Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Knowledge Traditions and Practices of India - CBSE's new elective course for 11th

As written by Michel Danino from Coimbatore:
Namaste. The CBSE has taken the pioneering initiative of introducing an elective course on "Knowledge Traditions and Practices of India". The course, introduced in class XI (to be extended to class XII from next academic year), is an attempt to reintegrate India's best intellectual, literary, artistic and scientific traditions in the classroom. The material for the course was developed under the general guidance of Dr Jagbir Singh and the editorship of Prof Kapil Kapoor.
The CBSE's recent circular on the course can be read at www.cbseacademic.in/web_material/Circulars/2012/68_KTPI.pdf.
The 10 modules developed this year for class XI can be seen on the CBSE website: click on www.cbseacademic.in/circulars.html and scroll down to Acad-68/2012 of September; the box on the right shows the links to the modules. Each module consists in (1) a survey write-up; (2) selections from primary sources; (3) activities; (4) further resources.
For convenience, I list below all the modules in the order given in the textbook. (You may click on any of them to start a download of the module in pdf format; please keep in mind that the files are heavy, often 10 to 20 MB each.)
Ø  Module 1: Astronomy in India
Ø  Module 2: Chemistry in India
Ø  Module 7: Mathematics in India
Ø  Module 8: Metallurgy in India
Ø  Module 9: Music in India
Each module begins with a preface by the CBSE chairman, Shri Vineet Joshi, and a Convenor's Note by Prof Jagbir Singh.
Please note that the material is © CBSE. It may be viewed privately, but for any public use, the CBSE's permission will have to be sought. In particular, if you know any CBSE school with a management genuinely interested in Indian culture and heritage, please ask them to contact the CBSE and enrol for the course from next year.


What really causes cancer?


In this talk, Mina demonstrates how it was the environment around the cells (the Extra-Cellular-Matrix or ECM) that caused them to go malignant and start tumours. By placing the tumorous cells in better, calmer, more nurturing environments, the cells started behaving normally again and the cancer receded!

Skip to 9 mins 50 secs in the video to jump to the most revelatory part.

With this she's delivered a deadly blow to the "cancer gene" argument. If we really had cancer-causing genes, why does tumour only happen at one place?

It took me back to the Nature Vs Nurture explanation in ZMF. Lock a child in a classroom all day, restrict and monitor her every move, have someone else decide what's good for them and what's not, rule with an iron fist, and voila, you'll get agitated, violent children. Then find one gene that happens to be common among them, and voila, the "violent gene" has been found! Bullshit. Context matters.

Edit : This video on Cancer's forbidden cures blew my mind : So much has been deliberately hidden from the people by the pharmaceutical industry! This is criminal.
At the same time, this give a big leg-up to the traditional, herbal cures schools for healing cancer.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dhirendra - Smita : family living sustainably on 2.5 acres land near Vadodara, Gujarat

Two Thoreaus of Sakwa County (click to read the article)

Dhirendra and Smita were both PhD professors of engineering who traded in their classroom careers for a life of living naturally. In 1983, the couple bought and moved to a two and a half acres path of land in a small tribal village in Gujarat, India and built a new house and lifestyle. No electricity, no vehicles, no running water. Instead they would work on farms, eat fresh, pesticide-free produce, drink their own cow's milk, and live with the rhythms of nature. Eventually they would find solutions for several community problems: digging wells, installing a bio-gas plant to utilize cow-dung for basic electricity, experimenting with a wind mill, and solar cooking. Their's is a remarkable story of two people who, in a small corner of the world, are redefining what it means to live consciously, one day at a time.

Today, they are a family of five producing over 200 kilograms of crop annually: oilseeds, pulses, spice and over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables, all grown with organic manure. "Each month we have different fruits and vegetables," Dhirendra proudly smiles, as he gives us a tour of their farm. Walking through the two and a half acres, you can spot everything from mangoes, papayas, lemongrass, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet tamarind, eggplant, to vanilla right here in their own backyard.

