Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Support your supporters

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"If your supporters aren't supported by you, what use is of supporters supporting you"

There is a movie called Kurukshetra in which Sanjay Dutt plays the lead role, that of a top cop. In the movie, a poor girl gets raped and murdered by a politicians son. Then starts an epic battle between good and evil (hence the title of the movie) and Sanjay Dutt fights on behalf of the poor parents of the girl. Naturally, politicians being politicians, have a nexus with mafia, and then there is a "good" politician (Oxymoron? You bet) who eventually betrays Sanjay. Throughout the movie, there is an enormous effort put by him, he almost dies, fights bravely and doesn't know whom to trust. Towards the end of the movie, Sanjay Dutt is invitied by the politicians to settle matters. On reaching the home of the politicians, he is taken aback by seeing the father of the girl present there - the politicians try to convince Sanjay to stop fighting this case, fighting for this dead girl, when even her own father has given up - No, he did not yield to threats. Rather, the politicians gave him a lot of money and an apartment in a prime locality. The father says - "So what if she is dead? She can't be brought back to life. But now, we (family) are better off, thanks to the money and the apartment" and the politicians in the backdrop share a smug grin as Sanjay Dutt feels the ground slipping beneath his feet.

Well, in the movie, after this, he flips his wig, and goes and guns down the politicians...

But note the point I am making here - If you are being supported by someone for a cause that you had been fighting for, and this person is a strong force, not yet another brick in the wall, and has been devoting a lot of time and energy for YOUR cause, and is also making progress......... and when you have such a person doing good for YOU, it would be highly unfair when YOU yourself give up on the cause or the person.

The best example that can be given at this juncture is Anna Hazare... The man has been putting enormous efforts for our cause - We have seen all the scams of 2011. The sheer sizes of amounts is greater than money most countries might posses, equals our yearly budget (only one scam was enough!!) and there were several that came out. It is OUR money that these people are stealing - and finally, there has been a movement that seems to be putting pressure on the politicians. And the politicians are coming up with really cheap antics to escape getting caught.

Like introducing reservation - this is perhaps the dumbest and most obvious escape route - What does caste and religion have anything to do with corruption? Corruption is spread evenly across people of all castes and religions, and we don't have to bother. But, by introducing this concept, now the debate starts getting shifted, with some people supporting reservation and some don't, and there is naturally going to be a divide. What we should remember is that we are all fighting for one cause, OUR cause, and Anna Hazare being the mascot, the leader, the face of the movement, we should all support him in all the ways that we can... I was surprised when I saw a Facebook group that asked Anna Hazare and his companions to go to hell, and today's headlines showing a decline in number of people following him.

If this movement fails, and if it doesn't go through - I won't be surprised if a group of people end up getting frustrated like Dutt did in the end of the movie and go about gunning down these politicians, taking law into their own hands, or as in Rang De Basanti, because the law does't support them and the people for whom this movement was for, didn't support the movement. And when that happens, don't call the shooters extremists. Call them as people who did what you didn't have the guts to do, people who took action.

(Note: I am not proposing violent action - I am merely suggesting that violent action may be a repercussion)


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Expectations and Choices

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"When you set your expectations too high, you are bound to be disappointed"

I happened to watch a very interesting video about choices. Today, we have a lot of choices when we are about to do something or purchase something. And while these choices may seem to be a good thing, an excess of choices creates problems. How can choices create problems? The video will answer all the questions.

However, what I wanted to talk about was expectations. As technology and society advances, the kinds of expectations that we have keep going higher and higher. I had some of these experiences personally where I have a really fast internet connection both at home and work. And on one occassion, when I had to access the internet through the mobile internet devices, like Tata Photon Plus, I found the speed pathetically poor. It is not that the speed itself is poor, because I used to have a dial up connection before broadband, and I remember clicking the button, and going to do something else while the page loads, or something else happens. And this is faster than that. But after seeing faster connections, what can actually be considered good becomes dismal.

And with high expectations and choices, we also end up spending (wasting?) a lot of time before picking something to buy. The easiest example is cell phones - When you decide to buy a cell phone, now you have to do a whole lot of computations, and pick one after comparing brands, platform, features and then depending on your budget ensure that you are getting the maximum features in your phone. So you go about asking a lot of people, reading reviews online etc. And after you buy a phone, as usual, within a short time, technology becomes obsolete and therefore that higher end phone that you had eyes on but no money comes to the price range of your phone - and you would have bought that! Had you just waited a little longer. Therefore you start getting disappointed in the choice that you made, though your choice was a good one.

I had this experience where I bought a decent phone as soon as it had released paying close to Rs. 12,000 and around seven months later, that phone is available at Rs. 7,000 from the same site from where I had purchased it. This will definitely make you sad, make you feel that you could have waited, or bought a better phone - that element of satisfaction lost. (It is a different matter that my phone went kaput in the rain and now I am using an ancient phone that can do nothing except call and sms... Well, this feeling is entirely different)

There should be varieties, and the varieties should also improve constantly, but creating too many varieties will create problems when you want to pick. Another example is Linux. I keep hearing newer and newer distributions of Linux every other day, and they also say that the whole thing is fully customisable - If you do something like this, then ensure that always provide a person default settings with recommended options so as to quickly be able to get started. I understand customisation is a great feature, but it is one helluva time consuming task, frankly.

Now that we understand too many choices is bad, why not extrapolate the same concept to politics and multi party system? People keep 'forking' out of parties and starting their own all the time. The result can be that the votes are going to be divided among every party and thereby getting fragmented... Thus forcing a need to form coalitions...

I would like to close this post on expectations - As long as you keep your expectations high, you are bound to be disappointed. I always love the quote by Lord Krishna -
Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani
 - which means, do your work and don't expect fruits. The problem with expecting something is, if you don't get it, you will be saddened. When parents expect good performance from children and when children disappoint them, the parents are disheartened, and thus the child is disheartened and then there are suicides.

Note: Yes, expecting is natural, having expectations is natural, and setting higher standards is definitely the sign of progress and advancement... But they come at a price... They always do.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"The world is shrinking, along with the thickness of smart devices"

Ever since the release of the fabulous iPhone, the smart phone industry seems to be in a mode of constant innovation. Fabulous apps keep coming out every so often and one that I would like to discuss today, is Viber.

So what's Viber anyway?

The development of phones has gone to such extents that very often we forget the original purpose of the phones - to make calls and send messages. This was the fundamental couple of features from the days of the venerable 3315. However, with a host of features that came along later, which makes your life greatly simplified, such as maps and GPS for navigation, locating places nearby and keeping track of events with synced calendars, one often had problems only in one case - When having to contact someone who is beyond your country.

This was also not really much of an issue with tools like Skype, Fring and Google talk. You can talk to people face to face, as well as chat with them. But two tools seem to have taken this to the next level - One is Whatsapp, and  the other is Viber. The main advantages of these is that they use your phone number and can be integrated with smart phones, like iPhone and Android.

Frankly, I came to know about Viber today, and installed them on an Android phone and iPod touch. Once installed, you can place a call to anyone, Viber to Viber, free of cost, as well as send a message to them - all this using phone numbers as contact IDs rather than creating a specific ID which you would have had to do in case of Google, Skype or Fring. You can still make similar calls with Google, Skype and Fring - Frankly, in that sense, I found that the features are very identical - and a message is just like a single message of a chat.

Which is probably why not many people I know seem to be using Viber - Only 4 of my contacts (1 included me :P) used Viber, while a large number of my dad's contacts use Viber. Which either means my friends aren't tech savvy :-O (Yikes!) or they don't know about apps like Viber and Whatsapp, or they just didn't see value in it.

As an app, it has a very clean interface, and can do things like Sending messages, deleting messages, placing calls, showing missed calls, etc. And a couple of features here and there. The biggest advantage, to summarise folks, is that you won't lose any money as long as you have wi-fi around (which is true with most of us these days) or with GPRS and 3G. So what are you waiting for, go get Viber.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Slut Walk

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"Prevention is better than cure, it is better to avoid than to lure"

Today's newspaper article showed that the Slut walk campaign that was due to be held in Bangalore got cancelled because there was opposition from some groups against the campaign. I posted a link of one of my previous posts on Facebook, citing that the protest in itself was silly. Since were there were several discussions on that, I thought, let me put a clearer picture, solely dedicated to this protest here.

