Monthly Archives: January 2016

Beyond Hinduism: Is caste a religious or a regional problem?

10 accused in blast cases have RSS links: R.K. Singh

A slightly older post, since under the current federal regime people can’t expect fairness.
(Advocate Ujjwal Nikham, the prosecutor in the Ajmal Kasab -who attacked Mumbai- case and who also falsely claimed that Kasab demanded Mutton Biriyani before his execution was conferred Padma Shri award on this Republic Day (26/1/16). The lawyer later -much after the execution- claimed that he had told a lie to deflect the attention of people from the execution and emotion it might have carried!)
Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said on Tuesday that at least 10 people having close links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliated organisations were named accused in various ac

Source: 10 accused in blast cases have RSS links: R.K. Singh

A Padma for the prosecutor: Casting prejudices in stones

A Padma for the prosecutor
Sandeep Joshi

IN the feudal times, kings and monarchs were known to reward with royal honours those whose loyalty and performance they approved of. The modern democratic state, too, carries in its copious bag of tricks a number of medals and awards that it hands out to a handful of citizens. The award of state honours is not a matter of simple choice. When a regime singles out individuals for state honours, in a way, it identifies itself with the performances, preferences and prejudices of those selected. The Padma awards, our republican version of the Queen’s Honours List, too, carry with them a sense of approval and appreciation of the honoured individual’s presumed achievement. No Padma list is ever perfect. Nor can it be. A Padma list reflects choices made — or, not made by a government, which in turn is a political arrangement. This year, too, on the eve of Republic Day as many as 83 men and women were picked for the Padma honours. As in the previous years, the awards reflected the incumbent government’s sense of affiliation and solidarity with those on the list. However, there is one name among the 83 awardees that particularly demands attention because it is as revealing as it is disquieting. Ujjwal Nikam gets the Padma Shri in the public affairs category. Nikam is a lawyer for the state of Maharashtra. There is no doubt that he is an accomplished legal hand and that he has a natural courtcraft, an asset that eludes very many in the world of lawyers and judges. But he is no legal luminary. He is not an MC Setalvad nor a CK Daphtary nor a Fali Nariman. Nikam is a very public prosecutor, seeking vengeance on behalf of the State against those who defy the magistracy of the law. In a society that normally cheers those who stand by and seek insaaf for the underdog, Nikam stands for punishment to one and all. Severe and harsh. An equivalent of the ‘hanging judge’. As a public prosecutor, he demands, loudly and insistently, vengeance and retribution on our collective .. (read more)

Nikham – Kasab’s prosecutor told a lie

The Right-Wing Attack on India’s Universities

India’s Upper Caste Consensus

File – PTI Photo
India’s Upper Caste Consensus
​The events in Hyderabad show that there is no unanimity or consensus of Hindu opinion…
The 2011 census in India showed the population of Indians belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as being over 25 per cent of the population. Of these 16.6 per cent are dalits and 8.6 per cent are adivasis. These are the other names by which these communities (whom the British called Untouchables and Tribals) are known.

One fourth of India means 300 million or 30 crore people. If they were a nation by themselves, they would be the fourth largest in the world, after China, India and the United States. But in our white collar economy they have almost no presence.

The main reason for this is lack of access to quality education and historical lack of opportunity for employment. The constitution has tried to correct this by introducing reservations in educational institutions and government jobs. But the middle class (which means upper caste) Indians of our cities feel that they are discriminated against by reservations and that their ‘merit’ should not be sacrificed.

I can guarantee that in any major, urban, white collar office the most likely place to find ​D​alits is in the list of grade 1 employees. This comprises those who clean. There is absolutely no shame that is felt by these institutions over this fact. Such things are not even thought about. Both ​D​alits and adivasis are totally marginalised in our economy and our media.

I am writing about this because of an event in Hyderabad where a ​D​alit student killed himself. Rohith Vemula, a PhD student, and four others were expelled from their hostel after pressure

Who invented the television? How people reacted to John Logie Baird’s creation 90 years ago

Google doodle drew my attention this morning as I woke up. It is the 90th anniversary of the demonstration of the omnipresent, all-consuming television! Would Jon Logie Baird himself have thought of it then? I wonder! Much the today’s cinematic obsession -or even more!- television has come to occupy the central place in our lives. Probably, in the smartphone era, platform may have changed, not its presence!

