Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happiness Simplified

The more we fool ourselves the more unhappy we are, isn’t it? Happiness is something we search most in an attempt to make us happy. The place where happiness is searched most these days is ‘Google’. We try different keywords to find it out; ‘what is happiness’, ‘how to get happiness’, ‘why happiness’, ‘how to remove boredom’ so on and so forth. And finally ended up in bundling some notes, taking some printouts, pin it on our desk, bedroom, study table, computer desktop, forcing us to believe that we have found the key to happiness but does it give us happiness? Second source of collecting the fooling material is self-help books (many of them if not all) where we want to improve us to be happy. Some self-acclaimed ‘Bestseller Book’ burdened us with a long list of to-do-steps which fills us with the feeling of guilt when we can’t practice them and we fall back into the auto-pilot mode where circumstances decides our way of action.

Furthermore, we are taught by ‘Smart People’ to behave in the certain way to be happy; one such attempt to show ourselves more and more happy to others, irrespective of we are or we are not. We try to be happier by showcasing our Happy-Personality to others, does it make us happy? Sources of gratification make us feel that we are happy but in reality we are not. Happiness is something which is permanent; gratification is temporary. Any action which gives us life (not only happiness) all the time we do, is real source of happiness, how?

Some friends of mine have helped me in understanding that. Varun, a computer programmer, is not one of the programmers who write codes for a paycheck from his company but programming is in his DNA. He can write codes through days and nights and that is happiness. Unlike many other programmers, he looks for the opportunities to write computer codes. My another friend is Vishal, a driller by profession but poet by heart, who has found his happiness in writing the poems. Recently, I came to know that he is going to write for some international publisher.

We have understood that how happiness has influenced our life but still we need to decode the secret of happiness. “When we are able to channelize our creativity in our action, there comes happiness”. Creativity is not confined to create a beautiful design, write poems, create computer app and so on. Creativity comes out when we connect with something and engrossed into it. To be connected is not to be influenced. We influenced with programming when we see somebody is earning a handsome amount of money in it. On the same time we influenced with an actor when we see a lot of people hangs around him/her. ‘I too can do that or I can do even better’ is connection and ‘I should do that’ is influence. The moment we find out the ‘Something’ we can connect with is the beginning of happiness.   

We cannot connect with everything or anything but we can connect with something which is in-sync with our true nature. When we connect, creativity flows into it and happiness follows.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

An Experiment With Democracy

The democratic power of India creates its distinction and many countries approach India to study democracy and how it works. India is not only the world’s largest democracy but has shown its robustness in unifying the countless differentiation that exists in the country in the name of religion, caste, language, region, beliefs and idiosyncrasies.

A successful democracy needs to weed out the archaic concepts and introduce the new to fulfill the demands of the people. The system that has been created in the long time needs an overhauling to benefit its stakeholders. People are the owner of the country and of its resources and they choose some people amongst them for its governance which constitutes a ruling party or the government. All is well so far, the ideal version of democracy is in place and people are happy as they are ruling their own country. But the satisfaction goes to an end when the representatives become the owner of the country and people, helplessly, have to look at them for their shares. People, through the constitution of India, give power to their representatives to work effectively for them but distribution of resources are based on favouratism and cronyism and this is called ‘Corruption’.

Such type of system is all prevalent in the country where people are not participating in the decision-making for the country and they are left with agitations. When people are reminded of their responsibility in casting their vote and sit back to see the drama in the parliament, they feel cheated on the name of democracy.

Something needs to be change, people have to be asked their wishes from time to time; direct democracy is required where people’s participation is encouraged. Atleast something is to be experimented. For a big country like India, direct democracy seems impossible but it can be encouraged and experimented in small parts and find out the ways that how it can be organized. It is easy to say, if people don’t cast vote then they don’t have the right to ask any question but when they feel themselves participative they surely come forward. In direct democracy citizens can oppose any law legislated by their representatives or ask for a referendum to be hold.

Countries, like Switzerland, can be studied where direct democracy exists and working successfully and what we can adopt from them to make it applicable in India. It is first time in the history of India when people are asked their opinion after the elections are over. The step AAP (Aam Admi Party) has taken can be seen with the spectacles of doubt and which is not wrong; it may be their drama for the already accepted decision of forming the government or they are showing that they are different from the current political parties. Democracy gives the right to its citizens to doubt the intentions of any political party but that doubt should not block our vision so that we would not see something that is good for them.

