Sunday, December 11, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 017

M.S. Subbulakshmi

(September 16, 1916 - December 11, 2004)

The wonderful MS artwork is done by Maniam Selvan for the cover of Kalki, the weekly Tamil magazine (the latest issue dated December 18, 2005). There is also an article on MS by N. Vijay Siva in that issue. Click here for a tribute by Vatsala Vedantam. The links for other posts on MS in this blog are available here.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Manmohan Singh smiles...

I could imagine our PM's sarcastic countenance when he reads the following statement (emphasis added) issued by AICC spokesman, Abhishek Manu Singhvi. I too had a hearty laugh reading this.

The Prime Minister has to decide on the continuation of Natwar Singh as Minister without portfolio.

Friday, November 25, 2005

So long as ....

The words written in the past often acquire a life of their own in the present. The shadow that befalls our understanding will linger long in our minds creating imageries of the past, unveiling the present, and constructing the hope for the future.

The following is the author's preface from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, translated by Charles E. Wilbour:

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilisation, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age- the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night- are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.

Hauteville House, 1862.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


The book Systems Thinking by Jamshid Gharajedaghi begins with the following quote from the unpublished internal report The Raveled Knot: An Examination of the Time-to-Market Issue at Analog's Semi-conductor Division by Charles Hampden-Turner and Linda Arc:

The most stubborn habits which resist change with the greatest tenacity are those which worked well for a space of time and led to the practitioner being rewarded for those behaviors. If you suddenly tell such persons that their recipe for success is no longer viable, their personal experience belies your diagnosis. The road to convincing them is hard. It is the stuff of classic tragedy.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

National Portal of India

The Government of India has launched a website today with the objective of providing a single window access to the information and services for the citizens and other stakeholders.

From the website's About the portal:

This is the Official Portal of the Indian Government, designed, developed and hosted by National Informatics Centre (NIC), the premier ICT Organisation of the Government of India under the aegis of Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications & Information Technology.

An attempt has been made through this Portal to provide comprehensive, accurate, reliable and one stop source of information about India and its various facets. Links at various places, too, have been provided to other Indian Government Portals/websites.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Theories on Theories

The Aryan invasion theory has led to many controversies, frictions, and heartburns. No one seems to know better than to put oneself on the desired side. The political dimension of those theories, in India, is too big for ordinary mortals to understand; extraordinary mortals do not care.
One of the most controversial ideas about Hindu history is the Aryan invasion theory. This theory, originally devised by F. Max Muller in 1848, traces the history of Hinduism to the invasion of India's indigenous people by lighter skinned Aryans around 1500 BCE. The theory was reinforced by other research over the next 120 years, and became the accepted history of Hinduism, not only in the West but in India. There is now ample evidence to show that Muller, and those who followed him, were wrong.
Trying to understand through social theories is a risky business, and has many shades of meaning. Ignorance seems to be one of them. Any more theories on these?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents

A handbook that offers advice to bloggers, particularly for those who want to protect themselves from the authorities, has been released by Reporters Without Borders. The handbook discusses many technical ways to escape from censorship, how to blog anonymously, how to ensure the e-mail is truly private, etc. It is available (in pdf format) for download.

Friday, September 16, 2005

M. S. Subbulakshmi - 016

From The Hindu article,

Today, September 16, is the birth anniversary of M. S. Subbulakshmi. Hers was a life of many towering achievements...
..Music critic Harold Schornberg of The New York Times praised MS's UN performance sky high and declared that "it would live in his memory forever."
It was a remarkable achievement and invokes awe even among present day jet setting musicians. But MS remained untouched by it all. She knew only her music and perhaps that is what gave her art that pristine quality which made it immortal.

From the book Kunjamma - Ode to a Nightingale,
..An interesting fact is that all the eminent vidwans from whom Subbulakshmi is known to have learnt songs to strength her repertoire were eventually honoured with the Sangita Kalanidhi title by the Music Academy. They are Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavatar, Musiri Subrahmanya Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, G. N. Balasubramanyam, T. L. Venkatarama Iyer, Papanasam Sivan, K. V. Narayanaswamy, K. S. Narayanaswamy, and T. Brinda..

..The legendary Siddheshwari Devi came down from Benares and stayed with Subbulakshmi for a few months..She and Subbulakshmi had to be ready by 7:30 in the morning to go through a systematic riaz which involved singing the basic notes one hundred and eight times while Siddheshwari Devi kept count. The sessions went on until lunchtime..
Previous posts of MS series in this blog
I came to know yesterday about this new blog on MS.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Google Blog Search

Google has now launched Blog Search.
More details are available here.
Google has a blog too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 015

Excerpts from the talk on MS at The Nehru Centre, London:

"Subbulakshmi... represented a continuity in artistic traditions, and because of her national status and charisma she was able to communicate to a wide variety of people through her music. She was truly a people's artiste."

The best tribute that India can pay to M.S. Subbulakshmi, the Carnatic music legend, is to institute chairs in universities for the study of and research on her work, according to her biographer Lakshmi Viswanathan. Speaking on the life and work of M.S. at the Nehru Centre, the author of Kunjamma — Ode to a Nightingale, described her as a "national treasure".

Read here a report by Hasan Suroor.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Comment spam

To prevent comment spam, blogger setting now has one new option word verification. It is available in Settings --> Comments tab. Choose yes for Show word verification for comments. People who leave comments will be asked to write a random word shown as an image. This will prevent automated systems from leaving comment spams. The blogger help is here.
I have chosen this option. I hope those who like to leave comments would not feel this as a burden. A small inconvenience to keep the comments clean. Thanks to Mogadalai who informed me about this option.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sangita Kalanidhi 2005

The Music Academy will confer the title Sangita Kalanidhi on Violin vidwan Shri. M. Chandrasekaran at its 79th annual conference on January 1, 2006.
A post on MC is here. You may be interested in this forum discussion too.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Notes taken while reading Mogadalai

Krantz has written a book on problem solving, a book on mathematical writing, and another on teaching mathematics. All of them are worth reading. I read "How to teach mathematics - A personal perspective" a long time ago. Here are the notes that I wrote down while reading the book. I am publishing them in this blog to give a flavour of the book, and to indicate that hunting this book down might be worth the effort.

You cannot learn to play piano or to ski by watching someone else do it.

And the fact that having sat in a classroom for most of your life does not mean that you know how to teach.

Teaching is important.

The good news is that it requires no more effort, no more preparation, and no more time to be a good teacher than to be a bad teacher.

As with any endeavour that is worth doing well, teaching is one that will improve if it is subjected to periodic re-examination.

There are some things that we do not learn by osmosis. How to lecture and how to teach are among these.

After all, teaching is a rather personal activity.

Picasso's revolutionary techniques in painting were based on solid classical foundation. By analogy, I think that before you consider new teaching techniques you should acquaint yourself with the traditional ones.

You cannot be a good teacher if you do not respect yourself.

a] Dress appropriately for the occasion
b] Make an effort to communicate with your audience
c] Respect the point of view of the audience

Have your materials completely mastered before you enter the classroom.

To me, preparation is the core of teaching.

Treat the questions with respect.

