In favor of online voting

After listening to some arguments against online/internet based voting I found most arguments absurd. Here are my views. (My views are subject to change as I gain more knowledge).

Invalid assumption about voting systems:
That such system should not depend on anyone trusting any other person/system.

Well, if there is an online system with such features, then I would prefer it than the one without it. But that does not mean this requirement needs to be satisfied to used for voting.

In human life from birth to death there are very very small number of things we do without trusting any other person. Our entire society depends on the trust in existing systems, people and entities. When I send say $10k  to someone online, in that process I trust 100s of entities(directly and indirectly) to do their work. If any of them do not do their work as expected, market forces will make sure they have -ve consequences and sometimes law itself will punish them.

Why should my vote casting process be any different? There is value to everything. At lease some number can be put to everything even if we don’t all agree on that number. So there is an amount of value for my vote to be secret (At least I can assign one), there is a value for my vote to be counted reliably, and there is value for my time for actually voting. There is a number to everything. And we take risks based on the numbers.

For example, if someone pays me $10k I would myself tell to whom I am going to vote, and I don’t even care if my vote is counted or not. Or I would travel 1000km to caste my vote.

Like this, every person already has a value assigned to their vote. It is only that no one is asking them, and no one is telling it. If the value is less than their inconvenience to go to poling station, people are not going. There is no other explanation for it.

Now once they have a value, how would this process be any different than sending that much amount online to some other party? There might be some differences on how you store or process this data, but it is nothing our computer science can not solve.

Some professor was arguing that you need to trust entire software stack that this system runs on. This seems to be a crazy requirement to start with.

I bet all politicians/govt officials are using some iPhone or Android phone for sure. If all the govt is already running on the software that is already partially trusted, what’s the issue with trusting the process of electing next one?

Also why not include some market forces to align with the expected result?
Why my online vote can not be insured? If someone hacks it, I get paid. Why not insure everything? I am sure they will come up with everything required to make sure that it does not happen.

Remember we all living because we trust. We will be put into mental institutions if you stop trusting others. There would be no way to prove that you are sane. 🙂

I am open to listen to arguments against my views. And I know somethings I said are not fully formed ideas. But they provide you an indication of what I am saying.

What kind of place I want to work at?

As my position at PurpleTalk as VP of Technology has ended, I got the opportunity to think what kind of place I want to work at. It is not an easy question for most of the people. We normally don’t think of it too much. When we join a new job, we see what the company is doing, if it fits our career path, then join else don’t join. That is how we normally decide.

As I have not worked in any company other than my own for major part of my professional life, I thought I am flexible and I can adjust. In fact I did. I did adjust a lot. But does adjusting means compromising your principles? I don’t think so. So I tried not to compromise on them, with say about 60% success rate.

Last month I was listening to a great podcast of Naval Ravikant and he said some thing related to honesty.

“I think honesty is a core, core, core value. To give you examples of what I mean by honesty is I want to be able to just be me. I never want to be in an environment or around people where I have to watch what I say.”

I absolutely recommend his podcast for any one who reads my blog. There will be some thing to learn for sure.

Immediately when I heard it, it went straight into my head. I thought about it and immediately decided that I need to act on it very soon. When you can not be what you are, and you are forced to act, is that worth it? I am sure you all agree that it is not.

But the question is we all do that every day. We all go to jobs, and at least some part of our job, we do act. We dont tell what we think, and we tell what other people like to hear, and we get uncomfortable(or get habituated) and come back. At the end of the day we get our salary, and we feel happy about it.

So how much of acting is worth. For most of us life is not a path of roses. We can not choose all our places of working, we all have to make compromises. If we want money, we need to settle of less than ideal working conditions. If some one else is paying, you got to do what they say. I understand it completely and agree with it.

But the major question remains, how much acting should we tolerate? Well, that depends on how lucky you are, and what your requirements are. Some how I got this question after 15 to 16 years of my professional life. I did not do acting while I am my own boss. And tried to do same even with my investors. I did make them agree too. But it is better to make them angry then cheat them with false hope/belief.

I think now I need to put an end to this acting once for all. And I think I can afford that price. Principles are free to take, but costly to maintain. Depending on where you are on your journey in life, you need to decide if that cost of the principles is good enough to keep or lose.

