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Product Management Reflections

Negative signalling: Being bad on purpose

While we would like to be good at everything we do, it’s neither possible, nor an attempt advisable.

You will always be bad at something either due to skill or by choice. I want to talk about the latter today.

Being bad by choice: Your profile, your CV, your choices, are all reflection of what you want to be. While you want to be strong at what the job you want to do requires, it maybe a good idea to be bad or be perceived ‘not great’ at stuff you don’t want to do.

For example: when I was in consulting, my company offered to pay for PMP certification for any consultant willing to take it. PMP is almost an industry standard for becoming a project manager.

While it rightly got a few people excited, I blatantly refused to do it. I am not against being good at project management, I feared I would suddenly become eligible for project manager roles that may need urgent fulfilment within the company.

It’s super hard to say no early in career and I specifically did not want to be a project manager. I did not last long as a consultant either, but that’s a story for another time.

Doing so saved me from two things:

  • I knew if the need came, no team looking for project managers could force me or my manager to let me take that up. I preferred bench over Project Management.
  • A lot of Product Management roles in India are disguised project management roles. Due to my lack of PMP I was not considered as a candidate for them. I auto rejected myself

Traditionally, we assume, amassing certifications and varied skills increases our likelihood of landing a job, but it can also reduces our chances of landing the one we want.

Just because it’s free knowledge does not mean it’s good for you. You need to opt out of and close doors you don’t want to be tempted or forced to enter.

Will I ever do a PMP? : Never say never. I have deep respect for Program managers who can handle large projects and keep seeking guidance and help from them, but if I do take up formal certification I’ll most likely not tell people about it :).

I am at peace with being labelled as a Product Manager who is great at Design, Research, and Data, but sucks at Project Management. I don’t think that has hindered my career yet.

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philosophy Reflections

On Sonu Nigam, Azaan , and Kabir

As as kid, one of my favourite subjects was Hindi.One of the things I enjoyed was writing an essay(yes sounds boring but I was really good at it)
Most essay questions in schools revolved around some finite set of themes, and one theme was religion, superstition etc ..or something like that. My Memory fails me here
I no longer remember the exact title of the essay , but I do remember that I used to always quote two dohas by Kabir for good marks

Kankar pathar jod ke, Masjid laye banay
Taa chadh mulla baang de, kya behra hua khudaey
Loose translation: You collected pebbles and stones and made a masjid out of it.
Then you got your priest to go on top of it and shout. Has God gone deaf?

Patthar puje hari mile, to main poojun pahad.
Ghar ki chakki koi na puje, joko pees khaye sansar.
Loose translation: If praying to a stone gets you God, then I will pray to a Mountain
Instead, why doesn’t anyone pray to their flour mill at home, it gives people food

 

Now I am pretty sure, I am not the only one who used these dohas for those “extra marks”. Many must have remembered it years afterwards like me.Many who came before me and many who came after.

 

Both the dohas question and satirise one of the most dearly help aspects in both religions. Azaan and Idol worship.
But it was ok to write about this in examinations.It was all ok, at least that is what we felt, to question these things without getting an exaggerated reaction from anyone.

 

What worries me now is, that the generation that I studied with, the generation that remembered these dohas and probably  wrote them down multiple times, is also among the generations that are getting so offended over someone questioning the use of loudspeakers for azaan , aartis etc

The same generation, as kids, thought that it was OK to question the whole concept of azaan and idol worship, now has people who think its blasphemous to question the use of loudspeakers?

Yes, there are people across all age groups who fall into this category, but it makes me much sadder when I see people who I presume are from “my generation” discussing this.

Yes education is not same across, people change and blah blah blah

It is the same feeling you get when you see one of your old classmate who has ruined his life. You had nothing to do with it, but you feel so sorry and somewhat guilty. He is a part of your childhood and you cannot fathom it taking such a turn.

 

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philosophy Reflections

YOLO – Ok , so what?

