Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fostering Scientific Temper!!

National Science Day! This is the day when Sir C.V.Raman proposed his "Raman Effect."(I won't tell about this...search for it if interested!) Being aspiring "scientists," we, the students of the University of Hyderabad celebrate this day by getting kids from various schools and colleges to the university, show them some of the exciting works of research going on in the university, make them listen to the scientists who do that research and provide them food!! And we call ourselves, the Junior Science Club!

Talking about science and scientific temper, after three years of trying to swim in the waters of science,(didn't learn to swim though!!) all I understood is science can get as exciting as river rafting does for me!! Everything is science is what is written on the shirts many volunteers wore during this Science Day celebrations, the Vigyanotasav, the festival for the scientific minds. I am convinced. Yes!

Oersted experiment, thermostat, 2 stroke, 4 stroke engines, Tunnelling Electron Microscope, Raman Spectrometer,...the list goes on. Looks simple, but they are exciting. New results everyday. New students every year. New concepts every fortnight! Recognition after a generation! Science and as a result, technology is evolving so much that most of the topics, for example optics have to be revisited once again! They are no more the same ones we learnt in our high school.

On this science festival we broke our fast with seminars, devoured known but forgotten concepts, gulped down information on Taxonomy, Interference and Hydrogen peroxide. The day was worth its caption.
Fostering Scientific Temper 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Because What You Read Matters!!

So much controversy over one book!! Hindus: An Alternative History has really made history by being discontinued by its publisher, Penguin India whose motto is, " Because What You Read Matters"!! The author, Wendy Doniger is, one, a historian and two, is not an anti-hindu like many authors in India itself. Though her book has many mistakes temporally, geographically and historically, I wonder if it was more economical for the publisher to discontinue the book rather than making corrections. Either way, it is better to get facts right whatever your opinion is while writing books, especially such controversial ones!!(If it is popularity you want, then this is a bea...utiful way to gain it!!)
Freedom is NOT free!

But one thing. I don't understand why this book was forced out of existence! C'mon, it is impossible for everyone to have the same idea about any thing in this world! Anyway, this book is no worse than hundred other books written by Indians only, on Hinduism. Or is it the ego that a foreigner wrote about Hindus that led to this! Do not forget about Sister Nivedita and her accounts on the greatness of Hinduism! In Telugu alone, I have read books which made me nausea-tic. Such was the way those books (better not call them so!!) were written. And believe me, such stupid books were awarded the Sahithya Puraskars too!
I do not need to mention M.F.Hussain here!
On the other hand, it is wrong to dismiss the case of those who petitioned against Doniger's book. According to the Indian Penal Code 295, intentions of outraging the religious feelings of ANY class of citizens of India is an offense and is punishable. But again, why only this book? Of course, famous books which were denied life in India include "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown which was banned to please Christians whose beliefs were hurt due to the book! Tasleema Nasreen's book on the plight of Hindus in Bangladesh and the book, "Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie.

I do not understand how critics mange to raise voices only against select issues. Where were they when the last two mentioned authors received such impedance that fatwas were issued by Islamic groups which said killing them would attract prize money!! Both the writers had to go into hiding for years! But when some one paints nude pictures of goddesses who are worshiped by millions, they said it was Modern art!! When the movie of a great Indian actor was banned quoting reasons unknown, they said nothing. The actor had to put all his self respect aside and beg people and government to let his movie release after which it was a grand hit! "Selective hearing" I guess! Everyone and every belief should be given equal importance. However,...
while views and opinions should be expressed fearlessly through books and art, it should be done with care. Not to impress/satisfy some random people but to respect the art form one is using to express his feelings! Because, what you read/view matters. This is a free country. Make full use of it in the "right" sense!! No pun intended!

P.S: I took a lot of care and put in a lot of effort in writing this article!! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gladiators...ready for combat!!!

One hundred and forty lakhs...once...twice...thrice!!! No, it is not Gandhi's waist watch or Karl Marx's razor which is being auctioned. It is people, some of them idolised by millions round the globe that are "under the hammer!!" In the IPL 7 "auction" today, a famous Indian cricketer who has a great comeback story was auctioned and won by a liquor selling company for fourteen crores. The other sad thing is that people are watching every detail of the auction on television and are celebrating by sharing the happenings immediately on social networking sites!!

