Thursday, October 15, 2009

Battle between brothers (the Ambanis)

There seems to be no end to the war of words between the Ambani brothers. Is it just sibling rivalry as psychologists would say or is it an epic war as between the cousin brothers, the Pandavas and the Kauravas as Gurcharan Das elucidates? If the latter, which brother would qualify as the just and which other as the unjust? One would also opine that it is unjust to elevate this drama to the glory of Mahabharata. Is Anil Ambani suffering from 'status anxiety' and fixated on proving to the world that though he is younger, he is not in anyway less representative of their father, Dhirubhai Ambani?
Whatever be the cause, the rivalry has to be assessed in terms of its impact on corporate governance, shareholder wealth etc. If the passion of brothers is sublimated to produce better corporate results, the economy would benefit immensely. But this is not what is happening. Anil Ambani, typical of his persona, is more in the news. He continues to blow hot and cold. One day he extends the olive branch. The next day he viciously attacks the 'corporate rival'. Mukesh Ambani is less demonstrative in public.
Do shareholders of either group deserve to have their companies devalued by public portrayal of personal meanmindedness? It is ironic that the minds of corporate barons are narrowing at a time when the market valuations of their companies could be poised for a quantum jump. Do the brothers, however wealthy they are, have a right to utilise the public space to settle their private scores? Or as some cynics believe, are they enacting a sham battle to fool the public and take governance for a ride?

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