Archive for March, 2012


Letters from a Young Indian


 

Letters from a young Indian

Dear Reader,

I am writing this letter to you on 8th of March; so first of all, happy womens day to you! No you don’t need one day in a year to celebrate womanhood, but this is more of a symbolic phenomenon really. An international effort made to recognize and appreciate everything that a woman is and can be. A day dedicated to every mother, daughter, sister and wife out there.

Womens day is about believing that women and men are equal. It is about empowering women. But reality check ? Honor killings, low level of literacy in women, growing sense of insecurity of girls in mixed schools due to various incidents of sexual abuse, malnutrition and poor health of a majority of women, high maternal mortality rate…we have a long way to go.  Statistics show that every hour a woman is raped in India and every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death due to dowry problem. Though the situation is better in cities, girls in rural areas still can’t go to school mainly because of poor economic condition.

Women

Educate One, Educate All

The lack of education is the root cause for many other problems. As Greg Mortensen says, ‘Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in the cities, but the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass on what they’ve learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls.’

 

There is a song called ‘Song of an African woman’ which goes like this :

I have only one request.

I do not ask for money

 Although I have need of it,

 I do not ask for meat . . .

 I have only one request,

 

 And all I ask is

 That you remove

 The road block

 From my path.

 

Beautiful, isn’t it ? 🙂

– By Nishiggandha Kerure.

Photography : Sally Peter.

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Politics of India is an unusually complex subject to analyse. What is not very difficult to analyse is what has gone wrong with it. Today, even the average Indian would say that Indian politics is flawed. He would blame it on corruption, criminalization, etc that now characterize politics. In a way, this is a very accurate assessment of the problem. However, I think that this is the result of the problem and not the problem itself. In my opinion the problem begins at the level of political parties.

Modern Indian history of the post-Independence era accounts the formation of most of the present-day regional and national parties. The Indian National Congress was formed in 1885, with the objective of seeking representation for Indians in the British Indian legislative bodies. Of course, the Congress ended up securing freedom for the country later. The Congress party of today, though, is not the same party that won us Independence. Regardless of what most Congress members like to tom-tom about, the current Congress party is not the party of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Kripalani. The party used to be a democratic party until 1967, when Indira Gandhi took over. She scrapped all the intra-party elections and placed her own loyalists in key posts. This is not all – she also formed a new party, the Congress (I), in which the ‘I’ stood for ‘Indira.’ Till date, there is no thriving internal democracy in the party.

The other major party, the Bharatiya Janata Party too was formed in the 1980s, as a new avatar of the Jana Sangh that was the major Right wing organization with a pro-Hindu ideology. The Jana Sangh was opposed to giving special treatment to minorities. Many other regional and national parties were born in the last century of which the table below gives a brief idea about why they were formed or what they believed in.

Party Founded in Objective/Belief
Shiv Sena 1966 To represent the aspirations of the Marathi-speaking population of Mumbai
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) 1949 To stand for Tamil pride and fuel secessionist demands for a South Indian Nation
Shiromani Akali Dal 1920 To unite the Sikhs of the Punjab region and to preserve Sikh ideology
Socialist Party 1948 To stand for the Socialist ideology
Communist Party of India 1921 To bring Communist rule in India and to bring reform to the old Indian agrarian system, etc along Communist lines

My point is that all these parties that were formed with an ideology – an objective in mind, are no more about that. No distinction can be made between parties on the basis of the principles, culture or belief of the organization. The truth is that parties have simply become outfits for people who want to be in power.

The BJP used to be a respected party during the Vajpayee-Advani era when the party had a set of beliefs. Unfortunately, they tilted towards a conservative or slightly orthodox approach. At least it was their own belief and they stood for it, come what may! The three Karnataka ministers who were caught watching porn in the Assembly were from the BJP. Had the party still been run on the principles of yore, these Ministers might have been suspended within a day. The same goes for Congress. The dignity of Congress party members during Prime Minister Nehru’s tenure is unmatched so far. Today, if the party leadership had any dignity it would not have allowed someone like P Chidambaram, who has so many allegations of compromising the country’s security (2G scam – spectrum re-sale to Dubai company, Etisalat) against him, to continue as Home Minister.

This is one reason that we see so many defections when an election is around. The belief of a political party is not set to much store as long as it’s giving the defector a ticket to contest. The Congress (or NCP) and the BJP (or Shiv Sena) have such diametrically different beliefs that it is funny to see someone from a saffron party to suddenly join the Congress or vice versa!

