Sham And Genuine Art

Friday, January 26, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

An art collection and its display have become status symbols, particularly for the nouveau riche for many of whom art is akin to Greek and Latin as they do not even know that visual art is a human activity that can be grouped under painting, sculpture, and architecture.

That styles of painting include mannerism, impressionism, abstract expressionism, post-impressionism, abstract art etc; architectural styles include baroque, rococo, romanesque, norman, gothic, early english, etc. That modern art such as cubism makes mincemeat of traditional forms.

This apart, replication is the basis of learning. If one visits the ruins in Hampi and Aiole, students can be seen sketching the temple structures, monuments and getting inspired by the exemplary fine art. Unfortunately, ancient treasures and artefacts find a place only with international art dealers. Smugglers of “repute” remain unchallenged by the archeology department.

Fakes are being sold as orginals. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We can get from scrap brass utensils, mould-casts of different images of gods etc made by families proficient in this trade. If one wants to make money by cheating, as was revealed to me, one has to dip these in pure castor oil and bury them under the earth for 3 – 4 months. Take them out as they gather greenish fungus, dust them, tag them marking them “artefacts” and price them between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000.

Those who bemoan the sapping of Indian politics of its energies by politicians eager to promote their own interests over those of the nation should take a close look at the world of Indian art. A cabal literally controls the domestic market, subverting critics and blackmailing galleries, refusing to allow space to others. Such is their manipulative skills that domestic prices have long ceased to serve as an indicator of the true value — in monetary terms — of Indian art. Collectors who made the mistake of being misled by domestic price tags and intellectually corrupt art critics are now owners of what would be referred to as “penny stocks” in bourse jargon.

Consider granite. Most of it is as old as the earth’s formation. Carvings at Mahabalipuram shore temple, can become treasures only if they are in black granite. Buy one, break a leg or hand and or disfigure it, put it on a pedestal and it may fetch thousands of dollars.

Even carbon dating will not reveal age! We are back to square one so far as art is concerned. Let prudence prevail.


Too much fuss and debate here over ‘'Shilpa Show’'

Thursday, January 25, 2007 Vishaal 1 Comments

Recently the engagement of Abhishek Bachchan with Aishwarya Rai was blown out of proportion by the TV channels. They were competing among themselves over TRP ratings. The other thing is about our desi starlet Shilpa Shetty being called “a dog” in the Big Show in the UK.

An endless debate has erupted in the media and among the people on Shilpa Shetty being insulted in London. The Indian government has made its sentiments known to their British counterpart.

Everyone should remember that 'Celebrity Big Brother' is a game show with hidden cameras. It strongly resembles its tamer version 'Bigg Boss' on Indian television. Fights, abuses and prejudices are common in such shows. Majority of the participants, if not all, are professional actors in one way or the other and 'histrionics' are part and parcel of them.

At the same time, we should not forget that Shilpa was humiliated in a foreign country by a foreign participant. Britain is not India; so it would not be prudent on our part to expect an Indian culture and attitude there. “Athithi Devobhava” is famous mostly in India. Also, Shilpa was paid a whopping Rs 3 crore to take part in the show. There have been, therefore, mixed and cautious reactions to the whole episode globally.

Shilpa's mother and sister have downplayed the incident. Some have termed the whole imbroglio as a “publicity stunt” by the organisers of 'Celebrity Bigg Brother'.

Well, the racist insult (if at all) to Shilpa Shetty is not justified, but the issue does not deserve to be the prime story of all the major newspapers and TV channels. It has really gone the whole hog about racist remarks.

As it turned out, Shilpa has denied any racism. So what was the brouhaha all about? It seems that Shilpa retracted under pressure. This proves that she is only interested in the huge pay and fame she will get on this show. There is no need for her or our media to be involved in nationalistic sentiments.

Shilpa has boosted her career by hogging the limelight and projecting herself as a damsel in distress and her family says that she is brave and a tough nut to crack. If that is so, then why did she cry on the show? She says that she won’t entertain any derogatory comments against her country. If so, then why is she still participating in the show after all the comments against India and Pakistan? Just because of her celebrity status, should the government show so much concern for her? Has the government ever stepped in whenever the common man was racially abused? It is time for us to do a reality test.

Famous actor Sylvester Stallone has said, “Shilpa is a beautiful woman and the game should go on.” Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown has gone to the extent of saying that, for the game and organisers to salvage some pride, Shilpa has to be voted a winner. All these confirm one thing: It would be foolhardy for Indian personalities to expect the same type of “reverence” in foreign soil as in India.

