Prem Shankar Jha

Prem Shankar Jha, born 22 December 1938, in Patna, Bihar, brought up in New Delhi and educated at The Doon School, Dehradun. He took a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Delhi university and a Masters of Arts Degree from University of Oxford in philosophy, politics and economics at Magadalen College, Oxford.

In 1961, he joined the United Nations where he spent five years in the United Nations Development Programme UNDP. He spent two of these five years in New York as a special assistant to the managing director of the Special Fund Mr. Paul G. Hoffman who was the first administrator of the UNDP. The remaining three were spent in Damascus, Syria.

In 1966 Jha joined the Hindustan Times as an assistant editor, in 1969 he moved to the Times of India, After a brief stint as Acting editor of the Economic Times, in 1979-80 and editor of the Financial Express in 1980-81, he returned to the Times of India as its Economic Editor. In 1986 he re-joined the Hindustan Times as its editor.

Jha has been a consultant in the preparation of the World Bank’s World Development Report,1978, and to the UN Centre for Human Settlements, Nairobi ( Habitat) in 1984-85 and again in 1986. In 1980 he co-authored a Manual for the Asia and Pacific Development Administration Center of the UN in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the Management of Public enterprises in Developing countries.

In 1985-1987 he was also a member of the energy panel of the World Commission for Environment and Development, headed by Mrs.Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway. In 1987 he received the Energy Journalist of the Year award from the Washington-based International Association for Energy Economics. In 1990 he served as the information advisor to the Prime Minister of India, V. P. Singh,till the fall of his goverment on December7 of the year. Since then he has been a columnist in some of India’s main papers, including The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, The Times of India,and The Business Standard and in the weekly newsmagazines Outlook, and Tehelka. Jha has also been a visiting scholar/professor at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University, the Fairbank Centre for East Asian studies , Harvard, and Nuffield College Oxford.He has taught at th Universities of Virginia and Richmond and at Sciences Po in Paris.

He is author of 12 books, see http://www.amazon.com/Prem-Shankar-Jha/e/B001IYTVTI and several books.

19 comments
  1. Naveen cardoza says: August 15, 20139:03 am

    Dear sir, i am interested to do research in plasma gasification of garbage. Could you please give me some more information. I have a PG in physics. I teach in a private college in bangalore.
    Naveen Cardoza

    • Prem Jha says: September 13, 20131:12 pm

      There is a lot of material on it on the web. Look up the phrase, also Solena’ AlterNRG, Green sky project. These will lead you on to others.

  2. M Manjunath Shettigar says: August 23, 201310:50 am

    Sir, Nice to see your majestic pose ! I am ardent fan of your forthright views on Indian economic matters.

    My liking for your views and writing style goes back to my college days, when I was reading your writings in TOI and then for a while in Commerce.

    I was pleased to know today while surfing net that I share December 22 as a common Birthday with you!

    regards Sir

    • Prem Jha says: September 13, 20131:13 pm

      How old are you? Thank you for your appreiation of my writing. It is always good to hear this.

      Prem

  3. John Graham says: September 12, 20138:42 pm

    My emails to you are bouncing back. What is now your correct email address,please?

    • Prem Jha says: September 13, 20131:15 pm

      Dear John,,
      I am really sorry about this. My email server packed up and i moved to Gmail. My address is prem.jha262@gmail.com

      Hope you are keeping well.

      Prem

  4. surjit ghai says: October 28, 20142:39 am

    Mr Jha ,

    This is the first time I have heard you and your views on Hamid Mir show .
    Your back ground and education is impressive and your contribution to various formats of work are to be appreciated at their face value .

    On your remarks about ascension of kashmir and subsequent comments about article 370 seem to suggest you have lost touch with reality and have forgotten that current generations are trying to solve these issues and your such comments dont help anybody . I am trying to be very cognizant of your age and i think that may be the problem cos you are looking at this from a very old vantage point and that point of view does not contribute to a solution , not for Indians, or Pakistanis or Kashmiris .

    You are intelligent enough to see this from a new angle and help these discussions to move forward rather than vitate the issues ,or retire and have a good sunset years cos world is looking for solutions and not the kind of rhetoric you are using …!! What is the use of that thought process ? Nothing constructive is gonna come out of that thought process .

    Dont think like a BJP or congress think like a person who understands current realities and wants to solve them with his education and experience .

    very dissappointingly ..!

    Surjit Ghai .

