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An opinion of the world around me

Archive for the ‘General/Society’ Category

Access leads to Success

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acessThailand cave rescue of kids and their coach is something the world needed right now. Given all the negativity in media and politics right now, it came like a wind of fresh air. Whole world rooted for their survival and safe rescue.

It makes me wonder, how technically novice we are. We strive to reach the vast stretches of the galaxy but struggle with rescuing people out of a mere cave. Not questioning the rescuers here, just raising the issue that we still have too much to learn and far to go.

The recent internet and technology boom has given hope that our progress on such fronts will be exponential. And it has much to do with the accessibility and awareness. Internet boom in developing economies like India has connected the disconnected and bring the people in rural areas to the mainstream.

We now have a much more significant number of people who can contribute to the progress of humanity. Earlier it was limited to big cities and universities alone. Today, a child in a small village can learn from videos of youtube, take online courses and build anything, research anything.

The government should work towards providing access to people. They will find a way toward success. A government should create roads and infrastructure, and it will lead to jobs and progress by itself. Connect the small towns and villages to the mainstream; more trains, more roads, more highways. Make it much more affordable.

For people who say that railways run on a loss and justify increasing the ticket prices, you just don’t get it. Affordable commute adds adds a lot to economy. A nations produces more than it loses on the ticket prices.

 

Same goes for running metro trains and bullet trains. Any money spent on it will be recouped with interest. Access leads to success without fail.

Written by arpitgarg

July 14, 2018 at 4:35 am

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Tea boys in India

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img_7284Tea boys are a common figure in India. Young boys working at a road side hotel and distributing tea to shops and businesses nearby. This phenomenon is so ingrained in the society that no one even cares about the illegality of it. They are under the legal work age.

There are a few reasonings I have heard in support of the tea boy’s being employed. First is that it is a reasonable safe job for the poor kids which at least provide them two square meals. In a society devoid of foster home culture and without working orphanages, these young boys have to provide food for themselves. Most of them are abandoned kids or runaway kids. Instead of working in factories under slave conditions, its better to work out in open.

Another reasoning is for the kids who have to support their families from the very childhood. Either a drunk father or dead parents and number of kid brother and sister. What else will they do but to work. Given the lack of qualification and young age, where else will they get employment?

As I am writing about this topic, I feel miserable as I don’t see any path for them. I remember having a conversation with Mahesh (name changed), a kid in city of Agra, who was a tea-boy. He had no parents and lived on the street. Income from serving tea was keeping him alive.

Unless we get rid of poverty and expand the welfare, more and more children would be deprived of the childhood and forced to be a tea boy. A silver lining is that our PM himself used to be a tea boy in his childhood. The hope is there.

Written by arpitgarg

January 25, 2018 at 5:45 am

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The charm of Star Trek

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star-trek-crewEven after 50 odd years, the charm and fan following of Star Trek is ever growing. Apart from the general attraction of sci-fi and the lure of the unknown, what is it about the Star Trek in particular that attract the fans?

The answer is not so simple. It comes from the 60’s, the race to the moon, improved film technology etc. The characters that Star Trek created and the format of space travel with a new adventure every week, was something that made Star Trek unique.

If you go back to The Original Series (TOS) from 60’s, even today you won’t find it too dated. And the credit goes to the issue based stories that Star Trek told. With the sci-fi genre, the series explored concepts of gender equality, racial discrimination, existence of God. It also gave cool new gadgets in phasers, technology such as transporters and the chance to meet the other intelligent organisms in the vast cosmos.

And the charm is still strong due to the fact that however advanced we have become, we still are bound by the speed of light and haven’t been contacted by any alien race. Thus, the attraction of meeting a new alien race in each new episode still sounds fresh.

The characters that were created are still fresh, be it Kirk, Spock or McCoy. Specially Spock, the pointy eared logical being was nerd of the nerds. No surprise that he is adored by nerds all over. An outcast and intelligent being, not able to understand that emotional people around him.

The flirty leader Kirk, the nagging McCoy, the loyal Scotty, all characters were rooted in stereotypes and hence easy to follow.

The era of race to the moon made common people informed about space. Star Trek came at the right moment. It monetized that curiosity and created a generation of space enthusiasts, many of them went on to become great scientists.

