When people say that Indians have discovered zero, what they mean is that they discovered the way of counting with zeroes.
Without using zeroes, counting would proceed like this
The number 1000 would need to be represented by 1000 digits instead of 4. In fact, due to the Indian method of counting, the storage (representation ability) for a number "n" came down to log(n).
What Indians have discovered is an exponential gain in data-storage. This significant invention made possible the basic arithmetic (multiplication, division etc) to be done in an exponentially less amount of time. It also opened roads for algebra, number theory, trigonometry and so on ..
The Counter is the most basic digital circuit. The key operation in counting is the toggle operator which reverses the digit on the right most side (called the least significant bit)
At first sight, it feels unnatural to count like this. But the genius of India has discovered this method of counting not less than 3000 years ago. I wish to claim that Indian philosophy takes its roots from this method of thinking.
In the Upanishads, the path of evolution is always a circle. However, a new dimension gets added every time a circle (yuga) gets finished. In this sense, the Indian thought is not fatalistic but progressive. The notion of progress has to be understood from the mode of counting.
In the Taitaríya Upanishad, five dimensions of human existence are mentioned - anna (matter), prána (life), mánasa (mind), vignána (understanding) and ánanda (bliss). Each of these dimensions is held in common with inanimate matter, plants, animals, men and enlightened men respectively.
The goal of scientific endeavour is to discover the ways of operation for each of the above 5 dimensions. In fact, ancient Indian philosophy is extremely accomodating for the theories of cosmos, relativity (matter) and evolution (life), that have been produced by centuries of scientific development.
Indian philosophy welcomes scientific endeavour to be made for understanding the remaining 3 dimensions as well. Currently, slow inroads are being made for undestanding Mánasa (mind) - through computer science. The future awaits similar revolutions to be made in the remaining dimensions. In India, progress and justice are truly symbolized by a wheel, as identified by the great emperor Ashoka, and as imbibed in the national flag. The wheel signifies the circular motion of progress through various terrains. It is also the symbol of the dawn of civilization.
I will also offer a surprising connection to Marxist thought from the Indian method of counting. Marx says that the society progresses through several stages where each stage is exactly the negation of its preceeding stage. Feudalism is the opposite of pastoralism, capitalism is the opposite of feudalism, communism is the opposite of capitalism etc. How is that possible ?
You see that the right-most digit of each stage is the negation of the previous stage. This is the Marxist method of understanding economic progress. (Need not be yours, if you don't use the binary system for counting)
You may also see that the right-most bits of socialism and feudalism are in alignment (both 0), thus supporting my earlier complaint that the communists in India are obstructing the end of feudalism from happening.
On a final note, the anecdote I narrated in my previous post also alludes to this method of counting.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
When people say that Indians have discovered zero, what they mean is that they discovered the way of counting with zeroes.
Monday, September 25, 2006
"You look troubled, Jaya. What is on your mind ?", kindly says Dheesára - the chieftian of Vaiśáli.
"Áchárya, why is it difficult to absolve oneself from attachments ? ", asks Jaya.
"Ask a simpler question, Jaya ", says Dheesára.
Jaya thinks for a few minutes and asks - "What is the relationship of oneself with the world, Áchárya ?"
"Ask a simpler question, Jaya", Dheesára repeats.
Jaya thinks for a few more minutes and asks - "What is the common aspect between the world and oneself, Áchárya ? "
"The answer is evident, Jaya. It is called life. "
'Then what is life, Áchárya ? "
"If you want to understand life, you have to first understand death. Death is the total absence of life. It is the consummate negation."
"Yes Áchárya. But what is life ? "
"But Jaya, do you understand what death is ? "
"Yes Áchárya. I do understand. "
"Life is the convolution of life and death."
"How is that possible Áchárya ? If death be the negation of life, how can life be composed of death ? "
"Have you studied arithmetic, Jaya ? "
"Take the number zero. Isn't it the consummate negation of any kind of existence ? "
"Now take the number one. It signifies existence."
