The Green Blooded Unicorn

Preface: I answer a question every week, under the game AMA. Ask Me Anything

This week’s question:

It seems like thousands of people get on the internet every day to shout their opinion at anyone who will listen or to shout back at those people who started the shouting in the first place. Why do they at all do that??

Obligatory xkcd comic on this one.
Duty Calls, courtesy xkcd

It really doesn’t surprise me. People crave attention more than anything. It makes them feel important. Internet allows you to voice your opinion.

People are desperate to be heard. Not many realize it. It gives them a sense of importance.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. -Oscar Wilde

I can not put it any better. What better place than internet to sport a mask? It can not get any easier.

It is something deeper than the simple explanation I was trying to give. The gist remains the same. Ego. Not many realise how important it is to satisfy your desire to feel important. I can not stress it enough. I’d take the rather brave stance to state that satisfying your ego and asserting that you are important is the most important thing everyone must do.

Why should you satisfy your ego? I’m afraid I can not answer it reasonably in a short post. My stance has got a lot to do with how I view the world, the good, the bad, the truth, the ideal, and the very purpose of life.

My views are very much influenced by my choice. I chose to believe that it is a choice that makes all the difference.

I’ll leave it at that and let you ponder.

P.S: In case you are still wondering what a unicorn has got to do with this: I too can use totally unrelated titles to drive loads of traffic to my blog. ­čśŤ

Project Aanch

Preface:

(Verbatim from http://www.enactusiitd.org )
ENACTUS is an international organization that brings together the top leaders of today and tomorrow to create a better and more sustainable world through the positive power of business. Enactus operates in the form of student teams on campuses around the world, working on sustainable projects with the objective of creating economic opportunity for others.

Every Enactus project has the following three components:

  • Entrepreneurial: Having the perspective to see an opportunity and the talent to create value from that opportunity;
  • Action: The willingness to do something and commitment to see it through even when the outcome is not guaranteed;
  • Us: A group of people who see themselves connected in some important way; people who are part of a greater whole.

Enactus IIT Delhi is the IIT Delhi student chapter of Enactus.

What is Project Aanch?

TL;DR: A project to manufacture and sell smokeless stoves.

Residents of Bhatti Mines rely on firewood and use extremely inefficient ‘stove’ that is typical to the rural India. A crude structure with one or more sides open for insertion of firewood, that can hold a small vessel. An estimated 826 million Indians depend on these simple cook stoves that burn solid fuel, mainly fuelwood or coal. (Source)

These stoves are extremely energy inefficient, result in a lot of Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monooxide, Black carbon (soot) emissions. All of these contribute to global warming, and with over 800 million users on a daily basis, the issue demands attention. Estimated 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxie equivalent gases can be avoided by using better stoves. It would also reduce the deaths from respiratory infections, heart disease, bronchitis, pneumonia and tuberculosis. When you are talking about changing India, numbers are your enemy. A statistician will understand.

But it all begins with a small effort. Many such efforts have been made. Project Aanch is yet another efficient stove campaign.

What makes Project Aanch different?

It is not a campaign distributing/selling stoves. It is an attempt at making entrepreneurs. Enactus IITD will train women from Bhatti Mines to make smokeless stoves, and assist in establishing a business.

What can I do to help?

What will the money be used for?

(Verbatim from project page on wishberry)

  1. To buy two more Philips cook-stove mould that would enable us to double the rate of production of cook-stoves and expand in other communities. One mould costs Rs 26500 approximately.
  2. As we are serving customers at Bottom of the Pyramid, the relatively limited buying capacity of the poor makes it tougher for us to generate profits for the women. Thus, to expand the market and increase the adoption rate, we would be testing two models:
    • Selling stoves through EMI: We need money to maintain the buffer amount needed to sustain the installment plan.
    • Subsidizing Stoves: The current selling price of Rs 1200 is out of range for the community. We will subsidize this by Rs 500 so that they can afford it.

I will receive my first salary today. I will do my part.

Related links

What is the purpose of life?

Preface: So I got vimpress set up and now I need something to write about. I play a game. Ask Me Anything. AMA.

The big question. What is the purpose of life?

TL;DR: Whatever you chose to believe.

