Thu, 25 Nov 2010 10:04:57 GMT | By E Jayakrishnan, India Syndicate

Queen of connections

First a quiz. What connects Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Mittal? Nira Radia.


Queen of connections

Nira who? For the record, she is the founder-director of corporate consulting firms Vaishnavi , Noesis, Vitcom and Neucon. But, that does not even begin to describe who she is.

Well, in the rarefied cauldron of giga corporate deals and high-stake political power games, she is the lord of the ring. A power-and-deal broker that India may not have seen before; or since. She, as a keen observer once wrote, has a hand in deciding the fate a few percentage points of India's GDP. And, that is no exaggeration.

With a few calls, she influences the composition of the Union Cabinet, makes sure that her corporate clients land that coveted deal, and acts as the midwife in bringing corporate feuds to an end. She is the reigning queen of connections. She is the biggest wheeler-dealer that India may have seen. Stretching the definition of 'lobbyist' and taking it a whole new realm.

Just one factoid would reveal the scope and scale of her power and ambitions. In corporate India, there are not too many rivalries that can match that between Mukesh Ambani's Reliance and the Tata's. But that is until Nira Radia stepped in. She not only brought them together, ensuring bytes of support when Tata was stuck in Singur over the Nano plant, but in a PR coup of the century managed to garner both their accounts.

Who would have thought that a day would come when the agencies headed by the same person will manage the PR and communications accounts of both Reliance and Tata?

However, until recently, Radia was a shadowy figure. More whispered about than known. The phantom of the corporate opera, fixing and influencing deals in the background. Faceless.

All that has changed. Now we know her face and, more importantly, we know what she sounds like. And in a manner that she is not likely to be thrilled about it.

(Continued)
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