Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Stupidity of Voting NOTA

Thinking quietly about the role of NOTA in elections.

Voting NOTA is a terrible idea when you feel you only have bad candidates - it is not just an exercise in futility, it is actually harmful to democracy. By giving an equal score of "0" to all candidates, the NOTA voter is effectively equating the worst criminal politician in the candidate pool to the least harmful.

Every NOTA vote by a "frustrated voter" translates to one less negative vote for the worst candidate, whose own supporters will also never pick NOTA. Express your preference for the pickpocket over the armed bandit if those are the choices you have, else only the bandit supporter votes will matter. The winning candidate will almost surely never be NOTA, and as the NOTA percentage goes up, it may actually increase the probability of the worst candidates winning.

All candidates may be bad, but not all are equally bad. Always vote, no matter how inconvenient and how poor the choices are, and always optimize by picking the 'best among the available options' every time, no matter how distasteful. That is the only way to continually weed out the worst and promote reform.

Suppose you only have good candidates, will you still vote NOTA since "all are good, can't pick out any one"? Unlikely. You would endorse the better over the merely good and fairly reward merit.  Likewise, when you have only bad candidates, use your vote to penalize the more terrible candidates. An informed decision has to be made even here. NOTA votes appear to be especially harmful when the candidate pool is bad. Exercising the NOTA option in large numbers may produce even more obnoxious politicians asking for your vote in the next election. Remember Karnataka 2018.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rama Loves Squirrels Too

There is merit in picking one area, one project, which we are good at and can create an impact on the ground, and keep at it. But sometimes, we forget our dharma and lose the basic ability of sticking to a message.

An old cricket article by Mike Selvey that recalls fast bowler Ottis Gibson's first ever cricket match, for the Barbados team:
"...He was recalling his first-ever match for his native Barbados, throughout which, as the great Malcolm Marshall stood by and watched, he had been getting a run-a-ball tanking.

In the second innings, Gibson recalled, he came and stood at mid-off. "What are you going to do?" Marshall queried after Gibson had bowled a rare dot-ball at the start of an over. Gibson remembered his response. "'I'm going to bounce him' I said, and Malcolm would just say 'Why don't you just do what you did again?' And I did and it was another dot-ball. 'Now what are you going to do?' 'I'm going to york him.' 'No, do the same thing again'. And so he talked me through the first maiden over I bowled in first-class cricket. He taught me to construct an over."

There you have it then, in a nutshell: the simple art of bowling from perhaps the greatest fast man who ever drew breath and not a mention of good areas.

The anger against the corrupt ecosystem and its Hinduphobia cannot be myopically expended in a jiffy on sloganeering and wild, emotional ideas. It can be channeled into long-term, sober, and meaningful effort. Even if it seems lonely, boring, or insignificant in comparison to others. The tiny squirrel that contributed its bit in support of the Sethu was eventually touched by the transcendental hand of divinity.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Kolam Blog at the Indic Cultural Portal

I wrote about the 'Computing and Cosmology' within the Kolam, at the Indic Cultural Portal. You can read that blog there. Do share your feedback there.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Decoding the Intellectual Kurukshetra

This post was published in the Indian Cultural Portal. This is an unedited version of the post.

This blog is about contemporary India, but we start with a bit of European history.

Part-1: 20th Century Europe

Alan Turing 

In 1939, ace computer scientist, mathematician, and cryptanalyst Alan Turning decided to solve the challenging problem of cracking the German Navy version of the Enigma code. Why? In his own words: "because no one else was doing anything about it and I could have it to myself". Thus, the great Alan Turing and his intrepid team at Bletchley Park, through hard work, intelligence, and ingenuity were able to crack the Enigma code, and helped turn the tide of World War 2. The story is well known today. At first, they were resource-strained, and by the time the intercepted messages were decoded and sent up the chain of command, the relevant events had already passed into history. However, thanks to an increase in human and computing resources, and equally importantly, by upgrading their own game, the cryptographers were able to eventually decipher the messages fast enough to reliably predict what would happen in the future. They had turned information on enemy movements into actionable intelligence. Pure gold dust. By closing this gap between interception and decoding, they were able to have a significant impact on the course of the war between the Allies and the Axis powers. So precious was their operation, their work was rated 'Ultra', even above 'Most' secret. Some of Alan Turing's research findings were hidden from public view for 70 years and only published recently. Even beyond WW2, it appears that Enigma machines were sold to 3rd world countries that were unaware that their information could be tracked by the west.