India’s position at 94 in the world’s corruption index means that there are 93 countries in the world that have less corruption than us, we need to find out where they are good at and some political parties have to take the initiative and experiment in India to maintain the sanctity of the Indian democracy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review: Numbersense

Author: Kaiser Fung
Publisher: Mcgraw Hill Education
MyRating: 4/5

Numbersense: How to Use Big Data to Your Advantage’ is not such type of book that we often grab to read. Especially when the book is published by Mcgraw Hill Education, that reminds us of our old college days, make even more difficult to hold the book. When we were told that we are born with five senses (seeing, hearing, touch, taste and smelling) and suddenly somebody says about the other sense (number sense), it is difficult to ignore the author’s intention.

Kaiser Fung, who is a professor at New York University teaches practical statistics, is the author of this book who also wrote ‘Numbers Rule the World’. He claims that Numbersense gives you the insight how big data interpretations works and how it too often doesn’t work.

Numbersense is not another book of statistics or data analysis that tell about how to manage, represent and analyze data but it shows, using many examples, how to develop the sense to recognize ‘misleading behaviour’ of big data. Number sense is the noise in your head when you see big data or bad analysis. It is the desire and persistence to get close to the truth.

The book is divided into four sections; social data, marketing data, economic data and sporting data. In these four sections author has shown that how the data has been used to manipulate the results in the society.

Measuring anything subjective like; aptitude of students, quality of teacher, employee performance etc always carries a pinch of doubt as they don’t carry intrinsic value. How much amount of fat in the body can be find out using several diagnostic methods but how obese a person is a matter of perception supporting by specific measuring tool. As shown in the book, the percentage of obese population gets change when DXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) is used in place of BMI (Body-Mass Index).

The most elaborative and interesting section is ‘marketing data’ section which unveils the strategies and business model of Groupon, an online business that sells deals. One set of data favours Groupon in benefiting the local merchants whereas another set of data claims that Groupon is hurting the business of local merchants. When such confusion arises then there comes number sense which differentiates the objectives of data. Another element of Groupon under study in the book is ‘Target market’. Groupon communicates with its clients through Emails, which they send to their target market. The success rate of their targeting model is 0.06% ie for every 10000 emails they get deals from 6 clients. Many targeting strategies are recommended on the basis of different sets of data.

The author raises questions on how economic data is far away from the truth. The inflation and employment data are adjusted using the adjustment factor and assumptions which make it hard-to-believe for any data analyst. In the epilogue of this book, the author expects from the readers that they won’t take data at its face value ever again and they look it under the hood.

In all the sections of the book the author comprehensively explained with examples that what is shown is not always true. The examples are quite apt with the topics and easily understood as they are explained in simple language without using the statistical jargons. It’s a good-read for those who are interested in behind-the-scene-theories and like to crunch numbers to find out the truth. But obviously it’s not a casual read.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dogma of Homosexuality

The SC’s verdict on article 377 provoke hue and cry from all sections of the society where some welcome and others consider it as the violation of fundamental right.

However, the dubious decision shoved in the court of parliament stating that parliamentarians are free to consider the desirability and proprietary of deleting or amending section 377 from constitution.

Before going into the perception of the denial to these people, we must understand the anatomy of ‘Sexual Orientation’ on which all perception depends. Sexual Orientation refers to the identity of the individual that endures the pattern of emotional, romantic and sexual attraction to men, women or both sexes.

Is homosexuality a mental disorder?

Researches have shown that there is no association between any of these sexual orientation and psychopathology. All mainstream organization long ago abandoned classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder. Some self-acclaimed medical wizard claims it to be as mental disorder but to date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation.

Is it unnatural?

Whatever follows the principles of the nature and does not harm anybody is natural. But our awareness about anything also makes us to feel what is natural and what is unnatural. Couple of years back surrogacy, in-vitro fertilization, cloning, genetic fertilization were considered as unnatural whereas after long studies it is now considered as natural and lawful.
As of date, no study has proved homosexuality as unnatural and cause any harm to anybody.

