Thursday, October 25, 2007

Less Than Four

If you feel SAD,incapable,helpless anytime . Please see this inspiring video .

More details and more of such stuff at Less Than Four .

Monday, October 22, 2007

On Rudeness

My experience is that rude behavior is never forced upon people by circumstance. Some people are rude by nature, some people aren't. Don't tell me you have to be rude to people because of such and such. That's just rationalization.

I don't like rudeness , specially when I am at the receiving end of it
~ Anonymous

I never meet a person who says that He/She like rude people . Everyone wants to avoid a rude behavior . thats very understandable . What baffles me is people's perception of rudeness and the approach they
adopt to tackle with rude behavior. Most of the time people see rudeness as a personality trait .something in which you don't have a choice .something which is default to you . something as intrinsic to you as your skin . in short , majority of world thinks that Rude people are born rude or you can't do any thing about rude behavior of somebody who has passed a certain age .

I don't think so . I have seen enough of world to believe that rudeness is not a personality trait . its just a situational liberty which some of us exercise . simply saying people are rude because their surrounding
allow them to be rude and insensitive . they have no incentive or punishment for acting otherwise . that makes both actor and victim an equal partner in the act of rudeness.

So whenever someone is rude with me First question i ask to myself is

"What's there in my conduct which made this guy think that I deserve this or I will take this & how can i ensure that this doesn't happen again "

Fundamental Attribution Error : (FAE)

The fundamental attribution error (also known as correspondence bias or over attribution effect) is the tendency for people to over-emphasize dispositional, or personality-based, explanations for behaviors
observed in others while under-emphasizing situational explanations. In other words, people have an unjustified tendency to assume that a person's actions depend on what "kind" of person that person is rather than on the social and environmental forces influencing the person.
~ From Wikipedia

FAE is a powerful force . Our society have almost internalized this . Whether its a judicial system dealing with a criminal or a Church talking about Attaining Nirvana . Whether its a HR person discussing your performance appraisal or some issue where you disagree with your spouse . Whenever we analysis somebody's behavior ,we see the person in question as a separate , stand alone entity .

Psychology for the most part has been a study in dispositional analysis . We study individual , We study institution , but comparatively a very little research has been done on Individual inside a Institution .and whatever little study we have at our disposal is enough to shatter our understanding . some world famous psychological experiments like Stanford prison experiment has shown that there is very little of our action which is dispositional .

Recently I saw a video of a lecture by my favorite social scientist Dr. Philip Zimbardo . he was talking about "Lucifer Effect : How Good People Turn Evil ". Although his talk was mostly in context of Atrocities done by US soldiers in Abu Garibh but it is not very hard to extrapolate his teaching to our day to day life . I saw some similarity in the context of our understanding of Rude behavior . In his thesis Zimbardo explain how certain situations can lead our mind to believe that its OK to be cruel .

But You Can't Change Human Nature :

No Body can be changed by preaching , You are entitled to change only one person in this universe , that is you yourself ,
~Bhagwat Gita

Whenever I complain about rude behavior of people a lot of times I hear this line in reply ." You can't Change him/her . its His /her Nature" . It has been repeated too many time that sometime I tends to think if its true .

But I don't think its true . Human nature is not something you are born with ,we acquire it .Its not your skin tone or shape of your nose . Its just a set of rule , a code of conduct which we formulate to guide our action . our nature is dependent on conditioning .On what we see around us, how we are treated .what sort of people we deal with . Most of us have this false assumption that these exposers ,interactions leave a permanent effect and human being are not flexible /capable of changing their approach. They might not be open to change but they are surely capable of changing .

Some examples

I belong to a small city in Rajasthan named Sri Ganganagar . Most of the families in my neighborhood have one of their son/relative in UK/Canada . Every year i hear that one or two elderly parents have migrated to Canada to live with their kids . these people are in their late 50s or mid 60s. by any standard of conventional wisdom they are well past the age where they can change anything about there own thinking . Right ? Well................. Wrong .

On more than one occasion I have seen that these guys ,who seems to have strong opinion on Education, conduct,dress ,friend circle of female members of family in India , when they reach South hall they transform in to a Progressive mindset effortlessly . Drinking ,Dating , Late night parties are rampant among girls of UK based Indian and all of these old guys not only approve it but actually they are glad to be a part of it .

Funny......60 Years of "Nature" can easily be undone in 2 months . How ? Context and environment around them don't allow these guys to take liberty .

