Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

The Traditions of Sabarimala Ayyappa

November 7, 2018

Samiye Saranam Ayyappa

There is a whole chapter in the holy Tamil Text, TirukkuraL, titled as ‘Ikal’ (இகல் = Humiliation, Hostility). Herein the Saint Poet Tiruvalluvar in three couplets tells us about the harms of hostility and humiliation.

குறள் 857:

மிகல்மேவல் மெய்ப்பொருள் காணார் இகல்மேவல்
இன்னா அறிவி னவர்.

The real intent and meaning of victory will be lost, if the victor ever humiliates the vanquished with hostility

குறள் 858:

இகலிற்கு எதிர்சாய்தல் ஆக்கம் அதனை
மிகலூக்கின் ஊக்குமாம் கேடு.

Real victory is to be devoid of hostility and humiliation. Otherwise the victory will turn out to be harmful.

குறள் 859:

இகல்காணான் ஆக்கம் வருங்கால் அதனை
மிகல்காணும் கேடு தரற்கு.

The real winner will not humiliate the loser. If he does, winner will be the only loser.

This is exactly what happened in the case of Sabarimala verdictof gender equality by Supreme Court of India and the aftermath of the verdict. It was a just cause and a good victory by Indian Women Activists. Their celebrations are well justified. But where is the need to humiliate the system that existed earlier and its followers?

The Sabarimala devotees traditionally start their ritual penance for the pilgrimage, 41 days in advance. As such, when the verdict against the tradition came they were already half-way into the rituals. There is no way the activists, who hurried to celebrate their victory could have done this 41-day ritual. Most of the women, who dared to visit the shrine, did so in a way that humiliates the traditional devotees. It could have even been their aim, and not any true devotion or serene happiness. Unfortunately as said in the above verses of TirukkuraL:     a) Even the real winners lost the intent and meaning of their victory, b) their victory itself has come under suspicion, and c) and who knows, ultimately, they may even become the losers.

Without going into the merits of the verdict, we can easily conclude that SC has not specified any time limit for implementing their verdict of gender equality. The leftist (atheist) Govt of Kerala could have easily waited for a period of time, and could have used this time, to at least make preparations for the security and safety of first batch of women pilgrims and also more importantly, to secure the ritual value of the pilgrimage of thousands of devotees under penance. But the Govt in trying to celebrate the victory of atheists, chose to humiliate the devotion of the pilgrims. The visual, social and print media in their hurry to celebrate the victory of their ‘secular’ backgrounds, chose to send their women correspondents to the shrine along with the so-called women pilgrims. They never gave a thought for the humiliation it caused for the real devotees under penance. Almost all of the so-called women pilgrims with their media escorts were from non-Hindu communities. What were the intentions behind such a move, except that to humiliate the real devotees? It was really surprising that Supreme Court also did not take cognisance of its verdict, being sabotaged in this manner, let alone the fact, that they chose to remain unconcerned with the violent fallout of its verdict. In this process they allowed their verdict to be sabotaged openly.

I am not a Sabarimala devotee. I have never ever undertaken the penance and neither joined the pilgrimage. But I have great respects for those who go on such a pilgrimage. I have equal respect for the Haj Pilgrims also. It will be really nice, if women devotees of all ages are enabled to go on such pilgrimages. As we all know all pilgrimages have rules and regulations to be followed. Were there any such rules and regulations evolved for women by the Devasvom Board? Did Kerala Govt ask Devosvom Board for such set of rules as existing for male pilgrims? Any pilgrimage, (including for Haj), cannot be treated like a picnic by any new set of pilgrims. If they were real devotees, they themselves could have asked the Devasvom Board to evolve such rules, and could have given adequate time for them to do so. Supreme Court, in their hurry, or some would say, in their Judicial Activism, did not think of such a clause in their verdict also.

Amidst all these tussles within the Hindu Community, was there anybody interested in evolving a solution or a compromise; – neither victors, nor vanquished, nor the mediator and nor the media? Everyone was just following their agenda, political or otherwise. I have no agenda and I am totally apolitical. Being a Hindu, I am interested in safeguarding our gender equality and intrinsically secular culture, and hence I have evolved a solution which can be reviewed by all concerned. Activists can reserve their right to fight against such a solution if they find it not agreeable, either at the proposal stage or at the subsequent implementation.

In any South Indian temple, only the appointed priests are allowed inside the sanctum. They will do Abisheka, Alankara, Archana and Aradhana from inside the sanctum and will be in direct physical contact with the deity or murthy. The devotees will witness and participate only from outside. This is very much unlike temples in North India. Even in the case of Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, devotees are allowed only up to the upper prakara of the temple above the traditional 18-steps. Of course they will have uninterrupted darshan of the deity, will have their offerings accepted and will receive their prashad. The 41-day penance they do is only to become eligible to go up these holy 18-steps. A few of the women activist have managed to reach the terrace just below the 18-steps, and that is where, they were violently, or otherwise, stopped by the devotees and the priests. When thousands of devotees voluntarily undertook penance to reach that stage, how can such activists with police protection be allowed, sans any such penance? Under this context, here comes my solution:

Women of ages between 10 years and 50 years, if they are menstruating, will not be able to observe 41-day penance for obvious biological reasons. Hence they could be specified some easier penance for say 18-days. After completing this easier penance, they can be admitted to take the pilgrimage, in a way not to distract or disturb the more severe penance of male devotees. These women devotees may be admitted up to the terrace below 18-steps. From then on, only those women who are below 10, or above 50 years, who have kept up their penance for 41-days will be allowed to mount the 18-steps and have a close darshan of the deity. All other women can have indirect darshan, say through a real time CCTV/screen, just outside the 18-steps, thus respecting the celibate status (Naishtika Brahmacharya) of Lord Aayyappa of Sabarimala. Offerings of the devotees may also be collected and made to the deity by the priests, who will then distribute the prashads to these devotees. In every Sabarimala season, the first day of opening of the shrine may be allotted only for women. All the male devotees may be stopped at Pamba base camp itself, till darshan by women devotes are completed and they have returned to the dedicated base camp at Pamba.

This solution or any other variations should be discussed with all devotees, priests, Devasvom Board, Pandalam Royalty and Kerala Govt. Such an agreed solution should be presented to the Supreme Court, during the ongoing review of the verdict, if possible. Otherwise, they should appeal to Supreme Court now itself, for sufficient time to implement any other solution based on the revised verdict they may pass on review.

Even if no party appeals for more time or if they show no intention of drafting a solution enabling the visit to the shrine by women devotees of all ages, Supreme Court on their own wisdom may direct the parties to form a committee and propose such a solution. In the end, there should not be any Victor or Vanquished and neither any scope for humiliation of any one.  Hope with the help of such a fair justice to be delivered by Supreme Court, with the cooperation of all Sabarimala (men and women) devotees and by the divine grace of Lord Ayyappa, we will all find an amicable solution with a win-win status.

Samiye Saranam Ayyappa

 

 

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The Quantum World

October 3, 2018

The Quantum World

New Scientist Instant Expert Series, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2017

 

