Friday, July 30, 2004

Joonu and civic sense

Indians do not have civic sense! Sorry, I have to correct that. Indians do not have civic sense when they (I mean we) are in India. That is just a plain and simple fact. Outside our country, we are the best-behaved people.

I want to relate an experience I had a few years ago. I was travelling with a marriage party from Bangalore to Mysore. My aunt had prepared snacks and put them in small plastic covers for all of us to eat on the way. All of us ate them, and I saw that everybody was throwing the plastic covers out of the window of the moving bus. Now, I was and still am, conscious about such things. One reason is that it is dirty, and I will presently relate the second reason.

We were two neighbours in a not-so-populated place in Bangalore. There were two puppies of a dog, and both of us adopted each. After a while, our neighbour stopped keeping the dog in their house because they thought that it was somewhat dirty. Now, I am fond of all kinds of animals (a bit scared of them initially, though). I used to visit my place in Bangalore every few days, from Madras. Our dog and this dog (Joonu was his name) used to rush to welcome me when they saw me at the corner of the street. Once, when I came home, I realized that nobody was home and that everybody had gone to a relatives house. All this time, Joonu was with me. He was already kicked out of his owners' house and had nowhere to go. He walked with me while I was looking for an auto. All stray dogs were picking fights with him and he would respond to them. He desisted only when I called him off. I was feeling very sorry at his state. The breaking point was when I got the auto. He tried to get in. I told him to go away, and gave him some bread. Nevertheless, he still wanted to come with me. All he wanted was some company! Unfortunately, I could not, or thought I could not take him in an auto to my relatives' house! It is one instance when I have felt very emotional. Anyways, sometime after this, Joonu died because he ate a plastic cover thrown by somebody.

I was planning to make this a blog about civic sense, but look what I did! Anyway, getting back to where I deviated. I saw people throwing plastic covers, and collected them. Then I had an argument with this person, an educated and well-to-do man. He asked me why I was doing what I was doing. I told him that it was not right to throw plastic everywhere and that I would collect them all and dump them in a dustbin when we stopped. Then, my shortsightedness made me tell him that a dear dog of mine died because he ate plastic, and that many cows die every year because of the same reason. Then he said, "Look, it was the dog's karma that made him eat the plastic. Why should you worry about it?"...!! I did not know what to say. Now I can think of at least ten retorts, but I was just tongue-tied then!

We stopped at a place some two hours from Bangalore. I, with all the collected plastic covers and with a great sense of achievement, went to dispose of them in the way they were intended to. But I could not find a dustbin! There just was no dustbin! I just had to dump them on a garbage pile next to the road.

The question is whether we start collecting plastic, or arrange for dustbins first. If there are dustbins, people will dump garbage in the bins. But on the other hand, unless people start collecting plastic, there is no reason to have a dustbin! It is the chicken-and-egg problem.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Mission Saturn

Mission Saturn: Catastrophe in waiting?

Boy, are these people for real? I cannot imagine how people can think (now, are these people really thinking?) like this. One astrologer mouths about the Cassini mission "Man will never reach there. He will be destroyed before that. He should not even attempt to build such enmity with nature and, least of all, with such powerful planets". Another's pearls of wisdom go like this "Those monitoring the spacecraft will definitely be affected". And I do not even want to go into the psyche of the journalist who thought that this was worth being published. There were a couple of astrologers who held a different view, but as always, imbecility of imbeciles outshadows sanity of normal people.

I believe in Astrology, but I believe more in Freewill. Astrology can probably give a direction to our lives, but what we make of it is left to US. I have seen some people with supposedly great horoscopes choosing to make their lives miserable and what is worse, succeeding there. The problem with Astrology is that it gives lazy people a convenient excuse for their misery. Hey, working is hard. Do not work; just blame the poor planets for being unsuccessful!