Thanks to one of my friend who referred me to “Ray Dalio“. Just watch couple of videos of  his. It is an extra ordinary organization which he runs. BridgeWater is a worlds largest hedge fund with 1500 employees. They operate based on “Radical Truth, and Radical Transparency”. Every meeting in the company is transparent(video recorded) and any one else in the company can see and question any decision and discuss about what is discussed. No one will talk about any person behind their back. So it is the proof that an organization can be built on truth and transparency.

Either I want to build such an organization, or I want to help other companies build it. Because I inherently believe in openness and truthfulness.

To summarize, here are couple of points that I want in my next place of work.

  1. Transparency
  2. Honesty
  3. Meritocracy
  4. More intimate relations with the people I work with
  5. Place where my skills can be put to best use, rather than waste my time in making a power point beautiful which most non-tech persons can do much better than me.
  6. Data driven decision making
  7. Where I can make difference to people’s lives. (Employees, or customers)


Meaningful Relations

I was talking to a Israeli women yesterday and our conversation went like this.

IW: I’m looking for someone Israeli. I’m a language person, so having a meaningful relationship in any language other than Hebrew would be odd for me. ​

ME: I wish you a good day before your travel. I know you are a language person. Actually that is what really caught my attention. I am trying to learn new languages. May be not spending as much time as I should be. I understand the fact that most of the times we prefer the people who talk in our native language. My native language is Telugu. Even though my English skills are not as good as my Telugu skills, I have found that I can have serious discussions and even talk about internal feelings in that English. I think it is just matter of habit. ​

And regarding the words ‘meaningful relation’. There can be so many interpretations possible for it. But I would choose some thing like this ‘a relation where you would be willing to allocate some time per week to just to be with the other person and do what ever those two people like to do together. May be talk about books, movies, ideas, or learn new stuff etc’. ​
One of the most valuable thing we all have is our time. And by allocating time for some one we are actually telling that they are worth that much. And we value the company the other person. ​
Do we want to spend all our time in life with one person whom we have sex with? I don’t think so. In my view there can be so many meaningful relationships possible at same time. ​
Just sharing my views, I hope you don’t mind. ​
Now actually I wish you actually find your Israeli guy(if you can not let that requirement go), and we can still look forward to the possibility of some other entirely different meaningful relation. 😀​

IW: Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I too believe that we can have several meaningful relationship. :-)​

ME: Now that you even said sorry to some one whom you don’t know and might never talk again, and clearly could have ignored, why do you think I will let you go with your excuse on that I don’t know Hebrew. Where will I find such a good person. 🙂 just kidding…. Am I? 😀​
Thank you, your acknowledgement made my day. I can spend rest of my weekend in day dreams. 😀​

To be frank I am not looking for a person whom I think will make me happy some day in future. I know the fact that happiness depends on us not the other person. I am looking for the experience of life. I was a husband, am a brother, son and engineer, some teaching, some entrepreneurship​, some student etc. These are all different experiences of life. There are infinite possibilities of them. But with our limited time we can experience only some of them. So why to limit our self to even narrow list? For example ‘be XYZ of a beautiful Israeli women’ what ever that XYZ is, does not matter how small or big that is. As long as it adds value(experience) to our life it is worth it. ​

I might sound desperate, actually I am. But not for one particular person or relation, but for a experience filled life. I think it is worth being desperate for. What we don’t have is time. Some experiences are not possible as we grow older. Even though I am aiming for 150 years. 🙂 still not enough. ​

The point here is not about how I am trying to impress this women. It is about “Meaningful Relations”. I have seen this word used by girls when they say in dating sites ‘I am looking for a serious meaningful relation’. Actually what they are talking about is a husband. But when we actually look our lives, all the people we talk to and all the people we like to interact, we see that except one or 2 people rest of all people are not life partners. They are parents, sisters, brothers, relatives, friends, colleagues, class mates, room mates etc.

What we like in each of these people is different. Some times you have a brother you never call, but you have a friend you always talk to. Or you have a relative never seen in life, but when you need they will help you. What we get out of each person actually depends on what our relation with that person. Some times we give that relation a name, but just because you gave it a name all relations with that name are not equal. What Brother or Sister means to you is different than what it means to me. The name of the relation is just a convenience to refer it when we talk. But the relation itself is much more than it.

But what people does not seem to understand is even the relation of Wife or Husband is also same thing. We are habituated to give names to relations and then forget that they are more than names.

