Beliefs: Science and Pseusoscience

Prof Kroto mentioned Carl Sagan in one of his talks today. His book and video titled "Demons haunted world"...

I am listening to his videos. He is blasting all pseudoscience in the most composed way. Telling us how to withhold our beliefs until we find a compelling evidence either way. Talking about virtually anything, if we have the evidence to believe something, believe it; if we dont, withhold the belief. Dont disbelieve. The implications are far larger in contemporary world with the deadly combination of ignorance and technology...

And the way he is talking about the disease that he has which could turn into leukemia if not treated. I am deeply moved.

Cheers to science and the power that it gives us, to understand.


"Why dont we stop looking at certain things?", I casually said to one of my juniors who was pissed of at the questions ppl were asking Nobel laureates here.

Very easy for me to say but difficult to follow. But honestly thats one thing I want to believe in and compel myself to do (and I am rapidly improving). To stop looking at certain things that are stupid and dont really matter to me.

Actually I should see them, but I should understand why things are like that (which I already do) and try to change them. It will definitely save a lot of energy (probably at the cost of relations to certain people) and help me invest in things that really matter. This particular investment is very critical to do what I enjoy doing.

So the key is:

1. Stop Cribbing.

2. Find what it takes to nurture ideas- look at the right things.

Joy of Science

The most important thing to me being here in Allahabad at the Science Conclave, meeting Nobel laureates was the reinforcement in belief of the reason to do science and that there are people who share this pov with me (couldnt get over Darwin).

Prof. Friedman replied "the feeling that you are the first person in this civilization (I loved this word, this dimension to the issue) to find something out is just irresistible!" And of course the joy in understanding, pure understanding. I had no direct connection to the questions about quarks (apart from the fact that we all are made up of quarks, still mysterious particles that make up the protons), but just to understand something is utopic, and something so fundamental...sigh.

Some pretty questions that I could ask him:

1. Why does the attractive force between quarks increase as the distance between them increases? This is so opposite to the way forces between larger particle work. (Couldnt completely understand what he said but i realised that he took the question to the finer level by saying that the color of quarks increases as they go apart and color is analogous to charge and that is why the force increases. But then why does color increase as they go apart??)

2. Would the laws of physics have been different if the universe would have started in a different way than the "Big Bang"? ("Great question", he genuinely said.)

3. Why did he chose to do science? (This was the one where he replied about the joy of understanding.)


Are we bound by an image that we create of ourselves and the world? A comfort zone? How can we come out of it? And do what people call "unleash the potential"? What is the activation energy thats needed - A 'zalak' of what lies beyond?

Was talking to my cousin. He was fresh out of a relations training course his company had organized. And he tells me that people always have that spark inside somewhere, the spark to go beyond. I always thought that the spark is rare. Perhaps it is present in everyone, hidden to various extents. (As I write this, I wonder if I am rediscovering what people are speaking all the time the world over. But if it is so, I dont see it happening - the ignitions!) Perhaps my world is a li'l too small! (This would be worst.)

And of course any philosophy that is taught doesnt stay beyond a week... There has to be a need to follow that philosophy... It should make a significant difference to your life. A significant difference that you want and can see... And by default most of us are short sighted.

So, the questions are:
1. How to know if the spark is there?
2. How to find what it is?
3. How to ignite it?

And of course igniting one spark should not limit us to a flicker, lets go for a flame and a fire!!

To Make a “Better India”, rather than a “Beggar India”

Children, Angels of GOD,
Children, Hopes of Parents,
Children, Expectations invested in by the Nation,
Children, living beings full of innocence and openness towards life!

