Tamil – Class: 3 / Teaching Tamil Through English

November 9, 2017

Class – 3

In class-1 we learnt Tamil Alphabets with their pronunciations. We learnt about basic vowels(6), extended vowels(6), consonants(18), and symbols for modifying these consonants. In class-2, we learnt a few words with their meanings. We also learnt about so called ‘northern alphbets’ to help us write and pronounce correctly, words from other languages. In this class-3, let us learn about some special features of Tamil phonetics.

First, let us see a few words where the hard consonants appear in there different vocal forms.

காரம் – KaaRaM – Spicy; ராகம் – RaaGaM – Melody, மேகம் – MEHum/MEGaM – Cloud. (Ka being used in three different vocal forms: Ka, Ga, Ha)

தங்கம் – ThaNGaM – Gold (here a soft consonant is explicitly used to soften ‘Ka’ to ‘Ga’)

சக்கை – ChaKKai – Remains of a fruit after Juice is extracted. Ka is doubled for harder accent.

சித்தி – ChiTThi – Mother’s younger sister, மோசம் – MoSaM – bad, பச்சை – PaChChai – Green, மஞ்சள் – MaNJaL –Yellow (here Cha is used in different vocal forms. Soft consonant again used in the last word, Tha is doubled for harder accent in the first word)

‘Ta, Tha, Pa, Rra’  (ட, த, ப, ற​)   also have different vocal forms as below

ட :  டீ – Tea – Tea, பாடு – PADu – Sing, பாட்டு – PATTu – Song, நண்டு – NaNDu – Crab

த : தங்கை – ThaNGai – Younger Sister, பாதி – PAdhi – Half, கத்தி – Katthi – Knife, பந்து – PaNDhu – Ball :

ப :  படம் – PaDaM – Picture, சுபம் – SuBaM – All well, கப்பல் – KaPPaL – Ship,  கம்பி – KaMBi – Metal Rod

ற : பறி – PaRri – Grab, வெற்றி – VeTRri – Victory, பன்றி – PaNDRri – Pig

It may be puzzling for some, to know which vocals to use. However in most of the cases meaning do not change even if we use a different vocal form. The words will be understood properly in its context.

There are some letters which even some Tamils do not pronounce correctly. They are La, (r)La and Zha; (i.e) ல, ள and ழ. Let us learn a few words involving these letters:

La (ல) is pronounced with the tip of the tongue just behind the upper teeth. (r)La (ள) is done with the tip of the tongue slightly behind in upper cavity. Zha (ழ) is done with the tip of the tongue still behind, deep in the upper cavity. The following words show their use. Sound bytes are included to help you pronounce them properly.

வலி, வளி, வழி – VaLi, Va(r)Li, VaZhi – Ache/Pain, Air(Atmosphere), Path

தலை, தளை, தழை – ThaLai, Tha(r)Lai, ThaZhai – Head, impediment/Bond, vegetation

பல்லி, பள்ளி, பழி – PaLLi, Pa(r)LLi, PaZhi – Lizard, School, Blame/revenge

வலம், வளம், பழம் – VaLaM, Va(r)LaM, PaZhaM – Right side, prosperity, Fruit

Ancient Tamil Literature

Tamil is one of the classical Languages of the world, along with Sanskrit. Tamil literary history is very ancient and rich. There were distinctly three periods of development of Tamil literature usually called as Sangam periods. Sangam means Academy and there were three Sangams. The last Sangam was from 400BC to 400AD and called as Kadai Sangam (கடைச்சங்கம், or the Last Academy). The literature of this period, known as Sangam Literature, are the only ones available from these ancient periods. The works of earlier two Sangams are many centuries older and now only known as just names. The literary history of Tamil records them as ‘lost in tsunami’. Sangam literatures, and even some ancient Sanskrit works, record a massive tsunami much before 400BC which destroyed a very big landscape known as Kumari Kandam (Continent of Kumari), also known as Lemuria. All the works of earlier two academies were lost forever as per this historical account. However modern history could not find much evidence of this tsunami and the Lost Land. The (3rd) Sangam literature is grouped into three parts – பத்துப்பாட்டு (Ten Anthologies), எட்டுத்தொகை (Eight Collections) and பதினெண்கீழ்கணக்கு (Eighteen Poetic Works).

Tirukkural (திருக்குறள்), by a saint poet Tiruvalluvar is one of the works in the last group of eighteen and is widely translated in almost all major languages of the world. I am giving below the first couplet of this great work consisting 1330 couplets, divided into 133 chapters of ten each

அகர முதல எழுத்தெல்லாம் – ஆதி

பகவன் முதற்றே உலகு

Akara Mudala ezhutthellam – Aadhi

Bhagavan Mudatre’ Ulagu

Meaning:

‘A’ is the start of all alphabets (of all languages) – (Just as)

GOD is the Origin of the world (of this whole Universe)

You may like to listen the audio of this verse given below:

 

Here is a Tamil proverb which states the importance of ‘Letters and Numbers’.

எண்ணும் எழுத்தும் கண் எனத் தகும்.

Ennum Ezhutthum Kann ena Thahum.

Meaning:

Numbers and Letters are rendered as the eyes (for obtaining knowledge)

 

With this thought let us conclude our Tamil class – 3


 

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Toilets for Multitude

October 24, 2017

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha

L V Nagarajan

On 2nd Oct 2017, Gandhi Jayanthi (the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi), I saw the Hindi Movie ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’. It is about ‘Open Defecation’ prevalent in India and about the public and private efforts to eradicate the same. While the movie is mainly telling the story form ladies’ point of view – about their privacy, hygiene and safety, the social aspects are also discussed.

This movie reminded me about an incident and the subsequent interaction I had when I was a 10-year old boy in my village, Sholavandan, near Madurai (India). It was summer vacation time for the schools when several of my cousins visit us and spend the vacations with us. One of my city cousins (no name please) visiting us, elder to me by 5 years, called me one morning to accompany him for a walk. I went along happily with him. We went along the railway line a distance of about 500 meters near a small canal and a bridge. I understood his purpose when he asked me to take care of his wrist watch and purse. After he finished ‘it’ and when we were walking back home. I asked him ‘Why here? We have a toilet at home’. The answer he gave me opened my eyes of conscience. He said, ‘Rajoo, the toilet in our house is an open type dry lavatory which is not very hygienic. Also, I don’t like manual scavenging’.

Yes. Here is a problem. Why many of us want others to clean our toilets, even the modern sanitary ones? Why public toilets are so unclean? Even now don’t we avoid using a public toilet unless it is an emergency? Whenever we stay in a hotel, first thing we inspect are the toilets, whether they are clean and hygienic. Don’t we?

The multitude of people in India cannot afford space for their own toilets. Hence the need arises for common toilets and public toilets. People who do not want to clean their own toilets, how will they ever keep common and public toilets clean? In addition, will these common facilities like flush-out and water closet be kept well maintained, in working condition? This is the area where we have to impart training to our people on basic hygiene and co-operation in handling such common facilities.

Even sanitary toilets require two septic tanks which should be alternately emptied and cleaned at least once in five years. How often have you seen it done? (almost never). Eventually, it gets choked up and blocked and soon becomes unusable and becomes a major health hazard. These are all special problems of a densely populated country like ours.

As shown in the above movie, at least for the male population in many thousands of villages in India, ‘Field Defecation’ seems to be a very practical solution. We may perhaps think of finding ways and means of making this practice, private and hygienic. In my school days there used to be a class known as ‘Citizenship Training’. In one of those books, I remember to have seen a design of a mobile toilet perfectly suited for our population. It was somewhat similar to what is given in the following link. http://akvopedia.org/wiki/Dry_Toilet.

