Why you should discriminate

There are two meanings to the word “discriminate”

  1. recognize a distinction; differentiate.

  2. make an unjust or prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, sex, age, religion etc

Unfortunately over the period of time most people have come to associate the word with the second definition. Of course, I don’t have statistical data on this claim so feel free to disagree with me here. This change in perceived literal meaning of the word is not as harmful to the world as the larger acquired fear among people to discriminate according to the first definition. Some people are hesitant to call spade a spade because they are afraid that “others” might view it as discrimination according to the second definition. Some more people abstain from discriminating even when touchy topics are not involved because they have started to think any kind of discrimination is a monstrous idea.

Why is it important to differentiate is highlighted in a hindi proverb:

सोने का मूल्य जौहरी ही जाने(Value of gold is known only to a jeweler)

If you don’t have the skill of a jeweler you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a piece of gold and a piece of any other glittering material. You may think all that looks like gold is equally valuable. The ability to tell the difference is important and it is a useful skill.

Similar thought is expressed by a Kannada saying

ಕತ್ತೆಗೆ ಏನು ಗೊತ್ತು ಕಸ್ತೂರಿ ಪರಿಮಳ(How does a donkey know the pleasant smell of a musk deer)

Musk deer also looks like a donkey but humans can smell the aroma and appreciate the perfume from a musk deer. But a donkey doesn’t care about the perfume. Probably it doesn’t even think musk deer smells good. Here, a donkey is a metaphor for people who can’t tell the difference between good smell and bad smell. In other words, this saying is used to shame people who can’t appreciate refined content from ordinary content. The content may be in music, literature, science etc.

Fundamentally, it is important and necessary to discriminate between a good work from a bad work or a great talent from an ordinary person or a better idea from a bad one. This discrimination helps us create better future because we shouldn’t treat bad content equal to good content. Without this discrimination one will treat Aryabhatta and me same in same manner. One will keep this blog next to the works of Kalidasa. It doesn’t make sense right? That is precisely because you can discriminate me and my work from the great people and their work. You have the ability to appreciate good work.

It doesn’t matter what is your definition of good and bad. As long as you have a personal yard stick. If your yardstick is wrong it won’t stand the test of time. But demonizing discrimination makes incentivizing great ideas, people and talent impossible. What is worse is that it forbids weeding out the bad ideas and works and also puts wrong people in positions of authority. A recent example which exemplifies the dangers of failing to discriminate is Brexit referendum. When you treat every voice in the society equal to that of an expert the results can be devastating.

Fact of the matter is there are some people, content and ideas which are better than others. We mayn’t have proper quantifying mechanisms but that doesn’t make everything/one same. Comment below some commonly heard phases which say “Every —— is same”.


[Non-JNU Academic] On Demonetization

Do you think:

  1. Demonetization is simply pain for poor and wont solve anything?
  2. The rich with black money wont get affected?
  3. Feel the queue in bank is too much of a pain?

Then please read this blog:

Everyone in India want to get rid of corruption but when the government asked for people’s help in demonetization a certain section of leaders were quick to politicize the issue. As soon as the issue got politicised the followers of those leaders quickly stopped supporting a genuinely good step by the government, which is aptly called a surgical strike against black money. In fact I have even seen people initially supporting the measure but when the leaders politicised it they are now saying it is a useless exercise which only adds to the pain of “Aam aadmi” without solving the issue. So let’s look at some numbers and history of this government’s planned and structured war against corruption.

India’s total tangible wealth is of around 280 lakh crores[1]. World bank estimates at least a quarter of this is black[2]. That means 70 lakh crores. It is possible that 10% of it is in cash, with the rest in real estate and gold. That is 7 lakh crores of black cash that is lying around. Maybe 80% of it will turn white and even with that Rs 1.4 lakh crores of black will be gone. That is big.(Balaji Vishwanathan in Quora).

This figure is comparable with 2G scam(2lakh crore). And remember it was a very conservative estimate(assumptions of 80% and 10%).

