Friday, June 18, 2010

The Dominance of the US dollar - 1

In this first of a 2-part series, we shall study the reasons for the dominance of the US dollar as the global reserve currency, and its impact on economy and trade. In the next part, we shall see its impact on the USA being an economic superpower, and why the US dollar cannot be replaced as the world's global currency.

Note : We use the term "Central Bank" and "Reserve Bank" interchangebly. Both mean the apex bank in a country that prints currency notes, and regulates the currency. In India, we have the RBI, and its counterpart in the US is the Federal Reserve.

Presently, the currency used in transacting almost all global trade is the US dollar. Thus, trade between, say, Russia and India as well as between Japan and Venezuela is conducted in the US dollar. This prompts the Reserve Banks of all countries to keep a physical reserve of dollar notes, ranging from a few tens of billions of dollars, to over $2 trillion that China has. This is done so that the exporters and importers of the country are able to convert their monetary transactions in the US dollar. Of course, a reserve of other important currencies is kept too, such as the Euro and Yen. But the size of the dollar reserves usually far exceeds these currencies.

First, we shall understand the basics of how the exchange rates of currencies are decided, by undertaking a hypothetical example. Let us assume 2 countries namely, A and B. Country A is technologically advanced, and exports fighter jets, tanks, machine guns etc. Country B is ruled by a theocratic party, is poor and technologically backward, but which has a good produce of bananas. Bananas are not grown at A. So, both nations trade technology and bananas with each other.

Assume that at normal trading sessions, a fixed quantity of bananas is traded for a fixed number of weapons hardware. However in a particular festive season in A, since the market demand for bananas at A becomes much more than the market demand for technologies at B, A has to part with a higher proportion of its goods in return (than usual) for the same quantity of bananas from B. Vice-versa, during times of war with its neighbouring despotic states, the demand for hi-tech weaponry at B increases. So, it has to part with more ship-loads of bananas to get the same quantum of hi-tech weaponry.

In economic parlance, countries such as B are called banana-republics, whose economies depend solely on the export of an abundant natural resource to fuel their economy. Examples are Saudi Arabia (oil), Kuwait (oil), Ivory Coast (coffee and cocoa), and Cameroon (timber).

Now, the above simplistic example shows that a fluctuation in demand for the exports of a country, brings it to a better negotiating position :- it can import a greater value of goods, for the same quantum of exports. Now replace the simplistic (barter) trading system in the hypothetical example above, with currency, and we can see clearly how do currency fluctuations take place.

When the exports of a country find high demand abroad, it brings in a lot of US dollars to the Central bank (or Reserve bank) of that country. Thus, the value of that country's currency rises with respect to the dollar (and so, its exports become more expensive). Conversely, when the exports of a nation find less acceptance abroad, that country's Central Bank finds lesser and lesser dollars in its "vaults". This leads to its currency falling with respect to the dollar (and so, its goods sell cheaper abroad). {Actually in the short term this may have a sort of "yo-yo" effect, i.e. when a currency of a country falls, its exports become cheaper, which in turn results in a demand for its exports --- and this strengthens its currency, only to make its exports costlier once again. But the point is, that the long-term rate of any country really hovers around a range. Example : the Rupee hovers around 45-50 per US dollar).

Now, as per various US government websites, India currently enjoys a trade surplus with respect to the US. In other words, India is a net exporter to the US, which means that the US needs more of India's goods & services, than does India from the US. The trade surplus with respect to the US was over $600 million last year. But despite that, the Indian rupee remains at 45 to the US dollar. But as per our discussion above, this should not happen and theoretically, the rupee must be stronger than the dollar ! So, how may we explain this anomaly ? The reader is requested to keep this question in mind, as it shall be answered in the next post.

We must note that since there are over 200 nations globally, there cannot be an exchange rate of each currency with all other 199 odd currencies. It has been precisely the impracticality of the barter system that has long led to a currency system being adopted. Currencies have been used since the ancient Greek, Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations, because as the economy grew and lives became more complex than those of nomads, they all realized that the barter system would no longer be practical.

