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Nandan Nilekani's Election Campaign

I was keenly following Nandan Nilekani's campaign (on the web, not on the ground!) for the recent Indian Lok Sabha elections.

He knew the issues and was willing to work to deliver on them:

Thanks to his regular publishing and email campaigning, I was able to follow much of the campaign and was convinced that his election would prove to be hugely beneficial to the city. - He wrote about water issues, cleanliness issues and his understanding of these was clearly deep and thorough.

Couple that with his willingness to genuinely do something for the city (which was indisputable to my mind), I thought the city had a bright future. However, a lot of people didn't vote for him perhaps as he was on a Congress ticket. But aren't we a parliamentary democracy; If we only vote for the party and ignore the candidate, will the parties care about the candidates either?

The Campaign:

Anyway, I don't want to dwell in too much about why I thought he should have won. I also thought that with the intensely fought campaign, he would have successfully won. He connected in every area to the commoners,

participated with them in laughing clubs, launched

Data Analytics to find the headphones to buy.

So, I wanted to buy an headphone.

The one place I had found many interesting recommendations for the headphones to buy was the usesthis portal's great interviews of many influential developers and designers.

I decided to do the analytics of all of the hardware and software people on that site seem to use the most and wrote a post on that, hoping to get back to writing.

I wrote the post on Medium before giving up on that platform.

I also spoke about the same at The Fifth Elephant, 2013. Checkout the post, the analysis, fork it on Github and let me know what you think!

Ayurveda, Genomics and Big Data: Future of Predictive Medicine

I wrote on this topic on Quora when I came across a research from the National Academy of Sciences that finds correlation between the genomic expression and the constitutional types defined in Ayurveda.

Ayurveda defines 3 different kinds of doshas and every individual is said to be a unique combination of these that determines not only his health state, but also his temparment and inclinations (aka Guṇas).

Because of such a combination of doshas, every individual is said to have a predominant predisposition to a constitutional type, also known as dosha prakṛti in Ayurveda.

Thanks to free availability of genome sequences - The 1000 Genomes project on EC2 makes available huge genome data sets available for public. Using the known predominant predisposed constitutional type (or dosha prakṛti), Machine Learning Algorithms may be run to uncover the genes that could affect an individual's predisposition which could then be used to determine the effectiveness of different drugs on different individuals, systemically, with accurate knowledge of his genome.

I personally sense a huge medical opportunity for the future in this space. Companies like Counsyl that are already doing genetic analysis are very well placed to exploit this opportunity.

Tailoring the medicine based on

Why there are only a few great Product Companies in India.

So this other day, the very insightful Sramana Mitra asked me to answer this question on Quora.

I will reproduce that answer here verbatim for greater visibility!

My Answer:

I'd attribute the lack of product entrepreneurship to the culture that schooling has imparted to the current generation Indians.

Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk: on education really struck a chord in me and probably many other Indians who were educated similarly. The school expected you to do THE RIGHT THING (TM) almost as if there is one such thing. The plurality of human capability (in the words of Ken) is lost. You are penalised for doing it any other way. This mindset becomes deep rooted over years and by the time a child finishes schooling, he/she is virtually incapable of trying anything on own in the fear of failing which is frowned upon.

Quite a few outliers indeed exist and educate themselves out of what they have been taught. But as you'd very well know, a product startup needs an agile mindset; figuring things out along the way; failing continuously to tweak. This mindset is diametrically opposite to the mindset that most people are taught to have and very few

On Hiring for Technology Positions

Having recently been involved in hiring processes from creating professional job description documents to interviewing lot of candidates of various experience levels, I have had a few learnings.

Every company claims to hire top 1% of the candidates that apply:

It can be hard to reason how it could workout in the marcro-economic sense, and yet everyone could be saying the truth. But Joel in typical eloquence, nails how!

Numerically, great people are pretty rare, and they’re never on the job market, while incompetent people, even though they are just as rare, apply to thousands of jobs throughout their career. So now, Sparky, back to that big pile of resumes you got off of Craigslist. Is it any surprise that most of them are people you don’t want to hire?

So, next time you see a company that claims to be superior because they hire only the top percentile of the applied candidates, know that they probably just aren't doing a good job screening. In the Indian situation, with so much more people around, this problems becomes an order of magnitude harder.

That brings me to my next point.

How to screen candidates:

Joel's decade old solution of

Hello World!

Perhaps the best way to reboot and restart a new blog is by sharing some of my favorite quotes and talks.

They are in no specific order and cover a broad range of topics: life, philosophy, software development, epistemology.

These ideas resonate with me.

Liz Gilbert TED talk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86x-u-tz0MA

One has to just show up and detach to do great work. The journey is the destination.

Carl Sagan on the Pale Blue Dot:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g

Sam Harris speaking on Free Will:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FanhvXO9Pk

Deeply unsettling in so many ways. The most important insight to me is that, one can't just do something since that is a function of what one is and has to be something instead.

Sir Ken Robinson on The Element:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fc_OqyP9H8

"We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh." ~ Nietzsche

"You know, we don’t grow most of the food we eat. We wear clothes other people make. We speak a