Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Traffic and Gunfire


I was at a dinner, a curtain raiser to a conference, with my fellow intellectual property professionals from all over the world. It was a “networking opportunity” as they say in corporatese. I started chatting with a husband and wife pair from the US. Both of them were IP professionals. After the introductions, and collecting our drinks, the talk turned to the chaotic traffic in India, Bangalore in particular. This was their first time in India and they recounted their experiences of the unruly traffic. They said they could not understand why people honked so much. I joined them in sharing horror stories about traffic in India.

While we were at this, a handsome African American gentleman, from Detroit, working for clients from the automotive industry, joined us. He quickly joined the traffic-horror-story bandwagon. Familiarity, perhaps, does breed contempt. Though they were very polite at first, their condescension started coming to the surface. I was really surprised when the newcomer complained, “I am amazed that I have to go through metal detectors whenever I enter hotels in India. My bags are x-rayed! What are they thinking? Do they think I would be carrying a bomb?”

However bad Indian driving may be, however ready I may be to be critical of it, this was really crossing a line. I quietly told him: “It is not to check if you are carrying any explosives, but to ensure that no one is. It is actually to protect you. This is a high profile hotel (Marriott) and may reasonably be expected to be a terrorist target. So, there is nothing surprising about all these precautions, don’t you think?” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, it is still strange to me!”

I told him: “Well, I am surprised that you are surprised. I can’t even imagine that in the US there are schools with metal detectors because the kids may be carrying firearms. When I was in school, I had not even seen a firearm,  except in parades.” This hit home more than I had anticipated. The Chicagoan said, sheepishly, that it was true and he had studied at such a school! I was surprised that he admitted that.

I wanted these people to know that however superior they may feel to the rest of the world, they do not live in a perfect country, either. I continued and said, “Well, you find it difficult to understand Indian traffic. I don’t understand the American gun culture at all - if culture is the right word to describe it. Thousands of innocent people are killed and you don’t do anything about it! School shootings, public shootings, and what not. Everyone claims that they have a gun to protect themselves and as a deterrent. If that were the case, America would be the safest place in the world. But it is the most unsafe in this respect. So, I understand that you do not understand many things Indian. No one understands many things American.

Now the couple admit that they own a gun too and looked as if they wanted to change the subject. I swallowed the last of the beer in my glass and said, “Ready for dinner?” They were. Now I donned the role of a culinary guide on Indian food. “No. No one eats such food at home every day. No, all this is north Indian food and South Indian food is very different  . . .”

Thinking about the shootings, what is less comprehensible is the inane (or do I mean insane?) words of politicians. “The victims are in our thoughts. We pray for them.” Fat lot of good it does to the victims, and more cruelly, to the bereaved families. What could actually be done – greater controls on gun purchases, let alone eliminating them, is never on the agenda!




PS. I used to blog fairly regularly a long time ago. That was when reading was a major part of my day job. Then, writing became the major part and I had stopped blogging. I had been planning to write this up often – as often as the regular, almost ritualistic, bloodletting-through-gunfire, that America indulges in. The latest one did trigger me into action.


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A legend is no more

I recently heard the sad news of the passing away of one of the most fascinating and  legendary people I have met in my life – Prof. M S Alvar. He had turned eighty just a few months ago.

He was then a lecturer in the civil engineering department of our college – National Institute of Engineering - NIE for short. He taught us one subject in one semester. Let me first share my memories of him and then some of the legends that surrounded him – apocryphal or not, I am not sure.

His charismatic persona was there to experience from the first class. He comes into the classroom, clutching a duster, an attendance register and bunch of chalk. He is long haired and mustachioed. A diminutive figure. Smiling. Casually, almost carelessly dressed in brown cotton pants and nondescript shirt. The first thing I remember him saying was something like this. “I will teach you Fluid Dynamics. Well, your syllabus says Hydraulics. Ugh! That is old fashioned. It is good to be fashionable. Like this” - and he caresses his long wavy hair with a twinkle in his eye and a naughty smile). “So we call it fluid dynamics in my class.” The easy manner, casual self-confidence and humour. I was hooked.

Then he teaches us Bernoulli’s equation and explains it in great detail. He makes it sound divine. “If you know this and understand this, you know fluid dynamics. Without it nothing in this field is possible.”

There is never a dull moment in class. I watch spell bound what happened a little later. The class room has a green fiberglass board spanning almost the whole width of the classroom. It has three equal parts. He has filled the first part by writing various notes. Now he moves on to the second part. And while writing something there, his left hand seems to have its own independent controls and is cleaning the first part with a duster, he is talking to us about the next problem but writing something other than what he is saying, on the board! That was really a jaw dropping performance!