Students will rise to a challenge, provided the teacher starts with small challenges ad works up to big ones.

There is something of value, of an intangible nature, about passing knowledge along to other people.

I have long felt that those who cannot teach are those who do not care about teaching.

Prepare, be organized, be fair, be receptive to questions, meet your office hours, and so forth.

Do not introduce distractions into the classroom atmosphere.

The attitude in your class should be that you and the students are working together to conquer the material.

Be comfortable with your class.

Be willing to try new things.

Over preparation will make you lose your spontaneity.

You cannot learn to play the piano by accident.

Teaching is a yoga. Your mantra is "am I getting through to them?"

One of Mozart's most effective tools in his compositions was to repeat a particularly beautiful passage. We can benefit from his example.

A teacher foes not just lecture and answer questions. A good teacher helps students to discover the ideas. There are a few things more stimulating and rewarding than a class in which the students are anticipating the ideas because of seeds that you have planted. The way that you construct your lecture and your course is one device for planting those seeds. The way that you answer questions is another.

"There is no substitute to knowing what you are talking about"
--Jonathan RT Hughes, Professor of Economic History

Mathematics can be understood deductively from certain axioms but it is learnt inductively.

Go from the simple to the complex.

The easiest thing in the world for a mathematician to do is to state theorems and prove them. It requires more effort tot each.

"Only wimps do the general case. Real teachers tackle examples"
--Beresford Parlett

"A small inaccuracy can save hours of explanation"
-- Saki

It is my opinion that the very best students tend to teach themselves.

No methodology is perfect.

Write neatly.

Keep as much material as possible visible at all times.

Homework assignment should neither be long nor short. It should touch on all important aspects and should drill the students on the material that you want them to learn and the material on which you will be testing them. At least part of the homework should be graded. Exams should be based only on material given as homework.

Make sure that the questions you ask elicit the basic information that you seek.

You must personally work the test out completely before you give it to your class.

An exam that needs you 10 to 15 minutes is ideal for a 50 minutes test.

Make the student read your solution before you agree to talk about grading the problem.

A good math student must be self-motivated.

It is a strange facet of the human condition that most of us don't know consciously what we think about most of the things most of the time.

An extreme example of a teaching style that is virtually orthogonal to what we Americans know is the one that has been attributed to the celebrated Hungarian analyst F. Riesz. He would come to class accompanied by an Assistant Professor and an Associate Professor. The Associate Professor would read Riesz's famous text aloud to the class. The Assistant Professor would write the words on the blackboard. Riesz would stand front and center with his hands clasped behind his back and nod sagely.

The famous mathematics teacher RL Moore is said to have once brought a Colt-45 to an unruly math class, set it conspicuously on the table, and then proceeded into his lecture in a room so quiet that one could have heard hair grow.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Science Polic(e)y?

There have been quite a few announcements, from Government of India, about science committees and the importance of research initiatives to launch the country into the Global Knowledge Orbit is also stressed again and again by the Prime Minister and others.

T.Jayaraman, from Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, writes,

...Thus even prima facie, it seems that this round of proposals and announcements has a substantially ad hoc character leading one to doubt whether they indeed amount to a serious initiative to re-vitalise research in the basic sciences. But the manner in which these initiatives are fashioned and announced points to a deeper malaise in the formulation of science policy in this country. The policy and decision-making process in Indian science rests on a small and narrow base that has very little input from the vast majority of productive and working scientists in the country. Policy-making in India is the exclusive province of a few eminent scientists, the secretaries of major scientific departments, the directors of some major scientific institutions and a few other members of the scientific bureaucracy...

You can read the full article here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Picks from Mogadalai

Picks from Krantz
by Mogadalai
Steven G Krantz is a Professor of mathematics with a flair for writing. I love his writing style. Here are a few typical examples of the language that Krantz uses in his writing. The first is from his review of "The man who loved only numbers" and "My brain is open" published in The College Mathematics Journal (Vol. 32, No. 3, May 2001). The second and third are from his review of the book A new kind of science authored by Stephan Wolfram - The complete review may be be found at the following URL:

(1) A recent Monthly review of these two books concludes by saying that Hoffman's book is for the masses while Schechter's is for fellow mathematicians and physicists. This may be a polite way of saying that Hoffman's book is careless while Schechter's is a cogent and planned effort. Schechter can be held accountable; Hoffman cannot.

(2) At the end of the film Chinatown, detective Jake Gittes (played by Jack Nicholson) has uncovered a vastly complex and nefarious web of evil
perpetrated by wealthy land mogul Noah Cross (played by John Huston). In the dramatic closing scene, Nicholson is trying to find words to explain the police the infrastructure of depravity that he has identified; but he can find no way to articulate his thoughts. He ultimately points at Huston and cried, "He's rich!" Huston adopts a wry look on his face, smiles, and says, "I didn't know it was a crime to be rich...," and then credits roll. Stephen Wolfram seems to have uncovered a vastly complex and profound scheme of how the world functions. His intention is that his ideas will supersede all previous scientific thought--from Archimedes to Newton to Heisenberg to Witten. He has invested ten years and 1280 pages (and 100 million keystrokes on his computer!) in endeavouring to explain his discovery--not just to his colleagues but to the world at large. It is a noble effort, but in the end he is merely pointing his finger and crying, "It is complex!" I can just hear old Mother Nature saying, "I didn't know it was a crime to be complex."
(3) A number of years ago, the Dalai Lama visited the United States. As part of his travels, he visited the headquarters in Chicago of one of the great American news magazines. He was given the Cook's tour, and then there was a grand formal lunch at which the various executives of the enterprise pontificates ad nauseum. The Dalai Lama-an elfin man--sat swathed in his saffron robe, and inscrutable smile on his face, saying nothing. After about an hour, the CEO of the publishing company turned to the Dalai Lama and said, "Do you have any questions about our magazine, the nation's premiere news magazine? Go ahead, ask us anything at all." The Dalai Lama bowed his head for a moment, apparently deep in thought. Then he looked up and said, "Why do you publish it?"

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Knowledge Commission Launched

The Prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh constituted the National Knowledge Commission two months ago. Media reported the news on June 02, 2005. He launched the Commission yesterday - August 02, 2005. The Commission is supposed to identify its action programme by October 02, 2005. Shall we expect something special on Gandhi Jayanthi day?
The key points in his speech are,
  • Public and private sectors are not able to cope with the demand for higher and professional education.
  • Universities and centers of excellence are falling behind the best in the world, both in terms of human capital and infrastructure.
  • India should be able to attract global investment in Reseach and Development (R&D) activities.
  • Putting in place the required legal and physical infrastructure that can attract more foreign investment in R&D activities in India.
  • Commission should come forward with ideas to promote the "knowledge base" of our economy.
  • Make the country truly the "knowledge engine" of the world.
  • Commission must come up with bold proposals to improve the excellence in research and teaching.

