|Residence||New York City, Boston and Washington, DC, United States|
Atul Singh is an Indian-born former lawyer, university lecturer, and the founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of Fair Observer, an independent section 501(c)(3) nonprofit media organization in the United States that aims to inform and educate global citizens of today and tomorrow, by providing context, analysis and multiple perspectives on world news, politics, economics, business and culture. Joseph Smarr, a star engineer at Google says that Singh would be his candidate as "the most interesting man in the world]".
Fair Observer's Managing Editor and Chief Operating Officer is Abul-Hasanat Siddique, a British author and journalist who wrote The Arab Uprisings: An Introduction and is currently working on his forthcoming book, The Youth of the Middle East (2016), examining the key challenges facing the MENA region through the lens of the youth. The Deputy Managing Editor and Culture Editor is London-based journalist Anna Pivovarchuk, having previously worked at the BBC and the United Nations.
Before launching Fair Observer, Singh worked in finance and law, notably as a corporate lawyer in London for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, advising Goldman Sachs. The idea of creating a global news analysis company solidified while attending the New York Global Media Summit in 2010.
On 10 September 2012, Singh spoke as a panellist at the United Nations' "Future of Newspapers" debate, also featuring the Romanian Ambassador to the UN Simona-Mirela Miculescu and Rutgers Professor Dr. Regina Marchi.
Among his academic achievements, Singh earned a Masters in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and an MBA with a triple major in Finance, Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he was a scholar at the Aspen Institute where he participated in a Socrates Seminar.
A lifelong debater, Singh was a semi-finalist at the John Smith Memorial Mace tournament, considered by many debaters to be an overall championship for the United Kingdom and Ireland. The White House Chronicle in February 2012 quoted him as criticising the lack of "conversation" in US debates and the need for Americans to develop a "feel for oral words."
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 2.1 Fair Observer
- 2.2 Educator
- 2.3 Analyst, Speaker and Commentator
- 3 References
Early life and education
Singh was born in Vasco da Gama, Goa. He began public speaking at a young age when he was a teenage reform leader against the Indian government, speaking up against corruption in Indian politics, particularly as practised by the Nehru–Gandhi family. He has written scathing articles criticising Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Nehru dynasty. India's political establishment is known to dislike Singh.
Singh left India to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University as a Radhakrishnan British Chevening Scholar. Before becoming an officer, Singh had studied English Literature and History at Lucknow University in India. After Oxford, Singh studied at BPP Law School in London. He went on to work as a lawyer with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, an international law firm, whose clients include Goldman Sachs and the 2012 London Olympics. He subsequently moved to the US to study at the University of Pennsylvania where he completed his MBA from Wharton Business School in 2010 with a triple major in Entrepreneurship, Finance and Strategy. Singh speaks English, Hindi, Urdu, Assamese, Nagamese, Bengali and some French.
In 2010, Singh founded Fair Observer LLC with Wharton classmate Fabian Neuen (former COO) who was an exchange student from INSEAD, Europe's leading business school. Fair Observer gained attention as one of Forbes' "Audacious Startups By South Asian Entrepreneurs". San Francisco Business Times states, "The online-only media company focuses on analysis of international issues". As per India West, Singh seeks to close the gap in the conventional media system by providing non-biased information.
In 2013, Fair Observer the nonprofit corporation was launched, following the closure of Fair Observer LLC. Singh combined forces with Abul-Hasanat Siddique and Anna Pivovarchuk, among others, to found the nonprofit. In October 2014, the Internal Revenue Service in the United States granted Fair Observer section 501(c)(3) status.
Fair Observer's model is built on crowdsourced journalism, with over 1,800 from over 70 countries, including a 68-year-old former prime minister in Ireland and a 16-year-old student in Gaza. It focuses on providing diversity and debate on global issues.
Fair Observer’s education and training programs for students, young professionals and business executives cover subjects like journalism, geopolitics, the global economy, diversity and more. The 2016 Voices of the World Program in partnership with the United Nations Foundation was Fair Observer’s biggest training program so far, and it involved over 300 youth in six countries: India, Morocco, Kenya, Austria, Mexico and the US. Fair Observer is also a partner of the World Bank, Knowledge@Wharton and the University of Oxford.
The organization's advisors include eminent figures such as John Bruton, the former Irish Prime Minister, Donald Marron, the former member of the US Council of Economic Advisers and Sanjay Sarma, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mechanical Engineering professor, among others.
Atul Singh teaches Political Economy at the University of California, Berkeley where he is rated very highly by his students for his Socratic style of teaching. Atul Singh also teaches Modern World History and Global Political Economy at IIT Gandhinagar. Singh conducted the 2016 Voices of the World Program at IIT Gandhinagar “to inspire the students to focus on the real issues that people are facing such as lack of water, poor health and poverty eradication.” Sandeep Pandey, Ramon Magsaysay Award winner and a noted social activist, who has worked for underprivileged children and for empowerment of marginalized activities, attended the program. Pandey found the program “very useful as for students as it made them think.”
