Thursday, April 27, 2006

Arranged Marriages and Love Marriages

In the dinner party of Niranjan's birthday, this topic came up: Which is better -- arranged or love?

Like the debate on beauty pageants it's a cliched topic. But unlike that it fails to sound repetitive, because it closely concerns all of us. We, almost all of whom are at a juncture of marriage, perhaps. We all have to make that choice sooner or later.

One of us -- a female -- had become quite sour about the whole process of arranged marriage. The parental intervention, the stiff introduction between prospective bride and groom, everything is 'yucky' for her. She had faced things like 'What are your interests?' 'Are you religious?' 'You must adjust with my parents.' 'Do you want to work after marriage?' etc so many times that she found it disgusting, almost hateful.

The whole idea of getting into a lifelong relation with a person whom one hardly knows, all because parents like him and his family, horoscopes match, and he is earning well and is settled abroad, seemed to her awefully obnoxious.

I had a short stint with the process of arranged marriage last year, by starting to look for a bride. I failed miserably to get myself really going in that direction. Unlike my lady friend above, I really don't have anything strictly against arranged marriages. But one reason why it didn't work out for me was that I was not at all enjoying the process. Something was wrenching my heart through the whole thing. I didn't know what it was, but I had to finally give up pretty early. The ordeal was just too much to bear. Also, it was a huge overhead for my mind, and was clearly interfering with my thoughts. In interest of my research work too, I had to postpone it to some later time if at all.

But, there are strong arguments made in favour of arranged marriages. The most commonly cited argument is statistical. It looks that success rate of marriages is higher among arranged ones. Love marriages also have a higher divorce rate. Another argument that is made is the logicalness and well-roundedness of the process. The decision is taken not under the effect of some strong -- almost mind boggling -- emotion which potentially warps our decision powers, but through a logical and social process, involving many opinions and taking into consideration many authentic points. Arranged marriage needn't be looked at as it used to be 50 years ago. Things have changed. The opinion of the bride and the groom are duly included in the decision making. A sufficiently long courtship period follows the initial negotiations in which the bride and the groom get to know one another and develop the bonding that may lead to a marriage they look forward to. An abortion of the whole thing if the bride and groom don't get along well is also not completely out of order for some forward looking families.

The arguments against arranged marriage are as follows. The 'success rate' of arranged marriages is more a 'survival rate'. Often couples drudge on in their marriage just because of social stigmas about separation even though they may just hate each other. This predicament can't be counted as a success. It's worse than a separation. Regarding the initial negotiation and the ensuing courtship, a major objection is the intentionality of the process. Right from the first step, the fact that it all would end in a marriage is there in every body's mind. Interactions, evaluations etc. all get biased in presence of this.

Counter-arguments to this are again that marriage is indeed a social arrangement, and that aspect can't be ignored. The involvement of the society in the making of a marriage is undeniable and can't be wished away. The elaborateness of the the processes leading to a marriage, and the elaborateness of the associated rituals of marriage, are all symbolic of the social importance of this contract, and are partially directly toward adding the 'social balast' that would keep it going at times of low spirits, perhaps at the cost of never letting it become a roller coaster ride of love and romance.

Well, things are in flux. I think there're people for whom arranged marriage is appropriate, while for some love marriages are appropriate. I don't deny the possibility that for some perhaps a live-in is correct, for some a marital commune is correct, for some perfect promiscuity may be the right thing. Right diagonally, a life of avowed celebacy may also be right for some.

Leaving out the extreme cases, let's try to identify the sections for whom arranged marriages might work, and those who should go for a love marriage. The ulterior motive is also to find out where I belong.

First and foremost, the concept of marriage is open to individual interpretation. The proportion of social involvement and personal emotions is subjective. Mind you! I am not saying 'arbitrary'. I am saying 'subjective'. That is, it may be different from person to person, but is decided not on personal whims and fancies but on a whole gamut of factors.

These factors are: our cultural background, our nature, our personality, our occupation and practical issues like location, nature of profession among others. I think, doing justice to each of these aspects is impossible within a writeup that wants to be called a blog and not a book. I will try to contemplate on as many in as limited words as possible.

