Sunday, January 10, 2010

3 Idiots : Brave New world?

I saw 3 Idiots. I enjoyed the movie for its humor and refreshing screenplay. I did my share of analysis. Here it is.

The things I enjoyed: Most of the Hindi movies, sparing a few, are based on ideas that dont really matter. The main theme of the movies are generally love stories with some random story build up to keep you entertained for couple of hours. I am just saying that I liked this movie because it was a refreshing change. The movie does talk about some current ideas and problems. The dialogue was extremely funny. Also, interestingly the actors looked like there were college students even though couple of them are in their late thirties and early forties.

The central theme of this movie happens to revolve around the following ideas

1) Do(Focus on) what you like or what you enjoy and make that your career.
2) Be brave and do not worry too much about the consequences.
3) Some light is thrown on the problems faced in the current education system.

Let me talk about Point #1.

This message is apt in the context of globalization which is bringing lot of opportunities to India. Job security and financial independence is relatively easy these days(After sweeping reforms in the early nineties which ended License Raj). A few decades back(during the License Raj), it was almost impossible to succeed(sometimes, even to make your ends meet) by taking a non-mainstream path. But, globalization today has made such a feat possible. So the message even though apt for the current generation of India is not a radically new idea. It has been expressed in various western books and movies of other countries which experienced staggering growth like India is experiencing today.

Even though this message is apt for the current India, encouraging individuality, taking risking by choosing non-mainstream career goals is not free of problems. I think the chief one being the one that was talked about in a recent article in WSJ, i.e, the lack of social security benefits in India. One of my dad's colleagues told me jokingly couple of years back that for people in India, the children are their social security. What he meant was, in western countries if kids leave home to follow their dreams (or are not earning enough in their off-stream venture) and if their old folks need medical or financial support there is a system (Social Security) that tries to take care of this problem which is lacking in India.

I also wished the movie would have been more mature in treating the antagonists. I will get into specifics so that fans of the movie know exactly what I am talking about. They treat the antagonist (called 'silencer') in very bad light. He is tied up, he is ridiculed in a silly way for being a person who crams his books without understanding what he crammed and also ridiculed for apparently not accepting when he lets go of his gaseous build up in his colons :). I think it is important to realize that he is just a victim of the system and he does whatever it takes to get to the next stage. At best you feel pity for him rather than disdain.

Another quibble is that the movie naively and indirectly sends a message that doing what you like will always reward you which seems to be a quixotic idea at best. I think Ayn Rand has done a better justice to this philosophy in her book 'Fountain Head'. If I contrast that book to this movie, one of the antagonists (similar to silencer in this movie) has all the money, a beautiful wife and all the necessary social frills to look great and successful. However, he, the antagonist, suffers from a deep feeling of insecurity because of which he never believes he is any good compared to the Protagonist, Howard Roarke. Unlike the antagonist, Howard Roarke is not financially well off and has no social life. But he is free of any mental insecurities because he always chose and did what he believed and what he liked.

I suspect that if they would had shown the protagonist of the movie as a less successful man than the antagonist (Silencer)

a) The movie probably would not have been so popular :)

b) There might have been contractual obligations with the author of the book this movie was inspired from which prevented that from happening.

Let me talk about #2.

I agree with the message in its entirety, but if I have to nit pick, it is just the way the message was delivered by one of the 'idiots', Raju Rastogi, in a scene where he is being interviewed by a person of banking company(I think). The banker/interviewer says that he needs somebody who is diplomatic and polite to a client and that Raju Rastogi's 'straight forward' and 'in your face' attitude may not be apt. At which point Raju Rastogi says that he will not compromise on his attitude. when he hears that the Banker/Manager offers him the job which at best seems dishonest and throws the idea the banker is probably not doing what is best for his company. If I had written the screen play, I would have changed the banker's response to "See Raju, you are not fit for my company ABC, but I know couple of people who work in different domain where your qualities will work best. I could help you by recommending you for an interview with them."

Regarding the last message #3.

I do believe the education system in general (there are specific syllabuses that do) does not encourage rational thinking and innovation like many of the more advanced countries like Japan and Singapore. But I do think the problem is not in college level, but at school level.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Human mind: Intelligence and its flaws.

Somebody(I cant remember who) said that human mind tries to come to conclusions using limited information available to it and many times does that unknowingly resulting in wrong conclusions and forming prejudices.