It consists of a pit over which a pedestal or a squatting slab is provided. A pile of sand or saw dust or dry earth nearby can be used to pour into the pit after every use. A second pit may be used over which the whole facility as above will be moved to enable hygienic emptying and cleaning of the first pit. A batch of such toilets can be made mobile and moved over different pits, specially prepared in the fields away from the village. Similar common toilets (or home toilets), within the village precincts, may be used by seniors, ladies and children. They can also be used by others, during unfair weather conditions and during nightly periods. This precludes the need for mechanised scavenging for periodically cleaning the pits. There are many designs available for producing bio-fuel just as gobar-gas plants. Such initiatives, of using appropriate technologies, must be encouraged to be undertaken by municipalities and gram panchayats, instead of forcing down a uniform policy and design by state and central governments.

Jai Ho to Swacch Bharat

 Victory to Clean India

_________________________________________________________

 

24 Hours-Day X 7 Days-Week

October 5, 2017

24 Hours-Day X 7 Days-Week

L V Nagarajan

Introduction:

In one of my earlier blogs (titled Tamil/Indian Solar Calendar) I have discussed the periods of a day, a month and a year along with evolution of different calendars based on the astral movements of Earth, Moon, Sun and the Stars. I have only briefly discussed about a more convenient period of a week of 7-days. But the evolution of a ‘24-hours Day’ and a ‘7-days Week’ is also quite intriguing and interesting. I should thank my cousins Giri and Vasu, for inspiring me into this research.

History:

European and other Western scientific historians always attribute all ancient scientific developments initially to Greece, then to Egypt and Alexandria and then to Babylon. Generally they do not go beyond Babylon, because they know it will lead them to Hindu/India. In the case of establishment and evolution of Time/Day system, the researchers went one step further down to south-east of Babylon, up to a region known as Chaldea. It is now the general acceptance, that 24-Hours-Day and 7-Days-Week was established and evolved in Chaldea, in 2nd Century BC, the area becoming a part of Babylon in later periods. It is evident, the researchers did not see beyond Chaldea towards further south east, i.e. India.

Chaldea:

Let see briefly the history of Chaldea. Chaldea (/kælˈdiːə/) or Chaldaea (ref -1) was a Semitic-speaking nation which existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BC, after which it and its people were absorbed and assimilated into Babylonia. It was located in the marshy land of the far south eastern corner of Mesopotamia. Ur Kaśdim (ref -1) commonly translated as Ur of the Chaldees, is a city mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the birthplace of the Israelite and Ismaelite  patriarch  Abraham. Chaldea is pronounced locally as ‘Kauldee’, which some scholars of Indology (ref -2) say has evolved from ‘Kauldev’ which is a sect of Kashmiri Brahmins.  “Chaldean, more correctly Kaul-Deva (Holy Kauls), was not the name of a specific ethnicity but the title of an ancient Hindu Brahmanical priestly caste, which lived in what are now Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Indian state of Kashmir”. Chaldea region consists of people who have migrated from east through the regions of Afghanistan. Abraham’s father Terah was living in a place called Ur (yes, a town, in many languages in India). He was apparently of Hindu origin and hence he named his son Brahm, the supreme soul. It later evolved as Abraham. (ref -3)

The Chaldean religion is the outcome of three great religions, the Indian, the Mazdean, and the Egyptian, and bears direct relationship to all of these. To place it still clearer, the Babylonian system recognized  the first ONE (Ad), who is never named but only acknowledged in thought, just as the Hindu Swayambhuva (Or Tamil’s Adi Bhagawan – LVN).The Babylonian civilization was neither born nor developed in that country. It was imported from India, and the importers were Brahmanical Hindus. Science has discovered enough to inform us that Sanskrit originals of Nepal, were translated by Buddhist missionaries into nearly every Asiatic tongue. Likewise Pali manuscripts were translated in Siamese, and carried to Burma and Siam; it is easy therefore to account for the same religious myths circulating in so many countries. (ref-4).

Abraham, son of Terah, lived in Chaldea during 1900BC. The period of Biblical Abraham is also around 1900 BC (ref – 5). Abraham is considered to be the father of Jewish race and religion. Later on other Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam also followed.

“Bus was Abraham Real? Good Question. (ref-6) Historians today are divided on whether the tales about Abraham are mythology. The problem is lack of archaeological records. – – – – In the secular view, however, Judaism has to begin somewhere. Someone had to believe god had spoken to him. Why not call that person, Abraham?” According to the above research, even the area known as Chaldea is far south-east of the city of Babylon. The town Abraham lived, Ur, is on southern part of this area. Later on the whole area came to be called as Babylon.

With such a history of Chaldea, it is rather obvious we have to look elsewhere for the origin of 24×7 day/week system.

24 Hours-Day:

Initially, ancient men divided the day only into day and night. The first ever division of a day into smaller units are seen in ancient Hindu scriptures of 4000 BC. Herein there are mentions of a day being divided into Ghatikas (Nazhikai in Tamil). Sunrise to sunset was divided into 30 ghatikas and similarly sunset to sunrise was also divided into 30 ghatikas. It did not take them long to find that these periods are neither same nor consistent. They then standardised the time measure of a ghatika by a standard pot with a hole at the bottom. The time taken for this pot full of water to empty through the hole was standardized as a Ghatika and a gong was sounded to indicate this passage of time. It was calibrated in such a way that 60 Ghatikas was the time between two successive sunrises. Obviously in those days, Sun rise was considered as the start of the day. When ancient Hindus observed other heavenly objects also through their naked eye, especially the brighter planets like Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, they believed that along with Sun and Moon even these visible planets affect the life on earth and that belief lead to a new ‘science’, Jyothish, now known as astrology. Earliest Hindu scripture available on Jyothish is Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra (ref -7). It is a compilation of Indian astrology existing at the time. In this text, Sage Parasara first describes how to record one’s time of birth, or lagna. He describes several lagnas- House Lagna (or Bhava), Hora lagna, Ghatika Lagna. “After noting down the time of birth after sunrise in Ghatikas and fractions of a Ghatika (known as Vighatika or Vinadi), it is divided by 5 to get House Ghatika or (Bhava). Hora lagna is obtained by dividing the time of birth in ghatikas, further by 2. For ghatika lagna only Ghatikas and Vighatikas are considered”, (i.e.) Bhava = Ghatikas/5 and Hora = Bhava/2.  Since 60 ghatikas make a day, which clearly amounts to 24 horas. This may perhaps be the start of 24-Hour day. How this Hora became Hour is another story.

“Parasara was the father of Sage Vyasa of Mahabharata. According to Varahamihira, Yuthishtra, the Pandava King of Mahabharata lived 2526 years ahead of Saka Era, which means 2448 BC. This will place Parasara’s time to be at least 2600BC” (Ref-8).

‘Hora’ is a word used for time/hour in many languages, especially in the regions around Egypt. Most accepted theory is that the word ‘Hora’ is of Jewish origin, historically derived from early Chaldean civilisation.  As we had discussed earlier, Abraham’s father Terah named his son Brahm, the supreme soul. It later evolved as Abraham. So Abraham was a follower of the Vedic religion, which at that time was spread all over the world and was not confined to India alone, as it later came to be. Abraham, father of Jewish and Ismaelite religions, must have learnt about Ghatika, Hora and Yama (Jama) time periods from his father or from their traditional Hindu holy texts.

With all the above studies, it is safe to assume that Abraham, credited with the idea of 24-Hours-Day was actually aware of definition of Ghatika, Hora and Yama (Or Jama, 3-Hours)) as divisions of time periods in the ancient Hindu way of life in which he also once belonged to. Even today we call the modern clocks as Ghadi in Hindi and Ghatikaram in Tamil. Please refer to   http://sowingseedsofthought.blogspot.in/2011/06/was-indian-time-keeping-technique.html for an interesting account of how the time was kept throughout the day in ancient India. Abraham was not perhaps interested in Indian astrology and hence he was interested to take up only Hour (or Hora), Minutes and Seconds as units of time. Since India was already using Hora as a unit of time it was fairly easy and acceptable for modern India to adapt to the international time standard of HH:MM:SS, with 24-hour days. But for religious and cultural purposes even now we use Ghatikas and Vighatikas (or Nazhikai and Vinadi in Tamil). We also use Shuba Horas for finding auspicious periods. Other time periods used till today, are the Yama (or Jama for temple rituals) and Muhurtha for holy rites like marriages.

