Sunday, February 27, 2011

All this for a baby boy!

Almost ever since man (read human beings) learned to live in societies, almost all his actions and decisions have some or the other economic rationale behind it, either personal or collective. In fact learning agriculture and forming societies was done in order to avoid the dependence only daily animal hunting for survival. Recently I read an article about Thailand and some other countries where people can actually choose the sex of the baby they want. One can actually chose between the chromosomes to ensure the sex of the child that will be conceived. The article had the obvious mention of a large number of rich, educated Indians spending loads of money to ensure the sex of their child.

I strongly believe in the power of economics and the extent to which it affects human behaviour. When we create structures for our society we (at times unknowingly) create incentives for some specific kinds of behaviour/decisions/situations. Our society is still largely biased in favour of males, more so in favour of the male child. This bias has a perceived economic rationale behind it. Fortunately or unfortunately, this rationale is flawed, based on an analysis that is either incomplete or too conservative.

I am in no way defending or justifying this act, I am only trying to explore why it exists and how we can save our society from such a destructive self created and vicious curse.

Reasons often quoted for preference to a mail child:

A male child will support you in your old age where as female child will leave your home after marriage and you will also have to give a hefty dowry amount. A male child will on the other hand will fetch you dowry an one more member in the family (she may be working and earn money or may work at home) a benefit anyhow.

The institution of dowry in itself is a cruel one. In our society, usually the girl moves to the boys household so people feel reluctant in grooming the girl child (like spending on her education etc, because what is the use she will earn to give in some other house, why shall we spend money) which is again a misery. But even with these existing structures there is serious flaw in the above reasoning.

When we say that girl will leave your house where as the boy will stay and bring another member (and more when they have kids), we tend to forget the space requirements of humans. If a couple fancy’s about living with their two sons, both staying with them and supporting them even after they are married and have kids one has to have a large home and a good business to accommodate the Childs ambitions. I can either meet my rent and other living expenses, or start supporting my parents. The later can only happen if they have a house near my workplace.

On the other hand the big house that you lived in with your three female children is no longer required. Two people will be happier living in a smaller place, and what’s more you can chose to move where you want to. It’s time to reap benefits from your investment.

Yes, the male child may be your “bhudape ki laathee” but it comes at a cost. You may pay some dowry amount in a female Childs marriage but you will eventually give everything you have to the male Child, the female child does not even get to keep your name which she carried all these years so proudly and lovingly. Does she not even deserve to be born and loved?

A society unbalanced in terms of sex ratio is a sure shot way to disaster. What is the use if your undue preference for one sex deprives that “preferred sex” of “sex” (no pun intended).


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Being on the Other Side

Just 3 months earlier I was doing my MBA from an Indian Institute. Having an amazing group of friends, we were always best at making the most of the time in the class that otherwise would have been wasted listening to the teacher (as students we always think this way).Here I am, fresh out of school, teaching the art and science of management to students just about my age (some even older). I now know why teachers repeatedly say “please pay attention”; it’s like a law, I call it “the law of flow of attention” which say that “attention is always flowing in some direction or the other, if you are not paying attention, you are attracting attention” and it spreads very quickly resulting in chaos. My experiences as a student are very handy today, as I know what methods worked on me.

But more important than understanding the “Chaos Theory” is the realization of magnified effects of what I do or say in the class (and of course outside it also but let that be :P).

I now realize that the grass is greener on the other side of the river only if the person on that side works harder/smarter to keep it that way. As a teacher, I control the environment of the class. The student’s behaviour is only a reaction to my actions in the class. If, before throwing upon them a long model and complex mathematical equations, you can tell them a practical problem, otherwise difficult to handle, which can be handled very easily using the model that is to be studied you can observe what is known as “the pin drop silence” in most of the cases (obviously, there will always be people like me who will always create chaos). Just tell them why the hell it is important to study “this” and they will study it in great detail on their own.

Always give lots of examples and then ask them to give you a few. Only when they can find/create on their own, a new example that fits, they will learn. Don’t teach everything, let them explore. Don’t tell them again and again, make them solve it on a fresh piece of paper (best is to make them solve it on the board). Don’t transfer knowledge, transfer capability, to think, to solve, to prioritize and to learn. Don’t train, educate! (Yes it’s an expression)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vanity is my favorite sin...

