Saturday, August 30, 2008

Maturing of US democracy ..


It is indeed a maturing of democracy. 

But a comparison to India may not be quite accurate to establish that one is better than the other, since the culture we have in India matured over more than 5000 years.  The current US culture is no more than 400 years old.  Just compare the buildings that were in India and America about 300 to 200 years ago.  Our structures displayed enormous sophistication and engineering prowess.  And yet what did we do with it?  Nothing!  While it is nice to blame the Brits for our problems and to claim that ours was a peaceful culture, that is not an excuse for having let someone come in and take over our country.  The very fact that that happened indicates that there was something wrong with the basic premise of the peaceful nature of our culture.  It fails to take into account that everyone may not be like us.  So, our cultures never developed strategies to tackle such a situation and thus ended up oppressed by a colonial power.

Now onto the matter of human and civil rights.  Everyone, mostly Indians, like to point out the hypocrisy of the United States that talks human and civil rights, but doesn't walk it.  This criticism of the US is predicated upon the premise that our nation and culture had human and civil rights implicit in itself. (Indians like to say our culture professes a respect for others, the Sanathana Dharma professes the most just society, etc.).  And yet, our actions belie these claims.  For over a thousand years, a small group of Indians kept in place and enforced a horrible state of discrimination and oppression on a larger group of Indians - the caste system and the horrors carried out in its name - all done by the very people who were supposed to uphold the teachings of the Dharma, the Brahmins, aided and abetted by minions of non-Brahminical lineage.  So, that compares favourably (or rather unfavourably) with what the US has done.  So, which is better?  A culture that supposedly has embodied human and civil rights for more than 5000 years oppressing a large part of itself for over a 1000 years or a young culture that has been talking human and civil rights for a little over 200 years, having oppressed a small part of its population that was brought over for the explicit act of opressing for about 300 years and then finally being able to almost let a woman ascend to the highest post in the land or allowing the nomination a person from the oppressed community to fight for a chance at that office?

I am not exactly a great fan of US policies, but I certainly would like to be fair in my criticism of the US.

Maturing of democracies ...

Newspapers and media are abuzz with reports of Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States.. Just the nomination.!!

Anyway,a welcome departure for a country which took more than a hundred years to banish slavery ! From those days to the present where a black American is nominated to the top post in the country, it is a great journey of discovery for a major democracy in the world..Definitely a welcome change in mindsets and perceptions !! sign of maturing ..

It took more than 200 years for a non-white man just to get the nomination !! It needs a great change of mindset, courage and willingness for the white man to accept a black as his country's top executive.. Forcefully entering oneself into somebody else's property and land and establishing oneself in his house as an unwelcome guest, using all sorts of deceit, treachery and violence in dislodging him from his land and then claiming to be a GREAT DEMOCRACY, is the great American dream !! 

And there are some individuals lacking an identity, helping firm up that mosaic of cultures, mindsets and civilizations. Their only lookout is their economic prosperity and well being. For some, it is a desire to achieve more and do higher studies, moving away from a land of extreme competition and intellectual prowess to a less competitive but rewarding one, for others it is a search for a new identity, for others it is search of jobs, the reasons are many.

At the other end of the spectrum you have a country which was forcefully occupied by a colonial power and the hostage finally succeeds to dislodge the oppressor, a distant cousin of the same oppressor who went to the Americas, from his country after 150 years, with pure will power and sense of purpose, employing non-violent means. This country has already finished successful social empowerment experimentation with all such minority communities and socially backward communities giving them positions of eminence in society in just a matter of fifty years.  APJ and KR Narayanan ..

US democracy is maturing anyway . It took the self-proclaimed champion of democracy more than 200 years to elevate a member from an oppressed community to a top honorable post, while the Indian democracy had already finished successfully such social experimentation and come out with flying colours. India is willing to help hold the hands and guide our colleague trying out a new experiments.

Good Luck Obama, you have come up in spite of lot of odds and crushed a mindset of 200 years ..

Persistence pays at the end !!

Maturing of US democracy ..

Maturing of democracies ...


Newspapers and media are abuzz with reports of Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States.. Just the nomination.!!

Anyway,a welcome departure for a country which took more than a hundred years to banish slavery ! From those days to the present where a black American is nominated to the top post in the country, it is a great journey of discovery for a major democracy in the world..Definitely a welcome change in mindsets and perceptions !! sign of maturing ..

