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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Arun Shourie on UPA 1’s “dream team” back in 2009

Arun Shourie

Arun Shourie is not just a noted Indian journalist. He is a renowned author and politician. The collection of the speeches he delivered in the Rajya Sabha form the first two parts of the book “We Must Have No Price”.
Shri Arun Shourie’s Book “We Must Have No Price” can be purchased from Amazon – click here and Flipkart – click here.
The 9th chapter is based on a speech that he delivered in Rajya Sabha about the situation that prevailed in 2009 when UPA 2 was just formed.
According to Mr. Shourie :
“And the team that has taken office this time is more reassuring. The principal ministers are persons of substantial experience; none of them has the sort of taint that marred several ministers in the first Manmohan Singh Government; equally important, the principal ministers are ones who are less liable to ignite the acrimony that characterised the last five years.”
He had also stated that,
“We must remember that, yes, the country has enormous potential and, in the last ten years, we have had but a glimpse of what can be achieved; but, it is just as true that, unless we mend our ways, unless we improve our governance and discourse, the country can get stuck in that well-documented pit, the middle-income trap: Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Philippines and so many other countries also registered spurts of high growth rats, only to get stuck before attaining their full potential. In a word, all sides have been afforded an unexpected opportunity to do right by the country; they must seize it, inside Parliament as much as outside.”
Mr. Shourie had also spoken in 2009 about how precariously dependent India is on the US for dealing with Pakistan as well as China when it came to its foreign policy. He had elaborated way back then as to how the US needed help of both Pakistan and China and so will not help India. Pakistan was needed by the US to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq till the time US found an honourable exit. China was needed to finance bailout packages that were necessary then to save its economy and financial system.
With regards to defence policies during his 2009 lecture in Rajya Sabha he had said that,
“Both in regard to internal security as well as fortifying ourselves against external aggression, we face a dire situation.”
Back in 2009 during his speech in Rajya Sabha he had talked about how the countries like the US and UK had totally banned the adoption of communication systems from potentially hostile countries which had proved to plant backdoors and triggers in such hardware and software. He had also told that in India the very same companies had, in spite of the strenuous objections of intelligence agencies, been allowed to install the very same sort of equipment across the country.
During the same speech of 2009 in Rajya Sabha Mr. Shourie had talked about how in spite of the fact that a “dream team” was said to have been in place during UPA 1, reforms remained at a standstill. He had also said that,
“For we should not forget that, because Reforms had been brought to a standstill, the momentum of growth had already begun to slow down well before the international economic meltdown. By March 2008, to cite just one example, over 25 lakh jobs had already been lost in the three sectors. Several reforms, like the dismantling of the Administered Price Mechanism in the petroleum sector, were actually reversed. Similarly, several initiatives which were going to restore our competitivene3ss, had been brought to naught: when we met industrialists in October 2008, we were astonished to learn that for almost nine months there had been absolutely no disbursements from the Textile Modernisation Fund.”
Mr. Shourie in his speech had cautioned UPA 2 in regard to disinvestment and said that proposal of selling up to 51% shares in governmental enterprises while government control over the enterprises will be maintained was the worst possible alternative.
Mr. Shourie had while quoting Sachar Committee Report also sincerely hoped that the UPA 2 Government would think again about where the measures which it is pushing for the ostensible purpose of helping Minorities will eventually lead the country to ?
Sadlt for India that advice from Mr. Shourie fell on the deaf ears of the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh led UPA Government.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Arun Shourie on the Environment debate


Arun Shourie (File photo)
Arun Shourie (File photo)
Arun Shourie, the winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for journalism in 1982, wrote in his book ‘We must have no price’ about the UPA’s official position on the  environment some of which has its relevant even today.
Shri Arun Shourie’s Book “We Must Have No Price” can be purchased from Amazon – click here and Flipkart – click here.
The four propositions on which India’s official position on environment had been articulated at various international fora in the past were :
1. On a per capita basis, emissions from India that harm world climate – COand the rest – are much, much less than those from the developed countries.
2. India is affecting perceptible, indeed substantial improvements – in area covered by forests (that is, in sequestering carbon), in energy efficiency (for instance, in energy-intensive industries like cement and steel), in improving the quality of air, etc.
3. Several of the measures and protocols that are being suggested will curb India’s growth rate, and, thereby, perpetuate India’s poverty.
4. And it is poverty which is the greatest pollution, it is also the greatest polluter: hence, India shall continue to strive to eliminate poverty and maximise growth. As they are the principal doers of harm, the developed countries must do their bit first before compelling countries like India into curbing their growth.
Mr. Shourie was of the opinion that the argument that others have problems, that others are exacerbating their problems and ours, is of little consolation: the deterioration that has taken place in India’s environment during the last 30 years because of things happening within India inflicts grave harm on Indians, here and now.
He also added that neither the then government’s draft on environment nor the pattern of development which underlied it were sustainable. According to him if things were to continue as they were, between then and 2050, close to 500 million people will be added to our cities. Mr. Shourie raised the question if India would be able to provide the quality of urban services that the urban resident of 2050 would demand. He added that India would have to do its bit, both for itself and also for the world.
While the amounts of emissions and pollutants that it releases per capital are lower than those of the developed countries, the totals of these are large, and, if Indians were to persist in acquiring consumption levels and adopting production processes of the developed world, these emissions will become fatally large because of the size of India’s population.
The renowned author and politician Arun Shourie, also suggested that India would be well-advised to set up national research missions to develop items such as the following:
» A cheaper and more efficient photovoltaic cell
» Cheaper and more efficient wind turbines
» The entire range of technologies and construction techniques that would enable us to set up off-shore wind farms along our extensive coast
» Technologies to harness tidal power
» An efficient hydrogen fuel cell
» Clean coal processes
» Desalination of sea water using solar and wind energies that are available in virtually endless supply along India’s long coastline
» Fast breeder nuclear reactors
» The thorium cycle for nuclear power
Mr Shourie stated that the entire discourse in India back then revolved around whether we will be growing at 6.7% or 7.6%. Quite apart from the fact that the way our GDP, etc. are estimated, such discourse places a concreteness on these numbers that is just not warranted, obsession with such growth rates obscures what is growing at these rates. Even a little reflection shows that were India to continue to pursue Western consumption patterns and production processes, twenty years hence all the steps taken together would have proven inadequate.
Mr. Shourie concluded by stating that there just aren’t the resources that could sustain that energy-intensive, high consumption, fossil-fuel dependent “growth”. Nor is it evident that higher and higher consumption and production of those commodities and services is what will contribute to what the Bhutanese have correctly identified as the goal towards which societies should strive – Gross Domestic Happiness.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Is Modi going to be India's Hitler? : Karan Thapar to Arun Shourie



Published on Apr 21, 2014
As far as opinion polls go, there seems to be little doubt that a BJP-led coalition government headed by Narendra Modi will come to power at the centre this year. However, while some believe that Modi's brand of dynamic and decisive leadership is exactly the cure that an ailing Indian economy needs at the moment, his seemingly 'communal' attitude has also given many a big cause for concern. Arun Shourie, former journalist, author and former Union Minister in the previous NDA regime, in this candid interview with Karan Thapar, seeks to allay those fears.

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