Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Reunion at NIT, Trichy

The NIT, Trichy batch of 1990 (to which I belong) held its reunion in December last year. I decided to go for the reunion since it gave me the chance to meet many friends who I had thought I will never see again. The same contingent that had traveled with me for the IIMA reunion accompanied me this time too - Jaya, Sujit, my brother-in-law and the nurse (but this time it was a different nurse).

We decided to first go to Pudukkottai and stay overnight at the house of Kamala, the person who had been my physiotherapist for 4 years soon after my stroke. She had subsequently got married and settled down in Pudukkottai. We thought we could kill two birds with one stone -  we could meet Kamala and her family and since NIT was only about an hour's drive away, we would reach the campus refreshed after a night's rest.

We reached the campus a little while before the group photo session was to start. It felt good to meet old friends after such a long time. Like at the IIMA reunion, I felt that my lack of speech was a blessing since it gave me time to recognise some people. They will introduce themselves, I will look at their faces...and yes, their faces did resemble the faces I remembered from 25 years ago.

Some folks were well on their way to becoming the sort of men that Ceasar liked to have about him. Remember that he liked men about him that are fat, having a dim opinion of the lean and hungry look of yond Cassius. He would have liked what he saw at the reunion.

After the photo session, there were some formal sessions after which everyone went to visit the hostels where we had stayed. I did not go since it would have taken me a lot of time time to get there. Instead I preferred to stay in the hall where the next program was to be held. I requested a friend to take Sujit and my brother-in-law to see the hostel where I had stayed. I thought of the ragging time when I had stayed in a hostel (this was in a different hostel from the one Sujit had visited).

At the time the common practice among seniors was for North Indians to rag South Indians and vice-versa. I was conversant with a North Indian and a South Indian language so I decided to try out an idea. Whenever North Indian seniors came, I always said that I was from Jamshedpur and spoke only in English/Hindi. At the slightest opportunity, I brought an Amitabh Bacchan movie or song into the conversation and then everything was quite pally.

Whenever South Indian seniors came, I always said that I was from Palakkad and spoke only in English/Malayalam. I also used the smattering of Tamil that I knew at the time. (There were some Tamil Brahmins in my village, Tamil films and songs are popular in the area and there is some similarity between Malayalam and Tamil languages so I knew some Tamil.) The result was that I hardly ever got ragged.

I used to be surprised that my trick was never found out. It helped that I was an unremarkable, low-profile guy who would not have figured in any conversations. There was also the fact that I did not have a readily identifiable accent.

With my batch mates

With my Mech. Engineering classmates

Sujit standing in front of the hostel in which I used to stay


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The illusion of skill - III

Pundits on TV are another who confidently predict future events that are essentially unpredictable. TV experts make it sound as if predicting the future is only slightly more messy than solving mathematical equations. And they rarely mention the word 'luck'.  As Kahneman says in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow 'The idea that large historical events are determined by luck is profoundly shocking, although it is demonstrably true.' History is full of low predictability and large impact Black Swan events that are predictable only in retrospect. History looks more easy to explain when viewed backwards than it does when the events are actually happening, what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls 'the narrative fallacy'. As Taleb says in The Black Swan:
Our inability to predict in environments subjected to the Black Swan, coupled with a general lack of the awareness of this state of affairs, means that certain professionals, while believing they are experts, are in fact not.  Based on their empirical record, they do not know more about their subject matter than the general population, but they are much better at narrating -  or, worse, at smoking you with complicated mathematical models. They are also more likely to wear a tie.
 Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley selected 284 people who made their living "commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends," including journalists, foreign policy specialists, economists and intelligence analysts, and began asking them to make predictions. Over a couple of decades, he asked them to rate the probability of outcomes of several questions: Would George Bush be re-elected? Would apartheid in South Africa end peacefully? Would Quebec secede from Canada? Would the dot-com bubble burst? Overall he had over 80,000 predictions.

How did the experts do? When it came to predicting the likelihood of an outcome, the vast majority performed worse than random chance i.e, they would have done better picking their answers blindly out of a hat. Liberals, moderates and conservatives were all equally ineffective. Most of the subjects had post-graduate degrees but they were mostly useless when it came to forecasting. Even in the region they had most knowledge of, the experts were not much better than non-specialists.

