India! I dare you to be rich

Category: Philosophy

Wendy Doniger’s superb lecture on the ancient Indian tradition of sceptisicm: Charvaka, Lokayata, Brihaspati, Jayarāśi

As part of the efforts of RSS and Hindutva bigots to focus my attention on Doniger, I had a quick listen to her lecture on Indian scepticism.

The lecture is brilliance personified. Both a depth of knowledge and a flair for analysis and presentation. I must say, the RSS have made at least one useful contribution in their long and useless history – to spread knowledge and awareness of Doniger's work.

Title: "Skepticism and Materialism in Ancient India"

Abstract: "Throughout its long existence, Hinduism has held in creative suspension two movements so different as to merit the title of separate civilizations:  one is the dominant strain of ritual, of celebration of life, of family, of children, of sexuality, of food and poetry and sculpture and the worship of many gods; and the other is the strain of philosophy, of renunciation, of the drive to become released from the cycle of rebirth, through denial of the senses, of family life, of children.   These two paths lived more or less peacefully side by side as available options for most Hindus, until more passionate and monotheistic strains of devotional Hinduism, or bhakti, developed after the 6th century CE.   Later still, the philosophical strain inspired yet other forms of Hinduism, broader in their total scope but containing within them a narrower, less tolerant streak, as they came into contact with other civilizations:  Islam, from the 7th century CE (but more intensely from the 13th century); then the British Raj, from the 18th century; and then, in the late 20th century, America and a broader global, Internet world. The cumulative effect of these encounters in present-day India has been an unprecedented form of repression that threatens freedom of speech.  My talk will trace this historical development, in the hope of shedding light on the present crisis."


Though ancient shastras such as the Arthasastra and Kamasutra pay lip service to dharma, and criticize the so-called Materialists (Lokayatas or Carvakas), their central arguments show a total disregard for dharma and a striking congruence with Materialist assumptions. Are the Carvakas straw men that allow shastras (and other texts, such as the Jabali episode in Book 2 of the Ramayana) to express skeptical ideas without
taking responsibility for them?


From this lecture I learnt about Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa's Tattvopaplavasimha – the only complete sceptical work that survives today. Will try to read more about it as time permits.

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The American defence of private property: You may be John Rawls but don’t trespass. Trespassers will be shot.

One of things that surprises visitors when they live in the USA is signboards placed outside homes, to the effect that this is "Private Property: trespassers will be shot" (View an array of these signboards here). Often a gun is shown, pointing directly at you.

This turns out to be a good thing. It sends a STRONG signal to communists and collectivists of all shades (including academics like John Rawls, who churn out 500 page "rationales" for the state to confiscate private property) to stay away or be shot.

The future of mankind is assured so long as people like John Rawls are allowed to write whatever they wish (freedom of expression) but SHOT if they trespass into anyone's private property.

This distinctly American cultural artefact needs to be studied, understood, and widely adopted. Let the community NOT DARE to enter one's private property, leave alone confiscate it. 

There can be no human progress if the community is able to cast its eyes on other's private property and steal it. 

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Please use this to rewire the brains of your socialist friends: The final version of the misconceptions draft

I've reviewed the misconceptions draft once again, and improved it considerably. It is now time to merge it into the draft SKC agenda. Further improvements will occur as part of the multiple revisions the agenda will undergo in the coming years.

This final draft will now remain as a stand-alone document here, frozen in time.

Download also the revised SKC agenda which contains this new attachment that has been designed to completely rewire the brains of socialists:

With this there is no reason for any socialist to exist in India anymore (or, indeed, anywhere else in the world).

The agenda will continue to undergo improvements. I'm currently reviewing the excellent suggestions received from Rakesh Pujari, who has put in the MOST DILIGENT work in reviewing the agenda. (Rakesh, you can now proof this attachment – thanks!). I'll update everyone (around 5000 people) once I have incorporated Rakesh's suggestions, as well.

Supratim, I'm awaiting your suggestions on the tax chapter. Prof. Tooley's suggestion on the education chapter awaited. 

