Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Et Tu, Parth J Shah
Ever since 1991, after returning from the LSE, I have been a private scholar and writer; a struggling one, if I may add. My first break occurred around 1994, when I met Barun Mitra at a Mancur Olson seminar. We got along like a house on fire and I was soon invited to a "Freedom Workshop" conducted by his newly established Liberty Institute. I presented a paper titled "Bauer Power: Getting the State OUT of Development." It was there that I first met Parth J Shah, then visiting from the US, where he was a professor of Economics. It was great meeting other Indian libertarians. It gave me strength to carry on.
In 1997, Parth set up the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) in New Delhi. I was then a freelance journalist, earning little. But the very next year I was invited by Swaminathan Aiyar to join the editorial team of the Economic Times. While I was there, I did a lot for Parth and his CCS: I publicised them in my columns; I travelled far and wide to lecture for free at his "Liberty & Society Seminars" for college students. In 2000 Macmillan India published my Antidote: Essays Against the Socialist Indian State.
In 2002 I walked out of the ET edit team over an editorial I had written against Sonia Gandhi which the editors butchered. Shortly thereafter I received the Frederic Bastiat award from Baroness Thatcher. Parth and his wife Manali were there at the Royal Commonwealth Club in London when I received the prize. He offered me the HONORARY post of editorial director of CCS. I accepted. In early 2003, Macmillan India published my Antidote2: For Liberal Governance. Unlike the previous volume, this second one was not a success at all (though it is a better book).
Now, to get to the point: Parth requested me to order 150 copies of this book, Antidote2, for CCS in my name, so that CCS could avail the special 40 percent "author's discount" - which meant I got NO ROYALTY. This was in March 2003 and I assumed that CCS had settled the bill. Recently, Macmillan India has furnished me with written proof that these books were delivered and received by CCS, but NOT paid for. Till today, Parth refuses to pay Macmillan the 30,000-odd rupees he owes them. Because of this, Macmillan is treating the matter as a debt I owe them, and deducting it from my royalties year after year. For over 6 years now, I have received no royalties from Macmillan, for both books.
I have written to Parth - but he refuses to reply. I find this very strange because I have worked only for the good of CCS. I wrote Free Your Mind: A Beginner's Guide to Political Economy for them - and did not take a paisa. I have met countless young people who joined CCS and became libertarians because of this book. As I said, I have lectured for free for them all over the country, for many years, at my expense. I took "earned leave" from my job to do so - thereby sacrificing holidays. I see no reason for this peculiar behaviour.
The other day a friend tried to talk to Parth about settling the bill and he told her: "I have even given Sauvik a GRANT of 1,00,000 rupees" - as though this exonerates him from his dues to Macmillan! Anyway, this is a lie.
In 2007, Parth offered me the said sum for the PURCHASE of the copyright to my unpublished travelogues, many of them travels with Team CCS. But he never published the book! Indeed, I asked him if I could offer the book to some other publisher and return his money. He agreed. Unfortunately, the book is still unpublished, though you can read the e-book for free here.
So here I end my sorry tale of a false friend. I had to get this off my chest. Parth must be pressurised to settle with Macmillan. I, still a struggling author, cannot subsidise CCS.