Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Tom Ferguson interview

Tom Ferguson: Democratic Governance Is Becoming Discredited.
A recent article by him Posted Prices and the Capitol Hill Stalemate Machine
via Naked Capotalism

Another site for old telugu songs

I found a few songs heredesibantu that I could not find (quickly) in the other sites I visit like:
Tamil sites seem more comprehensive and some times I find interesting Telugu songs in some Tamil sites, usually via google search.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A TANA program

Telugu Assosciation of North America has several programs for the benefit of the poor in India as well as USA. One of the recent programs is Be a part in Feeding the Orphans. I became aware of some of TANA programs through the organizers of Breadsocietyindia. Apparently, it was a struggling organization until TANA helped them substantially. I also heard of various health and other programs initiated and funded by TANA. My impression is that TANA and many other organizations are doing useful work. Sometimes most of what one contributes and may be more (Breadsocietyindia is not a part of TANA but I found that organizers do not take any salaries and even for organizational work, they try to combine with their own work so as NOT to use any organizational funds). It seems that TANA often finds such people for their work in India and I feel that programs such as above may be considered for supporting.

Andhra Pradesh announces interest free loans to Self Help Groups

Interest-free loans for SHG members from January:
"The members of Self Help Groups in the Andhra Pradesh will get interest-free loans up to Rs 5 lakh from January 1.
This was announced by the Chief Minister, Mr N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, in the Rachabanda programme at Shadnagar in Mahabubnagar district on Friday. However, women would be eligible for interest waiver only if they ensure prompt repayment.
As banks were now charging 14 per cent interest on loans to self help groups, the interest-free loans would cause a financial burden of Rs 1,400 crore on the State Government, the Chief Minister said. .................
The Govt had a target of disbursing Rs 10,000 crore loans to poor women this year. The self help groups in the rural areas would be given Rs 9,000 crore loans while those in the urban areas would get Rs 1,000 crore. In the last five years, Rs 800 crore was given to the poor women under the scheme, he added. There are 1.11 crore women in the State in self help groups."
Guljar Natarajan says in Negative interest rate for microloans :
"Given the nearly 10% rate of inflation, the state government would actually be lending at minus 10% to these SHGs. It would form the most generous bank-lending program in scale anywhere (possibly anytime) in the world."
The following post Multiple Borrowing: One, Two, Three…..How many loans are enough? from India Development blog gives some ideas of the amounts borrowed. The largest group seem to borrow about 5000-15000 rupees at a given time. In a small microloan group I am familiar with, the usual loans are about five to eight thousand rupees. Even though these amounts are very small ( some middle class people with whom I went to school now claim to have assests worth several crores, a few upto thousand crores), they seem to help the getting by though they may not get out of poverty or may not lead to investment and growth.
Rohini Mohan in a quick write up on the microfinance crisis in AP wrote about the genesis of SHGs in AP Money for nothing. And misery for free :
"Two decades ago — around the same time that Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus was setting up the Grameen Bank model of microfinance in Bangladesh — post-liberalisation India too was mulling over a staggering figure. Sixty percent of the country did not have access to bank savings or credit. Yunus was turning the rules of banking upside down, giving millions of small loans without collateral to people normal banks thought least creditworthy: poor rural women. India’s pilot project came in 1992, when NABARD created the SHG-Bank Linkage Programme, involving 255 SHGs across the country.

In the SHG programme, women form groups of 11-20 members. Every member must first save at least Rs. 30 a month, which collectively acts as the collateral against which the group can avail bank loans at 12-15 percent interest. The group then relends to its members at 16-25 percent interest, factoring in possibilities of default.

“As a group, low-income women not only get access to bank credit, but also become more creditworthy with every full repayment, eligible for bigger loans,” says Reddy. Since the creditworthiness of the group rides on repayment, each woman in the group exerts pressure on the other to invest the loan in productive activities.

Of the 11 million SHGs, AP has the largest number (9,75,362 SHGs), with close to 90 percent of the state’s rural women as members. “AP has been the most active state in rural microcredit,” says Reddy. “The number of SHGs has increased 10- fold in the past decade.” However, in mid-2010, Hyderabad’s Centre for Economic and Social Studies published a study that shows SHG microcredit is popular, but members get three-fourths of their credit from other sources. So who was meeting this demand?"

