India! I dare you to be rich

What am I ACTUALLY saying about disbanding the IAS? #1

In this post I'm providing the contents of an email sent out by my father a short while ago. In the next post I'll briefly deal with the issues.

Prem Sabhlok
Dear All,
As desired by Sh. Vinay Shankar IAS (retd) former Secretary government of India, I am sending his e-mail for an open discussion. The discussion was initiated by Col Dewan based on views of some learned person sh. Rajput. I do not have his e-mail I.D. Col Dewan may be knowing Sh. Rajput I.D
Kindly express your views freely.

Vinay Shankar

Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2014 15:40:32 +0530
Subject: Re: FW: Disband IAS and replace with the world best bureaucratic system

Dear Shri Sabhlok,

That a prominent and respectable writer holds one view does not necessarily make his view the right one for our circumstances. if that is held to be so, we should make a cabinet of all commentators with one of them as PM.

I do not agree that IAS should be abolished. I am not clear whether you endorse what Sanjeev says or Sanjeev echoes your views.
By simply wishing that an alternative system will be free of corruption, be epitome of efficiency and effectivenesss, it will not become so.

In a democrcy, it is the collective character of the people that is reflected in all institutions – political and bureaucratic. In dictatorship, it is possible for the administration to have a different cultural value system from that of the common man and society at large.

Even if you abolish IAS, other central services will remain. In terms of values, they would be much worse than what IAS exhibits. We have seen the Revenue, Customs etc or for that matter take any service. No corruption can thrive in defene purchases unless the Defence Accounts are actively involved. There are exceptions in Defence Accounts such as you, but you do not represent the collectivity of the officers of Defence Accounts.

It is ultimately the political executive that decides whether there will be wrong doing in government transactions. If they want efficiency, honesty, transparency, they will choose officers who would promote these values and if they think that the objective is different, they will choose officers of another type.

Bureaucracy is only a tool. It is the craftsman on whom the effectiveness of the tool depends. In a democracy, the craftsman is the political executive. If he is skillful, he will sharpen the tool and make it fit to do difficult job easily. If he is inefficient, he will blame the tool.

While it is easy to blame the IAS as it cannot defend itself, it cannot be forgotten that it has provided the framework on which despite such heavy odds of poverty, illiteracy and political system that seems bent on exploiting the system to stay in power, there has been relative social stability and peace and unity and integrity in the country.

My thesis is that our consitution was unsuited to the socio-economimc conditions of the country prevailing in 1950 and it continues to be so. It has thrown up in to power the scum of the society and the really talented, sincere, committed people in to resignation and helplessness. It needs to be rewritten by a new constitutent assembly. new Constitution will come up with a new scheme of bureaucracy.

I shall be grateful, if you could kindly circulate my mail to persons whom you had sent your earlier mail regarding the disbabding of IAS.

Prem Sabhok

     E-mail received from Col Dewan with comments from Rajput is forwarded  

    Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2014 18:50:25 +0530
    Subject: Disband IAS and Replace with the world best bureaucratic system
    From: coldewan@gmail.com  

Disband the IAS  Full book 297 pages [1 Attachment]

    It is suggested that all citizens of Bharat read the book, 'Breaking free of Nehru: Let us unleash India' by Sanjeev Sabhlok, Ex IAS , wherein the author recommends the disbanding of IAS;




    A patriot has done a great service to his fellow countrymen/women by writing a book calling for the abolition of INDIAN ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICE (I.A.S.). But in the world of BABOOS and INERT ministers the wish is as futile as Bapu Gandhi’s call to abolish the All India Congress Party after it had shown their “patriotism” by surrendering five provinces to please the Indian Muslims in 1947.

    Still it is the best news of the decade.

    IAS has become a bunch of "BABOONS", totally subservient to the corrupt rulers and politicians, who have shown no initiative, no new ideas and no improvement to reform the crippling system of red tape and bureaucracy that waste years of a citizen's life making him a coolie or moron in the end. Like the ministers, they, too, are corrupt, dishonest and unreliable.

