Friday, 30 October 2015

From when I was old enough to think about this, I believed the essence of being a Hindu was about looking inward....आध्यात्मिक. You could be an atheist (agnostic would be better word perhaps) and be Hindu as in the Samkhya, you could question beliefs and come to conclusions- like the Naasadiya suktam. 
It was not supposed to be a congregational religion, nor a dogmatic one. You were supposed to look for Brahmam in all beings. Any path to god  was a good path. All you had to remember was your actions followed you and the reaction to your actions were inevitable.
There must be many learned people who believe this version of Hinduism -- where are they?
Though my knowledge is very, very limited, I am deeply impressed by what little I do understand.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

indus script


A lot of archeology is interpretation of evidence by the archeologist. Many of the interpretations are extrapolations. I don't know enough to say so definitively, but very often, the conclusions do not seem warranted. I try to reserve judgement since I am biased. In physics/chemistry, one takes multiple readings and checks for reproducibilty whenever possible. Obviously this is not possible in archeology and sometimes in biology and even in chemistry if the sample is tiny, as in forensics. So they have to make conclusions based on limited evidence. Since I don't understand the process, I don't know what is far fetched and what is not. To my literal mind, everything is far-fetched, but obviously I am wrong.......many archeological discoveries are acceptable.
If some object, say foodgrain is found at 100 ft in the dig, along with some other objects, by carbon dating of the carbonaceous matter, we figure out the date of that level. But consider this..... the archeologist's funding is cut, he leaves the dig and goes away. People come and go, throw their trash and go away. Soon the site is covered up either by workers or naturally. After 1000 years, another archeologist  digs it up again and concludes what? Also, now I have in my living room artefacts that I bought at great expense since they are antique. My house crumbles, and after 500 years, what do they conclude if they dig my house up?
Once human habitation has started, how do we believe levels are not mixed up by digging for building, mining or for no reason at all?
I find this more puzzling when it comes to language. The stretch of deciding which sounds in one language are similar to what in another, the use of rebus.........the extrapolations seem too large.
But nevertheless, the work done to decipher the Indus scripts is fascinating- the amount of work and the detail is amazing. I wish I could understand it better.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

NAAC criterion number 3

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/fake-journals-make-in-india-gone-wrong/article7800231.ece

I think NAAC criterion #3 is the source of this evil.
Before this, undergrad colleges had good teachers who did not have to pretend to be great researchers.
Teach the concepts of your subject well so that those of your students who wish to study further, have a good grounding and those who do not, have a good understanding of what the subject is about. 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Private higher education institutions in the US-- the for-profit colleges
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8pjd1QEA0c


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

One question - what footwear do the people in power wear? Do you think they all wear plastic chappals? Do they use synthetic leather belts and wallets?
When I was young, someone told me that while cheap leather was made from dead animals, fine leather was made by skinning them alive. It horrified me as it would many people. I decided to stop wearing leather, but in the pre-synthetic leather era it was difficult. I consoled myself that the cheap leather shoes I wore to school were from dead animals. Now with choice of good quality synthetic leather, I have no problems.

permanence

When you show a small baby an object and then hide it behind you, the baby forgets its existence. However, within a few months, its cognitive abilities increase enough for it to understand permanence of objects and it will go behind you in search of the object.
In adulthood, we lose this simple cognitive ability.
We generate waste and give it away to the municipal worker and we feel it's gone. Or we burn it in our backyards and think it is gone. We flush our toilets and think it is gone.
Let's go back to our babyhood and realise it is NOT gone. It is only transported elsewhere.
Recently someone told me with a great sense of superiority that he drives an electric car. I asked "is it solar powered?" he said "no". I kept quiet not wishing to deflate his obvious pride.
Now Hyderabad is powered mainly by Ramagundam, Simhadri etc themal power stations, and a few hydel power plants, which are of course seasonal. Thermal stations burning coal, the low efficiency of power production in India, the transmission losses in our SEBs all put together, the emission of carbon, sulphur, nitrogen oxides etc per Km for the electric car may well be higher than that of a well-maintained petrol car.
People do not think of this. Even if you use solar power, battery disposal after its life is over,  is an environment nightmare.
The concept of life cycle costing or a holistic view seems to be entirely missing from even the well educated citizens.

waste management

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

ranking and grading

The new NIRF has 5 parameters for ranking institutions. The NAAC already had a similar framework of 7 criteria and I suppose the NBA had the same.  Is it now going to replace NAAC or do colleges have to go through inspections for NAAC, as well as for NIRF? One for ranking and one for grading?
As it is, some colleges have courses like BSc, BCom, BA, MSc MA and MBA. They have to be inspected and accredited by NAAC for BSc, BA, MSc, MA and by NBA for the MBA. Apart from this, the affiliating University inspects the college regularly to regularize the new courses, to conduct academic audit and so on. So practically, the college will be inspected a large number of times every year since the accrediting agencies grade a college for 3 years or at best 5 years.
One criterion put forth by NAAC is the last one entitled "Governance", which is missing in the NIRF. This is rather important for private institutions which are run by a single person. Of course on paper there may be boards and bodies, but only one man has any say and runs it like he would any other business-- maximize profit at any cost. One way to control these is to insist on an effective governing body with eminent academicians.  Of course, they may find ways to circumvent that too; money can do wonders.