Arun Shourie

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Arun Shourie
Arun Shourie, Former Minister of Disinvestment, at Horasis Global India Business Meeting 2009.jpg
Arun Shourie
at Horasis Global India Business Meeting 2009[1]
Personal details
Born (1941-11-02) 2 November 1941 (age 72)
Jalandhar, India
Political party Bharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s) Anita
Alma mater St. Stephen's College, Delhi
Syracuse University
Occupation Politician
Profession Journalist and World Bank Economist

Arun Shourie (born 2 November 1941) is an Indian journalist, author and politician. He served as an economist with the World Bank (1968–72 and 1975–77), a consultant to the Planning Commission, India, editor of the Indian Express and Times of India and a minister in the government of India (1998–2004).[2] He was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1982.

Early life[edit]

Arun Shourie was born in Jalandar, India. He was the first child of father Hari Dev Shourie and mother Dayawanti Devasher. He considers himself being born into a close-knit Punjabi family as one good accident that defined his style and direction.[3] He studied at Modern School, Barakhamba and St. Stephen's in Delhi. He obtained his doctorate in Economics from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in the United States.[4]

Career[edit]

In a series of exposés, many of which he wrote himself, Shourie and the Indian Express, where he became Executive Editor in January 1979, uncovered corruption in the highest echelons of the government and exposed several major scandals, including what has been dubbed “India’s Watergate.”[5] Shourie started a one-man crusade in 1981 against Abdul Rehman Antulay, the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra State, who allegedly extorted millions of dollars from businesses dependent on state resources and put the money in a private trust named after Indira Gandhi. The story caused the eventual resignation of the chief minister and great embarrassment to Gandhi and her ruling Congress Party.[6]

Shourie's exposés resulted in a prolonged labour dispute at the Mumbai offices of the Indian Express, where a labour organizer with ties to Antulay encouraged workers to strike for a minimum wage double than what was paid at any other newspaper in India. It also resulted in a government crackdown that included a host of legal cases launched against the Indian Express by various agencies. In 1982, the paper's owner Ramnath Goenka fired Shourie as a result of continued government pressure.[7]

Between 1982 and 1986, Shourie wrote for various newspapers and magazines, at the same time as being General Secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties. He was appointed executive editor of the Times of India in 1986 but was lured back to the Indian Express by Goenka in 1987. Shourie launched an attack on then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi over the Bofors howitzer gun purchase scandal. This contributed to Rajiv Gandhi's defeat in the subsequent parliamentary elections.

Among the many battles Shourie fought for press freedom, perhaps the most famous was his crusade against the government’s proposal in 1988 to introduce a defamation bill. It was widely perceived that the bill had been introduced with unusual speed in the Parliament in an attempt to muzzle the Indian Express, and the entire media community joined Shourie and the Indian Express in condemning the move.

At one stage, there were 300 cases filed by the government against the Indian Express, and credit supply from banks was cut off. Shourie, however, continued his battle against government corruption until 1990, when differences on editorial policy forced him to resign from the Indian Express. The differences involved Shourie's opposition to the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report, that sought reservations in government jobs for Other Backward Classes (OBC), which were initiated by then Prime Minister V. P. Singh's government. After that, he devoted his energy to writing books and regular columns, which appeared in different languages in 30 newspapers across India. In 2000, he was named as one of the International Press Institute's 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years.[8]

Shourie is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He has been a member of the Rajya Sabha and also held the office of the Minister of Disinvestment, Communication and Information Technology in the Government of India under Atal Bihari Vajpayee's prime ministership. As Disinvestment Minister, he led the sale of Maruti, VSNL, Hindustan Zinc among others. His position as Minister was a controversial one, but he and his secretary Pradip Baijal are much respected for kick-starting what people believe was a best-in-class process. In a poll of India’s top 100 CEOs in February 2004, he was ranked the most outstanding minister of Mr.Vajpayee’s government.[9]