"A one is composed of a one and a zero. Moreover, if you want to look for higher numbers, you can compose them with ones and zeros by changing the place value of one."
"Yes Áchárya. But how does it relate to the question of life ?"
"Jaya, when you want to look for the existence of higher forms of life, death is an inevitable part in one of the places. You can choose to ignore it, but it is always there. When you look at the joy in the world, there is always suffering behind it. So do not make aversion to the suffering in the world. It is always an invitation to higher joy. "
"I am glad with your answer Áchárya. But there is still a doubt in my mind. What is the reason for the origin of life ? When does the equation end - the equation of infinite recursion of life and death ? "
"I am sorry Jaya. The mathematics required for answering that question is neither within your reach, nor within mine."
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I have decided to give the letter to Chandrababu Naidu gaaru, so today, I went to the NTR Bhavan in Jubilee Hills. I didn't have any decent clothes with me, so I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I didn't expect to meet Naidu, but was planning to give the letter to his secretary.
The TDP office was swarming with political leaders from all over the state, and I looked definitely the odd man out. I heard people murmuring "So it has finally come down to this. Kids getting into the office building wearing shorts !".
Then, I was shocked to know that if I intend to meet Naidu gaaru, my turn would be just at number 7. Growing up in IIIT and around Hitec City, I always had some awe about Naidu gaaru. Already tense, meeting him in shorts was out of the question. So I gave the letter to his P.A and rushed out of the place.
I hope Naidu gaaru will get to read it, atleast in a quick glance. In any case, I feel relieved now. And I will be getting back to my research work.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
What is the real problem of India ? Every aspiring intellectual charlatan claims to know the answer.
Qorruption : This is the favorite answer from the film industry. Everyone likes to believe that qorruption is the root cause of all misery and poverty. Blame the politicians. Blame the police. Blame the government. But in the end, this leads us nowhere. Qorruption is a part and parcel of the package of homosapiens. It is human nature to look for shortcuts to earn wealth. When we face poverty, we should not blame qorruption, but blame the vulnerability of our economic system. Qorruption is like carbon dioxide, it does not become an evil until it gets out of control. And when it gets out of control, it happens due to a deeper reason.
Qleanliness : Or rather qleanlessness. Homecoming NRI princes complain about the filthy habits of the Indian crowds. About dust clouds hanging over the cities, sewer spilling onto the roads, gaudy newsprint adorning the walls, and backyards reeking of garbage stink. Since qleanliness is next to godliness, qleanlessness should be next only to dastardliness. But before you equate Indians with the scum of the earth, you should realize that this is an extremely racist argument. Qleanliness has been used throughout the history to justify racial hatred - it has been used by the Nazis against the Jews, it has been used by the Brahmins against the Pariahs, and it has been used by Jews against the Arabs. Qleanliness is like body temperature, it is the symptom rather than the real cause of the sickness.
Qultural Degradation : This is the most dangerous of all the pseudo problems. Because it not only diverts attention away from the real problem, but it also creates aversion to the real cure. It is not the fault of the masses that the cultural values are eroding, but the fault of the self appointed cultural vangaurd. Any kind of philosophy loses its value when it doesn't come to terms with science and technology. In today's world, we need to read and recompose the Upanishads after studying physics and biology, not after studying vedas and brahmanas. In today's world we need to learn and perform classical music with electrical and electronic instruments. If we fail to do so, qulture will inevitably degrade. Qulture has meaning only in motion, only in change.
So what is the real problem of India ?
Here is the answer. In one word. Feudalism.
India never had an industrial revolution. Its society is still suffering from the vestiges of a bygone era. An era which ended by 1700 in Europe. No, these are not vestiges, but living and thriving bacteria. They are called the Qaste system and the Quota System. As long as these survive, India will never see a true capitalist democracy.
Qommunists - Phenomenal Idiots : I have respect for Marx and his treatise on capitalism. I have respect for the selflessness of some people who believe in the ideals of the Qommunist party. But I believe the Qommunist movement hijacked a more necessary revolution before it has even begun. In Europe, this revolution was called the capitalist revolution, or the age of enlightenment.
