Archive for February, 2009

Thirukkural – 370

February 23, 2009

ஆராஇயற்கை அவாநீப்பின் அந்நிலையே

பேரா இயற்கை தரும்.

AarA iyarkai avA neeppin annilayE

pErA iyarkai tharum

 

 

annilayE –  stand taken          

neepin –  to avoid

avA     –  desire (greed)

Aara iyarkai – of insatiable nature

Tharum –  will bestow

pErA iyarkai – (a mind of) steady nature

 

All desires are not bad. There are some desires (or needs) which can be met and satisfied, totally, like hunger, thirst, love, shelter etc. We cannot say the same thing with desire for money, power, lust etc. Such desires are by nature insatiable. If we do not take care to avoid such desires of insatiable nature at some point, it will keep our mind totally restless and may even lead us to destruction.

 

You may be reminded of a story about a man who was gifted by God, that all the lands he runs over will be his. The man started running, claiming a lot of land under his tiring feet, but poor fellow, he could never stop running, thinking of lands he may ‘lose’, by not continuing his run, ……  , till he finally dropped dead.

 

That is the AarA iyarkai avA (desire of insatiable nature) you should avoid.

 

Desires are by nature insatiable. Avoiding them will bestow peace on you.

 

 

Advertisements

A Mathematicians Apology

February 23, 2009

A Mathematicians Apology is the title of a book written by the great mathematician G H Hardy. Yes the same person who discovered our Ramanujan. Here he used the word apology in the meaning of defense, justification or explanation, not so much as regret or confession.  Here are some passages from the book for the benefit of my friends.

 

– – – “The beauty of a mathematical theorem depends a great deal on its seriousness, as even in poetry the beauty of a line may depend to some extent on the significance of the ideas which it contains. I quoted two lines of Shakespeare as an example of the sheer beauty of a verbal pattern, but

 

After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well

 

seems still more beautiful. The pattern is just as fine, and in this case the ideas have significance and the thesis is sound, so that our emotions are stirred much more deeply. The ideas do matter to the pattern, even in poetry, and much more, naturally, in mathematics; but I must not try to argue the question seriously.” – – –

 

– – – “It will be clear by now that, if we are to have any chance of making progress, I must produce example of ‘real’ mathematical theorems, theorems which every mathematician will admit to be first-rate. And here I am very handicapped by the restrictions under which I am writing. On the one hand my examples must be very simple, and intelligible to a reader who has no specialized mathematical knowledge; no elaborate preliminary explanations must be needs; and a reader must be able to follow the proofs as well as the enunciations. These conditions exclude, for instance, many of the most beautiful theorems of the theory of numbers, such as Fermat’s ‘two square’ theorem on the law of quadratic reciprocity. And on the other hand my examples should be drawn from the ‘pukka’ mathematics, the mathematics of the working professional mathematician; and this condition excludes a good deal which it would be comparatively easy to make intelligible but which trespasses on logic and mathematical philosophy.” – – –

 

– – – “Another famous and beautiful theorem is Fermat’s ‘two square’ theorem. The primes may (if we ignore the special prime 2) be arranged in two classes; the primes

5, 13, 17, 29, 37, 41,

which leave remainder 1 when divided by 4, and the primes

3, 7, 11, 19, 23, 31,

which leave remainder 3. All the primes of the first class, and none of the second, can be expressed as the sum of two integral squares: thus

 

5 = 12 + 22 , 13 = 22 +  32 ,

17 = 12 + 42 , 29 = 22 + 52 ;

 

but 3, 7, 11, and 19 are not expressible in this way (as the reader may check by trial). This is Fermat’s theorem, which is ranked, very justly, as one of the finest of arithmetic. Unfortunately, there is no proof within the comprehension of anybody but a fairly expert mathematician.” – – –

 

– – – “I wrote a great deal during the next ten years, but very little of any importance; there are not more than four or five papers which I can still remember with some satisfaction. The real crisis of my career came ten or twelve years later, in 1911, when I began my long collaboration with Littlewood, and in 1913, when I discovered Ramanujan. All my best work since then has been bound up with theirs, and it is obvious that my association with them was the decisive event of my life. I still say to myself when I am depressed, and find myself forced to listen to pompous and tiresome people, ‘Well, I have done one the thing you could never have done, and that is to have collaborated with both Littlewood and Ramanujan on something like equal terms.’ It is to them that I owe an unusually late maturity: I was at my best a little past forty, when I was a professor at Oxford. Since then I have suffered from that steady deterioration which is the common fate of elderly men and particularly of elderly mathematicians. A mathematician may still be competent enough at sixty, but it is useless to expect him to have original ideas.” – – –

 

Yes, Mr. Hardy discovered Ramanujan. But did he do enough to save him from his ailments? I am not so sure, even after reading two biographies on Ramanujan. Apart from obtaining an FRS, Ramanujan did not get anything substantial from the UK government. The fact remains, that if not for Hardy, Ramanujan might well have died as a clerk in Madras Port Trust.

