To: India Inc.
Dear Messrs, Ratan Tata, Sunil Mittal and Anil Ambani
I am one of a billion Indian citizens.
I am somewhere in the middle of that pyramid that you wish to give voice - from bottom to top - through wealth creation.
I am proud of the brands you represent that have made India proud.
I am one of the burgeoning Indian middle-class that share your aspirations of mutating India from indolent elephant to thundering tiger.
It ends there...
I have hitherto been accused of being indifferent and apathetic, simply because I am overawed and felt overwhelmed in a system replete with Goliaths. But when I saw you embrace the fascist mastermind of state sponsored genocide as a future Prime Minister and endorse the Modi-fication of India, it was disappointingly apparent that the brands that aspire to make India rich shall continue to languish in ethical poverty.
While I am filled with revulsion at your endorsement of Narendra Modi, I must respect your right to do so as a fellow citizen.
In writing this petition I am a mere David amongst the mightiest corporate Goliaths but I feel empowered to address your collective amnesia - through recollection of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 - by the true Goliath among Gujaratis in particular and Indians in general - Mohandas Gandhi.
All those who sign this petition will switch off their Tata Indicomm, Airtel and Reliance cellular phone and broadband connections from midnight on January 30th 2009.
It is eminently possible that I might be the one voice in a billion who will observe the 61st death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on as Cellular Silence Day.
Then again, there might be close to a billion who could join me on January 30th, 2009 expressing their solidarity and silently insisting that the captains of India Inc adopt an ethical, compassionate path to wealth creation rather than the single-minded pursuit of the bottom-line.We shall know that by the end of 30th January, 2009
In the last 24 hours, TATA Sons have issued a legal notice to me,
demanding that I remove all reference to Ratan Tata and instructing me
to tender an unconditional apology allegedly defamation.
While I have sought legal advice, I shall urge Mr Tata to engage in a
dialogue wth a fellow citizen about the issue rather than attempt to
legally intimidate me with the power and might of TATA Sons.
That TATA Sons responded with a legal notice is sufficient proof that
even a few thousand committed citizens can send tremors through the
portals of India Inc.
This is certainly not the last legal missive I shall be receiving
before January 30th. Also, no effort is being spared to compromise
this petition through fraudulent signatures, impersonations etc.
Update: From One Citizen To Another
We have managed to obtain a copy of the response by the original petitioner to the Tata Sons' lawyers:
On re-reading the petition [now available only in this post, for the record] I do submit, it can be misconstrued that Mr Ratan Tata verbally endorsed Narender Modi for Prime Minister. While Mr Tata restricted himself to an embrace it was Messrs. Mittal and Ambani who made the verbal endorsement. After seeking legal advice I have excised such words in the petition that might assume factual inaccuracies.
Meanwhile, I have established contact with www.petitiononline.com to make the necessary amendments to the online petition and update signatories about the said change. I shall update you as soon as the amended petition is online. Please note that Mr Ratan Tata shall continue to be referred to in the petition and remain a recipient. I have respected his right as a citizen and businessman to express his sentiments about Mr. Narender Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat therefore Mr Ratan Tata and TATA Sons must respect my right to freedom of expression as a fellow citizen, to express my disagreement.
Given this initiative is a non-violent strategy - in word and deed - to engage the conscience of Corporate India through cellular silence, a legal response seems rather excessive.
As you correctly point out the publicity for the petition has been cheap, travelling far and wide -without a single rupee spent - on the crest of shared
public opinion with thousands of signatories till date.
A personal response from Mr Ratan Tata, from one citizen to another would have been more sensitive, infinitely more appropriate and much appreciated.
What do you think?