Thoughts on economics and liberty

Why this man, Narayanan Krishna of Madurai, is more admirable than our politicians and industry leaders

Watch this (if you haven't yet):

Now watch the videos here. Compare the way our politicians and bureaucrats treat the people of this "great" land.


It is the job of the government to ensure the social minimum for all (see my detailed article on this subject here). It is in that fundamental job that the governments of India have TOTALLY FAILED, despite claiming to be working for the poor (remember the fraud of "Garibi Hatao" by Indira Gandhi? – see this painting I made when I was 16 years old, to protest this fraudulent claim by Indira Gandhi – and her progeny have kept up the fraud).

It is not merely the desire for India's wealth and prosperity that drives me. In fact such a desire can give us no emotional energy. It is the desire to eliminate poverty COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY, that basically drives me. And I know it can be achieved through the policies I advocate. Indeed, I have clearly outlined a program whereby this can be done RIGHT NOW within three years.

Now let me tell you something that bugs me a lot.

I went to one of India's most famous industrialists (in the IT industry) and asked him what is the plan for the use of the UID currently under preparation. He informed me that its use is not his focus, that he is working purely on the delivery of the concept. But the UID is meaningless if it is not used to support the negative income tax solution to eliminate poverty.

I then explained the FTI concept to this gentleman and asked him to support it, but, instead, he asked me to join an existing political party (e.g. Congress). I refused, having too much self-respect to do that. 

Let me be very clear about this – that I have VERY LITTLE RESPECT for those who don't work for the poorest of the poor of India at all times. To me there is NO POINT in India being a 'superpower' with such ghastly poverty that we have. There is no point claiming that "India is Shining" if we are also one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

I do NOT admire this greatly-admired-and-written-about industrialist – since he is merely part of the system that I oppose. He has no heart – or at least not the kind of heart needed to TOTALLY reform India. 

We need people like Narayanan Krishna of Madurai – millions of them. But more importantly we need highly capable leaders with the heart of N.Krishna. Only leaders with a good clean heart can eliminate the need for bright young persons like N. Krishna to abandon their career and work for the poor. We need leaders who will ELIMINATE poverty.

That is what FTI wants – leaders with determination to eliminate poverty. Not those who want to lead as decoration pieces or those who care only for the perks of power and leadership.

Please join me in applauding N.Krishna.

I don't have a firm view on whether God exists or not, or whether, as Advaita says, we are all part of God in some form, but if there is one, then please God bless him.

Instead of such heartfelt gratitude for N.Krishna's work, I have only "Ghrina" or "nafrat" (घृणा/ नफरत) – two words that can't be translated into English – for our politicians and "great" industrialists who are hands in glove with the corrupt forces of India. Let's overthrow these useless people. 

Please rise to lead India.

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20 thoughts on “Why this man, Narayanan Krishna of Madurai, is more admirable than our politicians and industry leaders
  1. raj

    I have watched his videos on CNN heroes and I have voted for him numerous times. Today on thanksgiving day @ 8Pm EST, I really hope he becomes the "hero" and wins the credit he deserves.

  2. Ashish Deodhar

    Hi Sanjeev
    I must say I am disappointed to see this article coming from you, a classical liberal! How is "feeding people" anywhere remotely similar to fighting poverty? I would have more respect for this guy if he had created jobs for people, instead of offering them free meals. He's creating dependants and that doesn't look like a good thing from any angle.
    You said "It is the desire to eliminate poverty COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY, that basically drives me."
    Again, disappointed to see this coming from you. Do you seriously believe that this is practical? Do you seriously believe that any nation, not only India, could have ZERO poverty? Shouldn't the more practical ambition be to CREATE WEALTH than to REMOVE POVERTY?

  3. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Ashish

    I have explained my position at great length in BFN, DOF and in my articles. I won’t repeat these arguments. All major classical liberals agree with me on this, starting with John Locke and all the way to Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek.

    I believe classical liberalism is done no favour by claiming that elimination of poverty is not a task for society. Social insurance – as explained at length by me in terms of the necessary frugality of the scheme – is a crucial ingredient of a civilised free society.

    And yes, it is TOTALLY PRACTICAL to have zero poverty. On that I have no doubt. I’ve explained the method also, in great detail. More than ten years ago.


  4. Ashish Deodhar

    In my opinion, poverty is simply a manifestation of the real problem and "poverty elimination" is nothing more than a cosmetic change, if that's possible in the first place.
    The world's richest nations too have some poor – it's not uncommon to see beggars and homeless on Britain's streets and although I haven't been to the US or Australia, I am pretty confident that there are quite a few beggars there too.
    I think a more practical, and if I may say, a lot more moral objective should be wealth creation – give people a real chance to do something, to produce something instead of waiting for the next charitable donor to come along.
    There are many NGOs in India who create employment opportunities for many sections of destitute people and that's great. My problem with this chap is that he is simply creating dependants – people who know nothing more than waiting for someone to bring food to them! That's not heroic. That's deplorable.
    And I still don't believe that "poverty elimination" is a bigger motivator for you than wealth creation. For if that was the case, you would've started a facebook page titled "India I promise I will make you a poverty-free nation" instead of "India I will make you a rich nation"! 

  5. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Ashish

    Thanks for this, but the two issues are opposite sides of the coin: you can’t remove poverty without making most people really rich. I wouldn’t look at the examples of the failed welfare states of the West to compare two uncomparable situations (noting that you’d be VERY HARD PRESSED to find anyone even REMOTELY poor as you find in India, in the West – and such people are generally drug addicts or otherwise mentally in some trouble). For every 1000 people in deep poverty that you find in India you’d find 1 somewhat comparably poor in the West.

