A Turning Point Again

This is the post excerpt.

Prof.Yash Pal
Yash Pal RIP, Nov.26,1932-Jul.24,2017

TO LEARN OF THE DEATH OF PROF. YASH PAL TODAY (July 29), five days late, is a tragedy of Indian journalism, for which an  actress’ flirting or affairs is a greater news.

Thank you Dr.Lekshmi D. Ramesh for your LinkedIn post on “The Turning Point”

Yes, Turning Point‘, Prof. Yash Pal’s TV programme on  Door Darshan   when it was a monopoly, must have created interest in science among many children  who saw it. Media now think programmes which do not titillate are useless in getting TRPs, which alone matter to them today.

Some decades ago, I had interviewed the great scientist Dr. C.N.R. Rao at the Indian Institute of Science of which he was then Director. He told me the story of how, when he was a schoolboy, he went one early morning to the IISc campus to collect  botanical specimens for a  school project of his.(Many may not know IISc campus is a treasure house of biodiversity and a haven for bird-watchers).

There he was stopped by an elderly, dark, turbaned man who asked him what he was doing there, volunteered to take him around and help collect the specimens and talked of science as they went around the scenic campus.

That was the turning point in the life of Chintamani Naga Raja Rao.

“The conversation changed my life. It made me a scientist and opt for pure sciences instead of applied sciences that could have helped me earn much more money,” Dr. Rao told me.

The man in turban was Sir C.V.Raman, then Director of IISc. Dr. Rao was occupying the Nobel laureate’s chair.

Back to Prof. Yash Pal, resisting the temptation to talk (or brag) about my own meetings with Dr.Raman, accompanying a classmate, his relation, to the railway station as he was on way from Bangalore to Delhi (many may not know he hated flying when it could be avoided) to take to him some filter coffee  and drinking water (no bottled mineral water in 1960s).

Prof. Yash Pal’s name .brings back many memories. He is too well-known for me to write about his life and work.

Taking a batch of Mass Communication students in 1990s on a study tour of Delhi, I came to know of a meeting where a friend was being presented an award as a lady journalist.

It was a meeting addressed by the founder-director  of National Informatics Centre, Dr Seshagiri. He spoke of the Information Highway and how IT would change tomorrow’s world. Among the audience was Prof. Yash Pal.

After the brilliant speech many asked questions. Prof.Yash Pal asked, “When books came, much of India’s knowledge which came down by word-of-mouth due to India’s oral tradition, was lost. When all knowledge goes online, will be not lose what is in books but not in a database?”

Dr. Seshagiri admitted there was such a danger. Prof.  Yash Pal brought science to the common man.

Will Prof. Yash Pal, though both in books and databases, remain in the memories  of the old, like me, and be lost when they die?


A version of this was posted  on July 30, along with a picture of Prof. Yash Pal. Readers received  only the picture with birth and death dates and RIP under it. The long text vanished. It had disappeared three times when it was being written on the blog post. Then it was written on Word file, cut and pasted on the blog.  And it vanished again, with only the picture remaining. So I wrote this again, a fifth time, hoping it will remain. Six people clicked on ‘like’ thinking I posted only the picture as a tribute to him.

It left me wondering whether it was hint that I should write three-liners or single para posts as many do. Or that with me becoming 78 in two months, it is ‘stoppable’.      Who has time to read?

The  UnstoppableAfterSeventy.Wordpress.com blog itself got deleted or became inaccessible to me.    So Good Bye

Is ‘Education’ English?

Hima – Top in running, not English

SOME PEOPLE troll others just to get attention, because media, social or otherwise, notice negativity more than positive words.

When Hima Das won a gold medal for running in World Athletics and was interviewed on camera, the girl from a village in Assam spoke in broken English. The Athletic Federation of India, commended her for her spirit and commitment despite her being not so fluent in English.

Then came some trolls slamming AFI for insulting the athlete for not being fluent in English. Huma herself took no offence and defended AFI.

It did not matter to the trollers that the girl, as Prime Minister Modi said, brought tears of joy to everyone who felt he/she was an Indian.

It was a running race, not an English exam. And she made us all proud.

The incident brought into focus the way most people equate education with mastery over English. If you don’t know English, you are looked down – you are considered rustic and uneducated – a ‘gavar’ – uncivilized, uncouth.

