April 22, 2014

The Marriage Conundrum

I see articles by intelligent ladies on how difficult they are finding it to catch an eligible, smart, intelligent husband.

I don't see so many similar perspectives from males. Why so?

Anyway, I will try to remedy that here.

So the ladies say that the men that they are sought to paired with or matched with tend to be typically dumb, or money-minded, or career-focused, or culturally conservative (plain English --> the usual chauvinistic Indian male who will ONLY marry a virgin female and will have a heart attack at the idea of stuff such open marriage or letting his wife have extramarital affairs and be chill about that) or mama's boys.

I agree with all those evaluations of course. But I am not like any of those.

April 18, 2014

India Needs More Than A Change Of Prime Minister

I posted this comment on Sandipan Deb's article in Livemint.

So let me try to understand ...

Mostly it seems folks are 'angry' with that Italian mafia running this country.

Hmmmm ...

(1) Is India like a family-owned corporation where ownership gets passed from mom/dad to son/daughter? Like in an Ambani-run business or Adani-run business?

Or folks are angry with some party variously called Khangress or CONgress which has been looting this country since 60 years.

(2) Again, begs the question —> Has India been a dictatorship like an Iraq or Egypt or Pakistan for all these years?

The author asks for an accounting of the achievements of the government over the past 10 years.

The achievements of the government are not really separate from the achievements of the people. What has been the story of each of our lives in the last 10 years. Let us do a double-entry bookkeeping style debit and credit of our lives if we want and that will make things clear.

I can do that for myself ... as I sometimes do. I can do that for folks in my family.

I think it's pretty simple. People live their lives in ways they think is the correct way. For illiterate people and for villagers, these ways of living tend to be handed down the generations.

People produce babies —> babies grow up, go to school —> grow up even more, go to college or do not go to college — get married at 17/30 (female/male) years of age and produce babies —> meanwhile, do this or that job (male) and spend time cooking, taking care of the said baby (female) —> do not forget the 39 annual religious rituals.

And that is the cycle of life for Indians.

I see an unacceptably high percentage of educated youth too walking down these same age-old tracks.

Oh and about that government and what it has been doing for the past 10 years.

Well, for one, there has been no war on a large scale.

No major droughts or famine. No major outbreak of any sort of diseases. Polio has been eradicated.

The economy/GDP has grown at a moderate pace. The world economy went to the brink of disaster. India's export-driven economy being dependent on the global economy got pneumonia as both Europe and the U.S. caught 'cold.'

Makes sense.

There were a few scams.

Yes. Sorry to disappoint the people and citizens of India that 'some' politicians were caught with their hands in the till, as it were. A Raja here, a Kalmadi there, a Pawar or a Pawarputri (as the Indonesians might do it in terms of naming), or a Robert Vadra here, a Devyani and Dad Khobragrade there, an Ashok Chavan here, a Vilasrao Deshmukh there (in heaven or hell?), a Dayanidhi Maran here, a Kalanithi or Kanimozhi Maran there ... well, the list can go on I guess.

Not forgetting Pranab-da of course. The canny politician from Bengal is the quintessential chamcha of The Family who managed to climb to the office of the President of India.

Reminds me of the undistinguished lady who preceded him. [Hat tip to Swapan Dasgupta who used the phrase 'undistinguished gentleman' to describe Pankaj Pachauri, the PM's press guy and successor to the 'distinguished' Dr. Sanjay Baru]

APJ Abdul Kalam was good. Happy to bow down to all sorts of charlatans just because so many people of India do the same.

I mean, millions worship the fraud charlatan Afro Sai Baba; so, what's wrong if I, the President of India, bow down to him as well?

Anyway, let us not digress.

I think people are somewhat 'soured' by some of the headline grabbing scams that took place during the last 10 years. What are they? 2G, Coalgate, Commonwealth, Adarsh, Maha irrigation scandal in Maha and perhaps 20 other big scams that many have forgotten. I sure have.

Well, here's wishing for a scam-free 10 years till 2024 then!


But let us not get too excited about this or that politician holding this or that post.

No 'Obama' or 'Kennedy' is in the fray; nor do we have an 'FDR' or an 'Ike.'

On the one hand, we have a 43-year-old averagely talented guy (like most Indians) and on the other, we have a blustering state-level politician who has very little idea about national-level administration or international affairs.

Mark my words. A buffoon like Rahul may yet prove less dangerous for this country than an autocrat like Modi who is surrounded by talent-ess people like Amit Shah.

Gujarat is a surveillance state. Most people in India were born after the Emergency.

Indians have always been foolish. So, they have always expressed a casual admiration for Hitler without having knowledge of the history of that era or what Hitler's accomplishments are.

Just as Indians continue to easily fall for new charlatans like Ramdev and Double Sri Bearded Widow and continue to subscribe to silly and childish notions that comprise the obscenity called 'Hinduism,' so also Indians will say things like 'we need a strong leader' or 'we need dictatorship.'

