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Friday, September 5, 2014

Is this the way to energise civil servants?


CBI move to investigate the disinvestment of Udaipur’s Laxmi Vilas hotel on the basis of an anonymous oral complaint, 12 years after the decision, holds a lesson for those who are trying to get the bureaucracy going.
Hindustan Zinc was privatised in April 2002. The privatisation was challenged on various grounds in the Supreme Court. In December 2012, after hearing counsel, the SC rejected the challenge.
That did not deter the CBI. In February 2014 — TWELVE years after the disinvestment, and with HARDLY A YEAR having passed since the SC delivered its judgment — the CBI launched a new “investigation” into the disinvestment.
When its officers came to me, I asked them about the complaint on the basis of which they had commenced the investigation. They said that there had been nothing in writing, just an oral complaint!
The same pattern has now been repeated in the case of the disinvestment of Laxmi Vilas Hotel in Udaipur. The hotel was disposed of in 2002. Of the ITDC’s 20-odd hotels, this one had distinguished itself
by incurring the highest loss: to earn gross revenue of Rs 2 crore a year, the hotel spent Rs 3 crore — a loss of 51 per cent. The occupancy rate of the hotel had fallen to 26 per cent. Far from being a luxury palace, the place was in shambles — the plant and machinery were defunct, the furniture, etc were in the sorriest state that you can imagine. This will be evident from two elementary facts. ELEVEN parties expressed an initial interest in bidding for the hotel. FIVE of them carried out thorough due diligence. Such was the condition of the property that four of the five dropped out. I am informed that Bharat Hotels — the winning bidder — had to spend Rs 25 to 30 crore on renovating the place and getting its plant and machinery in working order. Furthermore, the quality of the staff was such that Bharat Hotels had to spend another Rs 3 to 5 crore on voluntary retirement schemes.
TWELVE years after the disinvestment, the CBI has registered an FIR — naming, among others, the then secretary of the disinvestment ministry and accusing him, among other things, of “dishonestly and fraudulently and with mala fide intention” doing this, that and the other. On what basis? The FIR itself states that it has been registered on the basis of “an anonymous complaint”. I will come in a moment to the utter indefensibles that mar the FIR, but the first point to consider is: Should any agency have the authority to harass civil servants for decisions taken 12 years ago? Should it have the power to ruin the reputation of civil servants and to put them to endless trouble 10 years after they have retired? Should it have the power to ruin people’s reputations on the basis of “anonymous complaints” and “oral complaints”?
One of the main objectives of the prime minister, and key to the other objectives he has in mind, is to energise the bureaucracy. Which is the civil servant who will take decisions, who will accept responsibility, who will stick his neck out, if 12 years from now, 10 years after he has retired, when he has no access to lawyers or records, he is going to be hauled up by sundry inspectors and SPs of the CBI?
Courts of no consequence
Nor does the parallel with Hindustan Zinc end there. That privatisation had been challenged and the challenge was rejected by the SC. The privatisation of this hotel too was challenged — and that challenge too was rejected, this time by the Rajasthan High Court. And the central ground on which the privatisation was challenged, and the ground that was decisively rejected by the high court, is the very ground on which the FIR focuses — a ground to which I shall revert in a moment. But first, the question that arises from that simple fact of rejection by the courts: when a high court has upheld a sequence of decisions, when the SC itself has done so, should an agency such as the CBI be able to open the matter yet again and start harassing officers and others?
And to open it TWELVE years after a decision has been taken? Shouldn’t there be a period of limitation?
Ruined reputations
Nor is it just a matter of harassment, though that is bad enough. No one who has not been put through the mill can imagine the strain and distress to which the person and his family are subjected by such inquisitions and “raids”. What about the irreparable damage to the person’s reputation? What bunkum did the CBI not put out just the other day about two distinguished civil servants, C.B. Bhave and P.C. Parakh? And what has it said now, while closing the cases against them? Should the CBI not be made to pay for the calumny it had hurled?
But I do feel that in this regard others also are at fault — the press, civil servants as a group and even the victims.
Has the CBI not somersaulted a sufficient number of times for the press to realise that it must not swallow and propagate what such agencies put out?
