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Open Letter to Gurcharan Das: Please clarify your position regarding BJP and India’s only liberal party, SBP

(A bit of background first.)

Yesterday I expressed some frustration with Indians who purportedly want liberty but have sworn to abjure the political process (or worse – to lick the boots of socialist parties and foreign agencies to fund their fake liberal efforts).

Liberty is is a political concept. To imagine that liberty is about think-tanks or writing articles/ books reflects a gross misunderstanding about the concept of liberty. There is no way to ensure liberty but to be in the political fray. It is about directly connecting with the people in their daily lives.

Till Swarna Bharat Party was launched in June 2013, India never had a genuine liberal party. But now there is such a party. At this point, in early 2017, I have a clear position on this: if you don’t join or directly support SBP, you are illiberal – since you are effectively supporting the opponents of SBP, the enemies of liberty.

Many of the “liberals” who engaged with me over the past around 20 years were fundamentally pseudo-liberal. For instance, most of those who participated in the 2004 five-day workshop I had organised went on to support – and I count meeting corrupt socialist party leaders to seek funds as support, as well – hardcore socialist Congress or BJP. 

Some of them even made a song and dance about the need of a liberal party (e.g. Parth’s 2002 article) but did next to nothing about it – and in fact have actively kept away from any such work for well over a decade. Many of those who (much later) joined the Freedom Team of India, swearing to fight for liberty politically, likewise turned out to be limp liberals (those who do not engage in politics) or worse – direct supporters of BJP or AAP.

There is one liberal, however, whose position was unambiguous in the past but has probably become a bit unclear over the past few years: Gurcharan Das, whom I hold in the highest esteem. I’m writing this open letter to him with a request to clarify his position.

Why open, why not in private? I think some matters need to be deliberated publicly, and this is one of them.

OPEN LETTER TO GURCHARAN DAS

Dear Gurcharan

As you are aware, in 2013, after a series of implausible events, a group of liberals formed the Swarna Bharat Party. Prompting this was the December 2012 agreement with Ramdev to form a party under the logo of sone ki chidiya and the ideology and manifesto whose drafting I had led since 1998. Implausible as it sounds now, the agreement was that this party would be driven by me and the liberals. I would also lead the team of trainers of the party – we would coach the candidates of the party in liberalism and ethical leadership.

This agreement to form the new party continued well into April 2013 when I led a 4-day national reform summit at Patanjali in the big hall where Ramdev holds his public sessions and talks. Ramdev’s team put out many videos about me on his TV channels during late 2012, well into 2013. I also shared the platform with him on major events whenever we were together, such as at Jantar Mantar in December 2012 to protest the killing of Nirbhaya.

It was only when the day that had been scheduled for the launch of the party came closer that Ramdev backed out. Last year I came to know that Ramdev had been threatened with severe consequences by Ram Jethmalani. Ramdev backed out because he is dishonest to the core. His empire is made out of straw with significant violations of the law and he has amassed significant amounts of black money. Had Ramdev been honest, he could never have been blackmailed by BJP.

Now, you became personally aware about my work to have a liberal party established in India -from around 2000, when we first met. I had started this work in February 1998.

Till mid-2013 I had no doubt about your commitment to having such a liberal party for India. For instance, you joined Sharad Joshi’s Swatantra Bharat Party as national executive member in 2004 as part of my efforts in 2003 and 2004. You also helped raise funds (around Rs. 4-5 lakhs, including from your friends) for the Swatantra Bharat Party.

When Swatantra Bharat Party didn’t work out I proposed the Liberal Party of India in mid-2005. You were one of the first charter members. Nothing came out of that effort, however, which died a premature death within a few months.

Later, in 2007-08 you asked Indians to read the book that I had written (started in early 2005 to support Swatantra Bharat Party), Breaking Free of Nehru, in which I explain how a liberal party could be formed if we are able to find sufficient leaders.

I’m grateful to your support for my limited efforts since you came to know about me.

Your personal search for a liberal party continued, regardless of various failed attempts by liberals. For instance, in 2012 you published India Grows at Night in which you made a strong case for a liberal party for India. You wrote:

I advocate the setting up of a secular, liberal political party in India.  Now that the middle class is growing rapidly and none of the existing parties addresses its needs; the timing is also right as the nation’s centre of gravity has shifted to the right. Such a party is needed to transform India into a strong, liberal state.

