NCP leader Praful Patel(HT File)
NCP leader Praful Patel(HT File)

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: A Goal?

By Malavika Sangghvi | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON APR 08, 2019 04:49 PM IST

We have always wondered how politician Praful Patel has managed to transform himself into something of a jack of all trades. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP from Maharashtra grew up as a quintessential SoBo boy. He was educated at its twin citadels of learning – Campion School and Sydenham College – and like many alumni from there was groomed to take over his family business with interests in tobacco in the early 1990s, following in his late father’s footsteps to enter active politics. A suave speaker and a man said to be liked by all sides of the political spectrum (the words Teflon-coated have been used by more than one person to describe him), it is said that it was Maharashtra strongman Sharad Pawar who first noticed his talent for making friends and influencing people, and in many ways groomed him as the urbane face of the party and its link to the industry, a role masterfully fulfilled by Patel. But while many politicians in India find a natural affinity to get into cricket administration, Patel decided to be different and set his sights on promoting the sport of football, and soon became the longstanding AIFF president. And, over the weekend, news has come in that Patel has become the first and only Indian to be elected to the FIFA Council, a prestigious post that governs football world over, given a dual responsibility, “The responsibility as FIFA Council member is huge. I would not only be representing my own country, but the entire continent. Thank you all for your confidence for rapid progress of football in Asia,” he tweeted, in the parlance of ‘I’m humbled and blessed as I speak’. But, will India finally qualify for a FIFA World Cup? Or will there ever be a FIFA World Cup in India?
Patel’s got his work cut out for him.

True Lies
If there is a sudden spurt in well turned out and experienced personal secretaries and executive assistants for Mumbai’s Masters of the Universe recently, put it down to the fact that ahem…there have been many high-profile careers that have gone pear-shaped. From spirits’ barons and diamantaires camping in London to aviation tycoons who’ve exited their companies overnight owing to their receding airlines to bankers and bank defaulting industrialists, who’ve for one reason or the other had to let go off their loyal staff, it would not be wrong to say that there are many men and women passing their CVs around. Take the case of this banker who’s had to face considerable scrutiny recently and has exited office. Word comes in of not one or two or three, but five of his personal secretaries and EAs being given the pink slip. Why five, you might well ask. Well, according to an HR head of another corporation, where their CVs have shown up, there has been a delightful division of labour in this erstwhile Master of the Universe’s private fiefdom. “One used to be wholly given the task of making all travel arrangements for the boss and his family,” he says. “One was to take care of all social engagements, often having to show up at parties to represent the absent boss to the befuddlement of many hosts. The third was to take care of office stuff,” said the HR head. And so on it went, with one, whose soul job all day was reading her tech-challenged boss’ digital communications, copying them out in long hand, collecting his responses (also in long hand) and then replying to them digitally!). So, if you’re wondering about the high-level and experienced personnel out on a limb, consider this.

Tweet Talk
“Lal Krishna Advani has now launched a Wrath Yatra.”
- Tweeted by Madhavan Narayanan

Championing Books

Kanishka Gupta (right) with author Abhijit Dutta.
Kanishka Gupta (right) with author Abhijit Dutta.

When the founder of South Asia’s largest literary agency and consultancy, widely believed to be one of the most successful dealmakers in the world of English books, the Delhi-based Kanishka Gupta posts the words “It’s sooo hard to sell books!”, you can be sure that the literary world will emit a collective sigh, as loud as the sound of a sumo wrestler going down. After all, Gupta is a man impassioned with books, writing, authors and publishing, whose Writer’s Side agency has been responsible for the publication of over 400 authors in India and abroad, and not a day passes by without news of him either championing the work of a little-known brilliant new writer he has teased a manuscript out of or shepherding a major literary talent on to their most lucrative deal yet. Has it been such an uphill task then? Turns out he means the author to reader part.

“Yes, it’s very difficult to sell books, especially literary fiction and many genres of non-fiction,” said publishing industry’s golden boy in response to our query about his post that had received much traction, much of it from those within the publishing and writing trades. “There is no correlation between good reviews/media and sales, so one really doesn’t know what makes a book tick,” he said. Incidentally, Gupta’s cri de cœur on the cause of writing elicited much empathy. “It’s easier to practice black magic,” said author of Waiting For Jonathon Koshy, Murzban Shroff.

“Such a depressing thought, just as I finished the manuscript of what I assumed will be an exciting book,” said senior journalist Chander Suta Dogra. But it was publishing’s other star, editorial director of Ebury, India, and Penguin Random House, India, Milee Ashwarya’s comment that captured the mood of the responses. “Cant believe you are saying this!” posted the lady who must have green lit dozens of Gupta’s projects through the years! “Arre. Not sell to publishers, to readers,” Gupta reiterated.
Save an author, buy a book, we say.

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Almost 45
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