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Monday, January 15, 2018

Education – the academic, commercial, ideological and political aspects of it.

Education – the academic, commercial, ideological and political aspects of it.

Unfortunately there can be no fit-all homogenized or universal pattern of education.

Every activity is either commercialized or politicized;

The variations are only a matter of degrees.

So, most of those in the business of education must be clear about certain things without any hidden agenda or claiming to be the exclusive saints of integrity or honesty.

Adjustments [a convenient nuanced synonym for compromises, expediencies, hypocrisies] are inevitable, but how far one does? And how much of what one does disturbs or brings disrepute to the whole domain [here it is academic educational institutions] has to be monitored and managed.

Unloving criticism or uncritical love of any measure as well as over generalization or over simplification will do more harm than good.

We need to have clarity about why we want a specific education?


We also need to know the multiple dimensions and dynamics of education.


We need to evolve a system of imparting education that will fit into the 21st century scheme of things


We need to re-emphasize values, real values, not merely ideologically justifiable ones.



We need to change the following attitude socially




We need to understand the need to allow more freedom to the hormonally charged passionate youth without restraining them in the name of 18th century notions of discipline.





Tuesday, January 9, 2018

India may play a major role in the future global economic development

First the task at hand must be clearly understood.

It is neither crystal clear nor offers any simple concept or idea with axiomatic certitude nor does it reveal any atavistic tendencies.

However, the need of the hour is economic development with concern to make a lovable life now and deliver a livable planet for posterity taking into consideration simultaneously the sensitivities attached to past through history.

In a way any type of social engineering has to straddle three time zones the past, present and future.

So, political leaders will have to maneuver through these three domains scrupulously, namely: - Economics, Politics and History to create the necessary Social Engineering to sustain both balance for all human centric activities and also ensure to let all other species to live and create a sustainable development.

There are both positives and problems that can emerge out of many of the great modern facilities available like the huge advancement in technology.





8 Vital Points for a new era beyond managers

 I feel there is lot of wisdom in the following piece which Phenella writes in “The Unwritten Comedy”.

“To be ignorant of many things is expected
 To know you are ignorant of many things is the beginning of wisdom.
 To know a category of things of which you are ignorant is the beginning of     learning.
 To know the details of that category of things of which you are ignorant is to no   longer be ignorant.” 

                                            1. Inevitable laws

Life’s evolutionary aspirations are tossed between repetitions and changes.

“In the end nothing less than the whole of everything can be the truth of                            anything at all”- William James

A great quote by H.P. Lovecraft, in The Call of Cthulhu “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

“Across planes of consciousness, we have to live with the paradox that opposite things can be simultaneously true.” ― Ram Dass.

Life is an unmapped atlas which gets its maps based on our choices, beliefs, actions, reactions, thoughts, attitudes etc and it is our hands to make each one of these continents as great and as good as possible.


                                         2. Bad, worse and worst

So, any mental fixation in any domain is bad; status quo addiction to such fixations is worse and worst is to extrapolate anything and everything with such fixations is worst.

“We live in a changing universe, and few things are changing faster than our conception of it”-Timothy Ferris

“There is no tomorrow. There is only a planet turning on its axis, and a creature given to optimistic fancies”-Robert Brault

William Lyon Phelps puts it, “One of our secrets of life is to keep our intellectual curiosity acute”. 

Or as Thomas H. Huxley says, “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and whatever abysses nature leads, or you will learn nothing.”

                     3.We cannot deny or defy the importance of anything

We cannot predict all emerging trends and therefore much less prepare for any change with a bunch of known factors as trend predictions is yet to evolve with scientific precision

The great visionaries and votaries of change who  form an important part of evolution’s inevitable stride with its inherent necessity for change  have been effecting changes very carefully as a neurosurgeon would handle his surgical knife.

They acknowledge first that in any domain stereotyped, trite, redundant aspects cannot be allowed to be fossilized or ossified but they have to evolve, like everything else, by wading through the tides of trends –which could be contributory, complementary, contrasting, conflicting, contaminating etc- with the oars of compulsions and compromises and sail smoothly and safely to ensure the fundamental and basic principles or inherent aspects are kept intact and appropriate doses of  innovations or improvements or changes  are introduced to ensure that there is a subtle transformation through a  smooth transition from status quo but not away from or apart from it.

Because in every domain of life the status quo addicts wield a  great influence so whatever change is effected must be presented as an important part of life and ensure it create a very powerful impact to intoxicate the status quo lovers to forget their past addiction for at least brief moments through various forms of expressions, enticing and emotionally appealing activities, infusion of intellectual ideas to unravel  the multiple meanings of life as journey of life’s experiencing, acting and interacting with all its tools like body, mind, emotions etc.

