Reddie Reasons.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hear Me Ranting ...

Living in the US for a year now, I feel as if I am stuck in between two worlds. People have asked me how different America is from India ... and my responses to moving halfway across the world. It's very different, even if you are the sort of kid who grew up with classic rock and tons of western influences. This post has caught me in a particularly emotional moment.

Anyway, what's different? There are tons of concerts here, to witness the American spirit, you must visit a sporting event. The commentator will go, "Who wants ice-cream?"" and the whole stadium will yell and scream, like little kids, that they would love ice-cream. People are free. Happy.

But this post is not about America, it's about me. I usually find myself looking at the news in India and in the US at the same time. I look at the news in India first though. It is weird. I didn't care much for the news in India when I was home, but now it seems to be a big deal. I have closely followed the devaluing of the rupee. I know now that Congress stands for bureaucracy after watching the millions of scams in the Center and my own state -- Andhra Pradesh -- just look at the Chief Minister's son, Jagan, the richest kid on the block. The BJP, I am not sure yet. I think they stand for something like more economic reform and swifter action as opposed to Congress, but want to curtail our political freedoms (no short dresses for women, and obviously no kissing on the street ... duh). I think I am finally old and mature enough to start to see trends around me.

For example, the mind-body dichotomy in politics. One party wants economic freedom but wants to curtail our political freedoms. (BJP, Republicans) The other is "progressive" and "liberal" on the political front (respect for privacy, etc) but will not think twice in implementing a million welfare schemes. (Democrats and Congress) One party wants to control the mind, the other wants to control the body.

I think my greatest asset that I take away from studying in the US, regardless of whether I live here after I graduate or not, is contrast. I am seeing a society that quite literally works. Traffic is organized. It's the best law education I have ever had -- no question. They have a healthy political debate in the country about all the relevant issues. For instance, I could switch on the TV in India, tune into the news and feel complete indifference at the kind of stuff I see on TV. A Member of Parliament gets into a fight with a schoolteacher. Like dude, what the fuck are you doing? You're on TV for gods sake.

Here, they know the basic issue -- capitalism v. socialism -- in one form or another -- conservatives v. liberals, the Tea Party movement v. The Occupy Wall Street Movement, pro-choice v. pro-life and so on.

In India, people are simply utterly ignorant of the the relevant issues. From where I come from, there's a fight for a separate state, Telangana. Why? Well, one part of the state has more government schools, more government jobs, more government investment, and a million other government paid projects. Now they are fighting over the loot each of the participants wants. How do we resolve this? Put on a committee -- they will figure it out, somehow. How about rolling the government back? Huh?

Or take corruption. They now want a super committee that regulates other committees. If having a million committees created the problem of corruption to begin with, how could more of the same be a solution to the problem? If the Anti-Corruption Bureau didn't solve the problem, why would a new Anna Hazare committee solve the problem. How about banishing government from all human affairs? Huh? Are you a crazy communist or something? A communist -- really, you fuckking idiot?

I just read an article where a social activist in India was thrown into jail for making a pitch against the government. He kept a journal in prison. If you have the stomach, you can read all of its morbid details here. That was my emotional moment. Grassroot activists here are protected by the law regardless of how "extreme" their position is. They are not molested and beaten by the cops. Ultimately, given my passion for Objectivism, activism, and cultural change, the fact that such incidents happen in India may tilt the balance for  me to continue living in the States. I don't want to go to jail,  get raped, and live the worst life possible fighting for a better world. I have 60 more years perhaps, and I am going to make the best life possible to me.

In any case, I have probably broken all the rules of writing I set for myself. Never write without setting a theme. Never write without an outline. Never publish without doing three layers of editing on each level -- for structure, paragraph, and editing it line by line. It's my space after all, and if writing casually gets me going, then so be it.

Here is a comment I left on facebook, on the piece about the journal the activist kept while he was in prison.

It's an extremely dangerous job ... being an activist in India. Especially the kind that are anti-government as opposed to groups for the environment or animal rights and stuff like that. 

In a country where non-objective law knows no bounds, where laws are so out-of-touch with harsh procedural realities in remote villages and towns, where freedom of speech is disposable at a second's notice, and where human life is dirt cheap, one is exposing oneself to mortal risks by speaking up against injustices perpetrated by the government.

Objectivism is anti-government given the scope of government today. It can so easily be misrepresented and caricaturized as Naxalism or Maoism and whatnot by putting the activist in the worst of situations any accused could potentially face – an unsympathetic, unpatriotic communist terrorist.