 

(By the way, Fermat’s Two Square Theorem looks nice and simple. But why should its proof also be nice and simple? A subject for a future blog.)

 

A Candidate’s Budget for Indian Elections

February 19, 2009

The Election Commission has put a limit on election expenses. In the case of Parliament Elections, the election expenses in all the major states are limited to Rs. 25,00,000 for each constituency. But everybody including the election commission knows that this rule is rarely respected by any candidate including those of the recognized political parties. The actual expenses by each serious candidate exceed several crores of rupees. There are many questions here for which nobody seeks answers: what is the source of such money being spent in the elections, how do these candidates or political parties plan to recover such amounts spent, how do these political parties (including the opposition) create funds for the next election, are there any accounting or auditing of such funds? This is one area where all political parties, ruling and non-ruling, collude together and keep the people in the dark, both literally and figuratively. It is illegal money that is spent illegally as above. No finance minister ever questions the legality of such big sums of money or its nexus with illegal and criminal activities in the country. No surprise then, that Indians hold about Rs. 6,40,000 crores in Swiss Bank accounts, according to an official report by Swiss Government !. Unless election expenses are actually reduced to a more reasonable level, there is no way to reduce the influence of criminals on party politics and to help a meaningful democracy emerge in India. Now let us try and see what is the reasonable level of election expense is for a parliamentary candidate. Let us make an election budget. Hopefully this will help some people seriously thinking of contesting the elections, say as independents.

 

The election expenses can be put under many heads as below:

1 Election Deposit and Nomination Rs. 30,000
2 10 Public Rallies x Rs 10,000 Rs.1,00,000
3 25 Public Meetings x Rs 3000 Rs. 75,000
4 100 Road Shows x Rs 500 Rs. 50,000
5 Big Posters 50 x Rs. 8000 Rs. 4,00,000
6 Small Posters 300 x Rs. 1000 Rs. 3,00,000
7 Mini Posters 3000 x Rs. 80 Rs. 2,40,000
8 Manifesto 3000 x Rs.15 Rs. 45,000
9 Appeals 10000 x Rs. 2 Rs. 20,000
10 Bit Notices 50000 x Re.1 Rs. 50,000
11 Transport (10 cars, 25 Autos, 200 bicycles) x 20 Days
(200 x 1000, 500 x 175, 4000 x 50) Rs. 4,87,500
12 Computers & Communication Rs. 3,00,000
13 Expenses towards guest speakers, volunteers, political workers and election agents Rs2,25,000
14 Election Offices 50×1000 Rs. 50,000
15 Miscellaneous Expenses Rs. 1,27,500
  Total Expenses Rs. 25,00,000

These estimates can be adjusted according to actual field conditions and the types of constituencies, urban, semi-urban or rural. 

 

We, as voters, should not expect the candidates, especially serious independents to spend the above amount, out of their pockets. Then it becomes an investment for them and naturally they will look forward to profiting from his office as elected member of the house. This will lead to growing corruption. Hence as voters we should donate major portion of the above amount. Here is guide to independent candidate to mobilize resources for the above amount:

 

10 proposers @  10000 each Rs   4    Lacs
10 Major Industrialists @  40000 each Rs   4    Lacs
30 Major Business men @  20000 each Rs   6    Lacs
50 Major shop owners @   6,000 each Rs   3    Lacs
500 Small shop-keepers & Business men @      500 each Rs   2.5 Lacs
5000 well employed people @      100 each Rs.  5    Lacs
Hundi Collection from  10-Rallies 10×3000 Rs.  0.3 Lacs
Hundi Collection from 24 public meetings 24×500 Rs.  0.12 Lac
Hundi Collection from  100-road shows 100×80 Rs.  0.08 Lac
TOTAL Collections Rs.25    Lacs
 

We may not be able to collect all this at one stretch. The candidate should create an election fund to be managed by one of his supporters. He should send appeals to all prospective doners. He should publish periodic accounts of the fund’s income and expenses. As his presence on the election scene gets stronger, more and more people will come forward to contribute.