Some people you want for having sex with. Some people you want to talk to your dreams. Some people you need to talk to your professional life, or etc etc. We don’t have to start deciding what each person is for to you until you both talk and decide. Some people can play multiple roles in your life. Why do we have to expect everything from single person say wife or husband? We know it does not work, and it is not meaningful.

Our relations are like colors in a color spectrum. Each one is different, unique, and scattered around on that spectrum.

I hope I have given you some thing to think about. If you have some thing to say about these, please reach out. I am happy to talk on these subjects always.


Why I wont stand for forced national anthem playing

First of all I am not a Patriot. I have clarified this long back here. And that is the reason I said “Indian National Anthem” not “Our”.

Here are some questions for those  who can actually think. (others: sorry I give up).

Consider you born in current Pakistan. So you will also be having your own national anthem. Right? And if they decided to play it in before the start of movies, you will stand up. Right?

If Yes: So for you it just does not matter that is being played, it just matters on where you are born. What about after your 25th year you went to China, And you married a Chinese partner. Now your national anthem is some thing different. So now you will feel pride for that song and land. Now after another 10 years, you came to India and you liked the place. You became Indian citizen. Now your pride and respect will be for this new song. Right?

If Yes: Now imagine that China and Pakistan has declared war on India, and war is going on in some controlled part of North East. Not a full war, but like Kargil. But due to some issue you are struck in China, and you are in some Chinese movie theater and their national anthem is being played. Will you stand up? And feel pride for Chinese song?

If Yes: Then you are just a robot without any of your own thoughts or you are just a coward who is just afraid what others will think and do to you.

NOW I am not a robot. And I am not a coward.

If No to any of the above, then you got to explain to me why not. How it is different than feeling pride and respect for one country vs 3 countries?

For those of you who feel pride for your country, can you explain why? What actually is pride? How many of you felt pride for India making nuclear weapons?(I did at that time, I know I was stupid then).  Just imagine that you are born in some other enemy state, (if there is one). Would you feel proud too? No. So all your reactions are based on something that is uncontrolled by you. Like your color, sex, religion and place of birth. People should feel proud only when they actually thought and did something for which they are happy for. I don’t think being born in India is what I thought of doing myself. It was just an accident, and I don’t have to feel proud for accidents.

Trump! Trump! Trump! WTF!

I thought of avoiding this subject till now. But due to increased presure while seeing FB posts, I was forced to respond.

Here is my question for those opposing Trump.

Why are you opposing Trump when he is actually delivering what he has promised in election manifesto? We all know him before election itself, what kind of person he is, and we all know what he will do if elected. But still you guys have elected him. If not you, may be your friends or other people in your country. So if you have anything to say, it is with those people who voted him. Also more than that you need to talk about those who did not even go to vote.

Some source tells me that they are more people did not vote than those who voted for Trump or Clinton. Also you need to question the system of election where some one can become president with this much opposition.

So stop talking about him or what he is doing. First talk about what made him come there, and how you want it to be fixed.

I am giving up: Closing Art of Programming

In March I have started Art of Programming training center. Now I have closed it. Sorry guys for giving up so early. I want to share some of my views on why I started and why I closed, and what I learned.

Why I started?

I have a guy in my office who finished Engineering in CSE and does not even know what a bit and byte was. It was shocking to me to know that people at such state can exist. And it happened that I found many many people in that state. A month before I started the Art of Programming, I have tried an different approach for training him in the office. It was actually simple one, just make him ask questions from every thing he does not know, try to force him to think that programming is all about logic, and what we normally do in real world we just have to do in code.

His state actually made me think that there can not be any one lower than that guy. I mean how can there be any one who can finish CSE  Engineering and still don’t know anything? So I thought if I can make him do programming, may be I can make any one do programming. In less than a month I was able to make him write programs and now even trying to make him take the responsibility of a complete product.

His progress made me believe that I possess a magic formula to train anyone to be a programmer. That started the idea of Art of Programming.

Why I closed?

I took too big office. I was too ambitious. Thought I will get 100’s of students as we ourself tried to hire and more than 400 people have written our tests. As many of them are in same state as the guy I mentioned above, I thought all of them will join. We thought we will not have enough capacity to serve the need. I know it sounds silly and stupid. But it was too late before I have realized the mistake.

Hardly 10 people joined. In that total paid students are 5 people. I was traveling 18km every day up and down and spending more than 400rs per day in just the travel. I was starting at 7:30 AM and after finishing at the training I was spending up to 8PM in office.