Australian feels pride in declaring them self as aggressive and say that rudeness is part of their culture . they use this justification to explain why their players pushed a senior Indian leader .I seriously doubt if they would have done the same with Queen of England . so much for Rudeness in DNA argument .

Google wants to provide free access to information to people every where . They refuse to alter the search result even if it hurts the sentiments of Jew . but they accepted the censorship terms with China . so much for mission & value statement . China didn't offer an option and Google Complied .

In 1984 New York city was suffering from a very high crime rate and vandalism on Subway trains . Subway was considered very very unsafe . so much so that Bernhard Goetz became a symbol of New Yorkers' frustrations with a high crime rate when he shot four muggers intent on robbing him on subway train in Manhattan . To deal with this problem Police department of New York city took a radically different approach called Broken Window Theory . Basic premise of Broken Window Theory is that if you change the environment or surrounding of people . you can effectively control their tendency to commit crime .

We don't need speedy justice , we don't need stringent law , we need better enforcement . the whole environment should act as a damper to the urge of committing crime . so in order to solve the problem Police
Department , started removing graffiti from walls of subway stations and trains. their top priority was to make subway look exceptionally clean and managed . this had an magical effect . crime rate fall down drastically .

My point behind giving all these examples is that if change in situation / Surrounding can cause a different behavior in people in old age , Giant Organizations like Google, Proud to be rude people of Australia, Crime struck New York city . than why can't we expect to see a similar change in the behavior of rude guys around us .

Your Land Lord, Your Manager , The Guy at convenience store, Your Spouse . Why we are always so hell bent to accept it as "Nature" . is it FAE at work ? is it our aversion to act and escapism to see the reality ? or is it really something one is born with . what do you say ?

Word of caution

Article like this are provocative . they force you to rethink your assumption & steers up the emotion. things are complicated if you are in the receiving end of such behavior for sometime . I know an incedient where someone read a post of mine and had a fight with a colleague . He repent badly for his immature act . My experience is that such spontaneous out burst are not sustainable . you want to change people's behavior and conduct toward you ? than accept that it won't be done overnight . its a painfully slow process

Be very careful in your judgment about Rude behavior . is it a one off incident ...than its ok. We all have a bad day now and again maybe you just bumped into them while they were stuck at a low point. Problem is if its a recurring pattern. than you know its time to change circumstances . Because its not about him only its about You too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The FaceBook Song

It's Hilarious , do check it out . I Love Facebook

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Class Of Late 70s : Transient Generation

Time is Nature's way of ensuring that everything doesn't happen at once .
Space is Nature's way to ensure that everything doesn't happen to you .
Albert Einstein

Some Factoids

My Date of birth is 24th of march 1978 . I went to a Govt. Engg College in 1996 came out of college in 2001 .

When I was in college, computers were expensive, a typical 486 / Pentium I used to cost 35K . 2 GB Hard disk was a luxury.

There was no Cellphone service in KOTA until my second year and until my final year it used to cost 5-12 Rs per minute for incoming call.

There were only three cellphone in college campus . one belong to a Lecturer , another to a Guy who was son of a BIG Shot . Third and most interesting person to posses a cellphone in campus was a Female in final year . Her fiance had gifted her that phone on their engagement . She used to boast about it . [ BTW this particular female was seeing a guy since her high school but ditched him as his new suitor was based in US . In short going to US was a BIG Deal ]

When I was in Final Year I used internet for the first time , I was hooked . It used to cost me 100 Rs /Hour for accessing email . it was painfully slow but it gave a strange pleasure to see that
blue status bar moving.

IIT Kanpur was the only place I visited where I can get free internet access . for the first time in my life I read some thing online , without saving it on floppy to read later on college comp. Guess what it was ??
Starr Report on Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton scandal .

In second ,third and Final Year of college i got my Project report done from a DTP shop in KOTA , the guy at DTP shop used to have WordStar. We used to hear about Windows 95 and Bill Gates but our computer labs had Monochrome Computers with DOS .

It was very hard to see coffee shop in North India and Coffee for me was synonym to a Cup full of foaming Espresso served in wedding parties .Mojito,tequila, mocha, capachino ,Lasagne,Rossito ,paperoni ,Martini were names of Italian Girls .

Most of the guys were deprived of female company & they used to think of marrying every girl on which they had crush .To tell you the truth they were very sincere with their plans . There was only one small problem . they had never talked to the girl in Question . Too shy /Arrogant/ Masculine to do that .

We used to talk a lot about Kissing scene in RAJA HINDUSTANI . Sex sequence like Murder or Aashique Banaya Aapne were stuff of legend /porn .

Things are a lot different today .

