Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yahoo! Emoticarol

This is a new feature on Yahoo! that you can frame a tune for the carol while the words remain the same. I tried my hand at it, so wanted to record it on the blog. Enjoy!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Stop! Think, Cry & Love

(This article is written by one of the School kids from India, speaking about how influential our vote was, is and will be. I wanted to share it on my blog, to record the attention we need to invest in our power to vote.)

The siege on Mumbai left even the most experienced of us stunned. Even those who have become immune to grief and tragedy stopped for a second. The 48-hour encounter with these extremely sophisticated and trained terrorists left India burning in every sense of the word. The versions and accounts are endless. Trying to quantify people's grief would not only be futile but indeed low down. People who went for their daily evening session of beer and gossip at the Leopold café, that special once a month dinner at the Taj or for the bitter sweet occasion of farewell at CST Station never returned. This isn't the first time we're hearing about something like this. These stories have been talked about through out this year and to be honest through out our lives. We have experienced five separate series of bomb blasts across the country in this year alone. The dreadful cries of the Gujarat riots are yet to recede from recent memories. The 2006 and 1993 Bombay blasts and riots haunt their victims even now.

However, we are not here to talk about the grief that these victims suffer. Nor do I wish to discuss the various and repeated intelligence failures and lackadaisical attempts of the government and its security agencies. We are here to figure out what exactly is wrong with us, because it is evident that there is something horribly amiss in this country and it's people.

People are not born terrorists. Teenagers do not get up one fine day with the conviction that violence is the path of their lives. The terrorist that battled with NSG in the Taj hotel for over 24 hours was not more that 25 years old. Can any of you imagine the kind of courage and determination that this young boy exemplified in accomplishing such a feat. He is a terrorist, a terrorist who is responsible for the death of over 150 people. He is also a mere boy. A boy whom we have forced into becoming the man he died as. The IM consists of young boys from the JMI College in Delhi. Sadhvi Pragya is in her early twenties. These people are our age. They are people who we see in movie halls and at street corners. They are not aliens of another race. Terrorism was not brought in from Mars. It breeds within us. The worst part is, that we created it.

Every kind of terrorism stems from extremism; and extremism is the most obvious ramification of discrimination. Discrimination is sadly practiced in every nook and corner of our country. We think it's insignificant, we think that it's just the way people are. But it is discrimination and if only we were brave enough to face it.

It is discrimination when the age-old story of Hindu parents refusing to marry their daughter into a Muslim family repeats itself. It is discrimination when parents of Muslim children refuse to sing Hindu bhajans. It is discrimination when Christians refuse to participate in Hindu and Muslim festivals. All of this is discrimination. And every form of terrorism and extremism finds it's roots in this kind of discrimination, which is practiced in each and every one of our homes. That is why we need to look at our homes and our thinking before we cry out in rage and protest against the government and security forces.

Last night you had emotional and angry Mumbai mobs screaming out anti Pakistani slogans. That is the beginning of terrorism. Have we all gone mad? What does the normal Pakistani family who is probably in their own way praying for the Mumbai victims have anything to do with this? This is the quintessential problem that we are facing. When will we realize that by blaming each other the problem will only intensify?

The Hindus destroyed the Babri masjid. The Muslims blew up a Hindu coach. The Hindus killed a city full of Muslims. Wave after wave of madness. Stop! How long can we go on like this? An eye for an eye has never been the answer and it should not take us a thousand years to accept the truth of this statement.

You had Raj Thackarey chasing out the north Indians and Biharis from Maharashtra. Over three hundred North Indians of the NSG saved his beloved Marathi Manoos. Where was Bal Thackarey then? Forget about this one man, where were the rest of our cosmopolitan Mumbaikars who let this man get away with what he did.. Where were the progressive and peaceful Hindu leaders when churches burnt in Orissa and Karnataka? We should all hang our heads in shame.

In another 60 years we'll have Bihari terrorists attacking Maharashtra and Maharashtrian terrorist retaliating. Next we'll have border security squadrons for our state borders. Don't smile sceptically. The India-Pakistan feud had also started off in 1947 with Muslims being chased out of Delhi and Hindus being chased out of Lahore. Look where it stands now.

Today you have every news channel proudly acclaiming the army, NSG and Marine commandos as heroes. People in Mumbai are running out on the streets to congratulate them. These heroes weren't born today. They have been here all this while. Where were these people of India, the Media, when the bureaucracy used their Machiavellian minds to reduce the salaries of all the Defence Forces. Where were these people when the corporate world squabbled over a few hundred rupees rise in the salaries of these men who always risk their lives to keep us safe? I could not see the bureaucracy putting their life on the line to save hostages in the Trident. I did not see the corporate world dying at the border during the Kargil war. And I did not see Indian citizens who today call these soldiers heroes defending them when they needed us the most.

You want to know what the problem with India is? We're cowards. We don't think as a single nation and we can't stand up for what's right.

I'll give you a small and perfect example of what is wrong with us. We all complain about this country's dirty roads. We love holidaying in London's streets. The most educated of us are yet to hesitate while throwing a sweet wrapper or lays packet on the street. Or we'll throw it in an already existing dump on the street. We can't even wait till we come across a dustbin. This is what is wrong with us.

We have enough and more to say about Manmohan Singh, Advani and every other useless politician and rightly so. But the fact is that in all honesty we couldn't care less. The best of us don't vote, don't contest in elections and don't even help out N.G.O.s When we can't do anything for our country how dare we, I repeat, how dare we expect anyone else to do anything.

We can go on talking about stepping up security, straightening out our coast guards and eradicating terrorism. But the problem lies not in our security system but in us. It lies in our Madrasas, in our temples, in our schools, in our homes and in our minds. And until we realize our role, until we open our eyes to this truth, not a thing will change.

