Sunday, September 20, 2015

Music- The Elixir of Human Society

Reckless hunt for materialistic pleasures in today’s world has enslaved people around the globe. And this hunt never ends while the life force ends itself. It’s quite dramatic. The drama of our life is so melodramatic that most of us are caught in its vicious cycle. It doesn’t end and will never end. But there must be something that keeps it aside and makes us move on to more beautiful things in life. So is there anything that liberates us from all these trappings? Is there something that comes as a rescuer and savior in this chaotic situation which provide us inner peace and happiness? The answer to this is only one thing. Well that is known as ‘muzik’ in Turkish, ‘tonlist’ in Icelandic, ‘musikk’ in Norwegian, music in British and ‘Sangeet’ in India. Music is the universal language of mankind. Our entire human fraternity disagrees on many issues but agrees on one and that is music. Music captivates everyone. It is a force that unifies and diminishes boundaries of caste, creed and country. Music is a religion and we all humans are inter-connected to it. Its essence is socially much relevant. We humans are genetically filled up with emotions. Whenever we need to vent out our emotions, music just gives the way to it.
It is undeniably the greatest gift to all human beings. Music ignites the passion in them. Any professional, whether he/she is a scientist, adventurist, painter, author, singer or anything else cannot be devoid of music. They all need it. When we humans are at loss of words, we need music to reenergize and rejuvenate our souls. The power of music is not only felt across the world but it goes beyond eternity. There are innumerous boundaries and borders across this earth but music crosses it all. It unifies the world as one common family. In this sojourn of life, music serves as an elixir to many souls.

Music is sublime and eternal. We turn on music according to our emotional preferences. Whether we get sad or happy, music remains the ultimate healer in all cases. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once quoted “Music is the universal language of mankind.” And mankind needs music to sustain love and brotherhood.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Poet in Me, Inspired by You...

Reasons are there, for me to care
Don’t know why, just ask your eyes
Unexplainable though, but can’t tell you
Aspirations fly with wings of desire
The poet in me, inspired by you
Smell of desire, my love on fire
Burning with passion and love on a ransom
Would you resist, the tempted temptation
The beautiful eyes and the rhythmic steps
Couldn’t resist your hugs and kiss
The will to care, when love was there
Left weak on knees to see you honey
I did try, but couldn’t reply
In shadows of happiness, I still cry
Here I am with strength and wine
Celebrating love and killing the pain
I ditched the pain, sweet poison remains
An unknown road, in memoirs I galore
Can’t let go, my feelings on go
Sanitizing me, for sanctity
Burnt pictures of you, the heart remains.
Inflated spirit, asking for more
Do you know? Now I love you more
Days are there, but nights are gone
We talked on phone till wee hours of dawn
Soft breeze surfaced, as I would breathe
Beats are there, the heart is gone
Smell of your scent and solitude
In a full moon to see you soon
Life ran a mile, I'm left with void
Emptiness surrounds, weighs thousand pounds
Love isn't a crime, it’s always divine
Forged harmless lies, when truth had defied
Still sweet and sane, no one left to blame
With attire of words in a robe of love
Etched every stone, carved out your name
Just to explore, how deep it goes 
Acceptance of loss, wins battle of love
Still dream of rain, in her arms again

To conquer the world ,with strength of love...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Using technology for rural education in India and how to make it affordable