“Everything changes as you move through three stages of awareness:
first, that beliefs are the result of conditions;
second, that beliefs are the cause of conditions;
and third, that beliefs are themselves conditions.”― Eric Micha'el Leventhal

To me economics, like many things in life, is all about unbiased observations, unprejudiced perceptions, doing away with defensive statistical justifications, cutting off camouflaging irrelevant logical fallacies, chaffing off bombastic jargons, curtailing the instinct to churn out untested or untestable theories  and instead engage in interpretations of all the observed facts  uninfluenced by any ideological affiliations taking into consideration various factors that impact and/or involved in these facts appropriate to the context and relevant to the region.

                     4. Evolution is the final judge and it is a process

Whatever terminology we may adopt or whatever vocabulary we use to define any emerging phenomenon or trend it is ultimately the play of evolution in the domain of organizational or administrative structure.

Life in its entirety in general is a mere train in the grand unending and unknown track of evolution. This process of evolutionary trend is obvious and it throws up various options.

Among them what survives, what disappears or what emerges anew are all, again, dependent on various factors which defy over simplification or over generalization or homogenization to facilitate human understanding.  This is precisely what the first great biologist Darwin, had the honesty and humility to declare, “Variation proposes and selection disposes.”

Steven Pinker on Evolution of the mind explains better than anyone the process involved in evolutionary trends:-

Certainly humans didn't evolve to their present state in one instant, in one fell swoop, because we know that our ancestors, the species like Homo erectus and Homo habilis already had a pretty big brain for a primate of that size. They were already using tools. They were almost certainly cooperating with one another. So it's not as if our species was the first to do it; it was building on some earlier stepping stones.
And it's unlikely that it happened all at once. You have to remember that not every creature that was evolving left behind its skull or its tools for our convenience tens of thousands of years later. Most bones or most tools rot or get buried and are never found again. So the earliest date at which we find some fossil or artifact is not the point at which the species first appeared; it was probably doing its thing for many tens of thousands of years before we were lucky enough to find something that it left behind that lasted to the present day.”

Steven Pinker “describes the self-described field of evolutionary psychology as a stepping stone toward this end. He calls for more integration with evolutionary genetics and more generally the fully rounded approach associated with Nobel Laureate Niko Tinbergen, who stressed that all evolved traits should be studied from functional, mechanistic, developmental and phylogenetic perspectives. He also shares his own best idea that has not yet received the attention that it deserves.”


 5. Contexts created by change change the characteristics of the contexts

The most important wisdom is to make the necessary adjustments to emerging changes and contexts.

There are certain universal mantras from which no one can veer away humanity’s preference they are change and the constantly changing context created by that change along with its many concomitant characters like comforts, convenience, benefits, utility, profit, happiness, pleasure etc.

All wisdom and value systems must be woven around these universal mantras or at least relevant to these. Otherwise something else will replace all values, wisdom, principles, practices etc.

Time and change have become inevitable part of our life because through them, either as measuring tools or as describing our observations, we grasp or try to express and explain the inevitable metamorphosis of life.

And the only easily cognizable reality is life unfolding itself constantly through various manifestations of its magnificent metamorphosis.

‘The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.’ — Alan Watts

‘They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.’— Andy Warhol

‘The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.’— Alfred North Whitehead

There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind you are the one who hears it”- M.Singer

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing”.―A. Watts

 “I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” - Gerry Spence.



6. Civilization in its totality is nothing but evolving trends and trending changes

No individual life is permanent and nothing is a panacea for any aspect of living

In very simplistic terms the earliest known periods of civilization human beings had less communication, less information, less knowledge, more brutality, more animalistic  life style with little to care about the requirements of resources for usage and survival;
Slowly and steadily life on this planet earth [wrong term though seventy percent -70% is water] started becoming more and more human centric, sometimes at the cost of life of other species and the environment.

This excessive and exclusive focus on human life neglecting other life forms made human beings to device tools, equipments and technologies to make life more comfortable in multiple ways and threw up many pleasant support systems to render living smoother.