And the civil servants — haven’t they seen a sufficient number of times how they have themselves behaved in the wake of investigations against their colleagues? The moment the CBI says it has commenced an inquiry against X, his erstwhile colleagues treat him as a leper. Till yesterday, he was your colleague and friend, and now you avoid him. Shame on such colleagues and friends! That is no way to be: on the contrary, we must be fortresses around the honest, and all the more so around one who has been a colleague and friend, and of whose competence and integrity we have had personal knowledge.
And the victims — they are so easily felled, most of all by the apprehension that their reputation has been ruined. Such agencies and their concocted FIRs can ruin our reputation. Being calumnised by the dishonest is actually a badge of honour! I address audiences once a week or so. On these occasions, as is custom, the hosts use superlatives to introduce me — the positions I have held, the awards that have been given me, the books I have written… When my turn comes, I always say, “But the organisers have left out my two main distinctions. First, I am the only editor who has been dismissed from his job, not once but twice. Second, I have what none of you have — I am the only one here who has three certificates of honesty from the CBI.” So: thicker skins and a little contempt for the calumners!
The hotel
And now a few points about the hotel that is the subject of the new FIR.
The CBI has put out that the actual value of the property was Rs 151 crore, and government sold it for Rs 7.5 crore.
To substantiate that Rs 151 crore figure, the CBI says that the Rajasthan government itself had asked Bharat Hotels — the company that won the bid — to pay Rs 15 crore as stamp duty. True to character, the CBI conceals the fact that this demand, made by the local officer, has been stayed by the courts!
Next, it says that the hotel has 29 acres of land. It conceals the fact that this land, being adjacent to the lake, falls within the Coastal Regulation Zone and that nothing can be built on it. I am told that Bharat Hotels sought permission to add some rooms. And that the municipality refused permission on the ground that the land falls within the Coastal Regulation Zone. I am told that a case is currently before the SC against establishments that have constructed or added to structures along the lakeshore. Bharat Hotels has NOT been arraigned in the case.
But assume for a moment that, in spite of the regulations and in spite of the refusal of permission by the municipality, Bharat Hotels has built additional accommodation.
In that case, Bharat Hotels and the persons with whose connivance it has built the additional accommodation should be arraigned — not the disinvestment process and those who were associated with it.
Moreover, such absurd figures were the gravamen of the grounds on which the disinvestment was challenged. While rejecting them, the court rightly pointed out that a buyer does not buy assets in the abstract. He buys them for their business potential, that in the instant case he was buying not assets but shares of a company considering their earning potential.
There is another telling point. I am not sure if the CBI investigators remember that 10 per cent of the shares of the ITDC, the government company that owned the hotel, were owned by none other than the Indian Hotels Company of the Tata Group. It was compensated for its equity at exactly the same rate that the government got from the disinvestment. Had the property been worth Rs 151 crore, would the Tata Group — a private company, answerable to its shareholders — have accepted Rs 70 lakh (10 per cent of the value for which the hotel was sold) and thereby sacrificed Rs 15 crore (the 10 per cent share that would have accrued to them if the value of the hotel had been Rs 151 crore)?
Contrary to what the CBI has insinuated, the asset valuer was jointly chosen by the financial advisors (Lazard) and the ITDC from among the list of government-approved valuers. Five or more valuers from the government-approved list were invited to make presentations. Their qualifications and experience were jointly examined, and then alone was the particular firm chosen for the task.
That care marked every other step also. As in every case of disinvestment, every single one of the prescribed procedures was meticulously followed. Every step of the process, including the setting of the reserve price and the acceptance of the final bid price, was taken with the explicit approval of the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment. In particular, the shareholders agreement was cleared by the law ministry thrice over — at the draft stage, at the stage when it was frozen and finally when the bids were to be accepted. The then law minister is the one link between that cabinet committee and the present government: he was law minister then and a member of the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment, and is in-charge of the disinvestment department in the present government. He has stated in an interview that he is well acquainted with every aspect of the disinvestment and that everything about the transaction was in order.
Telling figures
A young analyst, well acquainted with valuations, draws my attention to a series of facts that show how way off the CBI’s imaginative figure of Rs 151 crore is. I will list just a few of them.
