FLAGGING INDIA’S LOST FREEDOM

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Dr. S. Radhakrishnan explained about the national flag in the Constituent Assembly which adopted it, “Bhagwa or the saffron colour renunciation. The white colour denoted the light to the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green colour symbolises our relation to plant life. The Ashoka Chakra in the centre is the wheel of ‘law of dharma’. The wheel also denotes ‘motion’. There is life in movement. India must move and go forward”. The Tricolour is a common factor of inspiration for every Indian it is indeed a true expression of pride for our mother land.

It is true that we were once under the British rule, but that does not mean that we will follow all their practices, and eventually end up disrespecting our national flag. Yes, we can definitely express our aggression and anger according to our ‘right to expression’, but that does not mean that we will simply insult our national symbols like the national flag or the national anthem. Some people light-heartedly make cartoons so as to mark it as a satire for our country, but some people are too rigid to take this lightly. There is nothing wrong in presenting our flag in any cartoon, until and unless one is not insulting our national flag. We have our right to express what we feel, and it includes the use of our national symbols also. Yes, we ought to respect our national symbols, but we can take help of the symbols as and when required.

If done properly, there is no restriction on the display of the National Flag by common people, private organisation or educational institutions. Consistent with the dignity and honour of the Flag as detailed in the Flag Code of India, anyone may hoist/display the National Flag on all days and occasions, ceremonials or otherwise. Even Sachin Tendulkar, who is loved by Indians all over the country and the world, was subject to considerable criticism for cutting the cake that represented India’s national symbol. Similar controversy surrounded Mandira Bedi, a popular TV personality, when she wore a saree depicting the Indian Flag for a cricketing event and appeared on live television. Cartoons that play around with the national flag feature quite regularly in a variety of British newspapers like The Sun, The Daily Telegraph. I feel that through the cartoons and caricatures, important, thought-provoking issues are being brought up such as female feticide, caste problems, illiteracy, poverty, government faults etc.

Our Constitution says that the Flag must not be embroidered or printed on cushions, napkins, etc. On the other hand, British flag is allowed to be printed on cushions, and is commonly used as a print on handkerchiefs, caps and shirts. In India, national symbols represent the country’s sovereignty and integrity. For the same reason, it is an established law that you cannot use the national symbols for any purpose, whether personal or commercial, unless you are specifically authorized to do so by the process of law. This show how rigid is the mentality of our countrymen. They usually tend to aggravate even a small issue. The people feel so insecure that we see sedition everywhere, even in a humble cartoon !

 The most impressive rules are that of countries like Norway, Denmark and Japan, where the people allow their own flags to be burnt or caricatured, but won’t stand for it if that were to happen to a foreign flag on their soil. In India, the people are just too over-reactive and sensitive about their belongings, including the National Flag. Especially the political leaders are quite conscious about who, why, when and where is making their cartoons and publishing them. For example, political figure Mamta Banerjee got the Jadavpur University’s chemistry professor behind the bars, because he made her cartoon !! I totally agree to the idea of  throwing satires on these political figures through cartoons, because this is something, I feel personally, that can make them realise what they are actually doing to our country in the name of “Government”. But the leaders unnecessarily bring up the topic of Flag in cartoons, shift the attention and get the artistes locked up !

In this context, the author Dipankar Gupta comments, “It is a fact that India is pretty sensitive towards political cartoons, especially involving the Flag. As we pride ourselves for following the Westminster model, and for being the world’s largest democracy, surely best practices in places like Britain should have been our guide.” Therefore, I personally feel that there should not be any problem in using the national flag for any other purpose, till it is being respected and not misused in any way.

“It is our flag and we all must respect it, love it, and above all fly it”- by Naveen Jindal

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The Mind Machine (Part – II)