Why then are there so many parties? If there is no backbone of principle left for various outfits, wouldn’t it be convenient for them all to merge? Yes, it would. But that’s where the hunger for power in Indian politics continues to result in more and more organizations. The maximum number of divisions in political parties has been over who would become chief minister or who would get to lead the party. Hardly have parties been fractured over a disagreement over policy issues. To conclude, I would say that gone are the days for voters to pick parties. Party loyalties count for nothing as parties stand for nothing today! A wise voter must choose the best candidate, whichever party he may belong to. It doesn’t matter.
Akshay Marathe

(A Minerva M Writer)

You can read more articles at www.minerva-m.com

Great Expectations


I come home after an extra hour of cricket,

Panting and dead tired;

And stand outside our shanty kitchen,

Waiting to be fired!

“So here you are, you reckless git!”

My mother would hotly say.

And unfailingly fetch my books,

Be it night or day.

She would solemnly stare at the book,

While I recited verse after verse;

With a hug here, a kiss there,

And a scolding, to intersperse.

Then question after question would come,

Like bullets from a gun;

And a few hours would blissfully pass,

Until I was done.

When my books and I were finally spared,

She would grab her cloak and purse;

And rush to the neighbourhood hospital,

Where she worked as a part-time nurse.

She would not eat, she would not drink,

Until she paid my fee.

“My sonny will be a doctor one day”,

She would say with divine glee…

That was all she dreamt,

That was all she prayed,

That was all she expected-

Her son should be a doctor: very wise and well-read.

And so I did become a doctor,

(a great one indeed!)

But when I showed my mother my certificate,

She shyly said –

“Sonny, I cannot read.”

Divya Ganapathy
(A Minerva M Writer)
Read more articles at www.minerva-m.com



A few hundred million years after the Big Bang, the universe was a soup of ionized H (Hydrogen), He (Helium) and D (Deuterium) with trace amounts of Li (Lithium), B (Boron), Be (Beryllium) and H2 (molecular Hydrogen). With little amount of metal and H2, the conditions were far from ideal for star formation.

For star formation to begin, a sufficient amount of cold dense gas has to accumulate. But in the early universe, the primordial gas could not efficiently cool radiatively because atoms had excitation energies that were too high, and molecules, which had accessible rotational energies, were very rare and only trace amounts of molecular hydrogen (H2) were formed.

Under proper conditions, the formation of molecular hydrogen  allows the gas to cool. The cooling of the gas lead to thermal instability and a local density enhancement, which resulted in the fragmentation of the gas cloud. In the primordial gas clouds, the thermal instability took place at higher temperatures compared to leading to the formation of massive stars with mass of about 100 solar masses.

 

Primordial gas clouds undergo runaway collapse and forms a protostar when sufficient mass is accumulated at the centre. Then, the protostar starts to grow by accreting the surrounding gas to become a massive star. The ultimate mass of the star is determined by the mass of the cloud out of which it forms and by a number of feedback processes that occur during the evolution of the protostar.

The protostellar feedback processes affect the formation of primordial stars quite differently from the contemporary stars. First, primordial gas does not contain dust grains. As a result, radiative forces on the gas are much weaker. Second, the amplitudes of magnetic fields generated in the early Universe are so small that they never become dynamically significant in primordial star-forming gas. Magnetic fields have at least two important effects in contemporary star formation: they reduce the angular momentum of the gas out of which stars form, and they drive powerful outflows that disperse a significant fraction of the parent cloud. Third, primordial stars are much hotter than contemporary stars of the same mass, resulting in significantly greater ionizing luminosities.

The feedback processes affect the formation of individual stars also influence primordial star formation on large scales. The enormous fluxes of ionizing radiation and H2-dissociating Lyman–Werner radiation emitted by massive population III stars dramatically influence their surroundings, heating and ionizing the gas within a few kiloparsecs of the progenitor and destroying the H2 within a somewhat larger region. The effect of radiation from the first stars on their local surroundings has important implications for the numbers and types of population III stars that form. The photoheating of gas in the minihaloes hosting population III stars drives strong outflows, lowering the density of the gas in the minihaloes and delaying subsequent star formation by up to 100 Myr.

Abhinab Paul

(A Minerva M Writer)

Read more articles at www.minerva-m.com


Dear Reader,

I am really looking forward to it because new year means new resolutions, new dreams, new goals and a new beginning. The upcoming year has a lot to offer. We will have elections for the legislative assemblies of seven states. The 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games will be held in Innsbruck in January 2012. The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in London from 27 July to 12 August 2012. The city will also host the 2012 Summer Paralympics Games between 29 August and 9 September 2012. Both French and American presidential elections will happen in 2012; the results of which have an impact on billions of people.