Shourie was one of the loudest voices opposing the nomination of Pratibha Patil as the President of India in 2007. Arun Shourie authored two articles published as a booklet titled 'Does This Tainted Person Deserve to Become President of India?' in which he discussed the highly questionable past of the Congress candidate. In a detailed interview with Karan Thapar, Shourie gave voluminous proofs accusing Pratibha Patil and her kin of embezzling funds from Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank, a bank which she had founded and was in charge of. Reserve Bank of India (RBI), revoked the licence of the bank in 2003 after it was found out that the bank had illegally waived interest on loans given to many of Pratibha Patil’s family members.[10] Shourie also accused her of obstruction of justice and in a murder case against her brother G.N.Patil.

After the defeat of BJP in 2009 General Elections, Arun Shourie was one of the voices, besides Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh, within the BJP demanding introspection and accountability. Matters came to a flashpoint after the expulsion of senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh because of his book praising Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Shourie defended Jaswant Singh in his articles in the Indian Express and accused the former BJP Party President Rajnath Singh of high handedness using such choice phrases as "Humpty Dumpty" and "Alice in Blunderland".[11]

Personal life[edit]

Shourie is married to Anita, and they have a son.[12] He is an agnostic.[12]

Publications[edit]

Arun Shourie has written about 26 books. His writings have gained him a considerable following in Hindu nationalist circles, as well as several national and international honours. Among these are the Padma Bhushan, the Magsaysay Award, the Dadabhai Naoroji Award, the Astor Award, the K.S. Hegde Award and the International Editor of the Year Award and The Freedom to Publish Award.[13]

