Sanjeev Sabhlok's blog

Thoughts on economics and liberty

This is YOUR cause, else we are out of here!

Received this comment through email re: FTI and I thought it would be useful to respond publicly (also responded at


"I am copying this mail to Mr Sanjeev Sabhlok ( founder of the movement)" then these comments:

have gone thru the website. normally, such efforts in the past have suffered because of following reasons amongst others:

1. lack of winnability, leads to splitting of the group

2. even if some momentum is built up, people from within start fragmenting, due to vested interests, ego clashes, even financial mishandling

3. lack of funds

4. grassroots presence is negligible. even with a 2 year effort like parivartan in kanpur, we cannot say that we have grassroots support to make a candidate win.

5. a similar effort by shiv khera has already fallen apart despite all india efforts being made6. normally the so called intelligentsia gets involved. they are neither grassroot based, nor are they politically astute. also they will always have varying view points and will argue and clashhowever, if these guys have taken care of these issues, then good luck to them. I would be interested to watch them. will pass on to some others also.


I wish to thank the author of these comments for these issues are pretty typical, and invariably faced by any group that seeks to reform India. FTI is FULLY aware of these issues and has addressed them in this way:

a) This is not a one man effort. There is no 'founder', only a proposer. Anyone can propose anything. A mere proposal doesn't mean anything. Therr are millions of proposals. The one that people want is THEIR proposal. That is the one that counts. THEREFORE EVERYONE WHO JOINS FTI IS A FOUNDER. There is no single leader. Everyone on FTI is a leader.

b) The organisation has a board of two persons: Secretary and Treasurer. The Board is committed to complying with the decisions taken by the General Body (NOT Governing Body). Everyone on the team is a member of the General Body and has an equal vote. No one has any voice in FTI beyond that of any other person.

c) No document produced by FTI is declared final until at least 1500 members assemble, who are ready to contest elections within the next three years. This condition is just one of the many conditions that must be met before members consider a political effort. Leaders first. Funds and supporters next. There is no intention to win just one or two seats. Either 300 minimum or nothing. FTI members have no intention of wasting their time and money just for the pleasure of having contested elections. Each FTI member will contest ONLY TO WIN. No other goal.

The strategy of FTI is slow but sure, like the story of the tortoise and hare. Most efforts including Shiv Khera's, Lok Satta, Jago, etc. etc. etc. (the list is endless, since India has 2000 parties), have largely been driven by emotion and not strategy. A lot of energy spent with ZERO results. Frustration ensues and motivation is lost. That is not FTI.

FTI is strategic and very clear: it is not doing this solo task for itself. It will do so ONLY if the people of India desperately want to improve things. We are not here to be heros. We are here to represent YOU. If you don't want change, then why would we waste our time with you?

Unless FTI is FULLY SUPPORTED by YOU, and by most people of India, its members WON'T step into the electoral arena. We won't fail because it is not us but YOU who are the failure. You the citizen have failed to find good representatives and elect them. You have failed to do anything when the country was eroding and falling into deep corruption all around you. You were the one who complained but did not raise your finger to change things.

We are NOT here to beg you for votes. Unless you are DESPERATE for change we are out of here.

We are taking on the role of citizenship and offering you change. But we are not jokers, martyrs, or heros. We aren't interested in becoming failures for you to laugh at. We are not here seeking your mercy, or your votes. Unless you are DESPERATE TO VOTE FOR CHANGE, we won't even step forward to the hustings.

You the citizen are a disastrous failure. Rise and become a citizen first, if you have any spine and self-respect. Stop running after corrupt politicians and putting garlands around their neck.

If you are not serious, then we are out of here! Goodbye!

FTI invites all Indians to partner AS EQUAL CITIZENS with FTI either as a team members or Freedom Partners ( Your ACTIVE support is CRUCIAL. Else we are not wasting our time on trying to reform India. We don't need your good luck. YOU NEED GOOD LUCK to survive in India! Are you going to make your luck or take the corruption and decadence for granted? The ball is in YOUR hands, not ours.


