Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 2012 - Links of the Month

Interesting articles & links from July 2012...

Economist (July 2012) - Antique Cabinets - http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/07/daily-chart-14


* Sampath, G (2012): Can India Inc. face the truth about the Manesar violence? DNA, 29Jul12, URL - http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column_can-india-inc-face-the-truth-about-the-manesar-violence_1721167-all
* Warnock, elanor, Yoshio Takahashi (2012): JAPAN INC., FUCUSES ON SUZUKI AFTER RIOT, WSJT 25 Jul 2012, p19
- Unstable cocktail of rising contract worker numbers, quickening inflation and low wages

Salughter, Anne Mary (2012): Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, The Atlantic, July 2012, URL - http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-can-8217-t-have-it-all/9020/

PaisaBoltaHai - Know your currency notes - http://www.paisaboltahai.rbi.org.in/1000.htm#

Babu, Venkatesha (2008): Rajeev Chandrasekhar | Not the settling type, WSJ-Mint 31May08, URL - http://www.livemint.com/2008/05/31001212/Rajeev-Chandrasekhar--Not-the.html
- Rs127.86 trillion worth of derivatives on the books of Indian banks as on March 2008 (how much is it now?)
- 127,860,000,000,000.00 INR = 2,326,055,238,809.07 USD

Sanal Edamaruku and Rationalist International - http://www.rationalistinternational.net/

Swami, Praveen (2012): India's god laws fail the test of reason, The Hindu, 7 May 2012

Kreider, Tim (2012): The ‘Busy’ Trap, June 30, 2012, NYT Opinion Pages, URL - http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?smid=fb-share
- “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth. Archimedes’ “Eureka” in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams. It almost makes you wonder whether loafers, goldbricks and no-accounts aren’t responsible for more of the world’s great ideas, inventions and masterpieces than the hardworking.

Books - http://www.goodreads.com/book

Poems to Remember - Shakti Aur Kshama (Ramdhari Singh Dinkar) - http://poems2remember.blogspot.in/2007/01/shakti-aur-kshama-strength-and-mercy.html

BMW M5 Bullet Promo - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDuxWGHA-Z4&feature=player_embedded

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Legalism for Latecomers

In ancient China there was only one punishment for reporting late for government work - death.

This, and various other interesting facts tumbled out a book I've been reading: Paul S. Ropp's "China in World History".

During the Warring States Period (403-221BCE), the Qin 'First Emporer' of China and his brilliant minister Li Sim instituted what was to be the first built on iron-clad Rule of Law and the promotion of meritocracy over feudal aristocracy. As in the case of late reporting for work,  strict laws and punishment were based on the theory that harsher the punishment, the less it would have to be used.

This was statecraft based on a philosphy called Legalism.

The state of Qin was also the first to abolish serfdom and hand over land to the farmers. It also promoted soldiers and officials purely on merit.

Perhaps this is something to think about when one drives around central New Delhi, and sees hundreds of government officials lolling about on the lawns, chatting and sipping chai during working hours..



Ropp, Paul S (2010): CHINA IN WORLD HISTORY, Oxford University Press 2010

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Revisiting Corbett

The word Corbett immediately brings back to mind visits to the tiger sanctuary that is closest to Delhi.   Memories of thickly forested hills and deep, disconcerting silences that accentuate the tiniest sounds of insects, birds and animals.

Last week I revisited my notions about Corbett. While walking down the main road in Nainital, I picked a book from Narain's Book Shop - Jim Corbett's 'certifiable classic', Man-Eater's of Kumaon. While packing the book, the shopkeeper proudly mentioned that during his grandfather's time, Corbett used to drop by to the very same shop to buy his books and periodicals.

What strikes me when I read the book after a gap of three decades or so, is not only the man's deep respect for nature; his iron will to do better than his peers in the art of hunting, but also his matter-of-fact references to the cowardice of local villagers. In almost all stories, there are references to locals who
run away; making no attempt - despite having the advantage of numbers - to go after a man-eater which has attacked and carried away one of their own.

There are only three exceptions - the story of the girl who ran after a tiger that attacked and carried away her sister, screaming, "Take me instead of her!" (The Champawat Man-eater); A young mother is given for dead after being mauled, recovers after first aid (The Chowgadh maneaters); and one old villager, an ex-soldier of the Royal Garhwal Rifles and veteran of WW-I, who spends a whole night searching for his son. The old man who 'did not ask anyone to accompany him and none offered to do so', came within ten feet of where the tiger was lying eating his son but could not find him in the dark (The Kanda Maneater).

The tales make you wonder: To what extent were the Shikar stories, a deliberate PR tool for a colonial government? The villagers were nowhere as well armed as the sahibs. Their Buckshot's  are not a patch on the high powered rifles. The most they can do is tremble and create a racket so as to drive the tigers from thickets into the gun-sights of sahibs perched on treetops...


Interesting Terms and Assorted Curiosities:

- Ghooral (Himalayan Thar)
- Strobilanthes
- Karphal trees, 'found at an elevation of 6000 ft, produces a sweet berry fancied both by humans and bears'?
- Where exactly is the Kala Agar Ridge which is 'forty miles in length, rising to a height of 8500ft and is thickly wooded along the crest'? (The Chowgadh Maneaters)
- And a place called Dalkhania...a valley starting from the watershed of three rivers Ladhya, Nandhour and Eastern Goula
- Who is Atrophos, who snips  the thread of life?
- What do Ringals (dense patches) look like?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Dunking Insects

Immediately after the first monsoon rains a birdbath on the terrace was caked with flies. Which are these insects that dunk and drown themselves? What could be the evolutionary advantage of such a mass suicide?

