Wednesday, January 17, 2007


A smile is so easy to give but yet we find so few doing it. As you drive along the
road what one notices is the absence of this spark on people's faces. Frowns
and stares is aplenty. The contagious flame that can light others up is much in absence.

A smile comes easily to those who have suffered. Those who have had a
cushioned life go around with a sourpuss face. One has to wrestle a smile
from them - and that too maybe.

Smiles like people and proteins seem to come in various shapes and sizes.
The open smile like open access publishing signals willingess to share.
The hint of a smile is for those who cannot choose between their
no and yes. There is the smile that flashes as if from an
advertisement, making the surroundings bright and cheerful.
Of course, the shy smile is most sought after from certain members
of the species.

You do not need to be in a Mary Poppins movie to be able to love to laugh.
A laugh is just a continuum of smiles over space and time. A laugh is more
like a smile broadcast over a loudspeaker. Laugh or Smile - just different
ways of telling the world that it is a good place for travelling
through space and time.


he liked her
and had seen her
but did not know
anything about her
except, she was tall.

he knew , of course,
her name from all
those e-mails - to and fro.
similar to another
whom he knew.

early one morning
on an island
he told the friends
who were with him
why not?

so he wrote
to her
by regular mail
and she perhaps
was thrilled.

they flew across
and married here
at home
without a fuss.

they are three
in the city
that's a village
happy and content.

that my dear
is marriage
for you
and others
on this planet


Monday, January 15, 2007

Honoris causa

The rich and learned
Found a place
To put an university!
That ate the land
Of the villagers around -
Those who farmed and lived.
They poor and unread
Were forced to quarry
The nearby Stone hill
So learned
For it stood and fed
The villagers around.

On many a day
A dynamite
That exploded late
Meant a death
Or an eye or a body
Lost to the hills.
On many a day
That blared all day
Meant the Ph.D.
Of a minister
Lusting for honour.
The unread and poor
With eyes and body
Pay the hills.
The learned and rich
How and whom
Do they pay?

my experiments with gandhi

The Mahatma’s experiments with truth formed a backdrop, when in the path I have trodden…many students have learnt and flown away to other lands; a number of research papers have seen the world; and numerable hours of teaching gave music to the long haul. But when…I had to get power supply for the house that my wife and me built; I see colleges and universities becoming ways of making money delivering worthless degrees in trendy subjects; I visited the jail because my friend has been arrested for being a teacher striking against the government; I find mega dams grow and drown hapless multitudes; I notice people buy the wares of the company that killed thousands in Bhopal and got away scot free; I find votes being cast to elect parasites that suck us; I watch a country like the US butcher their way through Afghanistan and Iraq to get at the oil…Into this kaleidoscope of corruption, repression and moral ineptitude, when authorities exist only for those who wield power and money, Mahatma Gandhi and the words he uttered in a different context In my opinion non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good” become more relevant to me.

“In my opinion non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good” 1921-1930.

Mahatma Gandhi during the struggle against the British 1921-1930 (as quoted in the Gandhi Museum, Madurai)

Thursday, January 11, 2007


There was a scientist
By birth a human being.
Who joined for research
Quite by chance.
Our landlords of science
Ensured he was out.

Now he sat in the US.
Green card and retirement.

He turned backwards.
And naturally so,
Now the mafia gave him
An advanced centre
for science,
Amongst the landlords.

Having learnt
The rules of our science,
He became
Yet another ,
Zamindar in our place.

A pity -

For science?

Newton and playing cricket.

Playing cricket is possible because of physics. Newton helped to understand these laws of physics.

But before seeing that, some ideas, which are not so obvious, have to be understood.

How much a person runs in a given time is speed – say 36 kms in one hour, then the speed is 36kmph or (36x1000)/(60x60) metre per sec or 10m/sec.

How much a person runs in a given time and in which direction is velocity. If you run at 10m/sec down the street from your house, turn left into say your friend’s street and run again at 10m/sec then your friend will say your velocity has changed.

When you run at uniform speed in a circle or the moon goes round the earth,
the moon’s velocity is different at every position.

Velocity = how much distance in a given time and in which direction

Speed = how much distance in a given time

The units in which both are given are the same – metre/sec.

Changing velocity requires effort. Changing velocity per given time is called acceleration.