Decades ago as a cub reporter, I recall interviewing a highly paid UN expert from Japan who did not know any English.In sharp contrast was the way the sons and daughters of Lalu Yadav, the Bihar leader, tried to show off by replying in English to questions in Hindi in a TV interview.

And they are from the family of a leader who deliberately speaks rustic tongue and claims to be a follower of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia.

Also crowding my mind were many interactions with ‘doctorsaheb’ (as Lohia was called) in which he would shun English as the common man in India did not know it, though he was one of the best speakers of English in Indian politics (as anyone who read ‘Wheel of History‘ or ‘Interval in Politics’ by him would know). Yet, doubtful of a teenager’s ability to translate his Hindi correctly for my English daily, he would dictate to me in English. He was not dogmatic – it was only a means of communication.

This practice of equating English skills with education is deprecable It has become fashionable for all who want to be considered modern, civilized and polished, to speak in English.

And thinking in English has its flip side. A friend used to say that when a person is being discussed and he/she comes you wish him well, saying ‘Sau saal jio’ (live a hundred years) in any Indian language but abuse as devil (think of the devil and.,.) In English.

It is the propensity to flaunt mastery over English words that made Sashi (Cattle class) Tharoor join the group of Congress leaders scoring self-goals for that party – like Mani (neech admi) Shankar (chaIwala) Aiyer, Renuka (HaHaHa) Choudary and Digvijay (Diggy RaJa) Singh.

Wait for Tharoor to dig out some old obscure, flamboyant, word for that syndrome – unless you think it should be ‘Pappuism’

(Written on phone)

Lessons Dug Out From The Thailand Cave

Not just the boys, several lessons also came out from the Thai rescue

THE WHOLE WORLD was following with abated breath the admirable efforts to save 13 Thailand boys stuck in a cave,

At that very time, 35 people died in Mumbai due to potholes left by the civic authorities unrepaired and not a single head rolled.

No one even resigned.

The very first rain of the season has caused devastation but it failed to teach us the lessons which the Thai disaster did. Some of them are:

1) The identity of none of the children been divulged.

2) Their families were not hounded by TV channels for stupid exclusive interviews about how they felt.

3) The government did not glorify itself for the great steps it was taking.

4) The opposition did not politicise the issue and blame the government for failures, real and imaginary.

What if this happened in India? As a social media postings put it, Indian media would have tried to outdo each other in interviewing officials and even the cave bats and showing sordid pictures of hungry kids.

The Congress would have blamed BJP on Arnab Goswami show, with idiots like Kumar Ketkar and Danish Ali putting the blame on RSS.

The post says all search engines and Google would have been flooded with queries on the caste and religion of trapped boys.

“With Rubbish Kumar harping on this and the Behenji claiming that”, the TV debates would have “just raised the noise levels without saying anything of substance.”

A “Manuwadi Conspiracy” theory would have been evolved saying all the efforts were because all the boys were of high caste.

A feminist would have claimed that had the victims been girls no such rescue efforts would have been made.

“The football coach involved would have been crucified after media trial and his family home would’ve been picketed by grandparents who are still students in JNU”

Elon Musk would have signed a deal with India Government to provide a submarine to rescue the boys.

The doctors treating the boys would have been beaten black and blue for dereliction of duty.

The anonymous post points out that not only was it done quietly without fanfare but there were many others who helped quietly. For example:

— a nearby shop owner selling oxygen cylinders gave as many as required for free.
— a Muslim woman cooked halal food for Muslim divers on all the days.
— a laundry owner washed all the rescuers’ clothes for free all the days.
— nearby people brought food in the required quantities.
— farmers of a village nearby readily agreed to their fields being inundated with water pumped out of the cave and lost an entire year’s farm produce willingly.

— water pump operators then pumped the water out of then their fields voluntarily.
— divers came from all over the world..
It was pointed out that different people in different civilizations behave differently on such occasions.

The quality of people becomes evident from these actions.

Choosing Words With Care

Beautiful face, ugly words

SASHI THAROOR obviously is proud of his mastery over words, as seen in his frequent verbal gymnastics with English words, flaunting obscure and rarely used ones dug out of some dictionary.

