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India! I dare you to be rich

Category Archive: About me

Free tools available today for making yourself smarter with each passing day.

Let me put some keywords first (to help me/others search for this)

RSS feeds, subscription management, knowledge extraction, knowledge monitoring.

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It is a great myth (a delusion) that people lose cognitive skills as they grow older. The reverse is true except that their memory for names, etc. may slow down due to the sheer overload on our brain (computer) of the amount of data to be sorted out.

I receive information each day from some of the best academic, management and science journals – plus key news, as well as anything else of interest to me. This system, which one can call a knowledge monitoring system, is designed to funnel all RELEVANT information from the piles of information out there.

My method is surely not the best, but this is what I use:

1) RSS feed reader. I use https://www.inoreader.com/. My current OPML file (which you can use, if you wish – save it on your computer then import into your reader). Within these, there are a number of blogs (e.g. Marginal Revolution) that provide a further window on the world.

2) Facebook liberty list

3) Many FB friends/pages/etc, carefully selected, including Nobel prize winners (the genuine ones)

4) Twitter subscriptions, carefully selected.

5) Specific email subscriptions to BCG and McKinsey newsletters.

6) Youtube subscriptions. I don't know if I can export my subscriptions, but if you search well, you'll get some excellent material on science, economics and liberty.

7) Plus newspapers (including physical ones)

This plus google search, google alerts, etc.

There is a LOT of information available today. There is no reason to not continually improve one's education on a DAILY BASIS. Not only retain your mind's edge as you grow older, but grow ever smarter.

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Two self theory (a mammalian primate with a lizard hiding inside) – and the secret of self-mastery and control

Each of us is not just one of us, but two of us, a human (primate) with a reptile (lizard?) inside us. Not a very pleasant thought, perhaps, but we all know about the tussle between our "angel" and "devil", our two 'natures'.

We have this push-pull between our lazy self and the other which drives us to our future goals. All this is easy to understand using the simplistic model of the Triune brain (which I've also discussed in DOF in detail).

Recent literature on will power suggests that ordinary "will power" has a "quota" and if one exhausts it early during a day, it can reduce by the end of the day (e.g. see this PDF report for the layman from the American Psychological Association). But I believe this only partly fits with my experience. There have been times when I've driven myself to extreme self-defined goals, without ANY respite. And at others, I've allowed my body/mind to slacken and lose control. There is not just a 'fixed' amount of will power, nor anything 'fixed' at all about anything in our lives.

We are just TWO OF US. Once the primate within us decides to do something, the primate can quickly overpower and control the lowly reptile that lives within us, regardless of whether our "quota" of will power has been used during the day. 

This piece of research suggests that our INSTINCT (which is always most powerful) is our "animal" self, our "reptile" self, and will drive us into the ditch, if allowed to take control.

The way out is simple: to imagine that our body is a PET DOG, to be tightly controlled. Treat the body well, but realise it is merely an animal. Imagine you are a human perched atop an animal.

And at that point, once the animal is brought under control, the HUMAN within us can start functioning for his/her goals.

Btw, this makes far more sense to me than Advaita, which merely refers to ONE self. I disagree with that approach (for practical purposes). I've seen even the great proponents of Advaita slip up and get into trouble. That's because while they thought they were a great "spiritual" self, their ANIMAL body overpowered them and drove them into a ditch.

INSTINCT IS ALWAYS MORE POWERFUL. It is up to us to treat our instinctive response as an ANIMAL response, and to aggressively tame it under all circumstances, like we tame our pet dog and keep it on the leash.

INSTINCT IS IMPORTANT

I do not mean to suggest that instinct is irrelevant. 95 per cent of our body runs on instinct (breathing, heart beat, etc. etc. ). Our 'gut' reactions are also mostly accurate (Thinking Fast and Slow, Kahneman).

Our instinct kicks in when we are walking in a dark night on a lonely street and we perk up on hearing footsteps. Our instinct kicks in when we withdraw our hand from hot water. These are all critically important. But our instinct fails us when we are faced with abundance of food. It over-eats, like a lizard gorging on insects hovering near a light bulb.

