|| Satyameva Jayate ||

Dedicated to “Bharat” and “Dharma”

Building a Freedom Team for India

Dear All, it is my pleasure to publish this guest post by Sanjeev Sabhlok.

As you know, good governance in India is something very close to my heart. I am glad that Sanjeev has taken the initiative on this. A great deal of effort and clear-headed thinking has gone into this document.

Please do read and discuss it with your friends, acquaintances and everyone who is passionate about doing something for our country.

This topic deserves serious attention.


����� I’d first of all like to thank Shantanu for giving me the opportunity to write this guest article. His blog raises a range of matters of concern from time to time and allows open and free discussion from a wide range of perspectives. I consider his blog to be a valuable contribution to the evolving culture of freedom in India. This article is about building a Freedom Team for India. I’ll summarise below what I mean. I hope that you will be interested in pursing it further. I’ll take queries on this blog.

����� The concept of Freedom Team is discussed at length in more detail in my book, “Breaking Free of Nehru” (preview available at: http://sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/breakingfree.html). First, why Freedom? I show in my book that India is not as free as it should be. I argue that if India were to become more free, the first thing that would change dramatically would be its governance. We would get first-rate political leaders and bureaucrats and world class governance. Improved governance will immediately help India to get rid of corruption. It will create opportunities for entrepreneurship and provide high-quality education to all of India’s children. In this manner, but also directly, it will eliminate poverty.

����� None of this will happen on its own since the current crop of political and bureaucratic leadership is neither capable nor interested in such things. That India desperately needs good political representation focused on freedom is no longer in doubt. But it won’t happen on its own. On the other hand, merely jumping into politics with brash fervour will not solve any of India’s problems, either. There has to be a very systematic effort.

����� The process has to begin by people good and competent Indians stepping forward to take the message of freedom to the people; people willing to personally step forward to provide India with good governance through electoral politics. I suggest in my book that a Freedom Team should be formed at this stage to form the critical mass to kick-start a freedom movement (the previous one was not a freedom movement but an independence movement). When only good, selected, people are allowed to join and to continue, the Freedom Team will strengthen quickly. No person of poor moral character should be allowed to join; or if selected by accident, allowed to continue. Even one black sheep can destroy the Freedom Team’s good name.

����� An immediate goal would be to collect 1500 good persons. This will give roughly three outstanding leaders for each of India’s 550 constituencies. That way, if one of them can’t contest the elections at the last minute, then two others will be ready to stand up. And if that second one is killed by the mafia, then the third will stand up. Whoever is left will contest the local assembly elections. In this manner a good government will be formed in India, and the message of freedom taken to the state assemblies.  Hopefully, among a billion people, 1500 good people will be relatively easy to find. The Freedom Team should target that women should form half its membership.

���� Members of this group should meet the following criteria:

They must have impeccable ethical standards, grounded in freedom. That is the bare minimum.

They must be wholly committed to the advancement of freedom and fully understand the philosophy and logic of freedom. The group would follow the highest standards of internal democratic decision-making and public disclosure of all sources of its funding and expenditures.

The leaders of the group should meet the following criteria:

  • They must be extremely competent and able to formulate clear headed policy on complex issues, consistent with the logic of freedom.
  • They must be capable of dealing with challenging problems were they to become future ministers, without panicking and running for shortcuts or politically expedient solutions.
  • They must be at least Level 4, if not Level 5, leaders: people who are very superior and therefore humble enough to listen to others and assimilate and build on the feedback they receive from others.
  • They must be willing to admit mistakes, and willing to change their mind on the basis of new evidence.
  • They must be great team players, willing to work in any capacity that the party asks them to work in, recognising that groups or teams comprising of expert individuals are generally wiser than isolated geniuses no matter how brilliant.
  • They must be willing to consult with citizens widely on all policy issues.
  • They need not be perfect (no one is), but they must be transparent about themselves and willing to expose their lives and minds for public scrutiny.
  • Over and above these qualities, these people will need to have lion hearts and an unwavering determination to overcome the greatest adversity in order to achieve their goal.

How to proceed

����� The good thing is no one has to find 1500 people at one go. Just finding one more leader will do. We know the story of the farmer who taught his sons the value of sticking together. He gave his five sons a bundle of sticks which, individually could easily be broken, but together were unbreakable. The moral being that we need to join with other good people. There is great power in civil society. My suggested way to proceed at this stage is provided below:

Any two believers in freedom should come together to start the Freedom Team of India. I have set up an electronic platform on Yahoo groups to help coordinate this effort (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/freedomteam-india/). A few people have already joined. Others can start their own teams if they don�t want to join this one. Let a million flowers blossom.

The Freedom Team of India will first need to agree on what the new India will look like and how its members will deliver the reforms if they were to ever come to power. I’ll be very pleased if chapters 2 and 7 of my book can inform the answers to these two questions, but of course, the blueprint would entirely be the work of the Freedom Team.

After that will come the question of who. Once ready, this group of 1500 should select outstanding leaders from amongst itself and form a new, ethics and freedom based political platform.
Its leaders and supporters should then go from village to village, explaining the proposed policies to the people.
Finally, about 550 outstanding leaders should contest elections. With the right effort and good luck, a majority of them will hopefully get elected. After that it would be a matter of disciplined� implementation of the planned reforms.

Next steps for you

����� If you think you meet the criteria specified above either as a member or leader, and you are committed to freedom and to the greatness of India, then please join the Yahoo group mentioned above. Your request to join will be vetted and you may be asked to provide details of your interest and past activities. After you join, your next immediate job would be to find one more person like you.

����� Once a sufficient number of people (say 1000?) have assembled, detailed discussions on future steps will be started and potential meetings held on the ground. Platforms like http://brainreactions.net/ will be used to advance lateral thinking. The intermediate goal would be to create a blueprint that all members of the Freedom Team agree upon.

This is a sketch of my thoughts and I’ll be happy to take questions. Questions may help point out shortcomings of this approach and help to improve it.

***�POST ENDS ***

Thanks Sanjeev.

Related Posts:

Politics & Corruption: Here�s how to fix the “system

BPD, BM, LP: Light at the end of the tunnel?

Silver lining to dark clouds.?

Good news and bad news..


January 9th, 2008 Posted by | Corruption in India, Debates & Discussions, Politics and Governance, Politics and Governance in India | 126 comments


  1. A Freedom Team is a good idea. Already, web forums that serve as think tanks of Indian thought have senior members who meet with each other. A larger networking of such forums is what is needed. When I say Indian thought, I mean thought that is really Indian, not something that is really a foreign meme (or Mem) thrust upon us.

    Some forums have established themselves as having the real information on certain issues. And these forums are those that influence the public. Sooner or later. What is discussed on those forums is picked up by the press, and many things find their way into the way the average guy speaks. Believe me, the Pakistani press is an avid reader of certain Indian forums that discuss Pakistani affairs.

    I have found that big ideas need an incubation time of 3-5 years, during which most people just give up, since they don’t see their views gaining traction within, say, 2-3 months.

    I would like to add to your list of qualities to be sought in a leader:

    The ability to think on your feet and think of the other person’s reply to your question and re-word your question several times so as to pre-empt smart aleck replies is key.

    Many leaders do not have this ability. They talk of something (point 1, say), and never get to go on to point 2, because they are left trying to tie up the 17 loose ends they left with point 1, which their audience picks up.

    Another thing is the ability to keep repeating your message in different contexts and thus hammering it into people’s heads. This has to be done without being boring.

    Yet another thing is to smell out people who want to create diversions, but have little other value, and let them win, so you can move to bigger fish.

    The abilty to *not* take credit is the one ability I would single out as the most important one.

    I believe that such a Team needs to have, in addition to a public wing, one large wing composed people who will be able to contribute without having to be in public view. That is the essence of building lasting, real change, instead of having people feel that they are being led by the nose. Many people want to contribute without being seen, just hoping that they generate like-thinking and eventually “better-thinking” peers out of their audience.

    Comment by Ashish | January 10, 2008

  2. Dear Sir,
    I am fully with Shri. Sablok with regard to the matter of a Freedom Team for India. Wearing a black hat is my passport to success, so keeping that in mind we should understand that we are asking for a place in the moon.
    We should understand that the “Bloggers” are mainly the elite who wish to express their opinion anonymously so that if one meets them on the street they need not be recogonised. NOTE: There are very few like Shri: Sanjeev who are willing to expose themselves.
    This means that it will be very difficult for the chosen 1500 to ever take up the cudgels on behalf of the society fearing severe retribution in many cases. “Let me bring to your notice that one leader today in southern india is facing a lot of problems because he has his own party and not willing to toe the line.”
    We have a very biased media which can play a very destructive part in the destruction of very constructive ideas if it goes against their grain of thinking.
    It has been reported in todays news (NDTV) that funds meant for NGO’s have been deverted to Maoist’s to create communal problems in a particular state where there were recent communal clashes.
    Unless we are willing to face the truth: that you will be ostracised, no caviar and free booze and no a/c cars and rooms and free food and all type of climates to be lived in; no tv’s no e-mail no laptops, no girl friends, no coverage of your activities unless it goes along wiht the grain of thinking of the Media.
    Throw in a few beatings, maimings, family life destroyed, fighting against established brainwashed mentalities, fighting against systematised destruction of a way of life.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | January 10, 2008

  3. Brilliant ideas and thought by Sanjeev shablok. Effective and Inspirational.

    One more thing, India is going through regional politics, discrimination among Hindus itself and caste system needed to be addressed first before we move to freedom. Once the person comes to power regionalty starts coming in that is worst case which can hinder the progress of the country. So what if I am Tamilite or Gujarati or Bengali or Maharastrian, all has equal oppertunity for jobs and previlieges. After all we all belong to same Nation and community of Hindus.
    Hindus must unite, not to threaten other but to preserve our own values, culture, morals, and ethics and tenents of Hindusism.

    Comment by Indian | January 10, 2008

  4. Ashish, vck and Indian: Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us. I will try and respond by the weekend and also request Sanjeev to provide his views.

    Comment by B Shantanu | January 11, 2008

  5. Dear Friends,

    Thanks for your comments. The idea of the Freedom Team is in its very early stages at the moment. The two key points for someone wanting to join are: (a) commitment to freedom (and justice) and (b) aspiration to become a level 4 or 5 leader, which means a values driven and competent individual. Once about 100 high quality people committed to freedom join (or are invited to join), some preliminary discussions can commence on whether there will be a public wing, etc. Thanks for these ideas. They will be explored at the right time. And of course, given that these people are going to be team players, each of them will contribute freely to the extent he or she can. No compulsions.

    Re: The abilty to *not* take credit is the one ability I would single out as the most important one.

    This is subsumed under level 4 and 5 leadership. Genuine humility is the main characteristic of such a leader; so taking credit does not even come anywhere in the consideration. Giving is the nature of such leaders, not taking.

    Re: The ability to think on your feet and think of the other persons reply to your question and re-word your question several times so as to pre-empt smart aleck replies is key.

    I suggest this is not an ability to aspire for. If a person is sincere and pays attention to the question, then the reply provided in humility and within the limitations of that person would be appropriate. This is a constant learning experience. Let us train ourselves for values and knowledge and reflect on our own selves; the rest will take care of itself.

    Re: discrimination among Hindus itself and caste system needed to be addressed first before we move to freedom.

    – May I suggest that freedom tolerates different approaches to life and God, but is completely intolerant of intolerance and discrimination. A person who believes in the caste system has no place in the Freedom Team. The leadership potentially to be thrown up by the Freedom Team will be quite different to what you see today.

    Re: We should understand that the Bloggers are mainly the elite who wish to express their opinion anonymously so that if one meets them on the street they need not be recogonised. This means that it will be very difficult for the chosen 1500 to ever take up the cudgels on behalf of the society fearing severe retribution in many cases.

    – Membership to the Freedom Team is only for those who are willing to be open, transparent about themselves, and willing to take a stand for what they believe in. Hiding under black hats wont do . The Freedom Team is on the look out for true lion hearts, not people afraid of what the media will write about them or what others will say about them. There is no point in being a member of a Freedom Team if you dont believe in everyones freedom to say whatever they wish to. Let everyone have their say, including the critics. Each member of the Freedom Team should be strong enough to stick to his own beliefs. It is a personal journey of discovery as much as an effort to reform India.

    Re: Throw in a few beatings, maimings, family life destroyed, fighting against established brainwashed mentalities. 1500!!

    – 1500 brave and good people in a population of 1 billion. Is that too much to ask? Is India afraid of shadows? Im sure we have tens of thousands of such good people. Now is the time to stand up and join hands.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | January 11, 2008

  6. —Re The ability to think on your feet

    This is not required for all, but for that group of people who will be responsible for talking to islamists/communists of the newer generation. That is what I meant.

    Comment by Ashish | January 11, 2008

  7. Dear Sir,
    Any number of shadows will not make any substance. It is not that one is afraid of shadows but the feel is different today. The yardstick for the freedom struggle from an alien yoke was different from that exists today. Today one is attempting to get freed from the yoke of criminalisation, which is against the grain of civilised thinking.
    Coming to the analysis; The first question that may come to one’s mind would be FROM WHAT!
    The top 1% has all it needs to keep it going. Loads of money, opportunities galore, subsidised education, no rules for following either from parents or society,
    pampered to the core. So what is the freedom they would be interested in?
    The poltical circus leaders are living in their own world and are no way interested in FREEING INDIA from their clutches.
    So whom are we left with, idealists or the extreme poor. Now coming to the aspect of the poor they go to the nearest vote booth with the least respect for themselves , as their self respect has been completely blunted over the years, due to a lax bureaucracy and an arrogant ruling class.
    They are satisfied with a PROMISE of a TV, free deinks on the day of the poll, free Biriyani on the day of the poll, and free sarees.
    The youth have no MORAL leader who can act as their “KINDLY LIGHT”. Religion is scoffed at as each one provides SALVATION in its own way and each one way is fighting for space to prove its method of salvation.
    Coming to the idealists, they live in their ivory towers, talking from a place of running water, A/c rooms, powered vehicles, pressure cookers, microwaves and TV’s including home theaters.
    Whom does one target to the 1500.
    Let us understand what one is freeing oneself from and what for as otherwise the doubts of others, religion, language, cultures and the whole conundrum will just flow in as usual.
    I just want some clarifications as a Black Hat thinker.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | January 14, 2008

  8. Dear VCK

    Please call me Sanjeev. No Sir, please. Equals. No hierarchies; no formalities.

    You have raised extremely valid points. Im trying within my limited means to communicate the message through combination of both my books, Breaking Free of Nehru partly on the internet today, and A Short History and Logic of Freedom which Im currently writing.

    Please continue to ask questions. I should ultimately be able to answer things in a page or so, but I cant at the moment since simplification takes a lot of effort. Once I have finished these two books Ill think of a way to condense the key message into a few pages. Until then I can offer two answers: one short, one medium.

    If one is not ‘frustrated’ with what happens around you then nothing more can be said, nothing will change. However, your comments indicate you are considerably frustrated with the state of affairs. The one who is frustrated has to choose: to do something or to give up.

    As far as I am concerned, I do what I think is right irrespective of whether others will think similarly or do anything about things. If others wish to participate that’s their call. You are a free person: you can choose to give up without trying, that’s entirely your call. I may not agree with your choice, but you are surely entitled to throw up your hands in despair with a million reasons why things cant change.

    About freedom. We don’t want freedom ‘from’ something. It is an end in itself. We are born 100% free. We simply want as much of it as possible back to ourselves. Freedom is the condition which enables a society to achieve the maximum potential of all people in the society. In a free society there is no poverty. Everyone is well educated and well-to-do. Integrity and ethics rules the country. Such societies are not the worlds most corrupt but the worlds least corrupt. And so on.

    India has a choice to revel in socialist models of governance which lead to poverty of the masses and extreme wealth among the immoral politicians and rich. Or India can choose the path of freedom which is the path of pure capitalism (not the pseudo-capitalism found in India today) and good governance. Each Indian makes that choice.

    Im simply adding here some preliminary notes from my second book A short history and logic of freedom:

    On fundamental premises, freedom implies only one thing: freedom of action, which subsumes a range of things like freedom of thought and speech. A bird is free if it can fly. Even a child readily understands that. Thats all there is to it. Freedom is being able to flap ones wings without colliding with other peoples wings and things around us. A bird that is put in a cage can be our pet but it is not free.

    In what way is a prisoner not free? While a prisoner receives food, clothing, and shelter, and so we cant classify the prisoner as poor or homeless, these things do not make him free. The prisoner may be permitted or even required to work on a productive activity. If fortunate enough, the prisoner may be allowed to read a book or two. In addition, the prisoner always remains free to think, though often not free to express these thoughts. Sometimes, though, prisoners may even be allowed to write a book or two, even though publishing them may remain an impractical proposition.

    We observe that the only freedom that a prisoner does not have is the freedom to act wholly by his or her own volition and time, and in a place of his choosing. Doing simple things like getting up in the spur of the moment and driving off to the nearby hills for a quiet walk is not an option.

    Freedom is tied to our existence in this most basic and intimate manner. To be free to act boils down to being free to choose, and bearing the consequences of our choices. To be free to choose includes discovering and creating new choices, such as creating new things and ideas. This freedom to create includes the freedom to convert our ideas into products, both tangible and intangible, such as goods or services. If I am not free to produce, or to write something that resonates with me, then how can I be free? If I cannot create my theory of the universe, or my own explanation about the way the world runs; if I am compelled to don the old coat my parents handed down to me, then Im not free. To be free is to be an entrepreneur of all kinds of ideas, of things. This freedom of choice empowers me, fills me with energy, and allows me to experience the basic wholesomeness of life. If someone were to try to feed me or to clothe me when I can do these things for myself by trading my labour and products, I would feel my existence compromised. I would be humiliated.

    I must therefore remain free to discover and become myself. I resist, with all the might at my disposal, charitable intentions towards me. I may have little choice but to hold out my hand for help if I am completely ruined economically and physically, but it is quite possible that at that stage my human soul would have deserted me. A beggars soul would have entered in its place. Of course, I do not mean to imply that beggars, including well-fed Indian bureaucrats and politicians who used to sell Indias soul to world organisations in the past, begging for food or for money, are not human; but possibly something human eludes them. Beggary is not a choice I commend for a free nation, particularly human beings who can reasonably put their hands to work and eke out a living, no matter how modest.

    Merely having the freedom to create my ideas or build a product, but not the freedom to sell these ideas or products, is not sufficient. Worse, if an external person (such as a bureaucrat) can sit in judgment on making my product available, or if I am forced to accept a lower price than I am willing to settle for, then I am no longer free.

    * *
    And so on. The idea being that freedom leads to justice. These conditions which include equality of opportunity lead to innovation and wealth.

    Im afraid I should stop here. You need time to think through all this. Please take all the time you need. For 60 years people havent thought much in India. It is important to think through things carefully and not stop just because a temporary obstacle stands in one’s way.

    Thanks for raising issues which Ill try to address in my second book.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | January 16, 2008

  9. @ Sanjeev, excellent and very well articulated, as always.


    @ vck: You have thrown up some serious issues – which have also been at the back of my mind. Unfortunately work pressures have severly constrained my time and ability to contribute. Nevertheless, I will try and write a response in the coming days (at least I hope to).
    In the meantime, please do continue to share your thoughts – I am sure Sanjeev will do the same.


    Comment by B Shantanu | January 18, 2008

  10. Dear Sanjeev,
    Thanks for your response, but I am still wanting and wishing to wear my black hat.
    I am still not convinced that the 1500 can be motivated to exercise their thinking and courage to come forward in spite of your motivating arguments on freedom.
    Let me assure you that I am for the 1500, but the utopian way of approach will never be possible in view of the overwhelming rigid thought processes that exist in our system.
    When I say the rigid thought processes I have to impress upon you that it does not deal with religion but on the contrary something totally the opposite. let me expand a bit.
    The existing education system is so strictly formulated over the years that a certain rigidity has been built in which has to be destroyed and dismantled before the concept of freedom you are advocating can be envisaged.
    The eduction system in vogue currently does not encourage creativity or provides for any sort of flexibility in its approach towards education
    The whole process is so structured that a bovine can be made to look creative and more free than a human.
    The concept of freedom is not enshrined in the curiculum that is currently in vogue.
    Culture and tradition have been given the go by and if discussed are either deemed fundementalist or avoided in the majority of cases as they are ducked.
    Why to I bring in culture and tradition? The point I am driving at is that even that cannot be practised with the freedom that it has to be to survive and evolve.
    A culture, if it is needlessly treated in such a manner that one has to helplessly see its detirioration over a period of time, is sufficient proof to bring to the fore that TRUE FREEDOM ceases to exist.
    If true feedom ceases to exist then where is the question of freedom of anything and where is the question of a free 1500?
    Unless the shackles of the domination of this form of imprionment in the form of current education that forms the basis of development of the thinking of this society, is broken, true freedom will never be there and the concept of Freedom Team will die in its infancy.
    I will be happy to review my thoughts based on your reply.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | January 21, 2008

  11. @ Ashish: You said big ideas need an incubation time of 3-5 years, during which most people just give up, since they dont see their views gaining traction within, say, 2-3 months.
    AbsolutelyIt is a long and hard road and the job is almost thanklessSo one needs tons of patience, but more than that, steadfastness, persistence and strong convictions and resolve.Having said that, I am sure that there are people like these out thereAll they need is a platform to bring them together and something that catalyses it
    I see Sanjeevs effort in that context.
    I also agree with you that the abilty to *not* take credit is the one ability I would single out as the most important one. Well said.

    @ vck: Yes, you are right when you say that it will be very difficult for the chosen 1500 to ever take up the cudgels on behalf of the society fearing severe retribution in many cases.
    I am certainly under no illusion about how hard the task is (neither I think is Sanjeev having personally gone through this process)
    This makes it imperative that one enters fully prepared and with no illusions about what might await him/her.
    One of the reasons why I write quasi-anonymously on this blog is that I dont think the time is right for me to get into this with all my energy..
    Reforming India is a 24×7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job as I often tell my friends and you can pretty much forget about family life, a source of income and day-to-day comforts if/when you decide to choose this path.
    Hence, one must be careful in timing thisotherwise, it will lead to disillusionment and disenchantment

    @ Indian: Yes, caste is an insidious cancer that is eating away at the fabric of our strength and identity..In many ways, it is probably the single most important problem confronting any reform of the political system (and governance).
    Unfortunately there are no easy answers and most people are unwilling to devote the mental energy and time needed to come up with creative approaches to this issue.

    @ vck: Coming back to your final comment, You have put the finger on one of the core issues here that of an entire generation (and I count myself in this) being fed on a diet of education that essentially deprives one of self-identity, pride, knowledge and awareness about ones history, culture and identity
    I am fortunate that I managed to come out of it (thanks partly to my wife and my family) and I was also fortunate that certain events triggered a questioning attitude that led to the starting of this blog and finally to this point.
    So yes, reforming the current system of education must also be high on the list of prioritiesBut should one just wait until then?
    I am not so sure.

    Look forward to continuing this discussion

    Comment by B Shantanu | January 29, 2008

  12. Dear Sir,
    Thanks for the feedback. NO,NO,NO!!! One cannot wait for the current system of education to change for our “BHARAT” to grow out of its sleep.
    It is neccessary that we take the matters into our own hands, as you have made a beginning.
    I think it will be possible if each one of us take pride in whatever we do and give the same motivation to all our peers and children, “when I say “OUR CHILDREN”!! I mean all, types of the youth with whom we come in contact with.
    I would like to submit a few quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. to bolster my argument.
    “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a sweeper who did his job well”
    “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and contreversy”.
    That should be the spirit with which we direct all with whom we come into contact with.
    That is what the British and the “Christian Educated Individuals” have destroyed in ourselves.
    Wearing a Dhoti which is dirty due to work on the fields is looked down with distaste and these persons are avoided. The same with dirty jeans and a dirty bandana cloth and smelling of the same cows urine and dung is a “STYLE OF THIS MODERN SOCIETY”.
    Why? It is because these individuals have made it a point to destroy our sense of self respect.
    A section which says that a birth took place without a “Sc”’W is accepted and tried to be projected as the truth. On the contrary a building of a bridge by a group of domesticated animals or a section of people who looked like monkeys is laughed at and discussed threadbare in all type of forums.
    Why? because these individuals have created a sense of inferiority within ourselves.
    Let us get back to our roots and get over our inferiority complex in both culture and Tradition and then we can face this destructive education system and throw it into the space into oblivion.
    WE CAN GET OUR 1500!!
    Please accept my apologies if I have been over enthusiastic in replying.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | January 29, 2008

  13. Dear VCK

    I can understand (I think) from where you are coming. But the thing is more complex than that. The world is changing much faster than it appears on the surface. The British leadership has changed dramatically over the past 60 years. Two generations have gone by. It is now India that clearly lags behind. After Gandhi and Vivekananda left, people came up with the mistaken idea in India that there is some kind of a perpetual culture war out there which one group or the other wants to win. But that is an outdated fact no longer relevant today.

    If you read the history of the West (and the history of freedom a book Im currently writing will elaborate it clearly), youll find the most despicable atrocities committed against heretics in Europe as late as in the 1600s, even as enlightened kings like Akbar ruled India. These people were primitive brutes in most parts of Europe even though a semblance of new thinking was emerging in their society. Till the 1700s they practiced slavery. Till 1800s, they practiced racism. Till mid-1900s, they were imperialists.

    But now, after many changes in their laws and practices, in 2008, they are rational, tolerant, humans (at least by and large). They have moved from beast in 1600 to man in 2000. This evolution has happened in the West on the foundation of the ideas of people like Bruno, Locke, Spinoza, Burke, Jefferson, Lincoln, Gandhi, Hayek, Luther King, Ayn Rand, and Friedman, among many others. Note: Gandhi was extremely influential in this change. In 13 generations an entire primitive civilization has changed for the better.

    I am therefore asking that we get over culture wars. There is nothing left to fight about. There are no cultural issues worth talking about; mere remnants of a distant past that needs to be reviewed, recast, and rebuilt. I am suggesting that we need to imbibe the concepts of freedom and adopt the policies of freedom as the foundation of a new India. Our generation has the task of making these ideas our own. This has nothing to do with inferiority complexes and all that. There is no inferior person any longer in the world — except the person who sees himself as inferior and begs for charity. Cast away all inferiority for in freedom, all are equal and their worth evaluated on merit.

    As sovereign individuals, we need to learn more about freedom, discover its policies, and take its message to the people, so that the lives of millions of people can change for the better. This matter of freedom is not a cultural issue, but a matter of bringing prosperity and dignity to millions of people.

