Thursday, 21 May 2009

Women and Feminism

Inasmuch as we men know, women are not us and thus it makes them "they". How could this riddle be solved. If in the order of nature a complement was required for everyone , and thus manifesting duality, then why did this duality become so perplexing. Throughout animal kingdom , male dominates its female counterpart. This hasn't changed to this date, while with the Homo Sapiens its been a remarkable shift since the times of fabled Adam and Eve.

Humans differ from animals , very remarkably , in their power to think. Human beings could read a situation, analyze it and then act as per their moral deductions. Can we , then, attribute the rise in the status of women in the society to the thinking power of men. It seems to be so . In a very recent debate about the post poll results , M J Akbar, made a point about BJPs failure, "BJP fails to understand why India is secular. It is not secular because it houses so many religions together. It is secular because the Hindus (majority) of India are secular". Drawing parallels from this can we deduce the reason for rise in the status of women in the society , "Men recognized ( by virtue of improved education and other conditions ) that women deserve equal space in the society ".
At least it must have had started this way, and slowly as the wave of change gained traction from different sections , women overpowered the authoritative men and came up in the strata. Even today in the orthodox societies,like ours, women are tethered by authoritative male . However, with the advent of time and educational quality of the large swathe of our population , the trend is almost sure to change , but the resultant effect is going to be quite unpredictable. It could very well be a new way with the mix of traditional value and individualistic freedom, as could be seen to some degrees in our urban populace.

But is feminism all about raising the say of women in the society. It seems to have skewed onto that notion. Women had their own space of favor and respect in every period of history. That still remains as its niche. However, with the growing lure of coming up on the front and be at the helm, feminism has ignored the women in traditional yet significant roles.

Speaking non-politically, in larger part of our society, women is an object of pleasure, care,warmth, love but not of authority. She is not entitled to choose her own way of life. Boys enjoy special privilege since boys don't get pregnant. Huh! what a sham!

But society, in pursuit of maintaining its framework needs to chain the women. What would happen to the existing order if women were to go astray. This specious argument reeks of chauvinism and racism , albeit wrapped in a wool of social concern . In a civilized society , if we could consider ourselves to be so, why can't women declare their own way and their own framework of society . Let the reins of everyone's life be in their own hands, and a society be formed of the individual will and not by forced subjugation.

Wishful as these Ideas may seem to be , for world is not yet perfect , not yet civilized to the extent to accommodate both the sexes with equivalent status, they are very pertinent .World would tale time to mature to the next level,till that time , there will be censures and rebukes on both sides of the conservationists and the feminists , until one day when feminism tips over its bar and stands shoulder to shoulder. Till that time we men continue to shamefully pride ourselves as better race.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Critique of a NYT article "Atheism and Evidence"

Stanley Fish's article on atheism was in bad taste. He says,

The reasons you must give, however, do not come from outside your faith, but follow from it and flesh it out.
which at best appears to be a circular argument. If the above mentioned argument is supposed to be tenable , it seems to imply that reasoning is just a tool to bolster your faith. So, what are we left with in that case ? Faith as an absolute ? This specious argument tries to ensconce itself on the nebulous nature of interaction between faith and reasoning. Faith is not derived from reasoning, at least not in entirety , it is instilled by our environment and blossomed by reasoning , but reasoning goes further than that, it challenges existing beliefs by the way of observation and transforms or expands the existing faith , depending upon the effect of observation and deductions. Thus , we find that reason doesn't depend entirely upon faith , but rather draws in from its observations power and shapes faith.

Moving further he quotes that ,

I “believe in evolution,” Dawkins declares, “because the evidence supports it”; but the evidence is evidence only because he is seeing with Darwin-directed eyes.The evidence at once supports his faith and is evidence by virtue of it.
In stating this he has completely missed the bus. We don't believe in Darwin , because we have Darwin-directed eyes. We believe in natural selection because evidence supports it. If evidence points out that natural selection was not correct in entirety , then we would , based on evidence, change our belief.

