Open letter to Mohandas Pai

Reply to the Open Letter of Mohandas Pai in re: JNU

Dear Mohandas,

I read your recent open letter on JNU and thought I would chime in-at least on social media.

I consider you a good friend of mine, therefore, this is about an honest difference of opinion, please do not take it personally.


I do not wish to engage you on whether Left politics is archaic or harmful to the country. Politics is not your forte nor is it mine. You know what happened to Marc Andreessen when he tweeted about India's politics. I do not want to walk that path.

Since both you and I studied finance let us stick to money matters. You are against subsidy in higher education and you are worried about tax-payers money being frittered away. In a country with vast income inequalities, in my opinion, government must step in, otherwise higher education will be the monopoly of the privileged few. Indeed the founders of the company you served with distinction were from IITs which are highly subsidized. Without a government-funded higher education system, I doubt if there would be an IT industry in India today.

There is a serious problem in this country of the wealthy not paying their fair share of taxes. A company like Infosys paid very little or no taxes because the law provided many exemptions, leading Narayana Murthy to say in embarrassment that if the company was creating so much wealth it should be asked to pay its fair share of taxes. In Nasscom I supported the tax relief for smaller IT companies and start-ups because they must be provided breathing space to grow and thrive. I did not say-no subsidy for small enterprises who are disadvantaged.

Before vociferously demanding that subsidies be eliminated affecting the financially weak but meritorious students (that is what will happen if we implement your prescription: "As for JNU, it is time the government asked students to pay the full cost of education."), I want to ask you a question.

Most private educational institutions and universities pay no taxes whatsoever because they are organized as trusts and societies. Indeed you know better than me, as you are the Chairman of Manipal Global and closely associated with the private sector higher education business.

I believe that all private sector education businesses should be taxed and all capitation fees should be brought into the books transparently. Would you support me in this just demand?

Warm regards

Sincerely yours