Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Loads of Fun: YW@20

Exactly twenty years ago, national daily The Hindu brought out its first supplement exclusively for Children, aptly named the Young World.

Since then, there was no looking back. Having changed its logo twice over its history, the supplement is a favourite amongst students.

I started reading The Hindu when I was in seventh class in Kochi. After a brief hiatus, I have been reading the paper for nearly everyday of the last eight years. Back then, I used to enjoy reading YW and went through all the articles. But today, I just give it a glance, although i continue to read the updates from local schools and the YW Quiz.

Over the last few months, YW has been republishing some old stories, including an amazing one about children voluntarily dropping out of school to become an assistant to a mechanic. I was surprised to see the length of the write-ups back then, compared to the shorter ones today. But I supposed that's the way the wind blows.

YW is a pretty young (no pun intended) newspaper in comparison to its parent, The Hindu. But then again, it's meant for a young audience and I'm sure that even when it gets much older, it will continue to be a great read for young readers across India.

OTFS congratulated The Hindu Young World on its twentieth year in circulation.

Sorry State of Affairs in IITK

Another suicide. And more indifference. The suicide of a fourth year student at IIT Kanpur has once again brought to fore the extreme academic environment in the prestigious institute, one of the most stringent in the entire country and definitely the most stringent in the IIT system.

But what really shocked me was the continued indifference of the IITK authorities. During the last suicide, they blamed mobile phones for "distracting" students from their studies. This time, they're blaming the Internet, or the WiFi connection in the hostel to be precise.

It seems that the IITK authorities are determined to pass the buck. Instead of doing something to help students cope with their studies, they are determined to make their stay at IITK even worse. Understand this: this is another generation. Students today are not the study-minded geeks that are portrayed in movies, they have other interests and seek to nurture them. Sure, studies are the top priority but with the system at IITK, the authorities are trying to make studies the only priority. This is bad for students, bad for the institute and bad for the entire IIT system itself, which seeks to make leaders, no bookworms.

Fortunately, there are reports that the administration has sent a proposal to the Senate to lower the pass CPI from 5 to 4. However, a lot more will have to be done to ensure that studying in IITK becomes a pleasure, not a torturous experience.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hmmm... Another End-Sem Exam

Well, it's Friday and there's just a week to go for the end-semester exams. The way the syllabus was completed in virtually all the subjects, except ICY-01, was rather questionable. Nonetheless, we all know that we have to study most of the course on our own. So, as always, here're my expectations.

My top priority is HS-201, a subject in which I can hope to score a cool A+. With 43.5/50 in the sessionals, I'm one of those riding high in the institute. Overall, I loved this subject and rated it high in the choice sheet. Not only was the subject great but even the professors were very good. And,. like every HS subject, I also had to teach a lot of people!

PH-201 is another A+-hopeful for me. Although I'm not very good at it, the paper is made in such a way that I usually get a lot of marks Now, I don't know how the internal marks (15%) will be alloted, but who cares! If the end-term goes well, all will be fine. Not so in MI-201, where my performance has just been average and the tutor seems to have a problem with my face, for it is obvious that he never read anything. Somebody should inform the tutors that a neat, well-written submission is usually a sign that the student hasn't written it himself! In this subject I hope to get a B+.

CE-241 was a subject that left me rather jittery after MTE-1, given the fact that my marks fell in the bottom quartile. Luckily, my practical marks are good and the tutor is sure to equalize everybody through the sessional marks. With very good MTE-2 marks, I just need to remain calm in the ETE and I can get a B+ or an A. Speaking of A's, CE-251 is a subject where I can hope to shoot that target down. My marks have been consistently high versus the class average and just below the highest marks. This being a departmental course, just 12 of us can get an A+. That doesn't matter and I hope to get an A in thus.

Two unpredictable subjects are ICY-01 and CE-201. ICY-01 is a subject where, although my marks are quite good, a large number of students' marks are even better.The same goes for the tutorial marks, leaving me high and dry as to what my grade could be. It's not that bad in CE-201, where my MTE marks have been way above the average (more than double the average, actually) and my PRS marks are bound to be good given my umm... ways ;). Still, I'm so useless at the theory of this subject that it's just a matter of time before I meet my match: and that could be the ETE.

So, with these expectations, or the lack of them, I'm ready for six days of extreme ghissing. And once that's done, I've got a wedding to attend!

