About the Book

The story of the recent purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from the privately-owned French company Dassault Aviation is different from, and yet similar to, other scandals relating to the import of defence equipment by India, including the acquisition of Bofors guns from Sweden in the late-1980s.

The deal relating to the purchase of the fighter jets on the basis of a government-to-government agreement is a transaction in which the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi was directly involved, or so his own defence minister and others have testified.

While this is hardly the first deal of its kind that has attracted considerable public attention and has been accompanied by allegations of corruption and favouritism, it is by far the largest military equipment scandal to have come to light so far.

As we publish, an investigation is going on in France on whether there was malfeasance in the acquisition and whether illegal kickbacks were paid in the Rafale deal, that involves various players including corporate entities in the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and dubious defence dealers.

This is the deepest dive so far into a subject on which many tens of thousands of pages have already been written. Why then is this book being published? Because the full story about the Rafale deal is yet to be told.  

When there is substantial expenditure of taxpayers’ money, all relevant documents and averments need to be examined to ascertain whether public interest has been properly served. The authors have placed on record all sides to the story by interviewing dozens of knowledgeable persons, those supportive of, as well as those opposed to, the Rafale deal.

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Flying Lies: The Trailer

The Authors

Ravi Nair was born in Kerala in November 1973. He completed a post-graduate degree in economics from the University of Calicut in 1995. Thereafter, he worked in the corporate sector till 2014 before becoming a consultant. He has written for various publications and websites, including Janta Ka Reporter (where he broke the story on the Rafale scandal in November 2017), the Wire, MoneyLife, NewsCentral, Frontline and Newsclick. He lives in Delhi with his wife Sunu Maria Abraham and their children Abhay and Aaditya.


Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is a writer, speaker, anchor, interviewer, teacher, analyst/commentator, publisher, producer, director and consultant. He has authored/co-authored seven books, published more than 24 books, directed/produced more than 20 long documentary films and hundreds of short films/videos. His work experience, spanning four and a half decades, cuts across different mass media: the written word, the spoken word and the audio-visual medium—printed publications and websites, radio and podcasts, television and documentary cinema.


Praise for the Book

... what we can be sure about is that the political and moral questions underlying the scandal will not go away. To get a firm grip on these questions, as well a critical insight into the performance of institutions—the executive branch, Parliament, the armed services, the investigating agencies, the Supreme Court of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and the news media... I can think of no surer guide, no better resource than this book.

N Ram
former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu

I am happy to note that Ravi Nair and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta have brought out this extremely well-researched book on the infamous Rafale deal which has rocked the politics of India for years. The deal was directly negotiated by the Prime Minister himself and, therefore, responsibility for it lies with him. It is a pity that the Indian media, barring a few honourable exceptions, have not done their duty in this case and have joined the efforts of the government to bury the scandal deep. The courts have not been very helpful either. But truth, especially truth that is inconvenient, has a knack of appearing at odd times because it cannot be suppressed forever.

Yashwant Sinha
former Union Minister for External Affairs and Finance

This is not a simple narrative but a complex one. At the heart of it, the Rafale story is about why India paid 40 per cent more for equipment whose price had been settled. But it carries within a multitude of other problematic things. Why did the government of India, and in fact the prime minister personally, take up for renegotiation that which was already settled? Why, unusually for this government, was there pushback from the bureaucrats, whether in the defence ministry or the production facility at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and how was it managed inside?

Aakar Patel
former head of Amnesty International in India

The book is well-backed by research. It is unrelenting, incisive and penetrating without being either brazen or repelling. The scandal concerning Dreyfus, who was accused of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment, divided public opinion in France in the last years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. He was eventually exonerated and released from prison and his case came to symbolise miscarriage of justice across the world. The sad part about the Rafale case is that, in all probability, little may come out of the investigations taking place in France, unlike its progenitor, what Zola wrote in “J’accuse.” I hope I am wrong.

Shantonu Sen
former Joint Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)