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The guy who bores you here is Sreekanth, Indian, ex-Software Engineer, management student(IIM Ahmedabad)
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Monday, April 29th, 2002

World Economy and India

I have a gut feeling that something is wrong with Economics. I don't mean the way it is going, recession etc. Economics itself is futile or rather the human activities we study under economics are futile. I also have another gut feeling. There is something wrong with this concept of the world divided as countries. It's something like the animal's feeling of territory, for example what the dog feels when it urinates. Both these will have to ultimately go away. Well I know it sounds revolutionary etc etc. At a young age everyone has such revolutionary ideas. Maybe. But the gut feeling is still there.

Surprisingly this doesn't though prevent me from thinking upon Economics or trying to understand it. Nor does it prevent me from thinking of India and sharing the pride in whatever little successes it has had. I have always liked to read news like this. Please don't overestimate the value of that piece of information. It's just based on the Gross National Income in Purchasing Power Parity terms. And please don't laugh at the reference to Pakistan in that news. Tha't would be cheap. Instead read this and think of not "What the country can do for you, but what you can do for the country".

Probably these articles just say that India is a big and poor country. So what is the future. I mean Economy(oh-the-hated-Economy)-wise. Probably you will find part of the answer here.

"Collectively, these two countries accounted for 1.1 percentage points, or 44 per cent, of the 2.5 per cent growth in world gross domestic product in 2001."
Significant, isn't it?

Monday, April 29, 2002
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Monday, April 15th, 2002

An Important Discussion

Myself and Harish(my project-mate) had this very interesting discussion with an erudite colleague of ours. He has studied Philosophy in detail and was very thorough in what he said. I hadn’t thought out much of what I said and now have relaised my ignorance of much of Religion.
The discussion was about his disbelief in Religion. He says that Religion purports to do things, which it cannot do. Religion introduces the element of the mystic, which doesn’t prevent anyone from explaining away anything as mystic, even murder in the name of religion. Also Religion doesn’t lend to rationality and makes in it claims irrational jumps where it says things it doesn’t explain rationally.
I am very tempted to put the discussion verbatim. But that is unnecessary as I believe any discussion in which there is a difference of opinion, it is only necessary to arrive at one or many exactly defined statements where there is difference of opinion. What was exactly said till then is not very important. After arriving at such statements where one says “It is so” and the other “It is not so” then there should be rational exchange by each to justify his stand. The statement we arrived at is, “Religion is fundamentally wrong”. He says since Religion is fundamentally wrong it should be done away with. We said that it is not so.
He says Religion is fundamentally wrong because for example it says it can take you to Spiritual Enlightenment, to an Elevated state of Understanding the Infinite etc. These are not properly defined and are not rational and the whole thing is just a farce for some people to fool others and remain in power. Basically Religion is a different form of politics. People even justify murder in the name of Religion and say it is the will of the God.
What I said to that is that Religion for me is Hinduism. I haven’t had the good fortune to study other Religions(and I do not believe that such belief is mutually exclusive). And in Hinduism irrational description of an elevated state and using the fear of common man and promising him Heaven and thus somebody who wants Power keeping him under control etc etc is the not the intent. Hinduism believes in reasoning and change and allows it. My colleague has asked me then “What do you mean by Spiritual Enlightenment and how do I know when I have attained it or somebody else has attained it?”. I am in the process of learning and preparing a good answer to this question.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002
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Monday, April 15th, 2002

Villa of Disharmony

There amidst those small, middle-class houses and huts stands a mini-palace. Huge walls protect it, gardens add beauty to the surroundings, the maali is working to further improve it. The central three-storied concrete structure is huge, though not very good looking. People passing it look at it with envy. I, the invisible, enter into this house.
Ground floor: Wife and husband are in a heated conversation. Gossiping about the brother living in the First floor. Sarcasm, and dislike flame the conversation. When the heat becomes unbearable, I run up the steps to the First Floor. But I find, the door to the First floor is boarded. Invisible, but burning in the flames, I run out. There behind the house, an add-on staircase to the first floor. The staircase, the standing, rising symbol of disagreement. But what is interesting is the another staircase close-by, this one leading to the Second Floor, another symbol. I don’t try climbing up because I can see the flames above, through the open windows. That may even be my imagination, but the heat is real. I jump over the wall of the villa and escape to the huts, where brothers don’t disagree. But even there, do I find harmony?

