Doctoral Dogma

Life as a doctoral student sucks. It doesn’t suck in the ordinary nobody loves me suckiness (does that word even exist?) level. No, it takes sucking (pardon my vulgar language) to a different level, a level where you are the lowest form of life in the world. I mean even bacteria have more fun. They are practically immortal. They have sex almost every 20 minutes. They can live on almost anything. And they have the coolest of names. Chlamydia. Nocardia. Vibrio. Contrast that with an average doctoral student. He is a mouse (although even a mouse would be offended to be compared to such a lowly being) like creature, most often with spectacles and irritating habits like trailing off in the middle of a sentence into vague silences. Their only sex appeal lies in their detailed knowledge about how two proteins fold exactly around each other. You get the picture.

What do such specimens of the human species do when a beautiful woman goes up to them and talks? To digress a little, such events do not happen in the real world. The probability of such an event happening, according to knowledgeable sources in the Mathematics department across the road, is 0.00. In fact, apparently, this is the only known event in the world that has such a perfect probability of not happening! So let me add the rider, in a hypothetical world, to the above scenario.

Continuing with the hypothetical situation, the said graduate student will first start perspiring. His pulse will be racing because hormones are being dumped into his blood, leading to rapid changes in his metabolic profile. He starts blushing. When he opens his mouth, either no sound comes out or else mumbled and garbled words pour out, which of course do not make any sense. If that beautiful woman still has any sense she would leave. However, if she is one of those rare beings, who for some insane reason either enjoy tormenting such innocent geeks, feel pity for such lowly life forms or genuinely like disheveled and bespectacled nerds, she will stay and talk further.

Chinese democracy, Indian autocracy

What rights do a people, who have been dispossessed of their land for half a century and live in another country, have? This must be the question Tibetans must be asking themselves in the wake of Chinese premier Hu Jintao’s visit to India.

Ever since China’s brutal invasion and occupation of Tibet in 1959 India has hosted the largest community of Tibetan exiles including their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. They have lived here for three generations and the younger members have no living memory of Tibet, except for their parents tales of it, and a nostalgic yearning for a lost homeland. Every time a Chinese official visits India the Tibetans have organized protests demanding freedom for Tibet. This time too the Tibetans geared up to greet Hu with protests and sit ins. But the Indian government took no chances and muzzled their protests. Tibetans were placed under preventive custody and those who actually protested were arrested and whisked away.

The Tibetans have a right to protest and express their grievances in public spaces. Especially since China is still continuing with its brutal occupation of Tibet and has reduced the Tibetans to a minority in their own land by encouraging Han Chinese to migrate there. Tibetan culture has been brutally suppressed in the name of development and China has arrested thousands of Tibetans.

(Indian) Man on the Moon

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) recently held a meeting of major Indian scientists in Bangalore to discuss the feasibility and economics of sending an Indian astronaut into space and then later landing him/her on the moon. This has given rise to the usual arguments both in favor of and against such a venture. There are those who argue that India, with her many social and economic problems, should not waste money on something that has already been done before and will yield nothing new. That instead, the money should be used to help the poor and the downtrodden. Simply put, India should not dare to dream that big and be constantly aware of her limits.

I firmly disagree. I think India should seriously plan on putting a man into space and then later on the moon. Yes, it will be expensive. However, what no one realizes is how much of a kick start it will give to the science and technology fields in India and ultimately benefit society. The space race between the erstwhile U.S.S.R. and the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s led to the development of many new technologies that later found widespread applications in many different areas, ranging from health to housing.