Friday, December 31, 2010

Useful site

May be.
For example, see the commentary in Mobile Phone Tips – Things You Never Knew Your Mobile Phone Could Do. Since I do not have a mobile phone and do not drive a car, I do not know whether the commentary is correct. But, it sounds sensible.

Reading about India

I have grown up in villages in coastal Andhra and worked in cities and abroad. I seem to know only a few strands of the complex country and have been trying to read books about India. Here is a list of books that I have recently read or still reading or still browsing which seem to give some glimpses of the country. Some of them are old and some new and suggestions are welcome.
Annie Zaidi's Known Turf
Pankaj Mishra's Butter Chicken in Ludhiana
William Darlymple's Nine Lives
Katherine Rich's Dreaming in Hindi
Namita Devidayal's The Music Room
Ramachandra Guha's India after Gandhi
V.S. Naipaul's A Million Mutinees Now
Sunil Khilnani's The Idea of India
Wendy Doniger's The Hindus
Rereading again off and on:
Nehru's The Discovery of India
Sheldon Pollock's The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India
Cynthia Talbot's Precolonial India in practice:society, region, and identity in medieval Andhra
Alice Albinia's Empires of the Indus: From Tibet to Pakistan - The Story of a River
John Keay's India: A History
The Bernard Cohn Omnibus

Thursday, December 30, 2010

నాకు నచ్చిన ఒక తెలుగు సినిమా పాట

నాకు నచ్చిన ఒక తెలుగు సినిమా పాట. ఇది 'పెంకిపెళ్ళాం' నుంచి. ఆరుద్ర రచన. పాడింది ఎవరో తెలియదు. జిక్కి బృందమేమో. ఇది మామూలు సైట్లలో దొరకలేదు. నాదగ్గర టేపులో కొంచెం అరిగిపోయినది ఉంది. కొన్నాళ్ళ వరకు ఎవరూ వెబ్లో పెట్టకపోతే, ఎక్కడైనా పెట్తాను. వెతుకుతుంటే ఒక బృందం పాడినది దొరికింది. అసలు పాట ఇంకా చాలా బాగుంటుంది.
Paduchudanam Railubandi (Telugu).flv
A 1947 Hindi song on which it may have been modeled:
Lyrics in Telugu:
పడుచుదనం రైలు బండి పోతున్నది
వయసు వాళ్ళ కందులోన చోటున్నది
విరహాల నిట్టూర్పుల రాక్షసి బొగ్గు
ఇంజను తాగే నీరు తొలకని సిగ్గు
కష్టాల స్తేషన్ లో బండి ఆగదు
బండిలోన విచారాన్ని యుగళబారదు
కుర్రకారు పిల్లవాళ్ళు రాకూడదు
ముసలివాళ్ళు పిసినిగొట్లు రామాళదు
ఇక్కట్టులు లేకుండుట టిక్కెటండి
చక్కగ నవ్వేవాళ్ళే బండి ఎక్కండి

P.S.'యుగళబారదు '
పూర్వం దక్షినాది రైళ్ళలో చాలభాషలలో ప్రజలను హెచ్చరించేవారు. ఇది కన్నడంలో 'ఉమ్మివేయగూడదు ' అని భరాగో గారు చెప్పారు.
P.P.S. రామాళదు అంటే.. రావద్దు అని అర్ధం. ఈ..పదం వాడుకని నేను నెల్లూరు జిల్లాలో
విన్నాను. నెల్లూరు, చిత్తూరు, మాండలికం .. (from
P.S. It is available here
or here

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This and that

Obituary of Jayaben Patel Jayaben Desai, leader of the Grunwick dispute, dies aged 77 :
The trade unionist's 'strikers in saris' achieved recognition for the rights of Asian female workers."
Sarfaz Manzoor in How Asian women made trade union history and shattered stereotypes:
"Asian women workers found that they were combating not only white male employers but also struggling against white male trade union leaders. The reason Grunwick remains so historically potent is that it marked the first time that the trade union movement gave real support to Asian employees.

Instrumental in gaining that support was the charismatic Desai. One image of her during the dispute has become iconic: Desai, tiny and birdlike, dressed in a sari and with a handbag dangling from her left arm, stands with her back to the camera, confronting a wall of grim faced policemen. It encapsulates the scale of the struggle and the courage of those who waged it. Like so many others in the exhibition, it invites one obvious question: where did those women derive the courage to stand and fight for their rights?
But where did that courage come from? This was, after all, the mid-1970s, when there were far fewer Asians in public life – none in the government, or reading the news on TV – and the rightwing National Front was gaining political ground.

"You have to remember that, back in India, we came from an aristocratic background," Desai says. "My ancestors used to be ministers and dignitaries under the Raj. Desai is the name of a title, like lord, and my ancestors were very wealthy compared to the rest of the population. We were landowners and we were respected because of our position."

This disconnect between the life many of these Asians had left back in the sub-continent or during their time in east Africa and the one they faced in Britain appears to be crucial in understanding what drove women such as Desai towards activism. "These women were not lumpen, ignorant workers," Pearson stresses. "Desai had been educated in India and, like her, so many other Asian women had to take on jobs that were far below their skill level, to help support their families."

But the fact that they were working in menial and manual jobs did not alter their own sense of who they were or reduce their claims for justice and dignity."
Possibly related:
When the brain drain is healthy for democracy
The benefits of thinking about our ancestors

Keith Gunstan on Joy of sport lost in a country that takes it far too seriously

Sidharth Monga in VVS Laxman does it once again:
"When he came for the press conference, the first question was, "Again? How?"

Typically Laxman just praised Zaheer Khan and Cheteshwar Pujara for hanging around with him, not a word about his own innings, only about partnerships. On the surface, Laxman didn't answer the actual question. If you go deeper, he did. He makes the other batsmen feel good, comfortable and calm. Not just the man who is batting with him, but also the ones waiting their turn in the dressing room."

James Fallows: One Time Only: Scientist-on-Scientist TSA Smackdown
Mark Liberman: Fallows on "Comments and Community"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A selection of articles and discussions about Telugu

I find that I am not able to follow the Telugu even in (some) blogs and do not much know about the development of the language. Here is a small selection which I have browsed through and hope that rereading them may improve the situation. The artcles and discussions seem understandable to me.
తెలుగు భాష వయస్సెంత? by సురేశ్ కొలిచాల
భాషా సంబంధ నిరూపణ - భాషాశాస్త్రం 101 by సురేశ్ కొలిచాల
తెలుగు వర్ణ నిర్మాణం (phonology) - మొదటి భాగం by సురేశ్ కొలిచాల
తెలుగు వర్ణ నిర్మాణం (phonology) - రెండవ భాగం by సురేశ్ కొలిచాల
పద్యాలు - వాడుకభాష by భైరవభట్ల కామేశ్వరరావు
తెవికీ - ఒక అంతఃసమీక్ష Discussion of a comment in the above
దుస్సంధి-దుష్టసమాసం Another discussion
ఈ తరానికి ప్రశ్నలు by కొడవటిగంటి రోహిణీప్రసాద్
An Apology of a Telugu fa(lu)natic by భైరవభట్ల కామేశ్వరరావు

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The ABBAs (Aid Blogger's Best Awards)

and the nominations here .


Interesting article on changing Telugu vacabulary in rural areas జనపదం by తమ్మినేని యదుకుల భూషణ్. A quote from one of his comments: "తెలుగు ఎమ్మే చదివిన వాడి కన్నా తిరిపెమెత్తుకు తిరిగేవాడి అచ్చ తెనుగు పరిజ్ఞానమెక్కువ అన్నది నాకు అనుభవంలోని విషయమే."
From the discussion here:
"తమ్మినేని యదుకుల భూషణ్‌ జననం రాయలసీమలోని చారిత్రకస్థలం తాడిపత్రిలో. కొన్నాళ్ళు సింగపూర్‌లో పనిచేసారు. నివాసం సోమర్‌సెట్‌, న్యూజెర్సీలో. "నిశ్శబ్దంలో నీ నవ్వులు" అనే కవితాసంకలనం ప్రచురించారు. కథలు, విమర్శలు కూడా రాసారు.

అంతే కాక వీరు తెలుగులో "నేటి కాలపు కవిత్వ తీరుతెన్నులు" అని తెలుగు కవిత్వ విమర్శనం పై పుస్తకాన్ని రచించారు. ఈ మాట ఆర్చైవులలో వీరుసాగించిన చర్చలను చూడవచ్చు. "

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Misc. December 23

From the World Bank
Inadequate sanitation costs India the equivalent of 6.4 per cent of GDP:
"Inadequate sanitation causes India considerable economic losses, equivalent to 6.4 per cent of India’s GDP in 2006 at US$53.8[i] billion (Rs.2.4 trillion), according to The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Sanitation in India, a new report from the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), a global partnership administered by the World Bank.

