Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Travesty

The "travesty", that was how the British Prime Minister David Cameron described the release of Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, on Saturday, 13 November 2010. In Myanmar she was popularly known as "The Lady". 

'She is a hero of mine and a source of inspiration for all who work to advance basic human rights in Burma (Myanmar) and around the world,' the US president said, calling the release 'long overdue.'

India have welcome the release of Suu Kyi
The daughter of Myanmar independence leader General Aung San, 65 year old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was detained for 15 of the past 20 years, after she won the 1990 elections by landslide but never allowed to assume power by the military junta.The proxy party floated by the junta has won the recent general elections.

Suu Kyi's dignity and courage in the face of injustice have been an inspiration to many people around the world.

May almighty give her long life.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Oh Ba Obama

The commercial capital of India, was converted into a fortress. Huge police force and every inch of the city was sniffed. The head of the most powerful state on the earth visited the city

The Obamamania is unique, quite unseen during the visit of President Bush and Clinton. The threat perceptions then were quite different.

The relations between the two large democracies were never so good.The beginning has been made by Republicans (Bush) and carried forward now by the Democrats (Obama). Although traditionally Democrats have never been in India's favor. Obama's visit has heightened our expectations. There are many things at stake. The political and media hype is due to these expectations.

We want US to appreciate threats to India's security, both internally and externally. Our recent experience  in Hedley's case has not been good. We require free flow of intelligence information, especially on the terrorists.

Sino-Pakistan nuclear deal is worrying India. India wants US to explicitly state its opposition to the deal.

China poses a bigger external threat to India, in comparison to Pakistan. We wanted Obama to visit Tawang. That would have automatically confirmed US support to India's sovereignty over  Arunachal Pradesh.

India also wants firm US support for India's permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

We know, finally, Obama would do what is in the interest of USA. Indian leaders should understand. Do not expect others to fight our battle.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Politics of Academics

Prof. Chaitanya was walking briskly on the lawn with his daughter. At the age of 52 he maintained good health. After going home he would do Yoga and Pranayam and his daughter always joined him.

At home he found his wife, Priya, was waiting for him.

There was a phone call from some Prof. Jairam. He will ring again. She said.

Chaitanya knew Prof. Jairam was contesting for the post of Dean in the University. This time Prof. Chaitanya was a contestant for the Board of Studies (BOS) elections for civil engineering.

Twenty five years back, after obtaining Doctoral degree form the University of Leeds, he returned home and joined the University. All these years, he taught almost all core subjects, but the Theory of Structures was his favorite. He also had good number of publications in the reputed international journals published by Elsevier, American Concrete institute (ACI) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In the University, he had made significant contributions developing the structure and syllabi of the civil engineering subjects.

While he was going through the newspaper headlines, telephone rang. He lifted. Prof. Jairam was on the other side.

How are you prof ! I heard you are contesting for the BOS, he asked. Yes I am, said Prof. Chaitanya.

You should support me. You know, I have support from the Rashtriya Jatiwadi Party. Our College Chairman has also promised financial support, Prof. Jairam was obviously elated.

Prof. Chaitanya could not understand the connection between the political parties and the university elections. The elections used to be conducted every five years. Since past few elections, he saw the role of political parties and their affiliations was growing. Money also played role in the underhand dealings, whispered in the University circles. Prof. Jairam was an active member of the political party and was hardly seen in the academic circles. Prof. Jairam obtained Ph. D. from a Deemed University. Prof. Chaitanya still remembered Prof. Jairam’s open defense of the Ph. D. thesis. While he made the presentation, Prof. Chaitnaya felt that he had seen similar work published in the ACI Journal. In fact, he actually checked it in the library and found that was true. He was also present for the convocation. There was not a single academician on the dais, except the poor (!) Vice Chancellor and the Dean. It was all occupied by the ruling party members at the Centre and the State.

Prof. Chaitanya always felt that there should be no elections for the University statutory bodies. Instead, eminent persons from within the University, industry, public and private organisations should be selected on these bodies.

It was a Sunday. Prof. Chaitanya contacted all the voters personally and over phone. There was another contestant aspiring for the post of Chairman BOS, Prof. Anand, fielded by Prof. Jairam, his colleague from the Deemed University. Monday was the election day and the votes counting was scheduled on Tuesday.

Tuesday evening Prof. Chaitanya returned home from the Votes Counting Centre. Priya didn’t ask him the result, it was written in his face. He had lost. 

In a country where politics occupies the academic stage, quality of education remains a far cry.


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Independent Professional: Experienced educator and management consultant for engineering educational institutions, researcher, trainer, technical consultant on sustainable technologies, related to cement manufacturing and characterisation, using industrial and agricultural wastes in cement and concrete, durability of concrete and fuel cell power.