Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Me too have some reservations…

Remember the street plays titled pro-reservation and anti-reservation strikes that used to run full house (and empty classrooms) all over my country? I’m not trying to remember the similar, and much more dramatic one that was staged fifteen years back. I’m asking about the recent one. The Medicos stir. Now you remember.

Me too had forgotten about it. I don’t know any of those protests are still on. It’s media that controls collective public memory. And it is another newspaper report unintentionally brightened up my memory of medical students in their not-so-white housecoats holding candles in an early night protest. This one came up yesterday, about thousands of engineering seats in colleges in Karnataka being left unfilled.

I am not yet able to figure out the present admission procedures in Karnataka. Those are defined and controlled by two or more governing bodies, and few more in the case of institutes controlled by autonomous boards. This particular report gives me the figures about the engineering colleges that have to follow CET procedures for admissions. I had failed almost all my mathematics papers before successfully dropping out the college. But I had cleared my statistics paper. Statistics is fun for people with an average intelligent quotient. Here’s a sample. In the last academic year there were more than 9,000 vacancies in these engineering that remained vacant. This year it is about 3,200. That is after cutting the offered seats by more than 3000. In private unaided colleges, 40% of the seats are ‘reserved’ under management quota, which are duly filled (sold?) every year. 40% are under concessional-fee, and the rest 20% are under higher-fee scheme. The concession fee is Rs. 15,000 and higher-fee is around Rs. 80,000. And these fees are almost half or lesser compared to those for medical studies. The fees for last year’s admissions were higher. Now, you have all the figures, and no way to know the situation is a better one or not! If you score brilliantly in the entrance test, you will rightly be entitled to have the option: pay it, or leave it. I would like to know the number of students who are eligible for admissions, but are not. Statistics sometimes is really mean.

Exactly here is where I want to bring in the flashback: the Medicos Stir. Was it only me who wondered why the anti-reservation agitation was called the Medicos Stir, when the proposed reservations are applicable to all fields of higher education? That was because most of the organised protesters were from medical institutes. The reason is obvious; it is in medical studies the reservations will make the most impact. Is there a ‘healthcare gene’ in uppercast individuals, similar to the American discovery of ‘starvation gene’ in Asians and Africans? It is something only our medical professionals can answer.

The reservation bill is of course motivated by political ambitions. So are the protests against it. The later enabled a panwala to wear a medical professional's attire before burning himself up with it. It looks like a classic example of natural double negation to me. Those who shout for equality surely know some are more equal than others. If one has to worry about the right of learning lost by reservations, he or she has to be that rich. And the reservations are applicable only for the admissions, not the marks one should secure to pass. In our educational system you can pass most of the exams by answering up to 60% questions wrong. To add to that, we have a very healthy unemployment percentage that would ensure only the best can actually use their academic qualifications. Then, what more brain damage reservations could possibly make?

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What is there inside the football?

The school I went for my basic education had very different ideas than the ones I learnt there. Academic excellence was the prime goal of an educational institution in those days. There were, of course, weekly hours, and annual days dedicated for nurturing extra-curricular activities – arts and sports. Among these castaways of the academic system, arts were given a deserving superiority over sports. The reason for this is obvious. Unlike sports, arts are more sophisticated and deal with ones intellectual abilities. Civilised man’s attitude towards the primitive and instinctive human nature is not much different from that of the nouveau riche towards the less privileged. The most one can expect is sympathy, and on a fortunate day, charity. It has not changed much during the last 25 years, except for a slight growth in the chances of building a career in one of those extra-curricular activities. This won’t change much, as long as development and progress are interpreted as synonyms.

Efforts of educational systems around the world have been very successful in nipping our primitive intelligence in the very bud. This of course managed to keep individuals excel in non-academic professions a minority, but couldn’t do much damage to the popularity. The danger popularity could bring up is efficiently kept under control by awarding the entertainment status, something for the few hours after work, to arts and sports. Human spirit can be crippled with some constant effort, but I’m not sure whether it can be eliminated or not.

According to some recent market research, in India alone, the FIFA World Cup final matches will be watched by 70-100 million people on television. And in countries who are playing the finals, 95% TVs are estimated to be tuned to the game. The authenticity of the figures is of course questionable, but a few millions added or subtracted cannot make any substantial difference to the point I am raising here. India doesn’t have representation in the competition, and all those millions of Indians are supporting some other country with an almost equal feverishness that the playing countries have. This is not a fact only for India. As there are only 32 finalists, and half of them are already eliminated after the first round of matches, that’s a similar situation in most parts of the globe.

