Arun Shourie

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Arun Shourie
Arun Shourie.jpg
Shourie in 2009
Minister of Communications & Information Technology
In office
29 January 2003 – 22 May 2004
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byPramod Mahajan
Succeeded byDayanidhi Maran
Minister of Commerce & Industry
In office
9 November 2002 – 29 January 2003
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byMurasoli Maran
Succeeded byArun Jaitley
Minister of Development of North Eastern Region
In office
1 September 2001 – 29 January 2003
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byministry created
Succeeded byC. P. Thakur
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
In office
5 July 1998 – 4 July 2010
ConstituencyUttar Pradesh
Personal details
Born (1941-11-02) 2 November 1941 (age 80)
Jalandhar, Punjab, British India
(now in Punjab, India)
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
SpouseAnita Shourie
RelationsH. D. Shourie, (father)
Nalini Singh, (sister)
ResidenceNew Delhi, India
Alma materUniversity of Delhi (BA)
Syracuse University (PhD)
ProfessionJournalist and former World Bank Economist
AwardsPadma Bhushan (1990)
Ramon Magsaysay Award (1982)
WebsiteArun Shourie Blog

Arun Shourie (born 2 November 1941[1]) is an Indian economist, journalist, author and politician.[2] He has worked as an economist with the World Bank, a consultant to the Planning Commission of India, editor of the Indian Express and The Times of India and a Minister of Communications and Information Technology in the Vajpayee Ministry (1998–2004). He was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1982 and the Padma Bhushan in 1990.[3]

Popularly perceived as one of the main Hindu nationalist intellectuals during the 90s and early 2000s, for instance writing controversial works on Islam and Christianity apart from attacks on left-wing ideologues, he now considers himself skeptical of religions in general while having affinities for Buddhism that he considers "closest to reason."[4][5] This skepticism was born out of the contemplation of bringing up his disabled son and taking care of his ailing wife, experiences he shared in the 2011-book Does He Know a Mother's Heart: How Suffering Refutes Religion, suggesting that "for dealing with life and what it sends us, the Buddha's position is the most helpful."[6]

Early life[edit]

Arun Shourie was born in Jalandhar, British India, on 2 November 1941.[1] He studied at Modern School, Barakhamba[citation needed] and did his bachelor's in Economics(H) from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University.[7] He obtained his doctorate in Economics from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 1966.[8][9][10]

Personal life[edit]

Shourie is married to Anita, and they have a son.[11] His sister is the journalist Nalini Singh.[7] Arun Shourie speaks about his personal life and reviews his life events as case diaries "My writing is like the case diary of an advocate which is aimed at winning a case" and his opinions on journalism.[12]



Shortly after receiving PhD in economics from Syracuse University Shourie joined World Bank as an economist in 1967 where he worked for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, between 1972–74, he was a consultant to the Indian Planning Commission and it was around this time that he began writing articles as a journalist, criticising economic policy.[1]


In 1975, during The Emergency imposed by then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, Shourie began writing for the Indian Express in opposition to what he saw as an attack on civil liberties. The newspaper, owned by Ramnath Goenka, was a focal point for the government's efforts at censorship.[1] He became a fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research in 1976.[13] In January 1979, Goenka appointed Shourie as executive editor of the newspaper, giving him a carte blanche to do with it as he saw fit.[1] He developed a reputation as an intelligent, fearless writer and editor who campaigned for freedom of the press, exposed corruption and defended civil liberties such that, in the words of Martha Nussbaum, "his dedication to the truth has won admiration throughout the political spectrum".[14]

Shourie has been called a "veteran journalist".[15][16] Shourie was a winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1982, in the Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts category as "a concerned citizen employing his pen as an effective adversary of corruption, inequality and injustice."[13] In 2000, he was named as one of the International Press Institute's World Press Freedom Heroes. He has also been named International Editor of the Year Award and was awarded The Freedom to Publish Award.[1]


He was nominated from the state of Uttar Pradesh as a BJP representative for two successive tenures in the Rajya Sabha, thus being a Member of Parliament for 1998–2004 and 2004–2010.[citation needed] He held the office of the Minister of Disinvestment, Communication and Information Technology in the government of India under Vajpayee's prime ministership.[17] As Disinvestment Minister, he led the sale of Maruti, VSNL, Hindustan Zinc among others.[18]

