambanis.”

Patel, listed as ‘Saurabh Patel (Dalal)’ on the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha website, complained to the Election Commission that Kejriwal’s statement was offensive and a violation of the model code of conduct. The Election Commission in turn asked him to clarify if he is related to the Ambanis. He confirmed that he is related to them by marriage.

Patel’s wife, who appears to go by the name Ila Saurabh Dalal, is the daughter of Ramniklal H Ambani, Dhirubhai’s older brother. According his profile on the Reliance Industries Ltd website, Ramniklal Ambani is one of the senior-most directors of RIL. He has also been a director of the public-sector Gujarat Industrial Investment Corporation for 32 years and is chairman of its audit committee. The GIIC’s primary role is financing large- and medium-scale industry. Ramniklal Ambani was also Chairman of the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation Ltd from 1978-80. The GIDC develops industrial estates and is responsible for land acquisition for industry. The GIDC and GIIC are wholly owned corporations of the Gujarat government.

In highlighting the link between Modi’s cabinet minister and the Ambani family, Kejriwal has not dug up a closely guarded secret. The family link has been mentioned multiple times in the media. As is his wont, Kejriwal focused attention on a fact that this link should be scrutinised, as it is a significant instance of potential conflict of interest.

RIL is a mammoth corporation with a significant part of its holdings in Gujarat, but the vast extended Ambani family also has  many smaller and less known business interests in the state, as the directorship profile of just Ramniklal Ambani shows. It is curious then that the presence of a powerful business family in influential positions in public corporations and government ministries should not be subject to close scrutiny.

Yet, the lack of scrutiny seems to be of a piece with the way potential conflict of interest between ministerial portfolios and family businesses are dealt with by government, parliament and the media. A couple of easy examples are Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, whose family has interests in real estate , and former Union Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran, whose brother Kalanithi Maran runs a major media and communication business.

 
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BULLETIN BY 

Athleisure is the new black

This new fashion trend sweeping across the country demands your attention.

A portmanteau of 'Athletic' and 'Leisure', the rising trend of 2015 – athleisure is a huge nod to two great trends that have taken hold of the fashion world: fitness and casualness. While Jane Fonda might have had the jump on this trend 30 years ago, it has only become a phenomenon after 2010 as the wellness industry started booming.

Not like we were not working out before. The Juicy Couture sweatpants of the 90s, the ubiquity of the sweatshirt from classrooms to boardrooms (we're looking at you Zuckerberg) were a precursor to this movement.

High fashion has lapped up athleisure because it brings with it the promise of functionality. High performance fabrics do most of the heavy lifting, from odour control to sweat proofing, using breathable fabrics, lending support and shaping, and helping in getting the maximum out of your ensemble. The focus on style ensures that the clothes travel easily from gym to work to bar (probably juice bar). The tectonic shift has been in not keeping high performance workout gear restricted to the gym alone.

This is the only fashion trend, other than jeans, to trickle up rather than trickle down; and the designers have responded accordingly. Taking it a notch higher into the Sports Luxe category, there is a Karl Lagerfeld sweatshirt and couture sneakers from Chanel; there is Alexander Wang teaming up with Adidas and giving us sweats that are so sleek they can and have been worn on the red carpet. Victoria’s Secret has a new active wear line and even Beyonce has debuted Ivy Park, her active wear line with TopShop, signalling peak athleisure. This is a trend that shows off the body rather than hides it, and with Fit being the new Rich, style and fitness coalesce to make it the break out trend of the season.

While it is an inducement for fitness, it is not for the fit people exclusively. It allows you to live out the fitness fantasy without actually doing a lot of the work. Fatigue from the skinny jeans has made the market welcome comfortable yoga pants; a trend that refuses to go away! Started as a largely female focused trend, companies like Lululemon and SweatBetty bet big on the athleisure lifestyle and are now multimillion dollar companies that make the best yoga leggings in the business. Athleisure became more male friendly with compression pants and puffer jackets that kept you cool in the summer and warm in the winter all the while being a snug fit. Even sneakers have never seen such an all-time high in the market as they do now, with Yeezy’s, Air Jordan’s, to the Adidas superstar fetching top dollar and we have athleisure to thank for that.

Ajio.com
Ajio.com

It is one of the few moments when fashion is not being merely whimsical; it is actually listening to what people want to wear and what makes sense according to their evolving lifestyles. Paying heed to this gap in the market of a population that runs on Fitbit and counts its calories has paid out and proven to be a win-win for both the brands and the buyers.

Ajio brings athleisure to Indian shores with its Active Capsule collections. The handpicked Too Fit to Quit capsule provides a range of sweatshirts, t-shirts, running shorts and track pants to work out or lounge around in. The casual style is carried over to accessories as well as a great range of bags and sneakers. Along with a versatile portfolio of Puma, Vans, Wrangler, Lee, Skechers etc it also has an in-house line in fitness apparel that mixes Indian tastes with urban contemporary. Head over to Ajio.com, the aisle of style to shop this trend.

This article was produced on behalf of Ajio.com by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.

× Close
PrevNext