Wednesday, November 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

Quieter Divali
I
F all goes well, Divali will be a little easier on one's ears and lungs this year than on previous occasions. Normally, there is brisk sale of crackers right from Dasehra but that is not the case this time. Provided this mini-miracle holds on till the D-day as well, touchwood, credit should go to the children who have launched a campaign against crackers. The judiciary and the administration did act like catalysts, but they would not have succeeded without the help of students and social and non-governmental organisations which have highlighted the issue like never before.

Kabul changes hands
K
ABUL has new masters and it is bad news for the USA, Pakistan and the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom. Irregular fighters of the so-called Northern Alliance (NA) have entered the war-ravaged capital and have taken control. There is also a rag-tag force of unknown number inside the city to maintain law and order. Herein lies the potential problem. The winning militia hates the losing one and is thirsting for revenge. In Mazar-i-Sharif the rout of the Taliban was followed by looting, rape and killing. It cannot be different in Kabul.



EARLIER ARTICLES
Bin Laden’s bluster
November 13
, 2001
India’s major gains
November 12
, 2001
POTO is a must to tackle terrorism 
November 11
, 2001
Severe blow to farmers
November 10
, 2001
Anandgarh & Sainik Farms
November 9
, 2001
Back to Moscow ties
November 8
, 2001
Limited options for USA
November 7
, 2001
A farce of conversion
November 6
, 2001
A POTO start
November 5
, 2001
Vajpayee’s visit will boost Indo-Russian ties
November 4
, 2001
Restraint on border tension
November 3
, 2001
B. K. Nehru
November 2
, 2001
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Almost September 11
S
ELDOM has the world experienced such tension as was caused by the plane crash close to the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Monday. It took the wire services and television over three hours to convey the officially sanctioned news that the November 12 plane crash was evidently not an act of terrorism, but an accident. Phew. For audiences across the globe the suspense was almost killing.

OPINION

Politics before Independence
Why Gandhi preferred Nehru, not Patel

V. N. Datta
I
T was at the all-India Congress session held at Wardha on January 15, 1942, that Mahatma Gandhi designated Jawaharlal Nehru as his heir which is evident from his following statement, “Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and I have had differences from the moment when we became co-workers, yet I have said for some years and say it now that not Rajaji (C. Rajagopalachari), nor Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel but Jawaharlal will be my successor. You can’t divide water repeatedly striking it with a stick. It is just as difficult to divide us — when I am gone, he will speak my language.”

FOLLOW-UP

From a village boy to a scholar
Reeta Sharma
T
HIS is a follow up on the life graph of a boy from village Bara Gaon in Varanasi. After passing out of Middle from this village he went to do his Matriculation from the then Tehsil, Gianpur. From village to town to the huge city Allahabad, this boy kept advancing from B.Sc. in 1960 to M.Sc. in 1962 to IIT Kanpur. Throughout his academic career, he remained a holder of Government of India merit scholarship besides the U.P. Government scholarship.

Freeze-dried corpses as fertiliser
F
REEZE-drying corpses and using the powder for fertiliser will be a much more ecologically-friendly way of disposing of human bodies than cremating or burying them as at present, a Swedish ecologist claims. Susanne Wiigh-Masak has come up with a way to freeze-dry the bodies and then shatter them to make a soil-enriching powder. She has already used the technique on dead pigs and cows and is keen to see it applied to human corpses.


A CENTURY OF NOBELS

1911 Physiology or Medicine: ALLVAR GULLSTRAND

TRENDS & POINTERS

Sheep can remember a face after two years
THEY say elephants never forget but sheep can remember a face for a long time too, according to scientists who claim the woolly-headed creatures do not deserve their reputation for general obtuseness. The sheep’s memory for faces is almost human-like and the creatures may even get emotional about an absent flock-mate or shepherd, found the researchers.

