If you’re struggling to get your head around the fuss over Adani, the Indian mining company hoping to dig a giant hole in the ground in Queensland, it might help to explain it in terms people are more familiar with. Briana Charles takes up the cause.
Adani Corporations Ltd; a big industrialised fish in a big industrialised tank. Headed by Gautam Adani, a man heralded by some as one of the great rags to riches stories of India.
Now the 13th richest man in India, this entrepreneurial high school dropout wasn’t born into the oligarchy that he is now the chairman of. Everybody loves a working class hero, or at least that’s the half-baked sentiment here in Australia.
Personally I find comparing real life tycoons to fictional war lords satisfying. I like how fiction can grip at your emotions by creating a real life parody without it actually being real life. Alluring the consumer into a false sense of emotional security. All of a sudden you’re crying over the death of a made-up fictional king in a land where dragon eggs are worth more than bayside property with a view of the opera house.
With 16 million people tuning into HBO to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones, it’s evident that this morally ambiguous fantasy land has created a tie that binds. Arguably, it could be useful to compare some of most notorious players of house lannister, Tywin and Cersai, with the big cahoona’s of Adani Ltd, Gautam and Vinod.
Whatever you may or may not know about the Adani family, the proposed mine in the north of the Galilee Basin in Queensland is riddled with controversy, and the speculation into Adani’s integrity as a business is more layered than a Shrek-like onion.
Despite the obvious contention points of a) the mine being built on the Great Barrier Reef, and b) projected carbon emissions equivalent to the city of Paris, there are less transparent players in this otherwise run-of-the-mill, corner shop multi-national.
Vinod Shantilal, Guatam’s older brother has chosen to hide his dirty laundry under a few waves of permanent residencies. He stands accused of wide ranging acts of trade-based money laundering, syphoning large amounts of money through ethereal tax havens in places such as the Cayman islands. It’s a country that has so many businesses registered there, each citizen should technically be running two start-ups each to keep the place afloat.
Much like our esteemed Tywin Lannister, the father of House Lannister, Vinod has acted as the neck of operations, sometimes operating with transparency and a title and sometimes operating more covertly advising from a platform one step removed from official lanyards.
Tywin’s tactful persuasion in family loyalty caused his son Jaime to kill the mad king, garnering him more power, as he sat prettily as the richest man in the seven kingdoms (before his death).
Blood is also thicker than water for the Adani’s, who have accumulated massive wealth through clever laundering, carefully ensuring a sanctity of family trust where Vinod can operate knowing the Adani corporation will protect and defend him against all odds, crying blasphemy, at any accusations of fraud on Vinod’s watch.
It’s based around the indisputable logic that Vinod is now a resident of Singapore and not tied to the business, and working with the well known fact that money laundering is, by its very definition, geographically constricted to the nation state you take residency in, because unfortunately not living in a globalised world with striking access to freedom of information there just ain’t no way to conduct covert operations remotely.
Please note the heavily laden sarcasm used when referring to this airtight alibi.
Now it may be unfair to compare Cersei Lannister, the fear-driven, power-hungry mongrel of the Lannisters to Gautam Adani, the founding father of the Adani corporation. Comparatively Gautam is unlikely to have the same blood lust that Cersei champions, and it’s unlikely he takes a deformed blood hungry giant with him everywhere he goes.
However, one thing they undoubtedly have in common is the protection of self and familial interests over a greater threat. *spoiler alert* In the latest season Cersei sees the threat of white walkers first hand, she is given unwavering evidence that a force that is not human will be the end of them all before they can successfully kill each other off. What does she do?
She feigns public support for a united front against the white walkers, whilst behind close doors she has no intention of acting on behalf of the greater good, choosing to put herself, her baby and the diminishing grandeur of the Lannister name first and foremost.
To go out on a limb here, rising sea levels and ecological devastation are the non-human white walkers of our world. Yet the Adani corporation is choosing to maximise profits, whilst protecting accusations against its own instead of fighting them.
Supporters of Adani would argue that the corporation shouldn’t be scrutinised so heavily as it has provided development resources, infrastructure and funding to Indian NGO’s. However a few pennies spared for the poor amidst a much vaster empire doesn’t qualify them as pioneers for trickle down economics in India.
They are protecting their legacy and allowing future generations of humans and sea-life alike to suffer the consequences.
The water is coming, just like the winter that threatens king’s landing.
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