Our background defines largely what the marriage would circumstantially lead to eventually. In a traditional Indian setting, it would mean a very highly increased interaction between two large families. Even to this day, this setting persists in many of the very affluent and modern families. Reports galore that this family system is regaining its vitality among urban affluents due to the many advantages it provides. In this setting, the highly social nature of marriage can't be ignored. A nicely arranged marriage would be a wise thing here.

A different scenario arises in the typical urban people. Nuclear families with much reduced interaction with the extended family, fast paced professional life, frequent migrations, have reduced the presence of the concept of family as a strong binding force in people's life. Parental bonding, after the kid is grown up and has moved out of home, is predominantly at the emotional -- and not practical -- level. In this case, the relation with the spouse is expectedly going to be strongest bonding that a person would have in his life. The interaction of the spouse with parents is going to be occasional. Marriage is hence a much more personal affair here. Love marriage looks fine here.

Secondly, a clarification is in place here as to what we mean by a 'love marriage.' There're hybrid forms : arranged love marriage (both know each other through family; families are tacitly OK with the alliance; emotions grow under the auspices of the families), and love arranged marriage (emotions are already there; families are consulted at a late stage with high probability of consent; subsequent proceedings happen like in arranged marriage). There's yet another form : 'personally arranged marriage.' The bride and groom 'decide' to marry each other, may be or may be not involving friends and family in the decision process. The emotional dynamics don't radically differ from that of arranged marriage, but, as is clear, the marriage is a personal event, not a social one.

A marriage preceded by conditions straight out of a Mills and Boon is what we can all agree to mean by a 'love marriage.' Somewhere in the course, there'll be this stretch where there's a storm of uncontrollable emotions, attraction (which I will refrain from calling 'sexual' considering there might be some romantically inclined among my readers). A stage where nothing matters but that fact that separation is very painful, and togetherness is just bliss. No reasons, no decisions, no society, no nothing. Just a rapid undulation between deadly pain and heavenly ecstacy. That's usually understood as the feeling of 'love'. That feeling may become the prime motivator for a marital alliance. If that happens, the marriage is undesputably a 'love marriage.'

What leads to such stormy feelings? Sorry to say, but I am inclined to attribute it again to our biology. We all are looking for mates, and the presence of suitable mates instigates biological reactions which are way too deep in our genes for us to be able to comprehend them, leave alone controlling them. I am almost convinced that a purely conscious appreciation of good qualities may lead to appreciation, admiration, or in the extreme case, to love of the friendly kind. To stir up attractions of such unearthly proportions as happens in a romantic relation must require something else than mere conscious appreciation of good qualities. It's either biology, or mystical. Being of an agnostic type, I prefer the former.

The above clarification was to point out the involuntariness of the process of falling in love. Love happens; we don't do it (here I am reminded of some very forgettable Hindi movie song here which says that in Hindi). Hence, one can't really decide to fall in love. Yes, one can decide to stiffle that storm while it's still brewing in interest of other considerations; or may let it go full-swing and take control. A marriage is a deliberate action and is always arranged. It may follow the event of love (if that's already happened), or may not.

So, neither the falling in love, or the premise of social circumstances are controllable in some sense. Both may be the reason for marriage. If God forbid, they contend, and not cooperate, for being the prime antecedant of a marriage, which ought to be chosen?

The uncotrolledness of love (AKA attraction) definitely speaks against it and has been used as an argument by elders to support arranged marriages. But the biological aspect, instead of being taken as a debasing factor, should be considered a great natural indication of the appropriateness of an alliance. The biological attraction has been said to result from some kind of deep biological calculations that happen at the level of our genes. It might be an indicator that there's biological match there. This may result in the creation of a healthy progeny, which again has never been ousted from the list of prime reasons of marriage.

Predating all these arguments, there's an issue of a much more practical nature. Many of us have been brought up in a strongly traditional upbringing. This has given us a corresponding personality. Then, we have been hurled into circumstances where things are in no way traditional. Our present speaks for a typical love marriage. Our past warrants an arranged one.