Everyone talks about this new India, a shining progressive and young India. Well it's time for Young, New and Shining India to prove herself. Stand up and prove your worth. This so- called liberal and progressive thinking generation needs to root out those weeds that grow in the oldest corners our gardens. We need to start thinking and start talking. Talking to ourselves and to others. We need to start doing. This has to be a national youth movement. We have to make it the beginning of a revolution. Every historic movement starts like this. Vague, uncertain and hesitant but moving towards a common calling motivated by the same inspiration and dream. This is our chance.

Don't tell me that we won't be able to reach out to the people who need to hear what we have to say. These people live among us. There is no limit to what people can achieve when they set out to do something. You are talking about a country whose founding father won a war without raising a weapon, who have lived on stories of Subhash Chandra Bose calling out for blood and promising freedom. Well we've bled. Now it's time to get our freedom. Freedom from our own mindsets. Freedom from shackles we've placed on ourselves.

These last two days have been the worst attack that India has ever dealt with. If this alarm wasn't loud enough, no alarm will ever wake us up.

How many more people have to die before we respond to India's desperate plea for help?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Year 2009: Ode to Renaissance of Self

This post is an attempt to record my feeling today, about how things need to unfold in the coming year. I do not say Year 2008 was boring or unpleasant, but I strongly feel things can get better. I wish to see more clarity in my thought, and also the needed strength to turn my thoughts into action.

Why I wish to record it today i.e. Dec 22nd 2008, I wish to acknowledge the short length of the day today, see the sun set on this interesting year and allow myself the graceful view of an early sun rise next year. I eagerly await to see calmness, for this turbulence is disturbing me beyond description.

I wish to know more, build on what I am now, to create that difference for myself, to seek the dividing gap with strength, and courage to fill it in...I hope!

Happy New Year 2009!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Life: A False Dichotomy

Date: 20th Dec 2008
Place: Abu Dhabi

Dear Life,

I am writing to you to acknowledge the fact that you
create many questions. It is up to us, whether or not we wish to answer them. It is interesting to note that these questions form the basis to divisions and inequality within oneself. When we tend to understand the reason behind the need and the necessity for an action, we normally ignore the rules of judgment which we use to judge others. It is important to see how susceptible we are to this logical fallacy, and help ourselves in such a scenario.

It might interest you to know the reason I wanted to acknowledge your role with the questions. Even this question will remain unanswered as many others which remain the same since a long time. But, it is equally necessary to appreciate the effort which I put into attempting an answer. If at all, we could answer all the questions we face, it will be a pleasant world sans complexity...but then, what fun it is to live in simplicity, and feel the lack of complexity?

Lastly, I wish to express my sincere feeling of gratitude for the role you have played in shaping my understanding of self, and the opportunities you have given me to explore this world, and contribute my bit to its complexity.

Thanking you,

Yours truly,
Abhijith Jayanthi

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life : A Chinese Whisper

Life seems to play an interesting game with all of us. All our efforts, throughout our life are directed towards achieving a single goal, control of information/knowledge. Our actions in any role seem to revolve around this vital point. It is important to understand how this knowledge acquired, is to create an hierarchy on the basis of its control.

Information moves from various sources to us through various channels, with few vital facets lost in the way, which might be reconstructed by us for our own convenience, or are neglected. Similar to Chinese Whisper, it seems we need to understand that all that we possess is not all that it truly is. When one can respect this, I am sure we can understand our own limitations and be a better person.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Relationships : A Flickering Flame

Our efforts to create an impact, initiate a positive change, be successful seems to have an intrinsic drawback. It is actually hard for one to realize the influence, and can be easily over shadowed by our desire to celebrate the self. It is important to realize how every relationship we cherish, no matter how strong the emotion is, resembles the delicate subtlety of a flickering flame. In this post, I wish to discuss how we need to balance our emotions, accommodate enough space for critical emotions, even during our time of celebration.

The interesting feature of a diya is when we ignite it, we tend to protect it, give the needed care for a while and then we set it on its own. Then, we see the flame flicker in the gentle breeze, slowly settling into an isolated existence. After a while, if we try to push ourselves to protect it, we probably will be the reason for it to die down, or it will die a natural death. The reason I wanted to discuss this observation was to highlight the analogy between a diya and any emotion we share with our family or friends. We tend to appreciate and nurture the emotion at the start, and when we slowly expose it, the emotion flickers, like a flame seeking our attention to understand its gentle existence. If we choose to ignore it, and let it glow on its own strength, then it is reason enough for it to reach a stage of survival without attention dying a natural death. If we wish to protect the flame at a later stage, we carry a risk of putting it to rest ourselves. It is important that we understand this subtle reality and appreciate every emotion we share, no matter how strong it is... because its important to realize that there is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small flame, lets value it!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saree: Discovering its Importance

P.S. : Before I proceed, I urge the readers to see this post as an attempt to understand the role of a saree, its importance in various spheres, clothing and beyond. I understand this post might create a genuine interest in men (I speak from experience) and also in women, at least to certain extent (It might well be useful to understand how a man views it). I hope each and every reader will enjoy reading the post without getting judgmental about it. Lastly, the photo on display is only a mix and match effort to suit the discussion, and not the true inspiration for this post.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, A sari is a strip of un-stitched cloth, ranging from four to nine meters in length that is draped over the body in various styles. The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with one end then draped over the shoulder. Now, let us understand how a saree, can influence our lives. Besides the obvious needs it addresses like providing warmth (as a part of clothing), social dignity; it also plays a vital role in structuring mindsets, and thus opinions and relationships. Considering the impact this piece of cloth can have, I wanted to spend sometime understanding it, and this post is an attempt to record few of my observations regarding the same.

