Apr 27, 2011

New reservation policy for novel caste plague in future India

The year is 2047.

Shri Ramprasad Singh woke up early in the morning, went for his regular walk in the neighborhood, took bath, dressed up in his traditional white cotton shirt and pajamas and was ready for his duty.

The Congress party office, of which he is a member since the day he was born, is located just a few blocks away from his house, where the party men are already waiting for him to command. Shri Ramprasad Singh spoke to his party members briefly, met few common men before he took the party's car to the Parliament of India. He had been recently taken the oath as the new education minister and had promised to revolutionize the Indian education, following the successful lines of his great-grandfather, Shri Vikram Singh.

Shri Ramprasad Singh entered the parliament, signed in the attendance register, entered the lower house and sat in his reserved place, next to the Prime Minister's seat. He waited until the house members are seated, and the speaker started the day's session.

Honorable Speaker Ji, Respected Prime Minister Ji, Respected Congress chairman Ji, Honourable Ministers and Respectable members of the parliament. I, Ramprasad Singh, stand in front of you, to address one of the most important issues affecting the lives of millions of common man today.

As you all are aware of our victorious past, my great-grandfather, Shri Vikram Singh, envisioned a casteless India by introducing reservations for the poor and low caste people, enabling millions of common man an access to high-class education. As a result, India was freed from the caste roots which has plagued us for a millennium!

While we were rejoicing at the success of our past, we failed to notice that the problem had indeed evolved into a new level today. The caste system has resurfaced again, in its modern kind, which needs to be addressed critically at the earliest.

Every time I see the upper caste people oppressing the low caste aam aadmis, my heart bleeds. I always feel that I have a duty to perform, to uplift the life of low caste people and give them a sense of dignified life. We have always taken refuge on reservation policies whenever we face a caste-based problem. My great grandfather's success is a good example to this.

Hence, to protect the large interests of millions of low caste aam aadmi's of our country, new reservation policies have to be written, keeping the present problem in our mind. In the new policy, the present Government proposes 50% reservation quota for the common man born in history/ arts or other low caste community. Of the remaining 50%, 25% will be reserved for science caste families to provide access to the engineering/ medicine/ business administration colleges/ universities.

In order to eliminate the novel caste plague, the present Government will also support intercaste marriage between upper caste engineering/ medicine/ business administration communities, backward class science communities and scheduled caste arts/ history and other communities, and will extend the reservation policies to their children.

On our centenary Independence Day celebration, I wish to liberate our country from the clutches of novel caste plague, just like my great-grandfather envisioned. Jai Hind!

On the other side of the exam hall

I had an exam duty today which induced the "I have to wake up early tomorrow" effect last night, that resulted in a disturbed sleep. Though I am neither paid for teaching assistance nor for research assistance, I accepted it since I always wanted to be on the other side of the exam hall.

The exam which I was invigilating for, was for an M.Tech level course, the class of which was split into two to accommodate all the students in two classrooms. I was asked to take care of one of the rooms having 29 students seated in three columns, 18 of which are M.Techs and the rest are research scholars.

The end semester exams are usually conducted for 3 hours. Today's question paper consisted of two parts; while the first part was to be answered in the question paper itself in the space provided, part B alone should be answered in the answer script provided separately. It was boring for me because of this arrangement since not many students asked me for answer scripts, and so I could not move around the classroom.

The only time I found my duty to be interesting was while taking the attendance. The department staff had arranged for two cups of coffee (at an hour interval), and a plate of curd vada, which helped me to pass about 15 spicy minutes.

Though I normally would not turn on my cell phone in an exam hall, I was tempted today to do so, not because I was expecting an important call or text, but only to pass my time. Maybe I should have taken a book or a journal article to spend my time usefully! Would definitely consider this option in future.

So, having nothing much to do, I started observing students. Of the 18 M.Techs, two were girls. 14 out of 16 M.Tech guys were in Tees, while much of the research scholars preferred to wear formals. 7 out of 29 were wearing some kind of sacred thread on their wrist (one guy was wearing a sacred rope!), hoping it will help them to clear the subject or score good grade with minimum effort from their side.

One research scholar had apparently gone to one of the temples located on our campus before he took the exam, for I could see the kumkum on his forehead. Only 4 out of 29 asked for an additional sheet to answer B part of their question paper, which had only two problems. I was alerted with even the slight movements from any of the students, and this must have terrorized one of the M.Tech guy, which made me have a suspicious eye on him.

The professor who offered the course made an announcement nearly after two hours since time, that though the maximum duration for the paper is 3 hours, he had chosen questions such that it can be done in two and half hours. As if the students were waiting for this announcement, many of them came forward to submit their final answer scripts and leave the hall.

