Thoughts on economics and liberty

Baba Ramdev a good man, but how does one get him to understand good policy?

Watch the video below. Very well said by Baba Ramdev. 14 minutes well spent.

This man DEFINITELY has potential. His heart is in the right place. What he needs is to understand how to create the economic prosperitythat he talks about, and to get out of the shoddy policies he imagines will solve India's problems.

And of course, he has a verylimited understanding of science. To say that our body is made from the Earth is fine – but only to a VERY SMALL extent. Our body is made up of the Sun,  Clouds and Air. The sun's energy powers us (through plants, or animals that eat plants). The water molecules in our body are sourced from EVERYWHERE in the world. Water recycles through evaporation and returns to us as clouds. CO2 that plants absorb (and which feeds us as carbon) is sourced ONLY from the air, which "belongs" to everyone. Only a few trace elements are sourced from the earth. So there is quite a bit of demagogy and recklessness in his speech. We don't need xenophobia. We need a balanced nationalism, that doesn't elevate the nation beyond the individual.

But he is pretty close to the truth when he says that while India was looted in the past by foreign invaders, its own people (Congress, BJP) have broken ALL records. And he also advocates economic prosperity, not filth and poverty. On that bit I fully agree with him.

While his heart is in the right place, there are serious flaws in his approach that is not based on freedom but on imposing his own view on others. 

And so this is his Achilles Heel, the ONE REASON he will fail – that his movement will not attract a team of world-class policy experts, as leaders. No political party in India has good policy thinkers. They've (mostly) fled India, and those with self-respect who remain behind in India refuse to join any existing political formation – and won't join him. Baba Ramdev will fail to attract policy-competent leaders unless he stops makingwild policy statements that will take India down the drain. His current approach will attract ONLY third-rate policy thinkers, and destroy the possibility of reform in India's governance. No political movement can be sustained without a team of highly competent leaders.

But if he changes his views and is willing to listen to good policy, he will be able to build a team of outstanding leaders, and then his TEAM will be unbeatable

Vishal, an FTI member is perhaps right when he says: "People like Ramdev or Nehru never change. They are dead sure of everything. They expect others to change." I hope not. If Vishal is right then not much can be done but to stay away from Baba Ramdev. 

Personally speaking, I'd prefer to work with people like him than with some of India's (few) 'liberal' political outfits. I'm a bit tired of "liberals" who don't have the capacity to  work as a team and who display almost no energy, a lot of inertia. 

But I can work with Baba Ramdev ONLY IF he pulls back from his simplistic and ill-informed policy frameworks… 

He simply doesn't understand policy. That is not his area of expertise. He should immediately stop making random policy statements and just talk of the bigger goals – which he does pretty well in this video snippet. He should then invite India's best policy experts to assemble as a team. The forces then unleashed against corrupt socialist governance of India will become unstoppable. 

It would be a tragedy if his otherwise brilliant efforts were wasted. Such enormous energy! All wasted.


Given these issues, I do, therefore, continue to strongly recommend that good people who genuinely want to reform India should join the Freedom Team of India. The team of leaders we need must first be assembled, and policies agreed to. Premature launch of political movements will fail.

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16 thoughts on “Baba Ramdev a good man, but how does one get him to understand good policy?
  1. Bill Hothi

    Dear Sanjiv,
    I can try to make a meeting possible with him. I do not promise but it is possible through my relatives who are very close to him. I will be in India for next six months from end Oct. onwards but the problem will be to cross his immediate barrier of his loyal people whether they are capable or not. They may notlet him talk ifit does not serve them good.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bill

    Thanks. Please speak to him about the need to assemble a good policy team. I’m happy to speak with Baba Ramdev over phone if he doesn’t want to fly over to Australia – but ideally he should visit me here and have a longish chat about things. He should be encouraged to stop talking about ANY policy matter and simply focus on building a strong team of leaders who are outstanding policy people. Is his focus a truly rich, clean, healthy India? That can be done. But not the way he wants.


