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India, I dare you to be rich

It is in the end all about culture. It is all about DESIRE, about PASSION.

Without desire a human being is like an immovable rock. With desire, the human moves mountains.

The more I think about Hindu Capitalism, the history of capitalism as seen from Dierdre McCloskey's perspective, entrepreneurship from Schumpeter's (and Adam Smith's) perspective and even Veblen's account of the passionate (if unethical) capitalism of the robber barons; it comes back to the raw energy and Tarzan-like assertiveness of Ayn Rand's heroes.

There can be no wealth creation, no innovation, no entrepreneurship without passion and INTENSE FOCUS.

There must be an overwhelming desire to become rich. A desire to learn and focus. And to put in the hard work necessary for wealth creation. Entrepreneurs work really hard, and don't rest till they've proved themselves.

Professionals (like me) can only enable wealth. We can't drive wealth. That has to be driven from within the soul of the world's 'movers and shakers'.

But the society can help. By rewarding and respecting those who become wealthy.

In feudal societies, only nobles were feted. In India only the Brahmins and Khshatriyas were feted. But now the Sudra – the worker, and the Vaishya – the trader and manufacturer, must be feted.

1) The Shudra must come foremost in India's future. The most respected individual of all, whose is highly trained, innovative. The carpenter, plumber, electrician, the IIT engineer: the man who is skilled with hands but knows exactly what he is doing. This is where vocational and technical education comes in. India must dramatically improve this sector. To be a Shudra must be a matter of GREATEST PRIDE.

2) The Vaishya, being the "capitalist", should find the funds, set up factories, and trade. He will be the entrepreneur. This is where business education comes in. India is already good at this, but could do better.

3) The Kshatriya will provide support to the Shudra and Vaishya through defence and police. This is where India's systems perform very poorly. This needs significant improvement.

4) The Brahmin will provide support to the Shudra and Vaishya through design of the system, through political representation, and through the justice system. This needs the most improvement of all. Our Brahmins (our thinkers) have entirely failed. They have tried to become Vaishyas themselves (public sector undertakings). That's the worst thing they could have done. Let them create SYSTEMS to allow enterprise to flourish.

India must SHIFT its culture from respect for the IDLE, USELESS, SOCIALIST "intellectual" to respect for the "menial" – the hands-on producer of wealth. India must celebrate wealth.

The new "caste" system of India will look like this:

Figure: A New Model for Hindu Capitalism

Note that in this "hierarchy", the Brahmin is the LOWEST, for he does NOTHING: only runs the system, like a night watchman or housemaid. The Kshatriya is the gatekeeper and security guard.

The Shudra is the HIGHEST since he produces.The Vaishya owns the house.

Only the most ingenious, the smartest, the most diligent will aspire to become Shudras. To be a Shudra, i.e. wealth creator, would be a rank only worthy of the GREATEST, e.g. JRD Tata, or Narayana Murthy. JRD Tata was perhaps the greatest Shudra-Vaishya of all.

Note, of course, that this "model" is not hereditary. Just based on the competence and talent of people. Only the best can become Shudras.

So my mantra for India is two-fold:

a) Be rich. Aspire to be as rich as you can be.

b) Build conditions in which venture capital and entrepreneurship is allowed to thrive.

India's new model of capitalism (and Hinduism) should look something like this:

The New India would be ever-young of heart: brash, bold and energetic. Even megalomania would be accepted. India would be the daring, ambitious Golden Bird of the world. India would live life the way it is meant to be: ALWAYS ASPIRING FOR THE SKY. Never looking downward.



I hope one day to become a creative innovator. Then I could be known, with great pride, as Sanjeev Sabhlok, Shudra.

Remember, my (actual) last name is not a "caste" name but a title which means "Sabhya-lok", or civilised 'clan'. It would be quite a good thing be able to add to this and to call oneself Shudra. But of course that high rank has to be earned. I've not produced anything in my life yet. Just a pen pusher. Not yet fit to be known as Shudra.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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30 thoughts on “India, I dare you to be rich
  1. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Actually, this interpretation can take India forward to an entirely new era. With Shudra at the top, the best will compete to become Shudras. That’s going to be quite a revolution.

