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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Visionary Talks about IT-BHU from the past

I have read and heard many on the issue of the conversion of IT-BHU Varanasi to IIT. I am reproducing here the lectures and views given by Prof Gopal Tripathi way back 40 years. I call these views as an acute vision and analysis of future. Read it and retrospect where IT-BHU stand now as technical college today. In 1968 the three colleges were merged into an Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi with Prof Gopal Tripathi as its first Director. Later Prof. Gopal Tripathi served as Vice Chancellor, Lucknow University.

Various Disabilities And Disparities Between The IIT's And IT-BHU : The Handicaps Facing The IT-BHU

(Edited portion of the Lecture delivered on March 9, 1968, on the occasion of Annual Function, College of Technology, BHU, by Late Prof. Gopal Tripathi , the Principal- College of Technology from 1950, and Director- I.T , BHU from 1968)

In this era of technological revolutions and scientific break-throughs, technical education is fast changing its pattern and offering more challenges than ever. For the last several years I have been trying to draw attention to the various handicaps which the technical colleges of our University have to face, vis-a-vis, the IIT's set-up by the Govt. of India. As you are aware the Banaras Hindu University has been the pioneer in the field of technical education in this country and has played a leading role in the training of graduates who could take-up positions of responsibility in industry and education. With the setting-up of the Indian Institutes of Technology which have been declared by the Govt. of India, an institution of national importance and the attention and finances are given to them as leading institutions in the field of technical education, the Banaras Hindu University began to loss its preeminent position for several reasons. I have repeatedly drawn attention to the various disabilities and disparities that exist between the IIT's and the technical Institutions of the Universities regarding the facilities available, namely capital and recurring grant, the flexible nature of the cadres of staff,the high percentage of free-ships and studentships that obtains in the IIT's and the denial of the same to us etc. and I have been pressing for an early removal of such discrimination. Just to quote a few figures, on an average, on every one of the IIT's about 8.3 crores of rupees have been spent with regard to building and equipment. The cost of engineering education per student in the three types of institutions according to the official figures of the U.G.C. are given as follows: IIT's- Rs. 16,886/-, Regional Engg. Colleges-Rs 6468/-, and Technical Colleges of the Universities-Rs. 3,013/-. Realising the disparities of expenditure between IIT's on one hand and the technical colleges of the universities on the other, the U.G.C appointed a Committee consisting of Dr. T. Sen, Union Minister of Education, Dr. P.K.Kelkar, Director IIT, Kanpur, Dr. Gopal Tripathi, Principal- College of Technology, BHU, and Shri K.L. Joshi, Secretary,U.G.C. to examine the disparities and suggest remedies. The Committee observed that the objectives of technical education are the same in all institutions in the country including the IIT's and University technical colleges; the students after completing the courses take the same types of jobs, and they have to appear for the same competitive examinations and tests conducted by the Govt., and Industry for recruitment to different posts. It would, therefore, be reasonable to support the technical institutions for teaching and research work on an equitable basis and so a certain minimum quantum of grants is essential for every institution for equipment, staff, scholarship, etc. At present differences exist in the assistance being given for this purpose to the IIT's on the one hand and University institutions on the other. The Committee recommended certain measures which are yet to be implemented.

Tortuous Procedure :

(BHU Gazett, March, 23,1968)
I have already mentioned the tortuous procedure for the receipt of grants from the U.G.C. for the technical institutions in our Universities. The IIT's on other hand, have supreme advantage of receiving their grants directly from the Central Govt. There is no appreciable time lag between the assessment of their needs and the receipts of the grants from the Central Govt. The Technical Colleges of the University have no direct dealing with the Govt., although their needs have still to be scrutinized by the All India Council for Technical Education. But since they form a part of the Banaras Hindu University Complex their grant is controlled by the U.G.C. which is not always alive to the needs of the technical Colleges, nor to the prompt release of funds. Further, whatever financial and other advantages are given to the IIT's. by way of increased emoluments, better grade of salary and huge numbers of scholarships and stipends, cannot be easily given to the technical Colleges of the University because of the fear of introducing discrimination between these technical Colleges and the other constituent Colleges of the University. Another supreme advantage enjoyed by the IIT's is the one of foreign collaboration. Each of the IIT's has a foreign partner who is prepared to flood the IIT's with equipments and participation in the adventure of setting up new laboratories. The University institutions are practically starved out in this respect. To import any equipment is like chasing the will-of-the-wisp. One's energy is all spent up in inviting quotations, struggling for import licence, justifying the demands for additional grants, etc. All this in addition to lack of adequate teaching staff is truly frustrating.

Future Plans : New Departments

(Prof. Gopal Tripathi, 17.5.1969, BHU-NEWS )
In the interest of technical education and industrial development of the nation some new types of departments viz. Industrial Engineering and Management, Materials Science and Materials Technology, Nuclear Engineering,Instrumentation Engineering, Applied Geology, Computer Centre, Aeronautical and Space Engineering, and Architecture & Town Planning Engineering may be also established under the auspices of the Institute of Technology so that our nation may not lag behind the other developed countries in the race of technological and scientific development.

*Taken without permission. Source

Mera Bharat Mahaan

Frederick Douglass had written over a century ago. “Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them … . The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Naxal problem is making up a civil war like situation in India. And we are talking the losses in the terms of loss of life in encounters. The big picture is going beyond our imagination and tales of exploitation of dalits, labours and adivasis is echoing the real India.