My advice to all developing nations is to have such shows on public broadcast regularly. It might be just the thing their nation needs to generate scientific curiosity amongst the children who will eventually help in nation building.

Written by arpitgarg

January 16, 2018 at 12:10 pm

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Blockchain for novices

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Disclaimer: This is an over simplification of blockchain concept. Just for starters.

blockchainSince the story of bitcoin has picked up, there is a rousing interest in blockchain technology. I have put together a quick write-up for the novices.

Stop feeling intimidated, block chain is a very simple concept just like the concept of internet. Practical uses of that concept are something that makes blockchain awesome.

What is blockchain?

It is noting but a chain of blocks. Wasn’t that simple! For people having no knowledge of algorithms, consider 10 boxes, each box containing some data, and each box stacked on top of one another. This is blockchain in non-technical term for you. This information can be anything we store in a computer file. Or in terms of bitcoin, can be a digital currency.

If it’s just a chain of information. What’s so unique?

Well, the idea to make the digital information non-duplicable. Consider you have a file on your computer. If you copy and then paste that file, it creates a copy of that file. With blockchain, all information about a particular record is incremental. Which means the size of the file keeps on increasing with every passing second and every passing transaction (grows into a large chain of blocks). And the information is all in public domain visible to millions of people (just like a Wikipedia article). Ever tried putting some bogus information on any Wikipedia page. It gets corrected soon enough by one of millions of users just like you.
Block chain uses a similar logic, keeping data in check.

Use in bitcoin

Bitcoin uses block chain technology. When the digital currency was first visualized, problem was how to stop someone from copy-pasting the digital file. It was solved via blockchain. The information/transaction of a digital currency keeps getting added as a chain to the original file. Over the years bitcoin blockchain size has grown over 100GB in size, with every transaction being verified by millions of users on a distributed network. It still can be corrupted if we copy paste the entire 100GB file, but it’s very difficult due to millions of eyes checking and being in public domain.

Written by arpitgarg

January 14, 2018 at 11:32 am

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Introspection

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introspection.jpgHave you ever wondered that you have already encountered the feeling that you are experiencing right now? People called it déjà vu. I call it cyclicity of life, borne out of out innate nature. It happens to me time and again and I start facing similar dilemma, similar choices that I have already faced few years back. I used to wonder why.

It is due to our characteristic behavior. We make certain decisions, take certain steps in our life which lead us to a certain point. And since we are the same person, we would come to the similar point in life if we keep taking similar decisions, making similar choices.

Question would be why as humans are we not able to change. Well the answer is not so simple. We keep on learning things, we feel we are changing, but not so much. We are born with certain genetic makeup which is not susceptible to change, however much we try. It’s true for us common folk at least. And it seems there is not much we can do about it.

So, what can be done? I think the best we can do is to take time out and introspect. Most of us get so caught up in the rat race of life, we never take a pause and recollect what we have done till now. It helps a lot if we do. It might not change that subconscious setup of ours, but would give too much fodder to build upon. Faced with similar choices, we might be able to tinker little bit and diverge from “what could have been”.

More than our deeds, the postmortem of the actions is useful. If we make it a routine to introspect, it would help us grow.

Written by arpitgarg

January 14, 2018 at 7:17 am

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Importance of Networking

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networkHaving studied and worked in India all my life, I never understood the importance of networking. Most of us from IIT get campus placements and from then on, any job change is driven by resume upload to a job portal which follows a smooth process. Even employee referrals are not too much networking driven.

In US, the script is flipped. Your background, education, work experience, only matter to a certain extent. The most important aspect is to reach out to people and keep the dialogue going. It takes time to adjust culturally. But once you give into it, you realize that it is indeed an excellent system.

The logic behind reaching out to people in various firms, meeting them, having discussions with them, is that it gives one insight into the culture of the firm and it also helps firm to know if you will be a cultural fit. The idea is to keep attrition rate low and find the perfect candidate for a job.

Any firm here is fine with hiring a less qualified individual over a more qualified one, if he/she shows more interest for the job. And it makes sense too. People with ample work experience will know that after a while all jobs becomes routine and only thing that keeps you going is if you feel at home at your office, if you like to work with people you meet and greet daily.