After pocketing Rs 3 crore, Shilpa is now getting free publicity. All this makes one think about the role of the media in present times. The day is not far off when the viewer will get fed up with these gimmicks and he/she will stop watching or reading the news on TV or newspapers. Hope good sense first prevails and the media will do its job responsibly.


US Policy On Iraq Backfires

Sunday, January 14, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

I was recently browsing through a few blogs to see the general reaction regarding George Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq in the aftermath of the execution of Saddam Hussein. I came across ModernOpinion's editorial on the troop surge from which i quote the following text:

I think we should be totally committed to restoring peace in the nation, as much as we are reasonably able, or simply fly our boys home. Yet, if we withdraw now, as the president mentioned, the unstable Iraqi government would collapse and likely cripple the entire nation for decades to come. Understandably, however, we don't want to spend so much time, funding, and military energy on this little country that we endanger our ability to face other threats, even more serious threats, in the future.

Isn't that very far out from reality? Here is what i believe is the reality and what should be America's policy.

The exasperation has been wearing thin among the American public at large as the sobering milestone of 3,000 American deaths was reached on the last day of 2006.But Bush did not have any immediate cheery word. “Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq.”, he commented.

Mr Bush welcomed Hussein’s hanging as “an important milestone on Iraq’s course to becoming a democracy”. Washington invaded Iraq by inventing lies about “weapons of mass destruction”. It brutalised Iraqi society, imposed collective punishment on its people, and carried out terrible atrocities in Abu Ghraib and Fallujah. An overwhelming majority of Iraqis regard US troops at an inimical force. A University of Maryland poll says 78 per cent of Iraqis believe US troops are “provoking more conflict” than they’re preventing; 71 per cent, including 74 per cent of Shias, and 91 per cent of Sunnis, want them out. Sixty-one per cent of Iraqis actually favour attacks on American troops. Unsuprisingly, Iraq has a flourishing insurgency. The average number of daily attacks on US troops have risen from 14 in July 2003, to 70 two years later, to 185 now. Today, the Iraqi regime’s writ does not run beyond the four-mile square known as the Green Zone.

NOBODY could miss noticing that during his recent visit to Amman, the capital of Jordan, where he met the Prime Minister of the embattled government of Iraq, Mr Nuri al-Maliki, the United States President, Mr George W Bush was a markedly diminished man, notwithstanding his overblown rhetoric. Nothing could have demonstrated his misery more vividly than that he had to receive his Iraqi “ally” and protégé in the Jordanian capital, not in Baghdad. He just could not dare step into the city the US-led coalition forces claim to have “liberated” from Saddam Hussein’s “misrule”. Baghdad has indeed become a byword for seemingly uncontrollable violence and anarchy.

On his way to Jordan, Mr Bush attended the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit at Riga, where he proclaimed that US troops would not leave the battlefield in Iraq, “Until the mission was complete.” After his meeting with Mr Maliki in Amman, he claimed, “This business about ‘graceful exit’ simply has no realism to it at all”. Many of his listeners laughed in their sleeves. They knew that if anyone was out of touch with reality, it was the US president.

I do recommend you to visit the site ModernOpinion and read a few articles that give opposing perspectives to what the world thinks.

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Nano Medicine - Part 2

Saturday, January 13, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

Nano technology tools permit users to visualize and manipulate items at the nanoscale such as cells, bacteria and viruses. Raw nanomaterial can be used as biocompatible materials or coatings in drug encapsulation, bone replacement, prosthesis and implants. This fascinating nano technology envisages far reaching concepts, such as tiny robots called as nanorobots or nanobots, to be injected into the body to attack infections or undesirable cells, retinal implants, cochlear implants, smart instruments, tools for genetic testing or imaging devices. Drugs can be encapsulated, delivered, and after the drug arrives at its destination it can be released at an appropriate rate for it to be effective.

New generations of biocompatible nano materials can be used to repair or replace human tissue. Both soft tissue and hard tissues like bone or teeth can be healed. Nano polymers such as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) can be used to coat areas in contact with blood such as heart, vascular grafts, for dispersing clots or preventing their formation. Nano structures are being researched to act as scaffolds for tissue repair and regeneration. High strength nano ceramic material in the form of flow able and moldable nano particle paste would help to inter digitate with bone, helping bone repair. Bio-reabsorb able materials and micro technologies are being developed to restore lost vision and hearing function. More over these devices collect and transform data into precise electrical signals that are delivered directly to the human nervous system. Operating tools, smart instruments can reduce the physically demanding procedures on both the surgeon & patients. Surgical systems are being developed to provide surgeons with unprecedented control over instruments and surgical procedures. Nano and micro technologies offer new imaging technologies that can provide high quality images not possible with current devices.