Coming to this news item, is the theory that shani is vindictive, excuse enough for stalling the mission?. The mission itself obviously requires enormous amount of work. My professor is working on the Cassini mission to Saturn, and I read some papers about it. It is really, really involved and one must be perseverant and really, really learned to do that stuff. And it indeed distresses me that the so-called astrologers actually say these things about the mission in an offhandedly and irresponsible way.

Recently, I was watching a program on PBS, about Galileo. Galileo had a lot of opposition from the church for supporting Copernicus's heliocentric theory. In a letter, Galileo said, and I quote "But I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them”. The same argument holds here. With all the technologies available today, let us expand our horizons. Let us know, or at least try to know everything there is to know about everything. Let us not lose the curiosity we had when we were children. It is a wonderful thing!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

FrontPage :: How the West Grew Rich by Dinesh D'Souza

FrontPage :: How the West Grew Rich by Dinesh D'Souza
ಈ ಲೇಖನದ ಲೇಖಕ "oreo" ಅಥವಾ "coconut" ಎಂದು ಖ್ಯಾತನಾದವನು. ಇದರ ಅರ್ಥವೇನೆಂದರೆ ಮೇಲುಗಡೆ ಕಪ್ಪು ಚರ್ಮವಿದ್ದರೂ ಒಳಗಡೆಯ ಯೋಚನೆಗಳೆಲ್ಲಾ ಯೂರೋಪಿಯನ್ನರ ತೆರ, ತಾನು ಯೂರೋಪಿಯನ್ನರಂತೆ ಎನ್ನುವ ಹುಸಿ ಹಮ್ಮು. ಇವನನ್ನು ಹೀಗೇಕೆ ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆಂದು ಈ ಒಂದು ಲೇಖನವನ್ನು ಓದಿದರೆ ಸಾಕು, ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಅರ್ಥವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ.

ನನ್ನ ಹಿಂದಿನ ಒಂದು ಬ್ಲಾಗ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಜಪಾನ್ ಮತ್ತು ಭಾರತದ ಆತ್ಮವನ್ನೇ ಕೊಳ್ಳೆ ಹೊಡೆದದ್ದು ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಎಂದು ಬರೆದಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಈ ಮನುಷ್ಯನ ಪ್ರಕಾರ ಆ ರೀತಿ ಕೊಳ್ಳೆ ಹೊಡೆದರೂ ಪರವಾಗಿಲ್ಲವಂತೆ, ಏಕೆಂದರೆ ಅನಂತರದ ಪೀಳಿಗೆಗಳಿಗೆ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ, ಡೆಮಾಕ್ರಸಿ ಮುಂತಾದ ಸೌಲಭ್ಯಗಳು ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷರಿಂದಲೇ ಅಂತೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿದ್ದು. ಈ ವಾದದಲ್ಲಿ ಹುರುಳೇ ಇಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿಯುವುದು ಕಷ್ಟವಲ್ಲ.