Elaborating on my first point, Saree plays a leading role in influencing our minds regarding the attitude and outlook of the person. The reason I say this is pretty obvious, our clothing is an index of what we wish others to perceive us to be, ranging from rich linen to poor raw-cloth, our choice of cloth, design and the way we carry it off indicate our true self, and also define an image about us. This brings us to my second point, of creating an opinion, images of a person are a primary source of inspiration in framing an opinion about that person. Ranging from socially active to someone who prefers to be by himself/herself, an image of our dressing creates an opinion about us. Opinions make our social life, which is a pretty straight forward remark that can be easily seen. This connect between Sarees and our relationships has a secondary link as well, it is important to throw some light on how clothing enhances our image. Picking the right clothing, helps us to create a positive vibe, that can help bring people closer. In this regard, Saree I feel has the essentials to influence and create that needed vibe. I take this opportunity, to acknowledge my sincere appreciation for the creators of Saree...for it did, and will continue to influence our lives!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Being Vulnerable: Understanding Loneliness

In the past, I have made repeated attempts to understand what loneliness truly speaks of, and whereof it arises from. In this post, I wish to speak about my recent (and allow me to say, “ …the closest I could get to what truly it is” ) attempt in this endeavor. Before I proceed to speak about it, I wish to speak about few interesting, yet incomplete observations of such ambitious excursions in the past, seeking a better understanding of loneliness.

Two successive summers (2006 and 2007), I was in Italy, known as one of the most beautiful countries and home to scenic beauty. During this period, I made my first conscious effort in understanding what loneliness truly meant, and how to see it. I have been on my own before, been to different places before; all by me, but this experience was different, different in a way beyond comprehension. I started to understand how one is bound not only by the element of achievement in life, but also the use of such a feat. It is interesting to understand how emotional strength and emotional dependence go hand in hand. Most of the time, we feel emotional dependence makes us surrender, with emotional strength taking a hit. But, on the contrary, what makes us go the distance (be emotionally strong) is the dependence itself, the sense of attachment, the want to understand people whom we care for better, in an attempt to understand ourselves better.

My recent tryst with loneliness, is an interesting experience, I understood loneliness is felt when we are deserted by our own soul within. It is more to do with how we feel disconnected with our own self, than anything else. When one is not in complete harmony with his/her inner self (being poles apart), it will create a vacuum of confusion, and the need to meet the other end and come to amicable terms is not supported. This leads to further deepening of the divide, pushing us to feel left out, lonely seeking support to connect us with our self within, to establish the missing link…This makes one vulnerable to external influences, which might be good or bad. The decisive ability takes a back seat with the immediate need to establish the connection, which spirals into a bigger problem of losing further control over self.

This post is an attempt to record my understanding of loneliness, which I wish to further explore, to understand the need of the vulnerable. Comments are highly solicited.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Destination Moon: Chandrayaan-I

I wanted to record one of those milestones in India's Growth i.e. Chandrayaan-I which speaks of India's entry into list of countries with top-end space research capabilities, and also exploring economics of Space. It is the latter, that interests me more than the former. The potential which this industry offers is not tapped completely, and with such a successful effort, India stands a good chance in turning this area into a major player in supporting her revenue.

Jai Hind!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Destiny: The Greater Cosmic Secret

Perhaps, one of the factors which is normally misquoted in assessing our equations is Destiny. Destiny, the fixed natural order to the Universe is always held responsible for events which did not turn in our favor, especially when things go wrong at the ultimate end. What is worth noticing is destiny's efforts in standing by us till then.

We tend to create an impression that destiny seems to be play a role only in the future prospects of an issue, but what I wish to talk about in this post is how destiny plays a leading role in connecting all the past links to create an understanding of our present. Allow me to elaborate my point with the help of an example, let us speak of a situation, we normally lose contact with people from your previous work area, or any such experience which involves a social networking aspect. It is interesting to see, how things to be get connected ( in other words, how small this world seems to be) when you come across them. Now, let us see how destiny plays a leading role in this example. We need to understand how we move away from the social circle and our efforts to remain in touch with few people is always proportional to the closeness we enjoy with them. But, destiny plays a different game of completing the circle...starting as acquaintances (or complete strangers) at present (or back then) and then moving into a closer friends circle at a later point in our life.

We normally discount the factor of destiny at present, and lack the understanding of its role in shaping the bigger picture for us. I hope I can appreciate its role, in not only shaping my future, but also in connecting our past to the present.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LEAP: Lets Eradicate Any-form of Poverty

This Article can also be found at Work and Economics (Poverty) Issue Section, as a part of Understanding Issues Project of TakingITGlobal

Every human being needs a range of basic necessities, such as food, water, clothing, shelter, education, and health care, for his or her daily life. The economic condition of lacking these essential goods and services to meet basic needs of life is called poverty.

While poverty exists everywhere, it is most severe in developing countries, where more than one person in five lives on less than $1 a day – the threshold, which is being used by the World Bank to define extreme poverty. In 2001, over 1 billion people lived in extreme poverty and nearly half the world’s population (2.8 million) lived on less than $2 a day.

In developed countries, poverty results in wandering homeless people and poor suburbs and ghettos. In these cases we talk about relative poverty (in contrast to absolute poverty), which is measured by comparing one group’s situation to the situations of those who are more advantaged.

The causes of poverty vary: lack of education, war, natural disasters, political corruption, mental illness, and disability are among the most common causes.