  • Poor verbal memory linked to thin bones
SPIRITUAL NUGGETS



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Quieter Divali

IF all goes well, Divali will be a little easier on one's ears and lungs this year than on previous occasions. Normally, there is brisk sale of crackers right from Dasehra but that is not the case this time. Provided this mini-miracle holds on till the D-day as well, touchwood, credit should go to the children who have launched a campaign against crackers. The judiciary and the administration did act like catalysts, but they would not have succeeded without the help of students and social and non-governmental organisations which have highlighted the issue like never before. The response to the "no crackers" campaign has been quite encouraging. Things had indeed gone beyond control in the recent past, with the Divali night becoming the re-enactment of an actual war scene. Perhaps the situation had to worsen to such a level before a change of heart took place. In retrospect, it would seem that competitiveness and ostentatiousness had brought about mass hysteria. Fireworks worth crores of rupees would go up in smoke in a matter of hours, with no care for the national wastage. No thought was given to the aged, infants and the ailing either in this brazen display of one's wealth. Why they alone, the noise and smoke were a threat to everyone. Most of the crackers exceeded the maximum permissible noise level. Pollutants that were sent into the atmosphere would mix with the winter fog to choke everyone's lungs. And scores of people invariably suffered injuries, including celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan who burnt his hand a few years ago while bursting an anar. Hopefully, the madness would be les pronounced this year.

That does not mean that society in general is turning a new leaf. Far from it. For one thing, the new-found dislike for noisy crackers is visible in urban areas alone. Rural areas are more or less unaffected. Even in cities, the restraint is being shown by the highly educated segment alone, while the rest cock a snook at them. The Supreme Court order of September 28 banning noisy crackers is being flouted in many places. Manufacturers and sellers are particularly defiant. But among the general public opinion is definitely against the noisy crackers and the few rebellious ones who burst them even this year, would hopefully fall in line sooner rather than later. If nothing else, they would realise that the Divali mayhem is an open licence to terrorists and others of their ilk to commit heinous crimes in the garb of celebrations. Such maturity is visible in many related fields as well. People have started going in for dry fruits instead of unhealthy sweets while exchanging gifts. The mad shopping sprees are also being dispensed with. All these are tiny steps that together can take the country far. Happy Divali! 
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Kabul changes hands

KABUL has new masters and it is bad news for the USA, Pakistan and the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom. Irregular fighters of the so-called Northern Alliance (NA) have entered the war-ravaged capital and have taken control. There is also a rag-tag force of unknown number inside the city to maintain law and order. Herein lies the potential problem. The winning militia hates the losing one and is thirsting for revenge. In Mazar-i-Sharif the rout of the Taliban was followed by looting, rape and killing. It cannot be different in Kabul. And that spells two dangers. The local population is predominantly Pakhtuns while the NA fighters are ethnic minorities, not even conversant with the Pushtu language. This will cause lot of friction. It is true that there is initial relief at the latest development but that is over the forced exit of the Taliban which had imposed a strict religious code, not even practised in the Middle Age. One report put it graphically: as the Taliban was pulling out in a disorderly fashion, ordinary citizens were rushing to the nearest barber shop to get rid of the regulation beard. This moods will change in the next few days as the NA militia tightens its control and its troops unleash its own brand of terror. Also, the NA is in reality a bunch of medieval war lords trying to control a slice of land and with it some military power. With so many such elements, there is bound to be confusion and conflict and permanent disorder. They are not interested in politics, diplomacy and development. They are feudal elements and that is what they will be.

This prospect upsets the US and Pakistan plans and interests. Both wanted that the NA should threaten the Taliban but not rout it. This was essential to have long enough time to cobble together what is ambitiously called a broad-based arrangement, which is nothing but a conglomeration of apolitical tribal chiefs under the benign cover of former king, Zahir Shah. It was naively believed that the ageing king will vest the new group with legitimacy and, more difficult, a vision. This was totally unrealistic but met the demands of both the USA and Pakistan. The former is bent on driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan and the latter on driving NA out of any new set-up. This is their idea of broad-based post-Taliban government. No doubt it has collapsed. India has a new opening in this game. It was friendly to NA until it was ejected from much of northern country and its attempts to revive the ties have been half-hearted or unseen. The USA knows its dilemma and will like to avail of this country’s services. The tragedy is that New Delhi has no clue to the developing Afghan problem.
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Almost September 11

