Google Analytics

Monday, August 27

One level down and counting

This landed in my in-box today. Offered with no comments.

dear friends

one of my friends needs advice on how his brother needs to prepare for getting admitted to bansal classes. if you know anyone who could help, please reply to this mail.


Monday, August 20

Language Digest - 6 [Language and Development]

After a long time, some language related articles. It is no secret how powers that be have often tried to control the nature of public discourse by introducing new words for old ways and substituting neutral sounding words for words having negative connotations. As it turns out, they are often successful, thus giving little credibility to the famous Shakespearian adage of what's in a name.

In this piece on India Together, Shripad Dharmadhikary points out the changing language of development debate in India. Irrespective of which side of the fence you are on, it makes sense to know the tricks of the trade.

And if you ever doubted the power of sentence restructuring, perhaps this will convince you otherwise. How should we think about our farmer's?

PS: This post is 201st post on Basket Case. It took almost 3.5 years which would mean on average 1 post per week, though as usual that statistics hides more than it reveals :-)

Saturday, August 18

The why of Brain Drain

Let me pick up this thread from my last post. I lamented there about the lack of higher education (PhD level) opportunities India. That is one of the reasons I am here. But make no mistake, majority of the Indian students who come to states every year, do not come here to get educated. That degree they get is just a stepping stone to this land of opportunities. In most cases, it is not even the oft repeated story of becoming used to things here and finding it difficult to return back. They made up their minds long before the passports were stamped and bags were packed.

Considering that the job market in India is booming like nothing before, markets are open and shops are full, why do people still leave? And for most of them, money is not in short supply, these are not the people who didn't get the opportunity or faced oppression. In fact most of them belong to the most privileged class of people. And I don't know what you thought when Haneef after everything that happened, asked the Australian PM for honorary citizenship to Australia.

I think Reality Check has a point.

Pardon me for the following statement, but there is a reason why Indians flock to Western (read "white mans") countries. Even after such alleged mistreatment, why must Haneef fight deportation? Why cant he just say, "To hell with you and your laws" - and return to India ?

I have asked this question to many NRI folks, the answers range from better environment, freedom, tastier fruits and thicker milk, to roads, to 911. I suspect the real answer is along the lines of , "Hey, we can let these white guys do all the nation building (or maintaining). We will let them deal with root issues maintaining the sanctity of the constitution, coming up with laws, the environment, and basic liberties. That would be cool because we can just focus on our jobs. All we have to do is follow a well codified set of rules. We get our promotions, our house, and cars. How easy is that ?"

The problem is apathy. I know so many around me who couldn't careless about the world around them and being an immigrant in another country affords you just that.

Friday, August 17

On Independence Day

In the ever growing list of days to celebrate, Independence Day has started looking more and more like any other of them. In the world that I inhibit or am forced to inhibit, these days are marked by a surge in Orkut messages, group mails, gestures so meaningless that I am amazed over and over again (like changing your Orkut profile pick to Indian Flag on 15th Aug). Nonetheless, Independence still brings back the memories from the past, from the days of innocence when it was so easy to believe in things. Back than the morning actually felt a little special on such days and heart felt a little extra spring.

But I am in in a different place and in different times now. In US, 4th of July is celebrated in form of sales and deals. Yes, there are fireworks all over the place and probably other ceremonies which I am not aware of yet but there are also cheap things to be bought. Not as many as on Labor Day or on Thanks Giving or on New Year but still some. Thankfully, Indian community probably has not been identified as a targeted consumer group yet and so no special discounts on 15th Aug yet.

CMU Indian community, however, has a nice way of celebrating it. There is an old tradition of fence painting here. There is a fence in the middle of the campus and whatever is painted on it previous night, stays for all of next day. So every year on 14th Aug night, it is painted with tri colors which stay on for all of 15th Aug. Looking at it next day feels nice and a little warm in this distant land.

Incidentally, 14th Aug is also the day every year when orientation for new International students starts in CMU. Many of the new Indian students, feeling more patriotic than ever before come to the function and excited talk about the first day of orientation. I find it a little ironic as I mentioned on this blog last year. I heard that this year somebody described the pride she felt when in the morning she saw so many Indians among the new students.

That set me thinking. What is it that she felt proud of? No doubt, coming to CMU is a personal achievement for many, a moment of pride. I would be lying if I deny that I felt the same when I got admitted. This is one of the best places to get educated in certain fields and to do world class research. I am glad I am here. But then I wonder, why did I have to come here to do research and get good education? I will not speak on behalf of anyone but I personally would have preferred to stay back and do my PhD in India. I am here because there were no decent places for doing that. My dreams and aspirations have my country built into them but to fulfill them, I have to spend these 4-5-6 years in this foreign land. When I think like that, I feel my being here, of all those new students being here is not a moment of pride for my country, it is rather a moment of introspection.

Happy Independence Day !

Wednesday, August 8

Past two months and some

Note: The post was written 2 days ago, so please adjust the timeline accordingly.

A lot of time has passed. Almost four years since I graduated, almost 1 years since I came to US, almost 1 month since I returned from San Diego/ Bay Area trip, almost 1 week since I moved into this new house, almost 1 day since I returned from the whitewater rafting trip from Ohiopyle. Somewhere along that time-line lies the one and a half months mark since I have not posted. Not that I was totally gone, I wrote somethings on wasted margins.

So now you know that I have changed houses, have been on a couple of trips and read couple of books. During those trips, I visited Coronado beach and La Jolla coves in San Diego, met a lot of old friends, some of them already finishing up their PhD and staring a new phase in life, visited the famous Golden gate bridge, ate a one pound crab and learned a lot about its anatomy along the way, lost and found my phone, sat in a train after almost one year, rafted (guided) the 7 mile stretch on the lower yough, pulled 3 people out of water along the way :-) and managed to stay on board myself. Since the trip required no experience, the safety-excitement tradeoff was there. I am looking forward to do something more exciting next.

Moving to the new place a week for that proved to be much more tiring than we imagined it to be. Thanks to the driving skills of a friend and a canceled trip by my roommate, we managed to successfully shift two households into new places over 3 days. The nice thing is that many of my friends have all moved to close by places now and many others were already here. So we have quite a crowd around and the locality is much much better, look-wise and safety-wise, compared to the previous one. I am hoping to not move from this place unless something drastic forces me to.

Although I avoid writing about it here, work is not exactly going great guns at the moment. There were big plans for summers but the summers are now gone, leaving plans behind along with a missed deadline. The whooshing sound it made as it flew by was no consolation either. Coupled with a string of negative results, that has cast a little gloom but nothing to worry. We are working on it !

BTW, congratulations to Diwaker Gupta of Floating Sun fame on getting engaged. Couple of other friends have got engaged/married. I wish a great life and all the happiness to them.

Stay tuned !