Talking very practically, to create a sufficiently large probability of success in falling in love and coming across a suitable alliance through it would mean going through it several times while you have time. This requires certain degree of aggressiveness in the disposition.

I have known people who have gone through several full-blown relations within a span of a few years. Within this span they have gone through all the experiences that qualify each of those flings as a full-blown affair. These people, assuming they have an idea what it means to be in a love from which you won't eventually fall out, stand a very high practical chance of coming across a suitable alliance.

On the other hand, I have never been in a relation. I have been in circumstances which I could say as threshold of a romantic relations. It's never worked out for me beyond that. But the shock and dejection that has followed each of these experiences has always left me numb with pain, enough to keep me from feeling any tingle of similar emotions for many year to come. Clearly, people like me surely stand far fewer chances of meeting a suitable aliance through the way of love. All that just going by numbers.

This puts us (me!) in a very knotty predicament. Love is no commodity one can purchase in the market. You wait for it to come your way. Experience has told that for people like me it's not an everyday matter to meet love. Time's limited.

On the other hand, somewhere deep down, that high school lad, who had very timely turned into a man, still craves for that creature who will turn my life topsy turvy, and more importantly, will allow me to do the same to hers! We all simultaneously live in several worlds. Spiritual, intellectual, social. And at some point we have a natural propensity to seek a proof of our suitability in that world. We also live in a biological world, the Darwinian world. We all have a natural wish to prove our fitness in that world too!


Well, I know I am exposing myself in a very obscene way. But that with a confidence that I am echoing the predicament of a huge number of eligible bachelors and spinsters of the world.

The bottomline is: For many of us, it's hardly the question of whether we should go for love marriage or arranged marriage. I don't think, many of us are in a position of making many choices regarding this. For us the prime question is: how on earth do we reconcile with whichever of these two might eventually come our way?

Debate on Beauty Pageants

Well! Cliched topic! Not my cup of tea.

Writing it because the other day, late in the night, I saw almost a complete TV programme after ages. I don't remember when I had last done that. It was a public debate being conducted by star journalist Barkha Dutt on 'Should Beauty Pageants be Taken Seriously?' Although cliched, I still got to hear some interesting points of view. I will try to record them impartially. I will end with a slightly partial view of mine.

I will tag the negative points with a (-) and the positive ones with a (+).

(-) Commodification of women : The central theme of beauty pageants is still physical beauty. It's a repackaged repetition of the age-old treatment of women as commodities.
(+) But these days, the beauty pageants involve non-trivial amount of intelligence. The participants are not just physically beautiful, they are smart and intelligent.
(-) It's a short cut to fame.
(+) People have various strengths, strong intelligence, strong bodies, etc. They all use it to their own benefit, for making money, fame, career. What's wrong if some one has a beautiful body and uses it for making a career?
(+) A pageant contestant prepares rigorously; and a model's life is a hard one.
(-) The beauty and confidence of the pageants is more a media projection. There're much more beautiful and smarter women walking the streets. Winning a pageant doesn't mean in any way that the person is one of the most beautiful really.
(+) People's consciousness about staying and looking healthy has improved over years.
(-) Appearance related stresses, depression is also on a rise. Anorexia is becoming a common problem.
(-) If beauty queens are fit to be someone's role models, why do beauty queens always announce Mother Teresa as their role models in the QA session?
(+) The particular beauty queen participating in the debate (can't recollect her name; she was quite a beautiful lady) quickly announced that she'd mentioned Sushmita Sen as her role model.
(-) Pageants vow their commitment for the upliftment of the society, helping starving children and other charity. They are quick to forget that as soon as they get their first break in bollywood.
(+) The beauty queen said that she has been involved in charity activities for the last 6 years and continues to be so irrespective of the title.
(-) Why Miss India? Why not Miss Femina, or Miss Palmolive? They aren't the picture of 'the' perfect Indian woman. They shouldn't be named what they are far from.
(+/-) Kiran bedi said that it's a very lucrative career attracting many talented young women, and involves big money. It's good, nothing wrong about it. But it's another good career. It doesn't define a universal role model for anyone. It may, for some; but not for every body.