Shoma Chaudhary examines the tricky and dangerous terrain of Operation Green Hunt, the offensive against Naxals, might blow up in our faces: "Dalits and adivasis comprise a staggering one fourth of India’s population, yet are disproportionately destitute and low on the Human Development Index scale. Worse, they suffer the most humiliation and indignity: the proverbial insult on injury. Our country represents a show where 77 percent of Indians live on less than Rs 20 a day while 5 percent enjoy lives that border on obscene excess. For most urban Indians, the lives of tribals and dalits has no meaning, no face, no flesh. Our books no longer write of it, our films no longer evoke it, our journalists no longer cover it. It’s not just the poverty; it’s bumping into a face of the Indian State you have never seen before: brutal, illegal, rapine, pimped out to serve the interests of a few. "

Study CPI Maoist booklet on Salwa Judam Movement for understanding the root cause of the movement termed as Naxalism. Still want to know about hidden reality of Salwa Judum movement, for the seekers of truth: The Inconvenient Truth -- the real face of Corporate governance. And below written is my naive idea about our 'Swades' with little reasons and more emotions.

The struggle for social justice is against those that produce resentful domination in power distribution in society. Sociopolitical change is best when organic—rising from the bottom rather than imposed from the top—the odds of assimilation improve dramatically. Populations that are better informed and better connected to opportunities, in societies where information and access are widespread tend to marginalized between few people. India has low social mobility, and say that in villages in two Indian states where 300 children had graduated from high school, only four had found well-paying, white-collar jobs. Advancing information and enabling access are as much a critical part of enhancing development success. The sacrifice of human beings on the altar of abstractions or the subordination of the realities of individual happiness or unhappiness in the present to glorious dreams of the future has stopped us from achieving our dream of just and liberal society.

History and journalism is the inquiry through medium of story telling of past and present respectively. Journalists living and reporting from the grassroots are more vulnerable than those based in the cities. Things are pretty savage at the grassroots level and the fear of police and the vested interests is quite high, a fact quite neglected by armchair journalism by news channels in India. Journalists who investigate and uncover the truth take enormous personal risks – This is precisely why local journalists need greater support and protection to continue their good work.

The chaos in the society is always caused by group of persons who had hardly travelled, and relied for information on policy documents and the reports of media personalities sitting interviewing elite or middle-class contacts in big cities. Hence, their narrow idea of the world never captures the whole scenario. Despite the Internet and the revolution in communications, there is still no substitute of foot soldier work needed for journalism. The medium of Internet is used for distribution of information but there is always need of 'primary' who can record the voices of dissent or support of each person of the society. India today is diseased with propagandist journalism. Corroded with corruption, the death of idealism, communalism and deep casteist divisions which has resulted in a steady degeneration...

The young generation of seventy's inhabited a Nehruvian world. After a few wars and riots, India was witnessing a decline of idealism, there was disillusionment with socialism. Baba Amte, J.P. ,Vinoba Bhave and others are now gone in the past. Their followers like Shyam Benegal, Vijay Tendulkar, P Sainath, APJ Kalam and Mahasweta devi are on the verge of last years of their lives. I am looking into the empty space where there are no heroes or protectors to idealize life for. The youth icons are now Shahrukh or Sania. Its not the insult of star actor or player but showcasing of their dwarfness in comparison to previous set of role models. Practical mentality how good can be, have never been as inspiring as idealistic personalities.

An escapist culture of consumerism is fast replacing the tradition of mass struggle and writers, cinema and media is obsessed with the loves and lives of the urban middle-class. There is a loss of ideology in the wake up call of globalisation and India Shining. Handful of people are there working for the people but the sense of closeness among community is dissolving with time. The distances has reduced but the alienation among people is spreading. The rise of individualism with the fall of social values is changing the scenario. The feudal mentality, caste superiority feeling and religious divisions are coming to surfaces from the deeply rooted consciousness of new generation. The 'dalits' are searching for new myths and symbols for reworking of community histories and mythology. This ecstasy of rising and shining India should be shown the face of ground realities of India. And this need lot of work at ground level by media and citizen journalists. For, to quote from Mahasweta Devi's essay The Seventies and After: "These are bad times, these are the times to work. "

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Triple Century

The map is not the territory. --Alfred Korzybski
Or take this simply. The blog is not the real world but its a route for me to become Neo from Mr. Anderson. I am on rampage enough to publish 300th post on my beloved blog. I congratulate myself in the sense of vanity and proud over this. Driven by basic instinct to compose and compile all crazy ideas at one place seems flourishing now. I could have easily forgotten this triple centurion post like previous centuries but Amit reminded that I was near triple century. And first time someone appreciated that my words are a source of inspiration. Hence celebrating mine minor joy in full pomp and show. Thank you Amit for your kind words...

You Should Write Blogs by Steve Yegge.
It is most most most pushing article that prompted me to write my bakwaas or preachings as a blogger. It explains why should I blog inspite of the fear and anxiety. Most people give various reasons why not to write something in the life .
Reason #1: I'm too busy.
Reason #2: I'm afraid to put my true thoughts on public record.
Reason #3: Nobody will read my blog.
Reason #4: Blogging is narcissistic.

It has ended these speculations and doubts. The trick has worked for drifter like me, hence it will help you also. Let me put up here opening stanza for preview:

"This is certainly the most important thing I'll ever say in my blogs: YOU should write blogs. Even if nobody reads them, you should write them. It's become pretty clear to me that blogging is a source of both innovation and clarity. I have many of my best ideas and insights while blogging. Struggling to express things that you're thinking or feeling helps you understand them better."

My Output:
I also insist that everyone should write: blog or no blog. Originality isn’t everything. In the world of art and design, originality is highly prized, but sometimes the emphasis is a bit too strong. The point of design isn’t to be original, but to speak a message effectively. If a highly original design does it, so much the better. But sometimes you have to reach to the readers by lowering your standards a little bit. I always insist that the message shouldn't be lost between simile and metaphors. And blah blah blah....