Frankly, India remains near the bottom of the global pyramid in terms of development. Some African countries are worse off than India — as are Bangladesh and Pakistan.

But India has pockets of poverty and tiny islands of wealth and India's desperately poor are huge in absolute numbers even if a small percentage of the total population.

I do not see India joining the front ranking nations of the world in the next 50 years.

It requires a mindset change which won't happen as long as people keep looking back.

April 14, 2014

Moralizing and Extramarital Relations

Something from Brain Picker, Maria Popova.

From the book Updike:
“Updike wasn’t the first in his Ipswich crowd to commit adultery, and it’s possible that he wasn’t even the first in his marriage…
He didn’t have to look far to find a lover. Several of the couples had already had affairs before moving to Ipswich, and once they were all settled and best friends, romantic intrigue was very much in the air. It’s safe to say that the group’s unusual closeness (and a large part of the pain that followed) had something to do with the collective willingness to indulge in extramarital sex. This “weave of promiscuous friendship” wasn’t a purely local phenomenon. “Welcome to the post-pill paradise” is perhaps the most famous line from [Updike's 1968 novel]Couples, which Updike set in 1963, three years after he claimed to have first fallen “in love, away from marriage” — and three years after the first birth-control pill was approved for use in the United States. Did the advent of oral contraception unleash a frenzy of adulterous coupling in suburban communities all over the country? That theory seems a little pat, yet there’s a measure of truth to it. There’s no doubt that by the time of JFK’s assassination, the junior set of Ipswich were already hopping in and out of one another’s beds with impressive frequency. Whatever moral qualms Updike might have had were long since banished, and any lingering shyness had dissipated. He threw himself with reckless enthusiasm into the tangle of Ipswich infidelities. It’s worth stressing, however, that it wasn’t his idea; he wasn’t the instigator. He made suburban sex famous, but he didn’t invent it.”
 Maria Popova writes:
To give a sense of just how normalized the extramarital escapades were in the Ipswich community, Begley offers a telling example — the only two affairs of real significance in Updike’s life, one with Joyce Harrington, who was a “core member” of the love-swapping crowd along with her husband Herbert, and the other with Martha Bernhard, who had joined the circle later on with her husband Alex. Begley writes:
The first affair came within a whisker of ending the Updikes’ marriage in the fall of 1962; the second did end the marriage: John separated from Mary in 1974, and they were divorced two years later. John and Martha married soon afterward. And then, as if to demonstrate what a snarled web it was, Alex Bernhard, Martha’s ex-husband, married Joyce Harrington, John’s ex-mistress.

I don't really understand why there is so much moralizing attached to having extramarital relations. I mean, people are reacting like somebody is killing somebody or making suicide bomb attacks or exploding nuclear weapons.
People have grown up with some narrow, oh-so-outdated notion about what is 'moral' in relation to marriage and they are SO loath to apply their brains to those notions of morality.
At best, people will point to the matter of having children; as if every time one has sex, a baby pops out.
The thing or fact that should have the maximum input in formulating a sense of morality seems to me to be the idea of the rarity of life. The Dawkinsian idea of the improbability of our existing at all considering the millions of cells fighting to fertilize an egg. Our existence is a rare thing ... whether you want to call it an accident or not.
Although a "rare thing," that thing having come to pass, it is up to each of us to find the purpose of life for ourselves. Is it the purpose of life to merely carry on old-fashioned "rules" and live life as per those rules laid down by our illiterate Stone Age ancestors? Or, should we make our own rules?
I think it makes sense to make our own rules and to discard meaningless shibboleths.
The purpose of life should be to maximize happiness. Happiness can be had in many ways including: playing with kids (whether one's own or someone else's), playing or watching competitive sports, watching movies or TV shows, reading books, solving mysteries, doing research, becoming a physicist and doing equations, doing astronomy, building machines, playing with cars in one's garage, eating tasty food, cooking tasty food, and having sex.
That last point of 'having sex' perhaps has a disproportionate importance compared to the other stuff that make us happy. Only enjoying tasty food and having sex appear to me to be more or less universal things we do for enjoyment.
It appears to me to be a matter of common sense therefore that we should try to maximize that which gives us pleasure. It is weird if we should "voluntarily" make laws or put restrictions on ourselves that in any way reduces the pleasure we may be capable of achieving.
I do not advocate anything that is forcible of course. I am not suggesting that we steal food ... from anyone. There is joy to be had in eating tasty food and indeed mothers and grandmothers even get pleasure out of feeding their children and grandchildren.
As to sex, the rule about 'exclusivity' seems rather silly. In traditional societies, people associate 'faithfulness' with 'marriage.'