A civilized nation. A nation having the world’s richest cultural heritage. But where do we
stand on the front of nurturing India’s future, children? Would you like to know the reality? Let’s go to some place in Pune where people abound; near traffic lights, outside multiplexes, eateries, banquet halls or religious places. Wait there for about ten minutes, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if a child, face full of emotion, insecurity and fear, with a dirty, outstretched hand reaches out to you, or tugs at your clothes. You will ignore him/her for a while, but eventually, you *will* put a coin in that hand just to escape from the situation you were trapped in, if not anything else. Let’s look at society in general. Do we ever think of what the result of this thoughtless act of ours would be? Will the child be able to call itself a responsible and independent human, ever in the future? Sadly, the answer is a big NO. Rather than solving the problem, we are encouraging many other negatives like false acting, emotional blackmail, addictions, and God alone knows what. Incidences like these will handicap these children in that they will only be good enough for begging and nothing else. And they will have kids, and the cycle will continue. Vicious.
Behind all such things are unseen forces driving the boat. Unfortunately, such rackets are fueled by that very coin which we give as alms. So aren’t we responsible for spoiling the future of these children and in turn, INDIA’s future too? The software hub of the world, the epitome of cultural refinement - is this what we are going to showcase to the world when we are hosting international events like the Common Wealth Youth Games(CYG)? This needs to stop somewhere. But who will bell the cat?
“Excuse me, but I cannot take this up”,” I have got my promises to fulfill”,” I have my priorities”,” My job and assignments are more important than this”, “I’ve got to go a long way in life”, “Isn’t it easier to just pay up and go away?”, “Why should I? There are other people out there, let them do it, I’m not going to waste my time for this.”Easy, isn’t it? To shirk our responsibilities, run away from them. We must realize that if we can’t do anything for their betterment, then we have absolutely no right to make their lives worse. So why just kids who beg? Why not target all beggars? People who’ve spent their entire life begging, won’t accept an alternative. However, with kids, we have hope. They can be led to a tomorrow with opportunity, with education, self-respect – to Independence.

So, Wake Up, INDIA. WAKE UP!!!
We are the INDIANS who can make a better INDIA, rather than a “Beggar INDIA”.
Where every child will have his basic needs (food, clothing and shelter) secured.
Where every child will go to school and will have his educational needs satisfied.
Where every child is God’s cherubic angel,
Where every child will be the pride of his/her parents – of the nation too.

Simply put, to make it happen, we just need to say NO to child begging. We need to stop giving alms to such children. Let him fall, let her cry. Let them struggle and find out for themselves, the value of that coin which we give them. There are government run initiatives for underprivileged kids. There are NGOs that are providing education and opportunities to homeless kids, street kids, and the like. Support them – give them your time, resources, dedication - your commitment. Education is their only savior. Only by educating them, can we make them truly independent. It’s the survival of the fittest. Let’s not cripple them with our coins.

A city-wide movement called the “Anti Child Begging Campaign” has already been launched, to support organizations working in this sphere. SAMIDHA and DREAM INDIA have put together their ‘Samidhas’ of efforts to make it a ‘Dream India’.

Spread the word around. The future of India is calling. Are you ready to do your bit?

-An open initiative in association with SAMIDHA and DREAM INDIA.
Alone I can fight but together we will beat!

(You can send us your comments to:
By (Dattu Ekhande)

Inspiring a Revolution

Why are we not inspiring people to challenge themselves with problems that they can solve with the power education is giving them? Why are we so obsessed with earning descent survival via money?

CAn we change this? Can we inspire people to bring a revolutionary change- in our society, in our human, relations, in science and technology to our lives?

Do you have a solution? Write comments at this blog.

We and the Indian Dream

Let me start not by the problems that we (henceforth by we I mean India, its people) are facing; but by where we dream to stand. The point being to momentarily forget that we have any problems and to start afresh to achieve this dream.

As I said, by any country what we mean is its people. Of course it includes a lot of other components, but ultimately what we want to achieve is a dream that its people see. So, the way to achieve the collective Indian dream is via achieving the dreams of all of its people. Now the question is, do we all have a dream? Does each one of us imagine himself standing somewhere ahead of where he is now? Do we want to change the way we are?

I think the answer is a little complex than a mere yes or no. The factors to be considered are individual thoughts and perceptions AND social and economical conditions AND professional section.

The needs and aspirations of any human are at 3 levels ( for a more accurate description google for Maslow and theory of motivation).
1. Most basic are the needs of shelter, food, clothes necessary to survive
2. Somewhat intermediate are the needs of emotional sharing and support
3. And then come the aspirations to achieve something more than that is necessary to merely survive.

To put this in the perspective of social and economic conditions-
1. Economically and socially weak class- A huge class of Indian population still striving to satisfy their basic level 1 needs.
2. A lower middle class- They have earned their survival and want to move into the upper middle class.
3. Upper middle class- In this socially and economically stable class I see 2 groups of people.
a. A group that is satisfied with survival and stability. There is no dream.
b. A group that has a dream. They may or may not know how to achieve it. But they are struggling.
4. Rich class- The group that either had a dream and they achieved it or they belonged to the established dynasties. Some of them want to expand their kingdoms and some just want to maintain them.

I hope now it becomes clear, that what we want to achieve as a nation is not a single goal as is usually portrayed. Each socio-economic group is driven by different dreams. The ground realities and issues invloved in achieving these dreams also depend on the professional sectors (agrarian, industrial, service) It would be foolish to expect all groups to work passionately towards a single dream.