It is very difficult to avoid noticing that these ideas revolve around attracting foreign investment. The Prime minister said, in June, that the Commission has been constituted to prepare the country to meet knowledge challenges in the 21st century. He also remarked that the Commission will advise in knowledge production, knowledge use and knowledge dissemination. He now seemingly believes that country can face all those challenges with the help of foreign investment. It is not clear, as it is not reported in the media, if he has used the same slogans of production,use and dissemination during the launch. What about our Communist friends in the Commission? They must be thanking their stars for not having active labour unions in R&D sector as in manufacturing sectors!

You have to wait till Gandhi Jayanthi to know about the proposals.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Mystery of written Mogadalai

Mystery of written words
by Mogadalai

The following passage is taken from Maxim Gorky's My Universities. My Universities is the third part of Gorky's autobiographical trilogy; the other two are My childhood and In the world. The latter part of this book describes his life in a village on the banks of Volga. Gorky's description of the village life is very poetic, and reminded me of RK Narayan and The Remembered Village of MN Srinivas. The present extracts come from the part where he describes his experiences in teaching an illiterate fisherman of the village to read and write, and how the fisherman Izot responds to his reading experience.

He was a very enthusiastic and fairly good pupil and would be absolutely amazed at his own progress. Sometimes, during a lesson, he would suddenly get up, take a book from the shelf, raise his eyebrows high and read two or three lines after a great effort. His face would turn red and he would look at me and say in an astonished voice: 'You see, I can read, ever hear anything like it!" Then he would close his eyes and repeat some poetry:

"Just like a mother mourning over the grave of her son,
So wails the sandpiper over the desolate plain..."
'Read it?'

Several times he would ask cautiously, almost in a whisper: 'Tell me, my friend, how it all comes about. A man looks at these commas and hyphens and they turn into words and I recognize them, they're our living words! How do I know this? No one's whispering them into my ear. If these were pictures, then I could understand. But here it seems that the thoughts themselves are printed on the page - how do they do it?'
What could I answer? My 'don't know' annoyed him.
'The work of a magician!' he said sighing, as he peered at the pages and held them up to the light.

Undoubtedly, the work of another magician!
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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Higher Education: Teaching and Research

Excerpts from an article by Prof. Jayant V. Narlikar:
A few months ago the finance minister announced a grant of Rs 100 crore to the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, to help it raise its standards to the levels of Oxford and Cambridge....How about offering a large sum to the Board of Control for Cricket in India to generate a cricket team comparable to Bradman's 1948 Australian team? Or to Sahitya Akademi to produce another Indian Nobel laureate in literature? To get to where Cambridge and Oxford are, we could learn a thing or two from them....In my batch there was an undergraduate who wrote a paper in the Physical Review Letters, pointing out a serious error in an experiment performed in the UK to verify a prediction of Einstein's gravitation theory. The student went on to get a Nobel Prize based on his research work as a graduate student. His name is Brian Josephson.....Good students are attracted by good teachers and researchers....To learn the subject from those who made important research contributions to it can be very inspiring to a student....[Hoyle said] that teaching was complementary to research and that if we did not teach undergraduates, we would not attract good students to research. This explains why we are still a long way off from Oxbridge. We have two streams in our educational-cum-research system — universities and research institutes. In universities, teachers are overloaded with teaching duties with research taking a back seat. In national laboratories and research institutes, the research facilities are fine, but there are no undergraduates, not even students for a masters' degree. A typical research scientist believes he will do research alone and that teaching students is a distraction....Our undergraduates fall between two stools, between professors who do not teach and professors who do no research. We lose motivated students who could be attracted to academia....What is needed for our progress towards Oxbridge is a new set of rules that enable teaching and research to go hand in hand, with no compromise on merit, whether for faculty or for students. To achieve this, Rs 100 crore is neither necessary nor sufficient.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

BMK's Jaya Jaya Lalithe

Analyzing the etymon of names is an interesting endeavour. Some names that have been around for centuries will have different (often conflicting) root meanings, thanks to the cleverness of humans!!
Dr.M. Balamuralikrishna has christened a new raga Jaya Jaya Lalithe in honour of Tamil Nadu Chief minister Jayalalithaa.
The Chief minister conferred the title Gandharva Gana Samrat on him, and expressed wish to be born as his disciple if there was another birth. "I would like to learn Carnatic music under his tutelage and become such a great singer that my Guru will say 'sabhash' after hearing me sing," she said.
Note: What is the arohanam and avarohanam of this raga? Do let me know.
The Telegraph reported as above. You also find a different version here. Kutcheribuzz reports as follows (emphasize mine):
The maestro composed and dedicated a new ragam to the Chief Minister with the pallavi "Jaya jaya lalithe..."!
The Hindu also reported like Kutcheribuzz.

Friday, July 22, 2005

About Sanjeev

About Remakes of Hindi films in Hindi (again)!
by Sanjeev

News: JP Dutta is ready to remake Umrao Jaan

Remakes of films. If you dont like this word, replace it with 'another interpretation of the same subject' or 'a new interpretation of the novel'. Why does one want to give his interpretation of something that has been already interpreted? This is one question we should not ask! There could be several reasons for the re/new-interpretation; the filmmaker is not obliged to tell us his reason but we can always listen if he or she wishes to say it. The work itself is more important than the reasons behind it. It is natural for a filmmaker to take liberties and deviate from the source, say a novel or an earlier film, on which it is based. The duty of the viewer is to watch the new one as soon as it is released on the big screen and not on DVDs by watching, simultaneously, an Indo-Pak cricket match, or an Ashes test series along with the film. The message is "you get as much as you give", in other words "if you give less, don't expect more". Less & more in terms of anything including heart, soul and money!

Based on a Urdu novel 'Umrao Jan Ada' written by Mirza Ruswa around 1905, Muzaffar Ali produced and directed the film Umrao Jaan in the early 80s. Umrao Jaan is a poetess apart from being a dancer. Muzaffar Ali deviated from what is described in the novel by light years. Umrao in the novel admits to "never having really loved a man" (see here) but Muzaffar Ali's scripted Umrao's character as the one who did not receive Love from people with whom she was in Love at various instants of time in her life. She writes Justuju jiski thi, woh na paaya humne (rough meaning is "Whatever i wanted, I haven't got "). These words of Shahryar (the poet who wrote the lyrics for Muzaffar Ali's film) truely represent the hardships she went through her life. She also says zindagi ka lamba safar tay kiya tanha humne (I had travelled the long journey of life being lonely). Whenever she found a lover (in the sense of love between hero and heroine), the fate restricts the love that she receives to a short time. In the end, her own brother sends her away from home and mother by describing her as a prostitute from Lucknow.

Overall the film is a moving poetry in the fullest sense. Muzaffar Ali did a great tough job in directing the same. More importantly, the film would not have been the same without the lyrics of Shahryar and the music of Khaiyyam. The haunting poetry of Shahryar emerges out of Umrao Jaan's heart and life.

Now comes the remake part. JP Dutta (JPD), the director famous for his war and peace movies, - Border, Refugee and LOC - is filming the story of Umrao Jaan again. As one realizes after repeated watching - to understand the movie better and better - that there are three main points in Muzaffar Ali's film: Rekha, Poetry of Shahryar, Music of Khaiyyam. Dutta has to make good choices for these three. Otherwise the work would turn out to be unimpressive.

