Long ago, there was a self made made multi-zillionaire called Dhirubhai Ambani. He built a huge empire which was from gas wells to wall sockets. Unfortunately he died young ( late 60s, I think) and intestate. Like all good Hindi movies, both the sons were at each others throats and finally an amicable settlement was arrived at with the help of Maa and a few wise elders. While token peace was made, they were still fighting cases in the Supreme Court over related matters. What is the story of two siblings doing in a book review, you may ask? The review begins now. Big brother got oil and gas and all factories/related businesses and the more flamboyant brother got media, telecom and financial services and some supply for Gas for his power plants from big brother's gas finds. Big brother is in the drilling business. In simple terms, there is lot of gas below the earth's surface and big companies take big trillion dollar bets and bid for drilling. Contracts are signed indicating how much will the Government get ( which owns the gas) and how much the business guys who took the risk get? This is the story of BP, Chevron et al. And what happens when the contracts get reinterpreted and ministers change, bureaucrats cozy upto the business guys, honest upright government officers / technocrats ( yes...they still exist) take up cudgels with the most powerful business family...The book is all about this. First rate research...should appreciate the painstaking research the others have undertaken However, long and dreary. Remember Paranjoy Thakurta ( the guy with the funny pony tail ) use to haunt our TVs in late 90s/early 21st century with his own business channel...till it got gobbled up by some other bigger channel...he is verbose, judgmental and takes 2 paras to say something that someone can say in one line. So the book becomes painful to read inspite of the goldmine of scoops in it...possibly it needed a good editor who can shave of some 50% of the text...and it will also became a great book. There are too many things packed into the book. Is it the story of two rich and successful siblings and their shenanigans and business rivalry? .....that would have been an interesting...is it a book on how private business is making merry with government/people’s resources...that also would have been interesting...or is it about crony capitalism…and how the government is hand in glove with big business....that would have been great...or is it a primer / Dummy's Guide on oil drilling and related issues which could have been compulsory reading for Petroleum Engineering students...that would have been a masterly tome...Unfortunately this book is all of the above....and that is where the problem is...four books in one book and twice as long... Some interesting trivia. Notice that the book is self published...whatever it means...all I can infer is that no publishing house was willing to publish it. For some strange reason not available in any Crosswords / Landmark or any of the standard book stalls that we all haunt in the malls and airports...you can only buy it on Flipkart and Amazon. If you can do speed reading and skip all the stuff that doesn't interest you...then go read the book....otherwise avoidable. We can wait for some good NYT reporter to produce a masterly tome in the next 4-5 years on this. It is too important a subject to be ignored. 44
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