Monday, December 31, 2012

Somesh Bagchi remembered

I just found out that Somesh Bagchi passed away in October. I was in Kolkata when Somesh was diagnized with cancer and we even smoked together after the diagnosis. He seemed so much a part of Kolkata that I knew, I assumed that he would be there next time I visited Kolkata. I routinely asked a friend to pass on my new year greetings to Somesh when the unexpected response came. He was one of the nicest persons that I met.
Here are responses from some of his friends and colleagues:
Remembering Somesh ...

Landfill Harmonic

Happy New Year
The video is not available any more. Try
An article here.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"The Economists and the Powerful"

by Norbert Haring and Niall Douglass seems to be drawing positive reviews from left of the centre writers. Here is a  review by Michael Hudson. An older article (before the book was written) from The Economist.

Disease Burden and Economic growth

Economist's view has an interesting discussion Disease Burden Links Ecology to Economic Growthof a paper Disease Ecology, Biodiversity and The Latitudinal Gradient in Income.


"While most of the world is thought to be on long-term economic growth paths, more than one-sixth of the world is roughly as poor today as their ancestors were hundreds of years ago. The majority of the extremely poor live in the tropics. The latitudinal gradient in income is highly suggestive of underlying biophysical drivers, of which disease conditions are an especially salient example. However, conclusions have been confounded by the simultaneous causality between income and disease, in addition to potentially spurious relationships. We use a simultaneous equations model to estimate the relative effects of vector-borne and parasitic diseases (VBPDs) and income on each other, controlling for other factors. Our statistical model indicates that VBPDs have systematically affected economic development, evident in contemporary levels of per capita income. The burden of VBDPs is, in turn, determined by underlying ecological conditions. In particular, the model predicts it to rise as biodiversity falls. Through these positive effects on human health, the model thus identifies measurable economic benefits of biodiversity."
One of the commenters in the Economist's View says "the greatest burden of disease in poor countries are maternal and neonatal, see:"
I wonder whether India during the early days if independence neglected primary health, education.. and went for more glamorous projects.
Another interestiong discussion in Economist's View: Will Macroeconomists Ever Agree?

A song from Aakhri Khat 1966

Finding many Hindi songs that I missed following hints in Atul's blog. I never heard of Aakhri Khat before/ It seems to be an interesting film. Here are links to reviews from The Hindu and memsaab. Above is a song from the film by Bhupinder Singh in which the Goan trumpeter Chic Chocolate makes an appearance. Chic Chocolate seems to be a friend of C.Ramachandra and apparently they influence each other. Atul's blog has a song in which C. Ramachadra sang for Chic Chocolate.

Friday, December 28, 2012

All-round insecicides for vegetables

I am bit worried about using strong pesticides for vegetables and have been using strained lquid from a pate of a mixture of garlic, capsicum, chillies and turmeric. I do not know how well it works but it seems similar to the all-round insecticide described here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

From 'Gaon Ki Gori' 1945

I remember part of this song well , particularly the part containing 'o ghatta kali ghatta' but  not the film or singer. It seems both Zohrabai and Noor Jehan sang it in 1945.

From 'Jagachya Pathivar', 1960 Marathi film

Naturam Sweetsay in the YouTube comments gives the translation as
" Oh Lord, amazing is thy Reign ! Willful King, blind subjects, Court levitates in clouds ! Here flowers are destined to be mortal, while even stones are immortal ! Weeds lead extended existence, while the Sandal is axed ! Shrewd collect mansions, while virtuous get shacks ! Fidel gets yoke, while slut a pearl necklace ! Vices blossom here, while virtues go sour ! No shelter for Human on this earth ! Amazing is thy reign, oh Lord ! .."
The film has quite few nice songs with dances by Seema Deo.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A 2010 Marathi song

from Natrang (trailer)
A semi lavani from the same film

A jarring note in a wonderful music program

There is an interesting program Padutha Teeyaga in which young contestants sing songs from Telugu films and SPB seems to be the compere. Recently, I watched bits of it on 24th December (should be available on YouTube in a couple of weeks) since the first part of the contest is rendering songs of Saluri Rajeswara Rao. Rajeswara Rao started as singer but his voice seemed weak and suit only certain type of songs and later on he shone as a music director. One of his famous songs is 'paata paduma krishna'

