Saturday, June 30, 2012

Two old songs

one by  C.H.Atma via which gives the lyrics and an English translation
I wonder whether anybody else except Saigal could have sung such a flat song with so much charm and ease. May be M.S. Ramarao in Chenguna Ala Meeda

Why supermarket tomatoes do not taste that great

Ed Yong explains
"Ann Powell from the University of California, Davis has found that farmers have inadvertently ruined the taste of tomatoes by selecting for ones that ripen together and look good. That aesthetic appeal has been driven by a single change in a single gene, which also affects how the fruits taste."
Even for the standard varieties, the homegrown ones taste better, may be because as a commenter explains "Tomatoes are also harvested before ripening fully, if at all, to give them better shipping qualities and then exposed to ethylene to bring them to a ripened state. Unfortunately, green tomatoes lack the sugars and, presumably, the nutritional value of vine-ripened varieties."
My experience is that our garden tomaoes taste better than market ones if one can get them before birds do. I started covering them with nets but that does not stop possums which eat even green tomatoes. There is also a discussion in

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tom Slee on open data

Tom Slee has written a few pieces about his discomfiture with the open data movements, an early piece which I find clearer than others here. Some of the points:

"1.The rhetoric of citizen engagement too often masks a reality of commercialization (last time)

2.Information is not always democratizing.

3.Information is not always the problem.

4.Transparency is an arms race.

5.Privacy is the other side of the coin.

6.Money flows to Silicon Valley."

More recent articles Why the "Open Data Movement" is a joke and Seeing Like a Geek. The last article in Crooked Timber is leading to a seminar which will probably confuse me even further much like the confusions on climate change
One take away point for me is the quote "this attempt to enhance democratic participation has ended up providing an additional opportunity for those who already, because of their income, education, and overall conventional characteristics of higher status (age, gender etc.) have the means to communicate with and influence politicians. The additional information and an additional communications channel thus has the effect of reinforcing patterns of opportunity that are already there rather than widening the base of participation and influence." of Gurstein. This is a point which seems known in development circles and written about by John Harriss and others, see for example, Middle Class Activism and Poor People's Politics: An exploration of civil society in Chennai. Other India related articles by Solomon Benjamin and others are linked in Tom Slee's articles.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A moving scene from Yogi Vemana (1947)

Vemana finds an old woman shivering from cold at the steps of a temple takes her in to the temple and covers her with the shawl of the resident goddess. The scene starts approximately at 2: 40. More about Vemana at and a recent write up about the film
(via J.K. Mohana Rao). The year 1947 was also the year of India's independence and the famous Nehru speech

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sustainable vs sustained

The final draft of  The Future We Want from the Rio United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is now available. As George Monbiot says in
"In 1992, world leaders signed up to something called "sustainability". Few of them were clear about what it meant; I suspect that many of them had no idea. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: "sustainable development". Then it made a short jump to another term: "sustainable growth". And now, in the 2012 Rio+20 text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into "sustained growth".

This term crops up 16 times in the document, where it is used interchangeably with sustainability and sustainable development. But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability."
Monbiot also says "Several of the more outrageous deletions proposed by the United States – such as any mention of rights or equity or of common but differentiated responsibilities – have been rebuffed. In other respects the Obama government's purge has succeeded, striking out such concepts as "unsustainable consumption and production patterns" and the proposed decoupling of economic growth from the use of natural resources.

At least the states due to sign this document haven't ripped up the declarations from the last Earth summit, 20 years ago. But in terms of progress since then, that's as far as it goes. Reaffirming the Rio 1992 commitments is perhaps the most radical principle in the entire declaration." The changes that United States wanted to make are linked in an earlier article The Mendacity of Hope.
The BBC report Rio summit ends with warning on carporate power is not enthusiastic either:
"Environment and development charities say the Rio+20 agreement is too weak to tackle social and environmental crises.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, author of a major UN sustainable development report 25 years ago, said corporate power was one reason for lack of progress."
There have been several reports of the conference in and probably there will be several more. Perhapd Duncan Green at From Poverty to Power  will also have report soon.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Two duets from Manthiri Kumari (1950)

Just found this feast of songs and dances; Jikki participates in both duets. The full movie is available on YouTube.
The second is a duet of Jikki with M.L.Vasantakumari and one of the strangest dances that I have seen:
There is also a dance in which all the Travancore sisters participate.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dilip D'Souza wins an award

Dilip who was one of the people behind the defunct blog 'The Other Half'' (that is where I got to know about him) who blogs at Death Ends Fun, who trained as a computer scientist, son of a famous bureaucrat, a writer , journalist and above all a man who loves India has won a prize
I do not think that it is any measure of him but I am pleased because he seems pleased; at least pleased enough to send the news to people on his mailing list. I do not know him, my only contact with him through comments in the above two blogs. He writes very well sometimes, but seems to waste his time by getting into seemingly silly discussions in blogs.  Perhaps the reason is that he loves India and cannot see how other Indians can be so narrow minded. Despite such waste of time, I think that he produced a body of work : mainly his reports on the underpriviliged in India ( information his blog), and some of his travel writing which will last. He is still young (at least younger than me) and I hope that he will continue his good work for a long time and will not waste too much time on his blog.