    RED TAPE of the Mogul Era, that had trapped the suffering Hindus under tons of Sharia Law of Koran, was wiped out by the British rulers on one day after they ousted the last senile Mohammedan Emperor in 1857 but since India was again slave colony and the natives had to be kept busy, filling in forms, getting them verified and attested, and re-attested, was necessary under the new complicated system of unending paper work. The citizens were all kept so busy in form filling and queuing up to buy essentials of daily use that they could never think of liberation from the foreign yoke. India had to wait for the end of World War 2 to hope for freedom from foreigners. But as ill luck would have it, NETAJI, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syama_Prasad_Mookerjee#Death) and SardarPATEL were no more, leaving the field to another anglicised brown skin “coolie” of Empire, Jawaharlal Nehru. Instead of liberating the natives from the crushing load of red tape and bureaucracy he let the IAS create more and more ingenious ways to tie the natives down under pestering rules and regulations. Bribery and corruption flourished. Countless capable Indians (NRI’s) left the native shores, seeking freedoms abroad.

    India is most unfortunate where the natives are brainwashed and conditioned over centuries to willingly give a ride to any foreigner. How they have been charmed by a useless ITALIAN born Sonia Maino, No. 1 security risk, by putting patriotism and self esteem under her foot. Would she like to see a Hindu smiling? Would she wish to cut red tape? Would she speak up for eradication of corruption?

    Given the tolerant, timid and subservient Hindus, our Bharat cannot have a REVOLUTION when everything useless and cumbersome is set on fire, and new beginnings are made. Such is the case with the newly independent countries in Eastern Europe that went through the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union and had to write up totally new rules in the fresh air of freedom in 1991. Gone is the red tape there. To give an example, it takes SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS to buy a house in England with all those time consuming legal searches (where bureaucracy is frozen since the times of Magna Carta) but only three days to buy a house or apartment in Lithuania with all legal formalities completed! An NRI who bought his house in Vilnius in three days cried for the Indians back home who are trapped in the labyrinthian “baboodom”.

    India has no hope of any REVOLUTION by her majority community who are flat under the rulers' foot like a deflated balloon, but she will ultimately be overwhelmed by a foreign power once again. Then this BABOODOM will also die and many a citizen will kneel down to THANK GOD.

    We would like to congratulate the learned author of the book who pleads for the abolition of IAS. What a CONTRAST these "baboons" are to the original ICS (Indian Civil Service) of pre Partition days!

    India did not get freedom in 1947. She got “MUTILATED” (Partition) and her citizens lived under far worse bureaucracy thereafter. Only Pandit ("Bandit")  Jawaharlal Nehru got Independence.


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Request for inputs to improve the Sone Ki Chidiya Total Reform Agenda – by 31 August 2014

As a result of the decisions taken in the recent 5-day liberal strategy workshop, I have been charged with compiling the next version of the SKC agenda.


  • All public inputs received by 31 August 2014
  • Revision: During September 2014.
  • Provided to eminent Indian liberals across the world for their written endorsement: 30 September 2014.
  • Revised internet version including publication of endorsements: 30 October 2014.
  • Reformatting and printing commissioned: 1 November 2014.
  • 1000 copies printed: November 2014.
  • Distribution of 1000 copies along with forwarding letter: December 2014.


Please review the agenda carefully and provide your comments/ tracked changes to me by 31 August 2014. Download the current draft (including in Word) from here

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Three points to launch the Sone Ki Chidiya movement for TOTAL FREEDOM in India

We launched the SKC movement from Jantar Mantar last year. It was a nice piece of work, but did not reach, nor resonate with the people.

This time around, we need to re-launch it with the primary agenda of justice, but perhaps three key strategies need to be adopted:

1) Bullet Train bites the dust

Modi has gone berserk with the Bullet Train idea. When the BASICS of governance are not in place, how can this ridiculous idea be even imagined. It is not as if this is a cost-effective idea. It is the most wasteful idea since the time of Nehru's Planning Commission.