The study analyzed the evidence on the adverse economic impacts of inadequate sanitation, which include costs associated with death and disease, accessing and treating water, and losses in education, productivity, time, and tourism. The findings are based on 2006 figures, although a similar magnitude of losses is likely in later years."

Ranil Dissanayake's personal suggestion of resources that may contribute to a richer understanding of development. One of these is the 1978 book 'Black and White' by the other Naipaul, Shiva Naipaul. I thought that Shiva Naipaul's 'Fireflies' was comparable to 'A house for Mr. Biswas' but I read both before 1973 and do not remember much of either now.

I always wanted to learn Hindi. Despite listening to Hindi film songs frequently and living in North India (if Bombay can be included) for twenty years I never picked up Hindi. So as soon as I saw Dreaming in Hindi, I immediately bought and started reading it. Most of the reviews are not that great but it is reviewd favouably by Language Log Ski Hindi:
"The book in between is a charming intellectual travelogue, partly about the culture and history of India, partly about the nature of language and language learning, and also, as usual for great travel writing, very much about its author.

Ms. Rich connects her own experiences as a language learner to what she's learned by reading and talking to linguists, psychologists and anthropologists, in the same way that she connects her linguistic journey with what she learned by spinning khadi. In fact, I've never seen adult language learning connected to such an extensive set of metaphors:

"At school, I'm still dead last, too self-conscious to push myself in front of the others, but outside, I ski Hindi, have long, gleeful conversations in shops (gleeful for me, long for my interlocutors)."

Elsewhere in the book, she skis psycholinguistics, in long, gleeful conversations in university laboratories and the pages of books and articles; and just about every other language-related discipline gets at least one downhill run as well.
The best thing about the book, I think, is how it conveys the coming-unwrapped exhilaration of learning by immersion:

"To acquire a language, I exhort myself, you have to give up your accumulated assurances — this is how to say things, this is how it is done. Pretty soon, I give up my American pretenses that things should be any way at all."

And then the threads begin to hold."

There is also a strange discussion in Sepia Mutiny "Talk Hindi To Me", Neither the poster nor the commentors seem to have read the book. Luckily the 230th comment from somebody who read a quarter of the book ends the discussion. Possibly more of a window to the thoughts of a section of the NRI community.

Robert Reich on The Year Washington Became “Business Friendly”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Many old Telugu film songs uploaded at 'Sakhi Yaa'

Check the listings from December 18 at Sakhi Yaa. Some of them sound very strange to me and I liked a few which are similar to those I used to listen in the plays on 40's and 50's. More at and oldtelugusongs.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rohini Mohan reports on the microfinance crisis in A.P.

in the Tehelka article Money for nothing. And misery for free. Along with case histories there is also a discussion of the politics behind the recent ordinance and also reports of comments from Vijay Mahajan and others. It is one of the best reports that I have read on this crisis. From her blog, this seems to be the only article that she has written about microfinance.

P.S. Mr. Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy, Managing Director, Hand in Hand Micro Finance Private Limited
saysin a discussion that microfinance is working better in Tamilnadu and the difference may be the attitudes of the respective state governments.
HAND IN HAND site and one of their newsletters
News report MFIs Cash in on Government Failure

Friday, December 17, 2010

Discussion on language and thought at 'The Economist'

Discussion at the Economist "This house believes that the language we speak shapes how we think".
According to Mark Liberman at LL "As regular LL readers know, my perspective on this question is not all that different from Lera's — see here and here for some past discussion. So when I was invited to participate in the debate, I tried to pass the buck to a more resolute and orthodox anti-Whorfian who has actually done some research on the topic (as I have not). This attempt failed, and in the end, I agreed to play the role. You can be the judge of how well I succeeded."
P.S. A follow-up post in Language Log Shellacked by Boroditsky.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rajraj on starting own business

In 'The Hub' post (page 5) one of the senior hubbers Rajraj links to No Jobs? Young Graduates Make Their Own and also The Game Design Initiative at Cornell (GDIAC) in which one of the original participants was his son. The idea seems to be that youngsters can easily start their own video game companies. I think that developing some of those in vernacular languages may make regional languagees more accessible to children.

'Fractured Earth' is back

I just learnt that M. Rajshekhar started posting again in Fractured Earth: reflections on a planet without equitable or sustainable development. Comments seem to be off and many of the older posts are there; I do not know whether all of them are there.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Science is messy

Vaughan Bell in The brain isn’t going to take it lying down:
"Anger experiments that have measured electrical signals from the brain (using EEG) or that have altered neural activity with magnetic pulses (using TMS) have found that the left frontal lobe is more active than the right, but studies using fMRI functional brain scans have found no differences.

Psychologists Eddie Harmon-Jones and Carly Peterson wondered whether the brain might be working differently in EEG and TMS experiments because the participant is usually sitting upright, while in fMRI, the person is usually lying flat on their back.
Although this is only an initial study, it could be a major spanner in the works for cognitive science which often assumes that clumping together evidence from a whole range of techniques gives a better idea of what’s going on."

David H. Freedman in Why Scientific Studies Are So Often Wrong: The Streetlight Effect:
"Many, and possibly most, scientists spend their careers looking for answers where the light is better rather than where the truth is more likely to lie. They don’t always have much choice. It is often extremely difficult or even impossible to cleanly measure what is really important, so scientists instead cleanly measure what they can, hoping it turns out to be relevant. After all, we expect scientists to quantify their observations precisely. As Lord Kelvin put it more than a century ago, “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it.”

There is just one little problem. While these surrogate measurements yield clean numbers, they frequently throw off the results, sometimes dramatically so. This “streetlight effect,” as I call it in my new book, Wrong (Little, Brown), turns up in every field of science, filling research journals with experiments and studies that directly contradict previously published work."

See also Jonah Lehrer's The Mysterious Decline Effect

Related posts: Ashutosh Jogalekar's Aliens, arsenic and alternative peer-review: Has science publishing become too conservative? and Making speculation official: More on the conservatism of leading science journals. From the later post:

"There are rules for doing, interpreting and publishing science, just like there are rules for how to raise children. And just as the rules for raising children wonderfully break down in the face of reality, so do the rules of actual scientific research. Real science is as messy as real child rearing. It's only fair that the public knows about this process."
P.S. See also "The truth wears off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method?" by Andrew Gelman.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some old Telugu movies on YouTube

Krishna Prema
Some of the songs are avaible separately. The quality seems good; I have not watched it completely yet though I watched it once in the forties or early fifties.
Also Donga Ramudu and a few others. I do not know how long they will be available.
P.S. I watched the movie Krishna Prema in installments and cannot say that I enjoyed it, The only things that I remembered seem to be vague images of T. Suryakumari as Nadada and a few songs.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What surprised me most in WikiLeaks

Pakistaniat raises the question WikiLeaks: What Surprised You The Most?
This, if true:
Mr Assange responded saying: "I am the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier and all the rest. If you have a problem with me, piss off."

Evidence for a development idea

Lant Pritchett and Michael Clemens have been arguing for some time that labour mobility will alleviate poverty; see in particular The Biggest Idea in Development that No One Really Tried (video) . Chris Blattman links to some recent evidence of this in the post:
What’s the most effective development intervention we know? See in particular this comparison.

I read parts of Lant Pritcett book a couple of years ago and still browsing through the summary of the study What are the development impacts of “best practice” seasonal migration schemes? and the working paper here.
P.S. More links and discussion in Gulzar Natarajan's posts Labour mobility as an anti-poverty intervention and The case for temporary cross-country migration

Yashpal's 'Jhootha Sach' translated

informs Lapata (Daisy Rockwell) in The War and Peace of Hindi Literature!

Information about other translations here

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Brisbane Test

Cricketinfo reminds us that It was fifty years ago today (yesterday) the famous Brisbane tied test ended. At that I knew little about cricket since it was not played in Andhra village schools those days; it was more of a town and city game. It was Jack Fingleton's writings in Hindu (and Sport&Pastime) that got me take interest in cricket.

Our version of 'pappucharu' (పప్పుచారు)

This is a version of pappucharu that Jhansi tried in Bombay in the seventies. Her cousins from home came to visit her and liked it and called it 'Bombay pappucharu'. Since then, we have been making it.

1) First cook tur dal (two or three fistfuls) in a pressure cooker; otherwise it takes too long. Then mash it, if there is no suitable laddle you can do it by hand after it cools and keep it aside.
2) Cut vegetables and keep them aside; two or three onions and then any you like. I usually use cauliflower, carrots, capsicum (used eggplant and other vegetables too). Cut four or five tomatos too.
3) The main cooking starts with 'taalimpu' common to many curries. First heat up some cooking oil (2-6 spoons depending on your taste),then put two or three dried chillies (cut in to littlle pieces), split (with husk removed) black grams, cumin and mustard seeds in that order. Lower the heat and add curry leaves. This takes 1-2 minutes.
3) Now start adding the cut vegetables starting with onions, then caulifllower, carrots, capsicum. After 3-4 minutes add tomato pieces. Wait until it becomes a bit syrupy. (Normally tamarind is used instead of tomatoes. It is soaked in water for an hour or so, then added after removing the seeds.) The one with tomatos is less sour; many prefer tamarind.
4)Then add cooked tur dal with some water and allow it to to boil.
5) At the end add chilli powder AND/ OR add sambar powder (available in groceries) for different flavour. It thickens the stuff. You can add coriander leaves after it cools a bit.

