Archive for the ‘General’ Category

T M Krishna’s Reshaping Art

June 6, 2018

A very good read. It evokes strong responses and at times does make you uncomfortable. Whether you agree with Krishna or disagree, it is thought provoking throughout. The book is also a call for reforms — and, like all reforms, it both starts with the individual and pans out and starts with the society and reaches the “self”: Krishna has some interesting examples of the second kind based on the responses of participants and volunteers of the Urur Alcott Kuppam Vizha. Strongly recommended.


Vikram Sarabhai by Amrita Shah

April 29, 2018

A very inspiring life indeed! The book is a good read; here is a review (with lots of spoliers).

How successful academic write

March 25, 2018

Successful academics write; academic success is measured in terms of the writing that is produced. Helen Sword’s book Air & Light & Time & Space: How successful academics write is a very good read – for all the academics and those who have academic ambitions!

The Sringeri-Kanchi holy wars

March 2, 2018

The passing away of Jayendra Saraswathi sets Sriram thinking about (the hilarious, in retrospect) holy wars!!


Random thoughts — based on some newspaper reading!

March 1, 2018

Jacob Koshy in The Hindu  — today:

The common thread in these palliatives is that an enormous work load is the cause of stress among schoolchildren and halving the syllabus would translate into fewer hours of course work and cramming. This fails to acknowledge that the culprit is a system that encourages mindless cramming as the dominant indicator of ‘learning’.

Thus, Mr. Javadekar only seems to be the latest in the line of establishment figures signalling that the government will not work towards fixing the blood-sport that examinations are, where the loss or gain of a mark can mean children are forced into careers they have no inclination or aptitude for, and at its worst drive young people to suicide.

I do agree that mindless cramming is a problem and that our examination system does indeed need fixing. However, the criticism about the syllabus is equally valid. Some time back, when I happened to go through the +2 chemistry textbook, it looked more like an undergraduate textbook. In addition, if the portions are less, there is less to cram.

Shiv Vishvanathan writes an ode to dying languages — in The Hindu — today:

Development and the institutions of development like school mutually guarantee the disappearance of minority languages and dialects. A school generally teaches in a majority language. The pithiest critique of such schools was made by the Kannada writer U.R. Ananthamurthy, who said India is a country where the illiterate worker speaks five-seven languages and the convent schoolchild speaks one.

I think in India we can do so much more for maintaining lingusitic diversity. My favourite idea is the one about starting Indian Institutes of Languages — may be in one in every state / union territory, to begin with — and populate them with faculty members drawn from all over the country. The model of building one country based on one language is a western notion. We should strive for building one nation tied together by multiple languages!

Twitter and Facebook!

January 16, 2018

A thoughtful post by Joel!

What can happen when you chase numbers!

May 21, 2017

Dilip D’Souza in Mint

Condensed Matter / Nano

March 1, 2017

Primer from Doug Natelson: worth bookmarking!

Andrea Wulff’s The Invention of Nature

February 14, 2017

This biography of Humboldt by Andrea Wulff is inspiring and is a must-read. Strongly recommended!

RIP: Prof. Vishveshwara

January 17, 2017

Sorry to hear the passing away of Prof. Vishveshwara. I first met him  (and, I think, Prof. Saraswathi Vishveshwara) on a train journey from Mumbai — which turned out to be unforgettable since, as we were reaching Bangalore we heard about the abduction of the actor Rajkumar, and there were issues about local transportation. Soft spoken and known for his work with the planetarium, Prof. Vishveshwara will be missed.