Thursday, November 23, 2017

A marriage organised by APMAS

From November 20: APMAS (Andhra Pradesh Mahil Abhyudaya Samiti)organised the marriage. The family are quarry workers from Tamilnadu. The girl’s family spends some time in Tamilnadu, particularly the girl’s mother. The girl has a degree B.C.A and the boy has middle school education. They married in a temple without informing the parents and came to live with the boy. When she was around eight months pregnant, the parents offered to take the girl home from delivery and aborted the baby. They tried to marry the girl off. The girl escaped again and APMAS organised the marriage today. Meanwhile the mother registered a kidnap case against the boy and there is pressure from the police in her village to come back. It is not clear what will happen if they go back. The boy is from Kondtruthur and the girl from Dindivanam which are 120 kilometres apart. The case is now with Dindivanam police. I think that it is still a complaint and not registered yet. The fear is that if they do not go back soon, it may be registered. Meanwhile, the police here are trying to call her mother’s brother to warn him but so far, he refused to come. 
Update: It seems to be reaching a happy conclusion with the help of DSP who seems to have taken the police officer who was giving trouble to task. The name of the pair Sathiyavelu and Sandhiya, may be approximate. I attended the marriage and am looking forward to their arrival here.


I was talking to a friend in Hyderabad who is currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer. She was very upbeat comparing the corresponding costs in US and here. According to a knowledgeable relative of hers, there is hardly any difference in the treatments and it costs less than one tenth in India. When she goes for treatment in Hyderabad, she gets to interact with other patients and she is very pleased that person with monthly salary of 11,000 rupees is essentially getting free treatment under Aarogyasri scheme. I do not know how it works in other states.
Here is the Wikipedia article Aarogyasri

A dedicated lady

Aruna Tella has several formal and informal positions related to women’s welfare, short stay home and long ago women’s self help groups before they became organised. More than a few thousandwomen passed through these organisations, perhaps in the range of 3-5 thousand, including those who found housing through the organisations. I found a lady who comes to clean one of our places and inquired about her. It seems that she was a married woman with two children. At some stage, her husband got in to drinking habits and to cover his expenses introduced her to a friend of his. The affair continued and the new couple had even a sort of marriage in a temple. But the affair started drying up , and with his source of money gone her husband started abusing her. She finally gave up on her marriage and came to live opposite to the house of the person who she considered her new husband. But he too refused to marry her and started abusing her. After a while, her parents took the children away and she lives in one of the homes still obsessed with the new husband though both the men married again. She still celebrates her second husband’s birthdays and such occasions and in spite of treatment her obsession has not completely gone. She seems very dedicated in her service to other abused women and continues her work with them.

Half a day with Aruna Tella

Before breakfast, she started telling me about her struggles with Vantavari colony (colony of cooks) which started in 1991. when she had to sell her jewels, stay in the colony for some time when it started as a swamp. Meanwhile a couple from Tamilnadu turned up. They had an intercaste marriage (Oops. It seems they are relatives but there is a family feud) in a temple and somehow landed in Ongole. When the lady was about eight months pregnant, her parents persuaded her to come home for delivery, aborted the baby and tried to marry her off. She managed to escape. She quickly made arrangements to handle it and had to attend a meeting. Meanwhile, she told me me a bit more of the story of the colony where all of the political parties seemed to be against it at some stage or other and the help came from some benevolent officials and friendly police officers. The police still seem to bring destitute ladies automatically in one of the houses managed by her and her friends. While she was attending the meeting, I went to the Vantavari Colony and checked as much of the story as I could. The youngest of the ladies is onLy 42 now and apparently in one of the houses organised by Aruna and saw me before. The colony is next to the Bus Stand, it is a prime location and a case is still going in the High Court. There are about 150 families in the colony now from a mixture of castes. Some have sold their houses and left but about forty of the original fami.ies are still there following their original profession of cooking. Since it is located next to the Bus Stand, it is easy for people from outside villages to meet them and arrange cooking engagements.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Domestication of rice

Rice so nice it was domesticated thrice  “Rice is unique among wild plants for having been domesticated independently on three continents: Asia, Africa, and now South America, researchers have discovered. The New World variety, tamed about 4000 years ago, apparently was abandoned after Europeans arrived. But its genetic legacy could potentially help improve Oryza sativa, the Asian rice species that is now a dietary staple for half the world’s population.”

