Life at 26

26 is a confused age to be in. I wanna stay a kid, but I wanna grow up as well.
Independence, financially, mentally and emotionally, is a constant target at the back of my head, yet I’m expected to be dependent, by society, on parents, friends, relatives and in some time, on spouse. So the time gap between being a child and being a ‘responsible’ adult, the phase where I’m just an adult taking his own decisions, is marginal.

Getting older won’t necessarily give me more clarity, as I’ve very clearly observed in my case. I had a lot more conviction at 15 and 18 and 21, than I have now. Probably experience has taught me to be more careful and cautious, but it’s not something I’ve yet adapted to. Probably there is still some life left to kill.There’s a want to excel, but a need to be myself, maybe a little different from others, departing from the usual meaning of excellence. But since I’m in a confused age and haven’t yet been able to clearly define my meaning of excellence, I feel like I’m following a well tread path. There is a comfort in knowing how the path goes, deriving benefits from my predecessors’ experiences, but there’s a desire to run away from this comfort. To create my own path. But while I have a silent confidence in my abilities to carve out such a road, there’s this doubt if it is the flip side of ignorance. There’s the societally embedded fear of failure since the stakes are higher every minute.

A person like me, who thrives on clarity of thought feels a little confused at 26. And since confusion is many times a precursor to great things, sometimes I start doubting my dependence on clarity.

This is the Sciolist.

Signing Out!!!

Sony and Steve: The Genius and the Whim

So I recently finished reading this awe- inspiring autobiography, Made In Japan by Akio Morita who is a pioneer of technology and who co- founded Sony Corporation with Masaru Ibuka. Fortunately, I read this novel on the back of another remarkable biography by Walter Isaacson on Steve Jobs! Being a tech- freak, it was an enriching experience to peek into the lives of two of the greatest contributors to modern technology as also two giant corporations which have transformed electronics, music, media, entertainment and information industries.
MORITA
Personally, I have been a Sony man and a Steve Jobs’ fan since a long time! After reading these novels I understood how acutely different Steve and Akio were! While one was an unwanted progeny of a young couple, the other was the oldest of four siblings in an affluent Japanese family and a successor to a thriving family business. While one dropped out of college, the other was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Navy and served in World War II! While one stole the thunder from the true creator of the first Apple computer- Steve Wozniak, the other governed Sony under the adroit guidance of Masaru Ibuka. Frankly, no two individuals could have been more different than Morita and Jobs!
Founded in 1946 under the name of ‘Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo’ (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation), Sony Corp. became one of the fastest rising electronics companies in the post- World War II open market era for Japan. Sony was at the forefront of innovations through the 1950s till 1980s. The magnetic recording tape, the tape recorder, fully transistorized pocket- sized radio, world’s first transistor television, floppy disks, Walkman, Discman, PlayStation are only a few amongst a diaspora of products. Apple on the other hand arrived on the horizon much later, in 1976. With its initial slew of Apple I and Apple II computers, Apple carved a market niche, but however, could never become the market leader. Facing tough competition from IBM and Microsoft in its formative years, Apple managed to reserve an exclusive space in their customers’ minds due to its single- minded focus on closed- source premium products. In the last decade, Apple’s name has been synonymous with innovation. The iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac and iTunes as revolutionized today’s technology. Apple products hold a snob value like no other piece of technology does.
These two biogs made me realize how the two giant organizations have treaded down a similar path over their life cycle. Frankly, I feel Apple has picked up Sony’s thread. Sony’s decline began in mid-1980s whereas Apple Inc. rose to fame at around the same time. Apple has imbibed Sony’s traits of aesthetic design, quality products and a venery of premium market space. Also, both corporations firmly believe in end- to- end integration of all their products! Likewise, the departure of the founders had cataclysmic effect on the fortunes of the respective companies.
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However, as they are similar so are these two corporations poles apart! The DNA and ethos of Sony and Apple emanates from the leadership of Morita and Jobs respectively. Apple is more a capitalistic company where the ideas flow from top down, whereas Sony followed a more democratic team culture where the average employee had a firm voice the organization. Sony cultivated a cohesive, value based and harmonious framework whereas Apple thrived on individual excellence and drive from hierarchical echelons. Undoubtedly, the hemispherical divergence played a big role on their leadership styles, however, the basic difference ascends from the singularity of those individuals. Morita’s family orientation and Jobs’ adopted youth are evidence enough for the disparate directorship.
The paradoxical similarities between Morita and Jobs and Sony and Apple has brought a paradigm change in the world of technology. The detailed accounts of the condescending brilliance of Jobs  and the value oriented genius of Morita in these biographies profoundly emphasize the importance of having a vision and believing in your product. The pathway to success may be different, but keeping an assured goal and intelligently labouring toward the same is the only sure route. Made In Japan and Steve Jobs are definitely two of the best novels that I have ever read of two of the greatest visionaries that our world has ever produced! And probably shall ever! Sony and Steve: The Genius and the whim.
In reverence.
This is the Sciolist.
Signing Out!!!
(The above blog was published as an article in E-Magazine Mentor Mantra. To read the magazine version click here and flip to page 28.)

