Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Old gramaphone songs

Several at Archives of Indian Music. Found it while looking for Amirbai Karanataki's 'vaishnav jan to', supposed to be a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi. Another well-known bhajan by Amirbai

Monday, October 29, 2012

Links, October 29

Review of 'Behind the curatin: Making music in Mumbai film studios' by Gregory Booth
Introductory part of 'Unearthing gender:Folk songs of North India' by Smitha Tewari Jessal. A review from the World Bank blogs.
Freeman Dyson reviews a book on philosophy, an excerpt: "I found the book enlightening and liberating. It said that philosophy is simple and has limited scope. Philosophy is concerned with logic and the correct use of language. All speculations outside this limited area are mysticism."
Australia targets Asia again: "EVERY school will be made to teach at least one priority Asian language under a national Asian studies curriculum, as part of a comprehensive embrace of the region aimed at exploiting its rapidly growing wealth over the next decade-and-a-half." From the Hindu "All Australian schools would engage with at least one school in Asia to support the teaching of a priority Asian language — Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese, she said."
'The /Real/Club of Rome turns Forty, in Vienna' by David Warsh
From a speech by John Ashton: "The struggle between incumbency elites and those who see the need for change will be the defining struggle of our times." via ihe Global Dashboard.
Guy Standing on 'precariat'.
'Academic precariat' by Mark Brown.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An Onion piece on the presidential debates

Before the second debate Nation tunes in to see which sociopath more likable this time
Gary Younge in The Guardian after the third debate:
"If the world could vote on 6 November, Barack Obama would win by a landslide. A global poll for the BBC World Service revealed that 20 out of 21 countries preferred the president to his challenger. But when you watched the presidential debate on foreign policy on Monday night you had to wonder why. Not because Mitt Romney was better, but because on matters of policy, Obama was almost as bad. It takes a friend to reveal the harsh truth to the global community, so here it is: "Obama's just not that into you."
No one could love Israel more, care less about the Palestinians, put more pressure on Iran or be a greater fan of drone attacks or invading Libya. Both candidates agreed that America's task was to spread freedom around the world: nobody mentioned Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib or rendition. "Governor, you're saying the same things as us, but you'd say them louder," said Obama. It was a good line. The trouble was it condemned them both."

Ed Yong on dung beetle's air-conditioning unit

here: "By filming dung beetles with a heat-sensitive camera, Jochen Smolka from Lund University has found that their dung balls aren’t just take-away meals—they’re also portable coolers."
At one stage, the article says "On hotter ground, their front feet can heat up by as much as 10°C, and that triggers them to climb onto their balls. Here’s where the adorable green mitts come in—if Smolka placed these on the beetles, their front feet didn’t heat up, and they were less likely to climb onto their balls."
An ealier study suggests that climbing onto the balls may be to orient themselves:
Ed Yong's post has quite convincing videos. Perhaps the dance on the top has at least two purposes.

Interview with Joseph Stiglitz about India

in Outlook India. An excerpt:
"India is an unusual country and different from many other developing and emerging markets. It has a large entrepreneurial class and has lots of savings, wealth. And this entrepreneurial class is very talented. So that raises the question as to why India needs foreign entrepreneurs in any sector, particularly the retail or the financial sectors."
There is also an interview with The German ambassador in the same issue of Outlook.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Links, October 22

Mukhtar Mai Interview
From the article Merkel& Co should look at the 'H' factor:
"...since the financial crisis erupted, “humiliation has returned to Europe on a large scale”.
Inside nations, weak groups have suffered economic pain, and across the eurozone, weaker countries are being humiliated in a way that was taboo in the postwar post-humiliation period. Even more striking than this turnabout, Prof Smith argues, is the variety of responses from countries such as Greece and Ireland, as they reel from that humbling."
via Globaln Dashboard post How much humiliation can Spain cope with?
"East Asia is now a renminbi bloc because the currencies of seven out of 10 countries in the region – including South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand – track the renminbi more closely than the US dollar."
"America's capacity for integration is one of its greatest strengths, politically and economically. Europe has allowed great waves of immigrants into its cities without integration, and the result is the dangerous combination of marginalized communities within national borders and rising neofascism. Japan, which has basically locked the door on outsiders, is now the world's first geriatric nation: a nation of old Japanese men and women, with nobody left to care for them or to work. They are a warning to the world. The future — where we all will live whether we like it or not — is not closed. It is an amalgamated mix. Anyone too prejudiced or too stupid to deal with this fact will be left behind..................We're just too stupid to improve ourselves by thinking. Only lust can save us."

