Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Purpose of this blog


This blog is a place for people to post comments on my book, Breaking Free of Nehru. Comments may be moderated. This book has been in the public domain since April 2007 as an early draft for comment. It was published in 2008 and reached bookstores in India in December, 2009.

Currently (as at July 2009) half the book is still available for preview, and a few copies may still be ordered from the links provided here.

Sanjeev Sabhlok


Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

Here's a comment from a reader, and my response:

Reader's comment:
"I wonder what you have to say about max retail price marked on products in india. It does help to assure me that I am not paying too much, without the need for extensive market survey. On the other hand, free market forces are not compromised as the trader is free to sell the product below the marked price in order to attract business. I am sure this labelling adds to the cost of the product, but to me, it is well worth the peace of mind it brings to me.

In the US, one finds that prices of products vary from store to store, even belonging to the same chain. Frequently prices are not marked, other than the bar code which only the computer can read. When picking up the product, I do have a choice of checking with the clerk at the counter, before buying, but it is tedious. So I end up gambling in trusting that the chain will not over charge. I would definitely prefer a legal requirement for all products to be clearly labeled indicating their price, so that i can compare with other chains BEFORE buying. I would also prefer there to be a limit on max price for every thing. In the US (as in Australia), petrol price can change a lot from one pump to another only a few kms away. One can possibly compare prices on the Internet, but this is certainly not convenient for the tourist. The pumps tend to steeply increase price if there is no other pump in the vicinity....i would prefer limitation being placed on how high he can go."

My response:
"There is a difference between your preference and what the state should do. I want things free. Does that mean I can coerce the state to steal from someone? Key question: Has the high price cost you your health or your life? You are always free not to take petrol from a remote petrol station but to go further or if you don't like that, to carry your own petrol in boot of the car.

The key issue is freedom cuts both ways: you are free to buy or not buy, the seller must also be free to sell or not sell. Are you aware of the costs incurred by a remote petrol station in the middle of nowhere? He is not a Bill Gates but someone doing you a great favour by setting up shop in the middle of nowhere - surviving on the custom of a few people who pass by. Without him your car would stop in the middle; nowhere to go. He provides a great service but in a manner that he can survive, keeping local competition in mind. If he was becoming a wealthy Bill Gates in a remote corner of the world, guess what, competition would flood into that part of the world, and drive prices down.

Similarly MRP - that is a nasty restriction on the market. It is a blunt instrument. It doesn't recognise local circumstances. It increases paper work needlessly and shouldn't be made compulsory. It treats all parts of India the same - there is a huge cost of transportation involved from factory to remote villages. It creates an under-supply in some parts of India where that price is unviable, and it also creates over-charging in places where the real price is much lower. When the retailer has MRP printed on a product, he will almost certainly charge MRP even if it costs him much less. The same thing applies in USA with the recommended retail price (RRP) - which gives an overall sense of the cost of the product. A book also has such a price printed on it. But if I am not mistaken, RRP is optional - each producer (not government) can decide if he/she wants to use that method to market products (it seem to be suitable for things which are sold in big shops), and the retailer can then set prices based on his/her real costs and the local competition. Very few people buys at RRP in USA, on the other hand most of us buy at MRP in India.

Yes, if the MRP of a product is so high that you fall below the poverty line in consequence, then in the free market model, the government will pay you to rise above the poverty line.

Simply put, let markets freely decide all prices: that is not a matter for government to intervene. If equity issues arise, they should be dealt with ONCE – to ensure no one falls below the poverty line."

If anyone has further comments on this, please write to me at sabhlok AT yahoo DOT com.

SANJAY said...

Excellent reply Sanjeev. I agree with your logic whole heartedly. I did not know that in USA most of the time goods are sold below RRD.


Anonymous said...

Your recommendation that Indian MPs have their salaries raised to prevent corruption is not correct.

The state of New Hampshire in the US pays its legislators only $100 per year, but there is low corruption and people genuinely interested in helping their fellow citizens apply.

Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

Thanks. Here are a few facts about New Hampshire:

It has one legislator for every 3,000 residents (according to Wiki). At that rate India would have 360,000 MPs. As far as the salary of $100 is concerned, if you multiply it with the 2000,000 persons that an average MP represents in India, you’d be paying out $665,000 as salary to those MPs even at the rate of $100 – that is far more than I’m recommending India pay its MPs.

I’m not sure how much time in a year these legislators sit, but an MP in India attends Parliament for 9 months out of 12 (not on all days of those 9 months, of course). Including the prep. time that is a full-time job. You can run NH part time. You can’t run India with part time MPs. Only part timers will be happy with a token honorarium.

Nearly half the members of the NH House are retired, with an average age close to 60 (according to Wiki). As for younger people like myself, in the professional middle-class, we can’t work as MPs for $100. That means if India follows the NH model it will have to depend on the charity of the wealthy classes or the corrupt classes.

The other key factor that must be taken into account is the electoral funding system. How are NH elections funded? In India, MPs lose lakhs of their money on elections (see my analysis). That is the main reason they are corrupt. Pl. see ch.4 of my book.

I still hold on to my current claim: the choice is for India clear: Use state funding of elections plus pay well in order to get full time competent young people. Or, continue with the current system get thoroughly corrupt people.

Please do send me a complete write up on your model and prove how it can work for India. After I review your arguments I’ll post your detailed article and my comments. Also please disclose your name. Secrecy is not my way of functioning. Please give your name.


Rupy said...

Hi Sanjeev

You may be flattered but i am thankful to God that persons of my era who possessed intellectual superiority are still active.


Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

I have received many detailed comments while writing the book. I thought it would be particularly worthwhile to respond to Captain S. Pullat's comments which are, to my best knowledge, largely representative of the views of many Indians whom I have met.

It is important to have debates on the issues that Capt. Pullat raises. I have taken his permission to post my responses to some of his comments. I have posted both his comments and my responses at

I trust Captain Pullat will slowly come around to the views I have expressed in my book, which are based on freedom. Once again, I'd like to thank Capt. Pullat for his comments and particularly for his editorial comments on one of the late versions of the manuscript.


raksha said...

the love, care and devotion you feel for bharat mata touches me.

no wonder you are product of DAV college -- only vedic and hindu education can make one patriotic.

sadly we have little respect or pride for our own knowledge.

i read your father's book as well, on which i accidentally clicked.i wish he could go on tour of USA to spread the message of the Vedas.

the corrupt nehru family finished india and even tody we see one italian lady enslave one billion hindus. i do not know why we cannot get out of their grip.

i am from kenya but feel very sad at the state of hindus in india.

Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

Dear Raksha

Thanks for your comments. Just a point or two.

(A) Religion is not my sphere of action. Politics and the real world, is. My firm belief is that religion and politics must be kept completely separate. Mixing the two can often be fatal.

(B) I am a product of DAV College but I am I am not a Hindu since the age of 12 when I decided to relinquish religion, though I appreciate many lessons of Bhagwad Geeta. My views are an eclectic mix of western philosophy, economics, science, and the philosophies of Buddha, Vivekananda and Gandhi. Similarly I have studied in many convent schools but I am not a Christian, though I welcome the many good elements of Christ’s teaching. I am not an atheist but an empathetic agnostic who can empathise why people may need religion but can’t understand why that must drive them to brutal killings in the name of their God. In other words, organized religion is not ethical enough for me; it is also not respectful enough of other cultures and views. As you can see, I tend to critically analyse and pick and choose whatever good I see in others, including in other philosophies and religions, and discard the rest. The approach of an aware and vigilant karma-yogi appeals to me, though I call it simply, ethical liberalism: action based on free choice.

(C) I have nothing in-principle against an Indian citizen like Sonia Gandhi becoming PM no matter what her country of origin. Why I oppose her Congress party is because of its socialist policies and because it is deeply rooted in black money and corruption. So also I oppose all other political groups that follow such practices.

