Friday, July 16, 2010
Falling in line with all the other big economic power houses, India adopts a symbol for Indian Rupee after a publisized competition to design it. The design is inspired by the letter "Ra" of Devanagari script. In fact, it IS the letter "Ra" with a horizontal line added up. But why not get inspired by a letter from Tamil or Malayalam or ...
In my view, the choice of a Devanagari letter to represent the national currency depicts the central government's well-known favoritism of Hindi over other language/scripts. I find no reason for the non-Hindi-speaking states to bear this cultural onslaught and lingual monopoly of Hindi. The news papers are full with opinions that this symbol symbolizes Indian's multicultural ethos. If a single thought was given for it, then an element of Dravidian script should have been included. Alas, it is Hindi from which the New Delhi derives pride and not from the mythological animal called multiculturalism. Hindi has always been given a special status while other languages get step-motherly treatment. And the Hindi-speaking babus and sahebs in the capital have no idea that good and evil, beauty and ugly have different meaning in different parts of this humongous nation.
Selection of this symbol for Indian currency just increases the symbolic divide between north and south India. In a country like ours where pride of a region is shame for another, it is wise to not to invoke the feelings of pride of some if you risk hurting the egos of others. Being neutral is the way to protect egos on both sides. However, it is not the way to protect votes.
Confession and Conclusion: Hindi is the language close to my heart, speaking which I grew up, reading which I felt home. Now I'm swimming in the sambhar cup of Bangalore, "aste." I do not have any hard feelings for Hindi. What I object to is not Hindi, but the favoritism of Hindi over other languages. To generalize, I object to the notion of supremacy of one language over another.
Edit: Some readers found it difficult to understand why a non-person like me would have a problem with such symbol if the creator, Udaya Kumar, himself is an Tamilian. If the designer himself had risen above the languages, who am I to question his integrity. Indeed the designer is broad minded. However, my dear readers could not comprehend the fine divide between the integrity of an individual and the integrity of a government. I'm not criticizing the designer, but the selector.
Being the ruler of a multicultural country like ours, the government should have the sensibility to gauge the prevailing sentiments across the country and act accordingly. When they know that selecting a language specific symbol might give rise to resentments in some parts of the country, then why go ahead with it. Shouldn't we expect the government to take the responsibility of creating a harmonious environment in the society. Unfortunately, thats the last thing our political parties wish.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
What Mr Chief Minister is doing sitting at the far corner of a cinema poster?
While roaming in Tamil Nadu, I came across the cinema posters which had Chief Minister peeping from an inset. Is he peeping in the life of romancing hero and heroine? Or is he blessing them (and the producers) for success of their love (and at box office)?
By the same analogy, we must have Manmohan Singh in Bollywood and Barack Obama in Hollywood posters. Mayawati runs out of luck here as there aren't many movies produced in Uttar Pradesh and so do Sibu Soren.
Edit (Self Correction): Upon seeing CM's image on a film poster, the first thought that went through was that it was to gain patronage of the ruling party. Including the faces of poster boys of the politics does have an additional advantage. However, I soon realized that I was wrong. Some of my Tamil-literate friends educated me that the Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi , is a renowned script writer and this film was scripted by him. All my logic fell face down. It was too early for me to jump on a conclusion without seeking further facts.
However, I would keep this inquiry open as I had seen more than few such posters. Also, I have never seen a movie poster which adorns script writer's image. May be this script writer is too special to ignore.
Conclusion: More often than not we are fooled by our pre-(and mis)-conceptions.
Friday, July 9, 2010
What is more astonishing, an ugly octopus predicting all 6 games of Germany in FIFA, 2010 or me dying of ulnar hernia?
Paul, the octopus with psychic powers, has become a celebrity after accurately predicting the results of matches involving Germany, all 6 of them. The question that arises is whether this phenomenon was worth the media attention it has got. Say, we flip a coin and it lands heads up. Will it cause hoards of mediamen coming running down with their machines? Certainly not. Its a matter of pure chance, one would say. With that insight, lets examine the odds of octopus phenomenon occurring purely out of chance.
In a match of football, there are exactly two probable outcomes, i.e., “team A wins and team B loses” OR “team B wins and team A loses.” So, the probability of predicting the outcome of a match accurately is ½ (probability equals 1/number of outcomes).