    And it is entirely consistent with classical liberalism – that the system is designed to enable, support enterprise.

    If I say that the best industrialists are the greatest Shudras, then I’m sure everyone will wake up and listen.


  2. Anil


    It’s wishful thinking that the best industrialists of India will be conducive to the idea of being called greatest Shudras.

    I understand where you are coming from but the historical baggage of caste system is so perverse that the only way forward to rid of this curse is the complete annihilation of caste system.

    Jai Hind.

  3. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    I propose to call the greatest producers of India Shudras, whether they like it or not. The baggage of caste can be turned on its head, within the classical liberal theory of the state. It is just a matter of re-ordering the

    The earlier “solution” I suggested was for the castes to interchange. That’s not going to work. This one is actually a workable model, since it says that free citizens who produce wealth must be protected and enabled to succeed. Anyone can become anything, but the greatest (being an entrepreneur, producer) is the Shudra.

    I will make this a sticky blog post, which means any new visitor will always see this first. Let me see how this goes.


  4. chaitanya

    This unnecessary labeling only adds to the confusion, division and quarreling. Lets do away with all labels.

  5. anupam

    I have a question regarding the educational system that how can we educate whole of India and teach skills when 90% population can’t speak english and our whole of the resources are accumulated by english speaking crowd.Don’t you think we should learn from china,south korea where people do work in their own laguage?

  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    I fully agree. But for a nation so steeped in caste and such things, it may be useful to demonstrate the dignity and respect for innovators and producers by raising Shudras to the top.

    Once people see that these ‘castes’ are mere man-made, the pressure to be entirely equal could increase.

    I don’t know. I propose to try and see what happens.

  7. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    It is not language that is holding back anyone. It is BAD POLICY. Pl. see BFN for how the whole of India can be rapidly educated to outstanding levels.


  8. Anarcho-Libertarian

    This is just insane. Why should Sanjeev or anyone for that matter tell Indians how to live their life and make money?

    Brahmins do not produce wealth? Are you crazy? I think you need to get off the high horse of IAS and come down to Earth for a change and learn the facts.

    Stop telling others how to be! Your deranged rants do not help at all.

  9. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    Clearly I’ve hit the target. Everyone is getting confused about what I’m saying. That’s good.

    Pl. read each word of what I’ve said and point out which is incorrect.

    You argue that Brahmins produce wealth. But you miss my point. I’m NOT talking about the “caste” Brahmins of today. Sure, “Brahmins” are industrialists today. But that’s not my point.

    The one who produces is NECESSARILY Shudra: a worker. If he trades, he is NECESSARILY a Vaishya.

    Therefore the greatest producers are Shudra-Vaishyas, like JRD Tata.

    The actual Brahmins, in a free society, would be merely night watchmen. Note that this is a basic classical liberal expression: the king who does nothing but build a system in which everyone can flourish.

    Today there is NO BRAHMIN IN INDIA.

    The day India gets a system in which producers can flourish, that day we will have our FIRST Brahmin.

    Chanakya was India’s last Brahmin. Since then we’ve mostly had “Dalits” (in my model)- the corrupt, arrogant, self-seekers. Even Nehru was Dalit since he tried to rule AND produce (“commanding heights”).

    To be a true Brahmin is to build SYSTEMS and become an enabler. To let OTHERS produce and become wealthy.

    The Brahmin – in this model – he who understands the value of liberty.


  10. Vishal Kumar Singh

    Excellent post. In fact I have a theory that the original Hindu way would have been where Shudra was given great prominence. There have been Shudra kings. I am no historian, but my gut feel say that something happened in past, may be wars, political instability, that changed the whole Hindu way.
    Of course dalits would have been treated badly, they were outside the varna system.