A currency note is nothing but an IOU (I Owe You), or in other words, a receipt of debt. You promise to pay the bearer a sum of (or value of) X rupees, when he theoretically presents the receipt back to you. Though this is not in practice at the individual level, it IS in practice at the international scale. As an example :- when you pay your milkman Rs. 100, he won't come back to you later to demand hard goods and services worth Rs. 100, saying, "This is only a receipt of debt issued by the RBI that says "Rs. 100". I want your knife set worth this much to redeem this receipt".

Now here it is very important to mention that currencies did NOT come into play as soon as the barter system ended. Traders and merchants decided that all goods and services must be exchanged not against barter, but against one universal commodity, whose value is ascertained by the forces of all round demand and supply. This commodity was gold (sometimes other precious metals also), which was universally accepted even across civilizations --- like when the Greeks traded with the Egyptians or the Indians. Gradually, a more "subtler" form of currency came into being, and which is the ones in use today, like ordinary coins and paper notes.

Throughout the 19th century and up to World War -2, gold bullion was used as a standard medium of exchange that facilitated international trade amongst countries, which had different currencies and purchasing powers. This was known as the gold standard, and which allowed the currencies of all participating nations to be pegged to a standard weight of gold. So, if country A wanted to trade with country B, it would trade in gold bullion and its Central Bank would have to release gold from its vaults to country B. Every nation's currency was fixed to command different weights of gold. So, a British pound could buy more gold, than, say, the Saudi dinar.

Now the important thing is this :- if a foreign trader somehow got hold of a nation's currency, he could redeem it ONLY for gold --- when he just went and presented it to that nation's Central Bank. This is the exact antithesis of the example we gave of the milkman : he can't come back to you with the very Rs. 100 note you gave him to demand your collection of cricket T-shirts. This has much wider implications, because ultimately no matter where a currency may be anywhere in the world, it had to ultimately find its way back to its country of origin in return for hard goods & services. We very conveniently forget this BASIC fact, after being used to seeing the US dollar as the international currency for so long.

On a side note, we may observe the barter system does indeed form the basis of all transactions --- currencies simply facilitate it.

Now after World War -2, Britain, France, Japan, Russia and other nations reported a near-bankruptcy in their reserves of gold bullion. The US was the sole surviver of the war, with a thriving industrial base and a lower impact on its finances including its gold reserves. Japan, UK and Germany were eager to start trading again and like many other countries, needed a quicker medium of exchange instead of going through the time-consuming route of building gold reserves. So they took loans from the US --- in US dollars only, and not gold. They would use these dollars to buy goods, technology and services from American companies like Pfizer, DuPont and IBM, to help rebuild their countries, which were devastated by the war. Of course, the borrowers also had to ultimately repay their debt to the US Federal Reserve, in gold. The dollars were temporary mediums of exchange only.

But the "catch" for US was this :- the borrowing countries could use those very dollars to trade with other nations too most notably, oil-exporting Saudi Arabia and Iran.

This was especially attractive to the newly formed "Oil-republics" in the middle-east like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq. They were technologically quite backward. But they had one commodity called crude oil, which was needed globally to run vehicles, power, roads, chemicals, etc. It practically fueled the human civilization. Besides, they knew that after World War-2, the US was the "last man standing". In other words, if they presented dollars to American exporters like General Electric (to build power plants), to GM (to export cars) and to Boeing (to sell aeroplanes and fighter jets), they would readily oblige.

Also, once they got whatever goods they wanted from the US, the excess dollars could always be redeemed for gold, if they simply presented them to the American Central Bank (the US Federal Reserve). Add to this, that all countries (like India and China) needed oil from these middle-eastern nations. So, they too started accumulating dollars to pay Saudi Arabia and other oil republics. They did this simply by exchanging their gold reserves for dollars. So, if the Indian RBI wanted dollar notes to finance its oil imports from Saudi Arabia, it would exchange its gold reserves with the US Federal Reserve for fresh dollars.

