Saturday, December 30, 2006

Getting good grades can be immoral too!

Starting with inspirations: For this blog, it was an Ethics lecture where we were given a case and asked to decide on whether the guy (the protagonist, if u will, of the case!) should pay the bribe or not...the said bribe being towards getting a contract. Our discussions happened in spurts, like this:

A: Abey kaise justify karenge?
B: Bol dete hain ki bribe de de saala.
C: Pagal hai kya, grades ki vaat lagwayega kya?
D: Yeh to hai.
E: To phir kuch soch na, ki kaise lapetein.
B&E (together, and taking a lot of pleasure in it): C ko hi bolne dete hain...mast phenkta hai!
C (in consternation): No way !!!

And this is how it always went...for us, for many others too!

Got me thinking: What was more immoral? The fact that we believed that the guy shd pay the bribe or that we said one thing when we believed in sumthng else...esp. in the ETHICS lecture. Which brings me to a more pressing point: Are we wrong in the first place? For, believing in something like we did (that the guy shd pay the bribe) can't be unethical...for it was just a viewpoint we had. The only action that we performed wrongly could have been...Saying that the guy shouldn't have paid the bribe to the prof when we believed in sumthng else. And in this case, whose fault would it be? Ours or the prof's, who did not create an atmosphere in the class where we could freely speak what we felt and thought(or is it just one of the umpteenth cases of ppl blaming the system!). I dont have answers to these...

But this got me thinking on somethng else entirely. Something which is a part of our everyday lives (and for many of us, the sole purpose of existence)...GRADES!

What would u say if I put this forth: Getting good grades can be immoral !

Sorry, that was just a cheap Mktg effort..of course, I wont justify anything as definitive...for its not something like science where u get anwers at the end. All I can do is present scenarios and let u judge for urself.

Some societies/individuals consider pre-marital sex wrong. Others don't. In one society, indulging in it would be immoral, in some others it would be pretty common. So what is morality? It all depends on one's premise. U r immoral when u do what u don't believe in. But then, does that justify a thief's stealing? Again, I won't go into the fact that most of the world's biggest loots in history have very often been considered good and have been read by us as such in our history textbooks. However, there are some Generally-Accepted-Principles, going against which would be immoral and very often a crime like thievery, corruption etc.

Grades, though. There are no rules written down on whether getting good/bad grades are moral/immoral. However, deciding on what is right and what is not depends on one's premises. One person believes that the very purpose of going thru 4/3/2 yrs of studies is to get good grades and hence good placements/jobs/money. These guys study and slog it out over every subject,not giving thought to the fact that the prof is a fool and what all he has taught amounts to zilch and that in the subject we would be better off reading by ourselves, topics we consider important. Not giving thought to anything else except for their goal: Grades.

There would be others still who would study and do well in subjects they actually like and at times, go deeper into some of them, while in "many" others, where the prof's dishing out a pile of shit ( and considering the fact that teachers are what they are and that law of averages would lead to a conclusion that there would be scores of average teachers and a few which are good or bad...the "many" earlier could very well be "most") they would hardly study. They would be believing in: U don't study just for the heck of it for it doesnt gain u anythng, u study wat u find interesting and worth spending time over and which knowledge gained, u wd want to carry thruout ur life.

There would be a 3rd class of students still. Their aim is to have fun and live life to the fullest. They would hardly study, party most of the time, get low grades and be pretty pleased with themselves. Maybe they have a secure future; maybe they were forced into the place by their peers/parents and find the whole thing a sham. They believe that studies won't give them anything worth the effort. Maybe they are right; being in their shoes, maybe they dont need the education or the grades.

All the 3 classes have their own premises. Who am I or anybody else to say that one of them is right and the others wrong? They all have their own beliefs. And since, noone is affecting anyone else, none of the premises is strictly right or wrong. Which of these is the correct premise depends on you. Whether there is just one or more than one which are correct is again for u to decide. What was the reason u came to the present place? Did u come for the correct reason? Is the reason u believe in as being correct, actually is? All questions for which only u know the answer...

Finally, is there anything like a "moral standing" and can morals be associated with grades? I believe that they can and hence have written this. U might choose to believe otherwise. The whole moral-immoral thing is, in fact, your call entirely...

However, as I said earlier: Getting good grades can be immoral too...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Indians besharam hote hain??

