India! I dare you to be rich

Category: People

Reminiscences of my interactions with SV Raju over the past 15 years

It is impossible to record all my interactions with Raju – these being just too many of them (mostly by email). But the key sequence is worth noting, for my personal record.

1) Initial interaction circa 2000

In February 1998 I formed a mailing list called India_policy which became one of India's most popular mailing lists in India at a time when there were no yahoo or google groups. The list attracted enough attention to be converted into a policy institute (India Policy Institute). 

SV Raju came on board at that stage. That was the time he sent me many of his writings and I published them here.

2) Engagement prior to the 2003 5-day IPI workshop

Raju was pivotal in suggesting that Sharad Joshi be invited to my workshop-seminar. He managed to persuade Joshi to attend.

3) At the January 2003 workshop

Raju played a prominent role at the workshop. More importantly, he brought along a number of publications, which were pivotal in educating me about Indian liberalism.

After the workshop he wrote an editorial, very critical JP of LokSatta. I was not sure why he had formed such a strong opinion against JP. But events proved him right. JP is a man without values or substance, willing to go wherever the wind blows. 

4) Writings in Freedom First from 2008 to 2011

I wrote around 20 articles in FF during this period (see this list); then gave up since there were just too many other things going on.

Each was a pleasure to write. I was ENORMOUSLY GRATEFUL to Raju for letting me write. Second, he would also be my proof reader, assuring my that any residual typos would be cleaned up. One couldn't possibly expect a more encouraging editor.

5) Active engagement with Raju as FTI was developed, including participation of FTI members in the 50th anniversary of the formation of Swatantra party

This was a period of active engagement between Raju and a few FTI members from Mumbai.  Sometime during this period he also wrote an excellent review of Breaking Free of Nehru in FF.

6) Meeting in 2010

In February 2010, Raju came to meet me in the hotel when I arrived in Mumbai for FTI's first annual conference. He brought along Meera Sanyal and Iris Madeira. It was my first meeting with Raju since 2003.

We discussed how the Indian Liberal Group was going to be revived, etc. 

7) Meeting in 2012

I've already provided the photo here. This was a huge meeting. I went to his office and spent half an afternoon with him. He showed me the room where valuable records of the past fifty years of work were kept. These records are INVALUABLE and must be carefully preserved.

I've published photos of this meeting here, including photos of these valuable books and related records.

8) Constant email engagement 

SV Raju was a key member of my "senior leaders" mailing list. We have had constant interactions over the years, excluding his monthly email attaching the latest edition of Freedom First

Just a few months ago, I had sought his opinion on the editor/s of Swarajya. I have shared his opinion among close friends. Suffice it to say, it confirmed my very lowly opinion about this BJP mouthpiece which has NOTHING whatsoever to do with liberty or values – or with Rajaji's Swarajya.

In other words, since 1999 or 2000, I had extensive interactions with Raju

9) Publication of the Executive Summary of Sone Ki Chidiya Agenda

Just recently, the March 2015 edition of Freedom First included the Executive Summary from the SKC agenda. He supported FTI/ SKC (and I believe, SBP).

He was political. Most others are non-political 'liberals' , of not much use to India. True, his political work didn't go very far (after Rajaji's death), but he had that as a constant goal – e.g. through his petition re: Swatantra Party and its opposition to the ROP Act.

I don't know much about his personal life, nor about his family. I hope someone who knows him at a personal level will tell us more about him.

He was a mentor and colleague. I learnt a lot from him. Without him Indian liberty would have had none to illuminate people like me. In recent years he managed to raise funds to digitise all editions of FF. And he was internet savvy. In his late 70s. When he died he was a very young 81. I'm sure that if the infection (which he wrote about in his last email) had not got to him, he would have been as sprightly as ever. 

Anyway, he has left behind a HUGE legacy – 50 years of writings. I hope the liberals will come together both to remember his contributions and to preserve – and continue – them.

