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Archive for August, 2005


After the Advani episode, there has been a lot of writing on these issues in many Indian newspapers and magazines. Some of these articles changed my understanding of the whole problem quite drastically. I may be wrong in this.. but I felt that this was one issue in which the print media gave importance to both schools of thought. Advani’s political game did bring about a debate..atleast in the Indian Media. And I thank Advani for that!
I will present excerpts from a particular series run by AG Noorani(a noted SC lawyer and constitutional expert) in the Frontline. These are longish, well written articles that even laymen can make sense of. The first one titled “Jinnah’s secularism” was in the issue that carried Advani’s Pak trip as a cover story. This article focussed on analysing the particular speech and questions pertaining to Jinnah’s secular credentials. The author contends that

” The speech has been quoted in bits and pieces; never analysed as a whole”

and goes on to give us more quotes from the speech.

J:”Now, if we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in cooperation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.”

is the part that Advani talked/wrote about.
Jinnah was pretty categoric about his views about intra-hindu and intra-mulsim conflicts..

J:”…We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities -…. – will vanish…..”

Jinnah was clearly reaching out to those who did not wish for partition and was painting a secular future for Pakistan. The fact that this speech is often condemned in muslim fundamentalist circle is probably testimony to this fact. The author even feels that Advani’s actions gave Pakistan’s secularists a major boost.As regards Jinnah’s secular credentials, these lines from his pronouncement in the legislature makes things further clear…

J: “I Sir, stand here with a clear conscience and I say that I am a nationalist first, a nationalist second and nationalist last… I once more appeal to this House. Whether you are a Mussalman or a Hindu, for God’s sake do not import the discussion of communal matters into this House, and degrade this Assembly, which we desire should become a real National Parliament. Set an example to the outside world and our people.”

But the question ofcourse is why did he lead the two-nation theory faction and sought a division of British India on communal lines?? AG Noorani uses these phrases to summarise the attitude of the Congress in the 1930s, the prime reason for this change in Jinnah’s attittude..

” Congress leaders demonised him systematically. So did Indian academics and the press.”
“His political record from 1906 to 1939 reveals a spirit of conciliation and statesmanship, which Congress leaders did not reciprocate. Indians must begin to acknowledge his greatness and the grave injustice the Congress leaders did to him.”

But he also comments that

“But he went overboard and did much harm by his miscalculations”

The driving point of the article is that

“Jinnah yet awaits a fair assessment, warts and all……… Indians and Pakistanis must reflect on all aspects of his life, not selectively as they do”

Being in India, you rarely get to hear arguments for Jinnah. School text books will do “two nation theory” bashing and just mention that Jinnah lead the two nation theory movement in the late years. This forces a particular image of Jinnah in most minds. I hope this article moves people from such a state. Not everything(both the pro-Jinnah and anti-Jinnah comments) that the author claims needs to be true.. but it presents the arguments in a much more complete manner than usual. It certainly helped in breaking a few notions that I had, though I am still far from taking concrete positions. Does anybody of an equivalent analysis in the Pak media??.. that would really help me in understanding things better.

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Science and Art

liked that?.. that is M51 in Canes Venatici. This is taken from the entries for Princeton’s Art of Science competetion. The entire display is here. (link via badastronomy)

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Wikipedia needs help!

How many times have you landed up at a wiki after googling?? Free, good quality information is the hallmark of wikipedia… the thing that started it all. For me, the wikipedia and its off-shoots have been of immense use as a ready,quick reference. The wikipedia concept (anybody can contribute!) has been a true revolution and must be one of the greatest successes of the internet era. For more on this ..go to the wiki for wikipedia !
The Media-wiki software could be used by anybody to create a wiki for themselves. There are numerous wikis out there..each serving netizens in their own small way. And now the parent body needs some help! The entire thing is run free of cost and they need donations to keep it that way.
Ho here to help them.

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Sid Varad-1984

There is a new blog by Sid Varad and he calls it “November 1984”. The first post is a copy of the report of the citizens group that went into the details of the riots. It is longish and certainly worth a read.(A shorter version appeared here) Make sure that you keep tabs on this blog! Sid seems to have the practice of posting with the actual dates. And this post is dated “Aug 15 1990”..but the Outlook extract does not have any date on it.