This conversation I had with sum1 at the dinner table tonight just came to my mind...mostly because this is the sort of talk that always gives me a sense of deja vu, as if I've had it with thousands others, just changing the "topic" we decide to tarnish. Coming to the conversation (I am presenting my dinner-table-mate's monologue) itself, it was an innocuous one: Indians kitne besharam hote hain...jabtak dande maar kar nahi nikale jayenge, tabtak apni jagah nahi chhodenge; sachin ko dekh lo, pada rahega team mein jabtak usko bahar nahi nikala jayega, ganguly bhi- dhakke dekar nikala gaya, same was with gavaskar n even with Kapil Dev. And look at any Australian or English or South African player...look at the Ashes this time, McGrath and Shane Warne are leaving (I, not being much of a cricket buff lately, dont vouch for the accuracy of any of the preceding data; however, I am interested in the general flow of things implied with which I agree).

Now, I have never believed that people of any one region or religion or color are any better or any worse than the other. There can be nothing in one's genes that makes him besharam while making the others' with lots of sharam. Of course, if any such besharami is evident then it must only be because of the society that the person grows up in. For, a sense of sharam or besharami is only developed in the society that the person has the fortune/misfortune of growing up in.

Now, since the earlier monologue does look to be correct enough (and not just in the general vicinity of cricket), does this mean that the Indian society makes us to be besharam ppl? This reminds me of something that I read in the Chinese media sometime back: "Indians will never ever let go of an inch of either Kashmir or Arunachal Pradesh, or let China become a world power (economically) without putting up a huge fight...Because, Indians are very PROUD people!

So, there are 2 conflicting premises available. One, that Indians are besharam people indeed. And two, that they are proud people. Now, for me to go on further, I need to select one of these. Did I believe in the 1st, I would not have started writing this blog in the 1st place, for it would have been an open and shut case. So, its to be the 2nd...for me to go on. Can I justify it?

I believe I can. And in this way: We have been brought up in a society where demands are aplently and means small, indeed much-much smaller than most developed countries. And so, we have, since our earliest memories seen millions fighting for a few seats in some college in hopes of securing a better future for themselves. We have seen the same fighting for grades when we get into the college for again jobs are few and good ppl aplenty. And not just in these matters; in our everyday lives, we have to fight for survival. And its not just us, we have seen our parents and our cousins and elder siblings do the same. And they gave us one small advice: Always keep fighting, if you want to have a good future, keep working hard and never give up. Guess, you must see what I am getting at.

The countries mentioned in that monologue-Australia, England etc. don't have the same problem. For there, the children know-if they dont study hard, they might maybe ride in a Volkswagen Passat and if they do, theymight own a Toyota Camry- both "biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig" cars, however.

And this small difference in upbringing and seeing the society around you gets reflected in bigger ways later on in a person's life. You might see and hear regularly of bright Indians completing their graduation at increasingly younger ages: 18,17...15! And also, you would hear of ppl from developed countries taking an year off after explore their country; and after their explore Europe or to explore Asia.

All this points to important differences in the 2 societies. Ours where we slog it out to assure ourselves a bright future, where we don't think of taking a rest for we are afraid of what might happen if we do. And theirs, where they are assured of a decent future and a decent standard of living in any case (any case, not of course taking the extreme into consideration). So, they are much more liable to experiment and explore. While we tend to follow straighter and more regular lives, initially because its absolutely necessay, and later....maybe, because its become a habit with us! (that I believe that this absence of constant fight for survival is one of the chief reasons and a chief cause of innovations, inventions and discoveries there and an absence here is a matter of another blog altogether).

I am no psychologist and neither a good reader of people's behaviours, so I have no credentials for putting forth the ideas that I have. Still, I believe that this could be one of the reasons for Indian cricketers behaving the way that they do. They have seen middle to lower-middle class lives earlier. They have risen and earned lots...enough to carry them through their lives...however, at times, old habits die hard. Maybe they just can't imagine giving up and so don't. However, those from the developed countries have no such baggage with them and can look forward to a life where they are not doing what they initially took their careers as. Where they have othet activities to indulge in. Indians maybe are not as just let go!

They might take up a vocation, not earning much but doing something that they've always wanted to and it would be seen as perfectly normal there, for many others would be doing the same. We would, maybe in the fight thru life, never even have stopped to think what it is that we love. We just go on slogging, not taking time off from what we set out to do. We just can't imagine not doing our jobs after a certain age (a certain young age) because well, everyone else around us is still working and we would be among a rarity...among a rare lot of ppl not doing anything. We wouldnt exactly be looked at as indulging in ourselves. We would be plain, unemployed.

And maybe its this fear that grips our cricketers too, where they can't accept that their best is behind them and that its now time for them to give up and look at a life away from cricket. And hence they try to stick around as long as they I heard on the dinner-table, jabtak unko dande markar bahar nahi nikal diya jaata hai...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why is it?-[ Idle Mind Inc. creations ]

Was just wondering the other day: Why is it that places, cities and towns, in UK are so much more easier to pronunce that those in America. Just try saying these out aloud....