Let me give my opinion on who are the right artists for these three categories. Actress, it is very difficult to say as there are many known artists who could do the job. Choosing right people for Lyrics and Music is much more difficult as there are not many people who are known to have demonstrated in this genre: writing lyrics for Mujras and that too for a character like Umrao Jaan; despite the fact that I do not know how the character of Umrao is being scripted by Duttas. Among the people in the business currently, my choice would be one among Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Nusrat Badr, and Mehboob.

Now the question is who can set to music great poetry. No one, of course , can beat Khaiyyam. His works speak his calibre. He is still around and he is the best choice in my opinion. His last known composition (according to me!) was the album with Asha Bhonsle. If one looks beyond the names of Khaiyyam or even Naushad, there is one and only one name that comes to my mind. It is Anu Malik. Listen to his compositions for Mahesh Bhatt's films as Mahesh Bhatt generally takes the poetry/lyrics of the likes of Qateel Shafai and Nida Fazli. Anu Malik gave some haunting compositions (listen to Tere dar par sanam chale aaye from the film Phir teri kahani Yaad aayi). He composed Hamein jabse muhabbat ho gayi hain for Border with Javed Akhtar penning the lyrics. Many such songs of Anu Malik are there.

Given that JPD once famously described Anu Malik as his left hand (JPD is a left-hander. See here), he would make the choice of Anu Malik + Javed Akhtar.

Note: The factual information is collected from internet and its genuineness or otherwise does not affect the content of previous passages. It is included only to be more complete than it would have been without it.
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Thursday, July 21, 2005

What's in a name? Vidwattama

What's in a name?
by Vidwattama
What's in a name..?? surely wouldn't mean much if it just happens to be "incidental", to quote the great Bard himself.
But what of the name that one "desires" to be known by...??? Quietly lying underneath could be a story hidden ... perhaps of a long lost love, or a favourite childhood hero, or a passionately cherished dream, or a plain assertion of what one wants to stand for, or ....
One fine morning, at a lousy mess, drinking a bland cup of lukewarm coffee with my friends, I was lucky enough to be asked "If you could choose a name for yourself, what would it be?". Perhaps, we should all subject ourselves to such questions. The feeling is akin to one suddenly realising a quietly standing mirror...waiting to be looked at...waiting to be acknowledged...with one's own self in it, waiting for a closer look. And as if I knew it all along, I just uttered "Vidwattama", though it is more than a decade back that I last read about the great lady.
But what about Vidwattama (translates as wisest of wise) makes her so fascinating ....???
(Keep watching this space for more.)
Shencottah now invites you to write for this blog. Please see here for further details.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Shencottah invites...

Blog is considered to be a good medium where you can convey your joys, sorrows, opinions, ideas, and many other things. We know how blogs can become narcissistic too. There are also group blogs where only members post. It is also found out that many bloggers lose their initial interest and momentum. There are people who do not want to maintain a blog but still have many things to say; many wonderful things - sincere feelings are always wonderful, may not be correct to everyone's satisfaction but they are simply wonderful. Shencottah would like this blog to be a garden where ideas of different varieties can flower; where opinions create heat in which our narrow views can evaporate. A blog where small and beautiful things from different minds and hearts are posted; where large and magnificent things are dreamt. A blog where small and big, and tiny and large, lose their differences in the heart and soul from where they arise.

Shencottah now invites people to send their writings for this blog. Few have already shown interest to write guest-posts regularly. We will have to wait and see how this new feature evolves.

Some questions and answers (SQA):
1. I maintain my own blog. Can I send my writings to you?
Yes, You can.
2. To whom I have to send?
Please send your posts to shencottah[at]gmail[dot]com
3. Will you acknowledge my submission?
Yes, as soon as I come to know about it.
4. How many days I have to wait before my writing is posted?
I don't know. I can't give any assurances.
5. Can I maintain anonymity while I send?
Yes, if you wish.
6. Can I request you to post my writings under a pseudonym though I will use my real name while submitting?
7. Who will hold the copyright of my writings?
You, the author.
8. Can I use copyrighted materials in my post?
Please get permission from the original copyright holders if you use any such materials. This blog is not responsible for your copyright violations.
9. Will you help me to get the permission from original copyright holders?
Sorry. This blog is not able to do that.
10. Will I get paid for my posts?
No. This is not a commercial venture.
11. Are you planning to make this blog as a blog-zine?
I am not presently thinking about that.
12. Do you post everything I submit?
I don't. The final decision, of what to post and what not, is only made by Shencottah - in future, by an editorial team - considering the goodwill this blog has earned so far.
13. Is there an editorial team behind this new feature of the blog?
Shencottah is the only member now. Some may join in future.
14. Can I join the editorial team?
Thank you for your interest. But forming the team depends on the volume of the submissions. Please hold on.
15. Can I give a link to my writings here in some other sites?
16. Does it mean that you agree with the views expressed in my published post?
No. It does not mean that. It just means that your article is posted.
17. I have a question which is not answered in this SQA. What should I do?
Please post your question as comments to this post. I will add yours to SQA.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 014

A.S. Raman, former Editor, Illustrated Weekly, wrote in an article:
"For her (MS), music continues to be what it has always been; an act of worship. To hear her music is to make oneself acceptable to the gods. She has by her total involvement in the abstraction called music demonstrated that music is not what merely pleases the ear, or appeals to the heart or stimulates the intellect; it is something more, something that makes one see God face to face."

Friday, July 15, 2005


1. Start with a four-digit number whose digits are not all equal.
2. Arrange the digits in ascending, say B, and descending order, say A.
3. Find A-B.
4. Go to step-2.
The above process terminates on the number 6174 after seven or fewer steps.
5063 --> 6530-0356=6174 --> 7641-1467=6174
The Indian mathematician Dattathreya Ramachandra Kaprekar (1905-1988) published the above property of the number 6174 in 1955 [#]. There are other interesting Kaprekar numbers too [#].
[#] Kaprekar, D.R., An Interesting Property of the Number 6174, Scripta Mathematica 15, 1955, pp. 244-245.

Friday, July 08, 2005

It was like this once...

Note: The following quote is attributed to Lord Macaulay. It seems it is normally preceded by "His words were to this effect". The source is cited as "The Awakening Ray, Vol. 4 No. 5, The Gnostic Centre ... Reproduced in Niti issue of April, 2002 at p. 10 - a periodic publication of Bharat Vikas Parishad, Delhi." Thanks to Kovaiputhalvan for bringing it to my notice. I did not change the title of this post for the reason that it is, I believe, still relevant.
"I have traveled across the length and breadth of India... Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation"
(from Lord McCauley's British Parliament speech on February 2,1835) - Please read the comments.