It took more than 200 years for a non-white man just to get the nomination !! It needs a great change of mindset, courage and willingness for the white man to accept a black as his country's top executive.. Forcefully entering oneself into somebody else's property and land and establishing oneself in his house as an unwelcome guest, using all sorts of deceit, treachery and violence in dislodging him from his land and then claiming to be a GREAT DEMOCRACY, is the great American dream !! 

And there are some individuals lacking an identity, helping firm up that mosaic of cultures, mindsets and civilizations. Their only lookout is their economic prosperity and well being. For some, it is a desire to achieve more and do higher studies, moving away from a land of extreme competition and intellectual prowess to a less competitive but rewarding one, for others it is a search for a new identity, for others it is search of jobs, the reasons are many.

At the other end of the spectrum you have a country which was forcefully occupied by a colonial power and the hostage finally succeeds to dislodge the oppressor, a distant cousin of the same oppressor who went to the Americas, from his country after 150 years, with pure will power and sense of purpose, employing non-violent means. This country has already finished successful social empowerment experimentation with all such minority communities and socially backward communities giving them positions of eminence in society in just a matter of fifty years.  APJ and KR Narayanan ..

LUS democracy is maturing anyway . It took the self-proclaimed champion of democracy more than 200 years to elevate a member from an oppressed community to a top honorable post, while the Indian democracy had already finished successfully such social experimentation and come out with flying colours. India is willing to help hold the hands and guide our colleague trying out a new experiments.


Good Luck Obama, you have come up in spite of lot of odds and crushed a mindset of 200 years ..


Persistence pays at the end !!


ge..


Friday, August 29, 2008

Staff at XIME.

Teaching staff and Non-teaching staff of XIME. 29 August, 2008.

Top photo : sitting, L to R : George Easaw, Prof Aramvalarthan, Prof Ravindranathan C. P., Prof J. Philip, Prof. R. Venkataraman, Prof. Suresh Chandra,  Prof S K Iyengar and Prof Samuel Thomas
Standing, L to R, Ms. Aishwarya, Prof R T Verma, Prof Joseph Chacko, Prof S P Srinivas, Mr. Jose Jacob, Ms. Rosemary, Ms. Smishi Rolly

Bottom Photo, standing L to R, Mr Sabhari, Mr Premkumar, Mr. Gopinathan, Mrs. Rita, Mrs. Nancy, Mrs. Susan
Standing L to R, Mr. Noel, Mr Issac, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Mark, Mr. Yesu and Mr. Packiyaraj

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Violence continues in Orissa ..


Ever since the gunning down of Lakshmananda Saraswati, leader of the fundamentalist, communal Hindu goup by Maoists in Kandhamal dist in Orissa two days back, violence against Christians and their churches continues in Orissa.

It is on some earlier prejudice that VHP and BJP activists are attacking Christians, their organisations and churches. The BJD-BJP coalition govt in Orissa is hand in gloves with the perpetrators of the violence and crime. That explains the lack of will to impose any strict vigil and exercise control to bring the situation under control. The call by the BJP to pull out of the coalition in Orissa is just a threat to the govt not to nterfere with the law of the jungle and not to initiate any action against the criminals.

These fundamentalists and divisive elements in society under the garb and political patronage of the communal party BJP, know retaliating against the Maoists is playing with fire. The easy and soft targets are the Christians and their social outfits doing service in the society. Else how can the burning alive of a 20 year old girl in an orphanage be justified ??

When communal elements, the lunatic fringe, in society are encouraged by the educated and civilized in society, it is very dangerous and can have portents to corrupt the communal fabric of the society. Like everybody complains why the educated moderate Muslims do not have a say over the terrorist elements in that community, it is time to ask the same questions of the communal elements in the Hindu society too who are out to disintegrate India.

How long will the  government wait to see the end of this communal act against a socially pro-active community ? With already 10 killed in the violence and the VHP, BJP  criminals let loose and not yet reined, the situation is just waiting to spiral out of control. 

george..

A day at Singur, WB ...


Singur is presently in the fourth day of the road blockade of the Durgapur Expressway. Almost 20,000 trucks are stranded. This morning Tata workers were manhandled by the people, not sure whether they are from Trinamool or CPM.

