Nalanda Scam

Here is a piece about Nalanda Scam lead by Shri Amartya Sen a bengali communist economist.

Here is an interesting para

In the heat of the moment, it is easy to lose perspective. Let us step back and consider what the Nalanda University project is all about. Nalanda University and the South Asian University (SAU) were conceived by the UPA government as world-class institutions that, while being located in India, would be outside the purview of the University Grants Commission and government regulations.

See what ? We are told that the very reason by UGC exists and why government continues to meddle in education is because it helps keep the “quality” but when it comes to the intent of building a world class institution for some reason the governemnt keeps it outside the purview of UGC.

Well, but the keeping it outside of government purview and opening a fund to a scammer hardly builds world class institutions.

At least UPA government admitted that it is no more possible to build any world class institution while the vultures like UGC and AICTE exist. Hopefully Smriti Irani and Narendra Modi will do something about it.

How tuitions are helping students get better education

This website has got some excellent data on state of Indian education. The data is collected by Pratham, an organization run by Nandan Nilekani’s wife Rohini.

There are no surprises in the data. While the overall quality of education in India remains pretty poor, the government schools are far more worse than the private schools. In a separate report it is also mentioned that private schools are around 4 times more cost efficient.

The report further shows that the tuition system which operates outside the government regulation system is doing even a better job of imparting education even in remote areas like Mizoram. The cost of tuition fee is directly correlated with the quality of education they impart.

This is an excellent eye opener for those who continue to bat for government investment and control in education.

There is an argument that education is a very noble profession and we should not commercialize it. This is a good argument. If you look closely, clearly government schools pay more salary, spend more on infrastructure and yet deliver far poor results than the private schools where students pay their own fees.

Government is the real scum here. Because a student who goes to private school not only pays his own fees but in the form of taxes ends up paying for other students who go to government schools. In a sense he pays twice.

The students at government school receive education at the expense of someone else. Which is morally a theft.

Nuke Deal and Delhi Elections

Indo-US nuke deal is something that was debated in past very heavily and being silently passed at the moment. However some people are still writing about it critically.

I am pretty sure international agreements are far to complex for ordinary mortals like us to understand but then that does not mean we could criticize it by half baked unverifiable claims.

It turns out that nuclear reactors are actually lot more safer than we think. Guess hoe many people died in Fukushima reactor after it malfunctioned because of Japanese Tsunami ? Zero.

But more interesting part is when people talk about the liability coverage. Something that the above mentioned link is talking about. People often forget that the companies who build nuclear reactors and run it invest huge amount of capital in it and it takes few years for them to recover that cost. Any disaster would be a financial disaster for the people as well as for the company because not only they would lose their money they would also lose the reputation.

In reality these companies would kill to avoid such disasters. What happened to Union Carbide after Bhopal disaster ? Not only they lost the whole plant and $470M in settlements, the company never recovered from that disaster. This is what the Wikipedia page says

After the Bhopal disaster, Union Carbide was the subject of repeated takeover attempts. In order to pay off its debt, Carbide was forced to sell many of its most familiar brands such as Glad Trashbags and Eveready Batteries. Eventually, Carbide was bought by Dow Chemical in 1999 for $8.89 billion in stock.

It is not fair to cry wolf and paint a one sided picture when it comes to these issues and people should think a bit before swallowing what the critics write. Of course there might be perfectly valid arguments even about the disaster liability but “the company does not care about people’s life” is not one of them.

Delhi Elections

Irrespective of what people are saying, Modi and Shah are right in putting exceptional efforts in what is mostly a glorified municipality election.

Modi’s victory in general elections is a big blow to Left liberals in India and the journo thugs. These people have influence India’s public debate and killed compensation of ideas by continuously arguing in favor of more government interference in our life. MNERGA to RTE, all bad ideas originated from these scums. Secularism and India of India are other two brain farts that are popularized by this crowd.

This crowd is at the moment lined up in AAP. People like Yogendra Yadav was helping Sonia and Rahul and jumped the ship to join AAP. Here is a more detailed analysis of AAP’s people and core ideology.

If AAP wins Delhi all the media morons will call this “Modi wave over”. “Modi has lost moral right to be PM” and all that bullshit and it will be 2002 hate propaganda all over again.

This will give the impression to public that these left liberals are still in position to influence public opinion and policies.

Modi’s Gaffe

It is totally beyond me why Modi is taking so long to kick out all the Congress loyalists and left liberals from all important position. Leela Samson should have got fired in week 1. Sujata Singh should have gone on day 1.

But then I think the same about Arun Jaitley too.