There were many more points made both in favour and against the motion. I don't recollect all of them right now.

My point of view
Well! Expectedly, I lean more towards the traditional picture of an Indian, and my views aren't unexpectedly liberal.

But, I don't shun beauty pageants. No way! To an extent, I admire the 'nominal' spirit. The pageants showcase are genuinely bright girls in most cases. They should be given points for that.

But, to the question of whether beauty pageants create role models, and whether they should be taken seriously, my answer leans gently towards negative. The most prominent output of the pageants is a brand ambassador whose skyrocketted fame can be used for a definite period of time (which is usually rather brief) by the multinationals sponsoring the event. The second important output is starlets for the Bollywood releases of the next couple of years. Almost all beauty queens end up in bollywood. A small fraction of them make it really big there. But definitely their end target is Bollywood or modelling.

Media's coverage of such events is tremendous. That happens because a large number of people are interested. And such large numbers are created not by the intelligence factor, but by the (physical) beauty factor. The large number of people who show interest to see those programmes are interested in seeing pretty faces flashing beautiful smiles, fluttering their eyelashes, moving gracefully in revealing evening dresses. In the swimsuit round, the judges and pageants might be genuinely interested in judging the pageant's health and comfort with the entire body. But the large number of spectators, who make the extravagance of the events possible, have no such noble intentions which scrutinising the exposed flesh which goes on air. This large number causes a bloating up the importance of such events. The competition becomes commensurately cut throat. But all said and done, what's tested in a beauty pageant are qualities of an ordinary order. A fairly ordinary level of intelligence, a fairly ordinary level beauty and grace, packed in an extraordinary amount of guts, only to stand on stage and beam plastic smiles. It's a model, and film-star. A product. Not an ideal woman.

We have idolisable women all around us. Two people present in that debate were two instances: Kiran Bedi, and Barkha Dutt. There are many extra-ordinary women in the acquaintence circles of each one of us. What good qualities -- grace, intelligence, courage, confidence, love, care, feminity -- we get to see only in meagre quantities in a beauty pageant are available in plenty among the women we know personally : our friends and colleagues, that simple Mom back home, those school teachers we remember from our childhood. The only thing that's available in plenty in a beauty pageant is that same thing -- female flesh -- which has always topped in the list of man's desire, but has never, and will never, be considered at par with the above qualities. Men will look for female flesh in nondescript places - movies, sleazy magazines, so-called fashionable streets...even brothels, and now beauty pageants. Wrapping that up with trivial amounts of other higher end qualities is like draping a naked body with a translucent dress. It may add an aesthetic aspect for the artistically inclined, but it doesn't anyway take away the nudity.

I repeat, it's nothing wrong to sell flesh. I consider even prostitution a very legitimate trade from the prostitute's point of view. I consider it a great hypocricy to look down at prostitution as a wrong thing, leave alone sinful. The only thing that makes it a trade of a low order is the requirement it satisfies: man's carnal desire. Prostitution is not characterised by a lack of sophistication, intelligence, courage etc. We have high-profile prostitutes who garnish their skill set with plenty of these qualities. Neither does prostitution get characterised by the mere act of commercial copulation. What characterises prostitution is the requirement it targets. It doesn't target intellect or aesthetic sense, though a call-girl may very well display her intellect and aesthetic sensibility to ensnear her client, a strong turn on for many sophisticated gentlemen ( included ;) ). Prostitution targets sexual desire, and uses it as its prime vehicle for money earning. Prostitution wouldn't survive if man hadn't been grappling around to satiate that insatiable fire. Any trade which critically depends for its existence on this grappling around of man, be it movie-stardom or modelling, can't be put in any different category than prostitution. It's just a matter of degree; there's no qualitative difference. The other aspects, which are boldly advertised as the higher order aspects aren't dominant enough to figure as the prime aspects of these pageants. As I mentioned earlier, beauty pageants depend for their existence on a large body of audience whose objective of taking interest in such events has none of those higher end requirements. Beauty pageants would fail to be so extravagant in absense of these lusty viewers. Modelling would have failed to reach such high-profile status in absence of this extravagance. How seriously should such events be taken? I don't know!