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Long overdue – a visual summary of my visit to Varun Arya’s Aravali Institute of Management

Thanks to a reminder by a friend, I'm publishing photos from my visit to Varun Arya's outsanding institute of management (Aravali Institute of Management) on 21 July 2014. I took a train on the night of the 20th from Gurgaon, spent a day with Varun and returned back by train to Gurgaon on 22nd morning. The train experience was not too bad (but bathrooms were NASTY), but that's a different point.

The purpose of my visit was to spend quality time with Varun in his institute to understand his work better. 

I could write tens of pages about this visit, but I think Varun's work is so powerful and inspiring the whole of India either knows about it already or will get to know in due course. I recommend the book Just an Indian – the Man who Will not Bribe by Veeresh Malik for those who still don't know about Varun's work.

Let me just note a few things and then publish a few of the photos I took:

– Varun's institute is the most remarkable example of something wonderful produced in the most inhospitable salt-saturated soil: soil that destroys buildings, soil that doesn't allow a single plant to survive. Today, there is MASSIVE amount of water in this land, and lush greenery. The tricks by which plants are able to grow in this inhospitable soil, and in which buildings don't simply collapse – are engineering marvels in their own right. Varun should one day write about these technical solutions to the most difficult problems one can imagine.

– Varun is the most determined and clear headed man I've come across. He doesn't pick fights everywhere but when he determines to fight for something he carries it to the very end, as he says – "to the logical conclusion". And he has made a name and reputation across India and the world. There are now case studies being written about his brilliant work.

– He is able to inspire the greatest devotion from people who work for him. He is a marvelous role model for all budding and future CEOs. Follow his humility and equal treatment of all, and you'll achieve wonders. 

– He is clear that he will not meet all and sundry, but that when he commits to meet someone, he will give his FULL and undivided attention. I've never seen a more solicitous host. Varun dropped all his work for the day in order to spend time with me. During this process I discovered an enormous number of things about him, his work, the people he works with, and so on. I don't have time to write everything down, but maybe I'll do so, one day in the distant future when time is in abundance and the travails of daily life don't impinge.


Below a couple of these, I'll make a few comments. Click for a larger picture in each case.

This is the tent next to the lake under which we sat for hours, discussing this and that. You can see Varun inside the tent along with a helper, organsing the meals. Most of the food we ate was prepared at his home but some chachh (lassi) was also sourced from the nearby village. The breeze under the tent was sheer heaven. Note that this was one of the hottest seasons in India, but it was a pleasure to be in Varun's AIM – the place that attracts the winds, the birds and the best people of India and the world.

I took some rest in one of his guest rooms, pictured below:

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Che Guevara – a self-declared BLOOD THIRSTY mass murderer who “really liked killing”

I've been ignoring Che Guevara for long – a known MEGA criminal, but given the fraudulent remaking of his image by millions of people who should have known better, it is important to assert – and if necessary, repeat – the truth about him.

Watch this first, and watch with care! Che EXPLAINS HOW HE WAS THIRSTY FOR BLOOD AND HOW HE LIKED KILLING. A more vicious criminal can barely be imagined. On par with the worst that mankind has ever generated.

Sources for Stefan Molyneux's video:

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson

Companero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara by Jorge G. Castaneda

The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Ernesto Che Guevara

Exposing the Real Che Guevara: And the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him by Humberto Fontova



Hey Urban Outfitters: Che Guevara Was a Murderer and Your Poster Is Not Cool

There's MUCH MORE but I think this should do. If you have any more links you wish to share, do so through the comments.

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Anna Hazare’s 17 point agenda: full text and PDF

I've managed to locate Anna's 17 point agenda. PDF here. Full text below.

I'll analyse and comment on it in the next post. Some time ago I had published and commented on Anna's 25 point agenda. This will provide me with an opportunity to determine whether Anna has changed his stance for the better.


The newly elected parliament will implement the following programmes within one year:

1. To eradicate corruption from every level, Lakpal and Lolayukta In states will be set up immediately. And will pass Citizen Charter Bill and Whistleblower Bill and to bring transparency in functioning of government, every file related to government's decisions will be made public after 2 years, and will be uploaded on the Internet (Other than External Affairs and Defence).