varuna varuna from Balaraju 1948

This was the first film that I watched. Quite a few of the songs were uploaded recently including the more popular 'o balaja jaali leda', Yevarine nenevarine', 'raja rara' all by S.Varalakshmi. There is also a sort of folk tune

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Minnesota backs down on online education

From Slate post by Will Oremus:
"In my original post, I wrote that Minnesota should win a grand prize for "most creative use of government to stifle innovation." It's only fair now that I also give it, if not a grand prize, at least an honorable mention for government responsiveness in the face of a backlash."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sitting a lot is not good for health say the experts

Abi links to an article in NY Times which suggests that sitting too long may not be a good thing:
"The research, published in separate medical journals this month, adds to a growing scientific consensus that the more time someone spends sitting, especially in front of the television, the shorter and less robust his or her life may be."
There are some scary numbers too, lot about TV watching. I tend to doze off while watching television but the time sitting down at the computer or reading have increased enormously and the results are clear in a few years, increase in BP, fall in energy levels etc.  Change of habits to like walking daily, gardening etc seem to have improved things a bit. But unfortunately, now I am used doing parts of gardening like weeding sitting in a chair.

It seems that there were binders full of women

From Mind the Binder:
"What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.....
Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent. However, as I have reported before, those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn't care about.."
Linda Beale confirms the story:
"It was binders put together by MassGAP that the governor used to make his appointments.  (Perhaps if organizations in other states had prepared in that way, even more governors would have done better jobs of appointing females to their cabinets.)"
Perhaps this is a pointer to other groups which are underrepresented.

35 scheduled caste medical students fail in the same subject

From an article in The Times of India:
"The case relates to 35 SC students who appeared for the first professional examination in July 2010 and failed in the subject of physiology. Twenty-five of them failed again in the same subject despite the fact that many passed in other subjects. Mungekar said when students tried to meet college authorities, they were not entertained and had to resort to RTI to get information......

Students again approached the HC requesting that they be allowed to take supplementary examination.
They were allowed and most of them passed as the examination was conducted in the Army College of Medical Sciences under close supervision of the court. But it was a short reprieve as Sharma forced them to attend classes with the fresh batch. "They were again to lose one more year," Mungekar said."
Report in The Hindu And a Kafila post Dronacharyas all:
"Dr Mungekar, who has finally submitted his report, has put forward wide-ranging recommendations. Apart from asking the authorities to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh to students Manish and others who had moved court — underlining the fact that ‘the mental trauma that they were/are made to undergo is not measurable in terms of money’ — he has demanded that legal action under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 be taken against former Principal V K Sharma and his then colleagues Professor Shoma Das, head of the physiology department, Principal Jayshree Bhattacharjee and Raj Kapoor, professor of physiology, and a liaison officer."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Unusual picturization of Radha and Krishna

From Gopalkrishna 1938
More information at

A rant against a letter to graduate students

Hey, Physics&Astronomy Professors?THIS IS NOT OKAY! via the post How Not to Mentor Your Students in Cosmic Variance. From the concluding remarks of the post:
"Are you a faculty member in either physics or astronomy? Make sure you get the message out about what’s truly important. Yes, we all have this love, this passion, the unquenchable thirst to know more. It takes immense amounts of hard work to get there, and you need to be motivated internally to make it. But that’s not the only important thing, and we need to change the culture that allows insane letters like this to go out to students."
The relations between graduate students and their guides are tricky and I was always reluctant to take graduate students. Apart from the tricky interaction problems, I felt that I was doing what interested me and was not sure of the importance of the topics or the job prospects for students later on. But around 1970, I had to 'guide' a student for a Ph.D. since I recommended his continuance after the first year graduate courses. He was already interested in some areas where he did some problems which were not home work assignments. I suggested some more reading material in that area and suggested that if he wanted then I could suggest some problems. But the better option would be to slowly start look at journals in the library, read abstracts and what he could understand and slowly find the sort of topics and problems that interested him. I did suggest a problem (which was later solved by a Fields medalist and later somebody found a simpler proof with in the reach of a graduate student) but slowly he found his own problem which did not seem that interesting. But as he went on, it turned out quite difficult and I had to to dig for references. Finally after a couple of years of hard work he solved the problem and the solution turned out be more difficult than any thing that I ever did. I still think that the problem did not deserve such a wonderful solution but with the techniques and confidence that he acquired, the student went on to did several good things and turned out to be a solid mathematician.
I also remember the student of well known US mathematician who found his mojo. Around 1996, when I visited the department, the student seemed to be jumping from one big problem to another and the guide was frustrated since he would not work on the simple routine experiments he recommended which would lead to good thesis problems. After a few years of mutual discontent, the student changed guides and finished his thesis, apparently solving some of the good problems that interested his second guide. Recently he went on to solve a big problem that has been around for over sixty years on which advisers and many others worked.
These may be exceptional cases but I do not think letters such a those mentioned above help, They seem to be knee jerk bureaucratic responses.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Naseem Akthar song

