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  • Reliance Industries: Reimagining Ambani
    THERE are only two Indians for whom Mumbai’s great and good will turn up en masse and on time. One is whoever is the sitting prime minister. The other is Mukesh Ambani. This is not just because he is India’s richest man, worth $23.5 billion. It is because he runs India’s biggest private firm (measured by profits), Reliance Industries—and, some say, the country, too.One balmy night last year Mr Ambani addressed a punctual audience of bigwigs at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel as part of a discussion on “Reimagining India”. He spoke about the impatience of the nation’s 700m living in poverty with the authority of a man raised in the city’s tenements and the sanctimony of someone who now lives in a personal skyscraper that towers above them, a 27-storey perquisite of being the world’s 26th-richest man.At the celebratory dinner that followed, Mr Ambani circulated wearing the forbearing smile of a monarch. Though he complains that his staff are too protective and that he would like to mix with people more, he does not seem entirely at ease; his eyes dart around as he tries to anticipate which of the throng of well-wishers, sycophants and supplicants will accost him next....
  • Weapons-makers: The case for defence
    THE star of the show was missing from the skies above the Farnborough air show, Europe’s biggest aerospace get-together, which began on July 14th. The F-35 fighter (pictured), which was to have made its first appearance outside America, is grounded after an engine fire. Not taking to the air when expected is a trait of Lockheed Martin’s jet. It is years behind schedule and stratospherically over budget. Its absence is an embarrassment for Lockheed but, then again, its presence might have reminded the defence officials shopping for kit at Farnborough of just the sort of complex and expensive programme that they want to avoid signing up to in future.Arms-makers are going through a lean period. Some big contracts, such as ones to make bombers, trainer aircraft and drones, are still up for grabs in America, the world’s biggest spender. But it and other rich-world governments, struggling to curb their deficits, are trying ever harder to get the most bang for the fewest bucks. The revenues of 17 of the top 20 American weapons-makers shrank in 2013. American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had helped to push global spending to a record $1.7 trillion in 2008. Since then it has plunged by $100...