And So Ends Sem 3

I missed the first class but attended all the others; I discovered the limitations (CE-201) of the best Civil Dept in India; and I changed my life forever. In short, that was my third semester at IIT Roorkee and the first in the Dept of Civil Engineering.

Thew Time Table (above) is one that was mutilated several times, but also one that I had gotten used to. The THS-201 class happened just thrice, one of them because we insisted. The TMI-201/TCE-251 classes were a major bore since all I could do was sit and sleep. My favourite class was undoubtedly LHS-201 on Tuesday (Macroeconomics), while the one I hated the most was LCE-201, also on the same day.

Now, for the practicals. We had three this semester: P/2 CE-241 (the Hydraulics Lab), which was rather scary and left us in jitters the night before, mainly because of the instructor (who, luckily, didn't extend his strictness to grades); P/2 CE-251 (the Concrete Lab), which was like a dream come true and was undoubtedly the most hands-off lab I ever had; and PCE-201 (the CAG Lab), which was nothing more than a really bad joke, since neither the instructors nor the students they were supposed to be instructing knew how to use the software.

I'm thoroughly disappointed with my elective, ICY-01. Although it was not burdensome, it was not fun either and left me rather bored with hardly any uptick in my knowledge. That's why I opted for IMA-01 next semester.

Overall, this semester, the first after my branch change, was a huge change, although I'm not sure whether it was for better or worse. Nonetheless, it was change and one thing I can guarantee: I'm absolutely satisfied by the academics in CED.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How do I Study?

Well, it's November and it's getting colder by the day (not to mention the unexpected bout of rainfall). But November is not as famous for the cold weather as it is for the cold atmosphere. For, come the penultimate month and the End-Term Exams come calling.

Now, this semester has no subject that left me in a desperate state (like what happened with EC-102 and EE-101). And that's counterproductive because I don't have any incentive to study like mad this time. My mid-term marks have been quite good, sessional marks will be good and practical marks (if any) will be as good as I can hope for. So, with so much ground already covered, why should I study?

But let's not forget the fact that the ETE has the highest weightage in our final mark. Ah, now that's a good reason to study! But alas, it's so difficult to do that. I've tried so much and succeeded in some cases, but I'm so irritated already that I'm currently typing this article in the Library when I was supposed to be studying Solid Mechanics!

And no, I haven't completed everything already, if that's what you're thinking. But study I must, particularly since this is my first semester after the branch change and it's a matter of izzat. OK, forget I said that. I just want the exams to end!

A Full Investigation is a Must


Now that the report of the CAG is out on the huge scam related to the allocation of 2G Spectrum, the revelations are as expected. Former Telecom Minister A Raja, of the DMK, has been charged with flouting norms and causing a huge loss to the exchequer.
Almost on queue, A Raja resigned from the Union Cabinet just before the release of the report. That however, does not absolve him from his wrongdoings. The Opposition has been stalling Parliament since the session began over the issue and the UPA Government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the issue.
The CAG, the Opposition and even a whistleblower have all painted A Raja guilty, yet he continues to insist on his innocence and hides behind the PMO. This is simply unacceptable. The Government has no choice but to yield to the Opposition's demand for a JPC into all the three major scams of the UPA: the 2G Spectrum Scam, the CWG Scam and the Adarsh Housing Society Scam. Resignation is not enough.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good Luck, Mr. Chavan

It's churning time in Maharashtra again. With the Adarsh Housing Society scam claiming (former) Chief Minister Ashok Chavan's chair, the Congress has bypassed the entire gamut of Maratha leaders based in Mumbai and made Prithviraj Chavan the new CM.

Mr. Chavan can't really be called a Maharashtra politician: he's been working in Delhi since 1991, working on an amazing number of portfolios in the current UPA Government, including the big one of MoS in the PMO. He has a pretty clean image and is mostly seen as an apolitical person.

Now, he has to deal with the faction-ridden politics of Maharashtra. Amazingly, the NCP also got rid of its Dy. CM Chagan Bhujbal and replaced him with Ajit Pawar (yes, he's Sharad Pawar's nephew). So, now we have a re-jigged administration in the state. But the problem is that the Government still relies on a very divided majority in the Assembly. After all, who can forget the extraordinary election in which the single reason that the ruling combine returned to power is that the Opposition was too divided?