    The Freedom Team, I have clarified today on its home page is open primarily to those will ultimately contest elections in India on a platform of freedom. There is much work before that happens, perhaps 10 years of work or even more. But in a nations history that is not a big time frame.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhok | February 4, 2008

  14. A response to a comment on the Freedom Team and the book

    (February 2008)

    I am responding below to a comment I received recently re: the Freedom Team effort and my book. I am making this response public after having obtained permission from the commentator.

    *** The comment I have received *** BEGINS HERE ***

    Assuming it is on the lines of “Improving the Indian Scene” in all aspects, these are my frank thoughts:

    1. Gurucharandas is a good writer and I read his column on internet – Times News. Shashi Tharoor has also written on this subject-recently one on the “Paradox in India” and done justice (Dec 07).

    2. We have many eminent personalities esp. Dr. A.P.J.Kalaam working on this project, all in different ways. I sincerely believe they are doing a great job.

    3. Personally I feel an NRIs’ observations and comments and a flood of books really do not help.

    Also views get slanted when Indians leave “Bharat-varsha” and the term NRI is usually seen as non-returning Indian.

    We have a global net work of batchmates and Community people who are NRIs do ack that NRIs do contribute financially and it is significant & helps in many Projects.

    However it still needs a Man on the spot.

    I much prefer the simple unseen “helping hand” of so many ordinary people in towns & rural sectors doing their extra-ordinary best and remaining silent and unsung.

    Please read “The Third Power”- by Acharya Vinoba Bhave, written nearly 50 years ago; the basic ideas are still valid today.
    The Week magazine featured many such cases a few years ago.

    Then we have that brilliant film “Swades” & earlier Manthan (forerunner of AMUL) which really tells us what it is all about.

    What needs to be done, can be, should be.. etc and DOING IT are two different things… – not just talking about.

    Earlier on in our exchange, I did visit the blog /site of the concerned person you have referred to and quite agree on the scholastic merit and wisdom but “turning around conditions” in India and the use of the term “Freeing India Group” raises a question –

    Free from what ? –

    Economic deprivation or the various social ills; We can start with freeing ourselves of time & energy wasted on the ridiculous controversies on which we waste so much…. which continues being sparked by media. Refer recent flare ups inc. Sethu Samudram,Bhajji & Symonds, now Raj Thackeray, and whatever next—-, which just wastes time.

    Change needs the man on the spot. …i.e. All hand on Deck style.

    No doubt, the pen was mightier than the sword a century ago, but today with media and internet, this is all changing.

    Have a sensible agenda and work on it calls for the local man with zeal and passion for India

    Managing Change needs sincere hands-on Workers -the most.

    *** My response *** BEGINS HERE ***

    I would first like to thank the commentator for taking the time to send me these comments. All perspectives are welcome as they may provoke thought. As the preface of my book covers most of the issues raised in this comment, and the rest of the book cover most other concerns, so I will only make a few comments here.

    A) Yes, I am now a non-returning Indian having taken Australian citizenship in 2005. Why I decided to move on is also made clear in my book. Please note that as an overseas Indian citizen (OCI) I retain the option of resuming my Indian citizenship in one year. If full dual citizenship is made available in India then that one year is also not needed. But that is entirely secondary to the key issues I raise in my book and for which the Freedom Team is being established. When I was a citizen and tried to implement reform with great vigour I wasnt heard then. People have to at least consider what I am trying to say! Citizenship is surely no magic bullet. India has 1 billion citizens and things are a mess! If things were that easy, then just put any citizen as a PM of India and things should work. They dont, because citizenship without clarity of vision and strategy is meaningless.

    I am seriously concerned that a new weapon has been found to reject my suggestions outright , namely that I am not a citizen of India. May I suggest that if my suggestions are not worth reading, then India should first throw out and burn all its science books written by foreign authors, all its books on economics (including on the communism and socialism that it avidly follows), all books on medicine, and so on. And empty its brain as well!

    Not more than a tiny fraction of the major scientific discoveries in the world and major advances in political thought and economic principles were made in India, so let India be a land of frogs in a well which should not read the suggestions of everybody who is not an Indian citizen. Or is the prejudice against Indians who are no longer Indian citizens greater than the prejudice against Western science and economics? Most Indians fawn on white-skinned non-Indian origin foreigners and are thrilled at their attention towards India. Are non-citizens of Indian origin the scheduled castes and pariahs among foreign nationals?

    Just a reminder, the political system, the public administration system and the economic ideology that India currently follows were almost entirely designed by non-Indians (by the British, and Marx or the Fabians who invented the socialism that India so fondly follows).

    Let me assure the commentator that the analysis and policy prescriptions in my book are informed by the best that political philosophy, public administration, and economics have to offer in the world today. I suggest that the commentator at least read my book before jumping to conclusions. Even the best of us can make serious errors of judgments by allowing prejudice to rule us.

    B) Assuming that the commentator will now read my book with the same interest as he would read a book written by anyone in general, Id like to add a key point. Jumping into the area of reform without a clear vision is futile in a land of one billion people. Clarity must come first. Then action. There is nothing more futile than a life led in the wrong direction.

    India will get its workers in due course. What India needs now is 1500 leaders who share an understanding of what India needs, ie, more freedom. The reason why I stopped political work in India in 2005 is because India doesnt yet have 1500 people who understand what is wrong in India and are willing to stand up and lead. My books goal is to create these 1500 people first. I would like 1500 top quality leaders to assemble first, and only then can action be commenced through the democratic processes of India.

    It may be worthwhile reading my notes at: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2008/01/09/freedom-team-for-india/

    C) Why is freedom so important? That is the main theme of my book. Freedom (with accountability) is the policy principle which drives good governance and wealth generation across the modern world. Reading the book will address that question in detail.

    I trust the commentator will read the book with an open mind and continue seeking the truth.

    If the commentator is convinced (after critical examination) of the suggestions I make, it may be time for him to become a true worker (for a worker and leader are in the end the same thing) and join the Freedom Team to contest elections and lead India to the change it needs. I would most gladly welcome aboard a convert to the ideas of freedom; no questions asked.

    If India has to move into the future, the process of winning the minds of people must be undertaken first. I must find or create 1500 outstanding leaders first; else I cannot return to India.

    Thanks again, for taking the time to send me these comments.


    8 February 2008


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhok | February 8, 2008

  15. Sanjeev: You have written an excellent riposte to the comment and covered most of the points.

    I would like to add a few thoughts.

    1. ALL views are slanted whether they are indigenous or from abroad so that criticism (if it was one), does not hold.

    2. A man on the spot is a great idea both in theory and in practiceand no doubt we have many such men – and women on the spot all doing excellent, commendable work for the most part selfless and unsung.

    However, there are two fundamental issues with this:

    a] There are limits to what people/individuals/small groups can achieve. These limits are normal they exist because individuals or small groups will rarely have a cause that needs a million people.

    Normally the cause would be very specific (for that is what an individual or a small group can do best) and hence something as ambitious as reforming the system is inherently difficult if not impossible for an individual or a small group to focus on or to attempt.

    Viewed in this context, one can easily understand why it needs 1500 people and not 15 people to make any difference.

    b] I have not read Acharya Bhaves book so I am not able to comment on it. No doubt it has some excellent ideas and no doubt the silent/invisible helping hand does do a huge amount of social good.

    Unfortunately that does not even get us close to fixing what is wrong with out system at a higher level of abstraction.

    At best it finds a way out of the system (- as in build your own canal) or finds a way to happily co-exist with it (- as in let us start a school for children from slums).

    No one dares question why is that the State has failed in its duty, in the first place, to provide water for irrigation and adequate schools for every child of school-going age in independent India

    While I agree that What needs to be done, can be, should be.. etc and DOING IT are indeed two different things… it does not mean that there is no place for talking about it.

    As Sanjeev has said, a earnest (wo)man without a vision can, at best, be a hard-working, well-meaning individual but he or she will not be able to fundamentally alter things.

    For that you need vision, and you need the authority/power to take hard decisions and bold steps and in a system lime ours that only comes through political powerSo you need a cadre of committed people who are willing to take their fight one level upand challenge the system through the electoral process, by getting involved in setting the agenda rather than reacting to it.


    P.S. I strongly disagree that the pen is any less mightier than the sword today if anything, with media and internet it is more powerful than ever before.

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 8, 2008

  16. Dear Sir,
    I was struck by one sentence in the reply of Shri. Sanjeev “Freedom (with accountability) is the policy principle which drives good governance and wealth generation across the modern world. ”
    That is precisely thepoint. To amplify it let us take the case of Shri. Raj Thackeray. Let me make it amply clear that I am not holding a candle for all his opinions, but let us view his recent statements without prejudice and without having a clouded mind.
    Mumbai, per se has become a “Shit Pot”. From the Mumbai which I knew in the 1970 to the 1990’s, today I am scared to travel to Mumbai.
    At that time we had polite Sikh Taxi drivers and polite Marathi Auto Drivers. No questions were asked as how far our destination was, no extras, nothing!
    You get into the vehicle and the driver does not even turn back. I used to give him the address and he used to take me there, “ANY TIME OF THE DAY OR NIGHT”, and used to give back even a two rupee or .50P change. No begging for that “EXTRA”.
    Today, after eight, questions are “Where are you going” how much can you pay extra, “It is not my way, It is out of the way, and with a woman, it is leering!!
    Mumbai is breaking at its seams. You have people parked and sleeping on the platforms. People drive cars fast and when they go out of control, platforms are there for the CAR DRIVER, but we have cases filed agains the dreiver for the wrong use of the platform by a “CITIZEN” of India.
    Why is that people come to Mumbai??? To make a living. OK! Why not make the state from which you come more prosperous and successful rather than destroying another which is successful.
    I do not mean that Indian citizens, should not have the right to go anywhere they want to live, but I would like to go back to wherefrom I started “Freedom (with accountability) is the policy principle which drives good governance and wealth generation across the modern world.”
    Let us understand that we need to discuss matters with a lot of “ACCOUNTABILITY” and not emotion.
    I think pinching the baby and then rocking it as the “MEDIA DOES” lacks accountability.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | February 8, 2008

  17. Dear VCK

    The questions you raise are interesting.

    Re: Indisciplined taxi drivers I dont know the rules in Mumbai, but their behaviour is likely to be a combination of limited number of taxi licenses, demands for bribes from the police, lack of an appropriate reporting and investigation system for consumer complaints, and of course, lack of driver training before giving them licenses to drive a taxi. Much of this can be reformed through good governance, but unfortunately it will have to be a wholistic reform, not piecemeal reform. You cant get that wholistic reform with the quality of corrupt leaders you have in Mumbai (and India) today.

    Re: Migrants to Mumbai, eg, your question Why not make the state from which you come more prosperous and successful rather than destroying another which is successful. Migration to places which are more prosperous and relatively more free is a law of human nature. In Mumbai people face less caste discrimination, they can merge into a big city and become valued for their innate worth, and so there will always be pressures to come to places like Mumbai (relative to other interior parts of India). That many people leave Mumbai and travel to other parts of the world which are even better is part of the same arrangement. All said and done, the average per capita quality of life in Mumbai is absolutely deplorable in comparison to what is normal elsewhere in the modern world, and what can be achieved in free India, as outlined in my book.

    For the entire country to shift its performance, the quality of political and bureaucratic leadership will have to be raised significantly, and policies changed drastically, particularly in the field of education. My effort is to bring awareness of the changes needed in India, and to then help facilitate that change. I am looking for 1500 outstanding people who fully understand the changes that are needed, and are willing to get elected to make those changes.

    If you can devote your time to exploring your questions in greater depth and aiming to become a high quality leader, you would do India great service. You need to move beyond asking questions to finding out the answers and understanding the entire problem and being able to recommend the package of solutions needed.

    That will need a careful examination of the incentives and policies that underpin these problems. In particular, Indias poor policies and poor implementation, driven by a totally corrupt set of leaders, come back to bite it at every level. Id encourage you to consider the arguments made in my book Breaking Free of Nehru at http://www.sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/breakingfree.html, particularly chapters 4,5, and 6.

    Also, there are a large number of other books that can be read. I’ll recommend Milton Friedman’s ‘Capitalism and Freedom’ as a start, then Ayn Rand’s Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal’, then Julian Simon’s ‘The Ultimate Resource’. Also Microeconomics and Behaviour by Robert Frank, and of course, reading as widely as possible in history, political philosophy, and philosophy more generally. A 1100 page book is available for free download on the internet as well (15 MB!) called ‘Capitalism’ by George Reisman. I will try to prepare a reading list (I had prepared something of that sort a few years ago see http://www.liberalpartyofindia.sabhlokcity.com/philosophy/liberalchain.htm).


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhok | February 9, 2008

  18. Dear VC Krishnan

    I’ve prepared a reading list on the weekend for you to consider:
    http://www.freedom.sabhlokcity.com/books.html which contains the recommendations I’ve made above. You’ll pardon me if I appear to sound like a teacher – I’m just trying to share useful knowledge with others. You will, of course, critically examine everything I suggest. I may be entirely wrong!

    Btw, I recommend Robert Frank’s book (which I used as a textbook while lecturing 2nd/3rd year students in economics in USA in 1999) primarily for its smooth technical presentation of economics. I do not agree with everything that Frank advocates. There may be better books in the market now.

    Also, have a look at a draft website for the freedom team at:
    http://www.freedom.sabhlokcity.com/ which provides a range of links to earlier (failed!) efforts.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhok | February 10, 2008

  19. Dear Sanjeev (& others),

    Good discussions! I happened to land up accidentally on this blog page and i dont repent! I have not read your book, but, from the discussions between you people i can well imagine that there could be valuable treasure in it. I have not read the Bhagwat Geeta fully till date, .at 53 since we have plenty of think tanks to do this. (I would like to submit, after due study, that in principle, most of the policies evolved by most of the Govts at the centre and the States are by and large good, though some may be impracticable, irrelevant and some only as poll gimmics).

    In effect less than 40% of planned tasks are achieved, that too with un-desired quality

    5. Lack of an effective system of Accountability. ( There have been instances of corrupt practices by Judiciary also! The Lok Ayukta is not empowered for punishment and to bring its findings to their logical justice!)

    Now, to counter the above deficiencies in Governance, we immediately require non-corrupt, efficient, dedicated, competent, sincere, honest and committed leaders to enter into the political system. And believe me, there are such leaders available all over the country, we need to only identify them and convince them that politics is not dirty by itself, but made to be so by people who are within. With this basic thought in mind, about 2 years ago Lok Paritran poltical party was founded by a few IITians and professionals to get into the political system. They have been having many hurdles along their path but are slowly picking up. I too have joined this party and plan to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka.

    Dear Sanjeev, I understand your view that you would wait till you muster the visionary 1500. The wait could take too long and the system may get deteriorated further. It is thus my humble suggestion that you and the like minded potential leaders should come on the field and actively participate, keeping at all times your good thoughts and knowledge close to your hearts, which can be spread more vigorously during the process and attract more good leaders.

    I’m an ex-Commander of Indian Navy, B.Sc., Mech/Marine Engr, Aero-Engr and specialised in Aero-quality assurance, voluntarily retd after 27+ years of service. Since both children have settled well, I thought of doing my bit to bring in a change the Governance of our Country although I’m only living with my meagre pension and slightly supplementing it through free-lance civil projects! I solicit support from you good and potential leaders and to join me also in my endeavour.

    Cdr. (Retd) BB Khilari

    Comment by Cdr.(Retd) BB Khilari | February 10, 2008

  20. Dear Sanjeev,
    The main point I was trying to look at was the concept of accountability. Acountability is something which most of us are wary of. It is that quality that we are not trained to develop and nourish.
    Let us look at a simple example of the concept of “GOD”. Please understand that I am not taking this debate to a different level or digressing from the objective, I am only trying to look into that aspect that we need to develop, which is accountability.
    At the young age most of us are not aware of our talents and we develop the herd mentality or we are pushed to act on something because we are forced by our elders to act like that.
    For example, how many of us are willing to accept that many of us are not in the proffession for which we have a flair for? Many of us took up our proffession because we were blackmailed into it as , FOR ALL THAT I HAVE DONE FOR YOU, COULD’nt YOU DO THIS SMALL THING FOR ME?
    Father is a lawyer the family makes a person to be a lawyer whether he has the capability or not. So all trhe GOD’s on earth are prayed to for the success of such an individual and everybody is happy. If he is not successful, he is blamed– UH! his father was a great lawyer, and made his life all by himself, look at this guy he is not a pale shadow of that GREAT MAN!
    Who is accountable for this mess. The father will blame the “GOD” for the failure of his son, the son for the failure of his career. All because no body is willing to accept the rsponsibility for his action and ACCOUNT for himself. Finally the poor “GOD” is blamed for all this mess.
    That was what I trying to place emphasis on — ACCOUNTABILITY.
    If Raj is talking about the problems of Mumbai, the accountability rests with the individuals who have wanted such governments at their state level.
    The same TERAI LAND in UP has been converted into fertile land by the hard work of the Sikhs who came there.
    The same dry Kutch area is waterfed today. (I am not going into the politics of Shri. Modi, or the Narmada Bachao Andolan ane the politics of it), The same dry Gujerat has trebeled its cotton production. The same gujerat has three phase power in its villages.
    The same Karnataka has made it to the IT capital of India.
    Who is accountable? the corrupt or the persons who were willing to vote for them based on their caste and other factors?
    Coming to the other aspects of your mail.
    I do understand that where the moolah and life is people move. But as Raj says accept the way of the life of the society and live your life. Learn to obey rules and laws of the land and be accountable for your actions. If you cannot, GET OUT.
    Coming to the aspect of corruption, let me assure you nobody is born corrupt, just like nobody is born drunk. I do not think you would have seen a baby born with a beer bottle in his hand or mouth. We make it!!
    Let me expand. Let us take the case of a loving father. He has a son who cannot make it to the best engineering school. Poor father is a not a paying job, but the “FATHER” is EMPLOYED as an executive which is a “PAYING JOB”. so the cut begins by the executive to pay for his son’s seat. Who is corrupt, the father or the Executive?
    Unless we teach our children the concept of accepting responsibility and we elders stand up to it, where is the question of accountability and lessening of corruption.
    Lok Paritran is a great concept, but finance and sustaining the campaigining is tough. I noticed that in Chennai they ended up in a row as a few of the founders were accused of castisism and one of the leaders has quit and left to the US from where he had come.
    I shall take up your recommendations and catch up on the reading and keep this dialogue going ahead.
    Regards, vck

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | February 10, 2008

  21. This is turning out to be a interesting discussion. Please continue sharing your thoughts.


    @ Cdr Khilari: Good to see you here, Sir. I am glad you have chosen to join Lok Paritran. I was quite impressed by them when they started and also managed to speak to Tammay a few years ago.

    Since then, I have had less luck in my attempts to get in touch with them. Perhaps you may be able to help.

    When you have a chance, do have a read through: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/03/24/dark-clouds-just-got-darker/ and


    If you could put me in touch with the Lok Paritran leadership, I would be delighted to profile them in my Interview with young politicians series (see http://satyameva-jayate.org/2008/02/08/interview-with-ujjwal-part1/ and http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/10/12/geeta-gokhale-bpd-interview-part1/ )

    Jai Hind, Jai Bharat.

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 11, 2008

  22. to V. C. Krishnan

    Sorry, I am not following the discussion on freedom team because I have no great knowledge about it. Personally I liked this idea of Shablok and I respect him but here I have something to say for thoughts delivered by v.c.k

    v.c. K, I agree with you on the points that many have wasted their talent and life as not properly motivated by our elders. Elders are to be blamed for all blunder in the society and communities. ” Tare Jamin Per” movie by Amir khan, though personally I am not liking A.K., but the movie he made is really addresses atleast one issue which were tortured by elders. Elders themselves were not trained to use their brain when they were young. So what can we expect from them? Same streotype behaviour and attitudes. I always had in my mind to make such movie were parents, teachers, relatives are showm mirrors, and Amir Khan did it..Still there are many issues which makes kids helpless and on mercy. Parents has to learn to accept the responsibilities of their kids and their misbeahving when they become adults.

    We need big change from parents, teacher, relatives and communities.

    Comment by Indian | February 11, 2008

  23. Pl visit loksattamovement.org and voteindia.org. I am confident that Loksatta movement is the future of India.

    Pl let me know your interest.


    Comment by Dnyanesh Sovani | February 11, 2008

  24. Dear Shantanu,

    Thanks! I shall try all the URLs posted by you in your comment and then get back. I have myself not met Chandrashekhar and Tanmay Raj Purohit, the presnt and the former Presidents of LP. They are likely to visit Bangalore by this month end. May be there after I should be able to give you their intimate contact addresses, Regards

    Comment by Cdr.(Retd) BB Khilari | February 12, 2008

  25. Dear All

    I strongly support efforts like Lok Satta and Lok Paritran. So I would encourage all those interested in joining politics at this stage itself to join one of them (or any other group of your choice). The Freedom Team will take some time. It has only just been formed, and I dont know when 1500 outstanding people will assemble.

    By the way, Captain Khilari, I tried to do something in this area a little before these two new efforts came into being. I tried a few things since 2000 but nothing seemed to work. Then, in 2004, JP and a few other invitees attended a 5-day workshop I had organised. But at that stage he did not want Lok Satta to join politics. I then joined Swatantra Bharat Party but left it in 2005. (Some pictures from the 2004 effort are at: http://www.indiapolicy.sabhlokcity.com/workshop/pics/ plus some more details at: http://www.indiapolicy.sabhlokcity.com/ )

    I then retired from politics after failing to find or create a political group that met my expectations. At the moment, I am trying to facilitate the coming together of at least 1500 good people to kick-start a process to advance freedom and good governance in India. The main thing is that I have tried to offer some concrete suggestions through my book. That is my key message.

    Being a member of Lok Paritran or Lok Satta, etc., is not incompatible with being on the Freedom Team. The key thing about the Freedom Team idea is its filtration process, and guarantee of quality. I want it to represent a seal of quality in India politics in the future. That is why I have created an initial ‘filter’ at:
    By the way, I don’t think I am asking for much: simply for honest, competent people; and among this group only those who are very clear about the need for greater freedom (with accountability) in India, and are willing to study hard and work towards world best practice policies for India.


    Dear VCK, you are right about the importance of accountability. I have also identified accountability as a key missing factor in India’s governance in my book. Please consider a 2-page summary of the concept at:

    By the way, I don’t agree that “we are forced by our elders to act like that.” I agree that our elders influence us, but after age 18, we are adults and FULLY accountable for ourselves whether we like it or not. We cannot then implicate our elders. As they are our well-wishers, they did the best they could. We may have deferred to their views, but we did so as responsible and accountable adults. In any case, let us go to the next step, now. The future beckons.

    My question is: what do you want to DO next? You can either be a spectator or a participant. You are free to choose, but if you choose not to participate, then you also lose the rights to complain. So can I suggest you consider joining an existing effort such as Lok satta or Lok Paritran and gain some valuable experience on how these things work. Second, once you fully understand what the Freedom Team stands for you can also consider joining it.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | February 12, 2008

  26. Dear Sanjeev,
    I went through your article through the link provided by you regarding “Accountability”. It was well thought out and documented and my heartfelt appreciation for the efforts you have put into it.
    You have indicated that either I should join a platform like Lok Satta or Lok Paritran, or quit criticising. Let me assure I not going to do both. While appreciating your thoughts I totally disagree with the recommedd process.
    Let me assure you that a political platform is very dificult to succeed as I have personal experience, and even today I have varied spectrum of friends in various political parties. Let me inform you that it is not a “Lark”.
    You must understand that the thoughts that we exchange here are very insightful and as an individual fighting for his survival on a daily basis one does not understand it nor is he keen to do so. For him it is a matter of “Roti”, – Forget Kapada or Makan”, – they may never fructify in many years for him!!!
    Though I agree with the fond hope of yours and other groups and also wish to wear pink glasses, I am unable to do so, so here is my two bits.
    If you look at the many political parties that are in exiastence now, most of them have form the grass roots level. Call them Communal/Secular, or what you want, it does not matter; what matters is their success in the politicl arena.
    Walk in the polluted dumps after the rains, where the seawage flows alongside the “Kitchen and diningroom”. Eat on the floor where things have happened during day and night! Eat along as you see a funeral pass by and also celeberate a marriage when there is funeral taking place next door!!
    You must be able to bear the mosquitos and either wash your backside or wash your mouth – the choice is yours!! – with the sngle “Lotta” of water you have at your disposal.
    I am not apologetic about my criticism nor for wearing the “black hat” even as of now:
    I have experienced the fact that one uses leaves or sand were leaves are not available, sometimes, to wash my backside an also wear the same underclothing for days on end.
    Oh, no sir I did not go on a space voyage or was an artic explorer, I went round India when i was young.
    The significant point I am trying to make is that, one has to go to the grass roots, You may ask are you doing it, YES I AM, walk on the sand without chappals at about noon in summer in Nagpur or Ramagundam – it is not very pleasant – and then I can talk politics with whom so ever who wishes to do so.
    Let me assure you that I am for change, a change for the better, but it should come from a total social tranformation, and no amount diatribes on corruption, caste or education is going to make an iota of an impact.
    I will take up the other matters in your mail later.
    Thanks for your patient reading, in advance, and let us take this positive dialogue further.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | February 14, 2008

  27. I tend to agree with VCK. I think the idea of starting a political party has to start from the grass roots. One has to spend a few years working with locals first and earn trust. Credibility has to be earned. You may criticize the existing parties for their policies and practices, but one thing you cannot deny is their grassroot network. Congress and BJP have extensive grassroot networks in the north but not so in the south. This is the prime reason for them joining hands with regional parties in the south. If one has to contest againt these parties, one has to fight them first at the grassroot level. There is a saying : If you want to clean the city, you should start from your own neighbourhood. I think that is how a political party has to be built to be successful. You contest at local levels (municipality elections etc) first. Then, you go to state levels. It will probably be a steep learning curve initially. Then (hopefully) if one does good work that is recognized, word shall spread. I just feel that the idea of straight away contesting a national election in such a diverse country is impossible. I am not aware of how these new parties are approaching the task but I think the ones that do survive after a few years would be those who were successful in developing a grassroot base. By the way, Sanjeev, this is just my personal opinion and I still encourage and applaud your enthusiasm. Hopefully, you will be successful. The end goal is still the same, we all want a strong and successful India.

    Comment by Prakash | February 15, 2008

  28. Dear Sanjeev, VCK, Prakash et al,

    This is such a fascinating discussion – I just read through the entire post and comments and have been overwhelmed by the insights and value provided by different commentators.

    I would like to respond, in parts, but am laying down the main points here –

    Firstly, Sanjeev, this is an amazing effort. After a long time, I have read something on Freedom (of the individual) from an Indian writer that is so incisive. Maybe I am effusive because I can identify with your thought process, but we will keep such matters aside. But, what I would like to discuss with you spans –

    1. Freedom of the individual vs Freedom of the collective – how do you actually draw lines? Should you draw lines? And, does the freedom of the individual include the right to secede from the collective?

