Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Goenka- Shourie duo and F A Hayek

Shoma Chaudhury profile unfolds a hard fire in The Tehelka

  • “Shourie confessed to a “180 degree turn” on Ambani. For five years, as Indian Express editor, he and S Gurumurthy, an accountantturned- Goenka-confidante and an RSS man, had scorched Ambani for his corruptions. It wasn’t merely that Dhirubhai Ambani had imported an entire textile plant without paying customs, or that he was producing more than his permit, they tracked how the government was favouring him; how he owned shell companies; how he had both banks and politicians in his pocket; how, in short; he was subverting society.
  • Shourie sloughed off all those years of platinum outrage with cynical ease. As Disinvestment Minister in the Vajpayee government, he had already sold controlling shares of the giant government-controlled petrochemical company, IPCL to the Ambanis — creating a massive private monopoly. (Journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta argues that this itself was an intellectual dishonesty, coming from a man who had championed fair and free markets all his life.) Now at the lecture, taking refuge in economist Frederick Hayek’s argument that when rules ossify and become outdated, society starts violating those rules until conditions evolve where new rules come into play, Shourie claimed he had come to revise his view of the Ambanis.
  • (In an uncharacteristic and revealing moment of self-irony though, he confesses his friend Gurumurthy had once challenged him: “If Hayek is right, everyone can become a violator and say they are breaking laws for a better future. Who will judge which laws should be broken?” Shourie says only half-laughingly, “I told him, I’ll be the judge of that.”)

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