Thursday, October 24, 2019

Why I believe VVPATs reduce confidence in EVMs.

After a significant number of doubts were raised on electronics voting machines being used in elections in India, a new solution called  Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) was developed. The original solution consisted of two pieces of hardware.

  1. Control Unit -- This unit stays with the presiding officer in the polling booth and he can perform allowed administrative functions with. The main function that he performs during the polling is the enabling of the vote after which the voter can cast his vote.
  2. Ballot Unit -- This unit is placed in the polling booth and a voter can choose a single candidate and cast his vote in his favor. This vote is then transferred to the control unit.
The main doubt that was raised was that the vote had no idea whether the vote that he cast is being transferred to the control unit or not. The VVPAT solution that was developed was seeming a simple and elegant solution. The vote that is cast by the voter is printed on a sheet of paper and it shows up in the glass windows for a small period of time thus verifying the vote that the voter had cast. The solution looks like below.

Initially, I believed that this is a good solution for the problem but more I thought about it, I came up with more problems than what it was solving. Here are some of my issues with the current solution.
  1. With the new solution, the vote is not directly transmitted from the ballot unit to the control unit. Basically, your vote is going to VVPAT and it is up to the VVPAT to transfer your vote to the control unit.
  2. The earlier solution had one very big safeguard. The machine had no information about candidates or parties. The only thing the machine knew is the total number of candidates and it sequentially maintained which slot got how many votes. The mapping of the slot to the candidate was a completely external method and it was only maintained on a piece of paper that was stuck on top of the ballot unit. This was ensuring that not program within the machine can favor a particular candidate.
  3. The earlier solution was not using any memory that was writable. One could not add anything to the machine after it was manufactured. The current solution involving VVPATs prints candidates symbol. It is clear that there is a mechanism somewhere to upload the list of symbols and symbol to ballot position mapping in the VVPAT system. Also since the vote to control unit is transferred by VVPAT, it is not impossible to create a program that can tamper with this vote and cast a vote in favor of a candidate other than what the voter intended.
  4. The current verification of votes to the paper trail is grossly insufficient.
I believe there is a simple modification to the current solution that can be deployed which will take care of some of the issues. This requires a simple modification to control unit and ballot unit and it looks like below.
The idea is very simple. We keep the existing data and control flow among BU/VVPAT/CU as it is. Apart from that, the ballow should simultaneously get transferred to CU as well. The CU should compare the ballot that it received from VVPAT and BU and if there is a mismatch, it should raise an alarm and store it as a disputed vote. If the count of disputed vote is significant the CU should raise an alert and the equipment should be changed.
I am sure there is nothing wrong with the current set of equipment that we are using. But something as important as polling in a democracy should not only be fair but also should be seen to be fair.  I think this simple modification could instill more confidence in the citizens.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Article 370 History

I think all political parties are wrong about what they are saying on Article 370 of the constitution.  Article 370 was never supposed to be permanent. You can read about the frustration Nehru with Sheikh Abdullah in his letter on 27-April-1953. I believe it was always an arrangement to make sure the accession of J & K happened without much problem. I believe most stakeholders at that time understood that it will go away when circumstances were much better.
So, what has happened now is no different in what has been going on over the year. The only thing that is different is the speed with which it was done. I would have actually liked political class to own up their gradual integration process that has been ongoing over the years rather than taking the line that they took right now.  Here is a brief account of what happened. These notes that leaders of that era sent to each other are great insight into what was going on in their heads.
Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of access on 26 October 1947. This was formalized under article 370 later. Under this, the following rights were awarded to the Central Government.

  • Defense
  • External Affairs
  • Communications
  • Ancillary -- related to the election to the central legislature
Following is the list of significant events after the signing of the instrument of accession.
  • 27-October-1947 Maharaja Hari Singh sends a letter to Lord Mountbatten requesting him to accept the accession because he needs help from India and India can not provide the help unless accession is complete.
  • 27-October-1947 Lord Mountbatten replies accepting the accession and also making a note that as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader, the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.
  • 30-October-1947 Maharaja issues emergency administration order appointing Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as head of administration.
  • 05-March-1948 Maharaja issues a proclamation appointing a popular interim government
  • 09-June-1949 Maharaja issues proclamation entrusting Karan Singh with all Maharaja's powers in his absence due to ill health.

Sardar Patel's Letter to Nehru on 03-November-1949 Justifying the Alteration

New Delhi 
3 November 1949 

My dear Jawaharlal,

There was some difficulty about the provision relating to Kashmir. Sheikh Sahib went back on the agreement which he had reached with you in regard to the provision relating to Kashmir. He insisted on certain changes of a fundamental character which would exclude in their application to Kashmir the provisions relating to citizenship and fundamental rights and make it necessary in all these matters as well as others not covered by the accession to three subjects to seek the concurrence of the State Government which is sought to define as the Maharaja acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers appointed under the proclamation of 8 March 1948. After a great deal of discussion, I could persuade the party to accept all the changes except the last one, which was modified so as to cover not merely the first Ministry so appointed but any subsequent Ministries which may be appointed under that proclamation. Sheikh Sahib has not reconciled himself to this change, but we could not accommodate him in this matter and the provision was passed through the House as we had modified. After this he wrote a letter to Gopalaswami Ayyangar threatening to resign from the membership of the Constituent Assembly. Gopalaswami has replied asking him to defer his decision until you returned.

Yours sincerely, 
Vallabhbhai Patel 

The Hon’ble Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
Prime Minister

  • 25-November-1949 Yuvaraj Karan Singh accepts the new constitution as drafted by the constituent assembly
  • 26-January-1950 First government order applying the constitution to J & K

Nehru's Letter to Sheikh Abdullah on 27-April-1953

New Delhi 
April 27, 1953 

My dear Shaikh Saheb,


I am writing to you, however, about a matter, which has been distressing me for some time. This is the very slow progress made by your committees etc., in regard to giving formal shape to the relationship of Kashmir with India, in terms of the agreement arrived at last year. Normally, I would have thought that, in a matter of this kind, there would have been some speed in implementation. It is now about nine months or so since that agreement was arrived at. I know of course the difficulties you have had to face.

But the fact remains that this continuing trouble is a strain on all of us. We should like to see the end of it. It would no doubt have ended long ago if we could have said definitely that the Jammu and Kashmir Government had finally implemented the agreement arrived at last year. The only thing that keeps going this trouble and agitation is the charge that even the Agreement has not been implemented. We have no reply to that or rather the reply we have given grows more and more stale as time goes on.

If that is so, then this matter at least should be tackled with speed and settled. I do not mind how long the rest of your Constitution takes. If it is said that this a part of the entire Constitution and must, therefore wait for it, that argument could have equally applied to the change made in the headship of the State. If that can be isolated, so can other matters we had agreed upon.

My own view about the Constitution has all along been that it is always better to have a brief and flexible Constitution. We have made a mistake, I think, in having too long and complicated a Constitution of India and we are regretting it. If I had another chance, I would not repeat this error, because it comes in the way all the time.