ನಾನು ಬಹಳ ಜನರ ಜೊತೆ ವಾದಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ, ಭಾರತೀಯ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ. ಬಹಳ ಜನರ ಪ್ರಕಾರ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾಧನೆಯಾಗಿದ್ದು ಪಾಶ್ಚಾತ್ಯರ ಸಂಪರ್ಕವಾದ ನಂತರವೇ ಎಂದು. ಈ ವಿಚಾರ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪವೂ ಸರಿಯಿಲ್ಲ. ಭಾರತ ಕೇವಲ "ಶೂನ್ಯ"ವನ್ನು ಕಂಡುಹಿಡಿಯಲಿಲ್ಲ. Linear indeterminate equations ಎನ್ನುವ ಒಂದು ಜಾತಿಯ ಸಮೀಕರಣಗಳನ್ನು ಬಿಡಿಸುವ ಪದ್ಧತಿ ಮೊದಲ ಬಾರಿಗೆ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ೧೨ ನೇ ಶತಮಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಡು ಹಿಡಿಯಲಾಯಿತು. "ಕುಟ್ಟಕ" ಎಂದು ಈ ಪದ್ಧತಿಯ ಹೆಸರು. ಆದರೆ ಈಗ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ ಪ್ರಪಂಚದಲ್ಲಿ ಇದನ್ನು ಏನೆಂದು ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ ಗೊತ್ತೆ? "Diophantine Equations" ಎಂದು! ಹಾಗೆಯೇ Quadratic indeterminate equations ಎನ್ನುವ ಸಮೀಕರಣಗಳನ್ನು "ವರ್ಗಪ್ರಕೃತಿ" ಎಂಬ ಪದ್ಧತಿಯನ್ನು ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸಿ ಬಿಡಿಸುವುದೂ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ಹುಟ್ಟು ಪಡೆಯಿತು. ಈ ಸಮೀಕರಣಗಳನ್ನು "Fermat Equations" ಎಂದು ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ! ಹೋಗಲಿ ಎಂದರೆ Fermat ಈ ಸಮೀಕರಣಗಳನ್ನು ಬಿಡಿಸಲೂ ಇಲ್ಲ, ಕೇವಲ propose ಮಾಡಿದ ಅಷ್ಟೆ! ಬೌಧಾಯನ ಸೂತ್ರ ಅಥವಾ Pythagoras theorem ಅಂತೂ ಸರ್ವವಿದಿತ. ಇನ್ನು ವರಾಹಮಿಹಿರ (೯ ನೇ ಶತಮಾನ) ಗ್ರಹಣಗಳ ಸಮಯಗಳನ್ನು ನಿಖರವಾಗಿ ಕಂಡುಹಿಡಿಯುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ಸುಮಾರು ಮೊದಲಿಗ. ಇದನ್ನು ಯಾರಾದರೂ ನೆನೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆಯೇ? ಇಲ್ಲ! ಪ್ರಪಂಚದ ವಯಸ್ಸನ್ನು ೮.೪ ಬಿಲಿಯನ್ ವರ್ಷಗಳು ಎಂದು ಪ್ರಪ್ರಥಮವಾಗಿ ಪ್ರತಿಪಾದಿಸಿದ್ದು ನಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ. Trigonometry ಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೂಡ ನಮ್ಮ ಗಣಿತಜ್ಞರು ಸಾಧನೆಯನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿದ್ದರು. ಇವೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನೂ ತಿಳಿಯದಿದ್ದರೆ ಈ ಲೇಖಕನಂತೆ ignorant ಆಗಿರುತ್ತೇವೆ ಅಷ್ಟೆ.

ಇದೆಲ್ಲ ಸರಿ, ಆದರೆ ತಂತ್ರಜ್ಞಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾರತ ಬಹಳ ಹಿಂದುಳಿದಿತ್ತು, ಅದನ್ನು ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷರು ಉದ್ಧರಿಸಿದರು ಎಂದು ಬಹಳ ಜನರ ವಾದ. ಇದರಲ್ಲೂ ಹುರುಳಿಲ್ಲ. ೧೭ ನೇ ಶತಮಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಮುಂಚೆ ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ ತಂತ್ರಜ್ಞಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಂದುವರೆದಿತ್ತೆ? ಖಂಡಿತ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ನಿನ Industrial Revolution ಗೆ ಹಣ ಮತ್ತು ಮೂಲ ಸಾಮಗ್ರಿಗಳು ಬಂದಿದ್ದು ಭಾರತ, ಮುಂತಾದ ದೇಶಗಳಿಂದಲೇ. ಈ ಮೂಲ ಸಾಮಗ್ರಿಗಳನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯಲು ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ ಅತಿನೀಚ ಕೃತ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಎಸಗಿತು. ಕೇವಲ cash crops ಅನ್ನು ಬೆಳೆಯುವಂತೆ ಆದೇಶಿಸಿ ಜನರಿಗೆ ಊಟವಿಲ್ಲದಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿತು. ಇನ್ನು ಹಣದ ಮಾತು: ರಾಬರ್ಟ್ ಕ್ಲೈವ್ ನ ಕೊಳ್ಳೆ ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ಮಿಲಿಯಗಟ್ಟಲೆ ಪೌಂಡುಗಳಿಗೆ ಮಾರಾಟವಾಯಿತು. ಈ ದುರಾಚಾರಗಳನ್ನೆಲ್ಲ ಮರೆತು DD ಯಂಥವರು ಅದು ಹೇಗೆ "ಪಾಶ್ಚಾತ್ಯರೇ ಪ್ರಪಂಚವೆಲ್ಲದರ ಒಳಿತಿಗೆ ಕಾರಣ" ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಾರೋ ದೇವರೇ ಬಲ್ಲ.

