Saturday, 20 May 2017

There is a fledgling care industry aimed at the senior citizens in India. 
A few years back, old age homes were for the destitute or for those who had no one to look after them. 
Now we have homes for the elderly that nicely combine geriatric care with appropriate independence. 
One can buy a small flat or house in a colony full of senior citizens. These communities provide care and help and companionship for the elderly. 
Now I see some advances in palliative care too. There are also some home care organisations. All that makes me hopeful that in my old age, I will be able to manage without having to trouble my children too much.
But this comes at a fairly high price. So what about people who cannot afford it? 

Friday, 19 May 2017

I was indulging in some hyperbole, or so I thought, but it seems to have come true. Trump has actually done this, not in a tweet, but to the Russian ambassador.

Thursday, 11 May 2017


Keezhadi near Madurai is a site of a dig. For the first time, an archeological dig in this region is attempting to gather evidence of urban settlements in ancient Tamil nadu.

There are many stories of the Tamil Sangam in ancient times which implied the presence of  great urban settlements where literary seminars were held. It is said that much of the evidence was drowned in the sea after a great flood (maybe a tsunami) which obliterated the cities. Kumari kandam is believed to have existed many thousands of years ago. But the great ancient urban Tamilnadu theory had no archeological evidence. One reason could be that either some cities were drowned and some others like Madurai continue to be urban settlements where digs cannot be carried out.

An ASI officer from the Bangalore office has discovered many sites along the Vaigai which show evidence of ancient cities in this region. The team has done remarkable work in Keezhadi, the site chosen for the first dig. But as evidence of the urban settlements emerged, the ASI officer has been posted to Assam.

Monday, 24 April 2017

A brilliant solution to Tamil nadu's water woes......float thermocol sheets on lakes to prevent evaporation.
Another  case of the disdain people in power have for real experts.

There is a school dropout who was a weaver's son. His mother had to work 8 -10 hours a day on winding yarn in intricate patterns for weaving sarees. She earned just a couple of rupees. Her arms used to ache and she was constantly in pain. The  boy decided to ease his mother's pain and after repeated trials, invented a mechanical device for this process. There are a few examples of passion driven uneducated people acheiving great things.

But our minister is not one of those. The people in power are definitely not driven by passion to help other people, they are not experts and often not even intelligent enough to grasp what the actual problem is. So my appeal to them is  please, please consult real experts to solve problems; not just one, but a couple of them. Ask the people on ground what the problem is and ask how they think it can be solved.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Wages again

Another episode that makes me wonder.... sometime back, I landed at  Hyderabad airport and went to the taxi kiosk for a ride home. As I was alone, the policeman at the taxi counter got me a SHE cab. That is the rule they follow. I had a not-so-pleasant experience with a SHE cab about a year before this, nevertheless, I got into her taxi. The lady was quite nice unlike the previous one and we chatted on our way. She told me she used to be  an ICU nurse at one of the top hospitals of Hyderabad. Her husband died suddenly, leaving her to bring up two children. So she gave up her nursing job and took up taxi driving. I asked why, she said the income was far greater and she couldn't have managed on her salary as an ICU nurse.
While I agree all jobs are important, I would not have died without a taxi from the airport to my house. But without a competent ICU nurse, I may very well die if I was in one.
Some jobs are more important. So why are they not paid well? The hospitals charge patients exorbitant amounts for a day in the ICU, then why not pay the nurses well?
Wages are really skewed in our country. Teachers, doctors, nurses are not considered to be very important.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

English education

Coincidentally, I got similar messages from multiple sources this week. One was a Whatsapp forward about NASA saying Sanskrit is the best language. NASA says so many great things about India and our sanskriti, I wonder why they don't move their offices to Varanasi or Rishikesh. (also why NASA? why not WHO or world bank or even Oxford university?)
The second was a short TedX talk, and the third was a talk by Shashi Tharoor.
Of course they were not of the same intellectual calibre.
The common thread was the English education.
While I have read some research that says early education must be in the child's mother tongue and I do believe that to be true after my experience teaching some children, we cannot deny that English education has been of great use to us. I notice even the most 'nationalistic' people do not advocate abolition of English as a medium of instruction.
It is maybe a case of the price we pay for this English education being too high.
Even small two room private schools in slums are now 'English medium', but their teachers do not speak fluently in English. The result is the children neither learn English nor their mother tongue with any degree of fluency. No one is familiar with literature of their own culture and the English stories for example, are too alien culturally for our children. (as a kid, I always wondered what anchovy was)
But what are our choices?
Ideally, instructions in the mother tongue till the 5th with English as a strong second language with the medium of instruction for science and a few subjects shifted to English in higher classes would perhaps be one way. But as an example, I schooled in UP, my mother tongue was Tamil and I was woefully poor at Hindi. If Hindi had been the medium of instruction, I may have failed in school......(or maybe I would have become proficient in Hindi). Could we have had a Tamil medium school in the small towns of UP where I studied?
What about a child in Telangana/Maharashtra whose mother tongue is Gondi?
I cannot see any good answers to this problem. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Tat tvam asi

There was a comment on the series broadcast on CNN (I think) on various religions, in which the presenter has chosen the Aghoris as an example of Hinduism. I do agree with the Hindu community in the US that it is a poor choice. But why don't they make a documentary about the principal Upanishads or Adi Sankara or put out the counter point?

Be that as it may, the practice of  religion has also changed. 
It used to be more learnt slokas from your parent/grandparent, you went to the temple to pray, you did your pujas regularly. But primarily, one was also taught that hurting another jeevan was an act of aggression against god because 'tat tvam asi'  no matter who that other is...of another religion, same religion or even an animal..anything that feels pain must not be pained. If you did hurt others, as we all do sometimes, karma will catch up with you if not now, then in the next birth.

But that has changed......It has now become congregational with gatherings for every festival, competitively extravagant pandals, extortion of money, loud speakers, beating up others who dont believe in what you do, in fact that has become a badge of honour.

Maybe even hindus in India need a lesson in hinduism of the "Tat tvam asi" variety.