The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir State will necessarily have to fit into the Constitution of India, if Jammu and Kashmir State is a constituent unit of India and is part of the territory of India. But for the moment I am not concerned with the whole Constitution but only with that part which defines the relationship to India. I fear that the longer we delay this, the more difficult the situation becomes.

Yours sincerely, 
Jawaharlal Nehru

  • June 1953 Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was apprised of developments related to the 8 member workin committee on the future of Kashmir which was discussing Plebcite and Independence. 
  • July 1953 Nehru was informed about this decision
  • August 1953 On August 8, 1953, just two days before the next working committee meeting, Sheikh Abdullah was arrested along with many of his colleagues. 

    Nehru's Note on Sheikh Abdullah's Arrest

    The present drift and the resulting confusion cannot be allowed to go on. The policy of Government must be clearly stated to the public. The members of Government should not speak in different voices. In order to remove doubt about this policy, a brief memorandum might be prepared and placed before the Cabinet. In this Government’s policy should be precisely stated. Apart from other major issues, there might be some reference in it to certain economic issues also; or, if it is preferred, the economic issues can be stated in a separate note. Among these economic issues might be mentioned the raising of the price of procurement of rice, the removal of the customs barrier, etc., the object of all this being to lessen the burden on the common man. 

    The main point clarified in the memorandum should be the future of the State which has given rise to so much argument in public recently. Members of Government should be asked to support the policy laid down in its entirety. 

    If, as is probable, some members of Government do not agree with this policy and this statement, the majority should nevertheless accept that policy. If the minority refuse to abide by it, the continuation of the present Government becomes impossible. The Head of the State should be informed accordingly. He should ask for the resignation of the Government because it cannot function as a team and pursue its contradictory policies. If the resignation is offered, then the Head of the State should call upon another person representing the majority view to form a new Government. 

    It will be desirable not to allow any marked lapse of time between the demand for resignation and the formation of the new Government. The Head of the State should send for all members of Government and inform them of his decision and ask for their resignations. If the resignations are not forthcoming, he should have an order ready for the dismissal of the Government because it cannot fulfil its functions properly. Immediately he should entrust the formation of the new Government to the other person. 

    It will be desirable to prepare the ground for this, insofar as considered feasible, with prominent members of the Executive of the Party.

    Immediately after the formation of the new Government, the Executive of the Party should meet. Both the new Government and the Party should issue statements to the public stating the facts and indicating their policy, including their economic policy. 

    Some persons who are notorious for their corrupt activities should be apprehended and steps taken for an inquiry into those activities. 

    It may be desirable to arrest one or two such persons, who are known to be corrupt, even before the steps indicated above are taken. But this is a matter of judgment. 

    All necessary steps should be taken for the preservation of law and order. Any persons taking a lead in creating any disturbance should be apprehended. Such assistance as may be considered necessary for the maintenance of law and order should be available. Any action taken should be carefully calculated so as not to exceed the necessities of the situation, and the change-over should be as peaceful as possible. 

    Immediate first steps afterwards should be the removal of certain well-known corrupt officers, etc., suspension of others whose loyalty is doubted, and an appeal to the people for maintenance of peaceful conditions. The broad outlines of the programme of the new Government should be given and it should be stated that it would be for the people to decide ultimately what political or economic policy has to be adopted—the sole test will be the good of the people and their wishes in the matter.

    • 14-May-1954 Constitution of J & K is notified under CO 48.
    • 17-November-1956 Constituent Assembly dissolves itself.
    • 10-April-1965 Constitution of J & K (Sixth Amendment) Act, 1965 is passed. Expressions Sadar-i-Riyasat and Prime Minister are replaced with Governor and Chief Minister. Rules regarding the appointment of the Governor are defined. 
    • 42 Constitution Orders were issued over the years resulting in 260 of the 395 articles of Indian constitution being applicable to J & K, 94 of 97 entries being applicable and 26 of 47 entries being applicable to the state.

    Nehru's Note of 3-July-1952 regarding his plans for Kashmir's Integration

    1. Kashmir, like other states, acceded to India on three subjects in October 1947 under rather peculiar circumstances. Later, other states became more integrated in regard to additional subjects and they accepted the Constitution of India in its entirety. 
    2. This development did not take place in regard to Kashmir because of those special reasons—war with Pakistan, reference to UNO, etc., and therefore Kashmir’s accession was continued to be limited to those three subjects. This was a fluid condition, which could not be finalized then. When our Constitution was taking its final shape, something had to be said about Kashmir and, therefore, some transitional provisions relating to Kashmir were added to it. The position remained fluid.
    3. The Dominion of India became the Republic of India. That made no difference to Kashmir and its accession to the Republic of India was also in regard to those three subjects only. 
    4. In the normal course, more definite shape would have been given to the position of Kashmir in the Union of India and the transitory provisions would have been replaced by a more permanent arrangement. But, chiefly because of the reference to the UN, we did not take this matter up and allowed things to continue in the transitional and rather vague state. Even in the transitional clauses of our Constitution, reference was made to a future Constituent Assembly of Kashmir State, which was to draw up a Constitution for Kashmir. 
    5. Now that this Constituent Assembly of the J&K State has started functioning, we can no longer delay taking decisions in regard to some of these matters affecting the relation of Kashmir to India. This has been brought to a head by the desire of the Kashmir leaders to change the nature of the Headship of the State. In considering this particular matter, we cannot isolate it from other matters. Therefore, we have to define with some precision, though not necessarily with detail, the nature of this relationship. 
    6. The first question that arises is this: must all constituent units of the Republic of India have exactly the same relation to the Union, as embodied in our Constitution and various Lists of subjects, or can there be a variation?
    7. If they must stand on exactly the same footing, then there is not much room for argument and Kashmir must line up with the others.
    8. This is not a practical proposition and, even from the larger point of view, it is desirable to have a certain flexibility in our Constitution. Therefore, we must proceed on the basis of some special treatment of J&K State in this connection. 
    9. Whatever special treatment we may accord to that State, if the State is a constituent unit of the Union of India, then certain inevitable results flow from it. 
    10. We proceed on the assumption that J&K State is a constituent unit of the Union of India. For the present, the major Central subjects in regard to the State are three only, namely, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Communications. We accept that limitation for the present, but it must be made clear that these subjects can be added to. Even now certain additions will have to be made to bring out the inevitable consequences of J&K State being a part of India. These would not be major subjects, but rather corollaries of accession
    11. Accepting that J&K State is a constituent unit of the Union of India, it follows that there can only be one common nationality or citizenship, namely, that of the Republic of India. There cannot be any kind of separate citizenship for Kashmir or dual citizenship.
    12. The authority of the President as given in our Constitution must be acknowledged. (The President has certain overriding powers of suspending the Constitution in a State.) It will have to be considered whether this power should remain in regard to J&K State. 
    13. Any Head of the J&K State must be recognized by the President. 
    14. The Supreme Court must function in the State in regard to anything connected with the subjects of accession as well as Fundamental Rights and other important clauses. The Fundamental Rights may be varied, with our consent, by the Constituent Assembly for Kashmir. There may be other variations too in the Kashmir Constitution. The Supreme Court, however, should be the final authority to interpret the Kashmir Constitution, as it does our own. 
    15. The question to be considered is whether the Supreme Court should be the highest appellate tribunal for Kashmir also. 
    16. The National Flag must be the symbol of authority in Kashmir. The new State Flag might continue, but not as a rival of the National Flag. 
    17. There is to be financial integration. It does not necessarily follow that that integration should be exactly of the kind we have got with other States. In any event, it is to be remembered that customs revenue is the main source of income from Kashmir and if we take it, the whole State finances will collapse. It has to remain with the State for a number of years, which may be at least 10 and which might be 15.
    18. The question of income-tax has to be considered in this connection also. 
    19. As regards the Head of the State, once it is acknowledged that the recognition of our President is essential, the rest, though important, does not vitally affect our Constitution. I think that, in the circumstances, we must accept that the Head of the State may be elected. The period has to be considered. I do not think a life term is feasible. It is not likely to please anyone really. Possibly a longer term than five years might be better, from all points of view.