I. Probability of predicting result of Match 1 = ½
II. Probability of predicting result of Match 2 = ½
Hence, probability of correctly predicting results of Match 1 and Match 2 = I x II = ½ x ½ = ¼ (multiplication of probabilities of independent events).
So, probability of correctly predicting results of 6 matches = ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ = 1/64.
In other words, if there are 64 equally smart octopuses trying their hands at predicting all 6 matches in a row, one would eventually predict it correctly just by random chance. In yet other words, if there are 64 men/women predicting results of the games by flipping coin, one out of them would get all the 6 results correctly.
Now, lets examine the probability of me dying. According to US Social Security, the probability of death for a 16-year-old is 1/1307. Compare that with the rather high probability of 1/64. So, it is far more improbable that I would die compared to Paul predicting all the German games.
According to common wisdom, the more improbable an event is the more attention it should harness. However, I (and you too) can be pretty sure that it is highly unlikely that even a line would be printed in the local daily on the auspicious occasion of my departure from this planet. Seems like its better to be an ugly octopus now a days than a human.
Hope I made you think about the validity of news that we consume each day. Don't forget to carry a pinch of skepticism along.
By the way, you are not predicting the probability of me being a 16-year-old. Are you?
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
|Lord Curzon with Wife and hunted tiger|
A century ago, back in the times of the Saheb, there was abundance of jungles and wildlife in the jungles. The advent of the great animal right activists had not yet taken place. Hence, Sahebs did not find much difficulty in hunting down a game or two for fun. The fierce and dangerous tiger was much sought after.
The game of hunting tigers was of immense pleasure as it provided a kick to the feelings of proud. After all, was is not within the reach of a common man to bring down the beast weighing 600 pounds with teeth like arrows and claws like thunder. Capturing one such beast also sent out a loud and clear message to the masses about the strength of the raj.
|Courtesy Times of India, 17 June 2010|
Unfortunately, times have changed. The rapidly increasing population had eroded much of the jungles along with its wild inhabitants leaving very few games for gun-toting sporting spirits. A new breed of humans called animal right activists have appeared on the scene making it further difficult to enjoy the rare moments of glory when the animal cries its last cry and red hot blood gushes out of the confines of its skin. However, the rapid increase in human population had created an entirely different form of entertainment.
|Courtesy Times of India, 17 June 2010|
Though the Sahebs have left the land, Indians have inherited their vigor and strength. Indians are as brave as their previous masters. We still hunt in much the same way. We still carry the hunted animal in much the same way as a century ago. We still feel the same joy, the moment of victory. Only the animal looks a little different. It walks on two legs, talks in intelligible language, reads and writes like us, has a sense of shame and covers body parts with clothes, and sometimes, carries a gun too.
Straight Talk: I'm not talking about the glory of hunting or luxurious British lifestyle. I'm not talking about the population increase or the vanishing wilderness. No, its not about naxals and manslaughter either. If you are yet to make anything out of above nonsense, then the rest of it is for you.
Execution of 76 CRPF men by CPI (Maoist) was terrible. Retaliatory attack by security forces killing 8 CPI (Maoist) men and women was justifiable. Killings and counter killings are the norms of a civil war and are very much acceptable. What is not acceptable is the way the so-called civilized army men, with ethics and high moral values, carried the bodies of dead rebels. Exactly the same way uncivilized barbarics carried their hunted animals. This behavior of CRPF signifies the lack of respect for human life or even dead bodies. It seems like the forces are trained exclusively in brutality and kept away from a mere sense of morality. Clearly, all the stories of pristine character of army men needs to be buried. In light of this, the allegations of rape and fake encounters seem much more likely. Is it too much to expect civil behavior from an army raised by a civil government?
As a token reply to the media, the rudimentary National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to Home Ministry asking for reply on the violation of human rights by carrying bodies like animals. Don't know what happened to that. Possibly, someone wiped their asses with that letter.
On a Separate Trail of Thoughts: What are human rights of a dead body? Strange that as an organ of the government reserves the right to kill, another organ says the killings should be respectful. What is respect to a collection of flesh and blood without conscience? For an organism, its life is more valuable than anything else be it respect or rights. If we do not respect its life, what good will it do to respect its rights?