Dakota, Minneapolis, Nebraska, Idaho, Illinois, Wyoming, Nevada, Reno, Dayton etc.etc.

Now try these:

Wolverhampton, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Brighton, Stafford etc.etc.

Even though the English places are longer (word length), its the American cities that are much more difficult to pronunce. Guess our English is much more British than its American (barring the phrases that we catch on from movies...Guy rather than Bloke or Bastard/F**k rather than Bollocks). And if for anyone, the american places turned out easier to pronunce...congrats! u can now rather safely justify ur orkut profile as ENGLISH (US).

Neways, what could be the reason for this?

Usually, its much more difficult for any1 to speak another language bcoz (I aint a doctor, so cant be sure...only venturing a guess!) one's larynx has adapted to the way we speak and our tongue has learnt to roll in a particular fashion. This was why when the East India Co came to India, they had difficulty speaking Hindi and we English, of course. They spoke Hindi in a completely different fashion than what we did.

The last para essentially proving that we definitely didnt have the same rolling of the tongue etc. in the 2 laguages. both languages pronunced differently.

Then why? The reason that seems most plausible is that the Britishers taught us the language and tho' we still do not speak like they do and that we didnt learn the language from a Brit (our English language teacher, he/she was an Indian), our English has imprints of the British English... we adapted it and Indianized its pronunciations. And the Americans, though still mostly of British descent, altered their language to suit their conditions.

All this or maybe just that American cities were named by the RED INDIANS etc...the native residents and hence their names arent English in the 1st place and in that case...this article was a waste. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Why reservations at B-schools dont matter?

Reservations are wrong. Period. Enough has been said on the whys of it. I wont discuss that.

However, there's an element not discussed. And that is, reservations at B-schools or for that matter at engg colleges dont matter !

Say, u r a private recruiter...u come to IIM-A and have a number to recruit in mind. You are told that there are only a 100 odd candidates left. You, having heard all the hoopala abt reservations in B-schools are forewarned that many of these would be the SC/ST candidates who did not reach here on their own merit. U interview them. What do u find? That the candi9dates are actually sub-par. What do u do?

Of course, nobody is forcing you to recruit from IIM-A. U go to MDI or XLRI to get the candidates u require. Ur work is done. U get good candidates.

So what happens? The good candidates still get the jobs that they deserve. The recruiters get the candidates they wanted. The only losers in all this would be the SC/ST candidates who'll develop a complex seeing others get such good placements and they having to search for off-campus placements and govt owned companies...this because, its empirically proven that currently most SC/ST candidates are recruited by companies like SBI, ONGC, HPCL etc.etc....all PSUs, who already have to recruit the requisite no. of SC/ST candidates to satisfy their requirements of quota candidates but now will have to recruit more of them further lowering their competitiveness.

However, of course, the situation would completely change if the private companies too are forced to recruit a requisite no. of SC/ST candidates at all levels. It would affect their competitiveness and also disprove all I wrote above. However, with the growing clout of huge conglometrates like Reliance, Tatas, Birlas...I dont believe that'll ever happen. All that shout about reservations in private companies is just that...shout, to garner votes. The govt can easily change reservation requirements in govt owned bodies but never in privately owned cos.

And yes, who also gains? Colleges like XLRI and MDI who might not have hoped of getting those cos on campus earlier !

Disclaimer: May I reiterate that when I say SC/ST candidates, what I really mean is any candidate who got thru and who didnt deserve to be there.

Friedman said Legalize Marijuana; I say Legalize Female Foeticide

A news article appeared thus:

"More Female Foetuses being aborted in India, UNICEF says"

NEW DELHI: The practice of aborting female fetuses because of a preference for sons is becoming more widespread in India, a Unicef report revealed Tuesday, with an estimated 7,000 fewer girls born every day because of the spread of cheap, prenatal sex-determination technology.

This news article in IHT got me thinking; this and the still fresh memory of Milton Friedman’s recent death. Friedman, the revolutionary economist who gave a series of lectures in the 70’s propagating the idea that Marijuana be made legal…that banning anything doesn’t make sense. All a ban does is to create a huge black-market for the commodity. And lest u think that economics would play a part and a higher price (as a result of black-market) would reduce demand – he said, it only goes on to increase the desire value for the commodity and leads to increased users. He empirically proved the data. I wont comment on whether his analysis was right or not…but the idea was revolutionary. And definitely worth a pause by a govt that kept increasing the vigil on drug use, users and suppliers.

