India! I dare you to be rich

Category Archive: About me

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I’m now happy to be addressed as “Sanjeev Sabhlok, Arthashastri” (Economist)

I think the Doctorate awarded in the West is too generic. It applies uniformly to all disciplines, thereby losing its meaning.

I have long avoided writing Dr.Sanjeev Sabhlok since it can confuse people. 

Till a few years ago, I would have not liked to associate with Arthashastra since I had a relatively poor opinion about this book – having only tangentially read about it. 

But since I've read it (or, more precisely, skimmed through it, and searched my kindle version), and more so since I've read Balbir Sihag's writings on Chanakya's work, I'm far more charitably inclined towards Chanakya. In fact, I believe Chanakya is better by such a WIDE MARGIN than ANY other Indian political or economic thinker (including Rajaji) that I'm happy, finally, to take on the "title" Arthashastri.

I do so for two reasons:

a) One, that through it people (in India) can instantly make out my specialisation: economics

b) Two, that Arthashastra gets its rightful place in Indian society as a classic book on economics and governance.

I'd prefer that only those with a doctorate in economics use this title, so it doesn't get too diluted. Not that qualifications matter, but I suppose a title should serve some purpose.

So, there. 

Now I am happy (if you wish!) to be addressed as:

Sanjeev Sabhlok, Arthashastri 

Arthashastra is perhaps one of the most sensible books ever written in India. Let's read it and spread its message.

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Catch up with Prof. Alasdair Roberts this week in Melbourne

I introduced readers to Prof. Roberts here. He has a keen interest in India, having been to LBSNAA Mussoorie twice. He first connected with me after I wrote an article about the IAS in Times of India. We've been in touch since then.

It was a pleasure to meet him in person on his world tour in which he is speaking in a number of places.

We had lunch in an Indian restaurant this Monday (19 May) and discussed mainly Indian politics and public administration.

A picture taken after the lunch:

Key points discussed:

1. His forthcoming visit to Delhi -  in which he is meeting senior persons from Jindal School of Government and Public Policy to discuss potential publications in Governance, the academic journal he co-edits. He is concerned that very few Indians in India are able to public papers that pass the intensive peer review process he is required to administer.

I have linked him with Dr. Prajapati Trivedi, Secretary Performance Management and with (in the Boston area itself) Prof. Balbir Sihag. I outlined Arthashastra to him, and how that is perhaps the world's first major economics and public administration text – with its wisdom valid even today.

2. Milton Friedman's book Tyranny of the Status Quo and how it is crucial for any government to make key changes within the first six months. In my view Modi has simply no idea what to change so we will see the same old socialist + colonial system we are used to having.

3. Outlined the liberal political work I'm engaged in and referred him to the Sone Ki Chidiya reform agenda, which contains all key changes needed in India.

4. Discussed the need to establish a world-class School of Governance in India, of quality equal to or better than the JFK School of Government.

===

Today (21 May) I attended a seminar held in the office building where I work (Treasury), attended by around 400 people. He he was one of two speakers. Won't go into details of the talk but it was excellent and thought-provoking.

I will separately discuss how freedom can be defended in an age where privacy will be virtually non-existent. This will include some references to this talk.

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The two self-theory renamed: Formless spirit grafted onto an animal

A little less than two months ago I proposed a two-self theory of man.

I tested out the theory over these past few weeks and have found it to be extremely powerful.

First, there is NO limited stock of 'will power'. I have confirmed that our mastery over self is infinite. Always infinite. The problem only arises if we consider ourselves to be the body. But we should not see ourselves as a body but as a formless spirit grafted on an animal body:

Second, the fact that we have a body is something to be thankful for. Without the body we wouldn't exist. We should think of the body as the work of 3,500 million years of evolution. We are getting the benefit of all that years of evolution, and now, on "top" of this wonderful machine, sits our spirit/soul/ identity (whatever you call it). Physically, as well, our modern brain sits on top of the reptilian/animal brain. We should be grateful to have access to machinery that is so complex it will take at least another few hundred years for scientists to fully break it down into components and understand it properly. A 100 trillion dollar machine is what each of us drives.

Third, that our pet (animal) body is designed purely to maximise its primitive interests means we have to take responsibility for managing it properly. This means understanding its needs, but not allowing it to over-do things which may not be in its interest. Feed it only what is good for it. Take it for a walk. Force it to jump through hoops that it avoids. If you don't take your body for a walk it will become lazy and fat, and that's not good for you: after all, you need your body to lug you around. You are permanently grafted to your body, and have to watch it, control it, treat it well.

The key, I find, is to think of the body in THIRD PERSON. That is not only biologically correct (to an extent) but practically very powerful.

After nearly two months of VERY SUCCESSFUL experimentation with this idea, I'm now coming to the point where I'm going to set specific targets for my body. This doesn't require will power (for that would depend on the animal brain's 'willingness') but on a clear UNDERSTANDING of one's actual self as being entirely distinct from the body.

==ADDENDUM==

The key point to remember is that our higher brain is NOT a decision maker. All decisions to act are taken through the limbic brain, which deals with emotion. Without an emotion attached, we will never act, only think. So the higher brain is fundamentally very weak as a 'decision-maker'. It can inform decisions and help the limbic brain make better decisions, but it cannot decide.