GM crops good for environment?

suggests a Guardian article GMcrops good for environment, study finds looking at a recent study by Kongming Wu and collaborators, but see an earlier paper
by the same group. There are names of various British professors enthusiatic about the research. It seems that one has to check GM watch or lobbywatch even to read what seem to be fairly straightforward science reports.

An old Telugu song for my birthday


ఓ... ఓ... చిగురాకులలో చిలకమ్మా

చిన్నమాట వినరావమ్మా

ఓ... ఓ...మరుమల్లెలలో మావయ్యా

మంచి మాట సెలవీవయ్య

పున్నమి వెన్నెల గిలిగింతలకు

పూచిన మల్లెల మురిపాలు

నీ చిరునవ్వుకు సరికావమ్మ ... ఓ...

ఓ... ఓ... చిగురాకులలో చిలకమ్మా

ఎవరన్నారు ఈ మాట ... వింటున్నాను నీ నోట

తెలిసీ పలికిన విలువేనా... ఆ...

ఓ... ఓ... మరుమల్లెలలో మావయ్యా

వలచే కోమలి వయ్యారాలకు

తలచే మనసుల తియ్యదనాలకు

కలవా విలువలు సెలవీయ ... ఓ...

ఓ... ఓ... చిగురాకులలో చిలకమ్మా

పై మెరుగులకే భ్రమపడకయ్య

మనసే మాయని సొగసయ్య

గుణమే తరుగని ధనమయ్యా

ఓ... ఓ... మరుమల్లెలలో మావయ్యా

మంచి మాట సెలవీవయ్య

ఓ... ఓ... చిగురాకులలో చిలకమ్మా

చిన్న మాట వినరావమ్మా


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A song by Binota Chakraborty

She might have also sung 'Dilli se aaya bhai Tingu' in 'Ek Thi Ladki' (1949) according to and her name before marriage Vinita Raghavendra Amladi.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pogo may be right

Pogo famously said " We have met the enemy and he is us"  ( Some recent echos:
Predators and Professors by Simon Johnson and the book Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy by Christopher Hayes. The book has attracted some attention is reviewd in various places like Slate Atlantic and Truth Out. Most of the reviews seem to be in some agreement of his analysis; though not with the proposed solutions. There is a favourable review in Crooked Timber with lots of erudite comments. From the Slate review:
"Twilight is a book that has been written dozens of times before. It’s part of a great tradition of American writing, the rangy, pop diagnostic manual of Our Current Predicament. These are books of lofty, multidisciplinary ambition that are meant to theorize the tectonic shifts underfoot for as many readers as possible. Their measure isn’t whether they’re right or wrong, but whether they begin to successfully colonize the way their readers decode everyday life.
Twilight is at its most effective as a restless brew of data and feeling. The most ambitious kinds of social criticism often feel like epic games of pattern recognition: You acquire some suspicion about how the world actually works and then set about finding examples to shade in the outline. In this way, they are no different than conspiracy theories. In both cases, the inner workings of society fail our basic expectations of how things are supposed to be. Everything seems predetermined. Even those in charge are revealed to be middle-managers at the mercy of an invisible hand.

There is ultimately no supervillain at the controls of Twilight, no symbols encoded in the dollar bill. Instead, its greatest ambition is to merely draw attention to the logic that structures our lives, the intellectual rationale offered us for ironic detachment or resignation. A contest in which everyone but the spectators have agreed to play with rigged rules, and you feel crazy for ever believing it might have been otherwise."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Healthy Kids Check coming?

From Home visits urged for checks on kids in The Age:
"...the federal government's Healthy Kids Check will screen three-year-olds for early signs of mental disorders, using a checklist that will include behaviour such as sleeping with the light on, temper tantrums or extreme shyness."
The Australian Psychological Society and The Australian Childhood Foundation are supporting the move. Professor Julian Savulescu seems to want to go even further in Label with care.