The main reason for the inaccuracy has to do with overconfidence. Because the experts were convinced that they were right, they tended to ignore all the evidence suggesting that they were wrong - they had an enhanced illusion of their skill. Those with the most knowledge were less reliable. This is because these experts were cocooned in their area of specialisation and tended to view the world through a narrow lens, what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls 'the philistinism of the over-specialised scholar'. It is like the blind who touch different parts of an elephant and conclude that it is like a rope, a pillar, etc.

Tetlock also found that the experts were resistant to admitting error when it was pointed out to them, offering a number of excuses for their mistakes. The problem is that the over-specialised expert who can come up with the catchy one-liner is more likely to be invited to TV studios since  he is more interesting to listen to than the expert who uses a lot of 'ifs' and 'buts' even though the latter may be closer to the truth. The preferred expert will be the one who gives short, snappy answers to a screaming host who demands, 'India wants to know.' A safe rule of thumb to follow is to ignore the views of the experts who sound very confident about their forecasts. As Kahneman says in his book:
The first lesson is that errors of prediction are inevitable because the world is unpredictable.  The second is that high subjective confidence is not to be trusted as an indicator of accuracy (low confidence could be more informative).

P.S :  The Trouble With Experts

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The illusion of skill - II

Although professional investors are able to beat amateurs, Kahneman says that few, if any, have the skill to beat the market consistently. The logic for testing this is simple: if the rankings of the funds in any one year is entirely due to luck, then the year-to year correlation of their rankings should be zero. But if skill is involved, then the rankings will be more stable and therefore there will be year-to-year correlation, showing persistent achievement. This is similar to the rankings in any game, say tennis. If the rankings are random, then there will be no year-to-year correlation. But the top players are consistently ranked at the top so there will be year-to-year correlation of their rankings.

More than 50 years of research has shown that professional investors are playing a game of dice, not of skill. The year-to-year correlations are barely higher than zero. The traders think that they are making sensible, educated guesses but Kahneman says, 'In highly efficient markets, however, educated guesses are no more accurate than blind guesses.'

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman relates a story of a speaking assignment that he had with a firm of investment advisers. He was given a spreadsheet having the investment data of 25 wealth advisers for 8 consecutive years which determined their year-end bonuses. He proceeded to calculate the correlation coefficients between the rankings in each pair of years giving a total of 28 correlation coefficients.If there was skill involved then there should be significant correlation between the year-to-year rankings of the advisers.

What Kahneman found was that the average of the 28 correlations was .01 which was statistically equivalent to zero. It meant that the wealth advisers were playing a game of chance, not of skill. No one in the firm including the advisers were aware of this reality. They all thought that they were doing a professional job. But even after being shown that the firm was rewarding luck not skill (a result that they couldn't deny because they had provided the data and could check the results) Kahneman was sure that it would be forgotten immediately.

He thinks that the key reason for the persistence of this illusion is because the traders are indeed using a type of skill. It requires a lot of hard work and training to be able to check economic forecasts , read P&L statements and balance sheets, study competition, etc. But is this skill enough to answer the key question: is all this information already incorporated into the stock price? Here traders switch to feelings and the data shows that it becomes a guessing game.It does not give one correct answer - except in retrospect, which is not very useful. But after all that hard work, traders become resistant to admitting this.

It is like what happens when I type. Sometimes, after typing a few sentences, I will feel that they are not quite fitting into the rest of the post. The logical thing to do would be to delete them. But after having spent all that time and effort in typing those sentences, I don't feel like seeing them disappear into the ether in less than a second. So I think of some excuse to retain them in the post and I generally succeed.

Kahneman adds:
...the illusions of validity and skill are supported by a powerful professional culture. We know that people can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers. Given the professional culture of the financial community, it is not surprising that large numbers of individuals in that world believe themselves to be among the chosen few who can do what they believe others cannot.
If there is a discussion with Kahneman on CNBC, I would be a very interested listener,  although the chances of that happening are quite remote. You will not be happy if someone walks into the studio (an economics Nobel Prize winner at that) and says that the self-styled 'Masters of the Universe' are being paid because of their luck and not because of their skill. (But Kahneman seems a polite person so he may have some nice way of saying that they are fooling themselves.)