YOLO :(You only Live once) a common phrase that precedes most stupid, idiotic and sometimes fun plans people have.

People use it to justify doing anything that does not fit the traditional way of the world, for doing things that are unexpected of them, for breaking the “rule”, for nor having any “regrets”.

But what regrets?

Isn’t YOLO also symbolic of – No matter how much “fun” you have, and how many “rules” you break, it still does not matter?

It still is what you intend it not to be.

Is it really about having fun or, dealing with the inevitable oblivion?

In the end, how does it matter one way or the other?

And what is this fascination of not following the “traditional” path?

This is like saying you would not like the Taj Mahal because millions of others have been

So what if your life follows the same path as many others before you?. You are still doing it for the first time

So should you not have fun?

No idea—Let me think about it while I eat some Dark chocolate, sip some great coffee in my comfy recliner chair.

 

 

 

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philosophy Reflections

Getting more clicks vs Solving a problem

Some random thoughts

We all want to be millionaires without doing much work ,and the fastest ,easiest and the one with lowest entry barrier way seems to be click baiting recycled content.

“You won’t believe what X did” , “This actor just cheated on his wife, click to know the name” ,”5 ways to XYZ”

But before you do that , think why?
Content Virality sites can do much more , help obscure content, help spread of ideas and initiate conversations on uncomfortable topics or just be click baits. The former needs more courage, the latter not so much , just be clear which one you are .

Think hard because in the long run you need to be OK using your intellect for whatever path you chose

This intellect part is something most people ignore.

Is there another problem you want to invest your brains in? Every second , every minute counts .

Also remember : Lower the entry barrier => Higher competition ==>Less chance of success. Nothing comes easy

The biggest issue is that some of the brightest minds are trying to figure out, how to get more clicks ~Some famous guy


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Reflections

Random Videos from my Youtube Playlists-Music Version

Visited my YouTube favorites, Liked videos and watch later playlists , its great to see how your likes and things important to you have changed over time. Songs that you listened at-least 10 times a day have not been played for years , some things you felt were great at some point seem pretentious and some that have come back as if the life goes in circles.

So here are a few Random videos from my YouTube history . Mainly Music, will do a non music version as well .

Sharing stuff that I probably have not shared before 🙂

Gurdas Mann –The Man The Legend: The sheer energy of this video is infectious, I feel like dancing. Oh and not to mention the outrageous color riot in his clothes , everything in the video is just bubbling with energy and possibly only Gurdas Mann could have done so

Jack Johnson and a guitar makes magical music. Really wanted to learn this song on Guitar. Still do 🙂

Ok I loved this song, mainly because of the beats….Don’t judge me…I was young 😛

The Time I got introduced to Mystery Guitar Man and his Awesomeness

The Angels have come, Angels have come..they are called Celtic Women

https://youtu.be/I5T6gyCPDvM

Get Away from me –What should I even Say- I LOVED THIS ONE. Possibly something many youngsters feel…as if they don’t exist , lonely in a crowd , ignored …oh those “trying to fit in” days

Ok this one was in my Liked Videos so I better share it 😛 . What Should I say, Great Cinematography ? uhm uhm

Not sure when i added this but it’s sweet 😛 ..

I am not ashamed to admit that I liked loved Taylor Swift’s song Love story, but have you heard the Man version of the song

Since we are on the topic of Original songs..Here is what I re-discovered ..A song on Mario Kart 🙂 Its so damn sweet

One Regret in Life : Could not see Jagjit Singh Live performance

Another Love Song..