An Attenborough moment

A lyre bird imitating other birds and then ironically singing its own doom, imitating the chain saw

and a bird that uses its wings to sing and court

Thursday, June 14, 2012

From a tribute to Mehdi Hasan

Master of Melody
"Talking about those who preceded him he makes a special mention of Begum Akhtar. “She was a consummate singer of ghazals and thumris. I have great admiration for her,” he says. When I ask him to mention his favourite film singer, he answers without batting an eyelid “Lata Mangeshkar. She is a complete singer.”

“But she is an Indian,” someone in the room says. “So what? Music and poetry know no boundaries.” He says and one can’t disagree with him."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Elinor Ostrom RIP

Obituary by Barkley Rosser. A passage:
" organized by the people who use the resources work better than ones imposed by outsiders. The classic case involves the forests of Nepal since WW II, a case emphasized by Ostrom. The forests ended up in basically three different kinds of systems. Some of them owned by corporations, influence from the British Raj, some of them were in state-owned and controlled systems from various socialist governments, and about a third remained in the hands of local groups managed in traditional ways. Today, most of the first two are gone, over-harvested and deforested. What is left of the forests of Nepal are those where the local traditional managers were able to keep on keeping on."
A recent message from Elinor Ostrom Greens from the Grassroots
A recent story from India How to make a forest:
"A teacher in the village intermediate school, Bharati had cut his teeth as a young volunteer in the Chipko movement of the 1970s, hanging around environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt. He was well known in the neighbourhood for rallying the villagers of the area against a government logging permit in 1982 to fell the forests that sustained them. His efforts were non-violent and successful: the government had to rescind the logging permit. But the forests were degraded because rain, which was plentiful, ran off the slopes into distant valleys, eroding the soil along the way. The rainwater had to be retained on the slopes.

But there were no accounts to be found of building khaals and chaals to catch the gushing runoff. Bharati decided to experiment with designs and sites in 1993. The hill folk knew their terrain, knew terraced farms and thought, as Bharati found, in three dimensions, unlike the plainspeople. But the water scarcity and the degraded forests had made livelihoods impossible, and the villages were bereft of men, who had gone ‘down’ in search of employment.
Bharati began talking to the women who were left behind. In the first year, they built a chaal on a monsoonal channel that had dried up. After the next monsoon, it retained water longer, the surrounding soil remained moist, the forest looked healthier. Over the next five years, Bharati’s Doodhatoli Lok Vikas Sansthan built several chaals in Ufrainkhaal and neighbouring villages, improving their design through trial.
They had broken free of the vicious cycle of drought/flood—more water meant the forests were getting more dense, which in turn retained even more water.
Bharati and his colleagues have steadfastly rejected the trappings of a formal organisation. They don’t issue press releases or seek publicity, they do not demand development funding. In fact, they once refused an FAO offer of a grant of Rs 1 crore. The villagers here know a healthy forest is essential to survive, and they revel in being its protectors. When the government offered a watershed development project, Bharati politely refused."
P.S. Previous posts on Elinor Ostrom

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Looking for Vidyapati

a 1937 film starring Kanan Devi, I found this blog  post which led to many other interesting posts in the blog. Here are a few
The last has an article by Beverley Nicholls written in 1944 which has passages like this:
"And the other reason why Indian films may one day flash brilliantly across the world's screen? I have already indicated it. It is hidden deep in the eyes of Mother India herself; it is written in every wrinkle of her ancient face. Mother India is the world's greatest story-teller; her legends are inexhaustible, and every league of her sun-scarred territory has a tale to tell, of blood or of passion or of sacred fire. And now that at last Mother India is awakening, to all this store of ancient history will be added the thrill of history in the making; the air will be strident with the echo of snapping chains and rending veils. It is for Mother India herself to walk out of her ancient prison, which is so largely of her own making, to breathe the fresh air and think the free thoughts of the new world, and then, to translate them into terms of art.
Can she do so?"
I do not know. I do not see many films only songs and dances.
There are many non-filmi posts as well, for example Rows of Inappropriate Indian Political Cartoons. It seems that I can spend many wintry afternoons in Melbourne reading this blog.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Ariel Rubinstein interviw

at Five Books . One of the books mentioned in the interview, his own Economic Fables is available online.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Poincare's hundredth death anniniversary

