Thursday, August 30, 2007

internships for graduates

Medical students have to undergo a one-year internship (presumably rotating within several wards/specializations) before they are given a degree. Am not sure about this, but students may also be placed in rural areas as part of the rotation.

The question then is, why don't engineering/science/... students have such/similar requirement?

Surely, the logistics of having a full-time one year internship might be difficult, due to the numbers etc. But can't we have a requirement which is similar in spirit---to get a "real" look at how science and technology is applied and the effects it produces. An alternative could be, students go on short-interval field-trips to nearby places---factories, local artisans, brick kilns, communities etc., to get an idea of what are the real issues, the solutions being used, what can/should be used etc. A holistic view of science and technology would certainly help in its applicability.

This came up during a discussion in the "Appropriate Technology" class ... if students travel, do field-work and get a "real" look at problems, solutions, local resources, they can better understand the role of technology to maximize use of local resources, involve local labor and use local knowledge to develop appropriate solutions for local problems.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

what's wrong with journalism today?

From the series of interviews conducted by David Barsamian, which appear as a collection in the book Louder than Bombs ...

[November 2002]
DB: What's wrong with journalism today?

John Pilger: Many journalists now are no more than channelers and echoers of what Orwell called the official truth. They simply cipher and transmit lies. It really grieves me that so many fellow journalists can be so manipulated that they become really what the French describe as 'functionaries', not journalists.

Many journalists become very defensive when you suggest to them that they are anything but impartial and objective. The problem with those words "impartiality" and "objectivity" is that they have lost their dictionary meaning. They've been taken over. "Impartially" and "objectivity" now mean the establishment point of view. Whenever a journalists says to me, "Oh, you don't understand, I'm impartial, I'm objective," I know what he's saying. I can decode it immediately. It means he channels the official truth. Almost always. That protestation means he speaks for a consensual view of the establishment. This is internalized. Journalists don't sit down and think, 'I'm now going to speak for the establishment." Of course not. But they internalize a whole set of assumptions, and one of the most potent assumptions is that the world should be seen in terms of its usefulness to the West, no humanity. This leads journalists to make a distinction between people who matter and people who don't matter. The people who died in the Twin Towers in the terrible crime mattered. The people who were bombed to death in dusty villages in Afghanistan didn't matter, even though it now seems their numbers were greater. The people who will die in Iraq don't matter. Iraq has been successfully demonized as if everybody who lives there is Saddam Hussein. In the buildup to this attack on Iraq, journalists have universally excluded the prospect of civilian deaths, the numbers of people who would die, because those people don't matter.

It's only when journalists understand the role they play in this propaganda, it's only when they realize they can't be both independent, honest journalists and agents of power, that things will begin to change.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rural India and 60 years of Independence

P. Sainath writes on the topic ... "The decade of our discontent".

some of the numbers he mentions are staggering ...
The average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) of the Indian farm
household is a long way from Rs.15 lakh. And further from $115,000. It
is, in fact, Rs.503.
About 60 per cent of that Rs.503 is spent on food. Another 18 per cent
on fuel, clothing, and footwear. Of the pathetic sum left over, the
household spends on health twice what it does on education. That is
Rs.34 and Rs.17. It seems unlikely that buying unique cellphone numbers
is set to emerge a major hobby amongst rural Indians. There are
countless households for whom that figure is not Rs.503, but Rs.225.

There are whole States whose average falls below the poverty line. As
for the landless, their hardships are appalling.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

work, pay

What would be the sorted ordering of the following professions based on monthly earnings---

a) Software Engineer
b) Janitor
c) Teacher
d) Cobbler
e) Office Clerk
f) Hand cart puller
g) Construction worker

and what are the reasons for such an ordering?

Monday, August 06, 2007

little boy, fat man

Sixty two years ago today, was the first of two instances of use of nuclear weapons in warfare.

On August 6, 1945, the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, followed on August 9, 1945 by the detonation of the "Fat Man" nuclear bomb over Nagasaki.

Wikipedia link here.

Estimated worldwide nuclear stockpiles (also from Wikipedia).

* * * * * *

Ambu sends this link: White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a HBO documentary film.

UNFORGETTABLE FIRE: Pictures Drawn by Atomic Bomb Survivors.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Magsaysay award for P. Sainath

P. Sainath has been awarded the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts.

Invisible India is the elephant in your bedroom, an interview with him on India Together.

A report in The Hindu is here.

The complete list of awardees (from

Mr. Jovito R. Salonga, from the Philippines, for Government Service. He is being recognized for "the exemplary integrity and substance of his long public career in service to democracy and good government in the Philippines."

Rev. Kim Sun-tae, from Korea, for Public Service. He is being honored for "his inspiring ministry of hope and practical assistance to his fellow blind and visually impaired citizens in South Korea. "

Mr. Mahabir Pun, from Nepal, for Community Leadership. He is being recognized for "his innovative application of wireless computer technology in Nepal, bringing progress to remote mountain areas by connecting his village to the global village ."

Mr. Tang Xiyang, from China, for Peace and International Understanding. He is being honored for "his guiding China to meet its mounting environmental crisis by heeding the lessons of its global neighbors and the timeless wisdom of nature itself."

Mr. Palagummi Sainath, from India, for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts. He is being recognized for "his passionate commitment as a journalist to restore the rural poor to India's national consciousness."

Mr. Chen Guangcheng, from China, for Emergent Leadership. He is being honored for "his irrepressible passion for justice in leading ordinary Chinese citizens to assert their legitimate rights under the law."

Mr. Chung To, from China, for Emergent Leadership. He is being recognized for "his proactive and compassionate response to AIDS in China and to the needs of its most vulnerable victims."