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My comments on BJP/Cong/AAP in Money Indices – and the detailed input I provided

Here's an extract (click for larger image).

The full responses to the questions I was asked – most info was (obviously) not used – given this was input to a broader article.

Questionnaire: Market analysis post 2014-elections

Q.1: As a financial expert, how do you define the relationship between politics and the capital market?  

All public policy is driven by an overarching political ideology. The type and quality of public policy then determines the depth and extent of capital markets, investment opportunities in a society, and the security of investment and its returns. Good public policy gives businesses the assurance to invest in a timely manner; bad policy increases risk and drives away capital.

India is a very risky place to invest capital, its government bonds being rated Baa3 by Moody’s, and India ranked 134th in world in terms of ease of doing business. Further, there is significant nexus between politics and business in India, which means super-normal profits are being made in some businesses, at the expense of a smoothly functioning capital markets. As a result of its ideological preference for socialism, India also remains one of the world’s poorest nations.

Q.2: How is the performance of a political party, especially the BJP, going to affect the market sentiments?

In general, markets need nothing from a government: only that the government perform its core functions and provide infrastructure. That refocusing of government into its defence, police and justice – while stepping out of almost all other functions – will dramatically boost market sentiment.

BJP is no promoter of enterprise. It did not reform governance or the economy during its last opportunity to govern India, and I do not expect anything better this time around. BJP’s opposition to FDI in retail is inexplicable, given it is not government’s money that is risked. If a foreign retailer fails, its stakeholders will suffer. Chanakya particularly emphasised the role of imports and foreign investment in an economy. BJP claims to be rooted in Indian traditions, but ritually refuses to accept the core message of Arthashasta.

Neither of the two major parties have displayed an understanding of the systemic problems in India’s colonial governance framework. All over the world, good economic analysis of incentives drives public policy and governance. We need parties that can understand modern economics and governance.

Q.3: What is your analysis, how is the market going to perform in the run-up to the General Elections?
 

I believe the market will be particularly wary about the new socialist party: AAP. Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav are well to the left of Congress and BJP and have a regressive agenda (already displayed in Delhi) that will set back India’s economy by many decades, were AAP to have any role in India’s future policies.

The silver lining in this bleak situation is the National Liberal Front which is offering world-best policies to India.  Much will depend on which set of parties: the socialist or the liberal, gain a foothold in the Indian mind.

Q4: Foreign brokerage houses like Nomura, Goldman, and CLSA had earlier backed Narendra Modi, claiming that a government led by him would be better for the country as far as investments and capital gains are concerned. What is your take on this?
Investors are likely to be disappointed with Modi. He has not once articulated any governance reform agenda. My view is that no leader in India understands good policy, nor is able to communicate such policy to the people. As a result, populist policies continue to play a key role in politics.

I am willing to assert that India is unlikely to rise higher in world ranking of ease of doing business under either Congress or BJP, and will definitely plummet under AAP. India’s only hope is the National Liberal Front, but that is a totally new group, and its political performance is untested. Ultimately, India will need a leader who can explain good policy to the people.

Q.5: How has Modi become a market favourite when there are critics who slam Modi for inflated growth projections in Gujarat?

Modi is good at propaganda, which fools a lot of people. I do not look at propaganda but at the actual policies of various parties. I do not see any signs of improvement under Modi.

Q.6: How do you evaluate the post-poll market scenario, if the Congress returns to power in the event of BJP's failure?
If the Congress returns to power, expect more of the same. India will continue to muddle along at the bottom of the world.  Congress is definitely not a reformist party (despite the liberalisation that was forced upon it by IMF). Its DNA is deeply socialist. And its aristocratic, dynasty mentality means that the few capable people within the party are forced to play second fiddle to the dynasty. 

Q.7: What are the major challenges in front of us? How can we confront it to arrive at a better GDP figure? Give us a sense of the market behaviour.

India’s challenge is only one: to make its government perform its core functions well, and to stop the government from blocking enterprising Indians. This is an ideological challenge, marking a shift from socialism to capitalism (as properly understood).