mind-upload

Day 3

Next morning Siri called Irfan and asked if he was busy or not and told him that she wanted to know about that device. Irfan asked her to come to his house. When she came Irfan convinced her to again wear the device and he again connected her to his laptop. He opened MindExplorer, navigated to the mindset directory and opened the.lvr subfolder. But he got shocked by seeing that there is only one fileirfan.lvr and as he tried to open it, the interface showed the ultimate error message, ‘File Corrupted, Unable to Read/Write.’ He simply got frightened about what is going to happen to them.When he was in such a condition, an interesting idea came to his mind. He knew that his friend Niniva used to live with her lover Ankit. Irfan planned to take those two files from Niniva’s brain and after doing some alterations, copy it to Siri’s brain. He stopped the interface, woke Siri up and asked her to return to her hostel as he was feeling very low. Siri went away. Irfan called Niniva and asked her to come immediately. Niniva came and he told her that he has built a new machine and want to test it on her. Niniva got surprised to his proposal but seeing him serious, she didn’t tell anything and agreed to wear that. Irfan easily copied those two files ankit.lvr and ankit.lvr.log to his computer and told Niniva that his experiment was done and she could leave. Niniva couldn’t understand anything why Irfan called her and why he now almost driving her away. However as Irfan had an old reputation to be a little crazy, she didn’t mind too much and went away.

That afternoon Irfan kept himself busy in editing those two files. He parsed the binary one and replaced each entry of ‘Ankit’ with the entry ‘Irfan’. He knew before that these .lvr and .log files don’t store any characterization or image of the person, instead they take those from the .frnd file, whenever it is needed. So he could easily prepare those files. He called Siri and asked for pardon that he was rude with her and asked to come to his house in the afternoon. Siri told that she didn’t mind anything and she will of course come if he explains the device to her. Irfan said, ‘Sure.’

Siri came. He convinced her to again wear that device and successfully transferred those two files. He safely closed the interface and removed the machine from her head. She woke up.

‘Hi’, he greeted her. She smiled.

‘Now tell me how it’s working and what you’ve discovered.’

‘Yeah… Sure.’

Irfan told everything he knew from that machine in brief and she was happy to his great invention.

Now it was dinner time. They had their dinner like every day. Siri told that she was having headache and going to bed and asked Irfan to come fast. Irfan didn’t tell anything. Only a smile of pleasure covered his face that he had finally got rid of his great disaster. He went to bed happily.

Day 12

Irfan and Siri were lazily lying on the bed. Suddenly Siri asked Irfan, ‘Can you remember the name of the hotel where we stayed in Goa?’ Irfan was about to frown. He had never gone to Goa. But suddenly he remembered that Niniva and Ankit went to Goa last month. He heard the name of the hotel from them and it was the Ocean Palms resort. So he readily replied, ‘Oh… it’s Ocean Palms.’

‘Yeah… yeah… now I remember.’ She continued, ‘Irfan, you remember how we enjoyed those evenings on the beach? Wasn’t it nice?’

‘Yea, it was awesome’, Irfan had no other choice.

‘Irfan, Can you remember that … … … …’

‘Yea, yea … … … …’

‘Irfan … … …’

‘Please Siri, I’m feeling very sleepy now.’

———————————————————————————————————————————————

Irfan could not change that .lvr.log file, so he had to agree with Siri about all the things that Niniva had done with Ankit. But it wasn’t a huge pain for him as both Niniva and Ankit were his good friends. He didn’t ever used that machine any more. He and Siri then marry each other after a couple of years and they had an excellent life. Only some times Siri would refer to some incident which was totally unclear to him and that would remind him about his great invention,the mind machine.

The Mind Machine (Part – I)

mind-upload

Day 1

Finally it is done. The machine is now supposed to work properly. Long and hard days have gone through his life during his last 7 years. Now it is hopefully complete.

Hero of this story is Irfan. He started this long research when he was 21 and in his sophomore days in the Mechatronics course of his college. The idea came to his mind when one day the professor of automata theory class introduced him with Alan Turing’s work on classical automata and proved that machine can’t think. However soon he realised that the quantum computers may think as it need not follow the rules of classical automata. So he readily came to a decision that he is going to build one and started learning about it and soon came to know the stories of failures of the physicists in making the quantum computer. He would get rescued from his idea if he didn’t attend a biotech lecture that his institution had almost forced him to attend. The lecturer claimed that our brain is a quantum computer and nothing but a quantum computer and this is the only thing which makes it possible for human to have emotions like anger, frustration, sexuality etc. Readily he changed his plan to something which was much easier and interesting to implement; it’s a digital interface for human mind.

Now it is complete. The machine is not at all magnificent to look at. It’s just a helmet shaped thing with a thick wire coming out of it which connects to an analogue signal parser which in turns connects to any computer through its USB port. The setup is quite simple! But if what he planned is going to be true, then the possibilities are limitless. It’s a machine that is going to make him the richest person… sorry, not the richest,money can’t do everything, but this machine may make him the most powerful and happiest person in the world… wait, happiness? That another emotion which scientists have already attributed to be a purely quantum phenomenon? O.K, whatever it is, the machine is going to totally change his life and possibly our material world also.