Let me illustrate it with an example.

A) "Genes of Indians indicate that they are of Asian descent".

Now for many people this statement will be "obviously" true. If you think its obviously true knowing nothing about ethnicity and genes, then you are wrong! Let me elucidate my point, if you are from South-asia and especially India and if somebody asked you what genetic descent you have, I would guess your answer would be "asian"(based on the statement I made above) and you would be wrong. That does not imply that the above statement I made is wrong=> Only that it could be ambiguous.

I can understand if you are thoroughly confused at this point. Let me put an end to your misery.

These statements are facts:

South Asians(people from India) have genes that indicate they are of European descent.
Indian Americans(native Americans) have genes that indicate they are of Asian descent.

The statement I made(A) here talks about native Americans, but when people read it they are not sure who I am talking about when they come across the word 'Indians', so they try to associate it with Asian Indians(South Asians) when they see "Asian " word next. Our intelligence which uses some kind of fuzzy logic leads us to wrong conclusion. The right thing to do is to disambiguate "Indians" before you continue reading. Unfortunately when you are reading that additional information may not be available.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Standard Deviation

When you ask people what standard deviation is, they say it defines the closeness of a set of values from its mean. Well, its true, but how close? OR what can you say for sure about how the values are dispersed w.r.t mean? Quantifying it is important. If you are not sure where you stand w.r.t application of STD deviation. This question is for you.

Lets say that you are a real estate guy. You want to buy plots of land[they are ridiculously priced, some too low and some too high]. There are hundred plots. Your aim is to capture atleast half of them so that you are the biggest real estate agent in the area.

However, you dont know what the price of each plot is. You are told that the mean price of each plot is $20K [K= Kilo] and the standard deviation is $5K

1) What is the minimum money you should carry so that you can be sure you can buy atleast half of the plots [50 plots].

2) If I choose the 50 cheapest plots, what can be the maximum value of the costliest plot?

3) If I choose to buy all the houses within $10K to $30K, how many houses am I considering here.

4) How many questions above relate directly to STD deviation?

P.S : Answer will be posted in comments section

Monday, March 16, 2009


See this video. Its a cisco human network video.

When you watch this video, would you prefer using the CISCO product that puts you virtually in the office in another country as opposed to actually going to that country? I for one would prefer the later.

I think an average person thinks very differently when you suggest he might have an option to go to another country. He might think of all the site seeing, the people etc.

Here everybody he talks to expresses enthusiasm when the guy says he is going to another country. He ends up going to a conference room. Not everybody goes to another country just to see a few business clients right?
Frankly, they are unable to sell the idea that you can have a good time by not travelling. Their attempt to do so is unsuccessful at best. Its probably because they they dont believe in that idea! [The creators of this ad believe that going to another country is probably more fun] There is no integrity between what is shown and what the user perceives. I dont know if they were ignorant of implications?

If they were to ask me, I would suggest an ad which goes like this. A person is worried and is packing thinking about the horrors of traveling like jetlag, mini restrooms in planes, travelling stress, staying away from a new born kid etc and then show that with cisco human network, you dont have to worry about all of these!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's day special : Love

Usually, I dont blog about such sensitive topics. 
I thought I would make an exception this time considering valentine's day :)

There is a famous quote like this
It is better to have loved and lost than never to have lost at all. [Samuel Butler]
and one more like this
The hardest thing to do is watch the one you love, love someone else.

If you love somebody, you can get hurt.  I think that is the gist of the above sentence.

I do NOT agree with the above quotes. The general idea that people have about love may not be accurate, to put it mildly. People do NOT get hurt because they have loved somebody, but only get hurt when they expect it to be returned. If for some reason it is not returned, then they get all insecure and start questioning their worth. That is when you start 'falling'!

If you honestly love somebody, it should be unrequited. If she loves you back, I guess you are lucky, else you lost nothing/shouldn't expect it. If expected, its NOT love, its business[like I give you something, you give me something back]

Somebody said,
For a woman
It is very easy to love a successful, good looking, rich , charismatic, polite, sophisticated man.

If you are a woman,
If you ever love a man, that is loser, who has no future, is impolite and rude and has all the negative qualities, then I think your love is truly exceptional.

For a man, Its easy to love a beautiful woman.
As a man, if you ever love a woman who is ugly, and not desireable, has a cold heart, then I think your love is exceptional and great. 

