Thoughts on economics and liberty

My draft slides for keynote presentation at Governance Reforms Conference 13-14 April, Delhi

As usual, I appreciate feedback and comments on my draft work.

I'm keynote speaker (will speak for a total of about 2.5 hours in a two-part lecture) at a Governance Reforms Conference organised by IIPA and IPI on 13-14 April.

Seats are limited so please register quickly!

I've only spent a very few hours on making these draft slides, but would appreciate your comments to help me improve. Any comment, including typographical errors picked up, would be helpful.


(5MB draft presentation)

I'll further refine if time permits and provide a further revised version on the internet before the conference. I'll let all those who are attending know. If you are attending you could download and bring along with you to the session.

Why am I providing my "intellectual property" free of cost?

You might well ask: If all this material is freely available, then why would anyone attend?

Well, listening to me will be good in two ways:

a) You'll get a more extensive discussion. 

b) You'll get to ask me questions and clarify your doubts.

I'll try to get the talk video recorded for uploading on Youtube but that's not guaranteed. 

In any case what I'm presenting is good for India. So let it be "free".

Please feel free to send these slides around to anyone you wish. 

Please  comment here on this blog, or send me your comments at The sooner the better, since I'm going to be crazily busy from 2 April.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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3 thoughts on “My draft slides for keynote presentation at Governance Reforms Conference 13-14 April, Delhi
  1. RSKumar

    Yes, incentives work; in other words, actions are goal (incentive) drive. This is a view about human psychology–it is called intentional psychology. Western common sense assumes the truth of this intentional psychology.

    Chanakya understood this, but he relegated the phenomenon of “actions being incentive-driven” to a mere phenomenon. In reality, actions are goal-less; in other words, our experience of ourselves (beings with hopes, desires, projects, etc) is not veridical. For example, we experience the flatness of earth when we walk; but when you fly at 45000 ft, you can see the non-flatness (or curvy) nature of the earth.

    Chanakya did not buy intentional psychology; he was a product of then Indian traditions, whose stance about human psychology is far superior than the intentional psychology. Even this stance still exists among many illiterate old rural folks in India; these folks don’t say the way I describe: instead, they say “perform actions without expecting results”. On one hand, we all experience that actions are goal-driven; on the other, these old illiterate folks tell us to perform actions without goals. These two statements appear contradictory; but they are not once you bring in the difference between phenomena and reality (Sun’s movement around the earth = phenomenon; earth’s movement around Sun = reality).

    In a society, people with diverse backgrounds exist. Banning does not solve problem: this kind of prohibiting some actions is part and parcel of normative ethics, which is secularized Christian ethics. What Indians discovered then was: instead of banning actions that are considered ‘bad’, they found ways to use those actions in a positive way.

    Lets use our goal-less action hypothesis to illustrate the above point. Like the way one flies at 45,000 ft to discover the curvy nature of Earth, one has to test the hypothesis of ‘goalless actions’; this latter test constitues ‘getting enlightened’ (or gyaanodaya). We don’t expect everyone in society to get enlightened; or for some people, it takes a while to test that out. Given this, how to channelize energies of people who sees that their experience of incentive-driven actions is the reality? That’s when you can pay them the top buck to do good for people.

    True reforms will occur once we understand human psychology. The pure ‘incentive-driven actions’ view does not help much; instead, it fosters a pyramid where everyone wanna reach the same goal.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Well said, RSK. I’d like to read more of your work/thoughts. Can you please send?


  3. RSKumar


    My ideas are product of Balagangadhara’s work. Check his recent “Reconceptualizing India studies” by OUP, India.

    About Indian traditions and intentionality (or incentive-driven actions), check

    For more on “understanding normative ethics”, check this too:

    For more on “what is preventing Indian renaissance”, read this article:

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