I was first introduced to Quantum Mechanics in 1960s. I did not have any future opportunity to get more familiar with the subject. My interest in this subject was revived recently by two factors:
a) I happen to read a book, titled ‘Biology of belief’ – by Bruce H Lipton, where the author invokes Quantum theory for explaining some of the biological behaviour of cells in our body,
b) I was intrigued by an experience of a Quantum Maths professor of Yale University had with Poojya Sri Kanchi Paramacharya, as reported in the following link.
(https://m.facebook.com/JagadguruSriMahaPeriyava/posts/1652739764815897)
Paramacharya apparently quoted a verse from rig veda, which explains the difference between Positive and Negative approaches to Quantum Theory! (Can someone get the exact text of this verse?)
I started reading this book – The Quantum World (New Scientist Instant Expert Series, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2017) for getting more insight into the processes of Quantum Mechanics. It is still not black and white, like Newtonian Mechanics. It is still sort of grey, with lot of holes in between.
This quantum revolution was started by a German physicist Max Planck in 1900, when he was researching black body radiation. He was led to believe, by his mathematical calculations, that the energy from blackbody was not radiated continuously, but in discrete little packages, which he called as ‘Quanta’. This seed for Quantum mechanics sprouted further by the efforts of Albert Einstein. He was researching photoelectric effect, when he found that, electrons were released from metal by the light of certain frequencies, regardless of its intensity. He proposed in his paper in 1905, that light energy also is made up of stream of little ‘atoms’, he called as ‘photons’. This was supported by the research of Niels Bohr of Denmark. He proposed that in the atoms, electrons are orbiting around the nucleus in several discrete orbits and when they jump between two orbits, light is emitted in discrete packets known as ‘photons’. This was later proved by calculation of energy difference between the two orbits and comparing the same with the energy of the photon emitted. Random nature of wave/packet of light, was further demonstrated by the behaviour of light when it hits the boundary of another medium, like glass. Randomly some photons of light get reflected and some of them get through. It was left to French physicist Louis De Broglie to come out with a revolutionary idea. Building on Einstein’s photon equations, he proposed in 1923, that electron ‘particles’ also behave as ‘waves’, just as, ‘waves’ behave like photon ‘particles’. Soon it was proved to be true, when electrons from helium atom were beamed through a grating (slits), it created interference pattern on the other side, just like waves of light or water. At this point in history, Wave-Particle duality became an accepted reality and Quantum Theory got firmly established.
“The pioneers of Quantum Mechanics were not entirely comfortable with the weirdness they discovered”. Niels Bohr himself was quoted as saying “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it”. As late as in 1958, he is further quoted as saying to another quantum scientist, “we are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is, whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct”
I am not sure whether I have understood ‘enough’ to be ‘sufficiently’ shocked!!! However I found the following narrations very interesting, which I want to share with my readers.
1. This is about how a chlorophyll molecule of a plant leaf behaves as a receptor of energy and transports the same to an action centre where this energy is converted into food and nutrition. Herein we can see how the energy in the form of EM waves in the visible spectrum is converted into a particle which again splits into innumerable number of waves and travels with speeds close to light to the actions centre with minimum loss of energy. The process is described in the book as below:
“The first step in photosynthesis is the capture of a photon of light by an electron of a magnesium atom, of a molecule of chlorophyll pigment. The extra energy causes the electron to vibrate forming a particle called ‘exciton’.”  This should travel to a reaction centre where this light energy will be transformed into chemical energy, thus forming flowers and vegetables. This travel should be fast with least resistance, through the forest of Chlorophyll molecules, in a way that the energy loss is minimal. “Yet measurements show that the exciton transport has the highest efficiency close to 100%”. Further experiments showed that exciton was not taking one particular route; … “it was taking all possible routes to the reaction centre as quantum waves. This was the first direct evidence that, at its heart, photosynthesis is a quantum mechanical process.”
2. Second one is about a bird species of Robin which flies thousands of miles down south to escape harsh winters of northern hemisphere. Its two eyes, when hit with sun’s rays converts them into an electrical dipole of –ve and +ve charges. This bird uses this dipole interaction with earth’s magnetic axis as a compass and gets the direction of forward return flight correctly.
“In 2000 Thorsten Ritz of the University of California came up with the idea that it might depend on a peculiar feature of quantum entanglement. When two entangled particles are electrically charged, they can detect the angle between them, and the earth’s magnetic field. As a test and verification of this theory, this quantum compass was found to get disturbed by high frequency radio waves, as expected.”
Nowadays, we hear many reports, of birds losing their ways, because of their navigation system getting disturbed by radiations from cell phone towers.
3. Third one is about teleporting of matter from one place to another at the speed of light. There are experiments attempted with partial success in which smaller molecules of a matter was converted to waves of energy and recd afar with the speed of light with subsequent re-assembly into matter again.
“Enzymes are the engines of life. They are incredible catalysts that can speed up chemical reactions by a factor of 10²º.” (i.e) 30 billion times the speed of light. “Enzymes gain their huge chemical acceleration by manipulating the quantum mechanical nature of matter, employing a process called quantum tunnelling. This is where a particle can travel through a seemingly impenetrable barrier using its wave properties, essentially dematerialising from one point in space, and materialising in another, without visiting any of the in-between places.”
When I was going through the book, I felt the subject of Quantum Theory is more Metaphysics than Physics. I am sure I am not alone in feeling thus.
Max Planck, the founder of quantum theory, was deeply religious and in 1937 he wrote: ‘Both religion and science need for their activities, the belief in God.’
De Broglie feels ‘Quantum Theory is incomplete; we are lacking some hidden properties and, if we knew them, it would make sense of everything.’
Quantum Theory works well with small particles. Once things get larger they lose their quantum properties. This process is called De-coherence. From this point, Newton’s classical mechanics come into effect. When things get even larger to the level of universe then Einstein’s gravitational principle and his Theory of Relativity takes over.
Interference pattern were observed even with molecules composed of hundreds of atoms, but as they get more massive, this quantum property of superposition get short lived. Is this due to gravitational force taking over?
Quantum Theory rules the atomic scale; Theory of Relativity rules across the cosmos. If physicists can meld both the above theories together, we may hope for the evolution of a ‘Theory of Everything’ that will show how whole universe works at fundamental level.
Till such time several theories are being put forth which is quite intimidating as seen below.
What happened before ‘Big Bang’? Some cosmologists suggest that our universe rose from the ashes of an earlier cosmos which collapsed in a ‘Big Crunch’. For Hindus it may sound like a Pralaya kala or end of a Yuga.
Another take on the implications of quantum mechanics talks of Many-Worlds, into which the universe splits each time you make a measurement of a quantum particle. Our universe itself could be a part of a multitude of universes, some of them arising out of exponential expansion of space-time. The many-world interpretation of quantum mechanics also involves the existence countless universes, parallel to our own, and interacting to generate quantum phenomena.

 

I will end this blog by quoting the following form the book:
“Put simply our concepts Reality, Relativity, Causality, Free-will, Space and Time, all of them cannot be right at the same time. But which ones are wrong?”
“Obtaining a solid theoretical foundation for quantum theory has eluded scientists for more than century. But the above six principles might be all it takes to make sense of it – and lead us to a Theory of Everything.”
Does a ‘Theory of Everything’ already exist in our Hindu Vedas? But even if it exists, who can read it, understand and interpret? Longer it takes less is the possibility.

Carnatic/Hindu Music

September 6, 2018

I have a Tamil book on Carnatic music bequeathed by my grandfather. This book was published in 1910, more than 100 years ago. The title of this Tamil book on Carnatic music is, yes, ‘Hindu Sangeetham’. So I am well within my rights to give the same title to my blog also. Most of my readers may be aware of the recent controversy of yet another attempt, by Christian Missionaries of India, to appropriate this essential Hindu culture of Carnatic music into their system with an obvious attempt at incentivised conversion. When I first heard of this controversy I did not believe Christian Missionaries will risk doing this. In all good intention I wrote to some of these Christian organisations a general appeal to reassure the Carnatic Music community of their respect for Hindus and their culture. But when I realised their true intentions, I wrote another appeal to some of the Carnatic Artists I happen to know, to resist these measures from Christian Missionaries. The above two appeals are given at the end of this blog. Subsequently, Sri T M Krishna, an artist whom I like and respect a lot, turned the whole issue upside down, perhaps, to serve his socio-political ideology. I started following TMK on his twitter handle.  I interacted with all in the conversation and I learnt there are several aspects to this controversy. But most of my tweets were not answered by T M Krishna. I am listing my reactions and my comments on major issues below, quoting my tweets wherever needed.

  1. What is wrong if we sing compositions on gods and icons of other Religions?

Nothing wrong at all, if such compositions are sung during the natural course of a concert. I have heard many singers do it and enjoyed the musical and other aspects of such compositions, including the melody, rhythm and emotion. But it should not lead to a situation where there is an obligation on every singer to do at least a few such compositions in every concert or otherwise he will be branded as manuvadi, brahminical or a sanghi, the usual attributes given to secular Hindu artists.

  1. T M Krishna promised to sing and release one song on Allah or Jesus every week. Why not?

If he is doing it on his own I appreciate his initiative, but why only at this point of time and why such a regularity of one song every week?

(I tweeted) I am afraid it will become obligatory on other artists to sing one such song in every concert (as otherwise the concert will be called communal?) which is not good for Music.  I do not think, TMK is doing it for evangelical purposes.

Sri. KVN used to sing Vedanayakam Pillai’s Krithis on Karthar very regularly in concerts, not for evangelical purpose, neither for obtaining the support of Christians.

If Carnatic Art music had not been secular in content, how come Kanimozhi(DMK) is able to enjoy these concerts on a regular basis?

No, I don’t think singing one or two compositions in concerts on other non-Hindu icons (like Buddha, Mahavir, Guru Gobind, Allah, Jesus, Ambedkar, Gandhi, Abdul Kalam or our Nation) is wrong.