If that is the case, then what we need to do is to use the combined identity generated by the brain – our 'self' – as the master over the body. One could ask, if the higher brain is weaker, how can this 'self' control the limbic brain?

The way it works is by physically imagining a complete separation between self and the body. That is not as absurd as it sounds. Those who have taken yoga training, and particularly some training in advaitic thought, will find it quite simple to separate out the 'self' from the 'mind+body' (the animal).

The key is to note that the self is NOT the mind. The mind is merely a generation of the body. The self sits outside the mind+body.

We know that physically that is not the case, but it does appear to be separate, and appearances matter. In this cases this conception is decisive in ensuring that the body remains tightly under the control of the self.

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Move over Google Docs. Microsoft Onedrive has totally outclassed you.

There is this fascinating competition between technologies.

I belong to the MS-DOS era, having learnt computers in 1985 or so, and purchased my first one for office in 1987, and personally in 1990 (these things used to cost an arm a leg at one time).

Microsoft didn't produce anything but the operating system then. For spreadsheets you had to get Lotus, and for wordprocessing Wordperfect or Word (not MS Word – that came much later). There were other programs, too, which I now forget (I've also thrown all my floppy disks, so I do hope someone is retaining these old programs, if only for history's sake).

Then came (much later), google docs. A creaky program very similar to those used in the 1980s and early 1990s, but the difference was that this was a document available to you everywhere.

Unfortunately, google docs doesn't have many options. Just can't beat Microsoft Word.

So one uses google docs only for minimalist text documents, with most of one's files being transferred through USB sticks.

But now, there is Microsoft's onedrive, which is available to all hotmail users. 

It is superb.

1) You sync your home computer with onedrive (there is a small software to install), and your files are automatically copied onto to onedrive (the cloud).

2) You log into the cloud from anywhere (say, work), and click on the file you want to edit. That file opens up MS Word software on the local computer (at work). You can then edit it using the fully-featured Word software.

3) Save the file, or close it. It AUTOMATICALLY uploads back on the cloud!

4) Come home and switch on the computer. The software AUTOMATICALLY downloads it to the 'sync' folder. 

5) You can now edit it on the local (home) computer using Word. 

6) Close it and it syncs to the cloud. [To be totally safe, directly work on the cloud version, for it is guaranteed that it will be updated when you quit]

This way you have a copy on the local computer and a DITTO COPY on the cloud. A great backup tool. 

And no need to edit on some primitive software like google docs.

Move over, google. You've been outclassed this time.

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Why am I so “impractical”? Why don’t I compromise with SOMEONE (Cong/BJP/AAP)?

I keep getting advice to join/support SOME major party. And I consistently but politely turn it down. Nandan Nilekani, for instance, suggested in February 2010 that I should join Congress. I said I have self respect. How can one possibly join such a corrupt outfit? 

Others have suggested I should support Arvind Kejriwal (after all, he is allegedly a good man). But how can I possibly support an agenda that involves giving free water, and is the polar opposite of the reform that is needed.

Some others that I should support BJP. After all, Modi is allegedly a 'Thatcher' (ha!). That is a delusion. Modi is (a) anti- free speech, (b) a vindictive and petty man, (c) deeply socialist – BJP's policies are a ditto copy of Congress policies, (d) destroyer of justice.  

So my supporting any "major" party is not good for India. I will only do what is good for India, not something that will merely entrench existing shortcomings and failures. Doing the right thing involves establishing India's ETHICAL national liberal party, committed to liberty and good governance.

An email interaction today:

===SOMEONE (NAME WITHHELD)===

Thank you Sanjeev for some (many) facts !? 
I agree with you that bribe 'taker' (judge) and 'giver' both should be hanged/ punishable by death … but how? 
Mere talking about it would not result into anything. And, you can't change the system unless you are in the driver's seat. And, you can't be in the driver's seat unless — — !!! 
You haven't even got the intended political party registered YET — ! 
And, for a Political-party of your own, don't forget the need for thousands of "Honest", "Capable", "Like-minded", "Selfless" & "Patriots" colleagues (with an "acceptable" (by all) Leader (not necessarily 'you' or —; but preferably democratically elected?) 
As also need for a large force of party-workers spread all over India, — and enormous financial & other resources… …   
So, with all your valuable & workable ideas, I seriously 'wonder' how you plan to bring about the intended change? — or do we continue to comment & criticize just for the sake of doing so. 
Since you (& us) can't 'act', let's do whatever is "Best" (under the circumstances) for our beloved Nation (so what, if you are living so far away, and not directly or immediately affected, though "seriously" concerned — I really n sincerely appreciate!). 
jai Hind. 

==MY RESPONSE==

Dear xx

All existing parties are socialist and will never implement even the BASIC changes needed in the system. I've closely reviewed the BJP/Congress manifestos which are entirely lacking. So there is no possibility of these parties bringing reforms even if you give them the "driver's chair".

I would have never left, nor will delay a return, if people in India want real reform, not empty slogans. But even Ramdev turned out to be a supporter of empty slogans. What can I do?!

Let me carry on the job of showing the truth (the policies that WILL make a difference). One day, who knows, someone may decide they are fed up and need to work for a reform based party.

If even I become satisfied with rubbish, then India's future is sealed.

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