The whole process takes 30-40 minutes. You can vary the quantities of ingredients depending on your taste and outcomes.

I have been making this for more than 10 years and generally it is consumed by the family with son-in-law Gavin being the main consumer.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Atul Gawande's "The Itch"

Science writing at its best. Enjoy The Itch by Atul Gawande.

P.S. This artcle is more than two years old and has been linked by others like Guru ( who also linked several other articles by Atul Gawande. I came across it today while looking for progress on phantom limb mirror treatment of V.S. Ramachandran.
P.P.S. Some follow ups of the artcle and much other stuff at

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Crisis in microfinance?

In an India Development Blog post The Identity Crisis in Indian Microfinance Brajesh says:
"In a recent meeting I had with a CEO of a MFI, he told me that he had over a decade of experience in micro finance but no experience in development."
There is an announcement of an Event: The Global Implications of India’s Microcredit Crisis at Center for Global Development. It seems that Swaminathan Aiyar may participate.
My take: leave it to essentially non-profit local micro organizations. See also C.S.Reddy's article Will the Indian SHG Movement Withstand the Competition offered by MFIs?

Links, December 7

Tom Slee in WikiLeaks Shines a Light on the Limits of Techno-Politics:
"A side effect of the WikiLeaks cables is to show that, for all the talk of movements and revolutions, these beliefs are empty of real political content. The cables prompt some tough questions, but the fault lines those questions reveal run perpendicular to digital attitudes, not parallel. When push comes to political shove, open source proponents and so on are found on both sides of the debate. The Internet is a new terrain, but the battles being fought on it are old ones."

WikiLeaks: lesson in brevity for Indian diplomats

Amar Bhide and Howard Stevenson in (based on an empirical study) Why Be Honest If Honesty Doesn't Pay:
"Since ancient times, philosophers have contrasted a barbaric "state of nature" with a perfect, well-ordered society that has somehow tamed humankind's propensity toward force and fraud. Fortunately, we have created something that is neither Beirut nor Bucharest. We don't require honesty, but we honor and celebrate it. Like a kaleidoscope, we have order and change. We make beautiful, well-fitting relationships that we break and reform at every turn.

We should remember, however, that this third way works only as long as most of us live by an honorable moral compass. Since our trust isn't grounded in self-interest, it is fragile. And, indeed, we all know of organizations, industries, and even whole societies in which trust has given way either to a destructive free-for-all or to inflexible rules and bureaucracy. Only our individual wills, our determination to do what is right, whether or not it is profitable, save us from choosing between chaos stagnation."

Mike Konczal on centralization and local knowledge in Amar Bhide, Tom Cox on Foreclosures and Knowledge.:
"Here the financialization of our economy is actually a cover for the centralization of the mechanisms in which value is transfered from one part of the economy to another. Whatever economics of scale that are gained through centralizing are hampered by the inability for the financial sector to see things outside of automated, statistical projections of aggregate data. The real local knowledge that can facilitate a more robust and venturesome economy is lost, and at the end all you end up with is a handful of firms rent-seeking over crucial conduits for how our economy functions. Though quite skilled at pumping hot money into bubbles on the way up, the financial system is too thin to be able to manage the following collapse."

Amar Bhide in The Judgement Deficit:
"Statistical models have deprived the financial sector of the case-by-case judgement on which capitalism thrives."

Ilana Yurkiewicz in the Science Progress post (Don’t) Keep it Simple: Why a Culture of Journalism Isn’t Working for Science:
"However, increased awareness that journalism templates do not—rather, cannot—apply to all subject material is a good starting point. To the copy desk, I offer this: Be careful with what you snip. That science article may take a few extra seconds to read, but we may be miles ahead in what we learn in the long run."

Friday, December 03, 2010

A couple of songs by Rao Balasaraswati Devi

I just noticed this on YouTube మనసైన చెలీ పిలుపు.The other singer is A.P. Komala. One of the dancers is Waheeda Rehman
Well-known (sort of) Lullabies:
బంగారు పాపాయి
హాయమ్మ హాయి

Many of her songs are available at oldtelugusongs and

Bacteria and asthma

A nice summary in The Hindu by D. BALASUBRAMANIAN Coalition dharma and asthma of Bacteria and Asthma: Untangling the Links by Jennifer Couzin-Frankel (the full article needs subscription). Abstract:
"The number of asthma cases is soaring, but the causes remain elusive. Researchers have some striking clues: For example, children on farms are much less likely to get the lung disease. There's mounting evidence that bacteria matter. Babies born via cesarean section, who experience a more sterile entry into the world than those born vaginally, are more likely to get asthma. So are young children treated with many courses of antibiotics. Along with animal studies, these observations suggest that the balance of bacteria and other microbes help guide immune development—and that when the balance is disrupted, disease may follow. The picture can be dishearteningly complicated. Thousands of species of bacteria have constructed virtual cities inside us, along with fungi and viruses—a world called the microbiome. And it's not so much the presence or absence of bacteria, or even certain species, that matter, but rather the shape of the whole community. All of us play host to bacterial residents. But children who develop asthma, researchers are learning, are home to different bacteria—and sometimes a less diverse mix—than those who stay healthy."

The article also says "Although researchers assume that a child's microbiome is affected by the environment, they don't know this for sure. And proving definitively that bacteria help cause asthma is remarkably difficult. “The only proof lies in a randomized controlled trial, where you somehow manipulate exposure” and see who gets sick, says Bisgaard.

Researchers are experimenting with this approach in the gut. Probiotics, microorganisms like Lactobacillus found in yogurt, could in theory be helpful, but small trials testing whether they prevent allergic disease haven't been definitive. In 2006, the University of California, San Francisco, began recruiting about 200 babies who have at least one parent with asthma. Half receive a probiotic and half get a placebo, and the researchers are focusing on early markers linked to asthma, like eczema and wheezing. In January, they reported that 6 months of probiotics in infancy did alter the balance of microbes in the babies' guts, but final results are several years off."
In other words, only hints so far, and defibitive solutions may be years away.

Along the way, the article also points out the changes in the accepted wisdom "he work also upended how researchers think about lung biology. “If you read a medical textbook even now, it will say the lungs and the airways are sterile; there aren't any bacteria down there,” says Cookson. He became certain that the conventional view was incorrect when he and an Imperial College colleague, geneticist Miriam Moffatt, conducted their own variation of Bisgaard's study in babies. They had at their disposal advanced gene-sequencing techniques that allow for a much more comprehensive census of bacteria flourishing in the lungs. In January, the two and their colleagues wrote in PLoS ONE that they'd sequenced more than 5000 different species in 43 people, including some with asthma and others who were healthy."

Similar changes and progress are decribed by Ed Yong in The dark side of oxytocin, much more than just a “love hormone”.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Chenguna ala meeda (చెంగూన అల మీద) on YouTube

Chenguna Ala Meeda-1.mp4
Chenguna Ala Meeda-2.mp4
Lyrics here

Agrarian struggles in India

A publisher friend wanted to republish "Telagana Movement 1944-51" (Vikas, New Delhi, 1981) by Barry Pavier and asked me to have a look at it. The book started with Pavier's thesis under Ranjit Guha in the seventies ; he visited India and spoke to several leaders of the movement like Ravi Narayana Raddy. There is a critical review of the book by K. Balagopal Telangana Movement Revisited and Balagopal has written several articles on related topics, many of which are available at See, for example, his article Maoist Movement in Andhra Pradesh, which describes in passing 'hop, skip and jump Naxalism'. I have come across a 2008 working paper India’s Experiment with Revolution by Ajay K. Mehra. Mehra discusses agrarian revolutions (mainly, the so-called Maoist type) in India starting with Telangana movement and says that they have very little impact in urban areas but more than one third of the land is affected by them. He further says
"The Maoist revolutionary politics sprouted before the post-colonial Indian democratic state came into existence. But survived the democratic upsurge in the Indian society and exploded within two decades, indeed not all over the country, but again in one small pocket of a crucial State, West Bengal. This revival, the state response, the suppression, the re-emergence and resurgence within four decades, are pointer to serious incongruities and paradoxes afflicting India’s democracy project, which continues to be a success story in the developing world, grave limitations notwithstanding.
The most crucial and significant contribution of the Naxalism to Indian politics, however, is that they have kept alive the agrarian demands of the rural poor through persistent but not-always successful struggles at the ground level. ‘Even the occasional official lip-service to land reforms perhaps would not have come but their initiatives in this regard in some of the most backward regions where either adivasis in the forests suffer at the hands of trader-contractormoneylender nexus or the dalit and “other backward class” (OBC) agricultural labourers and very poor peasants are cruelly oppressed and exploited by bigger landowners and rich farmers. And these are the regions where the local powerful cliques, backed by government officials and the police, often respond with naked violence to even most innocuous and lawful demands of the powerless poor.’ "