Another remarkable thing was that after the first two classes he never took the attendance. He would look at the class and know who was not present. Marked them absent and rest were present. To the best of my knowledge no one missed his classes.

I remember one instance when he dictated a problem to be solved, of course, using Bernoulli’s equation completely from memory. Such problems have a value for one variable (for frictional coefficient?) which is a number after several zeroes after the decimal point. As we start trying to solve the problem, he asks us to change that number to a different value since the earlier one makes the calculations unnecessarily difficult. The principle involved are more important than the actual values anyway is what he meant. He had worked that problem out in his head and changed the values.

Another example of how humorous the way he taught things is this. While telling us about the importance of units, he once said, “Ten buffaloes and five cows shall forever remain ten buffaloes and five cows. They shall never become fifteen buffaloes and cows”.

In one class he taught us about the water hammer effect. He explained this in terms of springs, frictions and masses, LCR circuits, and using Bernoulli’s equation applied to fluids. I forgotten the details in the intervening fifty years. But the clarity and enthusiasm with which it was taught is unforgettable

We had a classmate called Subhadracharyulu. Prof. Alvar would very often call out his name and ask him if he understood what he had just then taught. And a few days of this, he explained. “You know why I always call on Subhadracharyulu? If I pronounce his name three times a day, my tongue stays in shape” Again the naughty smile and twinkle in the eye.

Whenever he addressed me in class, he addressed me as “You Scottish”. This was because I often wore chequered shirts reminiscent of tartan. One day, outside the classroom, he accosted me and said, in an irritated way, “You, Scottish! Why do you walk around as if you have nowhere to go and nothing to do? Even if you do not have a purpose walk as if you have a purpose.” It shocked me. I will not say that it changed me. That would be too easy. But it definitely left an indelible impression on me. This is only to say that I was lucky that he felt that I was important enough for him to point it out to me.

Once, I wanted to learn to read staff notation used to write western classical music. I asked one of our teachers, another towering personality, (Pun intended because he was very tall and a basketball player) who was knowledgeable in many fields. He suggested that I ask Prof. Alvar and he would definitely teach me. Diffidently I went to him and asked if he would teach me. He invited me home. I was supposed to go to his house on a Sunday afternoon. He asked his wife to make tea and we sat down. He told me, “You can learn staff notation any time. You must learn to listen to western classical music. You have to learn to recognize the various instruments. Let us listen to some music. For the next hour and a half he played to me various pieces of music each not more than ten minutes that he thought exemplified great pieces of music for each instrument. He was very glad that I knew the names of most of the instruments in an orchestra and had some knowledge about of some of the types of instruments, (string, woodwind, brass, to name a few).

Here is one example of what he did with each instrument just to give you an idea of the kind of familiarity he had with his collection of long playing records (LPs). He described a piece of music in visual terms. “Imagine a large stage and screen of a fine transparent material descending from the top from either top corners of the stage. You will now hear some twenty violins play and bring that image to mind. OK?” He then placed an LP of Beethoven’s fifth symphony on the turntable and started it. He picked up the needle arm and placed it somewhere in the middle of the LP gently. And within a turn or two of the LP, the music he had described started!

A good friend of mine who was a student of Prof. Alvar when he did his ME. He has this to say. (I am paraphrasing his WhatsApp message here with his permission)

“He was a genius of a teacher. Very passionate. I used to tell him (which I genuinely felt) that it was a big loss to the field of engineering research that he did not pursue his PhD. The way he personally taught me Real Fluid Flow (one of the toughest subjects) in ME is something that I can't describe in words. He was able to sort of 'story-tell' on several complex concepts & explain corresponding mathematically complex models like Navier Stokes Equation. If someone says I am acceptable as a teacher, it was thanks to Prof. Prof. Alvar. He has been a great source of inspiration and a role model for many like me.”

As a teacher he was universally admired.

Now to the legends that surrounded him

He once met a student on an evening before an examination. (For Mysoreans - this was said to be near Ramaswamy circle) Prof. Alvar stopped him and asked him why he was loitering instead of studying. The student said, he had not understood the subject, had tried to study and realized that he would not pas the examination and had given up. Prof. Alvar scolded him for thinking like that. He sat on a bench on the side of the street and using a stick as chalk and the earth as the blackboard, he taught the student the fundamentals of the subject which was not his specialization either. He asked the student to go home and study as much as possible and take the examination the next day. The grounding he got was so good that the student did as told and passed the exam with decent marks.