The Nazi analysts themselves believed their Enigma encryption to be fool-proof, and it is acknowledged that in principle, they indeed were. However, overconfidence, and bad operational practices gave away enough clues to Bletchley Park, who were smart enough to take advantage of these lapses. Turing's team was able to make risky predictions that turned out to be right. The allied command subsequently bet the lives of thousands of soldiers on their predictions. Theirs was a solid scientific approach supported by rigorous math and empirical testing, which allowed them to be confident in their predictions. However, if their predictions were wrong, many lives would have been in jeopardy due to faulty intelligence and their work would've been dismissed as pseudo-science. 

What distinguishes science from pseudo-science?

Around 1919, Karl Popper, a western philosopher began to actively ponder this demarcation. He narrowed down the distinction to one of testability. According to Popper, a scientific theory must be able to make somewhat risky predictions about the future. Others would try to falsify this theory, and if this falsification failed, the theory would gain credence. If the events did not happen as predicted, the theory would be weakened, and efforts would be made to either rectify the theory and re-test, or abandon it entirely. 97 years ago, Popper applied his principles to identify at least two theories popular in the west during that time as pseudo-science: the Marxist theory of history, and the Freudian psychoanalysis. Why? These theories simply did not fail! They could explain everything in the past with 100% accuracy, and were irrefutable. First-time viewers, to this day, find this ability to confirm quite irresistible. However, within a few decades of Marx's theory, it failed the risky predictability test not once, but several times. Freudian analysis met the same fate. From this western perspective, it was classic pseudo-science (although, apparently Marx was confident enough to crown himself as 'the Isaac Newton of Social Sciences'). Arguably, Marxist theory or Freudian theory did not become obsolete over time, but were born blind. By brushing away these glaring failures to predict, scientist Karl became prophet Karl. As contemporary events show, 'propheteering' is much more lucrative and unimpeachable (compared to the scientific alternative of forecasting, where a 5% increase in error in predicting product sales may have your client pulling the plug on your project). Well, what on earth has all this to do with India? We discuss this in the next section.

Part-2: 21st Century India


Welcome to western Indology (India study). The major theoretical foundations of western Indology over the last few decades are, as you may have guessed, Marxist theory of history, and Freudian psychoanalysis! Completely unchallenged, totally unhindered by any need to test predictions, many (but not all, there a few good ones) Indologists have combined to build up an entire body of Indology literature based on these pseudo-sciences. Let us examine the nature of this literature constructed.

The western approach to knowledge-building via math models employs rigorous theorem proving starting from a bunch of 'self-evident' statements called axioms. A 'purva paksha' of the way mathematics historically developed in the west would reveal, at least at a very high level, the contrast between the Euclidean western way of theorem-proving versus the Paninian Indian approach of rule-generation (refer to the talk and work by M. D. Srinivas and others). Infallible western mathematics versus the explicitly fallible Indian Ganita (science of computations) is an interesting topic in its own right, which we will explore in-depth in this space later. The theorem-proving approach allows us to reliably extend existing results, without having to start from scratch each time. By maintaining rigor and by subjecting new ideas to rigorous predictive testing, one can minimize the fallibility of the entire system. Of course, if one of those axioms or proofs were to be found wanting in some future scenario, it can open up a can of worms. 

This incremental approach of knowledge generation used in the hard sciences has been borrowed and applied by the west to social sciences as well, which as we have seen from the time of Prophet Karl, are pseudo-sciences. So we have journal papers quoting and extending the work of previous papers, results building on prior result, producing an incestuous body of Indology writing that can plausibly confirm any and all prior data about India, but is largely useless as far as reliably predicting 'risky' future events. Therefore, not only has this body of work not been useful, but these highly innovative, imaginative and intellectually engaging models have been harmful when used outside academia as a predictor to develop solutions in a real world. If, by chance, a future event does conform to a theory, they can claim credit; if it failed, then of course, the cow and goddess worshiping, "caste" obsessed, curry munching Hindus weren't smart enough to understand Marxism properly. At its core such social sciences are largely a 'Heads I win, Tails you lose' proposition. Thus, when decades of Marxist-inspired methods of planning in post-1947 India inevitably failed to yield results, it was explained away as the "Hindu rate of growth". This also justified the need to continue inflicting Marxism on Indians until they fully understood it, i.e., when enough successive 'Heads' were observed!