This is a big prestige issue for the Marxists and Trinamool alike.

Having done so much of destruction and damage to industry in the country for the past many years ( driving away prospective investors with the weapon of militant trade unionism) , it is very shameful and pathetic to see how the CPM leaders have done a major somersault on their ideology and principles, down on their kneels, without any remorse !!

The CPM now want to become saviours of the Industry. They know that their survival in this country is at stake with their old stinking ideology. They need to change, lest the country and the world kick them en masse into the trashbin of history.. The smarter among them have given away the principles of Marxism and have become fulltime capitalists, either settling abroad, sending their kids abroad or opening investments abroad. When the society is changing fast, how can only a goup of people realising the futility of their beliefs, resist the change ? Even if they want to, how long can they hold on ?

The whole world has trashed their ideology, even from the land of its birth, Russia and China. The new bird's nest generation in China has embraced the new environment of openness, freedom, competition and globalization with open hands, as has been visible with the successful conduct of the Olympic is China. The only question is when will the sakhakal in India realise this. The earlier they do it better !!

It is quite natural that things will change. The winds of change are blowing hard, first in West Bengal and very soon in Kerala, where the old timers with their futile ideology will be swept off their feet !!

Let us only hope, the changes are localised only to West Bengal and Kerala, not to other states. Nano being a high investment project, all states are looking forward to receive it, given a chance. With Ambani also backing Tata, its shifting from WB is quite unclear ..

Let us hope the nation benefits finally and not any party ..

george..

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wonders at Mysore ..

On 22 August 2008, I happened to visit Mysore with the student-faculty team from University of Redlands and Akron.

The two must see sights in mysore are the Global Education Centre (GEC) of Infosys, the largest corporate training centre in the world. This is a modern day wonder. With software development buildings also side by side, this has the best cricket ground in the country, the best indorr auditorium, enough playng facilities for Tennis, Basketball, Volleyball, swimming, Table tennis, bowling, snooker, a beautiful large gymnasium, what not !!

The other wonder is an old one, the Mysore palace which was rebuilt by Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV of Mysore in 1912 still is majestic. We got a govt guide who took us inside the palace rooms and gave us a good lecture on the palace and its grandeur.

I don't support Bandhs .Budhadeb ..


Very strange to hear this statement from the leader of  a goonda and destructive political party..

Now that the future of Tata Nano plant in Singur is on tenterhooks over the continuing agitation from Mamata Banerjee over the land which is to be returned to the farmers in Singur, Marxists should learn this very precious lessonof tit-for-tat. Whatever damage they have been doing to the industries in WB and Kerala over the past forty years is coming back to haunt them..!!!

They have realised by now that they cannot have their say in everything, eve in their own land of West Bengal. They are now getting back in equal measure. If they are ready with blood, Mamata is equally ready. If it is with goondaism, ( the Marxists are very famous for that.. as evidenced in Kerala college politics and Kannur politics), she is on equal foot, reay with a counter for that. 

Mamata needs to be congratulated for her courage in facing goondaism, the language of the Basus, Karats, Pinarayis and VSs.. . In fact, the whole nation is happy that these people are being taught a lesson by a little entity called Mamata in their own land.

The land where Tata Motors plant is situated is on high land, good for farmers to cultivate. The land just opposite the plant is low lying land. The major issue now is regarding providing land for setting up the ancilliary industries for Nano. Aout 400 acres of high level farming land is the issue of contention.

The land just opposite to the plant is bought over by the Marxist leaders, their sympathisers, families and friends as it has real estate value. The Marxixts do not want to return this land. Instead the party of the poor people is fighting against the same poor people for the gain of their rich brothers.

A big question of contradictions !! These leaders are a confused lot, as in Kerala they follow a set of policies, anti-industry and pro-CPM follower while in WB they are pro-big business and anti-people and anti-farmer.

The nation looks forward to see how long the Marxists can withstand the onslaught of the Mamata challenge ..

The shifting of the Tata plant from Singur will be a big blot on the industry friendly face of CPM and it can assure that no industry ever returns to WB and Kerala for the next 50 years...

The nation is indebted to the Marxists for bringing in this culture..

george..


PS. It is not that the Marxists as a whole are holding such high principles and values. there are lot of opportunists among them too, who know how to save themselves !!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

nfosys completes another acquisition ..