My Tweet: 90% of Indian Christians are converted Hindus – may not mind & may even be proud to sing and listen to melodious songs on Hindu Gods.

  1. Then why this hue and cry, when Aruns/Arunas sing krithis on Jesus?

My Tweet: Hue and cry is not about singing Christian Carnatic songs. Done 100 years back. But why an event of only Christian songs, and who sings & why. It depends on who is arranging and why? You saw OS Arun wearing the cross while singing? Will TMK do it and back to Thirumann for Vishnu!!

Is it secular to do it? It was obvious that here is an attempt to propagate Christianity through Carnatic music, than to propagate Carnatic music through Christianity. This is simply a cultural appropriation.

  1. How do you say this is a cultural appropriation?

You may all be aware of Churches celebrating their religious festivals with all types of Hindu customs, like Dwjasthamba, Abhisheka, Archana, Procession and Rathotsavam. If it had stopped with that may be Hindus would not have objected. But now they have Yesu Suprabhatm, Christhu Bhujangam, Jesus Sashti Kavacham and Mary Ashototram. And I hear they also have Yesu Rudram, Yesu Suktham, Yesu Upanishad etc. Tomorrow they may pay Rs 100,000 (from the funds of Christian missionaries abroad) to any Brahmasri Rama Subramania Ganapadigal (with full support of T M Krishna) and ask him to recite these mantras (and play them) at Churches. Is this not cultural appropriation and propaganda?

My Tweet: What is done is not to promote music thru’ Christ but to promote Christ thru’ music. Let them first accept it. TMK et al shouldn’t support this.

  1. Haven’t the brahmins appropriated this music from lower castes?

My tweet: “Dravidian movement alienated Carnatic Music from other communities. Want to unfollow everything brahmins follow. M.K. himself was of music caste”. This remained as one of the top tweets in @TMKrishna handle for almost a week with 1500 viewers. 

All carnatic musicians respect Thevarams as the first ever scripted musical pieces available in the whole world. Tamil Panns are the precursors for many modern day ragas. They are aware of silappdikaram and its documentation and grammar of performing arts of those times including Music. Even with all these historical facts, the Dravidian movement disowned their own music. Though late Sri M Karunanidhi, the doyen of Dravidian Movement is himself from a musical community of Isai Vellalars, he was tragically instrumental in alienating other non-brahmin communities from this music and calling Brahmins as non-dravidians. Brahmins continued to invest their quality time, efforts and resources to keep this tradition of music alive. As more and more Isai Vellalars and Oduvars have dropped out of learning and practicing their musical tradition, Brahmins took up the job of preserving it. Even today many conservative Brahmin families do not allow their talented and trained girl children to perform concerts in public. As performers from traditional music communities dropped out, these talented Brahmin youngsters were reluctantly permitted to perform. Oduvar tradition in Hindu Temple was discouraged by the same Dravidian rulers. When Archakas are getting paltry sums as compensation, how will Oduvars get anything reasonable?

Brahmins did not appropriate carnatic music. It was abandoned by other communities; Brahmins are investing their time, efforts and resources keeping the tradition alive. Even today it is the Brahmins who are mainly saving our music traditions and fighting the appropriation by a foreign Christian culture.

And it is not easy. Aruna Sayeeram struggled for 30 years before she became a front line performing artist at the age of 50. She is now 70 as she gains the title of Sangeetha Kalanidhi from Music Academy. Brinda Manickavasagam, a non-brahmin was very lucky to come into prominence early in her life. Of course she richly deserves her place with her rich and effortless singing. Once you gain a place among celebrities, still you have to struggle to retain your rankings. They earn paltry sums, compared to film music singers under A R Rehman or Ilaya Raja.

My Tweet: other communities allowed the Brahmins to dominate in what’s essentially their art. Now they avoid it saying it is brahminical. What a pity!

  1. Why Titles and recognition are given only to Brahmin artists?

When others have disowned this music, what else do you expect? Till 10 years back a lot of non Brahmin artists received many awards. Tamil Isai Sangam is now finding it difficult to find non-brahmin Tamil artists for awards. I heard the organisers of Thirugnana Sambandhar Vizha In Mylapore lamenting that they have no way than to take the cooperation of Brahmin community to find artists and audience for this festival. Othuvar community has been bankrupted and impoverished by successive Dravidian governments’ anti-Hindu policy. Where are Madurai Somu’s, Namagiripettais, Pazhani Subramania Pillais, T M Thygarajans?

  1. Why Tamil songs are not given prominence in concerts?

This art was founded and developed by Dravidians. Purnadaradasa, the Bhishma Pitamaha of Carnatic Music, a non-brahmin, is from Karnataka region of Dravida Nadu. Almost all his compositions are in Kannada.  St Thygaraja was a Telugu composer from Tamil Nadu. Swati Tirunal was from Kerala and mainly composed in Sanskrit. Muthiah Bhagavatar is a Tamil Composer from Mysore Durbar. Tamil Moovar are Tamil Composers of Pre-Trinity period (Mutthu Thandavar, Marimuttha Pillai, Arunachala Kavirayar). We all know about Papanasam Sivan a 100% Tamil composer of Mylapore. All musicians from Dravida Nadu, i.e., Andhra, Telengana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are learning compositions of all Dravidian languages including Tamil. Only then they can perform all over South India and India, including cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Trivandrum, Bangalore and Hyderabad, not counting Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta. They select compositions according to the mix of the expected audience, their own mood and choice. Do you know that Tamil Brahmins recite Kanda Sashti Kavacham more often than Vedas, Abirami Andhadi more often than Lalita Sahasranamam? I hope other communities will not disown these great works also like they have done with their music.

  1. Are not the Brahmins biggest manuvadis and communalist and deserve all the mud being thrown on them?

Please be aware that MANU is not a Brahmin and neither Tamil Saint Thiruvalluvar was a Brahmin. In those days Brahmins were a respected community and hence they got the prominence. Atrocities being committed on dalits, now and in the last century, were not only by Brahmins, and neither had they the sanction of Manu Smrithi. Presently all the atrocities on Dalits are by other upper caste non-brahmins, and habitual Brahmin-haters know it. They are diverting this blame to Brahmins for political reasons and thereby degrading both the Dalits and the Brahmins . And who are these singers performing for Christians? Almost all of them are Brahmins and you call them communalists. I appeal to all Hindus, especially dalits to care for Brahmins who are safeguarding Hinduism and its cultural traditions from decay, appropriation and possible extinction. As writer Jeyamohan says “Brahmins are small in number and hence they are defenceless. They are surrounded by a social behaviour in which, insulting them is considered a social duty.”

  1. Why do you think Carnatic music is in the domain of Hindu Culture

Make no mistake. Carnatic Music is Hindu Music. It is not like Hindustani music which was influenced by Mughal invaders and it has no lyrical importance. Rik Veda is montonic on ‘sa’. Yajur Veda is 3-toned Ni-Sa-Ri and Sama Veda is 5-toned Da-Ni-Sa-Ri-Ga. Ma-Pa were introduced later as 4/3 & 3/2 ratios for consonance with Sa of both octaves. All music system of the world followed the same. Carnatic Music is the original Hindu/Indian music which is the mother music for all other music. We still have 22-sruthi system as described in 4th-century-BC scripts of Bharata Muni and Tamil epic Silapadikaram. Others have diluted this to a 12-sruti (equi-tempered) System. Being secular does not mean forgetting our culture.

Again, Chanda Sastra of ancient Hindus have developed prosody and meters for recitations; such as, Anushtup Chanda for Sahasranama, Gaythri Chanda for gayathri mantra, and a complicated chanda for Bhujangam. Christians have composed recitations using these chandas, Yesu Sahasranama, Jesus Gaythri, Christ Bhujangam.

I have a question for the so-called secularists – if the music being of Hindu origin stops you from enjoying the same, what kind of a secularist you are? – If the music being followed heavily by Brahmins stops you from following it, what kind of caste-free attitude you have?

My Tweet: Carnatic Music had originated from Hindu thought and remained that way. Hinduism was not forcibly introduced as being done now by Christians

  1. But Carnatic music still remains Elitist. Why?

What do you mean by elitist?

Do you think it is only for the rich? Annual income of 90% of followers of carnatic music will be much less than Rs 8 Lacs, the official limit for creamy layer among BCs of our society accepted by all the Social-Justice Activists

Do you think it is only for people living in bungalows in posh localities? 90% of listeners live in 1 or 2 bedroom apartment blocks in typical middle class areas

Do you think it is only for car owners? 90% of listeners come to the concerts by share Autos, Buses or two wheelers.