Sanjeev SAbhlok


On Sat, May 29, 2010 at 6:51 AM, M wrote:


Have you seen this post?- 

Personally, I am not favourably impressed by it. But perhaps I have misunderstood- so I would like to know what you all think about what Mr. Sabhlok has written.



On Mon, May 31, 2010 at 7:51 PM, A wrote:

Is it the content ?

On Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 3:05 AM, Ashok Sagar wrote:

Sorry for the late reply, but I have been otherwise engaged. The FTI is a group of concerned citizens who want to contest and win elections to form a government that would bring reform to all areas of governance. This can happen only when the electorate is prepared for change. Of course the electorate has to be cultivated and appraised of alternatives to the current scenario.

If you look at the current crop of politicians, almost all of them are career politicians and want power for power's sake. Not for improving the lot of the common man, although they would of course pay lip service to that.

The FTI intends to contest elections only when the majority of the electorate is prepared for change and ready to vote for that. I think that is what Sanjeev means when he says that 'This is your cause, else we are out of here'. he might come across as frustrated or short-tempered, but it is not the tone but the message that should be focused upon.

I am ccing this to Sanjeev as well. in case he has anything to add.

Ashok Sagar

Visit my blog!

I also contribute at

My reply 1 June:

Thanks, Ashok

In order to understand what I say people must realise I'm a full time person with limited means and very limited time who is aiming for the stars for India. My message is found in BFN ( 

The point in this particular post (being a quickly written email) as Ashok has pointed out is this: that after more than 12 years in this business of trying to change India's corrupt and dismal governance I find that Indians are easy to blame others but never themselves.

The reality is plain and simple: our educated classes come out as clerks, not citizens. They do not take responsibility for their country. So I am very harsh at times, in highlighting this fact and suggesting that if they don't take responsibility, no one else will. This cause to reform India's governance must be yours. Not mine. So don't give me your 'good wishes'! I don't need them. You who live in India (and I don't) are either directly suffering the consequences of mismanagement or indirectly. You need good wishes to survive. For instance, India's road death rate is 10 times higher (per vehicle) than in the West. Pollution is 10 times higher. You don't even know whether the water you drink is clean. And so on. 

But that is all semantics. The point is this. What will it take to covert 1 billion clerks into 1 billion citizens? That is my question. Happy to hear your answer.

(BTW, I'm happy to take all comments on my blog, and I'll post this entire exchange, without mentioning names, on the blog post, as an addendum).



ADDENDUM 1 June 2010

Here's what another FTI member has just written about my blog post:

"I really liked your blunt approach towards the apathy shown by the so called educated classes. You are right that the ball is in their court to ask for change and then we step forward as alternative; then and only then we can succeed. Though we will have to shake the wider population through our message that status-quo is not acceptable."

ADDENDUM 1 June 2010

From a Facebook conversation with H: 

The point, H, is this: you and I are all aiming for similar things – at least that is what I presume. What's the likelihood of our achieving these things working alone? Zero. So why bother?

There is no strategic alternative but to work together and to agree to a common platform (agenda), then to work diligently to influence and change the system. If you think there is, please let me know how it will work."

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An "Honest" PM?

This is a Guest post. I'm thankful to Mr Kishore Asthana for permission to publish his excellent write-up on my blog.


I am informed that an official I have appointed in my company has taken a bribe to get some work done and that he keeps asking for bribes openly. Despite repeated incidents of this nature, I take no action against the official because I feel that if I were to sack him, those who recommended him may be angry with me and, perhaps, get me sacked in return. Am I an honest man? I have a reputation for never asking for a bribe myself, but, doesn’t my role as a passive spectator vis a vis these illegal dealings makes me an accessory?

Our Prime Minister is in the same position. Under his regime, a senior Minister has been repeatedly and openly accused of taking bribes.

