The miles to go before I sleep...

  • Start teaching science at school and incorporate demo
  • Research, design, implement comprehensive teaching module on science, civic sense
  • Interview social change agents working @ ground level
  • Pilot peer-to-peer teaching programme

Saturday, December 29, 2007

When you say "My life stinks" - 4-a

Childrent of Conflict - Congo

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

When you say "My life stinks" - 3-b

Gaza: Children of conflict - 2

Sunday, November 18, 2007

When you say "My life stinks" - 3-a

Gaza : Children of Conflict - I

Friday, November 16, 2007

When you say "My life stinks" - 2


Thursday, November 15, 2007

When you say "My life stinks" - 1

This is a new series of videos that highlight or (is it lowlight) the plight of the people affected by conflict in different parts of the world. Hopefully this will put us in the place on a global perspective and remind us how much better our lives are the next time we say "My life stinks!"

Starting with Srilanka

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Celebrating Gandhi

"I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country, in whose making they have an effective voice, an India in which there shall be no high class and low class of people; an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony. There can be no room in such an India for the curse of untouchability, or the curse of intoxicating drinks and drugs. Women will enjoy the same rights as men. We shall be at peace with all the rest of the world. This is the India of my dreams"

This is the Gandhian Pledge that the Prime Minister of India took on Oct. Sixty years after Independence and we are still pledging. Take a look at his dreams. We have got started on, forget about achieving, NONE of them. Why kid ourselves when we care the least about what he said?

We have to be honest to accept that

1. we know very less about Gandhian ideals and hence lose the right to fallaciously admire him or judge him
2. even a great man like Gandhi cannot be correct in *all* his ideals and *all* his ideals need not apply transcending time.

So, if we are interested in celebrating his birthday, we have to read about him. Read about his ideals at least to the point that we find at least one of his ideals that we disagree with. And we find at least one of his ideals which we feel will not be applicable to the present day.

Now that would be an honest celebration of his greatness on his birthday. At least better than the false idol worship we indulge in. What do you say?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quota: Centre gets it right in the ass!

New report:

"Inclusion of a caste in the list would mean that it was previously socially advanced and did not figure among the backward class communities. But with time, their social status deteriorated and they had to be included in the list. This means more and more castes are getting backward as there are only inclusions and none being excluded from the list," it said.

Vahanvati said as per the procedure before NCBC, a caste could be excluded from the list only if someone filed a complaint alleging that a caste had become socially advanced. "No petitions have been filed seeking exclusion of any caste," he said.

The Bench replied, "Merely because there is no complaint, NCBC cannot abdicate its duty to conducta periodic review of the social status of castes included in the backward list."

Referring to the swelling number of castes in the backward list, the Bench said, "This means for 60 years, people who were disadvantaged continue to be backward. If this is so, then what is the meaning of the arrangements for social advancement of backward community for all these years?"
Times of India, 26 Sep 2007,

This reminds me of Kevin Verbal Kent's (Kevin Spacey) narration in the movie "The Usual Suspects" about how he felt when he along with his "usual suspects" busted The New York police's involvement drug racket.

"They got it right in the ass. It was beautiful"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So is the message "Sunita achievied despite a being of Gujarati origin"?, the news tells me that Sunita Williams is a celebrity in India! She has won the Prestigious Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Vishwa Pratibha Award. Great! But before we talk about it any further, a brief life history of this successful astronaut.

Born: Euclid, Ohio
Father: Dr. Deepak Pandya, Indian
Mother:Bonnie Pandya, Slovenian
  • Needham High School, Needham, Massachusetts, 1983.
  • B.S., Physical Science, U.S. Naval Academy"U.S. Naval Academy, 1987.
  • M.S., Engineering Management, Florida Institute of Technology, 1995
Marital Status: Married to Michael J. Williams, a Federal Police Officer
Occupation: Commander, US, Navy
Recent Achievements:

- Unprecedented 3 spacewalks in 9 days
- Cumulative total of 29 hours, 17 minutes in four spacewalks, highest spacewalk time for a woman.

Now these sure seem to be commendable achievements. But to put things into perspective, as the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj (VGS) claims this award is conferred "to well-known Gujaratis recognizing their lifelong services/contribution to the cause of Gujarat".

If the point is to recognize people who have served Gujarat, where does Sunita William's marathon fit in? Or if it is to recognizes her achievements, why was it not given to the person who has achieved the same feet earlier? Because she is not a Gujarati? From what I see, the only thing that connects Sunita to Gujarat is her father who was a practicing doctor there before moving to the US and she owes the plaudits and accolade not to her perseverence, but to her father.

For our own sake, why don't we refrain from quoting one's origin (place or community) as a reason for conferring an accolade to someone? It appears to send a specious message to the world, "Sunita could break the space walking record despite being a Gujarati." Would you like that tag on you Sunita?

Sources: Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tribute to a soul that entered and departed 100 years ahead of its time

மஹாகவி சுப்ரமணிய பாரதியார்
டிசம்பர் 11, 1882 - செப்டம்பர் 11, 1921

"Mahakavi" Subramania Bharathiyar
December 11, 1882 - september 11, 1921

'மாதர் தம்மை இழிவு செய்யும்
மடமையை கொளுத்துவோம்'
We will destroy the idiocy
Of denigrating womanhood

நெஞ்சு பொறுக்குதில்லையே - இந்த
நிலைகெட்ட மனிதரை நினைந்துவிட்டால்

"கொஞ்சமோ பிரிவினைகள் - ஒரு
கோடியென் றாலது பெரிதாமோ ?