Mediacrook is exposing the media terrorists

Margarette Thacher once said that the oxygen of terrorists is media. This is pretty much true everywhere and more specifically in Indian media. Arun Shourie wrote an excellent book about Ayodhya movement. He showed that how the media and left liberals worked to deny even the basic demand of Hindus that is to admit that there was once a temple of Rama in Ayodhya. As more and more legitimate space was denied it eventually resulted in a very violent reaction. I suspect currently the entire world is going through a similar phase.

Mediacrook’s blog run by person named Ravinar has been doing an excellent job of exposing Indian media morons. I always wish that someone sues him and he gains more publicity. Mediacrooks is always a twitter celebrity. For me personally his blog clearly helped destroy whatever little respect I had for the likes of Sagarika, Rajdeep, Arnab or Barakha Dutt.

This in my opinion has been the finest piece so far by Ravinar. There are tree parts and you should read all three. Here is a Bill Maher debate on the same issue which needs to be read.

We often ignore the role that the likes of NDTV, CNN-IBN and media morons like Sagarika, Rana Ayyub and Barakha play in actually supporting the terror acts by proxy.

Here is Sagarika telling people that MF Hussain should be able to draw whatever he wants.

And when it comes to Charlse’s brutal murder by Islamic terrorists she has this to say :

This is not an oddball game. All the Indian liberals are playing the same game.

Here is Ms. Barakha dutt coming forward as the defender of terrorists.

Sagarika Ghose has earned the Category 5 moron tag on Social media for a reason, she wonders if a cartoon of Rama could lead to such massacre in India.

Here are some other people of similar stripes.

Charlie attacked all religions pretty much with super offensive cartoons. Only one religion retaliated with violent attack. Check the following cartoon that mocks Ganesha, Abraham, Jesus and I assume Buddha.

 

A question to ponder

It is almost universally accepted that drunk driving is bad. But go to think about it most of the people who drunk drive do not meet with an accident. Only a small fraction of people who are driving under influence of alcohol meet with an accident.

Around 100m people get behind the wheel in USA each day out of which, around 300,000 are believed to be drunk. That is merely 3%. Out of these 300K, there are around 30 fatal accidents each day which is around 0.01% of total people who were drunk. Which basically means rest 299970 people drove back safely or somewhat safely.

Then why do we consider drunk driving as bad ? For the simple reason that the number of deaths are dominated by the number of drunk drivers. Mathematically, as the number of drunk drivers increases, the deaths increase at much faster rate then if the number of sober drivers increase.

Merely 3% of drivers contribute to 30% of deaths with only differentiating factor being that they were DUI. (Driving under influence).

So society is correct in figuring out that DUI is bad for our well being and enacting laws to prevent it.

Now let us drink some liberal Kool Aid and argue that it is wrong to stereotype all DUIs just because some bad drivers among them cause accidents. Bad drivers come in all sizes, shapes and they exist among tea drinkers as well. Drinking tea and driving is same as drinking alcohol and those who believe otherwise are illiberal fanatics and communal …oops. You get my point.

You see where I am going. Arguing by analogies have several issues and I am aware of them. What I am trying to say here is that when people say that a particular terrorist incident has nothing to do with Islam and is merely an act of fanaticism and fanatics exist in all religion, they are missing the most important point that I am illustrating through the DUI analogy.

Liberal logic is what most Muslims are peaceful and not capable of hurting anyone and hence terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. This is same as pointing out to 299970 DUI drivers who drove safely and concluding that alcohol ha no impact on person’s driving abilities.

Who is the biggest gainer if we outlaw DUI ? It is the drunk driver themselves. For example, I totally avoid drinking even when I am in a pub if I have to drive back home. A lot of people either ask someone else to drive them home or catch a cab because DUI is outlawed. In the end, the is those people who get saved. We have no idea how many lives we are saving each day because DUI is illegal.

The real victims of Islamic terrorism are the muslims themselves literally and also in a higher level perspective. Literally, thousands of muslims die worldwide in Islamic terrorist in their own countries such as Pakistan. At a higher level they are stuck is some outdated ideology which hurts their economic growth.

Compare the condition of Indian muslims to those in Pakistan. We have Muslim scientists, actors, directors, sportsman and what not. Pakistan hardly has any of those things. The only difference is that Indian muslims community is far more liberal than their Pakistani counterpart.

Ideally, we should all read Quran and criticize whatever we dont like. Books written hundreds of years ago can not remain sacrosanct. They must be challenged and reinterpreted to suite modern world values. That is what happened with Hinduism and Christianity. It must happen with Islam also.