Monday, April 15, 2002
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Monday, April 15th, 2002

Further on Complexity

Continuing from the previous blog, I think, now I should start the process of complex thinking. Are we on the right road? First of all, does the world require a road at all and should people think about all this?
I think, thinking about these is unavoidable, irrespective of whether it is required or not. This is the one assumption I have to make. Otherwise it stops here.
Now do we need a road? I mean, does the world have a defined pathway to progress? Or should humanity just leave it at that and let it go wherever it is going? This is somewhat related to the previous question and here again, if we do not need such a road, thinking stops here. Let me now assume that we need a road. (Complex thinking needs a lot of assumptions, each of which could be wrong)

What should the road be? Probably I should first analyze the road, the Modern times have shown us and the one we seem to be following - the Road of Progress. Here I face a big problem. Analysis of any form needs certain Guidelines (which unfortunately are further assumptions), which can be used to make a value judgement on something. These assumptions should help me to say whether the road of progress we follow is correct or not. Where do I get it from?
Religion? Most religions ask us to follow such and such and then it is good, else it is bad. Progress, as defined today, doesn't seem to be the best way in any Religion.
Science? I know Science as only the application of Scientific Thought and in some ways the unraveling of the unknown. I am not sure if it has something in it, which can be used to make a value judgement on Progress. Maybe at the level of Philosophy of Science there maybe something. I am not sure.
Gandhi? Read Gandhi’s Talisman here. Since I am in doubt as to whether something is good or not, I can use his Talisman and see whether it helps the poorest man I can remember. Put in context, whether Progress does any good to him. I think it certainly does him good, isn’t it?
Abraham Lincoln? When he says: “I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number.” Does Progress satisfy this criterion?

Frankly this is getting very complex. There can be so many such Guidelines. Which to choose?
I am leaving it hanging here for the time being. Based on your response and my mood, I will come back to this sometime. After all, it is one of my favorite topics.

Monday, April 15, 2002
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Thursday, April 11th, 2002

Why things are complex

Thinking simplistically is the one mistake people often do. Let me take a serious look at the world around. Where is the world going?
After the initial primitive existence of man there was this stage called the Dark Ages, when pursuit of knowledge was curtailed and authority was established in the name of God and feudalism, to the advantage of only a priviliged few. Then came the Renaissance and the Modern Ages. Scientific thinking had become important and this and many other factors spurred an Industrial Revolution, where acquisition of wealth was no more based on feudal authority, but personal enterprenuership - Capitalism. The consequent inequalities resulted in the Communist way of thinking, where (irrespective of whatever communism theoretically meant) the enterprenuer and labour became enemies. A person investing money or starting a business can also make money without oppressing the labour he will employ. Rather than a win-loose situation it can become a partial win-win situation. This probably has now reduced the relevance of Communism. Progress became the buzzword of Modern times. Progress, as can be measured by economic indices like Gross Domestic Produce etc. And that brings us to the world of today.
The world as I see it today is divided into different countries, which based on some Economic indices, are either Developed or Developing. Each country strictly maintains itself as a distinct entity and tries to achieve the standards of Economic indices of the Developed countries. And what are the developed countries doing? Well, life doesn't end once you are a developed nation. They have more enterprenuers coming up with newer ideas, which change the way business is done or improve the quality of life. The latter is important, the pursuit to improve quality of life, which means something like "if you have a house to live in, food to eat and clothes to wear, then let me now make a beautiful garden around my house." It's just an example. But have we reached the end of the road. No, because there are still developing countries who have to reach there. Also the countries, who have reached the end of the road are building the road of progress further and further. So even if we haven't reached a state, where humanity has attained a reasonable amount of satisfaction to stop moving further and further ahead, can we atleast say that we are on the right road?

This is where it gets complex. What preceded this(after I began talking about the mistake of thinking simplistically) was a simplistic description. There can be infinite differences and mistakes pointed out in it. Like when it was Dark Ages in Europe, was it really Dark in India etc etc. But in a very rough sense atleast, I think, this is what happened upto today. But now, this question, as to whether we are on the right road at all. Continued in the next blog...

Thursday, April 11, 2002
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Wednesday, April 10th, 2002

I can pose as Nostradamus Part 1: Short-Term predictions

Apartment building will not have corridors anymore. The door to the balcony will be the front door. People will stand on the two pedals of their Personal Flying Machines and just fly out. These machines for all commercial purposes will be called flymas(short for FLYing MAChines) and pronounced as falmies*.
There will be no traffic control. 3-D space will reduce the possibility of both accidents and traffic control. Umbrellas over traffic islands will be inverted and used to catch falling flymas and service them. Nobody will bother about the rider because if it’s system has broken down, it can be cloned(for reasons of usage of “it”, go to the reference to sexes below).
Instead of parking under office buildings flymas will be parked on the roof. Needless to say, car-manufacturing companies will close down or move into making flymas.

