Tuesday, 27 July 2010

plagiarism

There is much talk of foreign universities setting up shop in India. I wonder how the students will take to it. One problem may be the fees. But a more important problem would be the way they learn.
We have some MSc courses in our college though thankfully none in Chemistry. They have an annual lecture series in which they have some talks by profs/scientists. They then have poster presentations.
Now these posters by MSc students are just an extension of what they did for the school science fair in class VII. They have a chart paper-- preferably black. On it they paint a nice silver border. Very pretty! Then they choose a topic . Next, they google the topic, select first 7 or 8 sites, and at random copy paste some bits from each website. This they print out (not even changing font size) , cut out the prints, paste them artistically on the black chart paper .. and lo behold a POSTER!!.
They have no idea that this amounts to plagiarism or that this is not what a poster is supposed to be like at their level.
These students have regularly won poster competitions both in our own college and elsewhere. So I think this is how posters are made everywhere.

ideas

As you grow older, does it become more easy or more difficult to accept opinions opposing your own? I am not sure of the answer.
When you are young you have a firm belief that what you experience or what you think is the only truth and this is strangely coupled with an insecurity that makes it necessary to have that view endorsed.
As you grow older, you are less firm in your views but also need less endorsement from others and are more accepting of others' views.
I would like to think this is how it is. I know this is how it is with me when it comes to trivial matters. But will it stand the test of some serious differences? I don't know.
An embarassing episode happened to me. When I was 17 or 18 years old, I used to read a lot, and I had just read Anna Karenina. A friend who did not read much, was my bouncing board for thoughts and ideas. I was one day expressing the view that love was everything and marriage, fidelity etc was prisons of society. I was actually thinking aloud about this.
However, about 25 years later, the friend and I met up at the airport just as she was leaving , and she told me that she was contemplating an extra marital affair because of that conversation. She believed that I would still be of the same view!!
How can a 18 year old understand what leaving a husband and child to go away with a lover, will do to her, her child , her husband and even her lover? And how can a 40+ year old woman not understand that at 18, one is just trying out ideas ?
Every now and then, the TV cameras show FCI godowns where food rots in tonnes and then people dying of hunger. We are shocked, but it happens again. I have seen/read about this ever ever I remember( and I am pretty old). Nothing is done about it. I can understand the inertia of a large nation as ours. It is bound to be so. But not letting grain rot is not so difficult is it?
Black market-- I can understand, land grabbing ? yes profitable! But food just lying around to rot? Who can benefit from that? What political will is needed to either distribute it or store it better? There cannot be any vested interest in letting grain rot.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Validation

I see from all the blogs I follow, that people tend to follow blogs of other like-minded people (obviously?). But the problem is that, barring minor disagreements, everyone has more or less the same opinions on most issues. So how does one get a wider picture?
This applies to me too.
Would I follow hard core hindutva blog?
Or a islamic fundamentalist's blog?
A male chauvinist blog?
A Nazi blog?
No
Equally, I wouldn't be interested in a feminist blog, or an one of those arty people's blog, or a communist's blog.
I guess I don't want a wide picture. I just want my own views validated.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Role reversal

I had got this mp3 player for myself, and it was lying in its carton for a month. Having none of my children living with me is a great handicap in the tech area. So I was forced to figure it out myself. Now finally, I have loaded a few pieces of music on my player.
Now I must figure out how to get a youtube lecture/video on it.
The role reversal sort of creeps on one. One day, you are telling your children how to do this and that. Suddenly one fine morning, they are saying"Not like that ma, I'll do it..." a little impatiently.

Environment

In the wetlands Srikakulam district, Nagarjuna Constr planned to put up a thermal plant. There was a huge agitation by the locals and now the environment approval has been withdrawn.
Then there are the mining leases to the Reddys.
We all know that govt approval can be obtained to produce hydrogen cyanide and release it in the atmosphere if we grease a few palms and perhaps call it by a fancy trade name.
That at least in some cases there is a rethink, is something that gives us a glimmer of hope.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

football

Nowadays, whenever I switch on the TV, I see football and nothing else. So now the choice is between football or tear-jerker serials...so I chose football though I am totally clueless about sports. I am glad that some sport has ousted cricket off the airwaves. We make too much of cricket. However, in spite of my ignorance, I feel this hype about top goal scorers is a bit much. Top run getters in cricket is one thing, but top goal scorers is quite another. As I understand it, scoring a goal is a team effort, run getting is an individual effort. So why this hype on people who have scored 5 goals or more?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The thought of someone just chopping off a man's hand like one would chop off a piece of wood, is horrifying. It's inhuman. Like a shark underwater.
To be unnecessarily provocative, like teasing a tiger in a zoo enclosure, who does it and what does it achieve? If the tiger could bite you, it would.
By all means be rude about someone else's religious beliefs if it achieves any good purpose. But a university question paper? We all know the intellectual level at which the university exam questions are pitched.
So why does a person tease the tiger?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

riches

It seems the world's most expensive city is Luanda. Never would have thought it. But on second thoughts, I do expect it! In Africa, middle east, India ---many places, widespread poverty always existed beside incredible riches. This asymmetry is what makes poverty shameful. A country where there is no money, no one is rich, people are poor. It's a fact of life. But in a country where there are some of the world's richest people, to have grinding poverty, is obscene.