In a farmer's meeting that I attended yesterday in Sonipat, there was deep frustration that BJP is talking of the Bullet Train when the country is in ruins. I've received feedback that farmers and lower classes are deeply disenchanted in UP. I believe the Maoists and oppressed are the best target audience for the liberal message.


I asked farmers by show their hand whether they prefer (1) the IAS and the DC or (2) work.

No one raised their hand in support of the IAS or DCs. Everyone wanted their WORK to be done.

There is no love lost among the oppressed classes of India (and even in the political classes) for the most arrogant bunch of people we have created since independence: the IAS.

3) Occupy Hotel Ashoka

The Ashok Group is a chain of hotels owned and operated as Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) of the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) in India. The Group is headquartered in New Delhi. [Source]

Farmers, who OWN the hotel, are excluded from the hotel. Let's convene a meeting of 1000 farmers, slum dwellers and beggars to assemble in the Ashoka Hotel lobby in Delhi.

I am happy to convene and address this gathering. The Hotel BELONGS TO THE CITIZENS OF INDIA. Let them occupy it.

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Brief report on the second 5-day workshop on the Indian liberal political strategy

I've been extremely tied down in meeting people (including grassroots leaders) over the past few days, but have found some time, now,  to provide a brief update on the 5-day liberal workshop that I convened from 26 to 30 July 2014. You can download the slides from here. The slides were not used at the workshop, being intended as background material.

Day 1: It was decided that Navbhafrat and Swatantra Bharat were not yet ready to consider discussions regarding a possible merger. However, it was decided that Swarna Bharat Party should be activated and over the next six months to one year, a decision could be taken based on the progress made by the three parties. Representatives from Navbharat and Swatantra left either on the first day or on the second day. There was, however, a high level of goodwill between the team, and I am confident that over the next few months, a competitive process (market-based) to detefrmine the most viable liberal party will be found, thereby creating a platform which all liberals can decide to merge into – in due course.

Prior to the workshop I was quite happy to burn the registration papers of Swarna Bharat Party if we had agreed on a common agenda, constitution and code of conduct. I have decided to recommend that SBP bootstrap itself into existence (PAN number/ bank account, etc.). India will now get YET ANOTHER liberal party in India, but I hope this additional administrative cost and burden on the liberals will not be wasted.

Day 2: I had invited a small group of liberal leaders (some not quite liberal – having been involved in AAP) to the workshop. This group was generally compatible with liberal ideas, albeit in a round-about way. Their leader Rajendra Paladugu (a medical doctor) is a good man but extremely aggressive, unable to listen to anyone, always interrupting others. He took around 60 per cent of the "talk-time" on the second day. I was particularly put off by his false statements about me. He alleged that I've written somewhere: "I know everything". Period. These were the precise words he used. This was a deal breaker as far as I'm concerned. I'm one person who knows that I know very little – a small part of human knowledge. I have always insisted that everything I propose is subject to further discussion/ improvement. How can anyone be liberal and yet insist that he/she is the repository of all knowledge?

He also said that I have said, or written: "The free market destroys all evils". Clearly he has not bothered to read the extensive section on regulation in Breaking Free of Nehru, nor the section on regulation in the Sone Ki Chidiya agenda (he clearly said that he had not read the agenda). He also railed against the word liberty and liberal.

I was extremely unwell, as well, being on anti-biotics for a very bad case of laryngitis.

I switched off and as the day progressed, it became clear that members of Rajendra Paladugu's group are quite good, but he himself has some serious work to do if he wishes to be part of any liberal effort.

In particular, I've asked him to:

(a) prove his allegation about what I've written (the specific sequence of three words: "I know everything." Period.). He should feel free to publish any email in which I say so. This falsehood is a permanent deal breaker. I do not tolerate or live with liars; and

(b) take a number of courses in active listening. If he continues to take 60 per cent of the "talk time" in meetings where 20-25 people are present (most people – including members of his team – got no time to speak), interrupts everyone, and radically distorts what someone says or implies (when I told him about what a Muslim MP had said to me, he totally distorted the essence of what I had reported – and started speaking against Muslims in general – this happened during an evening prior to the workshop), he can't possibly be part of any liberal leadership.

