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World famous economist Bibek Debroy to head Railway Board reform committee

The committee also includes former Railway Board Member and Financial Commissioner Rajendra Kashyap, former Procter & Gamble CMD Gusharan Das, ex-National Stock Exchange (NSE) MD Ravi Narain, Centre of Policy Research Senior Fellow Partha Mukhopadhaya, ex-Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar and a nominee of the Department of Economic Affairs.

Debroy has been variously described as an eminent economist, an expert commentator on public policy, fearless but sensitive consulting editor, a popular and incisive participant on current affairs both in print and in visual media, and also a scholar par eminence in Sanskrit with a deft command over our scriptures.

Academically highly accomplished, he has been a topper, both in his bachelor’s degree from Presidency College Kolkata and in his MA in Economics from Delhi School of Economics. Later he went to Cambridge University on a Research Fellowship. On returning from Cambridge, he taught at Presidency College, Kolkata; Gokhale Institute, Pune; Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), New Delhi; International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi, and is now Research Professor at Center for Policy Research.

In the early Nineties, Debroy was the fulcrum of project LARGE which critically examined the legal and legislative framework of India vis-à-vis its growth potential and aspirations. It was a UNDP-assisted project with N R Madhava Menon as head. LARGE brought out several publications and influenced not only our thinking on emerging areas as IPR but also on more basic issues like simple and clear legislative drafting.

Looking for him in any Internet search engine or social media would lead to an incredible number of references. Google spouts about 2,88,000 results. But the most recent contribution by Debroy and equally remarkable and unusually distinguishing feature about him is his work on the Mahabharata.

Between the years 1916 and 1966, the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune brought out a Critical Edition (in Sanskrit) of the Mahabharata, collating all the manuscripts that existed.  This edition is in Sanskrit and runs into 80,000 shlokas.  

Unabridged translations of the Mahabharata in English, as opposed to the vernacular, are rare.  What one sees are abridged translations.  It is important that the Mahabharata should be read in English in unabridged form, so that the nuances are not missed out.  There is also a generation that is unfamiliar with Sanskrit.  

There have been attempts to translate the unabridged Mahabharata into English, but they haven’t always succeeded.  The Clay Sanskrit Library edition has not been completed and is not based on the Critical Edition.  The University of Chicago edition, based on the Critical Edition, has also not been completed.  P Lal completed a translation, but that was not based on the Critical Edition and was a trans-creation, not a translation.
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