In Ongole now

I continue to be impressed by the splendid work that Aruna Tella has been doing for the past thirty five years. Eventhough one of my aims is to learn about education, I hope to gather some information of her work over the years. At the moment she is busy with several projects, one of which is running a short stay home for women. Some of them have stayed long, she adopted two of them. One of them is married and another soon. Some of these daughters will probably carry on her work. She runs the only such home in Ongole area ( among several other projects). I hope to collect some stories of her work and write about them off and on. The government only the bare minimum needs of the people in these houses. She provides good food borrowing money and lost a lot of her property by paying interest on these loans. The government grants come after years. Anyway, off and on I will post stories about this lady who is very little known outside Ongole area. She is the main reason for my coming here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Leaving for Ongole.

After a week in Bengaluru and Hyderabad, leaving for Ongole tonight. The only vague aim is to visit a few schools and villages and learn how things are if possible. The plan is to spend about three months there if health permits.

A nice article on Shyama

From Shyama, the Impish Girl in the Dungarees, Is No More The article has links to some of her popular songs.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The trouble with scientists

The trouble with scientists by Philip Ball
Razib Khan write “.... have come to the conclusion most people are decent, but they’re also craven and intellectually unserious outside of their domain specificity when they are intellectual. Many of our institutions are quite corrupt, and those which are supposedly the torchbearers of the Enlightenment, such as science, are filled with people who are also blind to their own biases or dominated by those who will plainly lie to advance their professional prospects or retain esteem from colleagues.” In
The rising waters of human tribal nature 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Going on a trip to India


Paradise papers

If you think the Paradise and Panama papers are bad, wait until you hear about Delaware from Yves Smith quote from the above:
In fact, the US is one of the largest recipients of illicit financial flows from developing countries—money often smuggled out by corrupt politicians, drug dealers, or everyday criminals…
Just as small countries tend to breed the political culture that allows corporate secrecy, sparsely populated US states have competed in a race to the bottom to attract corporate investment through lax disclosure requirements. The tiny state of Delaware, called an “on-shore tax haven” by critics, garners more than a quarter of its public revenue—just over a $1 billion—from its business registry.
This probably factors into the World Bank’s assessment of the US as one of the worst offenders (pdf) when it comes to corporate secrecy. In fact, a 2012 academic study reports that it is easier to form a shell company(pdf) in the US than it is in Panama—or indeed, anywhere else but Kenya. At the top of their list? Delaware and Nevada.”
What the Paradise Papers Tell Us About Global Business and Political Elites  from Naked Capitalism

Two on neoliberalism

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Wastelands vs commons

From Forlorn Wastelands to Thriving Commons in India
“What the villagers think is their land, the government says isn’t,” says Jagdeesh. “What the villagers see as useful land, the government calls wastelands.” This dynamic, common to many agrarian societies, is a holdover from the colonial era. Land that appeared to have little potential to generate revenue for the queen was given this relegated status.
The villagers depend on these marginalized lands for food, water, firewood, timber, and medicine to meet their daily needs. The government has rules and regulations for the land, but it has neither the reach nor the grasp to manage it effectively. “Villagers have no right to this land, so they have little interest in maintaining it,” says Jagdeesh, Chief Executive of Foundation for Ecological Security (2015 Skoll Awardee). “Eventually the land becomes degraded, and that is the tragedy.” The wasteland label becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy—a squandered and valuable resource that falls victim to competing worldviews.”

On revolutions

I am one of those who believe in resistance and not revolutions since according to my limited knowledge, revolutions tend to replace one corrupt regime with another. Still, my heart skipped a beat when my plane once landed in Moscow. I think that I stepped down to touch the ground but am not sure after so many years. Just remembered
100 Years Since the October Revolution Russia's Unloved Anniversary from Der Siegel:
The schoolchildren couldn't tell him who Lenin was. When he asked them if they knew the name of Russia's last Czar they replied: "Putin."”