My impression is that SHG were only able to help a fraction of the needy but their success laid the ground work for the entry of MFIs and their easy credit policiesslowly led to the later disaster in AP. Probably, we will hear more from
fractured earth and David Roodman's Microfinance Open Book Blog , though Rajshekhar's interests seem to be shifting a bit.

Kotapati Murahari Rao RIP

From Telugu newspapers I understand that Murahari Rao Passed away a few days ago మురహరిరావు కన్నుమూత. Here is a description of his work from Wikipedia Kotapati Murahari Rao.
He was one of the first students of my father Gadde Veera Raghaviah who was Head Master of M.N.M. High School, Gudavalli upto 1951, I think. He was the first Head Master and I think that he was chosen because he was from a farmers' caste. It seems that those days some of the students would not come to school during busy farming days. Apparently, the first Head Master would go to the farms and persuade the farmers to send the students to school. I do not know how far the stories are true but the caste affiliation probably helped my father to do well in that village. I remember him visiting colleges for students' admissions and cities for jobs for students and relatives. Most of those students treated with great affection when my father was alive. Medical treatment was free and there were times when trains and buses were delayed for his arrival. Murahari Rao was one of those who treated him with most affection throughout my father's life. Though Murahari Rao has been part of our lives through out, I started meeting him again only during the last few years. He might have seen some role for me in AP and started introducing me to some bigwigs but I shied away from that sort of life which is not too familar to me now. He leaves behind a very talented daughter Chandra Latha. I was told that at least one of the characters in her novels, her father was the model and we may here more from her in her blog మడత పేజీ (See Remembering Sri Murahari Rao by Babu Gogineni).

P.S.1 From Babu Gogineni's article:
"...he helped bring about improved seed varieties and yet, at the same time, fought along side Dr. P.M. Bhargava, the business practices of Monsanto seeds in India. To do this, he broke up his association with that company at considerable personal financial disadvantage. He was an advocate of modern technology, but not of ancient exploitation."

P.S. 2 A memorial meeting to pay homage to Sri.Kotapati Murahari Rao , Former President Seedsmen Association , Managing Director Pravardhan Seeds Pvt Ltd .
Meeting will be held on 4th December Sunday at Sundarayya Vijnana Kendram , Baghlingampally , Hyderabad at 10.30 AM.
Honour lunch follows at his residence near-by.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An early Vijayantimala dance

After starting on Minai's Cinema Nritya Gharana and Dances on the Footpath, I have been wtching more dance-songs than usual. Here is one I recently watched by Vijatantimala Pyar Ki Bahar Leke Dil Ka Karar Leke BAHAR (1951). I think that the singer is Shamshad Begum and Padmini appears towards the wnd of the dance. It is from Bahar 195i, a remake of (possibly with quite a few changes) of Vazhkai / Jeevitham. I am not sure whether the dance is in the Tamil or Telugu versions; I saw Jeevitham long ago but remember only a few of the songs. Watching dances seem to be due to the exposure to the above blogs. P.S. The link for the dance is not working but it is available at other places like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cd9Omrcf4k&feature=related Richard points out in the comments below that the second dancer too is Vi(y)jayantimala.

From science news and blogs

Leonardo’s Formula Explains Why Trees Don’t Splinter(via Ed Yong)

Coffee delivers jolt deep in the brain

UCSC professor captures video of tool use by fish: Orange-dotted tuskfish cracks clams on rocks
See also the omments by Eric Charles in Tool Use in Fish = Good, Future Planning in Fish = Bad . Similarl points are repeatedly made in Louise Barrett's book 'Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds". Eric Charles has several posts on this book.

Review of 'Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding' by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy It Does Take a Village

Reviews of The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life. By Robert Trivers. Basic Books; 397 pages; $28. Published in Britain as "Deceit and Self-Deception: Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others" by Allen Lane:One by Bryan Appleyard here and another from 'The Guardian' here

