Thoughts on economics and liberty

When will I enter full-time politics in India?

(This post is work in progress). A member on FTI asked me about my political plans for India. This is the current situation.

Joint responsiblity
I have wanted to be in full time politics since 1998, but various constraints have prevented it. My family commitments must get first priority. The reform of India is a task for all of us – indeed, of all citizens – not mine alone by any means.

I do expect to come back when financially not significantly worse off (not just for one year or two, but for my entire life). Sharad Joshi gets a substantial UN pension for life – that has left him free to do politics full-time upon his return from Geneva. Therefore he is the only full-time Indian liberal politican today. I am not so blessed, and my attempts to seek funding so far have failed, though I remain hopeful

For instance, I had offered to work in 2000 with CCS for life for a relatively small amount – only $20K US per year indexed for life – but that was too high for CCS to afford at that stage. Now my financial situation is far more complex, and the amount needed to get me to India full-time may exceed $150K AUD pre-tax to pay my mortgage, etc. The fact that I didn’t stay on in India in 2000 has turned out be a good outcome. It forced me to gain experience in a developed country bureaucracy – and also forced me (as I started writing my book/s) to think more clearly about what I stood for. The importance of leadership became clearer to me thorugh experiences in Australia. These things wouldn’t have happened if I had continued in India as part of CCS.

In addition, I’ve been looking for appropriate jobs over the past 3 years that will take me to India but have not been successful on that front yet. If nothing comes up I expect to be able to return in 10 1/2 years at age 60 when I will get an old-age pension in Australia (provided I continue my citizenship) which will mean I could retire from work here and work in India with fewer financial constraints – but that will also mean I won’t be able to contest elections. Delaying for 10 1/2 years is not my preference.

One possibility is that once 1500 members join FTI, there will be sufficient momentum and funding for people like me who want to return and work for FTI and politics full time. Currently, working as a ‘full-time’ second, unpaid job is all I can afford.

Btw, I am aware that similar constraints may apply to a number of others on FTI as well. One thing I don’t want is for any of us to reduce focus on our primary responsiblity – towards our families – for the sake of our secondary (joint) responsibility (country). The liberal must know his priorities. No one is better placed to look after our families than us. If I hear of any liberal who has acted irresponsibly towards his family (and I’m guilty of that at least in part in terms of time I devote), I’d know the liberal has some work cut out for him.

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4 thoughts on “When will I enter full-time politics in India?
  1. Chandra

    Mr. Sanjeev, I agree with you, and it is true that we as an individual have primary responsibility, which I do believe, is also part of our responsibility as a citizen of this country and the system in which we involve.But what my mind terribly stuck when you say If I hear of any liberal who has acted irresponsibly towards his family (and I’m guilty of that at least in part in terms of time I devote), I’d know the liberal has some work cut out for him. Is that these liberals who are irresponsibly towards his family perhaps helps them to show during societal life also which become more acute in a course of time.The other thing that stuck my mind is too terrible disconnected liberals in India. What their common goals for this country in the new century is not at all clear.Take me one step ahead. As a village boy had no idea to be part of this globalisation process. Born when this country reform was started. But somehow managed spontaneously my school, college and university life, I have nothing to worry about how acute the life when I think of the word freedom, liberty for the future of this country.regardsChandrasekaran

  2. Sanjeev

    Dear ChandrasekaranI’d appreciate clarification of your second and last paragraphs since I could not follow the arguments clearly.Re: your third para. Yes, liberals do have slightly different interpretations of liberty. Liberals in India therefore need to put in more work on policy alignment. FTI ( is trying to do that.RegardsSanjeev

  3. Chandra

    Sanjeev,For “last paragraphs since I could not follow the arguments clearly”.I mean the present liberal movement in India is not at all clear in terms of achieving freedom like free trade, privatization in education,private property rights etc.There is a lots of diversion among liberals in India. Sure I will visit your freedomteam site.

  4. Sanjeev

    Thanks ChandraYour point is well taken. The problem is that many people who think they are liberals are actually not clear why they are liberals. Aristocratic and paternalistic ‘liberals’ are common in India, keen to propose totalitarian solutions, including imposition of unnecessary restrictions on the behaviour of other people, believing that others somehow can’t do things for themselves. They are not liberals though they call themselves so.Another group of ‘liberals’ thinks that liberty is license. They advocate irresponsibility and lack of accountability. Some, for instance, advocate tax avoidance and bribery. They say that since the government cheats us we should break the laws. If they think they have to break a law they must do it in the open and court arrest in protest. It is not sufficient to cheat the government clandestinely. Such ‘liberals’ are not liberals by any yardstick.Liberty demands a strict ethic of accountability. We must give everyone freedom but then expect everyone to be accountable. I have discussed the concept of liberty in my book ‘Breaking Free of Nehru’ (available from Oxford bookstores) and in the draft manuscript ‘Discovery of Freedom’. Details of both are found on my blog.I look forward to your visiting FTI.RegardsSanjeev

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