SELDOM has the world experienced such tension as was caused by the plane crash close to the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Monday. It took the wire services and television over three hours to convey the officially sanctioned news that the November 12 plane crash was evidently not an act of terrorism, but an accident. Phew. For audiences across the globe the suspense was almost killing. It seemed like Osama bin Laden had once again succeeded in in cocking a dangerous snook at the most powerful nation on this planet. If the innocent people of Afghanistan were being made to pay for the September 11 attacks, what target would the US select for "avenging" the November 12 "attack"? This question became irrelevant after investigators ruled out sabotage. The official position that one of the engines of the A-300 Airbus carrying over 250 passengers and crew fell off shortly after take-off made the world let out a loud sigh of relief. A parallel theory doing the rounds was that the US would be too embarrassed to admit that Osama has done it yet again. Be that as it, the holiday season for the sensitive people all over the world was spoilt by the horror that visited the symbols of America's military and economic power on September 11 and the consequent senseless bombing of Afghanistan. Those who were trying to pick up the threads and get into the celebration mode, for life must go on, would find little to cheer them today on the occasion of Divali or a month later on eid-ul-fitr or on Christmas on December 25 or on the New Year.

The absence of tell-signs of terrorism in the crash of American Airlines flight 587 is the primary reason why intelligence and law enforcement agencies are not linking the latest human tragedy to Osama or any other terrorist group. But an authentic account would be available after every tiny piece of evidence is examined under the microscope. This is evidently being done to reassure the over-protected American people that they need not have nightmares of the country being overtaken by an invisible, and therefore invincible, foes. Indeed the September 11 attacks and the anthrax scare have already done enough to make half the American population seek psychiatric counselling. Although there are contradictions in the account put out so far by the official agencies, as of today the latest plane crash is being shown to the people as an act of accident. Since the plane crashed in a residential area it is evident that the final count of those killed or injured would go up. It is turning out to be a long season of bereavement and memorial services for the Americans and the ethnic people who have made the USA their home. It would only be appropriate for the people of India to standby with them and do whatever they can for the most powerful nation passing through an extraordinary phase of continued distress.

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Politics before Independence
Why Gandhi preferred Nehru, not Patel
V. N. Datta

IT was at the all-India Congress session held at Wardha on January 15, 1942, that Mahatma Gandhi designated Jawaharlal Nehru as his heir which is evident from his following statement, “Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and I have had differences from the moment when we became co-workers, yet I have said for some years and say it now that not Rajaji (C. Rajagopalachari), nor Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel but Jawaharlal will be my successor. You can’t divide water repeatedly striking it with a stick. It is just as difficult to divide us — when I am gone, he will speak my language.”

A strong feeling is growing among the intelligentsia that Gandhi committed a crass error of judgement in preferring Jawaharlal Nehru to Sardar Patel to head the Indian state when the country was on the verge of gaining independence from the British. Those who told this view do not deny the unique contributions of Nehru to the cause of India’s freedom, but they think that Nehru with all his virtuous qualities did not quite prove equal to the task entrusted to him by the nation as the first Prime Minister of free India.

According to his critics, Nehru was not made of sterner stuff. Therefore, he couldn’t see through the implementation of his lofty plans prepared for the social and economic amelioration of the people, the failure which his eminent biographer S. Gopal in his three-volume study of Nehru concedes. His greater failure, it is argued, lay in his inept handling of the problems relating to Kashmir and China. From these views the conclusion is drawn that Patel was the right man for the job but the Mahatma ignored his claims and preferred Nehru, an idealist and a glamorous man to the other who possessed a practical sagacity of a statesman. Why? Why did the Mahatma adopt such a course?

In his biography of Patel and in his later work, “The Good Boatman”, Rajmohan Gandhi has discussed with meticulous care the Mahatma’s relationship with Nehru and Patel, Rajmohan Gandhi’s central point is that the Mahatma regarded Nehru as his son and Patel as his brother. Rajmohan Gandhi has also noted other contributory factors such as Nehru’s charisma, his massive popular appeal to the youth, his left wing radicalism and his relatively greater acceptability to the Muslims in 1946. History is an explanatory mode of thinking and it seems that in his fervent zeal by integrating various conjectures Rajmohan Gandhi has not explained but explained away the issue he had attempted to resolve. In his well-researched study of Patel, P.N. Chopra has focused on the situations when Gandhi showed his preference for Nehru, but has not gone into the reasons for doing so.

