Transcribe your podcast

The world is a complex place, perhaps too complex for us to understand in its entirety as a species, we cope by telling ourselves stories about the world so that we can explain it to ourselves. That's how religion came about. In fact, in an age before science, we needed to explain the baffling natural phenomena around us. Where does the sun come from? SunGard. What explains Thunder? Thunder God. Religions, of course, kept evolving and with time, rationalism and science played a part in building truer narratives.


A journey of discovery we are still on now. I often say that we draw up pictures of the world by joining dots. The more dots we have, the better the resolution, the clearer our picture. And what are these dots? At one level, these dots are knowledge. Every data point about the world helps us understand it better. Unless, of course, we are getting those data points from news television. But as much as information, we also need to build frames of reference through which we look at the world and we need multiple frames because any one frame on its own will be simplistic.


Now I know people who have one hammer for every nail, one lens through which they look at the world. But the intellectuals I respect are those who have humility about how little they know, how little they understand and who are trying to learn something new every day. One way of doing this is by reading a lot. But quantity of reading is not enough quality matters. You also need to be able to read across disciplines so you can think out of the box on any one issue.


Bringing multiple frames of reference into play. You can bring insights from psychology into economics or insights from probability theory to create strategy. And ideally, you need to not just gather knowledge this way and sharpen your vision, but it would help if you are a bloody good writer as well so you can communicate your ideas to the world. Brothers and Sisters of the scene in The Unseen. Let me present to you Raguse Angela, allegedly.


Welcome to the Scene and The Unseen, our weekly podcast on economics, politics and behavioral science. Please welcome your host of Vardaman. Welcome to the scene in The Unseen. A year and a half ago, I subscribe to a newsletter anticipating the unintended at public policy substract dot by my good friend Blencoe Destinee. Now, if Bernie is listening to this, I don't want to embarrass him. But please, I'll simply say that he's one of my favorite thinkers in the whole damn world.


And his newsletter was Kick Ass until its 21st edition when he brought in a co-writer. Now, typically, you'd expect the curator of such a fine thinker to dilute the quality of the newsletter altogether. Anticipating the unintended became even more kick ass braininess curator was a gentleman named Raguse Angelil directly. And I swear to you, the first time I read him, my jaw just dropped. Who is this guy? Why have I not heard of him before? Ragus writing on politics and economics blew my mind and everything he wrote was so thought-Provoking.


He came across as so much more well-read than I was and got so many fascinating perspectives to bear on everything that he wrote about. Even on the rare occasions that I disagreed with him, my thinking was sharpened by having to articulate their disagreement to myself. So I have finally gotten him on the scene and the unseen. Today's episode covers a lot of ground, from politics to economics to Bollywood. I conceived this episode to be a ramble through a series of themes that I found interesting, which Raghu had written about.


I'm sure you'll find a lot here that is stimulating and thought provoking. Now, before we begin, three quick notes. One, Raguse and allegedly is a pseudonym and we are maintaining that identity for this show. I do know who he really is, but I have never met him. He's based in Singapore right now and I had not heard of him until I read his writings. The second note before you start listening, my online course, The Art of Curating, has now opened registrations for the March batch.


It consists of four webinars over for Saturday's classes start on March 6th. So register now at India, uncute dot com slash glia writing. And finally, my third note inspired by Raguse. And geologically, I will now start writing my newsletter regularly at least once a week, if not twice. So please head on over to India on Gadot substract dot com to subscribe. It's free. And hey, if Twitter ever gets banned in India, then you can still follow me with all my writings and podcasts coming straight to your inbox.


That's right. Only to your inbox. And now finally for our conversation. But first, let's take a quick commercial break.


One of the things I worked on in recent years is on getting my reading habit together. This involves making time to read books, but it also means reading long form articles and essays. There's a world of knowledge available through the Internet. But the big question we all face is how do we navigate this knowledge? Who will be our guide to all the awesome writing out there? Well, a couple of friends of mine run this awesome company called New Compounds at Secure Compounds dot com, which aims to help people apply themselves constantly to stay relevant for the future.


A few months ago, I signed up for one of the programs called The Daily Reader. Every day for six months, they sent me a long form article to read. The subjects covered went from machine learning to mythology to mental models to even marmelade. This helped me build a habit of reading. At the end of every day, I understood the world a little better than I had before. Many listeners of the scene and the unseen asked me, Hey, how can I build my reading habit?


How can I apply? Will my brain when I have an answer for you, head on over to Seedco Compounds and check out The Daily Reader as well as their other activities, which will help you up level your future self. The next batch starts on Saturday, March 13th, and they have already done fifteen batches before this. What's more, you'll get a discount of a whopping rupee's 2500 Gwenny 500. If you use a discount code unsign. This is for both the Daily Reader and Future Stack.


Another exciting program to have Soheir head on over to take your compounds at Citigroup compounds dotcom and use the code.


Unsign up level yourself. Welcome to the scene in The Unseen, thank you. That's a pleasure. So tell me a little bit about, you know, your name because your name comes from Bollywood. You're an American fan. And in a sense, Bollywood informs you and gives you an interesting frame through which you look at so many issues in your newsletter. So who is this Rahul? And logically or you know, where does the name come from?


The name that comes from two American films. In 1991, American actor in a film called The In Montani, where his character was named Raghu Jaitley. This was a, you know, are Indian version of it happened one night, the Frank Capra classic. My husband has either copied films, are made films on his own life multiple times or so. But Ahmed's name was Getlin and right in the next year in 92, Mantzoukas made it out. He's under the Americans name was Angela.


So I sort of, you know, blended the two in to create rebels ideologically.


You know, in your newsletter, you talk about how you were an 80s kid growing up in Bollywood. At one point you say go for the real capitalist minded young boy. Growing up in the 80s, Hindi films presented to viable career options, a smuggler or an industrialist. Stop, go. And of course, you want to go for the smuggler part of it. But tell me a little bit about what kind of a kid were you growing up in the 80s?


I get the Bollywood obsession because we had nothing else, right? We didn't have the Internet. We had television which would, you know, one state owned channel which would, you know, paucity of great programs. What do you do for entertainment? I mean, you know, Indian should not be judged for being so passionate and almost obsessive about Bollywood and cricket, because what else was there that for my generation, young people today should find other things as well.


So tell me a little bit about that landscape. What is it growing up in the 80s?


Like I told, you know, I met a lot of your guests, actually shared a very similar kind of background. And that's possibly your background. That's my background. I grew up in a really small town. At the heart of it was a public sector unit, a factory. My father was a mid-level supervisor there. And really there were three things that, you know, sort of my life revolved around at that point in time outside of school.


So the first one was, you know, TV and radio. That was the window to the world outside, even if TV was just a single channel, sort of a thing. But, you know, we got a lot out of it. Then what today's people get out of television, same with radio. The other one was Hindi films. So in some sense, Indians was connected to the rest of India. I mean, I never went to a metropolis till I was twenty three.


But, you know, I, I had my own views about how a Bombay looks like and what people do involving qualities of Bombay and things of that kind. So so that was second and third, you know, the state for all its greatness and made sure that we had a good library. So really these three were the things that on with my life revolved. Of course, they were open playgrounds and I played a lot. I'm keeping that aside.


But these three were in some sense, you know, a lot to my intellectual curiosity in some sense. And I was and I am a very, very curious child. And I would still call myself a curious child because there is nothing that I don't read up and there is nothing that I don't feel, you know, more inquisitive about. I have continued that particular passion right from the time I was a kid.


You know, one team that I sometimes touch upon is that, you know, when we were growing up, there were so few sources of information and knowledge. Right. So whatever we could get hold of, you read voraciously. And therefore, the reading was not confined to any particular genre or whatever, because we didn't have a choice. We read whatever you get, and I sometimes contrast that with today's kids growing up, maybe GenZE, which essentially can access anything, listen to any song at any point in time, read any book.


But the flipside of that, it strikes me, is that it is often remarked that, you know, young people of today don't have that deep sense of history, which is why, you know, you for example, you see communism making a comeback and it's become fashionable to be a communist again, which after you know, the horrors of the 20th century, just blows my mind. And one theory that's been put forward for that is that, listen, in this modern world of hyperconnected social media, where there is so much new content being generated every day, perhaps more content as it were generated in one day than it would have happened 10 years before in any 10 year span before the Internet or possibly much longer than that, that people are all the time consuming when they take a knowledge for granted.


It's always there at the fingertips. You can Google or Wikipedia and to what they are consuming is saying. Actually, very often stuff that was produced in the last three or four days, it's transient stuff. It is coming and going. It is floating. And therefore that sense of history is not there. And therefore, these, you know, one can form these ideological tribes on the basis of sort of all kinds of ideas, which, you know, if you had the slightest knowledge of history, you know, you would not quite do so.


I've kind of rambled, so I won't elaborate on that. But what's your sense of this? Like, you know, I don't want to point to you and I being good readers and all of that, because I think even in our generation, we were obviously outliers. I keep seeing in every generation it's the same small sliver of people who are readers and who are who satisfy their curiosity. But to that extent. But what do you make of all of this, the sort of, you know, history ceasing to matter and all these narratives coming all the time, the transient nature of the information that we take in?


Yeah, I think so. I mean, it's a fairly interesting point that you raise. You know, there is a certain level of shallowness which pervades, you know, every sphere these days and especially the intellectual discourse. And that's because, you know, people are very keen on getting something in platforms, forms and, you know, in listicle and getting to know about it and going ahead and, you know, making a point or, you know, informing their worldview.


I think there is a space for curated content. By experts. Which brings balance and perspective, and I think that we have reached that stage where, you know, gradually this is, you know, this the thought of choices that you have now for all kinds of information. I mean, it's reaching a point where people are starting to feel that there is no sense to this. I think, you know, for instance, the Ashgar Monk, you know, who started persuasion, I think that's in some sense a reaction to this, a whole host of newsletters.


I mean, of which, you know, whatever little sort of fame I have got because of what you've known me is an attempt to actually do something like that, to actually take a topic, you know, view it not just from today's immediate lens, but ask yourself whether, you know, there is history behind something of this kind, I mean, which will allow you to understand how similar things have actually happened in the past. And, you know, like I said, you know, we are there is eternal recurrence.


It's getting a, you know, eternal series of cycles. And it is true. And as I have discovered while writing this newsletter, every modern event has an echo of it, some sometime in the past that somebody has talked about that kind of thing, even somebody has written about it. And therefore, I believe that, you know, just having a transient view of a particular subject, you know, forming a very strong view about it is absolutely the wrong way to go.


And people can go deeper, must go deeper if you really want to actually affect it. If you truly believe that you should affect the things, the shallow views actually won't help. You will need to go deeper. So and I can give you multiple examples of it. I mean, you know, I was just going through this insurrection at the Capitol Hill, right. I mean, what you try to do there and my thought immediately went to the first of the storming of the parliament that happened in 16, 42.


Not that I'm a history nerd of that kind. But listen, I mean, I've read history. I like you. As I've figured out, I was also of dubious merit, but I went all around the world trying my luck with business. But then you realize that, you know, I have 16, 42, somebody tried to storm the parliament in England and various things happened and there was somebody called Thomas Hobbs at that point in time who was sort of observing this from Paris.


And, you know, whole political philosophy starts off from there because of that single storming of the parliament. So, you know, there are things for people to actually go deeper and make sense of what's happening around them today.


So, you know, a number of different stearn's, which I'm going to touch upon, the first kind of observation I'm going to make is that, yeah, of course, I agree with you that, you know, there are cycles and history doesn't repeat at least rhymes, as someone said. But account of you that comes from what Jonathan here to tell me when he sort of spoke about, you know, how there is, for example, imagine an equilibrium of the laws of physics.


Everything is as it is. And that is why the world exists. And gravity is exactly, you know, this is a force. And, you know, it's almost as if the perfect conditions for us existing as we are, does. And then suddenly one of those constant changes completely say the law of gravity changes completely, you know, which would obviously change the world completely, change our lives completely, you know, depending on how much gravity changed by whether we would exist or not.


And his point is that social media changed something fundamental around the year 2007, 2008. And, you know, very briefly, for the benefit of the listeners, the thesis is that as the Twitters repeat button and like button and Facebook's share button, essentially with the instant gratification or validation that they brought, the two things. One is they made the discourse much shallower because of the nature of the form, and B, they made it far more performative, where simultaneously you lose depth because you are restricted to 140 characters, to 80 characters.


And secondly, you are getting validated for everything you see. And therefore that validation becomes a question itself. And there is even a notion that it is this kind of need to constantly be performative that has led to, you know, all kinds of mental health problems as well, where, you know, in America, who speaks about how, you know, teenage girls instead of interacting with each other in a normal person to person social with their social lives, have been taken over by social media, over its brand management.


They're having to do all the time, which, you know, has its consequences. So my sort of question here is that, you know, don't you think that in this exacerbation of these human traits, as it were, which is what social media has led to, it amplifies everything about us, both the good and the bad. That can be a problem. And, too, do you think that this form of discourse matters like, you know, it's a strong thesis of mine that whatever form you choose to write in will shape your content and therefore it will shape your character that you for example, if I do try your podcasts, I am delving deeply and having deeper conversations and thinking more deeply about the subjects.


And that shapes me as well. Whereas if I was doing like five minute nuggets and I was asking shallow questions and I had to cater to the lowest common denominator as news television did, that will shape my concern, shape the discourse and shape me as well. So form can change, content can change people. Your thoughts on this?


So on the first point, which you mentioned about, you know, history repeating sometimes actually being a discontinuity. Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think there are events in history that are black phones and there are things that happen in history which are clear discontinuities. And in some sense, I would agree. I mean, Gutenberg's press was a discontinuity for sure. And, you know, we saw what happened because of that. I mean, protest and movement could not have started as Martin Luther, everything that he wanted to spread around because of Gutenberg's printing press and therefore the protest movement and the Protestant work ethic and everything followed from there.


In some ways, this this ability to connect socially in a manner where you could have, you know, a million people listen to what you have to say and your soundbite is a discontinuity. So I wouldn't say that some platforms of the kind that we see today on Twitter and Facebook are in any way sort of a repeat of a previous pattern, except for the fact that something like this has happened five or six years back, but in a very different way and from now.


You know, those platforms do change how we actually have the discourse, because, you know, you are right, if you have to have, you know, a space of 140 or 280 characters, you will choose a form of communication that suits that medium. And you're right. And you each writing you you know, and you teach people about this that you will have to fit your writing to the medium and you have to both optimize for the reader as well as what, you know, the font that you're writing.


So in that sense, I completely agree with you. Even in my case, you know, I do a lot of corporate writing, and if you ever see my corporate writing, you will like, listen, what is this? Why are you writing this in this manner? This is clearly written to obfuscate. And my simple I would plead guilty because that's the whole point of writing. That particular note is to obfuscate is to have, you know, plausible deniability.


One went down the line is to sometimes say something which you don't often intend to say in indirect forms. So there is a form that, you know, that actually changes and alters the way you want to communicate. And I fully understand and appreciate that. Even some other instance of my own, I used to dabble in stand up comedy. I've been about six, seven years back and it had become a bit of a passion for, you know, three wise monkeys or wherever.


I used to be hanging around. And at that time I was in public for some time and I realized that people are just absolute geniuses, you know, to to be able to do the amount of content, the weight, the you know, the sarcasm in a in a three minute is just amazing. I mean, later, you wouldn't even remember what was the joke. But at that point in time, for three minutes, they were just fantastic.


When you contrast that with, you know, thousands of pages of yes, minister, any prime minister, you know, it's very different. But both give you, at least to me, both give the same level of, you know, humor and enjoy. So I agree with you on. Yeah.


And interesting. I didn't realize there was also a stand up comedian. We discover new things every day.


That amount of knowledge had to come and use some knowledge.


OK, so we spoke about discontinuities and we spoke about history repeating, rhyming. And I want to go to one aspect in which it seems like we have seen all this before and that, you know, there's a book Walter Lippmann wrote called Public Opinion without naming the first chapter or something like The World as it is in the picture in our heads, where he points out the difference, the impossibility of ever knowing the real world because it's so complex. If I remember that first chapter starts out with the story about how after World War One ended, you know, even after it had ended four days, five days later, fighting was going on in some places and people were dying because the news hadn't reached them.