Velocity = (end distance – start distance) / time

Acceleration = (final velocity – start velocity) / time

But how do you subtract directions? Just as adding or subtracting quantities can be done by mathematics. Adding or subtracting quantities with direction can be done by something called ‘vector mathematics’ because quantities with direction are called vectors.

However, one can still find out the change in quantity alone if the directions are same or close to same.

If we look at only the quantities and not the directions

If (end distance – start distance ) = ‘s’ metre

Time = ‘t’ sec

End velocity = ‘v’ metre/sec

Start velocity = ‘u’ metre/sec

Acceleration = ‘a’ (metre/sec)/sec or metre/sec2

Then a = (v-u)/t

at = v-u or v = u + at

average velocity = (v+u)/2

average velocity x time = distance traveled

(v+u)/2 x t = s

½ v x t + ½ u x t = s

as v = u + at , this gives

½ ut + ½ ut + ½ at2 = s

s = ut + ½ at2

So if the bowler standing at the crease throws a ball and the ball has a velocity of 36kmph when it reaches the batsman, how long does it take to reach the batsman if the pitch length is 5m?

u = 0 as the ball and the bowler are not moving initially

v = 10m/sec (= 36kmph)

this gives a = (10 – 0) / t if the ball takes ‘t’ secs to reach the batsman

which means

5 = 0 x t + ½ x (10/t) x t2

5 = ½ x 10 x t

or t = 1 sec

How long will it take if the bowler comes running with a velocity of 36kmph then bowls the ball so that the ball has a velocity of 36kmph when it reaches the batsman?

Now u = 10m/sec

So a = (10-10) /t = 0

Which means 5 = 10 t + ½ x 0 x t2

or t = 0.5 secs

First law:

Inertia means tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged.

Newton made the ‘now obvious discovery’ that things tend to remain in the state of inertia unless acted upon. This became the First law of Newton. Thus for example neglecting air friction and gravity the ball thrown by the bowler would keep on moving until acted upon by the batsman. Similarly, if a body is floating or moving at a uniform speed and in a fixed direction in space then it is moving at a uniform velocity in space. Newton’s first law tells that the body will continue to move so, unless some force pulls or pushes or stops it.

So, that ‘action’ which changes the state of inertia is called as force. Newton ‘discovered’ that the more the amount of matter in a body the more is the force required to change the state of inertia. He also found the more the change in velocity due to the change of state the more is the force required. For example, more force is required to hit the ball if the bowler throws an iron ball rather than a cork ball, even though both may arrive with the same velocity. When the ball is hit, the state of inertia is changed as the velocity (direction and speed) of the ball gets changed. So in cricket, less force is needed to deflect a fast ball than hit it for a four in a completely different direction.

Second law:

Newton’s second law then tells that the force (‘F’) is given by

F = m x a

Where ‘m’ is the mass of a body ( or ‘amount’ of matter in a body) and ‘a’ is the acceleration or change in velocity.

There is another way of saying the same equation. That is by bringing in a quantity called ‘momentum’. Momentum is the quantity of motion in a body given by the product of its mass and velocity. While traveling with the same velocity an iron ball will have more momentum than a cork ball. The cork ball has less mass than an iron ball of the same size. For the same cork ball a fast bowler gives the ball more momentum than a slow bowler. When a fast ball is deflected, the change in direction is small. Therefore the change in velocity is small. This means the change in momentum is small. The force required is small. So, force can be defined as the rate of change of momentum.

Using our symbols

F = (final momentum – initial momentum)/ t = ( mv – mu ) / t = m (v – u) /t = m a

Thus the two definitions of force turn out to be the same. Just different ways of looking at the same quantity.

Imagine a foolish player hits the cricket ball hit vertically up into the air. It goes up for a distance and comes down. Because the direction of movement has changed. The velocity and momentum has changed when it starts coming down. The change of velocity or momentum must happen because of a force. Otherwise the ball should, neglecting air friction, keep on going traveling into space and beyond. Newton as the story goes realized that the apple on the tree does not continue its state of inertia and stay there even if the stem breaks but changes its state of inertia and its momentum because of a force. He reasoned that since the apple comes down and does not go anywhere else, the force is probably due to the earth. This force was termed gravity.

The cricket ball comes down because of gravity.