  • [year needed] In Does He Know a Mother's Heart? Arun Shourie discusses the perennial question that has grappled mankind since eternity: "If there is a kind, compassionate, all-knowing God, how can there be extreme suffering in this world?". Shourie analyses various religious scriptures in his quest for the answer to this question. The book is also a personal narrative of a father whose son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child (Shourie's son Aditya is now 34 years old), and of a husband whose wife is a Parkinson's Disease patient.
  • [year needed] In We Must Have No Price, which is a collection of his articles published earlier in The Indian Express, and of his speeches in the Rajya Sabha and several lectures that he delivered at IIT Kanpur and elsewhere, Shourie presses for reforms in the higher education sector, in the economic sector and in political parties (specifically BJP, the party to which he belongs).
  • [year needed] In his book Worshipping False Gods, Shourie criticized B.R. Ambedkar, the leader of Dalits, for alleged complicity with the British and lust for power and wealth.
  • In A Secular Agenda (1997, ISBN 81-900199-3-7), Shourie discusses various problems faced by India due to minority appeasement and pseudo-secularism practiced by the Indian politicians.[14] The book starts with a discourse on the definition of a nation. He cites examples of other nations in Europe to counter the arguments of people who do not consider India as one nation due to its different languages and religions. He argues for a Uniform Civil Code in the book[14] and the abolition of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. He also discusses the problem related to infiltration from Bangladesh and the inability of the Indian government to solve it.
  • [year needed] Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud (1998, ISBN 81-900199-8-8) discusses the NCERT controversy in Indian politics and attacks Marxist historiography. Shourie asserts that Marxist historians have controlled and misused important institutions like the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), the National Council of Educational Research Training (NCERT) and a large part of academia and the media. He criticizes well-known historians like Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib. Shourie argues that Marxist historians have white-washed the records of rulers like Mahmud of Ghazni and Aurangzeb. Shourie presents examples to further his argument of how many of these text books describe in great detail foreign personalities like Karl Marx or Joseph Stalin, while they often barely mention important figures of India or of the Indian states. Shourie writes that this is in contrast to Russian Marxist text books. The standard Soviet work A History of India (1973) is according to Shourie much more objective and truthful than the history books written by the Indian Marxists.
  • [year needed] In Falling Over Backwards: An essay against Reservations and against Judicial populism, Shourie examines the history of reservations as to why they were originally introduced, the relevant sections in the Indian Constitution and the reasoning behind the exact words used. He then cites the rulings of courts to emphasise on the degeneration of judiciary from an upholder of the original values to openly flouting them. He examines how the Constitution was generously interpreted by consecutive court rulings to arrive at conclusions completely opposite to what the Constitution makers originally intended. He cites exact rulings and judgements to make his point. He then proceeds to discuss the introduction of reservations in promotions, the Rooster System, the arrival at the 50% limit and the subsequent flouting of it. Next, he proceeds to the logic behind the Mandal recommendations and the basis on which the same were made. He then examines the base of the commissions rulings, i.e., the 1931 census (the last time caste-based census was held in India), and showcases how the findings, ambiguous to begin with by the census takers' own admissions, was conveniently used by the commission. In the final part of the book, Shourie examines the effects of reservations in bureaucracy and elsewhere, citing specific examples and cases to highlight the absurdness that has set in and its adverse effect on the institutions. He discusses the future that the trend portends, and makes ominous predictions if the slide is not stopped. Shourie ends by quoting Nehru's remarks on reservations 'This way lies not folly, but disaster.'
  • Governance and the sclerosis that has set in: published in 2004, Arun Shourie discusses the rot prevalent in the bureaucracy and the inordinate delay that accompanies every task. Various cases are cited along with their timeline and their motion through the various channels bringing home the inefficiency of the structure. Shourie also discusses certain incidents involving his stint as the Disinvestment minister in the Vajpayee government. Lack of efficacy of various state governments, PSUs and departments is also discussed. Shourie suggests doing away with obsolete legislation and simplifying the processes.
  • [year needed] The World of Fatwas or the Sharia in Action: Shourie discusses the concept of fatwas, the premises surrounding the sharia code of laws, its universality and how it is being used as a tool to keep the Muslim masses in a state of agitated isolation. He exposes the secular view of Islam's institutions and its ulemas in India as being incomplete and shrouded in hypocrisy. He discusses the need of a concerted program of reform headed by Muslim Liberals to vitiate the deleterious effects of the all-pervading power of the ulema. He also touches upon some contemporary issues such as the Shah Bano case and dissects the response of the fundamentalists as being symptomatic of the view of women as second class citizens propagated by particular interpretations of the Quran and the Hadis. The book also focusses on the conflict between the world view advocated by the fatwas and that of modern science.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Does He Know a Mother's Heart?
  • We Must Have No Price
  • Are We Deceiving Ourselves Again
  • Where Will All This Take Us
  • The Parliamentary System
  • Courts and their Judgements: Premises, Prerequisites, Consequences
  • Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud
  • Falling Over Backwards: An essay against Reservations and against Judicial populism
  • Governance and the sclerosis that has set in
  • Harvesting Our Souls
  • Hinduism: Essence and Consequence
  • Indian Controversies
  • Individuals, Institutions, Processes : How One may Strengthen the Other in India Today
  • Institutions in the Janata Phase
  • Missionaries in India [1]
  • Arun Shourie and his Christian critics
  • Mrs Gandhi's Second Reign
  • Only Fatherland : Communists, 'Quit India,' and the Soviet Union
  • Religion in Politics
  • A Secular Agenda
  • Symptoms of Fascism
  • These Lethal, Inexorable Laws: Rajiv, His Men and His Regime
  • The State As Charade: V. P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar and the Rest
  • Will the Iron Fence Save a Tree Hollowed by Termites?
  • Worshiping False Gods [2] [3]
  • The World of Fatwas [4]

Co-author:

IIT Kanpur[edit]

Arun Shourie was nominated from Uttar Pradesh for his two successive tenures as Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (1998–2004 and 2004–2010). In the year 2000, Shourie pledged the entire amount (Rs. 119 million) of discretionary spending available to him under Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) to setting up of Bio-Sciences & Bio-engineering Department at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. In 2005, he again pledged Rs. 110 million for developing a separate building for Environmental Sciences and Environmental Engineering at the institute.[15]

References[edit]

External links[edit]