The technology to educate should be so easy that everyone concerned can use it and access it. The kind of technology that offers minimum constraints in rural India is actually going to help transform the education over there. There are constraints like internet connection, availability of computers, knowledge of how to download sources to help and many other thousands of things.
So, the question is can we teach the whole of rural India these complexities and even if we somehow appear successful in doing so then what are chances that it is really going to transform education. The measurement of the effectiveness of teaching is a big issue as well as the quality of education. How do we disseminate quality education among the underprivileged sections of rural India? How can we judge the effectiveness of what is taught? There are many questions like this that remains unanswered to this day. The biggest challenge remains the quality of education. It is much more relevant today than it was before. We have to ensure one thing that is that the best teacher is available to the last student of the classroom. One example of it is Khan Academy wherein one single source is available to millions of people across the globe. Such models definitely have a place in India.
In India, distant learning starts from the fourth row of the classroom itself and there is no guarantee that everyone in the classroom has understood what was taught. Measurement of the effectiveness of teaching is the biggest issue in today’s environment. If we play a serial for 30 minutes in a rural area of India, the people there would be probably answering more questions than the live traditional classroom where the same thing is done for 40 minutes. The reason to be understood for this is the richness of the medium we are using. If we have a gifted teacher who can teach in a creative class and then you expose the same kind of learning environment to a rural classroom, I think the learning is going to be far better. So, in a country like India we should consider enabling e-learning in a big way and create a set of people who are going to be facilitators of e-learning.
The biggest problem faced by rural India is the student-teacher ratio where a large number of students are taught by a small number of teachers. And this kind of disparity is going to grow in near future. The only way forward is to e-enable learning at all levels in India and measure the outcome through the test to be conducted. And a good test is a well-designed objective type test.  One more thing is capturing the essence of a great learning environment that is designed for it, encapsulate it and give it back to required place. Clarifying a doubt in the local language will be fine but the fundamentals and the way of delivery should be in the English language. This is what is going to take India forward. Knowing and speaking in English shouldn’t be looked as Elitist but it should be looked at as a requirement to improve the quality of life.
Television will be a better medium instead of a computer. Everybody would know how to use a television. To study, a DTH could help. A DTH could be that simple device to use that could leverage the learning environment that we want in rural India. The amount of time to teach them how to switch on and select the things that they want to study will take less than 5 minutes. Suppose a class wants to learn the first chapter of physics of class 11th then all that they need to know is how to operate a DTH remote. That can be taught quickly and easily enough to get what they need.  In a way, an affordable and easy medium to operate and understand is what is needed to transform the educational system in a rural background of India.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

When you search for sure like never before...

 When you search for sure like never before? When you always wonder how? There were only few who stood behind an idea of truth, conviction, passion, resistance, innovation and freedom. Wherever you are, whenever you want and whatever it takes. You have the power to face the future.
Any idea or breakthrough that illuminated the entire world was defied at first place with resistance and outcry. Anything that is or was not regular was always looked down upon with suspicion. The suspicion arose from the doubt of self. When you overcome the suspicion of self, you rise and create. And you own what you create. The seed of creation originates from the soul. From that very spirit that every human being on earth is endowed with but few understand and apply.

When Columbus set his voyage towards India, he ended up being in North America. Had he ever given a thought of earth being flat, he would have ended falling off the cliff. Leonardo Da Vinci was the first person to have conceived the idea of how a working model of airplane can look like about centuries ago. Every idea generates in the art form first, science and technology comes later. The Wright Brothers churned that idea into reality. The impossible becomes possible. Buddha was a preacher of simple things like peace, non-violence and integrity. Born centuries ago, but the relevance of his teaching won’t ever die. It continued to inspire many great people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and other unknown achievers. If world famous scientist, Thomas Alva Edison would have lost faith in himself then I wouldn't have been able to write an article with my bare eyes at night. Henry Ford, the inventor of the first commercial car once said “"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." Steve Jobs, who died recently due to pancreatic cancer, was one such person in the present world who achieved what he believed in. The aesthetics of the design and technology sparked the vision to carry forward the legacy of what we know as ‘Apple Inc’.

Every one of them voyaged towards their own freedom. So, when I talk of freedom, I mean to say that you breathe when you heart beats and with every beat goes a second or more. And every second you give yourself a death, when your thoughts acquire someone else's.  It’s quite an easy alternative to find when you can’t have your own thoughts. Whenever in life, you feel like you are lost and confused. Just start concentrating in the belief system that defines you. Start revolving around your own life. You are the star of your own life and others will always be like your planet. Caring too much about any relation destroys your own relationship with life. Share your emotions but never share your life. The dreams that you have about your own passion.  Any passion like a fire in your heart warms up the entire world.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why we can't have a unifying base language for mankind?