Here, the view of a dollar note being an IOU issued by the US Federal Reserve is clear. So now, the US dollar became the global de-facto reserve currency. But the most important thing to note here is that it was backed by gold, which meant that outside US soil, a dollar note wasn't only a piece of paper.

This concludes the first part of this series. We saw how after World War-2, the US dollar came about to be the global reserve currency. In the next part, we shall answer the question we posed earlier :- why is the India rupee still quote 45 to the US dollar, even though India has a trade surplus with the US ? A hint has already been given.

We shall also see how has this arrangement helped the US be a global economic superpower, and why the US dollar CANNOT be replaced by the Chinese yuan as the global reserve currency.

Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Emergent trends amongst some female bloggers in India.

In this post, we shall examine a phenomenon that has become a trend amongst some female bloggers in India. We shall take up 4 such blogs as case-studies, and examine common patterns exhibited in these blogs (although there are literally hundreds of blogs with similar themes).

Since the past few years, blogs written by females claiming to be working professionals. Their location is almost always a metro like Mumbai, Bangalore or New Delhi. Their blogs have gained significant popularity since the past few years and have acquired significant readership. Also, the expressive and (seemingly) creative posts by them are almost to the point of being professional novellas. In some cases, they have been so successful, that their blogs have been compiled / adapted into books and their authors have been offered regular columns at leading national dailies.

We shall now see the patterns in the content of these blogs, the motivations behind writing them, as also why they have gained such widespread popularity. In the end, we shall also see briefly why such blogs written by males don't succeed in getting as much popularity.

The blogs that we shall study as case-studies are as follows :-

1) Watching the world Go By
2) Confessions of a Stoner Chick.
3) That Only
4) the Restless Quill

To an extent, we may also study these blogs in the context of The Compulsive Confessor, arguably one of India's most widely read blogs, and whose author Ms. Mahadevan besides being a columnist, has also written a book.

Now, before we discuss the above blogs separately, we may bring to attention two definitive characteristics, that are shared commonly across all the above blogs. It is these two characteristics that, to a varying degree are used by the authors to attract readership.

1) One thing must be mentioned about what we may term as "Subliminal Communiques". These are defined as the purposeful insertion of a fact that one really wants to communicate, into a totally different and often irrelevant piece of information. For example :- "As I blew smoke rings ahead of me, I was unable to decide about....." The purposeful point being subliminally communicated here, is that the person in question is a smoker, and who ostensibly likes doing so, whereas the presented point is some decision that the person is confused about. Its as though the presented point is wrapped as a "veneer" around the purposeful point.

Even if not in exact sentences, many of the posts are such that they bring up different ideas, but which revolve around the same "explicit" themes. As an example, a post discussing, say, "relationships and love" will invariably discuss unprotected "flings" with male colleagues etc. And a post discussing, say, "Lost in translation", would also discuss about how a "one night encounter" was misinterpreted as the beginning of a relationship. So, they pretend to discuss one idea after another in different posts, but the true intent seems to be to repeatedly report of their various "affairs".

2) They all go good lengths to claim how "intelligent" they are in terms of intellect, academic records, employment history etc.

3) They all have atleast one post dedicated to smoking, and why they do it. They make it clear that despite knowing the hazards of smoking, they have no intention to quit, or sometimes they recount making fun of those people, who ask them to quit.

Let us examine these blogs one at a time :-

1) Watching the world Go By : This blog is authored by one "Searcher", who is "Searching for answers, for questions..." and for "peace". Ms. Searcher is a single female in Mumbai and claims to have worked in the media and advertising industry. She has had a tumultuous childhood (parents separated at an early age), which often finds mention in her posts. The long-term theme of her blog is that she is incapable of "loving much" and "being desired" and so she's seeking "answers" to these questions.

She also makes it a point to mention that her and her family's IQ is in the "high 140s". Her supposed Facebook profile also mentions that her IQ "used to be in the high 140s", but has dropped due to "age".

