The shadow of Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries (RIL) has hung heavily over the northern editions of the Indian Express for the last seven years, in a marked departure from the late 1980s when Ramnath Goenka‘s paper was seen as Dhirubhai Ambani‘s chief bully and bugbear.
Tongues have wagged incessantly about how well paid Express staffers are given its insignificant circulation and non-existent advertising; about the kind of foreign tieups it stitches up (The Economist one day, Financial Times the other); about the about-turn the paper’s former editor Arun Shourie made as NDA minister; about how comfortable the paper’s current editor Shekhar Gupta looks wth the Reliance gang, and so on.
The bazaar gossip—does Mukesh Ambani have a stake in the Express?—barely evokes any surprise.
In an interview with Shuchi Bansal of Mint, Shekhar Gupta catches the bull by the horns:
“What is there to explain? The shareholding statement is published every year in the paper. Express Holdings and Enterprises Ltd, the holding company, is 100% owned by Viveck Goenka. Then there is Viveck Goenka himself and a small bit of shareholding is with me. The shareholding of every company is listed by every company with the ministry of corporate affairs.
“I am surprised this question gets asked.
“I have handled the management for this company for a long time. This company has gone through due diligence by the finest team of experts in the business. There is no question ever, ever of any corporate whether its name begins with R or T or B or XYZ owning a single share.
“Funding cannot happen under the table. The issue is that the fight between Reliance and Express was vicious that films are being made on it now.
“What is our challenge as editors? We cover Reliance as any other corporate. Sometimes difficult calls have been taken because Express has a campaigning mindset. The solution is to do straightforward classical journalism.
“We are instruments for nobody.”
Read the interview: No question ever of any company owning even a single share in IE
Also read: Is the Indian Express now a pro-establishment paper?
Have the Tatas blacklisted the Times of India again?
Shekhar Gupta is currently the God of great article writing. Since this whole brouhaha over Lok Pal, and the item numbers of hunger strikes started, Shekhar Gupta has written some of the BEST articles.
He has said everything that I would have liked to say. He deserves the title of being an Objectivist and a libertarian. He has expressed opinions in favor of democracy and reform so clearly and perfectly.
Mukesh Ambani as we all know is the God of business and stock exchanges. We don’t need to fear him just because he is successful. He has done more for India than the likes of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev and all those corrupt ministers at the centre and states.
So now Sans Serif says that the two Gods of India have developed a secret understanding. Well, what is wrong with that! Where is the law that says that a top editor and article writer and a top industrialist can’t get together.
I like the Reliance empire , and I like IE under Shekhar Gupta, so I have no issues with their coming together. In fact, Mukesh Ambani should invest some of his billions into IE so that IE can also have a TV channel and increase the number of pages in its daily newspapers.
A civilized debate on a national level is not possible without an anti-establishment paper like IE. Every other newspaper and media outlet has sold its soul to the mob of hunger strikers, but IE stands out as a beacon of truth and liberty. Thank you.
Since “Gods” are expected to be infallible, i would like some more clarity on the Express’s intent and actions related to the fudged CD episode regarding the Bhushans.
Insiduous self-promotion by media (& other public) figures should be matched by a relentless inquiry by a discerning public. The truth is too valuable to be just left for dispensation by our “Gods of article writing” (sic).
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