Thoughts on economics and liberty

Why “intellectuals” like TN Ninan are entirely useless for India’s future – they SIMPLY DON’T UNDERSTAND GOVERNANCE

Someone shared this with me:


I’m afraid Ninan’s understanding is pretty shallow – he says that China undertook “reform”. That’s not true at all. Economic policy reform was a very small part of China’s miracle. Their governance reform and incentives in the bureaucracy have been far more powerful. They have followed the lead of Singapore in terms of accountability. Their bureaucracy is amazingly efficient.

These people, – all of them – are dramatically superficial. He talks about “we don’t have judges”, we have failed in “education” etc. But there is no evidence he understands the BASICS of how a good justice or education system works.

Such people have no clue how the details of government work, and remain pretty shallow in their anlaysis.

Unless someone spends at least half his book on understanding and elaborating on the bureaucracy, we should ignore them. They will not understand what we (SBP) are saying.

We are NOT talking about economic reforms as the key driver of India’s future. India has already had around 50 per cent of the necessary economic reforms. We are talking about governance reforms, about which I’ve not come across anyone in India who can talk sensibly.

We need people who understand why James Tooley was arrested in India, we need those who understand why there is not even the most basic governance and rule of law. An understanding of how this is delivered is unfortunately totally foreign to the Indian mind.


We need people who understand: HOW people are hired, fired and promoted. When we ask these questions we will know at once why countries like India perform so badly and countries like Singapore do so well.
Economic policy plays a very small part in overall national performance: Governance design explains most of it.

Chanakya understood this basic point. Please try to understand Arthashatra.

In my view, “economists” or “intellectuals” who can’t apply economics to governance are novices. We should ignore them.

The government’s innards must be examined closely: it is not a black box.


I don’t work Thursdays so I took advantage of a stream of thought that started early morning today to record a podcast to support my blog post and the email I’ve sent out to you

This podcast is 30 minutes long, and I consider it to be essential listening for all Indians. Without understanding the basics about governance systems, you, dear Indian, will continue to remain dissatisfied with your life (cf. India ranks close to the bottom of the world in satisfaction with life).

My podcast on governance systems is available here:

The talk at a glance:
Various Indian “intellectuals” spout a lot of puerile nonsense regarding “economic reforms”. Yes, India needs economic reforms but most critical are governance reforms, without which India will remain a lame duck Third World country. We need to learn from Chanakya and we need to learn from Singapore, China, Australia, UK and other countries. The principles of accountability are totally missing in Indian governance. Without accountability we will remain a banana republic.

Do share this email and podcast around. It is distressing to see India ignore governance so badly. Seventy years have gone by. When will we start paying attention to detail?

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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One thought on “Why “intellectuals” like TN Ninan are entirely useless for India’s future – they SIMPLY DON’T UNDERSTAND GOVERNANCE
  1. Raj

    These wise, learned men love to talk in ambiguous language to try and seem too intelligent to grasp. Men of large egos, little courage and even lesser endurance for pain — they’re pricks worth of being ignored.

    What a pity they’re worshipped in India, which of course, stems from Indians trying to act “moral” by “respecting” knowledge.