March 30, 2010

CJI Redeems Himself ...

With his recent opinions in the famous 'Khushboo' case, the CJI has luckily refused to meddle in people's private decisions.

It's perhaps symptomatic of how stupid and archaic Indians are that what the actress had said should have been controversial to begin with.

It's merely a reflection of people's misplaced priorities. India is a nation where people are bothered about other people's private behavior but do not find it outrageous if kids have to beg at traffic lights and spend their childhoods working instead of studying in school.

Indians are a strange people with a completely misplaced set of priorities.

The 'Me' Generation

I guess that's about as charitable as I can get to describe the present generation of young Indians that I have seen grow up.

I am somewhat at a loss to make sense of the way the mind of this generation works.

I find it strange that someone should be educated ... above all, educated in the principles of science ... and yet continue to hold on to archaic rituals that have no meaning at all, absolutely no meaning.

Some of it has to do with upbringing. People in India are brought up to 'respect' their elders and somehow people never bother to question the validity of certain assumptions.

I find old people of India to be complete fools with a set of stupid beliefs and rituals who deserve no respect whatsoever because they have essentially spent their lives in trivial pursuits that has no deep meaning.

I think of the larger perspective. Look at the historical perspective, for example. Look at India in the 20th century. India got independence around the middle of the century. The historical forces at play that led to India's independence are a separate matter. I wonder though if the fact of India being independent or not is 'central' to people's lives.

I do not think British rule 'affected' people in any deep way ... in the sense of how they measure their lives.

I think for traditional India, life is merely a dreary sequence of babies who grow up and then have babies and then those babies grow up and have more babies and so on ...

Think of the history of humanity in the 20th century. What a spectacular, awe-inspiring tale of progress on all fronts — science and technology and medicine.

And what has been the contribution of Indians in that story? None. Zero. Nada. Nyet.

The Wright Brothers invented the airplane and others stretched the idea and we have the story of Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh and Chuck Yeagar and Frank Whittle and so many others.

Think of the achievements in space exploration: from Goddard and von Braun to the Apollo missions to the Moon and the Voyager missions to the outer planets.

What extraordinary advances in medical science: from Salk and Sabin to CT scans and PET machines to revolutionary new drugs to battle cancer.

Fundamental science grew by leaps and bounds with the insights of giants like Einstein and Bohr and Rutherford and Feynman and so many others.

Computer science is a discipline that took birth in many ways as a byproduct of advances in theoretical science. And how fast it continues to grow.

And where are Indians in all this? Nowhere.

Oh, of course, Indians are taking baby steps today in space exploration and I admire the folks who are pioneering it.

Oh, India is known as an IT superpower ... but I think it's mostly to do with the fact that Indians are 'cheaper' and the nature of IT is that work need not be tied down to a physical location and so we have a few educated young Indians who are riding the wave in a manner of speaking. Lest we are mistaken, of course, this is all somewhat illusory of course.

One might get a sense from the media that India has suddenly become a 'rich' nation with lots of billionaires and Mercedes and Ferrari owners.

But that's a wrong image of the reality of India.

If a million cars are sold every year in India today, the pertinent fact to remember is that most of those million cars are small cars and India is a nation of 1.2 billion people.

Roughly 10 million cars are sold every year in nations such as Japan and the U.S. and Western Europe.

It would be interesting to add up the populations of U.S. and Western Europe and Japan: 300 million + 400 million + 150 million = 850 million.

That's still at least 300 million less than the population of India.

It's all too pathetic.

The sad part is that people in India are mostly blithely ignorant about these facts and go on living their miserable lives observing stupid rituals.

Oh, what the hell! Indians will pay the price eventually, of course.

Indians are a God-crazy people. I do not believe in God.

But one can't complain too much about Indians believing in God as most people even in the 'developed' nations of Europe and the United States believe in varieties of God.

And I think of the incessant 'scandals' that the Catholic church is suffering from. What a joke! That's a different story though ...

March 20, 2010

Stiglitz Speak

http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=8353

Well, it's good to see the Prof. agree with my perception that financial firms got more sympathy than they deserved last year and so the world of financial 'wizards' is basically back to square one.