7 Days-Week

Now let us consider the time period of a WEEK. Many Egyptian, European and Abrahamic cultures had time periods of a week which were neither consistent nor regular. They started by coinciding them with the phases of the moon. The 28/29 day cycle of moon was divided into 4 parts to make a week, but needing constant adjustment with intermittent 8-day weeks. There were cultures which had even working weeks of 8/10 days. Here again the Chaldean Hindus came to the rescue.

At some point of time in ancient astral history of India, Hindus started attributing the influence of the 7 heavenly objects (Sun, Moon and the 5 visible planets) to every hour (or Hora) of the day, in addition to every day, to every luni/solar month and to every planetary year. They found the planet Saturn to be the slowest around the sun, and the Moon to be the fastest around the sun, relative to Earth. Saturn’s average orbital velocity was observed as 0.33 times the orbital velocity of earth. As seen from the earth Sun takes 365 days to go around the Earth whereas Moon, following a similar path in the ecliptic, just takes 29 days to go around the earth. Hence its speed is the fastest at 365/29=12.59 relative to Earth. The table below gives the speeds of other planets relative to Earth.

No.

Moon/ Planet

Orbital  Speed (kM/s)

Speed relative to Earth

1

Moon

365 days / 29 days

12.59

2

Mercury 47.87

47.87/29.78

1.61

3

Venus 35.02

35.02/29.78

1.18

4

Earth/Sun 29.78

29.78/29.78

1.00

5

Mars 24.08

24.08/29.78

0.81

6

Jupiter 13.07

13.07/29.78

0.44

7

Saturn 9.69

9.69/29.78

0.33

I have made two significant changes in the above table. Moon has been included as the fastest heavenly object. Earth will be replaced by Sun, as relative to Earth, Sun is rotating the earth. The ancient Hindus believed that slower planets had larger influence on the lives on Earth even on daily and hourly basis. As said earlier, at some point of time in ancient history, Hindus started to believe in a 7-hour cycle of influence by all the seven Grahas as above, starting with Saturn and then going through all the Grahas from Jupiter to Moon, each period of influence lasting for one hour, beginning from sunrise. The cycle looks as below:

The above cycle starts from Sunrise of Day-0 and continues. By Hindu astrology each day is defined by the first Hora of the day (i.e. the first hour after sun rise) and hence named the days after the graha which rules the first hour of the day after sunrise. The days were called ‘vaaraas’ in Sanskrit and hence we had Ravi Vara, Soma Vara, Mangal Vara, Buddh Vara, Guru Vara, Shukra Vara, and Sani Vara (which directly translate into Sun-Day, Mon-Day etc). The cycle naturally repeated on and on, and ancient Hindus landed on a 7-day weekly cycle more by default than by design. A ‘week’ was never used as an explicit time period in ancient cultural history of India.

Abraham of Chaldea might have struggled hard to make the other cultures of the world to accept the week days named after planets. Many western communities accepted the 7-day week some time during 4th Century AD, but used numbers 1 to 7 to represent week days. When they eventually did accept Sunday to Saturday nomenclature, for centuries, they could not figure out why the days/planets were ordered specifically this way.  Perhaps westerners were never interested to know or to acknowledge, the Indian contribution behind this. As recorded in (ref – 9): “No one is certain as to how the idea of planetary hours came into being.  The only thing that is certain is that it is responsible for the order of the days of the week and therefore predates the Bible and the Genesis story for the creation. While the planetary hour’s true origin is something of a mystery, ancient astrologers used them to find the most auspicious time to start something important.  It was also used in horary astrology to see what influences were predominant for a given question. At some point in the distant past, by what philosophical reasoning is unknown, a sunrise or sunset defined the first planetary hour in history.  It has run on uninterrupted in this manner (as far as I know) longer than recorded history.” That nails the truth.

Twist In the Tail (or Tale)

I had an intriguing question. When did this Planetary-Hora cycle started, (i.e.) which and when was actually the day-0, mentioned in the above table? The first identifiable year for which a date is cited complete with day of the week is 6th Feb 0060 AD, as per the then existing Julian calendar. Found it very funny to note that this occurs in ‘Pompeiian graffito’. Pompei is a city in ancient Roman Empire that was immersed in ash from a volcano, Mount Vesuvius, in 0076 AD. It was dug up again only in 18th Century. They found thousands of graffiti in the walls and floorings of the ancient houses, many of them erotic. (You may google on this if interested). This particular graffiti mentions as below – “eighth day before the ides (middle) of February, day of the Sun”. Hence we know now 6th Feb 0060 was a Sunday. Or is it? As per the present system it is a Wednesday. We conclude two things from this:

  1. Romans started following 7-day week with planetary names in 0060 AD or earlier
  2. Romans were following Sunset as the start of the day. Day-4 in the planetary table given above is Sunday as per Sunset Hora and Wednesday as per Sunrise Hora.

Julian calendar used all over from 45 BC up to 16th century AD, which erred by 11 minutes, 14 Seconds in a tropical year. England accepted the new revised Gregorian calendar only in 1751 AD, 150 years after it was proposed, and it had to advance their calendar by 14 days to correct the accumulated error. Since it was exactly two weeks, the days of the week did not get affected. Luckily somewhere between 60AD and 1751AD world adopted Midnight as the start of the day, (00.00.00 Hrs after 23.59.59 Hrs) and start of the working week as Monday.

Conclusion:

I enjoyed this journey back in ‘TIME’ literally. Still it is a mystery, when and where did this idea of Planetary Hours originate. I could not find any reference to its origin. But one culture which is still using these ‘Horas’, to find auspicious and inauspicious times for various spheres of activities, are the Tamils. Readers may comment on this aspect, if they find any information.

References:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. http://brahminkhalifa.blogspot.in/2011/11/who-is-abrahm-ibrahm-brahma-and.html
  3. https://ocoy.org/original-christianity/the-aquarian-gospel/from-india-to-chaldea/)
  4. http://www.wisdomworld.org/additional/ListOfCollatedArticles/TheChaldeanLegend.html by H. P. BLAVATSKY )
  5. Comparative Religion For Dummies by William P. Lazarus, Mark Sullivan
  6. http://www.hermetics.org/Abraham2.htmlWho Was Abraham?  by Gene D. Matlock, B.A., M.A. 
  7. Ways of the natives – Parasara’s Hora Sastra – pp25, and from: http://www.barbarapijan.com/bpa/Amsha/lagna_vishesika_hora_bhava_ghati.htm
  8. Sūryasiddhānta: An Astro-linguistic Study By Sudhi Kant Bharadwaj
  9. http://www.astrology-x-files.com/help-timaeus/planet-hour.html
  10. https://io9.gizmodo.com/5825459/the-roman-city-of-pompeii-pictures-of-a-lost-world-frozen-in-time

Tamil – Class:2 / Teaching Through English

September 18, 2017

Class -2

The vowels we learnt in Class-1 are actually known as Life-Letters in Tamil (i.e) உயிர் எழுத்துக்கள். The bare consonants are known as Body-Letters (i.e) மெய் எழுத்துக்கள். When these consonants get life when combining with vowels, they are called Life&Body-Letters, (i.e.)   உயிர்மெய் எழுத்துக்கள். This is really a unique and apt description of alphabets of a language.

In Class-1, we learnt most of these Tamil Alphabets. Now let us learn a few words using them. Let us see a few words using the letters Ma and Ra, (i.e), and .