Friday, June 24, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 013

M.L. Vasanthakumari on MS in 1967:
The world need not learn about M.S. Subbulakshmi from me. Today her music is relished by people all over the world. I began to sing many years after she did. I think it would be impertinent on my part to analyse the music of someone who has received praises from my senior. As a child, I often met MS with my parents. She is today just what she was then. Despite all the fame, she retains a child's heart, a smiling face and pleasant speech.
Srimathi M.S. Subbulakshmi is extremely devout. Talking to her is to be heedless of time. She talks only about music and about other meaningful subjects. She never makes disparaging remarks about anyone. She is humble, respectful towards elders. She appreciates not only music, but the other arts as well.
I believe that her devotion to God, simplicity, unquestioning deference to her husband, reverence for seniors, her conviction that there is much to learn in the world, and her own desire to learn more - all these attributes have contributed to her illustriousness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 012

Smt. Kishori Amonkar paid, perhaps, the highest tribute ever possible at the time when the Bharat Ratna, the highest honour in the country, was bestowed on MS by calling her the eighth swara of Indian Music.
(Source: Bhavan's Journal, Vol. 51, No. 12)

Monday, June 20, 2005

National Knowledge Commission

What does one do if one has friends who want to spend some money and have nice time? Very Simple. Give them some money and ask them to have nice time, if possible.

On June 02, 2005, all the major Indian news agencies reported about National Knowledge Commission constituted by Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India. The seeming importance of the Commission can be understood by the first paragraph of those reports:
"In a major step to prepare the country to meet knowledge challenges in the 21st century, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today constituted a National Knowledge Commission to be headed by tech czar Sam Pitroda."
The reports went on to talk of how this Commission will advise the PM on knowledge production, knowledge use and knowledge dissemination. So far, so good. What is its agenda? We have to wait for another few months assuming it will be made public - The Commission would identify its action programme by October two this year and complete its work by October two, 2008.
Who are the other members? The eight-member commission will have P M Bhargava as the Vice-Chairperson. The other members are Nandan Nilekani, Deepak Nayyar, Ashok Ganguly, Andre Beteille, Jayanti Ghosh and Pratap Bhanu Mehta.
Ah...Who said the Lefts do not apply any pressure on Manmohan Singh? What can a Committee do if it has a person who supports religious conversion and a person who writes on how to politically combat Hindutva? I hope few visionaries present in the Committee should be able to get their ideas pass through. I have my own doubts about this Commission's efficacy but one has to wait atleast till they announce their mission and vision before making any critical comments. I hope the Commission's action programme will be made public whenever it gets ready. Unfortunately, in the popular media, there are no special articles, and editorials discussing what this Commission should look into it, what sort of knowledge dissemination they talk about, etc. Please let me know if I have overlooked any articles. Or am I giving more importance to something which no one is serious about?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Vaishnava Janato by Narasimha Mehta

Please listen to Gandhiji's favourite bhajan, rendered soulfully by Shri. Narayan Swami, in the section Click play to listen on the right column.
वैष्णव जन तो तेने कहिये जे पीड पराई जाणे रे,
पर दु:खे उपकार करे तोये मन अभिमान न आणे रे,
सकल लोकमां सहुने वंदे निंदा न करे केनी रे,
वाच काछ मन निश्चल राखे धन धन जननी तेनी रे,
समदृष्टि ने तृष्णा त्यागी, परस्त्री जेने मात रे,
जिह्वा थकी असत्य न बोले, परधन नव झाले हाथ रे,
मोह माया व्यापे नहि जेने, दृढ़ वैराग्य जेना मनमां रे,
रामनाम सुताली लागी, सकल तीरथ तेना तनमां रे,
वणलॊभी ने कपटरहित जे, काम क्रोध निवार्या रे,
भणे नरसैयॊ तेनु दरसन करतां, कुण एकोतेर तार्या रे ॥

- नरसिंह महेता

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I am now looking at a mouse when I read that word Click. But once Click was associated with cameras. Now too, it is still associated with them. Photographs bring back memories that lie deep down making us laugh, smile, and cry. Camera captures the moment as if it is worth. Moments are worth anyway. A photo can convey everything to us only if we are sensitive. Otherwise, we can, we may if at all, appreciate only the shapes, the shades and the shadows, and not the moods and the emotive modes that are embedded.
'Clicking' has some disadvantages too. It affects the sustenance of those precious moments; sometimes by reducing their intensity, and at other times, by stopping them altogether.
Photography is an art. It is also an art to know when to click and when not to.
You remember how Bob Fisher asked - asked is indeed a mild word - FIDE officials to throw photographers out of the room when he played Spassky in 1972 World Chess Championship Title Match. That is a thrilling story in itself but that's for another occasion.
But what happened in 1949 when Shri Puri Sankaracharya met Shri Ramana Maharshi?
Excerpts from Letters from Ramanasramam - Volume.2 by Suri Nagamma, Translated by D.S. Sastri:
At the time of his [Acharya's] coming, Bhagavan [Maharshi] sat cross-legged in his usual Padmasana pose and with his characteristic silence...[Acharya] saluted him. Bhagavan nodded his head in acceptance of the salutations and with great regard requested him by signs to sit on the seat arranged for him. He did not, however, sit there but sit down nearby on a deer-skin and began looking at Bhagavan with a fixed stare. Bhagavan too looked at him with an unwavering and compassionate look. Neither spoke. The audience also kept perfect silence like the still waters of a great lake. For about half an hour, both of them remained absolutely still like that, exemplifying the relation between devotion and compassion. At that time, Bhagavan's face shone like the illumination of a crore of sun gods. Because of the brilliance, the faces of the people who came to witness this scene also blossomed like lotus flowers. A glorious voice saying, "What a splendour on Bhagavan's face!" appeared to ring in the hearts of all the people there. One amongst them spontaneously said, "It will be very good indeed if someone takes a photo now." As though the silence were disturbed by those words, the Acharya got up, respectfully asked for permission to leave...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Kshetrayya expresses...

The memory of you is as fresh as ever...
My careless doodles transform into a portrait of you...
My search for a name to call out to anyone makes my tongue catch your name...
The intensity of my emotion is indeed immeasurable...
Kshetrayya in
etuvanti mOhamU gAni (Kaamboji Raga)
Note: I have not listened to this song. I don't think I have. If anyone provides a lead regarding where I could listen online, or better still from where I could download, it would be great.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

New Bach vocal piece discovered

From BBC......
Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
New Bach vocal piece discovered
By Ray Furlong
BBC correspondent in Berlin

A previously unknown composition by Johann Sebastian Bach has been discovered by researchers in Germany.
The vocal piece was found among papers removed from the historic Anna Amalia Library in Weimar during a devastating fire there last September.

The piece is a musical accompaniment to a 12-verse poem composed for the Duke of Saxony in 1713.
Plans are being made for the first performance, under the English conductor Sir John Elliot Gardiner.
A researcher interested in a rare type of 18th Century paper stumbled across the musical treasure.

Announcing the find, the head of the Bach Foundation, Christoph Wolff, said it was not a major work, but "an occasional piece of exceptional quality".
He added that the story of its survival was almost a miracle.
The Anna Amelia Library, housed in a 16th Century rococo palace, burned down in the fire.
A human chain formed by passers-by saved hundreds of volumes, including a 16th Century Martin Luther bible, but thousands of historical works were lost.
"This composition would also have fallen prey to the flames," said Mr Wolff, "and we would never have known about it."
The authenticity of the piece was proved by comparing the handwriting to other Bach manuscripts.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Tareh meets Tareh...(Oh! I made a mistake here!)