Eliminating poverty in developing countries is the goal of international development initiatives and the many international organizations working in the field. Strategies on how to eradicate poverty are, however, as numerous as the causes of poverty itself. The World Bank’s anti-poverty strategy, for example, depends heavily on reducing poverty though the promotion of economic growth.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are part of the Millennium Declaration, signed by the member states of the United Nations at the Millennium Summit in 2000, regard the elimination of extreme poverty as a much more complex task. Empowering women, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases and ensuring sustainable development are among the goals and are all seen as necessary if extreme poverty is to be alleviated.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Euphonious Melodies of Life

Melodies in our life frame an interesting experience. Music plays a supporting role in understanding how we shape our outlook towards life. Yet, another interesting song framing my outlook...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jab Koi Baat...

Sometimes, few lines strike an interesting note. More so, it is important to realize the connect between any two instances which get linked up through our experience... One such lines, is :

"Love is giving someone the power to destroy you, but trusting them not to..."

This line reminded me of the song I have posted here...I wanted to record this observation, and I wish to think more about the existence of a connect between the song and the line...

Overall, a memorable experience!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Glimpses: Value and Need

I never use to realize how important is the role of glimpse… it gives the necessity need to look forward for something. More so, we tend to start appreciate the act much before the actually act is done. This understanding is not only applicable for us in terms of understanding our emotions but also the sales promotions, lets talk about movies for example, these days it has become a necessity for most of the movies to work on its pre-launch publicity, promos, rushes trailers with actors and actresses speaking about their experience acting in the movie, funny bits in the movies which might have been subject to editor’s or censor board’s cut are discussed, more so it is the needed fodder for most of the gossip magazines to keep themselves afloat..

Glimpses… a short introduction to the actually act.. gives us the needed thrill to look for it and assimilate it when we really indulge ourselves in doing it. My trips home these days for a period of day or two have been such glimpses to understand and appreciate what makes a place or house…a home . This huge, yet sometimes untouched line of difference between home and house is an interesting way of how we react to situations…. Why do we call some place our home while we cannot attribute the same even when we have our family with us at some other place.. say like vacation… the emotion of security, emotion of belonging goes beyond the attachment with people, sometimes I personally think the effect of place can grow on you .. and can actually make you do crazy stuff … From personal experience again, I love and always look forward to going back to Hyderabad whenever I get time to do so, not only because I belong to that place, my family still stays there, but it is because I have a sense of pride for being a 'Hyderabadi' ... the essence of living is all about defining one tends to do it , is actually one’s own effort in understanding the surroundings, in this regard we have a lot to learn from the effect of drives us to seek more and then we are all by ourselves to understand why we want to do it in the first place... so to understand if we truly miss someone or something..probably subjecting ourselves and the emotion to 'Test of Glimpses' might help...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fears of a Fatidical Soul

As a prologue to this discussion, I wish to list those lines which my friend shared with me , and these lines stand as the driving influence for me to write this post...

" I had to realize that while it was important to have a fantastic time, that I should at the same time not let myself get too drawn in… to remember that this was only temporary – to keep a little bit of an emotional distance..."

In this blog post, I make an attempt to speak about the moderation of attachment towards various emotions... There is a key parameter that I wish to speak about, which influences our point of view... just a glimpse of emotion or attachment holds us onto it and is not easy to let go. Considering this point, I personally agree that we need to be detach ourselves to any such worldly emotion.

I have an observation which I wanted to share, when we are talking about the emotion of a person, considering what I just said, we probably need to make a choice of whether or not that person holds an eminent place in our life i.e. who composes our emotional makeup ... there is always variation in the degree of attachment... detaching ourselves from those people who do not hold such a place.. this helps us in many ways, prioritizing life, we know whom we really care about and it is easy to let go because we know that this emotion is not in our chart and then we are moderate in our attachment quotient and glimpses of that emotion wont really influence us ...It is about this choice that we make that is an important learning from these lines...

And then from what I firmly believe in, for people whom we really care, we will enjoy the emotion and do our best to nurture, protect it. Again this sense of attachment should not be seen as an obsessive attachment... At the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy... one will be happy when he/she is with people they understand and care for, that sense of trust and understanding should not be seen as a sense of dependency but rather it is a sense of independent existence.. that you are free to experiment with life.. do what you enjoy the most because there is someone with you always who will take care..whom you can fall back on ... just in case...

This is a reminder for myself ...not to live life with self-imposed moderation, rather I wish to experience life ...

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Its an amazing feeling today, the fact that I am now flying back home! It is an interesting transition to understand how things seem to be pleasant when you head home after a long time! The feeling which seeks no further explanation, it is that sensation which I wont do justice to, if I attempt to describe it in words..perhaps it is because this feeling is beyond words of human comprehension...


Friday, September 12, 2008

Kismat Konnection

The flakes of ash made my ivy…
Consumed by its mundaneness,
I lived a tale of privy.

You brought the rain…
Washed away in its gentleness,
I now, live a life sans pain.

Led by an artificial finger…
Who would I have become,
for the dual shadow did linger?

You brought through the silk breeze…
Lost in its curved hold,
my happiness shall never again freeze.

Is it the Kismat Konnection that did the tie?
With me, this emotion shall lie,
Until the last star in the sky shall die.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Relationships: The Critical Angle

We often realize that a relationship needs an additional push...this is a common phase one goes through, at least once in his/her life. Before I proceed, it will be worth to mention that what I talking about in regard to relationship...can range from the emotion we share with our parents, friends to love of our life...I wanted to record one of my thoughts today, regarding how our image about a relationship is always bound to change every moment...and how we need to understand our traits, rather than its pulse to sustain it and be happy about it...

On a different note, it is interesting that people do not realize that any relationship is not time bound, rather it is a constant change of weights in an equation you share with the other person. You can never really withdraw yourself from the equation ... an image of a person is always in the phase of transformation, constantly improving as you gain a better understanding of the person and the relationship you share with him/her. You tend to share the weight, when you start appreciating the relationship, while you tend to throw more weight against each other when you want to move away from it.. but you can never really avoid it...