Puneet Jain has also started blog - Rehgujar
I am sure that I will left something behind at blogland, not cease like someone who took something away with him. Just wanted to sing: Yeh honsla kaise jhuke, Yeh aarzoo kaise ruke.

Dumpimg Ideas & Weblinks

Talking of ‘IP’, here’s what Krzysztof Zanussi has said about it. (Source)

Intellectual property, to me, is important because I benefit from it when sometimes, author’s rights are paid to me. However, I doubt it from the moral point of view that intellectual property should ever be protected. I want to be popular and I want my work to be accessible to anybody who wants to read it.

When I saw pirated cassettes of my films in Russia I wanted to embrace the seller because they bhad taken pains to make it accessible. I found pirated DVDs of my films in China and was proud. I probably lost some money, but what a joy. There is a contradiction between my desire to be accessible to anybody who is interested in my work and my greed to be paid for it.
I was paid for making the film.

In fact any intellectual who is defending his property has already been paid for it, and now we want something extra. I am not in a position to find a solution to this issue. I have participated in a number of sessions about author’s rights and I have seen pressure being mounted on poor countries like Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. Steven Spielberg feels victimized because his author’s rights have not been respected in these countries.

I do not feel emotionally towards the law. I am for the people who want to see these films free. They have been deprived of money and Spielberg is very well off anyway. So my sense of justice and my sense of law are in collision. As an artist, I have the right to point out this problem.”

I have seen much of the good works of American and world cinema through torrents. The huge amount of download culture in college has helped me a lot in making collection of pirated dvd gems. I oppose intellectual piracy of the bollywood copy cats, still watch cinema with the help of piracy. As an artist, I have the right to point out this dilemna. I need suggesation in this case from the blog readers (if any) as it is hypocrite in practice. And funny thing is that, I am currently doing a distance learning course on IP rights. Where I stand in this ethical fight of copyright and copyleft (this terminology exist) ? Few noteworthy reading weblinks

1- Rethinking handloom -A look at cotton handloom industry of India. Weavers are children of a lesser god in India.
2- Why Arabs lose wars? - A look from the POV of retired U.S. Army colonel.
3- The return of history and the end of dreams - It emphazises that history repeats itself by looking at current world power order.
4- Unto This Last (1860): Four Essays On The First Principles Of Political Economy by John Ruskin. It is said to have influenced Mahatma Gandhi on his views on economics and society.
5- A take on Sach ka Samna by Santosh Desai.
6- The other side of education and Education's five fault lines .

This weblinks are motivated by line - 'Empty yourself totally, Become a Nothingness, Only then you would feel a sense of Completeness'.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Insight Look of Beautiful Minds

Literacy specialists say that giving children a say in what they read can help motivate them. “If your goal is simply to get them to read more, choice is the way to go.” I am presenting here few interviews and speeches given by beautiful minds who are/were shaping our thinking.

1- Uttarpara Speech by Sri Aurobindo in 1909. Aurobindo made this speech after his release from prison, where he had been incarcerated on charges of conspiracy to murder an English magistrate.

Another speech of Sri Aurobindo when he was requested by the All India Radio, Thiruchirapalli, to give a message for India's independence. This is the message which was broadcast from the All India Radio on the 14th of August 1947.

2- Edward R. Murrow gives a speech at RTNDA Convention, Chicago on October 15, 1958. He is famous for bringing down of 'McCarthysim' in America. A movie 'Good night, and good luck' inspired me reproduce his speech about power & responsibilities of journalism. He has quoted that :

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular."

Source - Edward R. Murrow:A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy; See it Now (CBS-TV, March 9, 1954)

3- Two rare interviews of social activist and writer Mahasweta Devi. She is Jnanpith winner and committed to the rehabilitation of tribals. The interviews are: By Outlook India and Rediff.

4- A Conversation with Uday Prakash about his works is presented here. Uday Prakash is emerging Hindi writer of current era.

5- Last but not least, I found a useful article written as an 'Advice to a Young Artist' for young scholars understanding the world around him/ her.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yeh hai mera India

Why people in India die for the government service?

I got the indirect answer of not only this question but few more by an article by Gurcharan Das. It explains our mindset and employment of large amount of workers in unorganised sector.

"India's labour laws protect jobs, not workers. They assume that a job is for a lifetime, and do not allow employers flexibility to lay off workers in a downturn. Thus, Indian companies avoid hiring permanent employees, and 90 per cent of India's workers have ended up in the informal sector without any benefits or safety net. This is one of the reasons that the manufacturing sector has not become an engine of mass employment in India."

One more worth reading page about India's tryst with corruption is available for readers. Your concern and opinions are welcome.

Candid Beauty

Henry David Thoreau, US Transcendentalist author (1817 - 1862) quotes this paragraph in Walden (1854): "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived … I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms..."

Every time I watch 'Dead Poet's Society' or read 'Walden', this photo appears in my mind. Sitting under this tree had given me a sense of calmness and sense to enjoy natural beauty. The photo is taken in Germany where I visited for summer internship. I had written my one line poem describing this blog here only.
"दो लम्हे का जीवन है, एक क्षण उन्माद का, एक क्षण आह्लाद का, बस इतना ही जियूँगा!"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Playing Devil's advocate for Banaras Hindu University

Banaras Hindu University is an internationally reputed temple of learning, situated in the holy city of Varanasi. This Creative and innovative university was founded by the great nationalist leader, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, in 1916 with cooperation of great personalities like Dr Annie Besant, who viewed it as the University of India.

Recently, The South Campus of the Banaras Hindu University is attempting to become the first carbon neutral (rate of emission and absorption of carbon being equal) university campus in the country, with a massive plantation drive of 1.76 lakh saplings on 400 acres of land under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Scheme in the region. Already BHU has placed a ban on Coke and Pepsi on campus. They are the positive aspects of the development and more can be found out here.

