Thursday, November 24, 2005

Being in a PhD program

After having survived three and a half years in a PhD program in the social sciences, I can't help but wonder, what makes me stick around.
Popper, Kuhn, Hobbes and then Coase, Williamson and then now Rao-Blackwellization. My program has built on its previous learnings and has been a roller-coaster ride. I am in two minds, happy, that so much of it is over and, anxious, as to what is in store. But,nevertheless, it is a great experience and I am sure there are a number of people out there who will agree with me that a PhD program is for the intellectually stimulated and not definitely for the easy-goers. I realized it is a lot about self-motivation and the urge to be on the learnign curve throughout your life pretty early into the program. There can be months at a stretch when all you do is think of parallel ideas which take off in infinite directions and then you are brought back to the earth when you encounter a well written empirical paper or an equation that elegantly captures some idea. I have read many papers that keep talking about paradigms and that kind of stuff. Maybe it is important to do that, but, at the end of the day science progresses by people who put theories to test, and not just keep slotting ideas and theories into paradigms.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Manjunath I Knew

I read a news article which mentioned that Manjunath, one of my hostel mates from IIM Lucknow was shot dead by gangsters at the behest of some corrupt gas pump dealers in Uttar Pradesh.

I met Macha (Manju's hostel name) in 2000, when he joined the MBA program at IIM L, during our hostel initiation. He was a very friendly guy and was the captain of our hostel football team. I lead the volleyball team of which he was a member too. Although my interaction with him was limited to an year, I feel overwhelmed to have known a guy who could stand up against the evil corruption in India.

Personally I have a met a number of people who are not corrupt, but Macha is the only person I know who sacrificed his life for standing up against it. I feel sorry that I am left with his memory, and feel proud that I knew someone who was brave, courageous and upright. I am awed that his friendly nature hid such a great individual underneath.