 

I am presenting below  a suggested cash flow scheme which can be fine tuned as per the field conditions:

cashflow3-page-001

cashflow3-page-002Campaign Strategy:

Apart from organizing rallies, public meetings,and road shows, a candidate should also have separate face-to-face meetings with different sections of society as below:

a)      Politically and socially active people of the constituency

b)      Teachers and college students

c)      Farm labourers and other workers

d)     Artisans like, masons, carpenters, , painters, black smiths and gold smiths.

e)      Fabricators and owners of small workshops and garages

f)       Hoteliers, restaurants and shopkeepers

g)      Senior citizens

h)      Women activists and women associations

i)        Religious groups (Care to be taken to avoid appeals on the basis of religion)

j)        Cultural groups and troupes

k)      Employees from Govt and private enterprises

l)        Tax payers…..etc.  

 

The above will help him understand his constituency better and would also help him draft his manifesto (which will be released just two weeks before the election date).

During the campaign, care should be taken to avoid association with criminals and corrupt people in general, especially the already notorious ones. One should also avoid being identified with any special interest groups or any vested interests.

 

It is earnestly hoped that this draft budget for election expenses will encourage honest and socially active independents to come forward to fight the elections and the corrupt political system. We should reduce the need to spend so much on elections to make it as a democracy for the people, of the people and by the people. The people should aspire to do more than just vote. Of course more importantly all people should vote. Jai Hind!

 

Moral Policing

February 16, 2009

Moral Policing: This has been rendered as a dirty word, especially after the recent happenings in Mangalore. Lots of people have written for and against the so called ‘pub culture’. Saris and chaddis of pink colour have been exchanged. When the dust has settled down, it is time to look at ‘moral policing’ with a more clear vision. I present to the readers excerpts from three reports which appeared coincidentally on the same Mumbai issue of Times of India dated 9th February 2009. They are:

 

Pub as a sign of freedom

 

   It is clear that what happened in Mangalore was terrible and the perpetrators of the crime must be punished. Our problem is increasingly not that we are becoming more intolerant as a society (a favourite question for TV panel discussions), but that we are becoming more tolerant of symbolic intolerance. We tolerate publicity seeking nonentities too much, giving them way too much leeway in mounting these symbolic assaults on basic freedoms. We are afraid of giving them salutary punishment and end up creating monsters who gradually turn real.

   And then, there is the larger question. It is one thing to uphold the principle that every individual has the right to exercise his or her freedom to do whatever is legal, including having a drink at a pub without being questioned, molested or beaten up. Drinking as a sign of freedom is one thing, but to literally promote the
cause of drinking is quite another. No one can be prevented from drinking, but that doesn’t quite translate into everyone being encouraged to do so. The principle needs vigorous upholding, the practice not necessarily so. Just as banning depiction of smoking on screen can be opposed as a violation of a basic freedom, but that cannot mean we should promote the act of smoking—we cannot confuse the principle with the practice.

 
   From the looks of it, we live in a time when it is important to celebrate things like bar girls, drinking, sexual openness as marks of freedom. The same fervour does not extend to issues like the right to dissent or the right to free information (the RTI is the result of action by committed groups and not any mainstream media action). The idea of freedom seems to have gone through an interesting transformation. In popular imagination, it no longer exists as an idea in its capitalized, lofty avatar and is instead pursued as a set of pleasurable activities in our everyday life. Freedom has implicitly become synonymous with the freedom to have fun without hindrances or challenges.


And who can challenge the fact that what we called the middle-class Indian way of life till a few years ago, looked upon drinking as an undesirable social evil. It is not unnatural for a large part of India to be uncomfortable with a change that they are neither prepared for nor comfortable with. That doesn’t give them a right to beat up people, but surely they have a right to hold that view and pursue all legitimate means of promoting their beliefs.
To dismiss these by labelling them as right wing reactionaries who are coming in the way of India’s progress could well be an act of self-deception.


Freedom comes from being independent-minded, and that means liberation from biases of all kinds and the ability to genuinely appreciate all sides of an argument.

 
santoshdesai1963@indiatimes.com

 

‘Governance has to be consensual’

 

   Justice Chandrachud said there are “essentially three forces that are shaping the times we live in—politics, economics and technology”.

 
   A networked society is increasingly becoming the trend and the assumption in such a scenario is that equal access to information and technology will enable good rule of the law.

 
   Yet, he said ironically, “these are also the times when it is commonplace for women to go for a drink to a pub after a hard day’s work only to be pulled out and thrashed in the name of shaping the morals of society’’, and also the times “where you have a government banning a movie only because it can’t control a likely outcry or when “15 policemen are killed by Naxalites’’.