But how is this related to female foeticide, you ask? Let me first quote another para from the same article:

"It was a surprise because there is so much awareness being generated about the need to cherish the girl child," said Deepa Jain Singh, secretary to the Ministry of Women and Child Development. "We have to address this in a big way. We have no option."

Why does any family, a unit that consists of a man and a woman, decide to kill their yet-to-be-born girl child? Maybe its because they think a girl would cause additional burden in the form of dowry. Maybe its because they think that with a girl they would have to maintain constant vigil; taking care to see that her reputation is never tarnished. Maybe its because they think a girl would not be there to take care of them in their old age. And finally, maybe its because of the age old concept of “vansh” that makes them desire a male child more. Or maybe its all of these reasons.

And why does the govt want a ban on foeticide? Because an uneven society with a lot more boys that girls would lead to a sex-depraved and hence, a violent society. As someone said: “Boys will be boys: Either they have to fuck or they have to punch”. And if nobody did ever say it….well, I am now. Other than that I believe, the govt propaganda is more because the world considers selective foeticide wrong and barbaric and the govt just-goes-along. If there are other reasons, they don’t come to my mind now.

Anyways, is the govt right in saying that selective foeticide is wrong? I know what many will say: “Of course”. And why pray? Isn’t abortion legal? Then why not kill just the girl child if the parents so desire. Shouldn’t it be the parents right to decide who to bring into the world and who not to? More importantly, think of the girl child who is born and who was never wanted in the first place. Think of how u will feel if told that u just happened to come and that we (ur parents) did not want you here? Think of the life of that girl child: the years of neglect and unwantedness that she’ll feel as compared to her brothers. Think of her life!

“Oh! But what about the morals involved.” What morals? Morals are more often than not, just the social norms. America didn’t legalize abortions until about the 60s or the 70s (I am not sure which!). India, a much less (so called) progressive country, had it legalized since ages. How do you reconcile the moralities? To go a step further, America, a mostly non-vegetarian society, would be shocked at even a single human death. And we, a very vegetarian society would shed no tear over the death of 20 ppl in a boating accident but will be more concerned (many religions) about the death of an animal. Moralities are just the social norms!

Am I saying that female foeticide is right? No definitely not. All I am saying is that it’s upon the husband and the wife to decide who they want to bring into the world and who not to. “But they’ll always want a boy and never a girl. That’s how the Indian society is built.” I am not too sure. I believe that as a whole new generation comes of marriageable age sans all the killed female foetuses, there’ll be a whole lot fewer girls to marry and then will come the classic demand-supply mismatch. This new generation’s males will have to fight for the remaining females. Dowry? I am pretty sure, this lack of females, and none of the myriad govt laws, will lead to an end to the dowry system. And these new couples, as they get ready to bear children, would realize that girls are not such a huge burden as their parents’ generation thought; and might, just might, even consider her a boon.

“But what about the fact that boys take care of their parents in their old age?” Again I believe, given the nature of the society and in the times to come, with the growing fight that young men will have to make among the ever growing male population, and population in general, for survival; parents will realize that the support structure that they thought would be there in their old age, namely their sons, would drop off from below their feet for these sons would be happy with their wives and their small nuclear family. These sons, when they marry and get ready to bear children, would realize that sons do not necessarily mean a support for old age, and hence would not be so against having a girl child.

And “Vansh”? Well, do you see any dynasties around? The only “vansh” these days is that of money. And this sees no name (or surname, for that matter!). It sees only talent. And I am sure that the new generation would be intelligent enough to see that.

“But still how is it related to the initial drug story?” Well, in this way, if you didn’t already see it. Banning something never ever works, least of all in a case such as this. As does not the banning of child labour. As does not, banning prostitution. They will all find a way to surive. The govt has to provide alternate means of income to naturally lead to an end to child labour or prostitution in the same way as it/society has to find a way to desire a girl child. The govt may ban industries polluting the Ganga and enforce it because there are only a 1000 odd of them (though the govt has even failed in doing this!). But how do you enforce a ban on a billion people across the length and the breadth of the country?

A ban in any such case would never work. What is needed is an atmosphere conducive to bearing a girl child. An atmosphere where parents and grandparents do not feel disappointed of having a girl born into their family. An atmosphere where parents do not start saving money for their daughter’s dowry from the day she is born. Where a girl’s birth is celebrated. And no ban can ever do this. Its only the free market forces that will get the society to where a girl’s birth is seen as natural, as natural as the birth of a boy. For, which father, were it not for other reasons, would not want to have a daughter, just a glimpse of whom, at the end of a long tiring day, lights up his face !