Newton showed that gravity is the force exerted by one body on another because of the mass or amount of matter in the two bodies. The acceleration due to the gravitational force of the earth is usually termed as ‘g’. When one stands on a weighing machine because of the pull of the earth, the body exerts a force on the weighing machine. This is measured as weight. Weight is therefore a force given by w = m x g , where ‘m’ is the mass of the body and ‘g’ is the acceleration due to gravity. Mass is a quantity measuring the ‘amount’ of matter in a body whereas weight is a measure of the force exerted by the gravitational pull of the earth (since we live on the earth) on the body.

Third law:

Gandhi said ‘ an eye for an eye makes the world go blind’. Newton said ‘ every action has an equal and opposite reaction’. Action here refers to force. Newton’s third law in effect says ‘ a force for a force makes the world go on’.

When we stand on the weighing machine we do not go through the weighing machine as it exerts an equal and opposite force as the weight of our body, which is, the force exerted on the weighing machine by our body.

When the ball hits the bat, the ball exerts a force as it has changed its velocity and momentum. The bat exerts an equal and opposite force on the ball and the ball goes off, not staying in the same place where it hit the bat. The bat is in effect hitting the ball back.

The arm that holds the bat feels the force and if the arm manages to keep the bat steady without moving the bat, the ball flies off.

Thus if the world does not follow the physical laws ‘discovered’ by Newton, it would not be possible to play cricket.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Vande mataram.

Vande mataram.

The place aside the sea

That bathes the eye in blue

Where sensuous waves upon the sands

Craft an ethereal magic

Of stillness that moves

And the gently wafting breeze

Brushes aside the moon

Scattering the limpid sky

With twinkling gems of madness

In such a place was born

A nectar of a girl

Between the mad one's thighs

Spread on the coolness of sands

That cradled her

An orphan at birth

Clothed with a saree

Of tattered time and life

Awash with saltiness

Of the dandi land

She a pickle

Tasted and cast aside

Buried alive

To the tune of

vande mataram.

Democracy, The Right to Strike and the State.

“In my opinion non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good” 1921-1930.

Mahatma Gandhi during the struggle against the British 1921-1930 (as quoted in the Gandhi Museum, Madurai)

“I want world sympathy in this battle of right against might” Mahatma Gandhi in his letter dated 5 April 1930.

The drama of the Government Employees strike against pension reforms that unfolded in TamilNadu in July 2003 reminded one of the Rule of England by Elizabeth I. Nobody mattered except the ruler. The State and its instruments of regulation are meant for those in power, not for the people. Reminiscent of the days of British Rule, the administration, the justice system and the police are more than eager to please the powers that be – except a conscientious few. But then that seems to be the ‘babu’ legacy left behind by the British Democracy – Please the ruler by doing more than what is expected so that one can earn brownie points. Midnight arrests, teachers and government employees who till the other day were human beings are suddenly chased on the streets like dogs by the police. Those who could not run were rounded up into the waiting vans and dumped in prison. Then came the coup-de-grace. Absolute majority in the Government was taken as the license for abrogating the right to decide on people’s livelihood. By official estimates close to two lakhs of people, some of whom had been working for years suddenly find themselves dismissed from service by notices pasted in public notice boards. The issue prolonged to almost the end of July. Lakhs of employees (school teachers, college teachers etc) were dismissed or suspended during this period. Work got disrupted, but that is all right as it is the Government that is responsible. Work disruption when workers are responsible is what is not correct. It is like when the Government for political benefits calls for a cessation of work – that is legally allowed. Just a demonstration of discontent. The State can express its displeasure and hold the people to ransom but the other way is not allowed.

But that is all legal – after all the dispensers of justice have declared that the right to strike does not exist for Government employees even earlier. Kerala was the forerunner of the Essential Services Maintenance Act in 1994 where similar legislation accruing power over people’s right to strike was brought in. We only went a step further in TamilNadu by bringing in ordinances for summary dismissal. For after all: Is the State not the final authority? How does it matter if the Constitution of India under Part III of Fundamental Rights in Article 13 says, “(2) The State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this Part and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void.
(3) In this article, unless the context otherwise required, - (a) "law" includes any Ordinance, order, bye-law, rule, regulation, notification, custom or usage having in the territory of India the force of law
.” There is always the escape clause about “in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.” People’s discontent, after they have given the ‘mandate to rule’ does not matter, till it is time to get another mandate. Till then one of the items of the escape clause can always be made applicable. And when the Government frowns, the human beings who are part of the police and the official machinery have to go a step further and please the powers that be. What can the individual do but to bow before the rulers? Otherwise they will face the wrath like the others. Better to please and get the crumbs than to ask for silly things like fundamental rights.