These are good news but now I will embark our journey to some 'negative items' unknown in mainstream media. I often quote the Spanish born American philosopher, George Santayana, ''Those who do not remember their past, will be condemned to repeat it.” Hence remembering some forgotten chapters is indeed needed.

There is always a feeling that BHU is doing the country a great favor by its existence in the profit making education system. Nice trees & old buildings with great names attached to them is the first thing you notice when you come to BHU, Varanasi. It is an oasis of greenery in a desert of narrow, crowded and ill equipped infrastructure of Varanasi. Another thing one notices is the number of people from U.P. & Bihar here, which is close to despairingly high in student's population. Special section of North east, Nepal and foreign students are there, still an environment of national university is missing.

1- Once upon a time, BHU also had stand for “Banaras Hooligan's University" for its university election politics. Sandeep Pandey, Ramon Magsaysay award winner and alumnus of the Institute of Technology at the Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU), says: "As a Banaras Hindu University student with a rosy picture of politics as an instrument of social change, I had run for the post of representative of the university’s Institute of Technology in 1985. It was a shocking experience: the candidates for the posts of president, vice-president and general-secretary asked me to align with them on the basis of a common caste, and they offered me access to any movie in town — and also liquor, if needed, for students who could pledge their votes. Having won the election, I attended the first few meetings of the union. They left me disillusioned for life about Indian electoral politics."

For full report, read in detail.

2- Oct 06 , 2007 News Item, Cast Color to Varsity Blues: " Rajesh Kumar Mishra, Congress MP from Varanasi, is leading a campaign against casteism at his alma mater Banaras Hindu University (BHU), alleging that its Vice-Chancellor Dr Panjab Singh has appointed Rajputs to all important posts and new recruitment. The “Thakurvaad” in BHU has Varanasi’s Brahmin academics up in arms, the Prime Minister’s Office has been requested to order an inquiry and fingers have been pointed at Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, himself a Thakur from Madhya Pradesh.?"

The report seemed sour grapes for brahmins then. Anonymous (can be uncredible) that Brahmin forget the brahminvaad prevailing during Vice-Chancellor D.N. Mishra. who was better know as Do Nothing Mishra in student community. Little information about chronological list of VC of BHU. I don't know the follow up but pretty sure, Can there be Smoke without Fire ?

3- BHU Funds Scam(1956) : In one of the first instances of corruption in educational institutions, Benaras Hindu University officials were accused of misappropriation of funds worth Rs 50 lakh.

Great People in the respectable positions has taken corrupt route but I can't just digest the amount of money involved in the corruption in 1950's.

4- "Micro-inequities are ways in which people are ignored, disrespected, undermined, or somehow treated in a different (negative) way because of their gender or race (or some other intrinsic characteristic). A micro-inequity can be very micro. It can involve an action or words or even a tone of voice or a gesture. The inequity can be a deliberate attempt to harm someone or it can be unintentional, rooted in a person's perceptions about others. Whatever the source and however minor each separate event, over the years the cumulative effect of these little incidents, words, and gestures on an individual and on various segments of society (academia, business, even within families) is not so micro." [Source]

These micro- inequalities exist in BHU, Varanasi like any other university or working place due to patriarchal society structure. Personally, I felt there exist gender segregation attitude in BHU administration. More light about this issue can be shed by the readers of this post only. I hope that my analysis was wrong...

Pankaj Mishra has written at length about foreign women in Benares who face frequent verbal and physical harassment. e.g., Chapter 14 of his book, `Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in small town India' (1995, Penguin India). He describes the harassment experienced by several foreign women students in Benares, whom he had interviewed. Indian women too suffer harassment, but the frequency and severity seem to be much worse for foreigners. Most of the women Mishra spoke to felt that the Benares Hindu University (BHU) was the most difficult place for them. One of the reasons conjectured for the situation is the emergence of a new class of people in BHU and in the city, who came there from the extremely feudal areas around Benares, combining the feudalism of their upbringing with the mindless consumerism of a growing city.

5- Babu Jagjivan RamMadhav Sadashiv Golwalkar are alumnus of this university only. Caste discrimination faced by Jagjivan Ram isn't discussed openly (take few exceptions of seminars) due to higher caste dominated university administration. And about Guruji, how pseudo secular people can call him as notable alumnus ? There are bad people in BHU, there are good people. Just like anywhere, really. This is not the attempt to defame BHU but to unearth some deeply hidden facts or mere fictions. Your views will be regarded in high respect for the sake of truth.

*In common parlance, a devil's advocate is someone who takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with for the sake of Logical argument. This process can be used to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Too Busy To Read Books?

The first list is of the books which are rusting on my book shelf from very long time. I have to finish them as soon as possible. The other books are in the list which I will finish one day. I have also put the name of person who recommonded me name of the books directly or virtually.