Back to what I wanted to talk about in this post, it is an interesting lead, at least to gain a better response to our behavior . Most of us, at some point in our life realize that we as a person need to give one of the relationships that additional push... its mostly because when we start off, we tend to create an obtuse angle in our efforts to understand the person...investing into the relationship. As we move further in regard to relationship and time, it is likely that this angle of our effort starts moving into the acute angle space, where we tend to get less particular about details which might have interested us earlier ...It is always essential that we maintain a constant angle...the critical angle which needs to be established so that you not only strike a right balance between necessary effort for the relationship but also allow yourself the needed space to portray your individuality...To be successful in sustaining a relationship, and also to cherish it, it is essential to understand where this critical angle lies and try our best to maintain it in our efforts ...I strongly believe, if we can analyze any issue that is bothering any of the relationships we share with others... it is not about the distances, but this angle about our sense of attachment for that person ....which is creating the difference or helping us fight it!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Prejudice about the Future

It is interesting to note that one can learn a lot about their life, how they wish to shape their own future from various sources and experiences, even experiences which they might rarely enjoy. This supports the belief that one needs to be receptive every time... This attempt to record an understanding about how we tend to get entangled in issues which are very trivial and hold ourselves from experiencing tomorrow, is because of my visit to one of the painting exhibitions in Abu Dhabi ... before I proceed, I need to be honest and admit that visiting art or painting exhibitions is normally not what I enjoy the, I visited an exhibition of Picasso paintings...

My initial feeling was that most of the works on display were probably not the best pieces to showcase the genius in Picasso and that the gallery in Paris had a better collection... but my opinion had to change... I came across this picture which impressed me immensely, and probably stands as a perfect sample to testify Picasso's view about painting...

'For me, doing a painting consists of performing a dramatic act in the course of which reality is torn apart!'

It is also interesting to note that a piece of art influences everyone in a personalized way and one can take away a completely different meaning from what the piece was suppose to portray... This painting is a depiction of sexual aggression, understandably so, it stands out as a notable piece of work from a person who suffered from narcissistic personality disorder and an intense interest in women...

What interested me in this painting though, is how people are always anxious, not able to see the bigger picture. Everyone of us leads an anxious existence, followed by a conventional practice of surrender... it is always essential to grow over this feeling before we are taken in by its destructive fury...having a certain degree of concern for our future is always essential, but it should not become our only concern, guiding our present... one needs to see present as it is, rather than seeing it as a driving pilot for the future...

Monday, September 01, 2008

Duality in Religion

I wish to record my understanding of experiences dated 1st September 2008. Religion always poses itself as an interesting X-roads, one is born into a religion and then constructs his/her own viewpoint through various experiences, thus subscribing to a multi-religious that is one's own, because everyone takes away a different experience from a similar episode in life...

As Children, we all were great observers of our parents' behaviors, paying close attention to their actions and were more likely to follow that lead rather than follow the words our parents use...

Life is a collection of experiences, and you keep learning new (and sometimes varied) practices, which are indeed strong exhibits of culture... culture again being strongly influenced by religion...we tend to pick up ideas, thoughts from various places and nurture them to be our own... thus moving into a space of inter-faith existence.

It is interesting that we do not normally realize the influence, which is normally overshadowed by the faith we subscribe to...but thinking over it a little will help us understand how we move through our lives thinking that we definitely know what kind of an idealogy we subscribe to, but in practice what we follow is a fusion of what we gather from our everyday experiences...

For me, faith is less a religion than a philosophy, an ethical and psychological way of awakening. It is a way of life, a path of enlightened is not merely about beliefs but about practice of spirituality (definition of which is always one's own).

Thinking over this...I am reminded of a dialogue in a hindi movie 'Border' which I trust is apt for this context "Hum hi hum hai, tho kya hum hai ....tum hi tum ho, tho kya tum ho"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Day Off...

P.S.: This post is an attempt to record my feeling of relief... the first day off.

I always felt the transition in life happens when you are well equipped to handle least that is what God plans for us...But life is all about expecting the unexpected, my transition from college life into working environment happened rather quickly, or I should put it as 'I was not prepared for it'. Work Life is SO DIFFERENT... I feel people live an artificial existence while at work...never have the courage to be their true self. With greater emphasis laid on corporate working style, people are losing out, not understanding the skill-set that got them the job...their individuality...

For me, this day stands as a relieved one feels to walk the life on one's own terms...before slipping into the routine again...We have choices and we have chances..but unfortunately we cannot exercise both of them at the same time...period!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lets Master: Act of Understanding

Certain questions in life remain unanswered and keep coming back at you, no matter how hard you try. Perhaps, one of the reasons being lack of your effort to tie up all the loose ends..It is also amazing to learn how few places, experiences are needed, to excite you to think again.. be lost in those lanes of memory which were long forgotten, understand how things stand at the present and seek a better understanding of the situation. It becomes even more complex when there are no available channels of communication..

Now, I am thinking over issues which must have been addressed long ago... lethargy in channelizing the emotion is as equally wrong as lethargy in its expression...It is important to board the train when the time is right (either when you wish to travel together or when you want to go your own way) rather than to remain on the tracks to create an environment of parallel existence..close enough to seek a better understanding...yet so far, for the train of communication is long gone!

P.S.: This post is an outcome of my effort to understand self... an interesting experience in Dubai....I wanted to record the memory of this effort... dated August 18, 2008.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Life : A Complex Web of Emotions...

Is it only me ? or is it the same with everyone? Why is it tough to speak our true feelings... It is surprising to see how artificial we get when we make an effort to hide our true selves. Every person has an interesting and an unique way of creating a false identity of emotions...rather than making an effort to understand and truly portray our emotions, we tend to be a different person.