Surpassing Wipro, Infosys yesterday finalised the details of acquiring Axon, a UK based SAP consultant services company having reputed clients like GE, BP etc for 6 pounds a share, in a Rs 3300 crore deal ($ 753m) deal. This is the largest foreign IT company acquisition in Indian history.

Infy with this deal has got consolidation in the SAP service area and we can expect Infy to play an important role in the IT scene in the country.

george..


Redlands and Akron at XIME .. ..

Redlands and Akron at XIME ..

It was a good experience co-ordinating the visit of the seven students and faculty team from University of Akron 14 Aug to 23 Aug under Prof Vijayaraman and thirteen members from the University of Redlands from 18 Aug to 25 Aug under Prof Hindupur Ramakrishna, Prof Stuart Noble Goodman, Prof Keith Roberts and Prof Jim Pick.

Good experience interacting with them.

We went to Timken, Tata BP Solar, Infosys Mysore Global Education Centre, Biocon, HTMT, Wockhardt hospitals besides the Bannerghatta National Park, SOS children's village, Meenakshi temple, Grate Banyan tree at Ramohalli, KRS Dam, Brindavan, the flower show at Lalbagh and so on.

The farewell dinner given by them at Taj Gateway was great..

Overall it was great with terific learning on both sides. I also got the good opportunity of visiting major industries with them. Mysore Infy GEC was superb and I was spell bound after that visit, as were the Americans

Thank you friends.. This is the third visit of Americans, earlier St Thomas University from Houston had come to XIME under Dr Ms Beena George. The Italians from Uty of Milano, Bicocca and the students and faculty from University of Applied Sciences, Wuersburg, Germany were the other teams who visited us this year.

--
Kind regards,

george..

Sunday, August 24, 2008

VHP learns it the hard way in Orissa ..


What did the VHP leaders who were shot dead in Orissa do as to warrant bullets on their bodies ??

The Maoists who are taking law in their own hands has become a menace in many parts of the country.

Was it the communal hatred which the VHP has been spreading for a long time against other communities the cause for the attack on them ?

Should VHP stop attacking other communities and instead concentrate on serving the poor in the society irrespective of religion, community and caste ??

Very difficult questions for their leaders to answer.. It is difficult for them to change their mindsets as also of their followers so easily.

Destruction is so easy, as that is the only thing they know, while construction is very difficult and requires strength of character and values and moral upbringing.

We need peace and understanding between communities, social and political for a stronger and better India.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/4_VHP_leaders_shot_dead_in_Orissa_/articleshow/3397590.cms

ge..

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tata threat to pull out - is WB Marxists getting back in equal measure ?


There was a time when Marxists in WB and elsewhere blocked all development activity in their states of dominance and elsewhere.. Even to this day they continue that activity..
The threat from Tata that he does not want to continue in Singur if the people do not want Tata  Motor plant at Singur has come as a a shock to the  Marxists.

At least now they will understand the futility of their attitude..

It would be good if Tata Project is shifted to Maharashtra or Bangalore who are ready with open hands..

ge..


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Usain Bolt of Jamaica, fastest man on planet earth ..

100 m in 9.69 secs.. (just 32 steps) i.e. at 37.2 kmph .....



Phelps, greatest olympian till now....

The record eighth gold by Phelps ( all in world record..) has helped him overtake Mark Spitz' record in Munich Olympics of seven golds by an individual athlete at the Olympics..

This is an unforgettable performance which will remain unbroken for a long time..

Pranaam ...

Usain Bolt of Jamaica takes gold in 100m in 9.69 secs, a world record.

ge ..

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ossentia in Georgia compared to J & K ...

Or the Tamils of Srilanka ??

Being generally interested in world politics and happenings around the world, I was naturally trying to understand the threat which Russia is facing from its neighbour, Georgia.

The recent Russian military action in Georgia, it's neighbour was to stop Georgia quelling the rebellion from its peole from Ossentia, in South Georgia. Quelling Georgia's military action against its southerm seperatists from Ossetia who are supported by Russia is an interesting issue which could boil into a major issue. This issue even has the potential of being the forbearer of the arming of Russia and possibly plarisation of the world, bringing Russia back to centrestage of world politics.

Whether Russia thru its new President Dmitri Medvedev was right in attacking Georgia or for that matter the Georgian leader Saakashvili taking that reckless action against dissidents from Ossetia, only time can tell..