Language is such a complex and diverse system of communication that no one actually knows when it started and how it started. Mother of all languages is a highly debatable issue. It is a significant development that happened to human history of evolution, yet one can’t conclusively trace the history of it or be sure to say where actually language originated from? Spoken language requires speech from vocal tracts of the human body. So how humans started producing sound for speech?

Researchers claim that our first sign were primitive gestures and sounds developed much later. Around 50,000 years ago, humans were supposed to have developed the behavioral modernity .That modernity laid the foundation stone for the evolution of the language. Currently it is estimated that around 6000 to 7000 languages are spoken in the world. The first thing that anyone discovers while learning a foreign language is that the diversity is the primary characteristics of human language. A language can never evolve if the contact between person to person is more than enough to communicate. There can’t be a unifying base language for humans as some sentence structures have no basis at all in some cultures. So automatically the concept of universal grammar dies.

Recently, a linguist researcher named Daniel Everett contradicted what Noam Chomsky, the most important linguist of our times, proposed. Back in 1957, Chomsky proposed the idea of universal grammar. He believed that power of language is biologically given. And all sentences spoken at any moment all over the world follow the same rules of processing done by our organ of speech. Everett researched on a Brazilian tribe named Piraha who formulate sentences without using any subordinate or dependent clauses. A dependent clause begins with a subordinate conjunctions like ‘after’, ‘as’, ‘once’ etc. or a relative pronoun like ‘that’, ‘who’, ‘whom’ etc. and will contain a subject and a verb. This combination of words will not form a complete sentence. It will instead make a reader want additional information to finish the thought. According to the grammatical rules of almost all the languages in the world, we need to use dependent clauses to complete the thought of a sentence while structuring it. But the Piraha tribe doesn't need them at all to formulate the sentence which is indeed quite shocking and contradicting as well to what linguist researcher, Chomsky believed in. The language of Piraha has a simple sound system which includes three vowels and seven consonants for women and eight for men. So, this research really contradicts the universal grammar concept moved forward by Chomsky about the inborn ability of all people to structure their speech using certain grammatical rules. The paucity of the language that Piraha tribe use is what makes them special. Even the way they count is entirely a different concept. Suppose you put three apples in-front of them, then they will bring another three to show the exact numerical figure of apples. But they won’t retain the exact number in their heads for long and that happens because the abstract concept of ‘three’ is nonexistent for them. This again contradicts Noam Chomsky and his followers who believe that counting numerically is an innate quality of human beings. To Everett it is more of a cultural invention and a kind of storing technology. Dan Everett has been there with the tribe for almost 30 years, learning and researching on their language. Paoxaisi is the name by which the Piraha know Dan Everett.

Well, more the research goes on, the more we come out with new, unexplored and unknown facts. No one can possibly provide a one thumb rule regarding the diversity of languages here and how it is related to the inborn quality of human beings towards it. Almost all languages run on the basis of grammatical rules but the language of Piraha doesn't follow grammar at all in structuring their sentences. Ultimately, humans are too complex a phenomenon to have some certain rules regarding languages set to them and followed thereafter. The debate continues to rage on forever from where and how language originated and evolved. The sheer beauty and diversity of various languages make it a complicated phenomenon to understand.

So, the final conclusive word on its birth, evolution and development is highly questionable. Of course, there can be one language which majority can speak up and understand. But it is impossible to have a common language which everyone will understand and speak.

The Sixth Sense

We all grew up interacting with the physical objects around us and they are in enormous numbers which we use in our everyday life. Unlike our most computing devices they are mostly fun to use. When we talk about objects one thing that comes automatically attached to it, is gesture. How we use gestures to manipulate this object and to interact with them as well as interacting with each other. A gesture like waving hands for saying bye can automatically be understood. We don’t need to have training classes for that or a gesture of Namastey can be easily understood in India as wishing someone with respect. It automatically comes as a part of our everyday learning. So the thing is how can we leverage our knowledge about everyday objects and how can we use them to interact with the digital world? Rather than using a computer or a mouse why can’t we interact with them the same way we interact with the physical world? We humans are never interested in computing but all we are interested is in getting information. Laptops plus smartphones provide effortless access to computing power .But how can we move a step further rather than looking like a machine sitting in front of a machine to gain that information. Why can’t we carry all the information ourselves rather than searching it on our laptops, smartphones or any other machines? How can we assimilate our digital world with the real world?