PS: Intuition - Marvels and Flaws. Daniel Kahneman, Nassim Taleb, Gillian Tett.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The illusion of skill - I

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in economics even though he is a psychologist, not an economist. His two papers (along with his colleague Amos Tversky) - "Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases" and "Prospect theory: An analysis of decisions under risk" - had a big impact in diverse fields like economics, philosophy, military strategy, etc. When he was once asked to summarise his work in seven words, he said that five will do - 'Endlessly amused by peoples' minds.'

His book Thinking, Fast and Slow questions the peculiar assumption that most economists have that actors in the economy are rational and selfish. (If they were, I wouldn't have survived for 16 years in relative comfort.) It is useful to assume that humans are sometimes part of the mix. Assuming human rationality is like assuming a frictionless surface in introductory physics: it is fine for introducing some basic concepts before complications are introduced into the model for a closer approximation to reality. As Kahneman writes in his book while discussing prospect theory:
The standard concepts and results that undergraduates are taught are most easily explained by assuming that Econs do not make foolish mistakes.
[SNIP]
In some contexts, however,...the Humans described by prospect theory are guided by the immediate emotional impact of gains and losses, not by long-term prospects of wealth and global utility.
(In his book Nudge, the behavioural economist Richard Thaler says that economists and psychologists seem to be studying two different species: Econs and Humans. The Econs of economists 'can think like Albert Einstein, store as much memory as IBM's Big Blue, and exercises the will power of Mahatma Gandhi'. But real people or Humans studied by psychologists 'have trouble with long division if they don't have a calculator [esp. if you are American - Suresh], sometimes forget their spouse's birthday, and have a hangover on New Year's Day'.)

Kahneman is not impressed with the stock-picking skills displayed by investors. He says that an entire industry has been built on an illusion of skill. Many investors lose regularly by trading, 'an achievement that a dart-throwing chimp could not match'. He cites a study by a student of his, Terry Odean, a Finance professor at UC Berkely, who studied the trading records of 10,000 brokerage accounts of individual investors covering nearly 163,000 trades over a 7 yr. period.

Odean then chose those cases where an investor sold some stock and immediately bought another stock. This showed that the investor expected  the stock that he bought (most investors were men) to do better than the stock he sold. Odean followed the stocks for 1 year after the transaction and found that, on average, the stocks that were sold did better than the stocks that were bought by 3.2%/yr after taking into account the transaction costs. Thus for the majority of investors, it would have been better to do nothing. Kahneman writes:
...it is clear that for the large majority of individual investors, taking a shower and doing nothing would have been a better policy than implementing the ideas that came to their minds. Later research by Odean and his colleague Brad Barber supported this conclusion. In a paper titled "Trading Is Hazardous to Your Wealth," they showed that, on average, the most active traders had the poorest results, while the investors who traded the least earned the highest returns.  In another paper, titled "Boys Will Be Boys," they showed that men acted on their useless ideas significantly more often than women, and that as a result women achieved better investment results than men.
This reminds me of a game that was played by the students when I was at IIMA. The students had some virtual money which they could use to invest in stocks. Whoever ended with the maximum wealth at the end of a given period was the winner. The person who won the game was one who invested in one stock on the first day and didn't do anything else for the remainder of the period. The others, who bought and sold stocks using various strategies, were left behind.

PS: What is obvious is not always true and what is true is not always obvious. In Descartes' Error, Antonio Damasio illustrates why a person with only reason and no emotion struggles to make good decisions. Psychologists refer to emotions as 'lubricants of reason'.  Here is a talk by Damasio on human decision making.


PPS: A talk by Daniel Kahneman on A Psychological Perspective on Rationality

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Education is not a panacea - III

There are gated communities all over India where the educated rich live cut off from the rest of the country and cribbing about everything that doesn't resemble Singapore. In Geek Nation, Angela Saini describes one such community in the making, Lavasa -  'a metropolis governed mainly by machines' being built in the middle of the Western Ghats, a region rich in bio-diversity and populated by a few tribal villages. It is a half-billion dollar project that is 'the biggest thing to happen to  the Western Ghats since the Cretaceous Period'.

