Thoughts on economics and liberty

Publishing Arvind Kejriwal’s email of 17 November 2012

In his response, Surajit Dasgupta asked, "I am told by one of your fellow activists at FTI, Kejriwal had shot back at you, ‘Do you think you are the only wise economist around?’ Is this true?"

Since you have raised this matter publicly (I did not feel it appropriate earlier to publish Arvind's email: and I think I know which FTI "activist" you are referring to – btw, we are not "activists" we are members), I will now publicly set the record straight – so everyone can see Arvind's approach to those who wish to engage with him.

The following is what Arvind wrote, after nearly 15 emails to him to which he did not respond, following on a meeting in February in which he said he'd read BFN and get back to me.

This was my email to a few people WITH A COPY TO ARVIND (without ANY expectation that he'd respond, since he'd not responded to previous 10-15 emails

Arvind has studiously refused to engage with me despite making a promise in February to read my book and get back to me. He keeps insisting on taking India down the path of socialism. That I will fight against.

If Arvind doesnt' change, I will offer to publicly debate him and his many (not all) incorrect ideas.

But first let me PUBLICLY teach Arvind a few things about economics – if he is REALLY interested in India's future, and not merely in his own ideas.

Arvind, please read:

You are capable of taking the debate on corruption right to the "top". I'm capable of publicly putting down your wrong ideas.

You are a good man but I will not have one more "good" man who takes India down the death trap called socialism.

{Sanjeev: I'd like to add that if you go back to the first of these emails – not this 15th one, you'd note a much more positive note. But given Arvind's insistence on not responding, nor remembering his commitments, you can sense a bit of exasperation in this email of mine.}

Arvind's response

I have read ur mail and ur blog. I don't remember receiving any communication from u earlier. But I must admit that it is quite likely that u might have sent mails and I might have missed replying to them as I receive several mails everyday, though I try my best to respond to as many as possible.

Ur mail seems almost a threat – I am supposed to accept what u say, else ….

Ur blog quotes statements supposed to have been said by me, which I never said. Looks like some kind of a propaganda to deliberately confuse people against us? Since I never said those statements, on which ur entire blog is based, I can't even comment on it specifically.

I just have a small suggestion. Kindly don't treat urself as the last expert on economics and impose urself as a "teacher" on all political parties. All of us learn all our lives. Let's not lose that basic humility. [Sanjeev: This was as insulting as one can get! Where did I even remotely suggest that I was the "last expert" on economics. Second, how DARE Arvind lecture me about humility without knowing me! I'm as full of myself as water spilled on the floor. I have let this silly childishness of Arvind pass.]

Kindly do not draw any conclusions if I am unable to respond back to ur mails in future. I can only assure u that I wud most certainly read ur mails and discuss all good ideas suggested by u with our team.

Best wishes

Arvind Kejriwal.

My response to Arvind:


Thanks for your first response. Let me first reiterate that I believe you are a good man, that's why I interact (or try to interact) with you. Total integrity is my first requirement before I meet or discuss anything with anyone.

I appreciate you are very busy as so didn't respond to more than 15 emails to date (pl. check your records) but I'm disappointed that you seem to have entirely forgotten my personal meeting with you in February this year in which I not only recommended that you join politics, but that you join FTI and read BFN. You promised to read my book and get back to me. Please note the record of this meeting on my blog:

This blog post and associate photo might ring a bell. You had clearly promised to get back to me after reading my book (which I not only send you earlier, but am attaching once again). If you make promises you don't intend to keep, I suggest you don't make them.

Now for your view that you haven't said anything about fixing prices of essential commodities. So how do you explain these:
a) The news:
b) The Hindi PDF released by your group recently:

I'm attaching a screen shot to remind you about what you've been saying. I can't read inside our mind, but from what you publish I believe you could benefit from basic economics.

I'm happy to spend as many hours (over phone) as you think you need to clarify your mind on basic ideas about governance and economics.

Let me remind you at this point about the Freedom Team of India (which I introduced you to, at our meeting) – being a team of leaders I've been organising since 2007 to lead India politically. It is a preparatory platform, that is focused on finding India's best leaders. We have recently organised a national policy competition with Rs.5 lakhs prize: Please read the competition documents, particularly the policy template. These are expected to be eye-opening for most Indians.

Arvind, I'm humble enough to realise that I don't know everything. But don't worry about my 30 years of knowledge of economics and public administration. It is irrelevant that I was in the IAS, taught at the National Academy, got some of the world's best scholarships, did a PhD, wrote a book, and work as a senior adviser in the world's best government system. That's just noise.