== Note ==
Read the whole post, do ample research. Knee jerk reactions will be not be commented upon

So, what exactly is Slut Walk?
On January 24, 2011 Constable Michael Sanguinetti spoke on crime prevention at a York University safety forum. He said: "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." (wikipedia)

Then what happened?
This had happened in Canada. So people protested against it, saying that wearing provocative clothes is not an invitation to rape.

Ok, I got that - So, what's your problem?
Take the following situation - It is a lonely road late in the evening.

  • There is a woman walking alone on that road wearing a lot of jewellery. 
  • There is a couple walking, woman has a lot of jewellery
  • Big group of people walking, one woman has a lot of jewellery
  • It is a busy road, lone woman has a lot of jewellery
  • It is a busy road, many people walking as a group. Woman has a lot of jewellery
  • Same cases - only difference is, woman doesn't have any jewellery
My question to you is - What are the chances that she will be mugged? And which case has the highest chances?

The answer is - all cases can have mugging. Depends. There can be a big group of rowdies with weapons and they would have robbed you no matter which case. But the chances of that happening is less. The chances of chain snatching is still a possibility in all cases. However, the chances of a full fledged robbery, and that too by a lone man is highest in the case where she is alone and has a lot of jewellery.

If you don't agree with this argument - stop reading.

If you agree, let's analyse. What are the factors that brought about the robbery?
  • She was alone (no company)
  • She had jewellery
  • There were lesser/no people on the streets
Now, notice that point one and point three are nothing to do with the woman herself. They are merely companions who can defend her in case of problems and also serve as a scare to the predator. However, if she didn't have jewellery (lots of it, as specified before and on display) on her, chances of her being robbed is a lot lesser. It is not that she won't be robbed at all, but is lesser. Why? There is no direct lure.

It is common sense that if you are luring someone - there is bound to be a repercussion. This is also the reason why we lock the doors. It is an attempt to thwart an attempt. What you can call, as a first level of precaution. It is also the same reason why we don't go around advertising how much money we have kept in the safe, or discuss financial matters in front of servants. It is common sense that a prevention is better than cure, and this is why I said that it is sane advice - Avoid wearing skimpy clothes.

If you wear skimpy clothes, there is a higher chance that you will be ogled at. So that brings us to the question, why wear skimpy clothes?

Why wear skimpy clothes?
This is a question I would really like the girls to answer. What I feel is that they are trying to attract male attention and/or show off their body to attract attention. But yeah, mainly, you are trying to attract attention. As discussed previously, keeping a lower profile is more likely going to avoid an unnecessary attention to you.

Heck, I will wear what I want. It's the rapists fault!
Yes, the rapist is at fault at all points of time, and nobody is denying that. However, the question is, does wearing skimpy clothes really draw the attention of a rapist? So typically people say "Studies show that...." and therefore I decided to do a bit of looking up.

According to statistics (and there were loads of them) you can say that there was a 25% chance where rapists raped due to the clothes. Oh see? Not something like 85%, it was just 25%. Fine, I agree, it is not a very high percentage. But those 25% could have been avoided by following a simple precautionary step. Note, for you it is a statistical number. For those women, it was 100% and that is what I am saying. Every little step is a step towards the goal.

Still, what about the remaining large percentage?
The remaining large percentage was partially faults on both sides. Some cases, men wanted to show control over the women and thus they raped. Some cases, women went to bars, got  drunk and chatted up men, danced provocatively and teased them, didn't strongly say no, etc. And men were also in a drunken stupour. That said, the questions is - can we prevent this? Yes, this can also be brought down by a large extent by strongly cutting down the pub-culture, something that people are strongly against in Bangalore.

Dude, Bangalore's night life sucks
What happens is - When people get drunk, they lose inhibition. This coupled with the darkness makes it easier because of lesser people. This makes it a lot unsafe for people. You may not be the types who will cause trouble, but not everyone is as gentlemanly or lady like like you are. Think about the perverted punks who booze and have no inhibitions at a time where you, a decent guy are out with your girl friend, sipping breezers at a time when there are no people around to help you defend against a pack of wolves? Isn't it better to shut down parties at more human hours? It is, again, a precautionary measure and works a lot better than having to fight it subsequently through protests.

Ella ok, slut walk against yaake?
Now that I have told you all of this, let us see what it is that ticks me off.
  • Clothes are a trigger in a certain number of cases. It is sane advice to not wear skimpy clothes
  • Liquor is an agent that weakens inhibitions, results in all kinds of damage if unchecked
  • In cases where men wanted to dominate women and thus raped, these protests make no sense.
So should I protest?
Yes! You must. But you don't have to do a slut walk. A slut walk has no relevance here. First, write down what you are protesting against. 

If you are protesting by saying that, it is my clothes, my body, I will show off or hide, what's your problem? Then I will say - Prevention is better than cure, you will see that it is safer to avoid trouble than inviting it and then confronting it.

If you are protesting by saying - It is my life, my money, I want to drink when I want, where I want - Then I will say that in a society, it is safer the way it is now in Bangalore.

If you are going to say - The people in Canada did it and people world wide are doing it, I want to do it too! Then I will say that you are doing it because someone else is doing it. You are not doing it because  you believe in it, rather, you are doing it because you want to feel like a global citizen.

If you are going to protest by teaching self defence, or by spreading awareness, talking about repercussions, or trying to bring about a stronger punishment against rapists, helping police catch perpetrators by investing the same time and money into something that will aid safety, developing neighbourhood watch systems, etc. then yeah, I would say that this is the way in which you can protest.

La Tomatina - Now wait a minute, what?
The feeling that I get from people is that, there is a tendency to bring about a globalisation of everything. People did La Tomatina somewhere, people decided to bring it here in Bangalore. People did a slut walk somewhere, people decided to bring it here in Banagalore. People did a flash mob somewhere, and they decided to bring it here in Mumbai, Bangalore and other Indian metros. This kind of globalisation is something that I see in all kinds of silly things, which ends up getting a lot of media coverage. These are participated by people who hardly give a damn about what they are participating in - In fact, the zest is to be a part of the global community, and it is frankly no different from KFC or McDonalds where you are participating for the brand - because it is recognised. Later you can say, there's no difference between that of the US and that of India. The World Is Flat, said Thomas Friedman.

You may say - Dude, how can you club a serious social offence like rape with a tomato throwing festival? The answer is that it is the same group of people who will support all these. And the moment there is a protest against it, the immediate culprits are RSS, SRS and right winged saffron parties. I never see the same kind of globalisation when it comes to dedication shown by people in the West for something worthwhile. Anything nonsensical is first supported, anything worthwhile is not.

Attacks against slut walk protesters - Justified?
I am frankly against any physical attacks. But, I really get bored when people say that it s their way of protesting, etc. Everyone has a way of protesting, true, and everyone should really have the freedom to protest against crimes or anything else that they feel like. I agree that we should not stymie protests, because, as in the movie Gangajal, tomorrow, even an honest protest can be stymied by threats.

However, I have absolutely no feelings towards people who protest using ways like slut walks. You may say that it is for a cause, a good cause, even. Frankly, I am all for a protest against rape, even if it is as simple as holding placards and shouting at the government, forcing to make stronger laws against rapists, or shouting to increase patrols (though it is hard due to lack of man power) but a protest like slutwalk where you are a person with no conviction but one who is doing it just to be under an umbrella protest, like a KFC chain or a McDonalds chain, just so as to get some media attention, then you are not a serious protester. You are one who doesn't understand this post.

Comments from Facebook

Abhishek Kodankiry: As always, awesomely written!! :)

Anand Bhatia: Thanks for holding sanity's fort..i'd pitched in the other thread if not for my exams.

Ashok Kumar: Nicely put but then underneath it all is the question of equaltiy of sexes and whether society is ready to concede that equality and if yes then how to go about it...

Lavanya Krishnamurthy: This is the consequence of the idea 'anything western/global is cool' without understanding if it fits in with our way of life or is beneficial to us in any way.

Comments from cell phone

Poornima Rao:  Nice blog. U precisely put. I frankly dun think it applies in indian context. Coz vr more inhibited than west. Wont see many women in skirts even. Plus rare of

Thanks to govt. But if even expression s taken away. Then it becomes a land of powerful n rich in protests only. Common man vl literally hv no say

Minors is on a rise here. Need to address relief n speedy trial of cases. But wat got me upset was tat gangajal thing u said. As it is v hv few rights left

N blore has always been a tolerant city compared to others. Its shockin to seesuch weakness in e police. found it too cumbersome to put it up on fb :)

Monday, 28 November 2011

Inefficient people and broken chains

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"A chain will always break at the weakest link"

Let us assume that you are a military commander who is creating a small team of elite warriors. You have decided to create a team of eight people. You have chosen a really elite set of people who clearly stood out from the ordinary, and you are all set to go into enemy territory with a mission to infiltrate, steal some top secret files, and blow up the facility.

And then all of a sudden, your boss gives you a call and suggests and insists (read orders) that you have to take his nephew into the team because he wants to give his nephew an opportunity to get a piece of the action, first hand experience and become a hero. You know his nephew, he's useless. He couldn't even get the basics right, leave alone being one who can match up to the rest of the elite. Taking a guy like him into the team is as good as surrendering to the enemy. You are sure he'll bungle along the way. You are worried, not sure if you should give him an important piece of task that was supposed to be carried out by the guy who was replaced to this guy... Finally, you decide to do one of the following - Either stand up to your boss and end up in a lot of trouble. Or take the klutz in, and jeopardise the safety of the team and the integrity of the mission. Or take him in, ask him to do nothing important, thus he ends up being nothing more than extra baggage. Of course, he is not as benign as baggage, for he consumes resources, food, water, and always poses a risk of getting himself or the rest into trouble. What do you do? Would you not regret having incapable people along with you? Or would you say - He too deserves a chance, not everyone can be an expert from day one.

This brings us to an interesting juncture. There are two things I would like to bring up in this post - A guy who gets a post on the basis of reservation rather than merit (reservation can be caste based, or through influence of some uncle) and an inefficient guy with whom you have to do something - could be your lab partner, your project partner, your co worker, etc.

I have a belief that a chain will always break at the weakest link. Assume that you have an important post - You will obviously expect that that post, if you are an independent third party observer, will be taken up by an efficient and intelligent person. It is ridiculous that you allow a person to occupy such a post simply by the virtue of his caste. I understand that people are being discriminated on the basis of caste and therefore they have trouble getting jobs - I can understand the result being reservation in schools, and maybe, to a certain extent in colleges - But why all colleges? Let us see what happens. Assume that a person X has mediocre intelligence. But, on the basis of his caste, he got into a prestigious institute where an enormous pressure to excel exists, or maybe a competitive environment which is full of intelligent people. If he is one who cannot cope up with that level of pressure or quality, he will naturally succumb subsequently. What will happen? Either he will drop out, or he will go to the extreme and commit suicide. If he drops out, then he is a person who had blocked the seat of an intelligent guy who would have taken that seat and excelled, but couldn't - and therefore ended up being a dog in the manger. Neither did (could) he do anything, nor did he let another who could. And if he commits suicide, then people start blaming colleges for pressure. Suicides are becoming common among students.

Colleges have the provision to expel him in the event he proves to be thoroughly useless. But imagine government jobs that are sought after by several just because getting rid of someone is extremely hard and ends up being an arduous task. If an inefficient guy occupies a seat, he will sit on the files all his life and make a lot of bad calls when it comes to decision making. Even in the work environment, you will notice such problems at times. Things get worse when inefficient people get promoted and those who worked hard and are more capable find it extremely unfair and end up resigning.

But would you, as a person with that power to appoint or fire, keep the person and give him a chance or not? I see a lot of people who say that everyone needs an opportunity to learn - not everyone is good from the beginning, they need a chance, for growth and exposure. The beauty is that, if these people owned their own companies or were a military commander where the result of the weakness of this character could directly affect them or their growth, they would certainly not say that. I agree, not everyone is good from the beginning - at the same time, they also do need chances to grow. So, what needs to be done is, either create sandbox environments for them to mess around and grow, and once ready to take responsibilities should be allowed. However, critical positions should certainly not be allowed to be held by an inefficient guy - He is useless, whether you accept it or not.

Comments of Facebook

Ashok Kumar: hmm.. you have made an often repeated and more or less a very common refrain against reservation. but please understand that the reservation or positive discrimination is provided to people who have been discriminated aginst for a few generation to say the least.. they need more than basic education to provide them equality in the true sense... all the major leaders of SC ST today (excluding the politicians) are people who got into jobs and higher degrees due to reservation

Sriranga Chidambara: And all those efficient leaders and politicians that you DON'T see are those who althought meritorious, had to give way to less deserving candidates due to reservation!

Would you trust your life to a doctor who graduated solely based on reservation?

The biggest irony of our system is that we are classifying and differentiating people as a solution to 'discrimination'.

Nikhil Baliga: @Ashok - It is not a post against reservation (though I am against reservation as well) - It is a post against an inefficient person occupying a key post. Reservation is one of the ways in which this can happen. Like I said, it can also be because of some influential uncle, etc. It results in a weak system. Reservation and the like should not be applicable to top level of anything.

Ashok Kumar: if only it were so simple and straightforward :( anyways will write more later...

Chiranth Ashok: Influence is the biggest thing one can have out there... influence gives people the power to break rules and to break the chain of command.. simplest case i have seen: a guy riding a bike without a helmet is stopped on the highway by the traffic police and all he does is- says somebody's name and rides away.. did even have a license? was it even his own bike or a stolen one? the policeman cannot ask... its a pity that our society works like this..

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Students and Suicide

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"No pains, no gains"

Before you read this post, read this post =

There are a few things that can be noticed of late. Suicides are becoming commonplace. It so happened that today's paper showed a school girl setting herself ablaze because she wanted to become a dancer, and her parents insisted on her continuing as a student - and she was made to stand outside class for not completing homework = Petty reason. Then I saw this article... And a couple of days back, my mother told me that a guy who wanted to become a singer committed suicide because his father asked him to continue studying, but then he wanted to become a singer.

So, what's common? Students and suicide. Now, before you get all 3 Idiots on me, let's get a couple of things straight. India is a country with a population of a billion. And India is a country where, like that joke I remember, even if you are a one in a million guy, there are over a thousand like you. Given this situation, and given a situation where the country is embroiled in corruption, nepotism, favouritism, etc. it has become extremely difficult to grow in a field that you like to excel in. There are thousands of people with the exact same profile as you - look around you, compare yourself with your friends and classmates and peers. If not you, him - this is the policy in various companies. Now, let's take singing as a simple example. I don't know how many of you have watched the auditions of Indian Idol or anything of that genre. You will see the whole country is filled with aspiring people - many of whom are filled with talent. And then, the judges eliminate contestants at every level, and finally declare one person as the winner - The Indian Idol - Who also gets a contract, money, fame, etc. Or at least, he is supposed to get. Take Abhijeeth Sawanth - The first Indian Idol. How many movie songs have you heard him sing? He ended up in a comedy show finally - such a good singer, who even got selected in an all India platform...

The same holds good for most other things - sports is known to be full of corruption and favouritism, where your talent doesn't get recognised at all! And when it does, people screw up their chances with drugs. So, it seems like among all the options available, two of them are most viable - at least, they seem relatively transparent. One is through education, where you study and secure a job. And the other is through business, where you need luck, money, luck, street smartness and the most important ingredient... luck. It is not that you can't succeed in the rest - It is just that the chances of succeeding are slim. And in the end, we all do things for the same set of reasons - Primarily, like the early man, food, clothing, shelter and then the rest of the luxuries, fancy cars, jewellery and what not.

Therefore, it is clear that education is one thing that has always seemed to guarantee that for us - An employment. The world outside colleges is not as easy as within colleges. If you are finding both college and work very easy, you are most likely not a very successful guy or you are doing it wrong (unless you are a prodigy, then you shouldn't read this post). Any average guy you pick, he finds that there is a steep learning curve before he is ready to become productive for a company once outside college. This is the reason why companies always have some kind of training programmes for freshers, and they teach you things that you have already learnt or are supposed to have known. Because you don't know. When in college, most students don't take studies as seriously as it is supposed to be taken - maybe they are not interested at all, maybe they are incapable of understanding, maybe they don't understand the importance. If you are the fellow who is not interested at all, then you shouldn't commit suicide even if you fail - because you don't care either ways. If you are incapable of understanding, you shouldn't commit suicide - it is anyway not going to help anyone anyway. If you are the third category, then you should talk to some seniors and see what the transition is like - and talk to seniors of all types, those who went for higher studies, those who work less and earn less, work more and earn more, work less and earn more and work more and earn less.

People often only see the success part of successful people. They don't see the enormous effort that goes into it, the kind of slogging and effort behind it. They see a batchmate successful - Oh, if he can do it, so can I... Wrong! I still remember my school teacher saying "God has given everyone equal intelligence" (If you are an atheist, skip that) But I think she was telling us that just to keep our morale up. In reality, it is not true and everyone knows it. We all don't have the same capabilities. I myself was not able to match the efforts put in by classmates who became toppers. Why did they become toppers? They put in enormous effort and hard work. No pains, no gains. If you say - I don't like the system, let me change the system, then you are most likely wrong. First get facts right. Never compare yourself or your college with a college that is below your college's level. Your college is above for a reason. You should always compare your college with one higher than yours. If their policies are more lenient and they are still above you, then you can ask for a change. PESIT is a fantastic institute, and any civilised, law abiding student whose primary intention of going to college was to study, just loved the college. It is only the vagabond types who normally have major issues. Those who come in through merit seats will never have issues. Go ahead and do a survey.

And suicide is the worst answer for anything. There are people who go through a lot worse in life, getting beaten up for no fault, getting abused, etc. and even they don't commit suicide, they end up getting tougher and stronger. It's all about YOUR frame of mind. Don't blame external factors. I don't see the point of suicide, unless you are in the absolute dead end where you can't pay off an exceedingly large loan, and people are hunting for you with large axes. Maybe you want to die in a painless way, ok, maybe. But for silly things like not being able to complete education? Education, like I said, is considered to be the Rama's arrow of success - It doesn't fail, it never fails. That said, it is not that it is the only way to success. Go and read the book called "Connect the Dots" by Rashmi Bansal. The very first story is about a man who didn't complete education, started washing dishes, grew up serving tea, started a tea shop, pushed a cart with snacks and today is the owner of an international hotel chain. But at the same time, how many other tea stall guys do you think can become hotel chain owners? So fret not, like my friend says, life always finds a way... There are many alternate ways of doing things, and as long as you can do something (legal) to satisfy your necessities and indulge a bit in luxuries here and there, I believe that you already have satisfied the basic purpose of education - Job.

Comments from Facebook

Abhishek Kodankiry: Nicely written man. And totally agree with u..
And I cant believe few idiots resorted to vandalism just coz some coward killed himself.. And I dont even see a reason why they lit candles in memory of him, stupidity..

Aditya Kiran: Super. You just mentioned everything that went through my mind when i heard the news. People will always complain, regardless of how lenient the rules are. I guess it also boils down to immaturity and lack of experience. They just dont realize that there are worse shitstorms out there that they are yet to face.

Vishnu Raghav: ‎"Pranay's classmates produced before mediapersons a letter that was sent by the college to Suresh Prasad Singh, Pranay's father, with his marksheet. Singh had been asked to meet the HoD to discuss his son's performance. College, however, denied any pressure on Pranay to perform. " --> Times Of India, a 19-20 year old should be treated as an Adult and not as a kid. Calling his parents or even trying to write a letter to inform them about his performance is absolutely blasphemous. An adult is responsible for his deeds, and some weak beings take offense to this embarrassment(informing parents) which leads to suicide. Any institute indulging in such ridiculous micro management deserves to be ostracized!

Nikhil Baliga: ‎Vishnu Raghav - Till a person is capable of independent existence, he is answerable to his parents. When your parents are paying your fees, how is telling your parents about you micromanagement? It is not that they are calling for the drop of a hat - poor performance and attendance shortages can lead to losing a year subsequently. Then there would be complaints - Well, you knew he was not performing well, and you made no attempt to tell us...

Even when a venture capitalist invests in a company, he is expected to know everything about the company's performance though the company might be run by seasoned managers with years of experience. They are responsible for the company, just like parents are responsible for children.

Vishnu Raghav: Supposedly the government of india gives you the right to vote at 18! And while voting you cannot even tell your parents whom you voted! That's a crime! Clear evidence that even the Government recognizes the fact that 18 is when you are pro-claimed an adult. Secondly it is the "moral" duty of the student to inform his parents, and not of the school!! It's his parents money after all!

Secondly if the student had cleared CET then he's obviously got a good rank which adds to his defense that he is not a poor performer! However if he was given admission on management quota, then PESIT has reduced its standard by giving admission to such people, and then massively contradicts itself by trying to enforce its strict study policy on a well documented poor performer(he got admission in management quota)! How can a poor performer suddenly perform well over a span of 3 semesters? How foolish can they be to think that such an event is possible!!??

Finally assuming that student did get a good rank in CET, there could be 1000s of reasons for him to suddenly under-perform (I have seen this in many students, some of them my good friends, who have done wonderfully well after graduating VTU at 50 odd % with multiple backlogs).. doesn't mean they are bad!! This does not give the college any right to embarrass such students in front of their parents!! the student previously known to be a great performer probably could not tolerate this embarrassment and committed suicide.. Imagine his father had to come from Bihar to meet that dumb HOD.. I am certain PESIT would have given him a deadline and would have forbidden him from attending any classes... Continuous reminders from HOD + Embarrassment of father having to make 2000km journey + embarrassment of excuses father has to give in bihar for reason of this journey = SUICIDE !!! it is well known among the circle of Bangalore colleges how foolish PESIT and its principal can get, and hope they are taught a lesson this time!! Bunch a fools they have bred as teachers!

Nikhil Baliga: ‎Vishnu Raghav - before joining the college, you had the prior knowledge about PES and its rules, which apparently is well known among the circle of Bangalore colleges. If you are not capable, don't join. The college is very reasonable, being an alumnus, I know how the college is. If you have had genuine issues, they are very lenient as well. I don't know what outdated data you base your conclusions on.

That said, I also know several students who have been studying very well, and then couldn't continue, had year backs, quit college, some restarted in a different branch, some gave up education - It is not that you are being driven to do something impossible. Every year, scores of students graduate - none of them seemed to have any urge. And what is so great about Bihar, when we have NRI students studying in PESIT. Why is that nobody else had any issues? If you are unable to sustain yourself in PESIT, don't come to PESIT. You cannot expect to merely reap benefits of an institute if you cannot adhere to and respect the rules. There are plenty of other, more lenient colleges...

Chiranth Ashok: ‎@Vishnu Raghav: Seems to me that you are biased against the college based on hearsay. Having been part of the institution for almost 7 years now, I have not seen a single rule that is outright wrong.

Aditya Padaki: Great read! When I went to PESIT this May, I was totally impressed with the newly formed education system they had. Whether or not they figure in the "ranklists" of top colleges, I can vouch that PESIT's management is striving very hard to improve the standard of education . Certain schemes introduced were comparable to the one's followed among the best institutes in the world! I totally empathize with the student's parents, but buckling under pressure/under-performance should not go into blaming the system/college.

Moreover, I personally feel, PESIT's management is among the friendliest to students. The top management (leave alone Principal) was easily accessible to students to submit their grievances. I am not aware of any other institute being so friendly. And strangely, people outside PESIT seem to have more problem with the rules than people inside PESIT!!! And as AK said, people will always complain about rules!

Rahul Navinchand: destroying college property to show your condolences to someone who just died just shows what wrong with the world today, pesit has some retarded rules but hey no one is perfect, but i think they need to have full time counselors for students on campus if they already do thats great

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Friday, 11 November 2011

Of leaders, greatness and belittlement

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. - Gandhi"

There are a bunch of strange posts circulating lately. What happens in these posts is - An icon is picked, and then a whole lot of mudslinging follows. What kind of mudslinging? It essentially revolves around an icon being put down because someone else was not acknowledged

Here is an example - Steve Jobs.

So, when Steve Jobs died, there were a lot of people who really felt the loss of the icon. Jobs is always considered as one of the icons who revolutionised the IT field. He was and continues to be one of the role models to all tech enthusiasts and programmers worldwide. Imagine how the world would have been if GUI wasn't there. It is not that nobody else could have come up with that, but then again, possibly anyone can come up with anything at any point of time. The fact that Jobs revolutionised the industry is not something you can discard. The era of personal computers began with Jobs and Gates and the continuous innovation their respective companies churned out along with other biggies like IBM.

But after he died, there were some strange responses once the initial mourners stopped posting on Social Networking sites, notably Facebook. First, there were many who compared him to a million people who died of starvation. I wrote a post on it here.

Then came the death of another great, Dennis Ritchie. He was another great man, but unfortunately, his death did not receive as much media coverage as Jobs' did. So, people started belittling Jobs. What had he done? Did he ask that Ritchie shouldn't be hailed? Or does the fact that Ritchie's death was not covered by media and people didn't post much about him on Facebook and other sites make Jobs' achievements and accomplishments any lesser? The ideal response would have been the post Ritchie's photos and probably post about him if you really want to publicly display your sadness. But please don't go around insulting Jobs. They are both greats in their own ways.

Another example is Mahatma Gandhi

It so happened that I saw this photo of Gandhi and saw a whole lot of comments below it. They mainly called him a fraud, said spread the message and show that he was a fraud, etc. Some said that Gandhi and Nehru were enjoying with British women and that there were several others who were dying in the jail. That there many greater people who were in the jail, and Gandhi became a great. And so on.

Now, to start off with, none of us who are currently commenting on him know for a fact the situation 60+ years back. Frankly, everything that we know about the past, is through whatever has been told to us - Either by parents, teachers or textbooks. And they also know it, not through their own knowledge. We hear great stories of great kings - How do you know they were great? We trust accounts of others. And these accounts may or may not be true. If those people were bribed to write good things, and those accounts were found now, one might assume that they were indeed the truth.

Gandhi's accomplishments, again, like that of Jobs cannot be rubbished just because there were hundreds of other freedom fighters in jail. Gandhi himself was in jail on numerous occasions. People who were in prison knew what fate awaited them if they went against the British, and yet they did it, because they had conviction and believed strongly that the freedom of India was what was more important. They were heroes, no doubt. But as it often happens, we always remember the leader always. When the Mahabharata war was fought, thousands of soldiers fought bravely. Same in the Ramayana. Do you know the names of everyone? Why so old? When we say India beat Pakistan in the Kargil war or the 1971 war, do you know the names of the brave soldiers who died? Were they not great? We remember Indira Gandhi and Gen. Sam Manekshaw.

Everyone has vices. Yudhishtira lost the game of dice which led to the war finally anyway. Do we remember his flaws, and does that flaw mar his greatness? Gandhi may be dancing here with some lady, that doesn't mean anything. And even if it did, his great tolerance, leadership and wisdom will not, in any way, become lesser.

Gandhi said - An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
Now even if you hate Gandhi for whatever reasons, do you feel this is a wrong quote? It is a gem of a quote, and his personal shortcomings in no way make his accomplishments any smaller, nor does it undermine those of the other martyrs. Everyone was great in their own ways.

People often insult Gandhi when it comes to Bhagat Singh - again, before you jump to any conclusions,  do a thorough research. Even after that if you still feel Gandhi was no good then by all means, go ahead.

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Comments/Debate On Facebook

Raveesh Mayya: I wish to know how this dance make him a fraud !!

Skanda Guruanand: not the dance, the character in him. People worship him blindly, being ignorant of his deeds. In the name of freedom fight he and Nehru enjoyed and the true fighters were being treated in Jails, some even killed for no good reason.

Nikhil Baliga: This is what I don't get. People said Steve Jobs died and a million cried, and millions die in Africa because of starvation and nobody cries for them. Think about it - many people die, that doesn't make Jobs' death any lesser. And Jobs revolutionised technology and is great.

Similarly, Gandhi has done a great deal of awesome things for the freedom of the country. Of all the great things, people pick this pic and start circulating it. Do you think you can have the guts to do some of the things he did? With that level of tolerance and mental strength? You cannot belittle the greatness of a man by a couple of things here and there. Who said Gandhi wasn't jailed? That way, would you belittle Lord Krishna for having many wives? That way, everyone is a fraud, pick any guy in the world.

Nikhil Baliga: A simple example is this -
What appears on the outside needn't be the truth

Sneha Raghunandan: Why idolise someone like this and call him the "father of our nation"? He is highly overrated. People who actually fought the freedom struggle aren't being given due credit!!!

Skanda Guruanand: I do agree to the facts that he did some great things for the freedom of the country. I have no doubt about that. But, I believe that at the cost of other people, for his own good he did many things. 1) What was the necessity for sending Indian soldiers to fight for WW II in support of British. A true patriot wouldn't have even thought about that. 2) During partition-riots in 1947, so many Hindus were massacred by Muslims. A person who fought for independence with Ahimsa for decades couldnt bring his methods then? 3)As u said "with that level of tolerance and mental strength"...where was his mental strength when Sardar Vallabhai Patel won the votes to become the PM, and he negotiated with him to make Nehru as PM. 4) What is the difference in people when fighting for freedom. Gandhi and Nehru were given special treatment in jails. Why was V.D Savarkar sent to Andaman and kept in solitary confinement and ill-treated? I would like to answer your qn "Do you think you can have the guts to do some of the things he did?". My answer is I may not have the guts he had. But I definitely am sensible enough to decide what is right and wrong. I would say ur comparison with Lord Krishna or Steve Jobs as sheer ignorance.

Nikhil Baliga: Skanda - Just because you don't agree with his methodologies doesn't make him wrong. This has become like people talking about what should be done in cricket matches - Send out spinners, no send out pacers. He did what he felt was right. When a person is at the helm of affairs, they are under a lot of pressure - everyone can do armchair debates now that we know how the course went.

About World War 2 - Read this in Wikipedia and see if your facts are right

"The Indian National Congress, led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Azad, took a strong stance against Fascism and Nazism. Gandhi, in an open letter to Adolf Hitler, touted tolerance and viewed Nazism as a source of violence. Several other Indian leaders and politicians expressed concerns over the rise of Fascism and Nazism and supported the British cause.

However, Jawaharlal Nehru pointed out the inherent contradiction in the British argument of going to war with Nazi Germany for the sake of freedom, since India was denied that same freedom. He pointed out that Nazism and the British Raj represented the two core ideologies the Congress was fighting against — imperialism and racism. It was because of this perceived hypocrisy of the British Government, that the Congress refused to align with Britain's fight against the Axis Powers until India was granted independence"

‎2) Partition - What do you want him to do? He did everything he could.

Nikhil Baliga: Personally, I believe that Patel should have become the prime minister as well. Did Gandhi ask for special treatment in prisons?'

Why is the comparison of Krishna and Jobs ignorant? They are icons, worshipped by millions. They have had their shares of greatness and their shares of losses. Let me know which part you disagree with

Also, if you read the world war post, it says Nehru did the right thing - But you don't like Nehru either... Like I said, they all had their pluses and minuses. In the end, they are what they are - You can agree or disagree. That doesn't make them bad. If everyone of your decisions are perfect when you are at that kind of a position, then perhaps one can make such a remark. When a million people have their hopes on you, and when your actions can affect a million people, things aren't as easy as they sound.

Raveesh Mayya: Quoting 2 of the visionaries from the last 2 centuries : 
1) Einstein on Mahatma : "Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth"
2) Steve Job's brain child, "Think Different Campaign" featured the Mahatma.

‎Skanda, its great to think that having an opinion against established facts makes you a Thinker or a cool guy. But the fact is, the world just doesn't care what you and I have to say about the Mahatma. We are just another brick in the wall, yet we seem to be the noisiest lot.. No point of debating on your wall as we're a bunch of dogmatic individuals.

Ashwin Kumble: I would agree with Skanda Guruanand.

Nikhil Baliga: ‎Ashwin Kumble - I was waiting for you ;-) I knew it :P

Ashwin Kumble: We have had this discussion before! Even when i gave u material from reputed news agencies like the Independent and The Hindu u dont believe a bit. There might be some truth u know :)

The main point is u might be cool to crown Mr. Gandhi with the title of Mahatma with all his defects but many might not want to call him Mahatma when they know the true Gandhi (i am repeating what i stated earlier in our discussion)

I am cool if u consider him Mahatma with his defects but please give a thought that some or many might not!

Skanda Guruanand: Did Gandhi ask for special treatment in prisons?..rather than this..My question is "Why" was Gandhi given special treatment and not other freedom fighters who were equally involved in the struggle. Regarding the comparison, I dint understand why u thought of Krishna, having many wives to compare with Gandhi. (I shared this photo, because I was ashamed to see a leader who guided a nation to freedom, a freedom fighter whom people "believed" in, enjoyed dancing with a British when the entire country was against them). And coming to Steve Jobs, i agree he influenced millions in a big way through technology. You compared Jobs with Gandhi because they are icons. But when I compare people, I look at the work they have done, their contribution to the society and their character and not just because millions worship and I should also do the same.

