Saturday, August 16, 2014

Toilets versus Social Justice

I have compared elsewhere the dogmatic espousal of the Jallianwala baug massacre as India's justification for the abolishment of the Raj to the significantly more heinous massacre of dalits at Tsundur, which has gone unpunished to this date and about which Indian media chooses to write little. One wonders why PM Modi focused on toilets in his independence day speech, instead of focusing on social justice to women and dalits (i.e. implementation of laws relevant to cases like Tsundur in letter and spirit). Toilet shortage and problems due to it are a symptoms of a deeper problem whose root cause is social injustice. Toilets are an inadequate replacement for social justice.

To illustrate the point, I would like compare the much applauded Dandi March by Gandhi to the much less applauded Mahad Satyagraha by Ambedkar. The significance of an event is never to be measured by the amount of the overt ceremony and pomp, but by what the event represents. Gandhi chose to break the law related to making salt to assert his opposition to the injustice of the Brtish rule. His choice was strategic and much applauded then and now by his multitudes. But consider Ambedkars choice of breaking the the unwritten "law" related to water to assert his opposition to the injustice of the Hindu rule. Water is much more primary to human life than Salt. Man can survive and thrive without salt. There are enough pages on the Internet which advise people to live lives without consuming salt. Salt is not neccessary. It is a luxury. But water? Water is a neccessity for human life. The British were merely making it difficult to have a luxury item. But Hindu rules were making it difficult for dalits to get water a neccessity for human life. Even today there are enough wells and temples where dalits are prohibited. Restricting people from god and water is crime against humanity and god. The Mahad satyagraha was more significant than the Dandi march for this reason. The need to revolt against social injustice has not gone away despite independence from British as evidenced by the injustice at Tsundur (among many other cases).

As I have mentioned elsewhere, the "moderates" among the freedom fighters who advocated dealing with the social inequality among Indians before seeking abolishment of British rule were the extremists. And those "extremists" among the freedom fighted who advocated abolishing British rule first were the moderates, because the social inequality has persisted for so many years. Perhaps they never intended to rid India of this social inequality. That was probably the reason for denying separate electorates and giving reservations through the Pune pact thereby denying true representation in the democratic decision making structures. That also is the reason why there is so much lip-service (just like the so called moderates of freedom struggle) to social priorities, but the country continues to focus on expanding the pie for non-dalits. As the control of India has moved from government and public sector to private sector, the need for representation through reservation (or something else) is being summarily ignored putting social justice on a negative trajectory.

As we are now back within the rule of Hindutva - a facade for those who continue to believe that Hindu social organisation is just, it is important to remember the significance of Ambedkar's choice. Modi is basically continuing the tradition of lip-service with which Hindu India has always reacted to Ambedkars Mahad Satyagraha. All Modi needs to do is make Ambedkar's law and constitution work. But instead he wants to build toilets. His track record for social justice in Gujarat is pathetic and so there is little reason to be misled by his new found love for the Buddha, Ashoka and those suffering from lack of toilets. A toilet building Mai-Baap government is Congresi (also Hindu with minor difference in essentials) politics by a new name - expanding cake for have's while shouting about improving basic things for have-nots. Making laws work is more neccessary, but that will hurt his constituents - so he will not do it just like Congress did not.

Anyone who wants to criticize me for giving less priority to toilets, should read about Tsundur judgement first and then think about criticizing my anger over the priority given to Toilets.

For god's sake - make the laws work. Hang the guilty.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Evolution of industry IT architectures

Each large system has component nodes which connect with each other (for de-centralised architectures) or a central node (in decentralised architectures). Circuit-switching hard-wires the connections making it difficult to change if a new way of connecting components is required for new behaviour required during system evolution. Circuit-switched connections come in many flavours, but fortunately is easy to distinguish from Packet-switching which always enables easy tear-down and re-wiring of connections. Simplistically described message/event oriented connections tend to be packet switched. But words tend to mislead and one must be careful. The same type of architecture can be recursively present for each component among its sub-components. It is only when this kind of packet-switched connectivity is present down till at respective levels the core threads/processes basically switch messages of different aggregations, that one can really saw that the application is truely packet-switched. An IT architecture of this nature that is highly configurable and better suited for evolution, since new functionally can be grafted into the existing network with minor intervention.

With Machine-to-Machine communication and digitization, the flow of data in various industries will move from its current circuit-switched nature to a packet-switched nature. Circuit-switched data is less suitable for evolutionary changes, while Packet-switched data can evolve more easily to deliver the value that Circuit-switched data can provide and more importantly go beyond it.

There are different wireless and wired messaging technologies and protocols at different levels of aggregations. Various industries need to carefully design their respective message stuctures at various levels of these technologies and design the industy IT architectures at that level of aggregation in terms of configurable processing of these messages to achieve industry outcomes at that level. This needs to be done as an extension of the OSI model to higher levels of aggregations. It is only by doing it this properly that the complexity of the processing architecture can be made coarse-grained enough to be viewed explicitly enough to be separately made optimizable based on higher order observations.

