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.

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.

Let go of the ego

One of the things I am trying to learn is how to let go of my ego. There are various things in my life which I think I can associate with ego or some definitions of it.

Here are some scenarios where I think I used find it.

  1. When I know my idea is better than what some one else if suggesting.
  2. When I know that some one who is talking has no idea of what he is talking.
  3. When some one say to me that I am no better than any average guy. In what ever context.
  4. When I send a message to some girl and expect a reply.
  5. When a relative is telling about some one who earned so and so more than me.

May  be there are some other cases, but I don’t remember now.

It seems all of this are mostly related to avoiding failure, or not appearing as failure. I think there is a cultural problem in accepting and embracing failure in life. We believe too much in success, and we praise successful people too much, even if we know that most if it was just luck.

I think I have already addressed the last one(5th) in my character. Once you read enough, and seen enough, you will realize that what ever we got is already much more than what we need. Almost all the people I know are earning more than what they need. There are very less number of people who worked with me or I came across who are earning less than they need. But it is not too far to think they will cross that line soon. Some people cross the line faster than others. As my needs are less, mine is easy. Some people just keep pushing the line further, their wish. But in a way every one got what they need. Now after that how much you earn is of no value. Some one earns 30, some one gets 3, we do still see these as differences in their talent. But it is not. It is just pure circumstances. Why do we have to care how much one earns. I think we need to care is about what one is doing with ones life.

I still need to address the 3rd point. It needs constant monitoring of my thoughts in that heated moment. If I am self aware, then I take them light. But if I am lost track of my self, most probably I send to get upset due to the ego that always says I am better than average. If we are better or not why do we care. What difference will it make? I will keep working on this aspect. I need to be self aware as much time as possible. Meditation seems to be a good way to do it. Still in very early stage.

The main reason why I thought of posting this article is about  the 4th point. When I send a message to a girl and she does not reply, what do I feel. Do I feel hurt because of my ego? I leave it to your imagination of what kind of messages they are. Always imagination is much more interesting then reality. 🙂 right?

Yesterday I sent a message, I do send them even thought I know there is less chance of a reply. In that case why do I send them? Actually the point of this post is, why do I even need to care the reason for sending? Why can’t I send it without any regrets or feelings of ego hurt? To give you a clear perspective let me give you an example, You found a perfect girl/boy. You asked them for dinner. They gave you a ugly look and rejected outright as if it was foolish to even ask. Now what ever you feel is the one I am talking now. What is it? Is it ego? Do we get disappointed, yes. But that is not the issue. Can we dare to ask immediately next day? What is stopping us? Making yourself fools in-front of some one else? So what is the problem in that? Is not willing to make fool of yourself is not ego? Do we need to let it go? What happens when every is 100% willing to be fool at any time. What kind of world will it be? We all know it is not possible.

Now take for instance Dalai Lama. Can he make himself to be a fool in front of others? If he can not, does he really spiritual leader? It only means that he is still think what he is of more value or important then what he is when he is being a fool. Not sure how many people in the world can put themselves in such situations and come out of it without any feeling of guilt or angry etc.

I used to think people who does not value themselves are kind of stupid. Well actually now it seems the other way.

I am thinking I should let go of this feeling. Be stupid when ever I want. Let others think what ever they want. As long as we are not hurting anyone, I suppose this is okey.

What are the limits you can go to being a stupid or a fool?

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.

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.

Lets outsource that work too..

Purpose of life is to enjoy. Every day we find new ways to enjoy our life. If you are not doing that, please do so. For some of us doing interesting work is enjoyment. For some spending time with family is enjoyment. For some others it is to be with friends.  Traveling, Arts and so many other activities.  Each one of us are different, and we get happiness in different things. Being happy and enjoying life is the main task we need to do. I hope all of you are doing that.

While being busy in enjoying life, I some times face a problem. I believe most of you also face a problem like this. As I need to be happy, I try not to read things that makes me unhappy. Like tragedy news etc. Or even politics. I don’t read news paper. (Online or Offline). I don’t watch news in TV or any site. I try to keep me as much occupied in other stuff that brings me happy. But some times I have to face the reality. I may notice some people who are in need. Some things which are sad to read, but we still read. About some sad stories, or people looking for help. It is our human nature to feel compassion. We may not be 100% altruistic. But we all feel sympathy for others. We all feel that we should help them.

But for me this feeling that I have to help others comes at the cost of enjoying life. I may enjoy helping some people. But in most cases what needs to be done to help others is too much effort for an individual. So we all try to ignore the problem, as we feel we can not help. I believe in a view where it is not Govt duty to help others. [More info on this view is here] It is the society that has to take care of the people in need. Even though I enjoy every day, some part of my mind keep feeling guilty for not helping others.