A part with video here. A brief profile at Cineplot.

'The Age' on selling Uranium to India

In the editorial 'India's Uranium safeguards fail on all measures':
"There should be no sales of Australian uranium to India unless every aspect of uranium handling - from licensing of facilities to safe disposal - is first class.
But India is a long way from first class in that respect. Its auditor-general has castigated the country's nuclear regulator on just about every aspect of its functions: from supervision of licensing, registration of nuclear radiating machines and sites, inspections, monitoring, policy development and safety standards, to emergency response and verification of the disposal of nuclear waste. It found not only was there no national policy on nuclear and radiation safety after almost 30 years, but there appeared to be little impetus to adopt world standards and best practices.
The auditor-general's report is scathing, and the conditions it evidences are dangerously lax. It is simply not acceptable at this point for Australia to sell uranium to India. Until there is credible and indisputable evidence that India's nuclear regulator is able to act independently and meets world's best practices, and that the regulator is vitally committed to staying that way, not a single load of uranium should leave Australia's shores for India."
Part ofAuditor General's report here and some news paper reports from India

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hounding of whisleblowers

Two of the Jindal Prize winners for 'Crusade Against Corruption' Ashok Khemka and Sanjiv Chaturvedi do not seem to be having much luck with the Haryana Government:
"Chaturvedi came into limelight, when he exposed various scams in the Haryana Forest department between 2007 and 2012 following which he was transferred 12 times in five years. Later, he was suspended and chargesheeted. The Haryana Government had revoked the suspension order after the President’s intervention following his complaint.
Similarly, 47-year-old IAS officer of 1991 batch Ashok Khemka, in his 21 years of service, has been transferred 43 times. His latest transfer order, he alleges, is influenced by vested interests because he exposed scams related to land deals in Gurgaon and Faridabad as director general, consolidation of holdings and land records, in his just two-month-long tenure. "
The latest about Ashok Khemka in The Hindu Senior official probing Vadra-DLF land deal shunted out.
One awaits the fate of Vinod Rai:"He assumed office on 7 January 2008 and shall hold the office till 2014, unless his term is cut short by impeachment."

The prince who backed Khmer Rouge passes away

From The Hindu article The prince who danced with the devil:
" He is still resented by many in Cambodia for his support of Pol Pot, the despot who ordered the death of nearly two million Cambodians. Sihanouk paid a heavy price personally for his Faustian pact: Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime killed five of his children and 14 grandchildren, even as Sihanouk remained as figurehead. In view of this ugly collaboration, it’s mystifying that virtually every home in Cambodia today displays a picture of Sihanouk. "

Malala can recover

say UK doctors:
"Yousufzai, who was shot for advocating education for girls, was flown from Pakistan to receive specialist treatment at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital at a unit expert in dealing with complex trauma cases that has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

"Doctors...believe she has a chance of making a good recovery on every level," said Dr Dave Rosser, the hospital's medical director, adding that her treatment and rehabilitation could take months.

He told reporters Yousufzai, whose shooting has drawn widespread condemnation, had not yet been assessed by British medics but said she would not have been brought to Britain at all if her prognosis was not good."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gulzar Natarajan on 'missing toilets'