    Nehru's note to Sheikh Abdullah Written at Sonamarg, Kashmir, on 25 August 1952

    1. I am writing this note to convey to you my own basic views about the situation in Kashmir. During the last five years or so, I have naturally given a great deal of thought to the various factors governing this situation—military, political, economic and others. I have tried to make my approach as objective as possible. Naturally, to some extent, I am influenced by my own personal feelings and attachment to Kashmir. Thus it may be said that I have two approaches—that of the Prime Minister of India and the personal one. As a matter of fact, however, I have not found any conflict between those two. Some difficulties have arisen occasionally in my mind because I was not sure if my approach, personal or official, was completely in line with your approach. So far as I was concerned, you represented to me what the people of Kashmir wanted to be done, and as that was a paramount consideration for me, in the ultimate analysis I would accept that in preference to my own views. As a rule, there was no such conflict or difficulty. 
    2. My own view has been clear for the last four years or so and, in spite of changing circumstances, I have found no reason to alter it basically. Because of this, I have not been worried much on account of new developments. Being clear in my mind as to what should be done, it did not matter much to me what Pakistan did or what the United Nations might do. I was, however, sometimes a little surprised, and somewhat worried, to find that the leaders of Kashmir were not so clear in their minds about the present or the future and were, therefore, worrying a great deal. To give an instance, the present talks with Dr. Graham in Geneva do not appear to me to have any great importance. They do not alter my appraisal of the situation, or what we should do about it. I find, however, that much greater importance is attached to these Graham talks in Geneva, here in Kashmir, and there is some apprehension also about their result.
    3. [....]
    4. After some experience of the UN, I came to the conclusion that nothing substantial could be expected from it. It was clear that we would not give in on any basic point, whatever the UN might say. It seemed also clear that Pakistan would not simply walk out and revert to the status quo ante-war. Thus,  towards the end of 1948 it seemed to me that there were only two possibilities open to us: (1) continuation of the war in a limited way; (2) some kind of a settlement on the basis of the then existing military situation.
    5. I have not mentioned the plebiscite, because it became clear to me then that we would never get the conditions which were necessary for a plebiscite.1 Neither side would give in on this vital issue, and so I ruled out the plebiscite for all practical purposes.
    6. [....].  Even that war, apart from foreign intervention, would not be a very easy or quick one. We had definite superiority from the military and industrial points of view, but that superiority was not so great as to overwhelm the enemy. And then, there was always the question of what foreign powers might do either in interfering or in aiding Pakistan in other ways.
    7. The result of all this thought, and my own powerful inclination to avoid war on a big scale which brought disaster in its train, whatever the result, led me to certain definite conclusions towards the end of 1948. These conclusions were that the only possible way of putting an end to this conflict was by accepting, more or less, the status quo then existing. We were not prepared to give up any territory we possessed to Pakistan. But we might, for the sake of peace and a settlement, agree to their holding what they then had. I was doubtful if Pakistan would accept this. If not, then we continued where we were.
    8. This conclusion was not a very pleasant one to me, but logically I could not help arriving at it. When I met Attlee and Bevin and Liaquat Ali Khan in London in the last quarter of 1948, I mentioned this briefly to them saying that it was entirely a personal suggestion because of my desire to end this conflict. I was not at all sure how far my own Government, or the Kashmir Government, would agree to it, because they felt strongly on this question of Pakistan aggression. Liaquat Ali Khan refused to consider this matter on this basis and there it ended.
    9. At the end of 1948 we agreed to a ceasefire. I think it was a right move, but the question was not properly approached. We could have got the ceasefire on a somewhat better line if we had given more thought to it. However, that is a past mistake. 
    10. Since then, we have had the ceasefire, and all kinds of talks with the UN people have gone on without much result. Throughout this period, my old conviction has taken root in my mind that the only feasible solution, short of resumption of war, was the acceptance of the status quo, more or less. War, I ruled out for a variety of reasons, unless it was thrust upon us by Pakistan. 
    11. […] 
    12. [....]
    13. As Prime Minister of India, I have to look ahead and consider the basic national interest of India. It is my duty to guard that interest. That interest fits in with ideas of world peace and the avoidance of war whether in the world or with Pakistan. But, of course, that does not mean that we should not be prepared for any contingency. That interest itself demands full preparation for war or peaceful effort. Fortunately, we have no troubles with any of our neighbours, or, for the matter of that, with any country in the world. Nor are we afraid of any country, however big it may be, invading India or compelling us by force to do something that we do not want to do. There is one present exception and that is Pakistan. We are superior to Pakistan in military and industrial power. But that superiority is not so great as to produce results quickly either in war or by fear of war. Therefore, our national interest demands that we should adopt a peaceful policy towards Pakistan and, at the same time, add to our strength. Strength ultimately comes not from the defence forces, but the industrial and economic background behind them. As we grow in strength, and we are likely to do so, Pakistan will feel less inclined to threaten or harass us, and a time will come when, through sheer force of circumstances, it will be in a mood to accept a settlement which we consider fair, whether in Kashmir or elsewhere. The only danger is that the Government of Pakistan, or some military clique there, might, in sheer desperation, launch on an adventure. That danger has to be faced and prepared for. Otherwise, our national interest demands that we should adopt a firm but non-provocative attitude towards Pakistan, and build up our economic strength, keeping our defence forces in good condition for any possibility. The world situation also demands that we should follow this policy. 
    14. What is the position of Jammu and Kashmir State vis-à-vis India? Looking at it objectively, this State is of importance, both from the strategic and other points of view, to both India and Pakistan. Hence, the conflict between the two. We are not prepared to give in to Pakistan on that issue, even though it means war. The utmost we can do is to give in so far as that area is concerned which is occupied by Pakistan. That itself, strategically, is a disadvantage to us. But we are prepared to accept that disadvantage for the sake of peace. If the whole of the State went to Pakistan, it would be a danger to the north of India, and there would be continuous tension between us and the party controlling that State. Thus, purely from the point of view of India’s national interest, we cannot agree, unless circumstances force us, to see this part of Kashmir State go to Pakistan. There are no circumstances visible that can force us to do this. Pakistan cannot. The United Nations cannot override our wishes in this matter. 
    15. This is an objective statement from the point of view of India’s national interest. There is another aspect which we have stressed, and which is important. This is the wishes of the people of Kashmir. If the people of Kashmir clearly and definitely wish to part company from India, there the matter ends, however we may dislike it or however disadvantageous it may be to India. But, as I have stated above, I see no chance or whatever of any proper plebiscite determining this question, because the plebiscite itself raises highly controversial issues in regard to the conditions governing it and all that. So, ruling out the plebiscite we have to accept the present leadership of Kashmir and the Constituent Assembly there as representing the will of the people of Kashmir. If the Constituent Assembly told India to get out of Kashmir, we would get out, because under no circumstances can we remain here against the expressed will of the people. As far as I know, the Constituent Assembly will not do such a thing and therefore, the question does not arise for me. 
    16. Speaking now for a moment purely as a Kashmiri, I think that it would be the ruin of Kashmir if Pakistan took possession of it. I need not dilate on this issue, but I am convinced of it.
    17. [....]
    18. [.....]
    19. In fact, Jammu and Kashmir have to hold together. If Jammu is separated, Kashmir goes. If Kashmir goes, Jammu’s position becomes precarious and the conflict does not end. Statesmanship therefore requires that Jammu and Kashmir should hold together. The people of Jammu, therefore, should be made to feel the advantages of this union and the dangers of breaking. They should be won over and not irritated because the safety and freedom of Kashmir is linked up with the retention of Jammu.
    20. [....]
    21. [....]
    22. [....]
    23. It must be remembered that the people of the Kashmir valley and roundabout, though highly gifted in many ways—in intelligence, in artisanship, etc.—are not what are called a virile people. They are soft and addicted to easy living. They are surrounded by hardy tribes in the north-west of Pakistan and even in the northern areas of the State. It will be difficult, and indeed hardly possible, for the people of Kashmir to survive by themselves, it left to their own resources. It was all very well when there was a strong suzerain power like that of England which could prevent harassment and raids. But if a strong suzerain power is absent, then Kashmir is likely to fall an easy prey to these depredations.
    24. The result of all these considerations is that the only desirable future for the State is with a close association with India, retaining her autonomy in most ways; that Kashmir and Jammu should hold together; that we should consolidate our position in these areas and not care very much for what happens in the ‘Azad Kashmir’ areas. Most important of all is that we should have no doubts in our minds about these matters. Doubts in the minds of leaders percolate to their followers and to the people generally. The weakness of the situation in Kashmir is the constant discussion which go on between people holding different views. I do not know how many such groups there are, but obviously, some people talk about a close association with India, others talk about a loose association with India, yet others think, if not talk, of an association with Pakistan, and yet others talk about independence. All this confusion in ideas and constant debate weakens the basic position. What is required is a firm and clear outlook and no debate about basic issues. If we have that outlook, it just does not matter what the United Nations thinks or what Pakistan does.
    25. Personally, I have that clear outlook and have had it for these years and it has surprised me that there should be so much discussion about obvious matters.
    26. We have to consolidate the position in Kashmir, firstly, on the political plane by having this clear-cut idea about the future, and no nonsense tolerated, and, secondly, by improving the lot of the people, i.e., economic and other issues. Personally, I think that more important even than economic issues is an efficient administration. The common people are primarily interested in a few things—an honest administration and cheap and adequate food. If they get this, then they are more or less content. That is not enough, of course, and we have to go ahead. But there is far too much talk of going ahead, when we do not pay enough attention to basic things like administration and food policy. Slogans are good in their day, but slogans are dangerous companions when these basic problems have to be faced. It is dangerous to make promises which cannot be fulfilled or to talk tall just to gain the goodwill of the people for the moment. Facts cannot be ignored and have to be faced. The most important thing today in Kashmir is efficiency in administration and in food policy. […]
    27. Finally, I would repeat that there must be a clear-cut idea about what we want in Kashmir and about Kashmir, and that idea must be adhered to without debate or argument in future. I have indicated that the only possible course for Kashmir is for the State to be closely associated with India, that association not interfering with its autonomy in most respects. If that is so, then it is not wise to say or do things which imperil that association. Again, Jammu and Kashmir have to hold together for the sake of each other. They cannot be separated. If that is so, then every effort should be made to encourage that idea, and not to say or do anything which irritates people or makes them think of parting company.
    28. Our general outlook should be such as to make people think that the association of Kashmir State with India is an accomplished and final fact, and nothing is going to undo it. I am not talking of speeches repeating this, but rather of other facts being mentioned which tend to make people believe it. For instance, I should stress the fact that a tunnel is going to be built under the Banihal or that trade etc. is developing with and through India or that development schemes are being undertaken.
    29. I would repeat that I have held these views concisely and precisely for the last four years, and nothing has happened during this period which has made me change them in the slightest. It is for this reason that meetings with Dr Graham or anyone else, or any developments in Pakistan, do not worry me in the least, in so far as Kashmir is concerned. What has sometimes worried me is what happens in Kashmir, because I have found doubt and hesitation there, and not clarity of vision or firmness of outlook. 