Books Rusting on the Shelf

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by Rashmi Bansal --- Sonal Rai

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwelll --- Sonal Rai

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair --- Self

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk --- Shubhank

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger --- Shekhar Iyer

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowel --- Sonal Rai

Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau --- Self

Selected Short Stories by Franz Kafka --- Self

The Renaissance in India and other essays by Aurbindo Ghosh --- Self

Thus spake Zarathustra by F. Nietzsche --- Rajneesh

Books to be bought & read in future

Our Films, Their Films by Satyajit Ray --- Nitesh Rohit

Something Like An Autobiography by Akira Kurosawa --- Nitesh Rohit

India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha --- Rahul Basu

India: From Midnight to the Millennium by Shashi Tharoor --- Self

How to be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond by Pankaj Mishra --- Self

A Journey Interrupted: Being Indian in Pakistan by Farzana Versey --- Vikram V Garg

The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1991 by Eric Hobsbawm --- Self

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker --- Brajesh Rai

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman --- Madhur Garg

The Google Story by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed --- Rahul Priyedarshi

The Creation Of Wealth : The Tatas From The 19th To The 21st Century by R M Lala --- Self

The Amul India Story by Ruth Herediya --- Self

Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts by P Sainath --- Self

A Better India, A Better World by N R Narayana Murthy --- Self

Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani --- Self

A Time Of Transition by Mani Shankar Aiyar --- Puneet Jain

Ignited Minds by Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam --- Self

The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen --- Rahul Priyedarshi

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King --- Steve Yegge

The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara --- Vivek Padmanabhan

Sunny Days by Sunil Gavaskar --- Self

The Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett --- Self

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut --- Self

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley --- Ankita Mukherjee

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink --- Self

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn --- Self

The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol --- Jhumpa Lahiri

White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky --- Rajneesh

Faint Heart by Fyodor Dostoyevsky --- Rajneesh

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho --- Srikant Singh

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky --- Self

On the Road by Jack Kerouac --- Self

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates --- Self

Snow by Orhan Pamuk --- Shekhar Iyer

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller --- Shekhar Iyer

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk --- Shekhar Iyer

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho --- Puneet Jain

Peeli Chhatri Waali Ladki by Uday Prakash --- Varun Grover

Kasap by Manohar Shyam Joshi --- Self

In custody by Anita Desai --- Self

Tamas by Bhisham Sahni --- Mother

Pinjar by Amrita Pritam --- Mother

Aag Ka Dariya by Qurratulain Hyder --- Self

Kitne Pakistan by Kamleshwar --- Self

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky --- Ankita Mukherjee

Like a flowing river by Paul Coehlo --- Puneet Jain

Discover Your Genius by Michael Gelb --- Nimmy

What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson --- Rashmi Bansal

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig --- Zaheer Sir

Evolution of Geographical Thought by Majid Hussain --- Neeraj Jadaun

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins --- Shubhank

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins --- Shubhank

The End of Faith by Sam Harris --- Self

Tao, The Golden Gate [1] & [2] by Osho --- Rajneesh Tiwari

Satyarth Prakash by Swami Dayanand Saraswati --- Self

The Life Divine by Aurobindo Ghose --- Self

God Created the Integers: The Mathematical Breakthroughs That Changed History by Stephen
Hawking --- Puneet Jain

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cast out Caste

Let me recall the punchline of Popeye the Sailorman : “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!” . Cast out caste from our social system, it is killing talent based on the merit. The paragraphs given below are the the reproduction of a part of the interview of N. Murthy , Infosys Founder.

" The Indian society is a society of ideas. It is a society that has revered talk. In this society, articulation is mistaken for accomplishment. We are quite satisfied with our voice, with our writings. This is not a society that is focused on execution.

Frankly, the problem is due to our caste system and the dominance of Brahmins in our society for long period. The Brahminical system said my job is to think of the higher worlds. My job is to think of connecting you people with God. I don't want to do anything that has a relationship with the real world.

Now that is a problem that has played havoc with the Indian culture. So, here in this culture, if you do anything with your hands, it is considered less honourable that anything to do with your brain. Here everybody wants to be an engineer, nobody wants to be a technician. So when a society does not value implementation, execution, what happens is you create more and more reports and nothing gets done. "

We are not a nation of doers; we are a nation which believes that our articulation is our accomplishment.

I have put the view of N Murthy here for the gentle support of Anoop who put it eloquently as: Indian academicians and intellectuals are not ‘lazy’ but highly incompetent as they are the product of a society where merit is at premium. A caste-ridden society, where the caste interest and caste-pride take precedence over everything, can never produce genuine/objective scholars and academicians. Then, Anoop puts his emphasis on the fact --- Why have the Brahmins not produced a Voltaire? . Don't worry about my bashing to priestly clan of Hinduism, here comes Interview of Prabhas Joshi with his really valid points to give thoughts of other side of coin.

Apne hi pani mein pighal jana barf ka muqaddar hota hai.

I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted paychecks. I am doing this job but I am unable to understand if I am really doing the job or it is just for the sake of doing something. Confusion is there and no direction is clear to me. I am unable to decipher to whom I should take advice. This post is gentle expression of my wrath on me and everything.

Currently, I am unable to express myself here. It may sound like some idealistic and impractical but its not road map of utopia, it is mine day dream of the happy world. Read Bhagat Singh's India for more glimpses of true feelings buzzing around my head. It is more review of history of my country, on whose base our future will be written.

Every monumental crisis shakes the people and society of each generation. The art, literature, cinema matures from it. Every unjust decision pushes us in the direction of becoming more fearful, more regressive; and surely there is always enough time for us to undo old injustice. America emerged stronger and richer after the second world war, while Europe lay in ruins, "the great American dream" had no rivals anywhere in the world. Gertrude Stein once said: America was the oldest country in the world since it was the first to be modern. With its wealth, unique inventions and distinctive "way of life", the US had shaped the experience of western modernity.

India is a diverse and dual society with islands of elite affluence amidst vast oceans of poverty of the masses. This poverty is primarily due to inadequate income-generating employment in the rural countryside and employment would not come from capital-intensive industrialization. Indian science and technology has allied itself with the elitist pattern of industrialization from the west. The need of hour is to devote itself to the generation of an alternative pattern of capital-saving labour-intensive technologies of relevance to the rural poor.