(D) I can understand the perspective where you are coming from but as you can see, I have a slightly different basis for my approach towards freedom. I would encourage Indians to become critical thinkers, modernize their society, and look into the future in which being the world’s best in every aspect is important, including in good policy. Freedom (and its counterpart, justice) is the basis of good policy in a free society. Let us get matters of this world right first. Let religion be a matter purely between an individual and his/ her God.


Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

I have received an extensive comment which I have separately responded to at:

8 February 2008

elkaypee said...

Sanjeev's ideas are undoubtedly highly scientific. However, in the present Indian circumstances, if this free market price is adopted, it will be open loot. Should we not, therefore, create a free society first and then talk of free market. A free society, according to me, is a society where people are educated, lawful and ethical.

We should strengthen the freedom movement.

LK Pal

Unknown said...

So, are you an advocate of Miniarchy?
Or an advocate of anarcho-capitalism?

Book about Nehru, no matters you reject him or praise him, it is useless for me.

Yet, if you are trying to bring freedom, then freedom from what?
What freedom means to you?
Collective is imaginary, while Individual exists.

So, to remove Imagery, you need to remove collective.

If Individual will act rationally, the Imagery of collective will also be reasonable.

To keep that imagery of society healthy, the need is freedom of Individual in all regards.
Religious freedom, let the reason make the righteousness of individual, let him earn the understanding of reason via Montessori system and Socratic Method inspire people to avoid dogmatism, indoctrination. Let the individual since from childhood to surge and discover and invent. The guide may help.
Economical freedom, let the Capitalism/laissez-Faire/free-market System system flourish, let the competition be unbiased justified and reasonable and free that will bring progress. Altruism is fake, and obligations are corrupt. The lazy, the unskillfull, the parasite will die. nd there must not be any obligation to save him.
Political Freedom, Politically, freedom means the freedom to disagree - to be free to make choices regardless of the approval of others. A free people must be free to create and join religious cults, no matter how absurd their beliefs or how self-destructive their practices are. people can surely make their socialistic communistic, religionistic, nationalistic communities, parties, platforms. It cannot be and should not be restricted. only support can be for Rationality, capitalism/laissezfaire system/freemarket system. and opposition against collectivism of any sort, including religionism, casteism,racism, nationalism, feminism or patriarchy etc.
Social freedom, Socially, freedom requires an ethic of self-reliance and independent moral judgment. To survive and thrive in a free society, we must decide which people and groups to join and which ones to condemn and avoid. people are free either to join it or leave it.
People can surely make religious cult groups YFZ Ranch ( But its individual's choice either to join or not to join.

Individual's freedom can and should never be compromised or adjusted with, because that will create dogma/dictatorship/exploitation and doom.
My sites:::
DeSiGninG LiFe
Heights Of Existence

You are invited to take a look and comment for sure.

Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

Dear Unpretentious Diva

"Economical freedom, let the Capitalism/laissez-Faire/free-market System system flourish, let the competition be unbiased justified and reasonable and free that will bring progress."

I support this among a few other principles you have cited. However, I may perhaps differ from your approach in that I do believe in a very important role for government -- in ensuring that where voluntary accountability is not forthcoming, that it provides for an agreed, democratic system of justice. And of course, it has a role in some (not all) public goods.

I am also far more interested in the details of implementation of these principles, and how these will get implemented (not by writing blogs, for sure!). If you are interested in the practical end of freedom (the delivery of it), you can consider joining the Freedom Team of India at:


Anonymous said...

Sure i will visit that site.
At present I came to mention that I have changed my site from bloggers to My privately owned site.

About freedom and your supposed political revolution, I have some insight for you.

Liberty, Tolerance, Freedom of expression and Political Correctness


Anonymous said...

Hi Sanjeev,

1. Hinduism seems to have been considered a religion similar to Islam, Christianity etc.
which view is incorrect.

It is more appropriate to say Hinduism is a way of life which again is not laid down, but practiced by a number of people in various ways residing in the
geographic region of south asia.
The inclusive mindset prevalent in the pre-10th century era in India is attributable to this Way of Life which saw all sorts of persecuted communities getting
accepted in this region.

