Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
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
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
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.
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.'
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
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.