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Thomas Szasz’s fears about the GROSS misuse of psychiatry – and India’s new Mental Healthcare Act 2017

You might be aware of Thomas Szasx, about who’s work I have written a number of blog posts earlier (see this).

Basically, Szasz revolutionised psychiatry across the world and tried to prevent the gross encroachment by dishonest government psychiatrists on basic liberties of the people.

Someone sent me material in which this article of 2015 in Outlook was cited. The article is an interview with Vikram Patel of London:

Well, being admitted under a magistrate’s order based on the current mental health act to a mental hospital is one of the most terrifying experiences that anyone in this country can experience: your basic rights to liberty and dignity are taken away from you, and you are likely to find yourself in a colonial- era asylum, in crowded and insanitary living quarters, locked away and forgotten by society.

This act (India’s Mental Health Act 1987) has been repealed in April 2017 and replaced by the Mental Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 (gazette notification).

The issue with the previous act was the spurious issue of Reception Orders (see this study). Reception Orders are basically detention (arrest) orders. [This is a good slideshow on the Mental Health Act 1987.]

I’ve quickly scanned google and come across a some positive reviews of this act. However, the same review cites some remaining concerns.

I’d like to find out more, whether whether psychiatrists in India are being brought under leash by the new Act.

I am informed that Section 102 of the 2017 Act (below) can still be used by unscrupulous officials. The relevant section states:

102. (1) When any person with mental illness or who may have a mental illness appears or is brought before a Magistrate, the Magistrate may, order in writing––

(a) that the person is conveyed to a public mental health establishment for assessment and treatment, if necessary and the mental health establishment shall deal with such person in accordance with the provisions of the Act; or

(b) to authorise the admission of the person with mental illness in a mental health establishment for such period not exceeding ten days to enable the medical officer or mental health professional in charge of the mental health establishment to carry out an assessment of the person and to plan for necessary treatment, if any.

If you know much about these two Acts, please let me know how the new Act deals with human freedom.


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Inner workings of yet another typical corruption scam in India (this one in Panjab). And its history includes attempted murder.

If you recall, I had posted some allegations against a senior IAS officer of Panjab here a few months ago. I am keenly and personally aware of the person against whom these allegations have been made. I have no doubt that these allegations have a strong element of truth in them.

In the meanwhile, one of the persons who knows more about this (and related) matters has got in touch with me. For obvious reasons I will not name this person.

Now, there are two key players to be discussed at this state in this case:

a) Gurinder Singh, contractor

Recall that the allegation which I published stated: “In Irrigation through his favourite contractor Gurinder Singh he started giving contracts of Irrigation and drainage of highly exorbitant prices which led to windfall gains for him and his family.”

Well, THIS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED. Just a couple of days ago, Tribune announced that Gurinder Singh had been arrested.

An inquiry has reportedly found that senior government officers misused their official positions in connivance with Gurinder Singh over the past seven-eight years, thereby causing a huge loss to the state. They allegedly twisted rules, drafted tailormade terms for e-tendering, besides leaking secret information to Gurinder as regards development works worth Rs 1,000 crore. These works were allotted to him at “10% to 50% higher rates” as compared to departmental rates.

Note that the allegation on my blog and this finding by the inquiry match pretty well. I’m only surprised they did not find the direct link with this senior IAS officer.

[Update: More details regarding Gurinder Singh, published in Indian Express on 20 August 2017]

b) xxx, Superintending Engineer

Note that I’m not naming this person since his name is not yet in the public domain. However, the Tribune notes: “Some other officers/engineers/officials of the department had also been reportedly booked”.

I reliably gather that this xxx is facing arrest as part of this inquiry.

Now, I understand that this xxx has been implicated in attempted murder in the past. There are wheels within wheels.

Many others have already been named by The Tribune. I hope all names will be published soon.

There is a long standing CHRONIC and ENDEMIC culture of corruption in Panjab. I will share with a few people who matter. But I have no hope of any justice being received by anyone in India. The corrupt (and murderers) will continue to flourish. Amarinder Singh can do NOTHING about it since he is merely copying the existing system.

Let me repeat what I’ve always said: Even if some of these people are actually put behind bars, this is NOT going to change the culture of corruption one bit.

You need systematic reform, else expect corruption (and murder, to defend corruption) to continue unabated in India.

Join SBP and FIGHT – or forever hold your peace.

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My ancestry – an initial exploration

The other day someone visited my house and asked me where I “belong”. I actually don’t “belong” to any part of India, having travelled and lived across India on numerous occasions before working in the IAS first in Haryana then in Assam and Meghalaya. The longest I’ve lived in any place in the world is in Melbourne (nearly 17 years), followed by Los Angeles (5 years).