    2. Your citizenship status – I am afraid that it does play a part in whether your thesis is accepted by resident Indians (I think it is more about residency than citizenship, witness Francois Gautier). It is disingenous on your part to equate foreign works of science with your book – your book is on politics and polity, and will be judged as such.

    3. Getting over the culture wars – to my mind, this is really the crux of the issue and the key determinant of whether the 1500 has a chance of succeeding or not.

    4. Using a filter – this is a problem in my opinion. It becomes too easy to discredit an organisation that uses an “elitist” filter.

    RE: VCK –

    You are a really perplexing and confusing person, which probably makes you the most interesting person on the blog. In other posts, you go on and on about bharatiya culture and inadequate respect to elders and what not – and, yet here you are busy rubbishing elders and parents. Is not respect for elders and parents an inalienable duty according to bharatiya customs, irrespective of whether the parents/elders are right/wrong/impinge severely on your wishes. Witness Rama and his exile – his father’s wishes over-rode the wishes of millions of his people.

    Also, witness Guru Drona and Eklavya – Drona demands a thumb, and Eklavya gives it up to him, without thinking, without applying his mind. Just because his dharma demanded respect for the guru? What kind of a nut was he?

    I see this as the big issue – our culture celebrates subjugation to age (which it equates with wisdom) and does not encourage, indeed discourages, questioning. And, this is linked in a big way to our Freedom as individuals.

    I will come back on each of the above points in much more detail.

    Comment by Patriot | February 15, 2008

  29. *** Please read in full. There are some useful insights ***

    All, what follows is a string of comments, extracted from an exchange of emails between an un-named Lead India contestant, an active political worked, myself and Sanjeev.

    The names of the Lead India contestant and the active political worker shall remain anonymous as I have no intention of infringing on anyones privacy and I do not (yet) have their permission to reveal their identity (it was a private exchange of emails)Yet I feel the thoughts are important enough to merit public disclosure and debate.

    In any case, this is a debate around ideas; while personalities add colour to the discussion, a desire for anonymity should not stop us from having this debate

    *** COMMENTS BEGIN ***

    Comment by un-named Lead India contestant (henceforth LIC):

    Referring to a statement on Sanjeev’s website:
    Finally, about 550 outstanding leaders should contest elections. With the right effort and good luck, a majority of them will hopefully get elected.

    This statement by Sanjeev has about the same insight into the Indian political system as an 8th standard kid. Can’t believe he was an IAS officer.

    So far nothing I have read makes me feel that he has any substance.

    Blogs, e-groups and websites are not the way to make a change in society. Gotta get out there.

    Comment by active political worker:
    I think this is a matter of perspective. I too had that opnion that internet and emails are just waste of time and not the way to bring out revolution. but the same has connected me to Sanjeev, Shantanu as well as Lokparitran.
    Comment by B Shantanu

    Dear LIC: I find it hard to agree with you on two points though:

    1] The insight(s) into political system that Sanjeev has: I believe you are being a bit harsh but I guess everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. Sanjeev has been inside the system, tried to change it and failed. That experience is surely worth something and I believe there are lessons in it for all of us.

    2] That blogs, websites etc are not the way to make change happen: We had heard a similar criticism from a readers to which Sanjeev and I had both responded. I wrote that while “…What needs to be done, can be, should be.. etc and DOING IT are indeed two different things ” it does not mean that there is no place for “talking about it”.
    An earnest (wo)man without a vision can, at best, be a hard-working, well-meaning individual but he or she will not be able to fundamentally alter things.

    For that you need vision, and you need the authority/power to take hard decisions and bold steps and in a system like ours that only comes through political powerSo you need a cadre of committed people who are willing to take their “fight” one level upand challenge the “system” through the electoral process, by getting involved in setting the agenda rather than reacting to it.”

    Please have a look at this comment when you have a few minutes http://satyameva-jayate.org/2008/01/09/freedom-team-for-india/#comment-11116 and this one http://satyameva-jayate.org/2008/01/09/freedom-team-for-india/#comment-11117

    I sincerely feel all of us can find a way to work together – for there is at least one thing that binds us (I believe): the desire to live in a better India.



    Comment by LIC:

    if emails and discussions etc are not backed by actual work on the ground then it is a waste of time. armchair theorizing and strategizing can be fun and may even end up influencing someone. after all tolstoy and ruskin influenced gandhi.

    but you guys seem to be waiting for mr. gandhi to come along. sabhlok is now an australian citizen and i don’t know what your situation is Shantanu. Are you working full time in the social sector.

    i have the luxury of saying these things because people like misra, kaura, ujjwal and i are doing this full time. we are walking the talk. you guys seem to be doing a lot of the latter.



    Comment by Sanjeev:

    This is an important and interesting conversation and raises many issues..

    LIC, there are two approaches I can take after reading your emails.

    I can let myself get angry and write you off equally as you have written me off and also Shantanu and XYZ! You do know how to spray the
    shotgun, I say! But I think I understand your style a little better after I went to the internet and found that you have a reputation for bluntness.

    And thats good, the bluntness. None of us has time for frivolous talk. I also enjoy your youthful arrogance and provocative stance. You are at least be half-way to where Id like the leaders of India to be. The other half is policy thinking and strategic capability, and the ability to be a team player. It is these aspect that Id like to discuss.

    You were perhaps in USA while I was completing my doctorate there (1994-99). Then I returned to India and tried to form a political party. I tried 3 times till 2005. One of my efforts helped raise resources and momentum to get one MP elected (Sharad Joshi) and one MLA in Maharashtra.

    See pics at http://www.indiapolicy.sabhlokcity.com/workshop/pics/
    (I wish I had the pics of the large gathering of 26 January where thousands of people assembled from across India, but never mind.) The point being that I DO walk the talk — but in my own way.

    Indeed, everyone on the Freedom Team is a person of substance; they are are not a bunch of idlers. They are people with decades of field work in political parties, NGOs, business, and government even if this is a very small team yet (started end-December last year).

    These people must be go-getters. I dont admit people otherwise.And, no, Im NOT waiting for Gandhi. And Im not Gandhi myself, so I don’t want anyone to wait for me. Instead, Im herding all the Gandhis that can be found in India today. People like you. I want them **here**, to come together and to lead India. I want you – and the team – to succeed — to succeed beyond your own wildest imagination.

    And to make India the greatest country the world has ever seen.

    And so the question I ask you is:
    (a) how you will become PM of India, and

    (b) what you will do when you get there? I ask this because India doesn’t have a shortage of people who do things in India. Millions of NGOs abound. And we have tens of candidates in elections. No shortage of civil society. But we have a real shortage of people who have the right philosophy.

    My political actions in the past (and this effort) are entirely a part of that philosophy. I also happen to be a specialist in the area of policy (and to some extent, strategy). My policy suggestions are outlined at http://www.sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/breakingfree.html

    Essentially my argument is that no one can succeed in shifting Indias corruption and mis-governance without shifting its foundational principle from equality to freedom (with accountability), ie, from socialism to capitalism, or classical liberalism. And then, assiduously working to achieve world-best policy.

    But do read a bit about my thoughts and then, more importantly, do tell me about yours. Im interested in knowing what you believe in, not in what you do. That doing bit is ONLY important to me if it is aligned to delivering true freedom and greatness to India. Else I’ve done enough in
    my life to last many lifetimes, and I’ve seen enough action in my life as well to keep me engrossed in memories till I die. Im happy to read your writings to understand you better. Compatibility in philosophy is crucial.

    One more question. What could you possibly lose by working with other like-minded people even on a boring thing as an email group? These others may be able to support and publicise your efforts. So if you want to try out the Freedom Team, check out:

    You must meet the criteria. If you dont like it here, you can always leave by the mere act of unsubscribing! You are free to choose in this Team. It is called Freedom Team for a reason.


    Comment by B Shantanu:


    I have enormous respect for what you, Shri Misra, Sanjiv and Ujjwal are doing and will continue to support alll of you in your endeavours.

    To me “walking the talk” is a 24hr/365-days a year job…AND it does not pay. And in that sense, you are right, I am not walking the talk. Why? Two main reasons:

    1] I have responsibilities that I cannot forego and I do not have the luxury of not needing to work and 2] Equally importantly, I am still working on an action plan which includes, amongst other things, having clear, coherent and practical view on a range of issues that confront us, as a society and as a nation.

    Does that mean my efforts will always be limited to “theorizing” and armchair strategizing? I hope not. In my mind I have a clear view of a few years after which I will be able to devote time to do this. If things go in a certain way, that day may be much nearer.

    Until then, I am working hard on developing my awareness about the issues that confront us and thinking of ways to ameliorate them. I personally see this as a 10-year project and I am not even half way there.

    It does not – at this stage – match your effort(s) or that of Shri Misra, Sanjiv or Ujjwal or even Sanjeev Sabhlok (and indeed many others).

    Yet, I would like to believe that in my own small way, I am making some difference.

    And to be clear, I am not “waiting for mr. gandhi to come along” – I believe each one of us has a Gandhi within.

    Finally, here is another link for you to have a look at. This is a post in which I had outlined some thoughts for the nascent political parties that have been formed in the past few years: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/04/13/bpd-bm-lp-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel/

    I hope we can continue this dialogue.

    I have one question for you. After your Lead India experience, do you believe that individuals can still make a difference or do you feel one must have a group of people and supporters (specifically, a political party) to bring about fundamental change?


    Comment by Sanjeev:

    Shantanu, I agree with your approach of thinking and ensuring success before entering into the ‘maidan’. An overall strategy is necessary. I’m not interested in a half-baked effort which is totally guaranteed to fail, or not achieve what needs to be done. Today India is an independent country and democracy.

    This is not about one-man mass movements, though leadership will still be important. This is about winning democratic government and getting the mandate to make a change.

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 15, 2008

  30. *** COMMENT COMBINED ***

    Dear Shantanu,
    Great exchange of mails. These are the kind of insightful talk that will get us somewhere. It will provide for a platform for individuals to come together s they will know that they are not alone in making this “Bharat”.
    Blogs and e-mail are efforts at communication and they are to speed up mails. They are not an end in themselves.
    Using a e-mail does not deny me the opportunity to be less “Bharatiya”, and it is definetely not armchair thinking.
    Let us continue the dialogue as it is entering a very interesting phase.


    Dear Patriot,
    Welcome back. The usuals in this blog were misssssing you!!!! I was just thinking that I was getting away. I shall write later.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | February 15, 2008

  31. Sanjeev,

    I would like to understand the economics of your platform better. This is the key issue I struggle with when I look at these newer parties – whether it is your concept of Lok Paritran.

    How do you fund an election campaign? More importantly how do you build a political party? Let us assume, for the moment, that you have got your 1500 committed people – but to succeed in elections, I think you need at least 150 party workers per constituency? That is the bare minimum in my calculation – I think you will need 500 per constituency.

    But, let us take the number of 150: 150 x 542 seats = 81,300 party workers. Where will these come from? How do you pay for them pre-elections. I would think that you need at least two years of preparation to contest successfully – let us assume we pay an average stipend of Rs1000 pm (very reasonable in my opinion) – that works out to a pre-election cost of Rs195cr!!!!!

    Then take election costs campaigning ……. I am assuming a paltry Rs15lacs per constituency (printing banners, travel costs, food costs, etc). That in turn works out to another Rs81cr.

    And, these are minimum costs in my opinion to fight a national level election. Hence, please explain the economics of your plan.

    I have been thinking about and discussing a different approach to political reforms for the past 5-6 yrs with my group of “thinkers” – I call it the Trojan Horse approach. At least, the economics are taken care of by my approach.



    Dear VCK,


    Look forward to hearing from you.


    Comment by Patriot | February 16, 2008

  32. BTW, the economics is why the SYSTEM usually wins against a challenger.

    Not just in politics, but in most spheres of life …..

    Comment by Patriot | February 16, 2008

  33. Shantanu,

    1. No where in the discussion it is apparent that you subscribe to this idea of bringing 1500 people together to build a Freedom team. Am waiting to hear that…

    2. To some extent, I agree with LIC that this concept is very abstract and it has very limited practical value.

    3. I would disagree with the argument that only political parties built with a certain type of individuals can bring a lasting fundamental change and is the only answer to most of the problems.

    4. The attributes of the individuals (to qualify for the Freedom team) are highly subjective. There is no way to objectively evaluate them, right (honesty, integrity, commitment…)? Some one with integrity in my opinion may not have integrity in your opinion…and vice versa

    5. A person who is a doer is not a great strategist..And strategists don’t need to get their hands dirtied..I don’t buy this.

    6. The changes brought about individual contributors are more lasting…

    An example: Am not sure if you know how pathetic the public transport system of Indore used to be till about a couple of yrs ago. They now have become the role model for all the big cities to follow. The second best in the world, I suppose. The person who brought that change is Vivek Agrawal, a 1995 batch IAS officer. He studied the best systems in the world and led this change. They have the best in class buses, a GPRS based tracking system and a lot more.. So, the bottom line is this system is not only providing a convenient, cheap and user-friendly (the bus conductor smiles and wishes you, they have low floors for easy boarding/alighting) transport to our dear Indoris, but it is a profitable venture too(the revenue comes fm tickets and advertisements on bus panels)

    7. It is more practical to identify one problem in hand and resolve it completely. Rather than picking 100 problems and not arriving at a single solution..There is no panacea not even with the team of 1500 great people.

    PS: The discussion is very engaging.

    Comment by Pragya | February 16, 2008

  34. Hello Everyone,

    My name is Geeta and I am the political worker that Shantanu is referring to along with LIC. I love to be known as political worker. But for past 3-4 months, I have disassociated myself from any actiity.

    Recently I joined the freedom team and silently observing this explosion.

    I was working with Lokparitran Bangalore chapter and then got shifted to Pune.
    Afterwards Lokparitran got split as Bharat Punarnirman Dal{BPD}.

    All in all for past two years I am closely associated with most of the groups that Shantanu has described, indulging myself into activities like, spreading awareness, enrolling new members, looking for prospective candidates. arranging meetings, small conventions,email communications (LP), orkut communities(LP), writing articles, monthly reports, maintaining membership database and so on.

    here are some observations –

    * Freedom team expects level 4 and 5 leaders, but I have observed that such people go ahead and form their own group rather than joining somewhere else
    [ being enlightened enough :-)]

    * 1500 is a big number and we dont have enough time. I guess.
    Out of 543 seats in the parliament, Can we come up with a number which gives us majority and then multiple by 3 ?

    * Funding is not a problem [Oh! I love saying this and have heard this at least 100 times] but serioulsy the bigger issue here is to have a homogeneous group of highly motivated, committed people.

    * In LP and BPD {I tream them as one} – few problems I have seen are –
    1. There is no criteria for admitting the members, hence people influenced by existing political parties, enter and tend to imitate the age old practices.

    2. Focus is survival of the party and then growth of the party. instead the focus should be the growth of individuals. this is my personal opinion, but the issue seems to be resolved in freedom team.

    * There are already more than 220 registered parties in India and the number is increasing. Today I attended the convention by Professional Party of India[PPI]. and all seem to be saying the same thing.
    BTW, PPI put up a really impressive presentaion[truely professional]. please check their website – http://www.professionalspartyofindia.com

    Hope that someday all these small groups unite.


    Comment by Geeta Gokhale | February 17, 2008

  35. All, my heartfelt thanks for such an engaging, thought-provoking and insightful discussion of various points. I am adding my views below.


    @ vck: This comment of yours struck a chord:

    Walk in the polluted dumps after the rains, where the seawage flows alongside the Kitchen and diningroom. Eat on the floor where things have happened during day and night! Eat along as you see a funeral pass by and also celeberate a marriage when there is funeral taking place next door!!
    You must be able to bear the mosquitos and either wash your backside or wash your mouth – the choice is yours!! – with the sngle Lotta of water you have at your disposal.

    Like you, I have experienced the rough in India, seen grinding poverty and some truly saddening things.

    As I mentioned in a previous comment, POLITICS is a FULL-TIME JOB, IT DOES NOT PAY, YOU CAN pretty much FORGET ABOUT YOUR FAMILY LIFE and you will very likely be LIVING UNDER the THREAT of physical harm if you are upright and stick to your principles, that is

    THIS is what STOPS MOST GOOD, HONEST, UPRIGHT, CAPABLE AND PASSIONATE PEOPLE FROM JOINING POLITICS and that is why the task of raising 1500 leaders is herculean and will take time.

    The difference between you and me (please correct me here if I am wrong) is that I am an (eternal) optimist and someday I hope to, in your memorable words, walk on the sand without chappals at about noon in summer in Nagpur or Ramagundam and I hope you will be alongside me so that we can bring about change.


    @ Prakash: I agree with you that the idea of straight away contesting a national election in such a diverse country is impossiblebut can we not make a start and have strategy, a plan and then work on the tactics?

    Is it possible for any of these new political parties to fight national elections on their own, across all seats? NO..

    Does that mean that they should just wait until conditions are right and do nothing? Not at all This is the time to planto form support groups, to raise resources, to consider tacticsand as you say, develop a grassroots base

    Unfortunately most of us cannot actually work at the grassroots level either because of physical limitations (e.g. Sanjeev is in Australia) or family responsibilities or perhaps both.

    But that does not mean(in my humble opinion) that we should just shut up and take it as it comes. As long as we agree on the end goal, a strong and successful India, we have hope!

    @ Patriot: You raise a very interesting and important – point about Freedom of the individual vs Freedom of the collective – how do you actually draw lines? Should you draw lines? And, does the freedom of the individual include the right to secede from the collective?

    It was actually raised and discussed (briefly) once before. See here for a critique by Subadra and my comment on this.

    Finally re the point about economics of your platform

    Thats the one question that I think we dont discuss to much on this forumwhy? At one level it is much easier to pretend/assume that money does not matter (it will come somehow) at another level, the challenge is so enormous, that it can be hard to even begin thinking about this problem

    But coming back to your point.

    Funds for a campaign: As Geeta has commented later on, she has heard this numerous times before that funds will not be a problem..and yet no one has a clear action plan for raising the kind of resources you need to fight an election

    Could they come from individual donors? Possibly. Will that be enough? Possibly notIs there another way of approaching this? How about starting a newspaper? Or starting a news channel or starting some other venture/business and then using the profits to fund the campaignwould this be right?
    I dont knowbut isnt this something similar to Shiv Khera using his network snd skills (and book) to launch his own political effort?

    Party workers: Another monumental challenge…and the reason it is a challenge is that while it is easy to find 100s of party workers in even the smaller towns in India, most of them are completely unsuitable to the kind of change that we are hoping for. Besides, such people are, in all likelihood, fail several of our filters for membership.

    Which leaves you with the option of either ignoring the filters (and hire the usual kind of people who join politics) or you have to think of another way of doing this.

    What other way could there be? Honestly at this stage, I dont know

    And the same goes for pre-election costs..

    So I am very interested to hear about your Trojan Horse approach especially if it manages to take care of the economicsI think I can guess what you are hinting at but I woud not like to make any assumptions

    So please share it here- with us on this platform


    @ Pragya: To make it absolutely clear, I do endorse and subscribe to the idea of bringing 1500 people together.

    In my mind, getting people together has to be the first and critical step not necessarily physically together, but aligned on thought, strategy and action plan

    Your other points are thought-provoking but I will let Sanjeev respond to them

    And while changes brought about individual contributors” may be more lasting, they can rarely create a system-wide impact which is what we need not 50 towns with excellent public transport but a country with excellent public transport and an excellent public transport organization that works efficiently and effectively.

    And yes, It is more practical to identify one problem in hand and resolve it completelyIn my mind, that ONE problem is bad, inefficient, ineffective governance and incapable leadership – full stop.


    @ Geeta: Your views are invaluable as you have actually run the gauntlet and gone through this mill

    So let me respond as best as I can (from the viewpoint of an interested observer)

    I have observed that such people go ahead and form their own group rather than joining somewhere else. That is an important point
    What you have observed is very true and our challenge will be to convince them that they will be able to better achieve their objectives and aspirations by being part of the collective group rather than sticking it out as individuals (as in the case of LIC)

    The minimum number in my head is 50 elected representatives without that the group and its ideology is likely to have no impact on policy or discussions.

    If there is any way to share the presentation that you attended by Professionals Party of India), that would be great. I am happy to host it on this blog


    All: Thanks for such a high-quality exchange of thoughts…Please continue to contribute…and do feel free to invite others who may have different ideas/view points…

    Jai Hind, Jai Bharat.

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 17, 2008

  36. @Shantanu: I was only giving my opinion on the strategy that Sanjeev has put forth. Yes, we have to start somewhere. I just thought that one should not aim directly for a grand target and then get disappointed too soon. I agree that the “ultimate” objective should be to contest elections at the national level. But one should also have tangible near-term targets so that we do not disillusion ourselves. I think forming a political party when one has not had much experience is like a business experiment. One should first test the waters on a small scale. It is easier to interpret results and performance in a small sample space. This will also help learn better from the test. There is bound to be a lot of initial learning cycles. I think some of the new parties such as lok satta follow such an approach.

    Finally, in my opinion, a new party does not have to form a government at the center to be successful (as in bring about a change). Even if they force existing parties to change for the better, it is a big achievement and that is what I feel will happen eventually.

    Comment by Prakash | February 18, 2008

  37. Whew! Thats a lot of comments. Given time limitations Ill not address the issues individually but discuss the key principles.

    In my view the Freedom Team is a platform for the kind of leaders India needs in its governmentnamely, individuals who believe in individual freedom (subject to accountability), and are willing to contest elections. This is not a ground-up effort for a very deliberate and conscious reason. It is unashamedly a top-down effort.

    The reason is that this effort is NOT about political power or merely getting elected and becoming an MP or a Minister. This is PURELY about delivering a certain set of policies that will lead India to greatness. Since the alignment of philosophy and policy is very important, hence it starts at the top, by identifying the right leaders. For example, anyone who believes in socialism in any of its shapes and forms cannot be a part of the Team. Indeed, it is quite likely that some of people who initially join the Team may leave as policy discussions evolve.

    And so, the strategy is:
    – get the right people onboard who agree on the broad philosophy;
    – get agreement on broad policy; and
    – then start thinking of next steps.

    Without the first two, there is no point in thinking about elections and getting elected. There are already sufficient number of candidates in elections. The question is: why do you want to get elected and what will you do if you became Prime Minster?

    I did get excited in 2004 (Swatantra Bharat Party or SBP) and tried to focus straight on the Parliamentary elections by short-circuiting the first two steps, and it led to extremely unsatisfactory results. Significant money was wasted. That money could have done much more good by people printing and writing brochures for wide dissemination, instead. There was no awareness building. There was no leadership team. That was a very poor strategy. I therefore do not any seen any strategic value in jumping straight to the ground and building a constituency, until the leadership team is fully assembled.

    The other important thing about this effort is its belief that India does not need Lone Rangers, battling alone. That may satisfy a particular individuals ego, but it doesnt deliver overarching systemic reforms or help India in the greater sense. I have also done enough small things in my life and do not want to waste a single second of my life on such things. I want the entire country to do better than the worlds best, not merely one person, one village, one town, or one state.

    The interesting thing about the West is that they always focus on getting their big picture right, first. The rest then flows, naturally. In my current role we deliver on the principles of good regulation to the state of Victoria, eg. see the VGR a 2.2 MB PDF document at http://www.vcec.vic.gov.au/ (go under Regulation Review, and then under Whats new). After that it is a matter of closely monitoring that these principles are observed. Good principles matter more than intensive action on the ground. By setting world-best standards of policy, the best outcomes for the people can be delivered even by ordinarily competent bureaucrats.

    Toda, Indias big picture is a total mess. That is why I wrote my book (BFN see http://www.sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/breakingfree.html), explaining what is wrong and what should be done to fix the system. While India needs a lot of other leaders doing thousands of small things, the Freedom Team is not intended for such small things. It is purely focused on creating a platform to deliver the right policy to India.

    A key pre-requisite to forming government in a democracy is to have a group of people aligned to your ones in parliament. Therefore I dont value any effort which sees less than 500 closely aligned people contesting elections — all at one go. Smaller efforts which do not form government are unlikely to matter. Rajajis Swatantra party was the major opposition in India and surely did some good, but could not stop the socialist policies of Nehru.

    The other pre-requisite is for such people to be team players, not individuals with massive egos. If the glory of India is not SOLE focus of a person, then he or she is not welcome to the Freedom Team. Such a person should seek individual glory elsewhere. The closely related requirement is humility, a key quality of a level 4 or 5 leader. Geeta, I dont agree that those who are level 4/5 form their own groups. They are not level 4/5 leaders but lower people who are seeking glory for themselves. The true level 4/5 leaders work as a team and only care for the outcome: in this case to create the greatest country ever in the world – India. You wont find them being arrogant and boastful, but constantly seeking to learn from others and trying to contribute to the group effort.

    Another thing. My past efforts such as SBP failed because I invited too many armchair intellectuals to the group, people who had no intention ever of contesting elections or of shouldering organisational responsibilities. That doesnt work. Hence the Freedom Team does not want any adviser. Its leaders can hire advisers if needed.

    The Freedom Team will physically assemble only when a critical mass is assembled in my view 1500 leaders. Smaller groups of the Team can meet before that if they wish. The Team may decide to become a political party one day, or its members may decide to contest elections individually or as small groups allied to each other.

    At the moment, it is only looking to assemble the right kind of leaders. Once the right people are on board and fully aligned, I believe that funds will come. Just as we buy shares in an IPO from Tatas or Ambanis, based on the quality of people running these companies, people will subscribe to this group (or any other group) of 1500 leaders working in a focused direction. The group will need not less than Rs.150 crores (Rs. 30 lakhs per constituency, being Rs. 5 lakhs for awareness building prior to elections, and Rs.25 lakhs at the time of elections). If that kind of money cannot be raised, then this effort should NOT proceed at that stage to elections, but do other things instead, to build a presence.

    Will this whole thing be difficult? Of course! No advance in freedom has been easy. Liberty does not come cheaply. And greatness as a country is not going to be simple.

    At the same time, the choice for Indians is clear: you can continue doing the same thing and hope that implementation will magically improve by voting one corrupt politician or other into power. Or you can provide a mandate to best leaders of India to radically shift the incentives and governance frameworks: changes which are guaranteed to deliver outstanding results. The choice is stark: between failure (todays policies) and success (the policies of the Freedom Team/ similar allied group/s).

    Id like to focus my very limited spare time entirely on completing my second book (on the history of freedom) for a few months, so can I request other members of the Freedom Team to respond to questions on this forum? Ill try to chip in when I find a spare moment.