From his latest post Lessons from the 'missing toilets' scam about Government of India's Total Sanitation Scheme (TCS) which was started in 1999. Apart from the expected corruption problems
("the violations appear to be most egregious in Uttar Pradesh, where the TSC reports indicate only 17.8% households without toilet to the census figure of 78%"), Gulzar says that the deficiencies of the program are glossed over, with the main culprit being the financial pattern. And
" Finally, even if all the aforementioned problems are overcome and the toilet constructed, its usage poses another set of challenges. Most fundamentally, where is the water to run the closets? In villages, where even drinking water is scarce, free flowing water is mostly an exception. Maintenance costs too come in the way of households keeping such toilets functional. More than any of the first five problems, this has no readily available answers."
Talking of the program of toilets for schools under SSA, he says
"... the most frustrating deficiency is the failure to provide for adequate operation and maintenance. The total maintenance allocation for schools under the SSA, including cleanliness, consumables, and small repairs is a pitifully small amount of Rs 5000 each year. 
Raising finances at such fiscally strained times is not easy. However, we need to be aware of these issues before we pass judgements on programs and pour more money down the drain by scaling them up with even more ambitious targets. "

On toilets problems in India

Jairam Ramesh is drawing some ire overs his comment "toilets are more important than temples. No matter how many temples we go to, we are not going to get salvation. We need to give priority to the toilets and cleanliness". More commentary at The Economic Times
From The Economist Toilets and Jobs in India has some interesting comments.
Robert Chambers on inspiring action on shit talks of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS):
"Worldwide the traditional approach to hygiene has been education – people have to be taught, and hardware subsidy – poor people cannot afford toilets and have to be given them. Rural areas in developing countries are littered with the results: toilets not used, put to other purposes as stores, hencoops, a shrine and the like, or. dismantled and the materials used elsewhere. Or the toilets go to those who are better off, not the poor.  The dollars wasted must run into billions; and in some countries like India very large sums continue to go, so to speak, down the drain. 
CLTS turns these failed approaches on their heads.  There is no standard design, no hardware subsidy, no teaching, no special measures for people unable to help themselves, and no use of polite words – shit is shit.  India leads in the international glossary of words for shit with Kenya runner up.  Communities are triggered, facilitated to do their own analysis of their behaviour – through making their own participatory social and shit maps, inspecting the shit in the areas of open defecation (OD), and analysing pathways from shit to mouth.  Often children are facilitated in parallel with adults and then present their findings to them.  Throughout, there is a cocktail of embarrassment, laughter and disgust.  When people realize that ‘We are eating one another’s shit’ it can ignite immediate action to dig pits and construct latrines with their own resources. 
A follow up of encouragement, emphasising handwashing and hygiene as well as construction, is important.  Ideally and often, those unable to dig and build for themselves are helped by others. It is in the common interest.  When a community can declare itself ODF (open defecation free), external verification takes place, with subsequent celebration.
CLTS was pioneered in 2000 by Kamal Kar in Bangladesh.  Since then he and now many others have been energetically spreading it round the world. "
Some reservations about CLTS in the comments to Chamber's post and  here:
"These tactics of public shaming bore little relationship to the "good" shame and fear that community-led total sanitation relies on in its participatory analysis of how "we are eating one another's shit". People praised toilets for their convenience and not their health benefits, about which many were sceptical - including some of the teachers charged with carrying the campaign forward in the community. Several described toilets as dirtier than the fields. The vast majority of facilities did not have soap for hand washing, which meant the expected health gains were lost."
There is progress on a similar problem thanks to Arunachalam Muruganantham.
P.S. In the villages that I grew up till 1954, there was no option to open defecation. I the first village we used to walk about half a mile to the canal. For women, who used to different places, it was particularly bad since they had to go before daylight or after dark. Compared to those places, the toilets in the railways and college hostels were a horror. Since then, I have seen arrangements of various degrees of cleanliness and horror. the worst are near bus stations or those in small towns where manual scavengers come to clean. In many places, there are still no arrangements to clean your hands with soap after use. But generally, there is improvement in the houses I visit. But railways, bus stations and poor neighbourhoods is another matter. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Accessing Ghantasala songs by smart phones

Information at
Since I do not use cell phones and mostly stay home, it is not a problem for me. For more mobile users, there are useful suggestions there.
Here is Ghantasala singing to his own music in Shavukaru. N.T. Ramarao with Telugu type dhoti reminds me of my father from a collection of Ghantasala songs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

From an article on Ilbert Bill

"Bengali women who supported the bill responded by claiming that they were more educated than the English women opposed to the bill, and pointed out that more Indian women had academic degrees than British women did at the time, alluding to the fact that the University of Calcutta became one of the first universities to admit female graduates to its degree programmes in 1878, before any of the British universities had later done the same."
More about the bill in an article " The Politics of Gender and Race in the Ilbert Bill controversy" by Mrinalini Sinha from the book "Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance" by Nirpur Chaudhuri. But I read only a few pages around the story of Mrs. James Hume and Hurroo Mehter.
P.S. I do not know I was led to this but it was after reading a couple of posts of Vinayak Razdan. The article of Ashis Nandy on sati mentioned in one of the posts of Vinayak Razdan is available here.