In the replies that follow later, I ll try to explore the relation between the dreams of these different groups and how they depend on each other, how the current economic and political condition in the country and the world affects it and what is our role in all this.

Not so simple, is it?

Who am I?

Sorry. This is not a article appropriate to the title.

I am going to tell you some opportunities that can help you answer this question "Who am I?" at least partially. They are excellent opportunities to evaluate your life, your convictions, your view of the world and probably to live a more honest and fulfilling life.

1. "Nirman" shibir- Dr Abhay and Rani Bang

NIRMAN is the initiative of SEARCH since 2006 to identify and nurture social changemakers and active citizens in Maharashtra.
It's a series of 4 residential camps (each of about 7-9 days) to be held at Shodhgram (SEARCH's campus). The camps are organized once in 6 months and the process continues for 2 years. You can participate in it while continuing your education/vocation.
NIRMAN deals with many important issues that a youth faces. The highlights of NIRMAN are:

1. Understanding self thoroughly.
2. Understanding the diversity around me.
3. Exploring the relation among society, nature and I.
4. Getting to know the various problems and challenges that surround us in the 21st century.
5. Experiential understanding of the grass root situation.
6. Interaction with eminent changemakers from various fields.
7. Life Mission: What does it mean? Do I need to have one? How do I identify it?
8. What can I do to grapple with the social, scientific and technological challenges around me?
9. How can I pursue a career that is deeply satisfying and meaningful to me?
10. A large panel of facilitators with varied expertise to help, guide and interact with.
11. Networking of the participants and further exposure to societal issues in the period of six months between two consecutive camps.

In the first series of 4 camps of NIRMAN (held in June 06, Jan 07, July 07 and Jan 08) about 60 youth (professionals, students) from all over Maharashtra participated. The experience was really interesting and inspiring both for the participants and SEARCH.

The next round of NIRMAN camps is beginning from June 2008. The first in this 4 camp series is scheduled from 29 June to 5th July at Shodhgram, Gadchiroli. It will include 60 youth in the age group of 18-25. The process of selection of the participants is in progress now.

If you want to apply, kindly fill up the application form available at

The form does not have space for answers and so please write your answers on a separate sheet. The last date for submitting the form is May 15.

Please send the form, duly filled in, to SEARCH, Gadchiroli - 442605 or mail it to

Beautiful Country, Beautiful People and Us

Hi folks,

We all have come together with the dream of a beautiful country.And we agree that a beautiful country will be created by beautiful people.
What do we mean by beautiful people? Let me ask you to do this. Just try to remember the last time you were completely absorbed into something.Anything as mundane as writing a code, making a presentation, or reading an inspirational biography or maybe dreaming of a house you would like to build... Have you ever felt the excitement that comes whenyou are absorbed into something wonderfully creative?
Thats what I mean by beautiful people. Who are constantly doing something creative, something that willmake a difference, to them or to someone else. And they love what they do, they are completely absorbed in the work. No other thoughts, khana-pina sab chod ke just trying to achieve that single thing.

I had the chance to meet two such beautiful persons today.

Suraj is in Class 8 at Manavya. When we reached Manavya today, he and two other kids were sitting on thefloor with thermacol, cardboards, colors, scissors, wooden pieces... When I asked Suraj what was he doing,he told me that they were building the model of an Restaurant. He told me that it would be a garden restaurantwith a stream flowing in the mid. There will be a bridge on the stream. Food will be served in cottages surrounded by trees; there would be benches to sit and an area where you can dance. If you want you can havea candle light dinner or just sit on the grass and enjoy a picnic snack. He was completely absorbed while describing all these things to me and so was I. I immediately asked him whether he could build a college for me.He said yes and then we discussed our plans to do it. Suraj would probably become a wonderful architect.

Tushar is in Calss 10. He writes beautiful poems. Here is the one he wrote yesterday.

अंतराळाची सफ़र ही भारी
ग्रहांची दिशा ही न्यारी

अनेक यंत्रांचा शोध लागला
अनेक तंत्रांचा शोध लागला

अंतराळाची सफ़र....

शोध लागला बुध-नेपच्युनचा
शोध लागला आकाश पाताळाचा

अंतराळाची सफ़र...

You should have seen the glow in his eyes when I was reading the poems to other kids. Tushar would probably become a fabulous writer.

Todays experience made me realise that we have an amazing chance to help build beautiful humans. Humans who would love their work by all their heart. I see this as a challnge in front of us. To help children explore what they like, to help them to nurture their passions and to help them develop into beautiful humans.
(And btw this has nothing to do with their being HIV +ve. We need to build a beautiful human out of every kid.)