India needs what Gurcharan Das calls a strong liberal state. The rule of law would be the primary focus of such a state. Unfortunately, our governments prefer to do everything else but govern.  Chanakya’s core message was that the ruler should run a strong and systematic government, with the people left alone to engage in enterprise under a low tax regime. Free trade and good regulation was a vital recommendation of Chanakya. That message has been turned upside down by the socialists who would rather copy Western ideas than India’s own.

Q.8: Do you think populist measures like the Food Security Bill will leave the country in a financial mess?

The Food Security Act is a fundamentally wrong way of achieving the objective of providing poor with access to food.

To achieve the legitimate goal of poverty eradication, a direct transfer scheme for the poor is not only feasible but is the only defensible option. Once the poor are provided with relevant purchasing power, the market will automatically make available food to them.

Instead, the government believes in directly managing the supply and demand of food, with the associated transaction costs and corruption. This also distorts the price system. These distortions cause even greater harm than the cost of the food. Overall, this is one more irresponsible socialist action that is entirely bereft of basic cost-benefit analysis.

Q.9: What are the main bonanzas that the capital market is expecting in terms of judicious policy-making?

I am very doubtful whether any judicious policy making will ever by delivered by existing major parties or the new socialist AAP. I have been in touch with senior people from all these parties and they have neither the knowledge of good policy principles, nor any interest in learning about them. India tends to runs on the random wishful thinking of its socialist ‘leaders’ and will therefore continue to lurch from one crisis to another.

If, however, the National Liberal Front gains traction, the country can expect dramatically improved public policies and policy frameworks in 2014.

Q.10: Do you agree with Chidambaram's view that the market is overly reacting to international events and issues and not acting prudent enough by looking beyond domestic economic concerns?

Chidambram’s government bonds are rated  Baa3 by Moody’s – just one step higher than junk bonds. The world has no confidence in India’s ability to repay its longer term loans, which then drives up its borrowing costs. Chidambram can’t fix India’s economy without reforming its underlying governance system, but I’m not aware of one word that he might have ever articulated about this basic issue.

Overall, I remain pessimistic for India. Indians outside India will tend to remain away, and more meritorious Indians will continue to leave. The socialists have totally destroyed India, but India is unwilling to overthrow them.

 

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Repeating my position regarding Modi, BJP and AAP

I'm being challenged for alleged inconsistency in my positions. I have no inconsistency in any position (although on matters of scientific analysis, holding an open mind – thus inconsistent – is a virtue).

I stand for truth and liberty. I stand for goodness. That's all, really.

Within these broad parameters, on the political level I stand for the BEST option among (sometimes) many bad options.

The options on offer, in order of preference, are:

1) A powerful, well resourced and totally independent classical liberal party (now SBP) with 1500 top quality candidates who are member of FTI. This would include merger of all somewhat liberal forces, e.g. Lok Satta. SBP is totally welcoming and will give very senior roles to liberal leaders from other parties. Such a party would have the clear goal of forming government in its own right.

Unfortunately, India has not provided 1500 top quality candidates to FTI yet. This option is not on the table for 2014.

2) A strong independent classical liberal party (SBP) with candidates selected from amongst good people – even those who are not fully liberal. This party, supported by good people like Swami Ramdev, can align (in the first instance) with NDA to defeat Congress, but with the clear goal of forming government in its own right in 2019. This party would welcome all other good parties/people into SBP.  Aligning with NDA would be an option – with or without Modi. I think Modi is evil, but if BJP doesn't think so, I have no power to change that. Also, if no honest judge exists in Gujarat, then I can do nothing about punishing Modi for his crimes.

Unfortunately, since Swami Ramdev currently directly supporting BJP, this option does not exist. Good people like Nandan Nilekani and others like him have also not indicated any desire to support good people.

3) A weak independent classical liberal party (SBP) that aligns with good people reagardless of their ideology – including socialist AAP – as part of a national Rule of Law front. This front could align with NDA or could go alone. Going alone remains a clear option – in which case these good people would fight Swami Ramdev himself, who has taken the side of the corrupt. SBP would leave the option even here, for other smaller parties to merge into SBP so it can get greater bargaining power.