Acoustic signals could help to detect a cancer cell and further broad cast instructions to the cancer killer to attack. Also a very precise control over location of the cancer killer activities could be achieved. Poor blood flow caused by a variety of conditions can result in serious tissue damage. A major cause of tissue damage is inadequate oxygen. A simple method of improving the levels of available oxygen despite reduced blood flow would be to provide an artificial ‘red blood cell.’

Supply of artificial mitochondria, slowing or blocking deteriorative reactions or deliberately, turning off the metabolism of the cell to prevent further damage could be made possible. Autonomous molecular machine could be made to operate in the body and help to gather information of the changing conditions inside the body. Later these molecular machines could be filtered out of the blood supply and the stored information could be analyzed to provide picture and information of the activities within healthy or injured tissue, aiding medical research.

Nano technology, “the technology of the 21st century” is gradually walking into our lives. “When might we see these systems actually used? It is predicted by the researchers in the field that the molecular manufacturing will begin by 2020 and some additional time will be needed for its application.


Nano Medicine - Part 1

Saturday, January 13, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

Would it not be wonderful to detect and destroy the very first cancer cells that would otherwise cause a tumor to develop in the body? A broken part of a cell would be removed and be replaced with a miniature biological machine? Pumps of tree size of molecules could be implanted to deliver life saving medicines, precisely when and where they are needed? Such is the future prospectus for Nano Medicine.

Nano Medicine is an off shoot of nanotechnology, referring to highly specific medical intervention at the molecular levels for curing diseases, repairing damaged tissue, such as bone, muscle or nerve. This knowledge, will lead to the development of new tools that will work at ‘nanoscale’ levels and allow scientists to build synthetic biological devices such as tiny sensors to scan for the presence of infectious agents, or metabolic imbalance and to fix the broken parts in the cell.

Simply, nanotechnology is the space at the nanoscale i.e. one billionth of a meter, smaller than ‘micro’ one millionth of a meter and larger than ‘Pico’ one trillionth of a meter. Nano is a miniaturisation beyond micro. Transforming materials from micro level to nano level is referred to as ‘top down’. At the other extreme, where atoms and small molecules at the Pico level are constructed or assembled to the nano level, is referred to as ‘bottom- up’.


Just Married - A melodious soundtrack

Friday, January 12, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

Film: Just Married
IRST release of a year is special. This is why one is extra curious to hear what the music of Just Married has in the offing. The music is also extra special since it has composer Pritam at the helm, who was one of the most versatile and successful musicians in the year gone by. This Meghna Gulzar film with Fardeen Khan and Esha Deol in the lead has a peppy-n-romantic numbers.

First few seconds into the opening number Ram milaye jodi and one can’t help but revisit the credit details for the song. Reason? The song is completely modelled on the ShankarEhsaan-Loy style of music with their trademark Indian melody that has been their forte. With the marriage season on and Ram milaye jodi being unadulterated harmless fun, it is the sing-witha-smile approach by the three singers — Sukhwinder Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan and Shaan — that mark an enjoyable beginning to the album. There is the remix version of Ram milaye jodi too. Thankfully, it doesn’t kill the impact created by the original and only adds on to the fun.

Sunidhi Chauhan was good in Ram milaye jodi but she is excellent in Gudgudee . Pritam shows a different facet of his composing style as he arrives with this beautiful melodious track that is slow, simple, enchanting and heart warming.

A party song amongst a group of youngsters, Baat pakki is a feel-good song that should keep the audience engaged and also help in taking the story forward. After feeling good about things in life, Gulzar and Pritam get Daler Mehndi on board to render a pensive Doha . Reminding of Sukhwinder Singh’s Layi vi na gayi from Chalte Chalte , Doha works well in adding on to the variety of songs heard so far in the album.

Just Married gets a fitting farewell when Sonu Nigam arrives for the first time with Jaagte raho — an excellent composition with sensual lyrics by Gulzar. While Pritam and Gulzar saab have done quite well in coming up with a sweet album like Just Married , Meghna Gulzar needs a pat on her back for the choices she has made for the song situations and a go-ahead that she has eventually given to the selected songs in the albums.