 Many of the youngsters were good, particularly the one who sang the above song. In the program SPB actively participated, correcting the youngsters, asking them to repeat passages which they performed well, appreciating and instructing. There were anecdotes from Rajeswara Rao's life, repeating some conversations in Rao's accent and some new information I did not know that Balasaraswati Devi used to sing the song earlier but Rao apparently insisted that he should record it. May be, there was some emotional attachment to the song since it was written by his father). On the whole it seemed a wonderful program with a great singer passing on his wisdom and entertaining. But there were also at least one jarring note. It seems that a rich farmer produced one of the films for which Rao was the music director. When the film was still in production, some farmers from the producer visited Madras and the producer brought them to the studio and requested Rao to entertain them with his latest song. Rao obliged and then asked one of the farmers for his opinion. The farmer replied that it was good but not as good as his Malliswari songs. Apparently Rao was upset but instead of showing his disapproval directly waited until the tea-boy came along and asked for his opinion. The suggestion seems to be that the farmer was put in his place by this subtle strategy.  A jarring note in a wonderful program. And caste too does not seem to go away. Some Melbourne ladies watching were rooting for one of the contestants but said that he may not get the prize since the compere seemed to be encouraging one of his caste. No caste was announced in the program and I wonder how they knew.
P.S. Interesting interview with Ilaiyaraja where he asks 'Why classify music?'
P.P.S. Landfill Harmonic (via Duncan Green)
P.S. The comments which I could not appreciate are from 12:35 in
This video as well as parts one and two on December 24th (can be found on the side of tha above video) has many Rajeswara Rao songs, sung by youngsters, snatches of the original songs and many interesting comments.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A lavani song "Latpat Latpat Tujha Chaalan Ga"

Seems to be from Amar Bhoopali 1951, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and dance by Sandhya

Monday, December 24, 2012

Links 24th December 2012

The 'Mommy Penalty' Around the World
In most of the developed world, women spend more time working each day than men do, if you include unpaid work. both from NYTimes
David Warsh 'Paradigms after Fifty Years'
Miles Kimball 'David Lakoff on Science'
Taleb on 'Understanding a poor substitute for Convexity (Antifragility). I do not understand most of it but will try a few times more.
Duncan Green on a new study 'Small producer Agency in the Global market'. I have not read the study yet, but Duncan Green is very enthusiastic about the study.

NYTimes on the work of Ted Kaptchuk on Placebo phenomenon

From the article by Clara Feinberg
"This was disturbing for Kaptchuk, too; deception played no role in his own success as a healer. But years of considering the question led him to his next clinical experiment: What if he simply told people they were taking placebos? The question ultimately inspired a pilot study, published by the peer-reviewed science and medicine journalPLOS ONE in 2010, that yielded his most famous findings to date. His team again compared two groups of IBS sufferers. One group received no treatment. The other patients were told they’d be taking fake, inert drugs (delivered in bottles labeled “placebo pills”) and told also that placebos often have healing effects.
The study’s results shocked the investigators themselves: even patients who knewthey were taking placebos described real improvement, reporting twice as much symptom relief as the no-treatment group. That’s a difference so significant, says Kaptchuk, it’s comparable to the improvement seen in trials for the best real IBS drugs."
Kaptchuk's response to possible defects in his methodology is also quite exaplary "When Kaptchuk talks about Hrobjartsson’s 2001 paper now, he winces, then nods with acceptance. “At first when I read it, I worried I’d be out of a job,” he says. “But frankly, [Hrobjartsson] was absolutely right.” In order to legitimize his findings to mainstream practitioners, the results must be expertly quantified, he acknowledges. “We have to transform the art of medicine into the science of care.”"
via 3quarksdaily where Dr. Larocca comments "A singurarly well-balanced review of one of the greatest medical conundrums: That of the psychosomatic dualism."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Another theory of music