In today's world, in the transportation sector, is there any justification for each moving transportation device (car, bus, train, plane) to not publish a stream of its geocodes? Actually every moving object inside the above device publishing its co-ordinates at each level with information being aggregated centrally makes better sense. Most industries have circuit-switched core data items unneccessarily. Packet switching location and other types of data can generate better value in most industries. With M2M and digitization, most industry IT architectures will evolve towards this by default

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Do we really have an option for avoiding a police state future in face of technology?

I have written multiple times on my blog about the invasive and pervasive nature of the Technosphere around humanity and how its invasiveness and pervasiveness is only going to increase. Long ago I gave a talk which started with the following lines from "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

I spoke about how

"Every War that was fought
Was once a thought that someone thought
And if he/she had not thought that thought
They would not have fought"

This was part of a debate at IISc on the topic "If you want peace, be prepared for war" and I was speaking in favour of the topic

Different partititions of humanity live in different thought streams. The barriers between these partitions have become porous. Many positive and negative assumptions are being questioned. This means a period of instability at the least till (and if) sense prevails overall and peace returns. In the interim, the risk that the periods of instability can escalate into near-extinction scenarios for humanity or quasi-war type loss scenarios for health, life and property.

I think I spoke with conviction that day and my speech was well appreciated. I spoke with conviction that day because I concluded with saying something that the Buddha himself has asked people to do. Unless each human wages war with himself/herself, the prospects for lasting peace for that person are low. I write about this in my song "Dhamma ahe Bhimrao Maza" which I sang in the following youtube link with one error. In this song towards the end, I talk about how people fighting injustice first need to fight and win battles with themselves before fighting external battles. There can be no lasting resolution of any significant problem of humanity unless each human fights the war within effectively. Based on my limited understanding of the implications of the Buddha's message, I think that the prospects for a lasting peace among all humans are remote, since getting all humans to fight and win the battle within is remote.

This might sound idealistic and academic, but considering that human thought drives human speech and actions and technology magnifies the impact of this speech and actions manifold, is it surprising if I am worried about the implications for peace among humans? I can see how dramatically minor mistaken/willful speech and actions spread like wild fire through human to human social networks triggering actions involving human-to-machine and machine-to-machine networks to all the networks connecting humanity. In the past, michief remained localised more easily, now nothing remains localised. As I think about the 13 billion hits on NDTV during Indian election results day and as I wonder about the number of billions watching/following the England soccer game in Brazil tonight, I can see that the nature of the distribution of humanities attention is changing. Driven by attention/TRP seeking media and varying degree of access to different technologies to different humans,the speed and diversity with which a thought in one part of the world can trigger speech and action in another part of the world has increased. The number of types of thoughts which reach each individual impacting his/her thoughts, speech, actions has changed. But it is not obvious that these thoughts have become more peaceful yet

I do not like Government to control social life too much, but given
1. The technological means we are placing with multiple people
2. The multi-farious direct/indirect reusability of these technologies into means for destroying health, life, property
3. The growing number of unintended/unregulated aspects of the usage of technologies
Do we really have an option for avoiding a police state future in face of technology?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How humanity is creating its own misery and how to stop creating more misery

Humanity (through government, public and private sectors) is making wrong developmental choices on behalf of living beings by only using financial value-add as a measure to compare between alterative ends. Such choices theoretically ought to get made based on the maximum longer term financial and non-financial value-add to the maximum number of living beings(through long term impact on living beings, their surroundings and their relationships).

Unfortunately these decisions get made more on the basis of short term tangible impact of the choice on the (sometimes sub-group of) local people, their relationships and their surroundings.

The foolish criteria of "cost of financial capital", which is used to guide investment decision making is hopelessly inadequate due to its miserable short termism and subvertibility. This measure focused only hides the selfishness in the intangible (non-financial at decision time, but strategic and financially relevant in the long term) impacts of investment decisions on living beings. In a highly interconnected world, where every individuals actions impact outcomes for all others, what is the sense in letting individuals, firms and government make choices based on whether they can fund the action cheaply with respect to the benefits they get (irrespective of the impact on other individuals, firms and governments and more importantly the environment and universe)? As humanity we need better mechanisms...

The capitalism of Adam Smith, which posits that self-interest constitutes a method of social organisation, around the current means of investment for production and the subsequent distribution of the needs of humanity is a bit flawed. Till all humans correctly understand their enlightened self-interest, Adam Smith's capitalism is vulnerable to subservsion by empire-building ignorant humans and groups of humans, who do not understand how their ignorance causes their own misery and that of the rest of humanity.