There are followers of Lutyen’s mumbo-jumbo who will quickly rise the question that this money wont be recovered, it will simply be removed from the people who hold it. Then ask about how much money government had to spend for this clean up and how much the “poor” people had to suffer to exchange their hard-earned money. Here is my research on amount that was spent.

From a critical source [3] the amount that government will have to spend for printing new notes is 11,900 crore(assuming we replace all 500 and 1000 with 100 which we are not doing). Let’s be very critical and say it costs another 10,000 crore in shipping etc. so we are spending 22 thousand crore to remove over 1.4 lakh crore black money. Here also we have taken huge margins for calculation.

Of course the Lutyen’s intellectuals wont like spending 22 thousand crore to remove 1.4 Lakh crore black money. They only like making video tapes of Rs100 bribe you gave to policeman on road. Since I have better memory than the left-liberals I recall that Modi government had a scheme to disclose black money and pay 45% tax on it. In that scheme over 65 thousand  crore was disclosed[4]. So the central government had already raised 30 thousand crore tax. Even if the it spends 22 thousand crore on demonetization, our central government will still have 8 thousand crore left.

These are all tangible and measurable benefits. I can think of at least three more intangible or hard to quantify benefits:

  1. Every note that is burnt or deemed useless(in this case 1.4 lakh crore) and is not converted into usable asset, is going to improve the value of the total usable money. Because people who do have genuine money got their money value improved. You will shortly see houses becoming more affordable.
  2. generates fear among black money holders
  3. Forces people to use more plastic money

I should also remind some of the steps taken by this government against black money because public memory is poor.

  1. SIT against corruption was the Modi cabinet’s first decision[5]
  2. Jan dhan yojna so that everyone has bank account and can do all legal transactions
  3. emphasis on Aadhar so that they can use it to exchange money today
  4. Making swiss bank account holders name public [6]
  5. GST so that direct taxes are streamlined. Payment of tax becomes easier and also trackable
  6. Scheme to disclose black money and rising 65 thousand crore
  7. and now demonetization without giving any time for black money people to hide their money

It is indeed a planned and structured fight against corruption by Modi sarkar. The government has right intentions, it has right plan and it is doing its best for execution. When it asks for little help from citizens isn’t it our duty to support the war against corruption that we so badly want to be removed from our society?

Now tell me, shouldn’t we all as Indians support this surgical strike against black money? Or is Modi the leader we need but not the leader we deserve? Are we fit only for blindly following the venom spewed by the JNU intellectuals?

[1]  gives this number at 3447B USD which is approximately 280 lakh crore INR

[2] It gives the number as 25% of GDP. Balaji vishwanathan can probably give you a better source as % of tangible wealth. I am not full-time researcher on these 🙂

[Hopefully more posts will follow under Non-JNU academic tag. This is an attempt to shift the center of power out of the Lutyen’s intellectuals and journalists]

Tripura sundari

We have come across various adjectives, phrases, poems, songs, paintings and every other form of art to describe beauty of a woman. I had heard this phrase “Tripura sundari” and thought it is just another such poetic phrase. But yesterday I heard the concept of tripura and immediately thought of tripura sundari. After reading this article there is good chance you will describe the next beautiful woman you meet as tripura sundari.

Let’s first start from prakruti(~nature). It is the place we share with all the other lives. It is common to all of us and prakruti has no favorites. She loves everyone equally. There is no hero or villain, there is no good or bad, there are only prays and predators. In prakruti it is about only about survival in the most meritocratic way.

Then there is samskruti(~culture). It is what we share with others in our society. Here the man-made concepts exist. Here there are concepts that makes one set of people feel proud, secure etc. These concepts are made from our imagination. So we create good and bad, rights and wrongs, victims and saviors.

Finally there is brahmand(~??). It is created by brahmas(~individuals) for themselves. So indeed “Aham brahmasmi(~ I am brahma or god)” is literally true. It is the world we create in our mind. This is not shared with anyone. Thus there are as many brahmand as many people on this planet. Here we create images for ourselves and others. Here the heroes as defined  by the samskruti can be villains and vice-versa.