That’s all for today Folks 😛

 

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Poetry Reflections

Who are we

Who are we ,
A speck of dust
A thread of imagination

Are we Gods,
Gods of our own creation
Which we created

Created to build something greater
Something to forget our mortality
Something to become immortal

Are we creations
For amusement of the mighty
or beings to fulfill a higher purpose

purpose so high that the creator could not achieve it
So we were created
as the higher form of the highest

Could we be simply be the computers
made to answer the ultimate question
or to find the ultimate question

Could we be just the question itself
A question which once asked destroys the ultimate
Or creates one

We could be just meat-bags
accidents of nature, freaks
just thinking stones and dust

Who are we ,
A speck of dust
A thread of imagination

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India Reflections

NGOs need to start looking out for technologists rather than just influencers

So what is the whole point of an NGO? Do something good? Fill the gaps where the government fails? Raise some issues of importance?

In their zeal for achieving their objectives , most NGOs spend considerable time reaching out to people, people with great social circles, influence and possibly power.

But here is a thought , in an Utopian world NGOs should not exist . They exist only because there are some issues that are not being resolved by the governments , some voices that are not finding ears and some people who get an unfair deal. Simply put “Because there is a problem that needs fixing” . If the main motto is resolving the issue, it makes sense to work more towards reaching out to problem fixers and not just information spreaders.

In the current world, there are hardly any problems where technology cannot help.There is corruption? We can help by building easy to use RTI systems .There is a natural disaster and we don’t think aid is reaching the right places, we need a way to survey the area and maybe pass it on to government agencies .

Not saying anything against NGOs reaching out to pure influencers or the influencers themselves , rather making a case for many NGOs to change focus and reach out to a very different kind of audience . You need Geeks and Nerds on your side. They love solving problems .

Just a thought

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India Reflections

Quota and Reservation System in India – An Essay

Quota system and Reservation system in India seems to be an evergreen hot debate topic and everyone seems to have a point of view on it. Some consider this an abomination,some a blessing ,and some a necessary evil.



//

But before we discuss the concept of the reservation system in India, we need to step back and take a look at what exactly is the problem we are trying to solve?

SC ST are the dalits, adivasis or Shudras who had suffered immensely under the caste based system of India. A lot can be written on it , but that won’t be necessary for this blog post as I am sure all the readers are aware of this.

Now the problem with many urban dwelling Indians is that they believe that caste based system does not exist anymore and the discrimination is more or less finished. This cannot be farther from truth.

The problem is very much here . There still are a huge number of people in this country who are denied a dignified life and basic human rights just because they belong to a particular caste .

“Discriminatory and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of over 165 million people in India has been justified on the basis of caste,” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Many of these people are denied any Jobs, denied access to common resources such as water , treated as untouchables and basically denied of any opportunity to get out of the rut.It is not their lack of want but the system that keeps them there.

When people say ” They do not get jobs because they are not skilled” , it pains me to see how people look at only one side of the coin. They do not have any decent jobs because, in the places they live , they cannot get one, unless the government forces it .

There is an extreme bias in the minds of people who are responsible for giving them jobs.You may want to see the Satyamev Jayate episode on Caste based discrimination.

There was a recent report on how people who are treated as Untouchables are forced to Clean Human Waste , because that is the only Job they are considered suitable for.

Even when we speak about crime against women, let us be aware that a dalit woman is more likely to face abuse . Let me quote from a UN Study

Human rights of Dalits and women in general are normally violated by dominant castes and powerful communities to practice and exhibit patriarchy and caste based discrimination. Dalit women are oppressed by the broader Indian society, men from their own community and also their own husbands and male members in the family. Thus, Dalit women face multiple disadvantages and vulnerabilities. Their issues are clearly different from that of other Indian women.

But human rights of Dalit women are violated in peculiar and extreme forms. Stripping, naked parading, caste abuses, pulling out nails and hair, sexual slavery & bondage are few forms peculiar to Dalit women.

 

Woman abuse is an issue of power , when men feel threatened or are raised to feel superior to woman and want to show it(Apologies for oversimplification ) . Being a Dalit and a Woman surely compounds the problem.Why do you think that is?