PRIVACY INFILTRATION. AN UNNERVING APP IN THIS AGE OF APP STORES.

So the other day I read this bizarre news that a lot of Apple applications access as much as your intimate contact information without the knowledge of the phone owners. Just a few days back The New York Times ran an article on how companies store your email address or credit card number and then track every time you use it so that they understand what are your purchase preferences, your tastes and your favorite stores and so on. Take the Daily Mail’s article on this whole Target Corporation pregnancy matter.  Based on the purchases a teenage girl was making, Target found out that the girl was pregnant. The astonishing part is that the girl’s father had no clue about the issue [Pun intended!! :)]. We are thus witnessing (and maybe unknowingly victimized due to) an unfortunate and inopportune upsurge in privacy invasion by the cold- hearted and ruthlessly commercial merchandisers. And all this is being done in such an incognizant manner that the user/ customer/ owner is completely unaware of their infiltration!

It is an abysmal situation where people are totally ignorant about the possible damage that this type of sabotage can lead to, let alone the sheer magnitude of the deleteriousness! I have no idea whether you know this, but everything you do on the web spider leaves a trail. And remember, someone is always tracking. For example you like something on Facebook or post it on Twitter or +1 it. Well, they know. They know what you like. They know what you read. They know what you post. And they create a sort of ‘info- store’ where a treasure trove of all your likes and dislikes are archived! Have you ever read all those ads under the head ‘Sponsored’ on your Facebook home page?? If you remove this advert then you are asked a ‘Why do you want to remove this?’  sort of question with 6-7 different option of reasons. They say this will help them provide you with better services over time. But what they do not say is that they will use this data feedback to form a data arcade and then shall come out with customized advertorial content for you. Age- specific. Taste specific. They are just like those sales- personnel knocking your door! Or those spam messages and phone calls you receive from credit card and insurance companies. Just like you don’t wish to give them your personal details, your savors etcetera, why should you give it out to a social networking site whose storage depository is more prone to a sabotage; that which is a hacker’s paradise?

My problem over here is not limited to the few brutal business barons who suck such sensitive data- keeping their consumers in dark for the sake of gaining an edge over their competitors in the name of ‘serving the consumers according to their preferences’ sort of nonsense; my problem is with the entire corporate attitude where they want to preempt what their clientele may require and then bombarding them with promotional vagaries in largesse so as to fill up their pockets with an almost monopolistic ease! These people are taking ‘customer loyalty’ to an hitherto unimaginable and socially detrimental levels where they tend to brainwash consumers by continuous advertorial pitches and blatant plagiarism! My problem is with the blissfully ignorant consumer base for whom privacy policies are still the cliched Greek and Latin! These consumers (which very naturally includes you and me) have to be more aware of their rights. And surely what is at stakes!

If what I am saying is sounding ludicrous, give this a thought. Why do you get spam in your mailbox? Because some unknown person with mala fide intentions has access to your email id. Assuming that you yourself have not given your mail id to such person, it means that they have received this information from the sites that you use!! And now imagine which accounts are attached to your e- mail id? Your bank accounts?? Your corporate data?? Your cell phone number?? Arguably, some important parts of your personal, academic and professional lives are stored on your mail box. And there are many ways in which this data can be manipulated to give you grief. And if this falls in the wrong hands it can be used to cause unbelievable levels of trepidation (which it already is!).