This post is a reminder for myself to make an attempt to truly understand what we are and try to be true to our emotions.. for I strongly believe, only when we respect our emotions.. emotions will respect us!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Morbid Reality: The Final Hitch

Many times I have heard the phrase 'Its all in the mind', but never heard about how to prioritize our activities and win over the fear in our mind. Passion and interest dictate our actions at the start but as we near the final step of taking the significant leap forward, fear of consequences rules supreme. Its this challenge that speaks of how we transform from being passionate to being reasonable and logical...We seldom realize that passion alone will be the wind beneath our wings and creates the difference... achievers are those, who can still pursue their passion neglecting the fear.

I wanted to write this post .. as a reminder for myself to seek passion over fear...passion is what needs to feel our hearts.. and focus to achieve what we are passionate about should fill our mind... I reckon I will be able to do so... for its all in the mind.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Perception of You by Me

What makes some people dearer to us is probably not just the happiness that you feel when you meet them or when they are around ...but the pain you felt when you miss them. Perception of you is probably beyond my faculties of have grown into a thought...thought that lives on even when you are not around...thought which made me smile every time I am reminded of it and if I had to pull a star on every such occurrence ... perhaps all the stars in the evening sky will be in my palm...

You with that unearthly sparkle like drops of water on a lotus leaf, fascinate me to understand myself better ... in my quest to understand you better... You.. wrap me with a feeling of unknown warmth that allows me to sleep through every night...waiting for you to come the next day.. bringing in more warmth and light into my life...I love to welcome you today...and every day for rest of my life!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Women : An Innate Challenge

P.S.: This post is my personal view (not a chauvinistic view) rather it is a true understanding from a personal experience. Kindly respect the emotion rather than seeing it as a conflict of reason...

Women normally offer an interesting challenge for men's intellect. Most of the time, everyone of us are stuck at appreciating the beauty rather than transcending beyond it to understand the person...I urge the reader to kindly try answering this question.. how often did you stand at an entrance of a passage-way and were lost in the beauty of it rather than seeking what lies beyond it? It is important to understand the value of both beauty and the brain to better appreciate what is the driving force for attraction. Beauty offers the elegance of a foyer while brains offer the ambiance... This is probably one of the reasons why the following statement makes much sense...

"...The average woman would rather have beauty than brains, because the average man can see better than he can think... "

For most of the men, women are beautiful indeed. But they grow beyond being mere beauties like the sympathetic characters in a play, to present themselves as an appealing and a memorable personality when they pose a challenge to the men's intellect... The feeling of understanding someone can only be achieved when one transcends the boundary of 'physical appeal' into 'appeal to the senses' i.e. when we see her as an innate challenge offering the intoxicating mix of appeal and intellect... I expect most of the readers might have a different view which might be either complementary or supplementary to that of mine.. comments are highly solicited...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Year 2008:21st Day of July

Friends.. welcome back again to this space online, where I have been writing my views, poems, articles... Today, I wish to write about a day which was different.. very often we find people craving for similarity. But today I understood, there is a reason to celebrate the interesting it is to understand and view this world from a different perspective.

'Like repels like' is probably valid beyond the scientific boundary, and is valid in other domains of human understanding. What I wish to talk about in this post is how we can celebrate the difference. Before I proceed, I wish to elaborate a little on how people react to an occurrence of difference.. of opinion or understanding of an issue or self. The only solution which is normally subscribed to is a compromise... settling down in options presented to us.

I wish to urge everyone to seek the difference and enjoy it, view it as an opportunity to excel rather than dwell in an isolated 'compromised' space. It is interesting to note the basics of
object manipulation i.e. 'juggling' . What is needed is the skill-set not to lose contact of any ball, rather than reducing the number of balls in the game. The potential use of what one wants to do should motivate us to achieve the 'balancing act' between passion to create a difference and responsibilities...

Ladies and Gentlemen...Go for it!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Undignified Creativity: Policies of Indian Government

Policies, Five Year-Plans, various commissions working for the 'welfare' of the society. This is the view portrayed by majority of the parties seeking people's vote to remain in power. It is an interesting development that the present Government is trying to use and play on the social divide card and benefit from it. What is unfortunate in this entire practice is the fact that, word 'welfare' takes a new definition showcasing a new dimension which was not explored before. Congress Government is definitely praiseworthy for being 'innovative' in exploring novel ideas to save their seat, but it is equally important for 'leaders' to put the interest of the 'entire' community before their own. Many policies of this government seem to have failed in satisfying this basic need. Our Prime Minister being worthy of immense respect as an academician, failed again in proving to be an 'leader'. This raises the question of understanding and questioning the administrative capabilities of our politicians. Every field these days demand a test of entry, it is really unfortunate that our politicians are not blessed with such an opportunity to test themselves at the start of their career, as to whether or not they have the potential to be a part of the administration. There are many rules in the Constititution which speak of entry requirements, but the present developments show how these rules have failed, there needs to be a revision of how we get people from amongst us to be a 'leader' and serve in the interest of the nation rather than leaving our Country as a helpless victim of Undignified Creativity.

Like a pilot view, every policy needs to be followed by the politicians themselves before it can be even discussed, since most of our politicians lack first hand experience. Nation's Growth lies in using our strengths to the best of our abilities and working on our weaknesses rather than relying totally on our strengths, thus leading to burn out. Growing beyond party lines in the interest of the Nation is something which is not seen these days, rather all that the politicians worry about these days is various ways of saving their seat.