4) Do nothing and quit this political work entirely and focus on myself and my health and family.

Options 1 and 2 are currently not happening but can't be ruled out for the future.

Option 3 is possible, and I'm working on it.

Option 4 will definitely happen either (a) upon my death or (b) at age 65, whichever comes first. But there is also a possibility that it might occur earlier. If the people of India are so resistant to good people, then I'm afraid I'm wasting my time and will need to pull the plug even before I turn 65. Currently, I'm not intending to pull the plug in the near future.

ADDENDUM

I missed detailed discussion of Congress, so this conversation (from FB) will help:

Khalid Ansari Mr. Sanjeev Sabhlok, which one would you prefer for collaboration "Communal Corrupt Party or Financial Corrupt Party?

MY RESPONSE BELOW:

Khalid Ansari, both parties are equally communal and equally corrupt. Congress killed hundreds of innocent Sikhs in Panjab and Delhi. BJP killed hundreds of innocent Muslims in Gujarat. The sorry situation on either side is beyond redemption. However, Congress has ruled India for longer and its is responsible for the decline in India's governance system in a much bigger way than BJP is. Also, it has a dynasty, which is totally inconsistent with democracy.


The ideal is to reject BOTH these forces. The next best (if India is not ready to do that) is to side FROM THE OUTSIDE with any force that is willing to accept system reform, and is SLIGHTLY better than the other.

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There is a method to my madness. My scattergun approach emerges from an underlying model of liberty.

I received the following advice from a management consultant today:
 
You have many goals and they are all very big, 
1. Changing Society
2. Changing Religion as practiced
3. Bringing new better political alternatives.
 
Personally I will support you 100% for 3rd, as it becomes viable alternative. Remember even Budda was only able to 2 in his life time. 
 
Prioritize for maximum impact that you can have. Sorry for giving unsolicited advise, bad habit of being a management consultant.
 
Here's my response. Happy to discuss/ debate.
 
Thanks, R. As far as my goals are concerned, I live for each moment, and try to live life as I want to live it. To me that's all that matters. I have no personal targets for social or other "impact". Maybe the phrase nishkama karma is more appropriate for what I seek.

I believe in joint responsibility towards society, which leads me to goals 1-3. So I keep trying to push the frontier on each of these. But as it is our joint responsibility to change society, I don’t necessarily focus on any of these spillover activities. Pretty much a scattergun approach.

In this process I reach out to others at multiple levels. My aim is to strengthen a similar search for truth among others – so they can lead the change in their own way.  I try to collaboratively help build platforms and raise issues, but these activities don't have a 'hold' on me. They are an aspect of living this life. I can move on from these ideas/ platforms at the drop of a hat if other things become more important. So I’m not a one-trick pony like the “great” men. I’m merely someone who lives a life and insists on liberty and truth. I prefer to be part of the struggle of the “common” man.  Also, none of my financial/material goals depend in any way on the success of (1) to (3).

Imagine a person who keeps his home clean. But also helps to clean a little bit outside. That’s me. No more than that.

It is everyone's obligation to think about society/ religion/ India's future. So now that a range of platforms exist, those who are interested may wish to engage in collaboration to achieve  our shared goals for society.

So my suggestion would be for you to pick the area/s you are more inclined to focus on, and support/join in the way you wish/can. For example, for No. 3, we’ve set up the Swarna Bharat Party. That is currently being registered with the Election Commission.

I want to move away from the “great man” model into the “live this life well” model. In my model, everyone contributes their bit to the world.

 

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Modi’s fan threatens death – a la Modi – being incapable of applying his mind to the facts

It doesn't take long for Modi's "educated" followers to apply death threats, this being the training they presumably undergo under Modi's banner:

Now, who is @alokjain_?

God Save India when Modi's BJP comes to power (as it almost certainly will).

India is not willing to work on a real alternative, so expect the worst.

I fully oppose Congress, and looks like I might fully oppose BJP, as well – if my investigations keep going in the direction they are currently going.

I request Alok Jain to kindly consider reading BFN and working together to create a GENUINE classical liberal party in India.

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