Marx mentions that a society progresses through several stages depending on the economical control of the means of production. Hunting-Gathering to Pastoral to Feudal to Capitalist to Communist. This order is inevitable and all these stages are necessary. Particularly, Feudalism can be destroyed only by Capitalism, and this happens through the industrial revolution.
Marx urges communists to fight along with capitalists to eradicate feudalism. Because until the advent and maturity of capitalism, communism has no meaning.
However, Marx has overseen an important and necessary ingredient in industrial/capitalist revolution - colonization. This was his biggest mistake. I discussed this issue here.
Colonies are necessary for the industrial revolution to occur, and not the other way round. Lenin in his extention to the Marxist theory, made exactly the above mistake. He said that colonies are necessary for capitalism to continue and survive. He made no mention about how they are necessary for the advent of industrial revolution. This argument had been needed for supporting the Russian Red Revolution. But even to this day, Qommunists religiously believe in this nonsense. Doing so, they go against the very ideas of Marx.
They claim that MNCs are the post-imperialistic equivalent of the East India company. They fight against any pro-business deal saying that it is anti-societal. They try to bring in job security when there are no jobs to begin with. They claim that industrial revolution can happen through state-based control (going against all evidence of the great-leaps forward of qommunist countries, which have ended in disastrous failures).
Who are the qommunists helping in doing all this ?
They are not helping the society, they are not helping the workers.
They are helping the wicked old witch of feudalism who refuses to die. They are stifling the throat of capitalism before it becomes strong enough to fight the ills of feudalism.
If Qommunists have their way, we will never see an age of enlightenment in India. Neither will we see an end of poverty. But I do believe that communists (not qommunists) have a role to play in the development process. They have to ensure that the promises of capitalism are kept intact - increase of jobs, increase of literacy and increase of opportunities.
So my dear friends, remember these slogans lest the qommunists hijack them. These slogans belong to the age of Indian Capitalist Awakening.
Kill Qaste System. Quit India.
Kill Quota System. Quit India.
Kill Feudalism. Quit India.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Why TDP should befriend CPI/M
Dear Chandrababu Naidu gaaru
Congratulations for standing firm on the Samaikyandhra issue. Unlike the Congress party, TDP has always had a clear idea on the Telangana problem. Standing together with TDP on this issue are the communist parties. I would like to say that, in fact, these two parties have much more in common.
The common ground for both TDP and the Communists will be obtaining more power to the states and thus establishing a federal structure for governing India. This decentralization of power is essential for further progress in India, and TDP and CPI/M should fight together for making the necessary constitutional amendments. I will explain why this is necessary.
From the classical viewpoint of Marx, human society progresses through the stages of hunting, pastoral, feudal, capitalist and finally communist societies. Even though some people do not believe in the final stage of communism, there is concensus in the world about the other stages. The question arises about the nature of society in India. We tend to believe that we are in the capitalist stage, but it is not true. We are in the feudal period.
When the age of the zamindars has ended, many people believed that feudalism has ended as well. But that is not true. Feudalism will continue to exist as long as we do not move into an industrialized economy. As we all know, India never had an industrial revolution. So, we have not yet moved into the capitalist society. Feudalism exists in our society in several forms - in the caste system where inter-caste marriages are not possible, in the quota system where political power is awarded based on caste equations, in the religious prejudices of people, in the widespread illiteracy and ill-health of people, in the lack of manufacturing industry, in the lack of a working class etc.
According to communist theory, feudalism can be ended only by capitalism. That is, only through an industrial revolution and the rise of the beaurgoisie class (capitalists). Among the several good things that such beaurgoisie revolution brings in are economic prosperity for the country, widespread literacy, employment to everyone, and most importantly - an educated working class. The communists believe that the working class will later become the nemesis of the capitalists and through another revolution, brings in economic equality for everyone. But, without the industrial revolution - without the rise of capitalism, there shall never be a working class. So, Marx encourages the communists to fight hand-in-hand with the bourgeoisie for the end of feudalism.