What about money and other expenses? "Our yearly budget averages to about 12,000 rupees (less than $300)," says Smita, "that comes from selling a sweet-sour cold drink powder made from a plant in our farm, some Ayurvedic medicine, and hand-made organic soap from a Neem plant." That budget is not just for the two of them; it also includes their two adult sons and one daughter-in-law! More than half of their expenses go toward travel and books and the rest are used for clothes, shoes, some food items that they don't grow, like salt or jaggery. To keep all the wheels moving, everyone averages about 4 hours of work daily.

Please click the link at top to read the whole article. Excerpts from www.movedbylove.org
[category Alternative Living, organic farming]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

GMO field trials explained

"Why are they opposed to even GMO field trials?"
Let me explain what happens in a crop's field trial, by comparing it to human measures.
Suppose you take a patient who's infected with the AIDS virus, and inject him with a recently developed experimental medicine that you CLAIM will cure him. Now to test this, imagine taking his blood and semen samples, multiplying them and injecting 10,000 regular civilians with them.
Imagine not informing those 10,000 civilians about it and letting them go about their business - for several years.
And then after a whole new generation has been born, suppose we can only NOW, after a long term, really measure whether the medicine was actually effective or not.

If it turned out to be effective, then FINE, no damage. Yay.
But what if it didn't? Then by the time this comes to light, those 10,000 people will have spread the un-cured AIDS virus it to their partners and further on to the children that they concieve.
Would you be able to contain the outbreak you caused while experimenting?

This sounds freakishly mad-science, doesn't it? Well, now do some replacements:
Replace all the people with individual brinjal plants, and the initial test patient with a BT-Brinjal plant.

This is how plants procreate. Each plant makes and releases thousands of pollen, and the wind and the bees and flies and birds and animals and occasionally humans take them at random to other brinjal plants in the vicinity. Pollination happens, and then the next generation, the seed, is formed.

One field growing an experimental batch of BT Brinjal, will, within one harvest, spread its pollen to neighbouring fields, and get into their gene pool by the next season. When it comes to field trials with plants, there's no such thing as inoculation, there is no such thing as control.

BT Cotton... was released without telling anybody and has spread across the country. The "field trial" that Monsanto started without bothering to ask anybody's permission, has now mixed in with the mainstream in the way I described above. Whether there are harmful effects or not -- was it really upto Monsanto to play with our eco-system without telling us about it? At least we're not eating the cotton. But many animals are. These organisations - Monsanto or the government - aren't doing any monitoring. It's still too early to tell about any long term effects. It's something we all have to live with now.

But even keeping potential health effects aside, there's the economic angle. The GM seeds' DNA have been patented by Monsanto. Any crop sample you take, a simple DNA test will reveal if it's got Monsanto's GM strain or not. And Monsanto has no intentions whatsoever to open-source their seeds' DNA. Look up the suits it's filed against family farms in the US for growing GM Soy without paying Monsanto any royalties. Those farmers didn't steal anything : the GM strains entered their crops' gene pool by natural cross-pollination from neighboring fields that were growing GM Soy. Even if it's out of their control, their government is forcing them to pay Monsanto. This is pure profiteering.

So it's a loss of food sovereignty - switching over to GM practically means of all the money farmers make, a part will go to Monsanto. Already they've been increasing the price of their BT Cotton seed they sell to farmers - one major factor driving the farmer suicide rate in our country at 1 every 30 minutes. Something that used to be freely available and abundant, is now owned by a foreign company.

This makes it in the best interests of Monsanto to SPREAD their GM varieties. And just starting field "trials" will do the trick.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Say What??

I just stumbled across http://memegenerator.net, and...

 there's more!

Conflict of Interest - credit cards

A lot of people know of this term, yet many don't seem to really notice it happening around them. So I want to illustrate an example here, and it's quite pertinent to a lot of people of my generation.

A conflict of interest arises when a person or organization that you have trusted to behave in a certain way, have their best interests in behaving in another way that you may not be aware of.

So let me explain with an example. Credit Cards.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Story of Change :: from the makers of the Story of Stuff

Latest movie in the award-winning Story of Stuff series:

Inline image 1
The link will take you to their website where you can watch the short film online, listen to podcasts, read up more on it, join the community and host or attend screenings in your locality.

Click here to go directly to the download page.
[category films]

Video compression and clipping tools (made by me!)

