Thursday, 27 November 2008

cowards strike again

Yes, you heard it right
cowardice it's not a fight
brings anger than fright.

Yet another test
of the society's patience
someday it will end

You want your voice heard
you shout but you don't listen
we are far too many

Your noises will drown
you shout or we do, anyway
the world is worse-off

The more you do it
the more it unites us all.
Worst ever deadlock

Cowards. You did it again. If you have any guts, dare to touch me, online or offline, day or night, Mumbai or Bangalore. I'm no powerful, yet you won't dare. Because you have no courage.

You hide behind the mask of your fundamentalistic issues. Don't you realize the next wave of issues you create? Your families are destroyed, so are those of peaceful comrades. One of my friends (who is peaceful, like most of the Muslims) was about to beactually denied his visa to US (to visit Stanford univ.), just because you express your outrage in hostile manners.

Some good things will come out of this, although there were less bloody ways.

First, it will tend to reduce corruption. Police will unite against death of colleagues. System will be pressurised to stop Havala route of money.

Second, since CEOs of companies got stuck in the hotels attacked, companies will be forced to rethink their social responsibility. They can no longer shrug it to the government that the world should be a better place for everyone.

Third and not so cheerful, life of peaceful Muslims will get worse, but in the long run they will turn against you. You are not helping your community at all, forget about bringing Caliphate rule (Like all recent blasts, HuJI are being suspected behind this. Update: Deccan Mujahideen have taken responsibility via email, but media suspect LeT.)

Last, it will force me to think - "Can I do anything?" And there so many like me, that somebody will have an answer soon.

Questions to my friends: Can we do something? What should we do?

Sunday, 23 November 2008


What do you do on a lazy drizzly sunday evening with awesome weather -
  1. watch cricket match
  2. study for end term exam on next day
  3. listen to a torturous discussion on topics hardly relevant to you
I happened to choose the third option today. Since the match was shortened to 22 overs and studying for exam is also no fun, there was a little consolation anyway.

From another standpoint, I took pity on life that offers only sucky choices.

How many things have you come across at a stretch which have left you with the feeling "WTF?"
  • Your mentor prof asks to meet on a day before exam
  • You are the first one to arrive, and prof comes when you are on your way back
  • There are two groups apart from yours, yours will be discussed last, and apparently you need to sit in other discussions
  • One group discusses their project for one hour, you sit quiet
  • Prof says it will be over in another half an hour and actually means one and half
  • Second group discusses for another hour, you are again forced to attend because apparently it is relevant to your project. In reality either
    1. you already know it, or
    2. you don't know it but it is totally irrelevant to you, your life, your project, and your exam on next day and you couldn't care less, or
    3. you stopped listening while thinking "even this shall pass away" until you get bored of that thought or any other line of any poem too, or
    4. you are lost in the thought of pending assignments and prof himself answers a question he has asked
  • Your turn comes, prof asks more questions than you do, does not answer any and draws a diagram no one can understand later
  • You want to ask a genuine doubt, but unlike everyone else in the institute, the prof who is the chairperson of computer centre, does not have office 2007 installed on his pc
  • Update: Prof scans your pendrive in suspicion of a virus, but his own system is infected and it creates 68 trojan files in otherwise clean folders
I can go on. The point is, whatever I did ended in "WTF". You might have gone through something worse. But hey, you didn't blog about it.

On a positive note, it has probably made me more tolerant (or ignorant) of bullshitting.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Realise you're living in the golden years

To IIMB friends:

From the coast of gold across the seven seas
I'm travellin' on far and wide
But now it seems I'm just a stranger to myself
And all the things I sometimes do
It isn't me but someone else

I close my eyes and think of home
Another city goes by in the night
Ain't it funny how it is
You never miss it till it's gone away
And my heart is lying there
And will be till my dying day

So, understand
Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years
Face up, make your stand
And realise you're living in the golden years

Too much time on my hands I got you on my mind
Cant ease this pain so easily
When you can't find the words to say
It's hard to make it through another day
And it just makes me wanna cry
And throw my hands up to the sky

So, understand
Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years
Face up, make your stand
And realise you're living in the golden years

- from 'Wasted Years' by Iron Maiden

PS: A cousin asked me on orkut "dada what is that you do that you are paid 9 lakh per year", and I laughed out loud alone.