It is a surreal place  having an American Diner with staff dancing to Elvis tunes, opulent villas, a state-of-art hospital that looks deserted, delicate fountains, a street that looks as if it was in Italy...It sounds as if the promoter has taken the most picturesque parts of Europe and built a collage in the middle of nowhere.The employees say that it 'will be a city that governs itself' using technology, that it can provide a role model for the rest of India.  I got a feeling similar to what Angela Saini had - a 'feeling as if I've arrived in Jurassic Park but the dinosaurs haven't escaped...yet.'

In the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson, the author says that Jobs often disappeared into a 'reality distortion field' which made him view the world in black and white terms with no shades of grey,an ability to convince himself and others about almost anything without any sense of proportion. Similarly many educated people seem to live in a reality distortion field.An article in The New Yorker about the Indian print media gives an idea of why this is so. The desired stereotype is also promoted by television serials.  Nehru's comment in The Discovery of India may not have been off the mark: "I have not discovered any special qualities in a literate or slightly educated person which would entitle his opinion to greater respect than that of a sturdy peasant..."

On average, the educated and uneducated don't seem to be very different when it comes to basic human values. Knowing more about protons or perfect markets doesn't seem to help in this regard. The decision to extend voting rights to everybody without putting any restrictions on the basis of educational qualification was perhaps the wisest thing that Nehru did. Most people were opposed to the idea of giving voting rights to large numbers of illiterate people. But Nehru over-ruled all objections and went ahead with his decision. And his instinct has been proved right in election after election over the decades.

As soon as Indira Gandhi held elections after the Emergency, she was promptly booted out. The Congress did well in the more literate states in the South who preferred to ignore the horrors of the Emergency. It was highly educated, successful people who were likely to overlook the excesses of the emergency and say that population needs to be controlled somehow. It is educated, rich people who are likely to say that a spell of military rule will bring much needed discipline. (I have heard this, I am not making this up.) Talk of short-sightedness!

Granted there are  problems of inducement and intimidation but unpopular governments have been shown the door at regular intervals. If buying votes was so easy, the ruling dispensation would have been able to hold on to power more easily. I have heard servants say that they will take the money offered by both the main political parties in Tamil Nadu and then vote for whoever they like! As Ramachandra  Guha says in India after Gandhi:
...the distance - intellectual or moral - between Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, or between B.R. Ambedkar and Mulayam Singh Yadav, is not necessarily greater than between, say, Abraham Lincoln and George W.Bush. It is in the nature of democracies, perhaps, that while visionaries are sometimes necessary to make them, once made they can be managed by mediocrities.  In India, the sapling was planted by the nation's founders, who lived long enough (and worked hard enough) to nurture it to adulthood. Those who came afterwards could disturb and degrade the tree of democracy but, try as they might, could not uproot or destroy it.
I remember seeing a video where it was stated that in the airport, the people in the queue for first class passengers look more agitated and prone to anger than the economy class passengers. I saw this video after my stroke so I couldn't check it for myself but it rings true. In India whichever party comes to power will have the majority of people voting against it. Every winning party claims that it has the mandate of the people which is far from the truth.Nehru at the height of his popularity got only 47% of the votes. So no government can risk moving too far away from the centre much to the chagrin of the better off sections of society, who seem impatient like the first class airline passengers.

Chetan Bhagat has written a book called Making India Awesome which I have not read. For all I know, I may  agree with most of its contents. My problem is with the title. In all probability the publisher would have thought (probably correctly) that a title that gives the impression of there being easy, clear-cut solutions to complex problems would result in better sales. It is similar to the BJP's penchant for coming up with MBA style mnemonics like 3 'C's, 4 'D's, ABCD etc.

