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A Visit to Indian Institute of Science

On Friday, Dr Divakar, Frs Melwyn D’Cunha, and Jimmy (with me, of course) visited the famous Indian Institute of Science. The Institute is known for C. V. Raman, the Nobel laureate.
IISc Rhidhi2
Besides our interest to know about IISc, and witness its excellence, we have another reason: our famous Taxonomist Fr Cecil Saldanha was closely associated with it during his life-time. Towards the end of his life, he donated his entire collection of herbarium to IISc. We wanted to see that too.
IISc Rhidhi
The 420-acre campus is absolutely marvelous.  Such a beautiful campus in the heart of Bangalore. It is lush green. It is well-maintained.
IISc Plane
There is a particular tree – I forget the exact name. Such a lovely tree!
And then we found India’s first indigenously designed plane – probably in the late 1950s – the description there does not give the exact date. It simply says the plane was in operation from the 1950s to the mid-1980s.
IISc Plance Expl

de-Constructing Meaning of L’immortelle

It’s a French film. Directed by Alain Robbe-Grillet in 1963. The 100-minutes-long Black & White L’immortelle is pure visuals. The film stars Jacques Doniol-Valcroze as a French college professor (we don’t know what his expertise is) who moves to Istanbul in Turkey and Fracnoise Brion as the young woman, his lure.
The film breaks the regular linear narrative and it breaks the many other human constructions. When we go visiting historic places and places of importance, we read tour guides or listen to our guides and acclaim, ‘Wahhhh!’ Where does this meaning and significance come from? Isn’t it our or someone else’ construction? The beautiful, old city of Istanbul is not old, built just the other day. All lovely things/ locales exist and don’t. She knows and doesn’t. She is there and she is not. The constructed binaries.
You could look at the film from another angle, as Margo puts it, – lure of the exotic. That which goes beyond, never attainable. You go chasing it. And it may posit two things: the real and the not real. The fascination chases us or has us in a bind.  What are we chasing?Limmortelle
[picture courtsey: filmmonthly.com]
I liked a few of those pure shots  – haptic visuals! The woman is a haunting beauty not just to the professor, but to the viewer as well. And when the two are together, the eyeline hardly matches. Probably, she is not real. They are not in the same plane. Once the professor encounters her for the first time in real time and place, she is no more in the real; she becomes his imagination. And then she can jump in and out of the frame, in out of the real and the unreal, and live in his imagination. The extreme close-ups and zooms-outs are a feast to the eye. But the finest is when the tourist rows his boat under the bridge from one water to the another, and then enters the mosque whose pillars are rooted in waters, and he rows through the landscape of a myriad of them…. that’s perfect! Beautiful!
In the quest for deconstructing the meaning-making, his construction and her deconstruction, Istanbul could be anywhere; it could be replaced by Banares in India or Beluru-Halebeedu in Karnataka. The film works as well.
Alain Robbe-Grillet wrote the script for Alain Resnais’ famous film Last Year at Marienbad. And this  his film got clouded in the shadow of the master Resnais’ brilliance. You can see the influence in L’immortelle -call it indebtedness- to the better known French master – the long tracking shots of the “historic” mosque
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New Academic Year 2017

It’s back to formal academics at St Joseph’s College Bangalore

The College reopens, and we begin with student orientation today.

Monday onwards regular classes begin.

For an already hectic schedule, these formal academics are only going to add – fuel to fire.

That reminds me that first I am an academic – Indian and our system does not honour its researchers. So, focus on academics. The best I could give. So, that is a reminder I must temper my research ambitions, and go to classroom.

Here is looking forward to a fruitful academic year 2017-18.

Bahubali-2 and Sophiya

I had the opportunity of watching two very different films in Mangalore, recently. S.S. Rajamouli’s much acclaimed Hindi version of the original Telugu ‘Bahubali-2 Conclusion‘ and Harry Fernandes’ Konkani film Sophiya.

While Bahubali is brilliant for its special effects, graphics, and animation, the same thing can’t be said of its structure. I haven’t watched its first part – The Beginning. But those who have watched both the films tell me it is not necessary to watch the first. And they are absolutely right. There is  no reference to the “I”.

Bahubali

I must say the entire film stands on its graphics, special effects, and sound design. But the film is worth the 168 minutes you spend on.

The Konkani is an orphan child. Sad for the little Coastal language. The little spoken minority, endangered coastal language has been struggling to make films in the last few decades. In a fragmented yet highly competitive cut-throat commercial world, a minority language like Konkani can’t afford to create pieces of mass produced, massed consum-able arts. But that in spite of the lack of a collective history or talent pool or an avalanche of resources, it still has dared make a film is great news.

From a critical perspective, the film is a bore – though the hundred plus audiences in the second week of its release in a  multiplex screen seemed to enjoyed the film thoroughly! You hear your fellow viewers hum the lines of the songs happily!

From the story point, it is a very poor script and a plot. Nothing solid to hold on to. The same priest – the church – Catholic community environs. Konkani culture has not yet severed its priestly umbilical cords.Sophiya

And then there is bad casting of almost all the characters – especially the child (Annie), her dad Alwyn, the physician and everybody else. The child has been badly handled. The director’s inexperience (in spite of the claims of having worked with many filmmakers) stands out. Sophiya’s final song on the beauty of the land is a absolute out-of-place in its tune as well as relevance. The best I can say about it is it is a childish venture, gone fully out of control, with the absolute ignorance of watching some post-independence era films.

Cerritos Library in Los Angeles

From today on, intermittently, I will be uploading a few of pictures I clicked in the US.

