Thoughts on economics and liberty

Category: Politics

Preachers, Teachers, Doers – a theory of leadership

There are three ways to influence change: to preach, to teach, or to do it (by force or through persuasion).


These are the lowliest form of "leaders". Their message is (at best) meant for books and papers, exhorting others to do something. Most religious preachers (who are copycat followers of the past), but also journalists and ordinary academics who teach by rote, and most ordinary citizens, belong to this group. Thus 99.99% of Indians fall into this category. They would rather preach at others in their dinner conversations, emails, or blogs. For instance, they want 'character' improvements in society, but that should be done by someone else! They want this or that, but they will NEVER raise a finger to do anything about it. That spares them the pain of formulating a strategy, and the pain of repeated failure.

There is no difference between a preacher and a clerk. They are basically copy-cats without any original idea. They spend their life looking backwards, singing praise about how grand their country's history was. (How does it matter if India was great in the past to the orphan child who has to scavenge in a pile of garbage for his next "meal"?) They are future-blind, without any vision for tomorrow. Their strategies are non-existent or flawed. They therefore contribute very little to the advance of humanity. Under their control, the society stagnates and remains where it was even after hundreds of years. In most cases it deteriorates with each passing generation.


The next level of leaders are the true thinkers and teachers. They invariably aim to spread their word through 'followers' by engaging in one-on-one conversations with individuals, teaching them their ideas.

Examples include the founders of religions (e.g Christ, Buddha), or the more active think-tanks (e.g. Liberty Institute). These leaders perhaps do some good for society through their teachings, but unless they've mastered the art of creating doers, they will produce merely preachers and clerks who will never take the society any further.

In general, the contributions of teachers are very faint, barely distinguishable from background noise. It is hard to trace a revolution to a particular teacher since doers are self-driven and influenced by many "teachers", and no teacher on his or her own can take any credit for the change.

Even outstanding original teachers like Hayek never directly influence change. Change only occurs if doers like Thatcher admit to their influence. Even the great Hayek is impotent when it comes to changing the world.


Finally are the doers! These people have the characteristics both of the preacher and teacher, AND the ability to lead and implement change. They are the only true leaders.

Within these are five types (cf. Jim Collins) or more (using my typology in BFN which allows for negative scores as well). 

Thus people like Mayavati – who are both incompetent and horribly corrupt are still FAR superior leaders compared with ordinary middle-class academics or think-tanks who may preach or even teach but are totally impotent when it comes to achieving ANYTHING. Mayavati qualifies as a -3 (minus! 3) category leader on my scale. 

At the top of the ladder of leadership are people like Lincoln and  Gandhi – the level 5 leaders. They are preachers, teachers, and the most outstanding doers, all combined into one. They SHIFT AND CHANGE ENTIRE SOCIETIES! They are the citizen-leaders – the highest form of human being.

No society can change for the better if it produces only copycat preachers (who are basically clerks without any strategic capacity) or teachers (no matter how meritorious). A society MUST produce doers, and within the doers, the ethical (level 4 and 5) doers. That is the great challenge for Mother India, which has unfortunately specialised only in producing clerks and low quality 'doers' for the past 60 years.

Continue Reading

FTI current phase: Assemble, but do not leave your job

This question comes up again and again, so I think it is worthwhile posting a recent interaction on this subject. 

After the very successful event at IIT Delhi on 2 August, this comment was made by one of the FTI organisers: "Challenge: convincing people that FTI strategy can actually work, given that we do not have much to show on the ground (in terms of political activity), most of us are part-time with no definite personal contesting plan".

My response:

Amazing things happen when good people come together. This outreach event is one such amazing thing. Small but effective. A great start.

Let this approach be our selling point – that we are not a demanding platform. We are organising, but within our means. One thing I don't want us to do – until EVERYTHING is sorted out – is to leave our jobs or reduce our income from work. Let's be realistic. This effort will take some time to gain strength. And no one's family interests should suffer in the interregnum.

If someone says why aren't you on the ground, our response is: We are not interested in any half-baked activity. Every action must contribute to the goal. No wasted effort or energy.


As Pericles said, "The great impediment to action is, in our opinion, not discussion, but the want of that knowledge which is gained by discussions preparatory to action".

FTI is in the assembling and discussion stage prior to action. Let us do this properly and not rush to action on the 'ground'. It is too early for political activity on the ground. We need a strong leadership team to come together first and agree to a policy platform. Only then can education campaign be launched.

In the meanwhile, of course, supporters (Freedom Partners) can, and should assemble. Support is needed from all sides. That is a given. Let Freedom Partners (those who won't personally contest elections) spread the message of freedom. 