Humans have often been associated with qualities referred to their greatest weaknesses also strangely being their greatest strength. Hope they say a sign of lack of a solution. Love over rides logic, passion over rides mission. Only a mortal we are. Its amazing to see that what may be regarded as weakness for a single human being gives us amazing strengths when we talk of the human race. Its this love for others, this fear of death, this passion and hope that we seen has worked wonders. Ego they say is an enemy of men, vanity their sin, but I think nature likes to work in paradoxes. Its this ego suit that keeps us from falling apart, differentiating the naked human being from an animal, giving him a reason to strive, harder and harder and harder. The great decoy "Ratnakar"was vain about his work, but when shown the correct path went on to become swami Valmiki. Being only a mortal, man can do the most courageous act possible by sacrificing one's life for a greater cause and this has been driving us as a species. I think Man has always had an upper hand on much more powerful creatures like oaks, wizard, elves and machines because we have a very strong incentive to live, and not only as individuals.

They say we are impartial. Nature brutally follows the "survival of the fittest" and I suppose we have done considerably more to protect the weak (once we realize endangerment). All evils that we talk about seem to have an important role to play here. Man has been designed to learn and grow. The path of development would be very erratic, but that is the only way to sustain development, because we can learn to fly only after we fall. I accept and love mankind in spite of all its flaws. Perhaps I am a humanist.

Man is far from being perfect. And I am thankful it is so. A perfect world would have been too predictable and boring one.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The notion of right and wrong

This notion of right and wrong is one question that can always present a thinking mind with many dilemmas. Is there something like right or wrong in absolute terms or its just that what the majority believes is right becomes right. How to define fairness and where to incorporate fairness, in the rules or in the end result.

Recently while studying ethics and professional standards for financial markets I came across this beautiful idea which tries to explain this notion. I will try to state the idea here
First thing you need to do is find the system which gets affected by the action concerned. The system here refers to components from all aspects including economics, society, nature everything. Next define the working efficiency of your system. Now you have a very simple rule to judge any action. If that action reduces the working efficiency of the system, it is wrong and should not be practiced. Try to think of some practical applications with this idea, you will love it.

But the problem is not solved. Defining the efficiency is what will hunt you now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A lover's dilemma

Every one has his own definition for love, but we can list some common attributes every one would agree to. When u love someone u just like the person so much that his/her very presence fills u with a magical energy wave. There is no limit to your happiness, and you are ready to face anything that comes your way. Love gives you an amazing strength to face anything.
But when you love someone your happiness is more related with the other person(the one u love) more than it is with u. U will happy if he/she is happy and sad if he/she is sad and u will do anything to make him/her happy and that in turn will make u happy.
But suppose that the person u love does not like you and in fact gets sort of uncomfortable with your presence. No matter how much happy u are in his/her presence u know that it makes the one u love unhappy.
Would you stay away from the very person you want to be with the most?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The best thing about philosophy is that it is not right or wrong. It is just philosophy.
Take for example "Tomorrow never dies".......if u wonder why u can get so many interpretations
1. there is always hope there is always a new beginning there is always tomorrow.
2. every time u say i will do it tomorrow, but that tomorrow will never come
So many different philosophies that revolve around some basic ideas and all find their followers.
Enough of philosophy but as far as tomorrow is concerned I would quote one my sayings(not so famous yet)
"Tomorrow never dies, so do it before today does"
Always live up to peoples expectations, but never expect anything from anyone. Seems tough! but it is the key to happiness. No one can ever hurt you until let him/her do so and when you start building expectations you are creating an opportunity for the same. I think this is what is called "detached attachment".
"But how can i not expect things from anyone?" .....good question. After all we are all social beings and live in harmony with each other. One cannot do everything by himself and should not. The point is when someone does good to you be thank full but when some one is not good to you don't complain(of course unless someone harms you). But don't take it to for. You will always find people around you who would be worth expecting from. They would be there for you in all your good and bad times. Those are the bestest people in the world, they are the greatest gift life has given to you, your best buddies. Never ever let them go.

But this mixed theory of expectations can sometimes be very pain full(although it will save u most of the times) because when you rarely build expectations and they are not realized its hurts more, so be very care full.
The theory of expectations can be applied to all sorts of situations.For example when u say "I love x" it is not subjected to the condition of x loving u, is it? You should not feel hurt if "x" does not feel the same way and u are the luckiest person if "x" does feel the same way.
But sometimes you can still be hurt no matter how strong you be in theory.
Is it right on ones part to show you a picture that is not really there. What can you do when one builds up your expectations and then blows them apart. If "x" gives a positive response you are bound to build expectations and then suddenly one day you find that "x" is now your ex.
What do you do now? Be very care full when you expect.