POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 26, 2015 AT 23:41 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 26, 2015 23:41 IST

Five days after Nobel laureate Amartya Sen withdrew his candidature for a second term as Chancellor of Nalanda University claiming that the Narendra Modi government does not want him to continue in the chair, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy demanded that he be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act. On Tuesday, Feb 24, Swamy issued a statement against Amartya Sen and Nalanda University. 

Full text of the statement:

I demand for four reasons that the now retired Professor Amartya Sen be sacked from the Chancellor's post in the newly set up Nalanda University.

  • Sen though paid an annual salary of Rs.50 lakhs (in US $ tax free) is normally resident in USA, and comes to India briefly in the winter months free of charge First Class on Air India. His total emoluments is far in excess of the service he provides. 
  • The CAG Report on the expenses incurred for building construction of the University and perquisites of Prof. Sen and others for administering the University and the delay in meeting easy targets for construction, is full of irregularities and is, prima facie, of corruption.
  • The former President of India, Dr.Abdul Kalaam resigned from the post of Visitor of the University in 2011 in disgust, objecting to Sen's arbitrariness and malafide actions.
  • The nodal Ministry of External Affairs for the University, objected in writing to Sen's arbitrarily and opaque manner of appointing as Vice Chancellor Ms.Gopa Sabharwal, an Assistant Professor. i.e., a junior lady faculty member, from JNU. Full Professors refused to join under a much junior-faculty member as Vice Chancellor.
    The CAG in its Report had also objected to the appointment and the salary fixed for her.
  • In 2013-14, the Ministry of Finance also objected to the irregular way Sen was operating the large Special Dispensation Fund of the University. There was no transparency or accountability of the use of these funds
  • So far about Rs.3000 crores of tax payers money has been recklessly spent by Prof Sen, for which he has to be made accountable.

Hence I demand that the Government prosecute Prof. Sen and his chosen few under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and under IPC Sections 120B, 406 and 420 or face a PIL from me.

According to a report published in the Hindu, the Nalanda University has denied Swamy's claims:

Professor Sen has received "no salary whatsoever from Nalanda University." All his work for the university has been done in an honorary capacity, it said.

On Dr. Swamy's suggestion that Professor Sen flying to India free of cost by Air India was part of his "emoluments" for "the service he provides" to Nalanda, the university said that though Professor Sen sometimes does make use of his free Air India pass, this has nothing to do with Nalanda or its "emoluments". The free pass was a gift from the Government of India. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave it to Professor Sen to celebrate his Nobel Prize. 

On Dr. Swamy's reference to a "CAG Report on the expenses incurred for building construction of the University and perquisites of Professor Sen" which pointed to "irregularities and.... prima facie of corruption," the university said there has been no such observation in any CAG report. Also, Professor Sen does not receive any "perquisites" from the university.

The Nalanda university statement sought to clarify all the objections raised by Swamy in his statement.  

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 26, 2015 AT 23:41 IST, Edited At: Feb 26, 2015 23:41 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 23, 2015 AT 19:58 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 23, 2015 19:58 IST

In an exclusive interview, Professor Romila Thapar, noted historian and Professor Emerita of History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi spoke to social activist Teesta Setalvad in her special show on Communalism Combat and Hille le TV.

Prof Thapar emphasised on the importance of questioning and said, "The  function of the public intellectual is to make knowledge accessible and protect it from distortion, it is essential that knowledge advances through questioning."

An author of path breaking approaches to history, from Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas to Past As Present: Forging Contemporary Identities through History, Professor Thapar said: "Our early Indian traditions were questioning and skeptical always testing knowledge through the prism of rationality, and today faced with the political challenges dictated by the current regime in Delhi, it is essential that we proudly claim this tradition and not succumb to pre-dominant, irrational discourse...Young persons must learn to understand that the very purpose of education is that we have an intelligent approach to knowledge gathering."

Prof Thapar also delves into the sensitive issues of the gender dimensions of history, critical thinking and the constant duality within the Indian tradition that Megasthenes described as the two parallel streams represented by the 'Brahmans' and the 'Shramans' which offers a complex understanding of our past that is invaluable.

She also discusses Asoka’s Dhamma and the Kalinga War, the great monarch and his relationship with the people and the true historiography behind the narrative of the Somnatha temple and its destruction.

"The need of the hour in India is for a real History of Science to be attempted. This is needed to ensure that real achievements from early India are explored not as irrational claims but in understanding how true knowledge in all fields emerged from deep observation and evolved with rigorous scientific testing," said Thapar.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 23, 2015 AT 19:58 IST, Edited At: Feb 23, 2015 19:58 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 21, 2015 AT 20:41 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 21, 2015 20:41 IST

Ya Rabb actor, Arjumman Mughal, seems rather upset with veteran lawyer Ram Jethmalani and late Kishore Kumar's wife Leena Chandavarkar's much talked about liplock at the Hum Log awards this week. Here is why.

According the Mughal, the 'controversial' lip lock diverted attention from the awards.