Coming back to Barry Pavier's book, I understand a new edition may come out next year. His reasons why the struggle resonated for him in the seventies:

p 187
" ...initially the Telangana movement was indeed a multi-class movement against the deshmuks- multi-class in the sense that everyone else was involved. .....It is also true to say that, certainly in the initial stages, most of the leading cadres of the Andhra mahasabha and the CPI came from 'rich' or 'middle' peasant families. It is also clear that the nature of the movement changed. The people who carried the movement from 1948 were agricultural labourers and poor peasants, they were the people who were doing most of the fighting, and they were providing the leadership, along with declassed people from peasant sections who were CPI cadres. The early movement had disregarded the interests of these people, even though they had been
active from the start, but other social groups either defected or became passive after 1948."
p 190
"What is true is that Telangana is an important part of the 'usablepast' of international workers' and socialist movement- because for a period of time the Telangana masses began to change the way in which they lived. Not only did they confront and defeat their state and their ruling class, they took over the organization of production and a range of other administrative functions. the agricultural labourers took the confidence to demand that the revolution was theirs as much as anybody els's. Not only did they make the demand, but towards the end of the movement they also began to achieve it. The totally male image of politics was breached- women organized themselves as workers,took (some) leading roles, not simply as auxilaries for men, and began to gain self-confidence and self-respect, instead of the humiliation, oppression and self-abnegation that the old regime generated and fostered. Now all of these positive developments were aborted by the
liqidation of the movement, but the point is that all these people were not simply showing abstract heroism. In that short period of time, in a variety of incomplete and unsatisfactory ways, they achieved a number of positive things- perhaps for all men, women, peasants, workers, it was in the different ways that they achieved an
independent social identity. They existed as real people and they believed in themselves.
This is something that is not often achieved and the fact that it didhappen in Telangana, no matter how incomplete the matter of its accomplishment, is a matter of hope and enlightenment for workers all over the world"

Elsewhere, he says that "Because it is now clear that the clear question is not why Telangana, but why Nalgonda....... Why Nalgonda communists should be so singular derives from the fact that a lot of the cadre came to politics with the Vandemataram movement, which was run by themselves, so they did not have the background of Gandhianism or CPI bureaucratic manipulation which was the usual experience of CPI
activists. In any event,they seized their golden opportunity in 1944-45."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Interview with Julian Assange

By Andy Greenberg in Forbes. Julian Assange says "WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical."
I remember that Julian took a math. course from me years ago. I do not remember which year or which course. His assignment grades were not good and he came a few times to discuss the assignments. He was more interested in the correct arguments than the grades and never made any fuss about grades. I do not even remember whether he took the final exam ( he was mainly taking Physics courses, I think). He seemed capable of doing much better in the course but did not seem to have enough time for the course. Seemed a very nice guy.

Links to mostly micro finance matters

Parmesh Shaw Andhra Pradesh: Crisis or Opportunity?

The rest are interviews with Vijay Mahajan, a profile of him and two articles by him. He seems to be in the business for a long time, erudite and articulate.

Profile of Social Entrepreneurs – Lynne Brown and Vijay Mahajan:By – Nitish Kumar and Mosharaf Hossain

A 1999 article with G. Nagsri Building Sustainable Microfinance Institutions in India

Excerpts from Vijay Mahajan interviews from 2005, 2006Vijay Mahajan speaks about new economics and micro-finance

Vijay Mahajan on the Risk of a Microfinance Bubble


Microfinance Now: an interview with Vijay Mahajan

Vijay Mahajan: Micro loans, macro returns

Monday, November 29, 2010

Siddharth Varadarajan on Radia Tapes

From Welcome to the Matrix of the Indian state:
"What got exposed is so unpleasant that several major newspapers and television channels that normally scramble to bring “breaking” and “exclusive” stories have chosen to look the other way. Their silence, though understandable, is unfortunate. Even unforgivable......
In an interview to NDTV and the Indian Express on Saturday — two media houses that have so far avoided covering the tapes — Ratan Tata has called the recordings a “smokescreen” designed to hide the real truth. He is wrong. Utterly wrong. No doubt we know very little about who leaked the recordings and why these were cherry-picked from a wider set of 5,000 recordings the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax authorities made as part of their surveillance of Ms Radia. But even if the story they tell is partial and designed to expose only a fraction of the corporate lobbying which has been going on, we would be naive to ignore the contents of the tapes or be dismissive about their significance."
The Outlook magazine hs wide coverage of the taped conversations The Power Tapes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More on micro finance problems in Andhra Pradesh

This review of Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day says:
"Relative to their income, these poor households engaged in more financial intermediation than richer people do.
Portfolios explains this surprising result by focusing on an oft-neglected dimension of poverty. We sometimes think about poor people’s income as if the only problem is that there is not enough of it. This view misses another hugely burdensome dimension of poverty: income is variable and risky. But as the authors observe, “One of the least remarked-on problems of living on two dollars a day is that you don’t literally get that amount each day.” Because poor people live so close to the edge, they have to – and do – scramble more than the rest of us to avoid going hungry, or to scrape together the larger amounts that they occasionally need for life events or investment opportunities. Savings and loans are their principal tools for doing this, so the availability and quality of those tools were very important for the diary households.
Thus, “microfinance” as we know it is not delivering financial services to people who otherwise would have none. It is adding further tools to the ones that poor people already have at their disposal."

In Microfinance: What's wrong with it (also available at M.Rajshekhar explains how "easy money is altering the credit culture in villages" and the development of SHGs, MFIs in Andhra pradesh and the recent crackdown on MFIs by the state government. Excerpts:

"Over the last five years, the nature of microfinance delivery has changed. Says S Sivakumar, head of ITC’s eChoupal initiative: “Microfinance used to stand on two pillars: income generation and social capital.”

At one end, it was meant to create income-generating activities, which would enable women to repay loans of 30% interest without driving themselves into destitution. At the other end, MFIs had to forge a form of social capital that would encourage repayment, as SHGs did.

Both these pillars got undermined as MFIs chased growth. They defined their role as only of credit delivery, and focused on making processes idiot-proof and scalable. They left income generation and social-capital building to the groups and the government. ....

The easy money is altering the credit culture in villages. In Warangal district, employees of a large MFI say that, earlier, women had to be cajoled into taking loans. They would borrow nervously and repay fastidiously, out of not wanting to be locked out of a source of credit that lent quickly and without collateral.

Increasingly, the employees add, some women are getting blasé about borrowing. “When we warn women against defaulting, some of them retort, ‘we will borrow from someone else’.” Instances have been reported of women negotiating loans by pitting MFIs against each other.

Rural India, usually the elite among them, is beginning to exploit the microfinance model for private gain . For instance, in a village in Hanamakonda’s Palaveyipullah mandal, the centre leader and a group member took money from several MFIs in the name of 10 other women, paid interest for 10 weeks, and then stopped. That is one kind of a change.

At the lower reaches in the villages, as MFIs lend to households without regular cash flows, communities are changing in a different way. Women talk about the pressure to ensure weekly repayments. Some of this pressure comes from fellow group members.

If a member is unable to pay interest, the remaining group members have to make good the shortfall. They better, for a default means no loans for any of them in the future. In the process, an inversion has taken place. Says anti-caste writer Kancha Illiah: “Five years ago, SHG members used to beat up husbands who beat their wives. Now, they are beating up women who fail to repay.”"

Discussion by David Roodman When Indian Elephants Fight after a recent trip:
"Still, the true bottom line is this: credit, the poor, and business-like insistence on regular repayment are a dangerous combination. Pushed too hard, credit can easily become a buzz saw. Change any one those three elements, and it is safer: savings instead of credit (cf. Gates Foundation), the well-off instead of the poor, the flexible and somewhat subsidized communality of SHGs instead of the hard-nosed efficiency of MFIs. If microcredit is to safely serve the poor, it must soften its edges. There are many ways to do that. But probably all are harder with growth is rapid. Fast growth in credit to the poor is therefore dangerous, and often unworthy of the label “development.”"
P.S. There are several posts in the recent weeks in David Roodman's blog as well as CGAP Microfinance Blog, Candid Unheard Voice of Indian Microfinance and other places.

