Thoughts on economics and liberty

Rajiv Malhotra’s response and my further comments. It is getting time to move on.

Rajiv's response received. He has highlighted his comments in yellow. My comments are in blue.
I think it is high time for Rajiv to decide where he stands for on the substantive issue that I'm concerned about. If he stands for free speech, let him explain his tweets and I'll be with him and will apologise for any inconvenience caused by any erroneous deductions I may have made. If he's against liberty and in favour of pulping books (which is what his tweets demonstrate) then let's agree to vigorously differ and move on. There are millions of opponents of free speech in the world and I can't continue discussion with each one of them.
Dear Rajiv
After Doniger's wrote to me that you may not be involved in the destruction of her book, I am obliged to give you the benefit of doubt.
[Haha – so you are a Doniger crony and she gets to decide what you will say about me. How about a course on decolonizing yourself?] [Sanjeev: Your denial PLUS Doniger's view about you possibly not being involved. Are you saying that ALL statements by Doniger are necessarily false – and you are the only one who should be believed. Note that I've never read Doniger – had not even heard of her. And I believe you MAY be entirely right in your views, but the issue is not the content of your work or Doniger's. The issue is the destruction of Doniger's book. ]
Last night I removed my two initial posts despite significant doubt in my mind, based on the facts of the case. 2+2 is rarely not 4. 
No person committed to free speech would have acted as you did on Twitter. Btw, Tweets are not third party' transaction.

[Third party point is misunderstood by you. What I mean is that my actions with Nussbaum as an example of a third party has no bearing on YOU, that you failed to understand the context of such interactions with her, and that you have no clue of what my response was to her. SHE IS THE THIRD PARTY BEING REFERRED TO. Nothing to do with twitter. There are 100+ third parties i interacted with and you cannot take their point out of context and apply to me. DO YOU GET IT NOW?] [Sanjeev: Thanks for the clarification. This was merely my further investigation about you after your resort to abuse despite my CLEAR commitment to apologise if I was wrong. This "finding" does not affect the key issue of your support for the destruction of Doniger's book.  Your aggression (or otherwise) is not an issue, just like your abuse is not an issue.  There are millions of aggressive and abusive people in this world. My issue is about any intolerance which leads to book destruction . That's my main bug bear. The rest is incidental.]
Twitter is a tool of public speech and conclusive evidence in many things. 

I fully understand that my initial strong language offended you. Yes, I do get very offended by rich and powerful people who want to demolish free speech.

[Did you do any due diligence to assess that I am "rich"? Another example of hearsay as your level of scholarship?] [Sanjeev: I don't have time to undertake detailed scholarship on every comment. But some proof: (1) Rajiv Malhotra (born September 15, 1950), is an Indian-American multimillionaire – Source Wikipedia. (2) "Malhotra has had an unusually rich and influential career: With a background in science and after a successful business venture" – Source ]

Only I am to blame for this weakness of my approach, which allowed you to evade the substantive issues of this matter and take the high moral ground. 

At this stage, since you are still communicating after your initial flare up, walking the talk is key. You can help me by publicly condemning everyone involved in forcing the pulping of Doniger's book, including Atalanta group and the relevant Indians (Batra et al). Write to Doniger supporting her right to mislead the world about Hinduism (if that's what you think she is doing).

[I am not going to "help you" under circumstances of intimidation. That would encourage your bad behavior. My own stance on the whole matter is being put up publicly ...] [Sanjeev: OK I'm possibly guilty of bad behaviour in this case – if you are able to convince me that you are a supporter of free speech and not supporter of book destruction. I have no problem in apologising if I've wrongly blamed you for being an enemy of free speech. But please help me with specific proof. The only facts I have at present are your justification for book destruction.]

Voltaire said he'd disagree with someone but defend to death their right to say what they wished. You should take that approach. Such an approach would have attracted me to you, to your work, and I would have been open to reading and considering your arguments. 

It is critical that we allow civilised discourse to occur even on matters we totally disagree with.

[This is one point I agree. You must start practicing this in your conduct towards someone like me – especially I am someone you never met or spoke with or interacted online. Your first reference about me came as a series of insults, unsubstantiated allegations, judgments based on false assumptions...] [Sanjeev: I'm afraid your gloating about Doniger book destruction and justification for its destruction doesn't make my views "unsubstantiated". The substantive issue is fully substantitated. Yes, re: the issue of your direct involvement in this shameful event: you have denied it, Doniger thinks you may be innocent. I continue to reserve my judgement till I get clear answers from you on my questions. But in the meanwhile I have removed those posts.  

Pulping books is the very antithesis of civilisation. We are not fit to be called Hindus if we start destroying books.

