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   My friend, who lives on the 21st floor and floats... (August 22, 1986)

My friend, who lives on the 21st floor and floats three new companies per day, was telling me: “I am going to give you shares worth Rs. 3 crore in my new company.

Don’t even mention that,” I said. “It is all right for you big businessmen going about giving journalists shares. Then, when the public comes to know, we can’t even write critical articles against Rajiv Gandhi any more.”

“You don’t have to worry about anything,” my friend said. “I will arrange the transfer of shares for you, I will get you a bank to give you the loan to buy the shares, then I will pay back the loan. You will be a rich man.”

“I don’t want to be rich, no, thank you,” I said. “I just want to live on my salary and write strong articles telling Mr. Gandhi that his 20-point programme is old wine in new bottle.”

“If Rs. 3 crore is too little for you, I will give you another Rs. 3 crore of shares from another company that I am floating this afternoon, immediately after lunch,” my friend said.” All you have to do is just give one signature for the bank credit, my office will handle the rest.”

“I don’t want your office to handle anything,” I said. “Just keep my name out of your records, other-wise, if some rival newspaper gets hold of them, I will not be able to write another signed article for a whole month or till the controversy has died down, whichever is earlier.”

My friend said: “You will know the value of your shares only a month later, after I have had time to manipulate the market. Then you will thank me for persuading you. All this writing about the nation’s economy and how the wrong policies of V. P. Singh are affecting it is not going to make you rich.”

“I don’t want to be rich, not that rich,” I said. “At least not till I have solved all the nation’s problems through my writings. So, please forget the shares, give them to your in-laws or give them to Nusli Wadia.”

“I think I will give you one whole company that I am starting this evening,” my friend said. “You have to just sign one document and your work is over. We will run the company for you and we will transfer the assets to your bank account three times a month. That will look after your old age.”

“Look, I don’t want to appear ungrateful, but I don’t wish to have anything to do with your business. I will be happy if we just continued to be friends,” I said.

“Very well, then, if you will not take shares, I will give you some Scotch,” my friend said. “I hope you will not refuse that.”

“That depends, if it is a bottle of Scotch, yes, but if it is a case, no,” I said.

 
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