Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ayodya opportunity

India awaits its Ayodhya moment on Thursday, almost 18 years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 that placed the country on a communal volcano which has periodically erupted from time to time. Today, individuals, parties and organizations who appealed for peace, hope the court verdict won't lead to another eruption.
The court may not resolve the row over whether a temple predated the mosque at the disputed site, but will certainly cast some light on the title claims.
There is hope that the moment will pass off peacefully. The optimism stems chiefly from two factors: The issue has lost the potency it once had. It is also felt that while many of the partisans in the temple-mosque dispute have moved on, the youth have only a faint memory of the wrenching fight for the disputed site.
It also gives all an opportunity to arrive at a negotiated settlement.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Replace bullets with pellets

Kashmir is boiling. The newspaper reports show stone pelting people and gun wielding arms men. With every person killed by the bullets, the strife increases further. The separatists have been given a ready made tool to divide the people. If the people pelt stones, do we really need to kill them ? I think security men should be given pellets instead of bullets. The killer shots should be used only when absolutely necessary.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Daji Kaka’s Ganapati

                        Daji kaka was on the morning walk on the street of Pune City. It was a Sunday. The preparations for Ganeshotsav (a festival of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of lord Shiva and the deity of prosperity, celebrated in India and particularly in the state of Maharashtra) were in full swing. He saw a pendal (temporary shelter usually made of timber, to install the Ganesha idol) under construction and that put him on the memory lane.

                        Pune city is traditionally known for its Ganesha festival celebrations. He was just 12 year old when Gandhiji launched Quit India (civil disobedience) Movement in 1942, against the British rulers. The Ganeshostsav in those days used to be different. His father was actively involved in the movement and used to tell Daji that the public celebration of Ganeshotsav was started by Lokmanya Tilak (Indian freedom fighter and social reformer) in 1893 to spread the message of independence from the British colonial rule, among the common people. The ten-day festivities – music, plays, public speeches - in those days were full of fervor for independence.  Today he was 80 years old.

                       He saw some workers were digging the street to fix the wooden pillars. After the festival, these pot holes will be a nuisance for everyone driving or walking on the street. He heard the shrill sound of some movie song being played in front of the pendal site. Even at his age, he was a fan of songs from modern Hindi movies. However he didn’t see any relevance of those songs for the festival. He walked few steps and saw a familiar site. It was a flex-board poster of a local leader, put up by his followers. The poster showed a life size photograph of the leader along with those of his followers, some fifteen in number. Good launching pad! He quipped. Does Ganeshotsav today fulfill the purpose for which it was started by Lokmanya, he asked himself ? The chain of thoughts continued and he reached home.

                     He saw his grandson, Hemant was playing cricket on the street. Removed his footwear and he entered the drawing room. Jayashree, his daughter-in-law came with a glass of water. He took a deep breathe and said Jaya, I think the Ganshotsav has lost the purpose. Jaya new the angry old man, did not say anything. It has become a launching pad for goons in the politics. He saw his grandson keeping his bat in the corner and run in the kitchen after his mother. He went for bath; as his friend Hari said he would visit in the afternoon.

                     After the lunch, he and his son Vinayak were watching TV. Daji saw Hari approaching his house. Retired executive engineer and two years older than him, he was a chronic patient of asthma and high blood pressure. How are you? Harry (that was how Daji would call him). Not well, said Hari. These loudspeakers, dB (sound) levels are so high. My B.P. has shot up. Hemant came out of the kitchen and joined them.

                     Grandpa, why do we sink Ganesha idol in water? I feel so sad. Why can’t we retain it for the next year? That will also save us money. Daji looked towards him. Do you know what the idol is made of ? Plaster of Paris, our teacher told yesterday, Hemant replied. It doesn’t dissolve in water, Hari said. Daji knew, Hari remembers technical details, age notwithstanding. So if we do not sink the idol that will also save us from the huge water pollution. Isn’t it a revolutionary thought? said Daji, as Vinayak and Jayashree watched.


Saturday, September 4, 2010


In ancient India, under the gurukul system of education, the pupils used to reside at the teacher’s (guru) place (ashram). Before that the guru used to formally accept a pupil as his disciple (shishya) and after that the education was offered free of cost. In most cases, the gurukuls were supported by the ruling king. At the end of the term and after successful completion of the learning, the pupil would ask the guru, what he would offer him as a gurudakshina (fees). Here is a story of a modern guru who was offered a car as gurudakshina by his students.

Pratap Sir was walking to his college with a mixed feeling of happiness and sorrow. He was happy because he was to retire today after 35 years of his service as a teacher. Throughout his career he was known as an honest and upright teacher. Somewhere deep in the heart he also felt sorrow because he would miss all colleagues and especially the students. He reached the college dot at 0955 h. The send-off function started at 1000 h. And lo ! there was a big surprise. His students offered him a brand new car as a parting gift. They looked so happy. All of them had contributed towards the purchase. Pratap Sir was also happy to note the gratuitousness of the students. He didn’t know driving. After the finale, one of the students drove him home in the car. The car was shining, parked in front of his house.

Sushma, his wife greeted him as soon as he stepped out of the car. Neighbors came one by one and congratulated. His only daughter, Aditi, an engineer, worked in a private company. She came home in the evening. As usual she smiled at baba (father) and asked whose car was that. Pratap told the story. She didn’t seem to be happy. It was quite a surprise for him.

In the evening, he opened the topic on the dining table. He asked Aditi, how did she like the car. Baba you shouldn’t have accepted it, said Aditi forthrightly. We are living in the age when the integrity of the educational institutions and the teachers is in doubt. The other day, did you not read the news of one educational institute assisting the students in copying during the examination. And last year? You remember, some parents took morcha (procession) to your college because their wards were not allowed to copy. Accepting this gift you gave a chance to your detractors doubt your integrity. How will you respond, if someone accuses you accepted the car from the students as a gratification for allowing them to do some illegal work?

The seriousness of the issue was effectively brought home by his daughter. Pratap Sir felt befallen. He couldn’t sleep whole night. In the morning, when he sat in the bed and prayed, something dawned on him. The gloom vanished.

After finishing the morning chores, he rang to one of his students to come home. He asked the student to drive the car to the nearby anathashram (orphan house). He gifted the car to the ashram. His heart was filled with satisfaction and pride, while walking back home.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Cranberry against Staph infections

ScienceDaily (2010-09-01) -- Expanding their scope of study on the mechanisms of bacterial infection, researchers have reported the surprise finding from a small clinical study that cranberry juice cocktail blocked a strain of Staphylococcus aureus from beginning the process of infection.

The data was reported in a poster presentation at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Boston on August 23, 2010, by Terri Camesano, professor of chemical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The virulent form of E. coli that Camesano studies is the primary cause of most urinary tract infections. Strains of S. aureus can cause a range of "staph infections" from minor skin rashes to serious bloodstream infections. One particular strain, known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a growing public health problem in hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions because it doesn't respond to most antibiotics.


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