Indology Theory versus Hindu Practice

Recently, I visited Columbia University in New York City to add a science conference. The STEM departments in such universities are top-notch. Genuinely curious and good scientists and wonderful human beings. I have learned from them, and my interactions have been beneficial. Only in the last decade did I learn that in these same campuses, in their humanities and social sciences departments, there are other smart professors who are invested in western Indology and Hindu studies. From nine thousand miles away, they were and are doing a whole lot of theoretical model fitting using materialist Marxist and Freudian interpretations of Sanskrit texts that would appear utterly nonsensical to actual practitioners in India. The dharmic content of Hinduism that actually guides its practice is summarily rejected! On the other hand, some western thinkers outside the ivory tower who internalized Hinduism's ideas were able to practically adapt it to solve some of the biggest challenges of the 20th century. For example, the approaches of both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela, borrowed from the Satyagraha of Gandhi that is fundamentally rooted in Sanathana dharma. The positive and pervasive influence of Swami Vivekananda on western thought is stunning to read, and has never really been acknowledged either. 

The Indology Enigma Machine

In an earlier era, there were the 'orientalists' from a Europe that had colonized and ruined India, who studied India from the perspective of a superior 'teacher' race. These earlier Indologists have been thoroughly exposed and the new generations of Indologists that are based in the United States are much smarter. They are trained in Sanskrit, have learned from the mistakes of the Orientalists, and have proceeded to cleverly write lengthy papers and analyses using extremely convoluted English (search for example, the pomo generator). Their writings virtually became a code that only their peers, who were part of a mutual back-scratching network, could review, read, understand, and build upon. Alternative new approaches to Hindu studies in the US would be branded as "communal" and "Hindu extremism" by their gatekeepers and shut down. If you, as a graduate scholar, wanted to study Hinduism and get funding, you would have to learn their code language, and thereby also adopt the encoded views about India. Simply put, these Indologists had succeeded in creating their own virtual Enigma machine. This Indology enigma machine is then shipped to third-world India, safe in the knowledge that only the encoders in the US, and their elite disciples in India, would truly know what the messages meant. It became their ultimate inside joke on India. This Indology Enigma in principle is also a fool-proof system like the earlier WW2 model and cracking this code would require sustained, single-minded effort, enormous resources, and a high degree of intelligence to break. They progressed, unhindered for decades, until the breakthrough came in the form of a trained physicist named Rajiv Malhotra.

American Orientalism Decoded

Rajiv Malhotra has lived in the US for more than 40 years and his is another successful Indian immigrant story - he studied physics, but got into IT and Telecom and eventually became the multi-millionaire owner of 20 companies. However, it is what happened afterward that is quite extraordinary. He gave it all up (for one dollar) at the age of 44 to devote his life, full time, to Hindu and Indian studies from an insider perspective. He used his personal funds to set up a research foundation and has over the last few decades, given grants, built up a dedicated home team, and done a deep and thorough study of the Indology landscape from an Indic perspective (and this is really key). While others too have attempted such studies earlier, there is really none else who approached this problem in a single-minded manner, applying scholarly rigor, comprehensive research, and thoroughness. Rajiv Malhotra decided that he would take this up as part of his sva-dharma. He became the perfect storm that was required to crack this Indology Enigma code. Based on more than 20 years of painstaking research, and at a high personal cost, Rajiv Malhotra has authored five epic books on related topics, and we will briefly examine a specific trilogy among them, noting that the very first book, 'Invading the Sacred' demolishes the Freudian psychoanalysis applied to Hindu studies in America. 

The first book in the three we examine here is 'Breaking India', which analyzed the prior Indologists, mostly from Europe, whose theories from the 19th century have devastated Indian politics and sections of society (including in my own home state) for more than a century now. Thus, the initial decoding of Indology by Rajiv ji, while being amazing and successful, is associated with a large time lag between when these virulent messages were encoded and when they were fully decoded. However, his next book 'Indra's Net' that focused on newer but equally diabolical Indology theories reduced this time lag. Here, he was able to expertly decipher the more recent discourse around the spurious idea of 'Neo-Hinduism' being propagated in India over the last few decades. Finally, his latest book, 'The Battle For Sanskrit' was released in India a couple of weeks ago. While this book is yet to release in the US, I have studied several video overviews of its content to realize that it has exposed the ugly face of an  'American Orientalism', a new form of orientalism. 

It is clear that today, Rajiv Malhotra's systematic approach has been able to decipher the output of American Orientalism as it is happening in the US right now. In this desperate intellectual and civilizational Kurukshetra, for the first time ever, practicing Hindus will have actionable intelligence that will enable them to proactively mount a defense before these destructive theories fully percolate into the Indian discourse that is controlled by sepoys - the paid native intellectual gunmen of these western masters.