    Each member of the Freedom Team is an independent leader in his or her own right, and can respond as an independent and full member. Indeed, it is crucial that members of the Freedom Team write extensively, publish articles, write brochures and generally reach out to the people. This team effort, by definition, is NOT a one-man show, nor should it EVER be dependent on any one person.

    India is a country of one billion people. It should be able to generate sufficient number of high calibre leaders in each generation who are committed to working respectfully and democratically as a team with other like-minded people to lead India to freedom and greatness.

    Thanks, once again, to the vibrant discussion. I want good people to continue to ‘apply’ to join, and take leadership roles in their own country’s future.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | February 19, 2008

  38. Sanjeev,

    I am beginning to agree with the LIC candidate – your recipe is indeed very naive. And, completely disconnected from reality and the environment in which his solution has to work.

    “Once the right people are on board and fully aligned, I believe that funds will come. Just as we buy shares in an IPO from Tatas or Ambanis, based on the quality of people running these companies, people will subscribe to this group (or any other group)”

    The money will come? Really??? From whom? And why? Economics 101: When money comes, it usually demands a return. And, this is proven by Sanjeev’s example – we subscribe to an IPO from Tatas, etc because we expect our money will grow.

    What is going to be the return from the money given to the Freedom Team? Liberty, equality and fraternity? – Try selling that to the corporate Titans! Better governance? How do you “prove” to individuals that you will indeed provide a better government and that they should “pay” for it …. especially in the context of rural voters, many of whom have been paid for THEIR votes in the past?

    HOW? HOW ARE YOU GOING TO RAISE THE MONEY? Because if you can not answer this question today, then you should not be forming a team, with the ultimate aim of contesting elections. And, if you are not going to contest elections (like you mention) if the money can not be raised then you have formed the wrong sort of team.

    I can not believe that you have not thought this through on the money aspect – because to me that has always been the crux of the matter. Money does not just come, it has to be sought, it has to be wooed, it has to be promised ……. that is the reality of our world. And, if money comes, it comes with expectations, with strings, with demands and with the power to corrupt.

    And, the other thing that really bothers me is your screening process …… why should anyone submit their applications or justifications to you? What makes you such a great arbiter? The Freedom Team should accept anyone who thinks that they meet the criteria, and such a member should be ejected only if he/she exhibits characteristics incompatible with the objectives of the team. Wouldn’t that be a more real Freedom ?

    Comment by Patriot | February 22, 2008

  39. Dear Patriot

    I am quite clear that my model is the best model going in the market today, and I’ll outline the reasons for that claim below. You are entitled to your opinion about this model being nave, but many times youll find, simplicity, and going straight for the jugular is the best approach to a complex problem.

    1) Funds: This is hard, but not the big a deal you make it out to be. I have already raised funds in the past, and know the key limitations to raising funds, which this model will overcome. The last effort I organized (2004) raised a few lakh rupees virtually overnight. Funds flow in fast and thick if there is CREDIBILITY in the approach. Youll be taken aback at how fast funds flow in.

    The reason why the effort of 2004 could not raise more money was because it did not have a leadership team of 1500 outstanding leaders wanting to contest elections. Only 2 persons were willing to contest elections – and these two had already been in politics for a while. Even JP, who later started his Lok Satta party in late 2006, and was part of my 2004 effort, thought that his group Lok Satta didnt intend to contest elections. Without leaders you cant lead! Politics 101. But show high quality leaders and everyone will fund the effort.

    I know of a big industrialist who has committed to crores of rupees if a credible effort comes up. I have ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT about the ability to raise a measly Rs. 150 crores once the right people assemble. In fact, what is Rs. 150 crores – a trivial amount. For a massive size of Indias population, Rs. 150 crores is merely Rs.1.50 per Indian.

    Funds can be raised from the 300 million strong India middle classes who can contribute Rs.10 each and that should be sufficient to run the show, as well. Using the internet to collect small donations will be the preferred strategy of the future. Would you not be willing to put in Rs. 10 to get good governance?

    In other words, funds can be in weeks or a few months at most, once a full fledged team assembles. That is therefore the least of the problems of the Freedom Team.

    2) Awareness building: The Freedom Team effort recognises the need to build awareness for at least 3 years in a focused manner (say, with the approval of the policy blueprint, and brochures in all languages, by the national conference of the Team of 1500 people, marking time 0). That period will not only help to raise funds but most importantly, will spread awareness of the policy changes advocated among the people.

    The previous effort failed because none of the armchair intellectual participants was willing to go out and build awareness of the effort. They wouldn’t even push their pen to write a brochure. They had more pressing things to do such as write their usual articles in newspapers/ magazines. Such people are no longer welcome. Anyone who is not willing to pull his or her weight is not wanted. The 1500 people who join MUST be determined to succeed. If not, they cant call themselves level 4 or 5 leaders, and they dont qualify for this effort.

    3) Policy. Please do not mock the policy platform of the Team. It is rock solid and powerful. This group is not about equality and fraternity, by the way. It is ONLY about freedom. From that flows equality of opportunity. Capitalism. And from these two flow a range of policies which have transformed the world wherever these have been implemented. And many more, that have not yet been implemented anywhere, and which India can implement and benefit from.

    India really has one choice only: continue with the failed policies of the past 60 years, or give the policies of this group a chance.

    4) Selection process: I am looking for leaders, not participants for an internet chit-chat group. If a leader cant demonstrate in 3-4 paragraphs his or her claim to leadership, then that person is not a leader. I do not undertake any big brother filtering process; merely insist that people meet the key criteria and they tell the gatekeeper of the team (not me now, but Geeta Gokhle), in 3-4 paras what they have actually done, or believe in. If that is too hard for someone to do, then we dont want that person.

    In fact, that early disclosure is only the beginning. The Team will ultimately demand TOTAL TRANSPARENCY from each member virtually 100 per cent self-disclosure. This team is about a making public effort which is built on credible leaders. We can’t convert this into an anonymous internet group where people take on flattering pseudonyms like Patriot and hide behind a veil of anonymity. If you are really interested, Patriot, youll have to tell me who you are, and what you have done or believe in. I do not intend to make this Team into a futile internet chat group where everyone can join and then do nothing but write sporadically. We are targeting a national conference of 1500 real leaders as first step after the group assembles on the internet. I can’t afford to have 1500 anonymous emails joining this group.

    Bluntly put, you have a choice (and the freedom) to be a spectator and criticize this effort. You also the choice to dismiss this effort by calling it nave.

    OR you have the choice to sign up as a real human being who is prepared for 100% DISCLOSURE about himself or herself over time, PROVIDED you believe in the philosophy of freedom.

    4) MY CONTESTING ELECTIONS: Your comment: And, if you are not going to contest elections (like you mention)

    Dont rule me out yet. I have clearly said and will repeat: I spent many years with that single aim of being part of a group of liberals who will contest elections in India. But I refuse to do half-baked things. I will return to India at the right time. This is not a dud effort. I am not 50 yet, so I have some time to go before becoming incapable of walking and talking.

    On this other thing I am clear as well: the Freedom Team is not designed to only last my lifetime; it is designed to live for ever. The 1500 leaders it will assemble will never wait or depend on anyone, let alone a nave Sanjeev. This is a platform for leaders, not a one-man show.

    If you have alternative and more realistic models to offer (apart from the usual recommendations of (1) do nothing and let the corrupt rule the roost, or (2) be a lone ranger and run your own battle in some corner of India to transform India) then Id be happy to hear from you.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | February 23, 2008

  40. Dear Shantanu,

    For the past many decades, India has had a serious paucity of people (of calibre) wanting to join the politics of freedom and good policy. That shortage continues even today. The people joining the Team seem to have dried up (though it is still very early days). Hence, a suggested change in strategy.

    Maybe there should be two intermediate phases before the launch (which should still occur only after 1500 leaders join).

    a) Intermediate phase 1: At 100, the team should start assemble for a pre-Convention in India for 2-3 days and agree on a process to draft its key documents such as policy blueprint and pamphlets on key issues. These will remain drafts until 1500 leaders adopt them. The 100 people should also agree to meet more frequently (say, once in two months) within their local areas and if necessary, start independent associations/ groups/ discussion forums. Let us target some time next year for the first pre-Convention. I generally go to India once in 2-3 years (can’t afford more frequently) so maybe I’ll be able to join.

    b) Intermediate phase 2: At 500 the team should assemble for a second pre-Convention and agree to a mass awareness campaign based on the draft documents and stepped up local activity. That awareness campaign should yield the remaining 1000 leaders.

    Given the great difficulty in finding even 100 people, can I request members of the team (and others who read Shantanus blog) to spread awareness of this effort among people they know, and, in particular, to join a range of different forums and blogs and talk about this?

    Please note: this is a suggestion, an idea to be ripped apart and tested. Therefore, any alternative ideas or better ideas will be most appreciated. Criticism of this approach without offering better ideas may also be useful.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | February 27, 2008

  41. Sanjeev, I will respond to your suggestion in a day or two.

    Separately, I posted this comment on the Indian Economy Blog almost a year ago. I think it has relevance to this discussion


    The optimist in me says that at some point over the next 10-15 years, things will change (assuming that the socio-economic growth continues – and the benefits are distributed relatively evenly)what gives me real hope though is the transformation in traditional media because of technology

    As someone has commented above, once this happens, the cost of reaching out to voters (which is where most of campaign financing goes – and which is the BIGGEST barrier for any reasonably honest person to even consider standing for elections) will hopefully drop to a point where it no longer is an impediment

    Second, it is only when enough of the populace have their stomachs full and a comfortable shelter for their families that true political reform can come aboutuntil then most of us would be too busy worrying (or working) for their next mealAgain, that probably means a wait of 10 years or so for fundamental reform to emerge

    Over the longer term though, all is not lost

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 27, 2008

  42. I have been a silent witness to this discussion for some time. Finally however LIC and Patriot have provoked me sufficiently to pitch in. Both of you, and a few others, appear to be unduly concerned about raising funds for this effort, and appear to be of the view that that there is no point in proceeding with the concept of “Freedom Team” without sorting this aspect first. To me it seems that it is this view that is even more naive than Sanjeev’s overtly optimistic move to try and gather 1500 leaders first before considering the next move.

    We can appeal to people for money only after we have a clear platform and a credible team in place. Meantime, the needed small funding for convening a conference etc would have to be raised from internal sources by sharing the cost. I am sure a number of Freedom Team members will be able to contribute additional funds to make up for those who are unable to contribute.

    Once a critical mass is in place, and we have a viable platform, we can appeal to the likes of Tatas, Birlas and other visionary billionaires to pitch in. I have no doubt that money will come pouring in when we have a visible credible leadership and a clear vision in place. This needs to be developed over time and then a big splash needs to be made by way of a “National Convention”. Likes of Kushwant Singh, Gurcharan Das etc will happily help in giving widest coverage to the event.

    In the meantime what we need to do, individually and collectively is to give maximum publicity to the virtues of liberal policies and governance (capitalism), not only via English media but across all regional language media. Towards that end I want to see Sanjeev’s book “Breaking Free of Nehru” translated (possibly in condensed form for easier reading as well as for keeping cost as low as possible) in all major Indian languages. I will certainly pitch in with my might and will request contributions from others. I will also encourage Sanjeev and other good writers to write articles in the Hindi and other major Indian Languages press.

    I do agree with the view that Sanjeev’s vetting process for controlling Freedom Teas membership is rather autocratic. It would be nicer if vetting team could be organised. If you agree with this approach, then I would invite you to nominate say a 5(?) member vetting panel who would be willing to vet applications and generally approve the same by consensus or whatever other process they decide amongst themselves.

    Comment by Suresh Anand | February 28, 2008

  43. Dear Sanjeev,

    I have not been able to reply to you earlier, as I have been a bit busy and the debate about “The Great State” took more of my immediate attention!

    I will certainly revert.

    Dear Suresh,

    Thank you for your kind words!

    I did not imply that we should be going out to raise funds today, but I did want to know how funds were going to be raised.

    For the past 15 years, I have worked in the most capitalistic part of India – I have seen and worked with all these “great visionary capitalists” that you talk about, at close quarters. So, excuse me, if I do not buy, in toto, yours or Sanjeev’s or Geeta’s argument that the funds will come if you have the right platform. I am sure that the funds will come but it appears to me that you have not devoted enough time to the “cost” of these funds. And, if you think there will be no costs, then I think you guys should just go back to your books.

    Khushwant Singh????? Gurcharan Das?????? Surely, you are joking, Suresh. These people are dilettantes – they have no standing in politics.

    And, I have to ask why a committee of 5 people either? Smacks of arbitrary elitism to me? Why can you not let people join if they think they fit in and then let their actions prove whether they are worthy or not? That would be true Freedom.


    Comment by Patriot | February 28, 2008

  44. All, I would suggest this.

    Please don’t under-estimate the power of the lone individual, the single family that is “hungry” for change…

    To those of you who are following the elections in the US, this will not come as a surprise…

    From: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23241781/

    In January 2008 alone, Mr Obama “…brought in $28 million online, with 90 percent of those transactions coming from people who donated $100 or less, and 40 percent from donors who gave $25 or less…More than 200,000 of the campaigns nearly 300,000 donors in January were first-time givers to Mr. Obama…”

    From http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/04/obamas_fundrais.html

    In the first quarter of 2007, well before he was seen as a “serious” challenger to Mrs Clinton, he had raised $25m from 100,000 supporters…

    Makes you think.

    Now, I know we are talking about India, with an average per capita income of barely $1000 and an online population that is moving slowly in the double digit millions range…but surely there are lessons here for us (and some inspiration too)?

    And there is hope too – in the statistic that Mr Obama’s email list (of potential donors) started with a mere 50,000 names..

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 28, 2008

  45. Namaste to All,

    I have been following the entire thread and the exchange of some very interesting and enlightening ideas.

    I am the Jt General Secretary of the- Overseas Friends of BJP in UK. (So that you know my ideological and political leaning). I am 34 and have been in the UK for the past 4 years. Being here my objective has been to identify and explore the possibilities of grafting certain institutions back in Bharat, that western democracies have created over the past few centuries, when the natural course of Bharats development had stopped. In essence as Sanjeev puts it, “.. the alignment of philosophy and policy is very important, ..”

    Perhaps my experience is very limited. However, I have worked in the rural, tribal , slums and urban areas of Bharat, closely interacting with people from almost all classes and walks of life. I have also worked with, a think tank along with former Foreign and Cabinet Secretaries etc. In the UK,I have been with the govt (social services) again interacting with people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, race and beliefs.
    Why ? To get the bigger picture (at the global level) and where and how Bharat fits into it.

    What Sanjeev is doing is commendable, unfortunately people fail to comprehend and appreciate his endevour. Life overseas is tough in a different way ( as explained in the post above by Sanjeev). Bearing in mind the complexity of the issue, I think Sanjeev has clarified most of the points quite clearly. I feel that some people in their posts have been a bit too harsh towards him. What this post has achieved (must congratulate Shantanu for that as well) is that it has prompted people to ask the right questions and has set an agenda.

    Bharat is rising from its long deep slumber and what it needs is a model of growth, a vision for its way ahead. It is said that people who reach places are the ones who know where they are headed. Unfortunately, most of the Indian leaders fail to realize this. Wearing a kurta pyjama/dhoti, forming a social group or political party at best can resolve local or regional issues not national/international. With the best of the intentions to reform the society without a properly articulated vision and policies, we by default, tend to follow the same straight jacket approach towards development which people have pursued for years without much consequence. As Albert Einstein remarked, The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    What Bharat needs is re-engineering, a radical redesign. The challenge is not development but sustainable development. We would have a heard the success stories of many civil servants and statesmen- Ministers, Collectors, Chief Ministers etc. We need to nurture a system, which promotes such people and institutionalises their efforts and practises. Identifies and gets rid of any unnecessary baggage stored over thousands of years in our history. Such systems can only be created if we are able to first understand and second define: What is India/ Bharat ?

    (The following by no means is an attempt to lecture on self talking but sharing my experience with you and highlighting common follies in the thinking process of reformers/leaders )

    When trying to understand (what is Bharat?) or talking to yourself dont use words. You will never understand or reach anywhere and would be forced to take the beaten path. Hence, visualize (try hard like trying to see something behind the blue sky or like an inquisitive innocent child peeping into the neighbours hazy window ). Words are definitions of what already exists. Be careful definitions define/limit your vision. To understand, our mind needs to be free from all define-itions and pre-conceived notions. Once we understand, then and only then comes defining. As it is essential to be specific, while communicating with the outside world i.e. as a team player to other members and as a leader to the masses.

    All these years I have consciously worked on understanding India/ Bharat (first stage). Now, what is daunting is defining what I have understood (as for me it only exists in visuals and everything besides words. All this may sound ambiguous but if you stop thinking in words you would understand). Defining would become easier if I asked myself the vital question which Sanjeev posed, what does one do if he becomes the PM ? (This is the transition from Vision to Words.) Defining, being specific aligning philosophy with policy.

    Eg: If I were to ask myself: In its present form would the Pradhan Mantri Rozgar yojna benefit the unemployed youth ? Yes and No, would be derived in the light of the vision I have for the youth of Bharat. Since time immemorial, policies define frameworks within which the society operates. The driving force of these policies needs to be derived from vision of the leadership. Over decades and centuries a vast network of these frameworks stemming from or without a vision, popular or unpopular, just or unjust, gradually became the norm and eventually cultures and subcultures and further some in their very extreme forms popular philosophies (eg. Marxism, capitalism, etc)

    Capitalism, Communism or any other ism may or may not be Bharats tomorrow. However, if we started reforming Bharat, without a vision, in all probability we would merely be cleaning and refurbishing the house that is going to be razed to the ground in a few days time.
    Eg. If Indian and Chinese populations continue to adopt western life styles or consuming resources by western standards, think of the ecological disaster that awaits the world.

    Another example of how policy frameworks affect us – Global economic processes and their dynamics have a direct correlation with peoples behaviour and their self-concept. The English introduced the Scottish banking system in India, which eventually changed the way trade and business was carried out. Gradually this system evolved and gave birth to many contemporary professions such as sales-marketing, Human Resource management etc; terminologies like – acquisition and mergers, hostile takeover, social entrepreneurs etc. Some professions, the past two generations had not heard about. The new framework gently forced people to specialize in certain areas and people became their professions.

    As Aristotle said, You are what you repeatedly do. Hence, if our (in this context the Freedom team) policies change economic systems, we can change peoples experience of life, their self-concept and the very idea of life. Change to what ? (what is the proposed alternative ?) could only be answered by the vision we generate. On a long sea voyage, to reach your destination it is wiser to follow the stars rather than a big ship.

    Indias polity cannot afford to be neither left nor right. It can only be forward and that is my mission to define (and that is how I would like the BJP to be positioned). Without a vision, Freedom would always seem to be the slogan of the new oppressor. Even though, being in power, in the absence of a long-term vision, one would not be able to deliver in real terms, besides dodging problems as and when they might arise. Hence, I always keep reminding myself the following :

    “With careful and detailed planning, one can win; with careless and less detailed planning, one can not win. How much more certain is defeat if one does not plan at all! From the way planning is done beforehand, we can predict victory or defeat.
    Sun Tzu. — The Art of War, c.400 BC

    Its common knowledge that power does force people to act funny specially, when it comes to parting with it. If not anything, most people want to cling to fame that comes free tagged along with political power. Its rightly said, Fame the last infirmity of the noble mind. Unsure and insecure, one tends to find reasons to continue with his regime and would do everything to stop people with a vision and mission (which he never learned to value). This has been the state of affairs in Bharat for a long time now. A shared vision gives a mission to people and a reason to come together. In the political sphere, starting with a good intention does not suffice.

    Politics is not a linear 100 meter dash. It needs a team of people (as Sanjeev says 1500) with the stamina to run the roller coater political marathon. Lack of vision frustrates the noblest intentions. A shared vision provides the resilience and fuel to survive the lowest points in public life. As leaders at some point in our lifetimes, we need to graduate from this would not work to this is what would work.

    As far as I understand, this is what Sanjeev is trying to achieve with his India Freedom team. He is trying to nurture a vision for great nation like Bharat. It is clear that he has a strategic and tactical plan. There may be shortcomings and some questions may remain unanswered but again he seems open for suggestions. Being creative and innovative needs courage thats why most people take the beaten path and can only see as far as reforming what existsunable to propose anything new.

    Ambiguity is scary and enquiry is painful for most people but not for everybody. The future belongs to the brave. Great strategy and flawless execution are just the price of entry.

    Not sure what Sanjeev thinks about my political associations. However, I would like to extend all the support I can muster up for him, as at the end of the day it is Bharat that has to win at all costs and by all means.

    Also wish to thank Shantanu for creating this opportunity and bringing together contributors like VC Krishnan, Patriot, Ashish,Suresh Anand, Indian, Prakash, Geeta, Pragya, Cdr Khilari, Dnyanesh and others. Its rightly said, The missing link in development is communication. Your blog has proven to be just that missing link.

    Amitabh Soni

    Comment by Amitabh Soni | February 28, 2008

  46. Dear All,

    This is such an engrossing conversation. My thanks to all, as well.

    I would also like to thank Sanjeev again for his initiative – even though we may pose questions, I, for one, am certainly grateful to you for taking the time for this initiative. Also, I would like to say that I meant simple, when I used the word naive, which I think has pejorative connotations and should not have been used. My apologies for that.

    Shantanu, thanks for the post on Obama – you beat me to it. The success of Obama has certainly been an inspiration that one man can indeed make a difference in popular democracy, especially given that it is the US that we are talking about here, with all its special interests!. However, the point to keep in mind is that the fund raising platforms in the US have been honed over many decades. This is not something that has sprung up just today.

    And, to be honest, I was looking for similar answers when I was asking about how we are going to raise the money. Discussions about how we are going to create systems outside of the current election financing methods to fund the Freedom initiative. To me, saying that the “money will come” just does not cut it and, to my mind, is evidence of structural deficiencies. But, that is just me and if everyone else thinks that they can get money without strings attached, great!

    Let’s move on to the other comments made by Sanjeev:

    Awareness Building – very well expressed. I agree completely. This is the key to the battle.

    Policy Platform – I was not mocking the platform. I was wondering what self interest corporates would have in backing it. It was really related to the money issue. The only reason I am spending MY time (which I hold to be very precious) on writing on this issue is because I agree completely on the Platform.

    Actually, I do not know about your either/or choice – you said “India really has one choice only: continue with the failed policies of the past 60 years, or give the policies of this group a chance.”

    This is your view – there are many people in India who believe, with a lot of justification, that the incrementalism of 1980-2008 has served India quite well. (I am not bothered about what went on before 1980 – those were the lost decades, especially the seventies, and those policies started to reverse in 1980). I also believe that 1980 was an inflection point in India’s history from a political perspective as was 1991 from an economics perspective. Nehru is actually long dead and gone …… even the Congress Party no longer invoke him, even ceremonially.

    My rather long-winded point is that you have to make your political case against the backdrop of what has happened in the past 25 years, and not the last 60 years.

    The second point is, which I think has been made by a couple of other commentators as well, that you can think of Freedom when you have a full stomach. Until then, your stomach dominates your brain. Where I am going with this section is how does a liberal, urban, educated professional connect with a hungry, possibly uneducated, rural person on ideas that he could care less about when he is scrounging for food for himself and his family.

    I have some ideas on this part, but they are economics driven, and not political thought driven.

    So, I think you need to set your economic policies as well. Capitalism is just another “ism” – what do you mean by it?

    Selection process: I have expressed my views on this earlier.

    And, yes, I think Total Transparency is a great idea. I just wonder what you mean by total transparency? I have dealt with this issue in bucket loads in my area of work – and, I know what a minefield it can be.

    Oh you also said “Patriot and hide behind a veil of anonymity.”

    I do this for a practical reason – I do not want my inbox to be flamed or spammed. Shantanu has my “real” details – but, Sanjeev, you can never know who I really am, even if I give you every piece of “transparency” information that you desire, if I do not share my thoughts with you. So, you do know me …… the rest are all labels.

    I think it is good to have rock-solid guiding principles, which can not be negotiated or bartered. But, to always only offer black or white as choices is not going to get anyone far in real life. After all, life is a series of greys!

    “MY CONTESTING ELECTIONS: Your comment: And, if you are not going to contest elections (like you mention)

    Dont rule me out yet.”

    Not ruling you out of anything!!! I meant that the organisation needs to be built differently if you are not going to contest elections. If you decide this after building the organisation, you will find it difficult to re-mould the organisation. Just another lesson from corporate life!

    “If you have alternative and more realistic models to offer ”
    I think I do ….. but, I don’t think I am ready to discuss this on an open forum yet. I am/have been working on some aspects and they have not been resolved to my satisfaction …. and the model is not easily re-do-able if it fails.

    BTW, some (my) thoughts on India –

    I am very optimistic about the future of India. We are moving in the right direction ….. so what if it is slower than we would like it to be or that we take some detours on the way or we must endlessly debate everything before moving an inch!

    We may take 20 or 30 years longer than China, but we will achieve our glory with a more humane society, with a more inclusive society. We will also do it in one piece and with relatively little bloodshed. (Do keep in mind that no one has attempted or had to do what we (and China) are trying to do – no one, in the last 2000 odd years of written history of mankind)

    India is a bottoms-up country, not a top-down country. Due to our diversity and our “differences in opinions”, we will never or rarely accept a top-down vision like China. Hence, we move at the pace of the slowest of our components, but every movement is rock-solid. Since, there is consensus, there are no roll-backs. For the people, of the people, by the people. In many ways, we embody this sentiment.

    At the micro level, there is so much positive change that I can write a whole thesis on it. Do not denigrate it. The Micro-level change is forcing macro-level change. And, you can see this in fact – politicians are being forced to contest elections on issues on governance and infrastructure and education and healthcare. Could you even imagine this 20 years back? Bihar, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat …….. there is an universal demand for good governance. And, this change is and will be long-lasting because it has been driven up from the grass-roots.

    The middle-class does not care about politics and politicians. They care mainly about their own well being and their ability to “rectify” any issue through the use of cash or contact with the local bureaucrats. This is based on anecdotal evidence and not any social studies.

    Someone once told me that India is like a muddy pool with lotuses in it. Our job is to increase the number of lotuses and reduce the amount of mud!

    I think it is happening ….. I am very optimistic about the future of India.


    Comment by Patriot | February 29, 2008

  47. Dear All

    Glad to have this debate. I am extremely thankful to all the participants for raising issues

    While differing from you on some aspects please be aware I respect you and your views, for in them could be the seeds of thought which lead me to better answers. I have a selfish interest in open discussions criticism and debates, no matter how heated. I test my very limited understanding of the truth through this process. So please dont think my hastily crafted (for obvious reasons) replies are disrespectful even if they may sound as such.