Georgia which is looking westward to join NATO would be an immediate threat to Russia in its neighbourhood, is enough reason for it to be very protective of Georgia, (like Cuba is in the neighbourhood of US and US felt very thretaened of it early on..).

Seperatists and secessionists are in every society and it should be the lookout for the leaders to find ways and means to control their hopes and aspirations. That is politics. Trying to contain them by force is not a good idea at all.

We Indians need to ponder whether our actions in J&K are internationally vettable, trying to supress the hopes and feelings of a group of people in J & K ..

How long can our army fight this battle containing the people and their aspirations ?

A vociferous minority within the mainstream tries to assert itself while the majority love peace and prefer to live patiently and suffer silently.

This worldwide phenomenon requires urgent attention by all world leaders on how to contain dissention ..

ge.



Phelps does it a sixth time in Beijing..


Nobody at the beginning of Beijing Olympics on 8 August ever knew or had heard of this young swimmer from US. By today, the seventh day, he has already broken world records and won gold medals in all the six events in the swimming pool The Cube , which he has participated so far in Beijing.

He is already got twelve golds in two olymics, the largest ever number of gold medals by any individual in the history of the games, and is just one gold medal short of Mark Spitz' record in Munich Olymics 1972 of seven gold medals in one Olympics. He has two more events to participate in the coming two days.

Phelps is a sensation !! At 23 years of age, he is what every swimmer is looking forward to.

If he was an Indian, what sort of an personality he would already have become .

Wait for the next two days and two more events for Phelps. He is getting ready to be the greatest Olympian swimmer of all time..

ge..

Thursday, August 14, 2008

India - the biggest enemies ..






The people of India are these days fighting a battle in Jammu and Kashmir. The govt of India is fighting two enemies, one from within and the other from outside. Everybody knows who these two enemies are..

The first and foremost enemy of the people is the major opposition party in the country, Bharatiya Janata Party along with it's umbrella organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the likes, with the only objective of the disintegration of the country. Eventhough it has supported the govt initially, it's game plan is out by the strike call and rasta roko they gave across North India. Political one upmanship is their major concern.

The other enemy is Pakistan which is trying it's level best raising this issue in international fora. Even though India has requested Pakistan not to interfere in the internal affairs of India, it is insisting on fishing in muddy waters. It's tacit support to the secessionists in the Jammu valley, trying to create communal tension between the major communities in Jammu and Kashmir is being silently supported by the fundamentalists and communalists within India, the BJP.

Any patriotic party in such a situation will naturally rally behind the government and the people of the country.

Let the people decide the real enemies to the country. Pakistan is a mild enemy, the enemy from within, is very potent ... Politics is such dirty ...

ge..

__._,_.___

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kerala State reserves post for HIV + patients..

As is usual, in the case of showing sensitivity to the deprived sections of society,  Kerala has innovated and for the first time reserved a post in govt service (Co-ordinator in Kerala Aids Control Society)

Click here ..

ge..

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sisters and goddesses ....

Sisters and goddesses

by WILLIAM DALRYMPLE

Legend has it that it was the apostle, Thomas, the doubting one, who brought Christianity to Southern India - and now, aside from the odd jealous spat, the Virgin Mary and goddess Bhagavati are worshipped with equal fervourWilliam Dalrymple
The Guardian, Saturday June 28 2008


On the edge of the jungle lay a small wooden temple. It was late evening, and the sun had already disappeared behind the palms. The light was fading fast, and the hundreds of small clay lamps lined up on the wooden slats of the temple all seemed to be burning brighter and brighter, minute by minute.

The oiled torsos of the temple Brahmins were gleaming, too. They had nearly finished the evening ceremony - surrounding the idol of the goddess Bhagavati with burning splints as they rang bells, chanted and blew on conch shells. The ritual prepared the goddess for sleep.

Only when it was over, and the doors of the inner shrine were sealed for the night, were they able to tell me about the goddess they served. Bhagavati is the pre-eminent goddess in Kerala, the most powerful and beloved. In some incarnations, it was true, she could be ferocious: a figure of terror, a stalker of cremation grounds who slaughtered demons without hesitation or compassion. Some of her titles reflected this capacity: She Who Is Wrathful, She Who Has Flaming Tusks, She Who Causes Madness. But, in other moods, Bhagavati could be supremely benign and generous - the caring, loving, fecund mother - and this was how her followers usually liked to think of her. For many, she was the deity of the land itself: the spirit of the mountains, and the life force in the soil. In this form, Bhagavati is regarded as a chaste virgin and a caring mother, qualities she shares with her sister, whose enclosure lies a short distance down the road.