I would like to believe this

15-minute writing exercise closes the gender gap in university-level physics.
See the comments too, in particular, comment 35.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A post on Telugu lullabies

by సుభద్ర వేదుల నాకు నచ్చిన మూడు లాలి పాటలు...
More favourites appear in the comments. My list of three probably reflects my age (almost seventy):
శాంతకుమారి ధర్మదేవతలో "మీవంటిదేనండి మా కన్నె పాప"
రావు బాలసరస్వతీదేవి "బంగారు పాపాయి బహుమతులుపొందాలి"
సుశీల ముద్దుబిడ్డలో"చిట్టీ పొట్టీ వరాలమూట"
The songs are available at ( There are different spellings for the singers. For this particular song of శాంతకుమారి look under P. Santakumari).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Lane Kenworthy on trickle down economics When is economic growth good for the poor? "What accounts for this difference in the degree to which economic growth has boosted the incomes of the poor? We usually think of trickle down as a process of rising earnings, via more work hours and higher wages. But in almost all of these countries (Ireland and the Netherlands are exceptions) the earnings of low-end households increased little, if at all, over time. Instead, as the next chart shows, it is increases in net government transfers — transfers received minus taxes paid — that tended to drive increases in incomes." There is some discussion in Economist's View. One of the comments by Sandwichman has links to various papers questioning economic growth, for example, "Negative Externalities as an Engine of Economic Growth" by stephano Bartolini.

Interesting format. Barry Eichengreen reviews five books in an interview
Barry Eichengreen on the Euro. A quote "Europe endured a century of conflict. The idea that European integration is a mechanism for delivering peace and harmony is now deeply ingrained. It’s been taught to generations of schoolchildren, and Europe is better off for it". Lessons for the subcontinent?

Ed Yong "Negative Externalities as an Engine of Economic GrowthFake CVs reveal discrimination against Muslims in French job market"inspired by a previous study of racial discrimination in America by Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan "a careful, real-world experiment that does its best to unveil the effect of religion, with all else being equal."

Pervez Hoodbhoy on Peddling Pseudo Science "Why are prominent scientists spreading paranoia in Pakistan that the USA may be triggering earthquakes globally, and could also have caused the catastrophic floods in Pakistan?"

Open Laboratory 2010

Information about submissions You can now start submitting your blog posts for the Open Laboratory 2010. And there are links to several science posts that I missed. surprisingly, there is only one Carl Zimmer post ( my favourite science writer at the moment) submitted so far. Since Carl Zimmer is well known and does not need any more prizes, I will not bother to submit his posts and instead try to read some of the posts by others that I missed.
P.S. See the comment below and the latest post:
Open Laboratory 2010 – only eight days till the deadline!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Router in the brain?

"We are very good at doing many things at once. As you read this column, your brain can also manage your heartbeat, perceive the melody of a song playing on the radio, and send out complicated instructions for drinking a cup of coffee. It can do all that because it is parceled into hundreds of relatively self-contained regions. These regions can work on different tasks at the same time. Yet there are simple jobs—like math problems—that our brains can handle only one at a time. It is as if signals were flying down a 20-lane superhighway, and then the road narrowed to a single lane." says Carl zimmer and explains some recent research in The "Router" in Your Head—a Bottleneck of Processing. Some more excerpts:
"Pashler and his colleagues found that it typically took just under a second for people to respond to the brake lights on the car ahead. But it took longer for them to react if they had responded to a tone within one-third of a second before the lights went on. Pashler found that, on average, the test subjects’ reaction time increased by 0.174 second. That may not seem like a big difference, but if you are driving 65 miles an hour, it translates into an extra 16 feet. That distance can mean the difference between a close call and a high-speed rear-end collision."
"If we don’t have enough time between two tasks, we slow down on the second one—a lag known as the 'psychological refractory period'.....

Each time we perform a task we perform it in three steps. Step 1: Take in information from the senses. Step 2: Figure out what to do in response. Step 3: Carry out that plan by moving muscles. Stanislas Dehaene, chair of experimental cognitive psychology at the College of France, and neuroscientist Mariano Sigman of the University of Buenos Aires wondered where along these steps the traffic jam arises. To find out, they designed new variations on the classic Telford experiments.

In these experiments, subjects had to decide whether a number was higher or lower than 45. In each version of the test, the scientists varied one of the three steps of the thought process to see if they could change the length of the psychological refractory period. Only when they tinkered with step 2—figuring out what response to make—could they produce a change.....

Dehaene now thinks he knows why our thoughts get stuck in bottlenecks: The neurons that take in sensory information send it to a neural network that he and his colleagues call the "router." Like the router in a computer network, the brain’s version can be reconfigured to send signals to different locations. Depending on the task at hand, it can direct signals to the parts of the brain that produce speech, for instance, or to the parts that can make a foot push down on a brake pedal. Each time the router switches to a new configuration, however, it experiences a slight delay."
These, more examples and links in Carl zimmer's article.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Interesting reading

From All Lines Are Busy:
"The tapes also paint a dismal picture of how everything—from cabinet berths to natural resources—is now available for the right price. The now controversial 2G allocation was just one of the many manipulations orchestrated by players in high places. There are conversations on civil aviation with 1980-batch IAS officer Sunil Arora, publicist Suhel Seth and many others which have not been included here. The worst fallout, however, is that it has besmirched the hitherto ‘fair’ name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who agreed to take Raja back in the same ministry that now stands exposed in the biggest scam in independent India, despite knowledge of the tapes."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Felix Salmon on micro finance lessons from Andhra Pradesh

Felix Salmon has thoughtful post on microfinance The lessons of Andhra Pradesh with lots of links. One of them is David Roodman's Microcredit Portfolios Are Sand Castles. Felix Salmon's conclusion:

"SKS won’t ever be able to collect on the loans where its borrowers have gone on strike, and there’s no point in even trying; neither can it sell those loans to anybody else. Roodman says that “microcredit portfolios are like sand castles” — if you try to pick them up and move them to another institution, they disintegrate, since they’re based on a personal relationship between lender and borrower.

SKS’s loan portfolio in Andhra Pradesh has effectively evaporated, and no for-profit microlender is immune from the same thing happening to them. This is a global issue, which should be addressed by scaling back, going local, giving borrowers ownership of their lenders, and generally being much less ambitious when it comes to growth rates. Much better that full-service banks grow organically out of local communities than monoline microlenders parachute in, flush with venture-capital funds, make a huge splash, and then implode."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A sampling on 'Language Shapes Our Reality '

from Integral Options Cafe Language Shapes Our Reality . The last one is about the recent paper The Language of Implicit Preferences by Ogunnaike, O., Dunham, Y., & Banaji, M. This paper is reported in several places. From Anthropologist in the Attic :
"Linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf first posited in the 1930s that language is so powerful that it can determine thought. Mainstream psychology has taken the more skeptical view that while language may affect thought processes, it doesn't influence thought itself. This new study suggests that Whorf's idea, when not caricatured, may generate interesting hypotheses that researchers can continue to test.

"These results challenge our views of attitudes as stable," Banaji says. "There still remain big questions about just how fixed or flexible they are, and language may provide a window through which we will learn about their nature.""
Incidentally, M. Banaji did her early education in Secunderabad, india.

Shiva Tandava Stotra

Through a message in oldtelugusongs discussion group, I came to know of this interesting Shiva Tandava Stotra. Lyrics and meaning in English are given in a link to the Wikipedia article.
Lyrics in Telugu here, recital by S.P. Balasubramaniam.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rabibdra Sangeet tune in a Hindi film

'RAHI MATWALE,TU CHHED EK BAR'sung mostly by Talat and mostly by Suraiya, the tune based on 'O re Grihabashi' by Tagore.
P.S. So much space in the Indian Railways in the old days!
P.S. Various pieces put together

Churumuri on Jairam Ramesh

From CHURUMURI POLL: Should SUVs be banned?:
"It’s no exaggeration to conclude that Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh has become the pencil in the hands of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for the “course correction” from the unidimensional, growth-at-all-costs approach that the Manmohan Singh government had embarked upon in the first year of UPA-II."

Earlier Churumuri post on Jairam 18 things you might like to know about Jairam.

See Abi's post A slap in the face of India's science academies for his response to 'Inter Academy Report on GM Crops'( mentioned in an earier post post on this blog).

For comments on the revised report see Rahul Siddharthan's post An apology of a justification. Excerpt:
"Some senior scientists have been circulating a letter calling for the Academy Presidents to be dismissed. First I thought that was an over-reaction. Then I thought they may have a point. Now I think they did not go far enough. The academies should be dismantled. They have no understanding of scientific ethics. That makes them an active danger to Indian science."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some encouraging reports about India

Vivek Wadhwa in The Berkeley Blog Entrepreneurship tech boom erupts in India :
"The Indian technology industry got its start running call centers and doing low-level IT work for western firms. Then, in the 2000s, it started taking on higher-level IT tasks, offering management consulting services, and performing sophisticated R&D. Now there is another transition happening, one far more significant: a transition to development of innovative technology products. Instead of providing IT services as the big outsourcing companies do, a new breed of start-ups is developing high-value products based on intellectual property. The Indian industry group NASSCOM estimates that in 2008, the country’s software product revenues totaled $1.64 billion. It forecasts that this will grow to $11 billion per year by 2015.
I was surprised at the changes that are powering the new transition: its tech workers are leaving high-paying jobs in IT services, and kids out of school are ignoring social taboos against failure and defying marriage customs to become entrepreneurs. A few Americans are also joining the fray, starting their ventures in India rather than in Silicon Valley.....
At the NASSCOM event, I met dozens of tech-service industry workers who had become entrepreneurs. A surprisingly high proportion weren’t developing products for their former customers, but were instead looking inward to solve India’s problems."
and Why some young US workers now seek fortunes in India from Christian Science Monitor.