  3. Vishal

    There is a simple test. Baba Ramdev can talk about his current team and who will be there to lead his movement if he is not there. If there is a current team then he is is a not  a one man show.
    The other test is what has Baba learned something new which he thought otherwise in last 6 months. His answer will show whether he is rigid or capable to take absorb new ideas.
    I personally have big doubts on personalities like Ramdev but we have nothing to  loose if he turns out to be some one with whom you can work,

  4. bill Hothi

    Dear Sanjiv and Vishal,
    My take is that he is speaking out the required stuff and may not have the required stuff to govern. He may become a very good supporting force. From now I will take it seriously and try a meeting at least. If I can not do it, I would be happy to have tried.
    Wish me luck.

  5. Vijay Mohan

    Dear Sanjeev,
    I finished BFN today  , I agree with you that such approach is a sure recipe for success . While Ramdev is going to Win the elections but I am not sure of his policies.
    I am sure of your policies but not sure about winning the required mandate.
    From now onwards , I declare myself as a member of FTI. I will try to convince the possible leaders whom I know. 
    The problem here is , Without reading this book its being difficult to get convinced. and Reading books is not a habit among Indians , e.g.. I havent read more than 5 books other than my text books.
    I will try to push this message in Bharat Swabhiman Blog slowly, So that everybody can digest.

  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Vijay

    Thanks for this. I'm heartened that my work of writing the book has been useful. If you wish to join FTI, you'll have to formally apply at:

    I'm aware that Indians don't read books (the book publishers told me that writers are lucky if 500 copies of their books sell in India, whereas in USA the minimum print order for any book would be well over 10,000). That is why I'm focusing on my blog as well, because Indians do read blogs.

    I'd look forward to the results of your discussions on Bharat Swabhiman. I think there is great potential to join hands and reform India.



  7. vijay

    Dear sir, I am glad to know that you are in australia but still care about India. I’ve also read this blogpost, but sir i want to know that what are some of his policies that you think will not be successful.
    I’m waiting for your reply.

  8. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Just one is enough to illustrate: his view that the corrupt should be hung. (I’ve already addressed many other issues – but repeating this just for your sake)

    a) Does he know about the CAUSES of corruption in India? No evidence of that exists so far. Without knowing the causes of corruption, we’ll need to kill off at least 90% of the Indian bureaucrats (including the lowest level clerk/peon) to ‘remove’ corruption. And YET it won’t go away. Hanging even 4 CRORE people won’t help remove corruption.

    b) Does he know that there is a thing called law? According to law, there is a principle of natural justice. Even the corrupt have to be given the opportunity to prove their innocence? Or does he propose to have the law of the mob, i.e. lynching? Does he know the process of Indian legal system? Does he know that it takes years just to dispose of a single case? Does he have any solution for the poor justice system of India? He doesn’t know how the thing works!

    If he had ANY policy knowledge, and knowledge of causes, he would have had ONLY one solution: freedom. His solution and mine (in BFN) would match 100%. But they don’t.

    He is a good man, but even Nehru was a good man.

    Being good is NOT enough.

    Just like merely being a good man (even Baba Ramdev) is not sufficient qualification to be a pilot of a jumbo jet – which needs a specialist – so also Baba Ramdev should first LEARN policy if he genuinely wishes to help India. Else he will crash land the entire country and create anarchy.


  9. Pankaj Jangid

    The article is underesimating the Planning abilities of Baba Ramdev to a great extent. I do not wish to criticise his post because I deeply respect and understand the intent behind writing this article.
    Wait for June/July. Swami Ji will announce the political structure probably. Good people from several parties are already in touch with Swami Ji. He is not listening to the bad boys only good people are welcomed.
    Other point is that policy makers are always there in govt. Why the govt is recruiting these Civil Service personels every year. There are enough number of good policy makers in India. The only need is to have political will in Govt. If we have good people in parliament that is enough. They will dictate the policy makers to make policy that is benefiting to people rather then themselves.