Three new programs.. created using the amazing AutoHotKey automation tool to make a quick, easy interface to the awesome ffmpeg video encoding/decoding library

Video compression program
Batch-convert all the video files in a folder to practically youtube video quality... good quality with small file sizes.
This can be very handy if you want a quick, easy way to compress all the videos in your camera.

Video clipper
Extract a clip from a larger video file.
It even works with mp3 audio files.

Video to mp3 converter
Turn any video file into an audio mp3.

Save the .zip file to your computer, extract them to a folder. Then run the respective program.
Make sure the ffmpeg.exe program file is present. It's there in both the zip files... don't remove it, it's needed.

Programming enthusiasts, you can find the source code included with the zip files; or see them here.
Note: this is for Windows OS.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Open Letter to Open Source enthusiasts

I have an Ubuntu OS, installed with:
  • VLC
  • lots of educational tools and games
  • Virtualbox
  • Kiwix - a program that reads offline wikipedia archives (ZIM files) without needing to unzip them
  • and a ton of small utilities. Like ffmpeg that I used to compress videos. And imagemagik. And pdfinfo.

I'm looking for an easy way to proliferate my OS to another machine.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Transcript of Many Securities talk by P Sainath

P Sainath - Many Securities

I found this talk revelatory and eye-opening. I couldn't find the transcript of it anywhere, so I wrote it myself. (mind, it took a very long time, phew!)

This needs to be shared. And internalised. It covers a lot of topics and shows exceptional insight into the reasons behind and the consequences of the distorted way in which India the State treats its citizenry.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Education: On charters and privatisation

Quick-posting.. a fwd from a friend working with Teach for India:

Jeff Faux writes about the American wall street's sudden interest in charter schools. While most would consider this interest to be rooted in the philanthropic pursuit of wall street magnates, Faux notes that probing the story tells a different tale. He feels that the charter school 'movement' is being driven by a motive of profit that wall street is determined to extract through the privatisation of education. He cites research that has disproved the myth that charter schools are 'better' than public schools and critically unravels the intricacies of the debate. The article holds relevance in the Indian context as the PPP model is being argued for by several advocacy groups.

Read the article at - http://truth-out.org/news/item/12117-education-profiteering-wall-streets-next-big-thing
Faux, J. (2012, October 15). Education Profiteering: Wall Street's Next Big Thing? Truthout.

Monday, October 15, 2012

We live in a multiplayer world

We do not live in a world where there is just one bad guy / organisation / collective / country.

We do not live in a world where there is just one good guy / organisation / collective / country.

We live in a multiplayer world, where all the players are interacting with each other in multiple ways.
We can have good people fighting with bad people.
We can have good people in conflict with other good people over some differences.
And we can have bad people conflicting with other bad people as well.

Even in the collaborating side, we can have multiple parties - good and bad, good and good, bad and bad - working together.

It's simple to state, but very difficult to actually implement that in our perceptions when we come across any discussions on politics, world affairs these days.

On one such group in FB, I recently found a string of posts in praise for Adolph Hitler and advocating that all we apparently know about him is a conspiracy by the imperialist powers - that he was actually a really great leader and seriously cared for his people and wanted to liberate the world from these imperialist powers.
Seen similar arguments at various different places, extolling the virtues, the moral uprightness, the righteousness of Saddam Hussein, the Iranian government, for Gaddafi, for Milosevic, for Mugabe, for Assad... a lot of guys.
Now, I do not want to pass any judgements on the case itself (for now). However, I want to raise some questions on the intentions behind these posts.

By what logic does everyone who has ever crossed swords with the bad guy, automatically become a good guy?

Friday, October 12, 2012

'Good kids' Vs 'Troublemakers'

Dedicated to Aman, Kaif, Khalid, Alisha, Afsha, Kusum, Abhay and all
of you... if you ever read this, please know that I'm sorry for having
been part of the problem during my time with you; I'm sorry I wasn't
able to fight for you.
Yukta, Ashraf, Kauseen, Ismail and all, this goes out to you as well.