    Friday, September 20, 2019

    Frauds on used electronics goods sites

    I was recently looking for an old iPhone and visited multiple used electronic goods websites. I even did a few transactions. Here is my learning from this experience.

    1. Always be wary of sellers who have a very good deal. For example, somebody selling a brand new iPhone for 20 K. These just fake products. I did enter in conversations with few of them and many of them quickly wanted to take you off the platform and have a WhatsApp conversation with me. These people generally had mobile numbers registered abroad. I found a few sellers with mobile numbers with country code of Nigeria.
    2. Always do a due diligence of sellers. You will generally find them listing a single product across multiple cities.   If you find similar spelling mistakes in products listed in different cities, generally not above board sellers.
    3. Use a platform that provides pickup and delivery and always use that. Even though not absolutely guaranteed, there is a better chance of you getting a genuine product if it was delivered by the platform. Three of my orders were never delivered because the seller refused to answer the phone after accepting the order.
    4. If the platform offers Assured service, like QuikrAssured, buy products through that even if they cost more.
    If you can afford, stay away from this platform.

    Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Why I am an athiest? By Bhagat Singh

    I read this piece from Bhagat Singh a few years back and I wanted to reproduce it as it in my blog. Finally, today is the day when I am going to do it.

    Why I am an Athiest?

    By : Bhagat Singh

    A new question has cropped up. Is it due to vanity that I do not believe in the existence of an omnipotent,omnipresent and omniscient God? I had never imagined that I would ever have to confront such a question. But conversation with some friends has given me a hint that certain of my friends--if I am not claiming too much in thinking them to be so--are inclined to conclude from the brief contact they have had with me, that it was too much on my part to deny the existence of God and that there was a certain amount of vanity that actuated my disbelief. Well,the problem is a serious one. I do not boast to be quite above these human traits. I am a man and nothing more. None can claim to be more. I also have this weakness in me. Vanity does form a part of my nature. Amongst my comrades I was called an autocrat. Even my friend Mr.B.K.Dutta sometimes called me so. On certain occasions I was decried as a despot. Some friends do complain, and very seriously too, that I involuntarily thrust my opinions upon others and get my proposals accepted. That this is true up to a certain extent,I do not deny. This may amount to egotism. There is vanity in me in as much as our cult as opposed to other popular creeds is concerned. But that is not personal. It may be, it is only legitimate pride in our cult and does not amount to vanity. Vanity, or to bemore precise Ahankar अहंकार,is the excess of undue pride in one's self. Whether it is such an undue pride that has led me to atheism or whether it is after very careful study of the subject and after much consideration that I have come to disbelieve in God,is a question that I intend to discuss here. Let me first make it clear that egotism and vanity are two different things.
    Bhai Randhir Singh was a Ghadarite in Lahore Central Jail in 1930-31. Baba Randhir Singh ...was a God-fearing religious man. It pained him to learn that Bhagat Singh was a non-believer.He somehow managed to see Bhagat Singh in the condemned cell and tried to convince him about the existence of God,but failed.Baba lost his temper and said tauntingly: You are giddy with fame and have developed an ego which is standing like a black curtain between you and the God.' It was in reply to that remark that Bhagat Singh wrote this article.”
    In the first place,I have altogether failed to comprehend as to how undue pride or vaingloriousness could ever stand in the way of a man in believing in God.I can refuse to recognise the greatness of a really great man, provided I have also achieved a certain amount of popularity without deserving it or without having possessed the qualities really essential or indispensable for the same purpose. That much is conceivable. But in what way can a man believing in God cease believing due to his personal vanity? There are only two ways. The man should either begin to think himself a rival of God or he may begin to believe himself to be God. In neither case can he become a genuine atheist.In the first case he does not even deny the existence of his rival. In the second case as well, he admits the existence of a conscious being behind the screen, guiding all the movements of nature. It is of no importance to us whether he thinks himself to be that, supreme being or whether he thinks the supreme conscious being to be somebody apart from himself. The fundamental is there. His belief is there. He is by no means an atheist. well, here I am. I neither belong to the first category nor to the second. I deny the very existence of that Almighty supreme Being. Why I deny it, shall be dealt with later on. Here I want to clear one thing, that it is not vanity that has actuated me to adopt the doctines of atheism. I am neither a rival nor an incarnation, nor the supreme being himself. One point is decided, that it is not vanity that has led me this mode of thinking. Let me examine the facts to disprove this allegation. According to these friends of mine I have grown vainglorious perhaps due to the undue popularity gained during the trials-both Delhi Bomb and Lahore Conspiracy Cases. Well, let us see if their premises are correct. My atheism is not of so recent origin. I bad stopped believing in God when I was an obscure young man, of whose existence my above-mentioned friends were not evenaware. At least a college student cannot cherish any short of undue pride which may lead him to atheism. Though a favourite with some professors and disliked by certain others. I was never an industrious or a studious boy. I could not get any chance of indulging in such feelings as vanity. I was rather a boy with a very shy nature, who had certain pessimistic dispositions about the future career. And in those days, I was not a perfect atheist. My grandfather under whose influence I was brought up is an orthodox Arya Samajist. An Arya Samajist is anything but an atheist. After finishing my primary educationI joined the D. A. V. School of Lahore and stayed in its Boarding House for full one year. There, apart from morning and evening prayers, I used to recite Gayatri Mantra for hours and hours. I was a perfect devotee in those days. Later on I began to live with my father. He is a liberalinas much as the orthodoxy of religions is concerned. It was though his teachings that I aspired to devote my life to the cause of freedom. But he is not an atheist. He is a firm believer. He used to encourage me for offering prayers daily. So this is how I was brought up. In the Non-Cooperation days I joined the National College. It was there that I began to think liberally and discuss and criticise all the religious problems, even about God. But still was a devout believer. By that time I had begun to preserve the unshorn and unclipped long hair but I could never believe in the mythology and doctrines of Sikhism or any other religion. But I had a firm faith in God's existence.