Today’s consignment includes the famous and lovely Cerritos Council Library in Los Angeles, California. The Library is designed to attract people to read and fascinate them. No doubt, you will find hundreds of kids reading and playing in the library. Such an atmosphere fosters a good reading habits early in their childhood.

My second visit to USA

It keeps coming again and again! This time the visit to the US was very short – just about seven  days for official work at Seattle University, and another 12 days in Arizona and California.

Disneyland and Hollywood besides my friends, were special!

Though I had visited a few places on my last visit, last year, this time it was more fun.

Arizona was new – Phonix. All thanks to Ida.

Fear of the Indian Majority

Seemingly, the majority community in India thinks it is at the risk of extinction. Or, that is what the RSS and its sangh-parivar say, and make ordinary, gullible Hindus believe. Going by the big numbers of herded, unemployed youth at its various political rallies in the name of religion and “culture” (Hindu samskriti), it would seem so. Or the RSS, which stands of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (nationalist volunteer organisation), would have us believe.

Look at the way the poisonous organisation has spread its roots all over – from the most illiterate and poor folk to the highly literate and filthy rich, from villages to metropolises. The sangh parivar has succeed in hoodwinking a huge number of people – either by lies or by threats.

Currently, the politically ambitious organisation is busy terrorising Muslims in various parts of the country in the name of beef-ban. You simply can’t believe a Gujarat pogrom (February-March 2002), or a Muzaffarnagar (August 2013) could happen in a democracy.  Or that you could numb down an entire peace-loving, quiet and miniscule minority Christians community under the bogey of faked-conversions. Recently, after the political victories in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and machinations in Manipur and Goa (March 2017), things have become worse: in the state of Jharkhand in North India, the RSS has started a Christian-free-Jharkhand, and are forcing Christians to convert to Hinduism. The battlelines are clear: in the 2014 Parliamentary elections it was Congress-mukth bharat (Congress-free India), post UP-elections 2017, it is Christian-free Jharkhand. The RSS would tolerate no opposition to its dirty agenda.

The same organisation has forced tribals (STs/ original dwellers of the land) of India out of their natural resources-rich locales, and has completely numbed the entire dalit/ Scheduled Caste community, which the invader upper castes of India demonised, from the time it invaded India (Mohenjodaro-Harappa civilisation times). But when it needs foot-soldiers to abuse minorities in the name of “nationalism” and ‘foreign religions’, the RSS employs these gullible people to be their foot-soldiers. The idea is clear – if someone is caught red-handed attacking minorities and women, the hapless SC/ STs go to jails. If the illegal, inhuman operations successful, RSS cadres covet political chairs at the highest levels.

Benefit above all of unopposed political power.

Look at the political scenario today in India! Beginning with the prime minister of India, BJP’s national president, to all the chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states and top ministers – all are RSS-cadres, deputed by RSS to BJP, after they were tested and found successful to be staunch anti-minorities and firebrand Hindutva-vadis (fascists).  By the way, BJP is the political wing of the RSS, which today rules most of the country, and many of its federal states.

In this context, Apoorvanand’s article in an English daily  Tribune is very relevant.

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Do we need interpreters?

Hinduism at risk from RSS

UNDONE: There was pride in the chaotic diversity that was Hinduism.

HINDUS need to worry. Not about Muslims being beaten up or killed on the pretext of cow smuggling or slaughter, or Christians being attacked on the pretext of conversion. Hindus need to stir out of slumber because Hinduism is in peril. It is not threatened by Muslims. For the last 150 years, Hindus have been led to believe that they would be drowned by the rapidly increasing numbers of Muslims. Not by Christians too, for they have not been able to convert all other Indians to a religion of foreign origin. Instead, there is a clear threat now of Hinduism being taken over by an organisation called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Hinduism, a religion that is a way of life, as its adherents like it to be known, is now in the hands of organisations and people who want to transform it into an ideology of dominance over populations, which are seen, feared and abhorred as ‘others’.  Hindus better be warned. The pictures emerging from West Bengal should act as a wake-up call for them. This year, processions with swords and other lethal weapons were taken out in different parts of Bengal on the day of Ram Navami led by various affiliates of the RSS. Children, girls, women, men marched with these weapons chanting slogans in Hindi. The streets and lanes of Kolkata, Birbhum, Burdwan, Nadia, Malda, Midnapore and Darjeeling…..

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/hinduism-at-risk-from-rss/389461.html

10 April.

It is ten days since we at St Josphs College Autonomous hosted Mr P. Chidambaram, former Union Finance and Home Minister.

That a was brilliant. Though an intellectual, a top-notch former minister, Mr Chidambaram was absolutely humble, simple and casual. No airs, no status of a minister!

He was sitting in my office, right in front of me, along with Prof. Rajeev Gowda, MP (Rajya Sabha or the Upper House of Parliament), Dr Aditya Sondhi, Senior Advocate and Addl. Advocate General, Karnataka, and Mr Veeraraghav, Resident Editor of The Hindu.

And then, it was my privilege to welcome all the dignitaries who wanted to listen to Mr Chidambaram, witness his book launch in Bangalore, and probably be a part of the panel which would grill the author and former Minister.

I was privileged to be part of that panel. Though it was very short panel, unlike our New TV Channels, it was very educative – both because it involved immense reading and planning on my part. Then to address him and to question him on the stage was a great experience.

After the panel, the former minister took questions from the audience, which were many, but always with facts and figures on his finger tips! The way he handled tough questions was absolutely brilliant! Thank you Mr John Thomas, thank you Mr Sugatha Srinivasaraju!

Another thing that benefited us the immense coverage by the local and national media! In Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and in Delhi- the event found a very special mention and coverage!