Sunday, July 01, 2012

South Indian Iconography

At 5AM today morning, I found myself standing next to a strange yet familiar creature at the Uttara Guruvayur Temple in Delhi. Next to the Madhya-Haara or Vilakumattam, was a cement & paint rendition an architectural element quite common in South Indian temples: a gargoyle with the head & claws of a tiger, the trunk of an elephant and legs of a horse.

As if to balance out the ferocity of its bulging, glaring eyes it has a full election, and right below it, a rather comical looking elephant holding on to dear life.

What is this creature called? When did it first make an appearance in South Indian temples?
What could be the iconography behind this South Indian imagery which is conspicuously absent in the Northern temples?

June 2012: Links of the Month

Pittie, Aasheesh (2012): Indian Courser - My Kind of Birding, Blog post 21Jun12 - http://aasheeshpittie.blogspot.in/2012/06/my-kind-of-birding.html

Pal, Anuvab (2012): An Ode to Arnab Goswami, News Laundry 22Jun12, URL - http://www.newslaundry.com/2012/06/an-ode-to-arnab-goswami/

Shoji Kaori (2012): The Truth About Japanese Love - We just Don't get along, The Japan Times, 18Jun12, URL - http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ek20120618a1.html#.T-L9_LVo3uo

Obituary - Andrew Huxley, Neurophysiologist, The Economist, 16Jun12, URL - http://www.economist.com/node/21556885
- solved one of the most important biological mysteries of all—how nerve cells work, and thus, at bottom, how brains do

Dujarric, robert (2012): Japan's younger generation shuns the world stage, The Japan Times, 14June12, URL - http://www.linkedin.com/share?viewLink=&sid=s1222402276&url=http%3A%2F%2Flnkd%2Ein%2FnSr-MQ&urlhash=ehKO&uid=5619903118020968448&trk=EML_nus_share-F7&ut=1yhaSP-9hHSlg1

An American in Delhi - Jeanne Heydecker - http://american-in-delhi.blogspot.in/

Trees in the Ramayana:
- Lodhra: Simplocos racemosa - URLs - http://www.himalayahealthcare.com/herbfinder/h_symplo.htm
- Padmaka: Himalayan Wild Cherry (Prunus cerasoides  D.Don.) - URL - http://ayurvedicmedicinalplants.com/index.php?option=com_zoom&Itemid=26&page=view&catid=45&key=3
- Deodar: Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus deodara) - URL - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedrus_deodara

Chinmaya R. Gharekhan (2012): India is not a global power, The Hindu 9Jun12, URL - http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article3505965.ece?homepage=true

Amir Khusro - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV5UibHJZyQ

Rowana, Jenny (2012): The 'dirt' in The Dirty Picture: Caste, Gender and Silk Smitha, Round Table India, 17Jun12, URL - http://roundtableindia.co.in/index.php?Itemid=132&catid=119%3Afeature&id=5283%3Athe-dirt-in-the-dirty-picture-caste-gender-and-silk-smitha&option=com_content&view=article

Vishwanathan, Vidya (2012): IN PRAISE OF PERFORMANCE, The Hindu Businessline, 11 Jun 12, URL - http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/article3515924.ece
- Eagle flasks & longevity

* Joseph, Manu 92012): WHY ARE THE SUITS CRYING? The Open magazine 16Jun12, URL - http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/voices/why-are-the-suits-crying
- Daniel Nocera - Artificial Leaf Project

* Gulati, Ashok and Jyoti Gujral (2011): Food Security Bill: Can we afford Rs 6 lakh cr food subsidy in 3 years?, ET 11Dec11, URL - http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-12-17/news/30528849_1_food-subsidy-subsidised-grain-priority-households

Sharma, Mihir, S (2012): Austerity abuse: Government is not supposed to be poor, it is supposed to work for those of us who are, BS 9Jun12, http://business-standard.com/india/news/austerity-abuse/476731/

Rajan, Raghuram (2012): What Happened to India?, 8Jun12, URL - http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/what-happened-to-india-

Tharoor, Sashi (2012): The Indian Miracle Lives, 11Jun12, URL - http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-indian-miracle-lives

Das, Alokparna (2012): The Depths of History, IE 10Jun12, URL - http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-depths-of-history/960023/

Chellany, Brahma (2012): The Resistable Rise of China, URL - http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-resistible-rise-of-asia-

Bajaj, Vikas (2012): As Grain Piles Up, India’s Poor Still Go Hungry, NYT 7 June 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/08/business/global/a-failed-food-system-in-india-prompts-an-intense-review.html?_r=1

The Best Job in the World - P&G Advt - https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NScs_qX2Okk

Worst Place to be a Woman (Foreign Policy) - http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/24/the_worst_places_to_be_a_woman#0

NHK Online - http://www.nhk.or.jp/
Japanese girls in Gurgaon - http://www.nhk.or.jp/worldnet/archives/year/detail20120602_19.html

Smith (2012): Philosophy’s Western Bias, NYT 3June2012 - http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/philosophys-western-bias/

BBC: What the Ancients Did for Us - The Indians: What The Ancient Indians Did For The World - http://www.open.edu/openlearn/whats-on/ou-on-the-bbc-what-the-ancients-did-us-the-indians

(Viji in FB 3Jun12)

(Sherzod FB, 3JUn12)
* Economist- Schumpeter: In praise of misfits
-Why business needs people with Asperger’s syndrome, attention-deficit disorder and dyslexia (Economist)