Shourie was among many who objected to The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986, which the government headed by Rajiv Gandhi proposed to alleviate communal violence and retain Muslim votes. Claimed by the government to be a reinforcement of India's constitutional secularism, it was widely criticised by both Muslims and Hindus. The liberals among them, says Ainslie Embree, saw it as "a capitulation to the forces of Islamic obscurantism, a return ... to the thirteenth century"; the Hindu revivalist critics thought it was "weakening Indian unity". Shourie wrote articles that tried to show that the treatment of women as required by the Quran would in fact offer them protection, although the application of Islamic law in practice was oppressing them. He was in turn criticised for what was perceived as a thinly-veiled attack on Islam itself, with Rafiq Zakaria, the Muslim scholar, saying that Shourie's concern for reform of Islam was in fact demonstrative of Hindu contempt that used the plight of Muslim women as an example of the backwardness of the community. Vir Sanghvi termed it "Hindu chauvinism with a liberal face".[19]

After the defeat of the BJP in 2009 general elections, Shourie asked for introspection and accountability within the party. He deplored factionalism within the party and those who brief journalists to aid their own agenda.[20]

Shourie has been described by Christophe Jaffrelot, a political scientist, as "a writer sympathetic to militant Hindu themes"[21] and has publicly voiced support for the aims of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a nationalist Hindutva organisation. This has caused unease among some of those who admire his journalism.[22] He has said that, although he sees a danger from perceived Muslim violence such as the Godhra train burning incident of 2002, people have tended to redefine the "Hindutva" term. He says that prominent members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), of which he is a member and which has ties to the RSS — specifically, L. K. Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee — have shown their opposition to sectarian hatred and in their attempts to make the BJP inclusive have tried to marginalise those on both the Muslim and Hindu extremes who promote such hatred.[23] As a political scientist he views that present electoral system does not concern competency and integrity. He emphasised his views in a cultural conference called Tomorrow’s India Global Summit and added that the pressure to bring about change in the present electoral system should come from the society.[24]


Arun Shourie has written numerous books. According to Martha Nussbaum, the traits of his writings are:

recognisably the creation of a smart, determined, muckraking journalist, They are polemical, ad hominem, often extremely shrill in tone. ... But despite their style, the books are obviously the work of a brilliant man, with a wide if idiosyncratic learning, a passion for the freedoms of speech and press, and a desire to get beneath current events to address underlying issues.[22]

With the exception of Gandhi, he has little time for any religious thinker and, says Nussbaum, his books "nowhere ... seek to provide balance; nowhere is there a sense of complexity. All have the same mocking, superior tone."[25]

Historian D.N. Jha criticized Shourie's book Eminent Historians, which concerned the NCERT controversy, that it contains "slander" and "has nothing to do with history."[26][27][28]

IIT Kanpur[edit]

In 2000, Shourie pledged the entire amount (Rs. 12 crore) 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.[29] In 2005, he again pledged Rs. 11 crore for developing a separate building for Environmental Sciences and Environmental Engineering at the institute.[citation needed]