Is it anti-religion?

I can’t say what all religious scriptures say about the notion of homosexuality but I do know that all religions spread the message of love in the mankind and eliminate the differences if there is any. There are 2.5 million gays/lesbians known in India and  many estimates if there includes unknown the number goes to 5 million.

If people are born in this way and homosexuality has become their identity then no religion can ignore what god has given, only the prejudiced custodian of the religion can deny the existence of such people’s identity.

Will it harm the society?

Social prejudice about homosexuality has closed all the doors of thinking and already made the decision that it will create imbalance in the society. Is it really?

We accept it or not but sexual orientation is the part of personality but society demands it to be changed via various means. In India, that means is marriage ‘Iski Shadi Karwa do Sab Theek Ho Jayega” (get him/her married everything will be alright), but does that really happen? When such people are forced to marry, it not only destroys the life of this person but also the life of the one who is now enslaved with this person.

Societies within society emerge out with time and all societies have to be respected. For eg. If we take India as a big society then hindu-society or muslim-society etc are the societies within India-society. And the laws are not made on the basis of society in majority and ignoring the minority.

Gay/Lesbians also form a society, although very small, that depends on the mercy of large societies.

Ours is the pluralist society and non-acceptance of homosexuals in the society is the denial of fundamental right to the people.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sachin - The God of Cricket

Although a handful, but there are some who question the legendary contribution of Sachin R. Tendulkar in Indian cricket. I understand, emotions speak more than our words when it comes to Sachin Tendulkar.

The adulation of the people from all over the world, not only from India, stamps the great work of the Little Master to the Cricket as a game. He has been the institution for many, those who are currently playing cricket for Indian Cricket Team.

Critics have every right to put their say but when somebody hears that Sachin is playing for his own records, doesn’t contribute much to the Indian team, he is privileged from BCCI, his century is never fruitful for India, so on and so forth.

I don’t want to throw back my emotion to enchant the noble qualities of the Sachin Tendulkar but I would like to put forward some numbers that unbiasedly unfolds the secret of his greatness.

Few myths about Sachin:-

Myth 1: Sachin’s century is not helpful to India

Since 1974-2013 (till Nov 30), India played 841 ODI matches out of which it won in 423 matches with success rate is 52.9%, but when Sachin hit century, the success rate goes up to 67%, when he score more than 50 and less than 100 the success rate is 61%.

To link the India’s rate of winning when Sachin score less than 20, the graph depicts that only the success rate is 41%. In simple words when Sachin score less than 20 runs there are only 41% of the matches where India won.

Myth 2: Sachin’s maximum centuries are against weak countries.

Sachin score centuries against all the opponents (not considering some countries like UAE, Bermuda etc.) and to the surprise maximum centuries had been scored against the world’s strongest team i.e Australia and success rate is close to 80%.

He scored 38 centuries against strong opponents whereas only 11 centuries against weak opponents. When I say weak opponents or strong opponents, this is only my understanding of cricket played by these countries, if you want to change some countries, still it does not make much difference in the result. 

Myth 3: He plays good on home pitches than outside.

Of his total 463 matches, he played 164 in India and 299 matches Not in India (147 away and 152 neutral). Sachin hit 20 centuries in India and rest 29 outside India.

Myth 4: He is not useful in chasing or in second innings.

Sachin scored fewer numbers of centuries while chasing as compare to batting in the first innings but here the catch is when he score century in the second innings there are 82% matches where India wins.

Besides these numbers, Sachin’s indomitable spirit with humble smile disarms the opponent. He devoted himself to give his best not only in his batting but there has been occasions where he has bowled an outstanding spell and has even surprised the world with his master fielding.  There were times when he got injured and it was nearly impossible for him to continue his cricket career but he defeated the luck with his integrity towards cricket and the nation at large.

And that’s why even opponents honour him as follows:

“If there is a better batsman than Sachin then he hasn’t arrived yet”Viv Richards (June 2011)

“There are boxers with better records than Muhammad Ali, but if you mention the word boxing, you have to mention Muhammad Ali. When you talk of basketball, you have to mention Michael Jordan. When you speak about cricket, I’d speak of Tendulkar “Brian Lara (Nov. 2013).