    Second, I question why I must find all the answers. Why it is my responsibility to tell you how funds will be generated? Why cant you (if you join the Freedom Team) find these answers out and solve the problem? The principle of questioning me must be questioned. Am I am Oracle of Delhpi? Am I an all-knowing God? Hey, Im just like you, possibly far more ordinary and far more ignorant. You who bring questions MUST propose solutions. That is the principle by which the Team must function. Anyone bringing a question to the Team MUST bring a recommended answer as well. High quality talent is needed on this team PURELY in the role of leaders, not as disciples or followers. Dont follow me please! Dont bother one bit about my ignorance. Thrash my ideas with a stick as soundly as you can, for then only will truth emerge upon being soundly beaten!

    On a more mundane note, I wish my publisher had allowed me to provide the full version of my book on the web. I wrote about 450 pages and was then asked to trim that down to 350: too fat, not commercially viable. After that, only 50% of that was permitted to be placed on the web. The copy-editing process and printing process is taking its own time. So my 450 page material is not available to read yet. (Ive placed the balance 100 pages or so at: http://www.sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/book1/BFN-Notes.doc if you are interested).

    Plus the more basic material, on what I think freedom means, and how far mankind has reached in that journey, was squeezed out completely and has become a second book, which will take me another few months to release a draft on the internet.

    I know in the hustle and bustle of the internet world, people want instantaneous answers to their questions, but maybe if you can wait to read the first book when it is released and then the second one to be released in draft (both these should be available by June 2008) then the number of questions could be reduced. Just recapitulating, I started the Freedom Team as a direct next step suggested in my book. I had to suggest a next step, and so I created this team virtually at the last minute while completing the book. It is really difficult to summarise the reasons for this effort in a few paras.

    In the meanwhile I believe that at least some of questions have been addressed in the preview at http://www.sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/breakingfree.html


    Words are very powerful, and yet often confusing.

    1) The word freedom has had significantly different interpretations over the past 2500 years and thousands of philosophers have written thousands of books on the subject. I prefer to use it in a tightly structured form, but unfortunately, most of that discussion is found in my second book. An outline at: http://www.sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/book1/appendix1.pdf

    2) What is a team? That again has had hundreds of organizational experts talking at length in hundreds of books. I mean this word on this national leadership team largely in the sense of a commitment to the shared objectives, and not a commitment to the participating individuals. In other words, if people on the team are found wanting, they will have to be challenged immediately and asked to prove their bona fide, or leave. Corrupt people cant be entertained, nor anyone who fails the test of integrity. The shared objective of the countrys greatness must come first. This is therefore a slightly harsher definition of the meaning of the word, team.

    3) What do I mean by capitalism. While the first book covers this issue at some length, its more fundamental questions are raised and discussed in the second one. In brief, it is the system of governance which tightly balances peoples freedom with their mutually negotiated accountability. It is built on a platform of total honesty and mutual regard (which includes tolerance at the least). I must re-iterate that businessmen are not capitalists they are mere businessmen. For some reason people mix up businessmen with capitalists. Id like to use this term in the common sense way. I am a capitalist because I believe in capitalism, just like socialist are those who believe in socialism.

    4) What do I mean by total transparency again, I have explained in my first book and also at point 6 at http://www.freedom.sabhlokcity.com/whoshouldjoin.html. I have set an sort of example by letting everyone know my background and details on my website. I will also fully disclose all my assets should I enter full-time politics. Being in public life needs far greater disclosure than leading a private life does (even of key aspects of ones private life and activities).

    I apologise for these hastily crafted and incomplete answers I truly cant think of a way to answer them more sensibly. But I must ask you to offer your own answers each time you ask a question. A final reminder: all my proposals are tentative being attempts to seek the ways to improve India; each waiting to be overturned by better proposals.

    But we have to begin somewhere. Some things have to be set in stone (at least temporarily) in order to allow a debate to occur. I am, for instance, not changing the Freedom Team entry process at this early stage, no matter if this process is seen to be autocratic or not. I know why I am doing this and I will not waver from my FIRM determination to ensure that only high quality talent committed to freedom is brought in to this Team. The concept of asking 3-4 paragraphs from people who wish to join is not troublesome, particularly after I have written a million paragraphs over the past 10 years in the public domain.

    At this early stage I have admitted people without knowing their names once I am confident about their beliefs. An instance is Shantanu himself. I dont know who he is except what I know of his writings which I respect. I dont know his last name, and I have not asked. So if you wish to join under the title of Patriot, you can. Now that I (and others reading this) know you better, Im sure Geeta will admit you without much ado. The initial entry process is merely designed to help inform a judgement on suitability. You dont have to send in 3-4 paras if that bothers you. Ill welcome you to this team. While Ill be puzzled about your absolute non-disclosure of name at this stage, I wont bother you about it! My goal is not to shut out interested and capable people, but to encourage them.

    In that context, Id like to make a firm commitment that once the first 100 people assemble at a pre-convention in India (say next year), then they will take charge of all processes. They will design everything that will happen in the future. My job will be to act as a dissenter and not rest until I am satisfied that the highest standards of transparency, integrity and respect are woven into the processes of the Team. No detail will be left unexplored, for the success, ultimately, arises from great attention to detail.

    Finally, a word of special thanks to Amitabh Soni. I thank you for your considered contribution. I hope you plan to return to India and will consider joining the Freedom Team.

    Your being in BJP is a potential issue, but look, I know that my job is to try to persuade everyone in India to get over the hurdle towards a secular framework for Indias future greatness. If anyone brings in religious baggage, for instance by justifying the demolition of the Babri Masjid and such actions that were supported by leaders of the BJP, then Ill vehemently dissent and give battle. But if people agree to live and to live and let live under mutually agreed rules of tolerance and respect of all religions and all beliefs (so long as no one takes each others lives or demolishes their buildings), the Freedom Team will welcome them. Being in the BJP is not in-principle incompatible with being on the freedom team so long as you personally OPPOSE (not just dislike) the excesses of the BJP and commit to the principles of freedom and integrity.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 1, 2008

  48. Dear Sanjeev,
    Like the proverbial bad penny, here I am!!
    I am happy that you are suficiently open to the thought of permtting Mr. Soni to be a part of the team, though he supports the extreme BJP.
    How am I supposed to react to such an absurd statement, except with contempt.
    I am so thankful that the BJP exists and continues to grow from strength to strength, you may feel different, and do you want to know why?
    After being educated in a catholic institution I was condemned to think of my way of life, “Sanatana Dharma” as a shameful existence, it was corrected when I came in touch with the old avatar of the BJP, the Jan Sangh.
    After being educated in a catholic institution my father was forced was condemned to think of the way of life, “Sanatana Dharma” as a shameful existence, which views he passed on to me , BUT THANKS, it was corrected when I came in touch with the old avatar of the BJP, the Jan Sangh.
    After being educated in a catholic institution, the history that was fed to me, written by the christian authors, condemned me to think of the way of life, “Sanatana Dharma” as a shameful existence, BUT THANKS, it was corrected when I came in touch with the old avatar of the BJP, the Jan Sangh.
    After being educated in a catholic institution, the history that was fed to me, reflected that nothing was great about the writings of great Indians Like AUROBINDO, Swami VIVEKANANDA, and I was condemned to think that the of the way of life, “Sanatana Dharma” as a shameful existence, BUT THANKS, it was corrected when I came in touch with the old avatar of the BJP, the Jan Sangh.
    After being educated in a catholic institution, the history that was fed to me, reflected that there were no Shrushsuthas, Aryabhattas, and nothing was great about the writings of great Indians, and I was condemned to think that the of the way of life, “Sanatana Dharma” as a shameful existence, BUT THANKS, it was corrected when I came in touch with the old avatar of the BJP, the Jan Sangh.
    After being educated in a catholic institution, the history that was fed to me, reflected that there were no great Indians, and that even something like an idea like plastic surgery, an idea stolen from India way back in 1794 was not Indian. This idea was published in the Gentleman’s Magazin of London in October 1794!! After assimilating the Indian medical Techniques the British made a complete about turn and closed down all the schoolsof Ayurveda in 1835!!! (Source- Reader’s Digest – The Truth About History, Copyright The Reader’s Digest 2003) and I was condemned to think that the of the way of life, “Sanatana Dharma” as a shameful existence, BUT THANKS, it was corrected when I came in touch with the old avatar of the BJP, the Jan Sangh.
    I will like to continue, and I will do later.
    Today I went back to my roots, not because I was “Educated” but I de-educated myself and went to think on the lines of the extreme BJP and I found out the one truth, unlike what Goebbels said a long time ago, “Keep repeating a lie a thousand times and it will become the truth!!” and I found it about the BJP.
    It has single handedly taken on the “educated” and de-educated a few like Shri Amitabh and the likes of me and others, including the Gujeratis.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | March 3, 2008

  49. An alert reader sent me this link re. a remarkable grassroots political campaign taking place in London:


    Separately, Amitabh sent me this link re. interesting campaign tactics by one of the candidates for the Mayor’s election in London:


    Comments and thoughts welcome, as always.

    Comment by B Shantanu | March 4, 2008

  50. Dear Friends

    In response to the questions re: funds raised earlier, I thought I’d circulate (for people to join Lok Satta if they wish) but more as an illustration of the fact that people DO join clean and policy based platforms. Funds should not be an insurmountable problems once momentum builds up.

    I notice the number of people wanting to joint the Freedom Team has dried up in the past couple of weeks. Let me assure you that by sitting on the sidelines, only those who believe in bad policy will continue to succeed. Politics abhors a vacuum. If good people stay away, expect the worst kind to rush in.


    EXTRACT FROM JP’s email

    We formed Lok Satta Party on October 2, 2006 with the goal of freeing our country from money-and-muscle power politics and ushering in a new, citizen-centered Political Culture founded on the following distinguishing principles:
    Most parties are parochial and divisive; Lok Satta Party transcends religion, caste, region, and language.
    Self-serving elites dominate our political culture; Lok Satta Party is for dignity, justice and opportunities for all.
    Other political parties use illegal money-and-muscle power; we are Indias first mainstream political party to raise and deploy funds totally transparently and legally.
    Major parties run political fiefdoms and champion dynastic politics; Lok Satta Party follows a democratic candidate selection process and is a youthful, member-controlled party.

    Doubts were raised at every turn, but we were undaunted. Now, we are pleased to share our successes thus far:
    Lok Satta Party has emerged as a major mainstream political party starting in the State of Andhra Pradesh, with more than 350,000 members and chapters in 100% of the districts, in over 95% of the towns and cities of the State.
    Over 70% of our members are under age 25 we are the party for Indias younger generation. And these members have democratically selected our LSP leadership.
    We lead citizens campaigns and grassroots activities based on stances developed by reputed domain experts on key governance issues (healthcare, education, corruption-free administration, transparency and accountability, rejuvenation of agri-economy, police and criminal justice reforms, curbing the illegal liquor menace, etc.). Our activities and advocacy have set the tone and agenda of the political debate.
    Our 157 Citizen Service Centers launched across the State have become hubs of collective citizen action and informed assertion. More centers are being established in other towns of the State. Every Party Office will also serve as a Citizens Help Center, Youth-and-Women Development Center.
    We launched the Surajya Movement a grassroots citizens campaign against political corruption. We also established the Peoples Commission Against Corruption to conduct transparent and unbiased enquires into instances of political and administrative corruption.

    Lok Satta Party has emerged as a credible and ethical mainstream political party, offering a genuine and viable alternative to the present, degenerated political culture.

    You can access complete details on Lok Satta Partys various activities, citizens campaigns, organizational structure and functioning, Expert Committee Reports on Policy Issues, Peoples Commission, advocacy papers and literature along with media reports, by simply visiting the http://www.loksatta.org

    Immediate Challenges
    We must overcome three major challenges in the immediate future, in order to carry our movement to the next level:
    Groom Local Leadership: We must develop effective local leadership from among the socially conscious and capable youth, men and women especially those coming from ordinary and disadvantaged backgrounds.
    Achieve Specific Successes: The forthcoming elections for Greater Hyderabad and Tirupati Municipal Corporations will be our first battle grounds for ethical politics. Our success in these elections will tremendously boost the citizens confidence.
    Launch an Effective Communication Campaign: Creative and effective communication lies at the heart of any credible political campaign. Lok Satta Party will soon launch such a targeted campaign that would cover all citizens across the State, reaching out to even the smallest habitation and remotest dwelling.

    Join and Support the New Political Culture Today!

    Overcoming these challenges is eminently feasible. But we need your financial support; While Lok Satta Party will need only a fraction of what traditional parties spend for their campaigns and elections, we still have to raise significant resources to mount a credible challenge and convert public good will into vote. Making financial contributions and raising resources is critical to transforming the present political culture. Ethical politics needs ethical resources. As you are well aware, Lok Satta Party ensures total transparency in raising and deploying funds. All expenditure by LSP and its electoral candidates will be strictly within legal limits and used only for legitimate campaigning purposes. The partys audited annual financial statement of accounts is released to the public and displayed on our website.

    You can make a contribution to Lok Satta Party from any where in the world: (i) online, using a credit card (ii) by sending in a cheque or (iii) by electronically transferring funds to Lok Satta Partys bank account. It can be done in easy steps and in a totally safe-and-secure manner. Just click on the link http://www.loksatta.org/contribute.htm and follow the guidelines.

    All contributions to Lok Satta Party are totally tax-free (i.e. 100% tax exemption under 80GGC of the Indian IT Act) and are not subject to any ceiling. So, make sure you contribute today and certainly before the end of this financial year (March 31st, 2008).

    The New Political Culture started off as a pressing social necessity of our lives and time, and it is not just an idea. The time for Lok Satta Partys New Political Culture has come. And we need your support now to make real change possible.

    (Jayaprakash Narayan)
    Lok Satta Party

    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 4, 2008

  51. Thanks VCK and Sanjeev for your comments….

    Sanjeev, I may not join the India team owing to our “ideological” differences. However, we could work together on areas like reforms in governance and building delivery mechanism. Rather, I would like to learn and seek your advice, as I do not see the point in reinventing the wheel. For centuries, one of India’s core belief and practice has been “Let noble thoughts come from all directions…” because nothing is permanent but change. The ideology that we have inherited and take it so much for granted
    It was not my intention to bring the much dreaded H (Hindu) word but following your comments, it seems I need to clarify things a bit further..some of the bits have been clarified by VCK and I offer my earnest gratitude to him.

    Organizations like the RSS and the BJP would have never come into existence if Islamic and Christian imperialism had not set their foot in India..for that matter the term Hindu itself would not have come into existence. We may not need orgs like RSS and BJP in the future or their modus operandi might change, if the subversive activities of the church and the Islamists stopped. We all are aware that all the de-hinduised areas, virtually are not parts of India, any longer. The India that you and I wish to reform has been disintegrating and shrinking for quite sometime. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir, major parts of North East India are nothing but Islamicized and Christianized India (not to forget the sporadic naxal belts).

    In 1995 an army officer on a patrol in Kashmir asked me a simple question (as my father was also in the army). Giving a background he asked J&K comprises of three areas Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The people in Jammu (Hindu majority) and Ladakh (Buddhist majority) do not want independence from India. Why does Kashmir want it then ? We know the answer but such issues do not become the part of our philosophy neither our policy. A time may come when you might not actually need 1500 people but much less as India would have further disintegrated. I am sorry to say that I feel so surprised when people of your stature and comprehension miss the point completely and so badly. I dont have to mention to you the figures of the death toll of our soldiers, (besides civilians) in wars and internal insurgency areas. These are the areas waiting for sharia to be implemented, the dictates of Mao to echo, the order of the bible to take over. They do not care if a Sanjeev Sablok has given his life and blood for India and wishes to reform it. Why? Because their masters and prophets centuries back offered the solution for the entire world. The India that you and I are talking about does not exist for them. They live for and by their isms and everything that feeds their pre-conceived notions. When we (RSS BJP) try and organize a resistance on the ground and at a socio-political level, people like yourself condemn us of being anti-secular. We may have failed owing to our own poor tactical planning or lack of resources but the fact is we try. I thinkt, you fear that if the BJP comes to power it would be like Mohammed taking over Mecca and getting rid of the idols and their worshippers or perhaps you foresee the rise of hindu Khumeinis. No offence intended but sometimes I am forced to think that, the real success of the British lies in creating a class, a leadership, which would hate them for what they did, a class that would be close to the skin of India yet two inches above and apart as it would seek solutions within the framework they created. Secular and democratic

    MS Word shows a red line underneath the word de-hinduised. This implies it does not exist in their dictionary. However, it needs to exist in your dictionary, my dictionary and the dictionary of India. In its true sense the word Hindu does not have a sectarian connotation. However, it does seem to acquire a sectarian face when compared with Islam and Christianity. These comparisons would continue to be made as long as other civilizations do not discover the concept of dharma. It can not be expected of other civilizations to comprehend what they dont have but we need to and we must.

    A ten thousand year old civilization (India) recently celebrated 60 years of being a Republic (26th Jan). How did it generate a figure of 10 k years ? Because it knew that nothing is permanent but change.You don’t grow old, you get old when you stop learning. Why does it celebrate 60 (years) of being a republic ? Because 60 years back it felt that was the change it needed. We celebrate change. Indias identity has always been in the making but has never been made. Let us keep it like thatLet us keep it away from all religions and isms. Including Hindusim (if there is any). Let the most contradictory philosophies co-exist but allow none to take over. Call/address people who believe in this as Hindus or Indians or whatever you may like. We never wanted to be a part of the brand war of religions because we never were a religion and would never ever be one. You may understand what I mean by Indias identity has always been in the making but has never been made. However, the common man of India may not be able to comprehend it intellectually, even though he lives and breathes the same idea. Just as we may not know how our digestive or voluntary system works but the fact is it works and works very well for us. Hence, for the common man the solutions need to be simple, given the size of the population and complex levels of comprehension. As Gobbles stated, shorter the message higher the retention. You cannot explain to them what I just stated.

    We are today where we are because of what we are. The same applies to Pakistan and Bangladesh who were India until a few years back but chose to cling to the 7th Century. The Islamic imperial policy is very clear Pakistan and Bangladesh are their fixed deposits. Those are Islamic states. No one else can lay a claim on them. India is a joint account. Plunder it as much as you please.

    Well how do they operate? I shall give you an account of my experiences with Muslim and Christian evangelists in Madhya Pradesh and Sikkim. They pose questions to our innocent tribal and rural dwellers like, Why do you think my (wooden) cross does not sink and your Ganesh (clay) idol does ? or , why do you not worship one god i.e. allah and why so many animals? Such questions clearly do not seek clarification but are designed to ridicule and belittle their perceived competitors or the leading brand. And then for us (the parivaar) starts the story of inventing strategies to find preposterous answers to such preposterous questions. If you ask me a question in Arabic, I need to reply back in Arabic so that you can comprehend. ( Well if you think you can answer them in your language, try it. The fact remains that you need to engage with them. You can’t leave them to operate as they like.)

    Secularism – The concept of, imported secularism has taken a deep seat in the minds of our intellectuals as a universal value for which as I said earlier, I admire our masters. However the truth is, the concept originated in England when Christianity was virtually kicked out of the English society when it could not co-exist with science and the art of reasoning. Science and technology had began to bring about pleasantly drastic changes in peoples lives. The term secularism was created in 1846 by George Jacob Holyoake in order to describe “a form of opinion which concerns itself only with questions, the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life” (English Secularism, 60). This statement clearly highlights the fact that on the whole the experience of the English society with Christianity was not very pleasant. And that is the case till date – only about 8% people in the UK visit churches. However, this is not the case with India unless you choose to view it from a Marxist, Leninist view. (That is why I stated in my earlier post that dont let words define your vision when you try to comprehend What India is ? You would end you up using borrowed/imported concepts.) Words have their own psychology and it is very easy for them to swiftly surpass the conscious mind and comfortably park and establish themselves in our subconscious mind. I understand there is a noble intention behind your idea of secularism but the fact that you are an opinion leader, has far reaching and with your idea of secularism has disastrous consequences with a multiplier effect. Hence, we need to be extremely careful and selective in what we intend to graft from foreign lands into a civilization, which has gained its momentum and character over a period of thousand years and has been living and breathing since.

    I think I have said enough. Sanjeev, I apologize if my comments come across as bitter and harsh. I still have tremendous faith and respect for the work you are doing…


    Comment by Amitabh Soni | March 6, 2008

  52. Amitabh, thanks for the comment.

    It has been a long time since I have seen such lucidity of thought…

    This is a point of idelogical clarity which needs to be addressed.

    I believe we should await Sanjeev’s response to this before commenting further.

    If there are differences, it is better to “agree to disagree” rather than create walls or pretend that the issue(s) don’t exist.

    Jai Hind, Jai Bharat.

    Comment by B Shantanu | March 7, 2008

  53. Dear Amitabh

    Id like to reply in a long and round-about manner. Again, this is written very quickly due to other pressing engagements, and not edited properly, so please bear with me.

    1) Re: Organizations like the RSS and the BJP would have never come into existence if Islamic and Christian imperialism had not set their foot in India.

    History shows that Islamic kings did not come to India to spread Islam but to gain power; just like ordinary kings like Alexander the Great. Imperialism is a much later term which simply cant be applied to Islam. Indeed, conquering others and looting them was a normal part of life in the distant past when Islam first came to India. Muslim kings aligned with Hindus in their battles equally as they fought against Muslims. Yes, a few Muslims were fanatics, but fanaticism is an individual disease, not the quality of an entire religion.

    I suggest that Islam has played a major and vital role in human history. While Christianity completely discarded the learnings of the Greeks, it was Islam that has saved the entire civilization by protecting the thoughts of ancient Greece. Islamic kings were also generally extremely tolerant of other religions. Killing or use of threats was not their usual style of conversion. Many Indians did convert to Islam but that was to avail of the tax advantages available to them on becoming Muslim. That method (special taxes on non-Muslims) is not acceptable to modern sensibilities, but we are talking of truly primitive times. We cannot draw any worthwhile lessons today from the lives of primitive and ignorant people who are long dead and gone.

    As far as Christianity is concerned, that religion had decomposed into violent internal infighting by the 1500s. Numerous internal massacres between different branches of Christianity (apart from the burnings and killings of the Inquisitions) led to the massive 1572 massacre of Protestants by Catholics in France. Many of the remaining Protestants later fled to what is now the USA. But this violence and discord also led to an intellectual rebellion which is of great interest to all of mankind.

    That rebellion led to the blossoming of the scientific mind in the West and we benefit in our daily lives from that blossoming of the West. The disadvantages of the imperialism of the West pales in insignificance when compared to the advantages gained from Western science (which was nothing but Greek science taken to the next step). As indicated earlier, this process was significantly aided by the West rediscovering ancient Greek through the documents preserved by Islam.

    It is important to note that when the East India Company came to India, as traders, in 1600, it had no missionary goals. It was merely a group of mercantilist traders, not scientists or thinkers. They were not imperialists by any yardstick, and it took 157 years for them to gain a political footing in India. Even that one, in Plassey, was provided by Indians on a platter to Clive through what is Indian treachery. Indians therefore gifted Bengal to the East India Company; it did not even have to fight for it. The missionary concept was not permitted by the Company until the early 1800s, but by that time Christianity had re-invented itself from a blood-thirsty religion into a religion that knew the only way to survive was to do good for others. The good that the Christian missionaries did to India cannot be under-estimated; many modern Indians came through these educational institutions.

    Till 1857, most parts of India were independent kingdoms. Few Indians considered themselves part of a single country. They were Indians, but did not know where India began and where it ended. India was an amorphous concept. Kings made use of the British equally as the British took advantage of the situation. There was no true nationalism in India till the late 19th century.

    Then, in 1893 one Indian wrote: “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.”

    This man, who declared the death-knell of all fanaticism was Vivekananda, a person whom the RSS admires, but I admire far more. I also invite you to read the poem, False Religion by Tagore: http://www.liberalpartyofindia.sabhlokcity.com/communal/tagore.html

    That is my view of what a good Hindu should think like. These are cosmopolitan Indians, preaching individual choice and freedom to choose their beliefs. If Vivekananda lived today, he may have considered joining the Freedom Team.

    My underling suggestion is that we can study history and make our own deductions, but we cannot justify taking violent actions on the basis of our interpretations of history. That is why I raised the example of the demolition of Babri Masjid. I have discussed this issue of justice at length in my book. Justice is not intergenerational. It is individual. We cannot use the excuse of certain actions of some mad fanatics who are long dead and gone to justify our violent actions today. Let us demand justice in modern India. And justice is purely individual, not social.

    2) Re: I shall give you an account of my experiences with Muslim and Christian evangelists in Madhya Pradesh and Sikkim.

    Thanks for this information. I can understand your concern at conversions which are clearly voluntary and non-violent but appear to be misguided. I suggest two simple propositions:

    a) There are many relatively disadvantaged groups within traditional Hindu society people who were not allowed in the past to become educated because of their caste. Such people, including tribals who were seriously exploited by traders till recently, are fertile ground for conversion. Ambedkars himself was a case in point. The solution to this is to formally convert every Hindu into a Brahmin. Every Hindu should first be given a Brahmin caste title. Second, the caste system should be abolished. If you ensure that is done, then the incentive among large proportion of weaker Hindu groups to leave Hinduism could weaken. People are ultimately looking for respect and equality, no matter what brand of religion is offered to them.

    b) My second proposition is that the concept of religion itself is going to weaken significantly in the future as science and education advance. A hundred years from now, it is quite likely that your progeny would have abandoned Hinduism as I have abandoned it. Religion is history. Its useful life is over. A preponderance of negative issues remain.

    You have yourself citied some figures of UK abandoning religion. Similarly, the French churches now import priests from Africa since local people no longer spend time on such things. It is only a matter of time when Hinduism itself will HAVE to re-invent itself to meet the challenge of science and increasing human knowledge. A first step is to abandon the outdated caste system. Further, with good education (which the policies of the Freedom Team advocate), many people will stop spending time on religion in the future. People can change their religion in minutes. People can have 10 religions in a lifetime. Being converted today means nothing since they people will quickly un-convert as well. In other words, instead of worrying about conversions, why not worry about good policy and ensuring good education for all Indians?

    3) Religion is a purely personal matter. It is OK for VHP to advocate issues such as the ones you have raised, but not for BJP which is a political party in a democratic republic. A political party must never involve itself in the personal choices of people. The struggle to create governments that are accountable to us has gone through the following stylised stages in mankinds history:

    minimising the tyranny of autocrats;
    reducing the links between the church, or religion, and the state;
    disbanding the divine right of kings;
    reducing inherited powers;
    creating parliaments with limited representation, noting that in the early stages of democratic representation, weaker sections of the society such as indigent white men, women, and blacks, were not represented;
    creating democracies with universal franchise, ie, when all adults are able to vote; and, finally,
    preventing democracies from degenerating into majority-rule mobocracies through a comprehensive network of checks and balances that is supported by the vigilance exercised by citizens.