Like me all of you are busy with enjoying your life and you should be. And I believe you might also have that guilty feeling. So I believe there should be a better way for us to help others. A way which will remove that guilty feeling from us. A way which is much better than an individual like you and me doing things.

So I came up with this idea. Every day we outsource things which we can not do to others. We pay others to do the work for us. From online shopping to Hair Saloon, that is what we do. We anyway do it in IT. That is what total economy runs on, outsourcing. So lets outsource this work also to some other entity. Some one who can do better than us.

We create a Trust/Fund/Society/Non Profit Company. We outsource the work to that entity. We donate/contribute/invest some part of our earnings to that entity.

Since the start in 2001 more than 200 people have worked in Vimukti. For most of you it is your first job. I believe almost all of them are well settled now with some rare exceptions. So I thought we can create this entity with all of us joining in this.

To see if people are willing to do, I asked my existing Vimukti Employees (around 15 as of now) to see how much of their current earnings they want to contribute to this idea. The answers I received are really surprising to me. They are willing to contribute from 1% to 4% of monthly salary. This is a very great news. After seeing that response I decided to write this post.

Here is the plan.

  1. We will create the entity (Society, Trust or Non Profit Company will be decided after discussion).
  2. We will set up site, accounting rules, rules of operation and transparency systems.
  3. We will donate some fixed % of our monthly salaries to this entity. (We will try to get tax free status).
  4. We will select a team, hire employees and let them do the work.

I don’t have a name for this entity yet. I want every Vimukti employees (Ex or working) to participate in this. Outsiders also welcome if you don’t have other outsourcing entities 🙂 . Please submit your interest at with how much % of your salary you are willing to donate. I believe it should be %. So think through it and send me your % number. Once I receive from every employee, I will start the work on this.

Will be waiting for your 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…

Political Party Management System

We have started building a software called PPMS (Political Party Management System). This is developed on our Ecgine Platform.

The purpose of this software is to take advantage of technology to create a transparent environment for party members to work together. We want to embrace complete openness in the party and also in the development of this system.

We have hosted the project at GitHub

Issue tracking, Wiki and every other feature provided by GitHub will be used. We need lot of support and contributions from every one interested.

This software can be used freely by any political party in any country. We will provide complete free license to Ecgine servers and even willing to host the servers in our (Ecgine) cloud infrastructure for free.

Fork it and lets discuss what features you need and how we can add it into the system.

Hudhud donation, why I may not be doing it

As of now I have not donated for relief of Hudhud affected people. After hearing that Bill & Milinda Gates Foundation donated $700,000 for Kashmir Flood Relief I thought if he donated for problems in India then at least we also have to donate. Then I donated through PMNRF After that I also have donated to Doctors Without Borders for Ebola relief.

People are more or less manipulated by feelings. If they see the problem nearby they will respond. If they see the problem at very far (take Kashmir Floods or Ebola in Libia etc) they don’t connect with them. They don’t respond.

I have seen many people asking to donate to HudHud relief funds. It is very good they have seen the problem and extended their generosity.

I believe I should concentrate my ability(which is very limited as I am not taking any salary) to help others for long term issues and also for issues where response from others is missing or delayed. I do not mean my contributions are better than others. I am just trying to help on a different area.

I have seen some of my friends planning to donate their Diwali Cracker spending on HudHud reliefs. It is very good idea.

May be not just for this time, I request them to do it every time. There will be some kind of disaster some where in the world. Why it has to be only in your state? Why not other states? Why not other countries? I suggest to keep making your circle big. Step by step. Be a global citizen. Citizen of humanity. May be you can extend it beyond that too, (then you will become Budha or God I think)…

Open Minds

Some one said that one of my biggest strength which is “being open” is actually one of my weaknesses. When talking to some one I find myself always more open than the other person, and I actually enjoy being open.

I express my feeling or views in much open way as possible. (Except some special crushes). And I was informed that people do hate me for it. Even though I don’t think I will be changing anything anytime soon, I still wonder what is wrong with telling things frankly?

I don’t normally keep my views about something secret just because in future I may need to withdraw those views for financial or other benefits. I don’t lie in personal life because of my business needs.

By being open and by telling my views on things which many people don’t want to talk, I actually want to create a barrier for myself so that I don’t ever have to stand on the other side of my views. If I don’t express my views on say ‘X’, then some times I can say “X” is good and some times “X” is bad when ever needed. But by expressing them in public, it creates a barrier to jump from one side to other side.

I do keep some things out of this blog. But that is not because I don’t want to talk about them, but only because people who may see the blog are not ready to tolerate/handle/understand them.

Note: I have closed comments in this blog, if you want to send your views, use social media or mail.