So what the machine does is really simple. It actually shows the directory and file structure of our mind, almost what we see in our computer…may be a little complex. But the most striking fact is that use not only can read one’s mind using it, you can also write something into it or change some data or configuration files to change the mind, in brief, you can hack someone’s mind. Such a machine should immediately get tested but there is only one problem, while the machine is being tested on somebody, he is supposed to be in a state like sleep, which means that he can’t test it on himself. The first testing of this machine is a huge risk as it may cause some serious damage of the mind if it is not programmed correctly. But someone must need to take the risk to bring the machine to reality.

Now let me introduce you to the second character of my story. She is Siri. She was the only person among the classmates of Irfan who didn’t think him a crazy when Irfan first told about his project to make a digital interface of the mind. When others were just laughing at this impossible project, she was his only friend who gave him constant support. In fact, being a computer science major, she also helped him to realize this project in many ways. Now Irfan has just completed his PhD and Siri is also just about to get her degree but still doing her research work, so they live together in an apartment near their University. When Irfan finally completed building his machine, she was not at home. In fact she went to a techfest with some other CS students in another college. She was to return home tonight or tomorrow morning.

Day 2

Today is Saturday and it’s 9 O’ clock when Siri returned to their apartment and Irfan welcomed her with his usual hug and she directly came to his study cum laboratory room to see if there is something new Irfan has done. As soon as she entered to that room she realised that Irfan has probably completed his machine. She took it in her hand and inspected it from every possible direction. In the meantime Irfan came to that room.

‘Irfan, why have you not told me that you have finished building your long waited machine?’

‘Yeah…you’ve just returned home, I’d surely show you.’

‘Anyway, Congratulations…Hope it is working perfectly. Have you tested it?’

‘Not really…’

‘Why??!!!’

‘You should know the reason. Nobody in my institution knows that I was building this and it is not a kind of device I can test on myself. After all you should never forget about the risk if something happens wrong.’

‘Well now I’m here. Now you should not have any lack of guinea pig.’

‘Ha… have your breakfast first and get yourself fresh and eh… it’s not possible, why are you forgetting about the risk? I cannot test it onyou.’

‘Huh? What will happen to me? If something goes wrong then you’ll first fix your machine and then fix me. Isn’t it simple,my great scientist?’

‘Hmm. Get yourself refreshed. We’ll think then.’

Throughout their lazy noon, Siri kept on nagging Irfan to test the device on her. Finally Irfan agreed to try the machine on her, may be his own curiosity was also tempting him to test his new invention as soon as possible.

‘Yeah, sit on this chair and put on the device on your head’, Irfan said to Siri.

She did so and Irfan began to set up the device, connected it to his laptop and opened the interface,MindExplorer. As soon as he pressed the ‘Connect’ button, Siri lazily closed her eyes and started to breathe slowly. Readily she went to a state somewhat like sleep, just as expected.

‘Conscious Entity Connected Successfully!’ a popup message appeared on the screen. A smile of success appeared on the corner of his lips. He opened theroot directory, to his astonishment there were only three folders –config,data andmindset. He kept on exploring all of these folders, their sub folders with great interest. The files inconfig folder was written in something like binary format, but not exactly the same. He fiddled around them for a while but couldn’t understand anything. He opened themindset folder and there he found some subfolders named in a peculiar way like- .frnd, .lvr, .acq etc. He opened the.frnd folder and found lots of files with .frnd extension. He read the names of some of these files and readily understood that those files do nothing but correspond to the friends of her. He examined those files and understood that those are some special kind of zip file and contain images, memories, event logs and many other things related to that friend. He felt satisfied that he has been able to understand at least one mechanism of mind. But there was something even more in store for him.

He opened the.lvr folder and saw with great amusement that there was only two files– irfan.lvr andirfan.lvr.log, from his just previous experience, he soon understood that the.lvr files represents her love life, i.e. corresponds to her lover’s name. He opened the file irfan.lvr and saw some awfully looking binary expressions which forced him to close it. He opened the .log file and it was somewhat readable, looks like an inventory file, which seemed to him to contain all the incidents and feelings of their love life. He got a nice taste of success upon this great revelations. He was so excited to say all these discoveries to Siri that he suddenly removed the device from her head to wake her without disconnecting the interface from his computer. An alert message ‘Data Synchronization Failed!’ appeared on the screen but he hardly cared about it.