Mr. Chavan has made some good noises so far, calling for a more transparent Government during his swearing-in ceremony. But then, everybody says nice things on that occasion. He will face a great number of challenges and will probably need to go back to the High Command for help regularly. Still, as an optimist and a former Mumbaikar, I do wish him well.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The 10th Annual Convocation

The 10th Annual Convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology (or the 150-something convocation of the University of Roorkee) was held yesterday amid tight security. The Chief Guest was the CEO of HCL, which is pretty bland compared to what IITK and IITD had. Still, let's assume I didn't say that.

Meeting pass-outs was fun and for them it was very nostalgic. Sadly, the one person I wanted to meet, Deepak Shangloo, couldn't make it. Nonetheless, the old seniors from Kshitij came by and we had a double chapo! First, in CCD with the rest of the English Ed, including some rather serious-looking seniors and a wacky, "I'm a rockstar" fresher.

Then, it was a walk to Divine where the seniors miraculously managed to book a hall. It was very boring really and if my mess hadn't closed, I would've left like Baridhi. But alas, I had to bare to the extremely boring event, although it concluded nicely with some great food and a walk back with some rather immature first-years. Sadly, the Archi freshers' party was organised on the same night and it scares me to thing what happened in Ranvindra Bhawan. Let me not think about that.

So, what else was it about? The Main Building was shining like gold for the Convocation while all the walls were given a grand face-lift. Rajiv Bhawan was dressed up like a new bride, with Rajiv Gandhi's statue being unveiled at last. Nobody - amazingly, not even the Civil Dept. - took the notice about a working day on Saturday seriously. Interestingly, it was only our Dept. that even put up the notice, although it was sent to every Dept. I suppose it shows how enthusiastic they were for a class on Saturday!

So, with the Convocation over, I'm trying my best to study for th ETE. But I'm in the ICC right now. Oh, bummer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My first project in CED

Now that I'm in second year, I can actually work on some Civil Engineering Projects. So, with the relatively new HOD looking at leaving a mark in the Department, two projects were created for B.Tech Second Year students.

The first project is an indoor one that involves designing a brand new website for the Department. The second one, of which I'm a part of, is outdoor. Basically, he had to draw a to-scale plan of the Department.

We were given a measuring tape and one week. We split ourselves into groups and measured everything in sight. It was fun, but only half the job, since the next task was to put all our sketches onto MicroStation. That took a lot of time since we barely know the software; in fact, I had to go through some videos from CIE-101 (University of Maine) to learn the basics!

But we finally finished the job and the result is the picture above. We'll be printing it on a giant sheet of paper and any visitor henceforth will always be able to navigate our giant Department.

My first project was a lot of fun, since I enjoy outdoor practical stuff way more than indoor stuff. It's just sad that a mere 11 students could take part in it.

But this is just Phase 1. Phase 2 involves a 3D walk through. Now, that will be tough!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What was the need?

A new fad seems to have gripped IITR's administration: that of replacing old speed breakers with rubber ones. Now, I appreciate the novel use of modern materials technology, but what exactly is the need to install so many speed breakers in the firs place?

Take the ones around the roundabout near the UG Club. Till recently, they were metallic speed breakers that worked just fine. True, a cyclist could avoid the bump by maneuvering in between the plates, but that would require him to slow down, which is the point. But the new rubber breakers make the bump very uncomfortable: they're probably the tallest speed breakers in the Campus.

Perhaps the institute has too much money. Oh wait, what happened to the demands for Wi-Fi in RKB or floodlights in the Saharanpur Campus, both of which seem to be facing a fund-crunch? Oh, but the institute seems to have enough money to re-paint a part of the currently-unoccupied Rajiv Bhawan!

The speed breakers are in extremely inconvenient places anyway: the upward journey in front of the Library Road or Sarojini Bhawan is made even more difficult by the speed breakers and the magnitude of the slopes hardly makes any difference to the speed of a downward cyclist.

So, I ask, why does IITR have to waste money (taxpayers' money, mind you) on pointless additions when the money is needed elsewhere?

No Solidarity for This


Following perfectly expected lines, Myanmar's military junta-backed party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party is expected to win about 80% of votes and thus establish another round of unending military rule in Burma.

By any standards, the vote was unfair. The high election fee ensured that Opposition parties could only field a limited number of candidates since only the junta could afford the fee. Under restrictive rules, pro-democracy icon and Burma's "real" Prime Minister Aung Sung Suu Kyi was barred from participating in the elections.