Friday, 7 November 2008


What is common between prisoner's dilemma, global financial markets, and law? All of them give good results if (and only if) everyone believes and complies with the rules of the system.

If I forsake other prisoner's trust, I gain in a single game. But in repeated games, my best strategy is to comply voluntarily and punish immediately (more specifically, copy other player's previous move, at times with small probability of forgiving defection). With a rational opponent, the sum of individual benefits in non-compliance is less than that in compliance strategy. A beautiful illustration of this can be found at S Anand's four philosophies arising out of pure mathematical logic. Communication, or any method of co-operation between prisoners helps.

In an investment bank I can earn fat bonuses for a few years using complex financial wizardry. But when it comes in an opaque and unaccountable manner (and same is done by other bankers as well), everyone loses trust in me, my company and overall market. The sum of individual paychecks and bonuses is less than overall loss faced by the market. In the long run, I would earn more if I (and others) believed in not cheating the system by not being transparent and circumventing the laws. Government's measures of restoring co-operation and faith help.

If I believe in god (of any kind), I am less likely to resort to atrocities, having faith in my own future. If I start creating a destructive distrust between different religious beliefs, I create a fundamentalist in someone's mind. Respecting the religious systems - mine and others' helps in cooperation and peace.

I have come to believe that the hope essentially stems from the faith in the system. I am inclined towards being agnostic when it comes to religion. But given the above analogies, I think it is better for me that I believe in a system. If more people believe in a system (not specifically religious system), mutual cooperation can produce more benefit for the society on the whole. I am more or less willing to believe in god, if it helps coperation in the system, and I think it does as shown by researchers. This article in The Economist shows through economic games that belief in group/system helps. (Read the last para for humour.)

One may compare the belief in a system to an economic cartel of producers, in both the systems there is a short-term incentive to defect from given association, but not in long term. However, there is one important difference. In a cartel, the extra value created for producer is coming at the cost of customer, making it a zero sum game effectively. In a game of prisoner's dilemma cooperation creates value but not at someone else's cost.

Few days back one of my friends was trying to proxy in class. If I don't believe in the system of x% compulsory attendance in a class, I am likely to give/arrange for proxies. I hope the above argument is convincing enough for him not to proxy in class :-)

PS: Yesterday we had a fantastic talk by Shaheen Mistry from Teach For India. I am inclined towards volunteering, but not yet sure of it. Let's see.

Friday, 24 October 2008

social entrepreneurship

One of the courses this term is on the verge of changing all my priorities in life.

It is interesting that title of another course 'Self Transformation - Indian Approaches' is more appropriate to the result of Social Entrepreneurship course. STIA is about philosophy and spirituality in different religions and transformation of self. While STIA is also food for thought, SE has actually transformed me, or at least influenced my thoughts quite a bit.

Till now it was only a budding thought that I should take up something socially relevant - so I was trying to volunteer for different NGOs and help them in documentation or other MBA-like work. Though a management school leaves little time to volunteer in actual field work, this term did give some opportunities to do that through course work as well as voluntarily.

The thought was probably rooted right at my school Jnana Prabodhini, working itself for rural employment generation, education for children of sugarcane workers & tribal children and other such initiatives. Increasingly, I am coming to believe that I should work full-time in the development sector (poverty alleviation, NGOs, improvement of livelihoods, etc). I am not yet sure if I will take it up right after graduting from IIMB. If not immediately, I do want to, in near future.

PS: Even after putting it in to-do list, blogging has taken a back-seat. As part of that to-do, next I promise to write on some people I look up to - some social entrepreneurs, some mavericks, a couple of musicians. The common thing that connects them is probably their passion.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

What to do

Earlier I had contemplated whether I will steal someone else's chappals, if I could not find mine outside a temple. My obvious answer was - no, I will not. I may have to go home barefoot, but I will stop the potential chain of unhappiness then and there. The fact I did not consider while answering was the price of new chappals. Then something happened after I wrote that post.

About 3 months back, my and my friend's laptops got stolen from our hostel room, during our summer internship in Hyderabad. It happened because of ignorance of many people, including us. The police were reluctant to accept the FIR, but we did lodge a complaint against the theft (without any bribe).

Meanwhile, as laptop is a must for academic (and entertainment) requirements in IIMB, I purchased a relatively cheaper one with a decent config, and returned to Bangalore. I occasionally missed the data I had not backed up (the bugger stole my USB hard drive as well, where I had most of the backup. Though I saved few CDs which turned out handy). Otherwise the incident was put in the backseat. Rather it was written off.