So, you know, effectively, the World War One had ended, but it hadn't kind of ended everywhere in a manner of speaking. And that sort of dichotomy between the real world as it is, which is complex and unknowable and the world that we construct individually in our heads, that's a feature of the modern time as well with narrative controllers, everything now in, you know, one of your newsletter editions, you spoke about demand and supply and politics and ideas, where at one point when you were talking about the newsletter, you wrote, quote, The focus of this newsletter is to make public policy accessible to the public, not to claim we often make around here there are think tanks and public policy specialists to advise those who are in power.


We are at the other end of the pipe trying to influence the demand side of the market of democracy. The hope is that and an enlightened public will demand better from the representatives. Once a pattern of demand changes, supply will adjust itself. Stop quote. And you referred to the Lipmann versus Dewey debates as an example of the wisdom of doing this or the futility of doing this. Tell me a little bit more about your thinking behind this and why you are more on the East Side and Lipman's.


Yeah, so I think firstly, you know, there are two ways of influencing public policy. Like you just quoted what I had written there, and a lot of the focus of the think tanks actually is on the is on on focusing on the supply side of the equation of our viewers. You can do that thing on the demand side. It takes time and it requires a lot of effort. We are over a hundred additions down and we will continue.


And my small hope is that even if thousand people, you know, change their opinion, I would not say gene therapy could be informed better. You know, that's success because I really don't think I have the ability or the access to actually change the opinion of a lawmaker or someone who actually makes the public policy. But coming back to the Lipmann, the debates and, you know, in some sense, it was at the back of my mind when I spoke to Pranay about this, and they wanted me to start writing as well, because I came at it with the same view that we should influence the demand side of the equation.


But let's go back to Lichtman. And in the end, the debate. You know, it's a fascinating book that it's a great book. And what Lipmann says is that, you know, when democracy and he takes the American example and he says that when, you know, just when democracy was, you know, the American state was founded, most of the people who came representing their, you know, their provinces or their constituencies, they knew their people really well because these were agrarian sort of setup's people came from they had very clear idea about what the people wanted.


And the people also had very limited sort of views about what they wanted. Right. I mean, their world was just the village and the farming that the cattle kept. And this is an early 20th century. Lipmann had already reached the conclusion that this original thesis no longer holds. Because people have come in, the cities have come up, people are so different, they are doing different kinds of occupation. And so his view was that firstly, people do not have a full picture of what the world around them is like, that they are only seeing, you know, some some narrow sort of through their windows that seeing a part of the world.


And because they are seeing a part of the world to have to depend on them, to have a full view of what kind of quality, what they want, what kind of laws, what they want is almost futile. And because they carry this picture in their mind, you know, people can be, you know, narratives can be built around those images that they carry in their mind. And those narratives then can be used and is used by politicians to actually win elections.


And Lipman was worried that this is a fatal flaw of democracy. And so for him, the idea was that, listen, there has to be an intervention of experts and experts have to come in. Experts have to actually intermediate between this, you know, masses of people who actually found the, you know, the electorate and who actually elect people. And, you know, the experts have to in some sense, you know, filter the requirements and the needs of these people and in some sense mediate between the lawmakers and the public.


And, you know, just that idea is not is revolting to that somebody should come in as a set of expert. But Lipman was very convincing in this.


And, you know, the idea that we all have an imagined world in which, you know, around in our minds and it's very powerful and it's true also of Dovi who actually, you know, was admired, Lipman and he said this is I mean, as a concept, it's great. But his argument was we should not be giving up this fight. So he's. And his point was, listen, there is something that is the knowledge of the collective.


And the collective often has a view. Which actually, if you sort of you know, if you are able to use it well, is will give you much better results than the view of the experts and will actually lead to much more sustainable teams in the society if you know how to sort of harness it. And therefore, his point was, don't give up on it. And this is like that old, you know, the debate between methodological individualism versus methodological collectivism.


It's like, you know, duck, there is a collective conscience. And that looks to this point was work on this side, make people aware, improve their sense of understanding of what's happening around it and then, you know, harness the collective knowledge and the collective sort of wisdom of the people and then feed it back into the political system by affecting it. And then, you know, I fall on the side and that's like the newsletter is aimed at.


We never address any sort of political or any think tank or any sort of, you know, political party or anything.


Our audience is squarely the people in the outside government, you know, and that resonates with me a lot because I think when I won my last best year praising the prize winning speech, also referred to the same thing about how we need to think about the demand side of the political marketplace, not the supply side, because everyone responds to incentives. Your supply side doesn't give a shit about, you know, what random experts may say. They respond to either the special interest groups who are lobbying them on the one hand or the voters.


So the best way to make change happen is to actually change the mind of people at large, which is also, you know, a larger sort of foundational battle within the Indian Republic, which will come back to later. But my question sort of here is that at some point I felt that this might not be something which you see within the reach of somebody like me and therefore, by extension, someone like you, because we're writing in English and because in India, it's just a narrow sliver of people who will be reading this kind of thing in English.


No, obviously, one can argue and say, listen, history is made by elites after all. So if you can reach enough elites and change their minds, that does make a difference. You know, that's a different kind of influence of policymakers and bureaucrats of tomorrow, perhaps even the politicians of tomorrow. But I'm not sure how far that goes. And do you think it's like last week I did an episode with the venture capitalists, Ajit by who sort of in his mind divided India into India, one India to India, three, where he said India one was about a hundred million people had the book.


I don't come off Mexico and spoke functional English with one sliver of that speaking the kind of English which would allow them to read us and listen to us. And then there are a hundred million people who are in India, too, who are, you know, Blombos and Uber drivers and so on, who basically have the per capita income of the Philippines. And then you have 80 percent of the country in sub-Saharan Africa. And they are, of course, not reading your newsletter or listening to my podcast.


So, you know, if we think BPO, which us sort of the change come from, like, is there a second order thing happening where hopefully somebody who listens to me or reads you, you know, becomes a mass entertainer at some point and those ideas percolate through that way. And I mean, I'm glad that you are optimistic, but what's what's your sense of this?


So, I mean, there are I mean, you make the same methods like the Jakarta Post every week.


Say that words like that. No, no, please. No, no.


I think I see there are I mean, let me give you a few examples of what gives me hope that there are people who send us e-mail saying that, listen, I have just cleared the ASX. Yeah. So. So I like to read your newsletter. I always found it very useful. I mean, so clearly somebody is going somewhere who might be in the position of actually effecting real change because of reading this. And the other one is you wouldn't believe the number of dot edu melodies we have as subscribers is just amazing.


I almost think that every week when I look at the people who are subscribed, I think a third of it is. Do you? So there is clearly interest and these are not, you know, of course, there is the usual, you know, public policy institutions of India from their people, but the number of people that come from, you know, technology institutes, and it's a very, very reassuring and very I mean, it really gives me a lot of pleasure and happiness to see the number of students reading.


So I would tend to believe that there is a second order impact, the second order impact could be people who, you know, even if they don't go into public policy, they just might be, you know, working in a regular corporate world, talking to 10 other people, employing three or four people at their homes, or maybe influencing another five people because of what they do for them. So I I believe that's one way to continue doing this.


Of course, the other way is to start thinking about doing something modern vernacular does that runs a podcast in Hindi, which I think does a lot more than our newsletter in terms of, you know, how many people actually download it. Maybe that's also there is a medium benefit that. But I think I would I would still add on the side of optimism, because that's the right thing to do. You know, I agree with you, and this is really, I think in a sense, a long game and potentially is, of course, also I have actually been on it talking about how you can Hindi, which is possibly the first time anyone has spoken about how you can Hindi.


I've heard that word, by the way, since we are rambling it. And you mentioned that there. Let me tell you, I had no idea about who was right. And I used to read India Uncut. And that is when I realized that a whole lot of economics that I had read and had read, a lot of economics had completely bypassed the Austrian school in India. So there was no mention of my of Hayek or anyone from the Austrian school.


I remember distinctly the, you know, the candle makers plea, which you had written in the Albert and I like. Where is this coming from? I mean, because I was surprised that there is something completely a different sort of school that I have been, you know, not been informed of at all by studying. And I have not been taught economics. I have not taken economics as a part of the curriculum. But I read the textbooks of economics that were prevalent in Indian schools and colleges, and there was never a single mention of any Australian Austrian school economics.


So that also is an interesting sort of a side note. And also, you know, a bit of my gratitude for you to have introduced a whole generation. And that's, again, an important point going back to what you've made to somebody is reading it and somebody 10 years later is writing a newsletter with, you know, who knows what are the implications of things. No, no, in fact, you would you know, your earlier mentioned about the need for someone to curate all the content and all of that which is out there, and I see us in a sense, as curators of ideas.


Like I remember at one point when I was writing in the Iron Curtain for those of my listeners who are too young or who may not be aware and don't go to the blog I wrote between 2003 and 2008, I think in five years I did about 8000 posts. I do five posts to do so. I was incredibly prolific. And then, of course, I moved on to play poker professionally and blogging kind of died because social media disaggregated all its functions.


But I remember receiving a letter from an Iraqi student, I think in New Zealand or somewhere where he said that, please keep doing what you're doing because I don't read any Indian newspapers. I don't read anything every morning. The first thing I do is I go to India and go and see what has posted, because that's what I get a sense of the country from. And that's one of the things that motivated me to post and in the kind of volume that I did over the time that I did, because that was gratifying in and of itself.


And, you know, the candle makers petition, by the way, is Barstow's famous satire against protectionism, which is a letter from a candle maker to the government saying, please ban the sun because my business is being affected, which is quite, you know, wonderful. And you're not responding to your site within a site. That is one reason I'm glad I like you. I didn't study economics in college because, you know, my thinking may have gotten fructify in certain ways and I may not have been open enough to be able to discover Bustelo and the Austrians who came after him, Mrs Hayek and so on.


And of course, once you discover these people and you don't read them, it's like a light bulb goes on in your head. It never kind of goes off again. And kind of flicking that switch is extremely important to me. And speaking of flicking switches, I'm also sort of I want to quote from, you know, another of your newsletters where you've written a bit about yourself, where and this is your holiday tradition. So it's fairly recent or you guys have done a hundred and ten so far at the time of recording.


And here you wrote, quote, I don't remember when I lost my faith in the ability of the state to improve the lives of its people. Perhaps it wasn't an exact moment growing up. The street was all around me. I spent most of my childhood in what used to be called the colony, one of the many that dotted the semi urban Indian landscape. In the eighties, a small industrial township was hardly to the rhythm of the government owned factory.


At the centre of it, my school, my playground, the hospital and even the temple were all run by the state. The state then subsidise a world class higher education program. For me, at the turn of the millennium, I entered the workforce. If you had got me, then I would have bled state. Over the next two decades I lost my faith. Stop could talk to me about this. Why did you lose your faith?


So, I mean, sometimes when you read your and you hear something like that, it's that you are like, OK, what have you written? But but I love that phrase.


If someone had got me, I would have bled state such a beautiful, vivid way of putting it.


So but I think there are a few things when you are on the treadmill. Right. You believe that everything that's happening is happening because of you. Right. And and I was on the treadmill that a lot of Indian kids have gone on before and everything. I checked all the boxes, the right boxes. And for me, all of this was on account of me because I, in my mind was a bit of an underdog, everything, you know, and therefore I thought that was an underdog like me who have done all of this must be me.


And then once they enter the workforce, then, you know, you started earning, but you also until you enter the workforce, you actually you know, when you are growing up, you are seeing very similar people like you. Right. Especially if you grew up in a colony, as it was called, and then you went to college and you saw fairly similar people. And, you know, if you're going to the right colleges and the right schools and things of that kind, you just saw people like you.


In the workplace was the first time when I started seeing a little bit more diversity or whatever it is, what kind of places that I worked. And then, you know, I started hiring, I mean, in large numbers, and then, you know, you started going to other places and and gradually I started realizing that, listen, firstly, this is not all on account of you and just your talent and enterprise. That is a privilege that you born to.


And the realization was not just that there is a privilege that you are born to, but that privilege is of the kind where the state becomes a force multiplier in your life. If you are born in the right place, then the state is, you know, helping you like nobody's business. Right. And whereas as if you are born by the lottery of your birth, if you're in the born at the wrong place, then there is no state there for you to be sort of, you know, for you to get anything.


And I saw this contrast many times over in the you know, just the first decade of my book, and once you sort of like like you were mentioning, you know, the Austrian school, once you have seen it, you can't unsee it, you know, to sort of make a pun on the on your show. And and then I just couldn't see it. It was all around me that, you know, why is this not here?


And I mean, the sense of why is this guy not getting the right education? Why is there no proper hospital here? You know, why doctors are not there, just, you know, 50 kilometers outside of a metropolis. You know, all of those questions started, you know, in some sense gnawing at me. And if you are a bit sort of, I would say deflective, which I am both observant and reflective, then you can continue being on the treadmill and do all the stuff that you have to do in corporate life or wherever you're working.


But this thing keeps coming back to you that, you know, this is a privilege and this is a privilege of a very specific kind where the state actually, you know, was benevolent because of that, you know, because of the privilege that you have. And that's what I wrote in that episode, that in that edition that the state was simultaneously, for me, omnipresent when I was growing up. And then I realized for many people, for a large swath of Indian populous, it was on the absent of never.


And this, you know, simultaneous omnipresence and omnipotent is what you know, really, right. And, you know, why does it have to be this way? I mean, you can do and there is in some sense, there is both these strands of writing, this useless omnipresence of, you know, in a place of the state and where it has to be there. The complete absence of the state.


Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, you know, like I know both of us will agree, the Indian state is simultaneously too small and too large is too small in the sense that it doesn't fulfill its essential functions properly, like the rule of law, which I think for most poor people in this country is absent, if not for almost everybody, in fact. And at the same time, it does too many things which it should not be doing and in many ways is almost predatory and parasitic presence, like I like to say and suitably alliterative.


So let's kind of, you know, now talk a little bit about the state, especially the Indian conception of the state. And again, what I want to do here with you is a conception of the state has something to do with our circumstances at the time that we gained independence, where, again, I'll quote from one of your pieces, which is from the new newsletter, number 28, in fact, where you write, quote, that the newly independent India needed to change wasn't ever in doubt.


The colonial rule had drained it economically. Its society was riven with ancient caste prejudices and practices. The Enlightenment values of liberty, freedom and equality that philosophically underpin the Western democracies were difficult to root in the Indian intellectual or social context. Democracy with equal rights to all citizens was therefore an audacious gamble. But we chose that radical, and all that remained was what means we should adopt to change India. And here, of course, as you go on to point out that there were people who said that, you know, the state needs to change society in a Top-Down way.


And Nehru and Ambedkar were for that. And there were others like Gandhi, Sharma, Prasad, Mukherjee, Kripalani, who said that, no, you go to change society first, otherwise it's not going to work. And in hindsight, though, I think, you know, one could have come at this from the first principles which we both hold were, you know, Top-Down interventions don't necessarily work. It could be argued that, you know, the Top-Down vision was flawed.


I mean, I have often asked and I think in one of your newsletters, you cited it as well, that eternal question of was our Constitution a liberal document imposed on an illiberal society? And if so, how can the imposition be liberal? So I've asked that question to so many people. Might be you're not actually interested in your answer as well. But tell me a little bit about this. After answering this question, tell me a little bit about this tussle at the founding moment of our republic and how that led to the conception of the state that we have.


So I'm at the you know, there are sort of two kind of lenses to take on this. And one of the Benedict Andersens, you know, imagine community, you know, idea of a nation. And, you know, Anderson says that when a new nation is formed, they have, you know, these three things that they should really be doing. One is they should be showing that this is in some sense a break from continuity, what we are doing right.


And that continuity is important because it's important that you show that there is something new that is getting one second, especially for those, you know, I would call it notion of a country which actually had some history. You have to still show some continuum. You are still going. And this is not just something, a complete new conception. So often the European states used a reawakening, kind of a construct for this, which is the second one that you have to show that it is break, but it is in some sense a reawaken.


