Gang of 6...

This blog belongs to 6 ex COE students of NSIT... Though, now, we are all in separate places, studying or working, we hope to remain in touch with each other lest we forget the great time we had back in college. This blog is an attempt to achieve the same. Here's to us...!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Yo! the emperor is here

never to late eh?...hehe! finally got an invitation to the bloody blog!!...thanks john!!!i joined in 2006! yipeee!...cya around folks!

Chrstmas tidings..

Sorry for not keeping you guys posted...here's some news on my Italian Christmas: I had been invited over by a third-year Mathematical Engineering (even he is not sure what that is:) student at Politecnico, to his home for Christmas Eve dinner and then the Vigil mass at a nearby church. Davide's family was very happy to have me over, and there was lots of familiar bantering and leg-pulling (his grandparents and cousins' family were there as well). One of his cousins(Gabriele) had spent 6 months in Australia, and so naturally we ended up discussing the worth of the latest Bollywood potboilers and British sitcoms. I was surprised to find a very well-stocked library - Asimov, Clarke, Clancy, Ludlum..all the latest fiction/fantasy bestsellers..and all in Italian! In fact, I have been generally surprised to see the kind of preference Italians (and all Europeans, I think) have for their mother tongue. Understand, of course, that I come from a second-generation Malayali family settled in Delhi - and hence butcher both Malayalam and Hindi when I try speaking them(ok, Hindi not so much). But, in general, it is rather interesting to contrast an Italian 's thinking vis-a-vis English to the Indian's - it's almost as though we have no national pride! But, as I explain to others (and console myself) here as regards the general Indian facility for English - we do have good historical reasons for the choice of English. But, still, it would be nice to see young people in India love and use Hindi (or their respective mother tongues) as the Italians do their italiano.
Anyway, enough language politics. And what should I say about the food - lots of courses(all kinds of meats I don't recall now), and the Italians do seem to love their desserts more than Bengalis. Apart from the Pannetone(a typical Milanese Christmas cake), we had candied chestnuts, tarts, and what-not-else.
After the dinner, we went for midnight mass at a nearby church(apparently, no matter where you live in Milan, there would be a church within 5 minutes walking distance). Even though I could follow little of the Italian Mass, it was quite the only link I could find with an Indian Christmas; do you know I have yet to sing a single
carol!
On Christmas day itself, another friend, Luca Bergamaschi(3rd year student of Medicine) picked me up from the flat for lunch at his place. Here also, the family was quite happy to have me over. In general, people here have very little idea about India. They know it's huge, and has lots of (poor) people, but little else.
So I got questions like - Why do you speak English? Do they speak Hindi all over India? Why are Indians so good at IT?I hope I gave all of these nice people a good first impression of India (Summarised answer to all: We Indians are all trilingual, adept in English and abstract thinking:)

And on the 26th night, Marcello and Stefano(vice-directors of the residence) returned to Torrescalla(the name of the place where I am staying). So, now I am back in main residence - till they officially reopen the student residence in Jan, when I'll have to move back to the flat for lack of room here. Other students are coming back as well these days- right now, we have Arcen(Cote D'Ivorean), Marco(Peruvian) and Roberto(Italian studying in Paris) here. Nowadays, I just spend all day in front of my comp, following up on my Masters' applications.

We have all meals together - who had known one could tire of meat everyday! - where Snappo (= Stefano Neopolitano!) tries to force English down everyone's throats(while my Italian remains pathetic, I am quite sure everyone here would have near-perfect command of English idioms by the end of Feb:) So, generally, I am having a nice lazy
vacation - at least till Univ reopens...and what are you guys up to?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

batao..

Blogger's notice: " Your new version of Blogger is ready!

The new version of Blogger now has all the original features you're used to, plus new post labels, drag-and-drop template editing, and privacy controls. And, it's a lot more reliable.

After you switch you'll need to sign in with your Google Account, but your blogs will stay the same. Their content and layout will not change. "

Should i do it???

Friday, December 15, 2006

Gandhi, Ahinsa, and Britishers

The other day, I was watching the movie 'Gandhi' yet again, and it got me thinking (kabhi kabhi yeh kaam bhi karna chaheye) and confused (yet again).

The confusion part:
I find the British policies/behavior in their colonies very confusing. On one hand they were colonizing nations; enslaving generations; killing, imprisoning people as they wished; basically doing whatever they wanted. On the other hand they followed the prevailing law; wouldn't arrest/kill Gandhi even when its obvious that he is a danger to the British rule; have trials whose outcome everyone knows, like the Bhagat Singh case, when they could have simply shot the 3 'terrorists'.
Now what do you call this type of behavior: hypocrisy, sanctimoniousness, self-righteousness, or outright foolishness?

The thinking part:
Well, I cant express this till the above confusion is cleared, as I am not too clear on what I am thinking.

keep posting guys.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Discrimination

Some interesting arguments made.. I'll give a different take - take the fundamental biological and anthropological view - discrimination is reqd. for the success and well being of the human species and for that matter animals as well. Females discriminate between different males on the basis of some parameters which she wants her offspring to inherit and vice versa for males as well. Deep down inside is that primal instinct to discriminate.