In another such legendary incident, it is said that a medical student was describing how difficult the study of anatomy was and how difficult it was to remember the names and so on. Prof. Alvar borrowed the copy of Grey’s Anatomy from the student and stunned the student in a week or two by his knowledge of anatomy and taught him a trick or two of his own device for remembering the names. It is said that later the student thanked Prof. Alvar for making him pass anatomy paper with flying colours.

I feel that it was my great good fortune to have known him, however briefly. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


This was a call that we would wait for, twice a day. The postman would call "Post" and deliver the post. Poems have been written about waiting for a letter from a loved one, call for an interview, or a job offer. In the electronics dominated world this even came to be known as the snail mail, the condescension of the new tech that I did not like! That is not the point of this post.

It is conveying appreciation where it is due.

I remember seeing a letter addressed as below:

Mr. M K Gandhi


And that letter was delivered to Gandhi. This is cited to say that Gandhi was so famous that the letter reached.

There is another side to this story. That is, the efficiency and dedication of the employees of the Indian postal department. I will tell you why.

A similarly, but a little more specifically, addressed letter was delivered to my father. The address just read:

J R Lakshmana Rao 


This was possible not because my father was so famous that this was enough! On the contrary! It was definitely thanks to the dedication of the postal employees.

My father waited for the postman the next day and asked him how it came to be delivered. He told us that, at the main post office in Mysore, where the mail is sorted, the person sorting mail that day kept this one aside. He then went around asking all those people who collected the mail for the different post offices in Mysore if anyone recognised that name. My father had a large correspondence and subscribed to many magazines and journals. That had made his name familiar to the person collecting the mail from the main post office. He collected it and promptly delivered it to the right addressee.

Even in a small place, a population of less than 300,000 in those days, this was impressive.

I will let you judge if the next incident is more impressive or the previous one.

My first job was in Ranchi - now in Jharkhand, then in Bihar. A couple of friends wrote me a letter. Whimsically, they wrote the address in Kannada script, except the PIN code which, they wrote in Arabic numerals.

And the letter reached me.

This is how it happened. At the sorting office of Ranchi, the letter was placed into the bag of letters meant for the area where I lived - Ashoknagar*. The poor postman, a very young man, carried that letter with him and asked anyone he could, if they could give a clue about the addressee. By accident, he met Munna - the cook my colleague and I had employed. 

He complained to Munna, देखो भाई, कोई मद्रासी में एड्रेस लिख दिया है. कैसे ढूंढू कौन है ये? Hindi speakers - please pardon me, surely there are errors in this. But I am sure you get the drift! The postman complained that somebody has written the address in "Madrassi" - Madrassi being the generic term for anyone from the south of the Vindhyas, the four south Indian languages, and their scripts! 

Munna reassured the postman and told him that his saheb (boss/employer) was also a Madrassi and he could ask him for help. So, Munna brought the letter to me and asked me if I could help him find out who the addressee was.

I was overjoyed to get the letter, the postman was overjoyed since a burden was off his shoulders and Munna was happy he could help a friend.

OK, now. Which one do you think is more impressive?

*The story of how Ashoknagar got the name is interesting. A new extension of Ranchi was formed by converting rice fields into residential sites. Just a few houses were built but no one wanted to live in them because there were no proper roads. The area was isolated and was deemed unsafe for families. A few south Indian bachelors, daredevils in the eyes of many, rented one of those houses and started living in it. One of them was named Ashok. When he sent his postal address to his family and friends he added the name Ashoknagar to it and it stuck! I can't vouch for the veracity of this story but this is what the legend was.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Fake News

With the advent of social media, we may be excused if we feel that fake news is a recent phenomenon. But it has always been there. One could come across it off and on, especially at times of great political or social turmoil. One such macabre fake news that I remember was during the emergency. People told each other, in hushed tones, that if you looked at the sky at night you could see four white clad men carrying a dead body for cremation, with a white clad, long haired woman wailing and walking behind it. I was already twenty-one then but still, I had a bone chilling experience. Fortunately, my parents had always pooh-poohed such stuff and we continued to have our dinner in the open yard of the house that summer without ever witnessing the dreaded tableau in the sky.

This story is so outlandish that I sometimes wonder if it is a product of my own imagination!

Fast forward to the mid-nineties.

I was working in a factory. Almost every day, on the way to work, I stopped at a roadside shop to buy a banana or two as a midday snack. I often saw a man at the shop having tea and chatting with the shopkeeper.

