A recent article in the Financial Times narrates, with scrupulous detail and objectivity, the astonishing surge in fortunes of a businessman from Gujarat in the years and months since Narendra Modi became prime minister in May 2014. One paragraph in the article runs: “When Mr Modi took office, he flew from Gujarat to the capital New Delhi in Mr Adani’s private jet – an open display of friendship that symbolised their concurrent rise to power. Since Mr Modi came into office, Mr Adani’s net worth has increased by about 230 per cent to more than $26bn as he won government tenders and built infrastructure projects across the country.”

While I have never met Modi, reading this article brought back memories of when – had I so wished – I could have met and even worked with Adani. The background was as follows. In September 2013, I published a book called Gandhi Before India, which dealt with Gandhi’s upbringing in princely Kathiawar, his education in imperial London, and his career as a lawyer and activist in South Africa. In December of that year I spoke about my new book at a literary festival in Mumbai. After my talk, a young man came up and introduced himself as an aspiring...

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