Gandhi was indeed a complex personality. It is difficult to fathom anybody’s mind, and more so of a man of Gandhi’s complex nature who was riven by contradictions. Historians have the disastrous habit of attributing motives when they nowhere exist. The son-brother explanation does not convince as this represents a unilinear view of acknowledging that all through since the 1920s Gandhi had set his mind on Nehru. Politics is not a static activity; one lives in it from moment to moment taking into consideration the political exigencies which Gandhi never lost sight of. I do not think that Gandhi in his choice was swayed by any personal consideration. He was very shrewd, subtle and calculating. On political matters, his head was packed in ice. And surely there could be no guarantee that a son of Nehru’s impetuous temper wouldn’t rebel against his “father” and, sons do revel against fathers. The Mahatma possessed a remarkable sense of timing and he knew whom he needed, when, and for what purpose.

Though greatly admired, Nehru become a highly controversial figure in the Congress in the 1930s and 1940s. On his return from Moscow, in collaboration with Subhas Chandra Bose he succeeded in getting passed a resolution on India’s complete independence at the Madras Congress session in 1927. This resolution on complete independence annoyed him. He thought that Nehru was running too fast. Gandhi wrote, “It (the Madras Resolution) reminded of prisoners in chains spitting frothy oaths only to provide mirth to gaolers”. Serious ideological differences arose between Gandhi and Nehru. At the Calcutta Congress session in 1928, the Madras resolution was modified to the satisfaction of Gandhi. Nehru changed his position at the Calcutta Congress but Subhas Bose did not. Bose moved an amendment, which was lost by 1350 against 973 votes.

It is clear from the correspondence of Motilal Nehru that he had been pressing Gandhi for the election of his son as President of the Congress since 1927. But Gandhi was reluctant. He wrote to Motilal on June 13, 1927, “Jawaharlal is too high-souled to stand hooliganism that seems to be growing in the Congress, and it would be too cruel to expect him to evolve”. The question arose about the Congress presidentship at Calcutta in 1928. The general opinion favoured Gandhi but he refused to accept it. Motilal, despite Subhas Bose’s pressure, felt that his race was dying out and it was the youth that should be given the chance to undertake the responsibility of the nation. Of course, Motilal couldn’t overlook the claims of Patel who had emerged as the “hero of Baradoli” and was called “Sardar”.

Gandhi compelled Motilal to accept the presidentship of the Congress which he did. Motilal wired Gandhi “obeyed.”

The issue of the presidential election for the Congress session at Lahore camp up at the Lucknow AICC session on September 6, 1929. Again the general opinion favoured Gandhi. Ten provincial Congress committees supported Gandhi, five Patel, and three Nehru. By 1929 Nehru hadn’t made a mark in any mass movement and his biographer Gopal concedes that he was “unseasoned” at this juncture, implying that Nehru was almost a novitiate in the whirligig of politics. Nehru’s radicalism had alienated some of his admirers. His association with “Nehru report” had aroused serious misgivings among the Muslims about his secular credentials. The Mahatma declined the offer of the presidential chair and he asked the “hero of Baradoli” to withdraw his candidature which he did. The way was now clear for Nehru and the “crown” to use Gandhi’s experience was passed from the father to the son. Nehru didn’t like the way he was elected. He wrote in his “Autobiography”, “I didn’t come to it by the main entrance or side entrance. I suddenly appeared by a trap door and bewildered the audience into acceptance.”

Morarji Dasai told this writer that it was Motilal’s pressure that made Gandhi favour Nehru. According to Desai, Motilal pleaded that as he was suffering from an incurable disease, and that his days were numbered, it was his great desire to see his son “crowned” as President of the Congress. This coaxing led Gandhi to prefer Nehru to Patel. I don’t think that the Motilal factor worked on the Mahatma. Gandhi felt that Nehru was an angry young man who was in a desperate hurry to do things. Patel’s loyalty he took for granted but he thought that Nehru’s emotional temper and impetuosity might get him out of control and he might join left-wing radicals, which he thought was a threat to the unity of the Congress. Subhas Bose was already lost but he would not lose Nehru. The presidential chair, Gandhi believed, might tame Nehru’s revolutionary spirit and curb his new-fangled radicalism and bring him close to the reality of political situation in the country. There were occasions when the Mahatma felt disenchanted with Nehru’s politics. Gandhi rebuked Nehru on January 17, 1928, for “playing into the hands of mischief-makers and hooligans”. Nehru yielded, and wrote, “Am I not your child in politics, though perhaps a truant and errant child.”