    Later on I joined the revolutionary party. The first leader with whom I came in contact, though not convinced, could not dare to deny the existence of God. On my persistent inquiries about God, he used to say :Pray whenever you want to. Now this is atheism less courage required for the adoption of that creed, The second leader with whom I came in contact was a firm beliver. Let's mention his name--respected Comrade Shachindra Nath Sanyal, now undergoing life transportaion in connection with the Kakori Conspiracy Case. From the very first page of his famous and only book, Bandi Jivan (or Incarcerated Life), the Glory of God is sung vehemently. On the last page of the second part of that beautiful book, his mystic--because of vedantism-- praises showered upon God form a very conspicuous part of his thoughts. The Revolutionary leaflet distributed throughout India on January 28th, 1925, was according to the prosecution story the result of his intellectual labour. Now, as is inevitable in the secret work the prominent leader expresses his own views which are very dear to his person, and the rest of the workers have to acquiesce in them, in spite of differences which they might have. In that leaflet one full paragraph was devoted to praise the Almighty and His rejoicings and doing. That is all mysticism. What I wanted to point out was that the idea of disbelief had not even germinated in the revolutionary party. The famous Kakori martyrs--all four of them--passed their last days in prayers. Ram Prasad Bismil was an orthodox Arya Samajist. Despite his wide studies in the field of socialism and communism, Rajen Lahiri could not suppress his desire of reciting hymns of the Upanishads and the Gita. I saw only one man amongst them, who never prayed and used to say Philosophy is the outcome of human weakness or limitation of knowledge.He is also undergoing a sentence of transportation for life. But he also never dared to deny the existence of God. Up to that period I was only a romantic idealist revolutionary. Up till then we were to follow. Now came the time to shoulder the whole responsibility. Due to the inevitable reaction for some time the very existence of the party seemed impossible. Enthusiastic comrades--nay, leaders--began to jeer at us. For some time I was afraid that some day I also might not be convinced of the futility of our own programme. That was a turning point in my revolutionary career. Study was the cry that reverberated in the corridors of my mind. Study to enable yourself to face the arguments advanced by opposition. Study to arm yourself with arguments in favour of your cult. I began to study. My previous faith and convictions underwent a remarkable modification. The romance of the violent methods alone which was so prominent amongst our predecessors, was replaced by serious ideas. No more mysticism, no more blind faith. Realism became our cult. Use of force justifiable when resorted to as a matter of terrible necessity : non-violence as policy indispensable for all mass movements. So much about methods. The most important thing was the clear conception of the ideal for which we were to fight. As there were no important activities in the field of action I got ample opportunity to study various ideals of the world revolution. I studied Bakunin, the anarchist leader, something of Marx, the father of commuinism, and much of Lenin, Trotsky and others-the men who had successfully carried out a revolution in their country. They were all atheists. Bakunin's God and State though only fragmentary, is an interesting study of the subject. Later still I came across a book entitled Common Sense by Nirlamba Swami. It was only a sort of mystic atheism. This subject became of utmost interest to me. By the end of 1926 I had been convinced as to the baselessness of the theory of existence of an almighty supreme being who created, guided and controlled the universe. I had given out this disbelief of mine I began discussion on the subjects with my friends. I had become a pronounced atheist. But what it meant will presently be discussed.
    In May 1927 I was arrested at Lahore. The arrest was a surprise. I was quite unaware of the fact that the police wanted me. All of a sudden, while passing through a garden, I found myself surrounded by police. To my own surprise, I was very calm at that time. I did not feel any sensation, nor did I experience any excitement. I was taken into police custody. Next day I was taken to the Railway Police lock-up where I was to pass full one month. After many day's conversation with the police officials I guessed that they had some information regarding my connection with the Kakori party anel my other activities in connection with the revolutionary movement. They told me that I had been to Lucknow while the trial was going on there, that I had negotiated a certain scheme about their rescue, that after obtaining their approval, we had procured some bombs, that by way of test one of the bombs was thron in the crowd on the occasion of Dussehra 1926. They further informed me, in my interest, that if I could give any statement throwing some light on the activities of the revolutionary party, I was not to be imprisoned but on the contrary set free and rewarded, even without being produced as an approver in the court. I laughed at the proposal. It was all humbug. People holding ideas like ours do not throw bombs on their own innocent people. One fine morning Mr. Newman, the then Senior Superintendent of C. I. D., came to me. And after much sympathetic talk with me imparted--to him the extremely sad--news that I did not give any statement as demanded by them, they would be forced to send me up for trial for conspiracy to wage war in connection with Kakori case and for brutal murders in connection with Dussehra bomb outrage.  And he further informed me that they had evidence enough to get me convicted and hanged. In those days I believed--though I was quite innocent--the police could do it if they desired. That very day certain police officials began to persuade me to offer my prayers to God regularly, both the times. Now I was an atheist. I wanted to settle for myself whether it was in the days of peace and enjoyment alone that I could boast of being an atheist or whether during such hard times as well, I could stick to those principles of mine. After great consideration I decided that I could not lead myself to believe in and pray to God. No. I never did. That was the real test and I came out successful. Never for a moment did I desire to save my neck at the cost of certain other things. So I was a staunch disbeliever ; and have ever since been. It was not an easy job to stand that test.'Belief'softens the hardship, even can make them pleasant. In God man can find very strong consolation and support. Without him man has to depend upon himself. To stand upon one's own legs amid storms and hurricanes is not a child's play, At such testing moments, vanity--if any--evaporates, and man cannot dare to defy the general beliefs. If he does, then we must conclude that he has got certain other strength than mere vanity. This is exactly the situation now.  Judgement is already too well known. Within a week it is to be pronounced.  What is the consolation with the exception of the idea that I am going to sacrifice my life for a cause? A God-believing Hindu might be expecting to be reborn as a king, a Muslim or a Christian might dream of the luxuries to be enjoyed in paradise and the reward he is to get for his suffering and sacrifices.  