மா – Maa – Big or Mango

மாமா – MaaMaa – Uncle

மாமி – MaaMi – Aunty

மை – Mye – Ink or Dye

மரம் – MaRaM – Tree

மரு – MaRu – Mark (on the skin) or Name of a plant

மார் – MaaR – Chest

மோர் – MoR(e) – Buttermilk

மரை – MaRrai – Thread (as in bolt and nut)

மாமரம் – MaaMaRam – Mango Tree

மாரி – MaRi – Rain, A Village Goddess

மரி – MaRi – To Die

மேரி – Mery – Mary, a name

மும்முரம் – MuMMuRaM – Deeply involved

ரமா – RaMaa – Name of a girl

ராம் – Raam – Name of a Hindu God

Sanskrit (or Samskrit) is an important language of India. It is a language of universal knowledge. It has assimilated the great literary and social features of all Indian classical languages such as Pali, Prakrit and Tamil. It has also contributed in evolution and development of all the languages in India, including Tamil. Sanskrit (or Samskrit) is an important language of India. It is a language of universal knowledge. It has assimilated the great literary and social features of all Indian classical languages such as Pali, Prakrit and Tamil.  It has also contributed to evolution and development of all the languages in India, including Tamil. From very early days of Indian history, may be even  from 4-th century BC, Tamil and Sanskrit have been studied with equal interest by all intellectuals of South India. Sanskrit is also the language of science and religion for all the ancient religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism.

Now let us learn a few special characters inducted into Tamil to enable us writing words from other languages like Sanskrit, English etc. They are known as Northern letters or Grantha letters.

ஸ்ரீ
S  as in ‘Sulk’ J as in ‘Just’   Sh as in   ‘Rush’      H as in       ‘Hut’

Sri as in  ‘Sridhar’

The first four of the above can combine with all vowels by taking same symbols we learnt in class-1

Let us learn a few words using the above letters along with (Ma) and (Ra)

மாஸம் – MaaSaM – Month

ரஸம் – RaSaM – Juice, Extract,  a spicy sauce eaten with rice

ஸமம் – SaMam – Equal

மேஜை – MayJai – Table

ரோஜா – ROJaa – Rose

ராஜா – RaaJaa – King

ரிஷி – RiShi – Saint

ஹரி – HaRi – Another name for Hindu God Vishnu

மஹா – MaHaa – Great, Big

ஸ்ரீராம் – SriRaaM – God Ram with respectful title ‘Sri’

ஹாரம் – HaaRaM – Necklace, Garland

All the above words have explicitly derived from Sanskrit, though there are many other words also derived from Sanskrit which have been, may I say, fully Tamilized.

You may again revise all the alphabets learnt in Class 1 and 2.

We will meet in Class-3.

Bye for Now.

(L V Nagarajan)

 

Teaching Tamil through English

September 8, 2017

Many parents of Tamil origin may not have learnt Tamil as a language anytime in their life. Some of them may regret it now and may want to learn Tamil, at least as a language of conversation and understanding. They may also want to teach their children Tamil, as they are not learning the same in their schools. Once children learn basic Tamil, they, depending on their interest, may pick-up deeper knowledge of Tamil on their own at a later stage in life. Unfortunately, not much work is done on such teaching of Tamil, and the regular pedagogy kills even their initial interest and more often than not, they discontinue learning and teaching Tamil. I have two lovely granddaughters (Mili and Tara) who have also started learning Tamil recently in California. I am sure the Tamil classes there is adequately interesting and enthusing for them to continue. With my small experience of teaching Tamil to my daughter and son in early 80’s, I thought of putting together my way of teaching Tamil in a series of blogs, which could be useful to Tamil loving parents in the US and elsewhere. Let me start straight away.

Class – 1

It is always said that Tamil Alphabet has 247+ characters. Any learner who hears this, immediately loses interest to some extent.  In its actual sense, Tamil language has only 26+ characters. Of course it has a dozen more symbols (and a few special characters for writing words from Sanskrit and other foreign languages). Let us first have a look at all these characters.

Five Basic Vowels: The following are the basic vowels in Tamil. Their pronunciation is also given right below.

A as in ‘Avatar’ I as in ‘In’ U as in ‘pUt’ E as in ‘End’

O as in ‘One’

 

Two Composite Vowels: There are two composite vowels as below:

Ai as in ‘Aisle’

Ou as in ‘Out’

The first one above is a combination of: அ  and  இ   =    ஐ

Second one above is a combination of:   அ  and   உ = ஔ

 

Five Extended Vowels: The five basic vowels as above have their extended versions with slightly elongated pronunciation as compared to

A as in ‘Avatar’ – I as in ‘In’ –   U as in ‘pUt’ –  E as in ‘End’ –   O as in ‘One’

(As below)

Au as in ‘Aunt’ Ea as in ‘Easy’ Oo as in ‘Ooze’ A as in ‘Area’

Ow as in ‘Own’

                   

Special Character:

ஃ     —    Akh

This is a special character grouped along with vowels to add a specific accent to a few consonants. We will list it here but learn about it later.

 

Eighteen Consonants: There are eighteen consonants in Tamil. They are as below:

Ka

Ga

Cha

Sa

Ta

Da

Tha

Dha

Pa

Ba

Rra

Tra

The above six are called Hard consonants. However same letters are used for softer pronunciations also as shown.

 

Nga Gnya Rn as in ‘BoRn’ Na Ma

Na

The above six letters are known as Soft consonants. The two ‘Na’s are used in different contexts. They are also used to soften the corresponding hard consonants shown earlier. We will learn about them later.

 

Ya Ra La Va Zha

Rl as in Pearl

The above six letters are known as Medium consonants. The letter ‘Zha’ is very special for Tamil language and its pronunciation presents some difficulty even for some Tamils. La (ல) is pronounced with the tip of the tongue just behind the upper teeth. Rla (ள) is done with the tip of the tongue slightly behind in upper cavity. Zha (ழ) is done with the tip of the tongue still behind.

 

Symbols: The following table shows the symbols used to add the vowels to the above consonants. A few typical consonants are shown with symbols added.

Basic Vowels:

Symbols

_

ி 3 types  ெ

 ொ

Consonants with symbol added:

கி கு கெ

கொ

Ka

Ki Ku Ke

Ko

சி சு செ சொ
தி து தெ

தொ

 

Composite Vowels:

Symbols:

Consonants:

கை

கௌ க்
kai kau

k

as in ‘Park’

சை

சௌ ச்
தை தௌ

த்

 

Extended Vowels

Symbols

 ா

 ீ 3 types  ே

Consonants

கா

கீ கூ கே கோ
kaa kee koo kay

koe

சா

சீ சூ சே சோ
தா தீ தூ தே

தோ

The letters with a dot above them are known as ‘Otru’ – that is, it sounds without any vowel, like, ‘ch’ and ‘th’.

 

There are a few more special characters and symbols which we can learn later.

The complete list of alphabets as per the above scheme is given in

http://tamilcube.com/learn-tamil/tamil-alphabets-chart.aspx

This is enough for class-1. In Class -2 we will learn a few words using some of these alphabets

Bye for now.

 

Pink Poem by Tanveer Ghazi

August 14, 2017

Movie – Pink (16 Sept 2016)

Poem –  Tu Khud Ki Khoj Mein Nikal

Lyrics – Tanveer Ghazi

Rendering by – Amitabh Bachchan

 

In an earlier blog (Feminism and Humanism), I had expressed my views on aggressive feminism displayed in a write-up on CNN-IBN web site. I give below a summary of my views expressed therein.