A new generation of dedicated intellectual Kshatriyas are needed to carry this work forward. Who will join this Battle for our Sanskriti?



Hobbes is nonplussed. Calvin needs Rajiv ji's help!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Abhaya: A Fearless First Indian Novel

This post is simply a description of my personal experiences reading 'Abhaya', Saiswaroopa Iyer's first novel, which I've quickly penned down in no particular order.

I got the Kindle edition at, and began to read immediately, and did not put it down, finishing the novel in one go. From a Rasika's perspective, the characters in the book and the situations cover all nine Rasas. We'll look at just two examples here: the Hasya of Krishna's predicament reminded me just a bit of Kapil Sharma's comical situation in the movie 'Kis Kis to Pyar Karoon'. And the Veera Rasa the reader experiences when we read about Princess Abhaya's courage as she fights against all odds for the cause of Bharatavarsha is a highlight. I'm sure readers who are keyed into social media will want to know about the 'Swachch Bharat' lady of Varanasi in the novel. Read and find out! 

Some of the pages, along with the vivid descriptions, appear to leap right out of old Amar Chitra Katha and Chandamama stories that we all loved to read and re-read before the advent of 24-7 TV. The Shringara Rasa is also on view, some of which I'd personally rate as 'U/A', making the content suitable for young adults. There are excellent and lucid discussions centered on dharma and duty which are suitable and perfect for any age. The dilemmas and challenges that Abhaya and other characters face, and the dharma ethics that is evident in the subsequent decisions they take was brilliant to read.

Saiswaroopa employs several Sanskrit non-translatables, and the author must be commended for this. This is a daunting task, and the author's Shraddha in the sensitive but frank handling of native Indian traditions is evident. There is little or no spoon-feeding of poor approximations of key Sanskrit terms in order to cater to the westernized reader. For example, the meaning of 'dharma' is contextual, and is used as is, and is not mistranslated as 'religion' etc. Also the accurate term 'Arya' is used in the novel, although the dreaded 'Aryan' did appear once, perhaps inadvertently. Hope this gets fixed in the next cycle of edits. There is some emphasis on 'faith' toward the end, which caused me some confusion. I personally chose to interpret 'faith' as 'Bhakti derived from a deep Anubhava' rather than as a dogmatic belief in a purely external force that is highly unlikely to bear fruit no matter how long, and how much 'hope' and 'faith' one has. On the other hand, the dharmic discussions toward the end were both moving and riveting. Yes, this is a work of fiction, but it also full of truth.

Despite being a fictional novel, it is quite clear and impressive that the author has taken pains to ensure an accurate portrayal of dharma traditions. And to be able to do so honestly, and without compromising on the readability and the smooth progress of a fairly intricate plot surely requires a high degree of skill, and fearlessness. This is a lesson, and a benchmark for every budding Indian writer. How many times have we have seen Indian and Western authors compose grandiose works and dramatizations set in a dharmic context, but approach the work purely intellectually and without the requisite Shraddha or Anubhava. They write from a "outsider" perspective, and without any adhyatmic insight, inevitably end up mangling dharmic concepts and the deep civilizational ideas. In direct contrast, this author's writing appears to be grounded in her dharma, and for me, this is the fundamental reason for the success of this work.

Finally, some brief notes on the writing style and some memorable characters. The first thing that came to mind when Krishna enters the story is Sri SL Bhyrappa's epic 'Parva'. Abhaya's Krishna will be loved by everybody. Full of wit, compassion, courage, mischief, love, understanding, and wisdom. Abhaya's lead character is smart, resourceful, cool, beautiful, and thoughtful. The quintessential Indian woman. There were some places where the turn of phrase employed pleased the Ganitha/analytics professional in me. Cool! The author seems to have a natural story telling ability, and she does so with a brisk and clear style.  I'm quite convinced this is the first of many books we will get to read and enjoy.

Abhaya is an authentic Indian work that has something positive for everybody.  Those who have grown up reading stories from Indian Itihasa will be able to relate to this book. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Indian Proselytization Equation

While helping my daughter with arithmetic, I uncovered a simple but powerful application of elementary school concepts that helps me do a basic purva paksha numerical analysis of the Christian Evangelism in India. Hopefully scholars in India can analyze this serious social problem at the more sophisticated level that it deserves.

Recall Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi once talked about India's demographic dividend, viewing India's population not simply as a source of all problems, but as an asset that produces solutions? Now consider this equation.