In India I lived four years in Jullundur, twice for two years each in Pune, nearly four in Visakhapatnam, followed by shorter stints in Secunderabad, Shillong (twice), Guwahati, Barpeta, Dhubri, Bangalore, Mussoorie (twice), Perth, Hojai, Patna, and Dehradun.

Essentially I’ve been a vagabond, and consider myself to be a citizen of the world. But given this prompting (about “where I belong”) I decided to find out. I had a vague idea about my ancestry (e.g. see this) but it was probably time to find out more details.

Btw, the disruption of the partition of India seems to have taken many members of our family (particularly of my generation) to far flung shores across the world.

Here are my preliminary findings – obtained from my father  – that I will update as I find out more. In particular, I’m interested in exactly when and how my parents came from West Panjab into India at the time of partition. I’ll keep elaborating this post as I find out more. It will remain work in progress.



The Sabhloks were originally inhabitants of Afghanistan. They lived in Jalalabad near Kabul. During the 12th and 13th centuries they migrated to Dandi, a couple of miles from Pindigheb, later to become a tehsil of Campbellpore district, now in Pakistan.

Origin of the title “Sabhlok”

In 1959, my Bauji (Grand Father: Lala Gopi Chand Sabhlok) told my father to always write Sabhlok i.e. with an “h” and not Sablok.

He explained the origin of the word Sabhlok. More than two hundred years ago when Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) was the ruler in Punjab and part of Afghanistan, he appointed Hari Singh Nalwa – the great warrior/soldier as in-charge of North West Panjab and Afghanistan. My father’s great grandfather (Sultan Chand Sabhlok (c.1810-?)) was an officer (Jamadar) in Nalwa’s army.

Hari Singh used to address Sultan Chand as “Sabhlok” (a cultured and civilised person). He used to dress well with a dignified Pagri, white Salwar, Kurta etc. In Hindi the root word is “Sabhyata” and in Panjabi “Sabhta/Sabta”. Thus Sabhlok/Sablok is not a caste name, it is a title.

Hari Singh Nalwa allotted Sultan Chand 25 acres of well-irrigated land in Pindigheb (district Attock, near Peshawar) in recognition of his distinguished service, so in around 1840 Sultan Chand shifted to Pindigheb from Dandi. The Sabhloks of Pindigheb were therefore called Jamadars.

The progeny of Sultan Chand Sabhlok were addressed as Sabhloks and those who settled in nearby Dandi (about three miles away) were Sabloks.

Because of Hari Singh Nalwa, there is significant influence of Sikhism among the Sabhloks. Many Sabhloks make their first son a Sikh. As a result there are a large number of Sikh Sabhloks/Sabloks today.

A few well known Sabhloks were my tayaji (what?) Hakumat Rai Sabhlok (an officer in the Municipal Committee in Pindigheb), Sukhraj Sabhlok, Deputy Director Agriculture Department, and Dr.Rajinder Pal Sabhlok, Director WHO who finally settled in Switzerland (his brother was Registrar of Agriculture University Hissar etc.), my uncle Commodore Suresh Kumar Sabhlok, Vir Chakra.

Our particular family traces its ancestry to the following

Great Great Grandfather Lala Fateh Chand Sabhlok 

A son of Sultan Chand.

Great Grand father Lala Gian Chand (c.1870-?) (w: Rukmani Devi nee Jaggi) was the Municipal Commissioner of Pindigheb.

Grandfather Lala Gopi Chand Sabhlok. Bauji (1894-1977) (w: Bishen Devi nee 1897-1984 – Abbhat/Abbot before marriage; my Beji, grandmother ). He was the first person in the family to study up to matriculation in 1910. He joined the Agriculture Department at Lyalpur Agricuture University. The five brothers Sriram, Raja Ram, Suresh, my father and Ramesh were all born in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad). There were also four sisters. [Note: Bauji’ elder brother Lorinda mal Sabhlok was a school teacher and agriculturist, his elder sister name was Chanan Devi.]

At the time of partition

Bauji had plans to settle in Pindigheb and look after his lands. But this ambition received a blow with India’s partition in 1947. Bauji was transferred from Rawalpindi (which was to go to Pakistan) to Ferozepur in East Panjab (India).

Bauji, Beji, Ramesh uncle, Chand aunty and my father left Rawalpindi on 12th August 1947. My father was 15 years old.