    • Prem Jha says: November 4, 201412:04 am

      Dear Surjit,

      I appreciate both the tone and the seriousness of your letter. You, of course have every right to differ with me. But to do the best for your country you need to understand how your adversaries see an issue, and then engage with them constructively. If you think about it, you will see that what I said in the programme was harder for Pakistanis to swallow than for Indians. I told them that the accession of Kashmir to India was not challegeable, and that if they think our country is stupid enough to provoke another insurgency in Kashmir by abolishing article 370 of the constitution, they should think again, because it simply isnt going to happen. My surmise about the results in Kashmir are based not only upon talks with senior officials in the state and in the IB, but also my 24 years of continuous knowledge of Kashmir. I first went there — not for a holiday– six weeks after the insurgency broke out in 1990. I have returned to the valley every year since then, sometimes two or three times in a year. Please think what that means: four governments and ten joint secretaries (Kashmir) have changed during this period. There is therefore no one in the government of India with the continuous, memory of events in kashmir that I have. What I have to say therefore needs to be thought about seriously and has to be disproved with new , well organised knowledge. No one can claim that he or she is always right. I bear this in mind all the time, and therefore keep being surprised and learning new things. I would urge you to do the same. Incidentally, till Alzheimers strikes us down, age usually brings wisdom, not senility.

  5. Jitendra says: October 28, 20144:19 am

    Today I watched you pathetic performance on GEO TV programe Capital Talk. We know you as a congi poodle but now you have established yourself as a traitor.
    Your hate for Modi has gone to an extent that you are betraying India. It is really disgusting.

    • Prem Jha says: November 3, 201411:42 pm

      You are full of adjectives but your mind is closed.Inspite of that allow me to make a few observations: I dont hate anyone. It takes too much energy. As for being a Cong-I poodle, the Cong I has cost me three jobs in my long life as a journalist including the editorship of the Hindustan Times.So might’nt you be wrong? Finally traitor? Is slavish agreement with everything your government does a sign of patriotism, especially a government that has come to power with 31 percent of the vote? What I said in the programme was harder for Pakistanis to swallow than for Indians. I toold them that the accession of Kashmir to India was not challegeable, and that if they think our country is stupid enough to provoke another insurgency in Kashmir by abolishing article 370 of the constitution, they should think again. But tell me– it is now almost six months since the BJP came to power. Can you name a single thing this government has done that has made India better and Indians better off than it was under the Congress, miserable though its performance was? Is our industry growing again? Are there more jobs? are our bureaucrats and our politicians less corrupt than before? Are there fewer criminals in politics? Are we closer to peace with our neighbours than we were before? When you have thought these questions through think again about what I say, and what I write.

  6. Jitendra says: November 28, 20148:24 am

    (a) Coming to power with 31% is fault of our voting system. It has nothing to do with BJP.You can suggest govt. for proportional voting system. Present system is better then having 30 party coalition.
    (b) You do not want to question congress stuff of more then fifty years of stuff up of creating unsolvable problems India faces : Kahmir problem,occupation of Tibet and keeping silent, giving security council seat to China, Ladakh and socialist economic model that brought economy to it’s knees when PV Narsimhan (best PM of India) had to take action.
    (c) You want wonders in six months. It takes time to clean debris of more then fifty years.
    (d) Abolishing article 370 will create chaos is figment of your imagination. It will resolve more issues then it will create.
    (e) Coming closer to peace needs both the countries to work honestly. Pakistan is creating insurgency is Kashmir and any talk with them is useless. Pakistan is Chinese poodle and not interested in resolving any isssue just like China. Kargil conflict was thelatest eg. when AVB was sincerely trying to resolve the issue.
    (d) Making fun of PM education on Pakistan TV was not expected from a person of your stature and your host found it very funny. What you say is not only important but where you say.
    (e) My defintion of patriotism is not following slavishly. I will prefer make constructive criticism but it went too far on Pakistan TV.

  7. prem jha says: November 28, 201412:33 pm

    Dear Jitendra,

    You obviously dont understand even how our voting system works. Had India had proportional representation the BJP would have gained only 31 percent of the seats in parliament. It is the simple majority voting system that enables a party with 30 or more percent of the vote to win 53 percent of the seats. EVERY other voting system would have prevented the BJP from coming to power.
    I am a supporter of our present system because it gives the country a stable government. But that government needs to bear in mind that it is a government of the entire country and not the 301 percent that voted for it.
    As for the rest, you are entitled to your opinion. But I did NOT make fun of Prime minister Modi’s education. ‘Mofussil government’ applies to the entire pary not the PM, and has nothing to do with education– just the lack of experience of governing at the centre.

  8. prem Jha says: November 28, 201412:35 pm

    Corection — 31 percent not 301 percent.