Who knows, in the next few months probably our text messages, our IMs and our on phone conversation may also be read into and stored by these mongrels. It is high time that we do make sure that our smart phones and tab- pads behave according to our choices. And for that we need to be aware. We need to read the privacy policies, keep ourselves updated about the latest deficiencies observed in the tech world. At least those associated with our devices or the sites on which we are registered. And it is not that difficult. Just find the right site and get a RSS Feed from there. They shall keep you constantly updated about these issues. Remember, just like you try and safeguard all your properties, the same way even your virtual property has to be shielded and armored.

Hoping that Privacy Policy and not Privacy Espionage is your new ‘App’.

This is the Sciolist.

Signing Out!!!

Tit for tat- Whether an amenable solution?? – My thoughts…

(Please note that in this blogpost I am elucidating my views on the more customary or generic meaning of tit for tat. Along the lines of an eye for an eye; and not the tit for tat strategy or I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine corporate regimen.)
                           
So a very good friend of mine put forward this seemingly toothless question where a simple ‘yes or no’ would have sufficed his inquisition. Frankly, if I were to answer that question, which I unfortunately immediately, spontaneously and thoughtlessly did; I would and did say a yes. Obviously, being who I am, I am surely be ready for the ‘eye for an eye’ treatment. So I thought that’s the end of that. Question answered. Chapter closed.
                 
But then, after almost three hours, the fathomage of the question struck me! I mean, is tit for tat really the solution? For our day- to- day petty mishaps it seems like the perfect quick fix. I mean, someone pokes you and you poke back. Someone slaps and you snap back. Someone cuts you while driving, you throw cuss words, have a bit of verbal jousting, cut him and well, that’s over. But then, probably, for our mundane circadian matters, tit for tat really isn’t that. Its more of a mere retort than a blatant rebuttal. Its more of a repartee than offensive comebacks. However, if this is true and acceptable on an individual level, can the same be said about it on a communal level? So say America wrongs India in a certain way, should we pay them back in kind? Or should we try to chalk out conversations and esoteric discussions so that we find a way out. Obviously, now the choice shall be the latter as the stakes are higher. Thus we see that as the provincial parties as well as the magnitude of the situations change, the contrivance resorted to also undergoes a revision.
           
For me, tit for tat becomes an issue of the kind of riposte it is. I mean, the problem with it is that principally, it should never be used as an offensive or an avenging response. Vengeance should never translate into any action. However, if it has been used in defense, then we may be able to justify it. I know all this sounds ludicrous, but those who give it a thought shall realize that there is a paper- thin line of demarcation between the two, even if the aftermath of the two shall be pretty much the same. Obviously, many would say that war is abominable in the first place, whether you initiate it or respond. True. But the intent after all is what separates earth from sky! Oft, giving back what you get remains the only possible alternative, which should then definitely be put to practice; but it should also be remembered that it is an avenue of last resort and not a resource of first employment.
         
People should surely use an iota of discretion before actually giving back what they get. It is inopportune that we are living in an era where patience, tolerance and one- to- one discussions are becoming gold-dust. Obviously, people will want to reimburse the apostates in the same cruel ways that they were paid, but I believe that a resolving dialogue should be indulged into before actually turning the tables. Thus, if now someone asks me to answer the question, “Tit for tat- Whether an amenable solution?” I would say, “No. An intractable solution which should be used on advisedly amenable occasions!”
        
Hoping that people do use their heads before their hands.
         
This is the Sciolist.
          
Signing Out!!!

THE SATANIC VERSUS THE LENONIC. SO DEMONIC!!!