The family left Rawalpindi by train about 9 pm and arrived at Ferozepur early in the morning. This was the last train that faced no problems on the way. My father notes: “We read in newspapers that [in the] trains which left later many Hindus and Sikhs were murdered. Our domestic luggage was booked [separately] in [a] goods train and was 100% looted en-route.”

Where were the others at the time of the partition? Uncles – Suresh was working in Delhi College as a lab assistant in a College. Sri Ram was a soldier in the Army posted in Delhi Cantonment. Rajaram was in the Military Engineering Service in Patna. Aunties Satyawati and Raj were already in India at Shahabad near Ambala, Raj was at Patna (her husband RamAsra Jaggi was in Defence Accounts Department). Sister Shanti Dilbaghi was in Pindigheb and her husband Bansi Lal Dilbaghi was transferred to Hansi (Hissar) as a school teacher – at the time of partition. He remained in Hansi for about ten years and then transferred to Jagadhri (Yamuna Nagar).

Ambala and Jagadhri

Bauji and family lived in Ferozpur for about six months after which Bauji was transferred to Ambala City. Bauji retired in 1949 and became an accountant at SA Jain College Ambala City till 1957.

In the meanwhile, in 1955, Bauji got compensation for land and house about 25 miles away from Jagadhri (then in Panjab, now in Haryana). Bauji used to go there periodically. He asked all his sons whether they could look after the land and house which all of them refused as all were far away from Jagadhri. Therefore the land and house was ultimately donated to Vinoba Bhave on the advice of all the five sons.

My father, Ramesh uncle and my mother (and her sisters) also studied in SA Jain College, Ambala. My father was also a lecturer in Political Science in that College for two years before being selected to the Indian Defence Accounts Service (he retired in the rank of acting Controller General of Defence Accounts).


I’ve got this from Flickr:

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How governments can benefit by imposing a range of taxes on cryptocurrency

This author raised concerns about government regulation of cryptocurrencies.

I’m coming to the view that such regulation is not only necessary but will be extremely beneficial both for the market and for governments. [See my comments here].

Cryptocurrency has two qualities in one: asset (store of large amounts of value) + money (being easily transferred in extremely small quantities).

While no taxation can be imposed on the money component, there is a huge taxation opportunity for the asset component, given that many cryptocurrencies are skyrocketing at 1000 or more per year.

Some governments are already starting to regulate cryptos. Such regulations will massively increase the legitimacy of cryptos in the eyes of the sceptical masses, who will then jump on (finally) into the bandwagon, thereby massively increasing the price of these currencies.

Governments should get a share of the profits from cryptos to plough that money into infrastructure and public goods. It will only be a really stupid government that kills the chicken that lays a golden egg.

Having myself made a small paper profit (currently a notional profit of $4000 AUD on my small investment), I see no reason why government should not be able to apply the following taxes on crypto transactions:


The tax would need to be very small on tiny trades (such as for a cup of coffee), but it could be incrementally larger for larger trades.

A tax of up to 0.05 per cent on crypto trades will harvest significant gain for governments.

Of course, traders will then shop jurisdictions and move to exchanges in countries that do not charge such a tax. Or the exchanges will go off-line (peer-to-peer).


Two choices:

a) at the standard GST rate (possibly at BOTH ends of the transaction).

b) as capital gains tax at the end of the transaction (this, of course, also would allow investors the option to track any capital losses).

What about the ability of crypto-owners to move their conversion to a different jurisdiction?

Yes, they can. For instance, a number of exchanges now offer USD debit cards that can be used anywhere in the world. So I can transfer funds to a US exchange, then convert to cryptocurrency, then buy a world-cruise from USA which will totally short-circuit the Australian system.

But if I wish to convert my crytpo-money into AUD (to be drawn as cash or deposited into my bank account), then generally only an Australian exchange will do so. The Australian government could require all Australian exchanges to charge a GST on such conversions. It could alternatively require me to track all my crypto investments and report on any capital gains.

Of course, there remains the option of peer-to-peer exchange in which I can find someone in Melbourne who wants bitcoin and get sell it to him in exchange for cash. This will be entirely off the record keeping system and will evade any tax.

It is not my job to think on behalf of governments about how they can tax cryptos. But this is clear: they can’t avoid cryptos. These are here to stay. The only choice they have is to work out how to benefit from cryptos, which are essentially a great productivity enhancing device.

BTW, I agree with commentator Andrew Robbins here:

If a government starts to heavily regulate Cryptocurrencies they give themselves a massive disadvantage compared to other governments who don’t. We’re already starting to see this with ICOs preventing U.S. based IPs from participating. You do this too much, and people will eventually leave your country.

So, any government that regulates/ taxes will need to be keenly aware of competitive issues of this sort.

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