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.