I have honed down to a few sections of IPC as the key culprit (s.295A). These sections, very ill-drafted and vague, hit at the very basics of freedom of speech in India and give all kinds of fools and fundamentalists the opportunity to harass authors. If you are serious about liberty, please join me in studying/researching/condemning/ changing these sections, and demanding absolute free speech in India, including the 'un-banning' of all books and pieces of art.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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18 thoughts on “Rajiv Malhotra’s response and my further comments. It is getting time to move on.
  1. Alex C.

    I received this: via

    An article by Ms Arora (advocate for Shri DN Batra), titled “Intolerance in the name of freedom of expression.” Remember, this is published on Rajivji’s discussion forum, has been publicised from his verified Twitter account, and even has a foreword by him—

    The following message is from Advocate Monika Arora who filed the lawsuit against Penguin and got the settlement. Her client was Shri Dinanath Batra, a mild matured, polite and serious intellectual in Delhi. I think this message gives an important rejoinder to critics. emphasis author’s own

    This article is a masterpiece of sophistry. Not only does it successfully hide the intolerance towards free expression shown by its progenitors, but it casts their opponents as intolerant! This is done by mischieviously misinterpreting “criticism” as “intolerance.” Moreover, Shri Batra, the “mild matured, polite and serious intellectual in Delhi,” is not only not a suppressor of free speech through the chilling effect, but is in fact a Champion of Rule of Law, upholder of the Indian Constitution, and protector of the honour of Indian Courts! The Honbl advocate has even cited the Constitution in support of this proposition. They are the heroes in their telling of the story.

    The rest of the article goes on to slander critics right and left, as is their usual technique, while interestingly and relevantly invoking a notorious USAmerican President. This is significant because it subliminally establishes a link between their critics, USA, and its notorious President: thus feeding on a latent anti-USAmerican bias they assume must be present in their readers.

    All in all, a very good piece of PR propaganda, and entirely worthy of a Supreme Court advocate (whether for a fee or pro bono).

    My purpose in writing this comment is to put this very apt example to the absurdity that can result from a slavish devotion to Rule of Law, which you seem to advocate (no pun intended). In this case, as in the s377 case, the Law has prevailed, while Justice has been denied. I seriously hope that you will modify your views on Rule of Law in accordance with jurisprudential advances of St. Augustine, that were so emphatically championed by Gandhiji and later by Shri Martin Luther King, Jr.

  2. Shaanty


    Am not sure why Rajiv Malhotra is reacting in this way.
    He otherwise seems to be a good knowledgeable guy. This is from his books,
    I would suggest reading his book – Breaking India to and then judge him. His research and rebuttals in the book show what he is talking about,

  3. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    This potentially further exposes links between Rajiv and the relevant lawyer. That’s probably why he balked at responding to my direct self-implicating questions.

    Agree with you entirely re: rule of law. By no means is it intended to mean slavish adherence to bad laws. Having said that there is a due process for getting rid for bad laws, and I believe the (classical) liberal will consider civil disobedience only after exhausting the first options (through parliament).


  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Please note my issue is not about his work. Even if he is 100 per cent right and Doniger is 100 per cent wrong (and there is some evidence that he is perhaps at least partly right), he has no right to support (if not actively contribute to) the destruction of books. The death of debate and the use of violence (destruction of books) is what I object to. It is un-Hindu.

  5. Alex C.


    You’ll find the following article (titled “The 507 Days of Freedom in ‘Free India”) by Shri Anuj Gupta to your (and liberals’) taste:

    His proposed course of action seems entirely reasonable to me, even though I have no idea why he expects BJP, of all outfits, to come out in favour of Freedom of Speech, given its past shameful statements in case of s377, J&K, etc.

    Also, the right thing to do in Ms Doniger’s case is to negotiate with another publisher immediately. Aleph Books is her other publisher, and is led by a gutsy man (even though owned by Rupa). Let Indians who would stand up for Free Speech be counted. Failing this, Ms Doniger should release her book under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives-ShareAlike licence (if she is in fact interested in Free Speech and not just money from the controversy), so that it can be offered as a free e-book download from Indian websites. The book needs to not just be available illegally through back channels, but it needs to be available publicly and visibly. I’ll also then request all “supporters” of Ms. Doniger (most of whom are spineless Socialists) to host the e-book on their websites, as it is not “banned” in India at all.

    If I read this book and find the slightest bit of disagreement, I’ll publish an excoriating criticism myself that make Rajivji’s diatribe look like polite dinner-conversation, even if it takes a couple of years. But the book has to be kept in print, or at least make available for download—legally and visibly. Let’s see how much Ms Doniger herself cares about Free Speech (as opposed to money from the controversy), along with her “supporters” like Shri Ramchandra Guha and Smt Arundhati Roy.

  6. Vikram G


    Are you a Hindu (or) a Liberal ?