What is common between Jay LenoSalman Rushdie and Jeremy Clarkson??? Amongst the other obvious things (like being aged celebrated figures), all of them have been asked to officially apologize to Indian public in the country and all over the globe!! And that too for infinitesimally small reasons which quite frankly should have been ignored. Our government has long been resorting to swords where a blindfold should have been used. One more example of the same would be the ‘official’ people driving out M. F. Hussain saab.                                                                   

                           

I think it would do us well at this stage to ask ourselves, the common people, are we really offended by some juvenile comments? Also, do we need to be offended by (with no disrespect to the artists) essentially a stand up comedian who sells his soul for drawing a laugh or writer who is putting down his views?  If I were to answer that question, I would respond with a belligerent and unyielding ‘No‘. Unfortunately, to get that kind of an absolute answer from 1.2 billion Indians is an irrealizable and an insurmontable task. More so because of the subjective nature of the question. Not to mention the various theological sinuousness it involves! But whichever way the answer goes, I believe its absurd for the Indian government to get involved in all these matters. I mean, the issue is not concerning the Indian state in anyway. Its not encroaching upon India as a republic, secular or a democratic state, nor is it judicially or legally deleterious in anyway. Agreed that for some it has a religious mordancy involved, but it should strictly not be handled by the government.

                             
History has long displayed that sadly, whenever there is a question of religion involved, there are always accelerated and juiced up emotions gushing around. See, we have three areas of concern here. For the people who answer the above inquests with a positive, there is a deep need of a catharsis. People need to be more liberal. We need to broaden our mindsets. India is the largest democratic state in the world. We really need to banish such conservative proclivities. And if even liberals feel that their religious sentiments have been offended, and if they wish an apology from the delinquent, then they must come up with a different channel, someone other than the government. Firstly, as I have fore- mentioned, the government has no business in this predicament. Secondly, if the aggrieved are demanding an apology, I expect, that they expect the offenders to be remorseful. Whether pressurizing them into an apology using the heavy hand of the Indian bureaucrats is going to serve the cause, is questionable. Obviously, such an apology is no testament to the contrition of a guilty mind; actually, its much the opposite. The offender is under duress and the now self- reproach is a meaningless attempt to save face. Instead, it would be more eloquent if recourse is taken to premier religious bodies. This would ensure that both a chivalrous as well as staunch demand for indemnification is made.
             
The second area of concern would be the death threats that these so called wrong- doers have to bear. The extremists actually go to the length of threatening these exemplars and driving them out of the country. Just today Times of India ran an front- page article on the atrocities that Taslima Nasrin had to face. Its the same that M. F. Hussain saab or Salman Rushdie had to face! I understand and sympathize with the people who are religiously agonized! But then, which religion preaches harm to human life? Aren’t the people who give these death threats in the name of protecting or reacting to an attack on their religion themselves making a mockery of their own sacrosancts and praxises? The afflicted should demand apologies from these ill- hearted fascists!
               
Thirdly and lastly, I would like to reiterate that we need to be liberal about these religious issues.  Its reproachful that we cannot tolerate petty comments on our beliefs! What is a belief in absence of tolerance? Accepted, that one of the core fundamentals of a secular existence lies in religious tolerance. But remember, both religion and tolerance have equal weight-age in the same. We need to be more tolerant about all these issues. And more importantly, we need to channel our energies towards more significant and urgent issues on hand! If people really want to fight against something, there are millinery other issues, for which the GOI has to apologize to the Hindustani janta. Kasab has still not been convicted, crime against children, women and old is still on the rise, farmers are still committing suicide, girl child is still banished, the common man has no faith in the safety and the security measures taken by the defense system. The list goes on and on. Why don’t we demand an apology from the politicians and the Indian Government? Definitely these issues hurt us more than some firangi comment or some novel! The taxpayer’s money is at stake here. So are his safety and sentiments. Why do we show apathy in issues where we need to raise a voice? Mumbai bounces back after bomb- blasts. Bullcrap. We bear this almost every year. Why so? Why aren’t these issues  taken up by the same fervent politicians and individuals who otherwise demand an apology from these artists? Indifference. Apathy. Stoicism. Not the spirit of Mumbai. Not India shining. That is the hard truth. I feel, thus, that there is a need of an expurgation. We need to direct our staunch beliefs in the right direction. The Satanic Versus The Lenonic do not afflict our lives as much as these demonic debaucheries. After all, it is a question of our  faith, solitude and existence.
             