Further, EVERYONE is invited to provide comments/ input – send to me at

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Only PURE capitalism can save India’s soul, torn asunder by socialism.

I've repeatedly said this – that capitalism is the only MORAL system. Posting below an extract from an email sent a short while ago:


Our effort is, at its root, a moral effort: to bring integrity of thought and action to India. And ONLY capitalism can do that:

"a truly free enterprise, competitive capitalism is the most moral and humanely beneficial way for people to live together that has ever been stumbled upon by mankind."

The people, on the other hand, have been fed falsehoods all their lives, and don't understand this. It is our job to explain it to them. 

Therefore the idea that we should avoid the words "liberal" / liberalism/ capitalism is amazing. It would be like saying we don't believe in liberty. We must talk ONLY about liberty and capitalism. Hammer it in for years on end. Only then will some people get the message.

Indeed, I note that all complaints against "capitalism" are based on a severe misunderstanding/ misrepresentation of the system. That barrier has to be overcome not by side-tracking it and renaming our ideology "socialism" but by calling our ideology capitalism and directly attacking socialism. And attacking the moral failures of socialism.

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Why I’m classical liberal and not a tax-cheating libertarian who breaks the law

Below, for my record, from FB. I have strong differences with libertarians who support SECRETLY breaking the law because they don’t agree with it.

My comment

Tax havenry has reached a peak. USA is losing massive amounts of tax. So are all other countries.

“The Internal Revenue Service treats the U.S. Virgin Islands as a foreign country, a designation that when combined with the incentives fuels a legal accounting alchemy in which high-tax U.S. profits are funneled to the low-tax islands. While plenty of non-U.S. havens have come under intense media attention in recent years, there is little focus on the U.S. Virgin Islands, the only nearly tax-free haven in the world to fly the American flag.”

Dalip Kumar Seth Check your own stated liberal premises Sanjeev and be clear that under all current systems there are morally correct grounds to tax individuals or corporates.

Sanjeev Sabhlok Don’t get your point. Pl. elaborate.

Dalip Kumar Seth When the end use of funds is immoral then recovery of taxes for those activities also loses any moral found.

Dalip Kumar Seth Ground

Sanjeev Sabhlok Dalip Kumar Seth you have the choice as citizen to ensure moral end use – at least in democracies like India. There is no basis to deny revenues to legitimately elected governments by tax cheats. Everyone must pay their taxes if they wish to live or do business in India.

Dalip Kumar Seth Your philosophy is on shaky grounds — in ethics ! Going by numbers alone any idea against the present dispensation must be considered unpatriotic. Right ?

Christopher Lingle “legitimately elected governments” is not enough … if tax revenues are squandered, stolen, wasted that is grounds for withholding (“cheating” !?!) on taxes … the true tax cheats are venal, corrupt government officials … when that is solved, then speak about behavior of taxpayers

Sanjeev Sabhlok I strongly differ. If you disagree with the tax regime and DON’T work to change it through the democratic process, that doesn’t give you the right to cheat on taxes. As far as I’m concerned that’s a severe criminal offence. I have noticed earlier, as well, some “libertarians” promoting tax theft. I consider them to be criminals, pure and simple.

Christopher Lingle A dose of Public Choice is in order here … Libertarians are as opposed to theft as to aggression. But they support keeping more rather than is what is rightly earned.

Sanjeev Sabhlok Regardless of all public choice incentives, the civilised free society has to resolve this issue through the democratic (non-violent) process. By all means join politics and change the laws. But cheating/ evasion etc. merely means that the legitimate will of the people on how public goods are to be funded, is willfully denied. Such tax cheats deserve only one place in life: the prison.

Christopher Lingle it is an unfair match … governments have the monopoly on legal use of violence … those that wish to pursue non-violent opposition to governments that might be imposed on them by 51% have few choices other than evasion/avoidance of taxes or emigration … I am truly amazed you

Sanjeev Sabhlok I disagree with the idea that democratically created laws are coercive. I’m not talking about fake democracies like USSR.