Ninety years ago today a moving head on a screen made history. It was the first public demonstration of live television, and the occasion is being marked with a Google Doodle.

The face in question belonged to Daisy Elizabeth Gandy, the business partner of John Logie Baird, the Scottish scientist who is regarded as the inventors of the mechanical television.

The mechanical television, also known as “the televisor” worked a bit like a radio, but had a rotating mechanism attached that could generate a video to accompany the sound. It preceded the modern television, which creates images using electronic scanning.

In 1924 Baird managed to transmit a flickering image across a distance of 10 feet and the following year, he had a breakthrough when he achieved TV pictures with light and shade.

Within two years this flicker was the face of a woman who was in a different room.

Where did this take place?

The historic 1926 public display took place on January 26, in a laboratory in Soho in front of members from the Royal Institution and a journalist from the Times.

The blue plaque commemorating the event can be seen above Bar Italia at number 22 Frith Street in Soho

Although the pictures were small, measuring just 3.5 by 2 inches, the process was revolutionary.

“The image as transmitted was faint and often blurred, but substantiated a claim that through the ‘televisor,’ as Mr Baird has named his apparatus, it is possible to transmit and reproduce instantly the details of movement, and such things as the play of expression on the face,” wrote the reporter from the Times after the demonstration.

As innovative as the demonstration had been, the journalist wasn’t convinced that it would take off.

“For God’s sake, go down to reception and get rid of a lunatic who’s down there. He says he’s got a machine for seeing by wireless!”
Daily Express news editor, 1925

“It has yet to be seen to what extent further developments will carry Mr Baird’s system towards practical use,” they wrote.

Still, that was better than the reaction of the Daily Express newspaper who, when Baird approached them with the invention in 1925, kicked him out.

Inventor of the television John Logie Baird with Stooky Bill the ventriloquist’s doll (Alamy)

The news editor at the time said: “For God’s sake, go down to reception and get rid of a lunatic who’s down there. He says he’s got a machine for seeing by wireless!”

Who was John Logie Baird?

Baird was a Scottish engineer and inventor born in 1888 in Helensburgh, Scotland. He was the youngest of four sons of a clergyman. As a boy he loved to experiment with electronics – he even rigged up a telephone exchange to connect his bedroom to his friend’s across the street.

From 1914 to 1915, Baird was a student at the University of Glasgow, reading engineering.

Logie Baird with Stooky Bill again (Photo: Rex Features)

Baird cut short his studies when he tried to voluntarily sign up for national service in 1915 but was turned down on health grounds.

Professor Anton Muscatelli, principal of the University of Glasgow, said: “We’re proud of the fact that John Logie Baird is an alumnus of the University of Glasgow, and so it is fitting and immensely exciting that these important items, which catalogue the world-changing work he was conducting at the time of his engineering breakthrough, are preserved here in Scotland and at the university where he studied.”

Baird went on to dominate TV innovation for three decades.

After the 1926 display, Baird continued to develop the mechanical TV and in 1927 he transmitted content across a 438-mile long telephone line between London and Glasgow. He went on to set up the Baird Television Development Company, which produced the first transatlantic broadcastand the first live transmission of the Epsom Derby.

A 32-line televisor in action. The singer is the Danish actor Buster Larsen singing in about 1960

Baird returned to the University of Glasgow in 1928, when he gave a lecture, simply titled ‘Television’, to students in the Engineering Society. He explained how the television worked, the difficulties he overcame and the benefits of a wireless system.

He is also said to have expressed a belief that television would soon be of commercial importance.

Baird developed colour TV and brought out the world’s first mass-produced television set in 1929 and from then until 1937 the BBC used Baird’s company for its television broadcasts.

The mechanical TV didn’t last much longer, however – it was outstripped by the electronic television in the 1930s. This didn’t deter Baird, who continued to work in television innovation and eventually gave the first demonstration of a fully electronic colour TV in 1944.

Baird died after suffering a stroke on June 14th 1946 in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex aged 58.

How the mechanical television worked

Click image to enlarge

Preserving Baird’s legacy

In September 2015, an anonymous donor stepped in to prevent a recording of Baird’s first transmission of transatlantic television pictures being sold to private collectors overseas.