Cooking will become obsolete as food-processing machines will become common. They will have input for different items and keys to program the desired cooking like 'boil in water for 5 mins', 'fry for 10 mins' etc. Also standard dishes can be stored as programs with parameters for customization. Prepared food can be consumed by either directly connecting the FPs outlet to the mouth or stored in dishes. Different washing requirements will just have different inlets, buttons and outlets. As a result there will be no work left in the house. Cleaning apparatus can be set into periodic auto-scanning mode. So the only difference between the sexes will be their organs, but that’s just a matter of a small decision and a couple of minutes.

All information(newspaper, magazines, mail) will come and go through the wire into a device, which will be no more called the computer, because it is a highly programmable hardware, which can accept English commands and translate it into programs. It will be called domputer(because d comes after c). (A breed of workers called Programmers, who existed for some years will vanish. Plumbers will still be there because water has to come to the house still and taps will still leak. Nobody put in more thought into that.)

Worshipping can be done by logging in either over the wire through a domputer or taking a flyma to the religious institution. (But none of the religious instituions are anyway designed for roof-parking of flymas, so more and more people will prefer domputers). Companies will desing hardware that will to auto-generate novels,poems and paintings using AI, but the spreading disinterest in such artforms will cause these companies to heavily lay-off and go insolvent.

Scientific research will more and more target questions like “How and why did pursuit of science start?” and “Do we need science?”. Results in these will prove self-destructive.

* - to follow an old English tradition of having a spelling and a totally unexpected pronunciation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002
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Wednesday, April 10th, 2002

I can pose as Nostradamus

Future prediction is an easy job. Lots of people before and after Nostradamus have given it a try. Only, he was clever. He mastered obscurantism.
"In the City of God there will be a great thunder,
Two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb,
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning"

Say something like this and somewhere along the future something similar is bound to happen. I am saying this in a lighter sense. Please don't start a "I stand for Nostradamus!" campaign and kill me with comments.
Let me also give it a try. I will give short-term, medium-term and long-term predictions. Short-term predictions are bound to begin from the next day of my death(refer to previous blogs for my predictions on when that will happen). No, I am not shirking, it's just that... well... "On the moonless night of fourth day of the fourth month of the symmetric year, an apparition found voice and yelled
start a spree,
on a future tree,
to begin,
from the end of thee.'
So you see the predictions will only start coming true from the next day of my ...
And I will not attempt to be an obscurantist. That's not how I play the game.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002
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Tuesday, April 9th, 2002

Wisdom and Practicality

Darks clouds close in from the horizon.
"You mean you haven't read the Vedas! One-Fourth of your life is wasted. Have you read the Upanishads?" the Scholar to the Boatman taking him across the river in some rural village in India.
"No". It slowly started to drizzle.
"Half your life is wasted. What about the Bahagavadgeetha?". The downpour increases in intensity and an occasional lightning can be seen "No Panditji".
The wind is slowly gaining speed "Three fourth of your life is wasted!".
"Panditji do you know swimming?".
"No no. Why?". The boat slowly sinks "Looks like all your life will be wasted soon, there is a storm coming and my small boat may not stand up to it!".

A well known joke(more than a joke) from India. Personally, I am a wreck in such matters whose importance is stressed above. If not exit in 50s, madness in 60s, certain to drown somewhere, sometime.
Different things to learn in life physical, knowledge-wise. People proportion their learning in different ways. Some wrestlers only at the physical level, some bookworms only in knowledge, some TV-Ad-Hero-kids, drinking Bournvita, become "Champions" in ladai and padai(roughly translated - wrestling and studies).

Mental make-ups, inflexibilities and the choice of a path in life. Is their something that is best, a formula? Or is it same either way? Does it matter at all? Doubts galore...

Tuesday, April 09, 2002
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Monday, April 8th, 2002

Benin & the Indian Bomb

Running out of the subway, I ran into the bus-stand and not seeing the bus, asked the African gentleman "42?".
"Oh no".
I turn and enter into a couple nested shells of thought.
"I too miss... bus..." smiling African gentleman "I look at schedule of 29 and go for a walk. hihi...".
"Bad luck!" I am happy to have someone who is interested in a conversation.
Instead of names, countries of origin are exchanged. His eyes light up when I say "I am from India".
"Me from Benin!"
Some light conversation ensues. Later in the bus he enters into couple of shells(probably searching for what he knows on India) and says " You know... Gandhi?". From the question, I guessed, he doesn't expect me to personally know Gandhi, nor to impersonally not know Gandhi, he is just saying he knows of Gandhi. I put in some comment on South Africa, hoping he would find it relevant.
He turned out to be staying in the same builing as myself and during the brief walk from the bus stop to the apartment he says "India has the Bomb.. ha.. Atomic Bomb?".
Me "Ya ya. You think it's good?".
"Yes. America has... I hope you understand what I say?"
"Yes, you mean so it's good for one of us third-world countries to have it too?"
"YES! YES!" broad smile.