"Yes, yes, the Virgin Mary is Bhagavati's younger sister," explained Vasudeva, the head priest, matter of factly, as if stating the obvious.

"But, for sisters, don't they look rather different from each other?" I asked. A calendar image of the goddess, pinned up behind him, showed Bhagavati as a wizened hag wreathed in skulls and crowned with an umbrella of cobra hoods. In her hand she wielded a giant sickle.

"Sisters are often a little different from each other," he replied. "Mary is another form of the Devi. They have equal power." He paused: "At our annual festival the priests take the goddess around the village on top of an elephant to receive sacrifices from the people. She visits all the places, and one stop is the church. There she sees her sister."

"Mary gets on an elephant too?"

"No," he replied. "But when the goddesses visit each other, the sacrifice in the church is just like the one we have here: we light lamps and make an offering. The priests stay in their church, but the congregation of the church receives us, and makes a donation to the temple."

"So relations are good?"

"The people here always cooperate," he said. "Our Hindus go to the church and the Christians come here and ask the goddess for what they want - for everyone believes the two are sisters."

This was something I had seen for myself ever since I had arrived in Mannarkad, a small village 80km to the south of the Keralan capital, Trivandrum. In the large courtyard of the church - newly rebuilt and enlarged around a medieval core - many of the worshippers were Hindu rather than Christian.

"I have come here from 70km away," said KN Prakashan, a middle-aged school teacher. "Yes, I am a Hindu, but Mary is our holy mother. She is your mother and my mother, too. I believe she is a powerful goddess. Every time I come, I ask her to let the sufferings go from my life."

"And does she answer your prayers?"

"Of course," replied Prakashan. "It works. Otherwise I wouldn't be coming back here."

No less surprising were the Hindu customs practised by the church's congregation. The devotees coming in and out proudly told me that during the annual festival of Our Lady, the pilgrims would all take a ritual bath, shave their heads and eat only vegetarian food to purify themselves. They would join processions under torches, banners and coloured silk umbrellas of exactly the sort used by Hindus in their temple processions. The church also had a reputation for its powers of exorcism - the Christians sharing the Hindu belief that certain rituals can rid a possessed person of an unwanted spirit.

All this was mixed up with forms of devotion usually specific to the Orthodox churches. Booths along the side of the courtyard sold bronze plaques of arms, legs, eyes, hearts and other body parts to place in front of a holy icon to remind the saint to cure a particular ailment - something practised in Greek and Syrian Orthodox churches across the Levant.

The Christians seemed wholly at ease with the idea of praying alongside Hindus. "I believe Mary is more generous to the Hindus than she is to us," said Thomas Daniel as he prayed at the stone cross at the back of the enclosure. "Yes, we also believe Bhagavati and Mary are twin sisters."

"So you believe in the Hindu gods, too?"

"Yes, of course. Those gods are there. I go to the temple with my Hindu friends, though I don't tell the priests. And I participate in their festivals, though I don't give offerings." Thomas smiled: "This has been passed from generation to generation... All the people of Kerala believe in all of the gods."

Kerala is the greenest state in India: hot and humid, still and brooding. The soil is so fertile that as you drift up the lotus-choked backwaters around Mannarkad, the trees close in around you, a vault of palm and bamboo. Mango trees hang heavy over the fishermen's skiffs. All around this central part of Kerala live the St Thomas Christians - so called because they believe that St Thomas, the apostle of Jesus who famously refused to believe in the resurrection "until I have placed my hands in the holes left by the nails and the wound left by the spear", came to India from Palestine after the resurrection, and that he baptised their ancestors.

Over the centuries, almost every western traveller to southern India, from Marco Polo to the first Portuguese conquistadors, told the same story of Thomas' missionary journey. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, King Alfred sent Bishop Sighelm of Sherborne "to St Thomas in India"; years later the bishop returned, carrying with him "precious stones and the odiferous essences of that country". In Kerala, St Thomas is said to have converted the upper caste Brahmins with the aid of miracles and to have built seven churches.