Perhaps the most interesting areas of creativity and technology now are where the digital and the real worlds meet. Pioneers in gestural interface promise to bring that. Movies like Minority Report or Microsoft’s Project Natal controller-less game system already has given us the exciting peek into the future. But outside of that, perhaps never has the future been so amazingly captured as in Pranav Mistry‘s demonstration of something called “Sixth Sense”. He is one of the inventors. He is a research assistant and a PhD candidate at MIT Media Lab. The Sixth Sense prototype is a wearable device like a pendant that allows users to interact with all modes of data and virtual information with physical gestures. It is comprised of a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera. According to Mistry it’s made up of trouble-free features, but it does some crazy things. In the demo, Mistry is seen holding up his hands in a photo framing gesture, and actually taking a picture, then browsing pictures on a surface nearby and then sending photos by dialing numbers on his hand.

Recently, Sixth Sense has engrossed worldwide attention. Just imagine, the ease with which you can access all the information available as you carry it yourself. By simply drawing '@' sign in air on any blank wall or piece of paper you will be able to check your mail. Imagine a system that can display the reason of your flight delay on the boarding ticket itself which you are holding in your hand.

Currently, the prototype costs less then Rs.15,000. This technology when fully developed will have open source software as Pranav claims and he will provide all demonstrations on how to use it. Well, when fully developed it will be giant leap in technological evolution. We always observe any thing, any place, or come to any decision through our five senses. But arguably the most useful information that can help us make the correct decision is not naturally perceivable with our five senses, specifically the data, information and knowledge that mankind has accumulated about everything and which is ever more all accessible online. Sixth sense bridges this gap allowing us to interact with this information via natural hand gestures. ‘Sixth Sense’ frees information from its confines by seamlessly integrating it with reality, and thus making the entire world your computer.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Celebrating Independent Dependency

On this Independence Day, “Buy 2 get 1 free” HURRY! All of a sudden, eruptions of sales, discounts and bonanzas especially on 15th of August sweep the Indian market. Who is celebrating with us? They are foreign “Multinationals”. There was a time when Britishers’ considered our country their golden bird and we collectively despised their unfair trade practices.
Earlier it was fair for them and unfair for us but now on the 63rd year of our Independence it is fair for both of us. So what exactly has changed? India was the biggest trading venture then, now it is the biggest partner.  What is the contrast? Earlier it was Britain extracting cheap raw materials and even now the situation appears similar when they do outsourcing for cheap labour. As it has become a bit fashionable to say “I work for a British multinational.” Rules have changed, power has been transferred, yet the business remains the same.
India and Britain share a historical association of over three centuries. And if we revisit history we can recall that there had been many movements associated with our Independence against the British colonial rule. One of them, which is very distinctly registered in our minds is the Non Co-operation Movement when our freedom fighters refused to buy British goods and promoted indigenous goods and tried to uphold the values of Indian honour and integrity. When Nehru gave the famous ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech, declaring India’s independence, the whole country celebrated with great fervour. Even now we celebrate this historic event but the contrast is that Britain from whom we got our independence, is now celebrating with us. Someone has correctly said "History repeats itself” but if we look it in our Indian context, it will be like “History does repeat itself but with added flavours of Independent dependency.”

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Am Honest

Ever felt that "Yeah, I did wrong but I was never supposed to do that". Guilt of not responding to your guts out of fear is human nature. Being true to yourself is quite difficult a thing sometimes. When we were small children we had one thing in common in between all of us and that was our innocence and honesty. As the time passed by, we all grew up and things certainly changed. We used to be fearless as children. Honesty was the best policy for us till then. So, what exactly happened to our guts of saying what we liked, what we had in mind, and what we wanted to do? Did all earthly things come in between you and your honesty? No, it was the slow deterioration of our faith in our best trait that we had or have, if it exists somewhere within each one of us.

