HT wedding unites Ambanis and Birlas

31 December 2012

News of a wedding that brings India’s most powerful corporate, Reliance Industries, closer to India’s second largest English newspaper, Hindustan Times, which is headed by the Congress member of Parliament Shobhana Bhartia.

From Mail Today, the tabloid newspaper from the India Today group:

Mukesh Ambani‘s home Antilia has seen a number of parties in the last few months like the one thrown to celebrate Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 100 international centuries.

The next one promises to be the mother of all bashes.

Mukesh and Anil Ambani‘s sister, Nina Kothari‘s daughter Nayantara will be tying the knot with K.K. Birla‘s grandson Shamit Bhartia.

Shamit is the son of Hindustan Times boss Shobhana Bhartia and her businessman-husband Shyam Bhartia of Jubilant.

While the wedding is in Chennai, Mukesh and his wife Nita are throwing a lavish dinner at Antilia on January 5. This will be the first wedding of the late Dhirubhai Ambani‘s grandchildren. Secondly, all of Dhirubhai and Kokilaben’s children would be seen together after a long time.

For the record, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) owns a large chunk of TV18 group, which has control over the ETV network of channels, through a controversial deal that later won the approval of the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

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2 Responses to “HT wedding unites Ambanis and Birlas”


  1. Why do media swoon over celebrity events? Okay, they report the wedding and the hundred courses and variety of liquors served at the wedding feast. Are they famished? Read this account of how our media persons reported a White House dinner:

    An official dinner, notes an American journalist, is “an inexpensive way to flatter foreign leaders.”From basamati rice to chocolate lotus blossoms, President Bush laid it on thick.

    — By Dasu Krishnamoorty

    There is no love sincerer than the love of food, said George Bernard Shaw. But when there is no food, the next best thing is to feast on stories about food. Thanks to Indian journalists accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, we have a memorable feast of food stories. If we missed out on the kind of food that was salivatingly described in these reports, we have at least the consolation that so did the journalists. Chidanand Rajghatta of the Times of India shows some understandable jealously when the White House invited only a single American Indian journalist to the dinner President Bush gave Dr. Singh – one among 134 lucky invitees.

    Rajghatta says, “No journalist made the cut for the White House dinner banquet on Monday evening, except for Raghubir Goyal, an Indian gadabout who is accredited to the White House by virtue of his daily attendance for India Globe, a small local tabloid. Goyal is hugely unpopular among the American press but he is a White House favourite because he frequently offers an escape route for officials being cornered by US reporters by asking some inane question about the sub-continent. During Clinton’s Presidency for instance, Goyal would bail out the spokesman Mike McCurry by asking some stupid question just when American reporters would be having him squirm with questions on Monica Lewinsky scandal. Now Goyal provided the same escape route for Scott McClellan in the Rove-CIA case. For his labours, he has earned the epithet “Goyal Foil,” and is the subject of mirth, ridicule and anger among the Washington press corps. But his labours also earned him an invitation to the White House banquet while other hacks cooled their heels in the heat. They also get served who stand and ask.”

    But let us talk about the food that is available in such plenty and variety in these reports, and served on dinnerware that’s the pride of the White House – but not a patch on Hyderabad House. L. K. Sharma of the Deccan Herald writes, “Dr Manmohan Singh’s anglophile heart will not melt as he compares the White House State Banquet with one at Buckingham Palace. Mr. Bush runs an imperial presidency but he is unable to put in service 2,000 pieces of cutlery and 5,000 pieces of gilt, 114 sets for salt, pepper and mustard, and seven glasses for each guest for different drinks accompanying each course. For that matter, Dr Manmohan Singh’s Hyderabad House has more chefs than the entire US Presidential food service. At the White House, the prime minister will miss the British toastmaster and the Rockingham dessert china used for the Coronation of Queen Victoria and the present Queen. A British state banquet seats 170 guests, the American can take in only 140.”

    Poor Manmohan Singh!

    While the White House failed to impress L.K. Sharma, the Rediff News Bureau was more than happy with the Texan host’s hospitality. In its report, the Bureau says, “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Gursharan Kaur will get a taste, literally, of White House hospitality at the gala dinner tonight. The White House has a long tradition of dining table finesse and protocol, even within the pantry that has been perfected over scores of years, and its chefs are known to be among some of the best in the country.” This must make Bush happy, surely.

    Not really. K.P. Nayar of the Telegraph spoils the day by writing that the dinner “will be nowhere on the scale of a banquet which Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, put together for Singh’s predecessor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The guest list will be much smaller: the dinner, and the reception which precedes it, will all be held inside the White House, not on the lawns unlike in 2000.” Pressmen who did not know dinner protocol squabbled over whether the Bush dinner was state or official. Clarification arrived before the soup was served – that since Dr. Singh was not a head of state, the dinner was official.

    What was on the menu that inspired journalists to file detailed and mouth-watering reports? Dharma Shourie of PTI smacked his lips over the “four-course dinner which included chilled asparagus soup, basmati rice and herbed summer vegetables” that was laid out at the banquet.

    “Served on the platter at the grand dinner on Monday night,”wrote Shourie, “were basmati rice and lotus blossoms; the saffron coloured, silk tablecloths and the trumpeting elephants fashioned from fresh mums and roses providing a homely touch to the guest of honour, the Prime Minister and his wife Gursharan Kaur.

    “In all, 134 guests, including Mr Bush and his wife Laura, Dr Singh and his wife, feasted on the four-course dinner of chilled asparagus soup and lemon cream, pan-roasted halibut, ginger-carrot butter, basmati rice with pistachio nuts and currants and herbed summer vegetables; and salad of Bibb lettuces and citrus vinaigrette. The saffron-coloured tablecloths topped with gold overlays were spread out onto dozens of round tables set up in White House’s state dining room, one of the Bushes’ preferred entertaining spots. For dessert, the pastry chef whipped up chocolate lotus blossoms to accompany a trio of mango, chocolate-cardamom and cashew ice-creams.”

    Though the Bush dinner failed to seduce the Telegraph, American journalists lavished some timely praise on Bush, troubled at home and abroad. The Washington Post reporter Darlene Superville described how this dinner was different from anything that journalists had reported on earlier. She said, “Famously early to bed, President Bush made an exception on Monday night for what has been a rare event in his administration: a glitzy, Washington A-list dinner. First of his second term, it was much anticipated; it’s been nearly two years since the last such dinner by Bush. The event was only the fifth grand dinner of Bush’s presidency.” The Post sent its staff writer Roxanne Roberts to the banquet. “The pink and green elephant centerpieces signaled this was no ordinary evening at the White House,” she observed. “Although earlier in the day President Bush had called it a “little family dinner,” last night’s black-tie affair for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the first big White House social event in nearly two years to honor a head of government, and it included all the traditional frills of a state.” The Post published the entire guest list.

    “It’s the rarest of occurrences in Washington,” cried the Washington Times correspondent Stephanie Mansfield, adding, “It happens once in a blue moon. And it’s not a Supreme Court vacancy. It’s a party at the White House.” The Hill honoured the dinner with an editorial tilted “A dinner celebrating the Indian spring.” It goes on to explain the need to celebrate, “The official White House dinner given last night for Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, was noteworthy in the annals of diplomacy under President George W. Bush. That can be said in part because the president has given only four such dinners since coming to office at the beginning of 2001, and, as The Washington Post noted yesterday, their rarity adds to their value. There are grumbles that the president is wasting diplomatic opportunities by not giving more official dinners to visiting heads of state and heads of government. In the scheme of federal spending, such events are an inexpensive way to flatter foreign leaders.”

    What an epilogue!


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