Itee Dewan chats up Indian fashion's two most talked about people right now - Rathi Vinay Jha and Sumeet Nair.
What went wrong with FDCI's situation?
Three things triggered off the situation. One, there was a requisition asking for amendments to memorandums. Two, claims of the board being dysfunctional and three, demands that the board be dissolved. I said anyone who says board is dysfunctional needs to substantiate it. Also, there is nothing in the FDCI rules that says the board can be dissolved. When Karuna Khaitan and Anju Modi filed a lawsuit, it led to formation of camps.
There are rumours that a new private fashion body is in the pipeline…
To resolve differences, we had a meeting and I was told that a certain section of the fraternity, especially the likes of Tarun Tahiliani, Sumeet Nair, Rohit Bal, Rohit Gandhi and others wanted to form an alternate council. It was then placed on record - an intention in writing. The letter said, ‘Lets try and find peace and go ahead with life, if we don't, we'll form anther body.' It is like a rebel son who wants to walk out of the house.
Why did you withdraw your signatures from the letter of support for Sumeet Nair at the last minute?
The first person to withdraw was J J Valaya. He pointed out legal implications which I had not thought of. Any bad blood between Sumeet Nair and you because of this? It can't happen in a split second. In the lawsuit filed, it's alleged that Sumeet Nair's appointment as ED is a duplication of your post, and hence illegal. When I was appointed, I had asked for a DG designation and we all voted. Now when we voted, I presumed it's in the rules. My contract was renewed in 2006 for two years much before Sumeet came on board in July 2007. In our presumption, I was still the director general/executive director. The rest court will decide.
There's an allegation that minutes of the board meetings, budget and expenditure documents weren't available in hard copy.
Showing on a screen is any day a modern and a better tool of presentation. We did not circulate minutes because of confidentiality reasons. We catapulted into a lot of media attention when we had a split with Lakme Fashion Week in 2005. So we had then decided to keep discussions and minutes to ourselves. What about email hacking case filed by Anju Modi? I know Anju, she isn't tech savy. She couldn't have sent the mail in question from her car. So, her account was indeed hacked and action must be taken.
What is FDCI's future?
FDCI is strong and will survive all this. Life has to go on. I dread to think what the outside world is thinking about us. Are you with any of the so-called ‘camps'? I am not supporting anyone. I am and have always been neutral. My loyalties are with the council at all cost.
There are talks that you floated the idea of a private fashion body...
It wasn't an individual decision but an idea that came up from some designer members when they saw that we have reached an impasse at the FDCI and no constructive work is being done.
Have you already discussed the structure of the company?
There were a buzz of a stand off between you and Tarun Tahiliani over percentage of stakes in the company? No formal meeting has taken place with a sole agenda of discussing such a company. We all are trying to reach an amicable solution and can't keep fighting. Also, there's no stand off between Tarun and I regarding any issue. In the lawsuit filed by Karuna Khaitan, she has alleged that your company, Black Eye Design, has the same line of business (fashion) and that you are promoting your own business at the expense of the FDCI? Black Eye Design is an export house manufacturing and exporting home furnishings. It does not even make garments. There is no connection whatsoever with the FDCI. I find the allegation ridiculous. It is also alleged that your appointment with the FDCI is illegal. The matter is sub-judice.
What about the fund allocated by the Ministry of Commerce to the FDCI?
The Ministry had allocated approximately 68 lakhs for one year to the FDCI for the purpose of promoting Indian designers at the Paris Fashion Week. There were four shows (two by Manish Arora, one each by Anamika Khanna and Rajesh Pratap Singh) in the year and the amount was divided equally between them. Only part payment has been made, as the rest is yet to be received from the government. Please note that this application was made by Rathi Vinay Jha before I came to the FDCI and at the time of the previous board of which Anju Modi was a member and a party to this decision.