    You will notice that one of the EARLIEST principles a modern society has to agree to is to TOTALLY separate religion and the state.

    You have two interests. On one of them, which is the greatness of India through greater freedom and world-best policy, you can consider joining the Freedom Team.

    But I want a total break between religion and politics in India.

    Freedom does not allow a government to dabble in religion. I have written strongly against the pseudo-secularism of the Nehruvian Congress in my book. The policies of the Freedom Team will make a complete break from pseudo-secularism.

    On your other interest, such as Hindu religion, you can and should continue to progress and explore your interests through religious bodies such as VHP. You may also considering discussing your interests with my father who spends a lot of time on such things. (eg. http://www.sabhlokcity.com/metaphysics/ and http://picasaweb.google.com/anasuresh/PremSabhlokLecture). If you make all Hindus into Brahmins, and then help abolish the caste system, I may find your efforts in this space of interest, as well!


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 7, 2008

  54. Sanjeev: Thanks for continuing the dialogue.

    This is just a brief comment…My (limited) reading of history suggests that what you say about Islamic kings “Islamic kings were also generally extremely tolerant of other religions” may not be true…But I need to dig up some primary references…until I have them, I will not say anything more on this (just yet).

    Also, please have a look at this piece by Atanu Dey, “Exporting Islam” in which he suggests a distinction between Islam and Muslims. You will find it interesting….but we are at risk of meandering from the main point of this post.

    Comment by B Shantanu | March 8, 2008

  55. Sanjeev,

    Freedom is always “freedom”. It doesn’t have any ethics.
    If your vision is a path for the future, please name it appropriately.

    You laid the plan on a paper with big holes.

    By the way to remind you, anyone talking about freedom, has no space for “Political correctness”
    (Your last post shows your secularism and self-hatred)

    Please forgive me if I am rude.

    Comment by Praada Verna | March 8, 2008

  56. Dear Shantanu and Praada

    I will first deal with Shantanu’s valid question about my generalization re: Islamic kings being tolerant on average. Yes, that is indeed true. It is best exemplified in Europe where the Muslims (the Moors) were the ones who kept alive ancient Greek thought and civilization and let Christians live in peace even as they continued with extreme intolerance wherever they could.

    Let us also not forget the examples from India eg, of Akbar or of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Also, let us not forget Kemal Ataturks contributions in Turkey. But, of course, fanatics like Aurangzeb and Osama Bin Laden simply nullify this image.

    However, let each individual be held responsible for his or her actions, and let that responsibility ends with the death of that individual. My objection (in the case of Babri Masjids demolition) is to raking up examples of actions of primitive or brutal people in the past who are long dead and gone. If we want to be a modern and civilised society we will have to move to a different plane, well beyond what the BJP or Congress have to offer.

    As far as Christianity is concerned, its worst example is actually Hitler, who fervently believed that he was advancing the work of God by destroying the Jews. But then, the same religion also produced a Mother Teresa – a peace loving and non-violent person. The key message is: we cant generalize into religions easily, and must remain focused on individuals.

    In any event a government cannot and should not dabble in such matters. It must allow complete freedom of action of all citizens subject to no one injuring others (and that includes property).

    Re: Praada’s point, my suggested ”path for the future’ is laid out in detail in my forthcoming book. Unfortunately, that chapter is not available online because of restrictions on my agreement with my publisher. However, the key arguments behind my plan can be gleaned by reading the material available at: http://www.sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/breakingfree.html

    My plan will of course have holes (I dont believe it does, but I know it will!). I’d like to hear of the specific holes, not a generic criticism which doesnt help me to improve the plan.

    And Praada, I am not in the business of being politically correct for my goal is to seek the truth (scientific, historical, philosophical), and that doesn’t allow for political correctness.

    Finally, do I hate myself? Not in the least, I assure you! I believe I am doing the right thing by trying to contribute to the greatness of my country. I actually feel quite good about my work over the past ten years. I’m not sure how I created such a strange impression in your mind! I’d request an elaboration. I have nothing to hide and if you can prove to me that I hate myself (without knowing that I do!), I will acknowledge that, as well, and try to change things. Better for me to know that and change that unfortunate internal situation inside my head, than to find out about it when it is too late to make a change.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 9, 2008

  57. Sanjeev,

    Fellow posters (for instance vck) has been constantly telling you about the falsified indian history. I would take your claims on Akbar and Bahadur Zafar being noble kings with a grain of salt. Shantanu has also blogged about it including his most recent post. You have brushed off these suggestions often. Your response to the decades old hindu-muslim conflict seems to be that “We cannot draw any worthwhile lessons today from the lives of primitive and ignorant people who are long dead and gone.” I will have to disagree. Nations are shaped by their past. As the recent post on Aurangzeb exhibit shows, history is very pertinent to todays India. What else could the reason be to close it down? It was only an historical exhibit. Not a movie, made to cause commotion. I would like to quote a line from the post – “The first is that no nation can move forward unless its children are taught to look squarely at their own history, the good and the bad, the evil and the pure.” I believe this is true. Europeans can discuss the world war and the old catholic conflicts. But can we indians discuss our babri masjid issue.

    From your posts, it appears that you are an atheist. Personally, I am not a religious person either. But i do think it is relevant especially in India. India has been a deeply-religious country and I believe it will continue to do so. Especially, hinduism still survives inspite of the onslaught from christian missionaries and decades of islamic rule. I think India will continue to be the spiritual centre of the world. Finally, I think you are forgetting that hinduism is a way of life and not just a religion in India. Your posts seem to reflect a condescending view on religious people and I do not think this will be very helpful for a party in India.

    Comment by Prakash | March 9, 2008

  58. Sanjeev,

    As you being an Economist by your academics, and having spent your life on civil services, I expected you to have a totally different perspective on building the nation.

    The objective that I see in your programme is “Quest for next generation leaders” who are believe the ideology you concieved. So, I see this far from convincing to become realistic with a view on the complex nature of Indian society.
    This is like making a system without the shortcomings you have seen in your experience. More over this only targets a few selected. How do you build the movement of people behind these “selected few”.
    This looks like trying to reach the top of pyramid skipping all steps.

    I didn’t see a single mention “grass roots” in the whole of your text.

    I feel it could have been lot better to “Groom” leaders than “Pick”.
    People found Lok Satta more appealing because of a definite agenda for both the short and long term goals.

    Comment by Praada Verna | March 9, 2008

  59. Praada and Prakash: Thanks for joining the debate.


    Sanjeev: Your comment above (Mar 9th) is as usual thought-provoking. I only have a time for a hurried response but let me make two important points where I feel we have divergent views.

    1] The likelihood of religion playing a prominent role in public discourse (and politics) in India. You feel that religion will largely become irrelevant in the years to come. I think this is unlikely to happen at least over the mext 2-3 decades, considering the deep religiosity (not sure of that is the right word) that you see in Indian society. If you broadly agree, than we need to consider this factor while discussing the future of our political landscape.

    2] The importance of history. You feel that history does not have any place in a modern society. My personal view is that we ignore history at our own peril. In this context, you may also want to see my comment on the Gautier exhibition post.

    Thanks and look forward to continuing this dialogue.

    Comment by B Shantanu | March 11, 2008

  60. Dear Friends

    Very valuable points. Let me suggest the following:

    a) First, I am not an atheist, but an empathetic agnostic (I empathise both with athesists and believers). To be an atheist Id have to know for sure that there is no God. I have no evidence of that. I would personally prefer for a God to exist, but unfortunately, I can’t seem to detect the presence of God in the midst of the mess around us. What I do, instead, is to gether what I think is good from Buddhism (agnosticism), Hinduism (karma theory, and yoga), and Christianity (justice). Ill elaborate on my views on (and experience of) religion and God in my second book currently under preparation.

    But more importantly, Prakash, you are right: I think India will continue to be the spiritual centre of the world. I believe nothing on the Freedom Team is intended to dampen or challenge anyones choice of spirituality. All that I am advocating is that a persons beliefs have no relationship to the role of a government, which must allow everyone to continue to believe what they wish so long as they dont injure others. This Team is about political thought, not religious thought. These issues should remain separate in terms of policy prescriptions.

    Shantanu, you are right as well when you say that religion will play a prominent role in public discourse (and politics) in India for the next many decaces. But it is the job of political groups such as the Freedom Team to ensure that such discourse is allowed to flourish without take sides in terms of policy actions advocated by these political groups.

    A great problem in India relates to freedom of expression. Even as innocent a thing as an exhibition on Aurangzeb is getting politicised. The problem arises from the constant violence between Hindus and Muslims today – noting that none of these people were even dreamt of, leave alone born, when various violent things took place in the past. The constant threat of violence amongst fanatics makes the government risk-averse, and it is left with no choice but to shut down or censor all potentially inflammatory expressions.

    Many Indian politicians have DIRECTLY contributed to this mess by taking sides, and by thus provoking mob violence. The solution is twofold: (a) for each religious group that thinks it has been injured, to file a civil suit for damages, and (b) for our politicians to distinguish religion and politics, and to always insist on the rule of law.

    b) Praada, youre spot on. Without grooming of leaders, there is no possibility of going ahead. However, at this initial stage, the Freedom Team needs people who see themselves as potential leaders. All that is being asked at this stage is that a person MUST be willing (even keen) to contest elections. Second, the person must believe in individual freedom and world-best policy leading India to greatness. Leadership grooming and training is built into the plan for such leaders, once the project gets going. (see http://www.freedom.sabhlokcity.com/whoshouldjoin.html)

    I too will take part in the training as a trainee leader since I dont think I am anywhere close to level 5 leadership which is my ultimate target. But without 1500 people first there is no point in going ahead in starting any ground activity. The biggest constraint that Lok Satta and all other similar organisations will face in the end is of leadership scarcity. Focused activities on the ground need a leadership team to organise things simultaneously across the country to create the potential to form government. So the leadership team must come first. But I take your point; I think the Team should simplify its entry criteria based on what youve said.

    c) Regarding history: Shantanu, I did not (or hope I did not!) say that history does not have any place in a modern society. Of course we must study our history! It is a vital subject and we must let professional historians debate issues all that they like. All I say is that using history to first become emotionally aggrieved and to then undertake violent actions such as demolishing buildings or killing innocent people – of the current generation, in order to seek intergenerational justice has no place in modern society. I am an avid reader of history and spiritual books. Education is a vital good in a society, but so is the rule of law and justice. The Team should focus on the rule of law and providing good education.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 11, 2008

  61. Sanjeev,

    The approach you have is totally undemocratic. I don’t think I need to explain you why it is. This can be skipped as it is made in the context of current situation.
    Yes, Lok Satta lacks the leadership. Because this organisation was not started for promoting polity. The reason for me to refer to Lok Satta was that, why didn’t you see it as a Organisation which can work as a perfect complement to your Goals. It could have even lessened the burden of Lok Satta sidestepping from its original ethos when it wanted to enter to the polity.
    To say really, by making a conglomerate of this kind of organisations, you can acheive far more than you have imagined, because you will have leadership at every level which is essential for effective governace.

    I am looking for your vision of the economic model for the Indian society.

    Comment by Praada Verna | March 11, 2008

  62. Dear Praada

    Thanks for livening up the discussions with your dramatic statements!

    I’d like you to clarify: How can an effort be undemocratic when its goal is to work purely through the democratic system and fully within the laws? The goal here is to develop and offer high calibre leadership for parliamentary (and later, other) elections which the Indian people can accept or reject at the polling booth.

    If democratic processes means equal opportunity, then everyone is eligible to join the Freedom Team. All they need to do is to meet its eligibility criteria. A draft ‘core beliefs’ document has also been prepared, at: http://www.freedom.sabhlokcity.com/core-beliefs.html

    Once people are accepted into the Team, internal democracy will be established with detailed internal processes. Much of that will be transparent.

    However, It is very early days for these things. At this stage all I would suggest is that if you wish to contest elections and you agree with the core beliefs and meet various other simple criteria, you may apply.

    You are interested in the economic model. I have articulated my preferred economic model in:
    That is only my model. The Team will have to build its own.
    However, the draft core beliefs developed by the Team so far are compatible with my beliefs, particularly since I drafted some bits.

    Finally, by no means did I say that Lok Satta lacks leadership; I said that it — along with many other new organisations — will face a scarcity of leaders (rather than funds) in the future as its main stumbling block. It is therefore critically important for all potential leaders who believe in freedom to assemble and consciously work on a minimal platform they are willing to work with together, and to build systems to ensure leadership training and grooming.

    People can, and should, continue with their own preferred organisations and yet be members of the Freedom Team. So if you belong to Lok Satta, I do not even once ask you to leave it!

    The Freedom Team is a yahoo group (or team) with a clear focus on brining together leaders who believe in freedom. It is not a political party. Politically, coalitions of organisations could contest elections simultaneously under the banner of freedom, in the future. No one needs to lose their own identity.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 12, 2008

  63. Absolutely engrossing and sumptuous discussions…thank you shantanu, sanjeev and all.(I find I had briefly put a small post but I guess the site went out of sight),

    It is time all of us stand shoulder to shoulder and get India to the glory it once had. It is possible now, we have the resources. The economic growth will continue for a few decades. The only question is will we use this great opportunity to its maximum and deliver our full/maximum potential? (minimum programs wont help) and will the growth be all inclusive i.e. will the opportunity to grow be made available to all equally?

    It was heartening to note Loksatta’s request for a new political culture posted here!! Two years back I was quite disturbed and wanted to contribute to a change in the country. I was clear that there needs to be a political solution. Anything less will be only incremental. I found loksatta’s views clearly reflecting mine in terms of what needs to be done.

    It will be sad if we miss this moment. The answer is “good- governance” …nay “great governance” . As someone mentioned this will be a freedom moment. Please join in. Lets fight under one umbrella and provide a clear alternative to the people.

    ..A few quick points

    – How to get good leaders in power and what to do after that was mentioned as one of the key points…totally agree…First leaders(who will participate in the political process) are simply not there, If anyone has a way of finding them please join in. Lets not wait till 1500..As soon as anyone is around and is prepared to join, join Loksatta. The only way is to contest elections and then implement. Loksatta has a clear action plan on reforms political(voteindia.org), urban governance(votemumbai.org), police/judicial reforms(votepolice.org). I find Sanjeev’s ideas pretty much similar…

    – everyone wants to go ahead with his/her own party(I think Geeta mentioned this) – True – I am personally in touch with leadership of the new parties and convincing them to join with loksatta. Now Loksatta has a reasearched strategy as well as a standing of 10 years, is extremely well networked as well as lots of grey hairs to go with ..and responses are

    party 1- no response
    party 2- met a few times but still wants to go alone
    party 3- We are ahead of our goals
    party 4- We dont see any need for working together as of now.
    party 5- no response

    – funds?? – yes it is an issue. Loksatta is fast gaining popularity and the momentum is increasing exponentially. Now the funds crunch for next 3-4 years is visible if we need to grow at the rate which we can see we will. i am clear that in the 2013-14 elections we will deliver . Anyone willing to contribute/lead/participate in to the fund raising effort please contact me – sovani@yahoo.com

    – Sanjeev – Time for joining in the loksatta movement. What you started may have been ahead of its time. But the time is ripe and I can see momentum gaining. My ardent appeal for you to join in whatever form you can. Can you put us in touch with Sharad Joshi?

    – Geeta – Have a look at loksatta you will be amazed at its depth of thought as well as having practical implementable strategy.

    visit loksatta.org, loksattamovement.org and the other sites mentioned earlier.

    Jai hind

    Dnyanesh Sovani
    Volunter – Loksatta movement

    Comment by Dnyanesh Sovani | March 17, 2008

  64. Dear Dnyanesh

    Thanks. I know JP well from a long time, including when, in 2004, after attending 4 days in a workshop I had organised, he indicated he was not going to join politics. That he is in politics now is wonderful (something I have been pleading with him since 2000). But I have written to him at least 2-3 times recently about my book and about the Freedom Team, and he has kept silent. He used to respond pretty quickly to my emails in the past. He is now too big and busy to respond to me. So maybe you can arrange to print this and show it to him.

    I’ll speak out my views here. My view is that LokSatta has much potential, but is not (yet) the answer India needs. For one, it is not focused on building and attracting 1500 top quality leaders. Second, its policies are not good enough. For a long time after October 2006, JP’s party did not have any policies. Now it has them but I don’t support some of them. For instance, I simply can’t support a policy that awards 10% extra marks to anyone. No reservations, no affirmative action, please! Only equal opportunity.

    I want to debate policies but JP is too busy. Unfortunately, it may also imply (though I hope not) that JP is not receptive. In my view, he must be prepared to write off everything he has done so far and begin afresh EACH day. Negotiate, negotiate, until 550 top quality leaders agree to contest on a single banner of freedom and world-best policy, whatever its name. Whether JP is listed as its National President or as an ordinary facilitator shouldnt matter.

    The big lesson I have learnt from my experiences is to not freeze too soon. Remain fluid. Remain flexible. Iteratively share and gain consensus on key ideas. JP was very reluctant in the past to join the political work I have been advocating since 1998. Now, all of a sudden, he seems not only to have joined politics but to have frozen. (I hope Im wrong!).

    Let him loosen up and let him embrace other’s ideas. Let Lok Satta be a putty which can either attract others by its fluidity or, if necessary, join with others. One goal, one ambition: A Great India. After that, nothing matters. We are all going to die soon enough. Only India (and the rest of the world) will remain. And our children, and their children, and so on.

    I suggest that all groups in India remain totally flexible right until the day when, together, they launch 550 high quality people in a national election in a coordinated manner. Whether they do it as a Freedom Team, as Lok Satta, or ABC, or KPD, whatever it is called, is totally irrelevant. Only 2 things matter: top quality leaders, top quality platform.

    Trust me, I’m not here because of the Freedom Team. That’s just a name. All I care for is (in the context of this effort) is a great India. Let us be totally flexible on organisational matters and let our egos and our organisational histories and baggage be as dust around the rock of India’s future.

    I have said clearly earlier: people can retain their platforms so long as they agree with the minimum criteria of the Freedom Team. This is purely a group of leaders willing to contest elections and implement policies of freedom. So if you wish to contest elections (even under the banner of Lok Satta, which is perfectly appropriate, I assure you!), then you can join the Freedom Team. I’ve asked JP to do the same. I hope he joins soon.

    Let all future MPs wanting to deliver freedom to India join this team and create a minimum agreed platform. They must be willing to function as nobodys, and will be called mere Team Members, not Presidents! If that hurts their ego, they should stay away! Good bye to egotists. This Team is not for anyone with an ego bigger than that of an ant.

    Id also suggest that you forget SBP. Not worth spending time on. SBP is not flexible, and its leadership simply does not communicate. There are other issues too, which I wont comment on; I resigned from my life membership of SBP in 2005. Lok Satta is way better! Stick with it. I like its approach on most things. You have chosen well. I wish you well.

    (By the way, JP knows Sharad Joshi ***very*** well and if he ever wants to, he can easily contact him; or he can write to me for his details)


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 17, 2008

  65. Dear freedom fighters,

    This has been a great intellectual debate. If we sieve, we learn that all of us are keen to see India in its pristine glory- the India:
    WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high
    Where knowledge is free…………………….
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
    Again I pray let’s not create an India:
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
    By narrow domestic walls

    If we deeply analyse, we find that Sanjeev’s Freedom team has a vision. and he rightly says let’s deflate our ego and unitedly stand for re-building India. It appears Sanjeev has done a lot of thinking and all other movements are also in the right direction. Let the ripe moment come and we shall decide. We have nothing to lose but only gain- gain freedom for India. We have only those people who have a strong faith in themselves and in the mission of freedom team. I shall request all the members to read the review of his book ‘Breaking Free of Nehru’ And all our discussions should rotate round that philosophy. There is complete freedom in his philosophy. Shantanu’s ideas are in perfect sync with the core philosophy of freedom team. Loksatta has a great philosophy but the problems have started creeping because of the leadership egos. Whereas Sanjeev’s freedom team has a vision, a strategy and a mission and more that that it has freedom to differ. Any one with the supreme goal in mind can go ahead. We are ready to follow. Even if it is Loksatta or any other organisation. Let’s all unitedly provide one platform for the freedom of India.

    LK Kandpal

    Comment by LK Kandpal | March 17, 2008

  66. Dear sanjeev

    JP is extremely tied up as is almost all of the leadership with the forthcoming AP elections. The focus is now on action.

    All the loksatta philosophy, solutions are on its various websites. Any issue where you have suggestions, I will have them discussed internally and a response given. Let me have your email/contact no. We will touch base on email and concall and take that forward.

    There will always be differences of opinions on issues. The need therefore is to agree broadly, start acting on what we agree upon in earnest and along the way solutions will emerge on what we do not. What is critical though is action.

    Above all we must not forget the commitment to the goal of taking India to numuro uno, a position that it deserves and in the next few decades it can reach.

    Non availability of leaders for political process is a real problem. Loksatta is quite shorthanded in that respect. There is a clear plan of action now in maharashtra, AP and a few other states, however lack of leadership is the key. If you can help it is welcome.

    By joining in the movement, I am not saying join the party. All I am asking for is your contribution in some way to the movement. say for example(just a few examples)

    – Are you willing to give speeches? on various topics and tour the colleges in India sometime?
    – Can your taped speech be taped and relayed on the net
    – Can you use your contacts relationships to find leaders/funds?
    – Can you get like minded pios in Australia together to help the India cause in some way.

    And of course you are contributing as a think tank actively through the net and by writing the books.


    Comment by Dnyanesh Sovani | March 17, 2008

  67. Dear Dyanesh

    JP was instrumental in 2004 in encouraging SBP to go ahead with an premature ambition to contest elections (even though he would not join politics at that time). That led to wasted effort, and wasted some useful money.

    The key therefore is strategic thinking and collaboration, not solo efforts that will lead to frustration.

    I would suggest to JP to hold his horses, to organise more, to get hold of at least 1500 leaders, to gain agreement among all of them, train them, and to not take action (ie to not contest elections) until the effort is guaranteed to succeed. Only one yardstick of success must be considered: forming national government. JP can become an MP easily at any time, but Lok Satta cant form government at this stage.

    The Freedom Team has drafted an (initial) action plan at: http://www.freedom.sabhlokcity.com/action-plan.html
    If you can do one thing for me, please do this: please ask JP to consider this plan and send his comments -either directly or through you.

    Had things been done systematically in 2004, we would have been in a position to go national today, in 2008-09. My view is that if JP squanders his energy (and funds) in 2008-09, he will find that 5 years down the road there has been no progress to forming national government either; or he has collected people of no particular merit around himself.

    In my view, no action should be launched which doesnt directly help in forming national government.

    I would suggest, more generally, that all people seriously interested in reform come together under the umbrella of the Freedom Team (it is a discussion group; has no brand value, no leaders and no followers), deliberate as equals, sort out issues, and then act in a focused and coordinated manner.

    That will lead to national government in 5-10 years. Else it will mean that some individuals like JP may become MPs; even Ministers; but they wont be able to make the changes that India needs for which a dramatically enhanced effort is needed.

    By the way, I dont agree with finding along the way solutions. I think the task is too important to be left to random chance.

    Ill keep your requests in mind, though. There is merit in them.

    Any idea how much a full page ad costs in the major newspapers in India? I am thinking of kickstarting the search for leaders through a major newspaper ad in all papers where people like LokSatta can participate and contribute.

    My key message: conserve money; use leverage of whatever little money is available. Do NOT act unless the plans are fully in place.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 20, 2008

  68. As a student of history, I have some observations to make with regards to your altruistic aim of transforming India. First of all it will be a wishful thinking that an honest person can win elections in the present system. Even if he does, there is little one can do to clean the system called cancer which is in its very advanced stage and requires surgery. Till the advent of the British we were ruled by Kings and Sultans and even during the British rule, limited franchise was introduced. But in 1947 all changed, all and sundry were given the right to cast their votes and today politicians rely only on those people and care a dime about the educated class. So what is the remedy?
    We should have a moratorium on elections say for some ten years and in the meanwhile governed by a committee of people who are known for their integrity and patriotism, are practical and idealist. This committee should constitute a committee to draft a new constitution suited to Indian ethos and tradition and of course with limited franchise and qualifications for those who wish to stand for elections. (Only those who posses minimum level of academic qualifications).
    Many of the problems which we are facing today can be easily solved. But politicians do not want to do so because, one, they dont have that ability to do so and second only if there are problems they can continue to rule by promising to solve. For instance, if only had the Maharashtra government had a law by which those planning to make Mumbai their home should compulsory learn Marathi and made provisions for immigrants to learn the same in a quick and easy way, the problem of sons of soil would not have erupted. The same is the case with border disputes between states like Karnataka and Maharashtra, or water disputes between different states.
    All said and done do the present system and those who are benefited by it ready to forego their privileges? Definitely not. They can go to any extent to prevent the system being changed. Hence people desirous to change the system should plan strategies very carefully and of course by keeping our cards close to the chest.

    Comment by s.srinivas | March 26, 2008

  69. Srinivas: Thanks for joining the debate…You are quite right that change will be hard to bring especially as the status quo benefits the incumbents and current set of politicians.

    I also agree with you that an honest person cannot win elections under the present system – It appears to be an almost impossible task…

    The rot lies deep..

    You may also enjoy reading this post: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/09/14/fixing-the-system/

    Comment by B Shantanu | March 26, 2008

  70. Dear Mr. Srinivas,
    Congratulations on the write up.
    It was very positive and very practical. It is not next to impossible.
    The candidates in the election conducted recently in Bhutan were all “GRADUATES”.
    A very first step in the system.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | March 28, 2008

  71. Dear Friends

    I couldn’t help smiling to myself when I read Mr. Srinivas’s suggested remedy: “moratorium on elections say for some ten years and in the meanwhile governed by a committee of people who are known for their integrity and patriotism, are practical and idealist.” I must say that this is a novel suggestion! I’ve heard of army rule, dictatorship, etc., but not this one. Anything to over-ride the wishes of the people.

    No, thanks! but I do not agree to any dictatorial solution. Nehru’s great contribution was democracy, and I would never advocate a moratorium of even one minute despite all its ills.

    Second, VCK’s concept that ‘graduates’ are somehow a solution to the problem. Surely Nehru was a graduate and Manmohan Singh is a graduate. Also, both these were (are) good people. Most MPs in India now are graduates.

