Thursday, November 3, 2016

There's a WhatsApp fwd that's about the conspiracy to suppress Deepavali and other festivals because of the campaign to reduce or stop crackers. First fireworks are a Chinese invention. My great grandfather would not have burnt crackers, which is about 100 years ago. Even my father says in his childhood they used to make rudimentary fireworks with "sulfur and something else".
I am proud to say that there was a considerable reduction in firework frenzy this year in Hyderabad.  Cheers to Hyderabadis ......a long way to go, but we are on the right road.
Getting back to where I began, Deepavali tradition in the north is to light lamps and do Lakshmi puja. In Tamilnad we celebrate early morning before sunrise by having an oil massage, nelangu, bath, wearing new clothes, eating sweets at 5am and eating Deepavali lehyam (like a Churan ka. halwa) to compensate.
Fireworks not mandatory. So where is this supposed conspiracy in discouraging fireworks?


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

An article about  proposed courses in JNU on the philosphy of Yoga "two courses (Yoga and Philosophy and Indian Culture) that were brought for approval to the AC by the Special Centre for Studies in Sanskrit (SCSS)...". The academic council asked that the course content be reworked.

 A comment on the course content was "it did scant justice to the depth and vastness of Yoga philosophy which has been evolving and developing in many directions for over two millennia..." and "One of the untenable assumptions of the course was that Yoga philosophy culminated in Patanjali (400 CE), though it was after this period that varieties of Yoga developed and proliferated..."

A Sanskrit department that does not know that there were different schools of Yoga! It may shock them that some of these ancient philosophers were agnostic-- those who believed in the Samkhya school of thought.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The horror of a family watching their child "voluntarily"  starve to death is not leaving my mind. Which parent does that? How painful it is if one's child becomes sick, even ordinarily sick, say a severe case of gastroenteritis. How can a mother watch this for 68 days? The violence of this is mind boggling. An angry mother slapping her child is wrong, but understandable. We can lose our temper and though violent, it is nothing compared to the horrifying violence of letting your child deliberately starve to death. This is beyond understanding.
People who say that it was her choice would be the first to deny her the right to choose if she had chosen something they did not want her to do. They mean "You are free to choose if you choose to do what I ask you to."

Saturday, October 8, 2016

online sales

Nowadays, we get full page ads in the front page of newspapers. The term "front page news" no longer exists since the front page has no news at all. Recently, we had Flipkart giving us these ads for their big billion sale. 
I am an online shopper these days. Just a short while ago, I used to say that shopping must be done after physically touching and seeing articles to be sure that is what you want, but now I have succumbed to the convenience of not having to drive through dug up roads to buy stuff.
I bought four items online over the last couple of months. The amount of plastic packing material I have collected is phenomenal. These items would have come without any packing if I had bought them at a store, but at almost double the price
I think these e-commerce companies must find a solution to this problem.Yes one needs to pack goods well to avoid damage, but find an alternative. Or have a mechanism to collect the plastic packing material and recycle them. There are also the cardboard boxes. I never throw them away (or for that matter any junk) since I use them up in my annual science fair. But most people just throw them in the garbage. They can also be recycled.
However, think of it this way....a shop takes up real estate, uses large amounts of electricity with glaring lights and air conditioners and some water. So maybe a bit of plastic packing is not so bad after all.
But in any case, Online stores! Please find a solution to the plastic packing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Anti diabetic

There is a report in the Wire about CSIR's new anti diabetic drug.
"The drug is said to contain extracts from four plants mentioned in ayurveda and so, according to NBRI principal scientist A.K.S. Rawat, has no side-effects."
When a scientist says that plant extracts by definition have no side effects, it is appalling.  It is excusable when lay people say "It is natural and has no chemicals, so it is safe", but when scientists say it, it is terrible. Even a masala ingredient like  khus-khus has side effects as anyone who has over-indulged in bisi-bele or khus-khus kheer will tell you.
Rawat sahab, the main principle in Ayurveda is that the exact method of preparation and exact combination of ingredients are what lead to a medicine being efficacious and safe. Emphasis is placed on how a plant is to be collected, stored, treated and incorporated into medicines. Any deviation from the prescriptions is said to make the medicine ineffective or even unsafe. A simple example is castor oil which is used to cure both constipation and loose motions when administered in different ways. The methods used to prepare metal powders where they are heated to high temperatures and ground sometimes a hundred times, are said to make them non toxic ( I don't know if this is true, but this is something that needs to be studied in view of the huge difference in properties of macro and nano scales)

“The traditional knowledge from ayurveda is certainly valuable for discovering new drugs for diabetes,” Bhushan Patwardhan, professor of health sciences at Pune University said, adding: “But it should be based on scientific evidence for safety, quality and efficacy”, which is absent in the case of BGR-34.
Which brings me to an earlier post about Sanjeevani.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Meritocracy

"In a society where the brightest children are separated from their peers at the age of 11 and groomed for entry into the elite, the monopolisation of power and wealth by a tiny minority has the air of legitimacy. "
When I had to join college, I had an NSTS scholarship and was bent on studying Chemistry. In Madras, I ran from pillar to post and could not get admission into a BSc Chem course inspite of passing my ISC exam with a state rank in UP. Every day I would visit colleges looking at the 2nd list, 3rd list etc, and once a man asked me kindly " Did you not get a seat? My daughter just got in, she had got 37% in her PUC exam and so she got in only in the 3rd list " . I did not get admission. I used to think it is so unfair that I could not get in because I was an upper caste girl. Tamil Nadu had huge reservations even in the early 70s. I was very bitter, but managed to get into a college in Bangalore.
Over the years, though I see a lot of misuse of the reservation system, I do see the importance of giving a leg up to those who have had no opportunities for generations, and personal grouse aside, it is important that we address inequalities if not for the sake of social justice, then at least in self interest since inequalities breeds unpleasant social upheavals. While merit is a quality necessary for progress in societies, so is diversity.
Trump's 3 am tweets rival a hyper 14 year old. Imagine if he becomes the president, heads of states and his own cabinet will dodge meetings with him for fear their discussions will be on twitter by 3am.
"OK, so this is the plan to capture the head of ISIS, but don't let the president get even a hint of it"