* Laxmi Vilas Palace was one of the 20-odd properties owned by the ITDC and amongst the smallest. Further, of its properties, it was the one that was making the highest losses.
* Between 1996 and 2001, the occupancy of Laxmi Vilas Palace came down from 41 per cent to 26 per cent and the hotel faced heavy losses.
Note that the overall occupancy in Udaipur was still 41 per cent in 2002.
* Given the abysmal performance, the net profit margin reduced from 34 per cent to a loss of 51 per cent; to earn gross revenue of Rs 2 crore, the hotel spent Rs 3 crore! At the time, the average hotel in India made Rs 4.5 crore in revenue and Rs 1 crore of net profit (assuming a 25 per cent margin).
* A valuation of Rs 151 crore for the property, as suggested by the CBI, would imply a valuation of over Rs 3,000 crore for the 20-odd ITDC hotels in 2001-02. Compare this figure with the valuation of the Tata Group’s Indian Hotels (one of the most efficient private operators, which owns the Taj Group of hotels and had at that time 65 properties with around 8,100 rooms). This latter chain had an equity valuation of barely Rs 800 crore in 2002.
* The full enterprise value of the Taj Group in 2002 was Rs 2,400 crore for the 65 hotels it owned; each Taj hotel had an average of 125 rooms. At that valuation, each Taj property was being valued at Rs 36 crore. Laxmi Vilas was and is a 55-room hotel; so, even on Taj benchmarks of valuation per room, it would be worth Rs 15 crore! At the Rs 3 crore a room that is implied in the CBI’s figure, Indian Hotels (with a portfolio of around 8,100 rooms) should have been worth Rs 24,000 crore in 2002 itself; that is, more than twice what the company is worth in 2014!
Other comparables also highlight the imaginativeness of the Rs 151 crore valuation:
* HVS are one of the leading consultants and valuation experts in the hotel space globally. They do a detailed assessment of hotel values by city. While they did not do a study for Udaipur, they did one for Jaipur. Their estimate for a hotel in Jaipur in 2002 was Rs 12 lakh per room for a medium-class hotel and Rs 30 lakh per room for a luxury property. Similarly, their range for Agra was Rs 9 lakh to Rs 12 lakh per room.
Udaipur was not part of the golden triangle and had lower occupancy rates and far lower rentals in comparison with both Agra and Jaipur. Based on their assessment and an average rate of Rs 12 lakh per room (accounting for the poor profitability of Laxmi Vilas), one gets a value of Rs 6.6 crore for Laxmi Vilas. Even at the high-end valuation of Rs 30 lakh per room, one gets a value of Rs 16 crore!
* In accordance with the HVS studies, even today a luxury hotel in Jaipur would be worth Rs 77 lakh per room; that implies a value of Rs 42 crore for a 55-room property, 14 years after the disinvestment of the Udaipur hotel!
* Lands End Hotel in Mumbai was purchased by the Taj Group at Rs 80 lakh a room in 2002. This was the highest prime property sold in India in that year. However, if we go by the CBI allegation of a value of Rs 151 crore for Laxmi Vilas (a 55-room hotel), we would have to place the value at Rs 3 crore a room in Udaipur. Udaipur had an occupancy rate of 41-42 per cent over 1999-2002 and room rates of Rs 1,900, as against Rs 3,500 for Mumbai.
* In 2011, Sinclair Hotels purchased Savannah Hotels in high-end Whitefield in Bangalore for Rs 38 lakh per room. At this 2011 valuation, Laxmi Vilas would be valued at Rs 20 crore.
* In 2008, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts purchased Hotel Ooty Villa Park from PVP Ventures — a 100-room property — for Rs 33 crore (including all amenities and assets). This is in 2008 — six years after one of the fastest growing periods in terms of real-estate pricing in India.
* In 2014 (12 years after the Laxmi Vilas transaction), Royal Orchid sold its 155-room property in Hyderabad for Rs 175 crore. Even at this price of Rs 1.2 crore per room, the Laxmi Vilas property would be worth Rs 70 crore. How is the price for a five-star property in Hyderabad 12 years later still unable to justify the supposed Rs 151 crore valuation in 2002?
I can go on adding to the list. But the point will be obvious: we can be fairly certain that the CBI officials in Jodhpur would be innocent of such comparisons. There is a real problem here, and it holds a lesson. Even if one sets aside conspiracy theories, the problem is that the CBI staff, especially at the lower level, just do not understand valuation and other aspects of such transactions. I have had personal exposure to this innocence — when the CBI officials came to ask me about the disinvestment of Hindustan Zinc, for instance.
At the least, that holds one lesson for all who are today trying to get the bureaucracy going: among the reforms that are urgently required is to upgrade the domain knowledge of officials working in our investigating agencies. Otherwise, goaded by pep-talks, honest officers will take decisions on complex matters, only to be hauled up 10-12 years later by persons innocent, at least of considerations that bear on those decisions.
The writer, a former Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, was Union minister for communications, information technology and disinvestment
Source 
http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/is-this-the-way-to-energise-civil-servants/99/