Initially they started as greedy instincts to have and posses more resources and areas leading to too many silly wars;

Followed by collective emotional entertainments leading to many traditional and cultural art forms;

Followed by urge to communicate to generate common utilities leading to reduction in number of languages so that more people could be communicated to;

Followed by fear of the unknown aspects of life leading to creation of many gods, gods out of heroic and exemplary figures, religions and rituals;

Followed by age of reason to rationalize beyond belief systems to enable collective living and enhanced understanding unhindered by any ideological identity based restrictions;

Followed by parleys into experimenting with different social systems/political systems to live together with justifiable contribution to and share from the resources;

Followed by scientific discoveries to enhance understanding and help living and life, away from and besides the clutches of religions and traditions;

Followed by in the recent centuries, dominance based on initially economic and commercial prosperity and multiple means to achieve them;

Followed by various means at national levels through discoveries of more resources and raw materials useful for human life, through real industrialization, improved and increased agricultural production;

Followed by inevitable adaptation of advanced technologies;

Followed by dominance through military power trying to loot readymade where these things are available and so on;

Following all these developments will make us realize that there are wide varieties of options to lift human race up with all their pleasant complexities;

But then in each of these there are multiple steps which must not be confused as stops.
                                           

                                 7. Value of vocabulary or words

At any cost no one can afford to discount the value of vocabulary then it may cost a lot because words used in any context or domain are important as  they set the narrative and even influence thinking but we also need to look beyond and behind the connotations of the words.

Ansel Adams says, “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept” and I would like to add there is nothing worse than masking a stark reality with vague concepts.

Words may emerge without any frills and with clarity to enhance our understanding or may be encircled with protective cover to ensure that they do not go out and change their meaning or may still get corroded and eroded in due course and look changed from their original meaning or may try to hold the original meaning/s in all its dimensions with its own walls of protective dynamics or may have their inner dynamics, at times unexplainable, of many blocks of connotations or may have their own ways, irrespective of whatever we may or may not do. And at times newer, different and multiple meanings pop up outside all walls and out of all blocks;

If we study them and their evolution in terms of usage in different contexts and the meaning in which they are used they help us learn many other sciences of human race.

                                                   A Word also
Sometimes carries within it some affinity to its etymological root;
Sometimes it gets exalted due to the deft handling of it by great writers, philosophers, linguists and others;
Sometimes it gets struck up in a vital context;
Sometimes it also acts as the very fulcrum of certain contexts;
Sometimes it unfolds hitherto unraveled dimensions of its original meaning;
Sometimes it exquisitely spreads its wings to fly and catch the subtle nuances which bring out the various facets of its overall splendor;
Sometimes it embellishes and establishes through experiences newer meanings;
Sometimes a newer connotation gets added to the word in its journey through how it is perceived by socio- cultural acceptance and assimilation;
Sometimes it establishes its life because of its relationship to some other words or as a part of a popular idiom or phrase;
Sometimes it keeps modifying itself aesthetically to survive or supplement some specific situation;
Sometimes it unshackles its fetters and acquires several new meanings totally disconnected from its original DNA to sustain the life of something else.
Sometimes , in this process, it not only blurs its own identity as well as that of what it wanted to sustain beyond recognition but  also gets totally delinked from its very root [ as in the case of the word ‘religion’];
Sometimes its plasticity is optimally used to refer to a multitude of emotions, feelings, situations, thoughts and ideas some of which could be totally contradictory;
Sometimes it elastically expands to give space in its womb to give birth to new jargon or new idioms or phrases;
Sometimes it gets married to some other words and in its proliferation of love, lives to copulate and cohabit with a stranger, quiet oblivious of its own identity in that romantic movement.



8. The beauty of life consists in the unknowns and the unending searches and researches –the unending process of evolutionary trends in everything.

We must remember that we owe to so many souls that have made our evolution to enhance from Kuru disease generators [this disease happens because of cannibalism] to cyber Guru Venerators.

So, it would be better even academic scholarship follows certain well chartered paths understanding these and tunes to frequencies with more adaptability, prioritizing  empirical evidences, rationally  justifiable and practically applicable/ implementable /useful proposals.

It is preferable to immerse any topic or subject matter, primarily and basically with its intrinsic elements/components/aspects/attributes intact, into a cauldron which has a mixture of all these:-

     knowledge based analysis,limited perception based on frames of reference and scales of observation, skepticism , criticism, intellectual scrutiny, compassionate emotionalism, humane socialism, rational thinking, contextual relevance [ which includes too many components] traditions, practical viability, psychological comfort, aesthetic sensitivity, scientific scrutiny backed by empirical evidence, in certain cases universal applicability and so on.


Then, with these we must churn the cauldron without clinging on to any particular restrictive bias based on any identity emanating from social, cultural or political or religious or ideological preferences. 

This process inevitably will bring out lot of outputs. We can exercise our freedom and sometimes select and choose some of the outputs. 

Sometimes the outputs will draw us. Sometimes away from all or any of our intended searches and seeking, outside the circle of these known paradigms, almost tangentially serendipity will drag us to an oasis of serene clarity. 