    The problem is not just finding good people, but good people who know what to do, are knowledgeable in a very deep way, and understand India well. Most Indians simply don’t have the slightest clue about the extremely high calibre of ordinary politicians in the West. These are outstanding writers, thinkers, speakers, and impeccably honest. These people are a class well above what you find in India in almost any profession.

    We may have some good writers but they are totally arrogant and conceited, and most have no ability at all work as a team. We may have brilliant scientists who cannot tolerate others who are as good as them. They are level 2 or level 3 leaders. That is not good enough. We need level 4 or level 5 leaders.

    It is only in the higher reaches of the private sector that India has people of sufficient calibre – and even here only a very few who are sufficiently ’rounded’ to be acceptable.

    The great challenge therefore is finding 1500 really good people – then building them up, and then offering them to the people of India. Not just graduates (of which we have tens of crores), not just good people (of which we have ninety crores), but OUTSTANDING leaders.

    So the solution must be found exclusively within Indian democracy. The solution is to offer outstanding candidates in the elections Not once, but repeatedly, and to educate the people, until Indians agree as a whole to give these good people the mandate to run the government. The government can only be legitimate if it is build on the foundation of democracy.

    Please therefore let us stick to this task of assembling 1500 outstanding leaders – and then give Indians a chance. Indeed, your so-called “committee of people who are known for their integrity and patriotism, are practical and idealist” – why don’t you find these people and send them to me? Where are these people? We’ll offer them to Indians in elections to vote for.

    I simply don’t agree that an honest person cannot win elections under the present system. It is an eminently doable task – so why don’t we try? Why give up without trying? In order to give up you’ll have to show me tens of examples where 550 outstanding candidates were offered i elections and were rejected. That hasn’t happened even once. No one has even tried!

    Why do we have this amazing habit of giving up before we try? Do you think success comes before even making an attempt? Or 10 attempts?


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 29, 2008

  72. Dear Krishnan and Sanjeev,
    I have been observing the tamasha called elections from the past two decades and based on that made my comments. In my home state Karnataka, a great scholar, environmentalist, freedom fighter and Jnanapeeta awardee, Shivarama Karanth stood as a candidate for parliamentary elections, backed by intellectuals and lost to a film star. This happened in the 80s. Earlier another eminent Kannada scholar lost in Bangalore South Parliamentary constituency, a place inhabited by a majority of educated people. The reason is, all political parties, which is nothing but mafia groups have the money and muscle power to purchase votes. People spend up to one crore for Zilla Parishad, Corporation elections. Where on earth can honest people get such amount?
    Another point to be noted is in India people with integrity avoid entering public life. One reason is due to the system which does not allow them to make any changes and another is due to family pressure. A parent may like to see son become a cricket star or daughter a model, but not as a leader. The reason is all political parties rely on muscle power and hence worry about the physical safety of their wards. Let us not try to look for America or other European countries where democracy is flourishing as the society there is matured and democratic principles have evolved there over a period of time. Many of you would have seen scenes shown in television channels during election time where illiterate people assemble and cheer leaders without understanding what they are speaking. Then elderly, sick and mentally unstable coming to cast their votes is just hilarious. Well what is the remedy, you may ask? As I have written in my earlier comment, this strategy cannot be discussed in public. Anyhow my best wishes for Mr. Sanjeev in his venture.

    Comment by s.srinivas | March 29, 2008

  73. Dear Sir,
    I am surprised that we still accept the low down concept of the “Brilliant Politicians of the west”.
    I thought this delusion was over with the British leaving India.
    We know some of the “brilliant ones”. like Henry Kissinger who went all out to keep a war going on just to keep himself occupied.
    Recently we have had the lapdog of the US, who was a PM of Britain who went to war when the cause for it was false. What a leader!! What capabilities!! OUTSTANDING!!!
    We know about another who went along with his white bretheren to war inspite of the fact the cause of the war was false.
    We also know about a Home Minister who arrested a doctor on false charges and even after eating “Crow” maintained his argment for his alter ego.
    We know of President who went to war in the guise of prventing the spread of Commies over the world and ate so much of “Crow” that his country is still smarting at it.
    We know about politicians of the west who helped business empires to be built on the graves of a lot underpriveleged in the “South Americas”.
    We know about how the western politicain who sold the idea of a “BAD AND EVIL” Che and Fidel.
    We know about the “GREAT POLITICIANS OF THE WEST” who have propped up people like Pinnochet, Marcos, Ayub Khan and others of his team and the list goes on.
    I will stick to my “graduates” who atleast have a sense of a way of a life of a country, rather than “SUCH SMART A””s” of the west.
    Oh! by the way I forgot, Recently a leader who was also a proffessor of an Ivy league also admitted ‘Only after the 9/11 we knew waht terrorism was like”.
    Thank God my country has no such “LEADERS”.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | March 29, 2008

  74. Dear VCK

    I am afraid you mix up two things here. I refer to calibre and ability, and integrity, not policy judgements on which people can differ. You are most welcome to differ on Kissinger’s or US policy, or with Kevin Andrews, but you make a very serious error of judgement if you question Kissinger’s or Andrews’s calibre and analytical capability.

    India’s politicians, on average, don’t care about not understand policy. India’s politicians do not ask for or try to understand world-best policy. There may be one or two exceptions. India’s politicians, on average, are also totally corrupt and prejudiced about a thousand things. Having worked with both kinds of politicians, I speak with some authority on this subject.

    The difference can be contemplated as follows (as a metaphor): the difference between Einstein and a village quack. Of course this is a metaphor, not to be taken literally. Our politicians’ policies and actions have lead to poverty and corruption. The politicians of the West (on average) know what works and what doesn’t and keep working to improve things. The results speak for themselves.

    Keeping one’s eyes open and not letting prejudice blot out the truth is the first step to success. Is there no difference between a village cricketer and a Tendulkar? Please ask yourself and think about it.

    I’m looking for knowledgeable Indians to join FTI. I believe our knowledgeable people do not join politics. That needs to change.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | March 30, 2008

  75. Dear Srinivas: You have hit the nail on the head…Your thoughts echo what I wrote in my comment dt Feb 17th ’08 (above):

    POLITICS is a FULL-TIME JOB, IT DOES NOT PAY, YOU CAN pretty much FORGET ABOUT YOUR FAMILY LIFE and you will very likely be LIVING UNDER the THREAT of physical harm if you are upright and stick to your principles, that is

    THIS is what STOPS MOST GOOD, HONEST, UPRIGHT, CAPABLE AND PASSIONATE PEOPLE FROM JOINING POLITICS and that is why the task of raising 1500 leaders is herculean and will take time.

    It may not be possible to discuss the strategy in public but if you ahve any ideas, please email me at jaiDOTdharma AT gmail.com or do join the Freedom Team’s discussion group…

    Membership of the discussion group is voluntary and involves no obligation except willingness to discuss issues openly and honestly (I hope I am right here Sanjeev!)

    I hope to see you there…or I hope to hear from you via email…

    We cannot (must not) give up hope…

    Comment by B Shantanu | March 30, 2008

  76. Dear Sanjeev,
    I may be missing a point in your argument, but I appreciate your honest efforts in putting something true for the betterment of the country.
    In my honest opinion, I would like to reiterate that any amount of analytical capabilities or ‘caliber’ as you call it cannot be equated with a sense of responsibility and human sympathy.
    Not everything depends on ‘money’. Human value’s systems, traditions all these form part of a civilisation.
    If destroying a nation, “Vietnam”, or supporting a despised criminal like Pinnochet, who has looted and exterminated his own people; or supporting a country, in the guise of protection against another ‘big power’ defines caliber and capability, p[lease excuse me “Sir” i will stick to my politicians, however and whoever they may be.
    I would rather call such “intellectuals” as charlatans and not even quacks.
    A charlatan is a person normally accused of quackery, pseudoscience,or some knowingly employed bogus means of impressing people in order to swindle his victims by selling them worthless norstrums and similar goods and services “THAT WILL NOT DELIVER ON THE PROMISES MADE TO THEM”.
    I think that is what the great thinkers and leaders who have your approbation have done over the years to this world.
    Many Indian leaders are also people who can fall into this category also, please do not think I am holding a candle to them!
    I am only unwilling to accept that all Indian is worthless and that all ‘Intellectuall thinking and mostly people of caliber are western leaders”.
    I would suggest that you see the movie “THE AMERICAN GANGSTER” starring Denzil Washington and you will know the levels to which Western Intellectualls, mostly of the sort you are referring to will be willing to stoop down for a few “greenbacks”.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | April 1, 2008

  77. Dear VCK

    I find we have diverged significantly from the core purpose of this dialogue – to ask questions about the Freedom Team of India. I’d suggest you carefully consider why you are raising these non-core issues, particularly because I am not claiming anywhere “all Indian is worthless and that all Intellectuall thinking and mostly people of caliber are western leaders. Please show me how and where I gave anyone that impression! I am merely asking good people who believe in the value of freedom and good policy to come together and to contest elections in India.

    If you have an abhorrence towards Western leaders in general, I’d urge you to open your mind a little more and seek value from it where you can. There is good and bad everywhere. It should be our job to absorb the good wherever we find it.

    Let us stick firmly to the Freedom Team on this section of Shantanu’s blog. My question to you is: forget all these other people. Are YOU the leader we want in India? Are you joining FTI or not? If not why not? If you are not joining for a good reason your reply can help influence the way FTI evolves. FTI should remain open to all constructive criticism.

    Please visit its slightly updated website: http://www.freedom.sabhlokcity.com/

    I look forward to your joining FTI and contesting elections. If you are not going to contest elections then please come back to discuss further when you are ready to do so.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | April 2, 2008

  78. Dear Shantanu,

    It is said that during ancient times when a ruler acted like a tyrant, the people used to threaten that they will migrate to the neighbouring Kingdom and the subsequent loss of revenue used to instill fear among the ruler who used to mend his ways.

    All our ancient political texts allow people to revolt and remove a tyrannical ruler. Similarly take the examples of our gods whom we worship. Lord Rama did not go to Lanka and undertook sathyagraha to get Sitamata from the clutches of Ravana, nor did Sri Krishna ask the Pandavas to sit in dharna to claim their rightful share of governance. In fact when Arjuna expressed his hesitation to fight against his relatives and friends, Lord Krishna urged him to fight for Dharma. When everything is clear on how we should behave in a particular circumstance, why should there be so much confusion. My point is when there is adharma, why hesitation on our part to fight against it. But we Hindus having been ruled for over 700 years by the Turks, and another 250 years by the British have become impotent and to cover up our cowardice speak of ahimsa, Gandhigiri and other stupid ideologies.

    As a serious student of History, I know that the British did not leave India pressurized by the non violence movement launched by Gandhiji. In fact the British Prime Minister Atlee had asked Hindus and Muslims to come to a settlement so that they (British) can quit India at the earliest. Gandhiji had launched three important movements, the Non-Co-operation Movement, the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit-India Movement, all ended in failures including the last which was crushed by 1943. After 1943 there was no agitation on the part of the Congress at all. But still the British decided to leave, why? Because the II World War had strained them economically and they wanted to divert their attention in rebuilding their country. The INA campaign led by Subash Chandra Bose had unnerved them as many soldiers working under them had shifted their allegiance. Moreover after looting the country continuously for more than 250 years what more they wanted, and hence decided to leave especially the growing communal animosity between the Hindus and Muslims, which they did not want to get entangled.

    Have you observed how our ruling government behaves when it come to readdressing the genuine grievances of the people. They say us to place our demands in a peaceful way and not resort to violence even when our interests are at stake. While the people are sermonized to follow Gandhian path, do the government or its agency reciprocate in the same manner. No, they use brute force to justify their actions. They use the same police force which prior to 1947 showed their allegiance to the British and switched their loyalty to the new powers that be overnight. The same is the case with our Army. Today corruption has become so alarming that the babus demand bribe as though it is their legitimate right and the government which has its share in the booty keeps mum.

    My personal opinion is that we should drastically change our outlook on how to tackle the issue. At no cost we can bring changes by our old way of thinking of achieving success through peaceful means. You cannot reason with a mad dog, but have to shoot it to get rid of its menace. If a surgery has to be performed, it will cause pain, but to recover from an ailment and gain health, one has to endure pain.

    Changes are painful, no doubt.

    With Regards

    Comment by s.srinivas | April 2, 2008

  79. Dear Mr Srinivas

    There is no doubt that freedom has not always been built on the foundation of non-violence. There is a long history of kings having been beheaded, civil wars, and other strategies to ensure that the interests of the people are defended against tyranny. In my second book (currently in draft) I explore the conditions under which a violent revolution to advance freedom can be justified.

    The current situation in India does not, in my considered opinion, lead to a recommendation on for a violent response. It is only after good people have come together as a Freedom Team (Army?) and offered themselves as candidates in elections at least 5-10 times, and persuaded people to vote for them, but found themselves being repeatedly outwitted by gangsters and the corrupt, that violent revolts could be even remotely justified (and at that stage the strategy will need to be such that it is cogently argued, fully justified, and effectively managed to ensure the not one innocent life is lost).

    As far as I know, political parties comprising purely of good candidates who are capable of (and willing to offer) good governance have not yet offered their services to the people at the hustings. Under such circumstances I would appreciate that non-democratic proposals are taken outside the discussion on this subject, and kept in cold storage until all possible democratic actions have been taken and found wanting.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | April 3, 2008

  80. Dear Sanjeev,
    Thank you very much for your reply. The aspect of being a part of the Freedom Team appears to be a very daunting part as tou and I appear to be poles apart from the concept of installing Democratic norms in todays political scenario.
    Let me amplify.
    Today’s India , I specifically call it India as “Bharat” is in my mind and it can come into existence only when we have a truly suucessful way of living for each and every person in this nation.
    Today’s scenario consists of youth who have no concept of “good Life” and a “Decent Life”. For them, the concepts mean expensive living. They have the thinking of the “Ghetto Blacks” in the US who will take a life for the sake of a NIKE as I have read from the information that flows from there.
    The current Education System does not provide for thinking as we have been brainwashed into thinking that “Thinking” is something difficult and if you really do so you will end up with nothing.
    The inane thoughts that are thrown about in other blogs, which I sometime come across make me feel like it.
    They are also entering into a phase of the “Herd Mentality” that life is all about “Money, Money and more Money”! They live the Philosophy of “Gecko” who preached that “Greed is good.
    This means that the “youth” that one is depending upon is a rudderless and arrtogant boat which will not let down its sails even if they are pointed out the “Inchape Rock” without the bell.
    In away I think that the Freedom Team will be too too idealistic and one should modify it to suit certain circumstances.
    I agree with your thinking that all avenues should be exhausted, before one enters the path that I feel is nesecciated by living in this country during these trying times.
    One should also be practical as Shri Srinivas has pointed out to make the Freedom Team a success.
    I would put forward like what Lord Krishna did before the Kurushethra War took place. He tried every avenue, but as the “PARAMATHMAN” he knew it will not succeed with the Kauravas, and that war was inevitable, but he still tried.
    Today we are having a trying time and I think every average person living in this country has given it every way of support, by the process of election, but nothing has ever changed.
    I feel that a certain amount of intellectual war is needed to make the improvements you are looking for. I think that is what Mr. Shrinivas is also advocating.
    It will be definetely nice to be a part of team which is reflecting upon a growth plan, but the team members need to be accepted with their flaws and their ideology which may be at certain times on the opposite side.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | April 3, 2008

  81. Dear VCK

    Thanks for a detailed response. We can keep discussing generalities for ever, but the specifics is what matters in the end. The core principle of FTI is to apply the best practice in the world (India may have best practice in some things – and if so that would be adopted). It is also an intellectual war against complacency and cynicism.

    I worked for long in India and know of outstanding young people – most of whom have disappeared into the field of professional jobs in India or gone abroad. Virtually none is able to think ‘cleanly’ ab initio since the severe contamination of Nehruvian socialism still blights their thinking. Your generalisations about the USA from its worst cases reported by the consumer-readership hungry media are a case in point. It is like saying that everyone in India is constantly killing each other in communal riots – well, that is the only certain coverage India gets abroad, apart from its periodic elections, and recently, about its economic growth. Is that a sensible view to have of India – only derived from media reports? The truth is so much richer and complex.

    It is hard to see the truth when one has been told from childhood that the truth cannot exist outside India’s unique ‘special’ case, and when most journalists in India still come from a leftist perspective which delights in distorting the truth about the West. US is not a role model for India, but there is so much that is good in US (and elsewhere in the West) which India must aspire for.

    Fortunately, the new young generation emerging right now is not so blighted by Nehru’s disastrously distorted vision of the world, by which communist USSR became a great friend and USA an enemy. These people are unfortunately so caught up in one of the outcomes of Nehruvian ideas, namely deeply embedded corruption, that they can’t even begin to understand that corruption should not be a normal part of life. These young people need intellectual leadership to guide them into aspiring for a society based on the values of freedom and integrity, which always go together, anyway. That is what FTI intends to provide.

    I have not much choice in but to start with whomever I can get and persuade them to see the world afresh purely on scientific evidence and based on the logic of freedom. So I am sure that ideological differences that you have can be discussed and a reasonable agreement arrived at provided you are willing to put in serious effort to discuss based on facts and the truth. I am confident that there is, in the end, only one truth, so if you bring the truth to light through debate, then FTI will follow your leadership. But the first key condition is your ability and intention to contest elections, and total commitment to integrity.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | April 5, 2008

  82. Excellent editorial in the Indian Express:

    “Come now and let us reason together. Whether or not one believes in a Lord or His words, this simple biblical injunction from the book of Isaiah, with its reference to both reason and reciprocity, is as good as any a description of what genuine leadership in democracy should seek to inculcate. Barack Obamas justly celebrated Philadelphia speech on race relations in America was remarkable less for what it said about race than for what it implied about genuine leadership.

    Comment by Patriot | April 7, 2008

  83. Thanks Patriot

    Had a look. I’ve written to Pratap Bhanu suggesting he consider joining FTI.

    In general, it is time to walk the talk. I’ve personally had enough of middle-class Indians preaching to our politicians to reform themselves. Why would any politician listen to them?

    If these middle class Indians can’t themselves rise to provide India with the leadership they want it to have, then they should shut up. It is time for the great middle class of 300 million people in India to stop whining and demonstrate its ability to work together and to lead India. Who has stopped Pratap Bhanu from becoming an Obama? Not me!



    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | April 9, 2008

  84. Dear Sanjeev,

    While I generally do believe in the (American) adage that “you should put up or shut up”, I think that an honourable exception can be made in the case of policy, ideology and philosophy.

    While you certainly need the do-ers, I think there is a solid case to be made for armchair intellectuals in this space. The main reason being a person can formulate a great philosophy, which advances the cause of humanity and freedom, and yet may be disinclined to put it into practice herself.

    The second reason is that do-evers, many times, lose perspective of the bigger picture in the heat of the battle. At such times, it is useful to have disinterested observers remind the do-ers of the bigger issues and how their smaller battles fit into the overall puzzle.

    After all, we still owe a lot to Plato and Socrates, right?


    Comment by Patriot | April 9, 2008

  85. Dear Patriot

    You rightly cite Plato whose ideal was the philosopher king. He said, “philosophers [must] become kings” (The Republic).

    Gandhi was a philosopher, and Nehru too was one, in his own right. So also Rajaji, Radhakrishnan and the many great leaders of the freedom (independence, to be precise) movement.

    The rightful place for philosophers is in politics. Even Bertrand Russell did his own Fabian society thing, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson (and Paine, Burke, etc.) did their own Freedom thing, JS Mill did his job to promote freedom as an MP, and Marx did his Communism thing. Heidegger did his Fascism thing.

    Politics is the only rightful place for philosophers to belong to, unless they are copycat teachers who teach, but do not truly profess. Philosophy must be a way of DOING things. A philosophy without a call for action does not deserve the right to be called a philosophy; it is pure impotence disguised in fine language.

    Even otherwise, on a practical note, we should be able to find 1500 philosopher kings among the 1,130,001,500 people who flood India’s streets. The rest of the 1,300,000,000 “philosophers” (and by the way India hasn’t produced many truly great philosophers since 2500 BC despite these alarming numbers of them) can continue to squat on their haunches and stare impotently at the corruption and decadence they find around themselves; sporadically preach to the politicians who merely jeer at these idlers who preach to them!

    In 1982 when I joined the IAS, we were taken to Indira Gandhi’s house for a ‘call on the PM’ visit. She spoke with us and in response to one question from a fellow ‘probationer’ about why politics is so dirty in India, she said: something like: “you only get the right to ask that question if you enter politics; no one has stopped you from entering politics and fixing the problem”. It was a challenge she threw at everyone. No one took it. Meekly we went about being IAS officers, working under these hopelessly corrupt leaders.

    For 60 years, idle journalists and others (“philosophers?”) have chattered idly for the sake of their livelihoods; they don’t have the courage of their convictions; they therefore lose their credibility. Im not asking these people to prove their credentials by jumping into electoral politics on their own. Im asking them to come together and work on a common platform. They wont even do that!!

    Philosophers! What gall to use that title for their pitiable whimperings.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | April 9, 2008

  86. Dear Sanjeev,
    WOW! That was statesmen like language. Very positive and incisive. To the point, brief and eloquent.
    It speaks for itself.
    Coming to armchair philosophers, we have many of them parroting the statements of their masters.
    That is one of the reasons that I have taken up an idealogy that is in sharp contrast with many others.
    We have lost the capability to think and apply and have become the most meritorious CLERKS of the world.
    That is one of the reasons I have so vehemently rather lesser eloquently stated that THE WEST does not have all the best brains but they were willing to think. I am sure we have gems amongst our people, but they have to be brought to the forefront.
    Let us work towards it.
    You had specifically asked my willingness to take part in elections. If it is not a street fight but a genuine feeling on GROWING INDIA, I am willing to play my part.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | April 10, 2008

  87. Sanjeev – Been quite tied up lately., i have gone thru your suggestions and most of these are similar to what loksatta advocates. It will take a while for a detailed reply…..but will surely take that up at a later time. the key now is how to implement these?

    Unequivocally what India needs today is DOERS. There is adequate reports/thoughts on what needs to be done, how it needs to be done… All of that may not be ideal but getting it done what is required to be done is the most inportant task ahead of us right now. Sanjeev is also right again – there is a serious dearth of leaders in social/public life.

    This is not to say thought provokers are not required, but just that there are plenty of them and action plans are available for the next decade.

    Now the question is how? And again in the current system the only solution is contest elections and get into a position to do implent.

    Loks satta movement after advocating successfully for governance reforms, realised the limitations and has formed a political party in 2006. 2008/9 elections will be contested in Andhra and the next elections all india.

    This is an ardent appeal to all to please suggest and spread the word to join in the movement to provide a credible alternative to people.

    Sanjeev- If the freedom team has anyone from Andhra, this is a word for them to contact loksatta movement fpr [articipating in the forthcoming elections.

    please visit –


    Jai Hind
    Dnyanesh Sovani
    Volunteer Lok satta movement

    Comment by Dnyanesh Sovani | April 11, 2008

  88. Dear VCK, Thanks. Please sign up with FTI youll have to commit to a few principles before joining, and Geeta may ask you a few questions as well. FTI has only just started, so let us get going. http://www.freedom.sabhlokcity.com/

    Dear Dyanesh, there are definitely many similarities between FTI’s agenda and Lok Satta’s. JP and I share many views in common. That is why I invited him to the 2004 workshop of liberals seeking his participation in a political party, an aim I have had since 1998.

    Lok Satta is broadly on the right direction. Ill pass on your message on FTI, but why dont you join (if you are going to contest elections) and do that yourself? In fact, why doesnt every leader of Lok Satta join FTI, — those who will contest national elections? 2+2 = 4.

    I have a few suggestions, though:

    a) On organisational rigidity. Lok Satta is currently too strongly associated with JP (which is natural, since he started it!), and has established a huge organisational structure. This risks making it appear (quite erroneously!) that this effort is about JP and about ‘his’ organisation, and not about India. One way to get out of that problem is for JP to remove his face from the Lok Satta website. I similarly asked Sharad Joshi to remove his face from the SBP website when it was started. He didnt listen to that, of course, and SBP essentially remains a one-man show. Organisational rigidity and being seen to be a one person group poses a serious risk to growth.

    The face is important and implies the effort is about JP; not about India. Instead, let there be faces of 10 key party leaders, indeed, a rotation of faces each time the site uploads. Let there also be the faces of a poor child or woman: they are our audience. We are the tools. These things are NOT about Lok Satta or about JP or about the Lok Satta’s leaders. It is PURELY about India. FTI will not organise formally and have office bearers until all 1500 people are assembled.

    b) The other thing I want to comment is about open communication. Does JP or Lok Satta run a forum where all leaders in India can participate and debate with him on policy and other issues? I know he has a blog, but Id like JP to talk more broadly with others across India. He could use Shantanus blog. It is an excellent place for such a conversation. The FTI also offers a place to discuss issues with other like minded people (I’m proposing to make its discussions publicly visible). I have written to JP to join FTI but did not get a response. Im beginning to wonder if some inefficiency is involved here. Gandhi was known to reply to EACH AND EVERY letter he got. He wrote postcards to everyone who wrote to him. Communication is a 2-way street. If JP cant personally respond to his emails, he should ask someone to draft them and vet them personally. There must be a personal touch. Even a member of the team can respond. But not responding to an email is a cardinal sin. It can end the relationship.

    c) Third, about policy. Policy alignment among these 1500 leaders must be total (except maybe for one or two fringe issues). The proposed 10% marks policy is not acceptable from my view, and must be discussed openly. The other is the prohibition campaign. These policies violate the principles of freedom (with accountability). JP need not drink (and I have given up drinking) but he or Lok Satta cant impose his views on others who choose to drink. Education and awareness building is the solution to excessive drinking, not prohibition. Third, he doesnt have a clear policy to replace the IAS and other services with an incentives based contractual model, either. I think India can’t reform with the existing public administration model.

    I know this is painful: to do policy discussion each time with everyone. But that is FTI agenda and its method. It will debate and resolve policy doubts until all 1500 founding members are agreed on core policies. Even if 1500 people agree only on 10 policies, that will be sufficient to get India off the ground.

    I am being constructively critical. If some of these suggestions are looked into, and not discarded, India may benefit.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | April 12, 2008

  89. All: Some excellent points here…Thanks for continuing the debate/discussion.

    I will have a look at all the comments and try and respond in a day or two.

    Comment by B Shantanu | April 13, 2008

  90. This is a message to anyone who has wandered here and has the ability and inclination.

    Please don’t hesitate to apply to join the FT group (check the FT website for the latest, including the release of the first issue of a magazine). I’ve been in the group for a few weeks and have already learnt quite a bit and chipped in where I could. Members are very frank and the discussions are very open and we have already demonstrated a willingness to accept feedback and also steer the course of discussions (including SS, who, given his limitations, is a pretty compelling person, just like the rest of us.. he is working hard on his transition to higher levels of leadership :-) . Nothing is out of bounds (i.e no room for political correctness).. the main thing we have is a commitment to the clearest reason and the best available facts.