Hence society here stresses too much on networking. Let me explain this by another example. Ultimately any company is selling something to customers. All jobs boil down to relationship building. If you are good at building relationships before coming into the job, you will be better at it once you start with the firm.

For international folks in US, it sounds too alien. But the earlier we understand, the better.

Written by arpitgarg

January 8, 2018 at 12:55 am

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Corruption and Nepotism celebrated. Conscience of a nation dead?

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nepotism1-text_557aa68bd0d5aWhat happened to an honest law officer after she outed the worst kept secret, that jails are 5 stars if you can pay the price. What happened during an award ceremony where Bollywood celebs chanted ‘nepotism rules’ and were proud to do it. It all made me sick to my stomach. My father always taught me that if I studied and worked hard, I would succeed in my life and I did and I achieved. But what is happening in our nation today is real disgusting.

We did revere corruption. It was quite clear to me growing up, when I saw most corrupt living in the biggest of bungalows around me. It was quite clear when I saw people fighting over themselves to getting their daughters married off to the most corrupt of all, coz he had the most money to boast. I knew corruption was in our blood when an Income Tax raid was touted by corrupt as a matter of pride rather than a matter of shame.

We did revere nepotism. It was quite clear to me when I saw dynastic politics and people worshipping the dynasts. The ever growing family business honchos. It was quite clear when I saw the stupidest of my classmates enjoying the lives without hard work, just coz of our nepotistic societal framework. It was quite clear when rather than being named and shamed coz of that, they were celebrated by the society.

But all that was done without saying, in a clandestine manner, under the radar. It never saw any public outcry probably because common man never dared to voice his/her opinion. Now with the advent of social media and spread of mass media as such, people like Kangana who made it big fighting adversities can show these pompous fools, the mirror. She can dare to make them feel their real worth, which is two pence. And how dare she? The open and arrogant manner, in which the female law officer was transferred, shows there is no shame in corruption anymore. It used to happen earlier too but it never used to come out for the lack of media. Today’s 24×7 TV has made it all known. And the nation’s secret is out.

Some of you may blame me for being too negative in my outlook. Trust me I am not. It is happening all around us, all too openly for me to see any positive out of it. I sometimes fear for myself not to fall prey to the lures of this evil.

Written by arpitgarg

July 17, 2017 at 8:09 pm

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Censor chops Indu Sarkar: Why no outrage?

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silenceThere is a certain section of people which is called intelligentsia, who we trust to depict our collective reactions. When movies like Lipstick under the Burka are blocked, we expect known faces to come out in outcry. When government acts towards appeasing majority or minority, we expect the people in public life to hit back hard. For all the money they mooch off our adulations, it is the least we expect them to do.

I am saddened by lack of outrage when Indu Sarkar is asked by Censor to chop off certain portions. The silence is deafening. This when same people are busy writing op-ed’s about another film where utterances by a well known economist have been muted. I wonder why?

It leads me to my conclusion; Incidents like emergency are implemented by buying of intelligentsia and people of prominence. Elites love restrictions like emergency during which they side with the powers that be. Even today the known and well off people scoff at such movies. When leaders who imposed emergency should have been relegated to the gutters of history, they are celebrated. I can even live with that. But during the era when any and each cuts by CBFC is portrayed in media as an act against freedom of expression and rightly so, the lack of support for Indu Sarkar is an eye opener.

Such selective collective approaches is what erodes the public trust. When media and elites rue the fact that Modi is PM or for that matter Trump is President, their own hypocrisy is to blame. Had they rallied against acts such as emergency and stopped bowing down to the Family, maybe public would not have been forced to look past the taint of Godhra. Had they called out Clintons on their misadventures, maybe public would not have looked past the sleaze audio tape.

There is still time for redemption, but I don’t see it coming. All we have to do is to apply same yardstick to everyone. But in todays polarized time, it is easier said than done.