ಇದು ಕೇವಲ ಭಾರತದ ಕಥೆಯಲ್ಲ. "White man's burden" ಎಂಬ ನೆಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಎಲ್ಲ ದೇಶಗಳಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ ತನ್ನ ಸ್ವಾಮ್ಯವನ್ನು ಸ್ಥಾಪಿಸಿ ಸಂಪತ್ತನ್ನು ಕೊಳ್ಳೆ ಹೊಡೆದು, ಕ್ರೈಸ್ತ ಮತವನ್ನು ಬಲವಂತವಾಗಿ ಹೇರಿತು. ಈ ದೇಶಗಳಿಗೆ ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ನಿನಿಂದ ಸಹಾಯವಾಗಿದೆ ಎಂಬುದು ಸತ್ಯ. ಆದರೆ ಈ ಸಹಾಯದ ನೂರರಷ್ಟು ಈ ದೇಶಗಳಿಂದ ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ನಿಗೆ ಆಗಿದೆ ಎಂಬುದೂ ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಸತ್ಯ. ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ ಈಗ developed ದೇಶವಾಗಿರುವುದು ಭಾರತ ಮುಂತಾದ ದೇಶಗಳಿಂದ.

ಈಗ ನನ್ನ ಮುಂದೆ ಇರುವ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ - ಅಕಸ್ಮಾತ್ ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ ನಮ್ಮ ದೇಶವನ್ನು ಆಳದಿದ್ದರೆ ನಾವು ತಂತ್ರಜ್ಞಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಂದುವರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆವೇ? ನನ್ನ ಪ್ರಕಾರ ಹೌದು, ಖಂಡಿತ. ಆದರೆ ನಮಗೆ ಅವಕಾಶವೇ ಸಿಗಲಿಲ್ಲವೇ!

Monday, June 28, 2004

Japan and India

As I was watching the movie "Last Samurai", I sensed this uncanny similarity between our (Indian and Japanese) cultures. Though my knowledge of Japanese culture is limited to a couple of movies, a couple of visits to the Japanese sections of some good museums and some websites, I feel strangely one with this people; it is the kind of sense of oneness I felt with the Rajputs.

Perhaps what impressed me so much was their respect for honour. Probably, in my most subconscious mind, that is what I seek to achieve, and that is what endears these people to me. Being a woman, I identify myself with Rajput women. It is not just the Rani Padminis and the Rani Durgavatis, but the ordinary peasant women, the wives and daughters of warriors that inspire me to better myself constantly. To me, these are the epitomes of womanhood; affectionate, dutiful and proud. They make me proud of being a woman. And surprisingly, the woman Taka in the movie too, made me feel the same way.