2. Villages will be made the basic administrative unit and Village Councils (Gram Sabhas} will be given legislative power just as the Cabinet is responsible to the Parliament, panchayat will be made answerable to Gram Sabha. And implement village centric economic policies to make it self reliant and self-sustained.

3. Implement a village centric policy of Industrialization of Agriculture sector to eradicate unemployment.

4. The Land Acquisition Act will be amended, so that no one can grab their land. Moreover, a new credit policy will be changed for the farmers. New Forest law will be enacted. Rights of Tribal people and forest dwellers will be restored.

5. New energy Policy will be implemented in which every village will have their own power station and every one will produce energy for their requirement.

6. Development of modern infra-structure will be at the highest priority.

7. A Comprehensive electoral reform will be introduced to so that corrupt and criminals will not become the people's representatives.

8. Implement a new plan on rainwater harvesting and water distribution so that everyone get clean water to drink and irrigation.

9. A comprehensive change in health services to each and every village. Every senior citizen will be provided with free medical care.

10. Special schemes will be launched for the economic development of socially and economically backward minority and all other section of society.

11. Important changes will be introduced in the Judicial system. So that justice can be made available to the poor and timely Justice can be ensured for all.

12. New Education Policy will be implemented and it will be made employment oriented.

13. Black money deposited in the foreign banks will be declared national assets, and will be brought back to the country.

14. A tough law will made against adulteration and adulterers will be handed life imprisonment.

15. Inflation will be brought under control. The right to fix rates for diesel, petrol and cooking gas will be brought back to the government.

16. A new law will be formulated for the judicious use of national resources. Privatization of minerals will be stopped, so that no private company can plunder the country's natural resources.

17. New Tax Policy will be implemented and the tax regime that plunders the people will be removed.

We shall build such a democracy in which there shall be no scope for exploitation, and no corrupt will be let off.

My analysis of Anna Hazare’s 17 point agenda. Overall, a VERY POOR agenda.

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Rajiv Malhotra’s well-documented tendency towards aggression (including by Martha Nussbaum)

Rajiv is clearly a very aggressive opponent of liberty and anything that he might not agree with. Well within the mould of the Hindutva fanatics to which he clearly belongs. 

"Alex" wrote on my blog:

Rajivji is a full-blown right-wing Hindutva apologist, racist and and proto-fascist. It is useless to engage with him at all. A quick review of his writings revealed a lot about his thinking and attitudes—which do not look good. He has long been an opponent of criticism of religion, and his attitude is nothing new. 

I was willing to engage with Rajiv after the comment he wrote on the blog. And I was even willing to apologise if I was wrong. But Rajiv balked at opposing the withdrawal of Doniger's book by Penguin. 

Regardless of whether he DIRECTLY lodged the case or not, he can be said to be a keen supporter. 

I'm not saying whether Rajiv's arguments are right or wrong. He may well be right in his critique of Doniger's work. My objection is to his subversion of free speech and liberty.

Prof. Martha NussbaumErnst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, wrote about him thus, in her 2007 book The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future​:

The chief antagonist behind these attacks is Rajiv Malhotra, a very wealthy man who lives in New Jersey and heads the Infinity Foundation, which has made grants in the area of Hinduism studies. Had Malhotra decided to focus his energies on giving scholarships to students and graduate students in this area, he would greatly have enhanced the profile of Hinduism studies nationally. But in recent years most of his energy has been focused on Internet attacks against Doniger and scholars associated with her, on his website Malhotra’s voluminous writings show a highly aggressive, threatening personality. His attacks are sarcastic and intemperate. He shows little concern about factual accuracy. Typically he makes no attempt to describe the book or books he attacks in a complete or balanced way; instead, his broadsides are lists of alleged mistakes or distortions, conveying little or no sense of what the book is about and what it argues. Malhotra also has associates, some both more able and more temperate than he (Vishal Agarwal is one of these). But all pursue a common enterprise: the discrediting of American scholars of Hinduism as sex-crazed defamers of sacred traditions. (248)