“I have seen God. He bats at no. 4 in India in Tests” – Mathew Hayden (1998)


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Corruption Index

Hover the mouse over he chart to know the Rank and Points of any country.
Source: Transparency International.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

AAP: One of the alternate?

India is blessed with the multiparty system which makes everybody to keep their views in front of the people and can form the political party.

There is a portion of people who don’t want any change in the political system in India and continue to be the fanatic of any one of the political party. But there is a large chunk of people, who thinks themselves as the ideal common men, want the current system to be improved and get the issues resolves irrespective of who does that.

Most alternate parties are way apart from the issues that caters large segment of the people of the county, they hovers around the small/specific issues and fail to represent the people at large.

We’ve given chance to currently-dominant political parties and a lot have been done in the country. But those ideal common men feel that more could be done if they compare themselves with other developing countries like China.

In that scenario, when AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) is claiming to represent the ideal common man of the country and, they are standing on the high mountain of tall promises, people are not apprehensive about that.

Experts says that they are far behind from the practicality of the county’s present situation and only miracles can have this possible still ‘those people’ would like to give chance to miracles when it is the only alternate.

There prevails the possibility that AAP leaders will become corrupt too but they still have an edge over the current political environment. When we have given many chances to the current political parties for sixty years then we can afford to give chance to this ‘alternate’ for five years who shows (although in the air) a light of hope to change or upgrade the present system.

If the alternate will be tested, depends on the number of these ideal common men.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Now its corporates who refuses to disclose the political party whom they fund

Indian corporates refuses to disclose the name of political party whom they refund stating the reason that it may lead to backlash from political parties that feel relatively less-generously funded.

Section 182 (3) of the new Companies Act says that corporates must disclose names of political parties they give money to in their profit and loss account.

Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) requested the government to change the act as it is uncomfortable for them to name the political party.

Association of Democratic Reforms on Income Tax returns and statements filed by six national political parties revealed 75% (Rs. 3,675 crore) of the their income came from the unknown sources. The political parties are not obliged the source of these unknown finds as they fall under the donations that are below 20,000.

Source of Data: ADR

To ensure that there is financial transparency and accountability on the part of the political parties, there must be a strict mechanism with respect to reporting of financial information.

In Forty counties including France, Italy, Nepal, Bhutan it is required by the law to disclose source of income to the people of the country. In countries like Sweden and Turkey political parties have a voluntary arrangement to open up their records to the people. Countries like Austria, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Kyrgystan have a system by law for political parties to pro-actively disclose their financial information to people.

However, in India the political parties are not obliged to submit details to the authorities and to the people.

The nexus of corporates and political parties is the main source of black money and corruptions that leads to encouragement of opaque system.
Financial transparency in the funding of political party reveals the motive of donations and also help the auditing authorities to check the biasedness in allocation in allocating the precious national resources by the ruling party.

But the question is who is going to do that? Political parties and corporates will not cut their own arm with their own sword.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Has ‘dropout’ become the pre-requisite for success?

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Brad Pitt, Ted Turner, Subhash Chandra, Sandeep Maheshwari are dropouts from formal education and made their mark in their fields. But does it mean that ‘dropout’ has become the pre-requisite for success?

I, recently, looked at the cover page of the Robert Kiyosaki’s new book which is telling ‘If You Want to Be Rich and Happy, Don't Go to School?’ It made me curious to study more about the ‘Dropout Theory’ and know the fact.

While researching on the relationship between the success and dropouts, I landed on the research of The Atlantic newspapers which tells that the majority of America’s 30 million dropouts are more likely than graduates to be unemployed, poor, and in deficit.

Names like Jobs, Gates, Dell, and others spreads the myth about the relationship between a successful entrepreneurs and dropout from the college. These are exceptional individuals whose hard work, determination, and intelligence make up for the lack of a college degree.

Those who are able to achieve such success often rely on a set of skills already developed before they get to college. They know how to educate themselves, get a bank loan, and manage their time and their money. They may benefit from a network of family, friends and acquaintances who open doors and provide a safety net.

But what happens to young people without access to these important resources? For them, skipping college to pursue business success is like investing their savings in lottery tickets in the hopes they will be a multimillion-dollar winner.

