Indian Politics & Corruption and possible solution

I was fortunate to have spent 14hrs with economist Atanu Dey on our journey to watch Great Solar Eclipse 2017. I got some interesting stories about India. Most of those stories are what we already hear from our known contacts. I will generalize some of them as follows.

Story 1: My friend has a transport company. He tells me that in order to get profit they have to transport some 40 tons per trip but the maximum they are allowed will be 25tons. So how do they do it? They just pay around 40k per month per each vehicle and no one will ever catch them and fine them.

Story 2: I wanted to travel from Pune to Mumbai. I go to that taxi stand and many people will be calling you to offer for the taxi. Once I bargained the trip for 1400 and get into one taxi. It happens that the one I bargained is not the driver. He is some middle man. He pays 1000 to the driver and keeps 400. We get to know that it takes around 500 for the gas/petrol and the driver can get around 500 for the trip. So why he paid 400 for the other person?

We know many of those corruption stories. After we listen to them we all used to feel that, those people are corrupt. Actually I think they have to do what they are doing in order to stay in job or to pay off the bribe they had to pay for getting the job. Every penny collected from the last man is split and distributed back to the top. Normal Citizen -> Police Constable -> SI -> SP -> DIG -> Home Minister -> Chief Minister -> Party President

We may not believe that every one in the system are corrupt. But if you apply basic economics we can easily derive these. Why will some govt employees agree to stay in jobs which does not fetch any bribes while some of their colleagues are making lot of money in bribes?

They don’t. The one who got the opportunity got it after paying lot of hefty bribe himself to be in that position. And that so on. That economic principle applies to every cycle there. Even the top people have to do it because it costs that much to get elected to power.

So because we make it so hard for a person without money to get elected, they need money and they have to recover it back.

I am in US now. So how is system in US works? in US there is no such corruption at the lowest level. It may be at the lobbyist levels and it is all public. No one is taking bribes here. So that is the difference?

The single biggest difference I find is that you don’t need permission to do most of the things here. For example if you want to build a house, there will be some regulations. But there is no permission required. You just follow those regulations and build what ever you want. Some one will come and will check it and give his approval. And even if he/she does not approve, they can not do anything. They can just report it back, and you can fight it in the court. They have to show that you did things against the regulations. Till then nothing happens. You keep doing your business.

I think removing all permission system in India and replace them with regulations is the best solution to reduce corruption. To keep the system running, they have to enhance the courts and need to speedup the justice system. So they will do it. And I think that is the solution.

I want a website where there will be all kinds of these problems(corruption stories) listed, and we explore the possible solutions to each of them. If any one is interested in such a site or if such a site already exists let me know.

Principles, rules and ethics

We all want to have good principles or ethics in our life. Some of us have not even thought anything specific on what these principles are and what those ethics we want to follow. It is okey, just because we have not defined them in some notebook does not mean we don’t have them.

One thing that I always believed and I am sure that most will agree that there is no absolute in this world. (Excluding maths and science I mean). You can not say something is absolutely good and something is absolutely bad. Most of the important stuff in this world does not have a proper scale to measure with. For example love, friendship, good, happiness, right or wrong.

But we do measure every day. Even in those things without the scale. Because even though we dont have a scale, most of the times we know where we are on the scale, and where something else is. Is it on the black side or the white side. Here Black and White are just example colors on the gray scale. May be White is divine love and Black is satan or something like that. I am just telling good and bad as an example here. But this same gray scale applies to so many things in our life.

One of the common mistake that I observed people doing is that they forget that it is gray scale without any markings. Some times we do draw line on this scale, but that is only to tell your limits. Those lines are not the units of measurements. Another common mistakes people do is that they think this gray scale does not even exist and some how their brain comes up with YES or NO answers to situations in which we would normally require to check where on this gray scale things fall and which is on left or right of our point of interest and why.

One recent example for this is, a discussion with a friend in Mexico. He is Eric. He has 2 dogs, and the discussion was where he should keep them when he goes to Europe for his trip. I asked simple question like how much would you be willing to pay for some one to take care of the dogs. To my surprise he said he wont pay anything. If you know me well enough you can guess what I might be thinking immediately. It actually means that those dogs are worthless to him. Well that is not the case actually. He loves those dogs. The reason he said he wont pay anything is because he has some friends who can give him favor to taking care of them. I have tried so much time in arguing and trying to make him say a number. He treats these favors from friends are un measurable and never says a number.

But we all know that reality does not work like that. Even though they are not measurable directly, there is always some thing to refer and there is always some number we can assign to it. That value may keep changing from time to time, but there will be a number. Because that if we have a friend who always asks for favors and never does anything to you, how long will he or she remain to be your friend? Not long, because our brain keeps measuring things. And we make the decision some day. But most rational way I see in those situations is, don’t wait for your brain to go into some kind of unknown chemical reaction and tell YES or NO. Make the measurement as and when you can, and realize the limits in which you want to be, and make the decision when limits are crossed. Don’t get angry or happy for these things. We can remove emotions out of our decisions if we can put numbers to stuff.