If the people are foolish enough to believe things during election time, if the parties did not see the writing on the wall at that time, then who is to blame? They should have learned of the authoritarian and regal instincts from the mother of all marriages that took place. The alliance partners that joined the party then in power during elections were naïve to believe that corruption is not a major issue and that communalism is the major issue. They learnt the lesson immediately after the election results - that authoritarianism flows from the barrel of the election. If there had been a credible Third Front the absolute majority that caused the terror then would not have happened. The earlier government had earned the dubious distinction of being the most anti-labour, anti-secular, anti-people government so far. It ruled by ordinances and laws that never saw the light of discussions. The people must be happy that there were no concentration camps. Maybe that is not a bad idea – when people are willing to accept Corruption and Communalism of those in power they surely will be willing and silent spectators to authoritarian de-humanisation. What else can be said, when people who have been working for years are made to suffer and cry while the government takes its time giving them back their jobs, which they took away. The Constitution and the judiciary were constantly undermined by the Elizabethan rule that cocked a snook at such institutions. How else could it be when one day the Supreme Court was promised by the Government that the jobs will be given back, but the next day what 19,000 people received were the FIR copies of charges filed against them instead of orders to join back for work. The crime committed by them was to have had the audacity to question the government and ask for what was due from the years of work.

Unfortunately Tamil Nadu was not in isolation and was following the global trend. The Annual Survey of the violation of Trade Union Rights by International Confederation of Free Trade Unions ( finds “80% of the countries examined have adopted restrictive strike legislation”. The right to strike has been a victim of the unbridled globalisation process dictated by the moneylenders of the world. The free world does not believe in crude forms of bonded labour. The business of pension reforms has come up in many countries. For example in May 2003,
much of France was paralysed by public-sector strikes called to protest against pension reform plans. A one-day strike – the most effective since union protests on the same issue brought France to a standstill in the winter of 1995 – closed most schools, halted almost all trains and local transport and blocked the distribution of newspapers. Four out of five flights to and from France were cancelled. In Paris, an estimated 250,000 state employees and their supporters (70,000 according to the police) marched through the streets, carrying banners and shouting slogans against the centre-right government's plans to reform a pensions system, which is especially generous to workers in the public sector. More than 2 million people joined similar marches in 100 French cities and towns. With much of the Metro, local rail and bus system halted, tens of thousands of Parisians awarded themselves a day off work. Others walked, cycled or roller-skated to their shops or offices. However, no draconian measures were invoked or legislated to bring the people to their knees. Partly because the Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, did not want to have the experience of earlier centre-right government of Alain Juppé that tried to tackle the issue in 1993-97 and was forced to retreat and fall by massive street protests and prolonged transport strikes.

A good example of how the pension issue could have been tackled is the example of Italy, which brings out the role of congenial dialogue between the government and the trade unions. At the beginning of the decade, Italy was the victim of a true systemic crisis. The whole
economic trend was unsteady and fell into recession in 1993. The GDP decreased by 0.7%. Unemployment rate was constantly over 10%. The ratio between deficit and GDP remained particularly high when compared to other European economies. On the basis of these difficulties the Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, nominated by the Head of State after the political elections of 1992, decided to explore with the trade unions and social organizations an agreement capable of overcoming the crisis. During this period, apart from the union mobilizing workers, there was a collaborative atmosphere. During the month of October 1992, after a period of particular turbulences on the currency market, the government obtained from Parliament the delegated powers to carry out the pension reform. Trade unions and companies essentially supported the whole process, without reaching a formal agreement. On the basis of this quid pro quo approach, an intense negotiating phase developed. The cordiality was apparent from the fact that the unions did not call for any general strike. The working method was the following: technical meetings were organized at the Ministry of Labour until agreement drafts were defined. Successively tripartite conferences were held at the Prime Minister Offices. Based on these, the Minister Treu proposed a first reform draft. The negotiations were carried on without interruption until the agreement was signed. Such tight relation was favoured by the increasing degree of institutionalisation, as well as by the pro-labour parties’ presence in the parliamentary majority and the absence of an absolute majority for those with a tainted history. The coherence between the interests expressed by the trade union and by centre-left parties was also relevant. Subsequently, the plan introduced a flexible-retirement age (from a minimum of 57 to a maximum of 65 years of age) by calculating the benefits in a progressive, carefully gauged manner. The development of co-operation between unions and the State favoured the adoption of new rules in the pension field. Thus governments capable of implementing the reform have been able to do so as they placed as their main goal not only the adoption of effective measures for the solution of pension problems, but also the search of a compromise with the unions. But then there the Italian government was interested in finding solutions and more importantly it could not display the awesome power of the State to crush human beings.