Dave Brubeck apparently said "The folk origins of music aren’t far apart anywhere in the world.”
According to Virginia Huighes
"According to a study out yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, our cognitive connection to music may have evolved from an older skill, the ability to glean emotion from motion. People will choose the same combination of spatiotemporal features — a certain speed, rhythm, and smoothness — whether pairing a particular emotion with a melody or with a cartoon animation, the study found. But most surprising, the results held true in people from two starkly different cultures: a rural village in Cambodia and a college campus in New England."
via Ed Yong who has links to several other posts including some lists of the best of the year.

Review of two reviews of Nate Silver's book

and various comments by experts in Two reviews of Nate Silver's new goo... Since I am planning to read this book at some stage, it may be useful to have this handy.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Passages from Michael Mann's first volume

On page 503(first edition):"The comparative method has no solution to these problems, not because of any general logical or epistemological defects it might have but because, in dealing with the problems we simply do not have enough autonomous, analogical cases. Confronted by that empirical reality, we must turn to pragmatically to the second method, of careful historical narrative, attempting to establish "what happened next"to see if it has the "feel" of a pattern, a process, or a series of accidents and contingencies. Here we will need broad concepts and theories about how socities generally work and how human beings behave, but we employ them in a historic narrative, looking for continuity or conjecture, pattern or accident.  Historical not comparative, sociology has been my principal method."
In an earlier chapter on 'Comparative excursus into world religions'(page371), he says " From then on India, China, Islam, and Europe went different ways. Global comparative sociology-always difficult in my view- now becomes too difficult. From now on I chronicle only one case, Christian Europe and its offshoots"
Given this, it is not clear to me how useful these volumes will be in Indian context. Things like caste and status do not play any role in the next part. In any case, I am continuing with Volume 2 and also his book on 'The Darkside of Democracy'.
Several essays on the first two volumes and Mann's response are in 'An Anatomy of Power' edited by J.A. Hall and Ralph Schroeder, available online.

Friday, December 21, 2012

M.C.R. Butler RIP

I just heard that Michael Butler passed away at the age of 84:
"He was admitted into Liverpool Royal Hospital in March with a chest infection, he subsequently became very seriously ill but after a long struggle was discharged to St Michaels in June where he made steady progress until the end of October, he was then able to go out for about 3 hours, shopping, having a meal and walking before getting tired and needing a rest, he became very much his old self. After this point he gradually deteriorated and became very ill eventually dying from Lymphoma. Although very ill at the end he maintained his sense of humour and was mercifully free from pain.

The Funeral details are
4th of January at 3:00 pm
Rosemary Chapel
Springwood Crematorium.
Springwood Avenue
L25 7UN"

I remember fondly fourteen months during 1968-69 spent in Liverpool when Michael and his wife Sheila Brenner were like surrogate parents to foreigners like me.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Michael Mann on the sources of social power

I am just finshing the first volume of the four volume series, the fourth volume is scheduled to come out next January. From an earlier description
"The work begins with the dawn of civilization in Mesopotamia, charting the emergence of four distinct forms of power (ideological, military, economic, and political) that Mr. Mann finds operating throughout recorded history. The second volume, appearing in 1993, extended the analysis up to the outbreak of the First World War. A review in The Journal of Economic History began, simply, "Colossal!" Scholars often mention Max Weber's Economy and Society (1914), another work routinely called monumental, when discussing Mr. Mann's work."
The first chapter of the first edition of Volume 1 is available here and the first chapter of the first edition of the  second volume here. Another article by Mann 'The Autonomous Power of the State:Its Origins, Mechanisms and Results' from 1984. A 2006 interview with Michael Mann and a 2004 interview.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Shankar of S-J on his music making

From an article by Raju Bharatan reproduced here. Excerpts
“They weren’t in Bhairavi, come to think of it. But the total musician never thinks of the raag while composing. He plays in Sur and raag just flows. So I can’t go along with you on the point that Mera joota hai Japani, as it finally emerged, because it was in Bhairavi. I maintain that my first three tunes were good, very good. But then I only looked at the tune Raaj Saab had an exact visual idea of what he wanted. And he just seized that fourth tune from my custody the moment I struck the right note, as he audio-visualised it”.