Now, so far it can be understood. But what may be intriguing, is that a number of her blog posts recount her multiple affairs with different men (often in quite articulate detail), and they summarize with the new lesson that she learnt from each experience --- like what went wrong, over-commitment, incapability to love his family, etc. If not recount, then nearly all her posts have atleast one mention of the fact that she has had "many boyfriends" (and these mentions are not passing mentions; they form an important point in the post).

In fact, the long-term crux of this blog is the multiple (mostly failed) physical relationships that the author has had, and the analysis of her inability to be consistent with any one of them. It looks like a very seemingly innocent and philosophical effort at finding out her "problems", but always under the overarching backdrop of her many past and present affairs.

Some posts are bizzare, like this one, which seem a contrived attempt at literary creativity. But like always, it too finds an important mention about her "many past boyfriends". Others simply discuss relationships between men and women, the "purpose of marriage", etc. again with the above standard references and mentions of her multiple past affairs. Also, like the Compulsive Confessor, it too has atleast one post dedicated to recounting a conversation with a colleague, who asked her to quit smoking and how she had a bit of fun at the colleague's expense.

Now it is unclear why the "answers to life's questions..." are centered around relationships with the "many boyfriends" (and affairs, night encounters etc.) that the author claims to have had. This, from someone who claims to have an IQ in the "high 140s". Why can't a visit to, say, an orphanage answer why she is "incapable of loving", is not quite clear.

2) Confessions of a Stoner Chick. This blog is purposefully an X rated reading material (blogspot first takes your permission before opening this page). The author of the blog is a Ms. "Stoner Chick", who is a 4.0 GPA grad student, and is "only 21 years old". Moreover, she is "hot" and not fat or ugly. She says that even though she enjoys taking narcotics, she is not a female of ill-repute who is forced to finance her drug habit that way.

Also, she emphasizes that she is an "Indian Indian", and not an "American Indian", lest we think that she's probably like any other spoilt American girl, instead of the "cultured" Indian woman who have 4.0 GPAs. The introduction itself can potentially be a major titillation for some male Indians who visit this blog.

The content of her blog tries to be as philosophical and contemplative as possible, about life and relationships, musical and artistic excellence, etc. However, it is a thinly veiled attempt at mentioning the real meat of the blog :- the author's pot sessions and drinking sessions after attending college fests and rock-concerts --- in precise detail. The author even celebrates the fact that she finds life to be enjoyable with her substance abuse.

The purpose of this blog is unclear, except to ostensibly attract readership from people, who are bound to be shocked at a 4.0 GPA girl, who admits to enjoying smoking pot and binge drinking. It is a clear case of attempting to attract readers through titillation.

3) That Only : This blog is written by a 28 year old female called "Rat". Unlike the previous two blogs, this blog does make a genuine attempt in logging the diary accounts of the author. This author's blog has been featured thrice in national dailies. The author is a psychology graduate, and enjoys Sting concerts.

However, the definitive feature of her blog is something like this (though not exact) : "I went to Bangalore and Ooty. Had a whale of a time......and in the evening I got so drunk, that I enjoyed it thoroughly"......"I went to my friend's after a long time.....and oh, was the Vodka so great.." In fact, it appears that her blog came into major prominence, after a national daily ran an article on such type of blogs (in the same vein as this article).

The article was titled, "Bimbodom's new Bridgets" by Kanika Gahlaut in Mumbai. Ms. Mahadevan, the author of The Compulsive Confessor", posted a "rebuttal" to it, which was not quite convincing as one. The same article discusses this article from That Only, which is about the author's appreciation of alcohol and why she has a "blast while drinking it".

It is not to say that some of Ms Rat's posts don't make for genuinely relatable and appreciable reads. But often, the blog cannot discuss things without the "lift" obtained by mentions about her long drinking sessions, and how the experience was exacerbated by doing so.