The combination of these two steps will result in a movement for reform that is ready to take the next steps on the ground – and then, finally, once fully ready, aim to contest elections. No point in rushing things. 

ADDENDUM. Things get done by assembling

There are a number of good people in India who are either disheartened, or can't find a way forward, or can't agree with others. FTI connects them and allows teh magicl of social capital to build. Examples: letter to independents, outreach events in Indore/Delhi. A lot of things get done without too much effort. The main thing is to assemble.

Continue Reading

Is this a joke? Rahul Gandhi honest?!


I was surprised beyond my WILDEST imagination when I came across this comment by Times of India (reported in The Age).

"An editorial about the Games crisis on the front page of Thursday's Times of India said: "The job on hand – enormous and important for the country's prestige – needs someone whose integrity is not questioned. It must also be a person with the authority to mobilise the best people for this Project Salvage. Someone like Rahul Gandhi.''"

Has Times of India also been bought?? BIG TIME!! Even the remotest semblance of integrity in the press in India lost?? What is this, a free press or a joke??? 

Mr Rahul Gandhi, as well all know, is heir to India's most corrupt dynasty. Some people – and I have plenty of material on this but won't go into details here – argue that the degeneration started in Nehru's time itself, but I'm inclined to lay the biggest share of blame on Indira Gandhi who was the GodMother of corruption in India. (see my image of her below painted when I was 16 ). But Nehru as the Godfather of socialism in India laid down the socialist policies that created corruption. The Congress specialises in  deliberately eliminating anyone with integrity. I recall how quickly I was kicked out as Director of Rural Development in Assam in 1991 by the TOTALLY CORRUPT Congress Chief Minster the moment I stood firm on not meeting his demands – and of my corrupt Rural Development Minister. 

Rahul Gandhi, as the real head of India's most organisation, is FULLY REPONSIBLE for the corruption in India. How can he save the Commonwealth Games???

He could have, had he wanted, followed the prescriptions in BFN, and work towards eliminating corruption. But he is FULLY COMPLICIT. How many crores of rupees of black money did he use during his elections in Amethi? And how much did he declare? How many (thousands of?) millions of dollars in black money is stashed way in his and his mother's Swiss accounts? Why does he NOT put in place policies that will destroy corruption – because he BENEFITS from them. Why does he not resign from Congress and start a new party if he is so honest? Why does he not renounce socialism? All too convenient for him to latch on to the monstrously corrupt Congress. 

My comments on Facebook: (a much more detailed comment on the same lines in Towards A Great India, March 2010)

I wrote the following on Facebook some time ago. Worth reproducing:

I don't know much about him [Rahul] except that he has chosen to represent the MOST CORRUPT organisation in independent India, an organisation that has destroyed the lives of millions, STOLEN thousands of crores of public money, and in generally, been one of the most anti-India outfits one can think of (along with other major political parties).

Rahul might have been born pure and innocent (as a baby) but through his actions he has lost the right to represent me or people like me. He is the head of a criminal outfit today, hence if at all I'm interested in him it would be to bring him and people like him to book. 

In general I'm not interested in a particular cockroach out of thousands of cockroaches in Congress (I). I'm interested in destroying the entire cockroach nest. 

To destroy this cockroach nest, I am interested in finding citizen-who respect themselves and are willing to fight corrupt organisations like the Congress. If you are true leader, I'm more interested in you and would like you to join FTI to fight the criminals who rule India. Please rise and become a genuine citizen. That is a great challenge for Indian educated middle classes.


Please note that corruption STARTS AT THE TOP. That has always been the case. It starts by people spending CRORES OF BLACK MONEY DURING ELECTIONS. Where did this money come from? From LOOTING INDIA. Who loots India? People like Rahul Gandhi? From where? From the exchequer, from giving illegal favours to industrialists, from defence 'deals', etc. etc. etc. 

Who has led this loot since independence? 

– The Congress, but also most other parties in India.

In general, I'm not interested in discussing specific politicians. We need to find GENUINELY GOOD CITIZENS IN INDIA (if such people exist) and motivate them to contest elections under a common banner to fight the criminals who rule India.


Please try to understand our corrupt electoral system (there is a chapter on that in my book). It is time for people to get involved in their own country and find out how it functions. 

Only then they can rise and oppose bad leadership.


My painting of Indira Gandhi when I was 16 (1975)

Continue Reading

My initial views on Baba Ramdev's movement

I did not know anything about Baba Ramdev till I reached India in February earlier this year when I found him performing yoga on the TV. Soon after, I think in March, he announced a political movement called the Swabhiman Manch. My mother is a great fan of his! That tells me that he is striking a chord with many people in India.