Lessons learned:
1) Ensure that your room is locked in an unfamiliar place, at whatever cost.
2) Back up your data on multiple media - CDs, online storage.
3) Do not keep all the eggs in same basket.

Now the twist: earlier this month, I got a totally unexpected call - from the police station, saying that our laptops have been recovered from the concerned person. They asked us to travel to Hyderabad and collect the laptops, no questions asked! We were ecstatic and astonished about their efficiency.

What was the last time you recovered a theft, via police? We were jumping with joy and celebrating. I almost gave a mini-treat to friends.

But wait, what if the trip to Hyderabad turned out meaningless? After all, taking a weekday off from life at a B-school was not that easy, not including the expenditure on travel. What if they demanded money to return the laptops? What if the process took too much time? What if the laptops were not ours?

We called the concerned officer. We enquired about all that. Later we also asked friends in Hyderabad to meet them. The police seemed to be worried about the court-case that was imminent from the FIR. They give us the laptops, we cancel the FIR, problem solved. So bribe was probably not required. About the processing time, they said that we will require at least another trip later, but they promised to solve the things quickly - remember, they had the responsibility on them and they didn't want the matter to reach courts.

And then we realized, that was the precise problem - they didn't want the trouble in their books. We asked them to describe the laptops. From the description, it was clear that one laptop could be ours, one surely was not.

Now here is the dilemma we faced. Should we take the laptops which are not ours? We have the following two options:

Option1: Take. Use in whatever way possible - sell, give to friend/family, donate. Police are also relieved. Live with the choice - possibly few sleepless nights about whom the laptops actually belong to.

Option2: Refuse. No hassle about going to Hyderabad, no time spent chasing papers and no visits required further. Possibly we were the lumberjacks in the folklore. Or possibly the laptops will be scrapped, nobody would claim them, and there was no chain of unhappiness.

We have made our choice mostly. Before revealing that I would like to see what you would have done in this situation. While making your choice, remember the temple connection, the old folklore of the lumberjack and his axe, and the opportunity cost of not taking the laptops.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


I have been making todo lists in many formats so you'd have guessed that they work only partially. I have used google calendar, outlook calendar, add-on on thunderbird, post-its on vista sidebar, post-its on paperboard in the room and whiteboard till now. So this is the latest mode of making a todo list and sticking to it - blog. Below are few things I wish to do during next 3-4 months, and YOU are going to remind me :D

TODO in next 3 months (or losely speaking, keep doing it for some time):
  1. Find a guitar/drums tutor to come to IIMB to teach interested junta.
  2. Listen to more types of music, particularly explore more in rock.
  3. Continue mp3-tagging by collection of songs.
  4. Start composing, write it down. Explore song structures.
  5. Try sculptoring soap.
  6. Read the books lying in the room (esp. End of Poverty, remaining volumes of H2G2 series)
  7. Blog more frequently. Start a series on social entrepreneurs.
  8. Translate books into Marathi for GTS.
  9. Continue working with Weflap.
Now you know why I end up not completing the do part in these lists, they are so long!

No but seriously, many of the above don't even need reminders - I will do them as I find time. At times I will squeeze time to do it. You just need to remind me that I will keep on finding such times. Tell me, call, chat or mail me in a while, and just say that you read this post. I will do the rest.

Thursday, 31 July 2008


Frankly I'm tired of the glorified rat race.
Not because we rats join it, but because the race breeds more rats, or so it is designed.
However, I should clarify that rats are the most supreme intellectual beings in the universe, as the conventional wisdom(1) goes.

Frankly, I've stopped looking forward to count Gandhiji's face.
Not because it's the means not ends, but because there's much more to get yourself aligned.
However, you may say that you need to buy that alignment too. I disagree. After me, my alignment goes.

Somehow, I've put my dreams on the backseat
With the faith that the spark(2) will live for long
I am taking up more responsibilities, few which are a burden.

Somehow, there are no drums and no beat
With the assurance that my life will be song
I am falling in the trap, and not exploring the garden.

I am pushing time, another month passes
Buried deeply in work, study and classes
Not bothering to take a look outside
Snubbing others' existence(3) in my own pride.

I will be another one among oh-so-glorious faces
Looking at the world from my rose-tinged glasses
This poem should become more structured, I decide
I lack the taste, but there's no restaurant I've not tried.