You gotta be faithful.
Why is that? What has sex got to do with 'faith'? It is a weird rule rooted in religious mumbo-jumbo and we all know that religious 'wisdom' is about 5-inch deep and only adolescents should take religions seriously.
Once people grow up and out-grow religious 'woo woo,' one must necessarily re-think and re-evaluate the stuff ... rather, the 'other' stuff that is also an inheritance from religion.
Religion not only deals in inane and childish theories and ideas about how the universe was created or who created it, it also claims a special place for humans and also lays out values and tries to tell people what is moral and what is not moral.
People need to discard not only religion but also ideas about morality that are derived from religion.
Remember that rules formulated regarding what is moral and what is not are man-made rules. There is nothing universal about such rules.
You cannot choose to obey or not obey the Law of Gravity as that is a law of nature. How the stars formed or how the galaxies formed is similarly a product of the laws of nature. The story of evolution is also a scientific fact. It is a fact that we on Earth are travelling on spaceship Earth that is hurtling around the Sun while rotating around itself. It is a fact that the Sun is whirring mightily around the center of the Milky Way galaxy. It is also a fact that the galaxies are going away from each other at a breathtaking pace approaching significant fractions of the speed of light (when you look at galaxies that are billions of light years apart).
Yes. All those 'talk' about the universe being created in a Big Bang 13.82 billion years ago is also factually correct. Our Milky Way comprising of 300 (or 400) billion stars is also factually correct.
In light of all that knowledge that humans have gathered recently (mostly in the last century), our insignificance in the grand scheme of things of the universe is pretty clear.
Looked at from this perspective, I think the idea of marital 'fidelity' seems particularly silly and childish. It's as if a kid wants to keep a toy only for himself and herself and won't share it with anyone else. Sure, kids tend to be selfish like that. But adults got to be better.

April 13, 2014

Are Indians Dense?

Who says Indians are NOT dense? I thought the evidence was pretty clear.

Just look at the obsession with silly religious rituals. Look at how sundry godmen are prospering. Look at how 'popular' Double Sri Bearded Widow is among the section of our population who are supposed to be among the most educated.

Look at the obsession with cricket and Bollywood —> and the obsession, in turn, of those 'heroes' of people (Sachin and Bachchan) with various gods. One donates crores to this and that god; another sheds tears when charlatan Afro Sai Baba dies.

Even the pointless 'heat' during the present election season shows the silliness of Indians.

The choices on offer are all so mediocre that I am mostly happy to remain a bystander. But look at the Modi-bhakts who are happy to abuse all and sundry at the slightest bit of 'questioning' of their 'leader.'

They will abuse all and sundry — whether it's Mahesh Murthy or a retired general or a retired Ambassador. (I see this on Twitter).

These Modi-bhakts are incapable of taking the slightest criticism of their leader.

Of course, they will be all praise for anyone who sings songs in praise of their 'leader.'

And what an ordinary, average CM that leader is.

A long-time CM with a clean record? I think there are "many" such CMs serving in different states all across India belonging to different parties.

Of course, the Modi-bhakts are extraordinarily ill-informed about history — just as Modi is.

They are happy to take Modi's empty and pointless blustering at face value.

These Modi-lovers tend to hold on to many myths which can have sinister consequences — they think only Muslims are responsible for increasing India's population; they think the Congress Party has bestowed untold great amounts of favor on the Muslim community ... of course to the detriment of the great 'Hindu' community in the process ... ; they think all the 'sins' of the Congress Party committed over the last six decades can be cured by electing Modi.

They forget that India has been a democracy throughout — even after the Emergency, Indira was thrown out but then a motley bunch came together to form a government which collapsed soon enough and people VOTED Indira back to power.

To return to the bigger question about whether India's people are 'dense' ...

The masses sympathy-voted for Rajiv ensuring that he got more seats than even Nehru.

Of course, the Modi-lovers are dense in a different way than the poor masses. The poor masses will vote for anyone who 'guarantees' them food or employment or mid day meals for their children.

The Modi bhakts are happy to question the 'quality' of all and sundry. They will say — Nehru was a third-rate guy who took Kashmir to the UN and had affairs with women and so on. Of course, most have never read a single book by Nehru or have much idea about the early years after independence.

Some of this is attributable to 'youth'; perhaps not many of the Modi-bhakts remember even the Vajpayee government let alone Rao or Rajiv Gandhi.

If one chooses to remain a political party-agnostic, it is easy enough to see that India has a habit of muddling along and this or that party does not make much of a difference.

It's easy enough to see that the quality of the Gandhi-Nehru family has consistently declined over one generation to another; but do not forget that IT IS THE PEOPLE OF INDIA (and our forefathers) who VOTED THEM into power.

Rajiv Gandhi was at best average — I mean, how 'tough' can life be if you are the son of the PM and get education at Doon School and then become a commercial pilot.