Do you think these concerts cost a lot of money? Minimum Tickets are less than Rs 100 and many of the concerts are free. Compare this with a concert by SP Balasubramanian or AR Rehman where the minimum ticket is Rs 500 to Rs 1000.

Do you think the Carnatic Artist are Elites? They are all from middle income group

Do you think Music teachers are elites? Most of them are well trained musicians who unfortunately failed to make it to the top of the popularity chart, either because of lack of sponsors or due to family responsibilities.

Then why is this, ‘Elitist’ impression?  What irks these so-called social-justicians, is the fact that 90% of the carnatic music listeners and organisers are Brahmins. Carnatic music practitioners and followers know very well that this music cannot become as popular as folk music, pop music or film music. Most of the artists are so highly talented they could have easily shifted to any of the above formats where their chances of success could have been higher. But they chose to remain as carnatic artists basically to save this Dravidian traditional music for the future generations.

The fact is there are countless opportunities for anybody to learn and practice carnatic music. If you are against any brahmin teacher there are many non-brahmin experts available in all cities. There are carnatic music department available in Anna University teaching many students. There is a dedicated Govt Karnatik Music College in Chennai. Kalakshetra is a secular organisation involved in training students in dance and music. Social-justicians, like TMK and others, may campaign for and sponsor non-brahmin and non-hindu students, so that they throng these courses in big numbers.

The following were my initial reactions in this controversy

My appeal to all the people involved in this controversy

I have heard Sri KVN singing in his regular concerts, to predominantly Hindu audiences, excellent Krithis of Vidwan Vedanayakam Pillai on “Karthar”, the Jesus. I have also seen many Christians attending Carnatic vocal concerts, where songs predominantly on Hindu gods were sung. We have seen many Christian artists singing and playing in Carnatic music concerts, including Sri Jesudas, Sri Jose (on Viola) and Sri Higgins Bhagavatar. But then, where is the problem?

None of the above secular rasikas and artists were concerned or interested in religious propaganda conversion. They were truly secular in that they practiced their religion without minding   the religion practiced by their listeners. But the situation has changed a bit in the last 20 years, since a dominant political party of India and the government fell in the hands of a catholic foreigner. Though she became a ‘secular’ Indian, it has not stopped the political back biters in pandering to (apparently) please her, by encouraging conversions and promoting Catholics to prominence. It even encouraged some people to Hindu-bashing to attract the attention of the so called secularists. This has led to expected reaction from Hindus, some of them even violent. The present regime, which is trying to check such tendencies, is not very successful. On the contrary the Hindu elements have started over reacting. The opposition is trying to exploit this situation by further encouraging Christians and other minorities with their appeasement policies. This is resulting in religious polarization, caused by whom, l leave it to your guess and opinion.

Now let us come to this Yesuvin Sangama Sangeetham: Here is a need to unite our Tamil and Dravidian community. (Dravidam = Tamil+ Telugu + Kannada + Malayalam + others).

  1. Let the Yesu program organisers announce publicly: “We have great respect for Hindus and their music composers. We are not for propaganda or conversion. This is just our efforts to promote Carnatic music among all communities”
  2. Let them say “The selected artists are allowed to sing songs of all religions Hindus, Buddhist, Chiristians and Islam”
  3. Let them openly declare that any artist not convinced about this, may withdraw without any financial or contractual constraints.

If organisers are adamant in refusing to do the above, then, they share the blame in polarizing Tamil/Darvidian communities.

Hope good senses prevail on both sides.

My appeal to all the Carnatic Artists

இசை என்பது பல வகையானது. நுண்ணிசை, மெல்லிசை, சேர்ந்திசை, நாடக/நாட்டிய இசை, இறைஇசை, படை இசை என்று பல விதங்கள். எல்லாமே இசை தான். எல்லாவற்றிற்கும், ராகம், இசைவு, தாளம், பாடல், மேலும் உணர்வுகள் தான் அடிப்படை. இருப்பினும், இசைகள் வேறுபடுவது இவற்றில் எதற்கு அதிக முக்கியத்வம் தருவது என்பதில் தான். மாதிரிக்கு சேர்ந்திசையில் இசைவுக்கும், இறை இசையில் பாடல் மற்றும் உணர்வுக்கும், படை இசையில் தாளம் மற்றும் உணர்வுக்கும் முக்கியத்வம். நுண்ணிசையில், ராகத்தோடு இவை எல்லாவற்றுக்குமே முக்கியத்வம் உண்டு.

நுண்ணிசை, மெல்லிசை இரண்டுமே மத சார்பற்றவை. அனைத்து மதத்தினரும் கேட்டு ரசிக்கலாம், இசைக்கலாம். இறை இசை அப்படி அல்ல. அந்த அந்த மதத்தினர் தான் முழுமையாக ஈடுபட்டு ரசிக்கமுடியும். இசைப்போரும் அந்த மதத்தை சேர்ந்தவராகவோ அல்லது பெரிதும் மதிப்பவராக இருக்கவேண்டும்.

இறை இசையை நுண்ணிசை போல பாடலாம். ஆனால் நுண்ணிசையை முழுவதும் இறை இசையாகவே மாற்றிவிடக்கூடாது. அப்படி இல்லாமல் இருப்பதால்தான் கனிமொழி போன்ற நாஸ்திகர்களும் கர்நாடக நுண்ணிசையை ரசிக்கிறார்கள். அவர் நிச்சியமாக இறை இசையை விரும்பமாட்டார். (அவர் ஏன் இந்த கிறித்தவ இறை இசை நிகழ்ச்சியை ஆதரித்தார் என்று தெரியவில்லை).

நமது திராவிட கர்நாடக இசை ராகங்களை இந்த எல்லா இசை வடிவங்களுக்கும் பயன்படுத்துகிறார்கள். இனிமை கருதி சற்றே இலக்கணம் மீறியும் இசைக்கிறார்கள். நுண்ணிசையாளர்கள் அதைச் செய்ய தயங்குவார்கள். பல தேச பக்தி பாடல்கள், ராகங்களில் மெட்டமைத்து பாடப்படுகின்றன. ஒரு பாகிஸ்தானிய தேச பக்தி பாடலை இந்திய கலைஞர்கள் பாடுவதை நாம் ஒத்துகொள்வோமா?

ஆனால் ஒரு இந்து மதத்தை சேர்ந்த ஒரு கலைஞர் மற்ற மத பாடல்களை பாடுவதை நாம் ஏற்றுகொள்கிறோம், அது ஒன்றிரண்டாக இருக்கும்வரை. அதுவே ஒரு மதப்பிரச்சாரமாக, பல பாடல்களை பாடுவதற்கு, அவர்கள் ஒரு கிறித்தவ கலைஞரை பாடவைத்தால் இன்னும் கூட உணர்சசி பூர்வமாக பாடுவார்கள் அல்லவா? முன் காலங்களில் திருமதி ஜிக்கி அவர்கள் பாடிய “எல்லாம் ஏசுவே”, “எனை ஆளும் மேரி மாதா” போன்ற பாடல்களை இன்னும் அனைவராலும் ரசிக்கமுடிகிறது. இல்லையா?

இன்று என்ன நடந்திருக்கிறது? பெயர் பெற்ற நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களை வைத்து அவர்களை இயேசு இறை இசையை பாடவைத்திருக்கிறர்கள். அவர்கள் இறை இசை பாடகர்களே அல்ல. பணத்திற்காகவும் நட்பிற்காகவுமே பாடியிருப்பார்கள். இதைச் சிலுவை அணிந்து வீடியோ காட்சிகளாக வேறு. இது முழுக்க முழுக்க அவர்களின் ஜனரஞ்சகத்தை (popularity) மதப் பிரச்சாரத்திற்கு பயன் படுத்தியதாகத்தான் தோன்றுகிறது. இந்த மறைமுக நோக்கம் நமது நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களுக்கு தெரியவில்லையா, என்ன?

நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களே, உங்களுக்கு பெயரும் புகழும் யாரால் வந்தது என்பதை மறக்கலாமா? சிந்தியுங்கள்.

Gid’s Gift of Carnatic Music

Finally here are just a few words for Carnatic Music Artists, Organisers and listeners. Do not allow these aberrations to affect your enthusiasm for our Dravidian Carnatic Music. It is a great tradition. By following this tradition of music you will never become a fundamentalist, or Manuvadi or a Sanghi. These are all epithets used by political activists and they are not social activists as they claim to be. Sqaure-up your shoulders, keep your head high and be proud that you are bestowed by God, with this precious gift of Carnatic Music. You may even wear a T-shirt with words printed boldly “Rasika of Carnatic Music”.