    The liberal society must eliminate extreme poverty, else the package doesn’t work as a valid social contract. Indeed, the state itself is part of an overall social insurance program (to protect us from crime, for instance). Let’s not worry about this minor cost of eliminating poverty.


  6. Ashish Deodhar

    Right. Here I somewhat agree with you.
    Yes, wealth creation through free enterprise will give a lot of people a chance to come out of poverty. To that extent, yes it's just the opposite side of the coin. But that's as much as any government could and should do – give people that chance. Whether they take their opportunities or not is beyond government's control; it's beyond anyone's control.
    Just because there are poor and homeless people in the US and UK doesn't make these countries FAILED welfare states just as the existence of a few extreme rich people in India doesn't make it a highly successful liberal economy! The reason there are fewer poor in the western hemisphere is because the governments here for most part took a hands-off approach.
    So in a nutshell, poverty REDUCTION could be a PRACTICAL OUTCOME of less government control but poverty ELIMINATION is simply an absurd PROMISE that will only get the government to interfere in the people's business every now and then!
    As an aside, you said we need people like Narayan Krishnan – millions of them. That would be a nightmare because not only millions of people like Narayan Krishnan would fail to realise their true potential (he could've been big hotelier creating thousands of jobs) but people like him would create billions of dependants waiting for their Narayan Krishnans to come and feed them!

  7. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Ashish

    Poverty elimination is not absurd. It is the most obviously practicable thing – do read my work on this when you get some time.

    And when I say we need more Krishnans I didn’t want ANY Krishnan who is required to forfeit his career. I want everyone to be engaged in things that they do best – please read that portion also. I meant we need leaders both with the head to understand good policy and the heart to ensure that genuine and unavoidable poverty is eliminated.

    It is improper on your part (and I strongly object!) to suggest that ” Whether they take their opportunities or not is beyond government’s control; it’s beyond anyone’s control.”

    Please do try to understand that there is a significant proportion of humanity (2-5%) that, for mental and other handicaps, simply can’t operate in a competitive market. Your child (I wish not!) can be one of them. This is a pretty random distribution. Social insurance ensures that these people too can lead a human life.


  8. Ashish Deodhar

    Elderly, mentally and/or physically disabled, or any other type of people who can't look after themselves are not a definition of "poor". They need not always be poor in the first instance. And those are not the people I am talking about.
    The overwhelming population of India that lives BPL is not physically or mentally disabled; it's a perfectly capable population devoid of any opportunities. The role of government with respect to these people is to create those opportunities for them. For those who can't look after themselves, yes that's when society could step in and government is a perfectly acceptable part of that society.

  9. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I don’t think that many people BPL in India have the mental capacity to compete, with their deplorable levels of education. By all means educate their children, but please don’t starve them.

  10. Ashish Deodhar

    Sorry to say this but I think this debate is getting irrational. How's level of education and mental capacity to compete related? And how's giving them an opportunity to make something of themselves equivalent to "starving them"?
    Smacks of pompousness to be honest. Nothing better or different from the socialist and communist regimes that think they know what's best for their "praja"!

  11. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I’m in a great hurry – too much to do – and can’t debate this endlessly – really!
    I’ve written 10,000 words on this in BFN and DOF and would request you to read the entire argument and try to understand what I mean by the concept of social insurance.
    Once you’ve got that, the rest will become clear.
    I do offer the only consistent and viable social contract that does not distort incentives but ensures everyone is allowed to live.

  12. Kamal

    Hi Guys,
    While on one hand I do applaud Mr. Narayanan for his service to the destitute, I am willing to go with the argument that this way he may be creating a lot of dependency on the system to throw up "Narayanans" which probably is captured in Sanjeev's concept of social insurance.  Having said that, I realise that in my personal capacity, I would rather put my efforts (because I may be more able due to my education & background) to creating employment opportunities rather than be a Narayanan.

  13. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Indeed, Kamal, I’m suggesting this: that NO highly skilled N.Krishna should be ‘required’ to forego his career (or employment generating opportunities).

    Once a government performs its functions including of ensuring the social minimum, all able bodied and able-minded people should focus on generating wealth (and ensuring good governance).

    Providing good governance remains the key.


  14. kolade

    I shed tears when I first watch the video of this wonderful man Narayanan Krishnan. He’s an exceptional person with a great spirit of love and compassion . A lot of people are super rich in India , great industrialist are there too but none of them are doing what this great man is doing. This is the kind of man Indian need in other to move forward economically , spiritually and otherwise. He’s not only a HERO but a potential leader . What a great example !

  15. Allaboutdwarka


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  16. Aliee

    This is unbelievable Hats off to you Mr. Naryanan . How can I help this guy in his cause if I want to?
    Aliee from Karachi.  

  17. vijay

    “I then explained the FTI concept to this gentleman and asked him to support it, but, instead, he asked me to join an existing political party (e.g. Congress). I refused, having too much self-respect to do that.

    Sanjeev, disappointed to note this. If such supposedly educated and intelligent entrepreuners do not understand your concerns and blindly canvass for a corrupt political party, then what is our fate?

    And BTW, education might not have direct correlation with honesty/integrity. In fact smart educated people try to find smarter ways to evade system. Corruption is even more deep rooted than that. Education can only help bring awareness on how you are being fooled. It cannot necessarily make a person honest. Some of the most dishonest ministers in the Congress have post-graduate degress from Harvard and other reputed institutions. Look at Kapil Sibal who argued that not even one rupee was lost in the 2G scam. Such brazen dishonesty.

    And you wonder how many parents in Andhra would have told their kids to come up in life following Ramalinga Raju’s(Sathyam sofware’s CEO, who was arrested for fudging accounts) footsteps and use him as an idol. He is behind bars now.


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