And then you have to bring historians. To construct this sort of story, which sort of fits all our past events into this sort of, you know, this kind of ideas, and I ramble a little bit. So just give me a minute. I'll come to your point. So that's one way of looking at it, and I think we followed it to the tee, we said this is you know, I mean, this is absolutely a new thing.


The like said in the, you know, trust with destiny. He actually used in the because when the whole world is asleep in the weekend and therefore, you know, there was an absolute sort of right that he uses exact words that I just mentioned. And then the historians, which is what we complain about of a certain kind, went back and created all of these, I would say, created all this, served that narrative. I think a lot of the narrative is possibly true as well.


But maybe there were a few places where they sort of went a little overboard in order to make sure that this is a bit of a continuity. And that's where all of this, you know, whether people is a freedom fighter, you know, whether it is real or not. You know, you could argue cows come home, but that was how it was done. Now, there is a very important line that Anderson makes that he says that and I'm paraphrasing here, that the you know, the modern concept of this nation has to contend.


I mean, it is that the historians view of this modern concept of the nation has to contend with the, you know, the notion of the antiquity that is there in the minds of the society. But this is what is happening there. That is a modern concept of this nation, which historians are trying to sort of not create a budget, has to contend with the you know, the the deeply held belief that this is a more ancient, you know, sort of a land than than what it was.


And that is all, you know, that is the fault line. If you were to ask me, right, how much should we have gone, you know, on this spectrum? And I think in that sense, a lot of people, other people have also mentioned, I think the assassination of Mark Morganti was a very, very pivotal sort of a, you know, thing in this entire thing, because then he was dead. I think there was a strong force that maintained some amount of, you know, you know, got a lot of both political as well as moral force on the other side that we need to maintain a certain sense of continuity.


And the idea that this is an anticline that, as you know, Nehru and unbeatable coming at it very differently, Nehru coming at it from his Fabián Socialist background and whatever he had seen and, you know, in Europe and the Enlightenment values and things of that kind, his view was that, listen, this if you go into the society. You realize that this society stands no chance in terms of modernizing. Because it is so riven with so many prejudices and so many, you know, is that it is not possible.


And Umberger, nobody needs to tell a bit about that. He knew it if he felt it from within. He had seen it from both of them. This was a clear opportunity for the state to effect social revolution like. And I think the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi really, really put that other sort of movement totally, because in some sense, when Gandhi said that Congress had to be dismantled, which often to really get in lockstep, as they were saying that this Congress is a bad Congress or whatever his idea was, that, listen, we have not completed the task of independence or we have completed the task of getting over the colonial rule.


But it would be an absolute disaster if you just replace one set of colonial masters without changing anything dramatically within the society and replace it with another state, which exactly takes over the entire apparatus and continues to do the same thing with a different name. Right.


But that assassination and then what happened is whether we are the true guardians, they had to make a choice. Some of them like replanning. You know, I thought about having all these guys, you know, went into the sort of the Gandhian way into the villages and tried to do some, you know, not known, but whatever Sagada and things of that kind. Whereas the others were like, listen, we have to, you know, we have to be where the state is and we'll try and do this particular thing.


And I think. I think they're that, you know, that balance or whatever, I mean, that adequate, rigorous debate at that point in time that we missed because two titans. And Ambedkar report on the site meant that we in some sense thought that we will get over this problem and that, you know, if the state continues for a period of 50 years of running its agenda of social revolution from outside, we will never again, you know, need to I think we'll get over that hump and then the society will change.


But like now, we are discovering it doesn't dent down centrally planned things just don't happen. That and this is it again and again. This is that all Rousseau and you know, a whole lot of these guys who believed in society as a sort of, you know, everything starts. I think, again, you you can ask that question whether I mean, these guys are right and which is what one of my point is that, you know, metrological individualism is good in economics.


But when you have to run the state, you have to bring collectivism into it, not as a notion of economic sort of means, but definitely as a collectivism in the sense of how you think the society can be just a top down idea that someone like that, you know, and then the, you know, school curriculum and everything to say this is what we are. But when the guy comes back home, his parents say this is not what we.


Right. You go study in school. All of us are equal. There is no casteism. And then you come back home. And exactly the opposite is happening at your home. And it's happening, you know, with divided having the pictures of Nehru and I mean, that sort of dissonance we lived with and those chickens have come home to roost. Yeah.


And, you know, it sort of strikes me that, you know, now when we look back with the benefit of hindsight, the sort of top down strategic thinking that came from that where it failed is obvious in the domain of economics, where it is pretty much seen. And I think there is consensus and I didn't feel totally and kept in the pool for many decades. But where it is not so evident is in terms of social change, because you don't know counterfactuals and there can be arguments made that we would have been worse off if not for this and so on and so forth.


But a lot of this is sort of striking because that fear of replacing one set of rulers with another is essentially what happened. We took over the entire colonial apparatus that the British left behind. We kept the Indian penal code, which was put in place to govern the natives, as it were. And, you know, I did an episode with the reporter on scene where he spoke about the First Amendment to our Constitution. And when you read it, you realize that, you know, you spoke of Naruse Enlightenment.


Values with Nehru is incredibly illiberal in that. And Shumba Prasad Mukherjee comes across as a great liberal in that, you know, today we speak about all these activists arrested under the sedition law. Listen, the sedition law was made unconstitutional in 1950. Nehru brought it back with the First Amendment. So this is something that, you know, people need to pay attention to that, which is not to necessarily demonize Nehru or, you know, agree with the current dispensation that everything is Nehru's fault.


Nehru was a great man. He did a number of great things. But people contain multitudes. And this shit really went down. And the importance of looking back on it is kind of identifying, you know, instead of identifying individuals as heroes and villains. But to talk about what structures of the state have sort of let us down. And again, you mentioned sort of the project of shaping our history. And I did an episode with Copple community where he spoke about this at length as well, where he spoke about how you had all these historians sort of presenting a particular vision of history, you know, with noble intent or whatever.


But it backfired because society remembers and what seems to have happened today in a manner of speaking is that, you know, your politics has caught up with society. Society didn't change. Eventually, one society got empowered and it is a politics changed. And that's sort of brought us to where we are.


You also had, you know, an interesting financial ramble a little bit and ask you a question. So you mentioned that, you know, did we fail or not as part of NATO's sort of social agenda and the idea of what his social sort of use of, you know, everything that we spoke about. And your point was we don't know what the counterfactual say. One way to sort of argue about this is how did others make this transition right?


So if I were to sort of put this point on this this sort of, you know, hypothesis that, for instance, the transition of the English. From, you know, agrarian, traditional feudal society into a modern state, you know, how did the social change happen there? And somewhere maybe. I don't know. What's your view about this? But this whole thing about the Protestant movement and, you know, coming along with what Locke was saying at that point of time about inalienable rights, about the primacy of the individual Protestantism, saying that was the the God will only.


You know, be happy with you because it's already predestined, you know, and that's the big sort of message of Calvinism, but then what do you do? I mean, what is the moral sort of thing that you wish to or that you have to follow, that everything is predestined and then the idea of it lock and others brought into play?


Well, listen, it is predestined, but if you do well in your life and you succeed and that success is God's sign, that your predestination is good, you know, some kind of a notion. And that's how the society these sort of took the idea of individual liberty and things of that strongly is that I mean, what's your view on this? I mean, did that happen through organic social process rather than a Top-Down process?


And and did we just not have we have just missed that boat altogether or that bus altogether because there is no reconciliation between some of our, you know, really core held beliefs versus what political philosophy we want actually to espouse for a country like us.


Yeah, that's a difficult question for me to answer.


I mean, first of all, in the context of England, I simply don't know English history well enough to be able to comment on that with any degree of knowledge. So I don't want to wing it. But just sort of speculating on the core question within that. If you believe in certain values, if you believe in Lockean values, as see, I do and I'm sure you do as well, where, you know, the individual rights really matter and are at the center of everything.


And we'll speak later about the roles and debate. But they would both have agreed on the central point as well, that then the question comes up is that say you are in the position of your founders in 1947. What are you doing? You can't just leave it to society and whatever. What are you doing? So my tendency there would be is to have a barebones framework which protects negative rights in the sense that protects the right to life, which is against coercion, which sort of tries to respect the consent of the citizens and treat them as citizens and not as objects, but beyond that, not try to do deeper social transformation, because I think social engineering can have unintended consequences which may not work out.


What's your response?


The idea that somebody gets the same notion of Adam Smith in social science, right. How can you imagine that you will know the preferences of millions of people and doing millions of transactions every day, you know, to be able to then arrive at this plan and think that this is how I do things and listen, economic transactions, you can still believe that there is rationality and that you can still take some, you know, solace that maybe in the economic sphere, people are rational people.


It's they're not rational. I mean, they do not act rationally for sure in as because, you know, it's your children, your friends or relatives do that the people that are involved. So and, you know, you had mentioned Jonathan right at the beginning of the episode. And I I find that's one of the reasons why I find it very, very interesting to read, because actually what you know, Taylor or Candyman and risky debt of it economics, I actually did that with the social science.


He said, yeah, it's not so rational because you know how you decide on things and how you arrive at social development. You know, that's why he then came out with this whole idea that it's the social intuition that actually drives a lot of judgment rather than some rational way of thinking about it. And I think I link it back to that. You know, that famous Hyde article called The Emotional Dog and the Irrational Fear. And the idea is that the tail doesn't wag the dog, the dog like the tail.


And, you know, it's the you, the writer on the elephant metaphor that the writer thinks is controlling the elephant the writer has. No, the elephant is just going to say the right thing. Hopefully they will both align in terms of where they'll get that going. So, I mean, some of these things are like, you know, in that sense intuitive that you should not attempt some of these things either at a macro, you know, large programmatic level, sitting somewhere in the center and planning for it down the line that this is how we change the society.


Fairly dangerous. I mean, that's where we eventually get into totalitarian instincts.


Yeah, no, I mean question. That is, where do you draw the line? For example, someone could easily ask a counter question that, hey, what about something like the right? You can't say let society sort it out. Obviously, you know, the state needs to sort it out before women are burned. And which is why I would say that I would draw the line at protecting negative rights, protect individuals, protect their, you know, the right to life, the right to speech, all of that, you know, remove all coercion.


But beyond that, how far do you want to go to? I mean, do you even have the capacity to solve social ills? If you could solve social ills, I would say you must. But then the point is, you know, that is, again, what Hayek would have called a fatal conceit of the state to imagine that it can do everything from the center. Do you even have the capacity to solve for it anymore? And in fact, that's the same kind of thought that I'll come to later when we talk about sort of digital colonialism, as it were, and the power of, you know, Twitter, Facebook and all of these people and people, you know, often put forward regulation as a solution for all of these guys.


And I'm not certain social problems can be so easily solved through state coercion, but will kind of come to that a little later. You know, and you mentioned here and you've written about him in your second newsletter. And this sentence from that struck me as very interesting. So before we get back to the street and sort of ask you about this as well, where you write, quote, Regardless of how we define political access in India, left versus right, liberal versus conservative status versus free market to eat side arrives at the ideology based on what they believe is morally right for the society.


What is the basis for our inherent self-righteousness and why does it differ among people? Stop. Good. And then you talk about, you know, hate saying that we reach a moral judgment based on our intuitions, which are shaped by, you know, moral and cultural factors and all of that. And I'm reminded here of, you know, before we go on to talking about hate, one lovely book I'd like to recommend to my listeners. It's called The Three Languages of Politics by Articling, where Rocklin writes about and he's writing in an American context and he's seeing that a lot of political discourse becomes people talking past each other and not to each other because their priorities are different.


So he talks about how progressives will come at everything from first principles of equality. Libertarians will come at everything from the first principle of freedom, and conservatives will come at everything from the first principle of tradition. And they're all coherent and logical when they come from that first principle. So you could have two people who are having a completely coherent, logical conversation with each other, but it's not really with each other because they're starting from different. And if you really want to have dialogue, you have to address the other person's concerns and then talk on the basis of that, otherwise it's just pointless.


It's just noise. It'll just echo chambers, which is something that, of course, social media exacerbates. And it has a sort of similar point where he talks about the very foundations of morality and how liberals only sort of take two of them into account. How do you sort of place all this in a context of India? Like what sort of the bedrock of our moral instincts, so to say, and where does it become a problem for or see no particular idea of India, which is the liberal inclusive idea of India that privileges individual rights?


It's a difficult one. Let's take an example and then try and see if maybe we can take two and two sort of very different ones. And let's try and see if I can make any sense of this. Sometimes, like you say, when you write, you really deeply think about the topics that you talk, then you are not. I mean, you have to be really, really good, a really fast thinker to be able to talk with the same level of clarity as you can write.


And maybe it's never possible. At least it's difficult for me. But let's take this. So, for instance, let's take this real example. We had a whole lot of articles come out in the recent past Oxfam report and stuff that, you know, has made a whole lot of money during the pandemic. And, you know, poor people, you know, given short shrift. And some, you know, if Jeff Bezos just distributed the wealth that he made during the pandemic, he would eat Amazon workers would get 80000 dollars.


Right now, let's understand this from this ideal framework. So in India, because of maybe the last 70 years of whatever we have been trained and maybe before that is well, we view a few things. I mean, that these are the social intuitions. And one of them is that, you know, too much of it is that they have some, you know, belief in moderation and not feeling very tough and things of that good. And also the belief that, you know, people should be somewhat equal.


And and that's the general humanitarian sort of, you know, instinct that, you know, people should not be dying of hunger right now. You get to trigger events. You know, you get one event that, you know, all these immigrants have walked all the way back and they're not getting jobs and things of that kind. And you get this sort of triggering event that, you know, the top three billionaires in India have added so much of it during this day.


Now, your social inclusion immediately. This informs her judgment is was this is wrong? You know, how is the how are these guys making all this money and so many people are, you know, suffering and because of the intuition that they already have, you made the judgment. And then after that, now you are a guy, you are driving a car like you had a good life during the pandemic. But it doesn't strike you that, you know.


What are you saying? It's the same thing for that guy. He's not going up and done something illegal and without coercion and things of that kind. If there are no Amazon, the lockdown would have been terrible. More people would have died. There was no Amazon, you know, but you wouldn't build a model scaffolding of reasoning around this judgment of yours. Right. And that scaffolding is in India are very, very easy to build. It's you know, we've been trained by our films, books and politicians, speeches, the TV, all kinds of things to say.


That was this is. Now, the problem is what happens is in that framework now, this is sort of, you know, Tucson, you know, whatever, and then reasoning. And and then we make this reasoned persuasion to other people's social persuasion, to other people, we tell these things to others and in all of us sort of gang up and say that this is a bad idea.


And, you know, that's how you get the tell amongst the two things that it's exactly what would happen if you were to be somewhat deeper about.


The topic is what is called private reflection. And, you know, and rational sort of reasoning, you know, the reasoning you use, your judgment should now be informed by the reasoning and those two things don't happen enough and it doesn't happen most in most parts of the world. But one of the problems of our sort of, you know, education system and others is that this private reflection, this idea that we teach you something, you go back and think about it, and then you don't come back and write exactly what I have told you to sort of write.


You write I I'll give you a question. You think about it and then write. These are all sort of, you know, largely missing. So, you know, to your point, I think this this loop which comes back around private reflection or, you know, are a more informed reasoning is a problem. And we don't have that. And you can take the same lens to any other problem. I mean, you can take that lens to, you know, loveseat.


You would find almost the same sort of thing, because there is not enough and there is also not enough discourse in the media in, you know, this talking head debate that we see on TV, there is no where this kind of conversation happening, where three people are deeply, you know, having a conversation about can you think a little deeper that it's not a zero sum game like in that sort of, you know, that kind of thing that it is not about?


You know, that somebody is made money by causing others to tickets, that it is fine, that we need growth for everyone and then we will redistribute. You know, you don't get to that point of conversations. I don't have sort of given you some answer, but something of that kind is just not there anywhere. It's not there in the way we are taught. It's not the way we have grown up to sort of reflect on things. And it's not that all around us today in terms of any of the, you know, public forums that people are debating or discussing issues maybe except a few podcasts, lectures.


There is some time to do the conversation. Yeah, yeah.