Yes, there is a monopoly of govt. on legal use of violence but that’s because we give it that monopoly.

By all means leave a country whose laws you disagree with and which you do not wish to change through the democratic process. If a tax evader/cheat wants to stay in a democracy and make use of its public goods BUT not pay taxes, then prison is the only suitable place for such person. He/she had better leave, rather quickly!

Christopher Lingle emphatically NO! the ones that should leave the country (or be imprisoned) are the venal & corrupt politicians … what proportion of them face that fate … is any country better off if entrepreneurs take the Galt’s Gulch option … which group would any country be better off without … ? you really cannot be serious about this … I know you are committed to being part of the electoral process, but do not let it cloud your thinking!!!

Dalip Kumar Seth First allow creation and safety of Galt’s Gulch. Before seeking my voluntary contribution to its. Growth and welfare.

Sanjeev Sabhlok Let’s agree to strongly disagree on this issue. This is where libertarianism becomes libertine philosophy and becomes anti-social and severely corrupt. I am firmly classical liberal and not libertarian.

Your position is against the rule of law. Hence I reject it


The basic classical liberal tax principle is no taxation without representation. Once representation has been assured, and taxes determined through appropriations bills, the rule of law kicks in. I detest libertarians for their denial of basic principles of the rule of law.

You have ONE vote. You must use it to change the law. Once law kicks in you BETTER PAY UP. Or go to jail. Period. That’s the meaning of the rule of law and of representation.




Full support for crackdown on tax evaders.

Donald Keys Tax is nothing more than theft of private assets by the state to fund its own agenda.


Sanjeev Sabhlok When taxation is WITH representation (that’s the max one can demand) then it is not theft.


Donald Keys If one is forced to hand over a proportion of their productivity, against their will, it is indeed theft. If an individual coercively extracts money from another individual the action is deemed to be theft… so it follows that if a group of individuals calling themselves government does exactly the same thing it is still theft.


Sanjeev Sabhlok The ONLY claim the Americans made (and all reasonable people make) is “no taxation without representation”. Anyone who denies the right of a fully representative government to tax for providing public goods should create his/her own place in a remote jungle, and organise his/her own defence/ roads/ police/ justice at own cost. The ONLY remedy for tax evaders is the jail.


Donald Keys I feel the the instigation of force is immoral. Interaction between people needs to be founded on voluntary cooperation before those people can claim to be civilized. When governments hold their position by legislating a monopoly on coercion, and extracting a portion of one’s productivity, against the will of the producer of that productivity, that is no different to slavery—taking money, theft, taking your productivity, slavery.

Sanjeev Sabhlok “Interaction between people needs to be founded on voluntary cooperation”. That precisely is the meaning and purpose of representation.

Donald Keys Unfortunately, as written above, “The ONLY remedy for tax evaders is the jail.” illustrates that representation is not voluntary. In Australia, even voting is compulsory. There was no income tax until after World War One, and once introduced, taxation has grown year upon year… feeding an ever increasing public sector. There is no moral basis to take from another by force. Currently, the relationship between citizen and government is the same as that between farmer and cow. Governments fight over tax bases and citizenry to feed a greedy and ever growing public service… who supply services that could just as easily be provided by the private sector on a voluntary basis. Taxation is theft.

Sanjeev Sabhlok Donald, that tax EVADERS are jailed is no reason to suggest that “representation is not voluntary”. Only the CRIMINALS are jailed – those who – after representation – refuse to abide by laws. Let them rot in jail. I have no sympathy for such cheaters.

Re: your other points, re: the form and type of taxation, that is subsumed under the right of “no taxation without representation”. It doesn’t exclude one form or other of taxes. Let the representative body decide.

You are free to leave and live in a jungle. So long as you CHOOSE to live in a civilised society you are mandatorily required to pay your taxes. Sorry, your view that tax is theft is NOT valid in any legitimate and functioning democracy. If you don’t like a particular tax, go and change the laws.



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Singularity is ONLY about intelligence. Conscious computers are a million years away.

