Thursday, October 27, 2005

Why are India's Achievements So Little Known?

Today there was a talk by Dr. Vidyasagar, and I did not go why?
1. It was at 9:30 am and I had to sleep
2. I was hearing this name for the first time.

Bharath - my roommate told be about his achievements but still that was not enough to cross my sleep-barrier. But later when I was browsing through his profile I was really awed by his acomplishments. A simple looking man but 'The' man behind CAIR, TCS Advanced Research Center and holding visiting faculty positions at MIT, Berkley, UCLA, IISC etc. I went through an article by him - Why are Indian's Acievements so Littike known.

Some Excerpts:

"I believe the correct question to ask is not why it is so cool to hate India. Rather, we should ask: Why is it so easy to slander India and get away with it? My suggested answer is: Because one does not pay any price for doing so."'

"There is no point saying that what such people say is "true". In a huge and heterogenous society like India, one instance of almost every kind of deviant behaviour can be found, especially if one goes looking for it. The issue at hand is one of perspective

"To these people, the India of the rising Rupee, falling inflation, rising foreign exchange reserves, rising current account surplus, falling unemployment, rising self-confidence, booming stock market, improving infrastructure, rapidly decreasing poverty, burgeoning IT sector, and the second fastest growing economy in the world for over a decade, simply doesn't exist."

Monday, October 24, 2005

"I can Think, I can Wait, I can Fast."

- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

Probably the simplest and the exaustive rule one needs to follow in life - not even follow, just say it when any negative thoughts come to mind - and life would be much more meaningful.

I happened to hear about this book from a guy called Deepak Maini who was my room mate during my small ITC stint. For all the four years he was with me at IIT we did not interact much, probably I did not think high of him, but was surprised to know him then. Anyways, he was then reading another book by the same author - Narcissus and Goldmund and another friends at ITC - Godbole also mentioned that Siddhartha was great.

Now over a small discussion with my flatmate, Bharath, I was again reminded of the excellance of the book, but this time I was lucky as he had brought the book with him. A thin book indeed, but best read at 'half the speed'. One of Bharat's take from the book was that Hesse has gone beyond 'Gautam Buddha' (wont tell how as that will spoil the essence), but to me the thing that struck the most was - "I can Think, I can Wait, I can Fast". (Though still trying to deal with the last clause ;-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A mathematician`s advice:

You cannot solve the problem? Forget it and invent a new one.
D. Polya

When History does not repeats - Mid Sems

I say the word 'mid-sem' and I am sure something flashes at the back of the memory. It brings forth the emotional turmoil that used to happen when the mid-sems approached at IIT. For many this was the only time that they ever used their gray cells for academic purposes, for some probably midsems were too meagre and they used to wait for the End Sems.

A good way to analyze the midsems may be the plot of 'days-used-per-midsem vs stress vs year'. I still remember my first Midsem in Sept 2001. Things were new, things were daunting. Probably a whole week was spent preparing for them. Yeah 7-8 days for 5 midsems getting it to a ratio of more than 1.5 days per midsem. The day first mid sem ended was a celebration day. Since I was from Delhi and had those features a typical Delhiite would, I chose to play Pool at Landmark - the only 4star hotel in Kanpur. This day would probably also mark the first time I tired a cigarette - with the words 'For the First and the Last Time' ;-). Anyways, the next mid-sems were also similar. Heart beat going stronger, spending 1.5-2 days average per midsem (incl the days of the midsem).
<- High Stress, High Time(1.5-2days/midsem).

In second year things changed a bit. Since I had scored good with supossedly less amount of effort in my first year, mid sems were taken in a lighter mood. Maybe I started to prepare for them 5 days in advance. But the stress of the midsem was still high. It still was only midsem on the mind throughout those 5 days, getting it to around 1 day per mid-sem. In second year the end of the mid-sems were marked with different kind of feeling. Going out on a rickety Vikram to city was childish so it was more whatever can be managed staying at Campus, watching Movies in and out, night out sessions with friends of 'a' glass of Whiskey and the kinds.
<- Normal Stress, Normal Time(1-1.5 days/midsem).