Whatever the historical truth, there can be no doubt that Christianity has deep roots in the soil, in all probability stretching back to the first century AD. Over the centuries of unusually close coexistence, the Hindus and the Christians of the region have found their myths and their rituals fusing slowly together. There may be violence between Christians and Hindus in some parts of northern India, but there has never been any serious tension between the two faiths here in Kerala. Until recently, the St Thomas Christians were awarded places of honour in the great temple processions and the churches were allowed to borrow the temple elephants for their own festivals.

When the Portuguese arrived in India in the 16th century they criticised the St Thomas Christians' clergy for the many "pagan" practices they had adopted: ritual ablutions, the casting of horoscopes in the Hindu manner, the belief in the transmigration of souls - traditions which survived into the 20th century, some of them still common today.

The same fusion of Hinduism and Christianity is seen in the Christian art of Kerala. Every church in the region has a large stone cross in its churchyard; but these unambiguously Christian symbols rise out of lotus-shaped Hindu bases, decorated with lion-headed, fish-bodied makaras, cows, elephants, tigers and dancing girls. Paired peacocks are especially popular, doubling as they do as eucharistic symbols and vehicles of the god Murugan, son of Shiva.

At the village of Angamally, near Kochi's airport, there is a 17th-century wall painting in the church which reveals something of the complexity of the relationship between the two faiths. It is in many ways a conventional hell scene, paired with the Last Judgment facing it across the nave, but there are many idiosyncrasies. The devil is made to resemble the goddess Kali, with her tongue stuck out, a crown of snake heads above and a trident in one hand. To the side, what could be either a Portuguese Catholic priest or a money lender - he is wearing priest robes and holding a big bag of money - is being tortured; the floor of hell is slithering with king cobras, and a blue-skinned elephant is busy crushing sinners.

Today, even if St Thomas is no longer carried in temple processions, in village after village the shared myths and festivals survive. Even the story of St Thomas' martyrdom has been fused with Hindu myth, so St Thomas is said to have met his end in Mylapore, south of Chennai, while hiding from his enemies in the form of a peacock, the sacred bird of the nearby Mylapore temple.

In Puthupally, near Kottayam, the villagers associate St George - the saint the English think of as their own patron - with the goddess they say is his sister: the dark Kali, whose temple lies to the side of the church. In the church, St George is shown killing a dragon; in the temple his sister Kali is sculpted slaughtering a demon in the form of a water buffalo. Both brother and sister are believed locally to be ferocious carnivores, and during festivals both are fed the blood of decapitated chickens.

Not far away, at Piravam, Shiva is locally celebrated as the travelling companion of the Three Wise Men. According to local myth, the four went on a long pilgrimage and became close friends during the course of their journey. Elsewhere, there are tales of friendships struck up between Krishna and St Sebastian, believed locally to be a Keralan Brahmin who was converted to Christianity by St Thomas.

Not that relations between Christian saints and Hindu deities are always unproblematic. There is a story of St Thomas and the goddess Bhagavati having a spat, with St Thomas chasing the goddess to her temple at Kodangallur, and sticking his foot in the door to prevent her locking him out. Even in Mannarkad, it is said that the crack in the church's bell is due to Bhagavati damaging it as its tolling was waking her up during her sleep. In retaliation, the Virgin Mary is believed to have cracked one of the sacred conches at her sister's temple.

Such myths may hint at periods of tensions between the different faiths, and certainly there are those today who frown on the extreme porousness of religious practice in the region. The Christian clergy at the church of Mannarkad, while welcoming Hindus into the church, do all they can to stop their own Christian flock from visiting the temple. When I asked the local priest, Fr Kuriakos, about the forthcoming visit of the goddess Bhagavati to the church to see her sister, he made it clear that he would on no account be present to welcome the goddess. "The Virgin Mary comes from Jewish tradition," he said, clearly exasperated. "She is the daughter of Joachim and Anna, and was from Palestine, not India."

He paused, looking me in the eye: "There is no relation between the Virgin Mary and Bhagavati," he said. "We cannot encourage this belief. It is a myth. Worse, it is nonsense."