Dilip D'Souza reminds us that it is almost a century since Poincare died. Here is a nice article published in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society which describes his contributions including the first mention of the 'butterfly effect'. This is after he found a mistake in a prize winning paper and had to republish the paper ar his own expense which was more than the prize money. See also Poincare's cmments about earth's rotation which still seems to cause confusion in some ciecles.
Everybody has his own interpretation of Poincare's work and influence. According to Vladimir Arnold  (page 14)Poncare created modern mathematics and also said that 'only non-interesting problems might be formulated unambigously and solved completely'.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Two Kanan Devi songs

Though I vaguely remember a couple of her songs, it is only recently that I have been listening to Kanan Devi songs, particularly her songs from Jawab (1942). Today I found through 'Songs on the Footpath', the Bengali versions which are much better preserved and have a translations

Some of the posts in 'Songs on the Footpath' relating to Kanan Devi
here, here and here.
P.S. The music director was Kamal Dasgupta who also was the composer for 'Tum Bhulaye na Gaye' sung by Feroza Begum

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Aamir Khan vs Doctors

"...Aamir Khan showed the Sunday morning TV audience how doctors take a cut from pathological laboratories and specialists to refer patients, how patients are misled to make them undergo unnecessary and expensive treatment; and how doctors are paid by pharma companies to prescribe specific medicine brands. Victims spoke openly and bravely of how their illnesses were exaggerated for the personal gain of doctors, etc.

Now IMA wants an apology from Khan for having “defamed” the medical fraternity and for having given only one side of the story. There is talk of legal action although IMA’s honchos admit there are “black sheep” in the profession. So, is Aamir Khan right in exposing medical frauds, or is the IMA barking up the wrong tree?"

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Browsing filmi blogs

After discovering Minai's Cinema Nritya Gharana and Dances on the Footpath last year, everyday seems to bringing some thing new from the array of blogs linked in their blogs. I am nominally interested in Hindi film songs and dances, having seen a few in the forties and fifties starting with Rattan and probably ending around the period of some of Raj Kappor's early films. Many of the things I was curious about like tunes, music, dances their background are slowly becoming clearer. Many of the blogs seem to by westerners, some of those of Indian origin though I cannot tell from the names and titles and some of them, particularly Minai's seem to be like research papers. Thet are checked and crosschecked (if somebody makes a mistake everybody jumps in) and there are well researched articles to those giving glimpses of the lives of the artists even the obscure ones who somehow were an integral part of making those films what they were with stories of human interest to erudite discussions. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to make lists (like the old Indian stuff of sins, punishments, Mudras and other catalogues) but somehow one has to post once in a while. Anyway, the provocation for this post is that I was curious about Anglo-Indians partly because one of my sons in law is an Anglo Indian. But I do not mix much with their family since they are very strongly Roman Catholic and I usually keep away from religion. My general impression is that they are not well accepted in India since they are scattered all over the place and do not have strong constituency of their own. But they do not seem to be that well accepted here and seem to go for many Indian things from food to Tendulkar. In one of the film blogs I have come across, I find soms glimpses of Anglo-Indian life. Here is the fourth part of a seies about one of the dancers Edwina Lyons in Hindi films around the sixties from Dusted Off. Here is a passage, probably very generalized, but came from a very tough and good person from the group "Like I already said that most Anglo Indians in My Opinion just live for the day ‘One Day at A Time Sweet Jesus’ Tomorrow is always another day so no need to stress & Limited almost everything they did in Their Lives If they passed through High School was more than enough to get by with & not really Ambitious as such Planning was definitely out of the Question & did Things Mainly on Impulse Majority of them Anyway! Yet They were Full of Airs & Graces & Almost felt that They were Superior to Others & I Personally called Them ‘Hard Cases’ just a Name instead of calling Them worse I know that I Am ‘Anglo Indian’ as well unfortunately! I know that I Worked Very Hard & Still Do but then I Might just be one of the Minority eh! Mind You I am not over the Moon being an A.I. but I cannot help being what I am We cannot call Ourselves Indian here in India because the Indians would not accept that.."
There are glimpses of many minor, major, forgotten, not-so-forgotten dancers and actors from that period amd a moving story about Edwina and Mehmood in memsaabstory.
Sometimes, the posts get very technical about ragas and what not. I like the songs as they are and do not care about ragaas. Possibly the knowledge and practice is useful but for somebody like for whom film songs and dances are a relaxation, these technical things seem a bit too much. And sometimes they cannot decide which raga it is because some innovators changed various things. Here is a very scholarly article about one song
"We have here an apparently bizarre situation where everyone is ravished by Lapak Jhapak and attributes its musical appeal to the sublime power of the underlying râga, and yet there is little agreement and much confusion as to its identity!

