There is poverty in America!

I enjoy meeting people and sharing views, and what’s more interesting than listening to an Indian born American citizen lament the phenomenon of open poverty in India! I had one such experience yesterday while sitting at a dinner table. We were talking about the emerging economies of globally delegated business visions when the focus changed to India’s fight against poverty. Now, I am not one to argue that there is no poverty back home. Sure, more than 25% of India’s population lives below the official poverty line. What I do take objection against is when people look solely at media portrayal or hard numbers against India irrespective of statistics.

Poverty in India is intermingled with the affluence. It is a fairly homogenous society in that context. On the other hand, America’s poverty is by and large extremely concentrated into geographical and sociological clusters. You don’t go about getting bothered by beggars, but you do see homeless people wandering about at rural intersections and downtown areas. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, about 25% of the black population in the US lives below the poverty line! Sure, this statistic doesn’t mean anything when compared to the real statistic of about 13% living below the poverty line. It is a telling story though.

What’s amazing is that while Indians living below the poverty line have successively reduced in number since the 50s, the trend is completely the opposite in the US, where there are more people below the poverty line every successive year since the last 5 years, and where the number of people suffering from hunger has shown an upward trend over the past years. In fact, the poverty rate in the US has always been higher than that in the 70s.

Why then do we still not see India in the true light? India is working towards solving its problems while providing the world’s biggest democracy, freedom, and opportunities. We have achieved a lot over the years after independance. My request to the nay-sayers is to keep it up so that I have more reasons to be proud to be an Indian.

My new favorite song

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your INHIBITIONS

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, oh, oh

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way

oh, oh

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your INHIBITIONS

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
To the years where your book begins…

-Natasha Bedingfield

Six Degrees of Separation of thought

Almost everyone has heard about the Small World Phenomenon. It was first introduced by philosopher Stanley Milgram, who exhibited that everyone in this world is networked with each other using a chain of acquaintances not more than 6 degrees long. Since then, a lot of experiments, both online and offline, have been performed by various researchers to basically prove the hypothesis. It is infact pretty amazing to realize that I am just about 6 degrees away from knowing Bill Gates or even the Pope!

The emergence of the Internet has helped us form boundary-less social networks. It is now easy to communicate and share with people irespective of where they are physically located. These online social networking websites are a very good place to see the small world effect in real time. As you must have noticed, I talk about the Internet a lot in my posts. I think the Internet could very well be the most important invention in the lifetime of the entire mankind.

Some movies have also drawn themes from the small world effect. The latest that I watched was “My Date with Drew” in which this young aspiring film-maker ventures out to use his “small world network” in order to get a date with Drew Barrymore. He was ultimately successful, although I wouldn’t exactly credit the small word phenomenon for his success.

One very simple question comes to mind. Why six degrees of separation? Why isn’t it 5 or 10? Well, 5 is too small, and 10 is too big. What I mean is that the theory merely states that we are connected to everyone else in this world by at most a 6 long chain. It could be shorter. But, no longer than 6. I think the magic number 6 also has to do with the fact that the human brain is typically not good at remembering anything bigger than 7 long. For example, there are 7 days in the week, 7 digits in a telephone number, 7 stages of progressive development of the disembodied soul according to Indian beliefs, the 7 seas, etc. In fact, the number 7 holds a high degree of prominence in the Hindu religion. A much more scientific synopsis of the importance of “7” can be read here.

All this makes me wonder; Are our thoughts separated to others’ in much the same way? Is it possible to propagate our vision and ideas throughout the world using the small world phenomenon as a reliable base? I personally think that the answer to all these questions is a resounding “YES”. I was watching this movie called Waking Life the other day and there was a scene where this couple (from the movie Before Sunrise, btw) were talking about dreams and reality. They mentioned something very interesting. In a scientific experiment, a group of people were given crosswords puzzles to which the solutions were already printed a day earlier, but unbeckonst to them. Surprisingly, their performance was stellar. It appears that there is some way by which thoughts and ideas get communicated subliminally.

Can this explain why some innovations happen at the same time but at separate places? I think this has broad implications. We are theoretically at the same level of intelligence and/or awareness as others, although a little bit late. So what’s the role of education? Maybe the purpose of education is to enable us to be thought leaders. After that it’s the small “mindscape” phenomenon at work! How many CEOs of tech companies are actually techies? Very few. They lead with their thoughts, their ideas, and their vision. Just because they are onto the next wave of ideas even before the employees assimilate the first wave makes them leaders.

Can we predict the future using this? Of course! If we can program our brain with expected outcomes to actions and then propagate ideas successfully, we can in fact be the cause of major changes in the world! We are an exceedingly networked society right now. If the mind networking theory holds truth, we should all look forward to a more balanced, and happier earth. An Earth that has been shaped by the collective thoughts of billions of people from all over the planet. It is a small world after all!

Video resumes to better market yourself

A lot can be said about someone from the way they talk, express their opinions, and describe themselves. The Internet has evolved. We now have speeds that enable videoconferencing. Most of the voice communications is handled through VoIP streams these days. It makes perfect sense to use these interactive technologies in looking for a job.

A resume is the basic form of applying for a job. You market your core skills, brag about your interpersonal skills, and write about your achievements. Most companies now get more resumes by email than any other medium like fax or snail mail. A lot of hiring managers/recruiters at large corporations are also facing challenges in keeping up with the influx of resumes, and research has shown that most resumes do a very poor job at protraying the real candidate.

Imagine a scenario where your electronic job application is a software executable with a small video window and interactive text. You can actually make a better impression by recording a customized video and then highlighting it with scrolling text. Something like a powerpoint presentation. It would help recruiters in avoiding all that mess of garbled words that they so lovingly often ignore depending on the time of the day and their current mood. JobsBlog had an example a few days ago where someone got a job at Microsoft just by making a very powerful Powerpoint presentation instead of sending in a resume.

Truly, this needs to be made easy for all the non-techies out there to really be pushed into mainstream job search techniques. A standard is needed, and thus a feature-full software suite. Any venture capital people out there want to give me finance? Email me for a proposal!