"Incidentally, I always prepared the tune first and then got words written by Shailendra. Letting the poet write the song first, I had discovered, led to his penning the song-lyrics in the same monotonous metre. No, I don’t agree this, my reverse style of tuning, placed a limitation on Shailendra’s poetry. The Ramaiyya vastavaiyya tune came first, yet did Shailendra’s poetry suffer in any way’ No! the words for me represented the portrait, the tune the frame. Once the framework was ready in the form of my tune, the portrait, the song- lyric, could always be fitted in, exactly to size.”

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An early Roshan song

from Neki Aur Badi (1949)

via which also has the lyrics and translation.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'The Loom' moving

And also 'Not Exactly Rocket Science'. Both will be publishing with the National Geographic Magazine. I have been regularly reading 'The Loom' for at least five years and Ed Yong more recently. In my opinion, Carl Zimmer is among the best science writers ever and Ed Yong is quite good too.

The apparent lack of caste politics in West Bengal

There are two articles in EPW explaining the anomaly among similar lines. The one by Partha Chatterjee says " The partition of Bengal was ­demanded in 1947 by an overwhelming majority among Hindus who could not imagine a future under permanent Muslim domination......The partition removed the principal political challenge to upper-caste Hindu dominance in West Bengal. " , and describes later developments. The other article is by Sarbani Bandopadhay.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ravi Shankar RIP

Obituary at The Guardian "Shankar not only transcended culture, race and geography but also had no difficulty with the generation gap and the phenomenon of class."
From The Concert for Bangladesh "On 5 June 1972, in recognition of their “pioneering” fundraising efforts for the refugees of Bangladesh, George Harrison, Ravi Shankar and Allen Klein were jointly honoured by UNICEF with its “Child Is the Father of the Man” award."
P.S. The previous link to Pather Panchali music is not working. Here is a link to improvisations from it:

An early Lalita, Padmini dance with ANR from 'Or Iravu'

A duet from a Dilip Kumar film

That used in the film was by Talat  Mahmood and Shamshad Begum. There is also a version not used in the film by Hemant Kumar and Uma Devi

Monday, December 10, 2012

From the 'Payal Aur Sagam' series

apparently banned during Zia's time

Payal Aur Sargam - Aas Kay Taray Tootay - Part-1 of 2 Episode-1


Payal Aur Sargam - Aas Kay Taray Tootay - Part-2 of 2 Episode-1

and many more like

Payal Aur Sargam - Kahan Gaey Mujhay Chor - Episode-10A

Ramachandra Guha on EPW

EPW is the only journal that I have been subscribing to. Years ago Angus Deaton and Valeri Kozel said
"EPW is a cross between an academic journal (it has equations, and econometrics) and a magazine, such as The Economist. It provides rapid publication and acts as a unique bridge between research, the press, and policymakers, and i tcould well be emulated in other countries, including many rich countries. " Now Ramchandra Guha wtites about Krishna Raj, long time editor of EPW and has an insider view of the journal here (via 3quarksdaily):"The EPW is a unique, three-fold mix of political prejudice, dispassionate reportage, and solid scholarly analysis."