Written by arpitgarg

July 14, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Indu Sarkar: Trailer, like nothing before

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06indu-sarkar1.jpgI just saw the trailer of movie Indu Sarkar, a movie about the atrocities of Emergency, a black chapter of lust for power. I came to know about emergency quite late in my life and have always wondered why? The dark chapter of our history should have been part of our school curriculum, but it never was. It was as if it never happened. A reason why such a movie was never made before today is simple, the dynastic rule never ended. The more I read about emergency, the sad I felt that judiciary, intelligentsia and media of the day knelt down in front of what they called Iron Lady, and they still do.

I always wondered why people voted her back post emergency and continued with the dynastic rule. Maybe we needed to grow as a nation to get out of bonded mindset. Maybe the internet and free knowledge needed to reach to deep interiors of our country to bring people together. I feel we have almost reached there. Movie like Indu Sarkar, if trailer is anything to go by, is bound to change the manufactured history of our nation. Couple of hard hitting dialogues stood out. Dialogues which should have been the part of our national psyche, but they never were.

“Bharat ki ek beti ne desh ko gulam bana ke rakha hua hai, doosri beti se ummed hai azaadi ki” (One daughter of India has kept the nation enslaved; it is up to the other daughter to free the country). Chilling! It took the nation good 40 years to reach here. But I am happy that we finally have strength to say it out loud. We were enslaved. Struggle against emergency was nothing short of Third War of Independence. It should have been celebrated like one, but it never was.

“Tum log zindagi bhar maa bete ki gulaami karna” (You continue being slave to mother and son, your whole like). I couldn’t control my emotions hearing this. So relevant even today! It makes me sick and sad watching septuagenarian leaders bowing to mother and son just to keep their position. Mind you, we as voters were equally culpable, coz we as a nation were ready to serve mother and son, then and now.

But the time seems to have come to say it out loud. Time has now come to absolve ourselves of the sin of electoral mistakes we made. Time has now come to absolve us of the slavery. Indu Sarkar might not turn out to be as hard hitting as its trailer, but it is a step in right direction nonetheless. A step towards mainstreaming the atrocities the nation faced.

I don’t expect the movie to be celebrated by the media and intelligentsia. I don’t expect the movie to be celebrated by the nation as large, as we all were culpable in our choices last 40 years. But I expect it to be a start for a brighter future. Only after accepting and internalizing our failures and mistakes, do we become better.

The story needed to be told. I’d say it came not 40 years late, but it came on time, whenever it came.

Written by arpitgarg

July 13, 2017 at 2:16 am

Research v/s Inner-search

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why-are-we-here.jpgHumans have always wondered what if the reality we are living in is not real. What if it is just a façade? Movies like Matrix have taken it up in popular culture. Although I must state, living in a simulated reality was nothing but funny. But the larger question that underlies it all is the same, “Why are we here”? If you watch the movie closely, it tries to answer the same question. We are here, doing what we are doing, because machines make us do so.

In India, generations after generations of saints have done tapasya to look for the answer. Only their approach was not based on any research but inner-search. Research entails looking around the world. Knowing what others know and analyzing. Research wants us to know more than we already know. It’s flow of data from outside into our brain. Inner-search entails tapasya, believing that we already have the answers to all the questions. It’s only a matter of concentrating and delving into that part of the brain which stores these answers. Inner search does not involve flow of information into our brain; it just involves analyzing what we already know.

Both approaches have tried to find the same thing. Yet, both approaches couldn’t have been more different. One requires data, other abhors data. One requires talks and discussions, other is held in complete silence. More than the quest for answer itself, the choice of approaches has always amazed me. Not surprisingly, both approaches have yielded nothing. We are no closer to the answer than we we already were.

My view is sometimes in search for fantastic, we ignore the obvious. In a bid to find quantifiable answer to satiate our quest, we have ignored the possibility of chaos. What if there is no answer at all. What if all is by chance? How many centuries have we wasted then? Or consider the cyclical loop, “What if we are here to find the answer of why we are here”. Mind bender right?

Similar is the life that we lead. We look for breakthroughs, defining moments and we waste a lot of time doing that. Any moment that you can make worthwhile, becomes a defining moment. Our success is made up of small efforts, which in cumulation becomes huge.

I suggest, instead of searching for an answer worth our time, we should answer, how much time it is worth?

Written by arpitgarg

May 17, 2017 at 5:48 pm

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