You can get a decent laptop in 35K , I have a WiFi internet at my home and it cost me only 1000/Month . Most of the colleges have net access in Hostel . Cell phone is very common , Going to US is no Big deal , Gmail offer 2GB disk space for free, WordStar is extinct ,CCD and Barista are in every neighborhood. Dating is not a Taboo any more .

If reading all this make you think that I attended college long long time back in past then you are wrong . Every single thing I mentioned above has happened JUST 06 Year back .
so why I am talking about all this ? I know some of you might be thinking that this is yet another post by me telling you how world is unfair .

No , Unfortunately this is not the case this time . What i am going to tell here is a long standing observational hypothesis of mine .which i collected and constructed piece by piece for past 2 years . I call this "Theory of Transient Generation " .

What is Transient Generation ??

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

Bob Dylan

Every generation has their time under the sun . Their moment of Un-diverted attention , the time when they could connect to or contribute to everything which was new . When I was in my teens my Dad's generation was Present and My generation was "Near Future" . We were waiting for our Turn when Baton would be passed to us . If my peers belong to Generation X . My Dad belong to generation( X-1) and my Grandfather belong to Generation (X-2. ) and pace of change was such that this equilibrium was sustained for an extended period of time ,at least for more than a decade.

In the tradition of time, Baton was passed to our generation too but I realize that this time around Equilibrium was not stable for that long . We spent our " Hour of Glory" in a transient conditions . Before we realize that future has arrived , Future was over. Baton was unwillingly passed to next generation .

Most of us don't understand the thought process of KIDS who are just 5 year younger to us . In all probability these kids are indicator of things to come but there is a vast gap between us and them . This gap is not easy to explain because difference of Age is very little .why we are so out of sync. That makes me think that Class of late 70s has actually became a Transient Generation.

Circumstantial Evidence for my theory :

Neither me nor any of my friends went to college thinking that we will be getting a salary in the order of double digit lakhs per annum . but today I see freshers with a salary expectation of 7-8 lakhs from the day one . I doubt if standard of education has changed drastically in 05 years . some of it can be attributed to overheated market place .But there is more to it than jsut market . something subtle is missing .

Fresher today are more seasoned than ever before . Almost invariably I fail to see the rebel,Zeal, Ideal ,Naiveness and vigor in freshers. They use word "Professional" very frequently to justify their hostile competitive tactics in workplace . Talk to any freshly minted MBA and you will know what I mean. This chap find it very hard to listen , he always has something to add to what you are telling him . He use vague statements full of buzzwords .you can't really teach any thing to him .This was not that BAD in my time.
When me and my batch mate come out of college market was in recession. jobs were hard to find .I know a lot hardworking and intelligent and deserving students who were not able to find a job . when market begin to recover after few year . Companies began to offer jobs to Fresher and every one who graduated in 2000-2002 was facing the Q " Whats your Industry experience ? " why you were not able to get a job when you were out of college ? surprisingly companies found it hard to hire them even at the level of fresher . Corporate India seems to have deleted most of them from memory.
Around two year back someone asked my friend if she has used Orkut while she was in college ? She said no. There was no orkut at that time . She was told that since you haven't used Orkut in college you can't understand the thought process of Social Networking junkies . she is out of college for 05 years only and she is using ORKUT for 3 years now .
Two year back, sometime in mid February a school girl from my neighborhood asked me . "Kya apke time mein Valentine day hota tha?? " [ Was there a concept of Valentine Day ,In your time ] .
Around a year back a strange incident happened to me . I was coming back from office in an Auto Rikshaw . Amity College is very close to my office . two females in their early twenties asked for a lift up to a Mall .They offered to split the bill . I said thats not needed and obliged . These girls were chit chatting continuously. Our Auto stopped at a Traffic Light . They spotted a couple on a Bike . Probably this couple was from their college .one of the girl said to another " I didn't knew She is seeing Him " . other replied "No, No , She is not seeing him , They are just going around ".

I was amused to hear their conversation so I asked
"Excuse me ladies but I overheard your conversation , Please Educate . I am not sure if I understand the difference between "Seeing " and "Going Around " in my times it used to be

Classmates-> Friend-Date-Commitment-->Shaddi .

They laughed and obliged . Here is what they told me

Things are different now . We have various intermediate phase now a days

[or Acquaintance]
[ Part of common gang]
Going Around
[Part of a gang but special consideration to the Target]
[Gang is not a necessary precondition to meet and hang around for daily stuff COACHING ,SHOPPING,Notes exchange]
[ Now they don't need a reason like "Notes" to meet they just spend weekend together and wait for other party to make a move ]
[Starting of Formalizing relationship,by saying declaring on Orkut ,Girls delay it as long as possible]
[ After both parties are settled in job , parents are involved now ]
[The END] .