It was late to realize that it is not my magic formula that made that guy improve in the programming. It was not my skill. I have struggled every day with some students and almost made every one cry at least once.

Even those people who paid me are not rich or even middle class. Every one of them struggled to pay me that fee. They are really in need of the job, and somehow managed to find that fee to pay me. They really hoped that I could alter their life path.

Only after starting it, I realized how much burden it is to take that kind of responsibility. Every day and every hour it is like sitting on a needle. You can not punish the students for not thinking, shouting does not work, it is too much to expect them to do in some cases.

I have realized that I may not be able to help those students anymore, and does not want to create any false hopes in them. Also it may never be a business success if I run it in the way I was running. I have lost more than 5lakhs due to this program, and don’t want to loose anymore. So I have closed it.

What did I learn?

  • 20 years of bad education can not be fixed with in 3 months.
  • Do things in incremental way, at least when doing with own money.
  • Usual lesson: What ever can do wrong, will go wrong.
  • Students are lacking clarity of thought. That one guy was able to learn because he accepted that he don’t know anything and he was able to ask questions on what he does not know. Problem with most other students is that they don’t know what they know and don’t know. They are always in doubt.
  • I jumped in to the idea because it is what I always wanted to do. Made difference to people’s lives. I only thought about what a great thing it is to do. But did not realize how much it will pain when you can not help some one who is having great expectations on you.
  • It is very very very difficult to change the thought process of a person. (Only by luck it may happen, at least for me)
  • Not every one is capable of becoming a programmer. (Used to believe this before, but my false magic formula made me think otherwise)

Also it was so liberating for my mind to give up. I really enjoyed the mental peace after I made the decision.  I was tired of thinking of those students whom I was not able to help. It is not my responsibility now. Let their future be decided by their own actions or some kind of luck. I have really failed in this idea. So next time when I say I am going to change people, please remind me.

So what next?

It is just one of many ideas I got and tried to implement. I will still get many more ideas and plans. Only that this experiment taught me some good lessons. I hope I don’t forget them in future.

So may be it is okey to give up some times.

Charity should be voluntary, not coerced

[This is shame less copy of of the post by Atanu Dey. In this article ‘I’ means Atanu Dey. I do fully support this view.]

All actions of a just society should be principles-based. One of the primary guiding principles of a just society is that coercion is kept at a minimum. That is, people should be free of coercion from others, including the government. Certainly, a case can be made for why there will have to be some coercion — but that has to be reserved for matters that are essential for the functioning of society. For these matters, government coercion is justified for raising revenues required for funding certain activities. Examples of such matters are policing (to maintain law and order) and the provisioning of collective goods such as public access roads or sanitation, etc. Aside from those limited exemptions, coercion is not justified.

Coercion is absolutely verboten in the case of charity. Using force to extract revenues to fund charity leads to the absurd result of the means frustrating the end. What’s worse, it is immoral and unethical.

Of all the things that a bad government does is to coerce people into paying for charity that they would not support had they not been threatened with violence. It is not the job of the government to decide on behalf of the citizens who should pay how much for what charity. When the government arrogates to itself the right which properly belongs to the individual to decide how much to give to whom by way of charity, it robs the individual not just of the money but also of his dignity and freedom of choice.

I came to know that PM Shri Modi has awarded scholarships to some selected children. I am certain that it was very good of him to be generous with his money. It’s his money and he has a right to give it to whomever he wishes. But in case Shri Modi was handing out Indian taxpayers’ money, that is problematic. That decision is not his to make. There are alternate mechanisms. For instance, he could have appealed to Indians that they voluntarily support a fund for the said scholarships. That would not have involved coercion and the threat of violence (imprisonment for non-payment of taxes.)

Perhaps I am over-reaching here, though I don’t think so, but I feel that one of the reasons for India’s disastrous lack of prosperity is that Indian leaders are not all that concerned with principles-based actions. It is shameful.

I have argued the case for why the government should not be involved in charity of any sort in a piece “Whose money is it anyway?” Excerpt:

Of all the pernicious things that a government does, arguably the worst is when the government gets into the business of charity. That’s the kind that Mr Bunce took exception to. If politicians and bureaucrats want to support charity, they should do that with their own money, not the public’s money. They are free to contribute as much as they wish of their own money, and they should extend that freedom to everybody else. Let people decide how much they want to spend and on which charity.

