02 April 2014

Rebellion

இன்று

மீண்டும் ஒரு முறை 

உமிழ்நீருடன் சேர்த்து 

ஓரிரண்டு சொற்களையும்

விழுங்கிக்கொண்டேன்.


தோரணத்தில் படபடக்கும்

கட்சி கொடிகளை போல

எனக்குள் சிலிர்த்து கொள்கின்றன

அவை 


தினமும் வளர்ந்த மெளனத்தில்

நிம்மதியாய் அடங்கியும் போயின 

அவை.


ஒரே ஒரு சொல் மாத்திரம்

உளியை தேடி 

அலைகிறது

தன்னை தானே செதுக்கிக்கொள்ள.

08 March 2014

Rajeev Karandikar's talk on the science of opinion polls.

Oboy, here I am posting not one but two posts in the same day. Here is something interesting - so interesting that I am actually posting for the second time today - something for the election year:

I attended Dr Karandikar's talk at The Hindu centre, the day before yesterday...

He spoke on the science behind opinion polls and it was very interesting to know that statistics can be used so powerfully. With a sample of about 4000 from each region you go on to predict the outcome at the national level... fine..

I did raise a question though - whether the model throws up variations in the regions. For example if Tamil Nadu is a region, the historical behaviour of voters in Kanyakumari has differed from that of South Chennai voters (keeping fingers crossed) - He replied that they were only looking at the final outcome at the national level and not so much at regional variations - that would require (micro statistics is what he said) a much more complex and costly survey involving more time etc...

But I am still left with the question... in a region with inherent patchiness, clumpiness call it what you may - small domains of peculiar but persitent convictions and bias - does it even make sense to take a random sample and ask them about national outcomes? I mean you go to region like south chennai and pick a sample that has been randomised not with respect to the biases in south chennai but with respect to general ideas of community etc, is it likely to yield correct results - you might pick a sample that is more characteristic of Tiruchi or Kanyakumari...

Is there any meaning in not doing a survey employing micro statistics (I assume that is like a micro canonical ensemble)... Dim memories of tackling Kerson Huang flash in the corner of my mind.

Thoughts on Women's day

Women's day or Mothers' day - I wonder when I see so many posts celebrating mothers and their motherhood - But surely we need to move further than that - further than the perception that motherhood is the supreme function of one born a female.

Yes I too was given birth to by a woman and she took the greatest of efforts to bring me up well and so on - But I feel designating a day for women has a different purpose - it is to look at all the hardships women endure to come out of these assigned roles.

Women enduring the worst inhuman acts when engaged with worlds in conflict - women facing scorn and marginalisation to express themselves in ways that are so easy for the average man - Women suffering pains of living two lives in one as they balance a career against their given duties?

Women seeking snatches of respite to pull on with their lives' burdens and not give in to the temptation to end it all - Women breaking down glass ceilings - Women laughing amidst their tears - women tearing away from the silken chains - Women escaping stifling norms?


Here is my little note seeking a "heartfelt" applause for all those women in the nooks and crannies - those at the forefront and those rendering their invisible support for progress!

06 February 2014

A sprint across Emerald Isle

Monday to Friday driving through the Republic of Ireland, from Dublin down the east coast to Cork, then speeding across via Limerick to the Galway in the west and back again via Shannon town to Dublin – one week, a world away from the bustling city that is Chennai – inhaling the best of what academia had to offer – to say it was a heady experience would be selling it short.

I was met at Dublin Airport by Brian, a taxi driver in a suit and tie. Helping me with the luggage, he said to me, “would you like to sit in the front seat or the back?” I say, “what do you say?” He said, “Well, if you sit in front we can talk on the way to Cork.” I slid into the front seat, quite unaware that we were going to be engaged in conversation every minute of the three and half hour drive down to Cork.  And flow the conversation did, from the education system in Ireland, to religious differences, to personal takes on abortion laws, to marriage, the egalitarian attitude of the Irish, to the language itself. As Brian put it, “When you reach Cork, you will already have an impression of Ireland, which will add to your story.” That taxi ride certainly put me at ease in a new land, not for nothing, I felt, has Ireland been voted the friendliest nation, by Lonely Planet.

As we entered Cork, driving along the River Lee to find my hotel, I was surprised to see a board saying, “The Independent Republic of Cork.”  I learn from Brian that the people of Cork consider it the real capital of Ireland. I hear for the first time the oft-quoted joke – “ A Cork man with an inferiority complex thinks he is only as good as others.”
 I leave my bags in Hotel River Lee and rush back to find my taxi waiting. I get dropped at Cork Institute of Technology. I also get a hug and a “Young lady, you take care of yourself,” from Brian…

It was easy finding the other journalists in CIT. I immediately bump into Bharat Joshi. Speedy introductions follow, I meet Vikram Chaudhury, Maitri Porecha, Jayant Sriram and Pankti Mehta.  


Presentations at Cork Institute of Technology waft all around. The meeting is held in the conference hall which is circular – for better communication all around, we are told. Some of their brightest students do innovative internships during their third year of undergraduate degree we are told. We learn that the undergraduate degree is a four year course, while a postgraduate one can be one year or two years, depending on the course. Everyone speaks well – no wonder for legend has it that anyone who has kissed the Blarney stone is endowed with the gift of eloquence – and the Blarney stone, found in Blarney Castle, is just about 8 kilometres from Cork, which should say it all.

University College Cork, ranked between 250 and 300 among world universities by Times Higher Education, was our next stop. The bus we were in took us right up the grounds and stopped a short distance from the Main building of the university. As we tried to dodge the drizzle and made our way, we could hear the bus driver enquiring whether he could park there…
The university spans a range of periods from archival stuff to modern institutes where frontier research is being conducted.