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Arun Shourie defends Laxmi Vilas Palace hotel selloff in 2002


NEW DELHI: Former Union ministerArun Shourie on Sunday defended the sell-off of ITDC-owned Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel in 2002 for which the then disinvestment secretary Pradip Baijal has been booked by the CBI for cheating and under-valuation of the property. Expressing surprise at the CBI case that's based on an "oral complaint", Shourie wondered if decisions and allocations done years ago were struck down like this, what effect it will have on Prime Minister's efforts to energise bureaucracy.

"If after 12 years you are going to charge the secretary, joint secretary and other officers without even questioning them once, PM's expectations of an energised bureaucracy are not going to be met," he told ET.

Shourie, who was the then minister for disinvestment in the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led NDA government, explained in detail how correct procedures were followed for the evaluation and sale of the hotel.

"Arun Jaitley is the common factor between the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment (of 2002) and the present NDA government, where he handles the department of disinvestment. The Committee had cleared the disinvestment after scrutinising all the documents and procedures," said Shourie, who was widely tipped to be an important member of the Narendra Modi's cabinet.

He said that the file of the Share Holding Agreement of the property was cleared by Jaitley as law minister at three different levels.

"I am absolutely certain that every procedure was followed. There was a vigilant law minister, and his ministry cleared the file three times," explained Shourie. The first time, the file went to law ministry for whetting of the document.

It went again after the agreement was finalised and bids were invited, and then finally again when the bids were received, he said. Jaitley, in an interview to this newspaper published in today's edition, too, said there was no sign of wrongdoing in the Laxmi Vilas Palace deal.

"I have been, as a minister at that time, a witness to those transactions and I have no doubt in my mind that all the disinvesment transactions were completely above board," Jaitley told ET.
Source http://economictimes.com/industry/services/hotels-/-restaurants/arun-shourie-defends-laxmi-vilas-hotel-selloff-in-2002/articleshow/41380661.cms

Thursday, August 21, 2014

13th Hormis memorial lecture : video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX_gJi3wbpA

Arun Shourie spells out 15 tenets to boost economic growth in India


PTI, Kochi Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 10:22 hrs

Former Union minister for disinvestment Arun Shourie today spelt out 15 cardinal principles to resolve India's growth hiccups. (Reuters)

Former Union minister for disinvestment Arun Shourie today spelt out 15 cardinal principles to resolve India's growth hiccups. (Reuters)

Former Union minister for disinvestment Arun Shourie today spelt out 15 cardinal principles to resolve India's economic growth hiccups and put the country on a higher growth trajectory.

"The first lesson that India should learn is to face the facts. Do not go by declarations but go by the facts. The second cardinal principle that the country should learn is to change. You must change in tune with time. Incessant and incredible steps to change are required," he said.

The third norm to spur growth is to focus on all sectors and it is no longer enough for India to be excellent in one or a few sectors. India being a large country should excel in sectors across the board, he said, delivering the 13th commemorative lecture organised by FedBank Hormis Foundation.

The next was that incremental steps to change were no longer enough. "What is needed is a tectonic shift in approaches," he said.

He said the country should be able to own up facts rather than shy away from them. Also the fact was that today's is a 'heartless world' which leaves no room for second rates but a country like India's size should be first rate in all spheres.

"The country must muster enough courage to shed shibboleths and old habits. Also building partnerships across the spectrum of society is an important step towards success. Giving more powers to states by devolving it from the centre is also important."

Federal Bank Chairman Abraham Koshi, Bank's MD and CEO Shyam Srinivasan, ED Abraham Chacko, FBOA General Secretary Paul Mundadan and Raju Hormis, CSR Head, Federal Bank also spoke on the occasion.

Source http://financialexpress.com/news/arun-shourie-spells-out-15-tenets-to-boost-economic-growth-in-india/1281032/

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

MSMEs should be self-reliant: Shourie


Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have become dependent on government doles and funds rather than being self-reliant, Arun Shourie, former Union Minister for Disinvestment, said here on Saturday.
According to him, innovation should take place within MSME units, just as it is the case in other South-East Asian countries. The government should act as facilitators.
“Our MSMEs are dependent on government doles; while globally MSMEs are hubs of innovation. We must wake up to reality,” he said during the 86th Annual General Meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
Shourie also stressed on the implementation of technology and R&D in the manufacturing sector and suggested that Government should welcome more private investments to implement modern technologies.
According to the veteran journalist, there was a need to strive for excellence and reduce corruption. This, he said, was the only way to leverage the advantages of the demographic dividend of the country.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Arun Shourie says reforms in core sectors can trigger economic growth