Robert Sapolsky discusses brain’s literal-metaphorical confusions

A passage from This Is Your Brain on Metaphors
"What are we to make of the brain processing literal and metaphorical versions of a concept in the same brain region? Or that our neural circuitry doesn’t cleanly differentiate between the real and the symbolic? What are the consequences of the fact that evolution is a tinkerer and not an inventor, and has duct-taped metaphors and symbols to whichever pre-existing brain areas provided the closest fit?"
(via 'The Loom')

Converting information to energy

From Demonic device converts information to energy:
"A paradox put into practice

To create a real-life version of the demon experiment, Sano and his colleagues placed an elongated nanoscale polystyrene bead, which could rotate either clockwise or anticlockwise, into a bath of buffer solution. The team applied a varying voltage around the bead, making it progressively harder for the bead to rotate a full 360 degrees in the anticlockwise direction. This effectively created a "spiral staircase" that was harder to "climb up" in the anticlockwise direction than to "fall down" in the clockwise direction, says Sano.

“This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content.”
When left alone, the bead was randomly jostled by the surrounding molecules, sometimes being given enough of a push to turn anticlockwise against the voltage — or jump up the stairs — but more often turning clockwise — or going "downstairs". But then the team introduced their version of Maxwell's demon.

They watched the motion of the bead, and when it randomly turned anticlockwise they quickly adjusted the voltage — the equivalent of Maxwell's demon slamming the door shut on a gas molecule — making it tougher for the bead to turn back clockwise. The bead is thus encouraged to keep climbing "upstairs", without any energy being directly imparted to the bead, says Sano.

The experiment does not actually violate the second law of thermodynamics, because in the system as a whole, energy must be consumed by the equipment — and the experimenters — to monitor the bead and switch the voltage as needed. But it does show that information can be used as a medium to transfer energy, says Sano. The bead is driven as a mini-rotor, with a information-to-energy conversion efficiency of 28%."
Preprint Information heat engine: converting information to energy by feedback control and the abstract in Nature Physics Experimental demonstration of information-to-energy conversion and validation of the generalized Jarzynski equality.
P.S. See Using Information to Extract Energy:
"It’s a great result, worth making a fuss about. But some commentators spun it as “converting information into energy.” That’s not quite right — it’s more like “using information to extract energy from a heat bath.”"

Monday, November 15, 2010

An experimental study of conditional cooperation

Björn Vollan and Elinor Ostrom comment in Cooperation and the Commons on a recent paper Conditional Cooperation and Costly Monitoring Explain Success in Forest Commons Management by Devesh Rustagi, Stefanie Engel and Michael Kosfeld (both articles need subscrption).
Abstract of the paper:
"Recent evidence suggests that prosocial behaviors like conditional cooperation and costly norm enforcement can stabilize large-scale cooperation for commons management. However, field evidence on the extent to which variation in these behaviors among actual commons users accounts for natural commons outcomes is altogether missing. Here, we combine experimental measures of conditional cooperation and survey measures on costly monitoring among 49 forest user groups in Ethiopia with measures of natural forest commons outcomes to show that (i) groups vary in conditional cooperator share, (ii) groups with larger conditional cooperator share are more successful in forest commons management, and (iii) costly monitoring is a key instrument with which conditional cooperators enforce cooperation. Our findings are consistent with models of gene-culture coevolution on human cooperation and provide external validity to laboratory experiments on social dilemmas."

From the comments by Björn Vollan and Elinor Ostrom:
"By establishing this link between the levels of cooperation observed in field labs with local forest conditions, Rustagi et al. have increased the confidence that scholars can have in the external validity of results from previous experiments carried out all over the world, with student and nonstudent subjects. In addition, by adding to findings showing diverse levels of cooperation in social dilemmas, rather than no cooperation, they support the growing acceptance of a behavioral theory of human action (14): Individuals facing dilemmas, who learn from experience and adopt a norm of conditional cooperation, achieve levels of cooperation that increase over time—if a sufficient number of conditional cooperators are present. If a group is composed of a substantial number of free riders, however, cooperation levels fall over time.

One way of interpreting Rustagi et al.'s findings is that learning and norm-adopting individuals are attracted to certain situations, and then are affected by the behavior of other actors facing the same situation (see the figure). Initially, this leads to some degree of cooperation (e.g., acceptance of rules of the forest group, monitoring other users, and helping to maintain their forest). If enough individuals initially cooperate, they slowly obtain benefits from the forest, and levels of cooperation grow. Alternatively, initial cooperation rates can be low, and then can continue to decline over time.

Rustagi et al. identify a number of well-known variables that can influence cooperation, including the size of the forest group, its leadership, and the heterogeneity of the group. Other, broader, variables include village elevation and market access, with villages closer to markets for wood products more likely to invest in cooperative management. Other field studies have found that prior experience in cooperative management increases the likelihood of groups successfully managing a resource."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

From the 1941 census

Recently I was reading "The Telangana Movement 1944-51" by Barry Pavier. On page 69, he quotes from Census of India 1941, Hyderabad, Vol.2, 672-674. The numbers given (rounding off, in millions)Hindus 10, Untouchables 3, Muslims 2, Tribals .7

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Links 10th November

From The Guardian "For art critic Tom Lubbock, language has been his life and his livelihood. But in 2008, he developed a lethal brain tumour and was told he would slowly lose control over speech and writing. This is his account of what happens when words slip away" Tom Lubbock: a memoir of living with a brain tumour via MindHacks post A poetry of muddlings and loss

This kind of philosophy is ok with me “Philosophy does not contribute to our knowledge of the world we live in after the manner of any of the natural sciences. You can ask any scientist to show you the achievements of science over the past millennium, and they have much to show: libraries full of well-established facts and well-confirmed theories. If you ask a philosopher to produce a handbook of well-established and unchallengeable philosophical truths, there’s nothing to show. I think that is because philosophy is not a quest for knowledge about the world, but rather a quest for understanding the conceptual scheme in terms of which we conceive of the knowledge we achieve about the world. One of the rewards of doing philosophy is a clearer understanding of the way we think about ourselves and about the world we live in, not fresh facts about reality.”from Hacker’s challenge . And there is more on neuroscientists, consciousness studies “The whole endeavour of the consciousness studies community is absurd – they are in pursuit of a chimera. They misunderstand the nature of consciousness. The conception of consciousness which they have is incoherent. The questions they are asking don’t make sense. They have to go back to the drawing board and start all over again.”
“I doubt whether this absurd misunderstanding is stoppable. It’s too entrenched now. But I think it is a kind of intellectual fraud. I’m not accusing paid-up members of the so-called consciousness studies community of bad faith – I’m sure they are just deluded – but the result of their confusion is that we’re bringing up a whole generation of people to think in a thoroughly muddled way, to have hopes and expectations which are totally absurd, and to concentrate on things which are just incoherent. It’s literally a total waste of time. But if anyone thinks that I am completely mistaken, I’d like them to explain to me why. If they cannot show that my arguments are wrong, they should admit the errors of their ways and withdraw from the field! That’s the challenge.”

Jonah Leher's interview of Antonio Damasio Self Comes To Mind (via 3quarksdaily). A quote “The whole endeavour of the consciousness studies community is absurd – they are in pursuit of a chimera. They misunderstand the nature of consciousness. The conception of consciousness which they have is incoherent. The questions they are asking don’t make sense. They have to go back to the drawing board and start all over again.” But there is more.

And Special Edition of Science Times via 'The Loom'. It has an article A Direct Hit of Drugs to Treat Brain Cancer on glioblastoma, the brain tumor that affects Tom Lubbock.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

More on p-word from Andrew Gelman

Poli sci plagiarism update, and a note about the benefits of not caring:

Bombay Plan

According to Wikipedia Bombay plan :
"The Bombay Plan is the name commonly given to a World War II-era set of proposals for the development of the post-independence economy of India. The plan, published in 1944/1945 by seven leading Indian industrialists, proposed state intervention in the economic development of the nation after independence from the United Kingdom (which occurred in 1947).

Titled A Brief Memorandum Outlining a Plan of Economic Development for India, the signatories of the Plan were[1] Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, Ghanshyam Das Birla, Ardeshir Dalal, Sri Ram, Kasturbhai Lalbhai, Ardeshir Darabshaw Shroff and John Mathai. The Plan went through two editions: the first was published in January 1944. This first edition became "Part I" of the second edition, published in 2 volumes in 1945 under the editorship of Purushottamdas Thakurdas.