Festivals and traditions

Thursday, January 11, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

Many old people regret the changes in celebration of festivals in our country and nostalgically looked at the traditional way of celebration of bygone days.

A child today questions his mother/ teacher why Shiva had a baby elephant's head cut off so cruelly to replace his own son's head he had cut off in a fit of fury. Scholars write books wondering if Ravana was the better person and if Rama was not a person with very low thinking to send his virtuous wife off to the forest without ever trying to support her in the face of wild accusations.

In the West, popular magazines print cover stories asking, ?Is God dead.? The very fact that traditional festivals are still being celebrated itself is becoming cause for celebration. Yet Vinayaka Chathurthi which was celebrated in the South, particularly, as a purely household puja between noon and sunset on the day, is now being celebrated in every street corner for days on end. The blaring music and other unseemly entertainment dished out by the more affluent ?pandals? in connection with Ganesh Chathurthi and Dasara almost drive the people of the locality to curse the gods for the inconvenience they suffer for anything up to ten days each time.

The saying 'Old order changeth yielding place to new?.' is very much in operation and many new 'traditions' are being formed. And those who still remember the older traditions will have to face the facts of life present today and learn to accept them.


One Country One People

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

Our pseudo-secular politicians hoodwink the common people who are not conversant with the Constitution and quote it every time as a guiding factor. This is akin to fanatical religious leaders insisting that a community must rigidly follow a ruling. If not, defaulters will be excommunicated.

If we analyse, India does not have a majority community, but many minority communities each with its own norms, some of which are contradictory and lead to conflicts. This situation is being capitalised by foreign terrorists with the support of traitors. Hence, the Supreme Court?s pointing out the perils of another Partition should be seriously considered and the cry should be
for national integration. Our politicians are inebriated with the power they obtain and enjoy by dividing communities. To prevent this, the Constitution should be suitably amended.

Though such a review was initiated by Vajpayee under the able guidance of M N Venkatachalaiah, nothing came of it.


New age spirituality

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 Vishaal 1 Comments

PICTURE the innocent lamb following the footsteps of the Shepherd, the obedient cow pursuing the soulful tunes of the Cowherd. Now, if you keenly observe the youngsters of today, you will find that they are 'lambs' and 'cows' in the guise of young men and women. The only missing pieces in the picture would be the Shepherd and the Cowherd. But wait, these missing entities, however, have their representatives in the form of spiritual Gurus, who claim to be carrying on the 'divine proposition' and having a herd of followers.

Meet the spiritual Gen X, that is blessed with a horde of new outlets to seek refuge in and find answers to life's enigmatic twists and turns. There are several organisations spread across the City attempting at giving a definite direction to this stressed and confused lot. 'Art of living' programmes by Shri Ravishankar, other personality development courses and counselling sessions such as those conducted by Swami Sukhabodhananda's Prasanna Trust, Vipassana, Mata Amritanandamayi, ISKCON, etc are some such projecting noble goals.

What are the parameters that define the expression 'new age spirituality'? How does one differentiate this from the traditional notions of religion and spirituality? While there are people who believe in drawing a definite line of demarcation between the two concepts, a substantial section claims that the so-called 'new religion' actually reflects an age-old spirituality, one that is compatible with the traditional,time-honoured religions of the world. Moreover, it is deliberately unorganised, diffused, and a mix-and-match of diverse religious and spiritual beliefs and practices. In fact, most 'new-agers'prefer the term 'spirituality' to 'religion' as they do not wish to establish lasting institutions like temples and churches.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that the emphasis is on the 'self'. The 'new age spiritual movement' believes that only self-transformation can result in societal transformation, and that we as individuals have the power in us to move the world.


What Hinduism means

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

It is an error to consider Hinduism as a religion in the conventional theocratic sense. It is not a credal religion, but a name invented by the various invaders.

The Shaivites or Vaishnavites, the Shakatya or the adherents of millions of obscure cults and the sum total of their cultural practices constitute Hinduism. At the philosophical level, Hinduism is a
religion of reason, and is pluralistic. The Hindu religion has no basic postulates. It is not based on one book, one guru or one philosophy.

It gives complete freedom to an individual to choose his way of life until he is convinced of the eternal truth. Although a Hindu, I'?ve been to church and prayed there peacefully after being invited to do so. I?ve also stood outside a mosque and found people praying there peacefully.


Need for a relook

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

Indian scientists are not getting enough exposure and that?s why they are going abroad. While here, we are fighting over quota and language issues. The talented students are not able to gain admission in good colleges because of the quota system.