In 27 January 2013, a few weeks after I had personally briefed you about my work with Ramdev and the decision to form a liberal party, you wrote this in Times of IndiaAn aspiring young India needs a new liberal party. In particular, you wrote:

A young aspiring, secular India needs a new liberal party of the 21st century which trusts markets rather than officials for economic outcomes, and relentlessly focuses on the reform of the institutions of governance. Only thus, will the country begin to move away from crony capitalism and towards rules-based capitalism. It may not win votes quickly but it will bring governance reform to centre stage and gradually prove to voters that open markets and rules-based government are the only civilized ways to lift living standards and achieve shared prosperity.

On 1 June 2013, we launched Swarna Bharat Party without the participation of Ramdev. This has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as Ramdev would have weighed heavily on the party given his association with black money and corruption.

On 16 June 2014, the Election Commission registered Swarna Bharat Party. Although we are obliged to swear allegiance to socialism due to legal requirements that derive from the Indian Constitution, we have the most liberal manifesto possible. It is comparable to other high quality manifestos from across the world.

In a 4-day meeting held in Delhi in July 2014 (which you also attended briefly, but by then you had started supporting Modi) I made clear to participants that we had the option to scrap SBP and merge with any other sensible alternative. However, the assembled group decided that SBP must go ahead. No other party (Navbharat, Swatantra Bharat, Lok Satta or another nascent effort called Bharatam) came even close to SBP in terms of its objectives, approach, and sophistication of the manifesto.

On 26 January 2016, SBP launched its new website and added a payment gateway in April 2016. We actively started working on the ground since late 2015 and have by now made incremental progress in various parts of India. Swarna Bharat Party is now a seriously growing liberal party. We are actively considering contesting a few parliamentary seats in 2019.

I am writing all this to remind you about your support for my work and your commitment to a liberal party for India – till around 2013-14.

But somewhere during that period you deviated from the straight and narrow – since Modi came on the scene. You have been extremely solicitous about Modi, and have effectively exonerated him of his many crimes and the destruction of the law and order machinery in Gujarat. You have personally met him on numerous occasions.

But actually, there has been no change to anything substantive in India over the past 70 years, and definitely not with the advent of Modi.

Objective data suggest that liberty in India has gone backwards since Modi came on the scene (see this). And the reckless manner in which demonetisation was implemented has laid bare the plans and livelihoods of millions of people. I personally know of a number of persons whose businesses have suffered grievously from the ill-thought out consequences of this policy.

My question for you at this stage is this: what makes you think that Modi will do anything liberal when BJP’s manifesto and all antecedents of Modi and BJP directly contradict such an expectation? Further, have you now formed a clear view that BJP will suffice for India and that no liberal party is needed now or in the future?

Between 2004 and 2017 nothing has really changed in terms of the logic for a liberal party. Modi’s presence has not changed anything, as nearly three years of dismal performance attest.

I know you believe that political action is about what it’s practicable, or as you say, “politics is the art of the possible”. And I have no doubt that politics is the art of the possible. But I also believe that what is possible is determined by human action and is not something given to us in stone.

I do not accept the reality of India and am determined to participate in a process to change it. I am determined to make a new future for India possible. Politics may well be the art of the possible, but leadership is about making a new future possible. No progress has ever taken place without leaders who make new things happen.

As a liberal, I am foundationally – by the logic of liberalism – a leader, not a follower. I think for myself and, in particular, I do not believe in following failure. As Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. India can’t keep doing socialism and expect different results. I do not accept even an iota of the socialist ideology. BJP and Modi are arch socialists and I have nothing to do with them. I am determined to change the Nehruvian demand for socialism in India.

Since February 1998 I have acted upon my belief that India needs a liberal party. I have been supporting people like Anil Sharma (whom you referred to me) in their similar quest. When I came to the view that India needs a liberal party I did not know anything about any antecedent efforts or anyone in India who had ever thought on similar lines. I decided what I needed to do and started working on it. That’s what leaders do, they don’t wait to act on matters that are of essential importance to them. I also resigned my job in the IAS so I could create the freedom and space to pursue the political option.

What I now find intriguing is why, since 2014, you have chosen to repose so much faith in the BJP and Modi. You should have known that these organisations have a foundational DNA that is illiberal. The RSS is not going to become something different no matter what you may otherwise wish. Regardless of whether Modi had a hand in the massacre of hundreds of innocents in 2002, Modi was a member of this illiberal outfit and is a Hindutva fanatic to the core. On top of that, his manifesto and policies continue to be as socialistic as that of his predecessors.

I therefore invite you to clarify your position publicly. And if you are still a liberal and believe India needs a liberal party, I invite you to join Swarna Bharat Party and “put your money where your mouth is” (please note that this is not a request for any money – although that is something that all parties need in order to grow; this is a request for you to join the party – it costs a mere Rs.100 to become a life member).