I honestly don’t know if I’m qualified enough to answer this, but I’ll answer it anyway. And I’ll try to keep it short.

Did you ever question the purpose of life? Did you try questioning someone what they believe is the purpose of life?┬áThere are people who’ve devoted their life for an ideal they chose to believe in. Art, Philosophy, Science, Religion, Country, Society,┬áService, Terror, Chaos, Peace, and what not. Ask them what the purpose of life is. They would give you answers varied in perspective,┬áoften strongly aligned with the ideal they chose to believe in. And at some point of time, you might doubt, or realize,
that these people have chosen an ideal for a reason that collapses the more you explore its roots, and then made a semi-conscious
effort to convince themselves that that precise thing they believe in, is what the essence of life is.

With so many answers, often not in agreement with one another, you might be tempted to conclude they are all far from truth. But I doubt if it is really the case. Truth, very much like good and bad, is relative, and depends very much on the perspective.
All those statements that state a particular thing to be the true essence of life, all of them are true, for the simple reason that the speaker chose to believe in it.

It is all a matter of choice.

Not everyone has an ideal to live for. Many are busy in the mechanical ways of life that they had neither the opportunity nor the need to┬áexplore the philosophical questions on life. Those are the ones you find dumb-struck when they face the question. They haven’t made the choice yet.

Your choice, is what defines you.

What is your view on Hedonism?

Preface: I have started a game-of-sorts. AMA: Ask Me Anything.

This week’s question by Utsav Bansal, and my answer follow.

Whats your view on Hedonism?

TL;DR: I am a Hedonist.

Hedonism

Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good.

Why do I call myself a Hedonist?

And why I believe you should be a hedonist, too.

Good and Bad are relative. Anything that makes me happy is Good, anything that makes me sad is Bad.

You may ask, what if killing people makes me happy? Is it good? Yes. Good for you, but may be not for others, and they may chose to punish you, their version of good deed. You may ask, “What about ethics? What about people who believe in ideals?”

I am someone who believes that the world is a battleground. Ideals, ethics, and the like are an elaborate set of hopelessly foolish ideologies whose primary objective is to ensure the survival of group.

Every individual likes to be happy, likes to live happily. With this premise, how do I explain the good samaritan who would sacrifice his life to save others’? How would I explain the man who held his ideals above everything else, even his own happiness?

Every action has a cost and a value, different in every observer’s perspective. I believe that a person does something only when the percieved value exceeds the cost. Which means to get some work done out of an individual, all you have to do is either make him believe the result has a greater value, or it incurs a lesser cost in his or her perspective.

A bank secures its perimeter with gaurds, fences, has a safe with thick metal doors, alarms, and multiple protection schemes. For my room, I use a lock that weighs a few grams on a aluminium handle that can be bent with ease. Why do I not have a dozen security systems guarding it? the question may seem ridiculous at first sight, but if you care to ponder, the simplest explanation happens to be the cost-value model. The bank sees a greater value in having all those security measures compared to the cost they incur, and I find the cost far higher than the value it provides. It also explains why a paranoid person might actually have a dozen security and alarm systems. That has a greater value in his view, great enough to offset the costs.

A soldier fighting for his country sees a greater value in being a warrior for the country, than the cost of losing life. A man of ideals believes upholding his ideals has a greater value than his own pleasures. You get the point.

I am someone who believes every action can be explained using the cost-value model. And to me, my own happiness has a value unmatched by anything else. I do go out of my way to help others, but the inconvinience in the process, I consider a lower cost than the value of seeing a bright, smiling face. I try to maximise the net pleasure. Yes, I am a Hedonist.

AMA. Ask Me Anything.

Let us play a game. AMA. Ask Me Anything.

Rules:

  • Anyone can ask me anything.
  • I will answer it seriously, true to the best of my knowledge.
  • I reserve the right to not answer.
  • I reserve the right to end the game or modify the rules without any prior notice.

All answers to AMA questions will be posted on this blog under the category AMA.

Update: I gave up, because of two reasons. One, All questions I get are philosophical in one way or the other. The fun game turned very demanding, time-wise. Two, I have not received many questions. I will still answer questions if I get any interesting ones, and I have time for that, but frequent updates should not be expected.