I got raped in my second year, probably had taken them a bit lightly. But no! who cares. I wont change, Life is about fun. Third year was bad - but not for me. Doing seven courses (one audit) was no joke, but something changed in third year. Now mid-sems were no longer something to fear from. They were like routine thing and needed time at the right time, which was duly given to them. The end of mid-sems in third year was now no special issue. 'Bula Sessions' with friends and 'khamba' was not something that deserves special mentions. Surprizingly I also reached perfection in one of the semesters - Lesson learnt lower the stress and time - higher the output :-).
<- Low stress, Normal Time(1-1.5 days/midsem).

Fourth year was like a breeze as far as the midsems were considered. There were 3-4 midsems on an average and 2 days were reserved for them, so the average time per midsem was less than 1 day. I dont even recall any sepecial feelings for midsems probably except the last one where I thought - "this would be the last mid-sem I will ever give, Ahh! I will have to leave IIT Kanpur - I wish I has some more days of even the mid-sems." ----And Lo! God heard me and now I am again in the loop of midsems and endsems. :-)
<- Low stress, Low Time(<1 day/midsem).

BUT history now does not always repeats itself. Though I am in my first year, I no longer have the anxiety I had in my first year of IIT, nor am I spending 2 days per midsem. IIT has made us strong enough that no exam can ever raise the adrenalin. I have a mid sem tomorrow on Statistical Learning, though its only one but I am keeping the tradion of low stress low time to perform my best. I have exaclty 24 hours left on the beep!.............Beep...........should start now! BTW a secret - I have always relied upon good wishes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Spiti Valley - Marriage of Heaven and Earth

The best adventure trip ever till now, and probably it shall remain the best - atleast for the 11 people that were on.
Cycling trip in Spiti Valley (Himachal Pradesh) ~ March 17 - March 27 2005.
Appoximate Distance covered on Cycles ~ 180 Kms.
Max Height ~ 4300 Mts
Max Cycling in a day ~ 60 Kms.
Bag Pack Weights ~ 15 - 20 Kgs
Kanpur -:Train:- Chandigarh -:Bus:- Shimla -:Bus:- Rampur -:Bus:- Recongpeo -:Bus/Cycle/On foot:- Yangthang -:Cycle/Bus:- Tabo -:Bus:- Kaza -:Cycle:- Ki -:Cycle:- Kaza -:Cycle:- Hoorling -:Truck:- Maling -:Cycle:- Puh -:Bus:- New Delhi.

I dont know if I will be able to write about it in detail but just found one of the group members - Shivesh Ranjan - written an exhaustive summary. He has really written it well with all the details. Probably someday I will write a small version.
(To get a glimpse at real Himalayas, check out photographs from day 4 onwards.)

From Sivesh's Blog:

Himalayan Eleven – the cycle expedition

Ravindra Vishnoi (vishnoi, behnoi) 4th year: Adventure club coordi. One word: photographer. Another word: Spiderman. Always seen with his SLR on.

Gaurav Bhutani (bhuts) 3rd year: Vishnoi’s successor. Tiredness and fatigue; What’s that? Suicidal tendencies – over stimulated love for adventure. Treasurer of the trip.

Amit Chosky (serial-killer*, psycho*) 1st year Mtech: A taciturn and a perfectionist. Most helpful guy in the group.

Ankur (labor) 4th year: A paranoid. Archie’s nemesis – shared all archie-aditi stories with us

Archisman Ghosh (archie; Urchie baba) 4th year: Mr. clumsy, Mr. unlucky, Mr. always-falling-in-trouble. Bong!!!

Harshat Pant (pahadi, pant) 4th year: pahadi. Best singer in the insti. Didn’t let him bore us much with his vocal chords.

Nikhil Rasiwasiya (daddu, nikux, phantom*) 4th year, wingmate: Adobe wizard. New found love on the trip –SLRs.

Shivesh Ranjan (lala) 4th year: That’s me.

Ravi Verma (thapa) 4th year: thapa looks. My Jordon team-mate. Love for adventure and speed and donkeys(?).

