Challenging Power with Community: Lessons from 'Why I'm a Liberal' | GratitudeSeries 22/60

In 2018/19, while still in the early stages of conceptualizing 'The Internet of Value' and its implications for the frictionless labor movement, I found solace and inspiration at AttaGalatta in Koramangala. This bookshop and event space, with its cozy coffee shop, had the ambiance of a grad school library with the intellectual buzz of nearby college students, an environment I deeply cherished. [The Atta Galatta in Indiranagar lacks this soulful essence, like most modern buildings there]

My co-founder Gaurav and I were regulars at this hub of knowledge and creativity, often granted the privilege to sit at the back with a stable set aside for us, even during events. These gatherings ranged from storytelling sessions for kids to book launches, offering a rich tapestry of cultural and intellectual experiences. One such memorable event was the book launch and reading by Sagarika Ghose of her book "Why I'm a Liberal". Having watched Ghose and her husband, Rajdeep Sardesai, for years as they presented themselves as balanced and rational voices amidst the cacophony of English news TV channels, it was surreal to witness someone I respected so deeply, reading passages from her book in person.

Ghose's work, a manifesto for those who believe in individual freedom, resonated with me as it challenged the norms and advocated for a renewal of Indian liberalism. Her words, "The stamping out of difference, the quelling of diversity and the burial of argument is, in fact, most un-Indian," struck a chord with me​​. This perspective aligned perfectly with the ethos of 'The Internet of Value', where diversity and individuality are paramount.

One excerpt from Ghose's book particularly encapsulates the challenges faced by women in politics, reflecting the broader societal constraints: "Politics remains such a closed bastion of male networks... women can rarely rise in politics through a normal route"​​. This insight highlights the systemic barriers that parallel the digital realm's challenges, where inclusivity and equal opportunity are often at stake.

Ghose's critique extends to the harsh realities of the political landscape, where powerful women leaders face severe judgment and verbal abuse​​​​. Her observations on the need for political reforms to make politics more inclusive and 'normal' reflect the changes needed in our digital society as well​​.

During the book launch, a profound discussion unfolded about the role of individuals and communities in challenging power structures. Ghose emphasized the importance of forming communities to combat oppressive power dynamics. This resolved the core that building a community-driven ecosystem is central to empowering individuals against entrenched systems.

My conversation with Ghose post-reading revealed her curiosity about our work on decentralizing Aadhaar, signifying the importance of integrating liberal thought with technological innovation. This encounter was a reminder of the necessity of interdisciplinary dialogues in shaping a more inclusive and equitable future.

In conclusion, Ghose's "Why I'm a Liberal" has been instrumental in shaping my approach to 'TheInternetofValue'. Her emphasis on individual freedom, equality of opportunities, and the need for systemic change deeply inform how I envision our future. For more on this journey and its intersection with liberal values, visit The Internet of Value.


  1. Ghose, S. (2018). Why I Am a Liberal: A Manifesto for Indians Who Believe in Individual Freedom. Penguin Viking.
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