Here is an interesting discussion between Bill Maher, Sam Harris and Ben Affleck

Is it rational to spend milk on god when poor people are hungry ?

Many people accept answer to this question as No without thinking over it. Questions like these use the cognitive biases in our mind to collude our thoughts.

Most people answer to this question as No because they think that answering it as Yes might make them feel like insensitive to the needs of poor. Most of the leftist/socilaist and communist logic works on this principle. For example when one opposes reservation system, it is claimed that a person is against downtrodden people and so on. Read any newspapers and you will get more examples.

Societies have failed have got mired in abject poverty and misery because these societies projected answer to above metaphorical question as NO.

Let us apply some economic reasoning to the question in the title. Looking at alternatives is the best way to make things clearer. One of the insight you gain out of this is that we can never judge other person’s decision to economize his resources through our perspective.

Economic reasoning involves looking at alternatives which are mutually exclusive. In this case two alternatives are thrown into our face. Either spend milk on God or spend it on a poor man. Giving milk to God will keep the man hungry and malnourished which is your fault. Let us call this scenario 1.

This would have been a fair alternative if each one of us got equal amount of milk magically while randomly some people did not. In reality milk is produced by a farmer who then sells it for a money wherever there is demand. A devotee has to work somewhere to earn some money in order to buy that milk.

The first choice here is that devotee who thinks offering milk to God is stupid can simply not work or work less and rather spend that extra time with his family. Somehow this choice does not seem evil at all. Social media is full of letters by little kids who demand some time from their busy parents. How often we hear people crying about culture and all that because young people these days spend too much time on their career ?

A person who works extra, earns little extra which he then decide to spend on whatever he wants. Offering milk to God is one of the countless motivations that make people like you and me toil at our workplace. None of us works for us to “feed the poor hungry man”. Lets call this alternative 2.

Hypothetically speaking, if each one of us was given a fixed amount of time and if were were asked to divide that time into two unequal portions such that whatever is the outcome of one portion will go to poor people and outcome of second portion will go to his personal needs. Without any exceptions most people will allocate more time to their own needs.

In reality we do this sort of decision making all the time. We all spend money on poor people but it is generally a small portion of our earnings. We keep most of the money for ourselves and for our children.

Communist societies refused to see this basic human nature. They thought that everyone should work and the output of their labor must be divided among all people. The productivity of such society was far too low, there was always a scarcity of everything and eventually the society and country collapsed.

This is the reason why we can never judge how people spend their money and what motivates them.

Of course some people argue that wouldn’t it be nice to have a society where everyone feeds the poor before offering anything to an idol ? The reality is that this is not natural human behaviour in society. There is no society on earth which has ever practiced this sort of behaviour willingly. Those societies tried to force this behaviour got obliterated pretty quickly.

That is why, the logic that Mr. X should not to Y with his money but spend it on poor is bullshit logic not worthy of admiration but scorn.

PK: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I watched PK. It is an average movie. It surely makes fun of Hindu temples, customs and rituals but again, a film maker should have that right. The real issue with the movie is that it is mediocre and too preachy.

It is hard to make a movie that moves people. Amir Khan was hugely successful in doing so in Tare Zamin Par. The real issue with PK is that it deals with the subject that is far too complex for the talent of Amir Khan and Hirani. Faith, superstition, rituals are not often black and white issues but come in shades of gray. Even then it is possible to criticize religion and faith by taking a principles position. Something like Christopher Hitchens would do.

It takes lot of courage to do so. Courage that I dont think Amir Khan or Hirani had. They have chosen Hinduim because they know that it will mostly lead to some Twitter trends and nothing more. Certainly nothing that happened with Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasreen. When you take such stand which is based on convenience and not principle you lose the right to be preachy about any issue.

Some people like Baba Ramdev have demanded that people should boycott this movie. This is not really a bad thing. In a free society movie maker should be free to make any movies which even deliberately offend people at the same time people should be free to boycott such movies.

Liberals often rush and equate calls for boycott with those who are using violence against the theater. Opposite is the case, when people like Ramdev call for boycott they are essentially encouraging people not to resort to any other methods like violence. It is not same.

Some assholes like the ones on Bajrang Dal etc. have tried violence and threats. Ideally in my opinion theater owners should employ armed guards and shoot such people. Of course that is a utopian expectation, we can at least expect the acche din government to round up all this goons.

 

Why people behave irrationally ?

In algorithms course we learn about the concept of dominating function. For example a function f(x) = x^2 + x can be viewed as some of two separate functions x^2 and x. In this case we say x^2 dominates x for sufficiently large values of x. In lay man’s language value of f(x) depends more on x^2 than x.