Where discrimination goes wrong is when a group of people decide that their offspring will inherit their rights and property - this breeds incompetence and laziness which slows human progress ( caste system did this in india). We can probably learn frm animals here - there is no sense of inheritance in any animal species. The parents raise their young and then they r on their own. Whether they succeed or not depends on their hard work and genes and not dad's old bank balance. One view is that we some of us humans are guilty of doin more than our fair share in life - building huge empires and concentrating resources and money in few hands - this breeds inheritance and thus discrimiantion on the basis of inheritance.

I believe where discrimination creates the prb is wen the basis for it is applied in situations where they r not applicable - in todays globalized and free society everyone is capable of everything. The tech. and science revolution of the past 500 years has nt led to any evolution of the brains of any particular sub-species of humans. An African is no less a student than a European. Even differences like atheletic ability are been re-dressed. Chinese and Japanese have showed Asians can win Athletic events like sprint races and swimming competitions.

The point is that with globalized lifestyles the discrimination is lessening. because of similarities in cultures lifestyles and up-bringing etc. humans every where have the same platform to launch from in life and they demand to be treated equally. We thus use merit to discriminate these people then.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Benvenuto a Milano!

Rats Galore

(I hope that was correct!)

I reached Milan safe and (mostly:) sound today. The flight was fairly comfortable(though the food was crappy) I had to reach the student residence where I am staying myself from the airport, but it wasn't much of a problem. The place is great - I get a single room, and net access and everything. ANd I will be going to the university on Monday, and meet my guide etc. Until then, I am free to do what I will! So today, in the evening for example, I am going to see a bit more of Milan, than what I managed on the train from the airport and then the Metro. More about these later..gotta go now!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

discrimination, dosent have to be negative always

the majority of people are always wrong, and (ironically) the majority of people also believe so.
I guess, everyone has different views so for a particular person the majority is always wrong.

Anyways, according to Webster's dictionary discrimination means the ability to percieve distinctions. So why is discrimination always taken in a negative sense? If a person from 'upper' caste dosent like people from 'lower' caste, its fine, everyone is not supposed to like everyone. But if a person from 'upper' caste dosent like people from 'lower' caste and causes harm to them, its not accecptable.

Besides all this, I just cant understand why would there be no discrimination, I mean there are over 6 billion human beings, each one different from the other; men are different from women, a Hindu is different from a Muslim, an Indian is different from a European... there are so many differences. Intelligence is one of them.AG, what you did was perfectly reasonable, its your time and energy that you would have put in and you didnt want to spend it with someone whom you thought was not up to the mark. If you call this discrimination then the whole education system is discriminating.

The problem is that there are differences but people want to think there are none. Women want to be equal to men, but the fact is both are different, neither is superior or inferior to other, just different. You call a black person a blacki or something, he will be offended, but why should he, a white dosent feel bad when referred to as a whitie. Thats the color of their skin, the truth. It should be a problem when these differences make people harm one another, but here the problem is not the differences but people themselves. Differences should be cherished, not despised. Diversity is what nature intended and without it the world would be pretty boring.

Socialism is based on the premise that everyone is equal, and hence socialism failed, something based on an invalid premise can't possibly succeed!!

capital punishment

I dont know if we, human beings, have a right to send another human being to the gallows. But what I know is that we should do something only if its useful. So the question arises what purpose does capital punishment serve? Is it there only for retribution or is it a sufficient deterrence for future criminals?

Capital punishment just for retribution... I dont know.
And is it a sufficient deterrence... I dont think so. One can say that there are two kinds of criminals who get or ought to get capital punishment. Firstly, there are terrorists, gangsters, professional killers, drug lords etc, i.e. their lives are at risk anyway. Secondly, there are rapists, killers, communalists, politicians like Saddam etc, i.e. the risk to their lives is not so much.

For the first category, if losing one's life was a deterrence, one would change professions.
For the second category, the question arises whether a 30-40 yr prison term or say a life term is a bigger deterrence than capital punishment or not? Now this is debatable, as Gaurav would say a prison term gives one a chance to live, but on the otherhand a 30-40 yr prison term destroys one's life.... again I dont know.

Looking from a different perspective, if people who actually perform the executions feel no guilt, there should be no problems with concept of capital punishment. However, if they have feelings of guilt, then capital punishment must be abolished. I mean what's the harm in doing something if no one feels bad, and what's the point in doing something if one feels guilty about it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What is right and what is wrong? Who decides? In an ideal world, an individual should be able to dictate his/her own choice of morals. But of course, we don't live in an ideal world.

So is discrimination wrong? Society says so. Then again, what degree and what basis of discrimination are we talking about here? Discrimination on the basis of superficial and general identities that humans have created for themseleves such as caste, colour, race, religion etc. is certainly wrong in this world. But what do you really think? Do you think that it is wrong to treat somebody unfavourably just because he/she is seemingly less intelligent that you are?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Discrimination - a sin??