But, what am I to expect? I know the moment the rope is fitted round my neck and rafters removed from under rny feet, that will be the final moment, that will be the last moment. I, or to be more precise, my soul as interpreted in the metaphysical terminology shall all be finished there. Nothing further. A short life of struggle with no such magnificent end, shall in itself be the reward. If I have the courage to take it in that light. That is all. With no selfish motive or desire to be awarded here or hereafter quite disinterestedly, have I devoted my life to the cause of independence, because I could not do otherwise. The day we find a great number of men and women with this psychology, who casnot devote themselves to anything else than the service of mankind and emancipation of the suffering humanity, that day shall inaugurate the era of liberty. Not to become a king, nor to gain any other rewards here, or in the next birth or after death in paradise, shall they be inspired to challenge the oppressors, exploiters, and tyrants, but to cast off the yoke of serfdom from the neck of humanity and to establish liberty and peace shall they tread this--to their individual selves perilous and to their nobel selves the only glorious imaginable--path. Is the pride in their noble cause to be misinterpreted as vanity? Who dares to utter such an abominable epithet? To him I say either he is a fool or a knave. Let us forgive him for he cannot realise the depth, the emotion, the sentiment and the noble feelings that surge in that heart. His heart is dead as a mere lump of flesh, his eyes are weak, the evils of other interests having been cast over them. Self-reliance is always liable to be interpreted as vanity. It is sad and miserable but there is no help.
    You go and oppose the prevailing faith, yon go and criticise a hero, a great man who is generally believed to be above criticism because he is thought to be infallible, the strength of your argument shall force the multitude to decry you as vainglorious. This is due to the mental stagnation. Criticism and independent thinking are the two indispensable qualities of a revolutionary.  Because Mahatma Ji is great, therefore none should criticise him. Because he has risen above, therefore everything he says-may be in the field of Politics or Religion, Economics or Ethics-is right. Whether you are convinced or not you must say :"Yes, that's true ". This mentality does not lead towards progress.  It is rather too obviously reactionary.
    Because our forefathers had set up a faith in some supreme being--the Almighty God--therefore, any man who dares to challenge the validity of that faith, or the very existence of that supreme being, he shall have to be called an apostate, a renegade. If his arguments are too sound to be refuted bycounter-arguments and spirit too strong Lo be cowed down by the threat of misfortunes that may befall hjm by the wrath of the Amighty, he shall be decried as vainglorious, his spirit to be denominated as vanity. Then, why to waste time in this vain discussion? Why try to argue out the whole thing? This question is coming before the public for the first time, and is being handled in this matter of fact way for the first time, hence this lengthy discussion.
    As for the first question, I think I have cleared that it is not vanity that hasled me to atheism. My way of argument has proved to be convincing or not, that is to be judged by my readers, not me. I know in the present circumstancesmy faith in God would have made my life easier, my burden lighter, and my disbelief in Him has turned all the circumstances too dry, and the situation may assume too harsh a shape. A little bit of mysticism can make it poetical.  But I do not want the help of any intoxication to meet my fate. I am a realist.
    As for the second question that if it was not vanity, then there ought to be some reason to disbelieve the old and still prevailing faith of the existence of God. Yes, I come to that now. Reason there is. According to me, any man who has got some reasoning power at his command always tries to reson out his environments. Where direct proofs are lacking philosophy occupies the important place. As I have already stated, a certain revolutionary friend used to say that philosophy is the outcome of human weakness. When our ancestors had leisure enough to try to solve out the mystery of this world, its past, its present ana the future, its whys and wherefores, they having been they having been terribly short of direct proofs, everybody tried to solve the problem in his own way.  Hence we find the wide differences in the fundamentals of various religious creeds, which sometimes assume very antagonistic and conflicting shapes.  Not only the Oriental and Occidental philosophies differ, there are differences even amongst various schools of thought in each hemisphere. Amongst Oriental religions, the Moslem faith is not at all compatible with Hindu faith. In India alone Buddhism and Jainism are sometimes quite separate from Brahmanism, in which there are again conflicting faiths as Arya Samaj and Sanatan Dharma.  Charwak is still another independent thinker of the past ages. He challenged the authority of God in the old times. All these creeds differ from each other on the fundamental question; and everybody considers himself to be on the right. There lies the misfortune. Instead of using the experiments and expressions of the ancient Savants and thinkers as a basis for our future struggle against ignorance and to try to find out a solution to this mysterious problem, we lethargical as we have proved to be, raise the hue and cry of faith, unflinching and unwavering faith to their versions and thus are guilty of stagnation in human progress.
    Any man who stands for progress has to criticise, disbelieve and challenge every item of the old faith. Item by item he has to reason out every nook and corner'of the prevailing faith. If after considerable reasoning one is led to believe in any theory or philosophy, his faith is welcomed. His reasoning can be mistaken, wrong, misled, and sometimes fallacious. But he is liable to correction because reason is the guiding star of his life. But mere faith and blind faith is dangerous it dulls the brain, and makes a man reactionary. A man who claims to be a realist has to challenge the whole of the ancient faith.  If it does not stand the onslaught of reason it crumbles down. Then the first thing for him is to shatter the whole down and clear a space for the erection of a new philosophy. This is the negative side. After it begins the positive work in which sometimes some material of the old Faith may be used for the purpose of reconstruction. As far as I am concerned, let me admit at the very outset that I have not been able to study much on this point. I had a great desire to study the Oriental philosophy but I could not get any chance or opportunity to do the same. But so far as the negative study is under discussion, I think I alli convinced to the extent of questioning the soundness of the old faith. I have been convinced as to non-existence of a conscious supreme being who is guiding and directing the movements of nature. We believe in nature and the whole progressive movement aims at the domination of man over nature for his service. There is no conscious power behind it to direct. This is what our philosophy is.
    As for the negative side, we ask a few questions from the 'believers'.
    • If, as you believe, there is an almighty, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent God, who created the earth or world, please let me know why did he create it? This world of woes and miseries, a veritable, eternal combination of numberless tragedies : Not a single soul being perfectly satisfied.