In 1936 Gandhi again asked Patel to withdraw from the presidential election. Patel wrote to Dr Rajendra Prasad, “People are pressing me here. They say again choosing him (Nehru) will mean ushering in socialism. How to save us from such an allegation. Rajaji has washed off his hands. The bridegroom is ready to marry as many girls offered to him. Kripalani is most uneasy. What about suggesting Panditji’s name”. Rajendra Prasad lamented later in his memoirs, “Gandhiji had once again sacrificed his trusted lieutenant for the sake of glamorous Nehru”.

The scene now shifts to 1946. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was the Congress President. He wanted his re-election but Gandhi wouldn’t have him and wrote him about it in a strongly worded letter. Twelve out of 15 provincial Congress committees suggested Patel’s candidature for the presidentship. J.B. Kripalani had offered himself as a candidate. At the meeting Gandhi whispered to Nehru, “No PCC has proposed your name.” Nehru remained silent. Kripalani withdrew his candidature and passed on a paper proposing Nehru’s candidature to Patel. Patel didn’t like this intervention. Those who witnessed the scene testify that Patel signed reluctantly supporting Nehru’s candidature at Gandhi’s nod. The die was cast! Nehru became the President of the Congress, leader of the Congress party, and later the Prime Minister of India.

Gandhi gave his own reasons of Nehru’s nomination. He said that Nehru was a Harrow boy and a Cambridge graduate, the credentials he thought might help in forging friendly relations between India and Britain in the negotiations that were being held for the transfer of power to India and also enabling India to make a distinct contribution to international politics. In 1929 Gandhi had extolled Nehru’s various qualities like sincerity of purpose, probity and courage, while in 1945-1946 he was viewing Nehru’s role as a leader in world politics. This was Gandhi’s justification or, perhaps, realisation of his action.

It is true that Nehru had a charisma and a greater mass appeal than Patel. It is also true that Nehru had an international standing which Patel didn’t possess. Since 1941 Patel had been suffering from the cancer of rectum, which limited his mobility. Serious differences had arisen between Gandhi and Patel. Their perception of the Indian political situation vitally differed. What worried Patel was the rehabilitation of refugees from Pakistan, and what troubled the Mahatma and Nehru was the exodus of Muslims to Pakistan. Gandhi and Nehru trusted Sheikh Abdullah, but Patel did not. The following two episodes will illustrate their divergent perceptions. Mridula Sarabhai had come up with a suggestion endorsed by Gandhi and Nehru of bringing about 20,000 Muslims from Karnal for their rehabilitation in Delhi but Patel throttled it. Secondly, when Lala Yodhraj, Chairman of Punjab National Bank, suggested to Nehru that some area of New Delhi should be allotted for the rehabilitation of Punjabi refugees, Nehru rebuked him. “I won’t let you come within 700 miles of Delhi.” The general impression projected about Patel in 1946-1947 was that he was exclusively a promoter of Hindu interests, and was hostile to Muslims. Though Gandhi defended Patel in public and said that he was not communal, the fact remains that Patel had lost the confidence of Muslims. On the contrary, the Mahatma hoped that Nehru might win them over again. Patel had offered his resignation from the Cabinet to the Mahatma during his meeting with him on January 30 at Birla House, New Delhi. Fifteen minutes later the Mahatma was shot dead.

Politics is multifaceted. Politics is power. Politics is conspiracy. It is invariably a ruthless and ingenious game like chess played adroitly for the gratification and promotion of self-interests. Politics is competition where players try to elbow out their rivals in order to reach their goal. Nehru was ambitious but he was indeed an honourable man. The Mahatma knew that because of his astounding charisma and tremendous mass appeal Nehru wouldn’t find it easy enough to accept a second position. Denied the first position, the Mahatma probably thought Nehru might split the Congress party and join the Socialists which would do immense harm not only to the Congress but also to the whole process of nation-building, which was the master-passion of Gandhi’s existence. Kripalani wryly wrote, “Gandhiji left many going straight and ran after one going stray.”