India needs an understanding dictator who is well learnt and sees what this Nation needs, and also is equipped with enough understanding to see it through. Oh Lord! We need our Mahatma Gandhi again to drive some sense and spirit of understanding the effects of our actions. The Indian population is missing the courage of standing against this pseudo Colonial rule by our own countrymen. There are signs of a civil uprising, which needs to tackled with enough caution. All that we need to change the present scenario and lead us to a positive tomorrow is a single person... sound, energetic, learnt and understanding .. So, Why are you sleeping?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mourning: Death of IITs

Nearly six decades after independence, this country is planning to announce that majority of its population is backward and does not have equal opportunity to pursue education and employment. Along with this, it is going to open up a Pandora's Box by various caste groups to be classified as "backward". What an interesting way to begin the 21st century when finally India was beginning to emerge as a serious player in the new knowledge economy! The major carrot that is being doled out is the seats in the elite medical, engineering and management Institutes. What bothers me is no one is interested in even consulting the people who have built these Institutions and brought them to this stature. I have strong views on efficacy of reservations in general but here I would confine myself to the issues concerning IITs. At least here with my three decade long association, I can claim to know something. Many of these arguments may be applicable to the other elite Institutions in medical and management disciplines as well.

Today IITs are considered excellent educational institutions. There is a countrywide scramble to get into these with many students spending the best part of their teen years in preparing for its entrance examinations. This should not be confused with ranking of universities where just a couple of IITs make it in the top 500. These rankings deal primarily with the research output and not with the quality of undergraduate education. I can confidently say that any ranking of quality of undergraduate engineers produced would put IITs in the top 20 worldwide if not in the top 10. And it is this achievement that is going to be hard to maintain with the proposed reservations policy. Before we go any further, it would be best to examine how this excellence has been achieved.

The fundamental contribution that the Central Government has made to these institutions is in generous funding (by Indian, not global standards) combined with unmatched autonomy. The main point of engagement between the Government and these Institutions has been through the appointment of Directors. Except for a brief period during the last administration, the Governments had refrained from any major politicking in these appointments. They have by and large appointed the best available applicant Professor from the same or another IIT for the job. These venerable people had themselves a great pride in these Institutions and have ran the Institutes with the best of their abilities (maybe not always efficiently but always fairly) without major vested interest.

For someone outside IITs to understand the power of this position is not easy. The Director virtually appoints the complete senior administration including the deputy directors and deans, chairs all the faculty selections including that for the Professors, is the chairman of the senate and thus the academic head, is the financial head and also the administrative head. For most people living in the campus, which includes 90% of faculty and students, he is also the chairman of the local municipality (all major complaints on water, electricity, sewage etc. would reach him). This ensures that the buck almost always stops with him and thus decision making is unavoidable. This autonomy that has been the hallmark of these institutions is being eroded. There were attempts in the last Government (fortunately not vigorously pursued) to tell IITs what to teach. The present decision would strike at the fundamentals of IITs as the Government no longer feels whom to teach and how many to teach is best decided by these Institutions themselves. This in my opinion is the most dangerous fallout as it strikes at the very core of the success of these Institutions. Once the lines of control get blurred, there would be no stopping, as today's political functioning is clearly not dictated by long term vision. Soon we could have reservations in faculty and create a caste based patronage system which has destroyed many of the once excellent state universities.

In IITs, the faculty selected and promoted solely based on merit has maintained a high standard of ethical behavior, have taken their teaching and research seriously, refrained from politicking themselves and supported the Institute in many ways to fulfill its commitments. Who are these faculty members? A large number are our own alumni (undergraduates as well as postgraduates), majority of them have studied or conducted research in the west and almost all of them have had opportunities of pursuing financially much more lucrative careers in India and abroad. Thus each faculty member is here by choice and he/she has exercised that choice with one major attraction - opportunity to teach, interact and work with extremely bright students perhaps unmatched anywhere. It is this attraction that is being tampered with. In a situation where all IITs are short of faculty and desperately trying to innovate to attract faculty under the constraints of the pay commission dictated salaries (while competing with Sensex based salaries), this is not a pleasant development.

IITs have had reservations for SC/STs for decades. Why would this be different? Aren't these students likely to be better prepared than the students admitted under the existing reserved category? Here I would like to share some of the facts with the readers. IITs have been admitting SC/ST students for years under two modes. From the general category, a significantly lower JEE cutoff is decided and reserved category students scoring above this cutoff are admitted directly to the UG programmes. Another still lower cutoff is decided and reserved category students from this set are admitted to a one year preparatory course conducted by IITs themselves. After passing this course, they can join the programmes without having to appear in JEE again. Even this exercise collectively yields less than 15% in IIT Delhi though the quota amounts to nearly 22.5%. Half of the reserved category students manage to clear courses comfortably while the other half struggle on the margins. What would be called a good performance (cumulative grade point average or CGPA of 8 and above) and is achieved by nearly forty percent of general category students, is rare and occurs once in many years among the reserved category students. It is not that all general category students do well. There is nearly a 5% "dropout" rate even among them which is a cause of concern but mainly attributed to the burnout due to JEE preparation phase. The "dropout" students have no effect on teaching as they neither are regular nor make their presence felt in classes. The remaining part of weak students is too small and at present hardly any instructor would pitch his / her course at that level. On the other hand, the present policy may introduce a large band of weak students which no instructor can ignore. This would definitely result in drop in the quality of education. It is the hypocrisy of the highest order that on one hand the reservation for SC/STs is considered a success and quoted for extension to OBCs, and on the other hand, no hard data on the performance of these students is available in the public domain. Some administrators I talked to consider this data as sensitive! Analysis of where the reserved category students go after graduation would be enlightening. I do not have the sensitive data but my experience shows that most of them either go to services like IAS/IES or to the public sector companies. Normally this choice of careers by IIT graduates should be a matter of satisfaction except that both these entries are again using the reservation quota. Is it empowerment or crutches for life?