I strongly support his call for self-respect and ethical governance. He is also attributed to have said the following (I'm taking these quotations from the Facebook page: – which is a fan page but the quotations it cites are apparently mostly borrowed from Yog Sandesh magazine: ).

1) "I can emphatically say that we are living in a fool's paradise. If a cat crosses your way or anybody sneezes we presume that some unfortunate incident will happen. If one sneezes, what is wrong in it? This is natural biological phenomena, nothing is adverse in it."

2) "I'm not against technology. I want my country's capital and talent to be used with world's latest technology. I want to make globalisation and liberalization our strength, not weakness."

This sounds promising.

However, there are reported statements which cause some concern, such as:

1) ‎"Corruption-free India is my solemn promise. Our campaign is not a result of spontaneous provocation or anger. By our valour and heroism, we would reconstruct a corruption-free, self-dependent and grand India."

Of course, I have no issues with a corruption free India. But that doesn't require valour or heroism. It requires a deep understanding of public policy. Second, I'd be VERY concerned about any attempt to create a 'self-dependent' India. Self-reliance is good, self-sufficiency (or self-dependency?) is bad. Maybe this quotation has not been properly vetted by the Facebook group?

2) "our main aim is just not to change the system but to bring an honest change within ourselves."

I don't believe changing people is either possible or necessary in order to get wonderful outcomes. Human nature has NEVER changed for a million years and won't change just because some Baba somewhere wants it to change. He doesn't control our DNA. That has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. Indeed, even his close associates will fleece him and take him for a big ride if he is not watchful! I already know of a true story where some of his associates behaved disrespectfully with people in Haridwar. When a whole political party is involved, he had better beware his own coterie – first of all! He can NEVER change them, leave alone change Indians. He can (and I can) change India but not Indians – or for that matter any other human being. We can change India through good policy, so that Indians are able to achieve their highest potential. He must therefore demonstrate SIGNIFICANT policy expertise before he attempts to launch  a political movement. 

Policy compatibility

It is not obvious from my very cursory reading of Baba's views whether he understands policy at all, particularly policies of freedom. Simply attracting good people (Question: does he have a system of checking who is good? This is a real problem in India today) won't create good outcomes. It could well go in the opposite direction (as happed with Nehru, a good man who ended up ruining India). Goodness is only a minimum requirement. Policy brilliance is absolutely crucial. Without policy brilliance he and his team will fail to deliver anything good for India, and may indeed take India backward.

I'm not saying he doesn't have the policy expertise, simply that I need to verify it. The other day one of his fans contacted me asking me to view some videos here. I saw one of them and found it quite questionable. Instead of viewing videos, I'd prefer to read a systematic book written by him on policy matters, like my book Breaking Free of Nehru.  If someone reading this can send me his policy thoughts, I'd appreciate that. 

Organisational functioning

Second, I have many questions about the organisational structure, organisational culture, and style of Swabhiman Manch. I am a great believer in internal democracy and team work. Is his movement compatible with these basic ideas? In particular, we don't want any system that collapses when one person dies.

Organisational funding

Third, the Baba is very forthright about eliminating corruption, and bringing back money from Swiss accounts. That's excellent. I also need to know whether his organisation is as clean as it should be. In other words has his organisation EVER taken black money? Often (but not always) money given in cash is black money, i.e. undeclared income. We know that Indian temples (I'm assuming this applies to all denominations) happily take corrupt money, without vetting its source. Tirupati temple, in particular, gives special darshan to the most corrupt! The more you pay the quicker your darshan, I hear. Does that apply in the Baba's organisation even remotely? Has he consciously accepted even One Rupee of black money? I hope not, but I need to know. Whether we agree or disagree with income tax rates or income tax laws, we MUST comply with the laws and pay taxes. Not paying tax is a misdemeanour that I do not condone. I'm not saying this has even remotely happened in the case of Swabhiman Manch, but I need a clear assertion and confirmation of this fact.

These are some initial thoughts. I've offered to a friend of his that I'm happy to spare my truly precious time to personally explain to him the policy solutions that India needs – and show him around Melbourne and explain what underpins the things he sees. Nothing happens by magic. Everything requires policy expertise, particularly economic policy expertise. That offer to spend my time explaining such things to him stands.

I'm therefore interested in finding more about Baba Ramdev and, despite the scepticism about him displayed by at least a few people I know,  I'm not yet ready to discard this option for reform in India without a more thorough exploration. 

Continue Reading
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial