Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Majority wins...

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Majority wins, minority loses... A large unit divided is smaller than a whole small unit"

Imagine you are with four other friends and you decide to go watch a movie. However there is the question of which movie to watch? Some of you want to watch movie A, and some of you want to watch movie B. The question is, how do you decide? The answer is simple (if you are normal) - Poll and majority.

If you look around you, you will see that most decisions are made in the same way. Whether it is decisions in companies (based on share percentage) or in politics, this concept of 'majority wins' is the common way of deciding.

My first question is, why do we consider majority? And my take on that would be - So as to appease most number of people, piss off least number of people thereby having increased general happiness (You know, if each person's happiness was measurable in units, we would have had more such units).

The real question is - Does majority imply correctness? Let's take the scenario of four drunken revellers who are so sloshed they don't know and/or don't care of what's happening around them. So in their stupour, they hurl a large rock into the showcase of a shop and break the glass. The shopkeeper is naturally enraged and along with his wife (who was with him in the shop) come out to fight. The drunken men turn out of to be local ruffians and place a call to their friends. Before the shopkeeper is able to convince a couple of fellow shopkeepers to help him hand over these thugs to the police, a Maruthi Omni, a Tata Sumo (and some other vehicles that we normally associate with hoodlums) come to a screeching halt and the doors slide/spring open and about a dozen rowdies tumble out with their unkempt hair, unshaven face and various talismans hanging, clutching hockey sticks, swords, choppers (and any other weapons that we normally associate with them). The shopkeepers are unnerved. Nobody is ready to even stand there, leave alone fight. The shopkeeper ends up begging for forgiveness in order to avoid problems. The revellers guffaw and walk away. The point to be noted in this example is that, the majority side was that of the thugs and they won. Yes, they won, but they were not correct. Therefore, majority doesn't imply correctness.

But if the majority was correct, the world is a lot safer. In the above example, if there were some 25 shopkeepers, and 4 drunk ruffians, they could have easily tackled the situation and roughed them up before letting the law take its course (or maybe asked them to pay for the damage and let them off with a warning) or whatever is the course that they thought was appropriate.

Now extend the same to religion. I am going to pick the six major religions in India - Hinduism, Islam, christianity, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Among these, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism sprang out of Hinduism and therefore have a lot of similar characteristics and features - including ahimsa (non violence) and tolerance to other faiths. Therefore I am going to club them into Hinduism on account of these two similarities and refer to all of them collectively as Hinduism. The reason why India, with such great diversity can survive for so long is because of religious tolerance. In fact, in the Gita, Krishna says that you can worship God in any form (or attain God through other means) and it will eventually go to one God in the end. At no point does Hinduism claim to pray to only one God (Although it does say that there is one God in the end - It's actually monotheistic in nature) and at no point does Hinduism say that you are going to hell or be damned or brand you as an infidel or a heretic or say that you have lost your way if you have faith in another religion.

This remarkable feature is lacking in Islam and christianity - where it is written that those who follow other faiths are infidels and heretics. Therefore, if you are a hard-core believer of these religions, it should and will become impossible for you to accept other faiths. It just becomes unacceptable. And if you claim to be secular in nature, then it is impossible that you are a hard-core believer (or maybe you are believing in a more peaceful version or choose to ignore that clause - which makes it a very welcome move) This, in my opinion, is the major driving force for aggressive christian evangelism, something that I spit on. The fact that you cannot accept another person's faith is very disturbing.

Do not think of this post as a 'hate post', rather just run your imagination for some time. Now imagine if the country was dominated by religious fanatics such as these people. Intolerance would be everywhere, and Hindus and moderates would be completely subjugated. You will naturally become like that shopkeeper who was being harassed. Christian evangelists derive great wealth from Europe and America, while I find it strange when Indian Muslims support Iran and Palestine - because Muslims are losing there and for no other reason, to show brotherhood (across nations, mind you). India is the only place for Hindus (I don't really think of Nepal as a country) and we are dividing ourselves further with petty reasons like caste and what not. While we end up getting more and more fragmented, the majority will no longer be with us. And after that, there is nothing that you can really do about it - because you no longer hold the reins, because majority wins.

Case in point of ganging up of a lousy comment followed by people who liked it - See a pattern:

Comments from Facebook

Partha Das: while highly controversial, it's very well written .. congrat!

Monday, 18 June 2012

The bundle of sticks

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"You can snap the twig between your fingers..."

I love watching nature shows on TV. If you tune in to Animal Planet, Discovery or The National Geographic Channel, you often see the grasslands of Africa. And in the vast grasslands graze the gnus, gazelles and zebras while predators like lions and scavengers like hyaenas are prowling around. Let's not forget the meerkats and other rodents nervously walking around with twitching noses.

And then suddenly there're thousands of thundering hooves galloping, creating clouds of dust behind as they try to escape the bite of that lioness (or her pride)... Eventually the herbivore takes a tumble as the lioness sinks her teeth into the wind-pipe of the moaning animal. The rest of the animals catch a breath and watch as the hungry cats devour the vanquished beast.

I don't know about the gazelles, but the zebras, gnus and buffaloes are very powerful animals. Herbivores often graze together in large numbers. And yet, when the predators approach, they bolt. They don't understand that if they all stand together and fight, they can actually defeat the cats. The cats are probably not more than 20, while the herbivores number over a 100. They are equipped with very sharp horns, a powerful skull and very strong legs. But the concept of fighting together does not dawn upon them, and thus when the cats tear through their herds, they run helter skelter, with no plan of action, each one thinking for himself. Ultimately the slowest, youngest and/or weakest falls. This is why the cats continue to rule the grasslands and jungles.

A very analogous situation is the fact that the British ruled over India for over two centuries. Indians outnumbered the British by a huge margin - But were greatly divided. And we know what happened after that. Concepts of 'Divide and Rule' work very well - the cats employ them as well.

I find the society in India is greatly fragmented in several ways - And this kind of fragmentation leads to great powers ending up completely useless because each of them individually have no pull. Take the example of elections in Karnataka. There are factions of Lingayats, Gowdas and others who tend to elect members of their own castes BECAUSE they belong to the same caste, and not based on performance, present or past. Imagine not being promoted because you and your manager are not of the same caste. It's ridiculous.

When fighting for a cause, it is important to have faith in your leader. Many times, there are way too many leaders and no followers... as in, everyone wants to be a leader. And leaders should remember to be responsible. I was greatly disappointed to see the Anna Hazare movement bite dust. What was such a huge movement, what had gained such great traction and momentum came to a grinding halt because people started getting divided and fragmented, digressing into areas that they should not concern themselves with. While some people don't admire Gandhi, many more admire Sardar Patel. And Sardar Patel admired Gandhi. Sure, Gandhi made many wrong decisions - But Patel continued to believe in him. What's noteworthy here is the fact that faith in the leader is of utmost importance. Imagine during the freedom struggle if people started feeling that Patel is too right winged, Nehru is secular and all the Muslims decided to follow Jinnah and all Bengalis thought Bose was plain awesome and each one decided to follow their own leaders... The movement would not have had the same strength as what it had being unified under Gandhi.

It is very easy to break a bundle of sticks by simply breaking a stick at a time - This is the first story we learnt in Moral Science in school. As long as we continue to remain fragmented, we shall be oppressed, and continue to be hegemonised by the 'cats'. It's time for the hunted to turn around and defend themselves, time to reclaim what we have been losing, time to blur out differences and strongly oppose evangelism, to oppose differential treatment, to spread the message of harmony, of unity, to fight for the common cause and to destroy the predators.

Comments from Facebook:

Vivek Goel: dude! ‎:) it was gr8 SwamiJi

Prajwal M Sudarshan: good one Nik.. :)

That extra mile

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Going that last extra mile is harder than the entire journey..."

When placements were going on in our college, the college director told us that the placements go by the 80:20 rule. We had three tiers - Tiers 3, 2 and 1 depending on the salaries - lowest to highest. What's the 80:20 rule? Basically out of 100 people, 80 would be placed in tier 3. The 80:20 rule gets applied to the remaining 20, and thus 16 would get placed in tier 2 and 4 in tier 1. The question is, what is it that makes people to get divided in these proportions?

When we were in school, my teacher used to say that God has given us all equal intelligence. But if you look around, that's not true. Each of us has different levels of intelligence and different levels when it comes to talents and natural skills. There is nothing that you can do about something that you are born with. Some people have a spectacular memory. But this essay is not going to discuss that. What's really worth looking at is "that last mile"

When I was in lower primary school, my parents told me that they would buy me something cool (I think it was a bicycle) if I could come first in class - I was always around 2nd or 3rd but never first. The interesting aspect is that the first position was always taken by one of the top 3 girls in my class. But I could never get the first rank - The reason was not that I was not clever enough. The reason was that I could never bring myself to put in that extra effort to become perfect. And this is what makes some people top notch. That extra effort that is needed to go that last mile - Most of us don't do that, some do - and they go places.

Many times, it so happens that we know what's supposed to be done, but we don't do it for a variety of reasons - Maybe we are just too lazy to turn off the fan that's on in the other room which is empty despite knowing that power should not be wasted because it involves walking all the way across and turning it off... or maybe we just don't give enough importance to it or give more importance to some thing else... Whatever it is, over a period of time, our attitudes result in "skill accumulation" being skewed - If two people had 4 hours of free time, one guy might end up watching sports while the other ended up studying something new - and incidentally, the next day at office, the manager gave a requirement that could be solved by guy 2 because he studied it. There after, because of what he was working on, it is possible that that guy will be able to do something phenomenal mainly because he got that opportunity, an opportunity he would have not got if it was not for that effort that he put in during those four hours.

I have a friend who can draw and paint extremely well. I used to sit next to him in college and watch him draw beautiful drawings, sketches, portraits - you name them. And he would do all of this effortlessly. I naturally was amazed, so I asked him where he learnt to draw like that. He said he hadn't attended any classes and had learnt to draw himself. Naturally he's very creative, but he is also very dedicated to what he does, which is why his skills have reached the level at what he is at now. You might say "Sure, he practised enough to become a master... If I practice enough, even I can become a master" and I will say "Absolutely! If you practise enough, you can become a master too. If you exercise and eat right, you can get six pack abs, if you practise enough, you will find that we can do quite a lot of things that we ordinarily are incapable of doing. Heck, if we practise enough, we will be able to do things that we would have thought as impossible. If I study hard enough, I can become a 'rocket scientist' - But that's the catch. We DON'T practise, we put in no effort. As time passes, those who put in the effort constantly move ahead, those who put in lesser effort are trailing and those who put in no effort end up last"

And this is not something that will affect only them. Let's assume an average man who is not the son or daughter of some rich man or politician and who has no links to such people - as they are capable of achieving things through underhanded or unconventional methods. So, if this average guy did not achieve anything significant, he may not have enough money to get his child educated properly and that could result in a domino effect.

Take Apple products. Sure a lot of people say that it is just greatly hyped, and is brilliantly marketed. But if you have used Apple products, you will notice a lot of subtle features that make it a lot nicer than other devices. I am not saying that these subtle features warrant such a great difference in price. But a simple example that's often given with Apple laptops is the magnetic charging point so that the laptop doesn't come crashing down if someone trips over the wire... Instead, the magnetic jack just pops out. A simple feature, but makes a difference. There are tons of such small pleasing add-ons that make Apple laptops greatly coveted.

Going that extra mile makes a lot of difference. Why don't you try it once, and see the world change around you.

Comments from Facebook:

Hemanth Pai: nice :) going the extra mile and saying , 'your posts are indeed a pleasure to read , nik' . Keep at it .... i for one , dont miss any of your insightful posts :D

Susheela Sadashivaiah: very nice post :)

Nikhil Baliga: Thanks a lot guys :) Means a lot

Srivathsan Lakshmipuram: Aah, I'm glad I read the article! :D

Nikhil Baliga: ‎Srivathsan Lakshmipuram, I am sure you were able to relate to certain aspects as you read them and felt like things had happened to you :)

Srivathsan Lakshmipuram: Hahaha!

Ashwin Kumble: as always amazing article :)

Nayana Kv: this article is brilliant