You've actually made a couple of separate good points. One is, of course, about pedagogy, where, you know, the way that we are taught, you know, we are not taught to think independently enough, though I'm not sure that that alone is, you know, a sufficient condition for not falling for flawed thinking. And the other part of it is that a lot of this is just counterintuitive stuff. Like obviously I hardly need to say to my listeners that, listen, no one a lot of the wealth that these billionaires gained during the pandemic was national wealth, you know, in the stocks or whatever.


It doesn't really translate to really good money. And the other point is that, you know, in a free market, the only way that you make money is by making somebody better off. You know, it's a positive sum game. If all these people made so much money without strict coercion being there, it means they made that many people better off. And like you said, in different ways, perhaps more people would have died if that didn't happen.


I'm not saying all of the wealth gains are necessarily true. You know, legit free market ways and positive some games. You know, we don't know what kind of cronyism there might have been at the back of that, but a significant chunk of that. And certainly, you know, Jeff Bezos is worth going up is clearly because, you know, Amazon was so incredibly essential during this time and resources, one of the sort of the great visionaries and heroes of our time.


And to demonize him the way some people do is kind of absurd. And, you know, before we take a break on the show, let's take a Bollywood break. You have you know, we were discussing this sort of conflict between state society and markets. You know, the balance between them. And you've written eloquently in your newsletters about how markets were always out because we associated markets with what the East India Company had done to us with colonialism and all that.


Also the fashion of the times when the Soviet Union seemed to be doing well and was admired by Nehru was that kind of Fabian socialism. So markets were demonized anyway, and it came down to society and the state. And obviously the way it panned out, the state took the sort of the bigger role. But there was a film in the 1940s where we are supra, which sort of shows that battle playing out and comes down on the side of society.


So tell me a little bit about that.


So this is a 57 film, a lot of the great films of the 50s Beyaz operas Nadol. And now the Means New Age headline, Dilip Kumar and Identity Milang, along with the WHO played his friend, who later turns up for an absolutely fantastic turn by a guy called Jevin, whose idea of an act in the 70s and 60s hit another as a villain. Now, you know, I have always been fascinated by this movie for various reasons. One is this movie is often quoted, as, you know, the movie that truly Representative Nehru's view of what India was like.


And my view was either you haven't read Nehru or you haven't seen this because this cannot be about me and the people. You know, as great as I think Mignot is, I even wrote his autobiography. He also alludes to because he's his biography of the locomotive. I'm not, you know, misremembering it. I think it's about it's called Nehru's hero or something like that. I mean, you know, it's he believed that I was a complete manifestation of the, you know, the Negin sort of liberal image.


Now in this film At the Heart. And the film starts with a bit of Vitton, one of the newsletters that I have written and actually put that could have taken a screen grab of that. Now, the at the heart of this film is that there is a small village. There is a temple in the village, which is very famous. So and there are governors and the diplomat and his friend are both Dongara. And, you know, people come from different places to visit the village because of the temple.


And the local economy largely is built on this, you know, this particular temple and the business around it, apart from the fact that there are farmers and things of that kind. Now, the there is a guy in the village like the local moneylender, and at the beginning he goes off to Kashmir and, you know, leaving behind his sort of money lending business to his son, who's dealer that even is shown actually as a ruling elite. He studied in the city, had college education, and he says that isn't for this village to actually develop.


We need a bus to come into the village. More business is a complete narracan. No idea. There is a society. You know, these are all in sort of an ideal of farmers. And I don't know what to doing in witness the guy who the bustle. Now, obviously, this is modernity versus traditionalism. So these tables, you can bring the bus because our business will be impacted. And, you know, I mean, had the access of debate been on the other side, it was fine.


But the definition to have other, you know, unfortunate habits and vices for you to completely not believe in whatever you think. But then what? I mean, eventually there is a fight between and out because of the girl. And then I did go into the enemy camp and the and the climax of the film is that, you know, the there is a race between the bus and the Tonga. So this is very similar to the kind of thing.


And the point is, whoever wins the race, they will continue as the primary mode of transport. The other guy will have to go. And, you know, there is a bridge that has to be for the Tonga to actually beat the but not to have any chance of beating the bus. And so what happens is then, you know, all kinds of things. And there are great songs in the film, Dub Dub, three or four speak.


I mean, you know, and, you know, that famous song that's in that building that, you know, the bridge. So and in the climax, the horse and the man, you know, beat the bus that, you know, all kinds of hijinx of, you know, actually putting his body on the line to keep the bridge from falling down. And, you know, so this is different. And my point is this. This is actually I mean, this is a complete indictment of the Peruvian idea that I will be compelled to vote in India and to help bring more certainty to the village.


This is Gandhi. This is what will happen. People will have to decide for themselves if they believe that on the computer, they will build their own computer and they are ready for the bus. There'll be ready for that. But in fact, that's what he ends the film with. Actually, the film has a dialogue of the. I think we we are not saying we are against modernity, but it has to be on our terms and we are ready for it.


So it's a fascinating film that captures the debate of that time. But I think the that's the most misunderstood film, if you ask me. Yeah.


I'm not totally going to get that. And I get the sentiment about someone who sees that it. Presents Peruvian thinking, as you do not understand Peruvian thinking or hasn't seen the film cueca site, by the way, since me, and tell me what you think about this, because I seem to be in a little bit of a minority here as far as this particular equable is concerned, that when people talk about these three prongs of straight society and market, and I don't think they are three, I think in a sense they are two, because the way I look at it is that on the one hand, you have all the reaction within society and the market is one of the forms that it takes.


And on the other hand, you have the coercive hand of the state. And and, yes, that can sometimes involve controlling a market as well. But ideally, the way you and I think of free markets, for example, it would all be voluntary action and therefore a part of society itself and that, you know, therefore morally virtuous to begin with for that reason, that it is voluntary and there is no coercion involved. Like I like to keep saying that, you know, that two people should be free to engage with each other in any way they deem fit if they are not harming anyone else, whether it is in the bedroom or the marketplace, and because they are both positive some games.


And the irony is that, you know what, the reaction in one domain is frowned upon by one kind of ideology and by the other in the other domain, which is going to end. And in India, perhaps, you know, both domains is frowned upon. So what's your sense of this, that this distinction of street market society where Toomy Market is just a mechanism for voluntary action and therefore is a subset of society?


At the root of the problem right now is that I mean, we are disagreeing on everything. It's like a budget movies.


Yes, it's true that Zacharie already seems to have any difference of opinion. I just hope that the audience or the listeners are not getting tired of this, but I think many of them will disagree.


So it is this new things to think about. Right. So and I didn't know if you would agree with me because no one else seems to.


So I'm hoping that they they're finding things interesting, despite some fairly strong overlaps in terms of some of our. But, you know, the reason why I would agree with you. Apart from just intuitively what you're saying is absolutely right. Let's think of people who sort of wrote about many, like Adam Smith. Was Adam Smith writing about Mockett when he was writing theory of sort of Moral Sentiments? Now he was writing about society. I mean, he was like saying, well, what should society be doing things?


And, you know, we have gleaned the idea of an invisible hand for the market from that. Is of sort of, you know, what we are extracting out of it and we are making this artificial sort of distinction there, but a lot of these folks, whether it is Adam Smith or, you know, whether it is higher or even more of these guys are not writing economics or text or market based text. David's is writing, you know, society, class struggle, you know, power and things of that kind of what is moral about this.


So I would agree with you that that this distinction is a bit artificial at the heart of it. You know, and when you go back into some of the prototypes for some of these things, they're all, you know, fairly they just look at society and they just view society and the interactions that people are doing. And and, you know, economics and market is as one sort of blond's or whatever one one element of the Fed. First off.


And on that note of agreement. Let's take a quick commercial break. Hopefully we'll find things to disagree about after this is over. So we'll see you on the other side of the break. Have you always wanted to be a writer, but never quite gotten down to it? Well, I'd love to help you. One of the great joys of this lockdown for me was discovering how much I enjoyed teaching what I've learned over the years and my online course.


The art of writing is now open for registration in the schools through four webinars spread over four weekends. I shared all I know about the craft and practice of writing. There are many exercises, much interaction. And over the ten months that I have taught discourse, a lively writing community has formed itself the coast rupees 10000 plus GST, or about 150 dollars, and the March classes begin on March 6th. So if you're interested, Perowne over to register at Indian card dot com slash clear writing.


That's India and figlia writing. Being a good writer doesn't require God given talent, just a willingness to work hard and a clear idea of what you need to do to refine your skills. I can help you.


Welcome back to the scene in the CNN, chatting with Ragus Angela, allegedly co author of the brilliant newsletter, Anticipating the unintended and I'm not sure of you, dear listeners anticipated the unintended, which is that I will now start the second half of by disagreeing with something that Raghu said before the break, though in a gentle way, where he referred to Dilip Kumar being called a Nehru's hero. And Roku's opinion was right. No, Dellacqua Kumar was not Rosero, but maybe not in this film.


But in general, you have written about Dilip Kumar, you know, elsewhere and spoken about how he almost embodied the concept of, as you know, the classic example being the famous early 80s film Shakti, where he is the honest police officer who ends up shooting his own son, played by Amitabh Bachchan, because he is doing his duty. And this, in a sense, would qualify him to be Nehru's hero for the specific reason that Nehru's conception of the state and the conception of some of the other founders who believed in the right decision was, listen, it's true, we are giving the state a lot of power, but it'll be exercised by good people who will do the right thing in general.


And of course, you and I know that, listen, power always corrupts and you know, that's never quite going to be the case. So tell me a little bit about sort of this concept of a Farzan command and, you know, and where you went on with this narrative and you wrote about it in your newsletter.


So this is a point that I was sort of wondering about when I was writing that newsletter. The thing that sort of triggered that was, you know, I just started finding and this has happened over the last four or five years, that people that we often gave a lot of, you know, we had a lot of admiration for in society, the success of the, you know, the ISI officers and things of that kind. I started noticing that a strange sort of illiberal gastrique was, you know, starting to become prominent in many of their, you know, public statements, deadman's and things of that nature.


And I was wondering what is the reason for this? And, you know, through some kind of convoluted logic, I reached the conclusion that there was a time when firstly, the people who came into many of these positions, whether you like it or not, were possibly of a certain part of society, which had a very different kind of education cetera for them. And then they were exposed to very different things than the ordinary. Now, that was not necessarily a great thing, because people have to come from the real India in order to solve the problems of India.


But for the moment, let's assume that these are people who came from these places and you know that many times they also appreciated within. And then what happened was the the state, through its various forms and machinery and everything, consistently give them the incentive to do the thing that the state was sort of, you know, using the Constitution for in terms of, you know, effecting social revolution. And you saw that all around. So you would find a very pious man.


And I know many sort of pious judges extremely by is extremely religious. But then they would give judgments, you know, which would sometimes make you question, you know, I mean, they would really give judgments where their personal sort of, you know, convictions never got in the way of making those judgments of, you know, getting statements in the press and things of that kind. And this is fascinating to me. And and, you know, this movie, something where the was the father was a good sort of an example of where the guy, you know, does what has to be done.


Some of it is some of it is also an overlay of the thing that the state has, you know, completely trained this person as you just have to follow what we have told you, because that's the right thing in the interest of the society. And and I then started, you know, noticing that what is happening of late and again, this has nothing to do with the specific government, but to the point that we made earlier, you know, that other sort of, you know, experiment, if you might, also of trying to change the society from the top down, is playing completely at the edges.


And therefore, you know, the state has also figured this out and they are also pandering to that sort of, you know, that kind of instinct within the society. And now all of these are in sync. You know, the state also is OK with people, you know, giving vent to their original or whatever, their real thoughts that some of those thoughts we might believe I liberal, are different from what the Constitution or what we thought of some of these positions have to possibly take in terms of stand.


And that's, you know, so the incentive now has changed. That's flipped. And you know that if it does, then we will get to see more of this kind. You'll get to see more of the kind of judgment that somebody will say that, you know, if the if you are molesting someone and the woman still has their clothes on, that's not molestation. So the judgment of a couple of months back or that other one where a woman's people cannot be, you know, cannot be construed as no.


So I think somewhere that's really what sort of animated my thought at that point in time. And, you know, that was a good vehicle to use as an example of what used to happen in the past and contrasted with what where we are today.


Yeah, and I take a quick aside, because you mentioned the feeble no judgment and that gets my blood boiling. And that was obviously in the case of Mahmoud Faruqi, who was first convicted of rape, and then he was acquitted by a higher court, which basically said he had done what he had done. And the woman had said no. But it said a feeble law can sometimes mean a yes. And it acquitted him on this basis. And it's incredible how so many hypocritical liberals, so to say, have immediately rehabilitated him, like the, you know, partial you did in the case of the Ron Paul and all of that were, you know, on the day that we are recording, in fact, the 20 30 were scheduled to perform today at the jail at first.


And I just want to say in no unequivocal terms that the organizers of the public first made this decision, you know, should be ashamed of themselves. It's a slap on the face of all women. It's a message to all the women of the public first that, you know, doesn't mean a no. It's just disgraceful. But I'm sorry to this sort of a side of anger apart, because it really gets me going. And I had an episode also on, you know, how the laws are so weighted against women in India that from the show and also I think it was with homogeny, Hodierne was one of the guests.


But you know, the reason I asked you about to get back to our topic before I get carried away, the reason I asked you about the commodifies and check the in that particular edition of the newsletter, which was additional and which I link, is that I think it makes an incredibly profound point, which, you know, made me think about this whole issue in a different way.


So I'm going to go to a little bit at length because I think it'll be of great interest to my listeners, where you talk about how one got the foundational premise of modern India is that the state is ontologically prior to the society stockwood. And then you write, quote, This created an unstable, yet desirable equilibrium in India. The state was founded on values of equality, redistribution, secularism, fairness and social welfare to society from where agents were drawn, hadn't fully accepted and internalized these values.


So you had free market economists are drafting socialist policies or an enlightened district magistrate who preached social equality at work but practice discrimination at home? Stockwood and obviously. Following their incentives, because there is nothing else to do, the state is the map, as it were. Now you talk about how liberalisation changed this and what happened when liberalization hit, where you write, quote, The free market incentives aren't the same as that of the state. It rewards efficiency and value creation for the middle class.


Now, there was no need to live there. Dichotomous life. Their parents lead of having a professional code that was different from the personal code. Liberals are often surprised or well-educated professionals working for him, and this turned out to be bigots. The answer is simple. The state couldn't change the society as it had expected. And once the incentives stopped mattering to the citizens, the mosque dropped. Stop. Good. And you later go on to talk about how the democratic mandate has now changed.


And you go on to write, quote, You can argue the democratic mandate now is for the idea that society is ontologically prior to the state stockwood, which is all of which is kind of fascinating to me and obviously doesn't mean that, you know, I think both of us would agree liberalization was largely, you know, drastically for the better. But with the state not being the only source of sort of obedience and adherence and, you know, people were empowered in many different ways, which is always a good thing.


But one of those ways was to express their bigotry and to rail against values which they might have felt were imposed upon them in sort of the national debate. So let's kind of go back to more sort of I'm very curious as to what Lenz's you apply to look at all of this in a historical sense that I find I can understand that in an economic sense.


I find this is all the thinking you've done out of it that forms a lens in the political philosophy sense that happens. But in a historical sense, when you look at phenomena like this happening, you know, this sort of tussle between the state and the society going from one to the other, you know, can you look? Because I am really only familiar of this dusoulier an intimate terms in an Indian context. But looking outside are the lessons that we can take from elsewhere in the world.


And is it something that is, you know, bound to go in particular directions or what are your thoughts on this?


So this will be some really random ramble because this is again the point of trying to frame this while speaking sometimes is a bit difficult. But let me take a shot at it. I think firstly it this ontologically prior, whether it's data, this is I think it's a deep thought of why not at that I'm making people have made it. I think there is a view which is that the state cannot be ontologically. Which is it, because I think it is always there.


What are you trying to do by putting their pathologically predatory right? And in some sense, you know, Hobbs and others were almost like, you know, the it's like a big bang. I mean, this is how it comes together in the Covenant. And then, you know, they start forming the sovereign and, you know, whatever. But since you lost the historical context, I think in India, even till 1947, it was very clear that the state had very limited things to do with the society.


