Billionaire investor George Soros has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will “have to answer questions” from foreign investors and Parliament on the allegations against the Adani group, and suggested the controversy might weaken Modi’s “stranglehold” on the government and facilitate a “democratic revival” in India.
“Adani Enterprises tried to raise funds in the stock market, but he failed. Adani is accused of stock manipulation and his stock collapsed like a house of cards. Modi is silent on the subject, but he will have to answer questions from foreign investors and in Parliament,” the 92-year-old Hungarian-born American said at the Munich Security Conference on Thursday.
Soros, a financier, philanthropist, activist and influential supporter of liberal social causes, added: “This will significantly weaken Modi’s stranglehold on India’s federal government and open the door to push for much-needed institutional reforms.”
He said the turmoil engulfing Gautam Adani’s business empire had “shaken” the world’s faith in India as an investment opportunity, but might open the door to a “democratic revival” in the country.
In 2020, Soros had slammed the Modi government while addressing an event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying nationalism was making headway and the “biggest setback” had been seen in India
“The biggest and most frightening setback occurred in India where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship,” he said.
Soros has also been critical of Chinese President Xi Jinping and former US President Donald Trump.
The Adani group has been under severe pressure since the US short-seller Hindenburg Research accused it on January 24 of accounting fraud and stock market manipulation, allegations that the conglomerate has dismissed as “malicious” and a “calculated attack on India”.
Soros, who has a net worth of $8.5 billion, is the founder of Open Society Foundations, which gives grants to groups and individuals that promote democracy, transparency and freedom of speech. A young Soros and his family had survived the Nazi invasion of Hungary, changing their name from “Schwartz” to “Soros” to camouflage their Jewish identity, before moving to London in 1947. At the London School of Economics, Soros studied philosophy under Karl Popper, author of The Open Society and its Enemies, but later abandoned his plans to become a philosopher in favour of investment banking. His success as an investor has made him one of the world’s wealthiest people.
According to his website, “he has given away more than USD 32 billion of his personal fortune” to fund the Open Society Foundations’ work around the world. He has been accused of using his wealth and influence to shape politics and funding regime change. In 2020, he pledged $1 billion to fund a new university network to tackle the spread of nationalism.
In the US, Soros has long been one of the Democratic Party’s most generous donors and poured $125 million into a super Political Action Committee ahead of the 2022 mid-term elections. Soros donated $100 million to Human Rights Watch in 2010.