After the Islamic conquest of this region the society lost its inclusive mindset and became divisive which the Brits have fostered to suit their advantage. The Macaulayite education propagated by them and subsequently carried fwd by free India has denigrated everything about our ancient culture with the result that people are ashamed to identify themselves as Hindus. Hindu-'ism' today is seen to have a past full of caste system, sati, child marriage, sexual temple art,
1000 gods, etc. and who would want to be part of that system?

2. You recommend segregation of religion from government/politics.
Concur so far as you apply it to the likes of Islam, Christianity etc which say theirs is the only path to salvation. Such rigid belief restricts freedom of the people if accepted by government.

I see the original Hindu way of life, the principles of Advaita and Vasudaiva Kutumbakam to be real secularism and socialism which is what our country is
supposed to uphold in paper and which is what actually we discard in practice.

3. You seem to believe that 1500 good people can change this country.
I wonder if they will get back their deposits after an election.

The people elect people they identify with. They identify with people of their community, caste, religion, sub-caste etc. A lot of them identify with corrupt politicians because they find kinship with such because they have accepted corruption in their own life.
The overwhelming majority of Indians accept corruption in their lives- in varying degrees. And so they are able to accept corrupt politicians and thus we have the
govt that we have.

Harishchandra will not have any takers because most people do not claim the values he represents.

As commented in the blog-
moral leadership cannot exist in vacuum. And morally upright leaders cannot become representatives of a society which do not value moral principles.

After about a 1000 years of subjugation the Indians have started living free in the past 60 yrs. It naturally takes time to evolve out of a 1000 years of conditioning of being second class citizens and to take control of their own life.

India ia already breaking free not just from Nehru, who was in the centerstage for hardly any significant time of the past 1000 yrs, but from the forces of subjugation that have been and the mindset which resulted.

I do not mean to condemn Islam or Christianity.
Lots of people have found good things in both religion and I too have friends who are believers of those religion.

Let everyone be free to pursue his truth. That I think is what secularism should be and that I think is what the real essence of the way of life prevalent in India

Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

Dear Anonymous

I like your comment: “Let everyone be free to pursue his truth. That I think is what secularism should be.” Indeed, that is the precisely why the concepts of freedom will naturally resonate with Indians once these are explained to them.

I suggest that religion (or way of life or whatever) is a purely personal matter and we should not let it encroach on our policies of governance. We don’t want subsidies for Haaj equally as we don’t want Hindu laws or IAS officers managing Tirupati temple.

It is true I have not yet found even 100 leaders, what to talk of 1500. But the search has just begun, and the challenge of persuading people to give up their cynicism is hard. I think we are going quite well on the Freedom Team given these constraints. Could I ask you why you aren’t thinking of participating in the political reforms process as a citizen?

I do not agree with you that “morally upright leaders cannot become representatives of a society which do not value moral principles”. Indeed, I don’t agree with the assumption that Indians are corrupt and want immoral representatives.

I believe most Indians are honest and it comes as a constant surprise to them that their politicians are so corrupt. My grandmother who died last year (see was the most amazing patron of good values. Indeed, our family from both sides is committed to good values. All these folk are ordinary Indians. I too am an ordinary Indian (overseas Indian now). Therefore I see no reason why need to live with corrupt politicians. We need a system of governance which punishes the corrupt and rewards the honest. We can easily have it by implementing the policies of freedom.

My aim is to help build a platform to deliver good policy and integrity. If thereafter citizens don’t join or don’t want it, or those who join lose their deposits, it doesn’t really matter. This is the kind of thing I think is right and all people who think their country can become prosperous, healthy and moral, should continue to put in the effort irrespective of their success.

I therefore propose to continue promoting a political and economic system for India. Our job is to explain to Indians why good policy and freedom matter. Whether people join me or not, or whether they rise to lead India or not, does not bother me at all. I am no longer living the life of a bureaucrat in India, supporting a totally corrupt system. I am at peace with myself, in my ordinariness and freedom to do what I think is right. I don’t demand that people do the right thing. That choice is theirs, not mine.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Sanjeev,

First of all congratulations on your quality of perseverence. It is worthy of emulation, commendation and a matter of pride.