The same Minister was also accused during the last term as Minister and is said to owe his present appointment to corporate lobbyists. There are records of transcripts with middle-men, or, in this case, a middle-woman. Despite all this, the PM has been a passive spectator. However personally honest he may have a reputation for being, he cannot be said to be morally honest if he is abetting such chicanery in his government without taking any action.

Legally, our Prime Minister, by doing nothing in the case of Ministerial corruption in his government, is guilty of abetment by an act of omission. Moreover, by re-appointing a Minister with a controversial track record and by continuing to devolve powers to reputedly corrupt Ministers when such powers are being openly misused to collect bribes as per reports, he is guilty of abetment by an act of commission. Both these acts are defined as crimes in Chapter V, article 107 of the Indian Penal Code. Personal morality is not an adequate defense in this case. The PM is not being accused of being taking bribes himself. He is being accused of being a silently consenting eyewitness to the rape of India by one of his appointees. If we were to apply the law of the land, both the Minister concerned and the PM may be found guilty.

Despite the above, at a certain level, one feels bad for our PM. The fall from goodness is always painful to watch. However, the cynicism of politics and the desire to cling to power have negated the PM’s innate honesty and he has no one to blame but himself. He is wise enough to know that when we become creatures of unholy compulsions, we sacrifice our aura and our halo fades away. This is what has happened to him and, once he has retired and has time to reflect on his non-actions, he may live to rue these. By then it would be too late for our violated country.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”. Regrettably, our PM has been tested and found wanting on this touchstone.

Kishore Asthana

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Flea-dom at Midnight

This is a Guest post. I'm thankful to Mr Kishore Asthana for permission to publish his excellent write-up on my blog.


With apologies to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Thoughts of the leaders of the smaller partners at the formation of UPA 2 a year back…

Some hours ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our wealth, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to coalition and corruption. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the ambitions of a nations smaller political parties, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of our own parochial interests and to the still larger cause of political blackmail.

At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today those ideals and Indian politicians discover their selfishness again. The accumulation of wealth we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and riches that await us. Are we not cynical enough and dishonest enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?

Coalition and power bring opportunity. The opportunity rests upon this Cabinet, a sovereign body representing the united ruling coalition of India. Before the birth of coalition we have endured all the pains of elections and our pockets are lighter with the expenditure of this endeavor. Some of those costs continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.

That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often made to ourselves and the one we shall make today. Service in the Cabinet means the accumulation of the millions which await. It means the ending of our own poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest men of our parties has been to wipe every tear from every eye of every party member. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are government budgets to be spent, so long our work will not be over.

And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for ourselves, but they are also for our party, for all its members are too closely knit together today by the lure of lucre for any one of them to imagine that he can live apart from the party. Greed has been said to be indivisible; so is corruption, so is cynicism now, and so also is disaster if this government is split into isolated fragments and loses power.

To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism of our corruption, no time for ill-will or blaming us. We have to build our cash hordes and foreign bank accounts in tax havens where our children may dwell.

The appointed day has come – the day appointed by destiny – and UPA stands forth again, after long election and negotiations, awake, vital and dependent upon the smaller partners. The past Ministers cling on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the moneys we have so often dreamt about. Yet the turning-point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.

It is a fateful moment for us in India, for all Asia and for the world. A new coalition rises, the coalition of UPA 2, in the East, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished by our politicians materializes. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed by sting operations!

We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are sorrow stricken and difficult problems encompass us. But coalition brings opportunities and we have to exploit them in the spirit of a powerful and undisciplined political people.

On this day our first thoughts go to the architect of this freedom, the Mother of our Coalition, who, embodying the old spirit of UPA 1, held aloft the torch of Coalition and lighted up the darkness that surrounded us. We have often been unworthy followers of hers and have strayed from her message, but not only we but succeeding generations will remember this message and bear the imprint in their hearts of this great lady, magnificent in her faith and strength and courage and humility. We shall never allow that torch of Coalition to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the media tempest.