It is an interesting concept with some interesting real world analogies. For example, we often see that at our workplace or in our neighborhood people of different religions are often good to each other despite all the differences in their religion. Yet, when political issues comes up or during religious riots the same people somehow start slitting each others throat. Why do we behave so well when it comes to inter-personal relationships and behave so badly when it comes to any communal issue ?

Well, here the concept of dominating function comes into picture. How we treat different people, is a function of sum of several factors. For example when it comes to my neighbor, I know that he is likely to be the first responder if I am ever in trouble. Hence this factor dominates more when I am dealing with him than the fact that he is of different religion. Typical factors involved in how we deal with other people depend on their looks, appearance, relationship to us, past experience with such people, stereotypes, how long we have have known these people etc. etc.

Religion also happens to be one of the factor. Generally when dominating factor is a rational one, we see that people tend to be far more peaceful. For example, a Hindu shopkeeper treats all his customers nicely irrespective of their religion because dominating factor in his mind is profit which is a very rational factor.

When dominating factor is a rational one, both the parties tend to understand each other’s motives well and reciprocal actions tend to be far more deterministic. For example, in a classroom if the dominating factor is purely academic performance, then the teacher knows that the student will work hard to gain more marks and the student knows that if he gets all the answers correct teacher will award him full marks. This deterministic nature helps both the parties co-operate well without conflict even if the student fails or performs exceptionally well.

On the contrary in a traffic accident, a minor accident leads to heated arguments and eventual manhandling because both parties often think that it is other person’s fault and deliberately take irrational stand. The party which loses the argument then tries to escalate the engagement to a different dominating factor. When you clearly see that it was other person’s fault but if that person simply refuses to accept that you think that may be by physically hitting the person you might be able to force him to agree to your viewpoint. It only gets more complicated from there.

Is it ever possible that we could peacefully treat each other with religion as a dominating factor ? I haven’t found any example that suggests that it is possible. . The differences in all religions are so wide that it is impossible for people to reconcile with religion as the dominating factor. A good example is of recently concluded India Ideas Conclave, a Norwegian bishop who was otherwise a thorough gentleman was asked “Do Hindus go to heaven?”. He refused to say yes. Here was a case of a Hindu and Christian engaging with each other with religion as dominating factor and one party got antagonized to quickly.

Sarvdharm-samabhava hence is a myth. People can not have same outlook towards all religions because they are different and have conflicting fundamentals. On other other hand making religion a dont care term seems like the best bet to promote communal harmony. This only means, religions issues and religion factor should get less and less importance in public discourse and people should be encouraged to engage at non-religious levels more and more.

We should apply the same framework for Islam. Unlike other religions, Islam insists that religion cuts through all aspects of life. Islam makes it very difficult for its followers to engage with others at any other level than the one dominated by religion. The core teachings of Islam touch every aspect of life, from how we dress to how we behave in bedroom.

One of the reason why Islam probably finds itself combating everyone else is because of this reason. Compared to other religions, Islam seems to promote a mindset among its followers where the dominating factor is religious identity. Even while ordering the food in restaurant, it matters whether the animal he is eating was killed by a Muslim or not. Thus faithful Muslims tend to act more and more irrationally in all sphere of life thus leading to conflict, isolation and economic loss.

What is wrong with religion as dominating factor ?

What is wrong with religion is that it is eventually an irrational concept. It is fine if an individual indulges in irrational belief. It becomes a serious problem when he lets those irrational beliefs guide him in real world which is either rational or irrational in completely different way. Thus such human being will be at peace only among those people who share the exact same irrational beliefs with him.

For example, I go to great length to ensure that my food does not contain beef and pork. The christian cooks and waiters find this weird. Of course, they are doing business and for them the dominating factor is customer satisfaction and hence they put up with my tantrums. On the other hand when a local church evangelist knocks on my door telling me I should accept Jesus as my savior to assure myself of a place in heaven, I shut the door on his face. I not only find his belief irrational I too treat him with my own religion as the dominating factor in my mind. Thus I treat him far more worse than a stranger knocking on my door.

Same goes with Communism which itself was an atheistic in nature. Yet, the core principles of communism were so much against basic human nature that they only promoted mistrust and misery for their fellow beings.

The fringe elements

Each religion will have a small % of people for whom dominating factor will always be the religion. For example someone like Pravin Togadiya or Nun Teressa, the dominating factor was always religion. Thus their stands on most issues sound irrational and stupid and lead to controversies.

If any particular religion explicitly mandates that religion be dominating factor in all aspects of life the % of such people in that religion will increase. Leading to a much degraded image of their religion.