Nevertheless, it was decided that FTI would progress discussions with Rajendra Paladugu's team to work out whether there is any common ground. I'm happy for FTI members to discuss further with Rajendra and his team.

Rajendra, however, did NOT take my feedback to him seriously. After the workshop when I reported the summary outcomes to members, Rajendra wrote back: "Sanjeev, can you remove my name from this group , FTI and all other groups that you chair or are part of." First of all, Rajendra is NOT an FTI member, so removing his name from FTI doesn't arise. But I've removed him from the liberal workshop group. From this follow-up response of Rajendra, I do not think Rajendra will do either (a) or (b).

I'm extremely forgiving if people have learnt their lesson/s and apologise. In this case, if Rajendra can't find the statement (a) that he has alleged I've written, he should publicly apologise to me – through a mechanism as widely read as this blog. And, further, he should demonstrate evidence of active listening. At that stage, I'd be most happy to engage further with him.

The second day was an unhappy one for most participants. Anyway, no one is indispensable to India, and we have decided to activate SBP.

Days 3 – 5

Given the under-achievement of the first two days, these were extremely productive days. I was particularly impressed with Rakesh Agarwal who is going to lead the Delhi effort of SBP. We discussed:

- SKC agenda and ways to improve it

- Documents that will be generated to support the agenda

- Customised Delhi agenda (we discussed around 11-12 key issues, with focus on justice.

- SBP constitution – will be revised and re-submitted to ECI. Some elements of the constitution would not apply till a future date (I'll draft a resolution to that effect).

- Code of Conduct for the party will be based on the FTI code of conduct.

- We decided to have a FLAT STRUCTURE, with all members of the executive to be called Senior Leaders. All of them will be entirely equal. Only for specific purposes will a particular individual be selected (purely on merit) to represent the party for a particular task.

- We decided to spend the next five years in prachar – i.e. explaining the liberal message to India.

- We agreed that if a better name can be found, we'll consider renaming the Swarna Bharat Party.


We had a number of guests at the workshop, like Gurcharan Das, Ashok Desai, Sant Gopal Das, and Varun Arya – for short periods of time. Some BJP and AAP leaders also came by to observe/ listen.

Varun pointed out the qualities we must have in order for him to support this work. These qualities match, entirely, the qualities, I have always had in mind for such work – which form the basis of the Freedom Team of India. We will aim to inculcate and embed these qualities in SBP.


India's suffering must continue for some more time, till the liberals can get their act together. This effort (that we kept going till late evening on each day, including the 5th day), demonstrates the urgency and seriousness of the situation. The liberals must not delay a merger.

Despite my disappointment at not achieving the optimal outcome, I will now set my mind to help make SBP a model liberal party.

1) Swarna Bharat Party will have no public-facing office-bearers.

2) SBP will ALWAYS be open and welcoming to all liberals.

3) SBP will build a culture of total transparency and internal meritocracy which should – in due course – attract the best talent in India.

4) SBP will aim to build institutions that can survive forever.


This was a make-or-break workshop for me. At the end of the  five days, I still see a ray of hope despite my disappointment. That's why I'm not shutting down my efforts.

Disappointment has been my constant companion since 1998 when I first decided on the political option for reform of India's governance. Indian liberals have always shied from the challenge of reforming India's governance and continue to shy from working together. I have decided to live with disappointment for some more time. Hopefully, by then, the liberals will see sense and come together.

There were some young people on the table, for whose sake I believe I must put in some more work. They deserve a chance to show they mean business.

Let me reiterate: we can NEVER reform India's governance if we continue to operate multiple political parties. This is a no brainer.

On a personal note, it is now too late for me to resume Indian citizenship. Despite my repeated offers to India since 1998, India was never ready for change. The last remaining window of opportunity has passed.