The reality is that the next college dropout will not be Bill Gates, James Cameron, or Mark Zuckerberg. He will likely belong to the millions of college drop-outs who struggled to earn his livelihood. Nearly as large as the state of California, this group is 71 percent more likely to be unemployed and four times more likely to default on student loans. Far from being millionaires, they earn 32 percent less than college graduates, on average.

The vast majority of students, especially from disadvantaged family, need formal education to know the way that how to avail the available resources for their upliftment. For them, college is not a choice but a necessary and vital stepping-stone toward a future of opportunity. It is the platform from which whole families can be lifted to better prospects.

Irrespective of any education system, schools and colleges provide intellectual capital to succeed and the social capital to help them make connections, build networks, and establish life-long relationships.

It provides them with skills in analysis and reasoning combined with confidence that will lead them boldly to articulate and embrace new ideas. It transforms their perspectives, opening them up to different cultures, different world views, and different ways of seeing -- and solving -- some of the world's most complex problems.

‘Dropout by choice’ having necessary skills to succeed can never be generalized to the weak general mass of people who are not born with talents or resources, their only hope is to get enlightened through education and schools and colleges are one of the ideal places to achieve that.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review: Rich Dad’s Conspiracy Of The Rich

Author: Robert Kiyosaki
Publisher: Business Plus
Rating: (3.0/5)

RICH DAD’S CONSPIRACY OF THE RICH THE 8 NEW RULES OF MONEY is another book from the Rich Dad Poor Dad series of Robert T Kiyosaki. It shares author’s view of global economics and explores why people are finding themselves challenged during turbulent times. He challenged the world’s known principles of investing which talks about mutual funds and retirement planning.

During global slowdown it was the conspiracy of the Rich dad (rich people) to take money from the lower class to compensate for their mistakes. The authos says that the money which was taken from public by the rich banks in the form stimulus, TARP were not disclosed to them. Instead it was discreetly used by them to cover their bleeding balance sheet,and not to save the economy.

He says, it is not the financial experts or government or elected leaders who will decide more secure financial future but one has to make themselves their financial decisions through financial education that is studying the relationship between tax, debt, inflation and retirement.

Debt is not as bad as we think about it but it need to be used properly. There are two types of debt; good debt and bad debt. The bad debt takes money out of your pocket and good money puts money in your pocket. Good debt increase positive cash flow and put money in your pocket.

The author repeated a number of things number of times and explains the history of money in non-technical language. He seems correct by saying dollar is now no more money but only a currency. But still there are a number of things that need more explanations. For example, cash flow not the capital gains should be the game, but common person fails to understand that in stock market cash flow is in the form of dividends only and is meager so purchasing stock only for dividends is not justified.

Money is education, financial education to be very precise. Roberts puts more onuses on the individual to be rich and financial IQ or financial education is the only way. The education  system does not support the financial lessons leads to poor financial education to the people. Financial education is for the rich only.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Review: If God was a Banker

Author: Ravi Subramaniam
Publisher: Rupa
Rating: (2.8/5)

'If The God was a Banker" is a story from Ravi Subramaniam which not only speaks about the inside story from banking industry but also reveals the dirty story of the corporate world.

It is a story of two young management IIM's graduate with nothing similar in family background and temperament. Both took different routes to success, Sundeep was aggressive and go-getter and Swami was mature and sensible with high regards of good old ethics. 

There are other major characters in the book, including Natasha - Sundeep’s wife, Kalpana - Swami’s wife, and Aditya Rao, who is a friend, philosopher and guide to the two main characters.

Both rise quickly up the corporate ladder, but Sundeep’s career picks up very soon. His willingness to do anything to better his career brings him in contact with several unscrupulous characters. At one point of time, his life seems to be on the fast track - he gets promoted very soon, and he enjoys the company of many beautiful women, despite being married.

Sundeep's fraudulence is exposed during an audit, he gets discredited for all his doings and Swami is acknowledged as the top performer and  indispensable contributor in the organization.

The author portrays in crisp details, office politics, sexual relationships in office spaces, aggressive competitions within the company, and the frauds and manipulations that are part of the corporate world, in this book.

He used his long experience of banking industry and writes in a very simple language that is understood by everybody. The story is very predictive and does not creates any curiosity to read further.