 
   “As a result, there is a huge disjoint, as it were, between a society and the self-proclaimed protectors of morality,’’ he said.

 
s.deshpande@timesgroup.com

 

Universal Religion Is Moral Behaviour

Acharya Mahaprajna

 

The word ‘religion’ is ingrained in our psyche. It is because of over familiarity that people feel less inclined towards religion. Today religion is acceptable only on the basis of experimentation. At one end are people who want forever to keep to tradition. They do not want any change. At the opposite end are those who reject religion. Both these extreme viewpoints are incapable of creating a balance.

 
   If acceptance of the hereditary character of religion is not desirable, its rejection is altogether undesirable. No one who thinks in the language of unity, harmony and love can ever reject religion. In the absence of understanding the distinction between institutionalised religion and religion as spirituality, people make the mistake of rejecting religion.

   A religion divorced from spirituality is shackled by externally imposed rules. Religion ought to be the culmination of independent awareness and not an imposition. When people regard themselves as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs, they do so because of genealogy, not religiousness. Genealogy can be a source of inspiration to religion; it cannot be its soul. The soul of religion is spirituality. Only that person is religious who experiences spiritual awakening, irrespective of genealogy.


   No system of government can pose a challenge to a religion that is spiritual. The question of protecting religion arises only when religion is supposed to have an existence separate from that of the religious person. Bliss and spiritual alertness are the soul of religion.

 

   Morality is a relative term. If socially approved mores are deemed morality, their form can never be unchanging. Morality as end-result of religion is assessed not by social beliefs but by personal purity. There is no place for exploitation, oppression, arrogance and frenzy in the behaviour of a religious person. Propriety, truthfulness and simplicity constitute morality. Shall we call him religious who does not reflect the spirit of religion in his behaviour?


   Religion is first reflected in morality and only later in worship. Will a mansion without a strong foundation endure? Can a structure build on worship without morality be able to afford proper protection? In the absence of morality, the place of worship will tumble and religion will not be safe on this earth.

 

Having read the above reports, one can see clearly the concepts of social behaviour, morality and spirituality. They are in a way interlinked. Religion does not enter the picture here, at least, not yet. Having agreed that morality is important for the development of an individual, it quite clearly needs a mentor, a period of introspection and some training. Shall we say we need a guru, not necessarily a religious one? Then we would not need the self-proclaimed protectors of morality and we can show them the door. We will be our own police to protect our morality. Yes we need moral policing, but it has to be from our own realized self. Moral Policing is, after all, not a dirty word.

Human Rights Violation of Sri Lankan Tamils

February 12, 2009

In Times of India dated 11th Feb 2009, Mr. G. Parthasarathy, a former diplomat, has written an article on Sri lankan issue. The first part of the article traces the violent history of LTTE and Prabhakaran. In the next section, he warns India and the rest of the world not to take LTTE and Prabhakaran lightly. He also warns about the fallouts of such an attitude in Tamil Nadu, India and rest of the world. In the last section, he enumerates a precise solution for the Sri Lankan problem. He strongly advices India and the rest of the world to enforce the implementation of these steps on Sri Lankan Government. I have given below the extracts of the last part of the article. Will India listen? 

“New Delhi has to work with the international community to address Tamil aspirations. Sadly, past Sri Lankan efforts to forge a consensus for a political settlement have failed. It would be important for Sri Lanka to implement the provisions of the “Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka Amendment Bill” of August 3, 2000, and effectively end human rights violations of innocent Tamils. The implementation of this Bill, together with enforcement of the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution, 1988, will largely address Tamil concerns. Tamil would join Sinhala as an official language of the country and there would be a merger of the northern and eastern provinces with a single provincial administration headed by a chief minister. The merger will remain in force till a referendum in the eastern province is held to decide whether its people want a separate province.”
   “Recent developments in Nepal, Bangladesh and Maldives have shown that democratic change is best effected when India works together with the US, the EU and Japan, who are major aid donors, to address issues of democratic freedoms. With Sri Lankan armed forces surrounding Kilinochchi, the operational capital of the Tamil Tigers, the US government said: “The US does not advocate that the government of Sri Lanka negotiate with the LTTE. However, we do believe that a broad range of Tamil voices and opinion must now be brought into the political process, to reach a political solution that Tamils inside and outside Sri Lanka see as legitimate”. The major aid donors and India share a common interest in democratic freedoms, stability and ethnic harmony in a united and pluralistic Sri Lanka.” 

For reading the full article please follow the link below

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Daily/skins/TOI/navigator.asp?Daily=TOIM&login=default&AW=1234450749578

L V Nagarajan