Potential solution

Trusting unenlightened humans or groups of human, without adequate education and training and sensitivity with the best interests of humanity is dangerous. Putting too much trust in systems and procedures to guard against the risk is not the solution.

There is a need to raise the purity of intentions, skill of implementing intentions and knowledge of how actions compare in purity and skill at all points of time.

There is need for more meritorious people at the top who get there through sequences of meritorious deeds, who actually think through the long term costs-benefits for maximum good and happiness of maximum people. And their allocative actions (i.e. choices of projects) can ensure allocation of right work and compensation to people who work on these projects, while keeping the longer term interests of these project staff too in mind

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Guerilla banking versus Gorilla banking: The potential of community-centric bank‏ing

Today the popular legal structure for large commercial entities is “publicly
ownership” along with stock market listing. While there are benefits of this
legal structure, their limitations are increasingly becoming apparent. These
limitations include

1. Agency problems
a. Managers stealing value from owners
b. Managers robbing Peter (one owner) to appease Paul (another owner)

2. Decreasing trust of stock market prices as representative of underlying

3. The stock market has allowed investors to "vote with their feet" on key
management decisions. But there is no known mechanism yet to enable
investors to increase their participation in operational decision making.

4. The mass ownership reduces the ability of firms to distinguish them
selves. Masses in human history have rarely understood complex value
propositions and so the stock markets have homogenized firms and made them
very short term focused

With rapid urbanization of the global village, customers want high touch
relationships. Given the level of anonymity and impersonal behaviours germane
to modern urban life, many urban communities are trying to create the
delightful community life common in rural areas. That enables them to
increase the quality and experience of life itself.

In this context, organizing retail financial service providers as
cooperative or mutual societies is better than organizing them as
proprietorship, partnerships or as the typical publicly owned companies.
Organizing this way allows retail customers to access financial services
customized to the community that they choose to be part of. We define call
such entities as community-centric banks. The benefits of knowing each other
help in improving the customers experience and helps in reducing operational
and financial risks, including agency problems. This operating and financial
efficiency is currently not visible in the stock market prices and hence
does not get the related hype associated with typical publicly owned firms’
at least yet. Nevertheless such community store-fronts are becoming
resellers of the financial services originated by the billion dollar gorilla
banks. It is one direction that global BFSI industry is evolving towards -
pushed by IT, customer preferences, financial efficiency and operational

The private/public limited companies or proprietorships/partnerships
nowadays were enabled by the older technological level of the world. Pushed
too far, we now have stock prices unrelated to underlying value, excessive
short term orientation by very short tenure CEOs. The hugely popular stock
market type of corporate ownership gives higher liquidity in exchange for a
short term orientation. The short term orientation creates most of the risk
management problems in financial service providers and complex algorithms
are a poor way of managing these problems. Secondly profits are removed from
the business periodically in this form of ownership.

IT can be leveraged in operations and risk management with higher level of
benefits and less number of drawbacks from the viewpoint of the customers of
community banks.

1. Profits are re-invested into the business. There is not need to pay

Community banks can use IT to leverage this inherent cost advantage against

2. Due to local nature and small scale, risks are lower and easier to manage
through operational relationship-leverage systems and procedures...rather
than over-dependence on abstract statistical models.

a. People usually understand the credit rating of their neighbours better
than those of people 2 cities away.
b. And statistics models can hardly be trusted in a continuously changing
world for any real and/or large scale decision making.

Essentially community banks are less risky and have lower cost of managing
risks, due to the above reasons - a significant competitive advantage.

3. Customer preferences can be aggregated and used to customize offerings
and operational procedures while preserving bank-end choice in the wholesale
markets. To preserve that choice, they have to operate like guerrilla's who
typically leverage their knowledge of their local terrains to fight against
larger adversaries.

This remains the key competitive advantage of community banks

The small and medium scale nature of this market makes it a delicious pie
that IT services companies could easily bite into...and leverage for rapid
growth. In many ways this is an idea whose time has come. In many areas of
modern life, institutions which are leveraging technology in ways sensitive
to the various stakeholders are becoming more and more like co-operative
societies. The NHS is a prime and recent non-banking example that I know of.
The travel industry has been like this for a long time now. In the United
Kingdom, we believe that the building society sector is best equipped to
become community banks and derive competitive advantage by leveraging
information technology to engage their target communities in a mutually
enriching pursuit of shared values going beyond money.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Free riders in the dalit movement

As I have described elsewhere, the dalit movement involves the daily struggle that dalits engage in the schools, colleges, farms, factories, offices, markets, whereby they rebel through excellence in their work to confront the prejudices. This is what the manifesto of the common Ambedkarite specifies as represented in the plethora of Ambedkar statues set up by common Ambedkarites all around the country. Essentially the Ambedkarite revolution involves rebellion through legally compliant excellent work under the constitution laid down by Ambedkar. There is nothing more needed to confront the wrong stereotypes burnt into the minds and hearts of many non-dalit Indians. It is by confronting these stereotypes that lasting social change will happen in India. Else we will merely have Gandhian token change. It is through such Ambedkarite excellence that the wealth of the dalit communities will expand and the inequalities with respect to the non-dalits will reduce. Essentially the common Ambedkarites will legally earn this wealth by growing Indian pie, rather than using non-ethical or violent means, which will be dangerous for India. The glass ceilings will be stressed through each stone (example) hurled at it by the common Ambedkarite with trust and sincerity of effort.