One day, this man was there when I went to the shop. He was clad, as usual, in a saffron dhoti and a white shirt. His face, with a finely trimmed predominantly grey moustache, was decorated with religious marks of sandal paste on his forehead and temple. He had a lit cigarette between the taut fingers of his left hand. The difference was that he had two reluctant listeners, who looked like retired gentlemen. He was haranguing them with a supercilious air. What he was saying was this. (The whole conversation was in Kannada* but I have given an English version of it here.)

“The imam of the Jama Masjid of Delhi had given a statement when Americans landed on the moon. He said, how can mere humans go and land on the moon! These Americans are fooling everyone. Imagine thinking so in this age! So what we are trying to do is educate these people for their own sake.”

This was like a red rag to a bull, for me. Or should I say, a saffron rag to the red bull in me? I turned to him and said, “Why? Did not the Shankaracharya of Puri say exactly the same thing? Moon is our god. How can humans land on him? So, please! You go educate your people, we will take care of our own people.”

I would like to imagine that he never caught on that I was not a Muslim! 

I turned to his captive audience to tell them not to listen to such nonsense but they had quietly disappeared as if into thin air! And the “uplifter” of Muslims had turned away from me without a word.

I bought my supply of bananas and went on my way to work.

* ಉದ್ಧಾರಕನ ಮಾತನ್ನು ಓದುವಾಗ ದಕ್ಷಿಣ ಕನ್ನಡದವರ ಧಾಟಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಓದಿಕೊಂಡರೆ ಆತನ ಮಾತಿನ ಧಾಟಿ ಅರಿವಾದೀತು.

ಉದ್ಧಾರಕ: "ಅಮೆರಿಕದವ್ರು ಚಂದ್ರನ ಮೇಲೆ ಇಳಿದಾಗ, ಜಾಮಾ ಮಸೀದಿಯ ಇಮಾಮ ಏನಂದ ಗೊತ್ತುಂಟ? ? "ಅದು ಹೇಗೆ ಸಾಧ್ಯ? ಹುಲು ಮನುಷ್ಯರು ಚಂದ್ರನ ಮೇಲೆ ಹೋಗಲು ಹೇಗೆ ಸಾಧ್ಯ? ಅಮೆರಿಕನ್ನರು ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಮೋಸ ಮಾಡ್ತಿದಾರೆ!" ಅಂದ. ಈ ಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಹಾಗೆ ಹೇಳೋದು! ಅದಿಕ್ಕೇ, ನಾವು ಈ ಜನರನ್ನು ಉದ್ಧಾರ ಮಾಡುವ ಅಂತ ಹೊರಟಿದ್ದೀವಿ, ಅಷ್ಟೆ!"

ನಾನು: "ಯಾಕೆ ಸ್ವಾಮಿ? ಪುರಿಯ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಶಂಕರಾಚಾರ್ಯರೂ ಅದೇ ಅಲ್ವ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದು? "ಚಂದ್ರ ದೇವರು! ಮನುಷ್ಯರು ಅವನ ಮೇಲೆ ಇಳಿಯೋಣ ಅಂದ್ರೇನು", ಅಂತ? ನೀವು ನಿಮ್ಮವರನ್ನ ಉದ್ಧಾರ ಮಾಡ್ಕೊಳಿ. ನಮ್ಮವರನ್ನ ನಾವು ನೋಡ್ಕೋತೀವಿ"

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Market Update

Bangalore, Jan 25, 2020: There has been a surge in the sales of flattened rice (poha/avalakki/avil)  all over the country. The traders were initially surprised by the inexplicable surge because the sales graph is usually flat except for seasonal surges in some areas of the country. When they eventually found the explanation for the surge, cutting across political leanings, the traders, both retail and wholesale, they shook their heads and ordered more stocks and thanked the person who started it all.

The reason is believed to be that many people came out in support of the working class who, for various reasons, eat flattened rice quite often - even many times a day. It is also rumoured that the social media had a role to play, however inadvertent. As people started tweeting about their favourite preparations made out of Poha/avalakki/avil and posting instagram pictures of various dishes, many home makers, always grappling with the question of what to prepare for the next breakfast, had a huge choice presented to them on a platter, as it were. They then made arrangements for poha to be bought in some quantity to solve the problem for a few days at least.

It is also rumoured that brick and mortar restaurants and online food delivery services have seen an upsurge in orders for poha preparations driving the markets further up. 

