14 June, 2021

At The Hollow Observatory

Reliance’s first foray into the media, in the late ’80s, fizzled out in a decade

At The Hollow Observatory

Back in the mid-to-late 1980s, a series of exposes in Ramnath Goenka’s Indian Express on the Reliance empire rocked the country. The investigations, coming on the heels of sustained reportage in Business Standard, not only revealed a deep corporate-political nexus but also showed how Dhirubhai Ambani’s company exploited and benefited from the policies framed by Indira Gandhi—some apparently tailored to benefit the business house.

Among journalists, the provocation for Express’s ballistic attack on RIL under the helmsmanship of Arun Shourie is in the realm of legend. Ambani, it is said, had apparently gloated to Goenka in a weak moment that there was a price for all journalists, including those of his paper. Miffed, Goenka went out all guns blazing. Or so they say.

It was a combination of the negative press that RIL was getting at the time and a desire to enter the media space when industrialist-peers like the Singhanias, Dalmias and Thapars were testing the waters (the Birlas already had Hindustan Times),...

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