Saturday, March 31, 2007


An instructor in one of my company organized training programs used to say: "There is no right way or no wrong way. There are just different ways of doing things".

Though I really didn't like that instructor very much, this line just stayed with me. Whenever someone says/does something that I don't fully agree with, these lines automatically pop into my head. This makes it very difficult for me to get angry with someone - even if I should get angry.

Coming to the main topic here, I recently came across a blog in my company intranet. It is about how a team successfully endured a number of obstacles and took a project to completion. I've known people from that project (my current manager is one). That project was notorious for its loss making bid and a bad estimation. Its members used to continuously stay all night in office. If on any day they manage to leave by 10:00 pm, then its an achievement.

So this blog goes on about how the project people sacrificed a number of things for the project.

"Mr.A, a team lead had an eye infection and was not able to drive to the office for couple of days. He asked team members to email the source code, so that he can review the same from home and send the feedback to the team. He had to stay at on-site for few extra days to cover another associate on vacation though his wife was expecting him back home urgently as their baby was due anytime – Incidentally, when he returned back from on-site, he had to directly drive to the hospital from the airport to see his just-born baby."

Mr.B, the data conversion lead on the project was blessed with twins just few weeks before the project went live. This did not stop from being completely available and work throughout during the entire conversion week-end along with the rest of the team who was waiting for the momentous occasion for 3 years.

Mr.C proved his versatility when he took the challenge of uncharted territory of CVS for code merge/branching etc – He showed the true company spirit of continuing to be involved even when he had health issues and in hospital while at on-site.

I thought: Whats the big point of being onsite, earning a 5/6 digit salary, having a car, house and what not, if you cannot be with your wife during child birth or when you cannot even look after yourself? Is it really worth it?

These things are quite common in developing economies like India. There's whole lot of things that happening in the country. Jobs are very few compared to the demand, so there is always someone to replace you and work even harder. And there's lot of competition around and companies just keep increasing the load of their employees to stay competitive. The result - the individual loses his grip over his personal life.

It is just the perspective of the concerned person. I personally want to have a balance between the personal and official life. Putting in more work at a crunch time is fine. But it should not always be a crunch time.

I've seen some who are really charged up for their company. They will do everything possible to benefit the company. They will be ready to sacrifice their personal life for the company. So, in their eyes, whatever that blog said is really a great thing. They would actually expect everyone to be like that.

So everything in this world is perspective. It is each individual's perspective of things that decide their actions. And conflicts arise when the perspectives and consequently the expectations/views of two individuals do not match.

Thinking from both angles of a situation, I usually can't really say that either one of the views is right/wrong. This attitude sometimes confuses me a lot. whenever I feel angry or when I feel something is wrong, I immediately start thinking more from the other person's point of view. And most of the times, whatever bothered me no longer seems wrong. I don't think this actually is a good thing. It becomes really difficult to get things done - It just makes me too soft. Assume I'm standing in a billing counter in a shop and the sales person is so busy with so many people pulling him/her in different directions. I will then refrain from asking him/her anything till they are somewhat free. There are instances where I've just stood there for more than 15 minutes waiting for them. On the other hand, there will be someone else, who will just walk in and demand attention. And they will get all the needed attention whenever they walk in through the door. But I on the other hand, end up being taken for granted - because the people there know that I won't say anything and that they can afford to take some liberty with me.

And because of this attitude, I'm considered too much of a moderate. My cousins call me 'truly secular' for my beliefs that everyone has a right to practice/propagate their religions. Sometimes I even go to the extremes of justifying Jihad or any such thing (Definitely not the killings, but their anger). So am I an extremist from that perspective? I have this terrible habit of finding flaws in my own beliefs - vegetarianism, Hinduism etc. When I think of some idea, I also think of what points an opponent would put forward for that idea. And suddenly I find my idea weakening.

Is this good/bad ? Again, its matter of perspective.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Has mankind become more barbaric?

Everyday we hear around us, someone saying "The world has become sooo bad. People are not good anymore. Voilence, murder, wars have increased. The world is about to end..." or something like that. We hear this all round the world. I don't want to say anything about the 'doomsday' forecast of the world coming to an end. But whenever I hear something like this, I start thinking - Has mankind really become more barbarian? Have our moral values deteroirated?

Looking at the history of Mankind (yes, I know I'm again talking about history), I don't really think so. Right from the time we evolved into modern day homo sapiens, barbarism, violence and cruelty has been a part of our genetic imprints. Whenever a group of Humans moved into a new land, it was common for them to clash with the original inhabitants of the area. Either one would survive the clash.

Right from the ancient times, we can find several instances of barbarism:
  1. The cruel pharos of Egypt who proclaimed themselves to be gods and just obliterated anyone who opposed them.
  2. The cruel roman emperors who just mass murdered their own subjects. One classic example is the emperor Nero, who was a psycho path and just went about killing his own people and family.
  3. The barbaric Germaninc tribes of northern Europe who went on a rampage across Europe and challenged Rome.
  4. The cruel and Barbaric Vikings who for more than a century spread terror across large parts of British Isles and Ireland. By 1000 A.D they even reached North America and establish some settlements there.
  5. The harsh regimes of Aztecs and Mayas, who were busy Killing each other in the New world, while others were busy doing the same in the old world.
  6. By the time the Viking invasions ended, there were huge number of soldiers across Europe who had taken up arms to repel the Vikings. Suddenly they were left jobless and could not stay put. So they resorted to terrorozing the local population.
  7. Now it was the turn of the Roman catholic church to take up the reigns of terror. They launched the Crusade wars again the middle east and the orthodox christians of Eastern Europe. They plundered and ravaged the cities that were in their way. No one cared about the value of human life. A total of 9 crusades were launched resulting in a loss of thousands of lives.
  8. Asia saw the barbaric acts of the Mongols under Chengiz khan, huns and many others.
  9. Then came the Renaissance in Europe. The new worlds were discovered and thus began an age of exploration and discovery(also colonisation and exploitation). Wherever they went the Europeans brought a reign of terror and destruction. The spaniards literally obliterated the indegenious poulation of the americas. The french, british, germans, portugese and others took up the same task in Asia and Africa. Their atrocities in Africa has made a huge impact on the African continent from which it is yet to emerge.
  10. The period also saw some atrocities by the Muslim rules of the Indian sub-continent like some rulers of the slave dynasty, mughal emperor Aurangazeb and other invaders like Nadir shah who plundered Indian cities following the decline of the Mughal empire.
  11. The period also saw mass plundering and exploitation of the people of europe themselves by the rules of France, the Czars of Russia and others.
  12. Then finally came the world wars, the marked the height of barbarism. Millions perished.
  13. The period after the world wars saw a number of proxy wars.
  14. A new form of violence has emerged - terrorism. That is going to see another round of barbarism.

So as we can see, no where in the history was there a period of relative peace and never did man exhibit any high sense of morality and respect for his fellow being. Every one and then, a great person came along and tried to harness the good side of mankind. Though they seemed to bring mankind to its senses for some short periods of time, we invariably slid back to our violent ways.It has always been a period of violence followed by a period of calm and peace brought on by some benevolent ruler, religious head or someone like that.

But what makes the current age more deadly is the technological advancement that we've made in our methods of warfare. We now possess bombs and weapons capable of destroying the entire planet. But if Nero or the vikings or the huns had these technologies they would have definetely caused the same damage.
So it is technology that has made the current age seem more deadly. Man himself is always the same, seeking to prevail over others, subdue his fellow beings and consolidate 'power'. Maybe mankind will merge into one unified race, only in the wake of an all-out attack by some alien race - Remember the movie 'Independence day'. Yeah -something like that.