A beautiful lady with a very pleasing personality enters Dr.Tareh's room. She does not lose her patience unlike others though she has been waiting for so long. The clinic is quite packed with everyone guessing the other's affliction. But her thoughts are about the future of her children. Finally, Her turn has just come and she enters the room with the grace of a woman.
Doctor: "Yes, Ma'am."
She (with a sigh): " children are trying to kill me..."
Doctor: "What?"
She: "True, Doctor. They are going to kill me soon."
Doctor: "Ma'am, Excuse me. I think you should have gone to a nearby police station."
She: "I went there. They suggested you."
Doctor: "What?"
She: "Doctor, It's really true. They told me that you are the only person who can cure anything and make people healthy."
Doctor: "Ma'am. If you don't mind, shall I say something?"
She: "Oh! Please, Doctor. I have come here exactly for that only."
Doctor: "Why don't you see a psychiatrist?"
She: "But don't you think my children are the ones who have to see a psychiatrist? They are the ones who are trying to kill me. I am as vulnerable as ever. Have I done any mistakes other than feeding them? Why is this happening to me? Don't they ever realize?"
Doctor: "But..."
She: "People are thronging your clinic just to get back you."
Doctor: "Ma'am.."
She: "They don't realize they are the reasons for all their diseases. They themselves prevent you from helping them when you want to. They then come all the way to your clinic for treatment. How sad it is!"
Doctor: "Excuse me. Please listen to me.."
She: "Yes, Doctor. I am listening to you. But when will these children start listening to you?"
Doctor: "Please. I have to attend others too. See, How many are waiting outside! "
She is now silently watching the doctor. Dr.Tareh gives her a glass of water. By this time, the doctor has felt that this graceful lady needs some help. He thought he would just say some encouraging words and give her some vitamin tablets. He also decided to put a word to his inspector friend about her children. He starts writing the prescription.
Doctor: "Your name and age?"
The doctor is shocked to hear her name. Never ever expected to see her asking help.
Doctor: "I am very sorry. How insensitive I am! How I could miss your grace! I didn't recognize you. What a fool I am!"
She: "I am glad to hear that, Doctor."
Doctor: "Do call me Tareh."
She: "I also heard that you write the same prescription for everyone."
Tareh: "Yes, Her Divine Highness. They all need the same solution."
She: "What is that?"
Tareh: "I always write - Please don't forget me. I am always there waiting to help you."
She: "How kind of you! Please tell that to my children too."
Tareh: "Oh! Sure. If only they had listened to me long time back..."
She: "The sooner the better."
Tareh: "I will try my best."
She: "Thank you so much. My heartfelt gratitude."
Tareh: "Oh! My heart too felt gratitude for your blessings. It still feels and will feel always."
She: "Mmm..when will these people realize? Has anyone realized so far?"
Tareh: "Many. Not so many. These are the ones who come for the second time and say, "Thank you, Dr.Heart"."
She: "Nice to hear that. Okay! I will leave now. People do wait looking for your help. Don't forget to teach my children."
Heart: "With your blessings, I will change your children's mindset. will try my best. Hope they will also learn."
She leaves the room as majestically as she enters. One girl outside the room asks,"Ma'am, your name? Just for the record."

She answers with a smile,"Same as your doctor's. Earth."
Today is World Environment Day.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 011

From Sify News:
Statue for MS Subbulakshmi in Tirupati
Saturday, 21 May , 2005, 15:47
Tirupati: The statue of melody queen and eminent carnatic musician late M S Subbulakshmi will be unveiled in Tirupati in July. Arrangements for the installation of the nine and a half foot statue depicting MS in seated posture are being made at the Tirupati Urban Development Authority (TUDA) junction, TUDA Chairman S Karunakar Reddy said on Saturday.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Memories are mirrors that show what you were once in the past. Memories are the ones using which you breathe in the present. Memories are like bridges that connect one strange land of consciousness to the another equally strange land of awareness. Memories fill the emptiness created by the realities. Memories close the hole on eroded mind. Memories surprise you when you walk down the narrow alley at the side of your thoughts.

I am listening to a lovely song of Elvis - Memories.
Once when I was disposing my school notebook, I was just careful to see anything important was kept between the pages. There, right before my eyes, were flattened chocolate wrappers, feathers, leaves, and loose papers. All were pressed by Time and the pages. I now know memories can take many forms. When they come out of our eyes to see the world, they become tears on which world gets reflected. I then did not know. When I saw those flattened wrappers and planate leaves, I could only feel the weight of the moment I got those chocolates, and the moments I collected those feathers and leaves.

I remember all these - and much more - when I listen to the first line of Elvis' Memories. The song begins like this "Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind" and goes on with "holding hands","quiet nights", and "gentle days". Have you anytime tried to touch your quiet thoughts? What would happen if you could touch them? Just read the following lyrics slowly - as slow as it were, if you can only live as long as the time you take to read. And see if you can enjoy the lyrics without hearing the song.
Memories by Elvis Presley
Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine
Quiet thoughts come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet memories,
Sweet memories
Of holding hands and red bouquets
And twilight trimmed in purple haze
And laughing eyes and simple ways
And quiet nights and gentle days with you
Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine,
Memories, memories, sweet memories
Hope you enjoyed the lyrics. I am sure you can now narrate what you were doing ten years back in that rainy day. Or did you remember the day when you had copied the homework from your best friend and was caught by that Lieutenant-under-the-disguise-of-a-teacher. Or are you going to keep this moment of reading for another period, maybe for remembering after ten years. Oops, I would then be as delighted as I am now...

Saturday, May 28, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 010

H.Y. Sharada Prasad, a close friend of MS and Sadasivam, writes about their marriage:
"It was a remarkable marriage. They made a striking pair. Wherever they went or sat, all eyes turned towards them, because of Subbulakshmi's extraordinary grace and beauty and the large, radiant eyes outshining the diamonds and silks she wore. Sadasivam had a presence which by no means was in the shadows. There he was, upright and broad-shouldered and handsome, in his white khadi and the lines of sacred ash on his forehead. Subbulakshmi seemed to lean on him like the jasmine creeper twining itself around a tall tree. When the two entered a room, one felt as if more lights had been switched on. There were some who called them Parvathi-Parameshwar...."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Why is this blog sleeping?

Why is this blog sleeping for more than a month after 41 posts since December 21, 2004? Is the blogger losing interest in this medium? Is he or she burnt-out already? Busy with something else? Or busy with nothing? Many questions to ask. Who knows the answers? I don't know. Honestly, I don't know. However, I can tell, for sure, that new posts will come in the month of June. There is something called Creative Cunctation, isn't it?

Thanks for your patience and care. I will see you all again in a month with some good posts.

Bye for now...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Listen to the new audio sample..