Regarding creation of role models, I see a distinct priority inversion happening in beauty pageants. Priority inversion between brain and beauty. Brain is an asset of higher order than body. I won't listen to arguments disputing that. An intelligent woman who is also beautiful stands strong as a role model. She will be respected, worshiped, loved and desired in proper proportions. A physically beautiful woman who is also somewhat brainy is a very different thing. Most will give a damn to intelligence if it's the secondary attribute. A model, or a film actress may be a very intelligent woman in her private life, but the huge crowd of youngsters who idolise her and want to become like her will hardly have anything to do with that. It's her physical beauty, and her stardom (which doesn't have much to do with her intelligence) which draws fans. If someone asks what's wrong in younsters idolising someone because of her physical beauty and the resulting stardom, I don't have a clear answer. All I can say is, if many-many youngsters go that way, something wrong will happen to the community in general. I will always pray that the number of youngsters choosing beauty-pageant winners as their role models be limited to a small number.

This leads to the final aspect of my opinion: the loudness of glamour world. I felt a little worried by the fact that glamour of movies and fashion world has a strong effect on the young mind. A yet to mature mind sees only that aspect and gets drawn without bothering to consider the matter in all its aspects. The largeness of fan-following that glamour world draws is not surprising. But my worry was partially extinguished because I also realised that the effect of this shallow glitter is also shallow on most. Our teachers, our mothers -- who on the one hand have only a very limited number of potential fans -- have a much more profound effect on our psyche. Intellectuals, social workers, teachers and mothers (sisters and wives) have their own respective sets of fan-following and idolisers: restricted in number, but far more stronger. The scenario seems beautifully balanced!

For me, the nobility and idolisability of our profession (or occupation) depends on which of our qualities is it that creates the fan following, irrespective of the number of fans. We deeply idolise our Moms -- or saints like Mother Teresa -- because it's created of the greatest of all qualities: love, which connects to the soul. We idolise intellectuals, politicians, teachers, scientists because of the quality of the next order -- intelligence and brains, which connects to the mind. We idolise film-stars and models because of their beauty and celebrity status, which connects to the body.

The preference order is rather clear.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Terminator Which Never Started

A question about the story of the film Terminator has always intrigued me. The other day, I asked this question to the instructor of the Philosophy of Science course. He didn't give a direct answer, very like a philosopher. He, instead, tagged me as a 'believer'. I couldn't fathom his response, hence won't comment on it. I will reiterate my question instead.

The story of Terminator is summarised as follows:

Terminator 1
John Connor is going to be a saviour of some kind of human kind in a futurististic war that's going to happen in 2029 -- humans against AI machines. To ascertain a victory in this war, the machines decide to assassinate John Connor, by killing his mother, way back in 1984, even before he's born. A Terminator is sent to kill Sarah Connor. A soldier from that 2029 war is sent by Connor (of 2029) to save his mom. Lots of violence. Terminator gets destroyed. In the process, the soldier and Sarah mate, conceiving John Connor.

Terminator 2
1992 or something. John Connor is already born and is being brought up by some foster parents as a genius brat. His mom is in some kind of assylum for keeping on talking about Terminator and impending dangers on mankind. The microchip of T1 was recovered and used by an industrialist to found a AI robotics company.
Set on this background, a more advanced Terminator the T1k is sent to kill Connor. A replica of the earlier Terminator is sent by John (of 2029) to save himself from T1k. Similar, more violent, fights happen with the same outcome. T1k is terminated, and the good Terminator is voluntarily destroyed.
A small, but very critical episode in this movie involves that AI robotics company. It is mentioned that it goes on to produce the AI machines which finally turn against human beings in the future. Hence, our heroes, John and Sarah, try to destroy this industry and kill its founder. There attempt doesn't succeed.

My Doubt

Who is the originator of the idea of Terminator? I know, it's James Cameron or someone. No! I mean, in the movie!
The industry is set up with the remnants of a microchip fished out of the remains of T1. That results in the future mass production of Terminator like machines? Terminators are not naturally occuring objects. They have been shown as 'artificial' things -- machines -- conceptualised and manufactured by men. We are habituated to see all engineering creations as having been created by some human mind, some mind at least. They can't just hang around there just like that, and then go around in circles between present and future!