Monday, November 21, 2011

A new book on the great divergence

Dan Little discusses in Beyond divergence a new book on the great divergence Before and Beyond Divergence: The Politics of Economic Change in China and Europe by R. Bin Wong and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal.
Apart from covering a much longer period, one of the several new points seems to be:
"The competing states of Europe were frequently drawn into conflict; and conflict often resulted in warfare. R&W argue that this fact of competition had a fateful unintended consequence. It made fortified cities much safer places than open countryside. And this in turn changed the calculation about where "manufacture" could occur at lowest cost. Labor costs were higher in cities, so absent warfare, producers were well advised to pursue a putting-out system involving peasant workers (proto-industrialization; link). But with the threat of marauding armies, European producers were pushed into urban locations. And this in turn gave them incentives to develop labor-saving, capital-intensive techniques. Putting the point bluntly: China didn't have an industrial revolution because it was too safe an environment for labor-intensive production."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Links, November 16, 2011

It seems to be one of those days when several articles look interesting and connect with stuff read earlier.
NY times article Hispanics Reviving Faded Towns on the Plains
From a comment in Guljar Natarajan's post The Eurozone crisis in perspective
"Indian union has no danger of falling apart precisely because the rajasthanis have the option to seamlessly migrate to Maha/TN/Gujarat and send remittances back home. needless to say Greeks cannot do so in Germany."
An earlier post with links on the benefits of labour mobility Evidence for a development idea

MindHacks post on Challenges to the 'death of free will idea' The free will rebellion

More on faecal diet from Ed Yong Faecal diet gives bumblebees defensive bacteria that protect them from parasites
From Louise Barrett's "Beyond the Brain" reviewed here, I see that faecal diet is common among mice too. May be Morarji Desai had a point. A post from few years ago by Tara Smith Fecal transplants to cure Clostridium difficile infection

From Science News Dirty air fosters precipitation extremes and Magic trick reveals unconscious knowledge

And some fun stuff from 'Savage Minds' Buffalaxing in Reverse in Taiwan

Monday, November 14, 2011

The bard of summer gone

I started reading Peter Roebuck's columns in 1989 after moving to Australia and the first difficult years were made bearable (now I would not like to live anywhere else) by his writings and gardening. Here are some obituaries:
Peter Roebuck: a gifted writer and a complex man with a brilliant mind by Vic Marks who knew him from school days at 'The Guardian',
Cricket loses a gifted all-rounder by Greg Baum at 'The Age',
Voice that became part of our summer by Tim Lane at 'The Age'.
P.S. Possible reason for death Peter Roebuck 'faced sexual assault charge'
A sharp mind, a tormented soul
Peter Roebuck ... a tribute from his first African son PSYCHOLOGY MAZIWISA

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Some articles on Hardwick, Vt, USA

A recent post in 'The Automatic Earth' November 12 2011: Bail Out or Revitalize? has an interesting article by Nathan Carey on "The Revitalization of Rural Economies:Profiling Small-Scale Agriculture". In part, it describes the efforts in Hardwich, Vermont:
"The best way to conceive of this revolution is by illustrating a place where the challenge of rebuilding our food systems from the soil up has begun in earnest - Hardwick, Vermont (pop. 3000). The town had its best days in the 1920s, as it was a primary source for granite. When Granite was replaced by concrete as a building material, the industry collapsed. Therefore, the town has been in a sort of stasis for generations. .....
However, there's a growing and well publicized movement happening in Vermont that could provide some clues to the rest of us on how to proceed in a systemic process of revitalizing rural economies. There are many small and medium sized agricultural businesses in Hardwick that popped up within a short time frame and have been growing and making their positive influence felt."
The town was profiled in a 2008 NY Times article Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town and a 2010 book The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food by Ben Hewitt. A review here.

From the NPR article Vermont Town's Food Focus Still A Growing Concept:
"Maybe the same thing can't happen in bigger towns, or major cities. Maybe Hardwick is different. But in this small town, at least, food is moving from the fringes of local life back toward its heart"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dreze and Sen on growth and development

in India. Dreze and Sen observe in Putting Growth In Its Place that eventhough India's economic growth in recent years has been impressive "India has started falling behind every other South Asian country (with the partial exception of Pakistan) in terms of social indicators." Some of the reasons may be "The neglect of elementary education, healthcare, social security and related matters in Indian planning fits into a general pattern of pervasive imbalance of political and economic power that leads to a massive neglect of the interests of the unprivileged. Other glaring manifestations of this pattern include disregard for agriculture and rural development, environmental plunder for private gain with huge social losses, large-scale displacement of rural communities without adequate compensation, and the odd tolerance of human rights violations when the victims come from the underdogs of society."
Thet also note that three states Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Himachal Pradesh which have followed comprehensive social policies in education, health care, child care and some other areas have best social indicatorsamong Indian states.
They conclude
"There is probably no other example in the history of world development of an economy growing so fast for so long with such limited results in terms of broad-based social progress.