[I know that I started with a un measurable items and how telling about to put a number to things, well, sorry it is complicated].

One more important stuff I want to say is about Principles. I used to think I am a principled man. I think mine are good compared to say 99% of people. (all from my own perspective anyway). And I always wanted to act based on those principles no matter what the situation is. I think from 2001 to 2014 I am in this state I think. But things started to change much more in last 3 years. I used to hold firm beliefs. I will do some things, I wont do some things, some things are good and some things are bad etc.

But now I am more flexible. I realize that every thing is based on perception and I don’t make quick judgement on people or situations. If some one asks like ‘is X good to do?’ Previously it used to be YES, or NO. Now it is ‘Compared to what?’. I do still make the judgement, but only in comparison with other things.

I was discussing about one such principle with a friend recently. It goes something like this. “If friends A, B independently tells X some things, then X will never reveal those details to the other persons even if A is telling about B and B is telling about A”. I think it is very common principle that most of us follow. Right?

Actually it is not a principle, it is what we do without even thinking. We always talk about bad things about someone who is not present there. Change people, topics change to bad things about people who are not there. You can all imagine how bad these things are. We are all afraid of telling hard truths or our views to others, if we think it will hurt them. But does that mean we don’t hold that views? No. We do hold it, we just don’t tell it directly. And we need a way to let them out, so we all let them out when they are not in the room.

You might say that this above example is different than the principle I just mentioned. But I dont agree. What if the information that is shared is about some bad things about the other person? Where do you draw the line to apply the principle?

You might say that it is “Trust”. When some one trusts you, you have to protect that trust. Actually we can generalize it like this…..

If I say that I will do X, then no matter what I will do X. Just that that X happened to be “keep the secrets“. Right?

It is a very solid principle if you see. I used to believe in it, and I always thought I need to follow it. Fortunately I think I am little wiser now. And I believe this is a very bad principle. (bad in relative terms… don’t forget the gray scale ever).

What is the principle that I follow now?

What ever I am going to do in future is going to be what I told or at least better than that, and what is better depends on my own judgement at the time of making that judgement.

If you see, it just looks like “I will do what ever I want”. There is no absolute dependability on a person with such a principle. You never really know what I am going to do. How to trust a man like that?

Well, you still can trust me. But that trust is based on your trust on my ability to make proper judgements in future. If you think I will make better decisions in future, then make your calls on that. If you think I might make silly and stupid decisions in future, them use that info.

In reality there is no such thing as absolute secret. We always are ready to reveal secrets of others. But only if needed. Sometimes if is more valuable to keep the secret than your life. For example lets assume that you know that North Korea is going to launch nuclear missiles and it is told to you by a your trusted friend. Xe asked you to keep that as a secret. As if it comes out his life will be in danger. But a nuclear missile will kill 10000s, and you have to make a call if 1000s are more important or your friends trust or his life is more important.

If you are reading this blog, I hope you will tell that information to proper authority and let your friend die in order to protect 1000s. [If you don’t fuck of from this site.]

Now, if you see you can not trust most rational people. They will always tell your secrets, if there is a need. And that decision is made by them based on the situations. That is what exactly is what I said my principle is. I will do what I want to do.

The friend said that she choose that principle based on her experience. When ever she moved information from one side to another, she noticed that those A,B are actually became far from each other. Sounds good right? If you see from her decision, she wants them to remain close. That should be the expectation anyway.

But once you have made such principle and you got to know some information from A that if you do not share to B it is going to blow the relation between A and B. Now will you stick with your principle or you will stick with your expectation of your outcome of choosing that principle in first place?

I am not arguing about that one principle here. I am arguing about creating principles that make you act in ways that will defeat the purpose of the principles. Don’t limit yourself and future actions by the knowledge of the past. Let yourself evolve that is the only way forward. Just protect yourself from going down the ladder of wisdom.

Actually similar situation came with my investor in Vimukti. At one time, he said “you said you will do so and so, but now you are doing some thing else”. And to that I replied “Don’t depend on what I said I will do. If what I said does not make sense to do, I wont do”. Words might be different, but meaning is same. Ofcourse he hates me for saying that, and I don’t think he will ever forget that :-), and I am okey with that. I don’t want to create a false image about me. Let them know who I really am, good or bad what ever they think I am.

There is a English movie, in which a journalist goes to jail to protect the source of information. In that case the source is a small child. I liked that movie. Now thinking about topic, I really wonder what is she trying to protect.

Even journalists have to make decisions. Just presenting facts is not enough. They have to decide what is good and what is not.

Some times there are not just A, B. There might be so many people involved. Your decisions effects lives.