Consciousness is not a program but a set of feelings that arise from millions, even trillions of life-preserving 'programs' (in the case of man). It is an EVOLUTIONARY outcome, not an outcome of intelligent design.

Only living things can 'feel', for these (feelings) are biofeedback signals of various elements of the "life" program.

So here is further proof that Kurzweil is wrong about the Singularity representing consciousness. It is ONLY about intelligence, which is but a minor sub-set of the processes that protect our existence. I have no doubt that computers can become intelligent (in a SUBSET of the fields of intelligence) by 2040. They will therefore help expand the mind of man. But will NOT take over mankind.


Sanjeev Sabhlok

I CAN'T AGREE WITH KURZWEIL ON THIS. I disagree with his definition of consciousness. "Intelligence" is not consciousness.


"When computers do reach the stage that they can compete with, or outstrip, humans in intelligence, Kurzweil said that he is ready to accept them as conscious beings. There is no experiment that can be run to determine if an entity is conscious, he said, but robots and computers will likely someday claim to be experiencing it. He described accepting their consciousness as a “leap of faith” that other people will take too."  [Source]

Sharad Bailur How do you know that I am conscious? The concept itself is subjective. Hence the Turing test and other such attempts. We may never know that a computer is conscious except when it tells us so. And since we built it we may not recognise its telling us so, as consciousness. This is an issue that needs to be solved first before we talk about consciousness. But then it takes us iinto philosophy iin the absence of other tools.

Sanjeev Sabhlok "How do you know that I am conscious?" I've dealt with extensively on my blog recently. Basically, life (from which originates any form of consciousness) has a will to live.

You have a will to live. You know that "you" exist and will fight to defend your existence. I explained this in a number of contexts, e.g. Deepak Chopra's challenge to Randi, etc. Let me link a few blog posts on this topic.

All properties of life are crucial in any organism that claims to have consciousness. Being "conscious" without having the ability to act, to defend, to self-sustain, is not possible. That (AI) is a mere appendage of the human being.

Sharad Bailur I am not sure that a desire for survival ( or will to live as you call it) is an indication of consciousness. A desire for survival can be programmed into a computer. In fact Asimov based one of his three laws on it.

Sanjeev Sabhlok Desire for survival is not a conscious "desire" alone – it is an urge at a level far more fundamental. It harks back to the concept of life itself. There are many other characteristics that underpin the "feeling" called consciousness. Just solving problems is not consciousness. A complete sense – and "innate" need – of independent existence is crucial.

Bhagwad Jal Park Yup, the "desire for survival" is a behavior that can I can write a (sufficiently advanced) program to emulate. In fact, this whole point is a bit moot. You can claim that I'm conscious, but you have no proof. On the other hand, I can say that I'm the only person in the whole world who is conscious. The rest of you just act like it .

More importantly, we ourselves are machines. Incredibly complex and sophisticated no doubt. But still machines. Unless one starts talking about things like the "soul" etc.

Sanjeev Sabhlok Bhagwad Jal Park, you missed the point. Consciousness is definitely a program of some sort, but it is not something that is "written", it evolves – through evolutionary fight for survival.

Bhagwad Jal Park Sanjeev Sabhlok If nature evolves it, we can create it given the right tools. The brain is just a physical machine after all no?

Sanjeev Sabhlok The brain is a machine with a PURPOSE. It is an evolutionary tool designed to propagate life. It doesn't exist in isolation, like a "stand-alone" computer.

Bhagwad Jal Park The brain's drive is to make us have sex. Having children is a side effect. The brain doesn't care if we procreate or not. As far as nature is concerned, sex is good enough. It's a different matter that we have cheated nature via contraceptives! There is no "purpose", no intelligent design. Without intelligent design, there cannot be a purpose. By pure chance, the drive to have sex aids procreation, so those genes got passed on. There is no guiding hand here.

Sanjeev Sabhlok "The brain doesn't care if we procreate or not". Bhagwad, I trust you are fully on top of evolutionary theory. It is NOT that any creature "decides" to reproduce in order to pass on its genes. Instead, ONLY those creatures that succeed in passing on their genes get to do anything in the future. We only see those that succeeded: hence only those behaviours that lead to success survive. Others die out.