I believe you need to choose and make publicly clear where you stand. India now has a real and functional liberal party, howsoever small. No doubt should remain in anyone’s mind about which side you are on – given that SBP is no longer a thought bubble but a party with real roots on the ground.

If you join SBP, it will send a strong signal to everyone in India (and the world) that India cannot succeed with Modi/BJP. Today, a lot of people across the world are confused. They think Modi can change India. He can’t – that’s something that’s been crystal clear to me since the very beginning. If I had thought that BJP had the capacity to change India, I’d have joined it in 2000 itself and never left India. I was very close to (the late) Ashok Saikia, a right hand man of Vajpayee, and could have easily obtained a key role in BJP decades ago – if I had wanted such a role. But BJP is not – and was never – the answer for India.

As a thought leader, you can clarify these matters to the world.

The position you take on this will also become your legacy.

With regards

Sanjeev

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Hayek’s HIMALAYAN BLUNDER – his advice to Anthony Fisher. There is ZERO correlation between think tanks and liberty.

As everyone knows, I admire Hayek’s work. That doesn’t at all mean that he is any kind of “god” to me. I mostly agree with his economics, but his politics was abysmal.

It is also important to note that my agreement with his economics is post-facto, well after I had formed my own views about economics.

Hayek’s work is never taught in any economics course (I had started my economics studies at the post graduate level – which is purely mathematical: and in the three continents I studied, there was no mention of Hayek in any standard economics textbook). My understandings about economics – including about the price system – were formed in almost total ignorance about the very existence of Hayek.

Yes, one of my teachers at USC cited Hayek’s article, The Use of Knowledge in Society – to illustrate his maths. I found Hayek’s article well written and around three years later became the first to get permission from the AER to publish it on the internet (in 1998). Although I had become incidentally aware about Hayek, I never had any time till well after my PhD to read his work. Even the formal course that I took to study classical economists did not include any consideration of either Mises or Hayek.

Despite all this, I hold Hayek in great esteem for his excellent understandings about law and economics.

But Hayek has proved to be a dismal failure and, indeed, a nuisance when it comes to the spread of liberty across the world. (Yes, I later came to know about Mont Pelerin, etc. but its influence on the real world is grossly over-rated).

The discovery and spread of liberty across the world for the past 330 years or so had little or nothing to do with Hayek. There are hundreds of illustrious names that contributed. ALL the real contributors to liberty have always been POLITICALLY active – e.g. Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson, Maddison, Franklin, Burke, Macaulay, JS Mill. See The Discovery of Freedom.

Hayek’s contributions to actual human liberty are next to minimal. When a person like me had not even heard about him (and I note that not a single professionally trained economics graduate from an average university in the West has heard about him) it is hard to conceive of Hayek as having advanced liberty in any meaningful way.

HAYEK’S GREAT BLUNDER: HIS ADVICE TO ANTHONY FISHER

Hayek’s advice to Fisher has set back liberty across the world by decades. It has given a short cut to lazy “liberals” in countries like India to avoid engaging in the political process.

What was this advice? You can read about it here. I’ve also uploaded Hayek’s letter to Fisher here.

I first heard about this advice from Parth Shah when I first met him (in San Francisco) in 1999.

Now, since February 1998, I had unambiguously (and without any prompting from anyone – nor any awareness of others in India who might support liberty) chosen the path of political action. I wanted a party that is founded on the principles of liberty and good economics. I had no doubt whatsoever in my mind that this was an urgent necessity in India.

Parth said that, in accordance with Hayek’s views, he believed that there needs to be a think tank in India to promote liberty. We agreed to disagree on this. In my view then (and today) there can be NO change in India without political action, and think tanks are not the vehicle for political action.

Indeed, it puzzled me that Hayek (or anyone in his right senses) thought that Thatcher was in any way “CREATED” by Fisher. Thatcher would have mocked this utterly preposterous idea. Thatcher was a creation of her own understandings and beliefs – let this basic fact never be even remotely confused by anyone. It is fundamentally wrong to imagine any chain of causality between the IEA and Thatcher.

ALL change is ALWAYS political. And politics is about beliefs, commitment, social engagement and persuasion. It is extremely personal and human. No one can be a politician without fire in their belly, and that fire is not let by some random think tank article/s.

If Fisher had any real calibre, he would have transformed England politically in the 1960s itself. Of course, he chose the easy way out and started IEA. Running think tanks is a short cut, and can NEVER work.