Thank God they didn't show that soldier who comes back to 1984 to save Sarah Connor -- and impregnates her with John -- as John's son or something. My consternation would have known no end then! After all someone has to be someone's father, and cycles are not allowed in parent child graphs!

Well, on second thought, that makes a good subject for a sci-fi flick. A BOLLYWOOD sci-fi flick, that is!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Convincing and Confusing

figure 1. The communication process

While we communicate, at least two objectives are always there: one is to get across the matter to the listener. The other is to showcase one's ability to create that matter to be communicated.

The first is clearly always, without exception, the announced objective. In fact the title of a speech, essey, poem, painting, musical composition, book...the title of all these announces this. However, it's quite surprising to realise how important the second objective hypocritically is. Regulating the mix of these two objectives makes communication such a tricky affair. How do these two objectives interplay? The objective of this blog is to analyse this interplay. Well, the first objective, that is!

Let me start by right away busting away the notion that the second objective is the essential objective for the communicator; the first is essential for listener. I mean to say, this notion would propose that a communicator is always essentially an egotist flaunting his skill, creativity or whatever. The proponent of this idea would then non-chalantly add, 'Well, there's nothing wrong in wishing to show off your things.' thus trying to create comfort in a pricking conscience of a creator. I feel, it's an oversimplification followed by an ugly looking patch.

A communicator (I think of everybody doing anything meaningful, as communicators of some sort: artists, scientists, politicians, actors, musicians, writers (but of course), players, dancers, name it) communicates because he wants to. The essential part of communication happens in the discovery of the substance of communication within the mind of the communicator. A self discovery of sorts. Letting it out to the world is just just a translation (here, you would perhaps like to go through Pritesh's blog Lost in Translation and my comments on that). Therefore, communication is an act of instrospection and self-discovery in its essence. Its relation with egotism can't be denied; but that can't be treated as the primary characteristic of communication.

Another very charming characteristic of communication is the reverse translation of concrete artifact of communication -- i.e. a prose or poetry, a painting, a play, a movie or a song -- into an abstract thought at the receiver's end. (ref. my earlier blog Communication).

This whole thing about it being possible to transfer a completely abstract thought, an emotion, an idea, an argument or opinion through concrete media creates the charm of communication. A good communicator has senses which are awakened enough to express joy at this phenomenon of encoding an abstract arising at one site in concrete, and its effective back translation into its original form, but at another site. Something like shown in figure 1.

Credits that the communicator (a person who mediates the above miracle of communication) earns would be an added benefit from the essential act of communication. But, its place is only complimentary to the first objective. It never can stand for the first of the two benefits, let alone compromising it for its own sake.

Then how does this heinous act of bartering communication happen for the sake of the communicator's vanity? To understand that, let us try to list down a few things which tend to assist an essentially good communication, and those which fetter it. Now, for the sake of concreteness, I will take the example of one of communication: writing prose. What you are reading right now is that, and can be directly put through the acid test.

* Simplicity/complexity ( = 1/simplicity)
* Shortness/longness ( = 1/shortness)
* Linearity/lateralness ( = 1/linearity)
...and many more.

Each A/B pair are opposite to each other. B improves the quality of the content, A improves the effectiveness of information transfer.

Computation of Primary Efficiency of Communication

I feel, the primary efficiency of the communication is simply:

E1 = C(M1)*E(T1)*E(T2).

where C(M1) is the content of the source.
E(T1) is the efficiency of the T1 translation
E(T2) is the efficiency of the T2 translation

Looking closely you would observe that C(M1) is a monotonically increasing function of complexity, length and lateralness. That is, other aspects being constant, the source content would increase if you increase any or all of these three.

Similarly E(T1) and E(T2) are monotonically increasing functions of simplicity, shortness, linearity.

