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Dear Reader,

I recently came to know about the incredible work Chhavi Rajawat is doing and wanted to share it with all of you. Chhavi, an MBA, is the sarpanch of the village Soda in rural Rajasthan. This youngest sarpanch of India is an alumni of the Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh, Mayo college girl’s school in Rajasthan and Lady Shri Ram college in Delhi. She was even called to speak at the 11th Info-Poverty World Conference held at the United Nations.

How often do we see highly educated individuals giving up their successful careers in corporate sector for social service? Today when brain drain has become so common that the united nations development programme (UNPD) estimates that India loses $2 billion every year because of the emigration of computer experts to the U.S. Indian students going abroad for their higher education cost India a foreign exchange outflow of $10 billion annually. Imagine the kind of development and progress possible if such vast resources were used effectively in the country; especially the rural areas!

The truth is we need more people like Chhavi Rajawat. Educated, non-corrupt and dedicated. So that kids in all the villages can get quality education and have a chance to shape their future. So that basic facilities like water and sanitation don’t just remain a dream for millions of Indians. So that problems like poverty, unemployment and hunger can be reduced. As Chhavi says in her message to the young Indians, ” Don’t run away from your roots because that is your foundation and the nation’s foundation too. If you want to make a difference, you have got to start at the bottom. There is so much one can do.”

I am inspired. Are you ? 🙂

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

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Interesting!

Minerva M has decided to post one Minerva Riddle of the day, as the days go by the toughness will increase. Till then enjoy this one

www.minerva-m.com


Are We Alone?

Are we truly Alone?

“The large-scale homogeneity of the universe makes it very difficult to believe that the structure of the universe is determined by anything as peripheral as some complicated molecular structure on a minor planet orbiting a very average star in the outer suburbs of a fairly typical galaxy.”
– Stephen Hawking

The universe is a pretty big place with about 80 billion galaxies and 10^24 stars. Humans have lived on this earth for millennia’s. We have always thought that are we the supreme beings in this cosmic junction are we the only sentinel beings in such a vast place. If it were only us wouldn’t it be an awful waste of space? I have always, as a child been interested at the enormity of our universe I have always wondered “are we alone?” We are just mere dust fleck in this vast cosmological sea. We are just a pale blue dot, the third rock from the sun lucky enough to sustain life.

We have heard of UFO sightings and of alien abductions all our life and we discard them as hokum or fun. We have all heard of little green men coming in ships to observe or annihilate us.

There have been numerous stories about contacts with extra-terrestrial life forms ranging from aliens abducting cattles to humans themselves. The most famous UFO incident ever dates back to July 8 1947 in place called Roswell, New Mexico. On that uneventful night a huge crash was sounded in the middle of the desert on the next day a huge army encampment was found and the headlines given by Walter Haut an army official read “RAAF captures Flying Saucer”, this led to huge hysteria among people.

At that place where the crash happened a farmer, W.W. “Mack” Brazel lived who saw what had crashed and he diatribe’s them as silvery-purple objects with certain humanoid forms inside. In the next week the army took back its statement saying that there weren’t any flying saucers but it was just a weather balloon.

Well there is another connection to Roswell incident and alien conspiracy theories and it is said that and secret US military base in the middle of the Mohave desert in Las Vegas Nevada called Area 51. It is said that the three alien life forms encountered at Roswell and the debris from the spaceship was taken to this site where it is till date being studied and deciphered. The movie independence day and the TV series 7 days even are based on such dogmas itself. Outside of area 51 a warning states that violent force will be used if anyone tries to enter within the radius of the facility and photography is strictly prohibited. The US Govt. denies that area 51 is even a base of operations.

Stephen Hawking believes that if ever we encounter alien life it won’t be better for humanity. If they travel so far from outer space they won’t go without making contact. Probably a civilization which is so developed to travel hundreds of light years, it could probably have expired its resources and plans to attack earth. It might be possible such an developed civilization can even annihilate us if it found us. For them we must be like vermins infesting a planet full of resources and nature’s bounty.

Some scientist believes that we don’t have to go looking for alien life in the far reaches of the universe; we might find it in our very own solar system. Our own neighbor Mars has shown the prospect of life; it still has frozen water, scientists believe that any number of bacteria or virus can live at the depths of mars craters. Although this life might be primitive but would surely qualify as extraterrestrial contact. Films like Mars Attacks and Andromeda strain to the classic book by HG Well War of the World have depicted as mars having life and its inhabitant’s invading us. Europa one of Jupiter’s moon has a 6 foot of frozen ice layer on its’ surface but inside has flowing water and scientists believe that maybe marine life might exist there and aphotic bioluminescent bacteria might exist there.