 Former Minister Arun Shourie, PTI image
The NDA Government for the first time identified the need to have a Disinvestment Ministry, which was earlier headed by Arun Shourie. During his tenure, he led the selling of Maruti, VSNL, Hindustan Zinc among many others. Even though the Congress-led UPA tried to allege him of misappropriation and some of the senior bureaucrats working with him, almost 12 years later, he came out scrupulously clean, proving that every decision during his tenure was in accordance with the Cabinet Committee and principles of valuation were as per Supreme Court norms.
Not a part of the present Government, his opinion are valued since he has seen the true state of affairs. According to a report published in the Economic Times, the senior BJP leader said that Public Sector Units (PSUs) should be saved by monetising its unproductive assets.
“We must monetise our unproductive assets to save PSUs. During my time (as a Disinvestment Minister), we had discovered that VSNL had 700 acres of prime land in many cities. Now, if unproductive assets like these are sold off, it can generate crores in revenue.”
Speaking on “Instigating Reforms” event organised by the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in the city marking the 121st birth centenary celebration of eminent scientist and applied statistician Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, he said that there were seven banks in the country which were heavily burdened with Non-Performing Assets or NPAs as they are known.
“Rs 400,000 crore is needed for their recapitalisation. This cannot increase their revenue and nor can their expenditure be decreased,” said Arun Shourie.
According to same report, the former Minister said an Indian corporate house owed Rs 1,22,000 crore to banks while another one owed Rs 58,000 crore.
“India is steadily getting debt-trapped. The situation is so precarious that our leading banks and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) are failing to raise money from the market. Immediate and innovative reforms have become indispensable,” he further added.
While putting the onus on States to push for reforms by making legislation using Article 254 which deals with inconsistency between laws structured by Parliament and the State Legislatures, he said, “Everything cannot be done by Delhi. States need to come forward and resort to Article 254(2) of the Constitution that allows the State Legislation to prevail, provided the President gives his assent. If a few progressive States initiate the process, rest will follow suit.”
On rising demand for larger budget allocation for the defence sector, he said the 88 per cent budget went towards paying salaries, pension and other maintenance works. “With this, how we are going to modernise our defence forces and face China”, he wondered.
Commending Rajasthan Government for its initiative, he felt that States should take the initiative to reform archaic labour laws to ensure better prospects for job creation and also alter the Agriculture Produce Market Committee Act so that farmers get better prices for their produce. Remembering how an ineffective UPA and inefficient FCA allowed millions of tonnes of food grains to rot only to be sold at unthinkable prices to breweries.
This he felt needs to change. That can happen if the mindset undergoes a change and we work towards creating an environment that helps economic growth.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Arun Shourie calls for firewalling strategic establishments

Observing that conventional warfare has given way to cyber warfare, former union IT minister Arun Shourie Sunday lamented India's "unpreparedness" and called for firewalling strategic establishments.
Laying the foundation stone of the R.C. Bose Centre for Cryptology and Security at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) here, Shourie called for more such centres to develop India's indigenous capabilities in information security.
"With the click of a button, our enemies can paralyse our important and strategic establishments or even the country. Besides foreign countries, we also need to be on our guard against terrorist organisation who are known to be highly proficient in technology," said Shourie.
 Citing the 2007 cyber attacks on Estonia as well as the hacking of personal computer of the Dalai Lama, Shourie called for immediate firewalling of all strategic and infrastructural establishments.

 "China has been very explicit and has listed out 15-20 points where they want to strike and paralyze and disorient another country. While investigating the computer hacking of Dalai Lama, experts from the University of Toronto found that computers from 130 countries were being monitored including Indian embassies," he said.

"So when are we going to wake up? The sad part is, the government's initiative to firewall important establishments is still lingering where it was 10 years ago," said Shourie.

Talking about the Rs.115 crore centre expected to be completed in the next two years, ISI director Bimal K Roy said it will play a significant role in augmenting indigenous capabilities in the critical fields of Cryptology and Information Security.

"It is an important element of the overall efforts and framework to enhance capabilities to ensure holistic security of Indian cyber space. With an eminent body of world class experts, it will act as a hub for all cryptographic requirements, cutting edge research and technology development within the country," said Roy. - See more at: http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php/sid/223375141#sthash.57y8wLtB.dpuf

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How history was made up at Nalanda