A more humble title like 'Some Suggestions that May improve India's Prospects' may not sell as well. During sales training in Wipro, an advice was given which I thought was sensible: 'it is better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver'. I am probably a misfit in a social ecosystem that encourages simplistic bombast. I heard a great line in a talk by Arun Shourie which illustrates the problem, 'Jo hyper-bole so nihal.'  As Nassim Nicholas Taleb says in Fooled by Randomness:
I do not dispute that arguments should be simplified to their maximum potential; but people often confuse complex ideas that cannot be simplified into a media-friendly statement as symptomatic of a confused mind.  MBAs learn the concept of clarity and simplicity - the five-minute-manager take on things.  The concept may apply to the business plan for a fertilizer plant, but not to highly probabilistic arguments - which is the reason I have anecdotal evidence in my business that MBAs tend to blow up in financial markets, as they are trained to simplify matters a couple of steps beyond their requirement. (I beg the MBA reader not to take offense; I am myself the unhappy holder of the degree.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Education is not a panacea - II

Educated people have caused untold miseries to large numbers of people through their fancy ideas like social Darwinism or medical procedures like frontal lobotomy. The iatrogenic effects of the medical profession are long and make for sorry reading. Educated people have often destroyed the environment and show scant regard for unintended consequences of actions like deforestation, over-exploitation of natural resources, introducing alien species into new habitats, etc., often driven by greed, arrogance and over-confidence. While speculating about the collapse of Easter Island society, which appears to have been cased by self inflicted environmental damage, Jared Diamond writes in Collapse:
I have often asked myself, 'What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say while he was doing it?' Like modern loggers, did he shout, 'Jobs, not trees!'? Or: 'Technology will solve our problems, never fear, we'll find a substitute for wood'? Or: 'We don't have proof that there aren't palms somewhere else on Easter, we need more research, your proposed ban on logging is pre-mature and driven by fear-mongering'?
Well, perhaps it was, 'Cut, baby, cut.' Is it a smart idea in the long run to ignore environmental norms for achieving development goals? Many educated people seem to think so. They seem to suffer from what Nassim Taleb calls 'epistemic arrogance' - what they think they know far exceeds what they actually know. As Kahneman says in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow: 'Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore the extent of our ignorance.'(If you are going to read only one book in the rest of the year and the whole of next year, I would recommend this book. I think it should be required reading in business schools.)

Paul Slovic is one of the leading experts in the world in studying how people decide about risk. He thinks that the public has major limitations like over-reliance on emotions and trivial details while experts are are much better in dealing with numbers and amounts. But the issue is not so cut and dried. As Daniel Kahneman writes in his splendid book Thinking, Fast and Slow:
...but Slovic draws attention to situations in which the differences reflect a genuine conflict of values.He points out that experts often measure risks by the number of lives (or life-years) lost, while the public draws finer distinctions, for example between "good deaths" and "bad deaths", or between random accidental fatalities and deaths that occur in the course of voluntary activities such as skiing. These legitimate distinctions are often ignored in statistics that merely count cases. Slovic argues from such observations that the public has a richer conception of risks than the experts do. Consequently, he strongly resists the view that the experts should rule, and that their opinions should be accepted without question when they conflict with the opinions and wishes of other citizens. When experts and the public disagree on their priorities, he says, "Each side must respect the insights and intelligence of the other."
The arrogance of ignorance is often in evidence but what cannot be ignored at times is the arrogance of the educated. It cannot be that if you are highly educated, only your views should count. It cannot be that only those views that benefit me are the sensible ones. Economists and businessmen lead the way in saying that people with viewpoints opposed to theirs are being 'misled'.When the poorest and the most defenceless are brushed aside in the name of development, one should at least pause and think. Democracy involves taking every group's point  of view even if the 'educated' think some views don't make sense.

It is hard to believe that real people on ground decide like economists in TV studios do. In The Black Swan Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about the harm caused by economists due to their physics envy which makes them think that the behaviour of human beings can be approximated to the behaviour of billiard balls.  Economists as a tribe are too confident about their projections. (I have become wary of people who sound very certain.)  There is also the saying that if you put 10 economists together you will get 11 opinions. George Bernard Shaw said, 'If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.'So where they get their confidence from is a mystery.Andre Beteille, probably the foremost sociologist in India, says in Chronicles of Our Time, 'To be sure, there is a large body of social science literature on modernization, development etc., but that part of it which claims to deal with scientifically established laws of social and economic change is mainly bluff and verbiage.'

Take for instance the land Bill. (I have not read the different versions and don't know the nuances.I am just commenting on the basis of a few talk shows that I have heard.) It seems that economists are looking at the issue from the angle of an intellectual problem to be solved - they don't have any skin in the game. On the other hand, the land-owners are looking at it from the angle of livelihood, social status and prestige, sentimental attachment etc., not just monetary compensation. Maybe the endowment effect is playing a role - not everything can be reduced to monetary terms.The image that comes to mind is of the farmer with small plot of land in the Hindi movie Do Bigha Zameen.