It will be 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic disaster as well. The ship that took down about 1300 people with her, was indeed the pride of the modern world and the tragedy once again proved that man cannot defeat the force of the nature. They say that the world is going to end in December 2012. As Chuck Palahniuk  said, when did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat? It is time to think about our habits and actions and their consequences; before it is too late.

As a young Indian, I expect few things from 2012 too! I hope that the much-talked about Jan Lokpal bill is passed as soon as possible, thereby helping us fight corruption. I whole-heartedly support Mr. Anna Hazare and have no doubt that the old man’s efforts will pay off. Also, it is high time that Kasab is hanged. The government is only wasting its time and money by protecting him. Punishing him will surely send out the message that we Indians will not tolerate any attack against us.

There is also a need to clear the impeding court cases in India. There were 57225 pending matters as on November 2011 in supreme court only;  no one should have to wait for justice. If things start to change, hopefully it will also help us with the issue of brain drain.

To conclude, I would like to share with you all what Alexandre Dumas had wisely said : ” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”  So let the story of your life continue with minds without fear.

By Nishiggandha Kerure.

(A Minerva M Writer)

Read more articles at www.minerva-m.com


To All Indians,

“In India every entity is the Indian Parliament”. These words, spoken by my computer class professor made me think. In India it is not uncommon for people to have an opinion on everything. It does not matter whether you are hearing about a topic for the first time or you are doing your research on it, people act like they are the experts of everything. Well this is not true but you cannot stop people from talking can you? The hottest topic for debates and heated discussions in India is “Politics”. Everyone is interested in what our politicians are doing and everyone is busy cursing the politicians for their corrupt practices. What we fail to see is that this is not the first time a politician was corrupt or this is not the first time when the government has overlooked the general good of the public. Then why is it that everyone is talking about them only now?

The Battle against corruption has been going on since a long time, since the time of License Raj to be more specific. Then why is it that we Indians have never been able to form a dent in this ever-rising steel building of corruption in our country? The answer lays within us my friends; it is the Indian approach to every problem and situation. We have this mentality of “Comfort Zone” since a long time. If a problem does not concern us personally why bother? We can see this everywhere, how many times have we taken an initiative and helped a complete stranger? How many times do we go out of our way to do something for the greater good? I am not asking anyone to be heroes, all I am saying is that it is in our hands to do small stuff that may seem insignificant but plays a huge role when everything adds up. I would like to give you a simple example: Whenever we go out and buy a packet of chips, 2 times out of 10 that packet ends up in the dustbin. Now if everyone were to do this wouldn’t the packets add up? Even if we see that there is a dustbin 100 meters down the road, only a few would go out of their way and throw the packet into the bin.

Throwing trash into the bin is something that has been campaigned for a long time, yet I find myself finding at trash in all the wrong places (gutters, sewers, open land, water). Why is it that the message has not sunk in yet? Let us look at a bigger example, the most talked about person in India today Mr. Anna Hazare. This person achieved fame and recognition almost overnight. Some people call him the ‘Savior of India’ while some call him an ‘Attention Seeker’. To me he is none of those two; he is one of the few Indians who are ready to stand up for what he believes. Something that only a few of us know about Anna Hazare is that this is not the first time he is doing something for the county. Back in the 70’s his village Ralegaon Siddhi was facing severe drought. This one man was responsible for completely turning around the situation of the village. He introduced use of non-conventional energy resources like solar and wind power, installed proper sanitation means and turned a drought stricken Ralegaon Siddhi into India’s model village. Now we had our first modern village 25 years ago and yet it is so difficult to find the use of non-conventional energy sources in the current ‘Big Cities’ of India. The reason for all of this is the “Indian Comfort Zone”.

Just a couple of hours ago I saw this video on YouTube. The Finn Air flight to Delhi on 26th January our republic day was not like ordinary flights. Aboard the plane the Finn Airlines cabin crew stewards, air hostesses were dancing on ‘Om Shanti Om’ doing Bollywood steps wearing Salwar Kameez and extremely enjoying themselves. I could also see some people singing along with the song in Hindi. It made me think that if foreigners can show such interest and pride in our country why can’t we? Our Republic Day Parade is where our glorious army marches and our weapons are shown off to the world, but how many of us actually saw the parade. I did not see it but next year I will because it is time that we Indians become proud of what we have and decide that we need to change for the better. The line from Rang De Basanti is a classic” No Nation is perfect, it is the people who need to make it perfect”. It is high time we stand up and take a stand to correct our countries path. It is high time we stand up and take a stand and prevent selfish politicians to rule our country. It is high time we stand up and get out of our Comfort Zone and make a difference for our country.