When I browsed the www for articles on the Samurai and the Meiji revolution, I found many similarities between our situations through the centuries. We, Indians were a composite mixture of warring kingdoms and allowed Islam and the West to take advantage of us in the name of trade and modernisation, respectively. Consequently, we lost respect for ourselves and became worshippers of white skin. While I do not know if the Japanese are as rootless as we are, from my googling, I saw many articles that eulogised the Meiji revolution and few about the honourable ways of the Samurais. The supporters of the Meiji revolution have a lot in their favour. It is because of this revolution that Japan is a developed nation now. But my argument is that this revolution did not have to do away with all the great things that Japanese culture stood for, in the name of modernisation! Their counterparts in our country, the "liberal" leftists, also eulogise the British and Islamic invasions, saying that they are the reason we developed trade (we let every invader plunder our resources), we became modern (meaning that we learned how great the English were), and pluralistic (that is, we learnt to bend over backwards to please our pseudosecular "intellectuals"). From what I saw, the same is true of the Japanese too. The western countries took advantage of Japan and robbed its soul through meaningless modernisation. The same happened to India at the hands of the British. While Emperor Meiji helped the West in Japan, our own Rajas and Nizams did that in our country.

Before people accuse me of being an old fogy who loves to live in the past, let me make one thing clear. I am all for modernisation. But the modernisation should be meaningful. Any modernisation that makes us forget who we really are, is despicable. If modernisation provides food, water and education to families which could not afford them otherwise, it is good. But if the same modernisation makes these people think lowly of themselves it will have very bad consequences.

I can see the ill-effects of modernisation in India. Schools in India do not teach respect for Indian culture. I studied at a not-so-well-known school in Bellary, a large town. The name of the school was in Kannada. In this school, our prayers were all in English. Not one Samskrita shloka or a Kannada prayer was taught. We used to speak in English all the time. I love the English language, but I hate not knowing my own language. My parents taught me to love Kannada, but what about hundreds and thousands of other kids who studied in that school? If this is the state of Kannada in Bellary, what will it be in Bangalore? These days, when we visit MG Road, salespeople in shops do not respond to you unless you speak in English. Do we need this kind of rootless modernisation?

If people are educated only with facts and not biases, things will improve. Japanese should have been taught the greatness of the Samurai, along with the greatness of the West. We should have been taught about Aryabhata and Brahmagupta's theorems along with Pythagoras' theorem. I do not know the situation in Japan, but in India, barely 1% of the people know about these things. I sincerely hope that things change for the better.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

End of Power on Sulekha

The End of Power on Sulekha
I was reading the comments posted here, and some peoples' attitude shook me, really. Some of us weep for Kashmir, in spite of Article 370 and inspite of it being the biggest drain on the Indian taxpayers' money. And some more people want to divide India further, because NI is supposedly "holding up" the country's progress ! It really takes all sorts to make a world (or a country, in this case)!

Let me make one thing clear first. I am a South Indian. I am a proud Kannaditi and a prouder Indian. But, being a native of Bellary, which borders Andhra and is a place that has a lot of Telugu influence, and having lived in Madras for some time, I can really appreciate the plurality of our country. That is what India is. It is a plural society. I might be called a Hindutva fundamentalist for saying this, but the main thing that unites our country is the sanAtana dharma (don't call it Hinduism, please) and samskritam. Recently, at a Samskrita Bharati meeting here in the US, I saw people speaking all languages come together and converse in Samskritam(an 18-month old baby included), and pride welled up in my heart, for being a part of this amazingly diverse country that is India.

I still remember the time when my Mother was teaching us this patriotic song, 'bhAratIyaru nAvu endendu ondE'. There were tears in her eyes when she sang 'kAshmIradinda kanyAkumAriyavarege kaMgoLipa tAynADe prANakU migilemage'. Though I was too young to understand that emotion at that time, it left a lasting impression upon me. India is one single entity. The uneducated Bihari, the ultramodern employee at the posh MNC in Bangalore, the communist from WB, the truck driver in Punjab are all Indians first. We, as Indians, must do what is possible by us, to make the lives of each of these people better. I would try to convert the commie, not try to secede WB from India!

