Saturday, September 27, 2008

Once around the Sun

While re-watching the movie Gattaca, I came across this line.
So the protagonist is leaving earth for a year (yes it's the future, philistine) and less than a week before launch, he falls for this girl (don't we all) and he tells her that he's "going to be gone for a year, that's a long time"

"Not so long," she replies, "just once around the sun"

Monday, September 15, 2008

All things considered; in the long run (despite Keynes) and in the larger scheme of things, I think that life, when lived (and by this I do not mean at the end of it), is abso-fucking-lutely kickass; warts and all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen defines poverty in terms of the capabilities (or lack thereof) of a person. He stresses on not the ownership of resources and assets but on the ability to use them and the value and benefit which can be derived from them. This is analogous to the axiom of giving a man a fish as opposed to teaching him how to fish.

Thus an individual who is in possession of, say, a book but does not know how to read or write will have no use of the book. A person who has access to milk but cannot acquire firewood to pasteurize it is not much better off than someone who does not have milk. Appearing in public without shame is something which we probably take for granted, yet for millions in rural areas, social biases and generations of dogmas have made such a simple capability almost surreal.

The reasons for this are manifold. But the underlying cause in my opinion is that of society; including all of us; and as a result, lack of education. We have seen the power of embargoes; not a century ago social boycott led to the freedom of our own nation. Today economic sanctions keep entire governments and the leaders of men at bay. Similarly, on a smaller scale, if the society around a person does not believe that he or she is capable of achieving a goal then it becomes exceedingly difficult for that person to do so.

I mentioned lack of education as being a resultant cause of poverty. By this I do not mean reading or writing. Indeed I strongly believe that an individual can be ‘illiterate’ as per the definition of our own government, but still lead a productive and normal life. It is the public around him and with whom he interacts that decides this. The education I speak of is not for the poor, but rather for the rich or the 'well off' who must learn to view the world around them without dogma and doctrines from centuries past. At the cost of sounding incredulously naive and a wee bit philosophical; education involves opening the mind; not in knowing the proportionality constant between the energy of a photon and its frequency.

As pointed out in the first class, the poor do not need our sympathy or our tears. They do not even need our help. What they need are systems to replace the archaic social and economic structure that constantly bogs them down. To this end, the two key drivers are policy and perception. Policy from those whom fate has played a better hand and perception of those who are influenced by this small minority.

Growing up in urban India (I have lived for at least a few years in Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Bangalore) it is easy to look at things and lecture people on what to do. But it is the start, at the very least, of forming an opinion and a perception. I only hope that the rest will follow suit.

Adapted from my first assignment in SE or SocEn as some like to call it :)

Monday, September 8, 2008


Classes of my second last term here have started. I'm back from Ladakh after a week (where I blew some 40K as well) and still in the sleepy holiday mode. Ladakh was awesome; scenery, people, places, animals, etc... will post soon. I'm thinking of switching to Picasa for the photos. FB has some issues from the campus server for uploading photos.