He removed the device from her head. She opened her eyes slowly and looked at him. It took some time for her to again come to the reality.

‘Hey’, Irfan called her.

She replied, ‘So your device is working perfectly?’

‘Yeah… It’s working great. Just wait a minute, I’m telling you everything that I’ve just discovered. Aren’t you hungry?’

‘Ha… somewhat.’

‘I also, let’s have our dinner first.’

‘Sure’, she nodded and went to the dining room.

They finished their dinner with some light chatting and excitements of success. After the dinner is over, Irfan was just about to begin to tell her all the things he had just discovered.

‘Irfan, it has been quite late tonight. I’ve to leave now. Please don’t mind, I’m also very eager to hear these but I’ve no way. I’ll surely come to you tomorrow morning and listen to all of these’, She said.

‘What? Where are you going now?’

‘Why? In my hostel. If it is late I might have problem to reach there.’

‘What? You are going to your hostel. But why? I can’t understand.’

‘Ha… it seems that you don’t want me to sleep tonight.’

‘Why? Are you mad? If you are fatigued you can go to sleep now. Who has forbidden you?’

‘Oh… that’s why I’m going to hostel.’

‘What? Where do you normally sleep? Where did you sleep yesterday? In your hostel?’

‘I was in my techfest trip.’

‘Ohhh… forget about yesterday. Where are you sleeping for last one year? Is it in your hostel?’

‘No… I mean, it now seems to me that I spend my nights in your apartments… but why? I mean, why will I sleep in your apartment?’

‘Because you are my …’

‘What? We are just friend. Have you gone mad, Irfan? What are you saying these?’

Irfan immediately realised that Siri have had some problem in her brain and its cause was not also unknown to him. He removed the device from her head without stopping it from his computer. He was clueless about what to do. In the meantime Siri left his house and went away.

(To be continued…)

Digital Intimacy

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Comparing the time before 20th and 21st century, one of the prime differences in communication we find is that in this century there is no excitement and curiosity in receiving the news of our near and dear ones. Prior to the digital age, the notion that communication fosters a healthy relationship most commonly referred to the traditional offline communication, whereby couples maintained intimacy primarily through face-to-face communication. Technology, no doubt, supports lives, jobs and education and its advantages are simplicity and convenience. The cell phones and laptops are convenience, because every time we want to connect to somebody, we can easily do it anytime. The difference between 20th and 21st century is that our lives now are more dynamic, and we depend a lot on technology.  I am mindful that technology itself is never the reason things change, and I strongly support this notion. Rather, it is how people choose to apply technology — and whether they make wise decisions and address real needs — that makes the difference in the long run. However, just like everything has its own merits and demerits, technology has its own boons and banes.

One of the biggest conveniences that we get from digital technology is the access to internet. Through internet, we have the ability to search and find different information that we need. Another advantage of technology is that through technology deaf and dumb people have connected with everybody. They have special mobile phones, iPads and computers which allow them to be a part of the society. They can have friendship with people from all over the world, and they don’t even feel isolated from the world. There are many “matrimonial sites”, which not only connect people, but in many cases bound two people and their families for life-time in the auspicious thread of marriage. For example in Ravinder Singh’s book, “I Too Had A Love Story”,  he shares his personal experience of how he met his fiancé through a matrimonial site, and fell in love with her. They did not even meet each other until a few days ago before their engagement.

The disadvantage of technology, especially of internet, is that one can create a virtual world of their own, with virtual friends from “Facebook”, “Twitter” and “Skype”. But the internet and cellphone obsession can lead us in a wrong way, because there is a possibility for us to think only about the life on internet world, forgetting the people around us, dismissing our family, career and our responsibilities. Moreover, using the new technologies, we have stopped talking face-to-face, and believe in written messages and texts. I think this fashion to write texts develops a distance between everybody and the new generation will have a very new way of communication, let alone the increasing cases of cyber crime, suicides, and unnecessary misunderstandings due to fake accounts on social networking sites. Taking a look at technology’s affect on romance, we see that technology is “completely degrading” the way we communicate romance. Given all the information that exists about each person online – from their Facebook profiles to Twitter updates, technology leapfrogs couples three months and has made the blind date practically obsolete. Online information complicates romance. It may be helpful to research potential dates and get the skinny on them before meeting them face to face, but it can also sets up expectations. And these expectations, if not fulfilled, lead to problems, crime and even suicide. Basically, the relationships in the present 21st century has become behind the screens of PCs and mobile phones. People are sometimes in relationship with people whom they have met over networking sites and might have talked over the phone, but have never met each other in real time.