  1. A woman can decide to take time to internalize and process an incident. Outward expression may hide internal trauma. But In case of serious crimes such as rape and sexual assault one should not hide her internal trauma. She should express her internal trauma as quickly as possible after any such crime. Otherwise you are risking yourself of mal-intent.
  2. A woman can choose to file a complaint at any time she deems fit – even a month after the incident if she so chooses. However for any crime, the complaint should be made immediately after the crime. Surely efforts will be made by the criminal to stall the same. Any undue delay will only aid the criminal in such efforts.
  3. Even if it started as a consensual affair, a woman can say ‘no’ at any time. When you start any activity jointly, it is always difficult to walk out in the middle. This is very much true in consensual sex. Think thousand times before your consent, either by intent or by default. Otherwise, say ‘no’ at the earliest.
  4. A woman can have multiple sexual partners. What she chooses to do in her own time isn’t anybody’s concern. It is immoral for both men and women to have multiple sex partners, but may be not illegal. Anyone has a right to be immoral. Having any kind of expertise, or lack of it, does not enhance or diminish this right.
  5. A woman’s clothes aren’t testimony to her character. True. Indecent people do parade in decent clothes. Some time, very decent people do come in rather revealing clothes. But decent people, both men and women, are expected to attire themselves decently in public and they also expect others to do the same. Revealing clothes expose people, especially women, to some risks.
  6. Even in a feminist world, men have to be courteous to women. Women value generosity in a man. Similarly, men value modesty in a woman.
  7. Don’t exploit woman’s emotions as leverage for bargaining for her freedom and choices she makes. Many women are also seen to exploit such emotions against men. Any such exploitation either way is despicable.
  8. You wouldn’t like to be told how to live your life. Don’t tell woman how to live hers. Woman sometimes need advice of friends and close relatives, even on some private matters. She should not hesitate to ask. Any unsolicited advice does irritate you, I agree.
  9. Her freedom – to wear what she wants, to go where she wants, to choose her friends – isn’t yours to bestow. Any youngster will sometimes need the advice and acceptance of his/her seniors on such matters. Outsiders definitely do not have any say on this.

Having said all this purely in the interest of safety of my wife, sisters, mothers, daughters, colleagues and friends, I sincerely wish for more space for all women to grow, to move about, to progress, to enjoy and to achieve as per their wish and aspirations. It is going to be about a year since the release of the Hindi film PINK, where Amitabh Bachan plays the part of an advocate for the victimized girls and makes many significant statements supporting freedom and safety for women. He also advices girls some responsible behavior while demanding and enjoying such freedom. At the end of the film he celebrates women freedom with a poem rendered very convincingly, in his sonorous voice.

On this Independence Day of India (15th Aug 2017), we celebrate the independence India obtained from Britain. We also celebrate this as a day of freedom from many other ills of our society which we got rid off during this 70 years of Independence.

Let me celebrate this Independence Day 2017 as a day for Women’s Freedom, by translating the PINK Poem into English and dedicating the same to Women’s Freedom.

 

Translation by L V Nagarajan

 

You decide your path and depart

Why fear? And hesitate for what?

Go! Even time is on your side, Start

Yes time is on your side, Start.

Decide your path and depart

 

Folks who restrict; bend them as a bow

Break the restricts to pieces

And use them as arrows,

Make them as arrows

Decide your path and depart

 

Your conduct so pure, why hardships to endure 

With sins in their mind,

Who allows them to judge you?

Why allow them to judge you?

Decide your path and depart

 

Those tricks of cruelty, burn them to ashes

The wick in your lamp can become

The big torch of your anger

Light the torch of your anger

Decide your path and depart

 

Raise your scarf as banner; for skies to shudder

If ever your scarf falls,

A quake should occur. 

Yes, a quake will occur

Decide your path and depart

 

Original Hindi Version

 

Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal   Tu kisliye hatash hai

Tu chal, Tere Wajood ki  Samay ko bhi talash hai.

samay ko bhi talash hai

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Jo tujhse lipti bediayan…Samajhna inko vastra tu

Ye bediyan pighal ke..Bana le inko shastra tu..

Bana le inko shastra tu

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Charitra jab pavitra hai..Toh kyoun hai ye dasha teri

Ye papiyon ko hak nahi..Ki lein pariksha teri.

Ki lein pariksha teri

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Jala ke bhasm kar use jo krurta ka jal hai

Tu Aarati ki lau nahi..Tu krodh ki mashal hai..

Tu krodh ki mashal hai

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Chunar ko udaa dhwaj bana gagan bhi kap-kapayegaa

Agar teri chunar geeri..Toh ek bhukamp ayegaa.

.ek bhukamp ayegaa

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Happy Independence day to all.

Melody and Prosody

July 30, 2017

Melody and Prosody are two terms in English language associated with Music and Lyrics respectively. Melody is actually a kind of music created by successive sequencing of musical notes (as compared to Harmony, which is musical effect created by a combination of simultaneously sounded notes like in an orchestra). Melody depends on predefined scale of 7 (or less) notes. I presume Melody is a term that might have evolved from the Sanskrit word MELA. Mela represents a scale of 7 notes but still Mela is much more than just a scale. It also means Sruthi (or basic notes), also ‘vibrations’ both physical and metaphorical and also a general musical atmosphere.

On the other hand Prosody is about the meter, rhythm and intonations of a verse or a poem. Rhythm and meter, although closely related, should be distinguished. Meter is the definitive pattern established for a verse, while rhythm is the actual sound that results from a line of poetry. I presume the term Prosody could have evolved from the Sanskrit word ‘prasa’ which roughly means alliteration in a verse or poetry. Sanskrit and Tamil grammars of so-called prosody describe many types of poetical features such as: prasa, chanda, tala (rhythm) and various other poetical ornamentations. When talking about music, we talk of Melakattu and Talakattu. In Hindi they talk Tal-Mel for a pleasant relationship between any two entities. When we welcome special guests we do it with Mela-talam (மேளதாளம்).

Prasa generally in use are of three types – Dwitiya Akshara Prasa, Prathama Akshara Prasa and Anthima Akshara Prasa.  Verses and poetry in Sanskrit, Tamil and in fact in most of the Indian languages use these prasas. In this post I wish to show how these prasas enhance the musical value, of any poetry, or a musical composition by itself. Let us take the following four lines of beautiful poetry by Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi:

சுட்டும் விழிச் சுடர்தான் கண்ணம்மா

சூரிய  சந்திர ரோ

வட்டக்   கரிய விழி  கண்ணம்மா

வானக் கருமை கொல்லோ

பட்டுக்  கரு நீல  புடவை

பதித்த நல் வயிரம்

நட்ட நடு நிசியில் தெரியும்

நட்சத் திரங்க ளடி

 

Suttum, Vatta, Pattu and Natta appearing as the first words of each line alliterate using Dwitiya Akshara Prasa; (i.e.) their second syllable ‘tt’ repeat in each line. This is also known as Edhukai (எதுகை) in Tamil.  In addition, the second part of each line rhymes as below:

(Suttum, Soorya) – (Vatta, Vaana) – (Pattu, Padhittha) – (Natta, Natsha) : the first letters of the pair of words alliterate. This is known as Prathama Akshara Prasa or Monai  (மோனை) in Tamil.

Now coming to ‘Chanda’ (சந்தம் in Tamil), it is how the intonations are arranged in a rhythmic sense. In the above poetry, the chanda that is followed is somewhat as below:

Ta-ka Ta-ka di-mi-ta-m ta-ka-di-mi

Ta-ki-ta ta-ki-ta ta-a-m (ta-Ki-Ta)

 

It is interesting to note that the last tala-syllable, Ta-Ki-Ta  is in brackets to indicate it is silent. Why is it needed? Now we come to the third aspect of our prosody, Tala. The poem is set to Adi talam (tisra nadai), of 8 Ta-ki-ta’s; last ta-ki-ta being silent enabling easy return to the beginning of rhythm cycle. The poet maintains same prasa, chanda and tala in the later stanzas also.

 

Now we need to add Melody to this beautiful Prosody. You may listen to Vidwan (late) Maharajapuram Santhanam’s immortal rendering of this poem set to melodious music, as below:

 

If you want to listen to other stanzas click on the following link

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtAsaLdyZXw

 

  • L V Nagarajan / 08 Jul 17

 

Nadopasana

July 25, 2017

(Nada Upasana)

There is no better way to invoke the blessings of Almighty than to do Nadopasana (i.e.) invocation to divine Nadabrahma.

It is difficult to describe Nada in one word. It is Sound, but really more than just the sound. It is Vibrations, but more than just vibrations, physical or metaphorical.