Online listings of film music tend to classify this song as Darbarî Kanada or Miyan kî Malhâr, though instances of its being labeled as Megh Malhâr, Adânâ, etc., or even “Jai Malhâr” (invented solely for the occasion :-) ..."

P.S. I only quickly browsed through the four articles in 'Dusted Off'; I did not notice any information about Anglo_Indian actresses like Honey O'Brian from a slightly earlier period, and of course there were many in the very early days.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Tum Bhulaye na Gaye

There is a morphed version of this Feroza Begum song 'Tum Bhulaye na Gaye' which I posted last year
The morphed version has also lyrics and transalation of the lyrics
Another version of the song was recently posted in which says that it was used in a 1957 film. I posted in a Tamil site (which I find very cosmopolitan) and one participant is very enthusiastic about it; his reaction made be repost the link to the song.

Some recent articles of Cosma Shalizi

Cognitive Democracy with Henry Farrell
In Soviet Union, Optimization Problem Solves You
Versions of both articles appeared in which allows comments but I did not read them.
Cosma Shalizi's review of Jack Knight and James Johnson's book 'The Priority of Democracy'
More reviews by Cosma Shalizi
Some of the ideas seem to fit in with Sugata Mitra's ideas on teaching and the recnt struggle of civil society organizations frustrating the efforts of developed countries to limit the mandate of UNCTAD. In any case, I will be spending the next few weeks reading around these articles.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Orwell on Dickens

Among several interesting things in Charles Dickens, George Orwll says "...he is an institution that there is no getting away from. How often one really thinks about any writer, even a writer one cares for, is a difficult thing to decide; but I should doubt whether anyone who has actually read Dickens can go a week without remembering him in one context or another." I wonder whether some writers enter the consciousness people in their extended linguistic regions and shapre their tastes and thoughts. Two of the writers that I remember almost every week are Gurajada Apparao and Sarat Chandra Chatterjee.
The article came via David Brin's post in which he remembers another part (at the end os srction 1 in Orwell's article):
"Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing. There is always a new tyrant waiting to take over from the old — generally not quite so bad, but still a tyrant. Consequently two viewpoints are always tenable. The one, how can you improve human nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate in point of time. The moralist and the revolutionary are constantly undermining one another. Marx exploded a hundred tons of dynamite beneath the moralist position, and we are still living in the echo of that tremendous crash. But already, somewhere or other, the sappers are at work and fresh dynamite is being tamped in place to blow Marx at the moon. Then Marx, or somebody like him, will come back with yet more dynamite, and so the process continues, to an end we cannot yet foresee. The central problem — how to prevent power from being abused — remains unsolved. Dickens, who had not the vision to see that private property is an obstructive nuisance, had the vision to see that. ‘If men would behave decently the world would be decent’ is not such a platitude as it sounds."

Friday, June 01, 2012

Thinking about mathematics and other things

These days, I rarely work on mathematics though off and on I still have dreams on mathematical topics, the most recent was about "Thom Isomorphism'. The only times I work seems to be when somebody sends a question or whwn colloborators write about a paper started in 2005, just around retirement time as the last of a series outling and completing the work done over the previous ten years. Now it seems to be to be taking shape and I started working on it three days ago. Immediatly I find that I can still spot mistakes of colloborators but I cannot sleep well and head starts throbbing my midday. But main interest during the last few years has been to understand a bit about poverty and developments. Reading various blogs and books about these topics somehow does not seem to produce the same level of intense thinking and headthrob. I wonder whether it is the nature of the topic where the structures are different for intense thinking and the solutions depend very much on the context, which is variable with time even in one region. With this proviso about lack of deep and intense thinking on my part, I see some reasons for optimism.. One is the social audit activity in India reported earlier in RTI and Social Audit and Right to Information. Here a strong right to information act from 2005 seems to be a useful driver of that activity. Now Oxfam has Reports from different countries linked in Duncan Green's post (How can aid agencies promote local governance and accountability? Lessons from five countries) which give other stategies in addition to social audit:
"All the case studies show how it is essential to work with both citizens and people in authority in order to achieve positive change in local governance. This might be about finding or creating spaces for constructive engagement between people and authorities, as in the ward meetings organised by women in Nepal. It could involve working with citizens to raise awareness and knowledge about their rights and about how local governance works, so that they can make relevant demands and monitor effectively how resources are used and accounted for, as in Malawi and Kenya. It may require working with officials and elected representatives to increase understanding about how to work accountably and transparently and to understand the benefits of actively involving citizens in planning and monitoring, as in the Tanzania example. Or it might be about working with officials to understand how particular legislation or regulation should work, as in Kenya."