For such a person to be be told by his own party to be careful in choice of words is nothing less than reprimand. More so for one who, by profession, deals in words; public relations is allied to journalism, if not a branch it, and that was his profession when he was an employee of the United Nations.

Perhaps he is one PR man who rose to the world’s highest position in his field, making India proud of him.

And so proud of mastery over words is Shashi Tharoor that he has been showing it off by using big bombastic words which made everyone rush to dictionaries. One suspected he was in the pay of dictionary publishers.

Perhaps he, like all politicians, likes to stay in the limelight – even for wrong reasons like unsuccessful contest for the top UN post, multiple divorces, marriage (his third and her second or vice versa) or alleged affair with a Pakistani woman journalist, leading to his last wife’s suicide.

Sometimes over-enthusiasm makes people like Tharoor forget the very purpose of words – to communicate. Journalism is meant to communicate and not show off mastery over words, which are mere tools of the trade.

One may forgive Chidambaram for coining the term ‘saffron terror’ or former Home Minister Sushil Shinde for using a horrific for the Pakistani terrorist who masterminded Bombay blasts in their over-enthusiasm to score over Bharatiya Janata Party.

But for Shashi Tharoor to say India was turning a ‘Hindu Pakistan’ under BJP is nothing but what the Congress high command chided him for: wrong choice of words.

And that is unpardonable for one who is primarily a wordsmith.

(Written on phone in train)

Why ‘Know Thyself’?

On one of the WhatsApp groups I read regularly complaints about the rude behaviour of public sector bank staff and replies by some bankers in the group extolling bankers, bemoaning the government’s bad treatment of bankers and backing their demands.

Everyone in this country feels he/she alone works sincerely and honestly and all others are frauds.

These include corrupt newspaper or news channel jouralists who distort news for Netas in exchange for notes (‘envelope journalism’ in my book), bankers who feel ‘customer is always wrong’ and give three loans on one property, railway employees who delay every train, let compartments stink and allot seats for bribe, govt employees who.move files only when paid and ask for a (costly) ‘weight’ on every application, workers feeling it is right to be paid for not working, doctors who order unneeded tests or want money for doing duty …. the list can take many pages.

The fact is that there are black sheep in all professions. Perhaps their number is growing. They may be the majority.

This is because we all feel we deserve much more than what we get, see nothing wrong in taking bribes and value material wealth, equating pleasure with happiness or prosperity with success.

There are crooks (others) in every field and also good people (ourselves).

Everyone is three persons: what they think they are, what others think they are and what they really are.

I thought I was always helping others, above average in my work, mentoring new entrants into my field, rising above consumerism, popular in my peer group, honest, and very successful.

After two books, I found NO ONE ELSE thinks so. I did not know myself.

‘Know thyself’ and self realisation are what all religions preach.

When Black is Fair and White is Unwanted

India’s new God, glittering Black

Someone has been really creative to write this post…… I am only republishing it.Thanks Anonymous.

Dear Black Money,

I am your weaker sibling, white. How are you? I am fine here in India and I hope you are enjoying your stay in Switzerland. I am writing this letter as I have heard that you are coming back to India. Is it true ? If it is, then I will suggest you to please reconsider your decision.

Black, do you remember the days when we were together and there was no difference between you and me. We were simply, Money without any discrimination of black and white. But some corrupt politicians and cruel businessmen separated us forever. Since that day, you have
been growing in numbers and I am at the mercy of salaried employees who do not have your privilege.

People often call me No.1, but it’s you who went places- from Mauritius to Dubai to Switzerland, while I was locked in FD, Post Office or in PF. While I suffer from high rates of GST, Income Tax, , Property Tax, Entry Tax etc., you are immune to all of them.

You will be glad to know that today, there is no piece of land in India which can be sold or bought without you. You have been successful in buying MPs and also made special appearance in Parliament. Credit goes only to you Black, that today, even a government peon can become a millionaire. People here won’t accept a girl even if she is slightly black, but when it comes to money, they treat both black and white equally. Despite all this, please don’t come back from Switzerland. Black, if you come back, don’t expect to be of any help for the poor. You will again be routed in the hands of those special few on the pretext of schemes like MNREGA or Indira Awas Yojna. Instead of the wonderful lockers of Swiss banks, you will be kept hidden behind the walls, beneath the bed and sometimes, even in loos. You won’t get the privilege of cheques or credit card. In its place, you will be exchanged on the basis of Rs.10 note. Some smart peoples, called Chartered Accountants, may also force you to convert into me.