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Melbourne councillors caught in a bind

From The Age:
"MELBOURNE City Council could be denied a say on key building projects, with a majority of councillors unable to vote because of developer donations that bankrolled their election campaigns.
Major city developers, including high-rise apartment pioneer Central Equity, donated to the campaigns of more than half the candidates now on the council.
As a result, so many of the councillors have conflicts of interest - and are therefore obliged to abstain from voting - that there will be insufficient numbers to make up a council quorum to deal with the donors' planning applications
.A Town Hall spokesman said that in such cases where council decision-making is impeded by multiple conflicts of interest, the council may have to apply to the state government to seek a formal exemption from the conflict-of-interest provisions of the Local Government Act.
Another option would be for the council to consciously fail to make a decision, allowing the project applicant to make an appeal to the Victorian Administrative Appeals Tribunal."
Perhaps some understanding will be reached with the state government which is friendly to developers/

Nadeem Paracha's series 'Crazy Diamonds'

From his write up on Waheed Murad about the decline of Pakistani film industry in the 1980s:
"The VCR had arrived and with it Indian films (on video tapes). This machine boded well with what was happening to the film industry’s main audiences: i.e. the urban lower and middle classes.
Ziaul Haq’s reactionary military coup against the Z A. Bhutto regime in 1977 and then the military dictatorship’s strict censor policies, along with its concentrated crackdown on social activities that it deemed ‘un-Islamic’ and ‘immoral,’ began to push the urban middle-classes indoors.
The VCR fitted perfectly in this new, introverted setting. By 1984, Urdu films in Pakistan had already lost almost 50 per cent of its audiences. This was also the period when many cinemas began to close down or be converted into gaudy shopping plazas and wedding halls.
A number of once famous and rich film stars found themselves out of work. Some took to drinking and slipped into obscurity; some compromised their egos (and fee) and began doing teleplays; while others ventured into taking roles in loud, violent Punjabi films whose stock and popularity rose rather bizarrely with the strengthening of the Zia dictatorship."
From the portrait of General Rani:
"For years she played well the role of a good wife, bearing six children and never venturing out of the house without a burqa (veil/abaya).
Then one day in 1963, while holidaying with her husband on the cool hills of Murree, something snapped in her.
Walking with her husband among the tall pine trees of the hills, a gust of wind blew away the burqa from her face.
Enjoying the wind softly breezing across her face, she let the wind to continue making the burqa flap away and expose her face.
Agitated by her callousness, her husband admonished her. She stopped walking. She stared back at him and then casually proceeded to take off the burqa from the rest of her body.
Then after tossing it athim, she walked away, asking him to wear it himself!
It was at a club that was frequented by the country’s top military men in Rawalpindi where Pakistan’s future dictator, General Yahya Khan, fell for her.
A compulsive drinker and womaniser, Yahya began an affair with Aqeel sometime in 1967. But throughout her relationship with Yahya, she kept insisting that they were ‘just friends.’
Nevertheless, when a leftist movement between 1968 and 1969 forced General Ayub Khan to resign as head of state, he installed Yahya Khan as the country’s new Martial Law Administrator.
It was at this point that Aqeel began being called (in the press), ‘General Rani.’ It is believed that apart from looking after Yahya’s ferocious appetite for booze and women, she also began ‘advising’ him on policy and political matters.
Those who met her in those days described her to be far more informed and astute in the field of politics than Yahya." Read also how she helped Noor Jehan/

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

A Holi Song from Pakistan

via Dances on the Footpath
There seem to be two singers Nur Jehan and Irene Parveen. There are more Holi songs in Punjabi from Pakistan and another from Kartar Singh 1959

Monday, December 03, 2012

Two reviews of Malhar 1951

After listening to a song in the film, I googled and found this eulogy in The Hindu:
"On watching “Malhar”, more than six decades after it was released, one cannot but admire the fundamental laws that govern good cinema, which have stood the test of time, proving that they are inviolate and sacrosanct. Despite the considerable time that has elapsed, “Malhar”, directed by Harish, shows no signs of staleness, at least in certain vital areas."And more. Then this mini-review by memsaab "Shammi’s pain and suffering (much of it self-inflicted) is nothing compared to sitting through this movie, I can assure you, and that is saying something." So, I am not going to watch the movie and am not going to trust all film reviews in The Hindu.

Links December 3, 2012