I can honestly claim that I contribute to charity regularly. Why? Because I am moved by empathy and compassion towards my fellow beings. I not only receive the joy of giving without expectations of return, I also derive psychic satisfaction by exercising the freedom of deciding on whom or what I spend my money. I wish I had more money so that I could give more of it away. A favorite quote from Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet goes, “All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors.”

When the government takes my tax money to spend on what it considers charity, it deprives me of my freedom to give freely, it deprives me of the joy of giving, and takes away a responsibility from me that I treasure. What is worse, when I forced to do something, I resent it even if that something is something that I would have otherwise voluntarily done.

When the government taxes me to do charity, it is to me morally and functionally equivalent to someone putting a gun to my head and robbing me to help a poor person. Regardless of what the money is going to be used for, robbery is immoral and unethical.

Enough said.

4 things I want girls to understand

My friend asked me “if there is one thing you want girls to understand, what would that be?”, this post is answer to that question.

I don’t think we can generalize all girls. Every one is different. So the answer will be, “nothing”. But that is not an interesting answer, and most probably that is not what my friend is expecting from me.

So  I am changing the question to “What I want girls to understand”. Here ‘girls’ means most girls I have seen. And it is about my perspective. I don’t mean all girls need my advise. Well may be no one needs my advise.

I have 4 things that they should understand.

  • Stop listening to your parents and make your own decision like most boys. It is very unlikely that your parents are more educated than you, and more aware of current generation needs or aspirations. Even if they are, unless you are mentally retarded there is no way they can make better decision than you. Stop doing stupid things to satisfy short term needs and happiness of your parents. Your long term happiness is more important for them and for you. So please treat stupid demands of parents as such, and ignore them.
  • Stop treating your boyfriend or husband as a god given gift for you to fulfill all your needs in life. Sorry to disappoint you, that is not true. (even if god exists, I don’t believe he/she/it intends that). They are just partners. Every one have +v’s and -v’s encourage +vs and discourage -vs. Do your duty as an Individual first, then as a partner. Stop depending on them for every decision, be independent and make your own decisions. You can discuss your decisions or even make them in such a way that they consider other’s views also.  I have seen enough examples, and I can say for sure that an independent women will be more happy in long term.
  • Grow up, get out and do some thing. Stop sitting at home. Your husband does not need you 24hrs, if he does, may be he is just a kid. Your kids don’t need you 24hrs. I have seen enough families and I see no correlation between quality of character of a person to his mother’s hours of care. So just because you spend more time taking care of them does not make then better people. In fact I believe that it will affect adversely. Outsource what ever is possible. May be they will do better job than us. It is even good to earn x amount and spend all that X amount just to outsource what ever work you are doing.
  • Take care of your health. Your parents, or your husband or your kids can not return your health to you if you loose it for any of them. No one or nothing is more important then your health. Your house work is not exercise.

I feel very bad to live in circle/time where I know very less number of girls who follow all these 4 things. If you are following all these, then send me a message.

No special status for A.P please..

Some of my friends have asked me to sign a petition to PM for granting special status to A.P. This is my reply to them..

Mr PM and FM, please do not grant any special status to A.P. Not only for A.P such status should not be granted to any state. All these special requests are normally asked to create economic incentive for businesses to start in particular region. But the thing people don’t normally understand is that it is not just about the will of PM. Number of businesses in the country do not grow because of any such activity. They just move from one place to another. So by giving such status to any state, we are actually harming some other states near by. Well that is the reason such status is not given yet.

It is like farmers asking for subsidy. We give money from our total tax collections to some specific people. Take from some one and give to some one.

Why should other states allow it? If AP is backwards why no other chief minister raised that issue till now? Why did they not choose proper leaders for their region till now?

Why did they concentrated all the development in Hyderabad and leave the rest of the state with nothing?

Also there are much better and healthy ways to attract business. Why not make the state a corruption free first? That will make very easy for businesses to start and run. They will prefer a corruption free state than a corrupted state. How come CBN did not launch the corruption help line like Kejriwal did?

Also asking special status is not our right. It is like begging other states. I am not sure why do you want to do that?

If we believed BJP to give it as if it is their own Party fund, it is our problem. It just does not give us any more rights.

Anyway, this is my view. Feel free to disagree and share your views on why I am wrong. Happy to learn…

I vs i

From today i will stop capitalizing ‘I’ when i have to use it alone in the sentence. Because i like to break traditions which are not relevant to current ages. So i suggest every one to do the same.