Demographic Dividend ÷ Missionary Divisor = Soul Harvesting Quotient (SHQ)

Note the usefulness of this equation to Missionaries.

1) The size of the missionary pie is equal to Modi ji's demographic dividend.  
India's population is also a great source of joy for churches. The more the Hindu bodies, the biggest the soul harvest, the richer their rewards.

2) Conversion Efficiency
Given N missionaries allocated to India, the SHQ immediately tells their CEOs the required sales target or the per-missionary rate of conversion required for Breaking India, completely destroying dharma, and establishing dogma. For example, if you have 10^9 dharmic bodies, 10^5 harvesters , and a 100-year plan, each missionary has to corrupt an average of 100 atmas annually, over a century for achieving 100% cultural genocide. However, there are non-linearities at work.

3) Proselytization Calculus: Increased conversion rate over time

Theorem: At any point in time, if converting 50% of a dharmic population takes N decades, the second 50% will take (far) less than N decades.

To see this, let us apply Vivekananda's observation: A Hindu lost is not just a Hindu lost, but also an enemy gained. This means that a significant fraction of the harvested population turns vampire. If you started off with 10^5 missionaries, you may be able to continually double the number after a significant increment of harvested recruits join the sales force, without having to import foreigners. Thus, the divisor goes up, and the required SHQ comes down. Equivalently, if the missionary army maintain their SHQ rate, and the Hindu dividend does not grow as rapidly as the divisor, the time taken to harvest the remaining population keeps on reducing over time.

The rate of dogma growth (and reduction in dharmics) in India is likely to increase nonlinearly,  unless there is a sharp and immediate reduction in the number of soul-harvesters before critical mass is reached, at which point, the harvesting process is likely to go viral (exhibit exponential growth) and become almost surely irreversible.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Wolf who cried Wolf

An abbreviated version of this comment was submitted on the Rajiv Malhotra forum

The Indian gov has let hundreds of missionaries into India over the years, but Indians does not get to hear the stories of the thousands of victims of child abuse by Church clergy around the world. In the US, victims are fighting back against the behemoth that has betrayed the trust they placed when they were kids, and filing lawsuits in court that are driving such churches to bankruptcy. In Barack Obama's own state of Illinois, which he so proudly represented, the statistics are quite shocking. We are now just beginning to see the same pattern being repeated in Indian churches with cases being reported in many parts of India. THIS list must be compiled and publicized. If the Indian government is sincere about protecting the rights of Christians in India, as Rajnath Singh ji tweeted today, it needs to start paying serious attention to the cases of abuse against church personnel cropping up worldwide, and study how it is unfolding in India.

The last 10 years under Congress rule has seen some of the more fundamentalist churches pretty much do their own thing in India, and one shudders to think how the faith of hoodwinked Dalits, Indian boys, girls, and prospective nuns who come to church looking for peace have been exploited. A lot of foolish Hindus signed up for Jesus (the original good cop) and Carol singing, but when they woke up, found themselves enlisted as servants of deadly multinational bad-cops. A survey of worldwide data would show that IF at all christians in India are on a hit list, the owner of such a list, with a high probability, is likely to be their own organizations. Like charity, abuse begins at home. Any attack on any place of worship, in any country, be it a Mandir, Gurudwara, Masjid, or Church must be condemned, and the culprits punished severely. But the comparative data regarding such attacks, and acts of vandalism in India and in the United States tells an entirely different story and so we must ask: is this a case of wolf crying wolf? Is the church trying to cover up its tracks in India like it has tried to in other countries, and divert attention by encouraging rabble rousers in India without proper fact checking? Is it trying to derail India's recovery under Modi? After all, it has been complicit in getting Narendra Modi's visa to the US cancelled in the past. Of course, not all churches are bad, and we are already reading about prominent patriotic Indian christians who are speaking out against nefarious conversion activities.

If Breaking India forces can organize a SHAM dalit conference in Washington with the help of 'sepoys', then surely, Indian organizations can organize genuine Church-victim conferences in India, bringing speakers from the west who have had tragic experiences with the churches there. Such conferences need not simply an exercise in generating counter atrocity literature, but can actually make a positive dharmic difference to Indian lives, while also educating India about the threat posed by these BI forces. An alternative perspective based on fact must to be provided to Indian public to compare with the totally one-sided Bollywood image of the 'cool' church-gown wedding, the wise Padre, and the kindly Mrs. Braganza upstairs who feeds and houses the homeless Hindu.