One argument I could think of is that when you don’t belong to any of the two teams competing in a match, you naturally possess the position of neutrality. I agree. But that privilege naturally ends at the moment you decide to take sides.

The FIFA World Cup is arguably the most commercialised sports event on our planet. It is miles ahead of the divine Olympic Games in that aspect. And unlike Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup doesn’t pretend having the noble cause of uniting and celebrating humankind. Ironically, and defying intentions, this professional football extravaganza is much closer to the goal of the Olympic Games of amateur roots. My fellow countrymen, including the fanatically patriotic ones, are supporting Brasil, Argentina and Germany. Many go a few miles ahead in the idea of universal brotherhood by supporting the French, the Dutch, the Portuguese, and behold, the English. There’s a logical difficulty in buying the argument of the spirit of sports breaking political and cultural boundaries, especially when each team represents a political entity and not any neutral community or geographical area. And because of its clearly expressed political identity, it cannot ask for the privileges that art, literature and music enjoy.

We live in a small world that is getting smaller by day. And most of it now fits into a football. Does this disprove the biggest universal myth we are taught to call country? Or it just emphasises the power of economical realities over political realities?

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

I am not what I am

Identity is undeniable, if not easily identifiable. Much effort has gone into preserving this indisputable fact, for its existence is solely dependent on people who are unable to recognise it otherwise. There are two ways to go about it. Establishing own identity against everyone or everything else. Or establishing everyone’s or everything’s identity against the own one. Either of the two demands same amount of effort and results in the same result. That is independent of whether or not one reaches the desired result. If you are lazy enough, it is not really hard to see the futility of the effort and respect the fact that identity is anyway undeniable.

Me too live on the same earth billions other share. Me too eat, drink, and think the same things million others do. Me too like and dislike things that thousands of others love or hate. Me too say things hundreds of others can agree with. Me too agree with many. And me too disagree with more.

It is in this context, I bring up a question that was asked once, and a few times again, when I told about my blog to someone or other. What does my blog talk about, was that natural question. The answer is insignificant, but the question is not. And it is this significance of the question and the insignificance of the answer was I explaining in the beginning.

Blog, as all the readers might know, is an acronym for web log. But, just like anything else, a web log too couldn’t resist just being what it is meant to be. It is not just a log on web anymore, I was told by experts in blogging. Sophistication, very simply, is part of growing up. And very natural, or more specifically, very human.

There is this guy, who keeps a log on web. Who writes about the mundane life he lives. Every day. Which is of any interest to him, or anybody else. One of his posts reads something like this.

Thursday. It’s a very boring day. Not much different from a Wednesday or a Friday. Tired of the boredom I decided to get out of home. And I did. It was hotter and a lot more monotonous outside. So, I concluded the boredom of being alone at home is better than the boredom of being a stranger outside, and got home. Waiting for tomorrow.
And there is this girl living in Bagdad and keeps this blog, which talks about her life there. She writes quite beautifully about a really bad life in a country governed by a bunch of puppets dancing to the tunes of the occupied aliens. Of these two, the former is ridiculed and called a blogohole. The latter is acclaimed as one brave effort, and businessmen among the aliens occupying her country made profits by acquiring publishing rights of her blog content. She’s humbled. And all her readers, including me, were told what to respect and what should not.

If you too are one of those self-centric individualists like me, you too can see it just like the way I see it. The examples I just mentioned have a lot in common. Both of them are writing about things that cannot generate any interest in people, who are accustomed to the same circumstances and thus having no curiosity left. Intentions of both were the same – the hope of having a missing listener. Judgement is always a third-party affair. Me too agree with the majority and prefer reading the latter to the former, for reasons that are important to me and probably are insignificant to the writers of those blogs. It is just another instance where the receiver has the power to evaluate what the provider offers. One person’s opinion doesn’t have the same value as another, but is independent of the majority or minority status of its supporters.

Me too, just like any other blogger, hopes to be read and appreciated by as many readers as possible. It would be very difficult for anyone to disagree with people, who agree with him or her. I would be using this space to publish my thoughts, if not my log. And to keyboard some that are already penned down, and some that might occur to me in the course.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The art of living on the seventh day

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very paradoxical. He looked up to the heaven and stamped His foot on earth, the same heaven and earth He only created a few days back, and cried in despair, ‘I am quitting’. And the evening and the morning were of the sixth day.