Subramanian Swamy was born on 15 September 1939, in Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, to a family which hailed originally from Madurai in Tamil Nadu in a Tamil Brahmin family. His father, Sitaraman Subramanian, was a bureaucrat and his mother, Padmavathi, was a homemaker. He has one younger brother, Ram Subramanian, as well as two younger sisters.
Thereafter, Swamy moved to the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi where he was a full Professor of Mathematical Economics there from 1969 to the early 1970s. He was removed from the position by its board of governors in the early 1970s because of his disapproval of Indira Gandhi's poor economic policies but was legally reinstated in the late 1990s by the Supreme Court of India. He continued in the position until 1991 when he resigned to become a cabinet minister. He served on the Board of Governors of the IIT, Delhi (1977–80) and on the Council of IITs (1980–82). He also taught economics courses at Harvard Summer School until 2011, when the Harvard faculty voted to eliminate Swamy's courses as a result of his "offensive" statements about Muslims.
Swamy's career started with his involvement in the Sarvodaya movement, which was an apolitical movement but which formed the foundation of the creation of Janata Party later. The real turn in his political career came after his sacking from IIT. Liberal economic policies put forward by him did not go well with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who sneered at his plans as 'Santa Claus with unrealistic ideas'. He was later expelled from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. This marked the beginning of his active political career. As a staunch opponent of Indira Gandhi, the opposition part, Bharatiya Jana Sangh sent him to Rajya Sabha – the upper house of Indian Parliament.
He was an elected Member of Lok sabha, the lowe house of Indian Parliament five times between 1974 and 1999. As a Lok Sabha member, he represented the city of Mumbai North East twice (1977 and 1980) and later the city of Madurai (1998). As a Rajya Sabha member, herepresented Uttar Pradesh (1974) in the Parliament.
During Emergency (1975 – 1977)
During the period of the Emergency, he fled to the United States, seeking haven with an Indian businessman in Michigan who had become the spokesperson of the opposition in the United States. In 1976, when the Emergency was still in force and an arrest warrant had been issued in his name, Swamy came to Parliament to attend the session and managed to escape India after the session was adjourned. This act of defiance was well received in the eyes of opposition parties.
During 1990 and 1991, Swamy served as a member of the Planning Commission of India and as Cabinet Minister of Commerce and Law. On 27 December 1990, Financial Times published an interview of Swamy by David Housego in which he claimed that the decision to raise import duties by his government is a "panic reaction". In Parliament Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar claimed that Swamy had denied what had been attributed to him in the article, but David Housego who wrote the story stood firmly by it.
Between 1994 and 1996, Swamy was chairman of the Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade (equivalent in rank to a cabinet minister) under Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao. In 1997, he filed a petition against P. Chidambaram in Delhi High Court, which alleged that Chidambaram had violated Prevention of Corruption Act while purchasing shares of Fairgrowth Financial Services Limited in 1991. But in 1998, Delhi High Court dismissed his petition under technical grounds.
In 1996, Swamy had filed a criminal complaint against Jayalalithaa which led to her prosecution, conviction and sentencing to four years imprisonment by the trial court in 2014. Later, on 11 May 2015, a special Bench of the Karnataka High Court set aside the trial court order convicting former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha, who was acquitted of all charges in the disproportionate assets case. An Appeal against the High court verdict was filed in Supreme Court. The final verdict of Supreme Court came in February 2017 that indicted Jayalalitha posthumously and upheld the trial court judgement in toto.
In 1987, when Muslim youths were killed under police custody, Swamy spoke against it and sat on a fast for more than a week in Jantar Mantar demanding the institution of an inquiry. After 25 years he started pursuing the case once again in court.
Rebecca John, a counsel for the Hashimpura complainants, told Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Siddhartha who is conducting the trial in the case, that "there is no other motive than politics behind Swamy's plea for further investigation and it would only further delay the trial".