The communists in India have imagined the Congress party to be the bourgeoisie class mentioned by Marx. But this had been a mistake. Congress party has only served as a front for the feudalists. Until the Soviet Union came down in the 1980s, there had also been dreams about ushering in an industrial revolution the Soviet style. Both the Congress and the Communists have floundered on this course. Now it has been established beyond doubt that industrialization of the country can happen only through economic reforms.
Any right wing party should have a concrete idealogy of nation-state. The spirit of nationalism is very important for the industrialization. Unfortunately, the only party with such an idea is the BJP. It equates the spirit of Indianness with Hindutva. Since the capitalists currently have no other option, they are backing the BJP. Hindutva, however, is a very stupid idealogy. It alienates Muslims and other minorities of India. It also ignores the enormous differences within the Hindu community. In principle, it is a religious idealogy, so it belongs to the age of feudalism. It has no place in capitalist society (secularism is a by-product of the industrial revolution). Since it is not a true bourgeoisie party, BJP is not getting any support from the communists.
In effect, the bourgeoisie revolution (industrialization) is being suppressed for the lack of alternative political outfits. In fact, it is not possible to have a true right-wing party at the nation level. Because India is not a simple nation, one cannot frame the idea of a nation-state.
However, these ideas can be defined properly at the state level. Indeed, TDP owes its birth to the rise of Telugu nationalism. This Telugu nationalism is not regionalism, and is not antagonistic to the unity of India. Infact, Telugus have always been the most open to outside influences. Telugu language is a living testimony to the happy marriage of Dravidian and Sanskrit influences. What Telugu nationalism brings in - is a spirit of development and a spirit of transforming Andhra Pradesh into an economical and cultural superpower.
As a Telugu nationalist, I would like to see Andhra Pradesh developing as rapidly as Malaysia. I would like to see it as a tourist destination as reputed as France. I would like to see an industrialized Andhra Pradesh with excellent education and health facilities. I would even like to see an Andhra Airlines where gongura chutney is served.
Carving a separate Telangana state will be suicidal for its people because the valuable coastline will be lost. The prosperity of the Telugu people will hold good only when they stand together. This is a vital element in the rise of Telugu nationalism. Telangana issue is only a force of the feudalists (TRS, BJP) which prevents industrialization. It is time it is exposed in that manner.
Telugu people have always been enterprising as well as liberal. They do not have religious fanaticism. They are humble and inviting for other cultures. Andhra Pradesh has an excellent coast line and fertile lands. Nothing can prevent it from the path of development. Except - nonsensical policies from Delhi, wasted time in the Delhi parliament, religious riots provoked from outside.
What TDP and CPI/M should fight for - is a higher share in the economic revenue for the states, and a higher freedom for making laws. We need a federal structure for the government like the one which exists in the USA. Delhi can still take care of the nation's defence and foreign affairs. But Telugu people would like to handle their economic affairs by their own hands. They still consider themselves as Indians and pride themselves in being part of a great and diverse cultural landscape.
If that happens, there will be a voice for the right-wing bourgeoisie in Andhra Pradesh. The expatriate Telugu people who made it big in the USA and Europe will come back to invest in the growing Andhra economy. With the rise of working class, the communists will find a voice in the political scene as well. Finally, democracy will start functioning properly without any stupid coalition governments. It will either be a leftist government or a rightist government depending on the wishes of the people. The forces of feudalism (illiteracy, caste-system, quota-system & religious fanaticism) will be deeply buried.
Thus, I request you to take the initiative and make friends with the Communists. In this fight against feudalism, you make the rightful friends. Finally, in an industrialized and economically developed Andhra Pradesh, TDP and CPI/M will get to fight each other. In this process, there will be nobody else left on the political scene. Andhra Pradesh, in effect, will inspire other states in India towards economic development and cultural pride. Like Europe, which is getting together now, India is as big and as diverse as a continent. It will also become as rich and as developed.