Tell me your ideas about how can we help Suraj and Tushar achieve their dreams. Lets share this challenge!

Value of Knowledge and Science

Knowledge is of no real value if all it can tell us what happened yesterday. It is necessary to tell what will happen tomorrow -not only necessary, but fun. All you have to do is just stick your neck out.

The Meaning of it All
Richard Feynman

Imagination and Science

It is surprising that people do not believe there is imagination in science. It is a very interesting kind of imagination, unlike that of an artist. The great difficulty is in trying to imagine something that you have never seen, that is consistent with what has already been seen, and that is different from what has been thought of; furthermore, it must be definite and not a vague proposition. That is indeed difficult.

The Meaning of it All
Richard Feynman


If I get a chance, Would I give any sort of ready-made equality to everyone?

Yes. I would like to make everyone free of survival as the reason to do anything. Anything but survival will do. Survival seems like such a cheap reason to do anything.

Do you remember the beggar on the signal who asks you for a rupee or a gajarewali mulagi who pleads you to buy one even when you dont want to or a chaiwala on the bus stand who wakes up at 4 in the morning or come closer- your son terribly studying because he needs good grades to survive in this 'bad' world or still closer- you doing extrawork in the office just to please your boss when you really would have been enjoying a hot coffee at your home.

What is common in these cases is they are all doing something that is forced on them- no choice you see. And the reason is a percieved danger to your survival. How realistic it is I have no idea. But it is a percieved danger.

Chillax kid. You might say. No need to make it so harsh. Thats Life! You might want to say just in case even you start seeing survival is a cheap reason. Makes you somehow uncomfortable, does it?

I deny accepting life like this. Are we living in THE fear? (Whatever happened to good ol' "Fuck fear, drink beer" btw.) The question is- can you refuse to live like this? Can the boy at the signal refuse to live like this?

Thats why I want to help you. (It is sounding cheaper than survival. Sometime later, I ll tell you whats in it for me) I want a world where everyone can chose how he wants to survive. You will have to take the trouble to find another reason to do things then. (Its not so easy at it sounds)
To start with- how about because you like something?

learn, relearn and unlearn

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn


Beauty! Sounds like a deep philosophical idea, right? Specially, when you are looking at a clear dark sky, countless stars, a crescent moon and the Venus; just before the God of the east will command them to dissolve in his brightness. Divinely beautiful! I am captivated.

I come back and set to capture this beauty in words on my blog. And I stumble. I just cannot describe how beautiful it was. I cannot because I do not know why is it so beautiful? Or even, what do I mean by it is beautiful? I cannot define what I mean by beauty. Perhaps, I am too much influenced by the image that has been shaped by years of my nurture- that sky, those stars, the moon, the Venus. It has to be beauty.

And then I remember what I had talked with someone long back. Is beauty something that gives me visual pleasure? Just a physiological response! (Kill me, O! charming Venus!) Does it really matter? Does it somehow make it less beautiful? To understand that it might be a physiological response. Plain and pure pleasure!

Is this feeling any different than seeing the vehicle lights reflecting from poles on the road, steam from the hot cup of tea, the sunlight slowly pouring in or just thinking of this question- Why is it all so beautiful?

SEZ policy: excerpts

SEZs- leading to the growth of labour intensive manufacturing industry: Out of the 404 formal approvals given till date, 137 approvals are for sector specific and multi product SEZs for manufacture of Textiles & Apparels, Leather Footwear, Automobile components, Engineering etc.. which would involve labour intensive manufacturing. The employment projected in the 172 SEZs notified so far is over 2142,089 additional jobs. SEZs are thus going to lead to creation of employment for large number of unemployed rural youth. Nokia and Flextronics electronics hardware SEZs in Sriperumbudur are already providing employment to 7932 and 2069 persons, majority of which are women. Hyderabad Gems SEZ for Jewellery manufacturing in Hyderabad has already employed 1200 girls majority of whom are from landless families, after providing training to them. They have a projected direct employment for about 30,000 persons. Apache SEZ being set up in Andhra Pradesh will employ 20, 000 persons to manufacture 10,00,000 pairs of shoes every month. Current employment in Apache SEZ is 3549 persons. Brandix Apparels, a Sri Lankan FDI project would provide employment to 60,000 workers over a period of 3 years. Even in the services sector, 12.5 million sq meters space is expected in the IT/ITES SEZs which as per the NASSCOM standards translates into 12.5 lakh jobs. It is, therefore, expected that establishment of SEZs would lead to fast growth of labour intensive manufacturing and services in the country.