On 15 April 2011, he filed a 206-page petition with PM Singh seeking permission to prosecute Sonia Gandhi on charges of corruption. He also raised doubts regarding her acquisition of Indian citizenship. Swamy filed documents in the court to prosecute Minister of Home AffairsP. Chidambaram by including a 15 January 2008 letter written by Chidambaram to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Swamy also placed on record the certified copy of the minutes of a meeting between Chidambaram, Raja and the prime minister during the tenure of Raja as the MOC&IT. Since criminal charges were filed against the accused, but no evidence was given by Swamy or the CBI, all the respondents have got bail as of July 2012.
Sanction to prosecute telecom minister A. Raja
On 31 January 2012, the Supreme Court of India accepted Swamy's petition against the Prime Minister's Office in the 2G case, saying that all public authorities should give a sanction within three months against any public official if a request is made for prosecution.
The Supreme Court said that Swamy had the locus standi to seek sanction from the Prime Minister for the prosecution of A. Raja in the 2G case. Sanction by a competent authority for the prosecution of a public servant has to be granted within a time frame, the apex court said. Justice AK Ganguly said that the sanction would be deemed to be granted if competent authority failed to take a decision within four months.
Swamy's arguments were that he wrote to the PMO on 29 November 2008, but it was only on 19 March 2010 the PMO replied that the plea made by Swamy was "premature" as investigation was being carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).Raja was arrested by the CBI in the case and got bail on 15 May 2012 after spending nearly 15 months in the Tihar Central Jail.
On 21 December 2017, the special CBI Court Judge acquitted the accused including A. Raja.
Petition to strike down "single directive provision"
In 1997, Swamy filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India to strike down a provision which barred CBI from investigating corruption charges against officers of the rank of joint secretary and above without prior permission of the Government of India called as "Dr. Subramanian Swamy Versus Director, Central Bureau of Investigation & Anr." on 6 May 2014, a five-judge constitution bench held the single directive provision as invalid and unconstitutional. The court said that "Protection of prior approval for probing graft charges against officers at level of joint secretary and above has propensity of shielding corruption." Incumbent CBI Director Ranjit Sinha welcomed the judgement and said, "now a very heavy responsibility has been cast upon us to ensure that no innocent civil-servant is harassed."
Swamy demanded that an independent committee should be formed to check the security and safety of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) to avoid any rigging or tampering. He demanded that a printed receipt should be given to every voter after casting the vote. His PIL to investigate the working of EVM was dismissed by the Delhi High Court on 17 January 2012. The court refused to give any direction to the Election Commission to bring back paper-ballot system or use of printed receipts. The Commission argued that the use of paper is not feasible due to the huge size of Indian electorate. The court further asked the Election Commission to "immediately begin a process of wider consultations" and the Parliament "to go into this question in depth and decide".
On 22 January 2013 the Election Commission informed the Supreme Court that it would include Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system which is in the testing phase after the court agreed with some points raised by Swamy who was the contender, in the machines so that every voter will come to know who he/she is voting by getting a printed slip after pressing the EVM button. The voter paper audit trail has then been in use from 4 September 2013.
On 8 October 2013 the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to implement audit trail system in 2014 general election in phases.
On 1 November 2012 Swamy alleged that both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have committed fraud and land grabbing to a tune of ₹20 billion (US$250 million) by acquiring a public ltd company called Associated Journals Private Ltd (AJPL) through their owned private company, Young Indian which was formed on 23 November 2010. Through this they had got publication rights of National Herald and Qaumi Awaz newspapers, with real estate properties in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The acquired place was intended only for newspaper purposes but were used for running a passport office, amounting to crores of rupees, it alleges. Swamy further added that Rahul Gandhi hid the facts in his affidavit while filing nomination for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
It further alleges that on 26 February 2011 AJPL approved the transfer of unsecured loan of ₹900 million (US$11 million) from the All India Congress Committee at zero interest. Swamy argued that it is illegal for any political party to lend the loan as per violation of Section 269T of Income Tax Act 1961. on 2 November, the party responded that the loan was given only for reviving National Herald newspaper with no commercial interest. Swamy decided to approach the Supreme Court for de-recognising the Congress party, while the Election Commission ordered the probe on 17 November 2012.
