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!