Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why can’t we have a unifying base Language For Mankind ?

Language is such a complex and diverse system of communication that no one actually knows when and how it started. The mother of all languages is a highly debatable issue. It is a significant development that happened in the human history of evolution, yet one can’t conclusively trace the history of it or be sure to say where the 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 signs 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 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 of diversity as the primary characteristics of human language. A language can never evolve if the contact between people 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 culture, 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. However, Everett researched on a Brazilian tribe named Piraha who formulate sentences without using any subordinate or dependent clauses. A dependent clause begins with 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 and 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 never known 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 makes it a complicated phenomenon to understand.

 So, the final conclusive words on its birth, evolution, and development seem never ending and highly debatable.  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. 

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

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 say? 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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Freedom Of Speech & Common Sense Do Run Together !

A few centuries back, French philosopher Voltaire quoted “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Freedom of Speech or Expressions is such a right. The devoid of it is despotism. With this indispensable freedom for human race come two associated requisites: One is rationality and the other is accountability. We as a citizen of India are equally responsible of what we express and how we express. 
Everyone does have a right is understood in democracy. Although,when it is not understood or exercised in true perspective of freedom, it subsequently release fumes of hatred, violence, misinterpretations and hostility among the same people for whom it was meant.
There are numerous instances where this inevitable requirement backfired at our own institution. Way back in 1996, India’s most celebrated painter Maqbool Fida Hussain created fur ore in Hindu community by painting the deities of Goddesses Saraswati, Parvati, Durga, and Draupadi naked on canvas. His creative autonomy did allow him to do so, but the free will was not aimed for such negligent artworks in a country where people are relatively sensitive over religious issues. He certainly failed to recognize that. Besides, he has got no right to hurt the sentiments through his artwork every other day and then ask for apology. This entire episode was not a story of Islamic prejudice but a story of Hindu sensibility being insulted. Even the people and extremist Hindu organizations affiliated with them had no right to sabotage his artworks.
Knowingly or unknowingly, if Hussain misunderstood it, so did the extremist Hindu groups. Both lie on the same side of a coin who misapprehend the whole idea.
Recently, noted author and social activist, Arundhati Roy gave a provocative speech underlining her full support for Kashmir’s separatist movement. Nothing new by her as Pakistan has been airing such sentiments for decades. Furthermore, Roy says Maoists are “Gandhians with Guns”. Anyone with even an ounce of an idea about the diligent non-violent freedom struggle by Mahatma Gandhi can say that this particular declaration by her is not in sync with the Gandhian philosophy. Roy’s blatant comment without a doubt tells us how to differentiate between a scholar and a squalor. 

Any citizen can’t render his/her political or artistic statement depending on their personal mood swings. And if you think, all these comes under the right and I have it, to use it as I want and wherever I want to. Then even the government has got the power to curtail it wherever  mandatory.

Although a political statement is an art of how we choose words and craft accordingly. But having some common wisdom should always be the keyword to it. A political comment on any political situation must be judged politically rather than as a right. Freedom of expression is not an art but an essential political power of any citizen in India. Still, at the end of the day any seditious speeches or defamatory artworks are not liable to be curtailed until it becomes a real threat to the unity and integrity of India. The principle behind this idea is far more essential than any individual. Using this liberty for the rationale of publicity is a disregard of this right.

We all are free to say anything as long as our speech or expression does not invade the fundamental freedom of others or cause harm to anyone. The basic design of this belief is not at the expense of causing harm to others. However, in reality what counts as harmless is a complex and unresolved issue. The solution remains in reasoning it through our common sense. The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. And we must know what to overlook. At last finishing off with a famous statement which says “A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.” So it's better to respect the sanctity of this freedom.