Today, India is just copying American lifestyle without seeing its consequences of implication. I am just requesting all of you to change the world by sacrificing your little luxuries for the needs of others. The others are not from the alien lands, they are our brothers and sisters only. You will know my point after going through an old interview of this year Magsaysay Award winner in the field of Community Leadership, Deep Joshi. Worth Reading for all engineering guys as this person is passout of MNNIT, Allahabad & MIT.

Noel Hatch once commented that for people like us only: "So go where the people are - adapt the messengers, not the message. Don't take them for granted, value them as people you can't do without. Expect to be surprised by them, they're the people you've been waiting for. Share your success and they will commit even more. Embrace the mess, you need rules for radicals not robots. Don't just make it blood, sweat & tears, give them leadership and a smile. Don't just get people on your dance floor, get them to run the show and they'll join your revolution. "

As the topic header "Apne hi pani mein pighal jana barf ka muqaddar hota hai " shows that the path of salvation of an individual goes through welfare of his family, community and society. My inspiration is for making India as place free of prejudices and discrimination where everyone can get the chance to raise his voice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The history of writing

Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow. — Some dude.

I was really flattered when Rajneesh pinged personally and congratulated me for this blog-post in which I stated about my feeling of loneliness. For a mediocre guy like me, to produce magic of ecstasy for friends through written words give intense pleasure. I have frozen frame of the moment in my memory when Himanshu Gupta applauded me for enjoying a healthy and detailed chat on diverse topics. Topic started with him explaining about science in a movie AI to me and continued 3 hours at the lobby of Morvi Hostel (IT-BHU). A sense of confidence was born from inside. It is one the most encouraging memory to cherish till this date.

I always go slow and hate the stopwatch mentality of the world. Deadlines drives me crazy and nervous till this date. The line between an intellectual and a pretentious bore is at best thin. Hence, I feared much in expressing myself. I was like sponge as a kid soaking all in it. Hence, there was so much to tell to this world. Wisdom is learned by 3 ways in the life: Reflection, Imitation and Experience. Imitation gives only outer shell. Experience is most bitter of all. Reflection is the best in all learned retro/ intro - spection.

Imitation kills initiative and discourages independent thought and effort in long run. Foreign words became insufficient to express the experience and thoughts. A sense of dissent for western metaphors or simile is there inside me, as they take mine unique Desi identity and makes me more English. As English isn't my first language, expressing myself through it creates a mental hurdle of translating. Hinglish education had changed my habit of thought and scale of values. Prolonging intellectual serfdom in classic English leads me to indiscriminate adoption of alien wonts and usages. I always try to avoid it. I always like the writing of Salman Rushdie due to his use of Indian English. A sense of Desi belongs in it and English language transforms from British background to urban India. But, I can't adapt his lucid style of complex statements and have deep impact of Premchand's simplicity in Hindi. Hence, imitation way was not for me. Then, I learnt that I had to carve my own way for establishing myself.

Experience comes with passing time through reading and writing ; Advice through comments gives feedbacks of the proactive writing. The reactive comments help in knowing the minds of readers. This stage of experience writing is best expressed by me in a previous blog post.

Reflection makes you strong from inside and a crystal clear point of view appears. Take the seed idea and develop in its essence. That is called adaptation with reflection in my books. The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule or the law of the vital few) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. I think that both every distributive system follows this principle. And personal reflection is that 80% in the mine writing. It may be only small part but its effect is massive.

The three stages are always going in different proportions in writing about any topic. If something is worth writing, it is worth making it extraordinary in the nature. As John Quincy Adams rightly said: If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. So, I am creating anonymous leaders in blogland...

FYI, Abhishek Arora and Vivek Tripathi have started there own blog. Cheers for them...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Populism Works ?

I'm reminded of the well-known satirical novel by Robert Escarpit – The Literatron. I haven't read the novel but just a summary of its review is reproduced from eurozine article. It explains in subtle about how populism works....

I'm reminded of the well-known satirical novel by Robert Escarpit – The Literatron. The Literatron is more or less a machine for creating texts similar to a computer. The idea of its creators was to generate the perfect novel based on the best images from world literature. In response to the highest of expectations, the machine produced a bestseller – Virgin and Typesetter! When the Literatron was asked to compose a political speech the outcome was even more scandalous. After processing the entire history of political rhetoric the machine spewed out a series of gaffs such as: "This politics thing the more it changes the more it stays the same... There are no two ways about it, the clever people are the most stupid of all... All you have to do is hang a few of them (politicians) and things will improve...". This line of thought fits perfectly with an eloquent phrase from the Bulgarian transition, wrought by another merciless critic of his time, the Bulgarian satirist Aleko Konstantinov: "They are all rogues, on both sides!" The speech generated by the literatron was welcomed with raptures by the electorate and the politician whose job it was to make it quickly became a star. Every attempt to deviate from the absurd scenario led to vigorous disapproval.

I can't remember what happened to the literatron, whether it was destroyed as a malicious invention or if it destroyed itself. What was more important was the principles on which the machine operated. Its aim was universality and in the process it purged all nuances, simplified the meaning and looked for an arithmetical mean. The aim was for the text to reach the widest possible audience. The greatest irony was that a message meant for all was in practice a message for no one. This undermined its purpose, since it would have left its audience completely indifferent. The literatron is clearly a metaphor for populism as a leading principle of the political machine. However, populism works. If it didn't, politicians wouldn't resort to it so often.

The story is over dudes..

Monday, September 14, 2009

Justice and Democracy

The seed of post was sown when Joie de vivre commented in mine recent post that we live in the country where Logon ko democracy ka D bhi nai pata. She was absolutely right that Indians have a long way to go to understand the values of rights and duties of citizen. Personally, I don't have very strong belief in democracy but have a faith in swift and vigilant justice. Yet democracy seems to me as best way of giving voices to myself and the people. This is my naive attempt to understand the complex relationship of justice and democracy.