Notes -
1: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
2: Chetan Bhagat's speech: Keep the Spark
3: The Disadvantages of Elite Education, by William Deresiewicz

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Quota for professors

According to the latest whim from HRD, IITs now need to reserve professorship for categories. Someone who is shaping the future of the country can't be trusted anymore.

I hope some director resigns, standing against this tyrrany. I will feel ashamed to be an alumnus of an institute calling itself elite and not practicing meritocracy.

This is not ending here.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Would you - III

(Previously: Would you part I and part II)

After the introspection, I find myself inconsistent and irrational. For instance,
  • I would like to donate part of my fortune (II.5). However I am strongly against giving alms to any beggar (I.5).
  • Someone would not give way even when the vehicle behind honks (I.3), but he would connive with colleagues while not accepting bribe himself (II.3).
  • Someone would donate a part of lottery earnings (II.5.1), but she would not accept that extra earnings are also windfall (II.5.4).
  • Someone may hope to elect unpopular candidate (II.9), but may not choose solar energy (II.10) or may not switch foods (II.8). Yet each one of that set is a vote against a convenient choice.
  • I would not require another Rs 100 note (II.4), a beggar will be much better off with it, but I may not pick it up to pass it to him. If I am well off than average person on road, should I let others pick the note lying on road, or should I pick it up and donate it (II.5)?
  • I may want to donate a part of my fortune for social cause. How do I make sure it reaches its intended recipients (II.7)? How do I justify deliberate redistribution of wealth (I.5,6,7,8 II.1,4,5,6,7) in case it reaches wrong recipients?
Won't free markets work better than any deliberate redistribution of wealth? Why should I push my opinion strongly if I believe in free markets, and if I accept that the other person is free to believe otherwise (and both can be correct)?

I don't know. I wish I had answers that didn't prompt more questions. I would like to know whether you have thought on these lines, and if you too are short of answers.

Reasons for this apparent inconsistency, I feel are a combination of the following
  1. The questions described above are not standalone example of single phenomenon. Saving someone, saving a beautiful person, paying from your pocket and not hurting your arch-rival are a package in single question. It will be very difficult to frame such impartial questions and to answer them honestly.
  2. There is inherent limit we set to our deeds. For example - would you kill someone for Rs 100? Rs 1 lac? Rs 100 cr? for survival?
  3. We prioritize among money, sex, relations, ideas, recognition, self-actualization etc differently. Not only we see others' priorities as irrational, we ourselves are guided by different priorities at different situations.
All this effort is not to point inconsistencies in our thinking (there might even not be any and I am no one to do so). It is to make one think about self and his/her choices, to make him/her introspect.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Would you - II

Previously: Would you part I)
  1. Would you demand a bribe being a babu?
    • from a poor person who cant pay it?
    • from a rich person who can afford, but is known to be a philanthropist?
    • from a rich person who can afford, and is known to possess lot of black money?

  2. Would you accept bribe even if you don't want to, but because peers pressurize you?
  3. Would you connive with other corrupt people instead, but not accept bribe yourself?

  4. Would you pick up Rs 100 note lying on road
    • when no one is watching?
    • when someone is watching you, but you can act as if it fell from your pocket?
    • when no one is watching but you know that someone is looking for money lost?

  5. Would you donate a part of your fortune
    • if you picked up the above note?
    • if you won a gold coin in packet of chips as part of marketing scheme?
    • if you are earning more than you deserve (in your opinion)?
    • if you are earning more than you require?

  6. Would you live a simple life, reduce your consumption so that you can donate more?
  7. Would you stop donating if you find that your money is being pocketed by uninteded beneficiaries?

  8. Would you switch from non-veg to veg because more people can be fed from veg (or from some food to some less tasty food)?
  9. Would you vote against a popular (set to win) candidate known to be corrupt, just because your vote may matter?
  10. Would you switch to solar power even if it costs more than saving in electricity bill, but saves CO2 emissions?
Next: Part III

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Would you - I

This is a series of 3 posts. Basically series of questions, of which I myself don't have consistent and fixed answers. In the end what I have is only more questions.

Answer the following questions. All the questions are of the form "Would you ....... (do something)". Be honest to yourself. There are no right or wrong answers. This is not a test, so there are no results, only more questions.