A release from a publicist says:

And just as we wonder whether the actress is serious or joking, she almost justifies the kiss. "It was cute and just a way of greeting each other. Maybe, he wanted to kiss her cheek, and missed," winks Arjumman.
 
The actress feels that Twitterati is jumping all over the so-called 'liplock' giving it more attention than it deserves. But she also defends it saying, "Where is it written that male testosterone is the prerogative of hot and happening Bollywood stars." True that!

Looks like Ram Jethamalni's obsessive celeb kissing is causing much stir. Perhaps even jealousy?

Why, once upon a time, he also kissed Dharmendra:

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FILED IN:  Kiss|Levity|Ram Jethmalani
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 21, 2015 AT 20:41 IST, Edited At: Feb 21, 2015 20:41 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 21, 2015 AT 00:33 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 21, 2015 00:33 IST

Amazon and Flipkart are at war again which as usual, is making quite a scene on Twitter

This began as a fun tweet showing Amazon's carton at Flipkart's front desk.  

Flipkart's explanation was: 

Amazon was quick to retort:

Let's see how this battle untimately unfolds. But for now, our controversy-loving tweeple seem to be deriving as much fun as they can out of this battle between the two most prominent e-commerce giants in India.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 21, 2015 AT 00:33 IST, Edited At: Feb 21, 2015 00:33 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 20, 2015 AT 23:45 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 20, 2015 23:45 IST

Three of India's Nobel Laureates, coincidentally, seem embroiled in controversies almost at the same time.  

The reputation of Kailash Satyarthi and R K Pachauri is hanging on a string, while Amartya Sen's career as Chancellor remains suspended in a mesh of messy political whims.

Reason why their lives are in doldrums? The answer is pretty predictable -- money, sex and politics.

It all started with Kailash Satyarthi, the latest addition to India's Nobel hall of fame. 

A PTI report carried by Outlook reads:

Vital records of a charitable trust (Mukti Pratisthan Trust), which along with one of its trustees Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi and some others is embroiled in a suit relating to alleged misappropriation of funds, have gone missing, a Delhi court has been informed.

When the court was informed about it, the judge said it would not be possible for the receiver to complete the entire report. She asked the plaintiffs, including another trustee Sheo Taj Singh, and defendants Satyarthi and Sumedha to inform the court about the place where the post-1987 records had been kept.

The court passed the direction while hearing the civil suit which alleged that the plaintiffs had come to know about embezzlement of huge sums of money belonging to the trust and expropriation of huge amounts by maintaining false accounts.

The plaint alleged that when Singh conducted an inquiry into the affairs and accounts of the trust, he came to know that "major part of the trust funds, running into huge sums of money has been spent by the defendant trustees (Satyarthi and his wife) either on foreign trips and other luxuries or have been embezzled by way of falsification of accounts".

Next came The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) chief R K Pachauri, who received the Nobel in 2007 on behalf of an international panel on climate change. One of his junior employees at TERI lodged a complaint against him for sexual harassment and the Economic Time was the first to report. The report which has been removed from the ET website says:

The complainant, who works as a research-analyst at the New Delhi-based energy think tank, has cited unwanted physical advances besides being the recipient of SMS and WhatsApp messaging, emails and a handwritten note with dates and time that began soon after she joined TERI in September 2013.
 

 According to the complainant:

On many occasions, against my wishes and despite knowing that I am totally against any such behaviour/act, Dr Pachauri has forcibly grabbed my body by hugging me, holding my hands, forcibly kissing me and touching my body in an inappropriate manner. 

Amartya Sen, before the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections in which the Modi wave swept over India, declared that he doesn't want Modi as his prime minister. 

The Hindu carried a PTI report:

"Yes, I don’t want him," Dr. Sen told CNN-IBN in reply to a question on whether he wanted him as his prime minister.

"As an Indian citizen I don’t want Modi as my PM... He has not done enough to make minorities feel safe," he said.

On being asked why he did not want so, Dr. Sen said, "He could have first of all been more secular and he could have made the minority community feel more secure." 

Amartya Sen seems to feel like it's pay back time. Recently, Sen withdrew his candidature for a second term as Nalanda University Chancellor, saying the Narendra Modi government does not want him to continue in the chair.

In a letter addressed to his colleagues, Sen wrote:

Non-action (by government) is a time-wasting way of reversing a board decision, when the government has, in principle, the power to act or not act...It is hard for me not to conclude that the government wants me to cease being the chancellor of Nalanda University after July, and technically, it has the power to do so.

This delay, as well as the uncertainty involved, is leading, in effect, to a decisional gap, which is not helpful to Nalanda University's governance and its academic progress.

I have, therefore, decided that in the best interest of Nalanda University, I should exclude myself from being considered for continuing as chancellor beyond this July, despite the unanimous recommendation and urging of the governing board for me to continue...Even though the Nalanda University Act, passed by Parliament, did not, I believe, envisage political interference in academic matters, it is formally the case -- given the legal provisions (some of them surviving from colonial days) -- that the government can turn an academic issue into a matter of political dispensation if it feels unrestrained about interfering.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Feb 20, 2015 AT 23:45 IST, Edited At: Feb 20, 2015 23:45 IST
     
 
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