The writer is a well-known historian.
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From a village boy to a scholar
Reeta Sharma

THIS is a follow up on the life graph of a boy from village Bara Gaon in Varanasi. After passing out of Middle from this village he went to do his Matriculation from the then Tehsil, Gianpur. From village to town to the huge city Allahabad, this boy kept advancing from B.Sc. in 1960 to M.Sc. in 1962 to IIT Kanpur. Throughout his academic career, he remained a holder of Government of India merit scholarship besides the U.P. Government scholarship.

Always among the first runners up, after his completion of Ph.D he got job offers from wherever he sent a mere letter. He opted to teach at IIT Mumbai. But the journey did not end there. To enrich his post-doctoral research in Physics, he travelled to the USA and Canada. Three years later, in 1970, a totally new chapter got opened in his life when he opted for Panjab University as against IIT Mumbai.

Yes, we are trailing the life graph of Professor K N Pathak, the present Vice-Chancellor of the Panjab University (PU). He has been teaching for the past 35 years various courses in Physics, both at the graduate and post-graduate level, in India and abroad. He has to his credit nearly 900 citations of his research papers. The International Journals of Physics have published 123 of his research papers in the areas of Condensed Matter Physics and Solid State Physics. He has spent over 11 years carrying out research in Europe and North America. He joined PU as a Reader when he was already teaching at the North Western University, Illinois, USA. “I came back because both me and my wife were itching to return to India”.

His list of awards and honours runs even longer, right from Meghnad Saha Award to the UGC National Fellowship Award and National Fellowship and National Lecturer Award to Alexander von Humbolt Senior Fellowship Award etc. Besides, he is Senior Associate Member of the Abdus Salem International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy, and Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences.

Does he regret to have chosen PU as against IIT Mumbai? “No, I don’t because the Physics discipline here is equal to IITs of our country. In fact, the growth of potential at PU is far greater. Over the years, impressive infrastructure has come up and there is complete freedom for research. The credit goes to Prof. Hans, who started the tradition and environment of research in 1970s. Today, it can be rated as one of the best in certain areas”.

This kind of a life graph can be of thousands of brilliant students of India. So, why have we chosen this particular person? Well, certainly, he is a class apart. In today’s world, every brilliant student is groomed to weigh intelligence with pay-tags, luxurious life and un-ending greed for more in terms of materials. But Prof. Pathak not only opted out of rat race of chasing money by leaving the USA but also continues to practice honesty, integrity, commitment and conviction in every way of his life.

Throughout his career, much before he became the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Pathak has been religiously returning the excess amount to the University from the advance taken for pursuing professional duties outside Chandigarh. And now recently, out of 28 people in the queue waiting to get their arrears, he was singled out along with another important person for a special favour. But the moment he learnt about the discrimination he promptly returned his cheque saying to allow him to stay in the queue.

The conduct, which has become extinct in today’s world of politicians, bureaucrats and academicians alike, can still be associated with a man like Prof. Pathak. He had applied for reimbursement of his medical bills after a by-pass surgery when he was not the Vice-Chancellor. But the bills were never cleared. However, these miraculously got cleared after his assuming this powerful position. However, he declined to accept the same and directed them to file it away.

His truthfulness is both stunning and astonishing. To a question whether we can call all his 900 citations as excellent pieces of research, he comes clean with a very candid reply, “Well all 900 are not excellent. They are good but may be about half-a-dozen can be rated as very good”.

Was he the most brilliant student throughout his academic life? “No, there were others who were better than me, in fact, much more brighter than many of us. But somewhere along the line they lost interest in studies. And it is a matter of sheer good luck that my involvement in studies grew more and more passionate, because studies began giving me the joy”.

Today, you can buy degrees in academics, medicine, engineering etc. What are your comments? “Yes, there is a big departure from set high standards of the past. But I am convinced that one may be able to buy a degree but certainly cannot buy knowledge. Besides a bought degree cannot sustain one for long. It is true that merit has become a casualty in our society today. We ought to learn to respect merit as in the West”.

Within a short span of his tenure as Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Pathak has already earned a reputation that nobody can seek any undue favours from him.