Interesting this thought of the Indian Bomb and third world camaraderie.
I say a couple of more bad things about the Bomb, and later, since he had to pass my apartment, I say "Come in" hoping he would not(bachelor's room you see).
"Some time later" and he leaves. Time was 11:50PM.(A native French speaker saying the three words - Some, Time, Later could mean anything.)

Sounds of vaccum cleaner from my room at midnight and my attempts to keep the name of India "clean" amidst the third-world camaraderie.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002
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Sunday, April 7th, 2002


People who are acquainted with the intensity of my thought(whatever foolishness the content be), like my sister, say, I will go mad by the age of 60. (I ignore the ex-colleagues-posing-to-be-friends, who remove the reference to 60 and use present tense in the previous statement.)
But going by the extent of physical activity I involve in nowadays, I am compensating for God's misery while putting me together in the vertical axis, by growth in the other two perpendicular axes. I expect my first heart attack in the 40s and then "exit(1)" in the 50s (Exit with error 1. Me no normal exit, sure.) Well that scuttles the chances of my going mad. So friends (and ex-colleagues-posing-to-be-friends):
"An extra burger(or even dosa) a day, keeps the madness away."

Madness? Exit? (No, my mother isn't net savvy)

Tuesday, April 09, 2002
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Friday, April 5th, 2002

What is

There are many aspects to Brahminism:
-Their origin from the face of Brahma - The Creator as written in Hindu scriptures.
-Their role as one of the four castes in the Chaaturvarna system(The division of society into four castes - Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra).
-Their dedication to the study of the Vedas, Philosophy, Teaching, Astrology and Medical science, spreading the message of Hinduism, being advisers to kings and Governments and so forth.
-The scriptures not saying that this class is superior or that class is inferior
-Heredity becoming a caste marker. This is of much later origin and thousands of castes have proliferated in India.
-The Theory of Aryan Invasion whereby Central Asians were said to have migrated to Northern India and driven the existing people to South
-The countering of the above theory. Not denying that people from central Asia might have come to India, as have several successive waves, this hypothesis says that a highly evolved culture already existed which assimilated the Aryans. This view is supported by archeological findings at Harappa (now in Pakistan)
-Finally the evolving somehow the present Indian societal order whereby caste is solely hereditary, marriages are normally within castes(anything else causing severe heartburns to relatives of bride and groom), Brahmins are the priests in Hindu temples.
-Brahmins also entering other fields of life other than being priests - Scientists, Doctors, Political Leaders, Engineers etc.

The abovementioned points are all highly debated, highly supported, highly opposed, and whatnot.
I want to get away from all this. I am unable to focus on the aspect of Brahminism connected to Temples because I haven't been trained in those. My education and profession are totally different from these.

What I am trying to find is if there is anything in Brahminism, which a common man of today doing some secular job can follow? I know there will be people, who say such a person can never be a Brahmin. But I believe that this is not the case.
I occasionally try to get to this eternal essence of secular Brahminism.

Friday, April 05, 2002
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Wednesday, April 3rd, 2002

The Quest - Method & Limitations

Pursuit of the unknown is challenging. One can do it in any of the many ways. But whatever it is you are pursuing, a positive result is never a neccessary outcome. That we needn't worry about this is adviced in Bhagavadgeetha:
"Karmanyevadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana,
Ma karmaphalaheturbhurmate sangostva karmani" (II-47)
Meaning: Your right is to work only, but never desire the fruits
let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.