I mean, the the English did something about it, largely because, you know, the Enlightenment values were so strong that they just could not believe that they will lord over people and not bring that enlightenment value to the. But even then, the idea that what you did at your home, how you conducted your social life there was very limited sort of interference from the state and it all went just prior to the colonialism, the colonial era, then the state had nothing to do with how you live your life.


Right. And this is actually how India has sort of, you know, lived for a long period of time, that the 1947 was a huge aberration. So, you know, the the even in stride, you know, when they were writing, you never found that they were writing about anything with the king's duty extended to changing the lives of the subjects in how their leader. And, you know, if you have sort of gone through some written histories, often quite poor, but if you just read a little bit of the, you know, band director and, you know, there's more to classic library has actually helped a lot.


And I would recommend people to read a few somewhat dense prose. I mean, you would throw the book at writing because that's not even the translations are so dense. But the one thing that you would notice there is the absolute divorce of the state from this is the only thing they were interested in was actually some tax collection and going to war and things of that kind and some very broad civil laws, criminal laws all around, you know, theft and robbery and, you know, all of that.


And but if you take and that's true of India now, if this is true of most feudal societies and I can England and we can even take the United States and maybe let's take United States for a moment. The United States example, the American example was that, you know, were all these folks who had come home, you know, one leg was still in the England and they would often go back and forth at Washington and all of that.


They're the you know, the idea that. What we are doing as a society was completely driven by the religion. The idea that we have to pay taxes was an idea that was an assault on their individual liberty from a Lockean perspective, and they fought against it and then they created a state. Now, when the created that steered. Then they ask the questions, what should be the I mean, how should we create the state, what should be the ways we should think about it?


The entire constitution is written not from the perspective of what we should do for the society, but just how we should make sure that we avoid the trauma that we went through, where the state was starting to do things that are, you know, completely unjustified. Now, over a period of time, that constitutional document has been interpreted for all kinds of social know issues, but that was not the original purpose of that particular document. England doesn't have a written constitution, but broadly it's the same sort of a construct.


They didn't write it. The idea of creating some kind of a parliament and some kind of a constitution, which is not written but understood, is just the idea of making sure that the king is under the parliament and the parliament is sovereign and takes decisions on many of these things, but not anything about this right now. Over a period of time, the things, you know, you would ask whether gay rights are right or not. And then he would go back to Constitution and then he would say that, listen, since they are saying everybody is equal or something of that kind, therefore, in pursuit of liberty and life and happiness is right.


And therefore, these guys also must be given the same thing. But that's the reason for some of the systems in the society, because the one section of the society feels this is not the reason. This is not how the Constitution was originally written. And, you know, this whole business of trying to pack the Supreme Court in the US with your people, having a lot of conservatives use this idea called originalism or whatever, the idea that what is the original purpose of point of how it was written?


And they use it to actually say that it is not written for civil rights, but it was written for a very different sort of a reason. You can't be using that to sort of start sorting out some of the current social policies, dissolve that in that sense. So I think large democracies have used your state as a as a very sort of a, you know, limited instrument to make sure that we we run in a certain way rather than actually go out and find society on the back of it.


Fair enough.


Another sort of question that then comes up looking at what is happening now, where if you are looking at the world through, see those sort of classical liberal perspective that I'm guessing we shared, which makes us inevitably agree on so many things, it would seem that in some ways we are going backwards. Like, you know, Martin Luther King, of course, had said that the arc of history always bends in a particular direction. But and, you know, when Fukuyama spoke about the end of history, it was almost as if, you know, liberal values have won, democracies have won.


You know, there's a certain set of values which is now accepted. And all of those all the strife and conflict is behind us. And yet you've written recently about, you know, why that end of history never came. This was in, you know, 1899, where you refer to a book that I just picked up, but I haven't read yet. But you would even know about it called the light that failed, but even reference Steven Holmes.


So tell me a little bit about, you know, what really happened. And obviously, Fukuyama is misinterpreted. He didn't it wasn't like, you know, he was saying that we wanted to avoid it wasn't that kind of complacent to whatever his point was much subtler than that. But but clearly, even there, you know, there were issues in across the world. We see authoritarianism on the rise, statism on the rise. Instead of getting more globalized, world is getting more insular in different ways at the level of how states behave with each other.


So give me a sense of what has happened, what's going wrong, and why are we to believe that this is that, you know, that what King said about the arc of history was just not true. So I think I mean, I let you make a very important point, very few people get the idea that the you know, the fact that Fukuyama didn't mean in the history, people interpreted what the poor fellow was trying to say and his spent rest of his life defending whatever, clarifying what he was saying was that the idea that a liberal democratic order is the final sort of frontier is established.


Now, you might want some people will go up to them. Some people will regress. He had no sort of illusions about that. Everybody will eventually reach that or we have already reached his point as it is now established. Then there was a confrontation between this order versus the government, whatever the communist totalitarian, whatever you might call it, that this order is defined, not the other one. Now, you might want to you know, on that scale, you might want to go from zero to 10 and back again to zero zero to.


Now, what is the reason for what happened, at least according to this book and, you know, some of it sort of resonated with some of the earlier editions as well that I've written. And this is a bit of a, you know, a subject that sort of has been in my mind. And there are multiple different ways I've come to this point and various reasons. I think one thing that these guys make a very important point is that they call it cheap imitation.


Right, and that is to say that you came to this, you know, you you concluded that liberal democratic order is the final one and then too many other places, and especially the take Eastern and Central European countries that came out of the Soviet bloc and then adopted some of these forms of government there. There was no real sort of grassroots, you know, sort of understanding of these things and, you know, grassroot, you know, sort of intellectual tradition which actually built this.


It was like something was transplanted into this country then I would say not very different from what happened in India. I mean, maybe we just went through a deeper struggle, a longer struggle, which allowed us to sort of have way more legitimacy for people who were transplanting these ideas into India. But there were like some WorldBank guys would come and sit in a conference room. Two guys would come from the Brookings Institute, and then they would start writing the Constitution, along with a couple of people who studied in Cambridge.


And a lot of these guys were are all educated in, you know, Oxford or Cambridge, one of those places. So so this deep imitation is one part of the problem that you just copied some. And sometimes the entire constitution is largely sort of, you know, copied and pasted into into this. But I think the problem, because you are not you know, people will want to look at their sort of, you know, their intellectual traditions, their history, you know, their customs, and ask whether this is in some ways consistent with, you know, what we are actually now going to follow.


So that didn't happen. It's somewhat similar to just you know, you had Alex Tabarrok and satirising Gopalan episode on public policy that our problem was we were doing some cheap imitation of, you know, a lot of stuff that we should not be doing if we are way behind on the economic sort of, you know, cycle to the start taking some maternity leave and some environmental issues. Right. Right now, as the know public policy framework for ourselves, it's a similar thing that took the whole constitution.


Forget about taking a few policies and imitating them. The second was there is a Democratic strength there. Right. Which is a lot of people who could get out of those countries got. And in some cities in India, this is also true, having a lot of people who could get out, got out and once they went out, they were then forming their own. You know, racial groups know all kinds of things from there and trying to influence and those who remained back, they were just getting more and more xenophobic because they were now starting to become a minority in the same country.


And in many of these places, there is a real fear that, you know, what is our original sort of identity is going to get run over because of immigration and things of that. And then and then they see that you are now forming, you know, coming to us with a form of government where these guys of this wave of emotions, they will become citizens and they will vote. And then, you know, then what will happen?


This is again, some of these things also animate our policy at this point in time. So that's second. And then the third issue, I think, is also the fact that there was a sort of liberal triumphalism about Guy. Right. And, you know, then there is no further sort of reflection that, you know, what we need to do, what is the next set of agenda? And then the GFC happened, the global financial crisis happened, which I mean, it's in fact, I think is much larger than what people are still, you know, have still written about and thought about.


I think, you know, all of this, you know, in some form or the other, this populist movement, Trump and, you know, the the Tea Party movement and whatever has happened to the American conservatives and the American right. And what is happening in many of these is a belief that that liberalism eventually showed is that old thing of, you know, socializing losses and, you know, privatizing profits and, you know, letting people get away.


You know, after they having done this, I think that in print is very, very strong in many parts of the world. And there is therefore a backlash which is continuing. And I think when you combine social media and a whole lot of other things along with it, it's just, you know, created I mean, it just formed a very different sort of an, you know, movement, which I think is a genuine threat to liberals.


And I think more than I would say even the Cold War threat to liberalism.


Yeah, and the sort of the interesting thing about the GFC also is that, number one, I think there was a misdiagnosis that a lot of the problems that why that failure happened have to do with statism or linked to a great essay by Lawrence White in My Señores about all the sort of the distortions which kind of led to that. And also we saw, you know what, I would not really consider I would call free markets like, you know, Bilinga, like you said, you're socializing losses, privatizing profits, bailing out companies which are failing is just, you know, creates moral hazard.


Then you bail out the company today for feeling tomorrow. You're giving an incentive to people to take great risks knowing that there is no cost to them for doing so. They'll be bailed out. And, you know, which doesn't make any sense at all. I think it's an it's a fundamental tenet of free markets that companies that fail should be allowed to fail. And that's another thing that sort of distresses me. And I know you've written about this as well, is that markets get a bad rap because people confuse what is good for business with what is good for markets.


Like I saw someone on Twitter use the phrase pro-business and free market in the same sentence. And I was just thinking to myself that these are opposite things. These are completely opposite things. What is good for big businesses are bad for people in general because you know, what is good for them is that if you sort of prevent competition to them, you protect their markets, you create entry barriers. That's not what is good for consumers. So inevitably, big business will always speak out against free markets.


But this sort of fundamental notion people don't get, so they look at like a scrawniest system like we've had over so many decades in India. And we look at the bad aspects of that with state coercion is helping companies, you know, make money or whatever. And the assumption will be that all, look, markets are bad, but these are not markets. This is not voluntary action. This is a coercive and of the state. But that's kind of a little bit of a ramble.


Let's come to economics later.


But one point. Sure. Yeah, good. Yeah.


You know, like you you run this writing course for a lot now, maybe eight months.


The tenth cohort is going on. They skipped a month in between.


Right. And then you're doing a podcasting thing and you're doing a tick tock.


I suggest to course you have time that you must do.


Well, I mean, you know, just this course on economic reasoning, just because I mean, both the you have the right as well as your ability to sort of, you know, demystify some of these things and in a nice and patient manner. I think what I see so many people, otherwise well-intentioned, can argue things and just slip down this path of not being able to think through. And the second one, since you are a poker player, this is I've been thinking for some time that I would suggest this to.


On both just probabilistic thinking, bad behavior is like it's a must for almost everyone, I mean, it's otherwise people as with so many wrong conclusion that it's not funny.


Zerega, I got to tell you that you don't know what resonance your words have with me. It's almost like you're reading my mind, like, have you hacked into my brain or something? Because one of the things I'm toying with and I want to do at some point in time is that my sense is that our education system is not flawed just in terms of delivery, but also conception, which is why people who come out of our education system don't even have basic skills.


And these specifically include skills of thinking about the world. So I've been thinking for a while of putting a course together consisting of essential things that I think everyone should learn, taught by me and perhaps others, which include, of course, writing and communication, which include things like financial literacy, which I am not the person to teach, but it's something everyone should know, logical thinking and economic reasoning and probabilistic thinking. So, you know, it's almost like you're sort of you're messing with my brain here, you know.


Have you done a phishing scam on my brain or something?


What I must ask at this point, so, you know, I'll come to economics later and particularly to your father, Scooter, which is a subject of great interest to me. But before we do that, I want to sort of talk a little bit about nationalism, where you made a couple of interesting points. And I want to take off of one of them to ask sort of a broader question. So at one point where you're talking about the idea of India, you wrote, quote, The real dividing line on political thought in India has always been nationalism disputes, one imagination of the Indian nation with the with another, complete with their own imagined past, a lament of the present and a vision for an ideal nation.


Stop quote. And this is obviously the founders idea of India, as it were, and the current idea of India, of the current dispensation. And even there, it's not like any one thing. There are many competing ideas within these ideas. But my larger question is this, that I think that at some level, given that instinctively we are hardwired to be tribalistic, to look at the world in terms of us and the other, would it then be the case that the question just comes down to how do we define the US and how do we define the other?


And you can define it narrowly or broadly. And one of the great sort of political successes of the Hindutva movement, and I'm not praising them, it's success in the way that they have achieved this. It's not a movement that I have anything good to say about. But one of the things that they have successfully done is that they've subsumed a lot of identities within this broad Hindutva identity, which is a remarkable political success like you were years ago. I would have said it's not possible.


We are a country riven by identity politics, divided by identity. But yet they have created this larger banner of Hindutva, which is subsumed. Some of them in one illustration of this is that in both 2014 and 2019, the BJP got more of the Dalit world than anyone else. You know, they were described by a scholar of the Dalit movements in Shanghais book, How the BJP Wins. I forget the name of the scholar in question, but he called them the default Dalit Party of India.


So they've managed this thing where they've subsumed all of these different identities. And now the dominant sort of tribal vision, as it were, in India, is a BJP vision of nationalism. Now, the thing is, if somebody is to see that there are elements of this which are toxic because they do the ordering of Muslims, because it is, you know, so many regressive notions are part of it. If someone has to come up with a competing vision, what is that competing vision based on?


Because they're competing vision, Guinot, you know, you don't have an ideas based nationalism happening that doesn't appeal at a visceral level. You can't build a nationalism around liberalism, for example. I know people think that it's possible, but I'm a little skeptical of that process because people don't have that visceral feeling towards, you know, ideas as they do towards notions of identity. What's what's your response to that?


Right. So I think just going back to that point, I think in that particular religion, if I remember it right, the idea was the Indian state is always a test conservative and also in some sense, you know, socialist, socialist. And therefore, there is no difference among opinion parties on these grounds. So the only access is this notion of idea of India or the nationalist idea. And I think you fear to broaden it, right, to regulate us versus them.


And sometimes it manifests itself in India's nativist. You know, Mumbaikar or whatever made us feel worthless on matters and things of that nature, and then sometimes it manifests itself as nationalist and then there is one strand in India which is internationalist, if not these two guys who are using toolkits these days, as it is alleged. Right. So I think what the success of the current dispensation is, the idea of taking it to the nationalist identity level, subsuming the nativist and the nativist, I'm not saying is only a religion based nativist, just any identity that is, you know, some nationalist.


Now, your question of what is the competing idea at a competing political force that might take this on? I mean, I would rather go the other way. See, there are two things that will happen eventually. One is it's like the columnist mentioned that politics is eventually about friend, enemy and the enemy distinction.


The more agglomerated you make things, you will find that people will look for enemies because, you know, it is in the nature of people to find a competing sort of view and then you will split. And in that sense, that is what happened to Congress. Right. Congress was this sort of a, you know, and whatever, a huge tent or whatever the term was for it. And then, you know, everybody came in and everybody, you know, where under it.


And then that agglomeration then eventually started splitting because there is an idea that we have to have a friend enemy distinction in order to actually do politics. Otherwise, what's the point? I had a feeling that. As opposed to the probability of competing in the upcoming. Over a period of time, maybe because of a lack of personalities of the kind that actually created this agglomeration, which is true of what happened with. The agglomeration will again split. And the people will start looking for competing ideas themselves.


Right. And, you know, then start going and splitting and doing that now, 10 years later, 20, I don't know. I think all of us are underestimating how much it will take. I think it's going to take longer than what people think it might take. But it is going back to that other you know, I like to do this. And just because you brought this up, suddenly, you know, the other person came in.


It's this notion in economics by this economist called Minsky, because the Minsky cycle that I wrote in the heart of the boom is the seed of the bust. Right. And this is what happened in the GFC and the subprime crisis.


So I think the Minsky moment, well, I think it has already happened as you build the and you've already studied it. It's a question of when it grows up, becomes a large tree and then, you know, creates this whole thing. But I think that is what what form would it take?