“Entharo Mahanubhavulu Antariki Vandanamu”

(Many are the great souls, to all of them our salutations)

Graceful Aging

July 26, 2018

(Following is a summary of my talk to my ex-classmates of IISc, Bangalore, in the golden reunion, Swarna Sammilana, of the class of 1967, held during December 2017.)

Time and tide stops for none. We have gone through our times – good, bad and ugly. Now we have reached a stage where we have no obligations to anybody, no regret of anything and nothing much to prove. This is the stage where we need to age gracefully.

We need to take care of three important aspects of our life to be able to enjoy the time left with us as of today. They are: our health, our wealth and our dignity.

HEALTH

Health is primary requirement for our happiness. 50% of our health complaints originate due to our age. As our body ages all parts of our body struggles to keep up to their routine. We develop age related deficiencies such as Hernia, Cataract, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar etc. Mind you, these are not deceases; these are just the results of aging. They become deceases when we neglect them.

Another 30% of our health problems are due to our life styles – like sedate life, bad food habits, lack of sleep etc. Another 10% of our complaints originate from emotional and psychosomatic reasons – arising from spouse and partners, from parents and children, from in-laws and out-law’s and from one’s own self assumed failures. Finally it leaves only 10% of all health problems, coming perhaps out of genetic reasons and/or unexplained stroke of bad luck – which you have to just accept and undergo medical attention and treatment.

For a graceful and happy aging, just attend to the normal aging problems like Hernia, Cataract etc well in time. BP can be easily controlled and managed by effective medicines and by changing your life style and food habits. Do not also worry about your cardio vascular deficiencies too much. It is normal at old age for the arteries to thicken and there are effective drugs to keep this process under safe levels. With a good routine of exercises and healthy food even blood sugar can be controlled with the limited use of drugs. These are definitely not life-threatening.

We have a dilemma when we respond to our body reactions – when we should see a doctor and when we should not? If you have a family doctor, he knows your body well and generally he gives proper advice. Otherwise, it is left to us to decide when to approach a doctor and which doctor. In these days of specialisation, general physicians have become a rare commodity. It is always best to have the first approach to the same doctor every time as he will know our health history better. Another dilemma we have – when to involve others close to us in our health issues? It is good to keep your spouse aware of all your health problems and also for you to be aware of your spouse’s. Involving others should be done selectively and judiciously.

WEALTH

We have had the best of our career in our chosen profession and have earned and saved enough wealth to take care of ourselves and our dependents. We should have proper financial planning which should include apart from our own day to day living expenses, our enjoyment and charity and also to cover contingencies of accident and medical expenses. Most of us who have retired from private services may not have pensions, pay revisions and medical coverage and hence should go in for Medical Insurance. These days such medical insurance policies have become very expensive especially for people above 70 years. If you have already supported your children to be educated and get settled in life, there is no need to leave any legacy specifically for them to inherit. In fact many of our children say openly, not to save anything for their future which they are confident, they will take care of. Still if you think you can spare some of your wealth for gifting to them, better do it now, so that you can feel happy to see them get the benefits of your legacy. After such gifts to them, you will also feel free of your responsibility and enjoy the rest of your wealth on your own. This is the time for involving your spouse in all your financial planning, if you have not doen already. Ladies, please, take interest in the finances of your family together, at least for the sake your husband’s peace of mind. One of us partners will have to leave first and the other one will have to manage alone for the rest of the time.  Better make a will to leave your children with good mutual affection. Involve a neutral third party if felt needed. You have earned enough and, ‘NOW’ is the time to enjoy your wealth, when you are physically able-enough. If not now, when?

DIGNITY

If you take good care of your Health and Wealth, your Dignity is generally assured. When you are together with your spouse, each can take care of other’s dignity. But when you become single at some point of time, you should take particular care of your dignity and self-respect. It is better to prepare for such an eventuality from now itself.

In whosoever care you are in (or planning to be in), you should always try to be of some help to them and get as less dependent on them as possible for your daily routines. You should always accept the changing times and should not impose your values on them.

GENERAL

There are several ways to enjoy your life without much financial, physical or mental strain. Try to update yourself with latest trends in fashion, food habits. Always have something to do: A hobby or something close to your heart. You may learn a game or a language. Keep your friendships alive. Read books. You may try and contact your old classmates or your long lost cousin. Attend marriages of children of your relatives, friends and neighbours. Enjoy your food. Have any food you like – but less often if it does not suit you. Do yoga, walking or some physical exercise for atleast 30 minutes a day. Get spiritual  (not necessarily relegious) and do meditate often.  Keep all your physical aids in good condition – like Hearing aids, Spectacles, Walking Sticks. Keep all your routine medicines easily accessible. Try and keep a diary and maintain to-do-lists even for your daily activities. Keep company with as many youngsters as possible.

Wishing you all senior citizens a very happy retired life with your spouse, care taker, relatives and friends. Let us all age gracefully, with good health, adequate wealth and enhanced dignity. Bye for now.

The Shrine of Death – By Divya Kumar

July 24, 2018

 

A Book Review

 

Shrine of Death

The Shrine of Death 
Kumar, Divya; Paperback (331 pp)
Published by Bloomsbury India (2018)

 

Congratulations to Divya Kumar for her first ever novel, (really?). The narration is so smooth and natural it is hard to believe it is her first novel. The suspense and mystery is maintained till the very end. Set in locales of Chennai city, the mood of the comparatively slow paced city is brought out well in dialogues. The professional and private lifestyle of neo-liberated women of India is well reflected in the narration. It was nice to know some of the historical perspectives of sculptures of Chola period. The mystery of the concerned sculptures is maintained well throughout. However, as a reader, one feels, some more intrigues could have been built into this mystery to kindle further interest in the topic, and perhaps, to enhance the scope for a sequel. One could have also used a few pictures to show an ancient Temple and with a few bronze idols of Chola period. The novel gains good momentum, after about 80 pages, when the super cop Gerard Ratnaraj appears on the scene. The linking of disappearance of a fiery young historian, Sneha, to the idol theft could also have been brought out more dramatically. Occult powers of Jai and the circumstances which led to the revelation of such powers in him are quite interesting and could have even been developed as a strong second track. Flashback of Prabha could have been given more elaborately. Tamil accented language is used quite effectively to bring out the respective characters alive. Overall it was a good read and augurs well for Divya’s progress as a story teller. CONGRATS, Divya!

 

L V Nagarajan

23 July 2018

 

 

 

 

Innovative Ideas 10, 11, 12 and 13

July 21, 2018

In my first write-up under “Innovative Ideas”, I have proposed how Electric cars can be made affordable by making Batteries as replaceable like Gas cylinders for domestic use. Then in the 2nd write-up “Innovative Ideas 2, 3, 4 and 5”, I have proposed an elevator system with helical rails, a Number Lock with increased security, a Room Air Conditioner with a cool box and lastly, a Gym Charger. In the third write-up  “Innovative Ideas 6, 7, 8, and 9”, I have given my innovative ideas for improvement of passenger convenience in the vast Railways network of India. I hvae already sent them to our efficient Railway Minister Mr. Piyush Goel. You may see these ideas elsewhere in my Blogs. In the present write-up, the 4th in the series, I have given my ideas in several different areas benefitting the citizens in general.

Idea 10 – Elections Eligibility Test (EET)

We are all very much concerned about the quality of candidates contesting various elections and the quality of elected people to Parliament, Assemblies and Local Bodies. My suggestion to improve the situation will be to devise an Elections Eligibility Test (EET). Taking this test may be made voluntary initially. Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) may devise such tests for different levels of governance. (more…)

Adik Maas in Luni-Solar Calendars of India

June 10, 2018

I am not sure how many of my readers are aware that we are in the 13th month of the Hindu luni-solar calendar. Though this is only the third month of this current Hindu Luni-Solar calendar, this month (from 16th May 2018 to 13th June 2018) is an extra month, called Adik-Jyeshta, and eventually we will have 13 months during this year in this luni-solar Hindu calendar. From 14th June 2018, we will have the 4th month of Luni-Solar Vilambi year and it will be called as Nija-Jyeshta. The current luni-solar year will range from on 18th March 2018 to 6th April 2019 (i.e. totally 384 days).  The names of the 13 months of current Vilambi year are:

Chaitra, Vaisaka, Adik-Jyeshta, Nija-Jyeshta, Ashada, Sravana, Bhadrapada, Aasvina, Karthika, Margasira, Pausha, Magha, Phalguna.