There is no mystery in this contrast, or in the limited reach of India’s development efforts. Both reflect the nature of policy priorities in this period. But as we have argued, these priorities can change through democratic engagement—as has already happened to some extent in specific states. However, this requires a radical broadening of public discussion in India to development-related matters—rather than keeping it confined to simple comparisons of the growth of the gnp, and naive admiration (implicit or explicit) of the high living standards of a relatively small part of the population. An exaggerated concentration on the lives of the minority of the better-off, fed strongly by media interest, gives an unreal picture of the rosiness of what is happening to Indians in general, and stifles public dialogue of other issues. Imaginative democratic practice, we have argued, is essential for broadening and enhancing India’s development achievements."

Worth reading in full.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Interview with L.Vijayalakshmi

My granddaughter Ava who is just three has been making me listen to these two songs jalakalatalalo , Varinchi Vachina (on some days quite a few times)for the last two years. One of the four actresses that appear B. Saroja Devi is well known. I found out another L.Vijayalakshmi was a popular dancer and actress who married at the peak of her career and left films. Apparently she was inspired by the dances of Kamala Laxman. Vijayantimala and others and her father transferred to Madras for her training and after a film career of around 7-8 years married following parents' advice and is now a chatered accountant working for Virginia Polytechnic. Here are a couple of dances by her L Vijayalakshmi-Dance & Music-Gundamma Kadha-2in1

A brief biography in the article MGR learnt Bangra for a month to dance with L. Vijayalakshmi and two podcasts of interviews in Telugu and English ( a few minutes in Tamil with a cameo appearence bit of an interview with Chakrapni)
Mohana Murali Interviews Legendary Dancer Smt L. Vijayalakshmi 1 of 2
Mohana Murali Interviews Legendary Dancer Smt L. Vijayalakshmi 2 of 2
and some videos at the same site like NTR, L Vijayalakshmi: Andaala Naaraaja Alukelara.

There are links to some of her dances among other things in cinemachat (the blog seems to have some links to Melbourne).

Aside: In the second interview, at one point, she says 'it is classical but (kaani) graceful'. She seemed to enjoy her dancing and (to my untrained eyes)as good as many of the more famous dancers of those days.

Monday, November 07, 2011

A Japanese bread making experiment

From the Wikipedia aricle on Tacit Knowledge:
"As apprentices learn the craft of their masters through observation, imitation, and practice, so do employees of a firm learn new skills through on-the-job training. When Matsushita started developing its automatic home bread-making machine in 1985, an early problem was how to mechanize the dough-kneading process, a process that takes a master baker years of practice to perfect. To learn this tacit knowledge, a member of the software development team, Ikuko Tanaka, decided to volunteer herself as an apprentice to the head baker of the Osaka International Hotel, who was reputed to produce the area’s best bread. After a period of imitation and practice, one day she observed that the baker was not only stretching but also twisting the dough in a particular fashion (“twisting stretch”), which turned out to be the secret for making tasty bread. The Matsushita home bakery team drew together eleven members from completely different specializations and cultures: product planning, mechanical engineering, control systems, and software development. The “twisting stretch” motion was finally materialized in a prototype after a year of iterative experimentation by the engineers and team members working closely together, combining their explicit knowledge. For example, the engineers added ribs to the inside of the dough case in order to hold the dough better as it is being churned. Another team member suggested a method (later patented) to add yeast at a later stage in the process, thereby preventing the yeast from over-fermenting in high temperatures."
This was popolularized by Nonaka and colloborators and a survey article on related researchresearch
Tacit Knoeldge and Knowledge Conversion:Controversy and Advancement in Organizational Knowledge Creation Theory by Nonaka and Krogh.

Some psychology articles

Via The appliance of psychological science Psychology to the rescue has a 'series of articles from well-known psychologists that describe how psychology has helped them out in everyday life'. More impoertantly, all the articles are about 200 words long. One completeltly new to me
The Zeigarnik effect .