    Ultimately its about self-belief and when there is sufficiently large group of individuals discussing issues and actions and getting things done, it is a small step, but a step in the right direction and has the effect of increasing leadership qualities in all concerned.

    I quite agree with the observation that a personality cult (or the appearance of one) seems de rigeur in Indian political parties, even ones that have many good qualities such as Lok Satta (for a stark example, see the web site of Lok Paritran). There is absolutely no reason why this needs to be the case or that it is a consequence of an essential feature of Indian culture.

    I found Patriots remarks quite interesting (on the inflection post 80s and why the slow and muddy but steady fits India’s trajectory) and perhaps SS can follow up at some point on the thread here. Why dont you join the group and add value?

    Comment by sriram | April 16, 2008

  91. *** COMMENT COMBINED ***

    1. I fully support the thoughts here.
    2. We, (the people who want to help India), must have a struggle on the lines of the INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT .
    3. Just like Gandhiji (M. K. Gandhi – the Father of the Nation) exemplified THE POWER OF ONE , we need just ONE INDOMITABLE WILL who will fear nothing, and who will lead by example.
    4. If you are that ONE INDOMITABLE WILL, just take up your stick and lead, and millions will follow you.
    5. The country and all its people are sick of this bunch of rascals who are looting our country.
    6. What we need is just ONE INDOMITABLE WILL to lead us.
    Who will be the next Gandhiji or Jayaprakash Narain.
    I am sorry that I do not have that much strength of will or character to be the person for this. But amongst our 1 1/2 billion people, will there not be one ?
    OR, should we look to the heavens for our saviour ?

    P.S. : What happened to the political party floated by IITians ? Surely they are the people who would be right for organizing the details.


    One more point strikes me :
    The peoples of the Southern states of India and those of the North-Eastern states of India are equally part of the nation, and equally patriotic and equally capable of participating in this oncoming struggle. The present mindset routinely excludes these peoples from the concept of India.

    This present mindset has to change. The fact of a common nationality has to be recognized in everyday actions and plans and projects. If not done, we are not only reducing our strengths, but we are increasing our weaknesses.

    Comment by Sivasubramaniam Krishnan | May 11, 2008

  92. @ Sriram: Thanks for the comment and for making the case to get more people actively involved in this effort.

    @ Krishnan: I missed your comment as I was a little tied up for the last few days… Let me share a few thoughts on the points you have mentioned:

    You are absolutely right when you say we need to start a new “INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT” and we desperately need at least ONE INDOMITABLE WILL – to precipitate a mass movement..

    Does that mean I endorese the cult of personality? No…it simply means that someone, somewhere needs to get sufficiently worked up to say enough is enough – and devote all her/his time to improving the country.

    Unfortunately most of us (me included) are constrained in various way – and frankly – have not reached that “tipping point” where we might say “enough is enough”…If things continue the way they are, that point will come – it will come for sure and I hope that is how we will find our first leaders..

    Re. the political party floated by IIT-ians (Lok Paritran), it has been an a very unfortunate story – read my latest post for more.

    I was saddened by your comment re. people of South and North East India…and the present mindset leading to them being “routinely excluded…from the concept of India”.

    I hope you do not include me and my readers in this category… We all stand for one, united India…an India in which everyone will be proud to call himeself/herself an Indian first – and everything else second.

    Comment by B Shantanu | May 17, 2008

  93. Dear Sajeev Sabhlok and all others,
    Greetings! I”ve some frustrating news! I am Cdr. (Retd) BB Khilari from Bangalore, who has contested the Assembly elections from Lok Paritran and awaiting results on 25 May 08.

    *** COMMENT EDITED / Note by Moderator ***

    Dear Cdr Khilari: Thanks for your comment. I have edited it since it is a copy of your earlier comment

    Please avoid duplicate comments.

    I would also suggest you have a look at the Freedom Team website and/or get in touch with Sanjeev.

    Comment by Cdr. (Retd) BB KHIlari | May 20, 2008

  94. Dear Sanjeev,
    I still awaiting your reply on the comments I had made with respect the FTI and iilegal thugs from Bangladesh.

    Comment by v.c.krishnan | May 20, 2008

  95. Dear VCK

    I apologise for not paying sufficient attention to your comments. I unfortunately can’t locate the Bangadesh comment from you so please send me a link. But I’ve traced your last comment (of 10 April) which says, “If it is not a street fight but a genuine feeling on GROWING INDIA, I am willing to play my part.”

    We are talking of FTI offering high quality leaders as a choice to Indian voters in elections. The answer therefore hinges on one and only one question: do you provide high quality leadership to India? In other words, are you committed not only to the philosophy of freedom and to world-best policy, but are you also committed to continuous self-development as a leader?

    None of us is perfect and will never become perfect, but we can all try to incrementally improve ourselves. That journey of growing oneself both in knowledge and leadership must occur first before we can claim to grow India. This also includes the ability to work respectfully in a team environment.

    I think FTI is throwing a challenge at educated Indians: are you up to it? Can you do it? It is not about anyone dictating to India, but about us persuading India, democratically. That takes a LOT of leadership, and a lot of humility.

    I belive you can do it. I think you should do it. Each of us can be a leader. Indeed, we must lead, else the corrupt mafia of existing political parties will repeatedly win, without a contest.

    I trust this addresses your question. As mentioned, I can’t locate the Bangladesh comment (but if that is a policy comment, its place is perhaps not here but elsewhere, for here we are only discussing FTI).


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | May 24, 2008

  96. The Freedom Team of India has now an independent domain. Please visit: http://freedomteam.in

    I keep visiting this site to check for questions. Nothing since May yet. This is a reminder that I’m still taking questions.

    In the past 3 months or so since FTI has been publishing a monthly magazine. I’m also now writing a monthly article in ‘Freedom First’. These are available on the FTI website and will continue to be available publicly over the coming months.

    I look forward to more people joining FTI and making a serious attempt to take India to peace, prosperity, and greatness.


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | August 13, 2008

  97. A Google Group called, ” FTI Inquiries Questions Suggestions”
    has been started to answer any further questions/ queries about FTI: http://groups.google.com/group/fti-inquiries-questions-suggestions


    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | January 31, 2009

  98. Dear Sir, I liked the FTI positions and policies. Then I stumbled upon the ‘links’ section where I find many ideas that do not match with my position, especially the RSS bashing articles. Thought I could get some input. Though FTI states it will not interfere with religion, I believe a government of a country with such complicated religious profile cannot function without interfering. For ex, the very basic idea of seperating state from religion will need years of implementations of multiple new laws that will directly operate on religions. Now the constitution is full of religious provisions, starting from govt ownership of temples till cbse recognition of madarassas.
    I could not get enough convincing information for FTI’s thought process on this. Appreciate your advice on this.

    Comment by Nanda | February 16, 2009

  99. @ Nanda: Very good point. You have raised an issue that is currently being discussed on the FTI groups (internal discussions).

    I am thinking of requesting Sanjeev to post some of the messages here…or I might post them myself after seeking people’s permission (and perhaps anonymously).

    Pl. give me a few days to do this since I am currently travelling.


    Comment by B Shantanu | February 17, 2009

  100. This comment is not related to this post.

    Came to know about many young political initiatives from this website. Most notably ‘freedom team of india’. Where are those chaps? The Parliamentary elections will be over within a month.

    Last time I checked the convener of FTI (Mr. Sanjeev Sablok) was in Australia. He could not find even a single “leader” to contest this election? Do we have to wait for one more term of five years?

    Ranjan Shah

    Comment by Ranjan Shah | April 16, 2009

  101. Ranjan: What is the point of getting into a battle unprepared?…there is no glory in suicide…

    FTI members will contest elections when they are ready – not becuase they happen only once every five years…Besides there are other elections one can contest..(MLAs etc) and in these times, five years may be optimistic!

    Comment by B Shantanu | April 16, 2009

  102. Iam whole heartedly with the idea of freedom team and strongly suggest that get this book- Breaking free of Nehru
    and get it translated in all the Indian languages and price it reasonably so that it can be purchased by ordinary person and make sure that purity of language is maintained and it must be in the simple languge otherwise you will fail to communicate your message.
    Further to this you must go to India and give lectures and arrane public meetings to make them understand that we are already a failed state where people and cattle are dying of thurst and hunger and no one is safe in their homes to Paliament houseand our borders are porus and infiltration by enemy is going on everyday in thousands and over 20 million Bangladeshis are illegaly in India.Many from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Arab nations have come but settled here illegaly.

    Comment by S.SHARMA | June 19, 2009

  103. Dear Sh Sharma: Thanks for your comment. Re Further to this you must go to India and give lectures and arrange public meetings , well, this is actually happening now…

    In the next few days, I will be posting more details on one such initiative.

    Watch this space.

    P.S. There is also an effort underway to translate “Breaking Free of Nehru”.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 20, 2009

  104. […] India proposed in Breaking Free of Nehru. You can read about initial discussions about this work on Shantanu’s blog and find out more at: http://freedomteam.in/blog/content/405   In mid-2005 I launched the […]

    Pingback by Sanjeev Sabhlok | Hello! Namaste! | June 21, 2009

  105. Hi Sanjeev/Shantanu,
    In order to translate this book into regional language we can approach the publishing house “Rohan Prakashan”.
    They are good in translating books to Marathi and Hindi(I think).
    They have head office located in Pune and I can go and speak with them for the same, If needed.
    Here is their contacts for further reference.


    **PUNE Head Office**
    Shop 5 & 6 Dhavalgiri
    Opp. Police Chowky
    Shaniwar Peth
    Pune, Maharashtra State
    India 411 030

    rohanprakashan AT gmail DOT com
    rohanprakashan AT vsnl DOT net


    Comment by संदीप नारायण शेळके. | June 23, 2009

  106. Thanks Sandeep…I will pass on the info to Sanjeev.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 24, 2009

  107. […] the formation of FTI, many questions and answers were discussed on Shantanu’s blog (here). The complete discussion as at 19 April 2009 is now available for download as a Word document […]

    Pingback by FTI Inquiries Questions Suggestions « Freedom Team India (FTI) Blog | July 19, 2009

  108. Hi Shantanu/Sanjeev

    I have been in touch with Ajay Anand regarding membership of the FTI and had raised a couple of questions regarding some of the basic FTI principles. Ajay asked me to raise those questions on an appropriate FTI blog for a speedy response since he’d be busy over the next week or so.

    I am not sure if this is the right blog for the questions but it looks most appropriate to me. So here we go. The following points are from the “basic principles” document:

    1. Point number 3.4 – Religious freedom

    I have learnt from my experiences and observations in India that religions, other than public offices, have been misused by people under the very name of religious freedom / freedom of worship. Many “swamis” and “gurus” have made fortunes by exploiting people’s blind faiths, religious schools continue to radicalise children under the watchful “secular” eyes of the government, and so on. In my opinion, a clear separation between the state and religion isn’t enough. A responsible government should actively curb religions and prevent the many wrongs that are committed in their name. This might contradict FTI’s rejection of a “nanny state” and hence would like to know your (FTI’s) position on the above issue. I don’t favour a nanny state as far as economic freedom is concerned, but is “absolute freedom” necessarily a good thing in all aspects of a social life? In cases such as religious freedom, where do we draw the thin line between individual accountability and the administration’s social responsibility?

    2. Point number 4.3 – The state is not our nanny

    Carrying on from the first point, although I disagree with the idea a “nanny state” in relation to financial markets and general economic activity, there are many instances in our social life where the administration needs to take the responsibility of constructing a better society. As they say, “leaders should take people where they ought to go, not where they want to go”. Take for instance the practice of sati in ancient India. Now none of us accept that as a moral practice but didn’t the catalysts run into trouble when they opposed it for the first time? The same goes for many other issues in contemporary India such as child marriage, dowry, caste system, corruption and so on. The line between morality and immorality is blurred here. It changes with every individual’s world view. This point in the policy document does say that the government must evaluate both the arguments before making its laws but who should decide which argument is right? Could an argument against the caste system win in the current parliament? If not, should the system be allowed to continue?

    FTI promises little paternalistic interference on the government’s part to aid the freedom to pursue one’s own happiness. My question is, how does the FTI define paternalistic interference and freedom to pursue happiness? For instance, many wrongs are committed in this country with active consent of the people, for the happiness of those people. Where, in your opinion, should the administration draw the thin line? I am not a socialist/communist but I also don’t think that the country is mature enough to be offered absolute freedom… at least not yet!

    I look forward to hearing your and FTI’s views on the above.


    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | May 29, 2010

  109. *** COMMENT EDITED ***

    Introductions :
    The FTI team members must recognised that we are trying to build an institution, hence the need for slow and measured steps.

    *** NOTE by MODERATOR ***

    As Sanjeev has mentioned, this is a copy-paste from FTI’s website. In such instances, kindly only quote relevant portions or simply provide a URL. Thanks.

    Comment by CHURCHILL KUMAR SHAH | May 29, 2010

  110. Ashish and Churchill: I have not forgotten about your comments but I want to give a considered response…As you know I am currently travelling..so please bear with me..

    I will try and respond once I am back early next week. Thanks.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 1, 2010

  111. Dear Ashish
    Here’s an extract from the email response I provided you a few days ago. This is for the public record.
    Dear Ashish

    btw do read my book at http://bfn.sabhlokcity.com/ and also subscribe to Shantanu’s blog at http://satyameva-jayate.org/).

    Note that the views I express are purely my views and not FTI’s. FTI’s views will only be finalised in due course (see FTI strategy)

    1) Religious freedom
    The view you express is ‘secular’ in the French Revolution sense (e.g. Jacobians), and possibly goes beyond that. You advocate (a) “actively curbing religions” and (b) “preventing the many wrongs that are committed in their name”.

    With regard to (a), religion is a purely private matter and the free society doesn’t and can’t curb anyone’s private activities. It is illiberal to impose on people’s private lives and beliefs. FTI advocates freedom and not Hegelian statism that led to Marxism and the abolition of the Church in the USSR. To live and let live is the motto. We don’t want to impose on anyone. Merely punish people if they cause harm.

    With regard to (b), the liberal state strongly punishes those who harm others. Prevention, however, is NOT generally the business of the state, except in rare cases. I can’t always prevent people from committing a murder but I can punish them.

    2. Level of freedom
    “I also don’t think that the country is mature enough to be offered absolute freedom”.

    A detailed response to this issue is provided in Chapter 4 of my draft manuscript (proposition 3, I think) http://discovery.sabhlokcity.com/. In brief, FTI does not advocate absolute freedom, but freedom with accountability.

    The overall model that these responses fit under is called classical liberalism. Read my draft manuscript and you’ll find a large number of references for further reading.

    Look forward to your joining FTI after you’ve satisfied yourself about the reasonableness of these views

    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | June 6, 2010

  112. Dear Churchill,
    Your post is either a direct cut-paste or a slight tweak of FTI’s minutes
    of the Mumbai conference posted in the March issue of TAGI (http://www.freedomteam.in/mag/GreatIndia-13.pdf).
    What’s the question/issue you are raising?

    Comment by Sanjeev Sabhlok | June 6, 2010

  113. Thanks for your response Sanjeev. I am copying my response that I posted erroneously posted on http://freedomteam.in/blog/content/religious-freedom-and-tolerance.

    I will briefly clarify my position on the religious freedom and hopefully clear a few confusions.

    I still maintain that it’s not enough to simply disassociate the state from religions and that religions should be actively curbed in order to protect our freedoms in all aspects of our lives.

    I make a clear distinction between individual belief and organized religion and when I use the term “religion”, I use it entirely to mean organized religion.

    Belief is purely a private matter and everyone should be entitled to believe in whatever they want to believe in. For me, PRIVATE is a keyword here. Every individual should also have the right to freedom of association (organized religion in this case). I do not advocate curbing individual thought/belief or an individual’s right to association. What I advocate, however, is curbing the freedom these associations should have in a liberal society.

    I strongly believe that such mass delusions should not be allowed to dictate our social, cultural and political lives, demand subsidies, reservations and so on. Aggression on freedom of speech (Taslima Nasreen, M F Hussain, Danish cartoons etc), on healthcare and scientific developments (opposition to contraception, stem cell research), on cultural (mangalore attacks, V-day attacks etc), and socio-economic freedoms (caste system) among many other aggressions should actively be curbed in a free and liberal nation.

    I hope the above helps explain my position a bit further and that it’ll find some takers.


    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | June 8, 2010

  114. Dear Sanjeev,

    I have gone through several website linked to FTI and gave my brief thoughts. Actually I would like to raise the question related to the development of India.

    Comment by CHURCHILL KUMAR SHAH | June 8, 2010

  115. Ashish: A very hurried comment (and I will come back later on this debate).

    What exactly do you mean by “religion”?

    By all means the government should ban exclusivist and totalitarian ideologies..

    But none of the “religions”/ faith systems that originated and priopsered in India have been exclsuivist or taotalitarian. And they have survived for centuries without strife.

    Most of the things you have mentioned are not sanctioned by scriptures and certainly do not find echo in religious discourses.
    The socio-economic issues must be seen in the context of what they are – i.e. social and economic issues. To blame “religion” (which one?) for them is not entirely accurate.

    More later.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 14, 2010

  116. Hi Shantanu

    For me, “religion” is a “faith system” followed by a group of people who are directed by either a “supreme” person (Pope) or by a scripture (Bible, Gita, Koran etc). This is different from individual belief (please note I don’t use the term “system” here!), where a person may have a certain belief but is not tied to a system.

    I challenge the contention that religions aren’t exclusivist or totalitarian. In fact, the way I see it, they are nothing but totalitarian. The many things Koran and Bible don’t want us to do (and pay a bloody price if we do do those things) is testament to that. And it does not matter whether they originated in India or not. They are here and here to stay.

    The last 4-5 centuries have seen nothing but religious strife and wars that continue to this day. But I won’t dwell on that too much.

    I want to concentrate my argument on government’s role with regards to religions (and similar such groups). So when I say that a government should curb religions, I don’t mean blanket ban them. Instead, I mean curb the influence they could have on our society. So should Islam be banned? Of course not. Should the fatwas be banned? Definitely.

    And I think this goes down to the fundamentals of a political movement aligned to individual freedom. After all, there’s nothing “individual” about a “collective system” and definitely not about the many systems that many of us are not part of.

    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | June 14, 2010

  117. @Ashish: Another hurried comment.

    I hope you do realise that your definition of “religion” (a “faith system” followed by a group of people who are directed by either a “supreme” person or by a scripture ) does not apply to Hinduism.

    In facta Hindu is not tied to any “system”!

    Hinduism (of Hindutva) is neither “exclusivist” nor “totalitarian”. Please cite examples if you believe otherwise – not on this thread though but perhaps on this thread (more appropriate): http://satyameva-jayate.org/2009/05/15/islam-hindutva-zakir-naik-part-2/

    Your argument calling for an interventionist role (of the government) is in apparent contradiction to your belief in individual freedom and liberty..and assumes that the government is somehow “wiser” than hoi-polloi. No?

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 15, 2010

  118. @Shantanu – I think it goes down to the question of what individual freedom really is or should be! For me, freedom and liberty goes far beyond freedom of speech, enterprise and movement. That should be a given. For me, freedom is all about freedom of mind, freedom of thought. And when I am conditioned right from the start to believe that a blue-colored, three-eyed man with a snake wrapped around his neck sits on the summit of a Himalayan mountain, I question how free my mind is to accept anything otherwise. And when, on the basis of this belief, I am moved and organized in a group to demand government land (even by violent means), then it is a clear exploitation of a submitted mind.

    So although we could claim that the people in Africa are free to not use contraceptives, they are actually following the directions of the Pope, who they regard as the messenger of God. How free are they really?

    So I am not calling for government’s intervention because I think the government is wiser than the public but because I strongly believe that the government must protect, among other freedoms, the freedom of the most impressionable minds. If I am not told as a child that superman is real and he will one day return from the fortress of solitude to save humanity, I won’t act on such unfounded claim, as I don’t.

    I repeat, I am not calling for the government to blanket ban all religions, but I would definitely expect a responsible government to curb the influence of these unfounded beliefs on our society. To give a simple example, the government must ask people to prove that this Shankar god actually exists or that Ram was actually born before demanding government land in their names.

    I agree with you that Hinduism cannot be defined as a religion, at least theoretically, but we cannot ignore the many problems it has caused, and continues to cause, as a religion!

    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | June 15, 2010

  119. @ Ashish: My final comment on this topic (on this thread). We can continue the discussion here.

    You say, “And when I am conditioned right from the start to believe that a blue-colored, three-eyed man with a snake wrapped around his neck sits on the summit of a Himalayan mountain”

    I am guessing you are hinting at Shaiva-Bhaktas and Bhagwaan Shiv. First, I doubt someone actually “conditioned” you…and two, there are probably twice as many as you (at least) who have been conditioned into believing that some person walked on water and another was able to communicate directly with *God*. What do you have to say on that? Oh, by the way, in certain situations, you might also be killed for saying out loud that you believe you have been conditioned.

    ..on the basis of this belief, I am moved and organized in a group to demand government land (even by violent means)” Are you talking about the land for Amarnath Yatris? If so, let us have this discussion over on the appropriate thread.

    “I strongly believe that the government must protect, among other freedoms, the freedom of the most impressionable minds.” So you want me to hand my child over to the government? And pray how do you ensure that the government itself does not corrupt or influence?

    “To give a simple example, the government must ask people to prove that this Shankar god actually exists or that Ram was actually born before demanding government land in their names.”

    1] Do please read up on the historicity of ShriRam and Shri Krishna 2] Let me emphasise that the “Historicity” of the founders of Islam or Christianity does not make the faith more credible or the grievances more legitimate.

    Finally, you say that “we cannot ignore the many problems it (Hinduism) has caused, and continues to cause, as a religion!” Pl be precise…and IF you really want to discuss this aspect (of problems), post your response on the other thread mentioned above – not here.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 18, 2010

  120. Will carry the religion-related discussion on the link you provided. Although these issues overlap, I will try to keep the comment on this post strictly to politics.

    I was in school when the babri mosque was demolished. I saw the pictures on TV and felt extreme joy and pride to see it come down. I was also absolutely thrilled about the riots that ensued. A school-going kid!

    Of course I don’t propose that people hand over their children to the government. Teaching them morality is hardly a government’s job. But what the government could and should have done is prevent such potentially hazardous events from happening in the first place and come down heavily on those who try to cause disorder. Such people should not be allowed to carry out their acts in the name of freedom of assembly.

    And when you prevent such events and assemblies from taking place, you automatically limit the individual’s active participation in such acts and consequent “radicalisation”.

    Think of religions as trade unions and the Ayodhya event as strikes and lock-downs. A liberal government should do with religions what Thatcher-Regan did with trade unions :) Period!

    Having said that, I am not against individual belief insomuch as I am not against employee satisfaction! But an employee’s pursuit of happiness is very different from a trade union taking an entire organisation hostage.

    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | June 19, 2010

  121. =>
    “I strongly believe that the government must protect, among other freedoms, the freedom of the most impressionable minds.”

    Ashish, and on what basis will you decide that a mind is “most impressionable”? Are there any tests out there, or quantifiable parameters? Will this test be given to all people in India? How about the bureaucracy that will entail? How will you trust the person or people who are given that responsibility to discern an “impressionable” mind from a “non-impressionable” mind? What if a mistake is made?

    Look, hindsight is 20-20. We all are “impressionable” as we act based on what we currently know and believe, and based on self-reflection, we can take corrective measures or make adjustments as we go forward. But I doubt that we can reach a stage where we can say, “OK, I’m not impressionable at all.”

    Aren’t you impressionable? After all, very likely, reading Rand left a strong impression on you and your words reflect that.

    Comment by Kaffir | June 19, 2010

  122. @Kaffir, by “impressionable minds”, I was simply referring to young children whose critical thinking faculties haven’t yet fully developed. So if you tell them that Santa Klaus exists, they’ll happily believe you!

    Of course, the primary responsibility to protect them lies with their parents and teachers but I think the government could play an interventionist role if it sees that these children are being systematically brainwashed.

    I guess by Rand you are referring to Ayn Rand. I don’t know how you’ve reached the conclusion that Ayn Rand has anything to do with my world view! But if you must know, yes I’ve read Ayn Rand and a few hundred other books in my life so far. I hope you don’t see glimpses of “Gone with the wind” in my writing too 😀


    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | June 19, 2010

  123. @Ashish: “I think the government could play an interventionist role if it sees that these children are being systematically brainwashed”

    Would Madrasas fall in this category?

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 20, 2010

  124. @Shantanu – Madrasas symbolize systematic brainwash. They’ve been allowed to run for far too long under the name of religious freedom. They should be the first ones to go!

    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | June 20, 2010

  125. How far we are from our goal of 1500 leaders that we want before we are ready to contest the election?


    Comment by NDS Kaushal | August 18, 2010

  126. Dear Mr Sanjeev,

    A good initiative, but don’t you feel that you are asking for the moon. Politics is if anything the art of compromise. You are looking for veritable Sri Ram’s and 1500 of them. They should have high moral integrity, not take credit, not be corrupt, should believe in a particular strand of liberalism, have a specific idea on the phrase socialist, secular, democratic, republic. Phew, and you want to contest a majority of the seats for the LS. Most of these 1500 will be through a process of self selection, be quite similar to you. What connect will they have to the grass-roots, to the villages and with the tier IV and III cities. Though the increasing urbanisation might give you an advantage.

    Also what happens when you do get some traction, or more probably the looks of gaining some traction. You trying to say that you will not enter into coalition with any party that you don’t approve of. What about your grass-root workers, what happens if a local strong-man wishes to enter your party or organisation, entailing significant advantage in the region. I presume you won’t accept his help as he is the variety you are fighting against.

    Further what happens when you go against some local or regional lobbies or interest groups. What happens when your carefully selected and groomed candidates are threatened, or worse bodily harmed. There is a reason that politics is not an average man’s game. It requires a special mentality, the process of acquiring which itself changes the person.

    I believe that your ideas and effort is noteworthy, but the presentation if not the core seems awfully unprepared. Why this rush to capture the Delhi ‘Takht’. How about trying to get some wins and thereby experience through local corporator elections, or a slightly more challenging panchayat elections. You arguments and your initiative would be greatly helped if you you can show that you have actually wrestled with the pigs in the mud and come out clean.

    Arguing with us arm-chair social workers and assorted bloggers is ultimately a waste of time. Time which is better spent working out your campaign. We neither influence nor hold influence over the electorate.


    Comment by Mike | June 25, 2012

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.