There could be one very influential reason why the NIs and SIs are the way they are. They faced many onslaughts from Islamic invaders. Until the sea-route was established, whoever invaded India, came through the North. This protected the South from the invaders, but changed the culture of the North Indians considerably. That is why we see NI women wear veils, but not SI women. Unfortunately, it was not just the culture that was changed, it was the complete attitude of the people. NIs are much more courageous and hardened than SIs. When SI was being ruled by the Wodeyars, NI was under the direct rule of the British. Because of prolonged tyrannic rule, peoples' expectation from the Government went down drastically. (Even after independence, we have not exactly had good governments.) That is why we see so much corruption in NI. People passed this attitude on to their offspring and they passed it on to theirs. It is nothing that good education cannot fix!

Blaming NI for the slow progress of our country is not fair. This is especially because NI also deserves a fair share of credit for SI's progress. Until we understand that we are Indians irrespective of the region we live in, our country will not progress economically or culturally.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Means and Ends

I am a big fan of the comedy show 'The Simpsons'. Though it is a comedy show intended to make you laugh, sometimes the antics of Bart and the stupidity of Homer evoke some pretty serious thoughts in me. This is one such instance.

When Moe persuades an inexperienced H. to fight the heavyweight champion Dederick Tatum in a boxing match, he (Moe) says to H. "Look, Homer, you can win, all you have gotta do is visualise". Homer visualizes alright, not the fighting techniques, but the picture where he has defeated Tatum and is receiving the prize! Of course, that is the typical Homer Simpson. What scared me, was that I could see that I was also like him ! I am working on my Master's thesis right now. I am at the fag-end of the work. When I say to myself that I have to visualize and plan, the picture that comes to my mind is that of me submitting my completed thesis, getting a "Good work" certificate from my professor, telling all my relatives and friends about my work, etc. Rarely have I visualized working my butt off, though I think I do that!

Monday, May 17, 2004

gridhrasaras and pArijAta

Once, when I went to our AcArya, He told us this story:
When Rama came to pa~NcavaTI for the first time, he met jaTAyu, a bird belonging to the gridhra species. On exchanging words, jaTAyu came to know that rAma was his friend dasharatha's son. He came to love the family very much, though he was unaware of their divine origin. And what is bhakti, but pure love? Pure love for someone who is dependent on us (say, a child who is dependent on its mother, or people who are dependent on their king) manifests itself as vAtsalya. Pure love for someone we consider higher than ourselves manifests itself as bhakti.

Coming back to the story. We all know that jaTAyu fought rAvaNa courageously to rescue sItA from him. However courageously jaTAyu fought, he was no match to rAvaNa. jaTAyu was severely wounded, and he fell to the ground. rAvaNa successfully kidnapped sItA.

After rAma and lakShmaNa returned from killing mArIca, they discovered that sIta was nowhere in the hut, and they started searching for Her. They met jaTAyu, who told them that sItA was abducted by a rAkShasa. jaTAyu died at the feet of rAma, and rAma gave him sadgati. Later, rAma found sItA with the help of vAnaras, and They were united.

We all know this much from the rAmAyaNa. There is another little-known story. At the place where jaTAyu died and obtained paramapadam, a small pArijAta tree sprang. It is on the shore of a lake named gridhrasaras, after jaTAyu. The following shloka is said about the lake and the pArijAta tree.

shrImad-gR^idhrasarastIre pArijAtamupAsmahe
yatra tu~Ngairatu~Ggaishcha praNatairgR^ihyate phalam

ये जनाः संस्कृतं पठितुं शक्नुवन्ति, तेषां कृते संस्कृतेन एव लिखामि ।

श्रीमद्गृध्रसरस्तीरे पारिजातमुपास्महे।
यत्र तुङ्गैरतुङ्गैश्च प्रणतैर्गृह्यते फलम्॥

This place has been on my to-visit list for a very long time.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

What went wrong? What might happen?

It's all over, the election results are out. Cong is in, NDA is out.