  10. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Pankaj

    I’m afraid the political representatives of a country can’t delegate POLICY making to bureaucrats. Then you’ll get a TOTAL KHICHRI. Bureaucrats are half-baked – particularly in India, with its tenured civil service. They are SERVANTS and you should know how to use them. If you rely on your servant to tell you how to run your business, you are finished.

    I don’t believe a ‘good’ person is enough. History has proved it BEYOND DOUBT. Logically also, most ‘good’ people have proved very dangerous because of their simplistic worldviews and ‘policies’.

    Baba Ramdev is articulating POLICIES on a daily basis. He doesn’t know that what he wants won’t be achieved that way. Populism is no substitute for thinking.

    I’m afraid Baba Ramdev’s movement needs to sit back and think.


  11. PremKranti

    Dear Sanjeev,
    Given the impact and crowd that draws in the meetings of Swami Ramdev, a critical analysis of his methods are totally absent in Indian media. To me, it looks like all the TV channels are sold out to corporate and political nexus. Even the print media is lame, no critical analysis of the problems mentioned by him, no critical analysis of his policies.
    Believe it or not, your site is one of the few where you are trying to bring in a critical analysis. In a way agreeing with the problems that he raises, but unsure that his solution will work. His intention is right, but solution might not work.
    I totally agree with you that the IAS and babus are half baked. They lack experience and are groomed to be servants of the political class. I have myself met many so-called high profile babus, and my experience has been that a simple dukaandar in a small town runs his shop more efficiently than the babu. But the babu has the entitlement. These entitilements have turned our nation into a system, where a few in the government are exploiting and looting the rest of the nations.
    Look forward to making more contributions in the future.

  12. nidhi

    Dear  Sanjeev, 
    Strangely you say Ramdev  is a good man and so was Nehru ? 
    What are you equating? and what makes you think  Nehru was a good man?

  13. Rajendra Thakur

    Dear Sanjeev,
    If you are calling Neharu good man it means you do not have knowledge about Nehru. Indeed swami Ramdevji is not only good person but I will say he is a devine man. About governance you should strengthen his hands rather than just critisizing. In my belive he has done some thing which no body even tried last 60 yrs. Yes I agree that good people do write about curroption in news papers and now on blogs but nothing concreet done. please pardon me for my poor english.

  14. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Rajendra

    So far I have not come across any direct evidence of Nehru’s corruption. His intentions were also good. But his ideas were wrong. So he ended up ruining India.

    Baba Ramdev is similarly a good man. Not corrupt. His intentions are also clearly good. But again, his ideas are wrong. Swadesh and ‘vedic’ socialism is just another version of Nehru’s ideas.

    What the Freedom Team is bringing together is not just good people but people with the right ideas.

    FTI is NOT an internet movement. Most of its leaders are on the ground, in India.


  15. Dr Tenzin Gogoi

    Nehru was a good man what is that a joke?Please refer a History book India's first ever corruption incidence after independence was in 1948 during purchase of army jeeps in Indo-Pak war engineered by Nehru.
    He was an person with "No Moral ethics" and Values even in those days because
    1}In those days his expenditure was around 1.5Lac/day when people were starving.
    2}His extra-marital affair with wife of some last British viceroy.I have seen some photos widely available on Net which are disturbing in many contexts.
    3}During Sino-Indo war acceptance of Unilateral ceasfire by China and Rejecting Kennedy'd help.

  16. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Dr Gogoi

    The Krishna Menon case brought great shame to Nehru’s governance and he finally dismissed him. There is a possibility that Nehru was involved, but his support for Menon could have been a misjudgement. I don’t have any proof of direct Nehruvian malfeasance, given I don’t know exactly what kind of electoral laws prevailed in his time. I’m willing to give Nehru the benefit of doubt. I’m more bothered by the bad policies of Nehru than by his aristocratic lifestyle. After all his father was a wealth lawyer, and Nehru wrote many best sellers. He did earn a fair bit of money.

    His daughter and grand children, etc., have not earned virtually any money on their own. Virtually all was corrupt black money. Big difference from Nehru, who was an intellectual stalwart in comparison.



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