    From all your writings and your site it seems you are using the western liberal framework to define Hinduism.

    a Lawsuit and out of court settlement has been interrupted as “The death of debate and the use of violence” ? Wow !

  7. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    The book (almost certainly pirated copies) is widely available. I’ve also been provided this link today as part of a group on FB:

    Anuj is an excellent thinker and classical liberal. He just things that working through BJP is the solution. Given that the classical liberal parties of India (LSP/NBDP) have serious internal issue and are simply incapable of absorbing talent, I have no issues with people working wherever they can.

  8. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Vikram, I am a classical liberal – a fighter for human liberty, including of Hindus. Hinduism is one of the world’s most liberal religions (Buddhism possibly pips it at the margin),  and to the extent my believes are consistent with ancient Indian beliefs (including non-Vedic), I like to see myself as a Scientific Hindu. Similarly I’m a Scientific Muslim and Scientific Christian. I adopt the best from everywhere and spit out the rest.

    Re: book, Penguin’s statement makes clear that they were bullied because of the threat to file criminal charges. The Indain law is violative of freedom of speech. That’s my main focus of attention.


  9. Vikram G


    When you say your a fighter for human liberty on the behalf of Hindus, Please do explain to me why Hindus require someone or anyone to fight for their liberty ?

    Western liberal thought is the response to western conservative thought which seeks to suppress the rights of the individual. Has nothing to do with Hinduism.

    The very nature of the Hindu ensures that they are scientific i.e quest to explain the world. So kinda redundant to say that your a “Scientific Hindu”.

    While you and I would like to claim we are Christians/Muslims, there is a norm and that norm is not defined by our choice but the respective book/claims. Science stands in Direct contrast to Christianity/Islam.

    Therefore you have a lot of things confused. Kinda like me claiming that I am the president of the U.S and the next 150 Countries. Silly At best.

    Re: book, Penguin is no push over to be frightened by a lawsuit. You must be really naive to believe that.

    Most likely they realized the flaws in the book and decided it would be far worse to lose in the courts hence -> out of court settlement.

    Now you must have some evidence that “Indian law violates freedom of speech” and if so please do share it with me and the readers.

  10. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I’ll leave aside your issues re: liberalism for after you’ve read The Discovery of Freedom (download from my blog page on the right column). Pl. confirm you’ve read it and then we can discuss.

    Re: Penguin. Have you read its statement? It is clear it was bulldozed by threats of prosecution under criminal laws of India.

    These laws are ANTI-LIBERTY, just like many other Indian laws. Not for nothing is India one of the most un-free nations in the world. I will discuss these anti-free speech laws in the coming days. Please bear with me. In the meanwhile do go through the recent links I’ve provided e.g. Hitchens, Dawkins, Atkinson, Chomsky, and read Mill’s essay On Liberty.


  11. Alex C.


    Western liberal thought is the response to western conservative thought which seeks to suppress the rights of the individual. Has nothing to do with Hinduism.

    The very nature of the Hindu ensures that they are scientific i.e quest to explain the world. So kinda redundant to say that your a “Scientific Hindu”.

    Kudos for expressing these truths that, unfortunately, elude so many people!

    Even then, Hindus require someone or anyone to fight for their liberty because they are under attack from pseudo-Hindus like Shri DN Batra, and (increasingly likely now) Shri Rajiv Malhotra. These “khotay sikkay” people will try to force their own unique view on everyone, and will not allow the population to even read their opponents! It is particularly sad because I found Rajivji’s ideas very thought-provoking, and thought that due to being a victim of exclusion himself he would do the right thing here, but now he is cheering for the fake Hindus! Satyamev Jayate, but not by itself—someone has to fight for it. It is well that people from the Hindu fold, the real Hindus, being seekers of truth regardless of its source, and willing to do shaastraarth even on the most palpably absurd claims, are taking the lead in this fight. Dharma can survive onslaught from external forces well, but like counterfeit Rupees this internal poison is very dangerous.

    Classical Liberalism is a Western term, agreed, but it is highly relevant to Bharat because the modern economy and business is increasingly becoming Socialist (another Western concept, albeit a failed one) and is killing the innate vyapaari buddhi and honesty of Indians. Just as we use (imported) aircraft carriers to protect native soil, so we use Classical Liberalism. Origins do not matter—what matters is that it is a Good and Effective means to halt the moral and economic downfall of our country.

  12. Vikram G


    I am well aware of Hitchens, Dawkins, Atkinson, Chomsky, Mill and more (Hitchens being a personal hero). Since I seek to have a meaningful debate with you, I will go through the “Discovery of Freedom” pdf in detail.

    On your behalf I am certain you have gone through Rajiv Malhotra’s works. You should also be well aware of the correct scientific process in analysis. Lets debate this out with open minds and a good scientific methodology.