It is the first form of energy, released by the union of Shiva and Shakti, to start the entire Creation. It all started with a Big-Bang.

From Hindu scriptures we learn, the seed of this energy (Nada Bindu) is dormant in Shiva, and is enhanced by the active Energy of Shakti. ‘Kala’ are the ways by which this Nada is expressed. This is why we pray to lord Subramanya, as ‘Nada Bindu Kalaadhi Namo Namo’. In its divine from, it is invoked as Nada Brahmam, and practiced by sages as Nada Yoga.

In Indian Carnatic Music, there are many kritis (compsitions) by Saint Thyagaraja, grouped as Nadopasana Kritis, which describes Nada Upasana (i.e., invoking Nada as Nada Brahma). Saint Thyagaraja practices it himself and extols those who have practiced it. Here are a few typical ones from which we get a very good idea of Nada Brahmam.

“O Mind! By becoming a lover of Nada, attain the eternal Bliss. By total involvement in that music through countless ragas which result by the manipulation of the seven notes of music and which fulfills all the righteous desires, attain such a Bliss. Know that it is by this expression and experience of Nada that the trinity -Indra, Ganesha and Subrahmanya and other personages had done upasana. Myself, Thyagaraja is also aware of this”. (Nadaloludai – Raga Kalyana Vasantham)

“O Mind! Praise the divinely beautiful forms of the seven musical notes, which originate, glow and then pass through in the navel, heart, vocal chords, tongue and nose of the human body. (These seven notes) shine in the four Vedas and in the sublime Gayathri Mantra as its essence. (These seven notes) sparkle in the hearts of, the celestial beings, the worthy Bhusuras and in myself, Thyagaraja”. (Sobhillu Saptha Swara – Raga Jaganmohini)

“Hari, i.e., God Vishnu, is immensely pleased with the garland made of a hundred melodious ragas. Let us adore and adorn (him with this garland) and be bestowed with abundant fortune. The garland of ragas is embellished with the essence of vedas, the six sastras, the epics and the Agamas (science of architecture). It is said that the sages and seers are blessed with eternal Bliss by such adoration of God. These are the songs that the most fervent devotees sing and immerse in. The garland of ragas would bestow salvation to me, Thyagaraja also. (Ragaratnamalikache – Raga Ritigaula)

 There many more such krithis such as: Sangita-jnanamu; Nada tanum anisam; Gitarthamu; Nadopasanace; Mokshamugalada and Svara-raga-sudha etc.

Let us also, with our limited capability and in all humbleness practice this Nadopasana.

– Nagarajan L V : 19/5/2017

 

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used in Indian Elections

March 26, 2017

Introduction:
In the recent elections to five provincial states of India, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were used for all the voters. After the massive victory of central ruling party, BJP, there were many baseless complaints about EVMs, raised by responsible politicians, including sitting and former chief ministers. Though they did not provide any proof of rigging of the machine, their allegation surely creates some doubts in at least some small sections of the people. There are many features in the EVM which prevents any type of mechanical, electronic or network based fraud. The actual Balloting Unit (BU) is only a slave unit to the main Control Unit (CU). The micro programmed chip which resides in the CU is manufactured and programmed abroad. Once programmed, it cannot be altered in any way. The CU does not have any remote input and hence cannot be controlled from remote by any network device. There are many tests done at the booth level before the machine is put to use. These tests are witnessed and approved by the booth agents of the contestants, before the machine is finally sealed off securely and thereafter, will be always under the watchful eyes of police, election officials and the agents of contestants till the results are downloaded and declared. All these features are generally accepted and agreed upon by all the politicians and the voting public. However a few doubts are expressed in the following areas.

The Doubts:
The program inside the CU could be biasetowards one particular button. This doubt is easily answered, as button numbers of candidates of different political parties are different at different constituencies and doing an en-mass biasing of buttons is not a choice at all. In addition a mock polling test is conducted one hour before the polling in front of the agents and officials, with more than 50 votes polled at random and the results shown to all. After this test the CU is sealed and secured. There is a demo of this mock polling, available on U-tube as below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWn4Yn1XoYY

The following are some of the questions answered by Election Commission in their website:

http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/evm.aspx

Q11. Can booth – capturing be prevented by the use of EVMs?
Ans. By booth-capturing, if one means, taking away or damaging of ballot boxes or ballot papers, this evil cannot be prevented by the use of EVMs as EVMs can also be forcibly taken away or damaged by miscreants. But if one looks at booth capturing as a case of miscreants intimidating the polling personnel and stamping the ballot papers on the symbol and escaping in a matter of minutes, this can be prevented by the use of EVMs. The EVMs are programmed in such a way that the machines will record only five votes in a minute. As recording of votes has necessarily to be through Control Unit and , whatever be the number of miscreants they can record votes only at the rate of 5 per minute. In the case of ballot papers, the miscreants can distribute all the 1000 odd ballot papers assigned to a polling station, among themselves, stamp them, stuff them into the ballot boxes and run away before the police reinforcements reach. In half- an –hour, the miscreants can record only a maximum of 150 votes by which time, chances are the police reinforcement would have arrived. Further, the presiding Officer or one of the Polling Officers can always press the “close” button as soon as they see some intruders inside the polling station. It will not be possible to record any vote when once the ‘close’ button is pressed and this will frustrate the efforts of the booth-capturers.

Q21. Is it possible to program the EVMs in such a way that initially, say upto 100 votes, votes will be recorded exactly in the same way as the `blue buttons’ are pressed, but thereafter, votes will be recorded only in favour of one particular candidate irrespective of whether the `blue button’ against that candidate or any other candidate is pressed?
Ans. The microchip used in EVMs is sealed at the time of import. It cannot be opened and neither any rewriting of program can be done by anyone without damaging the chip. There is, therefore, absolutely no chance of programming the EVMs in a particular way to select any particular candidate or political party.

Q24. In the conventional system, it will be possible to know the total number of votes polled at any particular point of time. In EVMs ‘Result’ portion is sealed and will be opened only at the time of counting. How can the total number of votes polled be known on the date of poll?
Ans. In addition to the ‘Result’ button, there is a ‘total’ button on EVMs. By pressing this button the total number of votes polled upto the time of pressing the button will be displayed without indicating the candidate-wise tally.

Q28. In the conventional system, before the commencement of poll, the Presiding Officer shows to the polling agents present that the ballot box to be used in the polling station is empty. Is there any such provision to satisfy the polling agents that there are no hidden votes already recorded in the EVMs?
Ans. Yes
Before the commencement of poll, the Presiding Officer demonstrates to the polling agents present that there are no hidden votes already recorded in the machine by pressing the result button. Thereafter, he will conduct a mock poll by asking the polling agents to record their votes and will take the result to satisfy them that the result shown is strictly according to the choice recorded by them. Thereafter, the Presiding Officer will press the clear button to clear the result of the mock poll before commencing the actual poll.

Q29. How can one rule out the possibility of recording further votes at any time after close of the poll and before the commencement of counting by interested parties?
Ans. As soon as the last voter has voted, the Polling Officer in-charge of the Control Unit will press the ‘Close’ Button. Thereafter, the EVM will not accept any vote. Further, after the close of poll, the is disconnected from the Control Unit and kept separately. Votes can be recorded only through the . Again the Presiding officer, at the close of the poll, will hand over to each polling agent present an account of votes recorded. At the time of counting of votes, the total will be tallied with this account and if there is any discrepancy, this will be pointed out by the Counting Agents.