  1. would you skip a signal
    • if the signal just turned red and the next vehicle goes ahead?
    • if the signal just turned red and the next vehicle stops?
    • if the signal just turned red and the next vehicle stops at 3 am?

  2. Would you wait for the red signal timer (at ten) to be zero if person behind you honks continuously?
    • Would you give way to that person?

  3. Would you pick someone else's shoes outside temple if you can't find yours

  4. Would you rush an injured beautiful person, lying on road, to hospital?
    • if s/he is poor and you may need to spend from pocket?
    • if s/he is the person you hate the most?

  5. Would you give a rupee to a beggar who doesnt want to work?
    • if he is handicapped?
    • if he is fully healthy?

  6. Would you stop giving a rupee to healthy beggars because they may start to earn by working?

  7. Would you resist paying to eunuch even facing harassment?
  8. Would you resist paying ransom to an extortionist?

  9. Would you you want to be a terrorist ending up killing someone who believes otherwise?
  10. Would you criticize other religions because their beliefs contradict yours?
  11. Would you you want to be a gangster knowing that you will kill someone just like you?
  12. Would you you want to be a soldier knowing that you will kill someone just like you?
Next: Part II and III.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Half Way Through

Living every day in the fast pace
All dull work without a grace
Each one struggles to find own place
Where's his face? There's no trace.

Noises, fights, quarrels, affrays
3.3 for consult, because it pays
"Ain't no rat", his conscience says,
"I want brighter days, in my own ways."

Half way through the rough waters
Falling in love with Knopfler & Waters
"GPA?" ask Kotlers and Kotters
Careless he mutters, "It hardly matters!"

Pursue his dream, all does he care
Melody and beat, guitar and snare
'Cause, the truth when it's laid out bare,
Is not money or chair, but finding your flair.

- In response/echo with a couple of thoughtful posts in last few days - by Nikky and Kandarp
we are half Yum Bee Ye already....

Saturday, 16 February 2008

the organization kid

From the organization kids being bred at Princeton -

[...]But nowhere did I find any real unhappiness with this state of affairs; nowhere did I find anybody who seriously considered living any other way. These super-accomplished kids aren't working so hard because they are compelled to. They are facing, it still appears, the sweetest job market in the nation's history. Investment banks flood the campus looking for hires. Princeton also offers a multitude of post-graduation service jobs in places like China and Africa. Everyone I spoke to felt confident that he or she could get a good job after graduation. Nor do these students seem driven by some Puritan work ethic deep in their cultural memory. It's not the stick that drives them on, it's the carrot. Opportunity lures them. And at a place like Princeton, in a rich information-age country like America, promises of enjoyable work abound—at least for people as smart and ambitious as these. "I want to be this busy," one young woman insisted, after she had described a daily schedule that would count as slave-driving if it were imposed on anyone.


In short, at the top of the meritocratic ladder we have in America a generation of students who are extraordinarily bright, morally earnest, and incredibly industrious. They like to study and socialize in groups. They create and join organizations with great enthusiasm. They are responsible, safety-conscious, and mature. They feel no compelling need to rebel—not even a hint of one. They not only defer to authority; they admire it. "Alienation" is a word one almost never hears from them. They regard the universe as beneficent, orderly, and meaningful. At the schools and colleges where the next leadership class is being bred, one finds not angry revolutionaries, despondent slackers, or dark cynics but the Organization Kid.

[big snip]

Maybe the lives of the meritocrats are so crammed because the stakes are so small. All this ambition and aspiration is looking for new tests to ace, new clubs to be president of, new services to perform, but finding that none of these challenges is the ultimate challenge, and none of the rewards is the ultimate reward.

I am afraid students at IIMB (and at other elite institutes) more or less belong to the same class - self-imposed workaholism, no motivation to question authority (rational ignorance) and no motivation to get hands dirty (high opportunity costs). I am not sure where I belong, but it does sound disturbing. Something needs to change.

(Link from India Uncut)

Thursday, 31 January 2008

so many things so less time

I wonder why I end up with so many things to do simultaneously. Right now all the following activities are going on (not in specific order)
1.All fin electives
2.Music practices for Unmaad - eastern & western
3.Accompaniments for solo/duet events in Unmaad
4.Leadcap walk
5.NGO initiative
6.Seniors' placements

And if possible, I have to attend Shailu's wedding a day before an end-term exam.

They say good managers are good at multitasking. Probably I was a type 2 error in that regard.