Although Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, did not officially accept the plan, "the Nehruvian era witnessed [what was effectively] the implementation of the Bombay Plan; a substantially interventionist state and an economy with a sizeable public sector."[2] Its perceived influence has given it iconic status, and "it is no exaggeration to say that the Bombay Plan has come to occupy something of a mythic position in Indian historiography. There is scarcely a study of postwar Indian economic history that does not point to it as an indicator of the developmental and nationalistic aspiration of the domestic capitalist class."[3].....
Although the Bombay Plan did not itself propose a socialist agenda, "virtually all" commentators acknowledge "that there is a direct line of continuity from the Bombay Plan of 1944-1945 to the First Five-Year Plan in 1950."[3] An alternative line of reasoning is that the Bombay Plan was a reaction to the widespread social discontent of the 1940s (resulting from unprecedented industrial growth during wartime), and a product of the fear that the movement against colonial rule would become a movement against private property.[5]"
It is available online here
and is discussed in books like Ramachandra Guha's "India after Gandhi" and V. Krishna Anath's "India since independence".

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Vaccine-derived polio

From Polio in India: Many steps up… and a long one back :
"There are two types of polio vaccine: injectable or IPV, which uses a killed virus, and oral or OPV, which uses a weakened live virus. (For those into mid-20th century history, IPV is the Jonas Salk vaccine — announced to enormous fanfare in 1955 — and OPV is the Albert Sabin vaccine.) Industrialized countries overwhelmingly use IPV. But developing countries, and the global eradication campaign, use OPV, for several reasons. It’s cheaper to produce and especially to deliver, since it is administered in a couple of drops of liquid — which means no syringes to buy or dispose of, and no need for trained health-care personnel to give it. But it also confers protection not only on the kids who receive it, but on other kids nearby — because the weakened virus replicates in the gut, is shed in feces, and therefore can indirectly inoculate any child who accidentally swallows fecal particles from the vaccinated one.

But if the vaccine virus sheds its attenuating mutations and reverts to the infectious strength of the wild-type viruses, it can spread through that same route. It then poses a risk to anyone who is not currently vaccinated. As poorer countries become polio-free, they often drop vaccination as an unnecessary expense, leaving any children born after the end of vaccination vulnerable to a VDPV infection.

If you do the rough math in your head, you might be thinking, Well, this hypothetical country is polio-free already, so where’s the full-strength VDPV coming from? The answer lies in a further complexity of the vaccine virus: In certain people with certain immune deficiencies, it not only reverts, it replicates — and is shed — for a very long time, months to years. The immune deficiency transforms the vaccinated child into a polio version of Typhoid Mary, and into a severe risk of unpredictable duration.

VDPV is an unintended consequence of success: It only becomes a risk when a country gets so close to being polio-free that there is little or no wild virus to compete with the vaccine-derived one. But repeated outbreaks of VDPV have already brought polio roaring back to places that thought they were done with the disease. VDPV brought polio back to the Americas, via an outbreak in Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic, in 2000. It was also imported into the United States in 2005 via a woman who had chosen not to be vaccinated and who picked up the vaccine-derived virus from the recently vaccinated child of a Costa Rican host family.

Most famously in public heath circles, VDPV caused a huge, ongoing outbreak in Nigeria, starting in 2006, that has racked up almost 300 cases so far — straining the fragile acceptance of polio vaccine that had only just been restored after a number of imams in the north of Nigeria persuaded their congregations in 2003 to turn away from the vaccination campaigns. (For the worldwide accounting of VDPV outbreaks, see this World Health Organization table.)

VDPV will remain a risk as long as OPV is used, because it’s OPV itself that creates the risk. The only way to put an end to that risk, forever, is to conclude the polio campaign by deploying IPV in all the countries that have been using OPV. That will force the eradication campaign to take on at least some of the expense that it had hoped to reduce by using OPV instead. And that’s the true significance of the Indian girl’s case last week: the “ticking time bomb” is not just the threat of additional polio, but the threat of a huge additional bill for a campaign that is constantly on the verge of donor fatigue."
(via Not Exactly Rocket Science )
See also Vaccine-related polio a ticking time bomb in S India from Deccan Herald.

A Vallabhai Patel quote

advising backward caste tenants "Government wants to divide you and shahukar, but for you your shahukar is everything. You should laugh at and consider him a fool if somebody says that you should change your shahukar. It is like asking a patibrata (i.e. a dutiful wife) to change her husband. How can you leave a shahukar who has helped you in your difficulties"
from page 35 of Sunil Sen's "Peasant Movements in India: Mid nineteenth to Twentith centuries", 1982 reviewed by Shahid Amin in EPW, January 1964 and available

Friday, November 05, 2010

Improving numerical competence

From Electric brain stimulation improves maths performance:
"The research looked at influencing newly-learned (rather than existing) mathematical abilities: volunteers were asked to learn new symbols, demonstrate that they had learned them, and then apply this knowledge to solving puzzles involving these symbols. Electrical stimulation was applied at the point when they were learning the symbols. The new research shows that right to left stimulation of the parietal lobe enhances the ability of volunteers to retain and apply this new knowledge to problems for at least six months. Previous work by the team showed that a similar induced impairment effect was short-lived."

Link to the abstract and the paper Modulating Neuronal Activity Produces Specific and Long-Lasting Changes in Numerical Competence.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ramachandra Guha on K. Balagopal

Searching for Balgopal articles on agrarian problems, I came across this The honest leftist .
Many of Balagopal's articles (some with misprints, and parts missing) are available here .

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Rahul Siddharthan on Arundhati Roy

From the comments section of Sedition and the Roy:
"Ms Roy generally makes the point in the worst possible way, but generally the point is lurking there somewhere."

More on sedition by Ashis Nandy in The Great Indian Love Affair With Censorship

A new strategy to fight some viruses

From The Guardian article Immune discovery opens up new line of attack against viruses:
"In a series of experiments, James's group found that in many cases, antibodies do very little to stop viruses from infecting cells. Instead, the antibodies cling to the viruses when they invade cells and use the cells' own biological machinery to kill the virus.

James showed that once inside an infected cell, antibodies attract a protein called TRIM21. This in turn signals to the cell's equivalent of a waste disposal machine, a large cluster of proteins called a proteasome. When the proteasome arrives, it latches on to TRIM21 and goes to work, dismantling the virus piece by piece. The process happens quickly, and often before the virus has a chance to cause harm.

The discovery, which is reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could pave the way for a new generation of antiviral drugs that fight infections by supercharging the body's own defences.

Future treatments based on James's work are only expected to work against a class of viruses that do not shed their protein coats when they invade healthy cells. Those that do would leave the attached antibodies outside the cells, and so not trigger the cell's own immune attack.

James's team has already begun investigating how to turn the finding into new drugs. Tests on cells in the laboratory show that administering TRIM21 boosts resistance to infection, presumably by bolstering the natural immune attack."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Controlling a computer through electrodes implanted in the brain

From Discover News Mind Over Machine:
"Using nothing but thoughts, people can coax a brain cell that likes Marilyn Monroe to overpower one that likes Josh Brolin -- a battle of cell dominance that eventually causes an image of Monroe to appear brighter than one of Brolin on a computer screen."
Video by Moran Cerf Thought projection by neurons in the human brain
A shorter video in the excellent summary by Carl Zimmer Harnessing Your Marilyn Monroe Neurons and an earlier article by Carl Zimmer Can a Single Neuron Tell Halle Berry From Grandma Esther?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Two Lata-Geeta Dutt Duets

LATA-GEETA DUTT DUET from Toofan Aur Diya (1956).flv
Lata ji & Geeta Dutt in Parbat
It is difficult to distinguish the voices.

Mumbai Concensus by 2040?

Fro a speech of Larry Sumners via India vs China: Which is the best role model for the developing world?:
"And perhaps – perhaps – in 2040, the discussion will be less about the Washington Consensus or the Beijing Consensus, than about the Mumbai Consensus – a third way not based on ideas of laissez-faire capitalism that have proven obsolete or ideas of authoritarian capitalism that ultimately will prove not to be enduringly successful. Instead, a Mumbai Consensus based on the idea of a democratic developmental state, driven not by a mercantilist emphasis on exports, but a people-centered emphasis on growing levels of consumptions and a widening middle class."

'Not sure' says Chrystia Freeland in The Mumbai consensus:
"Summers thinks the real model to watch is India’s, the world’s largest democracy. Partly because of its political system, India’s economic rise has been powered as much by the voracity of its domestic consumers as it has by the country’s push into foreign markets. That’s a sharp contrast with China, where the focus has been on working for the rest of the world, while the Chinese people, who are poorer on average than those of Albania or Jamaica, nonetheless save more than half of their GDP.

What makes the idea of the Mumbai consensus, and of people-centric economic growth, so powerful is that the smartest and most politically potent critique of global capitalism right now is that it isn’t delivering for the middle class.

We are living in an age of unprecedented economic prosperity: since the 1970s the world economy has been growing at a faster pace than at any other time in human history, and billions of people have been lifted out of poverty as a result. Yet a perversity of this global boom is that it has benefited the super-elite most of all.