Democracy is ethically right but intellectually void.-- Max Kislanski

I once asked my father why people rate parliament above supreme court running on constitution. He replied me that constitution is made for serving the people not the vice-versa. When representative of people at Parliament veto supreme court verdict, they are abiding the rule of people only. I was silenced then. After many years, this memory resurfaces in studying Shahbano Case. I got my reply that while voting in Parliament just supports majority, it may or may not be the right voice. A wrong decision by majority may lead to injustice and may provoke decay of values and law in the society.

Justice is wisdom on merit and democracy is the choice to take different opinion. Too much democracy is like free market without any control. This is what Fareed Zakaria (former editor Newsweek) calls the tyranny of the majority. He argues that democracy, overwhelmingly, has had wonderful consequences. But the construction of a rich, diverse and complex social order needs a multitude of ideas to flourish. Democracy as a single ideology across politics, society, arts and business is akin to religious dogmatism where faith dictates every aspect of life. This is a very important argument. Democracy has proven itself to be the most acceptable form of political governance where the will of majority forms the basis for legislature. Still mindless ‘majorityism’ is dangerous. A journalist and novelist Pankaj Mishra points out this flaw of democracy ---

"When last week in Ha'aretz the Israeli historian Tom Segev judged Israeli "apathy" towards the massacre in Gaza as "chilling and shameful", he brought on deja vu among Indians. In 2002 the Hindu nationalist government of Gujarat supervised the killing of more than two thousand Muslims. The state's chief minister, Narendra Modi, who green-lighted the mass murder, seemed a monstrous figure to many Indians; they then watched aghast as the citizens of Gujarat - better-educated and more prosperous than most Indians - re-elected Modi by a landslide after the pogrom. In 2007, a few months after the magazine Tehelka taped Hindu nationalists in Gujarat boasting how they raped and dismembered Muslims, Modi again won elections with contemptuous ease. Though prohibited from entering the US, Modi is now courted by corporate groups, including Tata, and frequently hailed as India's next prime minister. As the Israeli right looks likely to be the latest electoral beneficiary of state terror, it is time to ask: can the institutions of electoral democracy, liberal capitalism and the nation-state be relied upon to do our moral thinking for us? "Trust in the majority," they seem to say, but more often than not the majority proves itself incapable of even common sense. " [Origin]

Our society is driving towards consumer culture and lack of awareness about ground realities is hurting our chance of progress. People aren't dumb but they take time to retrospect its decision. Impact of popularism is like mob madness. Each person involved in the mob takes his own time to return from the state of hysteria. People deserve better but they don't know about other options. A balancing act is done by media by providing voice to the lost causes and people living on periphery of society.

A sense of power to control is what the media is in turn giving to public in reality shows. It’s the manipulation and unreliability of methods media use to determine what people want. What media should fix is error in the systems, not the society. A democracy should encourage a person to tell the truth as it is, the truth about the truth. The freedom and liberty are more greater than the idea of democracy or theocracy or dictatorship.

So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly arise and make them miserable. --- Aldous Huxley

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dazed and Confused Observation of Indian Cinema

The result of 55th National Film Awards are out. And they are quite unbiased ones. National film Awards had also got bad name when Raveena had got it for Daman, Saif for Hum Tum and Karishma for DTPH. It forced me to compile and compose (not purely compose) recent development in Indian cinema through mine observations.

We didn't start the fire, It was always burning
Since the world's been turning, We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it, But we tried to fight it

Billy Joel definitely should have written that song keeping in his mind about cinephiles unbounded zeal or passion or FIRE for cinema .

Today,in the words of Margaret Mead, I will express myself: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

All the people involved in this project of educating people about cinema through making films and writing about it are those handful of committed people. Public acceptance can’t be the only criteria for judging success. Dialectic and sound critique have important roles in the society. When we taunt them or dismiss them off as elitist we are threatening the basis of human progress over ages. My best wishes are with PFC & Indian auteur.

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots. ~Frank A. Clark

PFC and Indian Auteur are leading two poles of cinema writings which taught me what swings inside the mind of film makers and critics. PFC has made it possible for current debut film makers to reach aspirants & cinephiles. Indian Auteur has made the standards of criticism high and quality uncompromising instead of financial woes. I still remember the debate between them and anyone remotely interested in Indian cinema with the nature of film-love in the country should read this discussion. It helped to downplay emotion of people blindly praising Anurag by an external shock. This lead to the write up of Anurag isn’t God, he ain’t Godard either on pfc. Time will reveal that this discussion as a very crucial juncture of Indian cinema and criticism. This in real term is called Manthan, the churning of opposite forces for the sake of greater good. And let us hope that it will produce gems in future, if not poison and elixir.

People think differently and in different directions and to bring them under one direction is the job of auteur. We have today a movement started by the RGV, Anurag Kashyap, Santosh Sivan & Dibakar Banerjee etc. it reminds of American cinema movement of 70's.

Today, Multiplexes has nourished the popcorn movie lovers but it has helped a lot of indie film makers. World cinema has shown that urban Indian audience are ready to deepen the awareness (with all its consequences) that better cinema different from ours, really do exist. Rural audiences had abandoned meaningful cinema of 50s and 60s giving upper hand to the entertainment movies saga of 70s & 80's. Parallel cinema had born and demised in between the urban audiences only. Post 90's liberalisation era, commercial cinema has abandoned rural India completely in the search of new NRI market only. Just look at the difference in dance scenes in our entertainment movies. First all the backstage dancers were local guys/gals from Mumbai but now they are all white firangis.

