ANYTHING FOR A PRICE IF YOU KNOW THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Vol 3, PW 14 (04 Aug 99) People & Policy
     

Shastri Bhawan, headquarters of Indias oil and gas ministry, is like a temple for them.

The duo of Messrs Rohtagi and Mishra visits the petroleum ministry every day it functions. Clad in spotless white safari suits during the summer and grey-blue woollen suits in winter, holding the latest mobile handsets, diamond-studded rings adorning most of their fingers, the twosome pay heed to anyone and everyone in sight.

Nicknamed, "Changoo and Mangoo" by ministry employees, they hold the franchise to get any work done in the oil ministry. They seem to know everyone in the ministry, and everyone in the ministry knows them.

They walk into most rooms without an appointment, and come out wearing the sweet smile of success. Changoo and Mangoo offer a wide range of services.

Want a petrol pump or an LPG agency No problem. Changoo and Mangoos "consultancy fee" for a petrol pump is around Rs 1 crore ($240,000) and that for an LPG agency is Rs 25 lakh ($60,000).

Want to be a partner in a petrol pump or an LPG agency already allotted Fee: Rs 35 lakh ($83,000) and Rs 10 lakh ($23,800) respectively. Or do you want an LPG connection in a difficult area Fee: Rs 5,000 ($120).

Or perhaps you want a difficult official in a Public Sector Unit (PSU) transferred out Fee: Negotiable. Perhaps you want a friendly official transferred to a "plum" post Once again, the fee is "negotiable".

Changoo and Mangoo specialise in all types of wheeling and dealing. Governments come and go, but they have thrived under all regimes.

There are smaller players as well in the ministry, but it is the Changoo/Mangoo duo that rules the roost. The secret of their success: a universal lust for money.