So, when was the last time when you had this wonderful feeling after confessing something that you always felt was rocking your life upside down? When was the last time you really stood out for a cause that was honest and genuine? And so on, many questions arise and the answers lie in our mind itself. Just an exploration of our own-self solves it all. Accepting what we are, the way we are and not how the world shapes us is the solution.

Faces change but it’s always the character that makes a soul, a great one to be remembered for lifetimes to come. Gautam Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, and many other unknown, honest and great souls on earth had one thing in common and that was their honesty, genuineness and belief in non-violence.

Just remember one thing in life “Simplicity and genuineness of purpose overcome even the most difficult times".

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lobbyist : Nobody tells me What to Do or Say?

 I had lunch at Luytens’, played golf at the exclusive greens of Delhi Golf Club and had a private party at Minister’s official residence and dozen other places. Who am I? Currently, in India I am termed as an ambiguous phenomenon. People scream from rooftops to curb me, dismantle me, and regulate me, etc. I belong to a super-exclusive group which have members like Niira Radia,Tony Jesudasan, Deepak Talwar, Suhel Seth,  V. Balasubramaniun, Dilip Cherian etc.. I am a Lobbyist.

According to Wiki’s description, “A lobbyist is a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest or a member of a lobby. Governments often define and regulate organized group lobbying that has become influential”.
Hail the world of the influence-rs who fit in to a small breed of men and women. The clan who understands that to generate more money out of money, you must know how to manage power. In addition, power is managed in many ways. Slick conversation, apt response, subtle pressure, camouflaged media reports, a coordinated design of public good and always the last resort: personal profit. They carry forward these skills and resources to benefit their clients. Finally, the question arises “Who are the clients?" They are big MNCs’, politicians, businesspersons and numerous other people or organizations. It engages people from all quarters like senior retired bureaucrats, lawyers, PR agents, media persons with some legitimate and influential industrial lobbying groups like CII, FICCI etc. to push forward the influence in the policy-making. An industrial organization may claim of playing political advocacy. But even they know that advocacy is always a nicer replacement for the term lobbying.

In United States and elsewhere around the globe, lobbying is a legitimate activity. Lobbying firms are prevalent in every public sphere of influence. Some lobby for greenery, some for more oil and some for civil rights. Yet, the good thing is, they are regulated with laws intact. But, in India it is something far more unclear. Lobbyists here, fancy to be heard rather than being overheard .Overheard here is meant for those people who are none of their businesses. Definitely, Niira Radia got overheard. Even if she didn't try, her leaked out tapes of 2G spectrum allocation scam did push that doomsday button. She didn't scream out but her tapes did about how a policy is influenced by the most powerful in India. The tapes affirmed the facts about how these powers influence the decision regarding which minister to have a certain portfolio and what flexible policies to be made in near future. And to move forward the names of person to discard who develop into a bone of contention, with the sole motive to benefit the influential. What followed thereafter was a natural progression demanding for lobbying laws in our country.

Unquestionably, lobbying has reached either a point where it influences or attempts to influence, who holds the ministerial rank. What we need is, revelations. For sure, lobbying is not legal in India but it’s not illegal as well. At this point, resisting lobbying is never a solution but regulating it though a flexible law, certainly is. As too stringent laws on regulating or restricting it too much, threatens people’s interest. And we must realize that. Politics is all about the conflict of interests. Especially if the citizens demand, the importance lies in greater disclosure, transparency and sincerity. Because public do have a distinct right to know why policy makers are formulating the decisions they do and who has influenced those decisions. India must open up to the lobbying. We have to legalize it and make it apparent for the public interest. Someone quoted it right “The President is people’s lobbyist”. That’s why Lobby-ism shouldn't be subject to dismantle but certain lobbyists should be.