It was a great relief because collecting the answer scripts from students (sometimes you will have to snatch it from them) is one of the difficult jobs. My duty ended at 3 hours since time, after I counted the number of answer scripts and hand them over to the professor concerned.

Apr 26, 2011

Review of Rio (film)

3D movies are becoming popular nowadays that people are coming to theater to watch 3D effects  without bothering much for the story. Animated 3D movies are much popular because of its ability to attract people of all ages. Rio is an animated 3D film, without a strong story line.

My scholar friend (who works in same laboratory as mine) and I went to Satyam theater to watch Rio, for its 3D effects. It is his first, and my second movie to watch with the extra dimension (my first one was Avatar).

A blu(e) macaw, supposedly the last male from its species, was captured from Rio, found by a girl while on transition to Minnesota. After fifteen years, a scientist finds Blu in a local book store living with the girl who rescued it, tells her that he has the last female macaw which has to mate with this last male, to preserve the species from becoming extinct.

The plot expands when Blu was captured by the smugglers in Rio, trying to sell both the macaw for money. How the macaws manage to escape from the smugglers forms the rest of the plot. The film becomes grippy with its 3D effects during the escape sequence. The carnival in Rio adds more color to the plot and also make the escape dramatic.

Rio is worth a watch just to experience the third dimension effect.

Review of Geek Nation by Angela Saini

There are many books written on our (Indian) ancient wisdom. And then, there are many books written on science. But Geek Nation is "one of its kind", in that, the author, Angela Saini, has tried to connect the two, in order to find how Indian science is taking over the world, by looking at its past as well as into its future.

The answer does not seem to have come so easily, for the author had to travel across the length and the breadth of our country, and meet various people to get their views. The experience she got from her journey across the country, and her interaction with prominent scientists and technologists, whom Angela identifies as the "Geeks" of India, forms the crux of the book.

The title of the book is so catchy that I placed an order online through flipkart immediately after I first saw it in the new releases list. The ability of the author to explain a complex scientific stuff in plain english, which can be understood even by people who do not major in science, is one of the reasons why I like the book.

How does the geeks of India passing down the technologies to solve the common man's problems? Does our ancient wisdom helps our geeks to find a solution to most of these problems, as (many) people claims? What is our geek's take on pseudo-science such as Astrology? To find answers to these questions, and many more, one has to read "Geek Nation".

Apr 19, 2011

Review of Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

The profoundity in the elegant statement "Only time (or whatever that may be) will tell" made by Stephan Hawking in his book "A brief history of time" captivated my thoughts so much that when Jeffrey Archer wrote his book titled "Only time will tell", I pre-ordered my copy two weeks before its release date on landmark.

This said, the reader should not come to a conclusion that I have no idea of Jeffrey's writing, or I am no fan of his works. In fact, I have read two of his short story collections of which "Old love" and "The Hungarian Professor" are my favorites. His short stories inspired me later on to write one myself, while many newbies generally start with a novel!

"Only time will tell" is the story of a young man Harry Clifton, whose life began in the backstreets of Bristol. I have never heard/read of a poor/poverty stricken people living in one of the most advanced nations. So when I read about poor Arthur, Maisie and uncle Stan, I was surprised at first.

As the author narrates the story, I realized that poor man is a poor man anywhere in the world. But Maisie, mother of Harry, decides to change their fate by sending him to the best possible school, and later on to Oxford with all the scholarship he could get, and with her sacrifices when he couldn't get any.

That education plays a crucial role in raising one's class of living has been narrated in a way only Jeffrey can, with all the dramatic stumbling blocks and the way Harry overcame every one of them. But there is only one set back that Harry can never overcome. His love.

Earlier, Maisie confides into Old Jack (Harry's mentor) that Arthur may not be Harry's father, as she had sex with Hugo Barrington a week before their marriage. This makes Hugo's  daughter Emma, Harry's step sister. But Harry and Emma did not know about this, and were deeply in love with each other. The secret was revealed to everyone by Old Jack only when they both were about to get married in a church.

In order to find a solution to the complicated relationship, and also to serve His Majesty, The King, Harry ventures into voyaging, with help from Sir Walter Barrington (father of Hugo) as his grandson. But as soon as he lands in America with a fake identity, he was arrested by the immigration officials for a first degree murder.

Will Harry get acquitted or escape from The US of A by proving his real identity or other means? Will he be able to prove that he is indeed Arthur's son and reunite with Emma? Will Maisie's dream of living a respectable life come true? Only time will tell, for one has to wait till Jeffrey writes other volumes to know the answers to those questions.