I used to feel that some story is shown in the movies which is about somebody else or characters are not known to me. Perhaps this is not the cinema. As a viewer, world cinema and new upcoming sensible films made me realise that cinema is all about me either as a film maker or a film viewer. Cinema of Tarantino shows that cinema is all about reflection of film maker. You have to make the film or write a book or event paint a picture in a way as you see it in your mind. There is no need of blindly following west for their appreciation, our films should reflect our experinces and voices.

I want to focus on an issue that why is it so that all greatness in India mostly approved by the west first. This may be either due to our affinity for the approval of white men or west has got eye for appreciation of talent on merit like in the case of Srinivasa Ramanujan to Satyajit Ray. Just don't know the answer...

In arts, especially popular arts like cinema, there’s no right or wrong or what we call binary choice. The difference between the two decisions is too obvious to miss. It’s the difference between being right vs being likable. Objective vs subjective or Facts vs opinion. So while general opinion can be wrong about something that requires deeper data and fact-based analysis. The primary key to determine success is the ‘goal’. Isn’t the goal of popular art likability? The five points of eternal debate in any field are: Quantity vs Quality; Adaptation vs Originality; Price vs Cost; Funding vs Delivery; and Excellence vs Inclusion. Cinema has to optimise the solution between these parameters. Creativity should precede public acceptance and simultaneously stimulates the mind!

In the end, I know that it is a great shame really that even after winning the national award quality cinema will die a natural death due to lack of audience. What a pity...

Wisdom Words

No power on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come. --- Victor Hugo

Indians also refract technology through their ancient social lenses and let the light that falls on the other side reflect their old prejudices and insecurities. --- Ajit Balkrishnan

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. --- T.S. Eliot

To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful. --- Edward R. Murrow

If you read a lot of books, you're considered well-read. But if you watch a lot of TV, you're not considered well-viewed. --- Lily Tomlin

The will is not free - it is a phenomenon bound by cause and effect - but there is something behind the will which is free. --- Swami Vivekanand.

Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it. --- Malcom X

Democracy cannot consist solely of elections that are nearly always fictitious and managed by rich landowners and professional politicians. --- Che Guevera

I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage. --- Lord Macaulay's Address To The British Parliament on 2nd February, 1835.

They say true love only comes around once and you have to hold out and be strong until then. I have been waiting. I have been searching. I am a man under the moon, walking the streets of earth until dawn. There's got to be someone for me. It's not too much to ask. Just someone to be with. Someone to love. Someone to give everything to. Someone. --- Henry Rollins

Sunday, September 6, 2009


NYTimes journalist, Anand Giridhardas once asked Mufti Shabbir Alam Sidiqi, an important Islamic cleric, whether disenfranchised Muslims were losing faith in India and taking solace in fundamentalist ideas.

“What you have in India you have in no other country,” he replied. “In this republic there are rights. We can demand our rights, speak out. In other countries: eat, drink and shut up. Go to Saudi Arabia: you can’t speak. There is Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, Iraq, Iran. These things are nowhere. They are all dictatorships.”

Indian democracy should not work. Democracy brings little to the poor, the state is corrupt, politicians lack principles and ideas. Yet we as citizen with no reason to hope continue to believe, vote, speak, petition for better India.

One fine day, to understand life of people practicing Wahhabi Islam and searching about censorship on blog in Middle East, I came across this blog: The Religious Policeman.

It states on its first page: In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

That shivered me deep inside and I dig the digital archives for complete archaeological survey. The blogger has been commenting on Saudi Arabia, off and on, for two years. I have read it completely now and the whole trauma of horrifying real life stories is not going way. Power, Politics, Money and Religion have clubbed together for violation of each good emotions, humanity stands for. It has confirm my worst fears that we humans are living in dystopian society. Here is living example of George Orwell's "1984" in this world. A concrete jungle made on petro dollars..

And then I just cherish in vanity that I have taken birth in India. How lucky I am to have freedom and human rights.......

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I had got a mail...

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

"Does observation affect outcome?" Yes, it does in writing. We can assume the unobserved event functions the same as the observed event in a rare case of writing where external observation is not needed. Sometimes event is self conscious. That is the beauty of writing, it makes you reflective...

I insist everyone to write and to clear their point of view or express experiences. Or it may serve the purpose to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning and inhibit clarity. This has happened to me long back ago. A great fellow from 'downsouth' had given me his valuable time and comment to improve my writing skills. I got a mail on asking his opinion on one of the blogpost. The email can be traced back on the date of 16th June 2007 when my blog was just 3 months old with full of spelling and grammar mistakes (Later I edited and republished blogpost on his advice). The person has asked to keep his name hidden here in public sphere. Enjoy that email which is still one of the guidelines followed in mine writings and helped in standing out than fitting in the blogland:

"You need to improve your grammar drastically. I had read a few of your posts earlier too (way to IT-BHU, legacy etc.) and the worrying part (sorry to say so) is that your grammar has not improved much. Elementary grammatical mistakes are accepted today but gross mistakes tend to suppress the feelings that are brought out through the medium of writing.

Your narrative style is excellent with a chronological and sequential flow of events. I can sense that you have that keen sense of memory and observation with an eye for the fine details (something I hav not been able to develop till now) and would provide a lot of entertainment and nostalgia if you can put the bricks together. I must admit I was in peels of laughter reading the post. My suggestion would be to write shorter, read it once before posting it and review errors as perceived by you and get both reviewed by someone so that you can have a feel about your grammatical sense.

I also feel that you write without a lot of reading and it simply doesn't work that way. Read slower and and try and appreciate the sense of the sentence. Bahut fatte ho gaye ab ke liye. Keep calling for help.


Senders name

Not everyone knows how to express creativity, but everyone has the capacity to be creative.


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