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Freeze-dried corpses as fertiliser

FREEZE-drying corpses and using the powder for fertiliser will be a much more ecologically-friendly way of disposing of human bodies than cremating or burying them as at present, a Swedish ecologist claims.

Susanne Wiigh-Masak has come up with a way to freeze-dry the bodies and then shatter them to make a soil-enriching powder. She has already used the technique on dead pigs and cows and is keen to see it applied to human corpses.

“If you come from the soil, you should also give back to it, said Wiigh-Masak who works as an environment consultant in Lyro, Sweden. The Church of Sweden says it approves of the scheme.

Wiigh-Masak says a crematorium uses an average of 50 litres of oil to reduce a body to ash. Toxic chemical such as mercury vapour from tooth fillings are also released into the atmosphere.

Burial is not so green either since in Sweden, at least, bodies have to be embalmed and can take 60 years to decompose.

The new method entails immersing a body in a bath of liquid nitrogen at below minus 196 centigrade. The tissue is bombarded at the same time with ultrasound, causing it to disintegrate and allowing the nitrogen to penetrate. Water is vacuumed from the remains to leave a hygienic, odourless powder. An 80 kg body produces some 20 kilos of powder. DPA
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A CENTURY OF NOBELS


 

 
TRENDS & POINTERS

Sheep can remember a face after two years

They say elephants never forget but sheep can remember a face for a long time too, according to scientists who claim the woolly-headed creatures do not deserve their reputation for general obtuseness.

The sheep’s memory for faces is almost human-like and the creatures may even get emotional about an absent flock-mate or shepherd, found the researchers.

Like humans and monkeys, sheep have a specialised part of the brain designed for the important social task of remembering faces as opposed to other visual objects.

Keith Kendrick’s team at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge showed that cells in this brain region became active when sheep were shown pictures of faces they knew although they did not respond to strangers.

In the experiment, the sheep were taught to discriminate between images of 50 sheep faces arranged in pairs. If they moved towards the picture of the appropriate pair-member, they were given a reward.

Two years later, the sheep remembered the faces they had been taught to recognise, both face-on and in profile.

Brain activity was investigated by looking at the response of cells to the faces of a specific human and sheep and the results suggest that sheep have a high level encoding strategy used for face-processing, just like humans whose memory is triggered by mental images. DPA

Poor verbal memory linked to thin bones

In a large study of elderly people, researchers in Massachusetts have uncovered a strong link between thin bones and poor verbal memory.

“Verbal memory impairment is one of the strongest predictors of the future development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” lead study author Yuqing Zhang of Boston University said in an interview. Low estrogen exposure may increase the risk of verbal memory problems, he added, “and bone mass is a good marker of cumulative estrogen exposure”.

To investigate, Zhang and colleagues analysed the relationship between bone mineral density (BMD) and verbal memory impairment among more than 4,300 elderly people included in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Their findings are published in the November 1st issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Reuters
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Devotion is neither Christian nor Hindu nor Mohammedan. It has nothing to do with any creed, any dogma, any priesthood.

* * *

The evil-doers, the deluded, the lowest of man, deprived of discrimination by Maya and following the way of the demons (asuras), do not seek refuge in Me.

* * *

Four types of virtuous men worship Me, O Arjuna; the man in distress, the man seeking knowledge, the man seeking wealth, and the man imbued with wisdom...

* * *

Of these, the wise man, ever steadfast and devoted to the One excels; for supremely dear am I to the wise and he is dear to Me.

* * *

Endowed with that faith, he engages in the worship of that form and from it he obtains his desires, which are being actually ordained by Me.

* * *

But the fruit that accrues to those men of small intellect is finite.

The worshippers of the gods go to the gods; My devotees come to me.

—The Bhagavad Gita 

* * *

Without devotion one can never reach the abode of the Lord.

—Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Dhanasari M 1. page 683

* * *

The devotion of the Lord is His Love.

— Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sri Rag M. 3, page 28

* * *

Devotion cannot be attained without the True Guru.

—Sri Guru Granth Sahib,, Asa M 3, page 425.

* * *

Devotion is the sustenance of the heart, just as food is sustenance for the body. Devotion to duty is the highest form of worship to God.

—From the discourses of Sathya Sai Baba
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