4) the Restless Quill : For the most part, this blog is genuinely honest in discussing whatever it discusses, completely unlike the blogs discussed above, whose real intent appears to be something else altogether (mostly to attract readership by titillation).

Some posts cannot be disagreed to easily, like this post on eve-teasing , as well as this brilliant post on the visible irresponsibility of popular Indian TV anchors like Arnab Goswami and Barkha Dutt.

However, it seems that like the blogs above it, the author also dedicated a post on why she smokes, has no intention to quit, and a critique to those whom she thinks are "preaching down her throat to quit" (though she advocates dissuading children to smoke). The post makes the fundamental mistake in opining that smokers have "a right to smoke", whereas the actuality is that smoking is no more than a privilege, and is NOT a right. The first right belongs to all people who have the right to fresh air, and last in the priority of offices, society and governments is to provide zones to smoke --- provided all other priorities before it are met, and space can be spared, if any.

All the above may also form a pattern witnessed in Compulsive Confessor and Watching-the-world-go-by as well. The authors are probably aware that as young, educated female Indians , who are consciously aware of the hazards of smoking, but who still admit to smoking publicly --- are bound to attract reader traffic to their blogs. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to attract readership from Indian males.

In fact, many female bloggers (like IT engineer Tamanna Mishra) too make it point to list their 'list of vices' atleast once. The rest of their posts (like those of Ms. Mishra and "the Restless Quill") are indeed genuine diary accounts of their experiences and viewpoints, but once a while they appear to "religiously" subscribe to such kind of posts.

This completes the study of this phenomenon observed amongst a section of female Indian bloggers. Any suggestions or comments would be welcome.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why do girls outperform boys in Board Exams ?

In this post, we shall examine a recurring phenomenon. We shall also attempt to find reasons for its occurrence.

It must have been noted by Indian readers, that every year as the results of 10th std. and 12th std. board exams are released, it is reported by the media that the overall pass percentage of girls is found to be higher than that of boys. Note that this holds true regardless of the education board, i.e. CBSE, ICSE or the 15 odd state boards. It also holds true of both, the 10th as well as the 12th standards,

In fact, so annually recurrent and definitive has this trend become, that the year that boys have a higher pass percentage than girls, it would make "breaking" news across all media.

It was recently reported that in cognizance of this trend, colleges in Bangalore have stipulated a higher cut-off percentage for girls in order to seek admissions. This has been termed extremely unfair, and rightly so. For, constitutionally there must not be any distinction in gender (least of all in education), and this decision by Bangalore colleges speaks of a clear gender-bias. This puts the efforts invested by the girls at a disadvantage, thus effectively stymieing their well-deserved fruits of their hard work.

The motive behind this practice by Bangalore colleges apparently is this : girls are somehow "automagically" at an advantage in terms of pass percentage. Hence, they must be put at a disadvantage while seeking admissions, in order to put them at par with boys.

We shall now show, that not only is this reasoning inherently flawed and unjustifiably imposed on the girls of Bangalore, we shall also show that the cause of why the pass percentage of girls is more than boys in the 10th and 12th std. board exams --- has nothing to do with the supposed hard work or genius of the girls. It has a totally different cause.

Now, at some point of time, all of us must have definitely come across advertisements of IIT coaching classes. They display the faces and names of students who have secured high All-India ranks. Newspapers and even TV channels run interviews of the All India toppers, ranked 1,2, and 3.

However, the important thing to note here is that never in the history of the IITs, has any girl topped the country in the IIT-JEE entrance exam. In fact, in the entire history of the IITs, girls are not known to have cracked even the top 10 ranks of the IIT-JEE . Even today --- after 50 years of the IITs being set up --- the number of girls in the top 200 ranks number only in single digits. Needless to say, boys fully dominate the IIT-JEE entrance exam.

Similarly, the teams comprising the International Olympiads for Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry, almost always comprise of boys only. Only twice in 20 years, has a girl been sent to the Physics Olympiad (in 2010, it was Akanksha Sarda, who made headlines in newspapers).