Atul Singh is on the advisory board of Global and International Studies at the University of Salamanca which was founded in 1134 and given the Royal Charter of foundation by King Alfonso IX in 1218. The university is the oldest in Spain and the fourth oldest in the world in continuous operation.
Analyst, Speaker and Commentator
Singh is a seasoned speaker on the global economy, foreign policy and international affairs.He is known for his trenchant analysis, incisive views and courage of conviction to tell the truth. He is famous for his deep knowledge of history and understanding of context. Two examples of his extensive historical analysis are of Turkey - where he goes back to Kemal Pasha and Kurds and Thailand - where he goes back to Chulalongkorn who ruled Thailand from 1861 to 1910. He has spoken on US-India relations at American University for the Kennedy Political Union Speaker Series. Singh is a public speaker who has spoken all over the world from the US to the India, from Kenya to the Mexico.
Singh is also a contributor for the Huffington Post and columnist for Al Jazeera. He was a guest speaker for the Harvard India Conference in March 2012. He is a recurring speaker at MIT Entrepreneurs Club and at American University, where he has given speeches for Sally Shelton-Colby. He has spoken for the Washington European Society in Washington DC on the "Global Media Landscape." He strongly believes in education and has called for a stronger education system in the many talks he has given. He gave the keynote speech for India's Republic Day, the 63rd Anniversary of India's promulgation of its constitution for Global Indian Technology Professionals Association (GITPRO).
Global Economy and Economics
In early 2007, Singh predicted the Great Recession of 2008 in a landmark article titled "Mountains of Debt, Oceans of Reserves: The Yankee Doodle and Dragon Dance". Singh has long argued that "too big to fail" is creating "moral hazard" in the economy. Singh's analysis of the Greek debt crisis, the Chinese stock market crash and climate change are compulsory reading in many leading universities around the world. Singh has been deeply worried about quantitative easing and its role in increasing inequality around the world.
Singh gave a controversial TEDx talk at BITS Pilani, Goa campus talking about "Economics is an Art, Not a Science". He argues that Economics is an art which makes a false claim to be science much like Political Science. He argued that human beings are complex, and economics simplifies them grossly to pretend to be a science. He questioned the fundamental assumption of economics which qualify human beings as rational and their actions being measurable and rational. As per Atul Singh, economics is a godless religion with assumptions that are not supported by evidence. He goes on to say that "with over 7 billion people on the planet, we face a multitude of questions and economics has to start dealing with them."
He has spoken as an economics commentator for RT-TV about the possibility of a double dip recession where he discussed the US employment rate and the long term structural changes that are essential for the US to emerge from the recession. He gave a speech about "The Structural Roots of Poverty" at the Yale MacMillan Center for their Global Justice Program on 15 February 2013, where he was quoted saying, "The West is exhausted financially and intellectually, the rest of the world has too much cultural deference, so in the words of Matthew Arnold, we are caught between two worlds, the dead and the other powerless to be born." Atul Singh strongly disagrees with Tim Geithner's demand for more power and discretion to the US Treasury so that it could deal with financial crises in the future. At the "Per Jacobsson Lecture on October 8, 2016" in the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Singh contended that moral hazard in the era of the "too big to fail" banks are a major cause of the financial crisis. He suggested that more power to the US Treasury to bailout big banks might cause more harm than good by giving bankers the incentive to take more risks secure in the knowledge that the downside would be covered by the taxpayer.
Foreign Policy and International Affairs
Atul Singh writes the column "The World This Week" for Fair Observer in which he analyzes the most important global issue, event or trend for the week. His columns have been republished by other publications such as The News Minute and Daily News and Analysis (DNA). Along with a Harvard educated lawyer, Samuel Ollunga he writes a column called Africa This Month where he takes up the analysis important developments in the African continent.
Atul Singh is the author of The World This Year - 2015, an e-book available on Amazon. He has also edited Make Sense of 2015, another e-book that is a compilation of the best writings on Fair Observer in 2015.
Singh regularly interviews on the television, radio and print. In 2015, he interviewed with the Annenberg Media Center of the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism of the University of Southern California on the Middle-East, the US-Iran nuclear deal, the Islamic state, the Russian involvement in Syria, the troubled US-Saudi relationship and the role of money in the US elections. Later in 2015, he was invited by Manthan, a forum for public discourse, to give a talk on "A New World: The Changing Balance of Power". Other prominent speakers at Manthan, include eminent historian, author and columnist Ramachandra Guha, Former RBI governor D Subbarao, parliamentarian and former minister Jairam Ramesh, journalist and editor Shekhar Gupta, historian and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi Rajmohan Gandhi, dancer and activist Mallika Sarabhai, politician, journalist and author Arun Shourie, and many other leading public figures and intellectuals.