But consider the fact that I'm advocating ideas which India's greatest economist: Chanakya, advocated, in his Arthashastra. Chanakya had a brilliant solution for corruption (which has nothing even remotely to do with Lokpal). Chanakya was more sophisticated in his views than almost anyone alive in the world today.

Sure, I may well be a fool, Arvind – and the world will soon find out – but I do know that in liberty lies the solution to India's (and the world's) problems.

I suggest you consider keeping your promise to read my book.

Please note that I'm into total politics and total reform of India since 1998 (I resigned from IAS in 2001 to pursue that path to reform), and I'm dead opposed to any hint of socialism.

FTI has a very strong set of leaders in Delhi. I urge you to contact Somnath Bharti (head of your legal cell) to organise a meeting with Delhi FTI chapter which includes not just IITians and ex-senior officers from armed forces, but supreme court lawyers, and entrepreneurs.

Either way, I trust you will oppose socialism with all your might.

Even if I get the slightest whiff of socialism I attack it with all my might. Having you join forces against this DEATH TRAP would be good.


Arvind never bothered to reply to this, nor has engaged in any further correspondence/discussion.

I trust this clarifies, Surajit. Yes, Arvind did insult me VERY badly, as you can readily see.

But I have taken it in my stride, just like you have called me all sorts of names and compared me with Pakistanis. ["Pakistani representatives’ who respond to India’s allegations pertaining to the Kargil War, the 26/11 terrorist attacks and beheading of our soldiers"]. This kind of childishness doesn't bother me.

I'm just not bothered if people insult me. Your (and others') insults wash off my mind like water off a duck's back.

Those who know me understand that I don't care for such claptrap. None of this detracts me from my 100 per cent focus on results for India. I'm ONLY bothered that we get the right policy solutions for India.

And, btw, I don't hold such things against people. So you're fine! People like you or Arvind can insult me as much as you wish. Enjoy, Surajit, if it helps you!

He keeps saying that he is "open" to ideas, but I've never come across a man more closed to discussion of ideas he doesn't yet understand. But this is common textbook economics. And he is totally closed to understanding basic economics.

As a result of this experience, though, while I continue to copy one or two emails to Arvind, I will NEVER make any attempt to meet or talk to him.

He must take the initiative if he wants to find out why I may have something useful to say. I might, however, in due course of time (and if absolutely necessary), challenge him to a public debate. That might be the only way to enter his TOTALLY CLOSED mind.


Btw, on a separate point, my way of analysing long comments received is by starting a new blog post in which I carefully read and annotate them. So please don't mind if I publish a separate blog post on your response. Yes, and we will also talk on Facebook as well.

But Facebook is private. I prefer public discussion.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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2 thoughts on “Publishing Arvind Kejriwal’s email of 17 November 2012
  1. Brijesh Kumar

    Sir as far as I know what you as FTI, FTI is like a academic research output giving team which generally studies what the west does. So by seeing your arguments or funde AAP going for socialism and personal distress with someone, and writing a later like that if someone disagrees with someone then he doesn't know anything.
    Governance is not based on ideologies sir, it there is problem the n to fix it we have to seek solution for it.
    If air India is not working well then we have to open market or look for other solutions.
    This what AK says that we define a problem and look for solutions.
    Don't misinform people, poor people don't know these ideologies and they don't need it keep it for your academic purpose only.
    People want good people to be politicians that can give space to full freedom.
    FTI is trying dstroy freedom of people who are fed up bad politics.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    “Sir as far as I know what you as FTI, FTI is like a academic research output giving team”.

    Well, that’s totally incorrect. Do try to read FTI’s brochure on FTI’s website. FTI is a LEADERSHIP TEAM that is offering India a completely new set of leaders who will bring it world-best goverance – something that no socialist can possibly do.

    “Governance is not based on ideologies sir, it there is problem the n to fix it we have to seek solution for it.”

    You merely displaying deep ignorance through this statement. N.Korea/S.Korea difference, e.g. is ALL about ideolgy. Ideology that uses SCIENTIFIC METHOD is known as liberalism. Chanakya’s Arthashastra was extremely sophisticated and proposed pretty much the same ideas I talk about. Nehru’s ideas destroyed India but that’s pretty much what Arvind talks about. Let’s fix the problem through the right analysis.

    You may find reading my book hard (most Indians are incapable of reading books, only mugging up some textbook by rote), so try the simpler slides at: These slidse will explain why Arvind’s ideas are completely wrong – because he just doesn’t understand markets or incentives. Without mastering these two, you CAN’T get good governance.



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