The vote was an utter sham with the military cracking down on rebels in a border area and no elections being held there. The new Constitution under which the elections were here reserves a quarter of Parliamentary seats for the military, although it is now sure that almost all the seats will be held by the military. This is no democracy: the low voter turnout clearly reflects just how representative this "new" Government is going to be.

The US and the UN have condemned the elections, while ironically, China (a country that does not even bother to hold elections) praised the elections. Sadly, out of shear economics, neighbouring Southeast Asian countries have also welcomed the result. India has remained guarded and quiet, but it is sure that India will not criticize the demise of democracy in Burma, despite the fact that we Indians cherish our democracy so much.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Historic Announcement

On Monday, US President addressed a joint sitting of the houses of Indian Parliament, following in the steps of another former President Bill Clinton. In his eloquent speech, he won not just the hearts of Indian MPs but also the people of India. He also made history by becoming the first US President to publicly announce America's support to India's candidate as Permanent Member of an expanded UNSC.

Realistically, speaking, negotiations on the UNSC expansion really go nowhere and even though Obama made the announcement, little would probably come out of it in the foreseeable future. Yet, this was the least expected outcome from his India visit. Just a few days back, Obama remained non-committal on India's demand and yesterday he conceded to it.

In a testimony of just how much the world has changed, the US has conceded major political space to India, perhaps in the hope of containing a rising China. India is now only the second country, after Japan, to have received such an endorsement from the US and the difference is that, unlike Japan, India is seen as a free-thinking, at times unreliable ally. Of course, Mr. Obama added a caveat that India must be more forceful on issues of human rights violations in Myanmar and the Iran nuclear issue - and in a way, he is right. If India wants to take a greater role in the world, it must stand up for its values particularly in its own region.

Although he came with fairly low expectation, President Obama's long India tour has proved to be another milestone in Indo-US relations. Now, it will be left to be seen as to how far this relationship can shape the world. The first test will be the Seoul G20 Summit.

A Good Journey, But Miles to Go

CHHATISGARH
It was the demand for a separate state for the tribal population that eventually saw the mineral-rich areas of the state of Madhya Pradesh being carved out into a new state of Chhatisgarh in 2000. Since then, the state has seen many hurdles and has stumbled on many of time, but has continued to lift itself up each time.

The state has enjoyed fairly good political leadership, with current Chief Minister Raman Singh of the BJP proving that his party was not a 'one-hit wonder' and that its good governance could make a difference in an otherwise poor and backward region.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of both of Raman Singh's Governments has been the reformed Public Distribution System. With liberal use of ICT and strong politcal backing, the system is one of the best in the country, lagging behind only the most successful of systems such as that in Tamil Nadu.

Yet, despite the relative food security, the sheer poverty in the Naxal-ridden districts continues to haunt the Government in both Raipur as well as New Delhi. Over the last year, more CRPF jawans and state police commandos have died fighting naxals in this state than anywhere else in the country. The once coal-rich areas of Bastar and Dantewada are now scarred by the Naxals, who have made it extremely dangerous for anybody to go there. In these areas, the state is absent and so are all the benefits that the state provides, including healthcare.

As the battle against the Naxals - "India's greatest internal security threat" - continues, the fate of Chhatisgarh seems to hinge on not just the rebels but also on the political leadership. While infrastructure development has been fairly slow, GSDP has grown satisfactorily. If it can handle the security sitaution, the state could rise to the next level of development. That's a big 'if.'

(Series Concluded)

A Massive Failue

JHARKHAND
It was a long-drawn political movement that finally culminated in the mineral-rich Jharkhand region of Bihar breaking away from its parent state. The new state of Jharkhand was expected to be the most prosperous of the new states given its vast natural resources and cheap labour.

Alas, far from being the most prosperous, it seems the state is now worse off than even Bihar. Unlike the other new states, this one has been politically unstable, with tribal votes changing the balance of power with every election. In its ten years, the state saw eight Chief Ministers take office and several spells of President's Rule. Almost every time, it has been the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the chief power behind the creation of the new state, that was blamed for the instability.

Things came to such a head that an Independent, Madhu Koda, was made Chief Minister with backing from the JMM and Congress. Today, the same Madhu Koda is being investigated for corruption to the tune of Rs. 4,000 cr!