Page 156 from "Free At Last : The Sudbury Valley School"

Perhaps the most extreme example we ever had was Stella, who by
fourteen was such a hellion in her school that the School Committee of
her home town voted to pay for her tuition to attend Sudbury Valley,
even though this was against state law. They couldn't get rid of her
fast enough. Every year a delegation would come up from the town to
see whether we were still in existence, and whether she was still

I took a little while, but before long she confronted herself. By the
time she was ready to leave, she was on her way to becoming an honors
student in college, an MA in Psychology, and a prolific writer of

For us, the Stellas and the Roberts and the Sams are part of a
pattern. I remember the very earliest days at school, during a School
Meeting, when a bunch of the "A" student types began complaining
bitterly about the others, saying they were poor citizens who
shouldn't be at the school. "We come to School Meetings, help in every
way possible; we are the kind of students you want. The others are
misbehaving by lounging around all day and staying away from all civic
duties." I remember taking a deep breath, and telling them with some
feeling: "Those 'bad guys' know more about the school than you do.
They are grappling with their lives, and, right now, that's work
enough for them. You guys are so busy trying to please everyone else
that you haven't even started to know yourselves."

The fact is, the 'troublemakers' have done marvelously at Sudbury
Valley, almost without exception, and _always_ if their parents have
supported them. The reason is relatively simple: the very fact of
being a troublemaker is a sign that they haven't given up the fight.
Try as people might to break these kids, to reform them, to make them
fit the common mold, they have kept up a struggle and not given in.
They have spunk, moxie. True, their energies are often directed into
self-destructive activities; but these same energies, once released
from battling an oppressive world, can be swiftly turned to building
their own inner world, and even to building a better society. One
after another, these students have contributed much to improving the
quality of life at school.

Alas, the "A" students have a harder time. They are so used to
pleasing their teachers that they are at sea when they first arrive.
"Who is there to please?" they wonder. Often they try the staff, whom
they see as similar to their former schoolteachers. No dice. The staff
here doesn't hand out gold stars. Where to go from there?

It's a painful adjustment. It's not made easier by the discovery that
everyone else at school is smart, alert, quick-witted. The struggle to
get to the "head of the class" has no meaning as Sudbury Valley, no

These kids, not the "troublemakers", are the real victims of society.
After years of conforming to outside authority, they have lost touch
with themselves. The spark is gone from their eyes, the laughter from
their souls. If they do not destroy, neither do they know how to
build. To them, freedom is terrifying. There is no one to tell them
what to do.

The "cure" is hard, and takes time. It doesn't always work. Often the
best medicine is a heavy dose of boredom. With no program director to
organize their activities, these students often lapse into a state of
deep inactivity. Invariably, we tell them that when the boredom
becomes intolerable, they will rouse themselves, out of sheer
desperation, to create their own framework. It happens, sooner or
later, but what a cost these poor "good children" have to pay for
their former acquiescence !

Monday, October 8, 2012

Story : the Parrot's Training

I would like to share a story that I adapted from the nobel prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore, in which he warned us of the dangers of McEducation for All almost 75 years ago.

In The Parrot's Training, we are told of a golden cage that is built to imprison the wild and uncivilized parrot so that she can be properly educated by the king's pundits. In addition to the 3Rs, she should also learn who is the Boss as well as be familiar with all the latest global brands.

First, the teachers tried stuffing the bird with pages of the official textbooks. That didn't work. Then a UNICEF project came with all kinds of child-friendly and joyful techniques. They also taught the parrot about child rights.

No improvement.

Then the World Bank gave a loan to the king (with austerity conditionalities of course) to build a bigger cage with a nice toliet.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Guides to help with typing in and publishing in Indian languages

Recently I've created a few step by step walkthroughs to help with Indian languages, check them out:

Display Indian language fonts properly in your PDF (In Hindi and English language)

Typing in Gujarati in your computer (in Gujarati and English language)

Have hosted both of these on ISSUU - it renders your documents into a beautiful page-flipping book.

Installers for languages other than Gujarati:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/epsuewyy5fsb7hs/google%20languages.zip

Gift Economy

Would you like to show your appreciation for this work through a small contribution?

(PS: there's no ads or revenue sources of any kind on this blog)

Related Posts with Thumbnails