The charter of the Forest

Why You’ve Never Heard of a Charter as Important as the Magna Carta
Eight hundred years ago this month, after the death of a detested king and the defeat of a French invasion in the Battle of Lincoln, one of the foundation stones of the British constitution was laid down. It was the Charter of the Forest, sealed in St Paul’s on November 6, 1217, alongside a shortened Charter of Liberties from 2 years earlier (which became the Magna Carta).
The Charter of the Forest was the first environmental charter forced on any government. It was the first to assert the rights of the property-less, of the commoners, and of the commons. It also made a modest advance for feminism, as it coincided with recognition of the rights of widows to have access to means of subsistence and to refuse to be remarried.
The Charter has the distinction of having been on the statute books for longer than any other piece of legislation. It was repealed 754 years later, in 1971, by a Tory government.”

Razib Khan on Saudi Arabia

The end of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia links to an article by Peter Turchin on elite overproduction.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

A very old machine

Hi - I'm reading "A Very Old Machine: The Many Origins of the Cinema in India (SUNY series, Horizons of Cinema)" by Sudhir Mahadevan and wanted to share this quote with you.

"No technology dies a predictable death in India. Nor does it undergo an ordinary birth. Both are evident in the contraption I have just described. This book demonstrates how this axiom applies to the emergence of the cinema in South Asia. The title of the book therefore alludes to the Bioscope as an assemblage that is emblematic of film culture in India and how its history has been shaped. The Bioscope is a combination of past and present. It represents a key symbol of early cinema brushing against new and not so new media. It is the result of the refashioning of an “optical device” of still pictures well pre-dating the cinema in the nineteenth century, into a source of moving images with the help of domestic home viewing technology and digital formats. Finally, the assemblage performs and demands a public space and publicity for its viability. The embedded temporalities of just a single contraption capture I think, the complexity of India’s visual cultures, especially those centered on the cinema.
A Very Old Machine searches for antecedents to—or previous versions of—the imaginaries that have informed the cinema’s place in everyday life and the practices that have sustained its manifestations, both mainstream and idiosyncratic, in India. I investigate the emergence of the cinema in India from a variety of perspectives: as a screen practice that became viable as much through makeshift technologies as through capital intensive practices, as mass culture whose legitimacy was won in the nexus of commerce, culture, and the global traffic in images, as hybrid media that in tandem with photography and print culture registered the experience of modern life and thus established itself as a medium of topical relevance, and finally, as a form of social and cultural memory that has been particularly suited to a cinema whose many origins have made a single archive and a singular narrative impossible to produce and sustain."

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Been music from Nagin 1954

Been music from Nagin by Shyamanuha from the blog’Nothing to declare’ via D.P.Rangan at ‘Songs of Yore’:
Nevertheless, I could not resist asking the question to the maestro himself when I met him in November 2011, just a few months before his death. (I actually did a post, Ravi: The Master of Situational Songs, based on some interesting perspective that I got from that interview). He, of course, vehemently denied any major contribution from Kalyanji and reiterated that the music was played on Harmonium by him, while acknowledging that Kalyanji did accompany on Clavoline.
But then he added something that caught my attention. “Actually, it was created by Lucila. But it sounded a little Western, so I changed it like this,” he said demonstrating it immediately on the Harmonium which accompanied him right through the entire interview, “to make it sound more Indian.””

On plant intelligence

The most balanced seems to be this 2013 article by Michael Pollan
The intelligent plant
A 2012 article on the work of J.C.Bose:
Stephanie Manusuco Ted Talks 

Kenneth Rogoff on the voice of federal chair

Kenneth Rogoff in Project Syndicate Donald Trumpt’s Federal Reserve “For example, so-called quantitative easing involves having the Fed issue short-term debt to buy up long-term government debt. But the US Treasury owns the Fed, and can carry out such debt purchases perfectly well by itself.
Some argue for “helicopter money,” whereby the Fed prints money and hands it out. But this, too, is smoke and mirrors. The Fed has neither the legal authority nor the political mandate to run fiscal policy; if it tries to do so, it runs the risk of forever losing its independence.”
The difference between fiscal and monetary policies
A maverick in the area Stephanie Menusuco Ted Talks One And slightly shorter Two

Eadu action, trust and economic measurement

Elsewhere in political economics, this handy 2012 analysis of the European Social Survey found that levels of education are correlated with trust in institutions — except for countries with high levels of corruption, where more education was correlated with mistrust. That’s a pretty compelling argument for education, unless you’re a corrupt politician.” from Education, trust and economic measurement ( registration or google search may me needed).