Some books online by Nataraja Ramakrishna

From Nataraja Ramakrishna:
"He was the architect of the revival of the Andhra Natyam dance form, a devotional temple dance tradition performed in Andhra Pradesh for over 400 years until virtually extinct.[3].He is also known for reviving Perini Shivatandavam, 700 year old dance form and brought international fame to it along with Kuchipudi -another traditional dance form. On request of the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy he established Nritya Niketan - a dance school at Hyderabad. "

A semiauto biagraphical bookARDASHATABDI ANDRA NATYAM. syllabus for a course
ANDHRA NATYAM-SILABAS-VAKYANAM and a few more books by him here and here. All in Telugu. I browsed through the first and found them quite interesting with lots of information about great dancers of yesteryears, discussion on various forms of dances in Andhra as well as other parts of India, lines from a number of songs...
Obituaryin Narthaki and 'The Hindu'. I hope that somebody like Paruchuri Sreenivas will write about him som day and put his work in perspective.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


It Happens only in India !! Genius Cow... .

Eemaata November issue

has several interesting articles including a Telugu translation of A.K. Ramanujan's essay on three hundred ramayanas విషయ సూచిక: నవంబర్ 2011. Interestingly, there is 1978 Telugu book by Arudra covering some of the same ground Ramudiki Sita Yemautundi? or Are ye' sure, Sita was his wife. In any case, Delhi University seems to be doing its bit to popularize Ramanujan's excellent article ( I find that two posts about Ramanujan in my blog are getting a large number of hits recently).
There is also an article by the very erudite Paruchuri Sreenivas on 'Visual Culture:Cinema Posters' దృశ్య సంస్కృతి: సినిమా పోస్టర్లు.
There are also continuationsof the series of articles by Suresh Kolichala, Kodavatiganti Rohiniprasad, J.K. Mohana Rao and many more. Some of the links take to English articles and Hindi/Urdu songs. A wonderful e-magazine.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Saadat Hasan Manto's book on Bolloywood stars

Reviewed here Stars From Another Sky . Though I do not know Hindi, I watched some Hindi films in the fifties and always enjoyed Hindi film songs. More recently, I watched several clips on the net. Hindi film songs and dances (from films)seems to be a strong part of my background. I enjoyed these pieces from Manto's book (the two seem seem very different; one gentle with genuine affection and the other difficult to describe; the first of which I came across though Qalander's twitter feed).
Ashok Kumar: The Evergreen Hero
Nur Jehan: One in a million

Vilasini Natyam

Fascinated by a dance from an old Pakistani film, I started browsing the net on the origins of some of these dances and found that there is a revival in my home state of some of the devadasi dances under the name 'vilasini natyam' Dancing like the devadasis. Apparently, Arudra started the revival and encouraged the dancer Swapnasundari who has a book on the topic Vilasini Natyam : Bharatam of Telugu Temple and Court Dancers .
Here is a quick write upon the topic:

"VILASINI NATYAM refers to the Bharatham or solo dance- tradition which prevailed in those regions of Peninsular India where Telugu cultural forms were practiced for many centuries. Andhra Bharatham’s past and present history was initially researched by the renowned Telugu cultural historian , late Dr.Arudra .

Noted dancer Swapnasundari had taken up independent pursuit of the Telugu people’ Bharatham from the early ‘nineties, by directly learning from the descendants of erstwhile temple & court dancers of Telugu regions.

From 1994, Dr. Arudra guided Swapnasundari by monitored her dance-training under the hereditary Telugu hereditary female dancers while simultaneously guiding her in the historical aspects of Andhra Bharatham. The successful reclamation of Andhra Bharatham and its recasting as Vilasini Natyam is the result of their pioneering efforts."

The names Arudraand his son in law Kalyan Mukherjea appeared a few times in this blog.
P.S. A nice article about dvadasi type dances in films here

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

More music from Pakistani films

Classical Music Competition from a Pakistani film..
The MD seems to be the same as that of a film mentioned in an earlier post A Pakistani flm song

Growing luffa in Melbourne

My efforts to grow beerakaaya (బీరకాయ, Luffa acutangula)in Melbourne seem to be taking a beating for a second year. They take about four-five months to yield mature vegetables (For the Love of Luffa, or is it Loufah?)and last year the winter was long and by the time I got one luffa, the summer was over. So this year I decided to grow the seedlings indoor and plant them outside as soon as it got warm. But as soon as I took them outside, they were eaten by insects.
I should try to consult some experts before next year.