    Pray, don't say that it is His Law. If he is bound by any law, he is not omnipotent. He is another slave like ourselves. Please don't say that it is his enjoyment. Nero burnt one Rome. He killed a very limited number of people.  He created very few tragedies, all to his perfect enjoyment. And, what is his place in History? By what names do the historians mention him?  · All the venomous epithets are showered upon him. Pages are blackened with invective diatribe condemning Nero, the tyrant, the heartless, the wicked. One Changez khan sacrificed a few thousand lives to seek pleasure in it and we hate the very name. Then, how are you going to justify your almighty, eternal Nero, who has been, and is still causing numberless tragedies every day, every hour and every minute? How do you think to support his misdoings which surpass those of Changez every single moment? I say why did he create this world--a veritable hell, a place of constant and bitter unrest? Why did the Almighty create man when he had the power not to ilo it? What is the justification for all this? Do you say, to award the innocent sufferers hereafter and to punish the wrongdoers as well? Well, well How far shall you'justify a man who may dare to inflict wounds upon your body to apply a very soft and soothing ointment upon it afterwards? How far the supporters and organisers of the G1adiator institution were justified in throwing men before the half-starved furious lions to be cared for and well looked after if they cou survive and could manage to escape death by the wild beasts? That is why I ask: Why did the conscious supreme being create this world and man in it? To seek pleasure? Where, then, is the difference between him and Nero? You Mohanmadans and Christians : Hindu philosophy shall still linger on to offer another argument. I ask you, what is your answer to the above-mentioned question? You don't believe in previous birth. Like Hindus, you cannot advance the argurTrent of previous misdoings of the apparently quite innocent sufferers. I ask you, why did the omnipotent labour for six days to create the world through word and each day to say that all was well? Call him today. Show him the past history. Make him study the present situation.  Let us see if he dares to say :"All is well." 
    From the dungeons of prisons, from the stores of starvation consuming millions upon millions of human beings in slums and huts, from the exploited labourers, patiently or say apathetically watching the procedure of their blood being sucked by the capitalist vampires, and the wastage of human energy that will make a man with the least common sense shiver with horror and from the preference of throwing the surplus of production in oceans rather than to distribute amongst the needy producers--to the palaces of kings built upon the foundation laid with human bones.... Iet him see all this and let him say :"All is well."Why and wherefore? That is my question. You are silent.  alright then, l proceed.
    Well, you Hindus, you say all the present sufferers belong to the class of sinners of the previous births. Good. You say the present oppressors were saintly people in their previous births, hence they enjoy power. Let me admit that your ancestors were very shrewd people, they tried to find out theories strong enough to hammer down all the efforts of reason and disbelief. But let us analyse how far this argument can really stand.
    From the point of view of the most famous jurists, punishment can be justified only from three or four ends, to meet which it is inflicted upon the wrongdoer. They are retributive, reformative and deterrent. The retributive theory is now being condemned by all the advanced thinkers. Deterrent theory is also following the same fate. Reformative theory is the only one which is essential and indispensable for human progress. It aims at returning the offender as a most competent and a peace-loving citizen to the society. But, what is the nature of punishment inflicted by God upon men, even if we suppose them to be offenders? You say he sends them to be born as a cow, a cat a tree, a herb or a beast. You enumerate these punishments to be 84 lakhs. I ask you : what is its reformative effect upon man? How many men have met you who say that. They were born as a donkey in previous birth for having committed any sin? None. Don't quote your Puranas. I have no scope to touch your mythologies. Moreover, do you know that the greatest sin in this world is to be poor? Poverty is a sin, it is a punishment. I ask you how far would you appreciate a criminologist, a jurist, a legislator who proposes such measure of punishment which shall inevitably force men to commit more offences? Had not your God thought of this, or he also bad to learn these things by experience, but at the cost of untold sufrerings to be borne by humanity? What di think shall be the fate of a man who has been born in a poor and illiterate family of, say a chamar or a sweeper? He is poor hence he cannot study. He is hated and shunned by his fellow human beings who think themselves to be his superiors having being born  in, say, a higher caste.  His ignorance, his poverty and the treatment meted out to him shall harden his heart towards society. Suppose he commits a sin, who shall bear the consequences? God, he or the learned ones of the society? What about the punishment of those people who were deliberately kept ignorant by the haughty and egotist Brahmans, and who had to pay the penalty by bearing the stream of being led (not lead) in their ears for having heard a few sentences of your Sacred Books of learning-the Vedas? If they committed any offence, who was to be responsible for them and who was to bear the brunt? My dear friends, these theories are the inventions of the privileged ones; they justify their usurped power, riches and superiority by the help of these theories. Yes, it was perhaps Upton Sinclair that wrote at some place that just make a man a believer in immortality and then rob him of all his riches and possessions.  He shall help you even in that ungrudgingly. The coalition among the religious preachers and possessors of power brought forth jails, gallows, knouts and these theories.
    I ask why your omnipotent God does not stop every man when he is committing any sin or offence? He can do it quite easily. Why did he not kill warlords or kill the fury of war in them and thus avoid the catastrophe hurled down on the head of humanity by the Great YVar? Why does he not just produce a certain sentiment in the mind of the British people to liberate India? Why does he not infuse the altruistic enthusiasm in the hearts of all capitalists to forego their rights of personal possessions of means of production and thus redeem the whole labouring community, nay, the whole human society, from the bondage of capitalism? You want to reason out the practicability of socialist theory, I leave it for your almighty to enforce it. People recognise the merits of socialism in as much as the general welfare is concerned. They oppose it under the pretext of its being impracticable. Let the Almighty step in and arrange everything in an orderly fashion. Now don't try to advance round about arguments, they are out of order. Let me tell you, British rule is here not because God wills it, but because they possess power and we do not dare to oppose them. Not that it is with the help of God that they are keeping us under their subjection, but it is with the help of guns and rifles, bomb and bullets, police and militia, and our apathy, that they are successfully committing the most deplorable sin against society--the ourtrageous exploitation of one nation by another. Where is God? What is he doing? Is he enjoying all these woes of human race? A Nero, a Changez : Down with him.
    Do you ask me how I explain the origin of this world and origin of man? Alright, I tell you, Charles Darwin has tried to throw some light on the subject.  Study him. Read Soham Swami's Common Sense. It shall answer your question to some extent. This is a phenomenon of nature. The accidental mixture of different substances in the shape of nebulace produced this earth. When? Consult history. The same process produced animals and, in the long run, man. Read Darwin's Origin of species, And all the later progress is due to man's constant conflict with nature and his efforts to override it.  This, is the briefest possible explanation of the phenomenon.