Would it take a more extreme form? Like the reason I ask is, again, you know, you refer to it in your recent newsletter on, you know, like you won't take over Twitter. And the obvious answer, of course, is network effects. And Twitter already has started space. But apart from that, the two points you mentioned was one that you need in order to fight against for political mobilization. And that is something that an echo chamber won't give you, which is presumably what they mean to me.


But the other interesting point you made, which plays into this, is that you because you always need another, even when you seem to be a homogenous group, you will manufacture it within that homogenous group. And sometimes, like I look at these, you know, right wing Twitter feeds and whatever for my own amusement. And there is already sort of these groupings between them of what they call and writers. And I haven't bothered to look deep into the distinctions with the other guys who says nobody should eat beef.


The coercive hand of the state should prevent anybody from eating what they don't want to basically imposing their values and writers. I don't really know what they're about, but, you know, I think they want to eat beef privately, but otherwise publicly they support Modi. So I don't know what the deal there is. So the question then comes up, is that fine? That, you know, this was this is not how it's always going to be, but does it necessarily evolve in a more extreme direction in the sense that, you know, the Taj meeting, the writers, for example, or Yogya, the dinner to someone even more extreme, becoming the next PM?


And the reason I ask is this, again, comes back to, you know, the change in the gravitational force, as it were, how social media has changed everything that I think social media drives us naturally towards the extremes. There is no moderating influence anymore. There is no middle. The middle is gone. Everyone always has to posture and do what you are signaling to rise within certain groups. And the only way of doing that is by going further away to the extremes.


And you see the same kind of schism in the liberals as well, where people will be berated for being too centrist or too whatever. And it's almost like a bad word.


And you have to go more and more towards the extremes. And so all your incentives are towards being more extreme. And, oh, that makes me worry that perhaps a natural direction for politics is towards the edges, towards the fringes, as it were.


Yesterday's fringe becomes today's mainstream, albeit yesterday's firebrand rabble rouser or yogi becomes, you know, the chief minister of now. Is that a necessary direction or do you feel that that might be countervail either by something that I'm not considering or by the fact that, you know, in general, the future is unknown unknowns. So who knows something good may happen?


Right. So this is a fresh point to consider. Right. So let me sort of, you know, on the fly, give some and please is either, you know, a test of this. Let's take two views of this. One is what happened when the previous agglomerations split in the Congress. They split on a few things, like the split on this sub identity. Sub identity was still there. There was a history and there was a, you know, recidivism or whatever.


It's always there. I mean, people might and it also split on the back of some socialistic flyest, you know, the sort of guys who went away from Libya and then down. I don't thing. And the development things of that. So and but nobody went to sort of the extreme in the sense that nobody became a radical Maoist or a communist. They went in some other direction. So I have a couple of points to make. One, when you are doing this agglomeration, you are again, in some sense doing a top down view of what the common identity is.


And maybe there is a reason today to come together with the top down because you have all kind of imagined or real grievances and other and all of the once you have sort of, you know, sorted some of those things out largely or maybe at least some person. Then will your memory of what you wear? Come back. You know, the you know, well, you remember that you were, you know, during the revolution on the seventh day, Martin was absolutely the hook.


And just because now, you know, some kind of something was told to you and you sort of, you know, left it. And, of course, I want to say is no longer the thing which is kosher at this point in time, but out 10 years later, who knows? I mean, you would suppose that was that. And all it needs is somebody reasonably persuasive. And if you are the grievances that you might have about other things not coming your way for it to, you know, coalesce and start another sort of, you know, splinter splintering of the.


So that is one sort of thought. Second is economic progress. What would it mean that if today we are a two thousand dollar per capita economy and if we become 5000? How much of these things and then you will have further aspirations of growth or if you don't get to fight those? Italy, how would you look at some of these things, you would look at these things as success that actually has created you and you are very happy despite having not enough growth and everything.


And will you be able to continue with that, you know, frame of mind that this is fine or even otherwise? Once you get to the White House, would that make you ask for more? And you will say, why not ten thousand? And then what does it mean for us to do ten thousand? And once you are in that journey, you will realize that you don't market. Is something that brings greed, brings individuals individual. I mean, you know, it is the easiest way to break, you know, a lot of, you know, whatever, you know, some of these firms social beliefs.


So that no, that is another one and I see this in some of these are like a pattern to me in many of these conversations with friends and others. The guy is sort of starting to become more and more, you know, whatever right wing and conservative. But, you know, in the same instance he's posing, I mean, he's very happy that his daughter is wearing a shirt and, you know, sleeveless and he wants her to go somewhere.


These two forces will, you know, come against one another because somebody out there is pushing against this. Right. So today, you might say all of that violent on Facebook, posting things that your wife is wearing sleeveless, which you know, you never know, three years later, some guy will say that is also not allowed. You know, this, I mean, the the thing that once you are done with some first level objectives for which you are agglomerated, the next and the next level of objectives that people might go for might actually bring you into that for me until I have a feeling that's also something that might happen.


I mean, eventually, maybe it's not it's not going to the other sort of extreme. It might actually regress and go back into something which is slightly more, you know, I would say less extreme, more moderate, less people have the memories of those people will continue to see outside and look at the world that is outside of India and what is happening.


You know, that's a great point, that, you know, becoming more extreme means you become more splintered because you keep there are dropoffs at every point or so, you know. And I can certainly see that if this battle between the tribes and the writers accelerates, what are the Beefeaters within the party going to do? What even the meat eaters, for that matter, the other you know, those sort of interesting point here again, comes back to one of the favorite theme of the show, which is incentives, is that, you know, the point that you made about what role does economics play in this?


Because I think that economic incentives are huge. In fact, you know, one of the reasons that there is less of these identity based problems in cities like nothing is solved. But you still see less cost problems in cities as opposed to rural areas where they're completely entrenched is that you have a different set of incentives. Now, you're part of a large economic network. And there are many situations where you cannot afford to discriminate if you are a company in a very competitive marketplace or of by company, I don't mean just a big company, but it could even be a small outfit in a very competitive marketplace.


You are competing for the best workers. You can't afford to discriminate on the basis of what someone's identity is and those economic incentives come into play. And that therefore, I'm just thinking aloud that then there are sort of the incentives coming at you from two kinds of networks. One is your economic network where you want the economic network to be as large as possible because that is most profitable for you and that's where your skills can get scale. But there are the incentives of your social networks, which is also feeding into your economic network and vice versa.


So, yeah, I kind of agree that progress is sort of something that can change these incentives. Again, I do not want to say that this is Benicio or that economic growth will solve all our social problems. Of course it won't. But on the margins, it does change the incentives and make a little bit of a positive difference. And that's kind of something to be noted. And the other thing that comes to mind also is that, you know, in recent episodes I've been using a load on how a lot of this is a battle between the concrete and the abstract, that when we focus on the concrete things in our lives, we are all actually pretty liberal and inclusive, you know, like your friend whose wife may be sleepless or whose daughter may be short.


But when it comes to abstract notions, we get into all these narratives where it's us versus the other and these people are bad.


So you will see that all, you know, Muslims are bad, but if you actually encounter one in person, you'll be perfectly friendly and all that. And this is sort of this bizarre dichotomy that I can't figure out. You know, it's almost like, you know, Hitler being vegetarian or nice guy being a fascist, like, what the hell is going on? You know, why does the abstract have so much to sort of pull over our lives when we behave and when we think of this like this even applies to, for example, classical liberal values.


Like I I see that in our personal lives. You're a libertarian, right? We don't force anybody to do anything. We respect consent. We don't like coercion. You know, if we go to have a meal at a restaurant with our friends, we are not going to force them to eat exactly what we want them to eat. We are not going to force them to pay for us. But when we sort of abstract it out into a larger domain, suddenly consent doesn't matter.


Coercion is fine. And I mean, is this sort of and this dichotomy is kind of disturbing to me. Is it something that you've kind of thought about?


I mean, not in these terms. I mean, there is this dichotomy, which I think exists in many areas, because what happens is when it's concrete, then it's a bit difficult for you to, you know, play that, you know, what's there in your mind out and real action, because there are other things that come into play. The the idea that you've been brought up, that, you know, for a fact that, you know, you can't be bad to a person on his face, abuse him until most of us would not do that.


But in the abstract, I think it's a bit more. You know, you you have these things in your mind which are biases which you keep getting reinforced when you are having a conversation, when you are reading things and things of that kind. Now, I have a feeling that the. For the people who actually act on the abstract views that they have, other abstract notions that they have, there are a few of us who don't make this difference and who act on it did actually get emboldened because of the fact that there are there more people that are actually having these abstract notions, because the idea of having the abstract notions will continue to give a license to people who will actually act in this manner politically besides impacting their lives, because when the splintering, hopefully whenever the splintering happens, might happen that way.


But, yeah, I mean, I really don't know. I think I mean, there are many places where I would say that the same thing applies to me. I have some abstract views about something. I get in front of some somebody. I'm not telling him that, you know what I have in my mind exactly. Not behaving in that manner, which I thought I would behave because I was thinking about it that way. So I think this mind body dualism is essentially said we have a mind and then the body acts differently because they still do it right.


So one sort of final and before we kind of move on, just I again want to clarify that a list may be seen as generalizing too much. Of course, there are exceptions that are abstract concepts which are good and beautiful, like freedom and individual liberty.


And there are concrete actions which people do which are a problem, which is why our world is not a perfect world. People do go out and launch others because they are allegedly, you know, eating the wrong kind of food or dating someone that, you know, the Lincoln would rather have had an opportunity to date instead. So, you know, let's move on to our final political subject before we move on to economics. And and I'm thinking of our prime minister, Narendra Modi, a fascinating character.


And in addition to the three of your newsletter, you wrote, quote, Even his detractors will admit PM Modi is a transformational political leader. He has an appeal to transcends ideological positions on both statism and recognition and Indian polity. His arrival coincided with an important phase in the Indian society that enabled him to shift the ideological position of the medium Indian voter proximate to that of the BJP. This has meant a Modi coalition of voters, which only exists because he has ruled it.


Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to transplant his success as a transformation leader in electoral area to governance. This is a surprise. The meticulous planning and the attention to detail straight Mochis electoral success are conspicuously absent in many of the key decisions he has taken over the years. Good. And I think at one point even I wrote a sort of a column when I think Omniture was made home minister about that, someone who is such a remarkable political strategist, you know, and almost single handedly the architect of BJP great win in 2014 can bring any of those skills to governance.


And I felt he wouldn't I felt it wouldn't happen. And the reason it possibly doesn't happen in Modi's cases simply because of the incentives, you know, in politics and put everything into it, because that is an incentive, the will to power. But when you are in government, the how you govern has actually nothing to do with whether you get re-elected or not. Everything has to do with narrative control, which those guys are pretty good at, though I think they make a lot of mistakes as well, such as, you know, letting their IDL run the narrative on issues where you need sort of a less thuggish kind of thinking, you know, as in the case of the farm bills, where the way they lost the narrative completely, I think, you know, with the way they came down on the protests and painted the protesters as anti nationalism, one could argue that that may work for them in the long run.


But I just felt that there was a more sort of statesmanlike approach they could have taken, though that is perhaps expecting too much of this lot.


So what do you think of Modi when you sort of look at him that at one level such a remarkable politician? And again, by remarkable, I don't mean it in a good or bad way. It's just a fact in terms of what he achieved in politics, in, you know, building this World Bank and the kind of leadership that he has. But on the other hand, you know, in governance, you know, just the opposite. So what do you make of this fascinating figure?


So, I mean, I think all of us agree that in terms of maybe there are only two or three really transformative political leaders that have emerged in the first independent India. And in some ways, I think Modi will eventually power above all of them by the time, you know, what is innings is over. And the question is, you know, what is the legacy going to be the in the long run? And I still hold out some hope.


For a reason, for that reason, because I think that in some sense, he also is aware. Of the fact that. You know, what he has done politically is, you know, almost unbeatable, at least so in so far as he's active in politics. But then, you know, what is the one hundred year view of him? And I think my view is a lot of really good politicians do have this in their minds that, you know, how is history going to judge me?


And I have hope. I mean, there's a lot more optimism speaking. That as more electoral victories pile up and as you sort of finish off all the final frontiers, you know, you're not one Bingol, you might win Bingol and you won some other Southern states. You win those southern states. And it might happen in the next couple of years. But, you know. This question will start animating, at least I hope it starts animating, you know, him and I have a feeling that, again, maybe it is optimism in my mind, but I think there are some, you know, signs of that as maybe the pandemic has precipitated it.


Maybe the time is right now because there is know, absolute decimation of the opposition because, you know, once you have decimated the opposition, then once you have pretty much, you know, one of the sort of electoral battles you have to win. It's natural for someone who has a high achievement orientation, has a sense of, you know, that history should view me in a certain way for them to do something right. So I have that kind of, you know, expectation that this thing might turn a bit differently than what people are thinking that might go.


And some of it is also my hope that, you know, we actually get to see that because that kind of both political capital and the ability to set the narrative. I mean, if the right word, this can be transformational for the country. I mean, you know, I think we should somehow both hope as well as make this effort through various means that, you know, that's the right message and the right sort of politically to sort of fight and defeat I don't think is happening easily.


Sort of sort of if you are an optimist. And the hope is that the right agenda is then picked up. And then you hope that if there are ways to sort of make sure that the right agenda is picked up through whatever means that you can, you know, imply you hope that that is better.


Yeah, a lot to think about in a couple of points, which I'll make to that. And one is that I mean, I don't know if you've heard similar response, but I've heard murmurings from the corridors of power that, you know, there's a bit of a rift forming between Modi and Shah because Modi really cares about his image, especially to foreigners. And he's a little pissed off that so many of the things Shah does with the home ministry is here onwards is hurting his image abroad.


I mean, I don't think Modi really listens to Rihana. Rallies are doing yoga, but those kind of tweets cannot be something that he would not consider avoidable. So, you know, so maybe there's a ray of light there. But then, you know, I look back at the mandate he got in 2014. He could have done pretty much anything then. And what did he do here? Demonetization, which, as I will say for the hundredth time on the show, is the largest assault on property rights in human history.


But my other reaction to what you said was that let us see that he gets all of this. He gets Ritika. I got the mandate. I am the greatest politician I have, you know I am the election overlord or the election Orji, as it were. Now the question is I want to leave a legacy Cheka. But the point is aspiration has to meet ability and ability doesn't just mean governance ability in terms of getting things done, but also includes the vision and the intelligence and the humility to learn.


And, you know, I once wrote a column called The Oncolytic Prime Minister, which was based on an anecdote. A friend of the prime minister told me that she mentioned that once, about 13 years ago or something. She was when he was in Gujarat, she she was at a house at a gathering of 78 people. And Modi started telling them a story about how once his mother was very ill and she was feeling hot, so he went to switch on the fan and then he realized there was no electricity.


And from then on, he decided that, you know, if he ever is in a position of power, he'll do something to get electricity to poor people. And the whole point was that Eskom of Gujarat, he did do that or try to do that, whatever. I mean, I don't know what the facts on the ground are in terms of getting electricity to every village. And my friend's point there was that he his view of the world is very experienced and he's experienced the importance of electricity.


He would have experienced the importance of good roads, whatever he can experience, he can then try to do something about. But now the point is, when you go beyond a certain scale, beyond the scale of a neighborhood or even a village, it's not just about what you experience when you're running a country or a whole bunch of abstract conceptual models and all are important for you to understand. And, you know, one of the ways of getting that is through a lot of reading.


Now, obviously, he didn't have a privileged enough childhood to be someone who read a lot of books and one cannot hold it against him. But otherwise, what a good leader would do is, you know, have a ton of humility, surround himself with people who know these things and and rely on them. And you wrote in that column, in that edition of your newsletter, where you said that a lot of his thinking when it comes to governance is system one thinking, you know, he's going by his intuitions or his folksy wisdom.


And, you know, I can see Dimon would have also come from there. That or calabaza haircare could nicollet the big nauts without realizing that, you know, 85 percent of the currency is whatever. And and this again, brings me to the question of you've also spoken about how experts in the government are like lampposts, where you've said that, you know, the government will use experts like a drunk, uses a lamp post for support and not illumination.