SETI search for extra-terrestrial intelligence was started by one scientist Frank Drake in around 1960 where he pointed all his auditory satellites up to look for outer audible signals and thus began an intensive search of space for electromagnetic radiation which are the best source if aliens contact us. Project Orion started by US deals solely with SETI and listening to outer space is heard.

The Wow! signal was a strong narrowband radio signal detected by Dr. Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977, while working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University. Delaware, Ohio.[1]The signal bore expected hallmarks of potential non-terrestrial and non-solar system origin. It lasted for the full 72-second duration that Big Ear observed it, but has not been detected again. The signal has been the subject of significant media attention. Scientists believe that WOW signal was of alien origin probably sent by an intelligent life form. . Only about 15% of the know space is known to us.

There is a famous quote from X – Files which I love that is “The truth is out there” these lines have a profound meaning just as CIA agent Fox Mulder passionately keeps on trying to find clues to extraterrestrial life forms in the same way humanity must itself keep on striving to find our cousins light years far away from here. And maybe then we could answer one of the question that haunts humanity from time immemorial and that “why are we here? And what is our purpose?”

By Ali Akbar
(A Minerva-M Writer)
Read more articles at www.minerva-m.com

Minerva M


Finally something that aptly describes us

We Are Minerva-M

This picture completely describes what Minerva M is trying to do.


Mumbai

Breaking News: New sect of people “Educated yet Uneducated!”

This is a sect of people who went to schools yet are uneducated! These are the people who read the importance of a clean environment still refuse to help clean the city. Not only the people who throw garbage everywhere except the bins, but also the people who don’t help in clean the garbage thrown formed the “Educated yet Uneducated” sect.

Mumbai city is a clear example! My college is 5 minutes from Marine Drive, the most beautiful place in Mumbai (supposedly). Today morning I went there, and guess what I found? GARBAGE! Yes poly bags, wrappers, cigarette packs, liquor bottles, and loads more! I walked around the area to find a patch of clean water but I couldn’t find so!

I see so many I-am-so-well-educated people throwing garbage on the road. The funny part is that it makes the dustbins the cleanest thing on the road! Why do they blame the government officials for the unclean roads? They are the ones you made the city dirty! We blame the government for everything, but do we realise that the number of people that form the ‘Government of Maharashtra’ is far less than the number of people living in Maharashtra! Let us assume we have the laziest of government, but that doesn’t become we should become lazy. We can, at least, throw our own wrappers, poly bags, etc. in the bins if not others.

Now the most common reason for not doing so is because the bin was on the other side of the road or it was a bit away from my destination. Well, then look at it this way, not only you are keeping your ‘Aamchi Mumbai’ clean but also exercising! Yes walking 20 steps extra will help reduce some grams! Also, you might just encourage people around you to do the same. See one habit and so many benefits! You won’t get such an awesome deal ever!

Apart from this the government should enforce the laws properly. People defacing Mumbai or any city for that matter should be penalised in a manner that makes him/her remember the first incident. Give them a harsh memory, either through a huge fine or serious punishment! Also, the existing laws should be enforced in full pace. Here a person throws a chocolate wrapper that very moment he gets penalised!

That is what the government can do. But now a better solution, what we as individuals can do to get the city clean! Make sure you walk the extra 20 steps to throw the garbage in the bins! In Mumbai, we call live in colonies and societies, follow social boycott! You the irritating uncle/aunty, who throws the garbage outside the window, socially boycott him/her. Let them know that what they do is wrong. One thing I love about Mumbai, is the ‘you-did-wrong-stare’ given when someone does anything wrong! Use it when you see someone throwing garbage on the road. Pick it up, throw it in the bin and give the stare! Next time hopefully the person won’t do it again.

Another thing that can be done is to make small kids learn to throw things in the bins. This could be done in two ways, first, every single class room should have a dustbin and regular ‘class/school clean up drives’ should take place. Even in colleges such drives should take place! If you see your employees in the corporate office aren’t cleaning their tables and areas around, you it is time for a clean-up drive! Secondly, the parents should make sure their little ones or grown-ups throw the garbage in the bin

There is a limit till when we can rely on the government and honestly they can’t make the whole city clean, we as individual citizens should take the step to clean our city and eventually our country. Nothing is started at large, it grows slowly and steadily! Take the first few small steps and see it growing big! Let us all get together and give a beauty treatment to our ‘Aamchi Mumbai!’

By Riya Singla
(A Minerva M Writer)
Read more articles at www.minerva-m.com/minerva/article-riya1.html

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.


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