The materials, which include a disc featuring what has been described as one of the world’s earliest surviving video recordings, are now stored at the University of Glasgow along with much of the Scottish inventor’s other work.

An asking price of £78,750 was put on the “treasure trove” archive and an export bar was placed on the lot to see if any British buyers would step in.

Malcolm Baird, grandson of John Logie Baird, with a selection of television sets including the first mass production set (Photo: Heathcliff O’Malley)

The purchase of the collection was made possible with the financial support of a businessman from Baird’s hometown of Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, who wished to remain anonymous.

The recording and radio log books, used by assistant Benjamin Clapp, contain the world’s first-known use of the acronym TV.

The donor, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “[The collection] charts such an important period of modern engineering history, so I felt it could not, and should not, leave these shores to move abroad. It needs to be shared for future generations.

John Logie Baird, inventor of the mechanical television (Alamy)

“John Logie Baird was a Helensburgh man and a Scottish pioneer who helped change the world, and with his ties to the University of Glasgow I think it is only right and proper that this important collection should be coming to the university, and hopefully it will help inspire future pioneering engineers.”

The phonovision shellac disc, dating back to September 20 1927, is the world’s oldest-surviving 78rpm video recording and features pictures of Stooky Bill, the ventriloquist’s dummy Baird used when developing his revolutionary mechanical scanning broadcasts.

It was recorded during his transatlantic television trials but was not actually transmitted until February 9 1928, marking one of Baird’s earliest television broadcasts.

The University of Glasgow already owns a vast collection of Baird’s work. He was a student at the university from 1914, studying engineering.

Baird’s other (less successful) inventions

In his twenties Baird tried to create diamonds by heating graphite and shorted out Glasgow’s electricity supply.

He also invented a rust-resistant glass razor which contantly shattered as well as pneumatic shoes, but his prototype contained semi-inflated balloons which burst.

The thermal undersock (the Baird undersock) was his idea. After a number of trials, he found that an extra layer of cotton inside the sock provided warmth for his cold feet.

In 1928, he developed an early video recording device, which he dubbed Phonovision.

According to his son Malcolm, Baird filed a patent in 1926 for a device that formed images from reflected radio waves, a device remarkably similar to radar, and that he was in correspondence with the British government at the time. The radar contribution is in dispute since his wartime record has never been made public by the UK government.

Honouring Baird, Google’s latest doodle features an illustration of the mechanical TV with Baird on the screen.

Continue reading Who invented the television? How people reacted to John Logie Baird’s creation 90 years ago

‘Make In India’ Logo Designed By Foreign Firm

 |  By Indrani Basu

Posted: 15/01/2016 00:24 IST Updated: 15/01/2016 

The logo for ‘Make in India’ — one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet campaigns — has been created by an international design agency founded in the United States of America’s Portland, Oregon. The logo, derived from India’s national emblem, is part of the advertising agency’s website portfolio.

According to a report in The Times of India, the Indian arm of the advertising agency has designed the logo. Its Indian offices are in Saket in south Delhi. According to the creators’ description of the logo “the prowling lion stands for strength, courage, tenacity and wisdom—values that are every bit as Indian today as they have ever been.”

ALSO READ: The Myth Of Make In India

Modi has pushed the ‘Make in India’ campaign ever since he assumed office in 2014, in a bid to encourage Indian businesses, and has urged Indian consumers to buy…. (read further)

Make in India made in USA!

It’s two weeks in Seattle

It is two weeks since I came to Seattle. It’s been one of the most pleasant and rewarding experiences for me here.

Teaching Film Studies (Indian Cinema) to seniors in Films Studies is a challenge. They have been majoring in Film Studies (a few in Communication Studies) for the last four years. And I was wondering how would the response be.

It is anything but ordinary. It being a small class, it gives me immense advantage to be these youngsters’ facilitator.

Another thing that strikes me immediately is their attitude to learning – though they are seniors in Film or Communication Studies, they tell me they don’t know anything about Indian cinema, and would like to learn. Some have watched a few Indian films; but that -they say- is not enough to understand Indian Cinema.

Over the last two weeks I have witnessed a deep desire to learn. It is not easy to cope with Film Studies. Some take it thinking it is only watching films, and getting easy credits. But, wait a minute! It tougher than most of other subjects!