I don't mean that a "purpose" in the sense of "intelligent design", but in the sense of the logic of evolution: only those creatures that survive and reproduce get to live. This business is purely driven by FITNESS, not by "design".

Consciousness is but a small TOOL to survive into the future. It is like having leg or tail. Just one more evolutionary tool. A tool created for a specific "purpose" (in the evolutionary sense!).

There is no underlying logic for AI to survive into the future as a separate entity. If any AI robot tries to dominate me, I'll "kill" it by switching off its power – or otherwise sabotage it.

Since the AI machine was not evolved into its current form (at singularity) but created through "Intelligent design", it is NOT based on the principle of fitness. Hence its "consciousness" is just a program, not an evolutionary tool.

Unless it demonstrates an ability (and determination) to conquer mankind and possibly enslave it, all AI will be mere automation: an appendage of man.

Only if it is determined to survive on its own, to pass on its 'genes' (in the evolutionary, not "intelligent design" sense) and DOMINATE other creatures, will it display "consciousness" in the wakeful human sense of the word.

Bhagwad Jal Park I agree with most of what you say. There is indeed no "decision" to reproduce. Similarly, no creature "wants" to pass on its genes either. All creatures care about is having sex which so happens to pass on genes. One can say that the desire to have sex is directly linked to "fitness".

Consciousness is definitely an evolutionary tool. But if we understand how that tool works (and there's no reason why we will not be able to do so), there's nothing to stop us from transferring that tool onto any mechanical device if we know how.

Also, a machine can be conscious and STILL be an appendage of man. Unless some scientist or programmer decides to program it to survive and reproduce, or whatever. Which might very well happen. In fact, I don't see how it can NOT happen.

I can very well program a creature with an imperative – "go forth and reproduce"! No one is stopping me.


MY LAST COMMENT: I am glad that Bhagwad agrees that consciousness is not a simple 'program' but an evolutionary tool to preserve life.  I think Bhagawad is being arrogant to imagine that he can "program" something to reproduce and give it the properties and 'needs' of life.

I am pushing that event back another million years. This is not to prevent people from writing such programs or making progress. Simply that this is not something that will happen soon.



"Consciousness is … something physical. Consciousness is always supervening onto the physical. But it takes a particular type of hardware to instantiate it. A computer made up of transistors, moving charge on and off a gate, with each gate being connected to a small number of other gates, is just a very different cause-and-effect structure than what we have in the brain, where you have one neuron connected to 10,000 input neurons and projecting to 10,000 other neurons. But if you were to build the computer in the appropriate way, like a neuromorphic computer [see “Thinking in Silicon”], it could be conscious." [Source]


This is useful discussion by Russ Roberts based on his talk with Nick Bostrom. I agree with Russ. HUGE difference between AI and independent consciousness and existence (life). I'm keen to dump my brain onto a computer, but that will never be me. For I both grow and shrink, both learn and forget at the same time. I'm never the same twice, but I'm still the same.


My comment on this article: Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness

Because it is driven by hundreds of millions of years survival as a group of cells. It is the underpinning of the coordination between the  trillions of our cells. It is not the signal, nor its reception, or storage. It is (Part 1) the interpretation of ALL signals at the same time, based on deep heuristics embedded in our DNA, and (Part 2) an ongoing (superficial – with 99 per cent of the work happening sub-consciously) mechanism to advance our survival. 


Science fiction is partly responsible for these fears. A common trope works as follows.

Step 1: Humans create AI to perform some unpleasant or difficult task.

Step 2: The AI becomes conscious.

Step 3: The AI decides to kill us all.

As science fiction, such stories can be great fun. As science fact, the narrative is suspect, especially around Step 2, which assumes that by synthesising intelligence, we will somehow automatically, or accidentally, create consciousness. I call this the consciousness fallacy.

It seems plausible at first, but the evidence doesn't support it. [Source]


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