This simple mathematical model gives us a few precious hints. There is one factor on the RHS, C(M1), which increases with increasing complexity(length and lateralness). And there're two factors on the RHS which decrease with it. Depending on the gradient of the rise of C(M1), and of the fall of E(T1) and E(T2), we could analytically find a value of simplicity, shortness and linearity that would result in maximum E1.

Computation of Secondary Efficiency of Communication

We define the secondary efficiency E2 of the communication as the amount of credits that the communicator achieves through his act of communication. Before that a word or two about what exactly comprises of that credit. The basic invariant is the display of intellectual or sensual assets : command over language, ability to handle complexity, to organise large volumes of information, the possession of that information, patience to develop, maintain, enhance and present that information etc.

All these are monotonically increasing functions of length, complexity and lateralness. From the viewpoint of E2, there's a clear and direct benefit in increasing all three of these.

Reconciliation between E1 and E2

Very simply put, the overall efficiency of communication is:

E = alpha(E1) + beta(E2).

The proportionality constants alpha and beta are results of the communicator's maturity and other circumstantial factors. For a more matured communicator, alpha may expectedly have a high value whereas beta may be close to zero. They are immeasureable I believe. A cunning communicator may even fake them to others. A psychotically cunning chap may be able to fake them even to himself.

To be a bit more precise, E, alpha and beta are not the innate traits of a communicator, but the environment of communication. For instance, in a typically corporate scenario, an inherently honest chap may be forced to become a communicator with a low alpha and high beta values.

But assuming that a person is at least honest enough to himself, and is roughly able to figure out the values of alpha and beta for himself, E looks like a good measure of efficiency.

The above mathematical modelling is no great work of scientific brilliance. It's an attempt to mathematically characterise the needs that we are typically trying to satisfy during a session of communication. During this process, the contents of the communication are at display. So are the communicator's communication powers. A communicator (after all a mortal) would always expect that his customers pick up some of these secondary displays along with the primary ones.

A communicator's maturity constant can be defined as (alpha/beta). So, a clean thing to do in order to improve one's maturity is to be concerned more and more towards improving E1 and not E2. Seems simple, but becomes Herculean when tried.

A more pragmatic suggestion to all communicators is that we all will try to smuggle out a bit of our vanity along with authentic service to the mankind in any form. Subtle vanity is accepted well. Vanity taken to the levels of vanity(!) makes it gaudy and ugly: be it physical beauty, artistic beauty or intellectual beauty, when displayed in a vulgar and unwelcome manner becomes a subject of ridicule and harassment.

What to say more! I am confused about the alpha and beta of this article. You decide!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Musings of An Overfed Intellectual

(taken down directly from a note on a loose sheet written late one november night)

Being an intellectual (alleged!) comes with its own share of feelings of guilt. We all are the not-so-privileged lot born in a land where the greatest and the most powerful men chose lives of austerity and ascetism. As a thriving success story of capitalism tries to create a sanguine attitute about the overall rise in physical living standards, a deep rooted something makes many of us doubtful. Roarkes and John Galts of early youth coax us to feel proud at eating the fruits of our own virtues; Valmis, Vyasas and Buddas of our childhood keep gnawing at our heart. They keep talking something about growing out of our needs! If there has been a real battleground between the coflicting ideologies of Capitalism and Socialism, it's the mind of an Indian!

Prof. ... delivered a talk on 'Sustainable Rural Development' in Astra on November 8. The candid and sincere oratory of the Prof. flared up smouldering embers of disquiet. 'What's meant by development?' 'What do you mean by fair competition?' 'Are things really so fair as we pretend they are?' The talk raised myriad philosophical, political, sociological and economic questions. In the course, the projects undertaken by Astra found a mention. More than their magnitude or economic impact, it was the noble intention, and indegenous attempts to solve practical problems that stood out as the main feature of all those projects.

The essential message was that sustainable development can never be achieved by following a fundamentally narrow minded and short sighted model of economic deve,opment. The deceit of fairness that we so hard to maintain will sooner of later break in front of the great economic divide. The real development of people will happen by fulfilling their actual needs, not by braiwashing them into defining their needs as per what's profitable to people who are already in an advantageous condition.