We need new rules for the internet economy

A song from Gilda 1946

Choreography by Jack Cole 

Saturday, November 04, 2017

A strange article by Lant Pritchett

Is he really saying this or have I misunderstood him?
 The Perils of Partial Attribution: Let’s All Play for Team Development 

How food banks use markets in USA

The economic consequences of Martin Luther

“ Five hundred years ago today, Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the Wittenberg Castle church door critiquing Catholic Church corruption, setting off the Protestant Reformation. This column argues that the Reformation not only transformed Western Europe’s religious landscape, but also led to an immediate and large secularisation of Europe’s political economy.“

The previous quote comes from this section of Tristes Tropiques

Thursday, November 02, 2017

A quote from Tristes Tropiques

 " My hypothesis, if correct, would oblige us to recognize the fact that the primary function of written communication is to facilitate slavery. The use of writing for disinterested purposes, and as a source of intellectual and aesthetic pleasure, is a secondary result, and more often than not it may even be turned into a means of strengthening, justifying or concealing the other. (p. 299)"
P.S. A response from Ramarao Kanneganti to the above post on Facebook:
The initial written communications were for accounting, to support private property. It also is used for organizing and governing people. As such, it supported and enabled the existing governance structures: slavery, monarchy, feudalism, colonialism, imperialism etc.

It also enabled opposition to the existing governance. Which is why, it was controlled in the olden times. For example, reading and writing were controlled in Egyptian and Indian civilizations. In Sumerian times, it was controlled by a guild.

Incidentally, in Sanskrit, writing is considered inferior and looked down upon. It was the elaborate oral traditions that sustained the memory of the traditions, not writing. It exerted more control over dissemination of the information than writing ever did. 

When the control was challenged, say like Martin Luther (with the advent of printing press), it led to fight against the existing governance structures. What we see with twitter and FB is exactly that. Brexit, Trump is the outcome of challenge to the existing controls and traditions.

Next, we understand there is a secondary purpose to writing: literature, preserving history, culture, arts and such. The big question is, are they intertwined with the primary? That is, does Indian classical music support caste system?

The facts look indisputable. Like any German alive during the WW II are guilty either by action or inaction, any literature that does not talk about slavery (or caste system) is complicit in it. Anything positive that art does reflects positively on status quo, which is built on a hierarchical system that is exploitative. That is what Sri Sri meant, perhaps “గతమంతా తడిసెను రక్తంతో కాకుంటే కన్నీళులతో”. 

Still, it is a difficult question. We have only one history, even if we interpret in radically different ways with the current day assumptions. Most reform movements are about changing the primary function, retaining and embellishing the secondary function of writing. For example, when we retell Mahabharata from the perspective of Ekalavya, or from the perspective of Chitrangada, we are trying to change the primary function of writing. 

I see the conflicts between marxists, Progressives, and Dalit intellectuals on these separation and acceptance of primary and secondary functions of written communication, in particular its history.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

In Srikakulam, fifty years ago

An interesting site for Telugu podcasts

Debating where tech is taking finance

Debating where tech is taking finance, a dialogue between Tyler Cowen and Matt Levine via Marginal Revolution which has comments and a brief description:
Matt: …I think the possible surprise here lies in the connection between finance and identity. People are sort of inchoately aware of it now; we use the term “identity theft” to mean “someone using your name and Social Security number to get a credit card.” But most people don’t really think of their credit report as being central to their identity. Really ambitious proponents of blockchain technology, though, envision a world in which a lot of identity information — your citizenship and marital status and college degrees and employment and certifications and whatnot, maybe your fingerprints and retinas and DNA, as well as of course your credit information — are encoded on a blockchain and used in every aspect of your life. (India has a governmental system a little bit like this, and China is building one, though the blockchain vision usually involves decentralized non-governmental systems.)
I think that the idea that financial intermediaries should be the keepers of identity is pretty uncomfortable, but then, the idea that Facebook would be the keeper of identity seems like it would be uncomfortable, and in fact Facebook has quickly taken over a lot of the work of verifying identity, at least online. One thing that we might see in the next 20 years is a fight between financial institutions and social networks and decentralized blockchain builders over who gets to be the keeper and verifier of everyone’s identity.


Kudumbashree: How Re-Thinking Poverty & Gender Changed 5 Million Lives in Kerala

Today, nearly 5 million women are a part of Kudumbashree, making it the world’s largest women empowerment project. And all this in a state one-tenth the size of California.”