The hearing of the case had been taken up thereafter on different occasions with the court observing prima facie evidence against all the accused. on 1 August 2014 the Enforcement Directorate initiated probe to find any money laundering in the case while on the same day Swamy was served notice by the High Court. on 28 August the metropolitan court fixed 9 December for the next hearing of the case, while on 12 January 2015 the judge of the Delhi High Court recused himself from hearing the case stating that schedule of cases has been changed and directed that the petitions be directed before an appropriate bench. on 27 January 2015, the Supreme Court asked Swamy to make out a case for the speedy trial in the Delhi High Court since the petition cannot be heard directly.
On 18 September 2015 it was reported that the Enforcement Directorate had reopened the investigation. Following it, on 19 December 2015 Patiala House Court granted unconditional bail immediately on the hearing to all the five accused but one. on 12 July 2016 the Delhi High Court set aside the trial court order of 11 January and 11 March based on plea by Swamy to examine balance sheets of Congress party, AJL and Young Indian from 2010 to 2013, and fixed the date of next hearing on 20 August. Currently, the case proceedings are on-going in Delhi High Court.
Nataraja temple case
Swamy had filed a petition in the Supreme Court with priests of the Dikshitar sect challenging the decision of the Madras High Court on transferring the administration of the Nataraja temple to the then Tamil Nadu government in 2009.
Swamy on referring to the provisions of Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, contended that Podu Dikshitars have right to administer the temple and argued on handing over the administration on mismanagement grounds of temple's wealth is violation under Article 26 of the Constitution of India. on 6 January 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that the administration is to be handed over back to the priests of the temple from the state government.
State control of Hindu temples
Subramanian Swamy filed a petition to remove Kerala State government's control over Hindu temples by abolishing Devaswom. in 2018, the Supreme Court agreed to examine the petition moved by him and TG Mohan Das to abolish Devaswom Board. The Supreme Court issued notice to the Kerala government and Devaswom Board of Travanacore and Cochin and sought their response in six weeks. in 2019, the Kerala government opposed Subramanian Swamy's plea.
On 22 February 2016, Swamy filed a petition in the Supreme Court allowing construction of Rama temple at the disputed site where Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992, and expediting the adjudication related to order of the Allahabad High Court on 30 September 2010, petition was accepted on 26 February to be later heard by the court.
In February 2020, Subramanian Swamy filed a public interest litigation in Uttarakhand High Court against newly framed law to govern Char Dham and 51 other temples of the state. Swamy in his PIL, requested the court to declare the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act, 2019 'unconstitutional' which was passed in the legislative assembly of Uttarakhand in December 2019. But the Uttarakhand High Court upheld the constitutionality of the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act, 2019, dismissing the public interest litigation filed by Subramanian Swamy and Sri 5 Mandir Samiti Gangotri Dham and another. However, the Court read down Section 22 of the Act, which was about the acquisition of land for the Char Dham.
In various speeches and articles, Swamy has expressed his admiration for, and solidarity with, the State of Israel and has credited its retaliatory capacity for its ability to survive as a nation in a hostile Arab environment. Swamy made pioneering efforts towards India's establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel.
Swamy is a strong supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump, endorsing Trump's presidential candidacy in 2016 and comparing Trump to himself.
After the Charlottesville riots in August 2017, he posted a tweet urging Indians residing in the United States to "stand with Trump at this hour of his being hunted by cockeyed liberals & Left wing loonies on racism" and praised Trump for "having showed the hypocrites their place by telling it like it is."
Following criticism of Pakistan by Trump, Swamy called for closer relations between India and the United States.
In September 2008, Swamy stridently retorted against the contentions of some Indian columnists who voiced their opinions in favor of "peacefully" surrendering Kashmir to Pakistan. He said,
"I would say that the silent suffering majority of India wants none of this. The 'Kashmir issue,' in fact, can no more be solved by dialogue either with the Pakistanis or the Hurriyat, leave alone the constitutional impossibility of allowing it to secede. [...]Kashmir, in fact, is now our defining identity. It is a touchstone for our resolve to preserve our national integrity. The population of that State may be majority Muslim but the land and its history is predominantly Hindu. for our commitment to the survival of the ancient civilisation of India and the composite culture that secularists talk of, we have not only to win that coming inevitable war but also resolve never to part with Kashmir. [...]