  11. Abhishek

    There is no point of glorifying one or other occupation/caste over other. My question is why to stratify the society in some hierarchy, at first place. Evey one is equal there should be no pride in just being Shudra or Brahmin rather pride must belong to efficient and honest people. There must be no place of glorifying any occupation or caste in India. Pursuit of excellence must be made the highest honor irrespective of their field or occupation. :)

  12. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Abhishek, I am in 100 per cent agreement with you. But I’m also looking for a transitional plan. A policy that is too “ideal” remains unimplemented.

    To me the act of creating a new hierarchy out of the existing caste system can create precisely the kind of challenge that will end up with total equality.

    If the Hindu model says Brahmin is the highest, and my model says that Brahmin is the lowest, that sort of sends the signal you are talking about (and which I want).

    But more importantly, I want India to actually value the WORKER AND INNOVATOR the most.


  13. Anil


    You say this is a “a transitional plan”. I think this will only bring more chaos. The reason is that majority of the Indian, literates included, do not understand the caste system at all. They just follow what has been followed on for centuries. Ask a literate person, who is Shudra? and the answer in most instances will be that Dalits are Shudras.

    There is no point in this new interpretation. Caste system is an evil curse; it must be annihilated as B.R. Ambedkar had said.

    Jai Hind.

  14. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Anil

    When you say that Ambedkar said the caste system must be annihilated, you exactly prove my point. No amount of exhortation will change the caste system. Never. Not in ten thousand years. Exhortation never changes anything. That’s the first rule of society.

    It is only when people like me start calling Tata and Narayana Murthy great Shudras that people will take note and wonder what I’m talking about. When I honour the worker and innovator as Shudra, the title gets respect. Existing “shudras” also get an alternative worldview to think about their oppressed condition.

    By creating a disconnect between existing castes and NEW meanings of these caste terms, I intend deliberately to create CONFUSION.

    Confusion is sometimes good.

    It will prompt the kind of thinking which will help people to see that castes are MAN MADE. That would be the greatest breakthrough. And once that happens, everything will change.

    In my view, also, my interpretation is far closer to the Vedic interpretation than current one. Even that (Vedic) “caste” system is better to the current one. But my interpretation goes beyond that, and by devaluing Brahmins and valuing the producer, completely changes the dynamics of caste (and of Hinduism, and India).


  15. Rajan C Mathew

    Dear Mr Sabhlok,

    You said it well. I agree with you fully. Had our system migrated to the way you described, no doubt, India would have been the richest in the world !

    But then, it is only a mere wishful thinking for the time being !

    Any way, best wishes for expressing your thoughts so beautifully.

  16. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    We have no choice but to “migrate” it to the new architecture of equality, merit and innovation. The old architecture is self-imploding.

  17. A1

    Sanjeev, I guess that here you are referring to caste in a limited sense, as only a role grouping, or a professional grouping but devoid of “transmission by birth-alone” characteristic which is what we see today as the prevailing and dominant vestige of the Indian caste system. If that is so then I understand what you mean, as simply that: somebody who produces value should be “feted” which I can agree with (and I can agree with it even better if they be paid “fair money” for the value they produce, and not just be feted !). Diversity of “desirable” occupations is healthy not only at the national or regional or city level, but also down to the family level itself. In that sense caste continuity of professions breeds “closed source” trade skills which is not open and healthy. Imagine a family where everyone has no choice but to be a Judge. Some of the kids will hate it and will become poor Judges, with a net loss to society ! If they all get together and collude, it will be a major canker that can’t be uprooted.

    Today we see a mix of both. Too many political scions are politicians. Too many Judges’ sons and daughters are themselves lawyers and Judges. The old gentleman judge who appeared on Aamir Khan’s show decrying caste labels [ ] made sense only for 1 day because it revealed that Justice C S Dharmadhikari’s next generation not only carried on with caste name, but also the handed down the profession of being Judges and lawyers. This is the kind of monopolies we need to cross out to make progress. In my mind the solution is not so much about who is “feted” but whether there are cartels at work preventing mobility across layers and across occupations, professions and business domains. Makes sense ?