Our next thoughts must be of the unknown volunteers and party workers who, without praise or reward, have served our Parties, sometimes even unto death.

We think also of our brothers and sisters who have been cut off from us by political boundaries and who unhappily cannot share at present in the Coalition that has come. They are of us and will remain of us whatever may happen, and we shall keep flaunting our good luck in the face of their ill fortune.

The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavor? To bring thousands and crores to our families, to our friends; to fight and end poverty of our political party; to build up a prosperous and demanding partnership , and to corrupt social, economic and political institutions which will ensure our version of justice and fullness of life to every man and woman in our party.

We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of our Party what destiny intended them to be. We are members of small parties on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that expected standard of corruption. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no politician can be great whose words do not pander to these sentiments.

To the nations and peoples of the tax havens of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering the bank accounts in their countries. And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage as we bind ourselves afresh to our own service.

Jai Hind!

Kishore Asthana

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Corruption in Indian politics

I've written extensively about the corruption that is deeply rooted in Indian politics in my book, BFN. However, to keep myself up to date, I'm creating this blog post where I'll periodically make note of articles/issues that confirm its overwhelming nature and extent.This blog post will be on the lines of these other two:
a) Corruption in the Indian media
b) Corruption in the Indian judiciary

These posts are works in progress, not intended to be complete, systematic posts, but a compendium of research, like many of my other 'posts': placeholders to which I return when I find time to study further/polish.

The solution to corruption in Indian politics involving the steps needed to eliminate such corruption, has already been outlined in BFN (Chapters 4 and 6), and also in this article I wrote for Freedom First in June 2009. (Also see this). Clearly no one is going to implement this solution. Hence the Freeedom Team of India. If you are an Indian and want to eliminate corruption from India, either join the Freedom Team or become a Freedom Partner.


Shantanu Bhagwat has excellent coverage of political corruption in India. Read and related posts, including

Operation West End (Tehelka)
Soft CBI as Mayawati’s Reward

Published Navhind Times, on: May 17, 2010, BY INDRANIL BANERJEA

IF there is one thing the average Hindu would want to feel proud of, it is that he is not intolerant. Think of this: The ruling party is today headed by an Italian-born Roman Catholic who runs the country.

The Prime Minister is a Sikh. The Vice-President is a Muslim and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, not to speak of the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are dalits. The Speaker besides, is a woman.
Which other country, pray, can show such liberalism? Not a single country in the world.

Illegal Assets
The so-called upper caste Hindu, besides, suffers from an enormous guilt complex vis-àvis dalits, for treating them for centuries as untouchables, no matter what various social reformers like Basaveshwara in Karnataka have done to change the mind-set of people. That is why, one suspects, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in her fourth term can get away with anything.

Ms Mayawati is a dalit and she has been exploiting the guilt complex effectively. She must be one of the most corrupt Chief Ministers India ever had, yet she gets away scot-free. But it is time the truth about her assets is revealed even if, presently, she has got a reprieve.

The CBI has already told the Supreme Court that it has ample evidence of her illegal wealth.
Much of it is available in a remarkable biography of the lady, entitled Behnji, authored by Mr Ajoy Bose and published by no less a firm than Penguin/Viking.

It must be remembered that Mr Bose’s findings have never been challenged. But what are they?
The CBI listed the immoveable assets of Ms Mayawati and her family as follows: 41 agricultural plots, 16 residential plots, 7 shops, three orchards, two shops-cum-residences located in and around Delhi; a mansion in her ancestral village of Badalpur, described by NDTV as a mini-Taj Mahal, built on a sprawling 30,000 square yards estate.

According to a CBI list filed in 2003, Ms Mayawati then had assets worth Rs 36.5 million in one bank account and Rs 2.345 million in another. In 2004 she had Rs 1.5 million in cash and Rs 97.8 million in bank accounts and jewellery worth Rs 3.09 million.