  • Symptoms of fascism, New Delhi : Vikas, 1978, 322 p.
  • Hinduism : essence and consequence : a study of the Upanishads, the Gita and the Brahma-Sutras, Sahibabad : Vikas House, 1979, 414 p.
  • Institutions in the Janata phase, Bombay : Popular Prakashan, 1980, 300 p.
  • Mrs Gandhi's second reign, New Delhi : Vikas ; New York : Distributed by Advent Books, 1983, 532 p.
  • The Assassination & after, New Delhi : Roli Books Internat., 1985, 160 p.
  • On the current situation : new opportunities, new challenges, Pune : New Quest, 1985, 57 p.
  • Religion in Politics, New Delhi : Roli Books, 1987, 334 p.
  • Individuals, institutions, processes : how one may strengthen the other in India today, New Delhi, India ; New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking, 1990, 239 p.
  • The State as charade: V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar & the rest, New Delhi : Roli Books, 1991, 425 p.
  • "The Only fatherland" : communists, "Quit India", and the Soviet Union, New Delhi : ASA Publications, 1991, 204 p.
  • These lethal, inexorable laws: Rajiv, his men, and his regime, New Delhi : Roli Books, 1991, 433 p.
  • A Secular Agenda: For Saving Our Country, for Welding It, New Delhi : ASA Publications, 1993, 376 p.
  • Indian Controversies: Essays on Religion in Politics, New Delhi : Rupa & Co., 1993, 522 p.
  • Missionaries in India : continuities, changes, dilemmas, New Delhi : ASA Publications, 1994, 305 p.
  • World of Fatwas: Shariah in Action, New Delhi : ASA Publications, 1995, 685 p.
  • Worshipping False Gods: Ambedkar, and the facts which have been erased, New Delhi : ASA Publ., 1997, 663 p.
  • Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Life, Their Fraud, New Delhi : ASA Publ., 1998, 271 p.
  • Harvesting Our Souls: Missionaries, Their Design, Their Claims, New Delhi : ASA Publ., 2000, 432 p.
  • Courts and Their Judgments: Premises, Prerequisites, Consequences, New Delhi : Rupa & Co., 2001, 454 p.
  • Governance And The Sclerosis That Has Set In, New Delhi : ASA Publ., 2005, 262 p.
  • Will the Iron Fence Save a Tree Hollowed by Termites?: Defence Imperatives Beyond the Military, New Delhi : ASA Publications, 2005, 485 p.
  • Falling Over Backwards: An Essay on Reservations, and on Judicial Populism, New Delhi : ASA : Rupa & Co., 2006, 378 p.
  • The Parliamentary System: What We Have Made Of It, What We Can Make Of It, New Delhi : Rupa & Co., 2006, 264 p.
  • Where Will All this Take Us?: Denial, Disunity, Disarray, New Delhi : Rupa & Co., 2006, 604 p.
  • Are We Deceiving Ourselves Again?: Lessons the Chinese Taught Pandit Nehru But which We Still Refuse to Learn, New Delhi : ASA Publ., 2008, 204 p.
  • We Must Have No Price: National Security, Reforms, Political Reconstruction, New Delhi : Express Group : Rupa & Co., 2010, 343 p.
  • Does He Know A Mothers Heart : How Suffering Refutes Religion, Noida : HarperCollins, 2011, 444 p.
  • Two Saints: Speculations Around and About Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramana Maharishi, Noida : HarperCollins, 2017, 496 p.
  • Anita Gets Bail: What Are Our Courts Doing? What Should We Do About Them?, Noida : HarperCollins, 2018, 288 p.
  • Preparing For Death, India Viking, 2020, 528 p.
  • The Commissioner Of Lost Causes, Penguin Viking, 2022, 616 p.




  1. ^ a b c d e f International Press Institute
  2. ^ "Arun Shourie". Archived from the original on 14 February 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  4. ^ Vir Sanghvi (19 May 2017), "A few God Men", Business-Insider. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  5. ^ Utpal Kumar (18 June 2017), "The loneliness of being Arun Shourie", Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  6. ^ IANS (9 July 2011), "Arun Shourie pens down his trauma", Hindustan Times. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Nalini Singh's daughter Ratna writes novel about mother-daughter troubled relationship". The Sunday Guardian. 9 August 2014.
  8. ^ "SU's Who". Syracuse University Magazine. Syracuse, New York. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  9. ^ Shourie, Arun (1965). Taxation of the Indian agriculture (M.A.). Syracuse University & University Microfilms. OCLC 83238831. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  10. ^ Shourie, Arun (1966). Allocation of foreign exchange in India (PhD). Syracuse University. OCLC 222018035. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  11. ^ God's an invention to suit society's needs: Arun Shourie
  12. ^ Arun, Shourie (6 October 2017). "Interview with Arun Shourie Decentralised Emergency in India By Srikant Kottackal translated by A J Philip senior journalist and columnist". The News Freedom. Archived from the original on 6 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  13. ^ a b Magsaysay Foundation (2012)
  14. ^ Nussbaum (2009), p. 61
  15. ^ Arun Maira (2004). Remaking India: One Country, One Destiny. SAGE Publications. p. 25. ISBN 9780761932734.
  16. ^ "Arun Shourie's Speech on Media Freedom at Press Club of India: Full Transcript".
  17. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe, ed. (2009). Hindu Nationalism: A Reader. Princeton University Press. p. 344. ISBN 978-1-40082-803-6.
  18. ^ Johri, Meera (2010). Greatness of Spirit: Profiles of Indian Magsaysay Award Winners. Rajpal & Sons. ISBN 9788170288589.
  19. ^ Embree (1990), pp. 107–111
  20. ^ Indian Express (2009)
  21. ^ Jaffrelot (1996), p. 353
  22. ^ a b Nussbaum (2009), p. 62
  23. ^ Nussbaum (2009), pp. 66–68
  24. ^ "Arun Shourie says pressure to change electoral system should come from society-Politics News , Firstpost". 8 October 2017.
  25. ^ Nussbaum (2009), p. 63
  26. ^ "Grist to the reactionary mill". Indian Express. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  27. ^ "How History Was Unmade At Nalanda! D N Jha". Kafila. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  28. ^ Sreedathan, G. (9 November 2014). "Votes do not guide intellectuals: D N Jha". Business Standard. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  29. ^ Shourie gives Rs 12 crore to IIT-Kanpur!


Further reading[edit]

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