Wendy Doniger has pointed out the increasing tendency to stop discussion of alternative scholarly views about Hinduism:

Ms. Doniger wrote: "Right-wing Hindu groups, in India and the diaspora, have increasingly asserted their wish, indeed their right, to control scholarship about Hinduism." [Source]


"Doniger blames the Internet campaigns. "Malhotra's ignorant writings have stirred up more passionate emotions in Internet subscribers who know even less than Malhotra does, who do not read books at all," Doniger wrote in an e-mail. "And these people have reacted with violence. I therefore hold him indirectly responsible."  [Source]

Malhotra suffers from a view that Hinduism can ONLY be examined by Hindus. According to him:

…there is a lack of Indic perspective that would…provide equivalent counter balance to Western scholar’s theories, creating an asymmetric discourse. Further, he says, most of the Hinduism scholars are either whites or Indians under the control of whites. One does not find Arabs, Chinese, blacks, Hispanics, etc., engaged in this kind of Hindu phobia racket. [Source]

But as Asim Rafiqui says:

That being said, a whole host of eminent Indian historians and scholars have produced original research and collaborated, informed, influenced and enlightened the American academy the names of Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar, Ahmad Aziz, D.N. Jha come to mind. And they have done so not as a result of their ‘insider’ position, but as highly qualified, rigorously scientific and openly curious individuals. But they too have been attacked, though this time by the Hindutva and other Hindu nationalists. Professor Thapar, D.N. Jha and others have been abused, threatened and in some even have been assaulted Professor Laine, author of Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, became the target of Maharashtran bigots and his Indian research collaborators and departments where he conducted research were physically attacked by goons. [Source]

Here are some findings of Selma:

I did a bit of checking on Malhotra and it turns out every article of his is about how the West and Abrahamic religions are harmful to the world and intolerant as opposed to Hinduism. Then I read what others have to say about this so-called inter-faith guru. And here is something very interesting. A frontline article called Non-resident nationalism speaks of Hindus based in America who support far right activities, the Hindutva ideology of supremacy and the insidous ways they operate to spread their message.

This information adds to my belief that Malhotra was involved in forcing Penguin to withdraw Doniger's book (he could have answered the questions I raised, particularly about the sources of his EARLY information about the case, and his gloating/ defending the book-destruction decision to Anuj – but he chose not to). 

But Malhotra's style is consistent with actions by VHP/BJP and Hindutva brigade to SHUT DOWN opposing views. [VHP’s destruction of paintings in Ahmedabad, Modi’s banning a book on Gandhi].

Not much to distinguish them from Islamic fanatics or Taliban.

We must create an India where there is ABSOLUTE freedom of expression

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Art of Living’s Sri Sri Ravishankar – con man PLUS enemy of the truth. A total BETRAYAL OF HINDUISM (Advaita and Satyameva Jayate).

A few days ago I saw a video on FB that CLEARLY showed how Ravishankar was conning (cheating) thousands of people. This is typical in India – for its "Godmen" to cheat millions. India's children are simply not taught critical thinking in school. I was fortunate for I read extremely widely, including Western philosophy, Voltaire and Ayn Rand while in my early years of school and therefore got inoculated very quickly against "religious fraud" which is so rampant in India. My 5 volume biology textbook for AIHSc (year 11) was also excellent, particularly its introduction by a brilliant scientist whose name skips me (I would love to find that introduction and publish it – can anyone help obtain these old NCERT biology textbooks of 1979?)

This kind of cheating being so common, I merely noted it on FB and moved on. This is what I wrote on FB on 7 September 2013:

Wasn't aware that Ravishankar does such silly tricks. I can GUARANTEE this "oil" he sells is pure rubbish. I'm disappointed that Ravishankar is making money through PURE FRAUD.

I am fine with Swami Ramdev who actually teaches wonderful yoga and brings genuine health to Indians. But CHEAP trickery of the kind that Ravishankar is using to make money is ethically and morally wrong. I would like consumer protection regulation that punishes such FRAUD. To me such a man has no right to talk about corruption since he is himself LOOTING the people who buy this fake oil.