Demanding an apology for all this lassitude.
          
This is The Sciolist.
            
Signing Out!!!

Does God exist? – My shot at the answer.

Well, most of the readers would reply, “Obviously He does, stupid” and leave it there. Some would attribute adjectives like unnecessary, irrelevant, nonsensical, heterodox to the question, call it names and leave it there. Some would feel that it is a germane question, one that deserves a thought, but still leave it there!! But frankly, how many people have actually given it a thought?
    
From nascency, most of the children grow up believing in the existence of ‘The Supernatural Being’. Never once questioning His existence. Never having second thoughts about it. The reasons for this behavior are simple enough. People who generally do question, are admonished, told off, heavily advised to mend their anomalous ways by their grandmums and sometimes down right banished. Secondly, when the entire tree gives you oranges, can you expect a branch to give you apples? Thirdly, and most likely of them all is that people just do not want to get into an uncomfortable position where they have to answer a millenary more questions.
    

Nevertheless, frankly I  do believe that asking the question and more importantly, answering it is imperative. To answer that however, one has to ask another fundamental question. WHAT OR WHO IS GOD? An immediate answer would be, ‘the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe’. Probably the above image, if it is ever possible to do that, best defines Him. The Supporter, The Shelter, The Genesis to Growth. But do people even begin to fathom what that means and above that, implies! Out of a myriad of other things, it implies that there was ONE Being at the start. So, which one was it? Deva? Allah? Jesus Christ? Obviously, believers of different religions shall have their own deity at the genesis of the genesis. People shall also say that Almighty is One, and these are mere names given by humans following divergent, yet, to a certain extent, over- lapping religions. I do not in anyway intend to inaugurate any religious spat, but the question that now arises is, WHY GIVE DIFFERENT NAMES TO THE SAME ENTITY? Why have different customs, different principles in accordance with the religions? Probably someone shall argue saying that if we can have different languages, why can’t we have different names? But then that’s being myopic. The greater picture here is the disparity between the multitude of traditions and sacraments that the world follows.
   
Without getting into any kind of canonical debate, I would like to present my perception of God. For me, God is synonymous to HUMAN FAITH OR HUMAN TRUST. We humans are emotionally weak beings. We fear the unknown like we fear the future, sorrow and death. We are in perennial need of inward backing and support. And God is that support. People have faith in God. In His justice. In His compassion. In His empathy. In His unwavering love. They pray to Him to alleviate all their sufferings and lead them towards the path of happiness, peace and contentment. They trust that God will grant their wishes. They try to live an ideal life. Follow principles. They have faith that God will do no wrong to an honest man. Is this not true, I ask? And if you believe, WHO ARE YOU TO SAY ANY DIFFERENT?
    
But then, the idea of God; does it not seem to be the congregation of all the good, all the bona fide, all the morals in the world? Is it not the concomittance of all the virtues which have been metamorphosed into folklore and holy conventions? And frankly, very frankly, are they needed? Is it necessary to follow some religion? To have faith in the unseen? Is it not possible for humans to be good, honest, ethical, chaste and virtuous of their own accord? Can’t the trappings of the rituals be done away with? I am of the stern opinion that humans are unequivocally capable of adopting all the above attributes without resorting to the cloud of a religion. After all, faith in one’s family, one’s comrades, one’s fellows akin to faith in the Almighty. Truly, the world is just the aggregation of the behavior of all the people that inhabit it. If we do hold to our values, then is the IDEA needed?
   
I believe, that it is us, humans, who created the concept of God, and not the other way around!!! We took all the love, all the care, all the happiness, all the contentment, all the niceties, all the good that the world has to offer and transformed it into an idea- an idea so vast, so magnanimous, so all- conquering, that few would question its validity. We created a Being that is perfect, all- knowing, over- powering, and quite frankly, supreme to all us mortals. We gave Him characteristics which are ideal, which not just circumvent the blacks and whites on the chess board, but actually rule the play, and which I can candidly say, we felt, we lacked. And is this so hard to believe? If humans exercise the ability to create entire religions, sects, customs, traditions and the commensurate, is it so difficult to believe that WE ourselves have created the idea of God? After all, if everyone does agree that Almighty is one, then surely, the names, the rituals, the praxises are all a figment of human imagination which, due to the widespread dissipation, has grown into an all- encompassing tree! Because, the One God would have suggested only one path of living, probably constituting all the above- mentioned moralities and more. We were the ones, however, who institutionalized these into sacrosanct precincts.
   