Time and again I’ve been proven right on this fundamental point. The USA has tens of liberty-oriented think tanks, yet we get some really hopeless politicians (and policies) in the USA. That’s because doing politics is hard, and doing think tanks is easy. I find that a lot of self-aggrandising think tanks and academics run down American politicians in their writings, but these “better than thou” writers don’t understand how hard and complicated real politics is. They are therefore always unpleasantly surprised with real life. They are nuts to imagine that they can EVER influence American politics.

All the think tanks of the world, together, can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. Doing that requires BEING in politics.

Empirically, there is ZERO correlation between think tanks and liberty. All ADVANCE IN LIBERTY HAS BEEN (AND WILL BE) POLITICAL. PERIOD.

My great regret is that although I’ve been involved in trying to get a liberal party up and running in India since the past 20 years, not ONE person from (or trained by) ANY Indian think tank has stepped forward to fight for political liberty in India. Most of these people have, instead, licked the boots of socialists and foreign donors for their survival. Foreign funding in matters related to liberty is particularly obnoxious.

Nonetheless, Parth seemed to be reasonably willing to try out a liberal political party idea – at least at first. In 2000, Parth let me hold a small meeting in his place where I discussed the prospect of India’s first liberal party being established (no, Swatantra was not a truly liberal party: let me make that clear once again).

Then in May 2002 he published an article saying that India does need a liberal political party. It appears he had realised by then that running a think tank was not going to work.

To a small extent he provided some assistance when, in 2004, the liberals (whom I’d invited to a 5 day workshop) supported Sharad Joshi’s Swatantra Bharat Party. But since then there has been close to zero contribution of CCS to any liberal political work. Parth’s write-up on a liberal party was clearly the typical hot air that such think tank “intellectuals” spout: meaningless nonsense. Lazy words.

For 20 years I have come across an abundance of “liberals” in India who have cited Hayek’s advice to Fisher as a reason to do NOTHING about liberty in India. Apparently, India doesn’t need a liberal political party and some random think tanks (that have ZERO impact on politics) can do the work.

That’s pure tripe.

Let this remain on public record – that HAYEK WAS FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG on this matter. Anyone who cites Hayek on this issue is fooling himself/herself and is NOT a supporter of liberty or doesn’t understand what it means. He/she should stay away fro me. Much appreciated.

Btw, I had written about what classical liberalism really means here – and it is ALL political.

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Guymer Lynnch – building company owned by Shane Guymer – now under liquidation

This is something of interest at a personal level. This post it is meant to alert relevant persons. Source of the notice on ASIC website – here.

Corporations Act 2001
Paragraph 491(2)(b)
Regulation 5.5.01

NOTICE OF APPOINTMENT AS LIQUIDATOR

Company details

Company: Guymer Lynnch Pty Ltd
ACN: 145 256 551
Status: In Liquidation
Appointment Date: 13 February 2017

Resolution

Notice is given that at a general meeting of the members of the Company held on 13 February 2017, it was resolved that the Company be wound up and that Gregory Stuart Andrews & Andrew Juzva be appointed liquidator(s).


Date of Notice: 14 February 2017

Gregory Stuart Andrews
Joint Liquidator

Andrew Juzva
Joint Appointees

Address G S Andrews Advisory
22 Drummond Street
Carlton VIC 3053
Contact person
Contact number 03 9662 2666
Facsimile 03 9662 9544
Email admin@gsandrews.com.au

 

 

 

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The struggle of Indian liberals to agree to a common political strategy

In 2000 I organised a meeting of five Indian liberals to consider a political option. That failed since there was no agreement on what should be done.

In 2004 I organised a 5 day meeting of around 25 Indian liberals to thrash out this issue. The topic was “India’s liberal political strategy”. The group decided to support Sharad Joshi’s Swatantra Bharat Party. Swatantra Bharat Party’s manifesto was genuinely liberal. And yet, Swantantra Bharat didn’t work out due to too many fundamental shortcomings – won’t go into detail (I’ve done that elsewhere).

In 2006, JP of Lok Satta the NGO (who enthusiastically prodded Sharad Joshi on, at the January 2004 conference to contest 300 seats but did not want to join at that stage) pulled out a separate political party from his hat, called Lok Satta Party. I had assumed its manifesto would be liberal but in due course I was to find it was essentially social democratic (again, refer to analysis on this blog) – i.e. with significant involvement of government in the affairs of the people. Nevertheless, given the failure of Swantatra Bharat, I thought the liberals should support JP. That ended when JP turned out to be an uncritical supporter of Modi.