Most of us are not strong enough to be in any of the above two categories, or have other priorities in life than to test our ability to love, so we may never know.

But one thing I DO know, If you love truly or your love is pure, you can NEVER get hurt.

If you truly love something, you should NOT want to possess it, but you should want to set it free!

Some funny quotes
" Gravitation can not be held responsible for people falling in love." -Albert Einstein
" No man is truly married until he understands every word his wife is NOT saying." 
"The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing -- and then marry him." -Cher

Fortune and Faith

There was an idea that had established in my mind many years back, but I was not able to express it clearly. I have seen the ways of India for around 23 years of my life. From the past couple of years I have been in this successful country, USA. Today, I was watching CSPAN. I saw lot of people[congressmen] talking. What I saw there was so unlike the typical USA. People had lost faith in one another. 

People have lost faith in government/Wall street. Government had lost faith in wall street. The philosophy government believed in  that every American should be able to afford a house didn't seem to exist anymore. It was frustrating.

Government had bailed out many companies and were still not sure if they made the right choice. They were hoping and praying that the bail-out package that they came up with would be utilized well. There was no way of knowing this for sure. So, they are trying to quiz CEO's, ensure a limit on salary and are emphasizing on "Change". They had lost faith in the financial companies. It was kind of uncool.

It was unlike the typical American image of confidence, abundance of money, class and other consequences of people who are financially fortunate.

Bailout, is like nationalisation, the companies don't have freedom to follow any policy of their liking. They have to abide by the government's terms and That is the state currently of many big companies.

Now let me analyze this situation as a problem that is not specific to America.
Lets assume two fictional societies X & Y for this purpose. Suppose X is made of most of people who are generally very smart, hardworking, have "good" judgement, have skills that take them to great heights of prosperity in life, they tend to trust one another and value each other's opinion and trust their decision making ability, then, they by nature, choose democracy,De-regulation, freedom, liberty and I think it works well. Holistic group.

Lets assume the society Y is mostly made of people who are lazy, have little skills and want things to be provided to them easily. Then its likely that if that kind of a society is democratic , the society in general will suffer from continuous bad choices.  Even if a person is making a right decision other people in the society wouldn't trust him[may be bcos they have "bad" judgement]. As a society they haven't been successful and wouldn't think he has what it takes to make the difference. They probably would think how can HE make the right decision, bcos HE is a part of them and how can any part of them be right [This is the feeling that lingers after a series of failures leading to low self respect]

The only solution to improve the society Y, is I think by non-democratic form of government. The people in charge have to plant ideas that are not typical to the society's view.  It has to be done by a couple of people from a successful society or people who are from their own society.These people should exhibit traits of people from society X, telling the rest of them how to get it right. These people should be in charge of all the decision making. Many of the decision they make wouldn't be to the liking of the most[that is why a democracy wouldn't work]. Once they get the stuff right, after having turned most people of society in the right direction with the right skills, democracy can be restored. Else it might turn to a decadent society.

This is applicable to many countries today. Many of these countries that I am referring to are countries which have lot of poverty, terrorism and other social ills. Telling how a country should conduct itself is against the sovernigty of that nation. However, in the interest of the whole world, I dont believe democracy should be a form of government in such countries. 

Ashok, tells me, its time America rethinks the philosophy of "voting rights for every adult". At the root of his statement is his lack of faith that every adult American is able to vote with "right" judgement. He has lost faith in the judgement of American people. If America, hadn't plunged into this huge crisis[eventually caused by Americans], he would have probably NOT thought about such a thing and it is in accordance with my above theories.

I want to emphasize that I am NOT saying this out of spite. I am just trying to analyze the psychology of people

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Financial Crisis

The post-mortem of the failure of the financial system clearly indicates not one, but many bad practises in the financial industry. I am sure everyone must have read many. In one of the articles I read, Kerry Killinger makes the following prediction of Washington Mutual.

We hope to do to this industry what Wal-Mart did to theirs,Starbucks did to theirs, Costco did to theirs and Lowe’s-Home Depot did to their industry. Five years from now you’re not going to call us a bank.

Second part of his prediction is accurate!! :P

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark - Review

I thought this was a really bad book. I couldn't understand why the arguments the author was making are supposed to be scientific or rational. Anybody who thought this was a good book, please tell me what I missed.