And I have written a column in the past which I learned from the show, notes about how, you know, there are so many well-meaning people who became, in Lenin's phrase, useful idiots for the government that they were. They lend their credibility and their voice because they thought he actually will rise within the government of Egert, some good genes don't or whatever, whatever the intentions were, but they ended up legitimizing a law that was nonsensical, including, you know, things like demonetization, an Internet site.


It strikes me that, you know, you promote culturally tolerant innocence culture. It was also similarly useful idiot for Hitler and in fact was attacked from within. Also in 1936 from within the Nazi Party for, you know, not being sincere enough and being exactly that.


So what's your take on this kind of landscape that we have seen where all the experts who remain are basically, you know, I don't want to use a pejorative on the show and I can't think of anything else when it comes to describing them.


I think there are I mean, let's take the optimistic scenario and then let's take the pessimistic scenario here, I think, for where we are in terms of, you know, economic growth. And I don't think you need a very sharp and deeply felt, a deeply thought, you know, economic sort of decision making instincts. I have have very basic things that we have to get right. And my view on this one is that maybe in the past, you know, some of these ideas of black money, et cetera, were manifesto driven things, then you have to do something about it.


And maybe you chose the wrong one. But I mean, if you just take in fly, you take I agree. You take a few other things, take the decisions here are very apparent for most people. I mean, we are not at the stage where we need economic thinking of the kind that is very nuanced because we have a very sort of nuanced problem to address. So my sense is that it's more a will and a point that I would not take this and to solve it with the simplest of sort of interventions, which I know will still be better than where we are today.


I think that that kind of intervention, I think it's it's good. You know, maybe the narrative building and the consensus and everything around it is not something that happened in the right manner. So that's one optimistic sort of, you know, way of looking at this. And there are some parallels here, right? I mean, you take Reagan. Reagan was not I would hazard a guess that, you know, not necessarily a guy who's to read a lot, I know for a fact that I you know, and I read an interview with one of his guys who was his press secretary or something, just to watch a movie every Friday evening with Nancy Reagan at the White House.


And I think that that was what he used to do very regularly, but I don't think he read a lot. Now, you might argue that he had maybe, you know, a Milton Friedman and, you know, there are Friedman sort of, you know, whatever like back which supported the war and gave an intellectual, you know, sort of foundation and structure to what he was planning to do. And he followed it to the. Now, is that something that is lacking in India?


I would say that if you look at it very conventionally and, you know, you take the fact that you get the right kind of intellectual support should come from a certain kind of universities, a certain kind of background. It's not that. But again, my question is, if you keep some of these things simple, you will still achieve a lot. And I'm hoping that you will as long as we keep it simple and we do those smaller things, the simpler things.


Right. I think we can achieve a lot, a lot in the next five, 10 years as we're trying to do the more complex things, the more complex things we can get that are if you leave them aside, they will sort themselves out. I mean, so I still believe just in front and I agree are too big enough agenda to take care of the next five, seven years of India. I mean, if you them in the right man and then you don't shoot yourself in foot with some completely crazy out of the world, out of the park or whatever, out of the left field idea, like a demon or something.


And you just just do two or three things, right. Because all of the forces of digital and, you know, data revolution and things of that kind and you supporting, you know, some of these broader sort of trends of people getting to the mainstream, getting into the formal economy and things of that kind. So I'm hoping again here that if you just focus on a few small, important things, which are simple enough for everyone to understand and do, will still achieve a lot in the next five years.


Yeah, that's that's kind of a good point.


And and I don't rigor and I think at least Regans instincts were wonderful. They came from the right place. I'm not sure Modi's instincts are necessarily like that, that they're even coherent or consistent. And equally, you look at the other transformative figure of the times Margaret Thatcher did in her first cabinet meeting as prime minister. Apparently, she, you know, put a book by Hayek. I think it was a constitution of liberty. I forget which one put a book by Hayek on the table and said, this is going to be what is going to guide us in the next few years.


And of course, I may not have been entirely consistent with that. There is a political economy, but starting with at least the right framework, while I'm not sure that's even there in this case, I mean, my sense in this case is all the good things that he said, like, you know, a minimum government, maximum governance or the kind of stuff that we could agree with was not some good conviction. These were lines given to him by one group of intellectuals he thought he wanted on his side.


So he just kind of said it. If he maybe, you know, if I think his actions would have been very different if his convictions were anywhere near there. And as far as the families are concerned, I had an episode with addiction it recently. And there is also, I guess, a fundamental sort of tragedy in the sense that, you know, both Ajayan and agreed that there is a lot about these phone bills, which is great, which will help farmers, which all the parties have had on the agenda before, which all experts agree will, you know, make a big difference.


You know, given how the street discourse performed, it's almost criminal to support it after what it has done to farmers for seven decades. And yet the money go straight up completely in terms of not building consensus, you know, not seeing the unintended consequences of it. Like, you know, you and Penny have written about at length in your newsletter. And that kind of felt sort of a little tragic in the way it's played out because they've just handled it really badly.


This painting of the farmers as international and bringing in Cullison into this and all this nonsense about it's a conspiracy against India. And and you kind of wonder that, you know, even if good economics is accompanied by bad politics of this sort, and it feels because of that reason, you know, it's going to be tragic. But like you pointed out earlier, I mean, thinking about it, there are a certain set of reforms which should not be rocket science and should be doable.


But but there will be opposition to it for the sake of opposition anyway. It like privatizations, for example, you know, things that the opposition would have put in the manifesto. But if the Modi government does it, they will oppose it and, you know, mobilise against it. And, you know, what does one do?


Yeah, but I think the only good part here is that the power of narrative is there. So, I mean, it's used my point remains that if you and this can be quite transformational. And I'm still hoping that when some of these things that you sought to achieve from a political perspective are those entitlement, all the final frontier of, you know, finally done and dusted with it. And I think that we are possibly at the homestretch of some of those political ends that hopefully, you know, you will get some action happening on the on the on the in the areas that all of us want that to happen.


That's the hope, but otherwise, you know, you'll you'll not if you're not, you know, sort of stock that they are saying that they will have the news cycle that's around you. Yeah, and it's honestly not only modest, Bill, that comes into play, the mindset of the bureaucracy and the Indian state, the deep state, as it were, the inertia that's built into the system comes into play as well. And I'll quote another sort of lovely passage from you, which is from Ed.


25, where you write, quote, The default mental model of the economy among the executive and the legislature is that of a giant planning machine where you plan for a certain volume of output, see motorbikes and you drive a specific volume of inputs, steel, diodes, plastics, etc., that you must produce. You do this for each industry and the planning algorithm will give you a complete picture of what every sector must produce every year. Granted, the reality has changed a bit over the years, but the schema is planted deep in the minds.


This is a PC, the based model of variant of the pontiff input output model overseeing. This is a grand vizier of central planning, the simplest gauge of efficiency of this model. Well, my dad booked a scooter when I was born and we got it delivered when I was in class seven. We got our lessons and virtues of patience early in life. Stop court. And, you know, when young people ask me about what was a benefit of liberalization, Kiawah and the thing is, I just remember that, you know, back in the day you had to wait like seven, eight years to get a freaking telephone.


You know, it was. And today you see how accessible that is. All the sectors that were liberalized, like, you know, telecom or airlines or whatever, have become so much more accessible than they were. And there is scope for even more kindly reduce taxes on aviation fuel. The government and the sectors that weren't liberalized, like agriculture and education continue to be our sort of problem areas. But broadly, you know, when we speak about this mindset specifically, you spoke about the developmental model of the economy among the executive and the legislature.


Now, you know, is this something that you feel is changing, has changed even if you because, you know, it's going to take a long, long time. It's a decades long player to be able to change it sufficiently in the demand end of the political marketplace. Certainly many of these are unintuitive. Or do you feel that there is that mindset change that is happening?


I think I really believe and I hope also that should come true. But based on some of my empirical evidence of this, I bet there is a generation of, you know, bureaucrats who are now the liberalisations and. Who are Dorna in the. And, you know, I don't think they I mean, of course, the system can always, you know, change you into becoming that. But I think in the past, both the system as well as your instinct is going in there the same.


And therefore, you know, there was no absolutely no opportunity for you to go in and change the system because for what I mean, you have not there is no dissonance in your mind. This is what I thought I was. This is not like lived and this is what I'm seeing here. But I think now there is a whole generation of, you know, I think bureaucrats and other people within the state machinery who have seen something different. And and also the fact that, you know, just because of the liberalisation, people have travelled out your brother, your cousin, somebody that outside you go to other places.


I think in that sense, I believe that, you know, let's take women who in the sense the secretaries in various departments of the government today might be closer to 60 now. So these are all born in 1960, you know, early to mid 60s. And they by the time they entered the administration, you know, the the bureaucracy, they had already been steeped in the previous sort of thing, because you they would have grown up in the 70s and then in 80s, they must have joined the machinery.


Then they would have seen some change around them. But, you know, it's very difficult to change some of the original mental models, but even 10 years later. Those who must have gone must have been people like you, you saw one part of your life in that model and then you saw the very, very different one. And they might might have entered civil services in mid to late 90s. So I'm hoping that even though the system is going to be sort of still supporting a grand planning, you know, kind of a, you know, model, and many of them would have the instinct that something of this kind was possibly not necessary.


I mean, it's too much of a planning. And I also feel that there are mechanisms now and I think I have heard and seen many of these bureaucrats go to, you know, Florida universities do six or seven courses on public policy and things of that kind. I think some of those things should bear fruit, in my opinion. And, you know, I hope that we get to see some of that in practice, although I'm very, very limited interaction with many of the some of these missionaries, I have no clue whether that is truly happening or not.


But I would suspect that some of this should be coming up in terms of, you know, the change in the mindset over the next decade when many of these guys will become joint secretaries and secretaries of various departments. Really.


And let's move on to lighter topics now after all this serious, dangerous stockwood before that, let's take a quick commercial break on the scene in The Unseen.


I often speak about positive some games. Well, if you want to be surrounded by beauty and you love fine art, I have a Win-Win proposition for you. Head on over to Indian colors struck the Indian colors, licenses, images of fine art from some of the best contemporary artists in India and adapt them to objects of everyday use, like tote bags, pouches and home decorations. You get to surround yourself with the finest modern Indian art at affordable prices and artists get royalties for every product you buy.


Win win game. The unique colors new ranges in and includes elegant, comfortable dresses for women and casual shirts for men with standout motifs by artists such as Then Why Someone Should Get Our Best Buddy, Shruti Nelson, Pardeep Mishra and Jedi Peduto stay home but dress smart. And if you're missing your friends in these days, why do you not? You can show them you're thinking of them by buying gifts for them from Indian colors. Corporate gifting is also available, so head on over to Indian colors from the colors within you and make art a part of your life.


And hey, for a 15 percent discount, use a code unseen. That's right. Unseen for fifteen percent off at Indian colors dot com.


Welcome back to the scene in The Unseen, I'm chatting with Raguse angelically about politics, economics, India and his father, Scooter. You still have the scooter, by the way.


We do. We do. It's good that someone does someone drive it. I don't think anyone takes it with the scooter. Well, I will as well, so the sounds fascinating. So, you know, one of the things that I enjoy about your newsletter, of course, is all the references to Bollywood, which are quite wonderful. Like you have this fabulous quarter. You have a whole bunch of fabulous quotes, but one that I noted on because I liked so much was, you know, caught that funds are like India's elephants.


Hopgood They're basically the point was that they are all kind of the same, if you think about it. But there are minor, minor differences between all of them, which is sort of which is your favorite interiorly film that they are like and they're all similar and they take you for a ride.


Because if are because I literally said about subgenus. Right, right. I mean, you go and on the other side of discovery was the idea that that which is my favorite. I mean, I've thought, yeah, that's a good one. No, I've only seen it. But I wasn't going to ask you about either dead friends or into Australia was instead going to ask you about the Raguse and geologically test for alcohol, which you mentioned in addition to 82, which is a takeoff from the big delta.


Now, the big question, of course, named after Alison Bechdel, the brilliant graphic novelist who wrote one of my favorite graphic novels, Fun Home and well, and the big test is basically a test of gender inequality in fiction and films. And the test is that if in a book or a film, there are two women characters speaking to each other about something other than a man, you've passed a big test. Now you have something called the Ragus.


And geologically, alcohol tested me a bit about that.


Well, I have to remember now, but I think there are three conditions that the alcohol test has to be.


I can actually read it out because I've taken the notes. So should I do that? Yeah. Yeah. So basically, a Hindi film passes a test if it has a Hindi film, passes Rajasthan genealogically test, if it has two or more characters drinking without one, anyone noticing a heartbreak to planning or doing something illegal. Three Singing or dancing gastropod. So elaborate.


I mean, I think this is the broader point. Remains one of my favorite sort of areas to constantly have this sort of conversation and writing is about morality and society. And my view is I think maybe in the last 10 years there might be a few films that might possibly pass this test. But I think really 2010, the answer to this test is that you would find hardly any films because for some strange reason, we just cannot show the idea that people can have, you know, and have fun or whatever, can indulge in what can be just considered as minor vices, you know, and without, you know, getting everything in place.


Right. I mean, so and the idea I think this particular post was around consumption being a public benefit. I think that was the post where this comes from. But, yeah, that's that's the thing. I think only in the last 10 years, I think I've seen a few films where, you know, you can see people just having a drink without doing without going through one of these three sort of life situations.


Yeah. And I mean, in a sense, I would you know, since you want me to disagree with you somewhere or the other, I would actually say that while I agree with the conclusions that I do come up with about the role of morality in society, you know, the with this particular test is a bit of an issue for me, because there is something in art called Chekhov's Gun, where the great short story writer Anton Chekhov said that if you show a gun in the first scene of your story, it has to go off by at some point in the story.


Otherwise, what is it doing there? So you could similarly argue that filmmakers and writers might take the Chekov's gun approach to alcohol and say that, listen, if you show alcohol, it has to lead to heartbreak or it has to be there for a reason. And I remember a long time back someone similarly making an observation that in the movies you never see someone going to the toilet, like, don't they have to go to the toilet and movies with you?


But I don't think there's any larger philosophical point or observation about society that can emerge from that specific thing. And one of the nuggets that came up in this particular edition about drinking was that and I'll quote it where you write, quote, A study by Ballet India Foundation found the manufacturer needs about ten thousand nine hundred certificates or licences from various agencies to operate a plant in Maharashtra. Stockwood and your quote is actually incomplete because the word that you took out from it was annually.


So it's not that you get ten thousand nine hundred licences once and you are done, you can run your plant, you have to get them every freaking year. And I. An episode with a friend on restaurant regulations, and he was a restaurant owner and he once told me about these two sort of I mean, plethora of regulations. But there was one regulation from the excise department that they can only be one entry to your restaurant so they can sort of monitor the entry of alcohol and another regulation, which said that from the fire department, which they did for safety reasons, it must be multiple entrances.


So the thing is, whatever you do, you are on the wrong side of the law. And actually it is irrelevant because you're bribing both people anyway, along with 40 other people for 40 other licenses. Which brings me to another Bollywood film, which is the famous Karluk, you know, champagne eagles', brilliant version of the Mahabharata and which is a film with a lot of ragus, but one Rajas dominant over the other, which is relevant to what we were just talking about.


So this is not out of nowhere.


Tell me a little bit about those different drudges yesterdays so, you know, is not Banegas take on the Mahabharat outstanding film and the Mahabharat set in the early 80s in a business comedy and pretty much follows the script. Right. There is a you know, there are two brothers and they have their kids. And, you know, the empire was split between the two and so on and so forth. And what what Benegal does is it gives them interesting names.


So the you know, the Orizaba buddies, I guess you start with hundreds and, you know, pollution carbon dies. I think of him and his mother as I forget now. So that's what I did. And my point is that I saw the film and I saw the film and I was like young. But it's more a retrospective sort of view about the film. My point is there are a lot of ideas that the film but the real that dominates the film script is still burm.


That because on the back of license permit, Rud's is what the you know, the whole side of the story. But then instead of the Napoleon, you know that one that you want only five villagers or whatever, that the reason for which people have been told about it, it is actually on the license that people went toward.