Excerpts from Alaapanai
Raagam: Shubhapantuvarali
Artist: M.S.Gopalakrishnan
Time: 00.02.25

Please go to the section Click play to listen on the right column - below the shoutbox.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Cricket Diplomacy

Mr.Natwar Singh said,"We are willing to discuss any issue with Musharraf...Mr. Musharraf is arriving here on April 16 to witness the cricket match on April 17. Besides cricket, we would talk on any issue if he wished to..." and he added,"At no stage, have we stopped telling them that the real success of composite dialogue will be when terrorism is stopped because the structure for terrorism still continues there..."
I imagine a discussion like this on April 17 between them and the press meet that follows:
NS: "General, I told the house that we are willing to discuss any issue."
M: "Very nice of you. I thought you would bring again only Kargil and terrorism."
NS: "I also informed the house that we never stopped telling you the importance of stopping terrorism."
M: "Is it? Very kind of you to have said that discussion would be on topic of my choice."
NS:"When will you stop aiding terrorist groups?"
M: "I am also worried about.."
NS:"Thank you, General. I can then announce that our discussion is a great success.."
M:"Wait.Wait. I am worried that my boys should play well today.."
NS(with a smile):"!!!"
M:"But they should hit the target.."
NS(jumping with joy):"Ah! Another great diplomatic victory. General has agreed to target the terrorist camps."
M:"What? Is this the way to treat your guest? Afridi and others should hit Pathan and Balaji for sixes and fours so that they lose their confidence."
NS(with a smile):"!!!"
M:"We should also tighten our field placing to avoid giving easy runs.."
NS(with a beamish face):"How nice! We never thought you also wanted to make these hard core terrorists to run away.."
M:"This is the limit. I have come here to enjoy the cricket match. And the last thing I want to hear is any of your usual complaints. You better treat your guest well. Else I can put a word to my big brother Bush and will prevent you all from visiting any other countries. You know that? Let me enjoy cricket here.."
NS(with a serious face):"Yes, General. Inzamam is a quality player,isn't it?"
M nodded.
After the match, when asked by media about the discussion, Natwar Singh proudly announced that he never stopped telling the General on the importance of stopping terrorism. Media was curious to know General's response. Natwar Singh said the general too responded appropriately and announced happily that the next diplomatic discussion would be during the coming World Cup matches.

Friday, March 18, 2005

New Feature - Shoutbox

I have added one shoutbox in the sidebar. You can now post your brief comments without much effort.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

After a while...Comes the dawn...

My friend showed this poem to me few hours back.

After a while (a.k.a. Comes the dawn)

Veronica Shoffstall

After a while, you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning

And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn

That kisses aren't contracts

And presents aren't promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head up and your eyes open

With the grace of a woman,

Not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads

On today, because tomorrow's ground

Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have

A way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine

Burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate

Your own soul instead of waiting

For someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure...

That you really are strong
And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn...

With every goodbye you learn.

You learn, with every goodbye,
Comes the dawn.

©1971,Veronica Shoffstall

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"The Hindu" editorial on Micro-finance

This was published in The Hindu on March 14, 2005. The link is here.

The slew of measures announced in the Union budget will go a considerable way in bolstering the system of dispensing credit by micro-finance institutions (MFIs) in conjunction with self-help groups (SHGs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). There is a welcome recognition in the Finance Minister's speech of the role MFIs have played in catering to the credit needs of the poorer sections of rural society. This is a function mainline banks in India and most other countries have been unable to do on their own. Since February 2000 when the Reserve Bank of India gave priority sector status to loans provided by banks to the MFIs, the activity has been mainstream. Experience of operating a micro-credit model pioneered by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) during 1991-92 has shown that establishing a linkage between an SHG and a bank is the best method for bringing SHGs into the ambit of formal banking especially because it infuses a degree of professionalism into the services offered to the rural poor.
The budget has ambitious plans to extend the target of credit linking for 2005-06 from 200,000 self-help groups to 250,000. The Government hopes to enhance the beneficial role of the MFIs as an intermediary between banks and rural borrowers. Commercial banks will be allowed to appoint MFIs as their "banking correspondents" for providing a variety of services on their behalf. That will vastly increase their reach and remove some of the intractable rigidities that have stood in the way of the spread of rural banking. Close to 70 per cent of the rural poor do not have a bank account and 87 per cent do not have access to credit from a formal source. The proposal to appoint MFIs as agents for micro-insurance products will help spread the insurance habit and enable them to earn a fee income. Another significant proposal is to let the eligible MFIs seek equity support from the redesignated Micro Finance Development and Equity Fund, which has a corpus of Rs. 200 crore.
Originally confined to the southern States, micro-finance is fast spreading to the rest of India. For the banking system, the SHG linkage has been a winning proposition. It has resulted in lower transaction costs, negligible defaults, and the generation of enormous goodwill. The MFIs have been adept at providing customised solutions based on their understanding of local conditions. However, a number of weaknesses remain. Banks have not yet standardised their approach towards micro-lending. A lack of infrastructure and design facilities and also worthwhile distribution channels for marketing the products has constrained growth. A number of initiatives are needed to keep the micro-finance system on track. The goal is to make it a dispenser not just of credit but of a variety of social goods and services to the rural poor.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A stirring in the heart

I was walking slowly under the hot sun. Not many people were around. Leaves were too bright in the light. My feet could feel the heat of the earth on the footwear. My footwear could feel the heat below and the weight above. I saw a playground. There was a school next to it. The school was small. It was not a convent. Though boys and girls were in school uniform, one could immediately sense their financial background. Small boys and girls were sitting in different groups under the shadow of the trees that were lined up by the side. Some were talking aloud. Some were silently having lunch. Some were playing. Very noisy but not a disturbing one. The sky was very clear. There was only one group of thin clouds, very far, moving slowly like me. They were looking for cool shades to rest. A single crow moved very swiftly from one tree to the next one. Some leaves fluttered because of this. Someone might have disturbed its rest there.
It was a hot lazy afternoon.
I was just walking. Suddenly I noticed that I was not thinking anything. My thoughts were also taking rest. Heart was also, like a calm river, flowing from inside to outside spreading itself all over. I was walking effortlessly. I saw two school girls walking in front of me. Our walking pace was almost uniform that the distance was same. It was close enough that I could overhear them. They were walking without speaking to each other. Looked like it would be like that forever. One of them turned back to see something or someone. Her face was round and she had very expressive eyes. I thought her eyes were more mature than her face. But why did those eyes have few drops of tears? There was a slight disturbance in that calm river. Small ripples were formed by the fall of those small drops of tears. Tears borne out of pain were getting dissolved in that river. Heart was taking everything in its flow. Suddenly, the girl said to her friend,"My father beat my mother yesterday."
There was a silence. A meaningful silence.
The girl now asked,"Have you seen your father beating your mother?"
The other girl with a heavy heart said,"mm..I have seen."
"I feel like crying when I think of my mother."
"me too."
"must be painful for her?"
Ripples grew into huge waves. Nothing was calm anymore. Why these small innocent girls had to discuss such things? What a hurt these young hearts were burdened with!
At a distance, one flower was falling. All of us noticed that.
One girl said to the other,"I will catch that."
But the other said,"No, I will catch. It's for me."
I saw them running ahead. The flower was moving down spiralling its way. Both of them tried to catch it. But the flower did not yield to their efforts and fell on the ground majestically. Did it smile at us? The girls laughed heartily for their failure. My heart, like a calm river, rejoiced in their laughter.

