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.
Shencottah now invites you to write for this blog. Please see here for further details.

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.