India! I dare you to be rich

Mr Narayana Murthy, sermonising will make things worse for India. Try to understand systems.

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I chanced upon this speech by Mr Murthy. Here's my response by email, now on this blog (I've fixed two typos):

Corrigendum: I initially referred to LBSNAA s the plac ewhre this speech was given. It was given instead at Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management on October 02, 2002. I've removed references to LBS and IAS from this version.

I think Mr Murthy has missed the most basic point, hence his sermon is irrelevant to India's future.

Thus he is entirely incorrect when he suggests: "The primary difference between the West and us is that, there, people have a much better societal orientation. They care more for the society than we do. Further, they generally sacrifice more for the society than us. Quality of life is enhanced because of this."

THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WEST AND INDIA. That is a message he needs to think deeply about. ALL HUMANS behave the same in response to incentives.

Mr Murthy merely needs to see the behaviour of Indians outside India to undertsand that he is TOTALLY wrong. He'll be surprised (he seems to travel abroad but not notice much) to find that Indians abroad neither litter not indulge in corruption.

It is SYSTEMS (through incentives) that create behaviour, not SERMONS.

I explained this at length at the Governance Reforms Conference held by IIPA on 13-14 April in which Gurcharan Das, Justice Tewatia and TN Chaturvedi attended.

Please see my slides at:

I'm afraid, after listening to his sermon the [listener] will get even further confused than he already is. Indian "intellectuals" have so badly confused our young people that they are basically unfit to think systematically.

That is a great shame since our own Chanakya understood systems so well. In his Arthashastra Chanakya DOES NOT preach. Instead he teaches kings to establish systems and incentives to achieve ideal, moral outcomes in society.

I'm copying this to Mr Murthy with a request that he consider discussing this with me if he is interested in finding out why he is wrong. Most people in India, I have found, have shut their minds since their initial socialist indoctrination. But I'll continue to raise most basic issues that Indians refuse to understand.

Mr Murthy should realise that I don't talk from imagination. I worked in the IAS India, and work in the economic policy area of an Australian state government with AAA rating. We IMPLEMENT systems in Australia. That's why there is less corruption and littering in Australia. NOT because we make an assumption during policy making that Australians "care for the society". They DON'T. Not any more than the average Indian.


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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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