'My blood boils to think of these idiotic men!
How many divisions within us, they are more than a crore!…'

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Calling for answers

This is an "infamous" M.F. Hussain painting's The question I have is simple and straight.

"Why is Sita naked here?"

I can possibly find a fairly simple and straight explanation for Hanuman's nakedness. He is a monkey. He is great, strong, cool, adorable and admirable monkey. Clothing him up may be just euphemism on our part. But I don't understand Sita's nakedness.

I made a quick, short search and was flooded with opinions tangential to my question.. like "freedom of expression" and "naked goddesses in Hindu temples" and "nakedness implies purity" and all that. So, just gave up. I just want to know the answers, I would hope, from M.F. since he has created this and he is the only one who can come up with the *real* reason. But anybody's direct, unprejudiced view is invited.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Monday, February 12, 2007


"I am really amazed at how she has changed. She is so mature now. I am glad I that sent her out for her higher studies. I think that experience changed her for the better!"

It is a well-establised fact that venturing outside instills a lot of value to one's character. When parents see the difference when kids come home after a prolonged absence, they are always delighted. But there is one thing parents more often miss to give a thought about. What is the primary factor that has contributed to the change? The answer, independence, though simple, actually has more questions to explore. Is "the outside" so out of reach it so miserably fails to have an impact on them when kids stay with parents? Why does one have to step in to the outside to learn from it? With correct parental mindset, the answer is "Nothing!".

Sure parents are protective. That is presumably part of the parental DNA. But protection and love are only part of what a parents can offer. It is high time that one more thing gets included in the list to ensure that their kids need not wait to get out to live to make that "jump". Independence. With the observational knowledge I gather that one easy way to nudge kids towards independence is Delegation.

Parents can offload some work on your kid and let him/her handle it. While reducing work-load on themselves, this can offer priceless lessons on soft-skills like team-work, say when siblings work together while helping to clean the kitchen. More crucial point of time is while the correcting errors, when parents tend to "spoon-feed" or "just get it over with". A little patiece and a nudge towards "self-correction" in the form of questions like "What do you think exactly went wrong?"..."and how do you correct it?" should help a great deal in improving reasoning ability".

Small initiatives like giving a larger denomination of money to buy something will help in applying simple, mental mathematics and instill negotiation skills early. Morning newspaper may be a good time to teach how to look-up a dictionary as well as impelling reading, contary to watching TV, as a primary source of entertainment. When dinner time discussions are confined to relevant and progressive subjects and kept on a positive tone, it will be a good source of insight, inspiration and consequently bonding and respect.

Come to think of it, nothing that is mentioned so far is really new or insightful. How come, then, these points go out of the window at the moment of truth? Honestly, I have had a taste of being over-protective and over-reactive with someone I care about. I guess, I will learn the resit only when I step into their shoes. But I guess that is the interesting challenge that parents should acknowledge and rise up to face it.

To conclude, I can recall a plenary of adage that I have known for a while without really understanding their meaning. For now, the list reduces by two..

- நல்லதொரு குடும்பம் பல்கலைக்கழகம்.

(A good family is a university)

- A family that eats together stays together.

Disclaimer: This is not "Parenting for dummies", but a feedback for the oldies.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Demographic Dividend

India has a "Demographic Dividend" says the Economic Times

What is Demographic Dividend?
The presence of a large number of citizens in the employable age group (15-59 ). Currently about 54% of them are under 24. But such a large pool is an edge over competing Asian countries (most importantly China) only if they are skilled and hence are capable of contributing to the productivity of the labour work force.

Is the employable age group a "dividend" now?


- 70% of the current labour force is either illiterate or educated below primary levels.
- 5 million college graduates each year are not skilled for direct employment.
- Outdated curriculum in most of the engnieering and other technical (diploma, ITI) educational institutions and poor quality teachers
- Low skill level among women causing increase in unemployment rates among women.

How does it affect to have people of employable age with little to no skills?

It backfires! A large pool of skilled and employable labour means adequate supply in terms of quantity and quality for meeting the rising demand of labour due to expanding economic activities like manufacturing. Large pool of unskilled youth, not only decrease productivity, but also tend to consume without contribution, thus pulling the ends apart rather than converging.

What the government has to do?

Explore all avenues of skill development.

- Massively improve literacy for long-term benefits, identify sectors where currently illeterate can be employed for short-term benefits.
- Improve quality of education (update curriculum etc) at all levels, most importantly at the mid-level - those who complete higher secondary education, but do not enroll for graduate-level courses - by increasing visibility and quality of vocational education. (this initiative helped post war USA and Japan and a lot of asian countries that do better than India today!)

Other interesting points to note:

A figure to corroborate the low skill-level in India compared to other developing countries.

- 5.06% of Indian Youth are single-skilled (vocationally) trained. The number is 95.86% in Korea, 36.08 Mauritius, 27.58 in Mexico.
- BIMARU states, which lack most of the facilities to realise the dividend, will contribute about 150 million (about half) to the population of working age in the next 20 years.

source The Economic Times

- What do I think?
If the governement is serious (and there is no question it isn't), instead of lowering the cut-off and reserve seats in engineering colleges and medical colleges, it can upgrade its vocational courses, make them more accessible to the inner regions of the country and accomodate all those "low-scoring socially-backward" and "low scoring but socially forward" at the mid-level. Afterall these graduate-level courses are over-heated, but offer little to nothing in terms of employable skill. This move will give more importance to vocational courses, reserve the professional courses for the high-scorers, hence shutting down useless colleges and evince skill-development in the true sense.