It is a question of differential motivation of the different groups involved, similar to the life/dinner principle in biology: ‘The rabbit runs faster than the fox, because the rabbit is running for his life while the fox is only running for his dinner’. As Andre Beteille says in an article A Right for Every Season:
There is widespread desire for change and betterment among all sections of society, all communities and all professions. Everybody wants to get to the end of the rainbow, but not many worry about how to get there. Economists seek to create their utopias through planning, politicians by legislations, and social activists through empowerment. They all can give detailed and eloquent accounts of  what that utopia will be like once it has been created. But they find it tiresome to dwell too closely on the obstacles the lie on the way. Perhaps in our social environment these obstacles are so pervasive and so oppressive that the mind naturally turns away from them. In the event, people tend to alternate between being utopian and being fatalistic, or fluctuate between a moralizing and a cynical perception of the world.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Education is not a panacea - I

In the  documentary Ram ke Naam, the sensible statements were often coming from those with little literacy and the medieval statements were often being made by the educated.  ('Education' is a flattering word to describe what is imparted in many schools and colleges in India.) Many of the vicious, misogynist, jingoistic comments by trolls on Twitter are by college-going students. Educated, middle-class people take great pride in flaunting their religiosity and finding modern ideas in ancient texts. Meera Nanda points to the peculiar mind-set of many Indians who have an inferiority complex with respect to Westerners which causes them to wear a superiority complex. As she says in Geek Nation by Angela Saini:
'For an ordinary believer, it's just faith.  They don't need to explain it. But there's a certain class of people coming up that need to justify their faith, who need to somehow intellectually put into words why they believe. It's more of a disease of educated people.'
Educated people have the same biases that everyone else has but are often in a position where they can cause much damage. The female-male sex ratio looks worse in some of the more developed parts of the country. Dowry pressure is quite common among the educated. Many of the educated rich seem to have an attitude similar to a comment I heard by a character in a novel by Kiran Nagarkar, 'With great fortitude we bear the misfortunes of others'. Caste, class and regional feelings are very much present among the educated. A Lancet study pointed out the disturbing possibility that recent increases in literacy and Indian per-person income might have contributed to increased selective abortion of girls.

In this video, Ashis Nandy says that more than 95% of the causalities in riots have been in cities, where the majority of the educated live, and not in the villages, where the majority of the population lives. These riots are orchestrated and  directed by the educated. The instances of public apathy, where lots of people look on with exemplary restraint while atrocities are committed in front of their eyes, seem to happen mainly in cities. There are many regressive practices in villages but these sordid realities of cities also cannot be ignored.

Incidents of drunk driving where poor pavement dwellers get killed and the educated perpetrator walks away without remorse happens in cities. There were many insensitive reactions after Salman Khan got convicted in a hit and run case. The most appalling comment was made by the singer Abhijeet, a person who one would have thought was educated enough and well-travelled enough to have some idea of the harsh realities outside his cocoon: 'If a dog sleeps on the road, it will die a dog's death. The poor and homeless must not sleep on roads... I too was homeless once, but never slept on road.'

I heard in a talk by the Dalai Lama that over 200 million people were killed by violence in the last century and most of these were at the hands of educated people. Educated people seem to be more likely to drool over terrible weapons that cause immense destruction somewhere far away and over the costly ceremonials of state power. I was shocked by this report that there is brisk sales of Mein Kampf in Delhi with some management students seeing it as "a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it".  If education is only about learning skills at the cost of basic human values then there is something rotten at the core of modern education.

Educated people often say that Human Rights groups should not interfere with the working of security forces especially in remote areas. They are ignoring the fact that without checks and balances any group, whatever its ideology, becomes coercive. It is human nature. As Primo Levi says in The Periodic Table, '...man is a centaur, a tangle of flesh and mind, divine inspiration and dust.' It is the job of Human Rights groups to ask questions that security agencies find uncomfortable. If they have an amicable relationship with the security agencies, it means that they are not doing their job.