Fish's argument above implies that , if you don't look with Darwin-directed eyes, all the evidence appears absurdity, but lets see why is Darwin relevant . He is relevant because he provides a pattern (faith) based on the observation (reasoning) and evidence, which is a step towards understanding the vastly non-understood subject, but what does Fish suggest over here, " I don't believe that the pattern (faith) by Darwin is right" . Fine , then, offer evidences, and if someone has better evidence we would mold our faiths accordingly and not be sulking about the "glasses" as Fish does.

He has seriously mistaken between the faith promulgated by reasoning and reasoning justifying faith. Reasoning doesn't always justify faith, it rather shapes faith. He concludes by stating that atheists (Richard Dawkins) must revisit their arguments, and in stating that he again misses the central point expostulated by Dawkins. In his book, God Delusion, Dawkins provides arguments/evidences against the faiths established by the reasoning given in support of GOD, while at the same time , he stresses on the fact that we don't know all and urges to draw our own conclusions by our own observations.In doing that he stresses upon reasoning through observation , effects of which could be the reversal of faith. There is a single important difference between the Reasoning of Dawkins and Faith of Fish, Fish needs more evidence.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Happiness and sadness

Is black and white overemphasized and given undue recognition which is out of place? Is duality the nature's de-facto? The precepts have evolved from times immemorial , and although we live in this colorful world, we have a hard time extricating ourselves from a definitive black and white. When the Chinese Ying-Yang incorporates both black and white , eliciting the nature's law, isn't it restricting itself. Any person on earth could testify that he/she experiences himself and his life to be made up of countless distinct colors, even imperceptible at times.

Goal. A Process of Constant Improvement. Review.

The Goal is a management cum novel styled book by Goldratt. In the book he brings forth the idea of arriving a solution to a problem by adhering to scientific method. The method shall entail a series of questions about the existing setup and then arriving at a near-best solution. In the book he very clearly shuns the idea of absolute truths and advises to practice science as process of discovering better truths rather than an absolute truth.

In the book he goes about narrating an issue faced by a Production manager at his plant and how he , with the help of others , through the process of constant improvement arrives at a better production capacity for his plant, and thus saves his plant from closure.

Towards this process of improvement the very first question which has to be identified is, "What is the Goal?" Once that is identified the next set of action shall be targeted towards identifying the factors that prohibit the realization of the Goal.
In the book, related to a manufacturing plant he identifies that the Goal of plant is to make money , and then goes about to identify the inhibitors for that . Towards explaining it he proffers new definitions for the very basic terms used in a production industry.

Throughput- Rate at which the system generates money through sales.
Inventory- Inventory is all the money that the system has invested in purchasing things which it intends to sell
Operating Expense - Operational expense is all the money the system spends in order to turn inventory into throughput.

Along with that he also explain craftily the concept of bottlenecks controlling the throughput and thus sales of an organization. He derives the inferences, by the scientific process of asking the questions and finding the right answers for them. Explaining it he derives the concept of having the slowest operation at the beginning while the most efficient and non-bottle necks at the end. This would minimize the operating cost and inventory as well.

As the solution of deciding the position of a bottleneck may not be possible in a practical scenario, he advises to improve upon the efficiency of the bottlenecks . The efficiency or the rate at which the system releases result would be decided by the efficiency of the bottleneck . Explaining this through a troop scenario, he establishes a constraint link between the bottleneck in the middle and leader in front and thereby achieving the minimum time to move the entire system together. Explaining the theory of these constraints he also elicits the inefficiency of a system generated by the extra work done on non-bottlenecks and thereby positing the maxim that an organization that works all time is non efficient and arrives at a general rule :
the level of utilization of a non-bottleneck is not determined by its own potential, but by some other constraint in the system.
In the entire book he stresses upon the fact of scientific temper of questioning and arriving at a solution. The motif being bottlenecks. In the end he formulates a general rule , but leaves it open to the reader to improve upon it.

1. IDENTIFY the system's constraint(s).
2. Decide how to EXPLOIT the system's constraint(s).
3. SUBORDINATE everything else to the above decision.
4. ELEVATE the system's constraint(s).
5. WARNING!!!! If in the previous steps a constraint has been broken, go back to step 1, but do not allow INERTIA to cause a system's constraint.