Pakistanis often cite the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir to argue for a plebiscite. This obfuscates the fact of accession of the State to India. The legality of the Instrument of Accession signed in favour of India by the then Maharaja of J&K, Hari Singh, on 26 October 1947 has to prevail anyway.
Swamy has made several statements in the past that reflect on his Hindu nationalist position. He has called for the creation of an "enlightened secular democracy which redresses all historical wrongs done to Hindus." He has claimed that India is the world's most ancient civilization that consists of "an organic cultural core which is Hindu in character." He has also claimed that the Hindu foundation of India is what makes India distinctive in the world.
After the 2011 Mumbai bombings, he wrote an controversial editorial wherein, as a response to Islamic terrorism, he called for the removal of 300 mosques built at sites of Hindu temples. and for the disenfranchisement of Muslims unless they "acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus". After the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard voted to have his classes removed for "demonising" Muslims, his regular Harvard summer teaching sessions were cancelled because of this article.
In a 2020 Vice interview, he stated that under the Indian constitution, "Article 14 guarantees equality of equals" and that "there is no such thing as equal rights, they [Muslim immigrants] are not in an equal category." He added, "We know that where the Muslim population is large, there is always trouble." He later claimed that this had been misinterpreted in a tweet stating, "One fake quote is that I had declared Muslims are not equal to Hindus under Art. 14."
In September 2020, Swamy said that India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) had "unearthed huge evidence" to prove in court that Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death was "murder by conspiracy." Swamy also said there had been "systematic destruction" of evidence in the case. Two weeks before, Swamy had said the Mumbai Police were "complicit" in the murder, that Dubai was "involved," and that "the Bollywood Cartel remains to be identified and made as 'accessory before the murder'." in October 2020, after a medical board from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) ruled out murder, stating that the actor died by suicide, a team of scientists associated with Microsoft Research, India released an independent report, "Anatomy of a Rumour: Social media and the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput." They wrote, "Perhaps the most interesting case is that of sitting parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy, once a central player in the policy circles, now wilfully [sic] mongering deceit, and also the most popular Twitter handle in wordclouds [sic] of trolls." In December 2020, after more than four months of investigation, the CBI sent Swamy a 3-page letter stating it was looking into all aspects of the case "in a thorough and professional manner using latest scientific techniques," and that "no aspect has been ruled out," but making no mention of Swamy's conspiracy theories.
Swamy is the author of several books, research papers and journals. a complete list of papers, books and journals authored by him is given below. He has also co-authored with Paul Samuelson, a paper on the Theory of Index Numbers (American Economic Review, 1974) and another in the Royal Economic Society's Economic Journal (1984).
"Can India make it? India's path to sustained growth" (Publisher: Harvard Asia Pacific review, Volumes 6–8 by Harvard University. Dept. of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, 2002)
"The response to economic challenge: a comparative economic history of China and India", 1870–1952 (Publisher: The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 93 by Harvard University by the MIT Press, 1979)
Economic growth and income distribution in a developing nation (Publisher: Harvard University, 1965)
Nuclear policy for India (Publisher: Bharatiya Jana Sangh Publication, 1968)
Plan for full employment (Publisher: Bharatiya Jana Sangh, 1970)
Theoretical aspects of index numbers (Publisher: Harvard Institute of Economic Research, 1985)
Land reforms: an economist's approach (Publisher: Deendayal Research Institute)
Samuelson, P. A.; Swamy, S. (1974). "Invariant Economic Index Numbers and Canonical Duality: Survey and Synthesis". The American Economic Review. 64 (4): 566–593. JSTOR1813311.
^Wojczewski, Thorsten (2019), Stengel, Frank a.; MacDonald, David B.; Nabers, Dirk (eds.), "Conceptualizing the Links Between Populism, Nationalism and Foreign Policy: How Modi Constructed a Nationalist, Electoral Coalition in", Populism and World Politics, Springer International Publishing, pp. 251–274, doi:10.1007/978-3-030-04621-7_10, ISBN978-3-030-04620-0, S2CID159230600