Sunday, April 4, 2010


One fine morning you are going to your workplace, you are in a good mood because you have got a place in train to sit and listen music or to read a book,you get down a train and walk out of Railway station, you see a 9-10 year old girl, shabby, dirty, wearing a torn frock, begging in one corner. You see her and start walking, you take few steps and stop suddenly. The moment freezes and  thoughts start running in your mind. The feeling which made you stop is part pity, part humanity, part philanthropy, and part empathy. You take few steps back, go to that girl, give her a rupee or two, pray for her in mind think good of yourself that you helped her ,thank God for you are not her. If you wonder whether you did good or bad?  This situation can be viewed from different angles.

                                             Had  you asked Mr.Gandhi, he would have said well done, in fact he would have added that you should do this on a larger scale. Join NGO.Make sure you spread love, humanity, help others. Helping  others should be your priority . Selflessness should be achieved. It is your highest virtue. Human beings are social animals. Society can only be held together only if people understand other's needs, and treat them equally. Gandhi gave his life  serving others.

                                             Had you asked Mrs. Ayn Rand, she would have said your first priority should be to serve yourself. She  would have told you not to believe in charity. Everybody deserves what she/he got in life. Charity is the word invented by men who were not willing to work hard to achieve success. They were not competent enough to earn(Respect, Money ….etc). They made, those who had ability, feel guilty for talent and ability . They said lied, they said all human being are equal and deserve to live good life. Remember where socialism got Russia and Capitalism got America. There is a clear difference in ability , talent , perseverance, I.Q , E.Q, S.Q of different people and if you earn more( Respect, Money…..) you are not obliged to give the same in return, to those who don’t deserve it.

                                             Had you asked Mr. Gurcharan Das, he would have chosen middle path, which he would have said is more pragmatic. “This is what  Mahabharata teaches us”, he would have said. If  helping others does not cost you anything why not.Extremes should be avoided. Practical approach is ‘wear a good smile on your face but don’t allow anyone to exploit you’. Helping others is fine if does not harm in you in first place. Mr. Das would have given you an example of Prisoner’s dilemma 1 and would have told you how ‘reciprocal altruism’ 2  would  help in real life.

                                             Same argument can be made about nature of  Socialism and/or Capitalism. If we  take  example of socialist countries which are fighting for survival ,you would think capitalist countries, read approach,  are better. But  post sub prime crisis, economic collapse and so many jobs lost, and panic everywhere  you would says capitalism is no better. Extremes  should be avoided. Countries like India were not much affected by recession because we avoided extremes. It’s neither socialism of Gandhi nor Capitalism of Ayn Rand that will save you, but right mixture of both.

                                            Look at U.S. healthcare reforms. In U.S. millions of citizens will  now get health coverage. Where will the money come from? who will pay for it? Good question. The money will be given from ‘Equalization pool’ , read it as taxpayer. Will it help hospitals, insurance companies? of course it will. Now hospitals and insurance companies will get large compensation for insuring ill and  senior citizen. This is what I was talking about. The exact mixture of socialism and capitalism, selflessness and selfishness.

                                              It’s interesting how a small dilemma has led us here, discussing healthcare reforms and nature of socialism/capitalism, but that’s what it’s all  about. I call it an effort to understand micro and macro picture of everything you do.


1.Prisoner’s dilemma-( following explanation is taken from wikipedia )

A classic example of the prisoner's dilemma ("PD") is presented as follows:

Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated both prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal. If one testifies (defects from the other) for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent (cooperates with the other), the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation. How should the prisoners act?    

2.Reciprocal altruism- It’s an approach that gives best result in many situations like prisoner’s dilemma. In the first attempt, considering that you are playing 10 rounds of this game and optimum solution is to minimize the total number of hours spent in jail, you should remain silent and repeat what other prisoner has done from the second round onwards.  

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