Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book literacy in India

We have plenty of colleges and universities in India. But, not enough, considering our population. A look at some numbers:
20 central universities.
215 state universities.
100 deemed universities.
5 institutions established and functioning under the State Act.
13 institutes of national importance.
16000 colleges (including 1800 exclusive women's colleges), affiliated to these universities and institutions.
1522+ degree-granting engineering colleges in India, who take in 582,000  new students each year.
1,244 polytechnics who take in 265,000 each year.
These educational institutions are churning graduates by the millions. But, how many of these people actually read books? Let's see what's happening in the U.S. Below are some facts about literacy in the U.S.:
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
I think the corresponding Indian numbers would be more disheartening.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

How Godmen Fail: They are not able to change the nature of their devotess, especially that of powerful people

This is from the best analysis of Satya Sai Baba's legacy, where the writer argues and convinces me that Sai Baba’s teachings didn't touch his Trustees. You can take this idea forward and say that all these high and mighty people who go to see Godmen (and women) such as Sai Baba, do not change their. Or else, the world would have been a better place.

If a senior IAs officer stopped taking bribes after becoming a devotee, India gains. But this hasn't seemed to happen.

Samplings of what Satya Sai Baba's trustees have done:
Power-drunk trustee thinks Sai Baba is above the law:  When six boys were shot dead in Sai Baba’s residential area, the statement made by Indulal Shah was, “The matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law enforcement agency investigating into it!!!” 
Trustees want to censor information: There is so much distrust among the Trustees that electricity was cut off in Puttaparthi so people would not watch a particular programme on a particular channel relayed only by a particular cable operator as the programme being telecast was particularly critical of the Trustees.
Then the writer asks,
We also ask, why don’t godmen, who claim to have telepathic abilities, communicate or visit their political and bureaucratic devotees in their dreams and tell them that they have to stop being corrupt and sadistic? Is it because all these acts are not miracles but well-executed stage shows?
... However, they will win us over completely only when they can change the character of their devotees, especially the high and mighty ones.

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The #1 problem with the Apple vs. Win and all other kinds of consumer fanboys and fangirls: The rise of consumer fascism

There is indeed such as thing as a sane person. There is no such thing as a Mac person, or a PC person.  Or a Facebook person or Twitter person. Doesn't it all sound fascist? I use an Apple computer. So, I must be a better person than others who don't use Apple computers.

Recently, Hunch.com, a site I don't know what it does, but it has been around for while, surveyed its users on the popular rant-generating topic of Apple vs.Windows users and somehow came to the conclusion that Apple users are more liberal than Windows users. It is 100%B.S. I guess someone inferred the results by analyzing the great people from all those "think different" ads.

Comparisons, especially concerning 'who buys what and what does that mean', are distasteful, waste sinks of time, and shallow as well.

What is wrong with cults? In brief:
1. Consumer cults such as Apple and followers of sports clubs exhibit illiberal tendencies. 
Rephrasing Agent Smith: Cults are the disease of modern consumerist life. Self-importance is only a step away from fascism.

How? You ask. In his last book, Kingdom Come (2006), JG Ballard, wrote about consumerism being equal to fascism. This book review is from the Observer:
Ballard's central idea is that consumerism slides into fascism when politics simply gives the punters what they want, becoming a matter of consumer-style choices...
2. Being in an Apple cult is the heights of irony.
A Hacker News commenter said some time back about the Apple fanboys:
Mac fanboys are like the Goth kids of the adult world - they profess individual expression, but all act and dress the same.
It's amusing that a group that touts themselves as valuing individuality and creativity all use the same restrictive devices with very little choice.  

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