Bharath Srivatsa: ‎Skanda I agree with just one point you've made. The strong support he offered to Nehru in becoming the PM of free India.
The rest doesnt make much sense as Raveesh has summarised it in the above comment. 
For what we may know, MK Gandhi may just be dancing to the tunes of Vande mataram !!!

Skanda Guruanand: Hmm Bharath Srivatsa why does it not make sense to speak about other issues when you know such things have happened? I agree with summaries of what Raveesh and Baliga have made. But honestly, I feel people must know some true facts before they comment. From Baliga's post, he mentions "We trust accounts of others. And these accounts may or may not be true. If those people were bribed to write good things, and those accounts were found now, one might assume that they were indeed the truth." How do you trust that things written in history books are truth? Authors could be sycophants. I'm firm on my stand in the case of Gandhi. And I'm surprised you saying that "MK Gandhi may just be dancing to the tunes of Vande mataram", a song which is sung by millions with respect and not a Bollywood item number. If at all what u said is true then ur comment itself speaks of Gandhi's character.

Vibhav Kumar: We can have different opinions about a person, event anything, but to call someone who's no more to speak for himself a fraud, characterless etc. is disgusting and shameful to say the least. As a mature individuals, we have all the right to disagree but to call anyone names is plain wrong. For all we know, we might know nothing.

Bharath Srivatsa: ‎Skanda I dont know much about the true facts nor can I take a stand on history mislead by intentional manipulation for the interest of one man nor am I saying Gandhi is a Mahatma in the true sense of the word. All am saying is, the old man deserves a little respect for the values he stood for and the cause he fought and the means he employed for the cause. All that we (our generation, with exceptions) have done is made extensive usage of verbose statements on FB and twitter pages to voice out our emotions / arguments. We don't (atleast I don't) have it in us to stand up against whats eating up our nation and face it head on. So, I feel its too disrespectful of us to debate on such an issue, which has resulted because of the sacrifice of millions of martyrs. Gandhi is great, so is Bose, so is Bhagat Singh and so are the million others whose names we don't even know. I don't care who Gandhi is dancing with... the old man starved for us for several days, let him have his share of fun !!!

Vibhav Kumar: Generalizing is perhaps the worst thing we can do. We were fighting against the British - Army, country whatever. But to say that each and every British was our enemy is just against the basic principles of justice. We have fought wars with Pakistan. So should that stop me from having a Pakistani friend? Should I always hate every Pakistani then?

Totally agree with Bharath Srivatsa. If nothing, then at least don't malign and affront. It would be the biggest travesty if we start "comparing" the efforts and sacrifices of our freedom fighters - knowing very well that we can't even do a fraction of what they did for our country.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Trusting a stranger

Swami Nikhilaananda asked: 
"What would you base trust on, when you trust a stranger?"

 I have a very interesting experience to share. This happened perhaps a year back. I was riding on the outer ring road, in Marathahalli, where the roads are really broad. I had to go a little beyond my office and then take a U turn to go on the service road and come back a little to reach the office. Since I was on the main road and had to come to the service road, I had slowed down considerably and was on the extreme left, ready to make the turn. The road is really broad and hardly had vehicles. And then suddenly, someone rammed into me from the rear, and I jumped off my bike. I didn't fall, and landed on the pavement, on my feet like a cat. I turned back and saw my bike on the road, and behind it an Activa lying on its side, and a man sprawled, face down, doing the saashtaanga namaskaara.

Within a few seconds a small crowd gathered, asking if we were alright. They picked the vehicles and helped him up. I was a little confused. It was a JD (from Scrubs) moment for me, where I tilted my head to the side and drifted off, imagining - "It was like putting a chair in the middle of a ground, and seeing a man trip over it." The whole road was empty, and he picks me in the side of the road to ram into. One man came to me and said 'Don't leave that man, make sure you collect the money'. A few minutes later, on seeing that both of us were alright, the crowd dispersed, leaving us to our fate. The man, brushed the dust off his clothes, and looked at me. I asked him, "Are you alright?" I was genuinely concerned. The way in which he lay sprawled a few minutes earlier, was like he had died. And he said "Yeah, I am. Ok, see you buddy".

SEE YOU BUDDY? "Hey hey, wait a minute, who's going to pay for my bike?" I asked. "Why should I pay?" He replied. I got annoyed. "You are the one who came and hit me, I was all the way over here" I pointed to the side. "Yeah, so what? Even my bike is damaged" - Seriously?!? I said "Dude! That is also your fault only. What kind of an excuse is that?" Finally, he said "Ok, I am running late for a meeting. Here, take my card. Let me know what the estimate is." He offered his visiting card to me. I took it, looked at the man - he was in formals with a tie, and the card showed he was from a reputed IT company, and was in a good position. "Ok, fine." I said, and he rode away. I had to slowly push my bike to a service centre which was fortunately 200 metres away.

I sent him an email with the cost of repairs and my account number. Called him up and told him. He promptly transferred the amount to my account. Note that I am not as gullible as I might sound. I have a policy of taking photographs  of the number plate with my phone, as well as miscellaneous images like probably the other driver, which I did take that day as well. Worst case, I could have filed a hit and run case if he did indeed renege.

Today I was riding home and a car in front of me slammed brakes for some reason. So did I. I was wondering what would have happened if I bumped into him from the rear? Well, I would have had to apologise, say it was my fault, promise him to pay the money. But assume that I had a meeting. I would say "I have a meeting, here, take my card" just like what was told to me. Well, it occurred to me that I was not carrying my card (I don't have one now) but I remembered that I have the card of my personal banker. If I did give him that card, what would have happened?

What I am getting to is, what if that man had given be a card that belonged to someone else? You either trust him or you don't. If you don't, you can create a scene, take him to a service centre and get the money out from him. If he was running late for a meeting, it is his funeral. You didn't ask him to come hit you. That is how you would have thought. Fair enough. But if he did have an urgent meeting, he is in trouble. On the other hand, if you were a trusting person, and he gave you the card of his banker, and you call up subsequently and the banker is as lost as you are after a few minutes of incoherent exchanges of words, you will realise that there is no way to trace that guy if you had not taken down his vehicle number. The banker's card is given to a hundred different people.

Thus, what is the basis of trusting a stranger? There are innumerable cases of strangers duping people. But will you follow a policy of eternal cynicism? Better safe than sorry is a smart approach in my opinion. It is fortunate that a gentleman bumped into me. But if you did encounter a smooth talking, polished looking guy who gave you his card, I would still recommend taking photographs. Almost everyone uses a phone with a camera these days. Never go by face value. In fact, glib people are often slimy.

Comments from Facebook

Sriharsha Sistalam M: You can do nothing at that point if he gives a big smile & apologizes sincerely..

Skanda Guruanand: @‎Sriharsha Sistalam M: I think, u can't expect that from a guy. If its a girl, then to some extent it can be possible! :P

Murlidhar Baliga: I believe that in US it is an accepted practice and when bills are presented they are paid too.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Life - A weird journey

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Life is a race - There are no winners or losers; Just the same starting and ending points"

First of all, this is not a philosophical post. Rather, it is an observation - I still remember my school days like they were yesterday. After I was done with my seventh standard, when we had to come to the eighth standard, there was a shuffle - Some of my close friends who were my classmates for nine years were moved to a different class, and some others came to my class. A shuffle is important in the sense that, just like genes also shuffle, a newer environment results in a wider exposure, etc. Yeah, I agree with all that. But then, those who move away from you, make newer friends and aren't as much in contact with you as they were before. And you also make newer friends.

I was watching an anime series in which the protagonist, Kenshin, a great swordsman is asked how one can defeat a large number of people attacking at once. So he says, you run away from the enemies who will pursue you. But because their weights are different, their running speeds will be different. The fat ones are slower and the thin and athletic ones are faster. Over a period of time, they start spreading and so, they tend to get drawn to one on one battles rather than attacking all at once.