Continuing with what I had been talking about with Madhav and Gauri... Is being discriminative always bad?? I routinely find myself feeling a bit superior to other (less-advantaged) ppl. Is it a bad thing to have this feeling?? Irrespective of the reason??

For instance, take the time when some guy had asked me to work on a project with him. (for the record, u guys don't know him..). I plainly refused. Why?? Just because I thought ki that guy just wasn't good enough to work with. Now, I didn't think about it at the moment. But now, in retrospect, it seems as if that was just the kind of discrimination champu was talking about.. "Meritocracy".. I looked up the word at wiki and found quite a lot. Among the things I discovered was the fact that Singapore is a self-confessed meritocratic state. If anybody is unfamiliar with this word, let me help you. Meritocracy is a system(usually of a government) that is based on demonstration of merit and talent and not the power that one yields. Such a system proposes to be free of all kinds of cronyism, and lackeys pestering the ones with the power. That should sufficently help us get along for the moment. Otherwise, well, wiki is not going anywher anytime soon... ;)

So, as I was saying, I was left wondering whether that refusal along with the countless other similar things I must have done sometime or the other, make me a bad person! Or, perhaps, a person unft for this society. Because as aptly mentioned by mad and gauri (again), the reference point to judge you standpoint is always the society you live in. Either you try and fit in with the views of the society, you try to compromise, or you rebel and are termed an outcast. Or as I said earlier, a varying degree of a psycopath. But, what if the society is wrong all together. What if some people do realise that everything is going all wrong, and who would be the one to judge that these "rebels" are indeed correct??

Take my eariler example. Meritocracy. Aren't we essentially discriminating against people who are less apt in using their brains than we are? What parameters do we use for such a judgement? Because, throughout my life, there is atleast one thing that I have learnt. That the majority of people are always wrong, and (ironically) the majority of people also believe so. I'll leave it to you to figure out what I mean. Take this Manu Sharma incident. The one where Ram Jethmalani stepped in to save this kin of some powerful stalwart or smthng. (It's the Jessica Lal case, ain't it??) We, (and by we, I mean the media) have already tried Mr. Manu Sharma and convicted him finding him guilty on all counts. But wait, did we know any any, and i mean ANY, of the intricacies of the case?? Or the Mohammed Afzal case?? Or take the biggest fish of the pond, Mr. Dawood I(E??)brahim himself. For years, we have heard that he is the biggest don. He's the one responsibel for a thousand crimes. Maybe, he is. In fact yeah, I think he is. But the point is simply this, who decides it?? Certainly not the court. If my memory serves me well, I'd say that it was us, the ppl of India who convicted him first.

But why?? Maybe because he killed a hundred people?? Or ordered them killed?? Or extorted a gazillion ultra-rich film stars?? or kidnapped their kids?? Yeah, I thnk he did all this?? Yeah, and I think that that is very wrong. But wait.. Pause.. Even Halt.. Why this sudden jump from stating that he kidnapped ppl(or whatever...) to calling him a criminal??

Our entire lives we have been conditioned to think this way. Links are what are sub-consciously formed in our minds between these things.
Steal -> Bad
Kidnap-> Bad
Beg -> Bad
Cheat -> Bad
Threaten -> Bad
Kill -> BAD

and just one more...

question the dogmas of the society.. -> BBBAAADDD!!!!

WHY?? We believe Mr. Dawood killed. Yeah, agreed. But whom did he kill?? Innocent people not in any way connected to him or whatever his cause might be. Yeah..

But is that really wrong?? Did we ever stop to question his reason for doing so?? Don't think that I am trying to condone this guy's actions. I am not. But, what was hi reason. We've all heard of Robin Hood. And how, he was, is and would probably always be treated as a hero. What differentiates him form Dawood?? Or for the killings, why is that any different from the Holy wars, where so many ppl were killed for so mindless a thing a stressing on the superiority of one religion over another (though indirectly, but still..). Did we ever, EVER try to find out?? I sure didn't. Can't say about u guys specifically. But ,I can assure you that if you did, you would be among the miniscule 0.001% of the population..

My point being, that we decide what is good and what is bad. It's like Black or white.. No other combination's possible.. But come on man.. U can't ever judge a perosn's absolute skill depending on just a few discrete factors. There are just too many things to look at.. Heck it all, even GOD doesn't ever discriminate amongst us. We all die, don't we? We all return to dust, don't we?? Then why all this discrimination. which brings me back to the moot point- Does my being discriminative - irrespective of the reason, as i mentioned before - make me a bad person??

The basis for discrimination could be anything -colour, looks, money, sex, something as mundane as marks, or something as (seemingly) equally profound as "intelligence". What is it?? How do we judge people?? From the level of happiness they spread or their efficiency at work. The proponents of ree market would have us believe that it is the latter that is more important than anything else. In fact, they would say that the two are nmutually exclusive. But, then these people would have us believe a lot of other useless crap too. What do you think?? Am I being too damn harsh on myself?? Or am I just plain stupid to even raise the question and this entire post serves no purpose whatsoever?? Whatever you might think, I would surely like to know...