My Suggestions:
In addition to all the above features, to improve the voter confidence, Supreme Court had ordered a system called Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). Under this system, the Balloting Unit, BU, includes a sealed printer with a viewing window and sealed box underneath where the paper strip falls after Voter verifies his voting preference as printed therein. This will help in actual counting, in case of any major contest about the result. Though it is not clear how this system will be used when it comes to wider use, my suggestion is the following:
These voting slips should actually be counted as a sample in some random booths to check whether it follows the general trend of voting pattern in the respective areas of polling. For example we may decide on actual slip counting, in 10 polling booths in a bye-election, in 30 polling booths throughout the state in a state assembly election and in 100 polling booths throughout the country in case of parliamentary elections. In case of any major discrepancy in voting trends, more PU’s may be examined for further investigation. In case of any legal demands, full counting of the slips may also be ordered by the court. This would definitely improve the confidence of voters and candidates on the EVM procedures.
Here is my another suggestion to increase the voter confidence: it is to allow for mock-polling within the actual polling period also. Two such intermediate mock polls may be allowed at the times chosen by the agents. During this mock poll, the times of the commencement and end of mock poll, and the actual voting pattern may all be noted and stored in the control unit (CU), for later verification at the time counting . During these intermediate mock polls, say for about 15 minutes each, actual polling may be stopped and resumed immediately afterwards. The CU programme should include a feature to find the ‘RESULT’ between different times also. This will help the agents at the time of final counting, to check and verify whether the intermediate mock poll results tally with what is already noted down. This timed counting feature will also help to detect other polling frauds, if any, found in future.

With this feature, the results when downloaded will be interpreted as in the example below:
TOTAL
Total votes polled – 1,25,372.
This may be verified against actual votes polled added with total intermediate mock poll votes polled.
RESULTS
Intermediate mock poll results are first retrieved from CU, as below:
1) From 11.30AM to 11.45AM – 57 Votes – Party-wise : A – 25, B – 18, C-4, D-10
2) From 3.15 PM to 3.30 PM – 66 Votes – Party-wise : A – 20, B – 22, C-11, D-13
Total – Mock Votes – 123 – Party-wise : A – 45, B – 40, C-15, D-23
Verified with the actual Test data and found correct by Election officials and agents.
RESULTS (ACTUAL)
Actual votes polled – 1,25,372 – 123 Mock Votes = 1,25,249
Party wise votes:
A – 36,253 – 45 Mock Votes = 36,208
B – 42,117 – 40 Mock Votes = 42,077
C – 26,318 – 15 Mock Votes = 26,303
D – 20684 – 23 Mock Votes = 20 661
Total – 1,25,372 – 123 Mock Votes = 1,25,249
Accordingly B will be declared as the winner.

Conclusion:
It is sincerely hoped this will convince all the political parties about the use of EVMs. More than that, voters will not have any doubt on the election process. What is required is for the machine to be redesigned in a way that you may get the results in a time tagged manner. As far I could see, the counting procedure does not seem to include any facility for printing of the result. Such a facility may also be considered, as manual noting down of the result form the machine display is susceptible to human errors and mischief. It is now for the Election Commission and EVM designers to take up the issue. Long live Indian Democracy.

Post Script:

As I published the above blog on EVMs on 28th March 2017, I was disturbed to know from the media about the recent fiasco of EVM/VVPAT in MP, while testing and demonstration. VVAPAT was apparently found to print the same election symbol irrespective of the button pressed on Balloting Unit. The Election Commission has not only not offered any explanation for the fiasco, they stayed away from assuring the voting public any credible investigation. This definitely reduces the confidence of Voters like me on these machines. I also understand the concerns of politicians. However the solution is not to discard the EVMs and to go back to cumbersome Paper ballots. On the contrary we should find ways of improving the reliability and tamper-proof quality of EVMs. None of the politicians have suggested any solution but only blamed Election Commission. Response of EC is also far from satisfactory. While it is okay for normal politicians to immediately ask for debunking of the EVMs (with or without VVPAT), I thought, we can do something better than all of them. We can suggest solutions to make these machines better. As a voter I want the EVMs to continue with more improvements as we go along.

I have already suggested two solutions as above. The first suggestion is as explained in earlier paragraphs to allow for intermediate mock polls at random times during polling. My second suggestion was to decide on the operation VVPAT machines and declare openly about the mode of its usage, post completion of counting. Now my third suggestion is to improve the operation of VVPAT itself. Actually, the news came about the VVPAT fiasco, as I was posting this suggestion on VVPAT.

VVPAT machine is connected at one end to Balloting Unit (BU) and at the other end to Control Unit (CU). When voting button is pressed, the BU prompts the VVPAT printer to print the slip, which goes into the box after verification by the voter, (if at all he is smart enough to verify and report in case of any mismatch). VVPAT also sends this voting info to CU for recording it as a vote cast. Here is the catch. As a voter I prefer to verify what is recorded in CU and not what was registered in BU/VVPAT. Hence my suggestion is: Connect BU directly to CU as existing in the normal EVM. Connect VVPAT to CU and let VVPAT print what is recorded in CU after the vote is cast. Additionally, VVPAT can have another output to BU to blink the vote-recorded button LED for 6 Secs. This way voter will find it easy to verify the functioning of EVM, thus boosting his confidence level. Having a VVPAT machine in between Balloting Unit and Control Unit, introduces a source of tamper and hence must be avoided.

Presently VVPAT machine is connected as below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The voting process will be:

– Press the required button in BU

– Look for the VVPAT to printout your selection

– Check whether your selection is shown correctly in the printout

– Look for the printout slip to get cut properly and falls down in the sealed box below.

Now you may leave the booth.

Suggested change is as below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When connected like this, flow of voting information reverses. VVPAT will be able to now print what is registered in the Control Unit instead of what is selected in the Ballot Unit. We can use the ballot button lamp more intelligently as per the voting process described below:

– Press the required button in BU

– The blue LED behind the button will light up

– The CU will register your vote and communicate the same to VVPAT and the BU

– The Blue LED will start blinking six times to indicate your choice as recorded by the Control Unit

– At the same time VVPAT will print out the selection as recorded by CU.

– You may verify both as above and leave the booth.

I request the media and other powerful NGO for democracy to take up this suggestion seriously and improve the reliability and tamper proof nature of EVM and VVPAT machine. Let us make our electoral democracy fair and just.

Books Read during 2016

February 9, 2017

Books Read during 2016

by L V Nagarajan

We were visiting our son and daughter in the US during July/Nov 2016. Many visiting Indian parents find such visits as boring, since they are confined to home most of the time with nothing much to do. But in our case we look forward to such visits, as we can spend a lot of time in walks, Yoga and most importantly in books. The libraries in the US are too good and have excellent collection of all kinds of books. All the books I have listed below are borrowed from a single library in Cupertino, Ca, US. I am not sure whether we can access such books in India unless we search and purchase them. The library system in the US allows us to search the digital catalogues with lot of ease, looking for titles, authors, topics, fiction, non-fiction, etc. Herein I have given a brief review of some of the books I have read during my stay in the US in 2016.

  1. Shikandi – Devdatt Pattanaik – 16/07/16

It is a book about sexual queerness, as narrated in the epics of India. Story of Shikandi is only a sample. There are other characters which are also as narrated by the respective stories. He includes Shiva’s episode, where he takes the form of a midwife for a devotee, (and delivered her child, in the absence of her mother) though there is no sexual interaction with anyone. He even considers the story of fast friendship between a poet (Pisir Aandayar) and a Tamil (Chola) king as ‘queer’. Story of Vishnu taking the form of Mohini, the enchantress, also finds a place in the narration. It is a readable collection of ‘queer’ stories from ancient India.

  1. Inferno – Dan Brown – 01.08.16

This book is typically a Dan Brown adventure mystery. This new novel ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown is based on a biological ‘terrorism’ of scientific age placed in the surroundings of medieval mysteries of Ottoman Empire covering present day Florence of Italy and Istanbul of Turkey. This novel is heavily based on Italian poet Dante Alighieri master piece ‘The Devine Comedy’ consisting of three cantos – Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise, describing the path of the dead/soul towards Hell, Punishment and finally perhaps the Heaven. There are many articles available in the net comparing this piece of ancient literature with similar ideas represented in ancient Hindu scriptures by Saint Veda Vyasa in his Garuda Purana. Some of them even suggest that Dante was inspired by this description of Hell (and the travel of soul with its pseudo-body through the hell to the Paradise). In Maha Bharata epic, King Yuthishtra is supposed to have passaged through hell as a punishment for abetting the unfair killing of Ashvattama.