Practically speaking, if one wants to be an activist in India – especially for Objectivism – such incidents tell me a couple of things. Activism should perhaps be limited to nicer looking, urban circles which could – could—preclude something horrible like this from happening.

In contrast, imagine if one started a college newspaper in India, like The Undercurrent in the US, which provided commentary to students on the political climate of the country. Obviously, this would require that such a paper be published in local languages that the student is able to read. Most colleges are not in the cities, they are spread across many towns and districts where the policemen state what the law is. I think it would be extremely dangerous to engage in such grassroot activism in India.

Your viewpoint will be twisted, you could be harassed, beaten, sexually assaulted (god forbid you the activist are a woman), and you will be left with no recourse to the law. I hope it’s not as bad as it sounds, but there is no getting around reports of such horrible incidents.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


This completely pissed me off. How much more dubious can it get? Really?

Report one: Imran Khan has begun his rant about there being no evidence that Pakistan was harbouring Osama Bin Laden:

"There is no answer to these questions and this simply allows allegations from the West and from India to go unchallenged that Pakistan has been protecting Bin Laden and other terrorists; that Pakistan knew he was here and kept him safe"

Report two: John O. Brennan, a senior counterterrorism official, said it was highly unlikely that Pakistan was not aware of Osama's presence in the country:

On Monday, Brennan suggested that the US would go further than just letting Pakistan ask those questions. He said it was "inconceivable" that bin Laden did not have a support network inside of Pakistan, though he stopped short of suggesting that the network involved government officials. "We are going to pursue all leads to find out exactly what type of support system and benefactors that bin Laden might have had," Brennan said.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Did I tell YOU that I have received TWO (!) scholarships from the adorable, generous, smashing, swell, the all-merciful ;) Charles. G. Koch Foundation to take Market Process Economics I and II from National University? Did I also tell YOU that I am also having an orgasm just thinking about the wonderful time I would have?

Oh yeah my lovely, lovely reader -- its all true! Enuff' said!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Thoughts on Determinism and Free will.

I think the debate about free will as generally portrayed is a false alternative.

On one hand, the determinists pretend to act as the defenders of science by attributing cause and effect to man's actions. They argue that all effects have causes and in order to be scientific about the whole issue, man's choices have to determined by antecedent causes and that they are determined by one's environment or one's genes.

On the other hand, the indeterminists argue that man's actions have no causes and that there is no reason that explains why a man acts in a particular fashion. Such a view of the debate leads one to think that man is either determined or that he is a freak.

I think this where Ayn Rand stands up and makes herself counted by not getting boxed into any of these alternatives.

Before she addresses the question of determinism or indeterminism, she first looks at the facts. Each of us face a fundamental choice even before one starts thinking about any issue (including the issue of determinism versus free will): the choice to focus or not. Focus doesn’t mean thinking. As Peikoff puts it, it is the "readiness to think". The choice to focus, however, requires effort -- every single time one chooses to activate one's equipment. It requires effort to start up the machinery and sustain it through out any thought process however long or short.

One can easily contrast such a phenomena from the phenomena of mental drift (where one may be reading a lengthy passage and not remember what was said in the preceding paragraphs) or from the phenomena of outright evasion (where one is required to think of some urgent, uncomfortable, pressing matter but puts it off actively by thinking of something less discomforting).

Once the primary choice is made, secondary choices readily follow. For instance, one may choose to activate one's equipment by focusing in a computer shop (primary choice). A person may then prefer to buy a Dell instead of Apple after giving thought to various considerations he might have on his mind (a secondary choice).

In order to unpack the debate on determinism, it is crucial to distinguish between the primary choice and the secondary choice. Given man’s metaphysical nature, the only thing necessitated by his nature that at every moment of his life is that he has the primary choice to think or not to do so. The content of the secondary choices which is made after the primary choice however, is not determined or neccessitated in the same way as the primary choice is.

Although one can ask why one preferred a Dell instead of Apple (a secondary choice), one cannot ask such a question about the primary choice itself. One cannot ask what antecedent factors neccessitated one to be in focus and expend effort. A person chose to be in focus because he wanted to be aware of reality or if a person was partially in focus, it was because he wanted to be partially aware of reality. Even though one accepts a reality oriented approach to life, the choice to focus can neither become automatic (my daily temptation to procrastinate is proof of it) nor can it become neccesitated by antecedent factors. Activating my faculty of thought is an act of choice and requires effort each time.

The debate about free-will should not be a debate about CONTENT, like something versus something else, but should be a debate about PROCESS, like a choice between something being activated and nothing being activated. Put another way, given human nature, the primary choice to think or not is NECCESITATED by antecedent factors (his nature), but the content of the secondary choices itself (whether to buy a Dell or an Apple) is not determined by prior causes.