“The mine of learning, honoured Nalanda” — that is how the 16th-17th century Tibetan historian, Taranath, referred to the university at Nalanda. At the time I-tsing was at the university, there were 3,700 monks. The total complex had around 10,000 residents. The structures housing the university were as splendid and as extensive as the learning they housed. When excavations began, the principal mound alone was about 1,400 feet by 400 feet. Hieun Tsang recounts at least seven monasteries and eight halls. The monasteries were of several storeys, and there was a library complex of three buildings, one of them nine storeys high.
As the Islamic invaders advanced through Afghanistan and northwestern India, they exterminated Buddhist clergy, they pillaged and pulverised every Buddhist structure — the very word “but”, the idols they so feverishly destroyed, was derived from “Buddha”. Nalanda escaped their attention for a while — in part because it was not on the main routes. But soon enough, the marauders arrived, and struck the fatal blow. The ransacking is described in the contemporary Tabakat-i-Nasiri by Maulana Minhaj-ud-din.
Minhaj-ud-din rose and came to the notice of the rulers of the time — Qutb-ud-din Aibak and others — because of his raids and depredations, and because of the enormous booty he gathered, booty sufficient for him to set himself up as a plunderer in his own right. “His reputation reached Sultan (Malik) Qutb-ud-din, who despatched a robe of distinction to him, and showed him honour,” the historian writes. With its high wall, its large buildings, Nalanda seemed like a well-endowed fortress to Ikhtiyar-ud-din and his force. He advanced upon it with two hundred horsemen “and suddenly attacked the place”. Minhaj-ud-din continues,
“The greater number of inhabitants of that place were Brahmans, and the whole of those Brahmans had their heads shaven, and they were all slain. There were a great number of books there; and when all these books came under the observation of the Musalmans, they summoned a number of Hindus that they might give them information respecting the import of those books; but the whole of the Hindus had been killed. On being acquainted (with the contents of the books), it was found that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindu tongue, they call a college, Bihar [vihara].”
“When that victory was effected,” Minhaj-ud-din reports, “Muhammad-i-Bakhtiyar returned with great booty, and came to the presence of the beneficent sultan, Qutb-ud-din I-bak, and received great honour and distinction…” — so much so that other nobles at the court became jealous. All this happened around the year 1197 AD.
And now the Marxist account of the destruction of this jewel of knowledge. In 2004, D.N. Jha was the president of the Indian History Congress. In the presidential address he delivered — one to which we shall turn as an example of Marxist “scholarship” — this is the account he gives of the destruction of Buddhist viharas, and of Nalanda in particular:
“A Tibetan tradition has it that the Kalacuri King Karna (11th century) destroyed many Buddhist temples and monasteries in Magadha, and the Tibetan text  Pag Sam Jon Zang refers to the burning of the library of Nalanda by some ‘Hindu fanatics’.”
“Hindu fanatics”? The expression struck me as odd. A Tibetan text of the 18th century using so current an expression as “Hindu fanatics”? Especially so because, on Jha’s own reckoning, Hinduism is an invention of the British in the late 19th century? So, what is this “Tibetan text”? What does it say? Had Jha looked it up?
Pag Sam Jon Zang was written by Sumpa Khan-Po Yece Pal Jor. The author lived in 1704-88: that is, 500 years after the destruction of Nalanda.
That is the first thing that strikes one: our historian disregards the contemporaneous account, Tabakat-i-Nasiri, and opts for a text written 500 years after the event. But had he read the text at all? Could a self-respecting Marxist have at all believed what is written in it?
This is how Sarat Chandra Das, the translator and editor of Pag Sam Jon Zang, sets out the account of the destruction of Nalanda as given in this text:
“While a religious sermon was being delivered in the temple that he (Kakuta Sidha, a minister of a king of Magadha) had erected at Nalanda, a few young monks threw washing water at two Tirthika beggars. The beggars being angry, set fire on the three shrines of dharma ganja, the Buddhist university of Nalanda — that is, Ratna Sagara, Ratna Ranjaka including the nine-storey building called Ratnadadhi which contained the library of sacred books” (pg 92).
Two beggars could go from building to building of that huge campus and, with all the monks present, burn down the entire, huge, scattered complex?
And, the account of the relevant passage reproduced above is the one set out by Sarat Chandra Das in his Index. That is, it is just a summary of the actual passage — in an index, it scarcely could be more. What does the relevant section, and in particular the passage about the burning down of the library, say?
The author is giving an account of how Dharma has survived three rounds of destructive attempts. One round was occasioned by the fluctuating relations between Khunimamasta, a king of Taksig (Turkistan?), and Dharma Chandra, a king of Nyi-og in the east. The latter sends gifts. The former thinks these are part of black magic. He, therefore, swoops down from “dhurukha” and destroys “the three bases” of Magadha — monasteries, scriptures and stupas. Khunimamasta drives out and exiles the monks. Dharma Chandra’s uncle sends many scholars to China to spread the teaching. He receives gold as thanksgiving. He uses this and other gifts to appease rulers of smaller kingdoms to join the fight against the king of Taksig (Turkistan?). The uncle thereafter revives “the three bases”. Almost all the shrines are restored and 84 new ones are built. And so, the dharma survives.