Atul Singh has spoken with Congressman Ami Bera in an event in California on the world economy. He has criticized Senator Tom Cotton and his Gang of 47 for opposing the Iran nuclear deal. Atul Singh believes that with the changing balance of power the US has no option but to make peace with Iran. Besides, he believes that the US committed original sin in the region by deposing Mohammad Mosaddegh, Iran's and the region's first democratically elected leader. Atul Singh has praised President Barack Obama for his courage in burying the hatchet with Cuba and for the deal with Iran.
Singh has a good grasp of geopolitics and has, therefore, been invited to interview on the ramifications of issues such as the global implications of Donald Trump's hike in defense spending. Singh has an eclectic taste and has spoken in various countries on pressing global issues. In a far ranging detailed interview "One on One" with Giverson Maina on Kenya Television Services (KTS), Singh expressed his views on globalization, the Africa, US and more. In March 2017, he also gave a talk at Shailesh J Mehta School of Management at IIT Bombay on the "Insights for India from Africa". He has also been interviewed by London-based Voice of Islam.
Media and Democracy
Atul Singh has consistently argued that the decline of discourse is endangering democracy and damaging society. In 2013, Singh passionately argued for the nonprofit model of journalism in an article on Huffington Post titled, "Media Should Not Make Money". He pointed to the example of Silvio Berlusconi and Italy, reminding his readers that "media decline is a global trend." Noise, bias, lack of content and in-depth analysis among many media houses pains Singh. He believes in "the historic role of what Edmund Burke called the fourth estate" and believes that democracy requires discourse and discussions, which in turn require independent journalism. Singh points to the organizations such as NPR, ProPublica, Project Syndicate and Global Voices as good models of nonprofit journalism.
Singh started Fair Observer, "to inform and educate global citizens of today and tomorrow" through deep and explanatory journalism with plurality of perspectives. He believes that at time of "increasing inequality and environmental degradation" the destinies of over 7 billion people are increasingly intertwined. Therefore, the story of the world "is too big, too complex and too important to be monopoly of any narrow group." Singh argues that "the story of the world has to be told by the world itself." It is telling that Kamila Fotiou, Singh's former intern from Germany, has called Fair Observer as an organization that fosters a truly global discussion. Singh's vision for Fair Observer is best expressed through an interview with Yessi Bello Perez of The Breaker in 2013.
He provocatively proclaimed that "all History is Mythology and all News is Fiction" and then claimed that Fair Observer was "simply democratizing and globalizing media and bringing public education [through] different voices and narratives." Singh concluded the interview, passionately declaring: "Media is the fourth estate. It has a duty to serve the public. That is a non-negotiable"
Global Rise of the Far-Right
Atul Singh has been very concerned about the rise of radicalism and the global rise of the far-right predicting that Islamic State would crumble under the weight of its own contradictions because of its brutality and fanaticism.
Talks at Google invited him to lecture on the latter topic, which has been since been viewed widely across the world. He argued that the far-right has economic policies of the left and differs greatly from conventional right-wing politics in this regard. Singh was subjected to racist abuse on YouTube after this lecture. One person who left a comment called Singh a snake and said, "You have to go back to India, leftist boy." This is ironic because Singh is believed to be rightist in India because he has argued for axing outmoded laws and cutting India’s infamous red tape.
Singh attributes the global rise of the far-right to the following three reasons:
- Multiple failures of elites – Singh rightly puts in something that is very fundamental and subconscious. He talks about a growing resentment towards the elites because of their inability to deliver or even understand the issues that are really important. Singh argued that elites have to acknowledge uncomfortable facts such as New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany. Singh had mentioned these in his "The World This Week" on January 10, 2016 when most mainstream media had ignored it. In his view, elites have become narrow, technocratic, opaque, wasteful and selfish if not corrupt.
- Rise of inequality – Singh cites numerous reports by White House Counsel of Economic Advisors, OECD and other organizations to support his argument on an increase in income, wealth and education inequality in different parts of the world. He keeps an eye for the future when unemployment will spike due to artificial Intelligence. Singh is deeply uneasy about Quantitative Easing, which has led to rising asset prices and made those who "own apartments in New York and shares of Facebook" laugh all the way to the bank, leaving those who don’t own assets by the wayside. He thinks falling social mobility is straining the social contract.