People speak of “free markets” and “equal opportunity for all”  as arguments for speaking against reservation, while conveniently forgetting that these are the people who are NOT getting equal opportunities . Free markets do not work in case of externalities and this is an externality.

Let us all be aware that Untouchability cannot be wished away.

So now coming back to the question of Reservations

Whenever there is a section of society that is so much discriminated against , the best way to end that discrimination is by mixing them up with the general population and bringing them into mainstream. There will be uproars as people do not like change and the deep rooted biases act up , but that is what we as a society have to fight.

Only when we see people from that community all around us , understand them, see that they are not different, can we be able to remove this discrimination.

We need this section of society to be in all areas of the community , from doctors to engineers to entrepreneurs  to CEOs to Artists to teachers . This is the only way to end this discrimination and give equal opportunity to all.

We need to level the playing field for people who were not allowed to even compete.

And all this while , we need to be conscious that Bias exists. Just because caste-based discrimination is illegal, does not imply that it does not happen.

So now that we have established that there is a section of society that has been and still is unfairly treated and that biases still exist.We also established that the best way to end those biases would be to get these people in all areas of society , rather than confining them to jobs they are traditionally made to do based on their caste.

How do we do this?

This is where the government comes in. Let us understand a simple fact that whenever X is given to Person 1, that X cannot be given to person Y. Resources are limited . The government needs to come up with schemes and measures to help this section of society rise , this will be done at expense of something. This is not optional , we as a society cannot accept that a large part of us are denied basic human rights.

These schemes involve resources . Resources for education , resources for loans , resources for gainful employment and resources for spreading awareness .When the government reserves seats to SC ST , look at it as an allocation of resources . Another way could be to halve the number of government colleges and spend that money on other endeavors . You do not have reservations then, but then the number of seats available to “General Category” is still the same.

Reservation system In India was one of the ways (Not the only way)to achieve this goal of getting SC ST OBCs into the mainstream.

So Is Reservation Good?

Yes and No.

Yes: The intention for reservation is good , necessary and correct.

No: Because it has not been implemented properly.

The basic problem with the reservation system in India has been its misuse(or may I say heavy abuse). Reservation was never intended to help the Rich SC kid get an Easy entry to educational institute . It was meant to give a shortcut to millions of SC ST and  OBCs out of the rut , taking their families along,  and making the society more accepting of them .

It was also supposed to end, but sadly due to political corruption and vote bank politics , it did not. But when we say that , we need to remember that it was also thought that the caste based discrimination too would end. If our politicians have failed, so have we.

Another issue is that the reservation in higher educational institutes, without proper support for primary education seems like a cop-out. The government’s job was to bring about a change in mindset of people ,create and employ strict laws to stomp out any discrimination , but that is a really hard thing to do. It requires patience  and courage to risk annoying your vote bank which not many politicians are willing to do.

Plus it may not be the best way anymore , there can be a serious discussion on relevance of reservation in this time. Agreed that discrimination is still alive, but is reservation still a good way to end it?

Why the heck am I writing This?

To be fair, I am not too sure either. I have been on the other side, blaming the SC ST /OBC for taking such disproportionate number of seats to all the coveted institute ,  for getting seats in IITs while knowing much less than me(I did not make it to IIT –Failed to clear Mains ..Missed by a whisker) . Yes I too have been really angry at the system .I too called the system unfair to me and claimed that SC ST have it too easy.

But In retrospect , I believe I was ill-informed . My anger was directed at the wrong place and I see too many people like me , who ignore the very basic fact that this system is still relevant because we still have discrimination . The anger also needs to be directed towards the society as a whole , not just the government and certainly not against the SC ST/OBC community as a whole.

Yes reservation system in India is inherently unfair , but our society itself is based on unfairness at this point , where some people are superior to others and some inferior based solely on their birth and not merit.

There needs to be a serious discussion on the relevance of reservation system in India for solving this issue. What can be the better way? In an education hungry society like ours , Is compromising on student intake for some of the most premium colleges worth it?