That is apparent most starkly in America, where 23.5 per cent of total income in 2007 went to the top 1 per cent, but it is also the case in countries with a more generous social safety net, like Canada and the UK. It is happening as well in communist China, where the gap between the rich and poor is as great as it is in the U.S., and in other emerging market powerhouses, including Russia, and, yes, India. (Income inequality has been falling in the fourth BRIC, Brazil, but that may partly be because it has historically been so high. Today it remains far greater than in the U.S.)

This unequal return on globalization is a pretty good key to understanding domestic political battles in most countries around the world. That’s true in authoritarian China, where, according to the state-run China Daily, the key concern of the Communist Party as it debated its twelfth five-year plan this week was “the widening wealth gap”. That is also true in the United States, where the rage of the Tea Party, with its proudly anti-elite heroines, is largely animated by anger that the American middle class is losing out.

Income inequality is high in India, too – Raghuram Rajan, the Indian born and educated University of Chicago economist pointed out in a 2008 speech in Mumbai that India was second only to Russia in its number of billionaires per trillion dollars of GDP. But Summers is right to assert that India’s rise out of developing world poverty has been “people-centric”: both an engine and a consequence of India’s ascent has been a surge in consumption that extends deep into the income distribution.....Summers, who has been worrying aloud about the hard-hit US middle class since well before the credit bubble burst, is painfully familiar with this problem. Identifying the Mumbai Consensus is a first step towards a solution, but alone it won’t be enough."
As a commentor says, it is perhaps people-led rather than people-centric, and I guess it may be due to the inefficiency of the state.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Links October 29

Two posts on Tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Carl Zimmer in Discover The Brain "Ringing in the Ears" Actually Goes Much Deeper Than That discusses the recent progress. There is discussion in The Loom My new brain column: Tinnitus, from ears to consciousness. It seems that different cases have very different treatments. In Vital Signs An Unwelcome Ringing Christopher Linstrom discusses a case which he cured by surgery.
From Distress, culture and gene expression:
"An interesting paper forthcoming in PNAS showing how cultures may favour different expressions of the same gene: "Culture, distress, and oxytocin receptor polymorphism (OXTR) interact to influence emotional support seeking" by Heejung S. Kim, David K. Sherman, Joni Y. Sasaki, Jun Xu,Thai Q. Chu, Chorong Ryu, Eunkook M. Suh, Kelsey Graham, and Shelley E. Taylor."
Sex Makes You Smarter- Can 'Virtual Sex' Do The Same?
A Brief History Of The English Language

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I heard of Ayn Rand

but read nothing by her and very little about her. Apparently she has made it to the Telugu world of cartoons: Auto jaani-Ayn Rand. It seems to have won a prize
Any one can give you knowledge..;:
"My post - Auto jaani-Ayn Rand -- in my blog was appreciated by the American professors. They even mailed me, saying "you are incredibly talented". They procured my caricature of Ayn Rand for thier maganize's article, Ayn Rand Influence on College Curriculum, for $200 as a one time copy right!"
From the blog One More Thought, it appears that the artist is keen about prizes even from goons. But who cares; he seems to be a wonderful cartoonist. Probably 'silly like us but his talent will survive it all'. Vibrant Telugu world!

Two tributes to Masanam Pandu Ranga Rao

from నా తెగులు...!
ANWAR THE ARTIST / అనగనగా ఒక చిత్రకారుడు.

An article about N.Rahmatulla and his views on Telugu

From the blog నా లోకం-అధికారభాషగా తెలుగు -ఓ ఉన్నతాధికారి గారి అనుభవాలు. Excerpt:
"ప్రజలకు అవకాశం ఇస్తే వాళ్లు మాట్లాడే భాషలోనే శక్తివంతంగా, జ్ఞానయుక్తంగా దరఖాస్తులు పెట్ట గలుగుతున్నారు , విన్నవిస్తున్నారు, పోరాడుతున్నారు, ప్రశ్నిస్తున్నారు. ఆంగ్లం వారికి అరగటంలేదు. తెలుగు చక్కగా జీర్ణమౌతున్న అమృతాహారం. మాటలవరకైతే ఎంతో బాగుంటుంది కానీ అప్పు తెచ్చుకున్న సంస్కృతాక్షరాలు, వరుసవావి లేకుండా తయారుచేసిన లిపి మన పిల్లలకు అరక్కపోవడమేగాక మళ్లీ దాని జోలికి వెళ్లటానికి బెదిరిపోయే పరిస్థితి వచ్చింది. 18 అక్షరాలతో తమిళ లిపి తమిళులకు వరమయ్యింది. 56 అక్షరాలు, వత్తులు, గుణింతాలు మనకున్నా, అవి శాస్త్రీయంగానూ, క్రమపద్ధతిలోనూ, పిల్లల మనస్సులపై సుళువుగా ముద్రవేసేవిగానూ లేనందువల్ల తెలుగు లిపి మనకు మనమే ''తెచ్చిపెట్టుకున్న చేటు''గా మారింది. ఇది భాష తప్పు కాదు. దాన్ని చెడగొట్టిన మన పెద్దల తప్పు".అని వారు స్వానుభవంతో చెప్పే మాటలను కొట్టి పారేయగలమా!
"కర్త కర్మ క్రియలతో సంబంధం లేకుండా అసలు వాక్యం అర్థమయితే చాలునని ఇంగ్లీషు వాళ్ళు తమ భాష వాడకానికి సడలింపులిచ్చారు. మరి మనవాళ్ళో? అసలీ కర్త, కర్మ, క్రియ అనే పదాలు పల్లెటూరి తెలుగువాళ్ళు పలుకుతారా? పలకరు. చేసినవాడు, చేసినపని, చేయించుకున్నవాడు... అంటారు. అలా అంటే సంస్కృత పండితులు ఊరుకోరు. శతాబ్దాల తరబడి వీళ్ళు చేసిన పెత్తనం వల్లనే మన తెలుగు వికృతం అయ్యింది. మన కూడిక సంకలనం అయ్యింది. మన తీసివేత వ్యవకలనం అయ్యింది. మన సాగు సేద్యం అయ్యింది. మన నెత్తురు రక్తంగా మారింది. మన బువ్వ అన్నం అయ్యింది. మన జనం పలికే తెలుగుపదాలు, సంస్కృత పదాలుగా మార్చి, మన పూర్వీకుల నాలుకలు సంయుక్తాక్షరాలు పలికేలా సాగగొట్టిన ఘనత ఈ సంస్కృత పండితులదే. వీళ్ళవల్లనే తెలుగుకు పురాతన భాష హోదా దక్కకుండా పోయింది. నన్నయ్యకు ముందు తెలుగు కవులెవరూ లేరనే పిడివాదం మనకు మనమే తగిలించుకున్న గుదిబండ." అంటూ అంత సాధికారికంగా వారు వాదిస్తుంటే కాదనే దమ్ము ఎవరికుంటుంది?
"ఇక ఇప్పుడు తెలుగు వాడకంలోంచి సంస్కృతం, ఇంగ్లీషు, ఉర్దూ పదాలను తీసివేయలేము. అవి మన భాషలో అంతర్భాగాలైపోయాయి. అక్కరలేని ఆపరేషన్‌ ఎవరు చేయించుకుంటారు? చేసినా గాయాలవడం తప్ప మరే మేలూ కలుగదు. అందువలన మన భాష సంకరమైనా బలమైన హైబ్రీడ్‌ భాషలాగా తయారైనందుకు సంతోషపడుతూ, ఈ సంకర తెలుగు భాషలోనే ఆఫీసుల్లో ఫైళ్ళు నడిపితే అదే పదివేలుగా భావించాలి. ఛాందసవాదులు వాళ్ళు చెయ్యరు, ఇంకొకళ్ళను చేయనివ్వరు. ఒకవేళ ఈ పనిని వాళ్ళకప్పజెబితే ఎవరికీ అర్థంగాకుండా పాడుచేస్తారు. ప్రజలు ఇంతకంటే ఇంగ్లీషే నయమని వాపోయేలా చేస్తారు. మన శాసన సభలో ఎమ్మెల్యేలు ఈ మూడు భాషల పదాలు కలగలిపి మనోరంజకంగా మాట్లాడుతున్నారు. అదే నేటి తెలుగు, వాడుక తెలుగు, వారు అడిగింది అడిగినట్లు తెలుగు లిపితో సాగదనుకుంటే ఆంగ్లలిపినే వాడుకోండి. మన మాట ముఖ్యం. వాళ్ళు ప్రజాప్రతినిధులు. వాళ్ళు మాట్లాడుతున్నది మన ప్రజల భాష. ఆ భాషలో, యాసలో జీవోలు రావాలి. అప్పుడే తెలుగు అధికార భాషగా విరాజిల్లుతుంది".
One of Rahamtulla's blogs here. The quote is from his post ఇలా చేస్తే బాగుంటుంది.