My Film Studies students have to watch at least Indian 23 films for this Winter Quarter. And all on their own; I don’t screen films in the class for them. Classes are meant for discussing, sharing, challenging and testing one anothers’ views, clarifying doubts, etc. For this, they need to view the films in advance. Then they need to read the articles/ books suggested, and come to the class.

But the energy I see among these folks is tremendous! Viewing, reading, rereading and challenging one another brings the best out of everyone. The classroom comes alive. Bubbles with new ideas. At the end of it all, we have come to our own individual understanding of the ideological positions of the films.

The best one was this: I suggested if someone can take responsibility for screenings. Immediately goes up a hand. ‘I will do it, today itself,’ she says. I will book the Media Production Centre for all the Sunday evenings (!). In case it is not available I will arrange in my own house; you could join me!’

Regular tutorials work as sounding boards, both ways. Helps in clarifying concepts, course demands, assignments, assessments, grading, etc. Above all it indicates where we are headed to!

I have found the faculty really wonderful. Charles has been dynamo! Such young shoulders, but a huge responsibility as Acting Head of the Department. Then, it has been very nice to be a colleague with Georg, the filmmaker!

Russ and Joe have been the gentlemen that only they can be. Today we had a breakfast meeting with the SU Delegation scheduled to visit SJC. What a cordial meeting we had. It was followed by a lunch meeting with the Dean, David. Before that, for the last week to end, Downtown Seattle, Public Market, Seattle Needle, and Starwars- the Force Awakes, with two of my Jesuit friends, here.

Come next week, we will have tea-meeting with Kan, followed by a few more. Above all a visit to Casko, as a cultural shock promised by Venkel!

And we have been on a roller-coaster ride because of this.

Occupy UGC: Students protest outside HRD Ministry, start postcard campaign

This is why you need good people with solid related academic background as ministers in-charge of education port folio.

In India, education comes under the Ministry of Human Resources Development. But seldom did we have a minister who understood education! Definitely, not the present one – Ms Smriti Irani. She was an actor in some televisions serials; not an academic. She does not even have a bachelors degree; according to the press reports and controversies, what she declared as ‘degree’ was fake! And there were contradictions in her own self-declarations , and there raged a massive controversy. Though the Aam Admi Party minister from Delhi was imprisoned for a similar forgery, there was no impartial inquiry instituted against her bluff.

A lot of harm has been done by the minister to higher education in India. Now look at what she is doing with it!


UGC had resolved to discontinue the scheme of non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship, which is provided to those undertaking research in central universities across India, in a meeting held on October 7 last year, citing shortage of resources.

Students protesting over the issue of scrapping of non-NET scholarship on Wednesday staged a protest outside the office of the HRD Ministry in New Delhi and tried to submit a memorandum to the minister but were denied.

Simultaneously, the protesters kick-started a countrywide campaign in which they are sending postcards to HRD Minister Smriti Irani demanding….

HRD Minister scraps Non-NET Scholarships

Marathi author apologises for ‘anti-Modi’ remarks

For the right wing party which keeps negating that there is intolerance in the country, this should be the height of ‘tolerance’. Should public personalities, especially those whom we elect and those living on our taxes, always expect to be incensed? If they can’t take criticism, they should not enter the public sphere. Is it imperative that they be considered above board? Or, don’t the voters have a right to expect their leaders to come clean in all spheres of life?

Why should -the moment one criticises their political leader, and who feeds on their taxes-, a fringe group calling itself blind “fans” or Bhakts of some politicians or ministers or self-styled leaders go on the rampage?

This is hypocrisy at its nadir. We can’t approve of this. Those threatening the freedom of speech and expression, should be jailed. Let there be no immoral or self-styled policing. In a civil society, everyone should respect everyone else’ freedom to live fearlessly and within the ambit of the Constitution.

Forced apology to Narendra Modi by the Marathi writer Dr Shripal Sabnis is a shame of a democracy.
With the BJP’s threat to disrupt Maharashtra’s biggest literary event looming large, author Shripal Sabnis on Tuesday publicly apologised for his remarks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.With barely tw

Source: Marathi author apologises for ‘anti-Modi’ remarks