ABPTP* and NATU**, two trade bodies are considering requesting people in limelight to keep making statements to keep poha in the limelight as a way of increasing sales and providing steady jobs for labourers involved in poha making all over the country.

*  Akhila Bharat Poha Traders Parishat is affiliated to BJP and is headquartered at Nagpur
** National Avil Traders Union is affiliated to CPI and is headquartered in Trivandrum

By our staff correspondent and food columnist

Saturday, January 11, 2020

That was my India. I want my India back.

He was a scientist. He had a large correspondence and hence access to stamps. I asked him if he would give me some. He said yes, but. I had to write a letter to him in English. I did and he sent me a few thousand stamps. From countries I had not even heard of until then, Opened my eyes to the larger world.

He had an arty portrait of himself done by none other than M F Husain.

He opened my eyes towards, and changed my opinion of, abstract art. I am forever grateful to him.

I called him Mama. Uncle. That is, my mother’s brother.

I called him Rahmanmama.

That was my India. India I grew up in. I want my India back.

I was playing in school. Someone swung a softball bat. I took the full force of it on my left temple. My left eye was swollen shut.

Two friends sat me on a bicycle. Pushed it all the way to a doctor’s clinic. They did not ride it because the bumps would hurt my injured head. Dropped me home the same way. They were breathing hard because the last kilometer was all the way up.

Shabbir and Khalid. Forever my friends. 

That was my India. India I grew up in. I want my India back.

Our Social Studies teacher took us on a ride through Indian history in every class. One story segueing into another. 

One impertinent classmate dared to ask. You were on one story and now on another. What happened to the first one?

The teacher was stunned.

“ಏಯ್, ಹರೀಕತೆ ಒಳ್ಗೆ ಉಪಾಕತೆ ಇರಕ್ಕಿಲ್ವೇನೋ? ಇದೂ ಅಂಗೇನೇ, ದೊಡ್ಡವ್ರು ಹೇಳ್ತಾ ಅವ್ರೆ. ಸುಮ್ಗೆ ಕುಂತಕೊಂಡ್ ಕೇಳೋ1” 

Piped up Shabbir in his deep voice and shut the ipertinent fellow up. 

The classes continued as if this did not happen.

That was my India. India I grew up in. I want my India back.

A hall in an engineering college, run by a religious organisation.

Shahnai Nawaz Khan Saheb Ustad Bismillah Khan was into an intricate passage in raag Yaman. Stops mid passage and challenges the students. Iska dharm kyaa hai? Na Hindu, na Mussalmaan, Na isAi. 

The walls of the hall was decorated with symbols of various religions of the world. Carved in wood. 

Khan saheb points to the symbols on the wall and declares. Look at them. We are all one.

That was my India. India I grew up in. I want my India back.

H A B Parpia. The late director of a central research institute. Legend in his family is that they are the direct descendents of Lord Rama and everyone in the family has a given name to indicate just that. His name was Hussain Ali Bhimji Parpia.

That was my India. India I grew up in. I want my India back.

The old man had heard my father’s talk on All India Radio about Jagalur Imam3 (my grandfather’s close friend). He had taught Urdu to Jagalur Imam’s children, while he was a teacher in the Urdu primary school in Jagalur. He had come to meet my father to express his great admiration for Jagalur Imam and say how happy he was that my dad had also spoken highly of him.

He was a retired employee of the education department. Thanks to his close friends who spoke Urdu, he too had learnt it. His knowledge of the language was found good enough for him to be appointed (with promotion) to teach Urdu. 

He was a devout looking old man in highly traditional clothes. He wore the religious marks of a Vaishnavite Brahmin on his forehead and temples. 

That was my India. India I grew up in. I want my India back.

The Babri Masjid is destroyed. Curfew is imposed. Even in my beloved city. A few had brought shame on my city, with bloodshed. I felt.

Tempers cool. Calm prevails. The curfew ends.

I have to travel on work. I go to the bus stand early in the morning. There are a few passengers. Quite a few buses. Many in road transport corporation uniforms. Nothing moves. Everyone is apprehensive. The expectant passengers are grouped together. Talking to each other in hushed voices.

A diminutive man in uniform approaches us. A knitted prayer cap firmly on head.

“ನೋಡಿ ಸೋಮಿ, ನನ್ಗೆ ಗಾಡಿ ಓಡಿಸ್ಬೇಕು. ನಿಮ್ಗೆ ಬೆಂಗ್ಳೂರ್ಗೆ ಹೋಗ್ಬೇಕು. ಇವೆಲ್ಲ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಸೂಳೆಮಕ್ಳ ಗಲಾಟೆ. ಬರ್ತೀರಾ ಹೋಗೋಣ?”2

We all get into the bus and reach Bangalore without further incident.