But why 13 months and 384 days are in this year? We are all aware that lunar months are based on the lunar cycle of 29.53 days between two new moons. An ‘Amanta’ lunar month ends on the new moon day and a new month begins on the next day. (Ama-anta: Ending in Amavasya, the New moon). Hence normally the lunar year will be of 354 days. This is 11 days short of a normal solar year. Hence, to synchronise with Solar year, approximately every third year an extra month (adik Maas) of 29.53 days is added making a year of 384 days. On an average, Adik Maas (or extra month) comes once in 2 years and 8.5 months. A lunar month is given the same name as the solar month in which the new moon occurs signalling the end of the lunar month. Since a solar month is generally of 30 days or more, there are occasions when two new moons occur within a solar month, one at the start and the other at the end. This results in the particular solar year having 13 new moons, instead of normal 12. This accounts for the 13th month or Adik-Maas (extra month). The lunar month starting on the first new moon of this solar month is designated as Adik-Maas with the same name as the next month with an adjective ‘Adik’ or extra. The next lunar month starting after 2nd new moon of the solar month, will also  have the same name, but with adjective ‘Nija’ or real.

During the current solar year of Vilambi, you may observe two new moon days in the second solar month of Vaikasi, (Rishaba or Vaisaka), one on 1st of Vaisaka (15th May 2018) and another one on 30th of Vaisaka (13th June 2018). Hence we have two months of Jyeshta named as Adik-Jyeshta, Nija-Jyeshta. Adik-Jyeshta Amavsasya is occurring in Solar month of Vaisaka itself as extra amavasya, and Nija-Jyeshta  Amavsaya, in Aani, Mithuna or Jyeshta Maasa. Please refer Tamil ‘Pambu’ Panchangam.

Similarly, a few of the shorter solar months of 29 days, (as in Margazhi, Paush and Magh), may, very rarely, not have any new moon at all. Such a solar month is known as ‘Kshaya maas’ or defective month. When this happens there will generally be two Adik maases, one in the month prior to, and another in the month subsequent to kshaya Maas. If Paush happens to be kshaya maas, then Kartika and Phalgun will have two Amavasyas each. Then the sequence will be, Adik Kartika, Nija-Kartika, Margasira, Magh, Adik-Phalgun, Nija-Phalgun. Lunar month of Paush will not exist at all and the year still having 13 months.

I have discussed only about Luni-Solar ‘Amanta’ calendar widely followed in South India and Maharashtra. A major variation of this is known as “Purnimanta calendars”, (purnima-anta: ending in Pournami, Full moon), which are followed in most of the Hindi belt in North India. It generally follows the same principle, including the names of the months. Following is an interesting point to note. Purnimanta months are named after the star that is brightest and closest to the moon, on the full moon day. Amanta calendar also adopted the same names.  Same names were adopted by the Solar system also, in addition to the names of the zodiac. In fact Kerala still go by Rasi names only for the solar months.

In the appendix, I have given a list of Regional Varieties of the Indian Calendars, as given by Helmer Aslaksen and Akshay Regulagedda.

The Government of India set up a committee to reform our calendars in 1955 with the renowned physicist Meghnad Saha as its chairman. The committee recommended, among other things, that the Indian Solar year should start on March 22, the vernal equinox, and the first month should be called Chaitra. It was adopted, with a lot of fanfare, as The Indian National Calendar known as ‘Saka Varsh’ in 1957. But the Union Govt under Sri Jawahar Lal Nehru failed to respect the existing system which was also based on scientific observations and principles. Our existing almanacs were described as “encyclopaedia of errors, superstitions and half truths”. Hence Saka calendar failed to take off. (Satyam Bhruyat, Priyam Bhruyat !!!) Even the current universal Gregorian calendar proposed in 1582 CE got adopted by England only in 1752 CE. But then, it was proposed by Pope Gregory, not by any Govt order.

Ref:

  1. Tamil Pambu Panchngam – விளம்பி வருஷ வாக்கிய பஞ்சாங்கம்
  2. Regional Varieties of the Indain Calendars –http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/calendar/indian_regional.html
  3. Names of the Months in the Indian Calendars   http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/calendar/indian_months.html
  4. Medieval mistake – by Biman Nath :FRONTLINE, Vol. 25 – 06 : Mar. 15-28, 2008;    http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2506/stories/20080328250610000.html

Appendix:

From: http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/calendar/indian_regional.html

Regional Varieties of the Indian Calendars

 by:  Helmer Aslaksen and Akshay Regulagedda

State   Calendar   New Year
Andhra Pradesh   Southern amanta   One day after the last new Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Goa   Southern amanta   One day after the last new Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Karnataka   Southern amanta   One day after the last new Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Maharashtra   Southern amanta   One day after the last new Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Gujarat   Western amanta   One day after Deepavali
Gujarat – Kathiawar   Western amanta   Ashaadha S 1
Bihar   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Chattisgarh   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Delhi   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Haryana   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Himachal Pradesh   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Jammu and Kashmir   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Jharkhand   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Madhya Pradesh   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Uttaranchal   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Uttar Pradesh   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Rajasthan   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Punjab   Purnimanta   One day after the last full Moon before the Mesha samkranti
Punjab – Nanakshahi   (Solar) Sidereal; fixed relative to Gregorian calendar   14th March
Tamil Nadu   Solar   The Mesha samkranti
Kerala   Solar   Simha samkranti
Orissa   Solar   The Mesha samkranti
Assam   Solar   Solar day after the Mesha samkranti
Tripura   Solar   Solar day after the Mesha samkranti
West Bengal   Solar   Solar day after the Mesha samkranti

Note: The table is exhaustive neither in terms of calendars nor in terms of states. Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim were left out.

 

 

Innovative Ideas 6, 7, 8 and 9

May 2, 2018

Ideas for Indian Railways

In my earlier write-up under “Innovative Ideas”, I have proposed how Electric cars can be made affordable by making Batteries as replaceable like Gas cylinders for domestic use. Then in the 2nd write-up I have proposed an Elevator System with helical rails, a Number Lock  with increased security, a Room Air Conditioner with a cool box and lastly, a Gym Charger. You may see these ideas elsewhere in my Blogs. In the present write-up, the third in the series, I am giving my innovative ideas for the improvement of passenger convenience in our vast Railways network in India. I hope to send this to our efficient Railway Minister Mr. Piyush Goel.

6.0 Railway Reservation

In India, Railways is one of the most preferred and popular mode of travel between cities and towns. Since it is the most energy efficient mode of mass transport, the Indian Government is rightly giving high importance to this and offering a lot of incentives to promote its use. For the last few years I am observing a very disturbing trend which results in considerable inconvenience to genuine travelers and a loss of revenue for Railways. The amount of last-day-cancellations is on the increase. For example, last December I was travelling from Bengaluru to Chennai by morning Shatabdi express. I was wait-listed and my reservation was confirmed only late on the previous day of my travel. When I came to the train, I found our carriage was almost 2/3rd empty. I thought it may get filled up at the next Bengaluru Cantonment Station. But it still remained half-empty. When I enquired with a co-passenger, he said this is the normal occupancy or slightly less on the particular day. It is apparently due to multiple bookings or safety bookings, mainly by software engineers travelling very frequently between Chennai and Bengaluru. They book multiple tickets 3 months in advance by default, and as the travel day approaches they review their need to travel and cancel the trip with minimum loss. Since the seats become vacant in the last moments, there are no takers, who are ready to travel at such short notice. This happens almost in all express trains between cities causing, as told earlier, considerable inconvenience to genuine travelers and a loss of revenue for Railways. There is very simple solution as suggested below:

Booking Window:

  • Open only 30% of seats for reservation 3 months or 90 days, in advance of travel date
  • Open the next 30% of seats (+ unsold tickets of earlier quota) for reservation 60 days in advance of travel date
  • Open the next 30% of seats (+ unsold tickets of earlier quotas) for reservation 30 days in advance of travel date
  • Last 10% will be the Tatkal quota to be opened only 3 days in advance of travel date

You may compare this with the present practice of opening all the 90% at one stroke 90 days in advance. On very popular and crowded routes the 90% quota will be exhausted in the first 2 or 3 days. Any genuine traveler, who plans his journey, even 8o days in advance, will have to wait for 77 days before going for Tatkal booking. This will force him to think of other modes of transport.