At all costs the intrinsic attributes must be the predominant factor so that whatever is thrown into the cauldron and however it is churned, the ultimate output must include those attributes so that evaluation is not distorted or desperately doctored to fit into any predefined and expected outcome. 

So, what pans out ultimately depends on various factors and aspects some of which are explainable within the ken of logical and rational thinking but some things can also linger sometimes into territories beyond these. 

However, we must scrupulously avoid these pitfalls namely:- 

Mutilating the facts, analyzing them with preconceived notions or prejudices, generalizing the particular and particularizing the general, approaching facts with unloving criticism or uncritical love, evaluating facts with our pet isms or philosophies, resorting to irrelevant statistical justifications, unleashing unworkable utopia, mask them with logical fallacies, mute them in pleasant jargons, give historical or scriptural justifications blindly, comprehend with confirmation bias or pre-conceived conclusions, trying to over simplify the complicated and over complicate the simple factors/aspects, relying on conjectures, gambling without any rules, plans, perspectives, methods, measures etc

Monday, January 8, 2018

Saint Tyagaraja’s Aradhana 2018



Saint Tyagaraja’s Aradhana 2018

We do not respect any symbolism but lap up criticisms.

All the noise about celebrations of a  Saint of great musical Sounds.

Saint Tyagaraja Aradhana, DD’s insensitive telecast and the defense minister’s correct observations and utter indifference of all other channels.

We fail to write even proper biographies of great souls.

I am saved because I do not watch television at all but I came across all the noise through social media about the event celebrating the anniversary of a great soul who imbued our hearts with wonderful sounds.

It is really unfortunate that we do not respect the great souls and great contributors to this great nation and its culture even with sincere symbolism, though sometimes it may be ritualistically performed , still, at least some reminder happens.

Immediately we flood the society with criticisms like whether Pancharathna Kritis are meant for goshti ganas [group singing], how can sruti’s of all can synchronize etc.

We fail to realize that something is better than nothing in a society which has scant respect for its really most valuable cultural aspects.

The Carnatic Music which has contributions from various composers like Sri Purandara Dasar, Saint Tyagaraja, Sri Muthuswamy Dikshithar,  Sri Shyama Sastrigal, Sri Sadhasiva Brahmendral, Sri Muthuthandavar , Sri Subramanya Bharathiyar and so on.

Even on biographical sketches of these great souls we tend to divert from the intrinsic value they added to our lives and discuss irrelevant things.

It really does not matter whether Saint Tyagaraja’s  stomach was concave or convex or whether he went to any temple daily because  what matters more is his compositions are imbued with excellent musical structures and patterns and ooze such an enormous aesthetic emotions that sober the heart, still the mind and carry the soul into a trance and when one returns back to normal consciousness one finds floating in an enormous ocean of musical world.




Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Observation and science

I am always of the opinion that one of the best ways to approach science and create technology is through unbiased observation of whatever we come across in life.

Here is a wonderful piece on one such discovery well explained by scholarly academic research.


 “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind you are the one who hears it”- M.Singer

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing”.―A. Watts

 “I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” - Gerry Spence


Lalgudi Jayaram – the greatest violin accompanist

Lalgudi Jayaram – the greatest violin accompanist

Most of us nostalgically recapitulate the music behind the visuals.


There are two great accompanists, in my opinion the best for various reasons, most notable among them being their ability to anticipate the main artist’s [vocalist or other instrument player] Bhava, nadai, phrases and even the style of alapana and kalpana swara rendering and these two gems are none other than Sri. Lalgudi Jayaraman [a great violinist] and Palghat Raghu [a great Miruthangam player].

Both of them were very great teachers and wonderful musicians that many vocalists must thank that both these artists did not opt to become vocalists.

His violin will permeate with the musicality of the main artists:- inundate with the lilting swaras of  Madurai mani Iyer , brihas of GNB, the melody of Dr. M. Balamurali Krishna, the resonance of KVN, the dominance of very nice double reed sounds of Semmangudi, the base voice of MDR, the heavy tonality of Maharajapuram Santhanams , the marvelous niravals and swara combinations of TNS etc.

As an accompanist he will never try to over shadow the main artists even though he knew and could contribute to present a more enhanced version to a very great extent.

I do not think the world of classical carnatic music can get another such wonderful violin accompanist though there are several great violinists each with their own over emphasis on their schools of distinct styles.

The Sankarabharanams of  Lalgudi in solo are in my view the best and most exhaustive in bringing out almost all the phrases and sangathees possible.

However,  unfortunately in India the documentary producers do not know what to highlight and what to edit.

However, people like me could still nostalgically recapitulate the music behind the visuals.