The narrative style of the book is very captive . The process of constant improvement is what the book's title says, and adheres to all through the book.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Declining Voters. Where is Election Comission?

Recent ad campaign for Voting in India , has been anything but effective. Voter turnout percentages have been in declivity and more so in the urban metropolis, the prime target of the campaign. More than that of the apathy of Indian middle class it marks a lack of trust in any political outfit and ideology. Indian voting ensues a choice to be made of bad among worse , isn't that as good as not-voting. At least the disillusioned middle class thinks so.

The failure of the entire ad campaign could be traced down to this very core issue of people's indifference towards the elected. Had the campaign enthused voters to come ahead and vote against those compromising candidates the result could have had been somewhat different. Instead of asking people to vote , ask them to get the unwanted voted out. Although its a negative approach to pursue, I am certain that it would send a strong message into the political circles , who have so grossly undermined the authority of political leadership .

However, an ad-campaign has its limitations. I still doubt , it would have raked up the numbers on poll days. As Malcom Gladwell has pointed pointed out in his book , that an advertisement has to have content that would relate to people, something that they would understand. And this political mumble jumble , ostensibly simplified by catchy phrases, such as ,"vote for change" is more likely to fizzle out.

Having said all of this, democracy cannot mature unless people vote, and towards this there ought to be a mass awareness and ownership. As a first step it is necessary get the folks into the fray and participate in elections. Election commission, which has so far done a very commendable job this year could take cue from its recent success and take a step further towards deciphering ways to increase the poll percentages. Election commission is entrusted with the responsibility to conduct free and fair elections . It is certainly not fair on part of the Election Commission to shirk this challenge , which would further add credibility to the institution.
What are the possible ways? That is something which needs to be found, discussed, debated, documented and analyzed. As Kiran Bedi has doled out one of the ways , "scrap the poll day as holiday and see the improvement". I do not completely endorse the idea , but let the people in charge discuss it, debate it and then come up with new ideas to ensure that the elections which they have made free is , actually "fair" in a wider term.

Friday, 8 May 2009

A diary entry

Its been while since I last brushed my strokes. On a dark night last week, I set off my home, with blood gushing into my head and my left testicles wriggling with pain. It was anger , and it moved me, it took me to distances far and wide. Tear would well up intermittently , but would be held back by the anger seething within my heart. I kept walking , until I could find a place to be at one with my own self.
A gathering of trees invited me to its bosom, to muse over the matter . My sense of anger rebelled against any reconciliation. This moment enveloped all the gloom and despair and sprawled it over my existence. Questions were springing up in quick successions, but the answers never appeared in near distance. Tired , I foundered the boat of questions into the ocean of my eyes. It brimmed with tears and ran through my face in serpentine paths,stuck to the chin , until it finally dropped off it , only to be lost in the ground beneath.
And when , I was defeated with myself, I felt a strong urge to land it all into the name of "GOD". Hand it all to HIM and drop he burden off my shoulder. The lure was strong enough to land into that well of falsehood. That pool of unknown and undefined invited me to surrender myself into it. I felt a vacuum of ideas, faith and a fear of unknown crept over me. I rummaged through the words known to me from the greats of the world, they inspired me , but none could lift me up. This moment made all of that meaningless. What was my faith then? Was I to look within me ? That was too cliche`d a term . Snubbing them all I rose and left behind all that I was carrying. It was so very simple and direct.

Days after when I remember that night , I wonder what was different that night. What was becoming of me. I feel sometimes an eerie sense of joy , a sense of unleashed spirit, a sense of unknown freedom. And then its so subtle that the moment I try to capture it vanishes. Its mystic and yet I cant use that phrase to define it.

Post-Modernism is the idea, where people don't dole out statutes for way a human being is to be , based on the conceived truths, but rather, focuses on why a human being acts in a certain way and suggests a way to improve upon that , based on the individual's milieu. It very certainly abjures absolute truths and seeks to identify individual truths. Bot of those could be quite different and at times poles apart. Knowing things from the prospective of why they are so in the first place paves way for a sustainable and amicable change.

The concept seems to be novel and very different, but again as an individual it still leaves the choice open , whether I wish to pursue it.