Cancelling Window:

  • Anyone who cancels his reservation within 30 days of his booking, or 30 days in advance of his travel date, whichever is earlier, will get 100% refund including reservation charges. Only a nominal service charge of Rs 10 or so could be billed to him.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 29 days and 15 days in advance of his travel date will get 100% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 14 days and 5 days in advance of his travel date will get 75% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 4 days and 3 hours in advance of his travel date/time will get 50% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 3 hours in advance of his travel date or a few minutes after departure of train, will get only 25% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Any cancellation later than the above windows will get refunds at the discretion of Railway Superintendent of the respective stations.
  • After such cancellations as above, the vacated bookings should be allotted to the next passengers in the waiting list immediately at every stage, so that they have adequate time to prepare for their travel.

You may again compare this with present practice. Now even if somebody knows well enough that he will not be travelling on the booked date, he waits upto72 hours before departure of the train before cancelling the tickets. Resale of this ticket in such a short notice will not happen and eventually Railway loses a customer. With computerized booking, such intelligent choices are very easy and efficient to implement.

Hope Indian Railways considers my suggestion as above.

7.0 Bridging Platforms:

In Indian Railways, recently they have realized the tremendous advantages of double discharge platforms on either side of the train. Such double discharge platforms are being implemented in all major railway stations and terminuses. The idea of double discharge platforms relieves the passengers with the stress of deciding which side, to be ready with the luggage, to disembark from the train. Another stress for the travelling public is to crossover to the exit of the stations, or to another platform for catching a connecting train, using over bridges or under passes. With several luggages and along with family and kids it is always stressful. Here is my idea to improve this situation:

  • Provide retractable bridges between the platforms over the railway lines at three places across the length of the platform – at both ends and in the middle.
  • The bridges can be retracted as the train arrives at (or runs through) the particular track with required safety features like interlocked signaling, bells, lamps and whistles.
  • This may not be practicable in very busy stations with frequent arrival of trains. In such stations escalators and elevators are a must.

This will greatly avoid the risk of fatalities occurring during illegal line-crossing which happens too frequently in India.

8.0 Train Toilet – 1

There are many problems with toilets in train: Cleanliness, Wetness, convenience, washing facilities, safety grips etc. In addition when the trains are halted in a station, yard or on a loop-line, use of toilets makes the station more dirty, unhealthy and unsightly. Of course there is a notice of request to the passengers not to use the toilets when the train is halted at stations. But the rule is rarely adhered to. Here is a solution at least for the last mentioned problem.

  • Toilets should be prevented from usage when the train is not moving,
  • To do this we may use an intelligent movement sensor to be interlocked with the toilet latch
  • When the train slows down to a very low speed, preparatory to halting, the movement sensor will lock the latch to prevent opening from outside. Anyone using the toilet will be able to open the latch from inside to let himself out. But as he closes the door, the latch will again get interlocked with the movement sensor.
  • As the train picks up speed, the latch will get decoupled from the interlock and get released for opening from outside.
  • The maintenance staff can be provided with a special key to open the toilet even when interlocked, for cleaning and maintenance.

9.0 Train Toilet – 2

All 2-Tier, 3–Tier and Chair-car carriages have totally 4 toilets, 2 each at the respective two ends. It may be better to convert 2 of them (one each from either end, into one male and one female urinal). Urinals are more frequently used, easier to clean and require less space, by accommodating both urinals in the space of one toilet. It will make it easier to keep the toilets clean.

However one major problem is with the solid refuse of the toilets. In most of the trains these toilets discharge waste through an opening, onto the track area itself. This corrodes the track fittings and risks the hygiene of track workers and inspectors. Here is my solution to this problem:

  • It could be better to compact the solid refuse in the under carriage of the train itself.
  • These compacted solid refuse stored in exchangeable drums can be replaced as a part of train cleaning and maintenance process at the terminal stations, or even in a designated cleaning stopovers en-route.
  • These drums of solid refuse can be used as bio-fuel and fertilizer for various applications
  • For safety of conservancy workers, we may automate the process suitably, (eg) auto-sealing of the waste drums as they remove them, integrated cleaning sprays for the toilet discharge area etc.

I Hope these ideas get considered seriously enough. They may be suitably engineered to increase the passenger convenience and safety many fold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tamil – Class: 5 / Teaching Tamil Through English

April 9, 2018

Class-5

Generally people ask a question, “Why should we learn Tamil?”  In my younger days I asked a similar question, “Why should I learn Sanskrit?” But I was forced to learn Sanskrit, being born as a Brahmin. In my native state of Tamil Nadu, India, Sanskrit is looked up on as a sign of Brahmanism and hence there was not much encouragement. Even in Schools, facility for learning this language was very minimal and insufficient. Hence I had to drop the option of learning this language at some stage. But now I regret I have not learnt a language which contains most of ancient Indian knowledge of Science, Philosophy and Religion. Tamil is also an equally ancient Indian language with a rich treasure of Literature, Science and Cultural History. It is a source of one of the ancient medical practice called Sidda System of Medicines, totally encoded in verses of mystical poetry. With the knowledge of Tamil as a classical language decaying all over, now it needs a learned interpreter to understand and use this system safely. In my younger days in my village, I have heard these verses being recited by our family Native-Physician (Nattu Marutthuvar – நாட்டு மருத்துவர்).  Luckily the present Indian Government is encouraging the knowledge of native Sciences and Technologies, and hence, facilities for study and practice of this system are taken up seriously.

When you know Tamil as a spoken language, it is only a small step to learn the same to read, write and teach the youngsters the great language of Tamil.

We have seen in the earlier 4 classes in this series, the Alphabets, pronunciations, a few words and a brief history of Tamil Language. Now let us proceed to CLASS – 5.

Let us now make a few simple sentence

1. Un(nudaiya) peyar enna? – En peyar Tara

உன்(னுடைய) பெயர் என்ன? – என்(னுடைய) பெயர் தாரா.

What is your Name? – My Name is Tara

2. Idhu yaar? – Idhu en(nudaiya) appa

இது யார்? – இது என்(னுடைய) அப்பா.

Who is this? – This is my father

3. Un amma engey? – En amma veetil irukkiraar

உன் அம்மா எங்கே? – என் அம்மா வீட்டில் இருக்கிறார்.

Where is your mother? – My mother is at home

4. IvaL un thangaiya? – Illai, IvaL en Akka, Mili.

இவள் உன் தங்கையா? – இல்லை, இவள் என் அக்கா, மிலி.

Is she your younger sister? – No, she is my elder sister, Mili.

(Peyar– பெயர்- Name,  Appa- அப்பா-Father,

Amma– அம்மா- Mother, Veedu – வீடு – Home,

Thangai – தங்கை – younger sister, Akka – அக்கா – elder sister,

Illai – இல்லை – No)

 

Now let us learn a few famous poetic expressions in Tamil

Name of the poet is also given.

  • OnRe Kulam, Ourvane Devan – Tirumular

ஒன்றே குலம், ஒருவனே தேவன். – திருமூலர்

(There exists) Only one Community and only one God

  • Annalum NOkkinAn avaLum NOkkinAL – Kavi Chakravarthi Kambar

அண்ணலும் நோக்கினான், அவளும் நோக்கினாள்.

– கவிச்சக்கரவர்த்தி கம்பர்

He glanced at her, and, She returned the glance

  • Chinnan chiru KiLiye, KannammA, Selva Kalanjiyame! –

– Maha Kavi Subramania Bharathiyar

சின்னஞ்சிறு கிளியே, கண்ணம்மா, செல்வக் களஞ்சியமே

– மஹா கவி சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதி

Oh pretty little Parrot, Kannamma (Darling)!

Oh the store house of my prosperity!

  • Tamizhukkum amudhenRu pe(y)r – Kavignar Bhrathi Dasan

தமிழுக்கும் அமுது என்று பேர் – கவிஞர் பாரதிதாசன்

Nectar is also the name for Tamil Language (of same sweetness)

  • KuRai Onrum Illai MaRai Murthy Kanna, MuRai onRum illai Govinda – Rajaji

குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை, மறை மூர்த்தி கண்ணா

முறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை, கோவிந்தா – ராஜாஜி

No Wants at all Krishna, the lord of all scriptures

 (and, no) not even one complaint, Govinda! (the God)

  • KAlangaliL avaL vasantham, Kalaigalile aval Oviyam –

– Kaviarasu Kannadasan

காலங்களில் அவள் வசந்தம், கலைகளிலே அவள் ஓவியம்

                                                     – கவியரசு கண்ணதாசன்

Among seasons, she is (like) Spring;

Among arts she is (like a) Painting.