From education to health, the state has witnessed a virtual collapse. Birth rates have been rising while resources have not been tapped; corruption is extraordinarily high and touches every sphere of life; and the Naxalites have converted the state into their own personal fiefdom, reigning terror in nearby states of West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. The law and order situation is so grim that holding elections in this small state is seen as a Herculean task.

Jharkhand stands as a classic example of how poor political leadership can wreak havoc on the future of a state that was otherwise expected to enjoy great prosperity. Unfortunately, even the new BJP-JMM-AJSA-JD(U) coalition seems unstable. Until the political climate improves, nothing much can be hopes from the state.

Moving Ahead Steadily

UTTRARAKHAND
From a few Northern districts of the giant state of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand was formed as a tiny hill state with a low industrial base and literacy rate. Since then, the state has made significant strides.

Using a ten year tax holiday provided by the Central Government, the state has been able to rapidly industrialize. However, the real challenge will be to see if this can be sustained beyond the tax holiday. Electricity continues to be a major problem in the state, with several hydropower projects having been scrapped keeping religious sensibilities in mind.

In education, the state has made rapid strides. It's average literacy rate is well above the national average today and the state has set up several new Universities while also obtaining a new NIT and IIM from the Central Government, as well as upgradation of the University of Roorkee to IIT Roorkee.

Politically, the state has been fairly stable and has leaned towards the BJP, with present BJP-UKD coalition doing a fairly good job. The administrative prowess of the Pokhriyal 'Nishank' Government was visible when the state successfully hosted the world's largest congregation of pilgrims, the Maha Kumbh Mela 2010.

However, the state has to do more going forward. The issue of a permanent capital as well as electricity must be tackled seriously. The state still faces a major hurdle in terms of connectivity and some of the most acute forms of poverty can be found in the more far-flung villages of the state. Still, if the past is anything to go by, the state is a promising candidate to join the ranks of larger, more developed states of India.

10 Years, 3 States

On Novemeber 9, 2000, by an Act of Parliament, the new hill state of Uttarakhand was formed. Full of hope to chart a new path of prosperity, the people of the state started their journey. While it hasn't exactly lived up to its expectations, Uttarakhand has nevertheless raised its overall indicators of prosperity.

In the same year, the new states of Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand were formed. While Chhatisgarh has seen developments in some sectors, the Naxalite problem has left it as the state in which the blood of a great number of CRPF jawans were shed. Jharkhand has been even worse and is now at a position worse off than its parent state.

On the 10th Uttarakhand Formation Day, OTFS presents a short series on these three states: A Tale of Three States.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Diwali at DPT

Diwali is a very special festival in India, particularly the North. A good week before the Festival of Lights, preparations begin. But in IITR, Diwali is a holiday that is usually spent at home, with hostels turning empty.

Unless you live in DPT, that is. Here, most people chose to stay back. The freshers, as per tradition, we busy organising the puja and crackers. Now, the new batch is pretty good at collecting money and they actually managed to collected a whopping Rs. 12,000!

The puja began at five, although most people gave it a miss. At about 7:00 PM, the old polymer gang and the two branch changers from it made off to the faculty homes. From AS to RA, it was a great experience meeting the professors, particularly for me, since I'm not in DPT anymore. The sweets we got were fabulous and I don't think I can afford to eat any more sweets this year after that night :)

This was followed by crackers, in which mostly freshers participated. On the sidelines, some great bakar was going on.

We spent hours after that gossiping away in Malviya Bhawan, reliving old memories. It was one of the best days I had ever had in DPT, one that I will not forget in a hurry.

A One-Term President?

Two years back, when US President Barack Obama was elected to office, it seemed as though he was going to transform America and the world. Today, with the Democrats losing control of the House and narrowly holding onto the Senate with 51 seats, that jubilation seems fictitious

The huge anti-Democrat wave now leaves the President in an unenviable situation that will surely be characterized by gridlock, political posturing and perhaps even some extreme steps, as we saw when the Bill Clinton administration was shut down by Republicans.

Why did the Democrats perform so badly despite the huge wave they gained from just two years back? The answer lies squarely on the President, who has proved extremely ineffective. By allowing himself to be taken hostage by Republicans, he gave up a golden opportunity to take tough decisions. He failed to see that Republicans would not cooperate and refused to use the Democrat's majority to his benefit. The result is before us all.