Dharma Awarenes Seminar

Last Saturday I helped organize Global Dharma Seminar in Sunnyvale California under the banner of Global Dharma Institute.

Kalavai Venkat presented his wonderful research on Caste System in India. The work he has done is pretty amazing. For example I was not aware that various castes in India are actually genetically different from others with common ancestors going back more than 20,000 years.

The caste system as we western philosophers often modeled as hierarchy was actually a flat system with fluidity until independence and the ratio of lower caste students in school to Brahmins was higher in before 1900s where as total education was higher in Brahmins because of homeschooling.

Kalavai’s book have many such important data points from British and other important sources.

 

 

Few thoughts on Rajdeep’s controversial GSB tweets

I wrote this lengthy piece as a comment on this blog. I will soon be organizing an event in bay on a related topic and nevertheless wanted to write some stuff on this topic. I will follow up in other posts.

I am unable to see what is wrong with Rajdeep’s tweet. If someone bringing caste into everything is regressive, just squarely blaming everything on caste is also sort of colonial hangover.

I would definitely like to know what concrete evidence you would have for your claim:

“When you are the only community having access to education and knowledge systems and thus denying the right to education to rest of the communities”

On the contrary several places in Goa including my village had schools in early 1900s because of various saraswasts and later the Partagal mutt providing land and other assistance.

I dont see any reason why we should be ashamed of any caste. Just the way Tim Cook publicly declaring himself gives hope to million other gay children that they too can make it big, we publicly acknowledging the achievements of fellow caste members equally gives hope to everyone else.

Most of the anti-caste propaganda smells of leftist distortions mixed up with missionary propaganda mostly funded by people who fail to understand India’s civilization perspective. Phrases like “Thousands of years of oppression..” are thrown around without any kind of hard evidence.

Two important and reliable sources for understanding caste before Independent India are Dharampal’s work  and the Census Reports of British government.

Dharampal basically goes to show that India had a wider network of educational institutes and higher level of education among all lower castes before the British rule. The education level among India’s lower castes and working class was far higher than that of British society.

The census officers in 1930s concluded that the caste wise survey was meaningless because caste itself is fluid concept which government must not view as rigid structure. The officer gives detailed accounts of how several castes disappeared year on year and new castes came into existence. He explain how once a community gains influence it claims a higher place in caste order (e.g. Nabhik community turning into Nayik Brahmins) and how the whole system acts as an incentive to improve upon they level of prosperity. He concludes the report that saying any attempts to fix a caste would be counter-productive and act to perpetually bind those people into those brackets.

Interestingly it is only the progressives and post-independent India that has created political and economic incentives for people to claim they are “backward” and “oppressed”.

The GSB community is a very good example of why the census officers got it right. History of many families in GSB community is relatively well documented. A lot of “prabhu desai” were not GSBs to begin with. Several other GSBs belonged to various other castes 500 years ago. As and when they came into contact with the Mutt and were able to influence the Swami and help the mutt, they were inducted into GSB community. Many were expelled from the community from time to time and putting them into different caste brackets.

Tracing the history of GSBs they remain somewhat on the move throughout the course of history and yet one of the well organized community in the country compared to others. A lot of this GSB history is well documented in this research work http://amzn.to/1EQfOIZ [Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins, published by University of California].

You might be right to point out that Tendulkar’s achievements have nothing to do with his caste, but you are quick to then claim that Tendulkar was somehow in better position than others to score those centuries because of his caste.

Obviously people who are well off will relatively do better than others in the current generation but I fail to see why no one wants to give any evidence to the claim that the exact same people were better off throughout the history ?  Almost every available piece of evidence seems to go opposite to that assumption.

Issue of oppression of fellow man and denying them the same freedom that is available to others have is a crime. However I dont buy the claim that caste was an instrument of oppression. Some influential people oppressing others is a common theme in history everywhere. In case of slavery in US or Australia where black people were categorized as “not–human” is pretty much the case of creating a rigid structure for the purpose of exploitation and oppression.

In case of oppression in India, the caste factor only correlated with the kind of influence the castes had at that time. For example poor people were oppressed by the ruling class or rich class with enough fluidity where poor could get rich and turn into the oppressors. Example : Nadan family of Agastheeswaram in Kerala where lower caste women were not allowed cover their breasts. This family which was at the receiving end came to prominence,  got an exception from the King for their women but actively enforced the exact same restriction on others.

This is very similar to how BJP and Congress pretend to have different economic policies but when in power follow the exact same economic policies purely because that is politically profitable for them.