Highlighting a research by Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford University, he said that according to “Dunbar’s Number” human brains can really only handle 150 friendships. But on the contrary, we have hundreds of virtual friends on the social networking sites. Dunbar initially came up with this number in the 1990s, but recently repeated the research to consider social networking sites. You may have 1,000s of friends, but according to that research, you can only have meaningful friendships with a much smaller group. (Incidentally, Facebook says that the average user has 130 friends.) But as for how technology is changing work relationships, though people are working longer hours because of technology, workplace satisfaction surveys indicate that people are actually happier because they have more flexibility.

 It is obvious that technology will continue to develop, and we will be more and more dependent on them. We should support the newest gadgets and software, and use them very careful, because they sometimes can work against us. It is within our power to determine whether this generation is to experience the rewards of self-discovery, a higher quality of life, and a renewed sense of community that derive from an interactive sharing of information and knowledge. If we make that leap, and ensure that every citizen has access to the Internet and the chance to learn the skills to apply these new technologies for personal advancement as well as the common good, we can make a successful transition to the millennium. If we fail, we may leave a legacy smaller than our own inheritance.

References

  • Facebook ruined my marriage-digital intimacy interference on social networking sites (by Lynessa M. Williams)
  • Reaserch paper of dr. Robin Dunbar on “Dunbar’s Number” (Oxford University, 1994)

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THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY

“Thank God it’s Friday !!”

No, we are not talking about the famous 1978 movie by Robert Klane, or the celebrity talk show hosted by Farhan Akhtar. We aren’t talking about the famous TGIF pub either.

Now you may ask “ Really ? What’s there to celebrate?” The fact that a week has just breezed by and now you can finally ‘live’ for the next 48 hours before the monotonous cycle begins again. And why Friday especially? Of course, it’s end of the work week. But Friday is still a work day. Fortunately this semester we were spared the educational atrocities on a Friday. Thus we can safely classify Friday, as the beginning of the weekend, somewhat an ‘extended weekend. Weekends are special even if your schedule is all over the place. Something tells you the weekend has arrived and you can indulge yourself a bit. So, we thought of ‘indulging’ in blogging from now on; hoping it to be ‘somewhat’ successful. Making it sound like you have knocked it off on a rainy (or even cloudy) Friday afternoon, with ‘Get Low’ from F&F7 playing in the background is not as whimsically simple as it sounds.

If Mondays give you the blues and Tuesdays are tiring and weary Wednesdays make you go “WTF”, you would probably share our relief. Friday. The golden child of the weekdays. The superhero of the work-week. The welcome wagon to the weekend. The famous ‘F’ word we thank God for every week !!

Before we go into the inception of this noble resolve, bare with us as we take a few lines to introduce ourselves. This miscellaneous group comprises of 4 undergrads: Ananya (aka. Ana) a resourceful innovative writer with a knack of sarcasm; Diptaparna (aka. Derp), our official techfreak-cum-foodie, the person to go to for tech support and whereabouts of the coolest restaurants; Kanad (aka. Kandis) the mastermind behind the blog design and Shinjini (aka. Jini), a music-oriented person, who originally instilled the idea of ‘blogging’ in us.

It’s a friday afternoon and we were in the cafeteria for lunch, with thoughts messing up in our heads about what to do this weekend. Of course, we know that we have assignments to submit, deadlines to meet, and exams to appear for, still the child in us forces us to think about all sorts of topsy-turvy weekend plans, to seek refuge from the college stress. Somehow, Jini comes to the topic of ‘blogging’, and Ana suggests about ‘food blogging’, keeping in mind that Derp is a big foodie, and he could help us with the restaurants and stuff. As usual, Kandis is super-excited and and all ready to do the ‘designing stuff’ for the blog. Somehow, after a discussion (that lasts for an entire lunch) we decide to write blogs, about a new topic every week, marking the beginning of our blog, on a free friday. *Cheers!!*

So, finally, welcome to our blogging site. In preparation for takeoff, please ensure all negative attitudes are properly stowed. On behalf of your captain, Jack Daniel’s and the bloggers, welcome aboard. We expect sunshine and good attitudes today for our trip. Enjoy the ride !!

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