In the next round, “the teacher who taught prajnaparamita for 20 years is assassinated by burglars from dhurukha. His blood turned into milk and many flowers emerged from his body. (Thus) he flew into the sky.”
We now come to the crucial passage, the one that Jha has ostensibly invoked. I reproduce the translation of it by Geshe Dorji Damdul in full:
“Again at that time, there was a scholar by the name Mutita Bhadra, who was greatly involved in renovating and building stupas. Eventually he had a vision of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. He flew to Liyul by holding the garment (of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra) and there he made great contributions to the welfare of sentient beings and the Dharma. Reviving the Dharma that way, the Dharma flourished for 40 years in the Central Land (Magadha?). At that time, during the celebration over the construction of a shrine in Nalanda by Kakutasita, a minister of the king, some naughty novice monks splashed (dish) washing water on two non-Buddhist beggars and also pressed (the two) in-between the door and (the door frame.) Angry over these gestures, one (beggar) served as the attendant to the other who sat in a deep pit for 12 years to gain the sidhi of the sun. Having achieved the sidhi, they threw ashes of a fire puja (havan) they did, on 84 Buddhist shrines. They were all burned. Particularly, when the three dharma ganja of Nalanda — the shrines which sheltered the scriptures — as well got consumed in fire, streams of water ran down from the scriptures of Guhyasamaja and Prajnaparamita, which were housed in the ninth storey of the Ratnadhati shrine. This saved many scriptures. Later, fearing penalty from the king, the two (beggars) escaped to Hasama in the north. However, the two died due to immolation, which happened on its own.”
Surely, no self-respecting Marxist could have made his account rest on not just one miracle — acquiring sidhis and raining fire on to the structures — but two, for we also have the streams of water running down from the scriptures.
But we strain unnecessarily. There is a clue in Jha’s lecture itself. He doesn’t cite the Tibetan text, he does what Marxists do: he cites another Marxist citing the Tibetan text! To see what he does, you must read the lines carefully. This is what we saw Jha saying:
“A Tibetan tradition has it that the Kalacuri King Karna (11th century) destroyed many Buddhist temples and monasteries in Magadha, and the Tibetan text Pag Sam Jon Zang refers to the burning of the library of Nalanda by some ‘Hindu fanatics’.”
As his authority, Jha cites a book by B.N.S. Yadava, Society and Culture in Northern India in the Twelfth Century. What did Yadava himself write? Here it is: “Further, the Tibetan tradition informs us that Kalacuri Karna (11th century) destroyed many Buddhist temples and monasteries in Magadha.”
Jha has clearly lifted what Yadava wrote word for word — at least he has been faithful to his source. But in the very next sentence, Yadava had gone on to say: “It is very difficult to say anything as to how far this account may be correct.”
Words that Jha conveniently left out!
Yadava had continued, “However, we get some other references to persecution.”
He cited two inscriptions and a Puranic reference. And then came to the Tibetan text. Recall what Jha wrote about this text: “…and the Tibetan text Pag Sam Jon Zang refers to the burning of the library of Nalanda by some ‘Hindu fanatics’.”
And now turn to what Yadava wrote about this very text: “The Tibetan text Pag Sam Jon Zang contains a [I am leaving out a word] tradition of the burning of the library of Nalanda by some Hindu fanatics.”
Close enough to pass for plagiarism? But wait, there is originality! Notice, first, that two Hindu beggars have become “Hindu fanatics”. Notice, next, that the words “Hindu fanatics” that Jha had put in quotation marks as if they were the words that the author of the Tibetan text had used to describe the arsonists, were actually the words of his fellow Marxist, Yadava. But the best clue is the word that I omitted from what Yadava had actually written. Yadava’s full sentence was as follows: “The Tibetan text Pag Sam Jon Zang contains a doubtful tradition of the burning of the library of Nalanda by some Hindu fanatics.”
Just as he had left out the words, “It is very difficult to say anything as to how far this account may be correct,” Jha now leaves out the word “doubtful”. And all this in the presidential address to the Indian History Congress.
In a word, l There is a Tibetan text written five hundred years after the destruction of Nalanda l Sarat Chandra Das annotates it, and includes in his Index a summary in English of a passage in the text
— the summary naturally leaves out telling components of the original passage
l Yadava looks only at the summary in the Index — “non-Buddhist beggars” becomes “Hindu fanatics”
l Yadava notes that the account is based on a “doubtful tradition”
l Jha omits the word “doubtful”
l And we have a presidential address to the Indian History Congress!
Given what we have seen of Marxist historians even in this brief book, the brazen-faced distortions — to the point of falsehood — do not surprise me.
What does surprise me is that no one looked up either the source that Jha had cited or the text.
Indeed, in concluding his section, Yadava had stated:
“A great blow to Buddhism was, no doubt, rendered by the Turkish invasions, leading to the destruction and desertion of the celebrated Buddhist monasteries of Magadha and Bengal. Many Buddhist scholars fled to Tibet and Nepal.”
The writer, a former Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, was Union minister for communications, information technology and disinvestment. This article has been excerpted from his book, ‘Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud’, published by HarperCollins India
Source 

