Monday, April 30, 2012

Fault Modelling

The extreme difficulty of obtaining solutions by conventional mathematical analysis has led in the past to the use of highly unrealistic models simply because they led to equations that could be solved. In fact, the applied mathematician has been engaged in a continual tussle with his conscience to decide how far he could go in the direction of distorting his model in order to make the equations tractable. The point is well made in the ancient jest about the examination question that began 'An elephant whose mass can be neglected.....'

 - M.V. Wilkes

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Ascent of Money

Money does not make the world go round, it makes staggering quantities of people, goods and services go round the world

The Ascent of Money

I have recently started reading the book "The Ascent of Money" by Niall Ferguson. This book carries a lot of insight into the economic history and evolution of the world to the present day financial markets. Needless to say, it conveys a lot of information about human behaviour regarding money since times ancient. I will be sharing some of the interesting quotes I come across in this book on my blog.
The first one to go is

When human beings first began to keep written records of their activities, they did so not to write history, poetry or philosophy, but to do business and keep accounts
 - Niall Ferguson 


Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy

 - Dale Carnegie 

Right to Education in India

Recently the Supreme Court of India upheld the Right to Education act's requirement that all private schools reserve free seats for students from the neighbourhood who cannot afford to pay tuition fees. The middle class which proudly calls itself the face of the nation disliked the idea of having their kids share social space with poor kids. After living in an egalitarian society for three quarters of a year I cannot help but  feel ashamed of the actions of the middle class. Surprisingly these actions come from people who, while growing up have been taught the notion of equality of class and creed.

My despair is shared by Mihir Sharma in this article. You can clearly see the evidence of his frustration when he uses the choicest of words to rebuke and  criticise the middle class. He goes on to call India the most elitist, unequal, exclusive and stratified country in the world. He may be right given his observations and experiences and on some terms, I agree with him.
In one of his best lines in the article, he says, "The Indian elite confuses its tiny, mediocre incestuous world of networks and inherited advantage with true merit, the one that comes from striving upwards when the circumstances are unfavourable". I truly appreciate the sentiments behind his scathing attack on the Indian middle class.
More such attacks will be needed to truly imbibe in the new generation of Indians, the values of social equality. De-fragmentation of the society is essential before the divide breaks our society into two irreconcilable halves.
When we switched to a free market economy in 1991, we still decided to retain the word 'socialist' in the preamble to  the constitution and maintained that India still was a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, the word SOCIALIST standing for equality of status and opportunity.
I hope we as a country realise the importance of an undivided meritocratic society soon.