(I don't feel very good quoting from Bhagavadgeetha etc, because personally, I feel, one should devote complete attention to these texts and only then speak about them. My kind of piece-meal approach is not correct. But I am unable to do so now and believe "Something is better than nothing")

But even if it is true that we should not desire the result, in any pursuit there is no harm(I feel) in trying to find out whether there will be a result or not. For people who feel very confident, and have the feeling:"I am great, I know everything or I can certainly know and answer everything", please consider this:
Look at the world we live in Physically. We are in some country, on the face of earth, which revolves and rotates around a sun in a solar system, which is in a galaxy called "Milky Way", which is in a Universe. Sounds great. Hey but what is in the Universe in? Is it just hanging in cold air? Hanging?? Cold air?? Well you see when we bring together the concepts of:
The Physical World we are in,
The Quest "What is outside this?" and it's repeated use

we end up in an unanswerable question. Because whatever anything is in, what is outside that? This is unending, INFINITE. So either the Physical World is incomprehensible or certainly not lending itself to Questions like "What is outside this?"
Our whole way of thinking is wrong.
By "our whole way", I am referring to the Western Scientific way. I have been taught in school to think scientifically and atleast as of now(maybe not before, maybe not later), this is the contribution of the Western world. And does this way of thinking answer my seemingly simple sounding question. No!

I arrive at two possibilities above - Incomprehensibility of Physical World AND wrong way of thinking. If it is the former then it points to the what I was trying to say "...whatever it is you are pursuing a positive result is never a neccessary outcome". Still I don't think we human beings have been born into this world for leaving things at that. We always pursue.

Even in the sloka above Lord Krishna didn't want us to give up, as can seen by the interpretation in http://www.vahini.org/downloads/geethavahini.html
"...The Lord has said in the Geetha, 'refuse the fruit' (maa phaleshu), that is to say: the deed yields results, but the doer should not desire the result, or do it with the result in view. If Krishna's intention was to say that the doer has no right for the fruit, He would have said, 'It is fruitless', 'na phaleshu,' (na, meaning no). So if you desist from Karma, you will be transgressing the Lord's command. That will be a serious mistake..."

So made confident by the reassurances, I pursue the INFINITE, a pursuit in which, as I said above, there is nothing much to be confident about. I like this, this brief look at pursuit, before one actually begins.

Time, Eternal, standing Still,
moves ahead, unending Will,
never to stop, no trace of chill,
till the summit of this Colossal Hill...

Wednesday, April 03, 2002
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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2002

Brahminism - The Ideal

For some time now I have been thinking about this concept of Brahminism. Brahmin, as a word means a person who has full knowledge of Brahman, that is God.
How things happen in India nowadays is that anybody who is born in a Brahmin family is a Brahmin. Nobody else is. I was never very satisfied by this order of life in India. I always felt that one becomes a Brahmin under certain conditions. What these where I never knew completely. But still I was certain that just being born into a Brahmin family and having undergone the thread ceremony doesn't make me a Brahmin. Also nothing disqualifies a person born in a non-Brahmin family from becoming a Brahmin. Basically which family you were born into doesn't form a necessary part of the set of conditions which makes one a Brahmin. Then what are these set of conditions? I intend to pursue this question in my life and probably even become a Brahmin one day :-)

The concept of Brahminism should have been the ideal for the Hindu religion. Infact, I believe that the goal of Hinduism is achieved when everyone becomes a Brahmin. I am not very sure about this. But it certainly sounds good. One very important point here is to see two things as separate. One is what Brahminism is and what it has become.
What Brahminsim is: An ideal to be achieved.
What Brahminism has become: Something which only the children of a Brahmin can become. And thereby it just remains as a caste and a set of rituals.

What I feel is that the latter is not correct. The former should not be called as bad because the latter is the prevalent practice in Hinduism today.
My intention while saying this is not to hurt the feelings of anyone who believes in the latter. But I request them to kindly explain to me why they are correct? I am a novice and just learning these things and generally seeking knowledge.

I will be occasionally coming back to this and will continue my pursuit of Brahminism. If anyone has any views or information please feel free to share it through the "Comments" or "Guestbook". And I hope we learn something out of the whole exercise.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002
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Monday, April 1st, 2002

Time for a change

My blogs till now resemble some kind of a travelogue. I am not so bent on travelling. It is just that I landed in Europe at such a young age and have some friends here, who love travelling - Niraj(who is already covered 7 European countries) and Suresh. But still, when I actually went to these places, I really loved it. I think with places like, Paris, Rome and Swiz you probably don't have any other choice. But now I intend to write about some thoughts that are closer to me.

First of all I would like to acknowledge Anand(Subramony Sesha), who introduced me to blogging. He is my CET(College of Engineering, Trivandrum) friend. I had read about blogging previously in rediff.com, but it was he who brought it to my serious attention. So he becomes my guru in this. It is important, I believe, to acknowledge and respect someone who gives you knowledge.

I also blog at Samvedna with my friends at CET, Anand(ofcourse), Baiju and Suresh.

Monday, April 01, 2002
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