  18. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    I’m not talking about “caste” here, but more about an honorific title. E.g. Sanjeev Sabhlok, Shudra. Like Sanjeev Sabhlok, Esq.

    Of course, one would have to earn the title of Shudra by being a creative innovator and producer.

    What this would do is to confound the caste system and thereby make it irrelevant. Finally, one day, we would laugh at the time when we had a thing called “caste” system.


  19. Ramesh

    Dear Sabhlok,

    I think this post of yours will go a long way to prove your proper understanding of Hinduism. I had not expected such a better article from you.

    Yours as put above is one of the best way to do away with the castism from which India suffers today.

    Anyway one of the best article I ever seen from you!

    In fact, it has always been matter of pride to be a Shudra in the Hinduism for the reasons stated above in your article.

    Brahmans and Vaishyas spoiled it all beyond repair and proved themselves to be unfit for the job they were entrusted with. Shame to them!

    Appeal to all so called Brahmans and Vaishyas: Time has not yet passed. Understand your duties as above in the article and see the society how well it prospers!

    Indeed Great article!

  20. Ramesh

    Dear Sabhlok,

    I am thrilled to see the heading “India, I dare you to be rich” in your blog name! And published such a revolutionary (though old one) article under the same name!!

    I liked it so much!!

  21. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Thanks, Ramesh. Your standard is usually very high and so if you think I’m on the right track, that’s really good to know.

    I wasn’t aware that “it has always been matter of pride to be a Shudra in the Hinduism”. It would be really good if you can dig up some references for me when you find time. I’ll add these references to this article.

    This article will remain “sticky” for a very long time. Everyone who comes to this blog will be able to read it. So over time, it will hopefully become influential. If you can provide vedic/other texts that support what I’m saying, it would be great!


  22. A1

    I refer to this: “I’m not talking about “caste” here, but more about an honorific title. E.g. Sanjeev Sabhlok, Shudra. Like Sanjeev Sabhlok, Esq.”

    Ok ! If so then how is your suggestion different from Gandhi’s glorification of night soil workers as “Harijan”, which is, in a way, a honorific ? I don’t think the title has changed anything much because the problem is in the collective mind.

    Also, I see this from a Gurumurthy article on Dharampal, which quotes Dharampal as saying (based on his own research):
    “Before the British rule in India, over two-thirds – yes, two-thirds – of the Indian kings belonged to what is today known as the Other Backward Castes (OBCs). …. “It is the British,” he said, “who robbed the OBCs – the ruling class running all socio-economic institutions – of their power, wealth and status.” So it was not the upper caste which usurped the OBCs of their due position in the society ?

    The British certainly seem to have played around with the caste system.

    ( More background discussion on this at India Forum; )

    Coming to modern times, I think the system of reserving quota’s for different castes is itself perpetuating the problem, and it must be undone before people can feel “free” again to choose their own “caste” and work towards it. This part of the problem is in the Indian system as it exists, and the rest is in the collective mind which I believe is much much harder to change.

    In fact, it is not even just a Hindu problem, it is an Indian problem. Today we hear of Christian priests protesting against their Church for caste discrimination:

  23. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Big difference between Gandhi’s approach and mine is this:

    a) I’m NOT a Hindu (I’m an agnostic). I have no caste. Gandhi said clearly he is bania.

    b) I am willing to call myself Shudra (if I deserve it). Gandhi would never call himself Harijan.


  24. Manasa

    Why do we need a caste system?
    Can’t we all. .. Just live like human beings?
    Because, now a days. .. Every one is educated and is free to do what ever he wishes. Hence, I think it’s a crap even if you want to make it upside down!
    It’s better that we all be recognized as Hindus, rather than by caste



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