- Failure of collective Identity – Singh posits that people are suffering from a loss of collective identity throughout the world. Fundamental questions remain unanswered in a fast-urbanizing and increasingly globalizing world: Who are we? Is the village, the tribe, the city, the region, the language or the country the bedrock of identity and community? Singh describes how the far-right is using this identity crisis and selling a dream that hacks back to the golden ages. This explains in part the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East. In his words, collective identity is fundamental to our psyche and community is essential for survival. It is this hankering for both that makes far-right leaders seductive to many voters.
India, Africa, the US and the UK
Singh’s roots lie in the area around Varanasi. His knowledge of India is encyclopedic and he regularly speaks in Hindi in smaller towns in the north of the country. He is an astute analyst of the politics and economics of his native land. Singh has consistently championed economic reforms and has argued for modernizing government. He has called for the repeal of old colonial era laws and has argued that the Indian government must “make it easier for small and medium enterprises to do business.” He has urged Arun Jaitley to get rid of Pranab Mukherjee’s “idiotic retroactive tax law.” On February 2, 2017 Singh declared that, for all its faults, the Indian economy is more stable than the global economy at the Central University of Jharkhand. As a former officer, Singh has argued for urgent reforms to bring about rule of law in an article he co-wrote with Kiran Bedi, India’s famous first female Indian Police Service Officer and Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry.
In 2012, his damning analysis of Manmohan Singh’s performance as prime minister proved to be prescient. The same year, he analyzed Narendra Modi’s victory in the 2012 Gujarat elections and rightly predicted that “turn his attentions to the national stage and seek power in Delhi.” Singh argued that Modi “won the Gujarat elections because of his administrative competence” and that as the then chief minister looked to move to national politics, the US would “have to change tack and reach out to him if it wants better relations with India.”
Singh’s analysis of Narendra Modi is rigorous and balanced in a polarized and charged landscape. His articles on Modi's victory in 2014] and Bharatiya Janata Party's landslide victory in 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections have been widely acclaimed for their unbiased comments and analysis. Singh is a motivational speaker who has often argued that India has to rediscover its cultural confidence and bravery.
Atul Singh is widely admired for his command of the Hindi language and his use of metaphors, similes and proverbs. In an extensive interview with Amit Tiwari Singh held forth in Hindi about the essential reforms India needs to become a more dynamic, efficient and just nation.
Singh's first major article on Africa was his landmark obituary of Nelson Mandela. Singh co-writes Africa This Month from January 2016 with Samuel Ollunga, a Cambridge and Harvard educated lawyer. When Ollunga and Singh began this endeavor, they wrote: “Africa’s storied narrative is as enduring as the Nile, and yet it has long been ignored by mainstream media.” In their words, they “decided to tell you the story of Africa with its multitudinous cadences and intricate plots.”
Singh has lived in the US since 2008 and has been a keen observer of the country. He is concerned about the divisions and partisanship in this diverse society. On July 4, 2013, in an article titled "Happy Birthday America]", Singh argued that “only an honest conversation about inequality, education, and liberty will restore the American Dream.” He has also spoken about the issue of race in modern-day America as well and his article on the Dallas shootings.
Singh has analyzed the rise of Donald Trump from February 7, 2016. He found Trump scary but Ted Cruz terrifying. He spoke at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard on American democracy in the age of Donald Trump along with Glenn Carle, Rebecca Riccio, and Elizabeth Dann. Singh has been very vocal about Donald Trump and has called him America’s Silvio Berlusconi without the Italian’s roguish charm or humor.
Singh delivered the Kennedy Memorial lecture at American University in 2011 and spoke about the US-India relationships through three prisms - "History, Politics and Economics". Singh penned an article "Tango Time for the US and India" during Narendra Modi's visit to the US as Primi Minister in September 2015. He listed the reasons for the importance of the relationship and thought that "there is a natural alignment of key economic interests for both countries".
Atul was ranked among the 11 Indians who have made their mark on the global corporate world by DNA India. Dr. Kiran Bedi and Atul organized an inter-disciplinary group that has penned an 11-point agenda for police and criminal justice reforms for the Indian Prime Minister. Atul Singh has emerged as a key analyst of India-United States relations. He argues that geopolitics, economics and culture are bringing USA and India together.
Singh studied Modern British Politics under Dr. Michael Hart in Oxford and follows British Politics closely. When David Cameron won the 2015 general election, Singh argued that “a new era of fragmentation has dawned in the island’s politics.” He went on to posit that “the marriage between Scotland and England [was] on the rocks” because “both countries [had] different political and economic ideologies.” As per Singh, “with the SNP sweeping Scotland, it [was] a question of time before the flags for independence [were] unfurled again.”
Singh has been a regular and respected commentator on the UK's "troubled marriage" with the EU. His articles have critically analysed Brexit, including its impact on London slipping up as the financial capital of the world.
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