Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why I won't vote for Narendra Modi and the BJP

I'm a fairly political person and follow Indian politics with some vigour. For a while now, I was sure I'm going to vote for Narendra Modi and the BJP. At the same time however, I believe in Bayesian Inference and the need to update beliefs based on new evidence. And boy, has there been new evidence!? So many of my friends on facebook, particularly those who have no clue about India have become Indian political commentators. Then you have the patriotic, secular TV channels which have been blaring threats that face the nation. Add to it sundry activists and the India loving foreign media that implored Indians to make the right choice. Faced with such overwhelming odds, my Bayesian Inference engine had no choice but to reverse my original belief. And in the interests of Indian polity, I decided to share this evidence with you all, so that you too might make an informed decision on April 17th (or the day your elections are going to be conducted). So, here goes:

  • He personally massacred Muslims in Gujarat:

  • He failed the skull cap test of secularism, not realizing that all true Muslims wear the skull cap:

  • He wasn't born in a royal family; so ruling India isn't his birth right

  • Potholes on Gujarat's roads rival lunar craters while Karnataka roads are like Hemamalini's cheeks: 

  • Gujarat farmers are committing suicides in droves

  • The Narmada river being diverted has made Gujarat a desert

  • His brother-in-law did not make millions in dubious land deals 

  • He is anti-women, as evidenced by his fake marriage(s)

  • and by his comments on rape:

  • He is a tyrant and will become India's Hitler

  • He has lowered the level of the political discourse:

  • He made India a police state by attacking unarmed protesters 

    • He slept while his cabinet ministers looted the country 

    I hope this convinces you why I intend to vote against Modi. Please add any additional reasons why I shouldn't vote for the BJP and Narendra Modi.

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

    Religious offerings and binary relations

    Most of you, my dear readers, are familiar with binary relations. For those who are unaware, a binary relation, as the name suggests, is a relation between two entities. Think for example, “square-of-a-number” – this defines a relation between a number and its square. Relations have properties: for instance, a relation is symmetric if it applies both between a and b and between b and a.

    Recently, my wife mentioned a custom in Hinduism where devotees poured small cans of milk into a large container that was then offered to the deity by the priests in their name. That struck me – religious offerings are transitive! And it begged the question: So what other properties of binary relations do religious offerings satisfy?

    Surely, the offerings are irreflexive and antisymmetric – no one makes offerings to himself, and devotees make offerings to the deities, never the other way around. (One could however make a case that when prayers are answered, it is an offering made by the deity to the devotee thereby satisfying the symmetric property.)

    Religious offerings are surjective (i.e. onto)  (find me a deity who doesn’t have a devotee!), but they are not bijective – one devotee typically worships many gods (at least in the Hindu faith).

    Any other properties I’ve missed? Add them as comments :)