Y. Ajayendar Reddy (reddy, terrorist*) 3rd year: thapa’s spouse. Terrorist get up. 32 all out through out.

Raja Banka (Bhramadev*, banke-lal*, banke-bihari*, raja babu*) 2nd year: without him the trip would have been half the fun. One line punches.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Came accross a nice Joke

At age 4, success is..............not peeing your pants.
At age 12, success is............having friends.
At age 16, success is............having a driver's license.
At age 20, success is............having sex.
At age 35, success is............having money.

At age 55, success is............having money.
At age 65, success is............having sex.
At age 70, success is............having a driver's license.
At age 80, success is............having friends.
At age 85, success is............not peeing your pants

Friday, October 07, 2005

They say history repeats itself.

Or does it not?

Well in my case in in the case of numerous people who make the mistake of believing that they are worthy enough to satisfy their ~Intellectual~ thirst and give back something of use to the world, it must be true. Yea I am talking about Grad School and being a first year student again. Yet Again. Not that I have bad memories of my first year at IIT Kanpur but "Kuch bhi bolo! First Year first year hai aur Fourth Year Fourth Year" - (remember our good ol' singla sayin "Kuch bhi bolo! Hall 2 Hall 2 aur Hall 3 Hall 3" ).

Final year you are the boss - you are the ultimate - you are the champion - you know the loopholes of the system - you are what you are - and above all you have 'Friends'. But first year is different. You are polite - you are the one who will say a Hi to a senior first - you have to know and explore the system - you dont have knowledge - you are 'Alone'. !@#$%^&*Ahhh! Its really nice to be back in first year cus this is the time when you learn the most - you are active - you are open - you make New Friends - your knowledge increases - you learn a new way of life - you Live a new life. But was the old life bad that you needed a new life? Someone told me at Appin, Life is all about asking right questions! and I must say he was totally correct. The question is not that was your old life bad that you needed a new one, the question is Isnt' Change Necessary?. Well i'll talk about that some other day cus this one is one first year and final year.

So after establishing myself for four years in IIT, life has put be back to the same spot where I was when I joined IIT. I know that these will be the instances that will be imprinted on the memory perpetually, but only that going thru it once again is some kind of a pain. It would have been much better to say directly enter the third year with all the information needed be fed into the brain in matrix style. Then all these inital extra efforts of the first year will wane away. Is'nt anyone working on thing like memory loader through which Neo learn jujitsu?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Tab on Internet.

Why this Blog: From the past few months I was feeling kind of left out in this new Internet that was seemingly being evolved. My past memories do remind me of website of HTML of CSS and to an extent of php, but that now whenever I tried to open my eyes and look around I could not handle the glaze. To cut short everything read about Web 2.0 in Wiki and on O'reilly

The Blog: This confusion started when I entered IIT in 2001 with the knowledge of just HTML. I used to wonder how can people make great site which are coherent- talk of any big company then and it had a website such that all the pages looked a part of the site. Infact the content inside the pages were truly organized - a supposedly difficult task to do just using html This was the time I was exposed to CSS. I started using it for small pages and also used it to develop the initial website for Appin Knowlegde Solutions.

As time passed by another doubt gripped me with all thouse dynamic content coming on the net. Nanda my roommate made his website for Navya. He had this task of updating the website from time to time with new news, polls, articles, databases etc. He introduced me to PHP and MySql and my thirst for understanding the web was pacified. But in the final year of IIT things again started changing. The foremost being Gmail which never seemed to me like a website - the interface they developed was just amazing, so must have been the tools used. It was not pure HTML-CSS-PHP-MySql types of website for sure, but then I did not let that bother me and continued on.

From past few days I was lucky to keep track of Diwakars Blog(Ajax tags) and happened to see some really nice websites with amazing functionality. - Organizer, Flickr, word processor, instant messenger, project manager. Also new words like RSS, AJAX, Web 2.0 came into my dictionary and now I again feel satisfied to be walking with the Internet unless someone else points me out new technologies. Not that I know all these technologies I dont know the 'A' of it but I feel secure that I know that it exists.

Everything thats new and exciting belongs to a class formally called as Web 2.0-Read more in Wiki and on O'reilly