Rafale, France, Ambani – the true story!

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Anil Ambani firm got €143.7 mn tax relief from France after Rafale announcement: screamed a headline in The Hindu, citing a report from the French paper Le Monde. The opposition in India and the Congress supporters have gone to town claiming that this is evidence of crony capitalism, corruption, forsaking national interests to support friends.  They have the wrong idea entirely. I have the real story that I want to tell you today. Read on.

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Haters will hate.

Some people in India are so blinded by their hatred for Prime Minister Narendra Modi Capture.JPGthat they go to any extent to accuse him of impropriety. In this, the French waiving of Anil Ambani’s tax immediately after the Rafale deal, they are building a castle of accusations on thin, even slimy, foundations.

Let me explain.

The Rafale deal is absolutely essential for India’s security. It is a great deal. I do not have the eloquence to describe it in simple terms and hence will refer readers of this blog post to the very articulate explanation by Pallavi Joshi. Spend a few minutes to get to the bottom of the deal and the comparison with the deal that the UPA had got India. I would urge you to to give credence to any counter claim like this one, Rafale deal not on ‘better terms’ than UPA-era offer.

This deal had nothing to do with the tax deal that the French gave Anil Ambani. Ambani’s involvement in Rafale is a mere coincidence and any accusations of collusion are only a conspiracy theory propounded by haters, who as I said earlier, will hate.

People do not understand history. So here are some historical facts.

  1. France is the land where the idea of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité originated. Most people do not realize that a synonym for fraternity (fraternité in French) is brotherhood. Egalité in French means equality.
  2. In India, after the death of tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani, the business empire split into two with brothers Mukesh and Anil gettting near equal share of the wealth.  Over the last 14 years, Anil has been beset with bad luck with company after company he ran getting into trouble, even going bankrupt. What to do? His stars are not favourable.
  3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi finds a great deal of inspiration from the Ramayana. That is behind his continued vow to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. If you ignore Vali-Sugreev and Ravan-Vibhishan stories which are not central to the plot, the Ramayan is a story that extols brotherly love. See, brothers appear once more in this story.

Ok. History lesson over. Now to what happened in reality.

What happened was that when the French realised that Anil was doing badly and was no longer equal to his brother Mukesh, their hearts melted. They decided to help him in the only way they knew how and could. They waived the taxes he owed them.This was meant purely as means to ensure that the French idea of equality and fraternity (which means brotherhood for those who forgot) did not get damaged. Anil was the incidental recipient. I am sure the French would have done the same for the Koch brothers if they ever needed help.

In India, Narendra Modi had the same idea at the same time. Happens all the time in all fields. Nothing but a coincidence. He therefore selected Anil Ambani as the defense partner in the Rafale deal. So what that Anil did not know anything about the defense business? He could learn, could he not. Not as if the aircraft are due tomorrow anyway. There is enough lead time to learn. After all Modi, who is the greatest patriot this nation has seen, cannot stay behind when the French rescue an Indian in trouble, can he?

There was no, repeat no, connection or collusion.

In fact, I think it is possible that Mukesh, who is a good man at heart, reached out to the French and gave them the money that Anil owed. The great man that he is, he probably did not want it known that he had done that. So he asked the French to put out the tax waiver story. Remember what happened when Mukesh offered some petty cash, INR 550 crores, to help his brother? The media went gaga over it  embarrassing Mukesh to no end. Narendra Modi probably knows this act of rescue but is too honourable to say it out aloud because he does not want to embarrass Mukesh. Modi is even willing to take brickbats for this silence and make it appear, to haters, that he colluded. He too is a great man indeed.

Haters will hate indeed. But we are too smart to fall for them, aren’t we?

Makarand

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