After the mindless mayhem, back to normal. 

There is hope.

That was my India. Just barely. But, I want my India back.

A colleague and I sit in a restaurant and talk about everything under the sun. A cultured man. Sings Mohammad Rafi songs well, with passion and understanding.

In the middle of it all he says, “When in college all my friends were Hindus. They all called me ತುರ್ಕ (turka. Kannada slang for a mulsim). I belonged. 

Now no one calls me that. Everyone is politically correct. The intimacy is gone. I feel I have been expelled. I feel I do not belong.

Pain and nostalgia. Hard to miss.

That was a glimpse of my India. India I grew up in. I want my India back.

  1. He spoke in the patois of many Muslims in Mysore. I can’t translate the quaintness of that. But what he said was, “Aren’t there subsidiary stories in Harikathe? This is also like that. An elder is telling you something. So, shut up and listen”.

Harikathe is an art form in which a story relating to a god is narrated in formal style with music and illustrating each point in the main story with a subsidiary story and song.

  1. “Look here. I have to drive. You have to travel. All these troubles are thanks to the political beeps. Shall we go?” - spoken in the same patois as before.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Science and a March for Science

Animals, including humans, are curious by nature. Science is what makes the curiosity of the human animal different from that of the others. It is the tool we have developed to explore the world to know more and answer deep and profound questions. This includes the brain asking, and answering, the question, “how does the brain work?”. This is uniquely human and makes humans human.

Throughout history, however, society has had a love-hate relationship with science. In this context, society includes the state, organized religion, politics, commerce, citizens, and even scientists themselves. The state has tried to suppress and discredit scientific ideas. Einstein’s theories were condemned as “Jewish” science by some, in his day. Religion has tried to suppress scientific ideas. Copernicus, Bruno, Galileo, and Darwin come to mind. Some ideas have been hijacked and false or wrong ideas have been promoted – like in the case of the Lysenko affair and Eugenics. The common citizen was shocked, rightly so, by the inhuman use of the atomic bomb and, unfortunately, sowed the seeds of doubt about scientists and even science itself. Finally, scientists themselves have questioned and resisted new theories – Einstein not being enthusiastic about the Quantum view of the world and stating, “God does not play dice”. Once sufficient evidence has been found, they have become a part of mainstream science.

Not very long ago, scientific progress came about through individual effort, often by people with personal means independent of royal patronage or the state. As scientific research has become more complex and the tools intricate, the days of individual scientists is almost over. Science is being done more and more with collaboration between scientists, institutes and even countries – as in the case of CERN.

All over the world, the state allocates money for scientific research and we, as citizens, must be aware of where the money is going. Ideally, we should have a say in the matter. For that to happen, we must know what is happening. Hence, science should be communicated and be accessible to the interested common citizen.

In many countries around the world, including scientifically and technologically advanced countries, there appears to be a widespread skepticism about science among the general populace. At the same time there is a great fascination with technology, and so called result oriented research has become fashionable. This shows lack of an understanding of the relationship between “pure” science and technology. This has resulted in a fall in funding for scientific research. We the citizens, need be aware that our efforts in fundamental science is essential for our wellbeing and that of the coming generations and the progress of humanity. It is our duty to insist that science be adequately funded and also that it be effectively communicated.

Decades of progress in science has improved our lives beyond what was imaginable a century ago. One of the hallmarks of this is the widespread use of communication technologies. Ironically, this very same technology has enabled the spreading of false stories, pseudo-science and non-science and downright superstitions. There are groups with narrow, short sighted, self-interest who deny global heating, against all scientific evidence that we are mindlessly heading towards an environmental catastrophe. A plethora of therapies of unproven efficacy and often harmful ones have sprung up endangering human lives. Therefore, there is a need to counter such obscurantism and protect ourselves against it. The only way this can be achieved is by developing a scientific temper and critical thinking. They are characterized by a refusal to accept things at face value but unfailingly look for evidence.

These reasons have prompted the worldwide movement called March for Science. It calls for well-funded and widely communicated science. It aims to promote, encourage and enable everyone to develop a scientific temper. Marches are being held in nearly seventy-five cities and towns across the country.

In Bengaluru, the march is on the 10th of August while in the rest of the country it is on 9th August. Let us all participate in the march to do our bit to protect the present and safeguard the future generations.