In the 1990s, the economic liberalization happened either because the knowledge dawned on people and policymakers at last that socialism and license raj cannot continue or because the IMF forced our hand.

Vajpayee carried some of that forward. The good growth rates during the early years of liberalization can be said to be sort of akin to 'low hanging fruit.'

India has large IT exports because India has cheap manpower. India has a large diamond processing and exporting business because India has cheap manpower. India exports textiles and leather good because India has cheap labor.

But all this can take us only so far.

What is India's competitive advantage as a nation? Cheap labor?

Well, now Philippines is supplanting India in call centers.

Bangladesh has cheaper labor than India to produce textiles for American brands.

Who would have thought that this nation of cow-worshipers would end up as, of all things, the largest beef exporter in the world?

What irony!

People say Vajpayee built all those roads. I say, any government in power at that point would have come up with those policies as EVERYBODY (every industrialist) was saying the same thing back then: 'bad roads, bad roads, poor infrastructure, poor infrastructure'.

In the din of headline-grabbing corruption scandals such as the Commonwealth, 2G and Coalgate, the details tend to get 'lost in translation' as it were.

The 2G 'scam' amounted to much less than what the CAG claimed it to be — as conclusively demonstrated by the subsequent auctions which flopped spectacularly.

Telecoms licenses are quite complex and technical and it's difficult to separate out the different strands of that entire 'scam.'

From what I understand, the 'scammy' parts were only to do with the Tatas getting pan-India licenses without paying much license fee; Reliance of course trying to grab licenses via a front company (Shadhi Balwa/DB Realty); real estate guys (Unitech) trying to get into the telecom business(!!).

Of course, there was a scam! But it is a tribute to the spectacularly complex legal system — that has obviously failed to do the job — that
the 'accused' get arrested (Raja, Kalmadi, Kanimozhi, Unitech/Reliance officers), spend time in Tihar Jail and ultimately get bail and basically that's the end of the matter!

The cases will linger for 20 years. See Salman Khan.

Tell me the name of the political party that is promising police reforms or reforms to the judiciary and then I will support that party.

Oh, Rahul's sister's husband made 200 or 500 crores?

Sure. So, why is the BJP not promising to prosecute Vadra or put him in jail?

Why are honest officers like Ashok Khemka suffering and no political party is supporting him?

I am not sure that Mr. Kejriwal really intends to do much about headline corruption either. His aim appears to be to reach the PM position as soon as possible — and I don't blame him; after all, when he compares (as he must) himself against MMS or Rahul or Modi, surely he must feel that he is SUPERIOR to these three.

But even as people of India get enraged about this and that scam ... oh and BTW, I forgot about the Coalgate which is too complex and involves both Congress and BJP ruled states ... people do not mind indulging in corruption in their own lives.

In obsessively rooting for Modi, I've heard the 'sane' supporters talk about his administrative competence. This means these supporters think India is just a bigger version of Gujarat.

It is strange if anyone thinks one man can 'govern' or rule India.

But then, apparently, there are enough people in this country who:

1) extol the 'greatness' of Hitler ... his great 'qualities' ... whatever they are;

2) expound the tired old view: 'India needs a dictator' ... forgetting about our great neighbor which has been run by 'dictators' for most of the time since independence (or creation) and forgetting about our own days of 'Emergency'.

The fact is that India is about such people:

(A)  people who will 'vote' for a PM because his 'mom' died;

(B)  or people who think that dictatorship is a good idea (perhaps they think the soldiers of the Indian Army are descended from heaven);

(C) or people who think Vivekananda was a 'great' man (he was not; he was just a racist guy who belonged in the 19th century);

(D)  or people who 'protest' that their 'god' Asaram is in jail.

Where am I supposed to find 'hope' for a 'great' future for this country?

*sigh* which is why I just prefer to keep "mum" :D :P

April 07, 2014

Article Collection 2014 Part II

It's not just the TLD 'ie' that is intriguing about this article and the website it is on.

About the CIA's snooping on the Senate.

About Silicon Valley culture.

conversation with Paul Davis about the flow of time.

Something about lightning.

The loss of the night sky.










































April 01, 2014

CEO Blogs Collection

Here's a collection of collection of CEO blogs. So, a sort of 'meta' collection of CEO blogs.

Here's a list of Top 10 CEO blogs.

Here's a list of Top Tech CEO blogs. Include people like Marissa Mayer, Rashmi Sinha,  Marc Andresson, Paul Graham, Guy Kawasaki and so on.

Another list of CEO blogs. Includes people like Mark Cuba, Srth Godin, Bill Mariott and Tom Peters.

Oh wait: out of the blue, the question occurs —> how come Bill Clinton is not blogging? Oh well ...

Nine CEO blogs. Includes some of the same people named above.

Mario Sundar's blog.

Visit blogadda.com to discover Indian blogs PageRank Checker