Saturday, 2nd July 2011

<lut4rp> I want to suicide by the time I'm 30.
<prtksxna> Why?
<lut4rp> What's the point of living beyond it?
<prtksxna> To get all the experiences in life that one should have.
<lut4rp> How do you decide what experiences one should have?
<prtksxna> The experiences that make you want to live life.

(How... insightful)

Sunday, 5th June 2011

Sign me up for 'reclaiming the street' but I think you’ve articulated a troubling vein of appearance/lifestyle critique that only further serves to reinforce narrow, patriarchal ideas about women. It shouldn’t matter what other women look like–this obsession with appearance is yet another part of the tyranny to be overthrown. We should be more concerned with each others’ opinions, and not reduce ourselves to visual caricatures. This tyrannical ‘freedom of the individual’ argument fails to acknowledge not only the manifold obvious and invisible ways we are all connected, but the very material fact of a human as a socially constructed being.

Rather than exerting so much energy defending some people’s nebulous ‘right’ to call themselves what they want, to find what they find sexy sexy, we should be questioning and deconstructing our socially-defined concepts of sexiness within the lived and undeniable framework of patriarchal rule and cultural misogyny. Reclaiming or re appropriating the term 'slut' does not make their patriarchal origins or history of female objectification go poof! If anything, reinforcing sexist imagery won't.

And so I regurgitate the same - why would any sane woman want to claim such a weapon word as slut to describe any part of who they are? I am NOT a slut if I choose to have sex with whom I want. I am NOT a slut if I choose to wear what I want. I am NOT a slut if I wear high heels or shave. I am NOT a slut if I say NO to unwanted advances.
Considering how even women in burqas get raped in this country... 'nuff said.

— Priyanka Rajan's reaction on the use of the word "slut" by Slut Walk Delhi (

Friday, 14th January 2011

Today morning, I read this blog post titled Why Indian startups need to get off their asses and learn to program (via HN). Even though the post is specific to what Infinitely Beta experienced, it quite correctly describes how most Indian startups don't really bank upon building quality products. They think core work can be outsourced and they don't have a team of solid technologists. If you haven't already read that post, I suggest you read that before you read what I have to say.

So what am I writing about? About why (IMO) this is happening. Why Indian tech startups are failing to understand what it takes to deliver a quality product or service. Something fundamentally wrong with the CS industry here.

Point 1: Underestimating the importance of quality. There's barely any tech products that have come/are coming out of India. Why? A major reason for that is building a product means more risk than delivering a service. Risk is something that we here don't take so easily. We're easy going people :-) It's in our culture, you could say. Is it a bad thing? No, of course not. But it's something that you need to break out of, if you want to deliver a product. Services are easier to do, so most people pick them.

However, even in service companies, the usual quality of work is rather crappy. Not everyone can build products and the market needs services too. Service companies don't mean "cheap labour" and they shouldn't! There's nothing stopping anyone from building a quality service company, you can even charge more and your clients won't mind :-)

Point 2: Lack of passion/direction. I just finished my bachelors degree in CS. During four years of college, I've visited, traveled, met up and talked to tons of CS students. The situation is disappointing. Most people who pick CS do it because of reasons like "it will get me a good job" or "that's what every high-ranker does". I don't think more than 15-20% CS students actually want to study it. But they do. And they suck at it. They don't like it. They don't love their jobs. They just want to live a life. So they do the bare minimum that their job asks. They don't have that drive to excel at their work.

However, even people who do like CS, are hit by other issues. Outside of IIT/NIT, the CS syllabus and teaching is horribly outdated and broken. It is taught like we were taught history in school. Rote-based learning. Ugh. They don't see the joy of programming. They don't see the magic of design.

Then there are the "inspirational" companies. Ask any regular CS graduate "what is your dream company?" and I can assure you, you'll mostly hear Infosys/TCS/Accenture/HCL foo. That's your dream company? Companies that don't even judge you technically during their hiring process? You can't think of Google even in your dreams? That just saddens me. People need to start thinking broad, wide and out of the box.

Point 3: The "Design is gay" misconception. This one's a real shocker. I know a fair bit of people who work as "Graphic Designer" or "UX developer" but don't really like design nor do they have an eye for it. They do it because the job asks for it. If you know me, you'll know I'm rather "aggressive" when it comes to design. I can't tell how many people look at me with twisted, cringed looks when I talk about design. What's interesting is how people think good fonts or clean layouts are pointless BUT the same people will ogle at a beautiful car or exquisite jewelry. Wake up, morons. Design is appreciated everywhere. I'm going to do a plug for Infinitely Beta here, because their service has a stunningly awesome UI. I was blown away when I first saw it and I don't know how many people I've shown that website to, as an example of good UX.

If this is to change, we need a fundamental shift in the way people think about computer science. No, it isn't easy to get a job in CS. Not the work is not trivial. People need to do things they love, not something daddy, Uncle X or Friend Y considers good.

PS: I recommend reading Computer Science FAIL on GeneralMaximus's blog, for his hilarious first-hand CS education experience.

Update 1: Edited certain words for clarity.
Update 2: Found and fixed some design glitches, thanks to so many comments.

Friday, 30th January 2009

What is the value of 500 Rupees in today's world? (approx. USD 10)
This video by Open Space India attempts to show the vast inequality in people's thinking and beliefs today. Watch it. (Thanks to Mohit for sharing this with me.)