The necessity of unions as catalysts for social change and peace has also been brought out by Ashutosh Varshney, a political scientist at the University of Michigan. He studied ethnic violence by looking at why certain cities are more peaceful than others even in times of communal stress. He found that ethnically integrated organizations - including business associations, trade unions, and professional groups - stand out as the most effective ways of controlling conflict. Thus governments and society tend to gain more than lose by allowing the fundamental right to form unions rather than getting oaths under duress that employees will not join associations. Being more British than the british, the undertaking to be signed unconditionally by the lakhs of employees who had to crawl back to work states “No government servant shall engage himself in strike or in incitements thereto or in similar activities. Explanation: The expression ‘similar activities’ shall be deemed to include the absence from work or neglect of duties without permission and with the object of compelling something to be done by his superior officers or the Government or any demonstrative fast usually called ‘hunger strike’ for similar purposes”. This in the land of the Mahatma who pioneered the concept of hunger strike as a weapon of the people to protect their rights. The Supreme Court endorsed this by declaring that government servants do not have the right to strike. Moreover like vegetables the livelihood of human beings are bargained. The number of people considered for inciting violence and against whom FIRs are to be shown has to be limited to 5000 – so went the ruling. Why 5000? Probably that is a nice round number! It does not matter if there is not any truth in the FIRs that were arbitrarily filed, in most cases after the numbers were declared. But then globalisation and the demands of the international moneylenders dictate the interests of the State and the apparatus for justice. Hard earned fundamental rights are trampled upon in the desire to ensure investment. As long as the State and its apparatus for justice exists only for those who wield power, money and authority – this situation will not change. And the Government will continue to be for those who wield power, money and authority unless people’s organizations show cooperation like those demonstrated in the World Social Forum meetings and people are prepared to follow Gandhi’s words uttered in a different context: In my opinion non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good”.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Murder in the name of democracy

I went today to a meeting in Madurai to condemn what happened in Iraq at the instance of the George W Bush. Many women groups, student organizations participated under the banner of the world social forum to talk on the indignities, which the people in Iraq suffer at the hands of their invaders. There was a sudden commotion and the police who were present in fair number started pushing people and grabbed the effigy that some had planned to set fire. An instance of the murder of democracy. The question that turned to spontaneous slogan was whether the police are our police or Bush’s police. Would Bush have been burnt as if it was voodoo magic? Will the fire cause death and destruction as the US bombs that rained on the Iraqi people? Perhaps, the burning might lead to the hanging of human beings to please the Emperors as happened in Iraq? Why then should the police of a state in a nation that is supposedly not under the rule of the modern day Hitler behave as if they were the SS unleashed? The police officer explained that he had to stop the burning as otherwise he would have gotten a memo since it happened in his jurisdiction. Now we have the good old Indian bureaucracy thrown in with the suppression by the State. The police, the State and Mr. G.W. Bush have one thing in common – the need to suppress human rights and democracy. That is why we have people being hung by trials sometimes fair, many times farcical and, as happened for Saddam Hussein – a downright pathetic drama by Bush Jr.

Long time ago, as the dark Lord of Iraq, who has now fallen from favour, was being groomed, the US looked the other way as their trusted man killed innocent people in a village. The gobbledegook that arose from the killings hardly filled a page. Since it was done under the sponsorship of our good Uncle Sam, as in the case of the murder of Allendez and other such Sammy disposals, they come under the heading of the now famous ‘collateral damage’ not meriting trials and hangings at that time. Now of course since the US interests have lifted the invisible warps, pages and pages are filled with the atrocities of our now hung Saddam. The mistake Iraq’s Lord made, as others like Osama Bin Laden are also realizing, was to fall out of Sam’s patronage and usefulness. If only Saddam had bent backwards and allowed the oil in his country to be pillaged by Emperor Bush as he deemed fit for his cronies – he would not have had to be hung by the neck until he was dead. Of course, it is difficult to be hung by other parts of the body until one is dead – takes a bit of doing.