After school, people again got divided and shuffled while joining PU colleges. Again while pursuing professional courses. Many joined engineering, some medical, some law, some accounts, pure science and so on. Now, I see some of my friends are doing their masters, among whom some are here, some abroad, some are done with masters and are working, some want to do PhD after masters, some have been working, some joined family businesses, some got married, some got engaged... Some boys got married, some girls, some are committed, some broken up and some have always been single... Some died.

The beauty is, we all started at the same starting line of the race - A race where there are no winners, no losers. We are all running, we all run along different paths and ended up at different places, for the better or for the worse. While some guys are getting married and ready to settle down with their wives, some guys are still not even sure which field they should pursue or don't even have a job or goal, still wondering which is the right one.

What I am saying, is that, we began at the same line, and that the finish line for all is the same - Death. Some will reach it faster and some slower. Along the path, we get separated, divided and move apart - some race ahead, some fall behind, just like the fat and thin ones - only, now it is because of skill, fate, and miscellaneous reasons. Some times, tables turn around. But life is nothing more than the journey between the two points. A journey where our paths constantly cross. There is nothing to learn from this post, except for a sword fighting technique in the second paragraph ;-)   This is more of a reflection that people are all different, something we all know already...

Friday, 28 October 2011

Switch To Dvorak

Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"I don't want a claw for a hand"

Every time I think about the long hours of time spent by a programmer on the computer, I am reminded of the Chandler (from Friends) after playing Pacman (or Ms Chomp) where his hand becomes like a claw. RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) and Carpel Tunnels Syndrome are two scary after effects of keyboard overuse. I had heard of the Dvorak keyboard quite a long time back, and I thought it is about time I use this. I know a couple of people who use Dvorak and I thought, I think it is time for me to try it out as well.

How to proceed? One is to purchase a Dvorak keyboard. But I am not sure if I will be comfortable replacing the Qwerty. I mean, what if I lose interest after a few days? So, it is better to experiment with the existing keyboard and then if I like it, maybe buy one. So, I thought I should share whatever I found out with you guys to facilitate a switch. If you have some more info, let me know so that I can update my post.

On Windows XP

  1. Open Control Panel, and open Regional and Language Options
  2. Click on the Languages tab.
  3. Click on Details
  4. In the Keyboard section in the Installed services, you will most likely have US. Click on the Add button.
  5. From the Add menu, choose United States-Dvorak
  6. Click on the Key Settings button in the main menu again, and set two short cut keys to switch between the keyboards.
  7. That's it, you are done! Now you can switch between them. Enjoy
On Ubuntu (11.10)
I am using 11.10, but I think it will be similar in the previous ones as well.
  1. Go to System settings. (Choose from menu that appears on clicking on user name on top right)
  2. Select Keyboard Layout from Personal
  3. Click on the Layouts tab
  4. Click on the plus symbol to add a new layout. Choose English (Dvorak)
  5. Click on Options in the same pane
  6. Click on Key(s) to change layout
  7. Choose whatever hotkey(s) you prefer. I went for Scroll Lock since I never use that button.
  8. That's it, you are done!

Other operating systems
When I try on others, I will let you know. Stay tuned. If you find out, let me know so that I can update this post as well.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Der Underdog

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"The underdog is always the one that gets support - irrespective of being right or wrong"

For those of you who didn't get the title, there is a movie called Der Untergang (Which is a must watch, by the way) and this post is to do with the underdog.

So, who's an underdog anyway? A dictionary would define it as follows
An underdog is a person or group in a competition, frequently in electoral politics, sports and creative works, who is popularly expected to lose.
One thing that I have noticed is that the public support, the mob support normally tends to go towards the underdog rather than for the powerful. The general feeling in the minds of the people is that the high and mighty, the powerful, the famous, the popular don't need any kind of support... Rather than saying don't need, I think it would be more appropriate to say don't deserve, for it may be right that they don't need.

A simple example is in case of an accident on the road. The underdog is the smaller vehicle, the villain is the bigger vehicle, and it doesn't matter who is wrong. The support always goes to the smaller vehicle, and it doesn't matter who's wrong. If a car hit a two wheeler, and the rider is on the ground, it's the car's fault. It is most likely that the motorcycle came in front of the bike out of nowhere, but heck, that doesn't prevent anyone from scuffling with the driver of the car. I am not talking about obvious situations where people saw the two wheeler's error. And similarly, if a lorry hit a car, it's the lorry's fault. If a man and a woman are fighting and it is no longer verbal, the man is at fault for striking the woman - She may have started the physical assaults, but the man is at fault.

This is how popular public perception is. Similarly, people's perception in the technological field is quite similar. Microsoft is evil, Windows sucks and Linux rocks. Lots of fanboys write this all over the place. I don't really understand why. If you provide technical reasons with memory consumption, space consumed, say that windows hangs a lot, etc. while Linux is relatively stable, etc. then it is valid. And people who can give reasons are not usually the ones who go about making these statements. Just by using Linux for a couple days, people start abusing 'Windoze'. Again, I am not defending either and I use both. Both have advantages and disadvantages and I don't say one is better than the other. They just hate Microsoft.

When there is a riot and civilians torch government property indiscriminately, peace keeping forces need to be deployed. Many people enjoy the anarchy and derive thrill out of destroying someone else's things. When Dr. Rajkumar died, people randomly burnt vehicles. What had those poor vehicle owners done? Do you believe people such as these will yield to reason? Never! And when necessary force is applied, then the so called "educated" people, English media and foreign nations start jumping around saying that civilians are being hit. When poor tribals were indiscriminately being forced to Christianity, and when a Hindu guru was murdered, nobody said anything because Hindus are the majority. The underdog Christian missionaries got enormous support from the same group mentioned previously when there were some attacks on them.

Similarly a lot of people hate Shah Rukh Khan and Ra.One before it is out also. They are constantly making various remarks against the movie before it is even out. They just hate him because he is the most popular guy.

This kind of behaviour is quite interesting in the sense that, it appears like people behave quite opposite to the 'might is right' philosophy or the matsya nyaya. Rather, they support the weaker than eating it. Here, I think, people start off with the understanding that the stronger, more powerful entities don't need support, the weaker one cannot fight and needs support. This is ok if the weaker one was the right one. But if it is the other way around, then the supporters are damn fools! But unfortunately, the trend is such.


Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"A man without ethics is worse than an animal"

In fact, animals have ethics. It is said that man is worse than the wild beasts of the jungle (or grasslands) because they hunt only for food and only when they are hungry. Many times, I used to be surprised while watching wild life shows when I saw gazelles, wildebeest and other animals on the menu of the predators walking and grazing just a few metres away from the big cats who are just lolling and sun bathing, looking lazily into the horizon. I thought, 'Aren't they scared that they may suddenly leap and bite?' Apparently not. It is very clear to the grass eaters when the cats are hungry. At which point, they are in a state of alarm and quickly relay the message to the rest of their herd as well. The cats will hunt when they are hungry, and at other times, they are just yet other entities in the ecospace.

However, in today's world, lesser and lesser people seem to have ethics. This could be a result of various influencing factors. One of the main factors according to me, is education. When young, the child needs to be taught the differences between right and wrong. There is a proverb in Kannada 'ಗಿಡವಾಗಿ ಬಗ್ಗದ್ದು ಮರವಾಗಿ ಬಗ್ಗೀತೆ' which means 'That which doesn't bend when it is a sapling, will it yield when it becomes a tree?'. It is very difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. People, once set in their ways, don't change most often. And therefore, once they taste the easy way of doing things, they start finding the right way of doing things too hard. When I can do it this way, why should I do it the other way?

There are thousands of examples - I am not going to tell you something that you already know like politicians looting the country, policemen taking bribes and examples as these. These are some that you are already quite familiar with, if not experienced it as well. Take a corporate world. Large companies where only very educated people get in, multinational software companies for example, full of software engineers, coders, programmers, and managers from good business schools. I heard from a friend that the largest enterprise company in the world, IBM, had employees pilfering coffee beans from the coffee machine. When the company realised this, they stopped providing this amenity. This clearly affected even honest people. This is what happens quite often. Mistakes of a few take a toll on a bigger population. Coffee beans - Imagine, these guys are really highly paid, and they are educated. They obviously know taking what's not yours is not right and yet, they did it. Could they not afford the coffee beans? Still, people do it.

This is just one example. There are many, where man does things out of greed. The world's second largest enterprise company used to give fruit juices to the employees in tetra packs. People used to sneak in a few boxes into their bags and hold one in their hand while sipping from the other. This also was stopped subsequently. Amenities are provided for the employees - don't misuse them.