    Your other argument may be just to ask why a child is born blind or lame if not due to his deeds committed in the previous birth? This problem has been explained away by biologists as a mere biological phenomenon. According to them the whole burden rests upon the shoulders of the parents who may be conscious or ignorant of their own deeds which led to mutilation of the child previous to its birth.  

    Naturally, you may ask another question, though it is quite childish in essence. If no God existed, how did the people come to believe in him? My answer is clear and brief. As they came to. Believe in ghosts and evil spirits; the only difference is that belief in God is almost universal and the philosophy well developed. Unlike certain of the radicals I would not attribute its origin to the ingenuity of the exploiters who wanted to keep the people under their subjection by preaching the existence of a supreme being and then claiming an authority and sanction from him for their privileged positions, though I do not differ with them on the essential point that all faiths, religions, creeds and such other institutions became in turn the mere supporters of the tyrannical and exploiting institutions, men and classes. Rebellion against king is always a sin, according to every religion.

    As regards the origin of God, my own idea is that having realised the, limitations of man, his weaknesses and shortcoming having been taken into consideration, God was brought into imaginary existence to encourage man to face boldly all the trying circumstances, to meet all dangers manfully and to check and restrain his outbursts in prosperity and affluence. God, both with his private laws and parental generosity, was imagined and painted in greater details. He was to serve as a deterrent factor when his fury and private laws were discussed, so that man may not become a danger to society. He was to serve as a father, mother, sister, and brother, friend and helper, when his parental qualifications were to be explained. So that when man be in great distress, having been betrayed and deserted by all friends, he may find consolation in the idea that an ever true friend, was still there to help him, to support him and that he was almighty and could do anything. Really, that was useful to the society in the primitive age. The idea of God is helpful to man in distress.
    Society has to fight out this belief as well as was fought the idol worship and the narrow conception of religion. Similarly, when man tries to stand on his own legs and become a realist, he shall have to throw the faith aside, and to face manfully all the distress, trouble, in which the circumstances may throw him. That is exactly my state of affairs. It is not my vanity, my friends.  It is my mode of thinking that has made me an atheist. I don't know whether in my case belief in God and offering of daily prayers which I consider to be most selfish and degraded act on the part of man, whether these prayers, can prove to be helpful or they shall make my case worse still. I have read of atheists facing all troubles quite boldly ; so am I trying to stand like a man with an erect head to the last, even on the gallows.
    Let us see how I carry on. One friend asked me to pray. When informed of my atheism, he said :"During your last days you will begin to believe.I said: "No. Dear Sir, it shall not be. I will think that to be an act of degradation and demoralisation on my part, For selfish motives, I am not going to pray. "
    Readers and friends : Is this "vanity"? If it is, I stand for it.

    Monday, January 21, 2019

    Bruhaha over hacking EVM

    Recently an interesting claim was made by a hacker that India's EVMs are hackable and they have been hacked frequently by pretty much all political parties to change the results. Unfortunately, the event was advertised as an event where the hacker will demonstrate hacking of the machine. The event itself was a complete letdown. There was no demonstration of hacking and a bunch of claims was made by Syed Shuja.

    1. Back in 2013, he claimed, he had the assignment to study a PCB of an EVM. As per his claim, his assignment was to find if the EVMs are hackable. He claimed the EVM uses a very old chipset that has an FSK/ASK modulator/demodulator. The kernel has to be bypassed to load the enable this. Also, an antenna has to be installed on the PCB.
    2. He claimed that this assignment was not to find faults but to find methods to make a better EVM. 
    3. He claimed that there are multiple EVMs made which enable this communication by installing the antenna.
    4. Then the hacker went into theories about multiple murders and attacks that happened in order to silence people who knew about all this.
    5. He also claimed that his identity has been erased from Indian system and there is no proof that he existed.
    Now, keeping the conspiracy theories aside, I think this can be quickly put to rest by ECI by enabling hardware audit of a set of randomly chosen EVMs from all the manufacturers. Any electronics engineer worth its salt can figure out whether the claims made by the hacker are tenable or not.
    Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. So it is just going to be claims and counterclaims. Hacker will say we can hack EVMs, ECI and government will say it can't be hacked.
    The question is not to ban EVMs and bring paper ballot back. But the question is to find out if the current EVMs in circulation have hardware and software that deviates from reference architecture as approved by TEC. Also a higher percentage of matching of VVPAT slips have to be mandated.

    Saturday, January 12, 2019

    UP Alliance, the numbers

    Now that SP and BSP have announced their pre-poll alliance for Lok Sabha 2019 election, let's look at the numbers. Let's look at constituencies where BJP won but SP + BPS got a larger vote share. So with this unlikely assumption that all the vote is transferrable, what would be the impact of these parties coming together. Following is the list of constituencies where SP + BSP scored more than BJP in the last election.

    No.ConstituencyBJPBSP + SP
    2Ambedkar Nagar432104527142
    15Fatehpur Sikri426589466880
    32Sant Kabir Nagar348892491083
    So, there are 36 constituencies where SP + BSP had polled more vote than BJP in last election. Since we are doing this hypothetical exercise, let's how the situation changes if we throw INC also in the mix.

    3Ambedkar Nagar432104549917
    19Fatehpur Sikri426589474327
    29Kushi Nagar370051528648
    43Sant Kabir Nagar348892491083
    So, if we take BSP+SP+INC together, we see that they polled more votes than BJP in last election in 48 constituencies.