It is with a very heavy heart that we share with you the sad news of passing away of Sauvik Chakraverti, our good friend and ex-colleague.
Sauvik was one of the most unabashed champions of individual freedom and free markets, and the fiercest critic of state intervention that I have ever met. Sauvik passed away last week on 23rd October in Goa, the place he used to describe as the ‘land of freedom and happiness’. I hope he was free and happy in his last days.
Figure: Sauvik at his home in New Delhi in a Bob Marley t-shirt singing “I shot the sheriff“. The wall picture to his right is Sauvik with Lady Thatcher in London when he received the inaugural Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2002.
Sauvik would never say something that he didn’t believe in, and, for the things he believed in, he would make his voice heard loud and clear. He never courted anyone to secure a favour—probably one of the reasons that he professionally could not rise to the top—but then Sauvik never cared about that anyway.
Being the maverick that he was, he donned various hats at different points of time during his short life. He started a rock band with some of his college friends, he was a policeman, an editor with the Economic Times, a columnist at Mint, a teacher, author of critically acclaimed books, speaker at institutions of higher learning across India on subjects as varied as law, public administration, economics, public policy—and the list goes on. He was also the winner of the inaugural Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2002—an annual prize given to people whose published works promote the institutions of a free society.
Sauvik was a libertarian who stressed on first principles. To Sauvik, the government had only two jobs: maintain ‘rule of law’—as practiced in a Bastiat-esque world, something that we often take for granted and hardly ever hold our governments accountable for, in its inadequate provision; and ‘building roads’. A libertarian may disagree with the latter, but Sauvik used to say that you do not tax citizens to build roads, just sell-off all the public sector enterprises immediately without exception and use the proceeds to build roads, roads and more roads.
While I will always regret not keeping in touch with Sauvik over the last couple of years, I will always cherish every discussion that we had over a cup of coffee, a smoke (me smoking passively) or a mug of beer. Sauvik used to say that “India is a land of cold women and hot beer”. This he said not in a derogatory sense towards anybody, but to emphasise our society’s messed up sense of morality and state’s soft prohibition-ism, not just for markets for alcohol but for almost everything.
Sauvik loved Johnny Cash, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, chilled beer, a good smoke, guns, Frederic Bastiat, Peter Bauer, Ludwig von Mises, Austrian economics, Ron Paul and Goa. He used to say, “a gun in hand is always better than a policeman on the phone”.
There never was a dull moment when Sauvik was around. He was a libertarian rock star that India never had. For me, he was a friend and a teacher.
Sauvik, you will always be missed! Rest in Peace, my friend.
And as Sauvik would sign-off — “Boom Shankar!”
Sauvik’s select writings/works:
Antidote: Essays against the Socialist Indian State (MacMillan, 2000)
Antidote 2: For Liberal Governance (MacMillan, 2003)
Free Your Mind: A Beginner’s Guide to Political Economy
Udarwad: Raj, Samaj aur Bazar ka Naya Paath (Hindi book based on ‘Free Your Mind’)
CCS Viewpoint 2: Population Causes Prosperity.
CCS Viewpoint 4: Peter Bauer: A True Friend of the World’s Poor.
Sauvik’s monthly column over at Mint between 2008 and 2010.
Sauvik over at lewrockwell.com on his dream of ‘an institute of catallactics in India’.
Four Wheels for All: The Case for Rapid Automobilisation of India (published by Liberty Institute).
The Essential Frédéric Bastist, Edited by Sauvik Chakraverti (in collaboration with Frederic Naumann Stiftung – FÜR DIE FREIHEIT, published by Liberty Institute).
Self Help: with illustrations of conduct and perseverance, by Samuel Smiles, Abridged and edited by Sauvik Chakraverti (published by Liberty Institute).
An interview of Sauvik by Sunil Aggarwal.
NOTE: We invite you to share your experiences with and memories of Sauvik in the comment section below.
The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.