  • Kannukku Mai Azhagu, Kavithaikku Poi azhagu –

Kavignar Vairamuthu

கண்ணுக்கு மை அழகு, கவிதைக்கு பொய் அழகு

கவிஞர் வைரமுத்து

Eye shades – beauty to the eye(s);

Lie adds beauty to the poetry.

 

Let us learn a few typical phrases in Tamil

கிட்டத்தட்ட – Kitta-tthatta – Approximately

ஏறத்தாழ     –  ERa-ththAzha – More or less

குத்துமதிப்பாக – kutthu mathippAga – as a rough estimate

சுமாரா – sumAra – fairly (close to)

Now a few words with twin syllables:

பளபள – paLa paLa – Shining

சிலுசிலு – Silu Silu – Very Cold

விடுவிடு – vidu vidu – double fast

வழுவழு – vazhu vazhu – Slippery

Just before closing this lesson, let me give you some sentences using a few of the above words:

1. அவனுடைய சம்பளம்  கிட்டத்தட்ட மாதம் ரூபாய் நூறாயிரம்.

Avanudaiya sambaLam kitta thatta mAdham rupai noorAiyiram

His salary will be approximately Rs 100,000 per month

2. அவனுடைய எடை சுமாரா எண்பது கிலோ இருக்கும்

Avanudaiya edai sumArA eNpathu kilo irukkum

His weight may be fairly close to Eighty Kgs

3. சிலுசிலு என்று காற்று வீசுகிறது.

silu silu endru KAtru veesukirathu

Very cold wind is blowing

4. பார்த்து, தரை வழுவழுப்பாக இருக்கிறது

pArthtu, tharai vazhu vazhuppaga irukkirathu

Look out, The floor is slippery.

We come to the end of Lesson 5. In lesson 6 we will try a paragraph of Tamil Text. We will also learn some more useful words.

 

 

Indian Educational Reforms

March 30, 2018

In two recent issues of Times of India dated early March 2018, two reports caught my concern about the need for Educational Reforms in India, which I had already suggested as a citizen’s feedback to Modi Govt. way back in June 2014.

1.    The first news report is an interview with Romesh Wadhwani, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, who has worked for over a decade on promoting entrepreneurship and skilling in India through the Wadhwani Foundation. To quote him, “there’s a huge amount of work to be done in terms of job creation and job fulfilment. They are linked. The absence of skilled labour translates into the failure of companies to create jobs, because they can’t find skilled labour. So, they don’t invest in a new factory. I think supply creates its own demand if it is sufficiently skilled.”

He further says “If you think of skilling needs, they would fall into three buckets”. They are:

a. The base of the skilling pyramid; employability skills: which will include; the ability to communicate, some level of digital literacy, some level of project management, awareness of customer focus, self-directing and supervising one or two other people.

b. Sector and Domain skills; Provided by formal and informal training provided by Govt and private institutions on different industrial sectors and domains like, carpentry, masonry, Electricals, foundry, fabrication etc.

c. Last mile skilling; These are the skills required for a specific industrial and business process of the employer. This should be provided by the employer himself.

2.    The second news report by Times of India was from Tamil Nadu. As per the report there were 2 million applicants for the exam conducted across the state on February 11 by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), seeking to fill 9,500 posts of typists, Village Administrative officers (VAO) and stenographers. Out of this 2 million applicants, there were 992 PhD holders, 23 thousand MPhil holders, 250 thousand post-graduates, while the qualification required was only a Class X pass.

The clamour for Govt. job is understandable with its large scope for inefficiency, non-accountability and corruption, associated with enormous benefits of salary and pension; but why would they get educated so much for a routine job which requires only class X pass. The main reason is, despite their education, the skill levels of most of them are so poor, they are not employable in any other industrial or business sectors. It is such an enormous waste of our educational infrastructure. Eventually, this educational system does not even produce teachers with acceptable levels of teaching skills, which contributes to further decay of educational infrastructure and skill levels of our youngsters.

Though all these facts are known to our Human Resource managers of Govt., Private and other Educational institutions, they hardly did anything about this, especially in the last 25 years. When the present BJP Govt. under our PM Modi took over in 2014, I had a sent to PM’s office a note, giving 10 areas where the new administration should concentrate. One of those areas was “Educational Reforms”.

I am extracting below from my write-up, dated June 2014 as a part of my blog.

https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/suggestions-for-indian-govt-led-by-shri-modi/

I wrote:

Basically, there are four purposes of formal education: a) Literacy, b) Jobs, c) Professional Skills and d) Knowledge and Research. Let us see them in detail:

a) Literacy: It generally means ‘knowing to read and write’. But in the present days, it means more, like computer literacy, literacy with numbers, etc. One should have basic knowledge to deal with one’s own life as independently as possible. Everyone should have basic knowledge of banking, finance, health and hygiene and such other things. The syllabus should also include, Citizenship Training, Physical Training (Yoga), and Moral Science. This basic education should be achieved within the elementary/secondary school stage. This education is a must for all and we should aim for 100% ‘literacy’ in this sense. Hence such elementary/secondary schooling should be mass-based and should be very in-expensive, if not totally free, with incentives like mid-day meals etc.

b) Education for Jobs: The existing system of education introduced by British rulers serves this very well. At the end of this education, students are ready for taking up jobs, mainly clerical. They fill the need for support staff in any organization. With on-the-job training, some of them are able to rise further in their carrier. But still, depending on the type of business of the organization, their lack of professional skills sometimes lead to lack of passion in the process. Still we need these people, lots of them, in any organization. These are generally people who complete their high schools or preliminary college education. Many high schools will be required in every small towns and districts. Even night schools for self employed pupils will be necessary. If the school education is done purposefully, college education may not always be necessary for these kind of jobs. For those who have the initiative for learning more and improving their carrier, part-time college education should also be made available

c) Professional Skills: Professional skills may be imported at different stages as listed below:

  • Those who have completed the ‘Literacy’ level education may branch off to skilled trades depending on their aptitude and family tradition. For example a jeweler’s son, if he wants to inherit his family trade, he may take up training on jewelry. Same thing with carpentry etc. But the training on these trades should be more formalized than just being hereditary. There should be authorized tradesman-ship certification, to enable them to commence their trade in any place. This is not to establish caste-based trades. On the contrary this kind of training and education will break this caste based trade systems, as anyone interested can take up this trade after proper training and certification. Can you think of a caste based electricians? Have you seen anybody asking for a certified mason or a plumber? Even if we look for some certified carpenter can we get one? No is the answer for all. Authorized Industrial Training Institutes established in every municipal area can offer such certified short-term courses. We can involve experienced traditional tradesmen also in this teaching process to teach some of their traditional skills. These certificate holders will fill the basic needs of many house-holders and other small business groups. Such training institutes should be establishes in every taluk either by local govt.’s or by authorized private parties.
  • Those who have completed high school may branch off to professional diploma courses in advanced areas such as fabrication, forging and foundries, assembly of machines, manufacturing of spare parts in different areas of engineering. 3-year Diploma courses as existing in the present day Polytechnic Institutes would very well fill this need. These students will also have opportunities open for higher professional education and training. Such polytechnics should be established in every district in several specialized areas.
  • Those who have completed high school with merit and wants to go for higher education may opt for professional degree courses. In these courses proper scientific, engineering, commercial or administrative education will be offered with some specialization in the final years of this 4-year course. On completion of this professional degree course, the student should be able to join any major scientific engineering, commercial or public service establishments and assist them in all their professional activities with minimum training. After some experience they may even establish themselves, on their own, in their chosen professio

d) Education for Knowledge and research: Very few of the students have the ability and aptitude for higher learning and research. Instead of taking up higher courses just as a routine (or just as an alternative, till one finds a job), only students with an academic bent of mind should take up higher degrees such as Masters and Doctorates. Here again, some students may branch off to academics after some experience in the industry. Herein, the learning and research is important, than equipping yourself for a job. In addition to above formal education streams, the corporate employers should have facilities for deputing some of their employees for targeted courses and educational workshops conducted by professional institutes. Corporate companies can be considered for tax-breaks for the expenses incurred by them for these purposes.

The teachers and educationalists among my readers may please reflect on these issues, discuss with their compatriots and make every effort to improve the situation in education and skilling. Only such action will improve overall employment situation in India. After all even making and selling pakodas would require some skills.