Given my commitment to support the people I met at the workshop I will support SBP and FTI for some more years. But only if they show an ability to work together and systematically.

When Indian liberals do – finally – merge into a SINGLE liberal party that (in my view) is designed to survive forever, I will revert to the pursuit of science, painting and nature.

Join me in supporting Swarna Bharat Party. If you are interested, please write to me at sabhlok@gmail.com. We have much work to do, to build systems which allow the party to grow over the coming century.

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Swedish “school voucher” system is guaranteed to fail since it is badly designed

A commentator pointed out a recent Slate article showing that the Swedish voucher system is a failure. I had one quick look and dismissed the Swedish model outright. It simply is NOT well designed. If you don't implement fundamental principles into it, it just won't work.

This view is further confirmed by a quick extract from a 2011 article, below:

"a system where funding follows the student regardless of their parents’ income. If a school chooses to be part of the voucher system, it has to be all-inclusive, provide national standards and have its performance monitored. And it has no right to charge its students fees beyond the voucher." [Source]

Results are poor – as expected.

A proper design would include key elements outlined in BFN.

The Swedish system is a sham. Don't point to this sham and tell me that the voucher system doesn't work!

First design the system properly and then let's talk.


Haven't reviewed this document but will do so: School vouchers in Sweden by Jan Sjunnesson

Did vouchers cause the decline in Swedish schools? by Tyler Cowen

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Making the government redundant through technology

There are few things which, when property rights are properly allocated, private citizens can't manage themselves. But most of the 'easier wins' in this area have been achieved. The complex ones remain.

For instance, privatisation of roads is possible theoretically, but practically has been very challenging to implement. New land records technologies that permit tiny parcels of land to be registered and traded can allow privatisation of the kerb for bus stops (I've discussed this earlier) but also road lanes. 

Unfortunately, governments will remain reluctant to transfer property rights back to the people even though they can do so (under regulatory control), since governments are a monopoly and suffer an extreme form of inertia.

So what can be done to reduce the role of government? This would involve finding ways to short-circuit government itself. Many public goods/ collective choice problems are coordination and/or reputation management problems that could (with a lot of thinking) be broken down into component parts and resolved technologically. It is these coordination/reputation problems that led to the demand for government in the first place. We can get rid of such demand and help shrink government.



Government provided/managed public transport could become irrelevant as "super-uber" type applications that have mastered identity and reputation management, as well as pricing and auction models, allow thick markets in transport.

This could, for instance, involve algorithms that automatically calculate the best person to hitch a ride, with certified riders and drivers on both sides. I could type into the app that I want to go from A to B – and will pay $5 – and someone who meets the algorithm could get a signal (if he is open to that signal and driving that way), decide he wants an additional $5 and a SAFE rider, and pick me up in one minute, since he was nearby. It would involve linking with GPS and an identity and reputation management system – plus an auction model (so if I'm in a hurry I could offer $10).

[Someone has informed me that such a thing is already in operation: https://www.folksvagn.com/]


This app would allow approved individual teachers to directly (and individually) teach students from across the world (each of whom could change each day, depending on what a person is doing). So if an app agrees to a syllabus and approves thousands of teachers then students could, based on their availability, tap into whichever teacher is teaching at that moment (each teacher being limited to 20 students at a time, say), thereby completing their course work with total flexibility. Payment would be by bitcoin etc. per lecture/tutorial, and approved teachers would also hold course exams on demand (i.e. as mutually convenient). This would eliminate the need for any government role in education, even if the government wants to have a role.

This is different from MOOCs etc. in the sense it is interactive and involves direct teaching by a human. Would be particularly useful for standardised school courses and bachelors degree courses, and would allow voluntary teachers from across the world to teach individual children.


If people can cheaply agree to reliable private justice systems (assisted by technology such as robotics) they could resolve their justice issues (particularly civil matters) without access to the government justice system.


Innovations like Bitcoin can eliminate both banking and central banking. [There are huge risks to Bitcoin at this stage, but I think it does illustrate the general principle].

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