Bring on the next financial crisis!!! Only, not too soon like in a year or two but a while from now when people have conviniently forgotten this crisis ...

Oh, and Stiglitz is optimistic ... of course, he doesn't have to live in Delhi ...

Slums, power cuts, incessant blaring of horns, marriage processions on public streets, etc. ... did I miss out any other problems of living in India ... or of living in China or any of the other places on the planet outside of the developed nations of Europe and America and Asia? Well, I guess I missed about 1,000 or 10,000 other problems which might be specific to peoples and societies ...

Cheers!

Well, I am not going to be like ... or, better still, make that, I refuse to be like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets ... I mean, the misantropic part of it ... right, Geetha? Oops ...

March 15, 2010

The Wayward Chinese Dragon ...

Paul Krugman advocates taking a strong stand against China's monetary policy that has long kept its currency artificially undervalued.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/opinion/15krugman.html

Taking on China quite paradoxically would also involve taking on the American consumer in some way. Or, the American consumer mindset.

China is almost single handedly responsible for the Wall mart economy that Americans are so in love with.

Putting surcharges on Chinese imports would raise the prices of all those 'toys' Americans love so much ... everything is Made in China, right? From children's toys to digicams to plasma TVs and much else ... perhaps, except cars and houses and fast food.

I wonder what the prophet of the 'flat world' would have to say about this punitive course of action ...

March 13, 2010

Krugman and Brooks

Krugman:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/12/opinion/12krugman.html

Brooks:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/12/opinion/12brooks.html?hp

Both really praising the vision and administration of Obama. While the WSJ writers point out how Obama is no LBJ, they perhaps forget that the Congress of the 21st century is not the Congress of the sixties.

The entrenched interess, the viciousness of the partisan attacks, the billions of dollars at stake in Congressional legislation, human greed that is not constant like the height of the mighty Everest keeps rising with every generation ...

Lincoln and LBJ and Jefferson and Washington would have operated differently today than they did in their milieu. If going back to the farm after retirement is a virtue, then George W. Bush has it, does he not? Well, perhaps he did not exactly retire to his ranch.

In the vastness of the cosmos ... let me tell you a story ...

Our home, this spaceship, this Earth, keeps spinning and spinning ... suspended in space.

And an invisible force keeps it tethered to its home star, the source of all its energy.

And that star too is not really still. It too has a story to tell.

Once upon a time, 5 billion years ago perhaps, it was just a lot of gas. Then that gas got together and gravity compressed it and when compressed enough, nuclei started fusing in the processing converting some matter into energy — in the ultimate sort of alchemy.

And that energy radiates out in the form of photons that have different energies and span the electromagnetic spectrum.

Some of that light we see as our visual apparatus is sensitive and limited only to those wavelengths. Imagine being present at that day of creation when the Sun would have shown for the first time ... ever.

Like a village getting electricity for the first time ... only, a trillion trillion times more fundamental.

A star shining for the first time ... I wonder if that would really happen like an incandescent bulb getting switched on instantly when we flip a switch or how.

Has the shape/size of the Sun remained more or less constant since the last five billion years?

What is a billion years for the Sun? Four trips only around the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

So, thus far, the Sun has completed only 20 revolutions ... 20 years in some ways, one can say.

And in another similar 20 years, 5 billion Earth years would have gone by.

And the Sun would have grown old ... run out of the ingredients to keep the fusion fire burning bright.

And it would become bloated like some decaying corpse ... becoming so big that even the Earth would be gobbled up inside its body.


And then a supernova explosion would blow much of the mass away leaving behind only a small portion that would settle eventually into a white dwarf star or a brown dwarf.


And what then? What would happen to the universe we inhabit? Not in 5 billion years? Not in 10? Think 50 billion years. 100 billion years.

Go back to the past. The Big Bang happened 'only' 13.7 billion years ago ... so says science.

How much longer does the universe have to live?

Will it last forever? Expanding forever? Or, will the matter of the universe start reversing the present expansionist phase some day and the universe will become a contracting universe?

What do you think?

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