Back in the 17th century, when colonies were established by the Dutch and the English in the Americas, people were taken from Africa into America for work. Soon, they were kept as life long helpers. Oh! wait there is a word for this right! Ha...slavery! Yes, people were enslaved for a lifetime too by the colonizers! Auctioning people has an even more history to it. In Rome, I do not know the exact time, slaves (women included, yes!) were bought in auctions. These slaves were initially kept in a pen, cleaned and applied tar/oil so that their skin would look attractive (you are guessing it right!!). Even today, there are countries to which people are being "sold". Coming to sports and slavery...
Player No. 143!!

Recently one morning, as I ran for the newspaper to gobble the sports news, my room mate asked me what was so important in sports that I follow it so feverishly! I have one explanation I guess! When humans grew in population, they became what we call, 'social'. Then was discovered the fire around which people used to gather, sing, dance, cook and play!! Soon it turned out to be more of competition than entertainment. Humans evolved, empires formed, emperors ruled (of course!!) Emperors needed entertainment. Soldiers who were enslaved became "Gladiators", fought against other gladiators, wild animals and criminals!!

The EPL, IPL or whatever it is, I do not see any difference from the history. Historically, slavery was institutionally recognized by most societies and having slaves was considered a royalty. Examples can be found in Harry Potter series too. Elves were enslaved!! In the auction of IPL 7, players are being tagged and called by numbers!! I remember reading that such a thing was done to slaves put to work in tea estates in Sri Lanka and gold mines in Africa! But these are players of national importance we are talking of! They are our heroes, not antique tea cups!! How can some one BUY them in an auction and own them. They belong to the country. If they want to conduct a league, find better ways, atleast like how it is done in football!
I wonder...hundred years back, if an Indian was asked who he was enslaved by, he would have replied, the British! But now, who or what are we a slave of??

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Balls Will Never Bounce Back!!

"Ask him to walk on water for the team, he will do it gladly!!"- Harsha Bhogle about Rahul Dravid. The last time India has won a test match overseas was back in 2012 in West Indies. Ever since, a 0-4 whitewash with England, swept clean 0-4 in Australia, 0-1 defeat in South Africa. No hopes in New Zealand too!! Please do not go to Sri Lanka now, team India!! Apparently, the man of the match in the test match last won by India abroad happened to be Rahul Sharad Dravid!

His performance was so good against England in 2012 that even though India lost 0-4, he was awarded the man of the series along with Stuart Broad. 'Looking at his performance,' that too abroad, he was picked for the ODI and T20 series against England. He said that was his last game. He was not even given a proper farewell!! He was the lone battler and the batter in that series and carried the entire team on his shoulders. But no sir! You are not famous. You were not awarded the Bharatratna! You will not be carried on shoulders around the ground. Maybe you did not carry the country on your shoulders.

Yeah you did not. You did not help India win an epic match in Adelaide against Australia in 2003 resulting in India retaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy. Oh! retaining?? You were not involved in that historic partnership with VVS Laxman in that Kolkata test. Were you? No, you did not build that record partnership with Javagal Srinath in New Zealand! The only thing you did in your entire career was, you lost against Bangladesh in a world cup!!

Batsman? Arguably one of the best batter in the world. Opener? Involved in a record partnership with Virender Sehwag. Fielder? Highest number of catches. Wicket Keeper? Not at all bad! Captain? Had a winning streak of 15 ODI matches I guess! Most importantly, PARTNERSHIPS? Do not ask! There is a huge list coming up. Highest number of partnerships. Highest number of century partnerships. Probably has more than 30 run partnership with every number batsman.

I stopped watching test cricket from March 9, 2012. Just heard that he is going to play in an exhibition match for the Rest of the World team. I am very happy that I have been his fan right from his 46 against Zimbabwe in 2003 world cup and ever since and ever after!! I am only sad that people realised his importance after he retired while they called him a defending slob all along! Anyway, there is no replacing you Jammy!! There is no concrete wall to cement your place!! That is why the team is now in a ketchup!!