Of the other liberals who attended the January 2004 meeting, one (Madhu Kishwar) became a fanatic defender of Modi – claiming that he was innocent in the killings of a 1000 innocent people in Godhra. I watched her later on TV and could not distinguish her from the standard rabid RSS fanatics.

One, Bibek Debroy joined Modi government’s Niti Ayog – and was recently found aggressively claiming that the Modi government is not stupid (in relation to demonetisation). Basically, he’s lost his liberal credentials and independence and effectively become a BJP member.

There were others, as well, at that meeting. Won’t go into details, but not one has actually supported any liberal political effort in their life after that initial enthusiasm of early 2004.

In the meanwhile, allegedly liberal outfits like Bharat Uday Mission, Jago Party and Navbharat Party came on the scene. I supported collaboration with each of these parties, but their manifestos were grievously lacking, and the latter two were merely one man shows. All these parties are now defunct. (Btw, Navbharat was essentially the reclaimed Professional Party- which had not the slightest liberal credentials).

In 2013, through series of freak events, I helped form Swarna Bharat Party. This party got registered in 2014. Having failed to see any genuine liberal leadership from Swatantra Bharat Party, Lok Satta Party, Bharat Uday Mission, Jago Party or Navbharat Party, it was appropriate that we finally had a liberal party that was genuinely liberal – the Swarna Bharat Party.

Since SBP was essentially very weak in 2014, I had supported RK Misra’s Navbharat Party – but Misra not only lost his seat badly, he was no liberal; and there is not the slightest evidence of the party’s existence now.

In the meanwhile, one Prodyut Bora left BJP a couple of years ago and formed the Liberal Democratic Party in Assam. I spoke with him at length last year: he is focused entirely on Assam. In the recent past he is considering the idea of a national liberal party. Unfortunately, his party has no clear manifesto and whatever little exists, is more in the space of social democracy – an interventionist state. Nevertheless, I have some hope from Prodyut Bora.

Well, 19 years after I first resolved that India should have a liberal party, there is effectively ONE such party in existence today – and that is Swarna Bharat Party (SBP).

SBP is an open platform for genuine liberals who can work together in a team.

I will talk more about the struggle (that is ongoing) – in a later post. Now got to go.

JUST ONE POINT, THOUGH: That all the failed efforts had one of the following in common: one-man shows, lack of clarity of ideology, inability to work as a team and foster open debate and discussion that is followed by voting.

My prediction remains this: that any effort apart from Swarna Bharat Party is guaranteed to fail.

SBP will remain the masthead of Indian liberalism well into the future. That, too, is guaranteed, given its approach, style and ideological clarity.

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The Panjab Chief Minister’s total misuse of government power to build a bus empire

In 1978 or 1979, Parkash Singh Badal, the then Chief Minister of Panjab, came to DAV College Jullundur on its 75th anniversary. I was the student with most awards in art and painting, and was asked by the Principal of the college to make a painting of his, based on a black and white photo that was given to me. That painting was presented by the college as a gift at the event.

That was long ago when I had no real clue about what goes on in administration and politics in India.

I’ve been out of Panjab for a very long time now, and have only sporadically visited Chandigarh since 1984 (as part of Haryana cadre till mid-1984, I frequently visited Chandigarh) either to attend an official event/training or to meet relatives, or on the way to Himachal Pradesh.

In 2012, I congratulated Badal on this blog.

That was a mistake. I should have known that Badal won’t be an exception to the rule that ALL Indian politicians are mega-corrupt.

Badal – who is now 89 year old and a chief minister again – for the past 10 years – has turned out to be a hopelessly corrupt man.

As proof, here are links to an investigative report on Badal’s misuse of government machinery to build a bus empire through his son (who is Deputy Chief Minister of Panjab).

THE TRIBUNE INVESTIGATION: PART-I: Badal-Kairon-Majithia clan’s growing biz empire

THE TRIBUNE INVESTIGATION: PART-II: Badal govt’s ‘power’ boost for Kairon companies

THE TRIBUNE INVESTIGATION: PART-III: Badal govt’s ‘energy’ link with the Majithias

THE TRIBUNE INVESTIGATION: PART-IV: Badal luxury bus fleet’s phenomenal growth continues

There is more: See http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140429/badal.htm

Unfortunately, my batchmate SS Channy is cited in one of these reports, defending the Badals.

I don’t know whether Channy is corrupt or honest, but even if he is honest, this is the kind of dishonesty that virtually everyone becomes part of – i.e. defending the corrupt politicians in public. That’s one reason why the IAS is an intolerable place to be.

(Channy is now Information Commissioner of Panjab)

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