http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.in/2014/06/how-history-was-made-up-at-nalanda-arun.html

Monday, June 30, 2014

Arun Shourie bats for immediate innovative reforms


KOLKATA: Pushing for immediate economic reforms to bail India out from its "precarious financial condition", former union ministerArun Shourie Sunday urged the states to use Article 254 to push for progressive legislations. 

Delivering a lecture on "Instigating Reforms" to mark the 121st birth centenary of celebrations of eminent scientist and applied statistician Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis (1893-1972) at the Indian Statistical Institute here, Shourie said innovative reforms were indispensable for the country, which is steadily getting into a debt-trap. 

"India is steadily getting debt-trapped... the situation is so precarious that our leading banks and public sector undertakings (PSUs) are failing to raise money from the market. Immediate and innovative reforms have become indispensable," said the former minister of disinvestment during the previous NDA government. 

Shourie put the onus on states to push for reforms by making legislation using Article 254 which deals with inconsistency between laws made by parliament and the state legislatures. 

"Everything cannot be done by Delhi. States need to come forward and resort to Article 254(2) of the constitution that allows the state legislation to prevail, provided the president gives his assent. If a few progressive states start, the rest will follow suit," he said. "By creating a holding company for the PSUs and the public banks, we can raise money from the market against the collective assets. On the other hand, there is an urgent need to monetise assets which are idle or non-performing," he said. 

Shourie laid emphasis on disclosure of all financial transactions by PSUs and banks and financial institutions. 

"PSUs and financial institutions are often forced to buy shares of other PSUs to allow them to raise money. Quarterly disclosure of financial transactions by all PUSs, banks and financial institutions should be made," he said. 

The senior Bharatiya Janata Partyleader also criticised policy makers' reliance on only official data which are often vastly different from the indices on the ground. 

Source http://economictimes.com/news/economy/policy/arun-shourie-bats-for-immediate-innovative-reforms/articleshow/37467097.cms?intenttarget=no

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Government will take time to control inflation: Arun Shourie


KANPUR: With inflation touching a five-month high of 6.01 per cent in May, senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Arun Shourie today said the new government will take some time to control rising prices. 

"Inflation is not like an electric switch that can be turned off or on anytime...the new government will take some time to control the rising prices," he said. 

Shourie was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the 46th convocation ceremony of IIT Kanpur, where he was awarded a 'Doctor of Science' degree. 

His remarks came against the backdrop of rising prices of essential food items like vegetables, fruits and cereals that pushed up inflation to five-month high of 6.01 per cent in May. Food inflation stood at 9.50 per cent last month, while the manufactured inflation was 3.55 per cent. 

Shourie blamed the previous UPA government for the price rise, saying, "During the UPA regime, India's debt had increased considerably. So the new government may have to take a few tough economic decisions. Only then inflation will be controlled." 

Holding the UPA government responsible for India's slow growth, he said, "The previous government had considerably reduced development expenditures because it could not decrease the non-development expenditures. For this, the new government will have to take some tough decisions on the economic front only then will the people get relief from inflation." 

Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) K Radhakrishnan was the chief guest of the function. 

Telling students about India's Mars mission, the ISRO chief said the biggest challenge will be on September 24 when the spacecraft is supposed to enter the orbit of Mars. 

If it is done successfully, India will be the first Asian country to place its spacecraft in the orbit of the planet and the world's first country to do so in the first attempt, he said. 

A total of 1,273 IIT students were awarded degrees at the ceremony.
Source http://economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/government-will-take-time-to-control-inflation-arun-shourie/articleshow/36778235.cms

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