History of human emotions

History of human emotions hinges on four major aspects/factors:-


1] How words used end up even defining our emotions


2] Why defining and definitions become important to not only to provide clarity to understand but also to produce narratives


3] How emotions despite everything else could mean something unique to everyone who experiences them


4] Among the many interesting things that she talks the word ‘Nostalgia’ and its various connotations caught my attention because recently I happen to write about nostalgia for a magazine with specific reference to cricket





Academic scholarship must prioritize empirical evidences

           

         Academic scholarship must prioritize empirical evidences, rationally                    justifiable and practically applicable/ implementable /useful proposals.

         These require the acknowledgement of the following:-

         “In the end nothing less than the whole of everything can be the truth of                 anything at all”- William James

         The preferable blue print to evaluate any subject or topic could be as                     follows.

         It is preferable to immerse any topic or subject matter, primarily and                      basically with its intrinsic elements/components/aspects/attributes intact,               into acauldron which has a mixture of all these:-

·       knowledge based analysis,
·       limited perception based on frames of reference and scales of observation,
·       skepticism ,
·       criticism,
·       intellectual scrutiny,
·       compassionate emotionalism,
·       humane socialism,
·       rational thinking,
·       contextual relevance [ which includes too many components] ,
·       traditions,
·       practical viability,
·       psychological comfort,
·       aesthetic sensitivity,
·       scientific scrutiny backed by empirical evidence,
     in certain cases universal applicability and so on

         Then with these we must churn the cauldron without clinging on to any                 particular restrictive bias based on any identity emanating from social,                  culturalor political or religious or ideological preferences.

         This process inevitably will bring out lot of outputs. We can exercise our         freedom and sometimes select and choose some of the outputs. Sometimes             the outputs will draw us. Sometimes away from all or any of our intended          searches and seeking, outside the circle of these known paradigms, almost            tangentially serendipity will drag us to an oasis of serene clarity.

         At all costs the intrinsic attributes must be the predominant factor so that          whatever is thrown into the cauldron and however it is churned, the                      ultimate output must include those attributes so that evaluation is not                     distorted or desperately doctored to fit into any predefined and expected                outcome.


         So, what pans out ultimately depends on various factors and aspects some              of which are explainable within the ken of logical and rational thinking                 but some things can also linger sometimes into territories beyond these.

         However, we must scrupulously avoid these pitfalls namely:-


         Mutilating the facts,
         Analyzing them with preconceived notions or prejudices,
         Generalizing the particular and particularizing the general,
         Approaching facts with unloving criticism or uncritical love,
         Evaluating facts with our pet isms or philosophies,
         Resorting to irrelevant statistical justifications,
         Unleashing unworkable utopia,
         Mask them with logical fallacies,
         Mute them in pleasant jargons,
         Give historical or scriptural justifications blindly,
         Comprehend with confirmation bias or pre conceived conclusions,
         Trying to over simplify the complicated and over complicate the simple                 factors/aspects,
         Rely on conjectures,
         Gamble without any rules, plans, perspectives, methods, measures etc




Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Technology occupies the collective human mind’s space and time















Why technology occupies such a disproportionate amount of human attention and occupies the collective human mind’s space and time?


If we study the brief journey of civilization [1] as a process we shall observe, in every age, certain specific addictive obsessive frames of reference to encounter evaluate and enhance life.

These obsessive frames of reference tend to predominantly occupy the human mind’s collective space and time because of their importance and impact.


At present this happens to be the maximum creation and utilization of technology [2].

EXCUSES for regulating or evading arise because of these EXCUSES
EXcessive Careless Usage Senseless Extremisms leading to Saturation.

But just because there is misuse, abuse, underutilization etc we can neither blame the thing itself, namely technology, nor can we evade or evict it.

A sharp knife in a surgeon’s hand can be used for performing a wonderful surgery or kill a nurse nearby.

However, having said all these we cannot remain as passive spectators when we are aware of misuse or abuse.

But we need device some simple and practical solutions  which are part of our day to day life like in our daily life in all its manifestations- be it individual’s leisure time, social life, professional or official life-is impregnated with balanced activities as part of life and living then the time spent on excessive technology based activities may be minimized.

For example everyone must start cooking by turns at home, do washing, baby sitting, cleaning, preferably use whenever possible public transport, use stair case etc  
So, these 2 to 3 hours, plus 5 to 6 hours of bed time, plus some one to two hours of social, cultural, religious activities involving less usage of technology can altogether reduce the hours of usage of technology to maximum 10 to 12 hours a day.  

However, the dominant role of technology cannot be wished away nor whisked away as technology is the omni-present, omni-valent,omni-attractive and omni-potent.