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


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


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

Expect agricultural reforms from the Modi government, says Arun Shourie

CNBC-TV18 | 17-Jun-2014 08:45 AM

New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Shourie has said that one can expect major agriculture reforms from the Narendra Modi government. In an exclusive interview to CNBC-TV18, Shourie talked about what he expects from Modi's government in the field of economy.

He said that Modi government has to put India back on the high-growth path, scrap controversial laws like the retrospective taxation law, revive investments and bring in big bang reforms. Arun Shourie also said that increasing the minimum support prices without letting it have an impact on inflation is impossible.

"I am not an expert on agriculture, but certainly the idea that you go on raising the Minimum Support Price and it will not affect the inflation is certainly not possible," Shourie said.

On retrospective tax, Shourie said, "One of the most regressive thing was the legislation overturing the Supreme Court judgement and imposing retrospective taxation and it will be very good that government anncouces that we will never go for retrospective taxation. Second they must say that they will contest them in the High Court and not in the SC. Tax administration has gone haywire in the past."

Meanwhile, with inflation for the month of May touching a six month high, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the food inflation is rising due to hoarding of stocks. Jaitley said that fears of a weak monsoon have prompted hoarding. He also said the state governments should take effective steps to ensure that hoarding is discouraged.

He also said he was hopeful of the inflation coming down soon. The wholesale price inflation crossed 6 per cent - up from 5.20 per cent in April. Jaitley also said that the government is watching the rupee movement closely and that the Iraq crisis and fear of rise in prices of oil is affecting the stability of the rupee.

Source http://ibnlive.com/news/expect-agricultural-reforms-from-the-modi-government-says-arun-shourie/479664-37-64.html

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