Shail Vani

(A Minerva M Writer)

Read more articles at www.minerva-m.com

A million years later…


A million years ago or so,

when I first awoke,

For life on earth, I gladly saw,

a tiny glimpse of hope.

 

Long before I knew it myself,

Destiny smiled at me.

She blew life into every bud,

to every root and tree.

 

I watched it with a bated breath,

and I watched with mounting wonder;

As my new–born rival – the implacable rain,

arrived with servile thunder.

 

The naughty little ocean there,

deepest of deep blue;

Dancing with the rising tide,

its waves it caught and threw.

 

Casting them an angry look,

I threatened to disappear.

So then the day turned into night,

and their mirth, into fear.

 

Soon the plants turned into trees,

at a quickening pace.

The syrupy chirps of birds on them,

awaited my first rays.

 

The blossoms tempted everyone

from butterfly to bee;

The creepers held each others’ hands

with unfathomable glee.

 

But million years later it was time,

to see Time’s ugly face.

Nature’s destroyers had been born –

‘The Callous Human Race’.

 

The blue oceans, once full of zest,

are now pallid and tired.

The twining twigs are replaced by

black cables and thick wires.

 

Where my trees once soared to me,

now stand buildings in bliss.

But O shallow mankind, do you find

that innocence in their kiss?

 

O you ruthless heartless people,

Let the remaining sway!

They are my children, I nurtured them;

I cannot let them fade away.

 

– Divya. Ganapathy

(A Minerva M writer)

Read more articles at www.minerva-m.com


KONY 2012

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”-Jason Russell (Invisible Children)

This line personally moved me. I just finished watching the small film that was made by Invisible Children and I was left dumbfounded. I was shocked that I had never come across the name Joseph Kony before. What started 8 years ago as the fight of a group of men to save the people from the terror of Joseph Kony has culminated into a worldwide movement and struggle to find and catch the world’s number 1 terrorist as of now. The International Court has ranked Joseph Kony as the top priority to be indicted for his crimes including war crimes. For all those people who did not know about Joseph Kony here is how it all started:

8 years ago Jason Russell and his friends were in Uganda, where they came across this military camp in which hundreds of kids were sleeping. One of these kids was Jacob. The situation in Uganda was such that Joseph Kony had founded his LRA (Lord Resistance Army) around 26 years back from now. He would conduct raids and attack villages and abduct children. He would then force the children to kill their parents, torture them and then later make them join his army to help his fight in the civil war. The girls were abducted and were forced to become sex slaves. The situation was so bad that the people would not live in their villages, rather than sleeping peacefully in their homes they would sleep out in the ground amongst hundreds of other people just to have a little sense of security. While talking to Jacob, Jason was moved. Jacob had reached a point in his life when he did not want to live. In his own words he said, why should he live when everyday he has to be afraid of getting abducted and killing other people. His brother was killed just a few months back. Jacob was not alone; this was the situation of a lot of kids. 30,000 children have been the target of Joseph Kony, this is not a small number. When Jason heard this he decided that he would take some action and get help, so when he flew back to the states he went to the white house to approach the government. At that time they dismissed his requests for help by stating that it was not a matter that directly concerned the United States of America. He was not satisfied, he went ahead spread the word used the internet and did all he could. He conducted talks and told people about Kony. People started to come to know about Kony, they started taking part in the change. They helped out as much as they could. People went to Uganda helped the citizens out; they started fund raising campaigns to rebuild the destroyed towns and villages. This movement reached such a point that the campaign started receiving the attention of a lot of people. Schools were built, radio communication systems to pass alerts were installed. All the time Facebook was used as a medium to propagate their message.

Once Invisible Child was able to get a huge support they went to the Congressmen again. This time their strength was the game changer. The Congressmen agreed to the threat posed by Kony and the United States Government pledged their support in the fight against Kony. Since 2010 various senators and politicians across the world have stressed the importance of catching Kony on National Television. In 2011 US Army Troops were sent to Uganda to assist the army in the search for Kony.
The problem that arose then was that Kony came to know about the manhunt. He left Uganda and is currently underground. The search for Kony continues till now. To catch him we need everyone to understand and know who Joseph Kony is.

Invisible Child has started an amazing initiative Kony 2012 where they want this year to be the year Kony is caught in. This is no easy task since there is still half the world that does not know about him. It is the job of you and me and every citizen of the world to stand up and unite against this. I urge and request each and every one of you to go view the video by Invisible Child whose link is given below:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc
It is up to people like you and me to change the world. Jason Russell and Invisible Child have proven it to us that we can make a difference. We owe it to humanity to make a difference.