What is even more dangerous is that the Tea Party movement seems to be gaining ground, with old ideas that failed before finding fashion again. This is bad for everyone. Unless Obama makes a mid-course correction and takes tough decisions to push his agenda through, and also to reconnect to citizens, he could very well face the prospect of losing his next election.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No Place for Gandhi


Irom C Sharmila, the Gandhian from Manipur who has been on a hunger strike since 2000 demanding removal of AFSPA from Manipur, entered the tenth year of her self-imposed torture yesterday. Without calling for people to take up arms, she has sent a clear message to the Government by using the most potent tool of all: a hunger strike.
During the Raj, Gandhiji used hunger strikes as weapons to morally disgrace the British. He used it as a means to end violence in Bengal during Partition. Today, Irom Sharmila has used the same tool to demand what every citizen of India expects: democracy and the rule of law.
Unfortunately, this is no longer the country of Gandhi, hunger strikes and satyagraha do not work anymore. The Government confines her to a hospital bed and keeps her virtually as its prisoner, force-feeding her and humiliating her. What could be a greater outrage.
In this her tenth year of struggle for the rights of the people of Manipur, we join her cause and call for revocation of AFSPA.

Well Done, Lula


Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (or just Lula) is all set to demit office after one of Brazil's most successful presidential terms. Born into a working class family and spending years as a labour leader, President Lula distinguished himself by lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty while also simultaneously turning the 'country of the future' into one of the most powerful in the world.
In terms of foreign policy, President Lula has strengthened IBSA and BRIC in his tenure, thus giving a concrete shape to South-South relations in an era where the West has begun to diminsh in power. In his move to make Iran cooperate on the nuclear issue, he has brought Brazilian diplomacy to the world stage. As he leaves office, Brazilins can be pleased that they now lead a better life and the world can look forward to leadership from a country that is now a non-permanent UNSC member as well as a leading power in the G20 and UNFCCC Negotiations.
Fortunately, Lula's successor was handpicked by him and appears to be a competent leader, although she has said that she will frequently knock on his door for advice. That is good for Brazil and the world.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"We," The People?


This article was submitted for Ren


The Constitution of India begins with these very words – We, The People. Over sixty years ago, in a great victory for humanity, hundreds of millions of people broke across barriers of caste, gender and religion and won their sovereignty. This great land was, for the first time in its history, united not by foreign invaders or domestic rulers, but by the people. Sovereignty was given to, nay, taken by, every single Indian alive that day and passed down generations.


Unfortunately, the fruits of that collective victory have been lost in the sands of time. When we came together as a nation, we resolved to make national integration a major goal. A country that was a potpourri of hundreds of sub-nations resolved to unite all these differences through a common sense of nationalism. But where is nationalism today? What have the grandchildren and great grandchildren of that generation done with what they have inherited?


They have dumped it. Today, regional differences are the sharpest they have ever been. We need a draconian law like AFSPA to prevent the North Eastern States from seceding. Demands for new states are flowing thick and fast with people rejecting the very idea of living in the same state as a section of their fellow Indians. Instead of looking for a common language for all courts in India, lawyers are taking to the streets demanding that their regional languages be made the official language of courts in their state. With ‘Independence’ a taboo word, ‘autonomy’ is what regional politicians demand.


Even in the IITs, regionalism is rampant. Before they have a look at their entire hostel, first year students look for people from their own state. There seems to be some celestial delight in talking in the language of your state and a great pain in the gut in having to work with English. An entire vocabulary has developed to classify people on the basis of region: haddu, maddu, mallu, bihari... Regional meets are perhaps the zenith of regionalism: people who would not dream of attending the flag-hoisting ceremony “early” in the morning of Independence Day (unless it’s made ‘compulsory’) are perfectly happy to leave all their work to meet other people with whom they have nothing in common apart from the fact that they come from the same state. Not even the same city (because in that case they would have the excuse that they need company while travelling), but the same state!


Where is that national spirit? When we meet someone from another state, why don’t we try to learn more about their state instead of looking for someone from our own state? Instead of burying our differences, why are we so enthusiastic to highlight them? Where does the future lie if an IIT student from North India cringes at the very thought of working in the South or North East?


All is not lost though. The future lies in our hands. We have always solved our great problems together and this one must also be solved together. Our generation is fortunate to control the future. Can we make that big leap and look beyond our regional differences to make ours a truly united nation? Or will India always remain a Union of States? The answer lies with each and every one of us.