And, you know, for those are my sort of readers who want to read it. This was at issue number 26, newsreader 26 of anticipating the unintended.


And let's kind of talk a little bit about, you know, we often I think at the start of the episode, I alluded to how we tend to kind of forget our history and where we came from. And I often assume when I'm talking to people that my sort of shared experience of living in those times, growing up in pre liberalisation, India, the license Raj dreams, and sometimes this kind of hurtful to, uh, you know, uh, remind people that that's not necessarily the case.


And the license permit, Raj, is really the biggest rebellion of all, bigger than anyone else in the majority. And tell me a bit about how it sort of shaped behavior and incentives and our economy kind of through the decades, like what was the fundamental problem with it? And you've described a few of them in this edition.


Of course, like I think I mean, the idea really was that the state believed as a central planner. That, you know, this is what we need and you had this matrix based on which you realize that this is the output and based on this output, these are the numbers of things that you might need. And then you went out and made sure that people got license to manufacture only that many of those pieces that you that you decided that they should make.


Now, why you only that many? You know, there are multiple reasons for it. I think the joke among that reason was that you believed I mean, the state believed that we will have to make sure that there is no monopoly. I mean, there are all kinds of restrictive Trade Practices Act. There was suspicion that people would make too much of profit and profit out of it. So the way it worked was every.


Sort of business group got a certain license to make a certain number and then somebody would come in and actually inspect that, that's exactly the number that you need. And as you would realize that, you know, like trying to do this kind of control, there was no incentive for the manufacturer to look for scale scale advantages, you know, do better quality stuff. Because what's the point? I mean, you you are only making that many things. There'll be a price for that because there is going to be no artificial, you know, supply constraint and you will make your normal sort of profit out of that.


Instead, what all the businesses did was they kept diversifying. So it was completely inefficient allocation of capital instead of, you know, building scale, competing, making sure that you are making World-Class products and then going out and fighting in global markets. All you were doing was trying to get license for the next industry because you had exhausted your licenses on this. And now maybe the next industry was not as sort of you were not as good in the industry as you were in this one.


And that industry needed completely different skills and different business acumen and things of that kind. But, you know, the capital allocation needs to happen on the back of that. So the number of ways this actually was bad for the economy is just mind blowing.


I mean, you know, it's it is like basically you write an economics book and then write exactly opposite of everything that you should be doing. And I sense that there is no supply demand. You know, price is not a signal. There is no real competition. Allocation of capital is inefficient, you know, diversification of mindless kind, which actually threatens all businesses, no ability to compete in market beyond India. I think it's just remarkable that some business houses actually, you know, one the some of them thrived because you had to play the license game and you have to play the government and the state.


But even then, you got the license, did the fact that businesses didn't survive and thought through that itself, I find is a testimony to the resilience of some of these businesses?


The idea is quite mind blowing inland. You know, another consequence of this is that we couldn't develop world class companies because how do you become world class? You need scale. You need to specialize. And neither of these two things were sort of possible within the system. So, you know, this kind of there are two aspects of sort of the mindset that is prevalent in India today, which I'm sometimes speculated came from this era and the way our institutions were designed.


And one aspect is, of course, the rent seeking rather than profit seeking, which is something I've spoken about in this podcast various times before. That individual, you know, Bhagwati had pointed out that, you know, while the Chinese have more of a profit seeking mindset, the Indians are more forensic. And so what do we mean by that?


Rent seeking essentially means where you use the coercive power of the state to capture some part of the market, as it were, which you can do by being part of the state and, you know, and extract rent out of that. And our mindset somehow has become one of how can we exploit those? How can we scam others instead of thinking in sort of a positive some way that what can I do that creates value for others and I can make a profit out of that, which is how you should logically think in a free market.


And the other thing that strikes me is that this cultural distrust of markets that we have, which is also being reflected in our popular culture through the decades, does it have something to do with the fact that all that you saw of markets, quite apart from the colonial hangover in the East India Company, all that you saw, markets and independent India, all that you saw the private sector were these cronies who were corrupt and connected, and that's how they were surviving and getting by.


So could it be a factor that are so much of our mindset and so many aspects of our culture were shaped by these institutions that were put in place after independence?


Yeah, so, I mean, I really sometimes I mean, this is, you know, a conundrum. I mean, listen, none of us really saw a businessman, but growing up, I mean, I was living in a a public sector unit out of housing. Aloni never saw a businessman. But, you know, this idea that business and businessmen, meaning they were like doing something, Haiti was quite deep. I don't know whether the popular culture perpetuated that or the sort of, you know, actually had that sense of, you know, that these guys were not exactly aboveboard and everything that they did.


I don't know how or where it came from, I think. You know, and this is a question that I have asked many people of the previous generation also, that where did it come from? Because many of you never saw any guy who was coming out and exploiting you are a business guy who was doing something. I never got a correct answer, except that the state. Was possibly perpetuating this myth in some, you know, one form or the other thing, you know, profits are a negative thing and, you know, all those kind of sort of messages across.


So and then I think what happened is as the license permit, Raj became deeper than a lot of these instincts that you had. You started seeing them get manifested whenever you had the small opportunity to see a private sector at work. You know, people would think that you could get by by bribing. And you basically, essentially, if you are in private sector, you are doing all of these things. But quite honestly, I don't know what the original sort of sin of the private sector was in in India, apart from the colonial part, maybe it was some of the, you know, early independence state drive which gave the states such an exalted position that it just became that anyone who even sort of, you know, stands up to the state or wants to compete with the state was seen as someone who would actually be profiteering, something that I have not understood at all.


I mean, I can see it all over the popular culture. I mean, early 50s, you know, films and everything that was full of these kind of tropes. But no idea that was coming from, as some people have told me, that the Bengal famine was a huge. You know, sort of a mindset thing on people, but that was more sort of a, you know, British Raj sort of dereliction of duty. And out of that, yes, there were people who ordered and the whole of hoarding as a thing that the rich people do became deeply embedded in our system.


Some of the laws are actually a result of the fact that the thought process around it, I don't know, maybe it's just some a whole bunch of small things that came together. Popular culture definitely perpetuated it. I don't think many people ever actually saw a real business man in their life, but they had a view of what businessmen did.


You know, this is very interesting because I was fortunate enough to have a fairly privileged childhood where my father was an IRS officer. But even I don't remember seeing a businessman in my childhood. As you were talking, I was thinking about with what a businessman I had met as a kid. And I can't really think of anything until in post liberalisation. India, I was out there working and all of that, and then I kind of encounter that part of it.


Maybe we weren't shopping. I mean, those are the only capitalists you see who are selling you good things and you're perfectly happy to buy from them. The other very profound point that forms a title for me from all the newsletters of your sort of read, it was a number 90 where you talk about political versus economic institutions, where you say, quote, In my view, a nation has to have its political and economic institutions in sync with another.


It is difficult for it to have its political institutions extractive, exclusionary and rent seeking while its economic institutions are liberal and inclusive and yet succeed in the long run. Having an extractive and exclusionary political institution while continuing to work with economic institutions are free and inclusive is an unstable equilibrium. Good. And you talk more about the sort of unstable equilibrium. And I'm fascinated by this because you point out how through the history of India, the balance has shifted from one to the other, where first political institutions were inclusive and liberal, while economic institutions were statist.


Then under Indira, they both become statist. Then the economic institutions reform after 1991. But then there is a bit of an about turn with political institutions. And, you know, now they could all sort of turn illiberal. So expand a bit on this kind of thinking because I haven't come across this Frem or anyone else.


Yes, I again, I mean, I don't exactly recollect what sort of triggered this. I think the point that possibly could have triggered is the you know, that's rethinking, you know, Dardanelle, Smugglers', you know, the book and about, you know, what actually makes nation succeed or fail. And his point there was that it is about institutions and he takes us through an entire sort of, you know, journey about, you know, different people having views about why nations will succeed, eliminators geography, eliminates all kinds of things and comes to a conclusion that it is about institutions.


And my sort of taking of wine from there was, OK, what kind of institutions? I mean, are you only talking political? Are you talking political as well as economic? And, you know, is there a sort of a difference and then sort of this, you know, analysis of how we might have gone out about in the last 70 years on on on these two institutions? And is there some of these being in sync? And so that that's really how it sort of came about in terms of the thought process.


And then it sort of followed that, you know, there was a time when our political institutions, not at the time I think they were designed to be liberal and inclusive, unlike, say, some of the other, you know, democratic or not. So democratic governments are models that other countries adopted. And when that was happening, the economic institutions were fairly, I would say, different from that. So they didn't hew to the liberalized lines.


And then, of course, during the seventies, both of them fell in sync, which was a disaster, a complete, unmitigated disaster. And then, you know, then we have had a little bit of a, you know, swing the other way. And the opposition, which is, again, the point that, you know, what is the hope? The hope is that somebody will get the sort of light bulb moment that was both should be, you know, in sync and, you know, liberal and inclusive because, you know, how many days will you try before figuring out that this is the way that might actually work?


Because it's worked everywhere and, you know, exhausted all combinations of exhausted one of these and the other. And so my view is, OK, you will try 20 odd years of each other, 25 years of it, hopefully now you'll figure out that the next 25 of the last 25 of the first century of India's independence, you might be the last one, which is the one that possibly, in my mind, is the best. But you'll stumble your way and reach there.


And I think that's really where that particular thought came from.


But since you're thinking of the trigger writing in this particular edition of the A, so that was one of the economic institutions you sort of had in mind. But, you know, to sort of probe a little bit further, if I may double click you are to sort of demystify that. What do we mean by economic, both political and economic institutions becoming more liberal and inclusive? What do we mean by that in concrete terms? Can you expand on that?


Yeah, I think so.


The economic institutions are the institutions that we have formed over the years. I mean, there are, of course, regulators. There are various kinds of, you know, bodies that are not exactly I would say that they are more permanent sort of bodies that are around, whether you call it any desirable erstwhile planning commission, various regulators, various commissions that we form. And what are the mandates for these? I mean, mandates for many of these even, you know, the kind of earlier ways to have these markets, you know, the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, dismantle all of them, replace them with something more benign.


You know, many, many of these areas I mean, the forex, the what is to be called? You know, I think it was an act. I forget the full form of that act. It was federal foreign exchange regulation.


There was one before ferrite in contravention of the prevention of something, smuggling activities and things of that kind. So all of these have moved towards institutions that we have now created, which actually are not as sort of terrible as they were in the past. And the political institutions are useful political institutions that, you know, they have, you know, the you know, the parliament, the election commission, you know, the various bodies of legislative and administrative machinery of the state.


So that's my view, was that on the economic front, I think we have moved quite a bit of distance and gradually turned more and more inclusive and liberal. And you might argue that some of the regulators, et cetera, have disproportionate power. But that's fine. I mean, I think it's true for most of the regulators in the world, but broadly, they are the way more forward looking and forward thinking than some of the things that we have seen happen on the political institutions is.


Right, and in terms of political institutions, yes, so I think on political institutions, if you take I mean, I love most of the things that we do, you know, most of the institutions that we have of the kind, whether it is, you know, the election commission or it is, you know, I mean, any of the I know the state, whether it is police or it is judiciary or some of the things that where we have the governor and, you know, many of these sort of things where you expect them to be, you know, and we spoke about some of the symptoms of the some of these institutions are now taking an illiberal done in the first part of the conversation.


I think those we are, again, seeing that they have continued to remain. I think there was a time when it was starting to become somewhat more inclusive and liberal. But I think there again, you know, I would say they have not kept pace with the change of the economic institutions. I think they are still, you know, in some places remained the same in some places.


And my fear is that, well, that's that's what's so fascinating for him to think about the problem with. So I've taken enough of your time. I'll ask you a couple of final questions. And I think this should be easier and less sort of depressing.


And one of them is, is that, you know, as you would know, listeners of my show are constantly asking me and my guest to recommend books to read, you know, what are the foundational books that you feel everyone should read, maybe books that shaped your thinking, or even if you came across some lead books that you wish you had come across earlier and that, you know, made an impact on who you are. And even to add to sort of another element to that, books that can help people understand India better.


So in terms of let's start with books that can help you understand India better. I think I would recommend Marangaroo as a couple of books. I think India after Gandhi is a fantastic book with a very sort of a broad but fairly well sort of researched and thought out book about where we are in which. But, you know what brought us here. So that's one book that I found quite useful. The other book that I think and a lot of literature that's come out in the last couple of years and you featured a lot of them on your show, quite actually.


Fascinating. And actually, you know, we are starting to do some good work and some good, you know, academic work around this and very accessible form. So I think that I mean, for me, the India's founding moment, it was not of Cosla. And that was, again, a fantastic book, I think they learned a lot from that book, a very well researched book, and I think that's, again, something that I would recommend.


I would recommend some of the books on history, which, you know, people just go back and read further medieval India, sort of that kind of time period. There is a there is a five volume book of not circa. And it's quite academic work, but the first one is just outstanding. It's the first Mogel Marad handwritten British East India Company, sort of the faith, and I read it a long time back, maybe 20 plus years back.


But that again, was very interesting, gives you a very sort of real perspective of the all the things that the ferment that sort of led to the British East India Company sort of establishing itself, which I thought was quite useful. I also I mean, on economics and I have read both the wealthy and thin, and I would recommend both, you know, I think some of the least in I mean, especially books on where he writes unfreedom.


I think those are those are very good. And I think there is a lot there which it will change. Your view about how Watson really believes.


And in fact, in addition. Eighty two of your newsletters, you write about democracy and freedom and how you began to reconsider some of his ideas. So I linked that from the Señores as well. I did plan to ask you about that and about Rawls versus Nozick and all of that, but we'll have to save that for some other day. But sorry. Sorry to interrupt. Continue. Yeah.


So that's I would recommend both saying with I think both are very good, very interesting. But the idea of India, which was Sunil Clunies book in 97 on the fiftieth anniversary of Indian independence, again, fantastic book, very informative. And, you know, one of the great influences of my life again. OK, the person read his book. Another guy is Naipaul. I find all three of Naipaul's books on India a very, very interesting. He was a perceptive observer.


You know, he was a person who could spend Leiken like a day in a place and dig out things that you hope would take ages and never figured out that this is what is happening there. So all three Naipaul books are very, very interesting. You can discount some of his ideas about India and you can discount, you know, some of the views he later had about about his political views. But I think the just understanding of India, you can't argue that he got it right in all three of the books.




And now my final question for you. This is not the hope and despair question, but rather, as you know in your news in the morning editions of your newsletters, you've sort of made me rethink things that I hadn't thought so deeply about and, you know, given me a few moments. So can you share with me one or more? But, you know, more would be sort of personal hogger. But can you share with me one idea that you think everyone should internalise one notion or concept or idea which you think everyone should internalize.


So obviously something that's not popular right now?


No, I think on this, again, I think we will end the show on a strong note of agreement of it, because the idea that I think everyone should alive is that spontaneous order works. I mean, there is something called spontaneous order about I mean, that people have individual liberty and freedom. Let them choose their things that those people do. Multitudes of these transactions, you know, all of these things then together create something that, you know, order comes on its own.


Nobody needs to direct it. Nobody needs to guide it to a certain place. It's been proven over and over again. And any amount of tinkering with this thing is trying to do something around this with all the good intentions actually leads to worse outcomes proven time and again. Excellent.


That is an order of agreement. So, you know, voluntary actions and about state coercion, motherboard and all that adequately fulminant. Let me thank you once again for sharing your time and your insights with me.


Thank you. It was absolutely a pleasure. If you enjoyed listening to this episode head on over to public policy or substract dot com and to scribe to anticipating the unintended, my prosecutor, Sunny and Dragoo, Sanjay Lal Jaitley, this is India's best newsletter and I will give it competition. I am also resuming my own newsletter. So do follow me at India on Cadart Substract dot com. You can follow me on Twitter at Wal-Mart. Amitay, we are on me and you can browse past episodes of the scene in the Unseen Acción Unseen Dot.


Again, thank you for listening.


Did you enjoy this episode of the scene in The Unseen? If so, would you like to support the production of the show? You can go over to see an unseen dot and slash support and contribute any amount you like to keep this podcast alive and kicking. Thank you.