In this novel there are some unexplained ambiguities as below

  • How can a single type of vector virus would do equal harm to the fertility of both men and women? Evidently, their reproductive systems are quite different.
  • Though a lot of anxiety is expressed by all the characters in the novel about this biological ‘terror’, it appears to be a very humane way of controlling the population. It is same as vasectomy and tubectomy, which are of course, voluntary. This type of population control is normally adopted in animals and pests.
  • The characters in the novel, opposed to this type of ‘terrorism’ initially, come around and accept the same and think of making it reversible.

However the novel is quite interesting and highly readable. It has also come as a movie with Indian actor Irfan Khan in the role of Provost, the off-shore expediter and the secondary antagonist in the novel.

  1. An Incurable Romantic (The Musical Journey of Lalgudi Jayaraman), by Lakshmi Devnath, Harper Collins Publishers India (2013) – 11.08.16

The book itself was published in May 2013, just after the sudden demise of Sri Lalgudi on 22nd April 2013.

  • The episode concerning Lady Lokasundari and Sir C V Raman is quite funny. Smt Lokasundari was trained in Music by Valadi Radhakrishna Iyer, grandfather of Lalgudi. She sang ‘Rama nee Samaanam evaru’, apt for the occasion, when the groom Dr. C V Raman came for bride introduction function at Madurai, in early 1900s.
  • In the CD attached with the book, track-8, ‘Meenakshi Memudham’ was simply superb. The violin sings. When Lalgudi plays on two strings we can hear the words. Initially I thought he sings along. He creates this effect repeatedly in his rendering. The CD itself was too good and deserves to enter into all musical archives.
  • On 9th March 2008, The Music Academy, Madras awarded Sri Lalgudi, the Special Life Time Achievement Award, a one-off award for the first time ever in the ninety years history of the Academy. During the occasion the president of the Academy Sri N Murali said that non-award of Sangita Kalanidhi title to Lalgudi, can be compared to Mahatma Gandhi not getting a Nobel Peace Prize. Sri Murali was proud that they did better than Nobel foundation, by seeking ‘to erase the mistake and the aberration’ and ‘in conferring the Special Life Time Achievement Award’ for Sri Lalgudi. But all said and done, I am still feeling sad to see that Lalgudi’s portrait is not seen anywhere in the lobbies of the Academy, not even among the portraits of Sangita Kalanidhis. Will the Academy take steps to erase this aberration too?

The book is a very interesting read for a biography. It has been a very well researched material with all interesting references. Some of the intrigues, conflicts and challenges in the world of Carnatic music have been brought out along with Lalgudi’s mature responses for the same. I felt the book could have included a few more comments from the rasikas including a few Lalgudi fans.

  1. Athisayam Athi Rahasyam – Lakshmi prabha – Vanathi Publishers -15.09.16

This is a Tamil Novel. It revolves around the mystical experiences of a couple, whose father becomes a ‘siddha purusha’. They go in search of a mystery to the forests of south Indian mountains and encounter several mystical experiences. It is a good attempt at mystical spiritualism in Tamil.

  1. Story of Numbers – John Mcleish – Fawcett Columbine 1992 – 20.09.16

This is a biography of Numbers and evolution of mathematical sciences. Like all authors of the western world, Prof. McLeish also appears reluctant to give due credit to the ancient civilization of India for the evolution of the number system and other mathematical concepts. Surely he has allotted one chapter (10 pages) for India, as compared to 20-page chapters for Arabia and China.

For example: Yajnavalkya (c. 9th– 8th century BC) recognized that the Earth is spherical and believed that the Sun was “the centre of the spheres” as described in the Vedas at the time. In his astronomical text Shatapatha Brahmana (8.7.3.10) he states: “The sun strings these worlds – the earth, the planets, the atmosphere – to himself on a thread.” He recognized that the Sun was much larger than the Earth, which would have influenced this early heliocentric concept. He also accurately measured the relative distances of the Sun and the Moon from the Earth as 108 times the diameters of these heavenly bodies, close to the modern measurements of 107.6 for the Sun and 110.6 for the Moon. He also described a solar calendar in the Shatapatha Brahmana”. Several Solar, Lunar and Luni-solar calendars are still in regular use in India. In the author’s discussions on calendars, he totally ignores this ancient Indian contribution.

P-144: Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi (c.780-850 CE)- (Ref: Wikipedia): The author mentions this Arab mathematician profusely in his text. Perhaps his most important contribution to mathematics was his strong advocacy of the Hindu numerical system, which Al-Khwarizmi recognized as having the power and efficiency needed to revolutionize Islamic and Western mathematics. The Hindu numerals 1 – 9 and 0 – which have since become known as Hindu-Arabic numerals – were soon adopted by the entire Islamic world. He oversaw the translation of the major Greek and Indian mathematical and astronomy works (including those of Brahmagupta) into Arabic. Though the Arabic scholar is willing to acknowledge the pioneering work done in ancient India, Western scholars and leftist intellectuals (even in India) are still not willing to accept the same, and call them as tall claims by Hindu nationalists.

  1. Artifact – Gigi Pandian – 28.09.16
  2. Pirate Vishnu – Gigi Pandian – 10.10.16

The author’s father is from India and she seems to have spent good amount of time in India to appreciate the ancient and recent culture of India. The first novel is about a lost and hidden treasure of ancient jewels of Jaipur royalty pilfered by an East India Company executive, centuries ago. Their descendants have hidden the same in a site near Irish border. An archeological explorer in the area hires some diggers, who seem to have their own agenda of finding and snatching the treasure and selling them to international art mafia. The story is well narrated as an adventure mystery. When I was reading the books of Dan Brown, I always thought there is a lot of scope for writing such treasure hunt mysteries with ancient treasures at many ancient locations of India. In fact, I have given my ideas of such a theme in my blog “Ancient Mystery thriller” – (https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/ancient-mystery-thriller/

The second novel by Gigi Pandian, Pirate Vishnu, is also about an art piece, lost from Indian Port town of Tutucorin during the early struggle for Indian independence. The mystery revolves around Kochin and Sanfrancisco during the period of Gold rush. Mingling the stories of the past and present really enhances the narration. Especially, care has been taken to see the treasure being lost (or hidden) at the end of the ‘past’ story and it being found at the end of the ‘present’ story. Being only her second novel, her narrative style has shown lot of improvement. Quite an interesting read.

  1. Lost Kingdom (Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia) – By John Guy – Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – Yale University Press – 10.16

This is a very good photo journal describing the influence of Hindu-Buddhist rulers in South East Asia. Excellent photographs of sculptures of almost all Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina religious icons are listed and catalogued. We know about Angkor Wat, Cambodia. There are hundreds of such temples throughout South East Asia. It is really amazing to see the photographs along with their historical perspective, with a sense of pride.

  1. A Southern Music – The Karnatik Story – T M Krishna – Harper-Collins Publishers India (2013)

The above book consists of 27 essays on music written by Sri T M Krishna, a musician of great repute. These essays are put into three parts, namely, The Experience, The Context and The History. TMK has been doing a lot in taking this art music to all communities, especially to the community to whom it belonged a few centuries ago. He has received Magsaysay award for his work in breaking the community divide that is perceived to exist in the field of karnatik music. This award has been seen in a totally different context by the media and purists of the art form. But those reading this book will understand his views better in a social context than political. TMK suggests a lot of ‘mid-term corrections’ to the course taken by Karnatik Art Music at present times. I totally agree with many of his views on this aspect.   We rasikas (and in fact, even musicians) should thank Sri T M Krishna for telling the story of karnatik music from the perspective of a concert artist. I feel parts of this book should be prescribed for study for all the serious students of karnatik music. Those who want to get a summary of the first part of this book can visit my blog as below:

https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2016/12/11/the-story-of-karnatik-music/

Hope my readers like some of these titles and get access to read these books.