In 2007 her moveable assets included Rs 5.02 million in cash, Rs 128.8 million in bank deposits and jewellery worth Rs 5.08 million. Giving further details of her jewellery, Ms Mayawati listed 1034.260 grammes of gold 76.040 grammes of diamonds and 18,500 kgs of silver. She also admitted owning murals worth Rs 1.5 million.

According to Mayawati’s own self-evaluation from two affidavits her financial worth including both moveable and immoveable assets jumped from Rs 160.7 million in 2004 to Rs 520 million in 2007.

Missing Moral Code

Mr Bose says that in the late ‘90s, the BSP ran a year-long collection drive so that they could give birthday gifts of Rs 650, 000 to Kanshi Ram her mentor to celebrate his 65th birthday and Rs 420, 000 to her to celebrate her 42nd birthday. How nice. Comments Mr Bose: “There is no credible explanation why these large donations, even if contributed by party workers, have been used for mansions, farm houses, commercial plots, jewellery and bank deposits in the name of Ms Mayawati and her close relatives”.

Mr Bose adds: “Condemnation of Ms Mayawati’s vast wealth and lavish spending must be tempered with the recognition of the general absence of any kind of moral code in Indian politics, when it comes to money… most of them, if investigated as rigorously as the BSP leader, would also stand exposed of accumulated properties, money and jewellery beyond their obvious means.

It is a malaise that affects the country’s political system as a whole.…” And, by way of proving it, Bose credits the Tamil Nadu leader, Ms Jayalalitha with assets worth Rs 240 million, followed by Mr M Karunanidhi with Rs 220 million and Andhra Pradesh’s, Mr Chandrababu Naidu with Rs 210 million though Mr Bose admits that none of them have even half the wealth that Ms Mayawati who was born in a lower middle class dalit home of a government clerk with many dependents, has.

How did she manage to accumulate that much wealth? Will the CBI kindly elaborate? What is even more sickening is Mayawati’s attempts to spend Rs 3.8 crore of public money on eight statues of hers and Rs 3.37 crore for seven statues of her mentor Kanshi Ram to be installed in Uttar Pradesh and worse still, to spend Rs 52.20 crore to set up 60 statues of elephants the election symbol of the BSP in the state.

It is total misuse of public money in an obvious case of self-aggrandizement. But who cares?

Fancy the Chief Minister spending Rs 1.55 crore a piece on a 24ft high bronze statue of herself and another similar of Kanshi Ram! The issue may have been taken to the Supreme Court but by and large the people of Uttar Pradesh have taken the matter lightly. After all Mayawati is a dalit, isn’t she? And dalits in the past have been ill-treated, haven’t they? So what is wrong with Mayawati taking her revenge?

Role of Media
What is wrong, indeed? Our attitude is one of chalta hai. Anything goes.

Till recently the CBI was breathing down her neck in the disproport
ionate assets and Taj corridor cases but she has received a breather now because she has rushed to the UPA government’s support on the cut motion issue. If she had gone against the government the CBI would probably have got at her throat; she has now temporarily saved herself and never mind what the public thinks of the UPA.

The same thing happened in the case of Shibu Soren who ditched the BJP to keep the UPA government going. There has been a criminal case against Soren, but these can wait. After all, he is a tribal, isn’t he? Like Mayawati being a dalit, isn’t she? How can anyone blame them?

But then we learn from an RTI filed by ‘The Times of India’ that governments headed by leaders of various parties have withdrawn criminal cases against 51 political leaders of various parties in the past 10- years, the beneficiaries including ministers, MLAs, former ministers and former MLAs.

In most cases the state government withdrew cases using its power under Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code. We live in a sick society which provides political parties to forgive crimes if thereby they can continue to stay in power. It is as plain as that. Do the media have a role to play in this connection? Yes, it has. Does it play it? No, it doesn’t. Why should it when be playing it when it invites retribution?

Mayawati saved the UPA government in time, she has been amply rewarded. So what’s there to talk about? –INAV

a) Flea-dom at midnight:
b) An Honest PM?

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