But as I mentioned above, there are free riding dalits, who do not want to engage in the above struggle to redeem the dalit identities in the eyes of remaining Indians, while solving the problems of the dalit community. These come in two varieties.
  • One category use benefits that their dalit identities give them under the Indian constitution, but hides this identity in later life, preventing the direct challenging of stereotypes that can result from the respective excellence that they achieve in their lives. I like to call them the Harijans. Some of  these Harijans do not achieve high stations in their life because they have fallen prey to the stereotypes about dalits, do not believe enough in themselves and do not try to achieve excellence which can cure their feelings of inadequacy which result from these stereotypes which they also believe. Other Harijans achieve high stations in their life, but do not assert their dalit identities in order to avoid creating problems in their respective social lives due to the negative aspects of these identities. This category typically uses "sanskritization" type of upward social mobility and denies any connection to Ambedkar and dalits. They are fanatic about compliance with their sanskritized identity and equally fanatic about rejecting their dalit origin.
  • The second category does not use benefits that their dalit identities give them under the Indian constitution and hide this identity in later life, preventing the direct challenging of stereotypes that can result from the respective excellence that they achieve in their lives. This category also tends to be Harijan and does not identify with Ambedkar.
I call both the above categories as free riders because both are potential beneficiaries of the revolution led by the common Ambedkarites but do not contribute to its success. After all, even if these two categories of dalits do not emphasise their dalit identities, there always are enough people who remain aware of these. These people feel that their sanskritized location in caste hierarchies are acceptable and they don't try to destroy the prejudices that this hierarchy derived on the chance of birth have embedded in Indian minds and hearts. It is the common Ambedkarites who through the manifesto described above will be destroying the prejudices that these caste hierarchies have burnt into Indian heart and minds. When the prejudices vanish, the matrimonial columns will depict this along with various other benefits that will accrue to all dalits (free riders included).

Mancur Olson described how rational choice meant that every social movement will have its share of free riders. Essentially every social movement pursues obtainment of public goods through collective action. But the very nature of public goods is that their benefits accrue even to those who did not participate in the collective action. There is an entire literature describing how individuals make the decision whether to participate in the collective action. My favourite example is Klandermans(1984).

The dalit movement needs to think hard about how to reduce the free riders by increasing the social pressure for solidarity as well as raising the profile of successful common Ambedkarites. As common Ambedkarites show case the ability to not hide their dalit identity and yet succeed significantly against prejudice in education, employment and enterprise, the number of free riders will reduce.

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. May his tribe increase... (A la Abou Ben Adam)

Pratap Tambay
A Common Ambedkarite.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Win win solutions to caste problems

Throughout history battles have been fought to control and impose
ownership over resources like land labor and capital. Those who win
such wars derive rents from their lower cost of utilising these
resources to generate profits and become more powerful over time due
to increase in their personal ownership over the total pool of land,
labor and capital. Competition tends to become less and less fair
for those who start late on the entreprenership. Innovation is the
only capitalistic tool to change the social ordering. The one who
manages to innovate best at least cost succeeds most in changing the
social ordering.
Most theories state that some kind of violent confrontations were
lost by dalits and the economic and social organisation imposed
over them by the winners impoverished them and marked the winners as
special aristocrats.The idiotic theories claims that dalits chose to
clean shit voluntarily and brahmins chose voluntarily to focus on
learning. These theories are not accepted by any sensible people.So caste based reservation was self awarded in the past by imposing
it through violence in the past.Now that we are in a democracy, the aim ought to make the playing
field level, so that dalit entrepreneuers have atleast as much shot
at changing the social and economic order by creating business value
through innovation. Secondly the objective should be to grow the
economy, else the battle of the ballot boxes will be limited to who
controls how much of a fixed size pool of resources or entitlements.
And if the incremental growth is distributed more to dalits, then it
will reduce the potential for violent confrontations and enable to
come to an equal level over time, without hurting the interests of
non-dalits.Hence dalits need to be involved and enabled in the creation of new
wealth. Investment in their education and in their enterprises will
create value for the whole society.That is the only win-win solution to India's problems. All the other
solutions are win-lose or enrich-impoverish solutions with potential
for violence.