Reservation is good up to a point, but in our country it is being used for gaining political benefit and destroying the confidence of deserving students. The future lies in the hands of such students. We should not jeopordise their lives at the cost of reservation for a few incompetent people.


A Dream in Hibernation

Monday, January 08, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

The Golden Quadrilateral project which was inaugurated with a lot of fanfare appears to have lost its sheen. The dream of Vajpayee now really appears to be a distant one. Corruption and nepotism seem to have taken root and nobody is worried about the project. It appears that it will not be completed even in the next generation.

Roads are the lifeline of a nation and they have been given the go-by in our country. If India really needs to compete with other countries, it is vital that the basic infrastructure is put in place. It is important at this stage that we do not let go of such projects. If we do so, we shall be doing it at our own peril.

Hope the government realises the utility of infrastructure, and, in particular, roads, if the country is to join the comity of developed nations.

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Is Laloo Really an Achiever?

Monday, January 08, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

A lot has been said recently about the astounding feat of Laloo Prasad yadav in turning around Indian Railways. I invite the public to consider the following factors before jumping to conclusions: The Railways are a monopoly without any ceilings on ticket value or freight charges; various governments have pumped billions of rupees all these loss-making years to build the necessary infrastructure which the present minister has inherited free of cost; goods trains move only when their full capacity is reached being unconcerned about ensuring speedy delivery. The railway employees are paid a meagre salary.

It is common knowledge that in most trains in the northern part of our country people have considered it their right to travel free of cost.Has this changed now?

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Service Tax For Doctors

Sunday, January 07, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

I think it is a ridiculous idea to impose service tax especially on lawyers and doctors. It will turn out like what value -added tax turned out to be with the burden being shifted on the consumer — in this case, the litigant/patient. Medicine and legal advice will only become more expensive since there is no person who will not hike up his fee in order to cater this requirement of the government. Thanks to this, both litigation and medicine will go out of reach of the common man.

Another practical problem that will arise especially for small-time advocates and doctors is that they will have to spend more to calculate the service tax to be levied. Most of them do not have the infrastructure and the question of accounting staff is ruled out. Hence, they will rely on professionals for the same and in the bargain end up spending more. Do you think that they will not shift this burden too on the customer? All these factors will contribute to reduction in productivity and quality. Worse, the doctors and lawyers will insist on cash payments from the customer with a view to avoid service tax. If this trend creeps in then I am sorry there will be no meaning in the government insisting on levy of service tax.


Fans Of A Dictator

Sunday, January 07, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

It is ludicrous to see the CPM and other Left parties protesting against the execution of Saddam Hussein. They never uttered a word of protest when this tyrant brutally murdered hundreds of innocent men, women and children, and when his lascivious son molested young women.

The Indian Communists have always had and still have dictators as their idols. Anything American is anathema to them. On the other hand, the Congress exists in a bipolar world. The Congress-led UPA governments reaction was subdued.

All impartial people would agree that Saddam’s trial was neither fair nor free. However, the US and the UK were in a dilemma. Incarcerating him for life would have been dangerous for them. So the only option left was to execute him. Even the most perspicacious will not be able to predict the consequences of this action. Although a self-centered leader, he was not a fanatic and not too much aligned to religion. It is no joke to rule a country having three divergent and equally aggressive groups like Shias, Sunnis and Kurds for 24 long years. A country ruled by a dictator is bound to have some atrocity. Dictator Ziaul-Haq of Pakistan got Zulfikar Ali Bhutto hanged with the US remaining a mute spectator. The reason was that the dictator was toeing the policies of the US.

Now after Saddam’s death, will violence end?


The Black And White Cricket World Cup !

Thursday, January 04, 2007 Vishaal 0 Comments

Sreesanth was fined by ICC for his action in the first Test against South Africa, in which India won the match convincingly. Sreesanth was over-enthusiastic to act like that, which looked quite natural.

Most of the members of the ICC ( Illogical Cricket Council) are Whites and they are bent on showing their superiority. In a way, they are not worried about cricket which is a ‘gentleman’s game.’ If the ICC continues to behave like an autocrat, it will split into ICC (B) and ICC (W), one for the Black and the other for the White. If that happens, it is good for the game of cricket.

Every couple of years, “Black and White World Cup” matches could be played, which would be quite interesting making the game more competitive.

Since Sharad Pawar is now eyeing for the ICC gaddi, it is up to him to change the mentality of the ICC or have it split into two. Being an astute politician, he can do that with ease.