2. Religion or way of life or whatever ...

I do not see them as one and the same.
Organised religion such as Islam, Christianity etc., which consider one person as prophet and his teachings as the word of God and its dissemination and spread among non-believers as bounden duty of the followers, as I perceive it, affects the Way of Life of those who do not subscribe to that view.
It does not remain personal anymore.

And to sweep it aside as not of consequence is a mistake. a big one.

This mistake, it appears, is the result of unthinkingly accepting the parrotted idea that all 'religions' are the same. and Hindu'ism' is a religion like Islam, Christianity.
Which view, I guess 99% of Hindus subscribe to, unfortunately.

Anyway, you have full freedom to form your own opinion in the matter and my views are of course mine own.

Indians are not by and large corrupt nor do they want to elect immoral reps.

But most Indians have accepted corruption in some form or other in their lives. It could be as small a thing as buying a movie ticket in the black. Or paying Rs.50 to the local lineman to install electric meter promptly.

Corruption whether small or big is essentially corruption of mind and of moral values whatever the degree.

By disregarding this fact ... I do not see much progress happening in Indian polity.

"We need a system of governance which punishes the corrupt and rewards the honest. We can easily have it by implementing the policies of freedom."

I have my doubts.

When you see things holistically, one appreciates that society, government, individual, their principles and personal beliefs do not exist independent of each other.
They are all intermeshed.
One affects the other, similar to chaos theory that states that the fluttering of a butterfly can theoretically cause a cyclone somewhere else.

In a democracy it is the people who are the rulers. And if and when these rulers adopt principles of value then we will naturally see change in the quality of their reps. You will not then have to search for 1500 good men. You will find the reps of the people good men.

Otherwise, .. aren't we putting the cart before the horse ?

Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

Dear Anonymous

Recognising reality and accepting it are two different things. Even if Indians have reached the point when corruption is acceptable (which I dispute strongly), that doesn’t mean it is where they need to be. Corruption has to be battled with good policy. The excuse that some people have been forced to accept corruption as a reason to not reform the polity of India does not sit well with me. Please join me in the fight against corruption. It can be done with a few relatively minor changes to our policies.

Re: your view that religions like Christianity and Islam create externalities (“It does not remain personal anymore.”) and hence they are not the same as Hinduism, are you are referring to their tendency to proselytise? If so, yes, they do go out of the way to persuade others to convert to their views, like Buddhists do.

But do note that Hinduism too has converted thousands of people both inside and outside India (particularly in South East Asia). Those in India have been assimilated (converted) over the centuries by including them as a specific caste (e.g. Kshatriya, Sudra). The ones outside India have, on the other hand, adopted Hindu beliefs but then modified them significantly to suit their needs (so much so that even Ayodhya has shifted its location!).

Yes, Hinduism is quite different in its approach compared with Islam, say, but when some of its followers destroy the Babri Masjid at the end of the 20th century we can see that at least some of its believers create significant negative externalities towards others. We are not in the 16th century. That point doesn’t seem to get through to our political leaders.

So all I am insisting on is that all people who have any form of belief (religious or otherwise) be accountable for their actions under the law. Their beliefs can be their own; they can do whatever they like: but at the end of it they must be held to account. Also, the state should not intervene in religious matters, nor should religions (or any sort) intervene in policy making.

You are perhaps aware that the separation of political and religious power in the West has now reached an advanced state. So it is now legal to have abortions in many places in the West (Christianity opposes it), apart from divorces (Catholicism opposes divorce). Policy making in the West is now generally neutral towards all religions.

But irrespective of what the West does or not, we need a polity in India where people are not rewarded politically for demolishing mosques, and no politicians mixes religion with politics.


Osai Chella said...

Great Stuff! But socialism was a very very noble ideal than these cut throat competitive spirit! You may wait for my ebook story.. set in 3000 AD which says how foolish the MARKET ECONOMY was... in 21st Century and why it is dead in 29th century! The tamil version is ready and it has to be translated into English for the world. Cheers for your aims.. they are very noble too.. though i differ ideologically!

With warm regards
Osai Chella