Monday, March 07, 2005

New feature

"Listen to the clipping" is added. I will hopefully be able to update it regularly. You can now listen to a small clipping from M.S. Subbulakshmi's rendition. Please see inside the 'listen' window for details of the clipping.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Microcredit and Microfinance

In continuation of the previous post, I would like to add these:
For further readings:

In the General Budget 2005-2006 presented today, Government of India has proposed to increase the Microfinance development fund to Rs.200 crores.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Prof. Muhammad Yunus

One does not always need to have large money to help people. The poor but skilled people need very small money to help themselves come out of deprivation. They might not possess anything for collateral. Banks do not give loans to them. Local moneylenders squeeze these people. The scene seems to be very familiar. Professor Yunus, the economist, happened to meet such people. When he met Sufia Begum way back in 1974, he never knew it would change his life and that of others. Professor was on his visit to a local village in a famine gripped Bangladesh. Begum would weave bamboo stools from morning to evening to earn fifty paise profit in each stool. Professor also learnt that the moneylenders had not allowed Begum to increase the selling price as a part of her repayment of loans. Then he made a list of people who needed a small amount of money and found out they needed only 1500 Bangladesh Taka (roughly Rs.1100/-). He was shocked. People normally talk of investing millions and millions of Takas for economic development. But these people needed only a little. He lent that money to them and asked them to repay whenever they could afford. He also realized that this was just an emotional and personal response but what these people needed was an institutional mechanism. Grameen Bank, banking for the poor, was born. The implementation of micro-credit was also born.
For Further Readings:

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Bhaskara II was born in 1114 or 1115 and died around 1185. His famous work Lilavati is said to be named after his daughter, to console her for an astrological forecast that went wrong.
The story goes that Bhaskara used his knowledge to choose the most propitious date and time for his daughter's wedding. As the time approached, one of her pearls fell into the water clock as she leaned over it, stopping the outflow of water. Before anyone noticed, however, the critical time passed and the wedding had to be called off. The hapless Lilavati never married, and now she is remembered only through the book that bears the name.
(From Mathematics and Its History by John Stillwell)
I have also read somewhere about a legend which says that the wedding indeed took place but her husband died soon after.

Friday, February 18, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 009

(from an article by Dr.Gowri Ramnarayan)
"We walked 30 miles to hear you today but arrived only at the very end. We waited in the hope of offering our respects to you before returning to our village."
The speakers were a dust-streaked couple in crumpled sari and dhoti in remote Ayalur in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district - where Carnatic vocalist M.S. Subbulakshmi had given a concert as the finale of a week-long temple festival. Her name had drawn from villages miles around, thousands who were at that time returning with no thought or word beyond the exhilaration her vocal music had wrought.
Drained by the two-and-a-half hour performance and passage through the adulation of the packed crowds, the (then) 70-year- old musician had no thought but of rest for the early journey of the next day. But she would not, could not, send the couple away disappointed. "Let us sing at least one song for them." The younger accompanist to whom she said this asked, "Do you know it is midnight now?" With a smile MS began to sing with the same earnestness and attention she had shown earlier on the stage.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Ilaiyaraja's Thiruvasakam

(Click here for The Hindu report. The following is from )

The much-awaited musical work of 'Thiruvasakam by Ilaiyaraja', a symphony based on Manikavasagar's Tamil verses, is now complete, the renowned music director disclosed in Chennai. It will be released in Chennai on April 14 - Tamil New Year's Day. The music director said his aim was not to provide a new dimension to the Tamil epic or to try and display his talents as a musician. He wanted to take such treasures like Thiruvasakam to the younger generation, and make them aware of the rich traditions and culture in Tamil Nadu. "We have a responsibility to tell the youth in a way they can understand about the greatness of literary and religious masterpieces like Thiruvasakam. I have merely attempted to take this to the youth," said an emotional Ilaiyaraja. "There will always be people who will question why these verses have been rendered in the album this way. However, I am not trying to say that this is the only way to sing them or that this is the way to sing them. I have done something to make the youth aware of the treasures that we have, that are lying unused and unsung right in front of us," he added. The album has witnessed excellent performances by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra in Hungary (140 players), by Stephen Schwatz, the celebrated American playwright; by Richard King, the five-time Grammy award-winning sound engineer of Sony Music in New York, and more than 200 vocalists and instrumentalists from Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Budapest and New York. The producer of this album is Tamil Maiyam, a non-profit organisation based in Chennai.

Monday, February 07, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 008

It is said that after a concert while MS was still in her teens, Dakshinamurti Pillai addressed the vidwans present and said,"Why do you indulge in acrobatics? Observe the way this little girl sings, and learn the art of simplicity from her." MS had the greatest admiration for him and claimed to have been influenced by him in her formative years.
(from Great Masters of Carnatic Music:1930-1965 by Indira Menon)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Pudukottai Dakshinamurthi Pillai (1875-1937)

Dakshinamurti Pillai was an awe-inspiring musician of those times. He played mridangam, ghatam, and kanjira. He learnt mridangam under Tanjore Narayanaswami Appa and became the student of Manppondia Pillai, a wizard, at the age of twenty-five. He then joined Balamani Ammal's troupe as percussionist. He was a colossus; a familiar figure - respected and admired. A percussion combination that was considered to be memorable and was thought to raise the standards of the concert was, Palghat Mani Iyer and Palani Subramanyam Pillai on the mridangam, and Dakshinamurti Pillai on the kanjira. He was an eternal source of encouragement to the young and an inspiration to great masters like Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer and Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Is CNN website closed?

People follow strange ways to put a title for their writings, books, poems, posts, etc. Some choose a simple name that says something about the content. Some choose a complex name that no one understands. Some will have a title that implies something relevant to the subject. Some titles will mislead us inadvertently. Some choose titles to misguide the readers. Relevant title. Funny ones. Stupid ones. Boring ones. Poetic headings. Some titles will painfully be longer than the content. Provoking ones. Oh! So many possibilities exist!! Of course, these are all very subjective. One could criticize my previous post title too.
Okay, Let's play. Choose a title for this news item:
"The Jang group, Karachi's largest newsgroup, -- which includes more than 20 publications, including the largest Urdu and English circulation newspapers and the local Urdu TV channel GEO -- believes the attack on its office yesterday was a reaction to the publication of a TV interview with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres in the Daily Jang and The News. The official said the attackers ransacked the reception area and smashed the glass doors of the main entrance and broke open the locked doors of the cash counter and took cash and valuables. Turning to the parking lot of the Daily Jang building, the attackers damaged vehicles as well as personal cars. The attackers also uprooted a relief camp set up along the building by the Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation to collect relief goods for the tsunami victims, throwing the collected relief goods across the road. Police arrived while the incident was ongoing, and the attackers fled in the presence of police"
Take some moments to think. Have you chosen your title?
Let's see what CNN had chosen: Karachi tsunami relief camp attack (The link given on Let's see... will take you to the news item.)
Do you still wonder about the title of this post?
When I typed I got the message "The domain name does not exist". I thought for a second if the site was closed and wondered why. Then I noted that I had typed www.cnncom leaving the dot in a hurry. So much for the title..