Human rights are a term the US dislikes except when it can be used as a stick to get nations to comply to its illicit demands. Of course, in the US there is hardly any violation of human rights – since their definition of what is human in their land is close to Hitlerian terms. Palestine, Afghanisthan, Iraq, Iran… the list of countries that have come under the US bulldozer attitude are almost legion. Organisms and their children who are expendable in the calculations of the power elite of US after all inhabit these countries. Creatures that permit their resources to be looted are permitted to live. Others must die for the greater common good of the race of Homo N.Americanus.

A nation thirsting for oil will make the world go up in flames. If that happens to be the only nation that has used weapons of mass destruction repeatedly during its history, then the future is better. And if it so chances, that it is the only nation that does not bother about the UN resolutions and treaties, except if they are useful for furthering its ends, then of course the odds improve further. Perhaps, it is also the nation that has the most stockpile of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons – then we are in real good business. But then if that nation also speaks of democracy and practices dictatorship of the power elite, the world had better shut up and watch itself getting hung in silent acceptance. This new year prizes are being given in green dollars to those who are not able to guess which nation qualifies for all these honours – so if you are amongst them better hurry back home for getting your share of the spoils.

Democracy allows different voices to flourish. People of many identities that can peacefully coexist. So what if people wish to protest inhuman action? Does that jeopardize the fabric of our nation? The protests are not about hanging of a dictator or a murderer as Saddam is labeled. To hang or not to hang – that is not the question. The question is who should sit in judgement and how: Chavez’s Devil or the people of Iraq? Whether it is nobler for the people of a nation to suffer the invasion of liberators who make their place a more dreaded and inhuman place to live OR to rise in anger against the tyranny and injustice inflicted in the name of democracy – that is the question.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Common University Act in many parts.

S. Krishnaswamy, School of Biotechnology, Madurai Kamaraj University

"A University stands for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for progress, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards even higher objectives. If the universities discharge their duty adequately, then, it is well with the nation and the people"…Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Common University Act drama began with the Ministry of Education appointing in December 1961 a Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. D.S. Kothari, then Chairman of the UGC, to consider broadly the organisational structure of the Universities in India and to prepare the outline of a 'Model Act' suited to their role and functions in the present context of our fast developing society. That was in 1961 and the society is still developing fastly! Then five years into the 21st century the UGC put out a concept paper “Towards Formulation of Model Act for Universities of the 21st Century in India” which started the ball rolling again and many states including Tamil Nadu got into the game of bringing out common Universities acts and bills. The purported aim being to enable discussion on formulating a common act for Universities to discharge its duties of providing higher education in a ‘competitive and globalised economy’. The Model Act and the Common Universities Acts that have followed have one thing in common – they seek to kill whatever avenues to democracy that exist within Universities by consolidating power and bringing in nominations instead of elections.

The implicit assumption being that Universities are not able to do what they are supposed to do because their current constitutions do not allow them to do so. While there are many ailments with the University system, in most cases the cause lies in the steady withdrawal of the State from higher education, the privatization and the lack of functioning democratic systems within the Universities and the bodies that oversee or govern them. This coupled with the lack of vision by the people at the helm, the rampant politicization of the appointment machinery and the concomitant corruption that ensues at all levels of the machinery have made Universities incapable of providing intellectual leadership and reaching out to the different sections of society.

It is like saying that the Indian State has not fulfilled its commitments to its people by providing them with equal access to education, livelihood, food, health and shelter because of the Constitution and if we come up with a model constitution then things will become alright. These are the same people who think a benevolent dictator would solve India’s problems. Little do they realize that it is because of the constitution and the functioning democracy that the public at large are able to dethrone autocratic leaders who perceive themselves as Gods or Godesses.

