Monday, January 28, 2013

India's Second Class Citizens

The rape case has been in the news many weeks before this article by Business Week was printed. This is disheartening to read. And I wish, desire, hope that India the Nation and its citizens work hard (both in the country and abroad) to evolve the culture. Two sentences stand out:

India needs to modernize its police and its judiciary. There are barely 11 judges for every million people. In New Delhi the police are so mistrusted by women that traffic cops are barred from stopping single female drivers past 11 p.m. unless a female police officer is present. Yet there’s a shortage of policewomen.
The case has led to national introspection. “India thinks it can be a superpower and a developed country, but we have these problems rotting out the core,” says Sunita Thakur, a counselor with Jagori, a nonprofit that promotes women’s empowerment. “How can we change? These values have been deeply ingrained over thousands of years.”

The national introspection needs to gain strength, and then go beyond thinking into real action and change.

Business Week: India's Educated Women Face a Conservative Backlash

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rishikesh: A place to find enlightment

Last week I picked up the Nat Geo Traveller, October 2012 issue specially for reading the article: "Here Comes the Sun". But it wasn't the title of the article - but the tag line on the cover - "A Yoga Skeptic in India". I am a bit into Yoga - actually the meditation kind - Pranayama. So I was intrigued and picked up the issue.

The article was fantastic - very well written and insightful. A Must Read! A few quotes from the well-written article:

Reading the line below had me break into a smile  - "spirituality mall". It is unfortunate that even though I have lived in New Delhi for the first half of my life - I have never visited Rishikesh. Ok I may have been there when I was very young but no memories from the trip.
Rishikesh is a shopping mall for spirituality straddling the Ganges northeast of New Delhi.
Yep Yoga is not about breaking a sweat. And a teacher is a must, IMHO. Yoga is a way of life, and it is most certainly not about difficult and challenging poses.
There are no New Age tunes pumping through hidden speakers, no distracting yoga outfits, no blinding heat, no incense, and no attitude. Just students and a teacher.
On driving on the wrong side of the road?
STAY LEFT, STAY LEFT quickly becomes my mantra as I wind past candy-striped buses and overstuffed rickshaws belching black clouds. Left-side driving is easy to adapt to—until you forget.
And Peter sums it up well:
I ask Jagdish if he does yoga.
“Yes, every day. Work is my yoga. My job keeps my body flowing.”
Yet Madhav, I realize, is the walking example of that knowing soul I aspired to be. Nothing, no matter the urgency or size, derails him. He doesn’t live in a cave, nor did he guide me through a single pretzel contortion. Yet he taught me, almost daily, not necessarily how to walk the “yogi path” but how to understand it better and, most important, to realize that my mind needs as much stretching as my annoying back.

Here is the original: Here Comes the Sun by Peter McBride

Indians sailed to Australia four millennia ago

Indians may have sailed to Australia about 4000 years before Captain Arthur Philip discovered it in 1788. The evidence is genetics-based - specifically what are known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs.

Dr. Irina Pugach of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, and her colleagues, discovered that there is a pattern of SNPs that is not found in people from New Guinea or the Philippines. But it is found in some Indians—particularly in Dravidian speakers from the southern part of the subcontinent. Combining the SNP data with the Y-Chromosome data they calculated that the Indians arrived in Australia about 141 generations ago - roughly around 2217BC!

Two surprising things about this - it implies that these sailors had access to seaworthy ships, not just boats. And secondly an interesting conflict - Dravidians herald from the southern part of the Indian sub-continent and the civilization that was well known during this time is the Indus Valley but it is was in the north west part of the subcontinent.

The research also indicates that this arrival of Indians resulted in three shifts in the Australian life:

Tools: Aboriginal culture, which had hitherto depended on the large and relatively crude stone tools of the palaeolithic, suddenly started using the smaller and finer ones of the neolithic.

Gastronomic: Removal of toxins from Cycad nuts - Cycad nuts are still familiar food in Kerala, India/

Dingo: This may explain the arrival of Dingo to Australia - they have resemblance to certain breeds found in India.

Source: The Economist, An Antipodean Raj