Free-will is an axiom and therefore any determinist who tries refuting it has to fall into the same trap : reaffirming free will by denying it. When a determinist argues that determinism gives an accurate account of man, what he really means is that he has followed the evidence wherever it has taken him. On the basis of his thinking and evaluation, he beleives he is correct. But how are we to know that his position wasn’t necessitated or pre-determined by factors unknown to him (in his environment or his genes) which only give him the illusion that he has followed the evidence conscientiously? His adjudication of the matter then, however scrupulous, would be irrelevant.

Update: Minor edits

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Ambani’s Fiasco

After six years, the dust has finally settled between the warring multi-billion dollar Ambani brothers. Owing to their differences, the empire had been split into two with a scheme of demerger. Agreements were drawn between both the brothers that elder Mukesh Ambani could take control of the gas sector provided the younger Anil Ambani was given a fixed quantity of gas produced from the Krishna Godavari basin on previously agreed rates.

Everything seemed to go as planned until a committee led by the Finance Minister nullified the contract between the brothers since the price of hydrocarbons had shot up. The justification advanced by everybody supporting the move including the Indian Supreme Court is that natural resources belong to the people of the country and therefore the State has the right to regulate the price at which the gas would be sold.

Much debate has centered on the scheme of demerger between the brothers and a million other factors but the one percept deemed blasphemous to question in public policy debates is the notion that natural resources somehow belong to the people. Even critics of the government policy debate only how much government intervention is permissible but the governments' right to offshore property is considered self-evident. As Murli Deora, the Petroleum Minister commented, "I am appalled and disgusted at how these two brothers are fighting over something that belongs to the government and the people of India."

But does it?

Any natural resource belongs to individuals who have put in the necessary thought and effort to harness the otherwise unusable material lying in remote, inaccessible corners of the sea. Without the complex technical know-how of scientists or innovators and the courage of entrepreneurs to risk large sums of money in exploration and extraction, there is no potential resource itself, let alone the gas which we use to enrich our own lives. Consider oil. Before men understood how to process oil, oil fields far from being perceived as a boon, were looked upon as menace where one could neither inhabit nor cultivate. However, the ingenuity and labor of pioneers transformed a seemingly annoying liquid and a menacing natural "resource" to products that are used for human benefit.

Recognizing such facts, innovators should straightaway own the lands off shore where they have taken the pains to unlock a resources' potential with the help of astounding technical achievements and effort. As John Locke noted, it is only one's labor in a thing that "excludes the common right of other Men". However, such Lockean notions of property and ownership are lost out on today's socialist mentality.

Consider Production Sharing Contracts.

Production Sharing Contracts are contracts whereby the State reduces producers to mere contractors who invest their own funds into exploration, extraction and processing of any mineral or gas. If such an investment turns out to be a good one, the State acquires a substantial part of the end product (hence the name Production Sharing Contract) and compensates the producer by allotting him a part of the end product he made possible. Even from the minor share allotted to the producer, the government dictates to what sectors and at what price the gas may be sold. In other words, the right of ownership of the usable product is retained by the customer (the government) and the contractor is compensated by taking a part of the end product.

Morally, such horrible policies are based on the assumption that a businessman has a "duty" to give back to the society what he has taken in terms of natural resources. However, resources don't belong to any collection of individuals since none of them have put in an iota of effort to make it usable for human purposes. More importantly, one does not merely discover his wealth readymade at the bottom of the sea; one has to make it by investing decades of thought backed up by action to develop enough knowhow to tap the otherwise useless material resource.

Legally, such policies are based on the assumption that the government holds all natural resources in trust and that they should reach the "ultimate consumer" in each sector of the economy deemed important by the government. However, if consumers can claim a right over the products created – not merely discovered -- by entrepreneurs, it means that the entrepreneurs are deprived of rights and condemned to slave labor. Ironically, the beneficiaries of the trust don't include producers because it doesn't recognize their right to rightfully trade the resources they have toiled to tap.

Although Courts can legitimately decide how to manage private property issues arising from off-shore land, policies such as the PSC's must be opposed since they are -- on principle -- hostile to the institution of private property itself.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crazy Signage.

These crazy signs on from all around the world are sure to crack you up. My personal favorite: WARNING Trespassers will be prostituted. Hehe.

Check em' out here!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Paul Van Dyk - Nothing but you (Cirrus Mix).

I've never really been a fan of trans music but this one by Paul Van Dyk has an awesome tune.