  9. jitendra says: November 28, 20143:59 pm
  10. jitendra says: November 28, 20144:14 pm

    Dear Sh jha sahib,

    It was bit upsetting watching this program overseas. Air marshall who was in this program interpreted your comment as an indication of PM education. Everyone has to become first time. At least he is trying to mend relations with neighbours and attending to defence preparations. Last ten years are wasted years where we had unelected and do nothing PM and treasury was being plundered. I have faith in new govt. Capacity to deliver. I am ready to wait. Regarding election I said exactly what you have written. If you do not like 31% vote capturing party to rule then ee need proportional voting system. We have 100 parties contesting which allows party with small % votes to govern. In present system we also have thugs like Ajit Singh who are ready to join the highest bidder.
    I view you in high regard but pakistani making fun of our PM after your comment was upsetting.
    Kind regards
    Jitendra

    • Prem Jha says: May 17, 20158:47 am

      I didnt hear that remark. It was a phone interview. If the air Marshall interpreted my remark as acriticism of PM Modi, he was entirely wrong. But Pakistanis have this problem with us all the time. So what is new. It does not mean that we should stop talking to them.

  11. Gaurav Shukla says: January 29, 20152:52 pm

    Jha ji, Pranam,

    I was researching on article 370 in my free time to enhance my knowledge on the subject of national interest. In the process, I ended up watching this program called Capital Talk where you participated on the subject.

    Shameful.

    That said, you happen to be such a learned man on the Kashmir issue with such an elaborate experience. In fact, if my outrage doesn’t upset you, I might even learn a thing or two from your knowledge bank. But my outrage against you is as a fellow citizen. And since you tried to dilute the seriousness of the issue in your defence, in your previous answers, let me be more specific in specifying as to where you have ashamed me.

    Chanakya explains, “khataai ke patra mein doodh nahin rakhte”. Basically, there should be a political, moral and intellectual common ground for every conversation to conserve its grace. The studio was filled with, political propagandists, morally weaker individuals, who at regular instances referred to our PM (both present and first) and our defence minister, in fact every individual who didn’t fit into their narrative, on a single name basis, as if they are referring to their cousins! Most importantly, they are what they are, the senseless bunch of crooks who have invented their own set of idealism and state narratives and have been nothing more than a disturbance in the region since their birth, in fact they don’t even deserve this mention after the sheer unethical journalism they have portrayed, but you being so sensible and a knowledgeable person, HOW did you fall in this trap a made not just a fool of yourself (under the hood of false praises) but have hurt the patriotic sentiments of fellow citizens such as me and many others.

    Were you muted when the rest of the rhetoric analysis and comments were been made after your “free journalistic revelation”? Could you not see that your ethical traits are being used as a laughing point by the ones who have no credibility and stability of their own? Doesn’t correcting the course of a discussion based on facts and analysis a part of your “free journalistic” responsibilities when you so choose to engage in such conversations?

    • Prem Jha says: February 8, 20156:28 pm

      I was not on line for the entire programme, so I have only your word for what they said and what they intendedbefore and after I cam on. But if they tried to mock me, or India using something i said it is one more indicator of the weakness of their position on Kashmir. This kind of attack is called argumentum ad hominem. Its precise defintion is: ” the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument. Often the argument is characterized simply as a personal attack”.
      My comment on Capital Talk was based on solid facts. They may not have likedIwhat i said because it threatened their version of the Kashmir story. But unlike you I do not start by assuming that they are a ” senseless bunch of crooks”. More important, I cannot assume that all listeners in Pakistan are also crooks. If I do then all communication becomes pointless.

    • Prem Jha says: May 13, 201512:27 am

      sorry for the long delay. I am not very good with Facebook , or for that matter with my own page– wrong generation. To come back to your observations, I did not hear the rest of the speakers as this was a phone interview from Islamabad. I am fully aware that they have different views from mine,some very, very different. But I expect that. Is everyone on Arnab Goswami’s shows of the same opinion. Referring to our leaders by their first names is not necessarily disrespectful, we do it all the time, indeed I do it in my articles — usually to reduce the word count.But assume that they intended to be insulting — what would they really be demonstrating if not their own impotence?
      But think also of what you have written above: “the senseless bunch of crooks who have invented their own set of idealism and state narratives and have been nothing more than a disturbance in the region since their birth”. Is this not insulting? Is it not also dismissive and judgemental? I think — in fact I know better than most people how wrong the myths Pakistan has spun around how they were cheated of Kashmir are. That was what I got the chance to point out in that interview. Beyond that I am not prepared to go. If they want to believe something irrespective of evidence it is their right to do so.

      As for falling into their trap, trying to reason with your opponents is not falling into a trap. I have done it innumerable times in Kashmir– in Sopore, in Baramulla, and in Srinagar. I have suffered through many minutes of anger and abuse before we have been able to start talking, but in the last quarter century there has only been one occasion when I have made absolutely no impression on my adversary. But even he remained unfailingly polite. One cannot find peaceful solutions if one is afraid to engage with one’s adversaries. The alternative to engagement is conflict and conflicts usually spin out of control.

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