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All Political Parties are up in arms, chiding the Supreme court for its ruling on this issue. Though this is not the first time that the political spectrum has risen against the Supreme Court.. this problem has some nuances. The Supreme court seems to have taken a position with only “independence” of private institutions taken into consideration. A clarification from the center, assuring pple that a new legislation is on the offing has calmed down things a little. Reservation in educational institutions is necessary as that is the only way to give oppurtunities to the many who deserve it. (Do u go on with private companies too??.. that is a bigger issue.. ) My motive here is to highlight two issues…

Though the court asked for some regulation from the govt to ensure that ‘merit’ and not money wins the game.. this is unlikely to work. Atleast in TN, the business of govt regulating admission fees, insistence on admission tests etc. has turned into a big joke. To most of these managements, running colleges has become an instrument of money making and they go to any limits to achieve this. Even if you ask the student to pay the entire expenses.. there is no way that the amount could spiral to the exorbitant rates that these managements charge. (Last heard… a medical seat was sold for 20 lakh in a popular college and eng seats go for 2-7 lakhs) Even assuming that the reservation bill gets passed, regulating (read as ‘driving sense into’) the managements of these colleges would remain a big problem.

The other is with the question of how you look at ‘merit’. This is tricky. The few who get into good colleges (say IITs).. do not do so because of sheer ability. The fact that we had parents who could afford a city life/costly coaching classes are greater factors. I don’t see anybody denying this. Though this is far from a equal platform, the IITs stick to this method as they can afford to tailor their programmes to meet the needs of students who already have a good exposure to the fundamentals. Lack of access to good teachers/books makes a student from rural background disadvantaged. The students who get through the reservations may find it tough competing with pple from more affluent backgrounds. At the level of a college, it is probably very tough to bridge this gap. Though it is important to stick to some reservations at these levels… this is no solution. Upgrading facilities and quality at much lower levels of education(where the govt. dominates in terms of reach) is the only permanant way out. Reservations at higher levels are only temperory solutions, but very important nevertheless.

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All Political Parties are up in arms, chiding the Supreme court for its ruling on this issue. Though this is not the first time that the political spectrum has risen against the Supreme Court.. this problem has some nuances. The Supreme court seems to have taken a position with only “independence” of private institutions taken into consideration. A clarification from the center, assuring pple that a new legislation is on the offing has calmed down things a little. Reservation in educational institutions is necessary as that is the only way to give oppurtunities to the many who deserve it. (Do u go on with private companies too??.. that is a bigger issue.. ) My motive here is to highlight two issues…

Though the court asked for some regulation from the govt to ensure that ‘merit’ and not money wins the game.. this is unlikely to work. Atleast in TN, the business of govt regulating admission fees, insistence on admission tests etc. has turned into a big joke. To most of these managements, running colleges has become an instrument of money making and they go to any limits to achieve this. Even if you ask the student to pay the entire expenses.. there is no way that the amount could spiral to the exorbitant rates that these managements charge. (Last heard… a medical seat was sold for 20 lakh in a popular college and eng seats go for 2-7 lakhs) Even assuming that the reservation bill gets passed, regulating (read as ‘driving sense into’) the managements of these colleges would remain a big problem.

The other is with the question of how you look at ‘merit’. This is tricky. The few who get into good colleges (say IITs).. do not do so because of sheer ability. The fact that we had parents who could afford a city life/costly coaching classes are greater factors. I don’t see anybody denying this. Though this is far from a equal platform, the IITs stick to this method as they can afford to tailor their programmes to meet the needs of students who already have a good exposure to the fundamentals. Lack of access to good teachers/books makes a student from rural background disadvantaged. The students who get through the reservations may find it tough competing with pple from more affluent backgrounds. At the level of a college, it is probably very tough to bridge this gap. Though it is important to stick to some reservations at these levels… this is no solution. Upgrading facilities and quality at much lower levels of education(where the govt. dominates in terms of reach) is the only permanant way out. Reservations at higher levels are only temperory solutions, but very important nevertheless.

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The Greatest Physics Paper.

Clifford (of cosmicvariance) has started a debate to decide on the Greatest Physics Paper. This is ofcourse a matter of preference..but a debate on such topics can be a nice way to look back at the wonderful history of Physics and Scientific Thought. So.. if u have special choices, go and comment there. Current favorites seem to be the Principia, Kepler’s observations,Maxwell’s paper on reformulating laws of Electricity and Magnetism,Einstein’s spl relativity paper and Dirac’s two papers that laid the foundation of the unification of SR and QM.(my prediction : principia will win hands down..competition is for the rest of the places 😉 )

ps: i am pushing a particular paper by Emelie Noether, agst the other heavyweights.. u r welcome to support it!
Update : Still no support for Noether!

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