Also till reservation is there , how can we make sure that it is not abused? What laws need to be brought into place to prevent non-deserving people taking it? I personally know cases of millionaires taking advantage of the reserved seat for their son, which is preposterous. Can I do not something about it? How do we make sure that the Creamy Layer(annual income >6 Lakhs) does not take advantage of this system?

How can we strengthen the basic education system so that all kids can get an equal shot at a good education?

And finally , how to end it? It will end when the cast based system actually becomes irrelevant . We do need to ask the question that “if Reservation system in India is becoming an impediment to that?” Instead of removing , is it now strengthening the divide, making it more vivid? If yes, we might need other ways to fight it.

For this we need more voices , voices from the SC ST OBC community as well to speak out, do you think reservation system in India is still required?

And why are we seeing an increasing number of people demanding to be put as OBCs? Why are we doing this? Should this not be banned? For people who face economic hardships, we need a system based purely on financial well-being rather than caste based.

And yes , a hard-line. Any politician who takes a stand on getting a hard-line date to  end this system will potentially kill his or her political career , but I am sure there are some politicians who might risk it. By hard-line , I do not mean just some arbitrary date which can be later extended, but a dead line that cannot be changed or is too difficult to change , e.g.: Only if 99% of  both houses of parliament decide to extend it .We could also use the legal route where only an appeal to supreme court could overrule this, thus giving a face-saving cop out to the party in power then. “We tried, but the SC refused”

Finally , Reservation System in India is not a revenge on General Class as some people make it out to be. It is a system which had to be brought in to end an unfair system , and is potentially itself becoming part of the problem rather than a solution.

If we want to end it , at least we as a society need to end the discrimination . Let’s do our part as well, shall we?

 


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Reflections

Obedience and peer pressure

We have been studying the interesting phenomenon of how group pressure can make people do one of the most inhumane acts possible. How they completely ignore their moral code when they see others doing the same thing or when the order comes from a person in authority

This is visible even in our daily lives, have you seen that all it takes is one person to break the traffic light to make the entire traffic follow?Peer pressure works but at levels that we never imagine

See the following two experiments that were conducted

Asch Experiment:

This is hilarious but still thought provoking, it shows how peer pressure can make people do things which are completely idiotic

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuvGh_n3I_M]

Milgram’s Experiment

This one is disturbing, it shows how a person in authority can make people do things that are downright cruel and even life threatening to another person. It possibly explains why Nazis members , otherwise possibly normal people did such inhuman acts in concentration camps

I recommend you watch all three parts

Part 1

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcvSNg0HZwk]

Part 2

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzTuz0mNlwU]

Part 3:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmFCoo-cU3Y]

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Poetry Reflections

Hello Mr Second

Hello Mr second,

I feel your pain,

You are always second ,

Buzz Aldrin ,Second Man on Moon
Buzz Aldrin ,Second Man on Moon

you feel all went in vain.

 

Those toils of your hardship

nobody  sees

oh that sweat and that blood

The scar it leaves

 

 

 

You see that celebration

that was so near

You feel that sensation

Your heart just tears

 

It could have been you

you think so

you deserved that place

you want the world to know

 

Hello Mr Second

I feel your pain

dont worry Mr second

Its not in vain

 

You run the world

you know it so

had there been not you

there would be no show

 

You crossed all hurdles

Just missed the last

Don’t take this burden

It’s just the past

 

Hold your head high

You gave a good show

Just give a sigh

Don’t take it slow

 

Oh Mr second

I feel your pain

You feel Mr Second

they will forget your name

 

Mr second you have lot to see

you still know what you wanna be

You still have a reason to fight

reason to do and a reason to die

 

Oh Mr Second

I feel your pain

But come on Mr Second

getting back up, runs in your veins

 

Oh Mr Second

I feel your pain—

Dedicated to all people who came second ———————————

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