We should learn to be satisfied with what we have first. In the sense that, to desire things is not entirely wrong, but as Buddha says, 'Desire is the root cause of all evil.' Rightly put, people should have desires, for it is desires that drive a man to move ahead. If man didn't have desires to become better, to become richer, or have a thirst for knowledge, man would have also been lolling on the grass like the wild cats or maybe hanging from a vine. It is desire that drives a man ahead. But we should also know what limits are - what is right and what is wrong. When you start blurring the line between the two, when you start following the crook of the hook or crook method, that's when you are drifting in the wrong path.

People often tend to think - How is it going to affect a multi billion dollar worth company? A few coffee beans? It may not affect the company in terms of money. People of principles cannot even begin to think of stealing coffee beans. People without principles don't even understand that it is wrong. They think those who don't do it are stupid. Please teach young children what is right and what's wrong. A man of principles is a man who will be respected. What's man without principles and ethics. Worse than an animal. Worthless.

Comments from Buzz

Nikhil Narayan: I believe the concept of principles is a highly relative one and the entropy of the concept is way too high....

Relationships - Strength or weakness?

Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"Relationships are like friction - a necessary evil"

Man is a social animal - one of the most cliched phrases. However, it is a fact. We live in a society. We bond with people, we have circles of friends, we have interactions with people in schools and colleges, at work, with neighbours and with random strangers. Some of these bonds are close and some are not so close, but bonds do form. Over a period of time, comfort levels increase with people with whom you interact a lot.

This is specially true with people who move away from friends and family, especially for their higher studies or work. People normally fly to the US or to Europe or Singapore or Australia, and then end up talking to their parents and friends quite regularly. They repeatedly say that they miss their friends and family, and end up being quite lonely there. Why does this loneliness creep in? And when they meet their friends and family, they feel great again. Why?

Bonds with people is very important for man. With various psychological and other branches of psychoanalysis, with experiments with monkeys and the like, scientists have shown that the behaviour of monkeys is extremely bad and unstable when they didn't have contact with the mother, and shows that a fake mother monkey made of cloth is better than a fake monkey of wire, because the baby can touch and feel better with cloth, but not with the wire. Therefore, contact and touch is important. And when you talk to people, it is better. You feel lighter when you share your sorrows, you can laugh and feel better and so on. Thus, it is normally believed that, relationships are very important for a wholesome growth of a human being.

However, there is a downside to it as well. Monks and secret agents normally don't have families. The reason for this is that, the same families that can be a great support for you during your sad moments can act as heavy baggage when you want to do something radical. A simple example would be when you want to do something totally radical like quit your work tomorrow and go start your own company. People with families normally will think a hundred times, for they have dependants. What will I do about by children's school? What will I tell my wife? What about my parents' hospital bills? But a guy who has no dependants will follow his heart. His shenanigans affect none but him. The repercussions are solely to be faced by him.

You may have watched various movies where there is an upright cop who wants to teach a lesson to the bad old villains. He goes into their lair and kicks their butts. But then, the villain brings the hero to his knees by kidnapping his old mother/girl friend/sister/brother's kid and threatens to kill/rape/rape/kill them respectively. The hero then is either forced to do something against his will or in some movies driven to a rage where he ends up decimating the villain, but that's digressing. The point being that relationships in these cases end up being weaknesses.

This post is totally random - I was just thinking how relationships are... The nature of relationships is such that a bond is formed. The bond is good in many ways, but the word bond itself indicates that you are bound by it, chained, thereby limiting the things you can do. Some times, you may be forced to break bonds and go beyond, or sometimes believe that these bonds are better than being alone. Which is true? It is purely subjective.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

God, fate and destiny - A proof?

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"One cannot prove nor disprove fate and destiny - They are, thus, equivalent to God, or a parallel maybe. Everything can be God, everything can be fate or destiny..."

Fate and destiny are very interesting concepts. When someone asks - Do you believe in the existence of God, the answers are one of the three. Absolutely yes, absolutely no, or maybe maybe not, I am not sure (Believers, Atheist or Agnostic). The reason for this is the lack of any absolute proof. One can give a long list of things that can't be explained, and one can give explanations with a thousand loopholes that are easy to find.

A simple example was a brilliant show that I watched the other day which had Stephen Hawking explaining about the universe and how it all began. The show was very interesting, and Professor Hawking himself begins by saying that he doesn't want to offend anyone in the process - quite a way to begin, considering there are many who feel only their opinions are right. Proceeding, Hawking goes on to explain about the Black Hole, how it is infinitely dense and that even light cannot pass. But that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is one where he says that time stops in the black hole. If a clock was put in, assuming it could withstand the great pressure, the clock would slow as it approached the black hole and eventually stop. And thus, similarly, according to the big bang theory, everything was in one very dense mass - and there was no time before that. And at an instant, there was a huge explosion at which point, both time began as well as the universe. Since there is no time before that, there can't be a God to create it, he says.

While the explanation is very interesting and though it takes care of a lot of points, I failed to understand some things, which I think Hawking would probably know and can answer, but well, I couldn't figure it out with my basic understanding - Take for example that ultimate mass which was there at the beginning of time. Where was it? When we say a pen on the table, we understand there is a table, on which there is a pen. Similarly table is in the room, room in a house and so on where you ultimately stop at space. Space, we know is constantly growing. The galaxies are known to move farther from one another. Ok, to move somewhere, there should be something. If space is expanding, what is it expanding into? What is beyond it? Or is it expanding into itself? If so, what exactly does that mean? Where was the first ultimate condensed mass? I understand there was no space nor time before it, but then, where was it? I find it exceedingly hard to comprehend these things - I have done no research, of course, but just for a random thought process, I cannot logically come up with anything worthwhile as of now. It is, however, very simple to attribute this to God. God created it - done! :)

Then, what's God? Where does God stay? Actually, in the Hindu philosophy, there are some very interesting points on these, I think studying this would be quite interesting. What I read the other day goes to say that in the beginning, there was the universe and there was Vishnu in the centre resting in the coils of his serpent, the serpent Shesha, known as Adi Shesha. The coils of the snake are known to be infinite, and in the book, it says that the snake always represents time in the Hindu philosophy, because the snake is very motile, just like time. The eternal snake is therefore infinite time. This says that time and space were always there. Vishnu is apparently the consciousness. Before he did get conscious, he is asleep and in the Ananta Shayana (eternal sleep) state when he is known as Narayana. And then there are various explanations beyond which I don't remember clearly. These, I say from my memory which is fairly ok. If you know some mistakes made by me, do let me know.

The beauty of the above paragraphs is that one cannot solidly prove or disprove God. Similarly, what is fate? Whatever has to happen, will happen. This is fate. Can we control fate and destiny? Some people say - All these things about fate and destiny is sheer nonsense. Our future is in our hands. We cannot sit and mope about fate. For, when you put in effort, things will take course. However, assume there was a brilliant boy who worked really hard to become a great doctor. And one day while walking he was mowed down by a drunken lorry driver. Who is to blame? Rational people say lorry driver, some may say bad luck. Some will say - Fate. It was his fate that he was in that place at the inauspicious moment. And if he had survived, people will say Fate - If only he was on the left by a few more inches, he would have died! It was all thanks to his stars. He was destined to serve a lot of people, etc. Either case, it is fate. And no matter what he did, it is fate. For, if he failed, he was destined to fail, and if he succeeded, he was destined to succeed and hard work did it. There are many times that you work exceedingly hard and yet, you don't succeed. And some, by luck (or fathers' contacts) succeed. Did hard work help in succeeding? So, is the solution father's contacts? Therefore, fate, luck and destiny. They are like skeleton keys, just like God. Use it on anything, it will fit and you can't disprove it.

Some may even say fruits of the previous birth determine your destiny and fate here and now. Some may feel fruits of this birth are received in this birth. Some may not believe in fruits at all, but may believe in what goes around comes around (a special case of Karma restricted to the current birth) and so on. However, the bottom line being that one can never prove or disprove the existence of God, or fate, destiny and providence. It is up to you to have faith in God, or to go on a quest to understand God in an intelligent manner, to understand what makes the world tick. But with fate and destiny, my suggestion would be to work hard, and leave the rest to fate. As I always say "Prepare for the worst, hope for the best"