13 April, 2021

When The Eyes Locked In

I'll never forget Dhirubhai's parallel processing mind and the eyes that took in everything

When The Eyes Locked In
In 1984, Nitin Desai at the Planning Commission put me in charge of a major study on the state of India's textile industry. After visiting some 50 mills in India—including Reliance's facility at Naroda, near Ahmedabad—and meeting hundreds of experts from the industry and its myriad associations and research bodies, I was asked by an official at the Textile Commissioner's office whether I wanted to know the 'real' story about the industry. I agreed, and a meeting was fixed with Rasikbhai Meswani, who was Dhirubhai Ambani's brother-in-law and then the number two man in Reliance.

A short man with a paunch, a razor-sharp mind, an infectious grin, tons of data and information, and a fondness for shiny white safari suits, Rasikbhai became my textile guru. He taught me all that I needed to know about yarn sales, powerlooms, and the byzantine politics of the industry. One day in the winter of 1984, he took me across the corridor to meet his brother-in-law.

It was a huge office room. Dhirubhai walked across, shook hands, and we sat perpendicular to each other on sofas. For...

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