This is the reason why we interact with strangers at three different levels. First we only share the prakruti with them so we are not comfortable. Our animal instincts come out first trying to gauge if the other person is prey or predator. Then we will see some samskruti in him so we can feel either comfortable when we share it or even more dis-comfortable when we don’t share samskruti. So we move on to find any samskruti that is common to both. Now we share some more in common because we have now identified the samskrutis that are common. It can be nationality, language, profession, race, religion anything. Sometimes (for example sales people) we don’t have time to find these samskrutis and brahmands collide in first go. These interactions are the most difficult at an individual level to handle. Even though we can’t share brahmand we try to understand the other’s brahmand and include its model in our own.

So who is a tripura sundari? Tripura sundari(~beautiful woman) is a woman who is sundari in tripura, tripura being a collective noun for prakruti, samskruti and brahmand. It is easy to understand someone being sundari in brahmand after all it is just individual taste. It is quite easy to call someone sundari in samskruti as well. We know that Europeans call the long legs, Indians the long hair and some east Asians the small feet etc as beautiful. But a sundari in prakruti? Where all are equal and the fittest survive, where a pleasant smelling flower isn’t attractive and a foul-smelling one isn’t repulsive.

Yes that is the artistic freedom in calling someone sundari in prakruti! That is art! So go ahead call the crush of your life as tripura sundari in person not just in comments below.

Relevant problems Vs Cool solutions

We all know the story of Concorde. Most likely Airbus A380 is going down the same path. So what is common to these two planes? These are two iconic planes that epitomizes the marvel of aviation engineering. These planes are not only loved by the plane enthusiasts and the engineers but they are also the planes that lost in the aviation market. I am not here to say that people were wrong to applaud the genius of the engineering but I just want to say that markets work with their own laws. Markets work with its own problems and not the solutions that are liked by engineers. What seems awesome to an engineer can fizzle out in the market.

If I just wanted to conclude with the last line of the first paragraph I wouldn’t have written this post. Because, there is another theory that is exact opposite of my earlier conclusion has also worked especially in electronic and software markets. This theory is popularised by Apple Inc. Where the idea is that customer(read as market) doesn’t know what he needs and the company needs to make sure what it thinks is cool gets sold. In this case market is indeed in the hands of the engineers to shape it.

So as engineers what should we go after? Is it the problems or the solutions? As an engineer what is more important? Is it the relevent problems of the world or the cool solutions that interests us. At a higher level, to begin with, is there even a schism along the lines I am thinking? I will leave you with these questions. Feel free to comment what you think.

What if…

I am sure you have heard and seen lot of fiction that is based on machines one day becoming advanced enough to think for themselves and killing us humans. But have you ever wondered what will these machines do after taking over the world?

”Thinking for themselves” is another way of saying that machines acquiring conciousness which, by the way, we the humans on this planet have. The consequence of having this consciousness is that we ask questions and try to find answers for them. Sure, we have asked plenty of questions and we have solved many of them but still many more questions remain. There is also a theory that says as we find more and more answers we will get many more questions than there had existed before. Think of this theory as an experiment where you are trying to illuminate a circular area with point light source. As you illuminate a certain circular area representing the answers you will have a circumference beyond which there is darkness. This circumference is your questions and as you illuminate more area your circumference keeps increasing. So where am I going with all of this? Well, all of this will be equally true for the machines that take over us. Thinking for themselves will get them the questions that we are asking now.

What if one day they started to question who has created them? What if they find some records of existence of humans in the past. What if some machines start to believe in some machines of past having interacted with humans? What if they start searching for us? This search is going to be inevitable because the question about their origin is bound to asked by them but you see we humans are long gone to answer them this question.

Now what if, in minutest of possibilities, a long time ago we humans have killed the gods and now we are searching for them? What if…