(I'll append a screen shot of this comment below.)

Now I'm informed (13 September – but the message was sent on 12 September) that 

Do you know Art of living foundation has banned your unload [Sanjeev: this was not mine. I don't have time for such things although I'd love to have been its author] about Ravishankar. I must congratulate you for bringing all this into our notice, thanks to you for your efforts.

Have you copied that video ? unfortunately I could not copy that but i shared that link many times and now also want to send it to many people. Is it possible to have that video anymore ?

I was shocked that such a simple video could have come down. After all, TENS of videos about Satya Sai Baba that prove his fraudulent ways are still widely available. There was no copyright issue involved. In fact the copyright of the intellectual property (the analysis) belongs to Savvy Skeptic.

But I checked google and yes, that video has been pulled down by youtube. Looks like Ravishankar's team dialled the numbers and used its money power to get youtube to pull down the video apparently on 'copyright' grounds. What a joke!! They first CHEAT and then when someone points it out they say their copyright is violated!!!! CROOKS.

And the website of the "savvysceptic" has also come down.

But there is hope. Savvy Skeptic is hopeful that Youtube will deny this claim and he can then bring this video back 'with a bang'.

My regret is that these famous 'Godmen' of India NEVER teach critical thinking which is a key requirement for India to develop as a great nation. Advaita PROMOTES critical thinking and the truth, so why do these Godmen not teach it?

Instead of using a silly pretext (copyright) to pull this video down, Ravishankar should have been THANKFUL that he is being questioned and put himself to any test to prove that he is not LYING and CHEATING.

But he did not. That is further evidence of his being a con man.

Sorry, Ravishankar. In this world of the internet, your game is now over. I had at least some respect for you (after all – he does some good things). But after seeing how you have reacted to destroy even a discussion of the truth, I am TOTALLY convinced that you are an ENEMY OF INDIA.

Put that video back, you conman, and PUT YOURSELF AND YOUR OIL TO RIGOROUS SCIENTIFIC TESTS. I denounce you as a fraud, conman and enemy of India. You are an UNETHICAL man and bring great shame to the great religion of my father: Hinduism.

Now the only way you have to regain my respect is to put that video back AND get yourself tested by Randi Foundation. Nothing less than that will be acceptable to me. Remember, Randi Foundation is a place where even the 'great' frauds like Uri Geller bit the dust. You must now prepare yourself for COMPREHENSIVE SCIENTIFIC TESTING.

Savvy Skeptic – report of the take down by youtube and hope that it will be 'released' by youtube after inquiry.

My comment on FB:


A question has been asked of me by someone who hasn't seen the video: What happened in the video? Well, more or less this: (and its proof – in another case – by James Randi himself, of this kind of cheating as being totally FAKE)

One of the students from the back rows of the auditorium was chosen to share the dais. The chosen volunteer, a lean-framed male student wearing a black t-shirt with horizontal white stripes, was asked to extend his arm parallel to the floor, clinch his fist and resist the pulling down of his arm. Mr. Ravishankar, gripping the volunteer’s arm near the wrist, was able to pull down his arm easily over and over again, much to the amusement of the audience. He then produced from his pocket a small vial containing an unknown fluid, and shed a few drops on the volunteer’s arm. The volunteer was then asked to rub and spread this oil over his arm. After the volunteer took a step back and a deep breath to relax, the whole exercise was repeated again – except this time Mr. Ravishankar struggled quite hard to pull down the volunteer’s arm, amazing the vast audience. The volunteer, visibly impressed and believing that he had in fact become stronger in a matter of seconds after the application of the oil, went onto fall at the feet (cultural practice of surrender) of his new Guru Mr. Ravishankar. Following the thundering applause from his audience, Mr. Ravishankar went on to urge stronger volunteers to come forth. [Source]

Arvind Iyer​ has provided to related links on Sri Ravishankar:

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living it Up.

Pseudoscience unchallenged at IIT Kanpur

Arms, Drugs and Spirituality -A Counterpoint to a Counterpoint by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar





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