It was most educating 30 min of my life .Six month later someone told me that there is a intermingled state too . Its called "In-Bitween " , this is when you are frustrated/ Disillusioned with your current relationship but keep on dragging it due to peer pressure till you get another opportunity .


I realized there are so many things around me which i don't know .Age difference between me and those girls ?? 7 Years Max.

About a month back i was observing some kids playing games in my colonies park . they were playing an age old game which i am sure you too have played at their age . Its called "उंच- नीच " [ High Land -Low Land ]

I noticed that they have changed the rule of game. In my times whosoever was on High land was not compelled to come to low land . they can stay there for as long as they want and guy on the low land was forced to wait . game used to be a bit boring unless person on the highland choose to make it funny by coming down .

This is not the case now .under the modified rule of game player on the high land need to keep singing a song as long as he is on highland . if you want to take a break form singing you need to get down to low land . so game was more fun . I was riveted to see how small kid balanced singing and running . it was not dull . is it just about game ? I think this change in game has reflect a change in society too . Now Children realize at very young age that you can't stay at Top without doing something . Don't take me wrong but i think the main reason is that when I was a kid, Rules of Game were designed by children of Govt. Employees . Today its Children Of IT Professional in MNC who are making the rule . but do we know that Rules have changed ??

Who did it ?

I am sure about my Observation of events but to understand the cause of event you need to have a deeper understanding of complex dynamics of socio economic forces . I am not a sociologist so I am not sure how accurate my reasoning is . Still in my view main reason for this rapid and exponential change and this vast disconnect between two chronologically adjacent age group is due to following reasons .

Access to Internet : Access to internet is more cheap today . I have a Wi Fi network at my apartment it cost me only 3000 Rs to setup and now i have 24X7 Internet access for 1000 Rs /month . same is true for most of the college . Access to internet in formative years widen the horizon of student and this exposer at right time in growing up has contributed a lot to this difference .

Access To Mobile Phone : Owning a mobile phone means more than just a convenience of communication . Owning a mobile phone in formative years allow its user to cultivate a social network independent of your family and more confirming to your peer. Mobile phone has affected our thinking in many ways than we consciously know. Kids are allowed to stay out of home till late night because parents have this sense of security that they can reach their kids any time .

Its easier for Kids to maintain a communication channel out side of parental supervision . MMS,SMS," Miss call " all of these stuff have made communication between teenagers and specially teenagers of opposite sex more convenient . This has a far reaching effect .

If you really want to understand the impact of mobile phone on social psyche i suggest reading Howard Rheingold's Classic book SMART MOBS .

Exposer to Alternate Media : For the most part of our life we were exposed to only DoorDarshan although there were some cable TV Channel while we were in high school still the content of these channel were not radically different form DD .

Today KIDS have access to Animax,Discovery ,AXN,MTV,ZOOM. On internet they have access to community of every type.From Bike enthusiast to Fine Arts . From Independent Music to Gay and Lesbian .

Economics : A significant number of students who are coming out of college these days have one of their Parents,Elder sibling or someone else in neighborhood who has been in IT or MNC for sometime . it affects student in many ways .

sometime it offers as a higher benchmark , some time it works as a role model , some case it means that student goes to college with more Pocket money . almost always it means a better guidance to chart out their carrier.

There are many more reasons like Proliferation of Call center, students doing summer jobs in BPO.

Experimentation in Bollywood movies which has made us more tolerant to certain taboo.

Isolation of working class youths from national political agenda because much of their life is effected more from Rupee -Dollar Exchange rate than who is ruling in Center .

BRIC Report and Euphoria it generated,

Sania Mirza, Twenty20 World Series,Sri Santh

List is long and I admit that I don't know about all of them .
Looking at all these factor and their implication it seems everything which happened was inevitable . Do you agree ??

Epilogue : For the records I am not trying to say that Class of Late 70s have lost their chance or we can not do anything significant and we should silently walk down to oblivion . No . Thats not what i am saying .

I am from Class of Late 70s and i believe that Best is yet to come for me .All I am trying to do is to Estimate the size of our challenge. I always believe that first step to solve any problem is to admit that there is a problem. Thats the sole purpose of writing this post . .
So Do you agree that we have got a problem here ??
Thanks for reading this long post .

Photo Courtesy : Flavio Ronco . you can see his flickr stream here