In the words of the Kothari Commission “The nature of the problem covering a wide range of activities and functions that the committee was asked to consider is, as is well recognised, too complex and involved to admit of any simple or clear cut solution. An inherent difficulty is that in the case of universities, as indeed of any large self-governing institution, the actual functioning sometimes differs markedly from the spirit and intention of the written constitution. In many important respects the written constitution does not reflect correctly the practice that has developed. For this reason, a comparative study of written constitutions of universities by itself may not be a sufficient guide in the preparation of a new Act. The respect for law and the manner in which a constitution is worked are factors of the utmost importance. Any constitution, if worked with reasonableness and understanding can be made a success within fairly wide limits, and it is equally true that no constitution, howsoever carefully and elaborately drawn up, can altogether prevent abuse or inefficiency.” (Italics added).

Interestingly the Kothari committee spelt itself clearly against any stereotyping and a common act. In its own words “The committee felt that it would hardly be useful and it may not even be possible, to prepare what could be properly described as a "Model Act". The existing University Acts contain many detailed provisions. The details differ widely from Act to Act even though there is a broad agreement in the organisational patterns of most of the Indian universities. The preparation of a Model Act with as many details as in the existing Acts would involve the undesirable task of choosing some of these details and modifying or discarding others without fully knowing the varying local circumstances. These details vary also because historically the development of university education in different States has not been uniform. A certain amount of variety in the pattern and Organisation of universities may be desirable in the interest of the development and progress of higher education in a large country like India. The committee has, therefore; not attempted to formulate a 'Model Act' as such, applicable to all universities. In other words, the committee's recommendations deal with only the most important aspects of the Organisation of a University and even here, alternatives are sometimes suggested, so as to make it possible to preserve practices and traditions which may have been found satisfactory in any existing university. In fact, any attempt to stereotype a constitution and provide for too many safeguards, may tend to make the constitution rigid and cumbersome, and, it may even interfere with the normal growth and progress of the institution. It is necessary that the constitution of a University should be formulated in sufficiently general terms so as to permit innovation and experimentation.”

The best would be if the Government increases its commitment to higher education, delinks politics from University appointments and stops meddling around with a Common University Act. However, the reality is that the Government is shirking its duty to higher education in the name of resources in order to encourage commercialization and its consequent private revenues. In this scenario, the Common University Act is now again brought out of the box for a high level committee of the Tamil Nadu Government to consider. The committee has called for representations and opinions but wisely not making available the draft which is being considered. This is not in isolation. The lack of open discussion and transparency in bringing through the Common Act has happened in all States that have so far brought this diversity leveling Act into place. However, with the right to Information act in operation the draft of the Common Act should be brought into the open.

The demand from students, teachers and staff organizations should be to make the draft Act available publicly for discussion for a sufficiently long period, such as a year, of wide ranging discussion. The pressure should be to ensure democratization of University bodies and provision of representation at all levels of students, staff, college teachers and University teachers. The Government must now be asked to reconsider the Committee that has been constituted and made to institute a committee that is wide ranging in its coverage so that it includes representatives from organizations of public, workers, farmers, students, staff, college teachers and University teachers.

dont worry be happy

1 Jan 2007

This New Year wish

For you, me and all of us,

Goes back to what I heard

Many years ago,

When going in a friend’s car.

I said then, “I want this song”.

It was on a tape.

But my friend,

Could not get a copy made.

And, I never got to look for it.

Now, just when last year

Came close to this new one,

Over an email I wrote,

“I must get that don’t worry song,

When I visit you this time”.

He emailed in reply,

“It’s on the net!

Plus you can have it on the mobile too”.

And so, sent me the song and the words:

“Don’t worry, Be happy”

from SK / Krishnaswamy / Krishna

(You should hear the song. If you cannot get it mail me)

Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin
Recorded by "Bobby McFerrin"
Album: "Simple Pleasures" - 1988

Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy.
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy.
Don't worry, be happy now.

Don't worry, be happy. Don't worry, be happy.
Don't worry, be happy. Don't worry, be happy.

Ain't got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don't worry, be happy.
The landlord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
Don't worry, be happy.

(Look at me -- I'm happy. Don't worry, be happy.
Here I give you my phone number. When you worry, call me,
I make you happy. Don't worry, be happy.)

Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style
Ain't got no gal to make you smile
Don't worry, be happy.
'Cause when you worry your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down
Don't worry, be happy.

(Don't worry, don't worry, don't do it.
Be happy. Put a smile on your face.
Don't bring everybody down.
Don't worry. It will soon pass, whatever it is.
Don't worry, be happy.
I'm not worried, I'm happy...)