Note that girls are equally visible at the number of IIT-JEE coaching "factories" all across India. There is no statistical bias there.

Thus, from the above two examples, it is clear that the argument of girls being more "intelligent" or "hard-working" than boys is an invalid one. Hence, there must be another reason as to why their pass-percentage in the 10th and 12th std board exams, is always higher than boys, year after after. It can thus only be statistical.

Now, we may note that in urban areas there is almost no distinction in the pass-percentages of boys and girls (and neither in the top ranks). So they are evenly matched in urban areas. However, it must be noted that in rural areas, the percentage of failure of students is more. The reasons are immediately obvious : poor schools and colleges, absentee teachers, dearth of coaching classes, and little income to be able to afford good books or access to urban coaching centres.

Now even amongst the failures at rural and semi-urban areas, the majority are boys. Why not girls ? Because social stigmas don't allow girls to study as far as the 10th std. itself. Hence, when a majority of the rural girls don't appear itself in the 10th (and 12th) board exams, they naturally improve the All India girl pass-percentage --- unlike most of the rural boys who appear only to fail, thus dragging down the All India boys pass percentage.

This is infact true of the 10th std. & 12th std exams and cutting across ICSE, CBSE as well as all State Boards (like the Karnataka state board, which is subscribed to by many Bangalore colleges). Obviously, because the gender discrimination against girls at rural areas is independent of the education board or whether it is 10th or 12th.

It is thus unfortunate that colleges in Bangalore have used the statistical bias of the high girl pass percentage, to further the gender bias against girls at the time of seeking admission. It is a fundamental violation of the right to education of all girls, who studied hard to obtain the marks --- only to be told to once again to stand behind boys. In 21st century "rising" India, this discriminatory practice and that too by educational institutions which themselves teach equality, is unfortunate.

This concludes the study of this recurrent phenomenon. Any comments and suggestions would be welcome.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Understanding Fate & Destiny - II

In the last post, we observed the definition of fate in the conventional sense. We also saw how the reactions of a subject toward his surrounding circumstances determine his "destined path" later in life, by bringing new circumstances and choices. The choices / decisions made in turn, "chalk-out" a new destiny for him, as well as those surrounding him. Thus, we concluded that it is a self-feeding cycle.

Now, we shall see how every event or occurrence is pre-determined. We use the term pre-determined because here we attempt to subscribe to a scientific and plausible explanation, rather than subjective terms, "fate" or "destiny".

We first see how computer simulations work. While predicting the weather, super computers take the current weather condition as input, and calculate the movement of winds and clouds, or storms over a period of the next few days. They are able to do this, because wind /cloud patterns follow the basic laws of motion. These can be deployed by school-level students to calculate the speed and position of very simple particles after a period of time, as also by supercomputers, which can predict the results of simulated car crashes, typhoons, and nuclear explosions.

From the above, it is clear that be it car crashes, or weather patterns, a multitude of forces acting from many directions on many objects results in what may be termed as a chain-reaction of events, which in turn create the new forces and new directions that act on the same set of particles. For example, in a simulated real car crash, some shards of broken glass may fly and hit the dummy passenger, which in turn may halt their backward advance --- while triggering a new sequence of events in the passenger's body, like fracturing his skull, or stopping blood flow to some body organ and so on and such forth.

Here it must be observed that the above is very analogous to the conclusion of the previous discussion i.e. of the surrounding circumstances and the subsequent re-actions to them being a self-feeding cycle. We saw how the re-action of the 10th std. results of a student in India can impact his future career, which in turn impacts himself and his family members. With a small difference, this is similar to the calculated path of a single shard of glass that impacts other objects in its way, depending on where/how it flies. The difference is, that while the shard's path of flight (as also its re-actions to other objects that it hits) is determined by simple laws of motion, the student's path is determined by the choices he consciously makes --- a 'luxury', that the inanimate shard does not have. Yet in both examples, the similarity in the interplay of surrounding circumstances vis-a-vis re-action to them is apparent.