    Please keep in mind, just as I will convince you that I am well aware of your reasoning and thought process, You will have to convince me of the same.

    Additionally do open a new topic in this blog so that we keep things clear.

  13. Vikram G

    Dear Alex,

    in the western thought space when the new comes in contact with the old, the old is eliminated. This has to happen by default for progress.

    In the dharmic space, The old and new exist happily with progress.

    Unless you understand the reason for the difference, It would be pointless to say what is right or wrong.

    In short, western Liberal views are only good enough to tackle the conservative side. It is useless against the Dharmic pov since it has nothing to offer. There is enormous “liberalism” inherent in the Dharmic thought process.

    Therefore to apply western liberalism to Hinduism is an inherent flawed idea which will only harm and never help.

  14. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Vikram, I’ve not gone through Rajiv’s work nor see any need to do so. I’m aware of severe criticism of his work by those most affected: the Dalits. Some of them object vigorously to his so-called “Brahminical” view of the world according to which the entire problem of oppression in India is brushed under a grand carpet. 

    Rajiv is not interested in reforming Hinduism and taking it back to its scientific roots. He is not saying (as I do) that the caste system must go and Dalits must have the same status as Brahmins in Hinduism. He is also willing to destroy books that he doesn’t like (or at least support the destruction – I can’t really see much difference in the two. He is worse than a Muslim who keeps quiet about the banning of Satanic Verses. He is an active defender of the destruction of Doniger’s book).

    What precisely is your debate with me? Let’s specify the issue.

  15. Vikram G


    If you want to have a serious debate, you cannot ignore someone’s work. In the very same logic familiarizing myself with your “Discovery of freedom” wouldn’t be necessary.

    How can a logical mind conclude that his work is “dalit view” negating without even reading his books? wow ! Your position is without benchmarks, logic and knowledge. Hitchens would be turning in his grave.

    Destroying books ? Sorry cry as loud as you want, the FACT remains that it was a voluntary removal by the publisher done in the perfect legal methodology over a 4 year battle. Its extremely mature and civil. Until you prove otherwise, you can not distort facts.

    My debate would be that you are ill informed on world views/definitions/etc. You are working in reverse to prove a theory much like the conservative side. Most Importantly -> You have little or no understanding of the Hindu pov/history/philosophy and therefore have no expertise to opinion on what is right or wrong for Hinduism.

    But real debate can only happen when both the sides are well aware of each others positions. Since you choosing to ignore good books and have already made up your mind, It would be like debating with a wall.

    So until you are aware of Rajiv’s work (which presents the hindu pov) and then choose to critique it, We have no debate.

  16. Alex C.

    Vikram ji,

    > In short, western Liberal views are only good enough to tackle the conservative side.

    Yes. A follower of Dharma has a duty to seek the truth, and is always opposed to conservatism. That is because Dharma has no place for conservatism—it is ever evolving and approaching the truth closer and closer. It is only reactionary “khotay sikkay” pseudo-Hindus like Shri DN Batra that want to shackle Dharma into their own narrow, conservative world view. Since this conservative development is new, we need new tools to fight it—hence our use of Liberalism. The fundamental concept of Dharma is that it is eternal and absolute, but we can only approach it through more and more search/research, i.e. perfection is in the journey, not “achievement.” There is no scope for conservatism. Hence we fight anti-Dharmic conservative fools using anti-conservative weaponry of Liberalism.

    By the way, Dharmic thought of constant introspection and change towards the truth is strangely prescient of Liberal thought. A thorough history pending, I would say that Liberalism has its roots in Bharat, rather than being a European “invention.“

  17. Vikram G


    You need to understand something important. Both western Liberal and Conservative views are two halves of the same coin and interdependent. The conservative view anchors while the Liberal takes their society forward.

    There is no space for the Dharmic thought in a liberal pov. It destroys Dharmic thought and CREATES the conservative thought to balance itself.

    For Decades India has been subjected to the western liberalism and the reaction to that is the birth of conservative thought. When you tell people that my way is the best way (liberal or conservative) it creates the opposite reaction. Dharmic pov says, your way is best for you and my way is best for me and we can respect each other.

    And your right, Western liberalism has enormous contributions from dharmic thought. However just as its designed to do, all credit is disregarded/hidden and source sort to be destroyed. As Rajiv Malhotra puts it, the prey is Digested to strengthen the predator.

    a typical example of that is Sam Harries – Who learns about the mind from Jain and Hindu sources yet strips all references/credit and rebrands it as a western concept.

    The liberal mindset does not care about Dharma, Its sole existence is to balance/contradict the conservative pov. Dharmaic ideas are infact a threat to the liberal pov.

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