What could the BJP have done to retain power? I mean, just good governance is not enough in politics. I, for one, feel that the BJP lost because the people did not see any difference between BJP and Congress. As the RSS put it, the Beej diluted its ideology. Corrupt party-hoppers like Bangarappa joined the BJP. There was no mention of Article 370 and UCC in its manifesto. The BJP also tried to secure Muslim votes by (idiotic?) gestures such as increasing Haj subsidy and trying to be endorsed by none other than Imam Bukhari. Instead, they could have tried to educate the Muslims and make them think for themselves. I am of the opinion that any right-thinking patriotic Indian would never agree to have a Congress govt. and an inexperienced foreigner Sonia as the PM. Cong will be supported by the left, which makes the situation even more disgusting.

Picture this scenario. Sonia the PM, Laloo the HRD, Mulayam Defence minister.. For Heaven's sake, the woman (I mean SG) goes to UK and criticizes the Hindus of India! She cannot string two sentences in Hindi, the national language. She did not take Indian Citizenship until 1983. She and her husband took refuge in Italy when emergency was declared. Can it get any worse than this? I hope someone powerful has the sanity to suggest MM Singh's name for the PM-ship, or at least the FM-ship. Otherwise we will just go back to being another poor third-world country.

There were two articles on rediff that made me almost puke. Italy and Pakistan were celebrating the Congress's win! An Italian remarked that she would not be comfortable voting for a person of Indian origin (naturally!). But, happiness that Sonia was in this position was obvious from her talk (again, naturally!) Do we need more proof of our imbecility? I think India is just the right example for democracy's best and worst.

Somebody on a forum was remarking that he would leave India for good if Cong came to power. I love my country too much to even consider that a possibility. Here, Indians, welcome back to the days of Nehruvian Socialism, religious strife, reservation and unemployment. From our History books, we will start learning how Aryans were fiends who conquered India, and how Aurangzeb was the benevolent ruler who introduced the concept of religious equality to us uncivilized Indians. These are topsy-turvy times, indeed!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Importance of pronunciation and sAhitya in Classical Music

I am learning Carnatic Classical Music (well, I used to learn for a long time, and will restart learning in the near future), and for me, Music is something that links human with God. Almost all the kritis and varNas sung are known both for their sangIta aspect and the sAhitya aspect. Then, why pray, are they sung with such a horrible accents that one cannot even figure out the lyrics, let alone enjoy them? With the exception of a few, musicians do not even *try* to pronounce words properly. For some time, I had completely stopped listening to vocalists because their mistakes were so glaring that I could not even appreciate the good parts in their music!

An example- an old CD of GNB's recordings had this in its index "Manasulonima" ... ! Is it so hard to figure out that it 'manasulOni' and 'marmamu' are two different words? I have heard a musician pronounce 'nArada bhayahara' as 'nArada bayagara'. 'One who dispelled the fears of nArada' became, to my Tamil-untrained ear 'One who created fear in nArada'!

I had once attended a concert of T.N. Seshagopalan, one of my favourite musicians. He sang a romantic aShTapadi in - tODi! The rAga tODi is good for dainyarasa, and certainly anything but romantic! His Todi is impeccable; I have not listened to any tODi better than his. But it would have been much more enjoyable if he had chosen a different composition, or sang the same aShTapadi in a different raaga like kAmavardhini!

A course in saahitya must be made mandatory for musicians. This will help them put more emotion or bhAva into their singing. For example, lines like "kaantamagu pEru ponditivi" in "paalinchu kaamaakShi" are filled with love and devotion for the Mother. The neraval should bring out this devotion and love. It is of no use otherwise. I have heard some 'good' musicians sing 'nagumOmu ganalEni' with an enthusiasm that puts an child high on espresso to shame ! The meaning of the pallavi of this kriti is 'Rama, how can you have a smiling face when you know about my suffering?' See what happens when the musician does not understand the lyrics? It is the confluence of sAhitya and sangIta that makes Carnatic music so beautiful. Unless musicians understand this, they cannot do justice to their music.


This is just a test blog. My interests vary from Electrical Engineering and Physics and Philosophy to Politics and Music and movies, with a whole lot of subjects in between. Right now I am reading some stuff about how one can maintain an ecologically sound home. I am thinking of experimenting with solar cells but have not got much information to start working on them.