Now, we shall see that even the choices that we supposedly make after due deliberation, are actually no different than the completely physical path of an inanimate object in motion.

As per a scientific research, I quote, "..... study by German researchers, published two years ago, found a gap of up to 10 seconds between the brain activity that indicates that a decision is being made and the direction in which it is tending, and the awareness of the decision that has been made. In other words, researchers can guess what the subject is about to do even before he himself knows...."

The implications of the above scientific research are immediately obvious and profound. It is simply this : when confronted with a situation, a series of neurological and neurochemical occurrences in the brain act together over a period of time, to produce an output. This output, is the decision or choice taken by the person ! This is exactly the same as the final resting place of a shard of glass in a car crash (could be the road or the passenger's body as determined by the laws of motion), or as an even better example : the final resting place of a billiards ball after acting, and being acted upon by a multitude of forces.

So we see that like a billiards ball in motion, whose final resting place is pre-determined, our choices and decisions too are pre-determined. This over-rules the concept of fate or destiny in the conventional sense.

In fact, without "raising the heckles" of environmentalists, animals can be seen as nothing but instinctively reactionary "toys". Their simple predictable reactions to their surroundings begin right from the moment they are born, till they die. In between, they continuously re-act to their surrounding circumstances, and their instinctive choices are nothing but this : totally predictable reactionary instincts. In fact, mathematicians have already succeeded in modelling the behaviour patterns of birds and small animals like mice, without the need to examine the neurochemical reactions (unlike in humans), mentioned earlier. In case of humans, it is simply more complex, as they are more intelligentand are also guided by complex emotions.

We shall now move on from the pre-decidedness of human decisions, to macro events. We claim, that every occurrence --- from minute ones (like the falling of a leaf), to major ones (like the Bhopal gas tragedy, which killed thousands in a single day) --- are actually pre-determined since the "beginning".

For this, we just have to extrapolate and "elongate" our previous discussion. Since the Big Bang, all laws of physics have governed the formation of our planet Earth. The same purely reactionary forces, formed life and then intelligent life, as we know it. Every tree crushed under the feet of a T-Rex dinosaur --- which also simply acted per its totally predictable neurochemical interplay --- was also pre-determined since the Big Bang. Then a comet collided with Earth, due to which dinosaurs became extinct, and much later, humans evolved.

Like the clash of the comet, whose formation and motion since 4 billion years too has purely been governed by the laws of "galactic" Physics, humans too evolved by purely by the laws of predictable biochemistry. So, the formation and evolution of simpler organisms, to amphibians, to more complex ones to finally apes and Homo Erectus to Homo Sapiens was pre-determined --- since the Big Bang (for, had the comet not crashed into earth, the biochemical evolution of humans wouldn't have kicked in).

We may fastforward to modern times, and extrapolate thus, that the same neurochemical reactions of our daily decisions and the inputs to our situations --- have been pre-decided since the Big Bang.

For, if an infinitely powerful supercomputer were built that simulated the exact conditions of the Big Bang, its occurrence and the formation of the Earth, the dinosaurs, the human evolution, the building of the Pyramids, the Battle of Plassey, the World Wars and how the great-great great great grand uncle of President Obama was killed by a freak tripping on a gorge in Kenya --- each and every "tid-bit" of every incident that has occurred since then, would be simulated exactly as it has occurred. The reader of this blog would see himself born and see his exam paper of the 10th standard snatched by the invigilator in exactly the same way as occurred to him actually.

He would also see himself reading this blog and scratching his head, in exactly the same way, as he did in actuality. It has of course, all been pre-determined since the BiG Bang.

So, that's what we may consider "Destiny" or "Fate" to be : A sequence of events that have occurred, as also that are to come, all of which pre-determined by the interplay of laws of the Universe (from Physics to neurochemistry). And all of which were DESTINED from the BiG Bang.

This ends our discussion on the meaning of Fate and Destiny. Comments and suggestions would be greatly welcome and appreciated.