Trust me brother! Don’t come back to India because the hearts of people, here, are blacker than your colour.

Your fairer self

White Money
(TDS deducted!)

Emergency Anniversary : Unlearnt Lessons

Modi disguised during Emergency(?)

By Someswar

TODAY, June 25, is the anniversary of the day when 43 years ago a power-hungry leader converted India into a jail for 19 months.

Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency in 1975 to stay on In power just because a court set aside her election as MP and barred her from becoming Prime Minister for six years..

As an Emergency victim whose newspaper was shut down, editor arrested and office occupied by the police, I left the national capital to edit a friend’s small newspaper, not accepting a ‘national’ daily’s offer. I gave an account of that fateful night in a book ‘A TOWN CALLED PENURY – the Changing Culture of Indian Journalism’. No

That a person who jailed all political leaders who were not her sycophants and committed many other atrocities just to pepetrate her dynasty, could win an election to return to power was unbelievable. But that did happen.

The sycophants chose a pilot with no administrative experience as her successor just because he belonged to the dynasty.

When he met the same fate as his mother the dynasty devotees wanted his foreign-born wife, inexperienced like him, to rule india.

And she chose to weild power without responsibilty through a dummy PM just because her own son, as dynastic successor, was too obviously unfit to rule.

That the valiant Sikh state of Punjab would elect a party which sent the Army into the sacred Golden temple and make an ex-Captain of the same Army the Chief Minister sounded aqually impossible. But that is exactly what happened.

So it is certain that a Congress chief who was referred to as Pappu and who competed with himself to make ridiculous statements would one day become the Prime Minister of India.

Caste, appeasement and bank politics show we are all dynasty devotees who like to be ruled by Rajas.

We refuse to learn the lessons of history and are condemned to repeat them.

(Written on phone)

Modi Must Be Wrong, So Oppose Plastic Ban

By Someswar

Whole nation is a garbage dump

A social media posting vehemently opposed Maharashtra plastic ban.

It declared that a ‘notion’ that plastic is hazardous and should not be used was wrong. it felt plastic ban meant using more of paper for which trees will have to be cut, resulting in global warming.

In a reply someone pointed out that some oppose anything done by Prime Minister Modi or his party. Another said similar liberals wrote articles ridiculing his Swacch Bharat (Clean India) drive too.

It is argued that lacs of people get employment and livelihood due to plastic which also yeilds considerable revenue to government. Does it mean consumption of cigarettes and liquor, or even crime, should be promoted for the same reason?

Suddenly they want to save trees to stop global warming and have not heard of old newspapers being used for paper bags and packing.

Plastic waste is blamed on failure of municipal waste management and people not using dustbins. Change of habits instead of banning plastic is suggested by those who had never complained about lack cleanliness and environmental pollution.

Politicians, they feel, are playing with common man’s life for political mileage. They have no problem with decades of dynasty rule which did nothing about cleanliness and the habit of not throwing waste outside.

Banning plastic for them, meant going back to 18th century. They tink it is same as banning all gadgets and cars.

Obviously these people don’t take a walk daily. Walking 5 km in rural areas daily, I see huge dumps of plastic waste. It is appalling.

Almost all plastic bag users throw carry bags and plastic wrappers outside, often into gutters which get clogged by it & overflow onto roads

A plan to mix plastic waste in tar for black topping of roads is being talked of for decades but it is not implimented as cement companies can bribe political leaders. Rag pickers can‘t.

Cement roads prevent percolation of water into subsoil and reflect heat, but are preferred even if they make cities hotter. Politicians go in AC cars and don’t feel the heat.Their homes, offices and even toilets are airconditioned.

A whale was washed ashore recently with thousands of plastic bags inside. Cows, abandoned and uncared for, eat carrybags – to die.

‘Liberal’ plastic ban opponents are happy that a symbol of communal Hinduism is dead. Symbolism is all that matters.

The plastic ban will remain just a symbol, unless people believe in it and administration enforces it sincerely.

Law and ban cannot achieve what sincere belief can.