I pledge my support to Kony 2012 do you??

http://s3.amazonaws.com/kony2012/kony-4.html

Shail Vani
Check out other articles at www.minerva-m.com
PS: I do know a lot of you might already know this but this is my personal take on it and in India the awareness about this is minimal.

 

A new part: I read a lot of negative articles on Invisible Child and Kony 2012. There are a lot of articles going on the internet which say that the money you donate is a scam. Now when it comes to such a Big Charity there are going to be accusations. Now from what I see is that these people are fighting for a good cause. If you do not trust them then it is ok do not donate till your sure, but till then please spread the word. We cannot let Joseph Kony get away under any circumstances.Ill conclude by saying:

Invisible Child says contribute if you want to, if you dont want to its your choice they just ask you to share and spread the word. Thats all you do if you dont like Invisible Child then dont follow, them follow Joseph Kony after all thats who everyone is after.

Beauty


The beauty of nature surpasses any other beauty in this world,
Until I saw u and then felt who apsara really is,
Till then i believed it to be a myth.. But now its a mystery..
How i ever wonder u unravel that mystery with your tender beauty with such eternity,
Everything around u is so full of energy …energy to be free
energy to fly swiftly…energy to disclose your elegance…
And the remaining energy u spread is what i try to capture to describe u…
When your hands wave over the flowers in the garden ..i fell jealous of those …
For their luck to experience that subtle and ever gentle touch of yours…
Ever wondered why there is peace and calmness around u..
Ha..its because u live over there..
How i could express my constraint of expression to such a heavenly soul
With words that are just meant to people on the earth…
Our first meeting still runs over and around my mind ,
Which make my pals think i am a dreamer…yeah am a dreamer..
I am a dreamer who lives a world full of you..
Everything living,non living seems to gain beauty when i just remember your face..
Sometimes I feel like capturing u on my artificial eyes..
Then i realized that each click on this eye depicts a unique story of peace and serenity…
How i Just wonder u were born on this holy land and enchant me with ur beauty..
I keep looking for you..waiting for a glimpse of u..waiting for the waves of words to reach me..
and waiting for them dangle me…

The Dreamer

(A Minerva M Writer)

Read more at www.minerva-m.com


Dear Reader,

I write to you with so many emotions and feelings. I write to you to share my honest thoughts and opinions. I write to declare the values and ideas I firmly believe in. I write to tell you all about my hopes, dreams, aspirations and ambitions. I write to you about our country. I hope my writing makes you think at least, if you do not agree with me. I hope these letters make you reminisce the glorious past that we had. I hope they make you consider the current scenario around us. I hope they make you long for a change. I hope they make you believe that a bright future is possible for us, the nation of a billion. I hope my letters find you well and happy.

There are about 315 million young people aged 10 to 24 years in our India, representing 30 percent of the country’s population and I am proud to be one of them. But I see so many young adults around me, angry with the ineffective system, frustrated because of the helpless feeling, upset because they are discouraged and hence, negative about the possibility of any revolution happening. The news of several scams and scandals, like Commonwealth and Adarsh, are only disheartening and disappointing. The majority of the people do not have a faith in the government or any belief in the power given to them by the constitution of India. What can motivate the youngsters, who are the future of the nation, to take an initiative? The youth of our country is actually bubbling with great enthusiasm, innovative ideas and the burning desire to become an essential part of the change. They want to become top businessmen and entrepreneurs and rule the corporate world . They want to excel and become the champions in all sports. They dream of becoming stars in the world cinema. They wish to write the pieces which will not only spread joy but also help them speak up about the causes they are passionate about. They hope to become global leaders and inspire everyone around the globe to contribute the best to their capacity.

Take an example of Shaybat. This 11 year old learning in the school of an NGO wants to become a doctor, because “They save lives”. And the adorable Ashwini dreams of becoming the next Kalpana Chawla, because “She saw the stars” I am sure there are many Shaybats and Ashwinis around you, determined to do what they love and love what they do. I hope you recognize the potential in them and the importance they hold as the leaders of tomorrow.

Writing these letters has given me an incredible opportunity to connect with you and I am definitely using this platform to speak up about the things which matter. They were right when they told you that the country will change only when we change ourselves. If you are not okay with something, go ahead and make it better. We always have a choice and hence, choose to be the best. By working together, achieving greatness is not impossible. The time to act is now, so tomorrow we can proudly tell our future generations:

´We didn’t start the fire

No we didn’t light it,

But we tried to fight it.´-Billy Joel

Nishiggandha Kerure.
(A Minerva M writer)
Read more articles www.minerva-m.com