Now, above all, one question remains, belittling all others, demanding an answer from all of US. Can we vanquish our fears; can we put faith in OUR ABILITIES and ascend to higher grounds – without aid from the invisible? And I think the time has now arrived that we give this question a thought. We need to be captains of our souls now. We need to tread our path of living by being apprentices of our own minds. As God maybe NOBODY, but surely, God is US ALL.
Hoping I have given all of you some question to ponder upon. And further that I have not offended any of your sentiments.
   
This is the Sciolist, offering a thought.
   
Signing Out!!!

A sparkle in the eye – Rahul Dravid’s speech at the National War Memorial

So The Bradman Oration 2011 was orated by Rahul Sharad Dravid. That he is the first non- Australian to deliver his speech on such a prestigious occasion speaks volumes about the man- THE WALL, himself. It may be noted that it was not Sunil Gavaskar or Kapil Dev or Sachin Tendulkar who delivered the speech. Probably they may do it in the coming few years. But as we as a nation revere and sometimes even worship our firsts, this is one first that surely we all should be proud of.

Jammy, as he is fondly known to his team-mates, was a bit jittery, finding himself on foreign land, just like he is at the genesis of any of his batting innings; in the first ten minutes he shuffled from one foot to another, like he does with his back and across movement when he comes in. But as he settled in, he was at his fluent best, laying stroke after stroke, caressing the audience with the mere expanse of topics that he covered, just like his vast repertoire of shots.

Over a better part of the hour, Rahul enthralled the audience at the National War Memorial and all over with not only the matter included, but also the earnestness and the chivalry with which the speech was delivered. I personally feel that cricket cannot have a better ambassador, for Dravid embodies the fundamentals that the game possesses and thrives on! A gentleman to the core, he took us from the appositeness between India and Australia, from the times of the British rule to the youngest progeny of cricket – the T20, in a way that few other would have been able to achieve. He drove home his views on betting, issues faced by various formats of the game and also the colored vision with which the world watches Indian Cricket Board, and to a certain extent, India as a whole. No one, I believe, could help but agree that India really is a the prime picture of unity in diversity.

What was touching to watch was the honesty in his speech. Even as he cracked a few jokes, mostly self- depreciative, what we saw was that he felt shy at the audience’ reaction. He felt out of place maybe, but he stood the ground as he, more often than not, does. It also gave a slight but definitive insight of Rahul Dravid- the common man. An intelligent, down- to- earth and a congenial man, who is a body of dedication to his profession. A calmness surrounded him, which gave our consciousness a deep feeling of steadfastness, meticulousness and the well – rooted care and love that he shares for the game. It showed that he truly is a student and a servant of the game, wanting it to grow, flourish further than its already dissipated roots!! He reminded us though, time and again, that the occasion is cricket, not him, not the next match, not the nations, but the game as  a whole, which we Indians follow almost as our religion, as our kin.

Even though he has not been a celebrated figure for a better part of his 15 year career Dravid has come to the fore in the recent past with his exquisite display of batsmenship. He has always been the anchor to the rocking Indian ship and has performed par excellance on unhindered and unconquered turfs. However so, his career can be a tunnel lamp for not only budding cricketers, but also anyone who is willing to take the cue and translate his cricket career to a macro picture; the paths of life. He exemplifies hard work, persistence, sacrifice, decency, modesty, unpretentiousness and above all unwavering dedication to his field. Principles that spell SUCCESS and CONTENTMENT as well. Talent is a virtue of the few and most of us have to gruel in our everyday life to get through. In such times, this oration comes as a twinkle in the sky on a hazy, cloudy night. Probably the answer lies in who he is. Probably being a servant of the game is better than being the master.
Till next time and hoping all do take the cue.

In river deep veneration for Rahul Sharad Dravid.

This is the Sciolist.

Signing Out!!!