In this whole episode, the most stunning news for me was when the Hon'ble minister announced increase in intake to compensate for the reservations. This would amount to nearly 56% overall increase in undergraduate intake in the IITs. This showed complete ignorance of what makes IIT undergraduate education tick. There are few Institutions in the world where undergraduate students get to interact one to one and so freely with such high-caliber faculty. Students are advised on courses in small groups, interact over hostel dinners, go on industrial trips and finally carry out a well supervised project. Every undergraduate student does an intensive "novel" project either individually or in groups of two and he/she is effectively "supervised" by a faculty member. Many of them result in publications. This system evolved when the student-faculty ratio was 6:1 and is getting strained at the seams when it has reached 12:1. In some disciplines like Computer Sciences and Electrical Engineering where market competition is heavy, it has already gone to 20:1 and above. Though currently producing excellent results, it is a highly non-scalable mechanism. Intake increase on this scale, when effectively faculty strengths in key areas are decreasing could sound a death-knell tone of our few international brand names.

I have a poser for Prof. Jayati Ghosh, my well renowned colleague from JNU and a member of the knowledge commission. She has justified reservations in IITs based on the poor ranking of IITs internationally. Her argument is anyway these Institutions are not great, why they should crib about the quality of intake. She nowhere states that any of the 400+ odd Institutions worldwide which are ranked above IITs have achieved their status through reservations. In that case all Tamil Nadu Engineering Colleges with 69% reservation for decades (openly defying the Supreme Court suggested norm of 50%) now should be at the top.

Finally, I would like to seek opinion on the composition of our next Olympics team. We have admittedly done much poorer in sports than education. Should our next Olympics team be chosen on caste basis or perhaps with adequate representation to athletes aged 40+ who are at present completely unrepresented? After all we do not have much to lose as we only win one bronze medal in alternate Olympics. I would no longer be surprised if some future Sports Minister considers caste based quotas for our national cricket team. After all that would be worth a few votes and the nation would have been well prepared by then to cheer only for its own caste brethren!

(This is an article written by Prof. M. Balakrishnan, Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at IIT Delhi. He has been with IIT Delhi since 1977 except for a three year stint outside India. Currently he is on Sabbatical and working with a startup)

Friday, June 13, 2008

An Ostensible Hope!!

Hope.. for a moment of comfort, for a memory of love, for the human existence to last forever. Hope is that aspect of living which is the most vital element that often goes unnoticed. When is the last time that things happened to you, instead of you waiting for long to see them turn into reality?

The struggle to win the battle of understanding our needs, our aspirations starts with gathering courage to understand and challenge the authority of hope in our life. It is then, only then if I may say, that we start to have a realistic picture of what is within our reach and what is beyond at present. The next stage involves in understanding the kinds of efforts which appear as demands from the nature to achieve the needs and aspirations we have set for ourselves. This again speaks of how 'hopeful' we are, and what aspirations (within our reach or beyond our reach at present) we are aiming at.

Realization of our aspirations again invites 'hope' to be a partner in our continuous struggle to work towards our goals. So all along, it is the hope that defines the vital link and pushes us to work to our or beyond our limits to achieve the desirable. What I gather from my own experience and the reason for me writing this post is, hope is the only element that lasts for ever...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Fleeting Realities

Let this wetness,
extend an invite to festoon one’s visage.
Seldom does the surface know,
the utility of moss through old age.

Let this darkness,
resolve the need for juxtaposition.
A dime still encourages men,
to seek beyond reason or position.

Let this coldness,
sweep the continent till the sunrise.
Only when one values the fall,
there is joy in the effort to rise.

Let this consciousness,
be my chief, helping in translation.
I walk alone to fathom,
this poem: my life with systems of scansion.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Child Labor

(This article is regarding one important sector of Human Rights: Children. This article is part of a series of articles written by me for with a focus on Child Labor)

It is estimated that 165 million children aged 5-14 are engaged in child labour worldwide. Millions of children are engaged in hazardous work environments like mines, working with petro-chemicals and pesticides. From Sub-Saharan Africa where around one in three children are engaged in child labour, representing 69 million children to South Asia, where 44 million are engaged in child labour because of poverty.

A study demonstrated the parallels between the historical pattern of the decline in child labor in the United States and situations today in developing countries. It is understood that the greater the extent of poverty in a country, the greater the amount of child labor, the relationship holding within a country over time as well as across countries at a given point in time. Though poverty may be a determinant of child labor, it cannot be examined in the absence of cultural and social factors, such as education, culture, and urbanization. Another Study points that child labor is deeply rooted in poverty and social customs. Thus, one reason for such high labor force participation is that working children are from impoverished families. There are several social and cultural explanations for widespread child labor in developing countries.

The effect of being sold into slave labor has the obvious physical scars from the constant beatings the children receive, their inhumane living conditions, and the practical starvation that the employers impose on them. However, the effects of slavery do not merely affect the physical well-being of the children. They also suffer from emotional scars. In addition to the risks that they face, there are also many negative side effects of exposing children to the excessive demands of adult labor. These side effects not only manifest themselves in the children’s health and growth, but also in their access to education. In fact, it is rare to find children who, over a prolonged period of time, manage to balance their studies with their daily chores. More than half of children laborers have never attended school, and those who have rarely finish the first cycle of elementary school. As researchers have noted, boycotting exports of goods produced by children may actually worsen the welfare and well-being of those children and their families, first by lowering their living standards and second by pushing children into dangerous work endeavors, such as begging and prostitution. This speaks of the need for a sustainable development plan to include the marginalized sections of the society to best tackle the growing numbers of child abuse.

If we can understand the dynamics of poverty, education, and child labor, we may be in a position to create more effective ways of eliminating child labor through education and economic development efforts. The problem of child labour, being inextricably linked with poverty and illiteracy, cannot be solved by legislation alone and a concerted effort to tackle this problem will bring in the desired sustainable growth.