A song with hiccups

Apparently, the song and the hiccups are by different persons. Randor Guy writes in The Hindu about a song in 'kanvaney kankanda deivam' 1955:
"Bhanumathi who made a splash way back in 1945 as a vamp in B. N. Reddi's Swargaseema entered Tamil cinema playing such roles in her first few films. She was similarly cast in this film and a song filmed later on Lalitha, ‘Unnai kann theduthey...' was first rendered by Bhanumathi and the sequence was shot when she chose to walk out of the film. This song (P. Susheela) is still fondly remembered by Tamil movie buffs.
(Bhanumathi told this writer years later that in the song recorded with P. Susheela, the hiccups were hers! This was one of Susheela's early hits as a playback singer.)"
Music Directors Hemantha Kumar and Addepalli Ramarao, Singer P. Susheela, hiccups not credited, picturized on Lalitha
The Hindi version Devta 1958, has Vyjantimala in the same role but the corresponding song by Asha Bhonsle does not have pronounced hiccups
.The composer for the Hindi version was C. Ramachandra and the film has many other excellent songs including 'kaise aaoon jamuna ke teer'

Saturday, October 06, 2012

R. Vaidyanathan on the reforms that India needs

in the post Fatcat obsession: We need reform for India Uninc, not India Inc" via Miles Kimball:
"Until and unless we focus on reforms at the state and lower levels, we are not going to sustain our growth rates. We must come out of our focus on the big corporate sector — the Sensex economy — and focus on the sectors that really create jobs and growth. Our corporate sector is only an “item number” in our economy, full of glamour and oomph, but there is less substance below."
The whole post is worth a read. See also Sunita Narain's Public Private Prank. It is only yesterday that I learnt about 'item number'.

Duncan Green quotes Tolstoy

in What does Tolstoy’s War and Peace teach us about Causation, Complexity and Theories of Change?

One quote(some thing which I tell myself often):
‘It is beyond the power of the human intellect to encompass all the causes of any phenomenon. But the impulse to search into causes is inherent in man’s very nature. And so the human intellect, without investigating the multiplicity and complexity of circumstances conditioning an event, any one of which taken separately may seem to be the reason for it, snatches at the first most comprehensible approximation to a cause and says ‘There is the cause’.....

Friday, October 05, 2012

More on fecal transplants

Earlier articles 'How Microbes Define and Defend Us' by Carl Zimmer and 'Fecal trnsplants to cure  clostridium difficile  infection' by Tara Smith. A more recent article in Discover 'Tap The Healing Power of Poop' says:
"And C. difficile colitis is just the start. An Australian pioneer in fecal transplants, Thomas Borody, has performed the procedure in more than 1,900 patients, and has also found success treating irritable bowel syndrome, profound constipation, and otherwise intractable Crohn’s disease. “Crohn’s will often slowly regress with repeated fecal infusions,” Borody says. With typical Australian humor, he concludes, “It’s a whole new form of therapootics.""

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Trying to follow the retail controversy in India

One of the best discussion threads I have seen is in a Tamil site The Hub. Some of the comments are in Tamil but most of the discussion can be followed through the comments of the hubber P_R. A good background discussion is in the Wikipedia article Retailing in India.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Raj Chetty wins another award

From Harvard Gazette
"The MacArthur “has given me the freedom to pursue the types of large-scale projects that will take years,” Chetty said. “But it’s also a vote of confidence that people are interested in this type of research. I hope it’ll motivate our research team to do more of this type of work.”"
His father V.K. Chetty is also an economist and his 1969 paper " on measuring the nearness of near money" seems to have drawn some attention "..V.K. Chetty. issued a paper-”On Measuring the Nearness of Near Money”in . This was the opening of researching on currency substitution. After that more research on currency substitution appeared. The core of those theories was currency requirement function. As everyone have different views to currency substitution requirement, so different schools of thought appeared.China is in the process of reorientation of economy."
V.K. Chetty is an old friend and I am sure that he is thrilled.

One of Shanta Apte's Tamil songs 1941

A previous post with a link to a short biography here.