With the noise of firecrackers exploding, six cymbal clashers clashing, 12 temple drummers drumming, and the women of the village loudly ululating, the procession set off up the dirt track behind the temple and into the jungle. It was 8.30 on the morning of January 6 2008, and the goddess Bhagavati, in the form of a silver image hoisted on to a wonderfully caparisoned temple elephant, was setting off to visit her devotees and relations across the village of Mannarkad. From the top of her mount, the goddess looked down in splendour at her devotees, her eyes bulging in her rounded skull-like face, her skeletal teeth and fangs grinning with pleasure. This ceremony had been carried out in the village for hundreds of years.

As we walked along the village boundary, through pepper and rubber plantations, groups of devotees were waiting for the annual visit of their deity. Trestle tables had been loaded with burning lamps and offerings - coconuts and bananas, baskets of puffed rice and jaggery. Each time the elephant stopped, offerings would be given and blessings received. Then more firecrackers would be let off - scaring the children and grazing goats - and on the procession would trundle.

"She is the mother of the village," said Saraswati Amma, an old lady waiting on her verandah for the goddess, with her grandchildren around her.

"In ancient times, this was forest," said her son, Anish, holding his youngest boy in his arms. "We needed the goddess to guard against bad spirits. They are still here, hiding in the forest, and we need her to keep them at bay."

"Everyone in the village gives her something," said Saraswati. "Even if the Christians sometimes do it in secret."

The site of the final sacrifice has always been located at the back of the church, in the Christian area of the village. A small platform was prepared, crisscrossed with bamboo, incense sticks placed at each corner. When the goddess drew near, the priests blew their conch shells and the drummers increased their tempo. The camphor was lit, Sanskrit slokas were recited, and the bamboo grid doused with the blood-coloured guruthi.

"We used to sacrifice a rooster," said one of the onlookers, a Hindu shopkeeper named Raji. "But that is stopped now."

"From time immemorial the sacrifice has taken place here by the church," said his wife, Susheela, "where the Devi fought and defended the village."

"I have always heard that the two Devis of the village are sisters," said Raji. "If you go to the temple you must also go to the church, otherwise one of the sisters will be jealous."

"It's true," said Susheela. "They say that if you want your prayers answered you must pray at both the temple and the church. They say that if you light a lamp at the temple, that light also can be seen flickering in the church, and vice versa. The two are really one." ·
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· William Dalrymple is the author The Last Mughal: The Fall Of A Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 (Bloomsbury)

· This article was amended on Saturday July 5 2008. The capital of Kerala is not Kochi as we said in the article above, but Thiruvananthapuram, also known by its anglicised name Trivandrum. This has been corrected.  

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Talk by Dr Arvind Virmani, Chief Economic Advisor, Fin Min..


It was very refreshing to listen to Dr Arvind Virmani, Chief Economic Advisor to the Finance Minister of India yesterday, 6 th August 2008 at Hotel ITC Fortune on Cunningham Road, Bangalore, arranged by CII, Confederation of Indian Industry.

Delivering the talk Dr. Arvind Virmani was very upbeat about the economy. In spite of the hiccups now and then, the economy will grow at 8 % + this yer and the years to come.  The global oil price increase was just a temporary phenomenon ( the prices have crashed by about $32 to $ 118  to a barrel in the past three days globally)

He was frank enough to point out that this growth is being triggered by the infrastructure growth in Manufacturing, almost 38 % increase in infrastructure investments in manufacturing. Private Infrastructure development investments  is also increasing.

In spite of the high rates of inflation in the country ( it is a global phenomenon not only Indian) , which will fall down, the country will see further growth and development, led by manufacturing.

george..

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Video mode to Redlands and JPL ..


5 th August 2008, morning 6 AM,  I was in the computer lab of XIME, connecting to Uty of Redlands in California and the Jet Propulson Lab of NASA,

The session was successful, except there was some hitch in the JPL line , we could not login to JPL, neither could Redlands. JPL could login in multipoint with XIME and Redlands.

Polycom, the world leaders in IP videoconferencing, is supplying their 5000 series of VC equipment. Costing about Rs 1.6 lakhs, it is worth the money.

We can think of conducting elective classes with students from other parts of the world. ie. an elective offered in Redlands could be taken up by students in XIME, if the timings could be co-ordinated. The possibilities with video mconferencing are endless and unlimited,

We hope to make good use of this technology for the benefit of the studennt community.

Our IP address is

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