Tuesday, December 25, 2007

An Inspirational 2007

With 2007, going away and the new year arriving, I am keen to look back at things that I have learned and achieved. It would also be important to look at the contributions of people to my life and people who have inspired me to march ahead this year, in spite of the difficulties.

The month of January found me in Hyderabad at the Map World Forum, a group to showcase the latest developments in the field of Geoinformatics, be it in terms of technology or research. I did make a few friends and got back in touch with Sonal and her husband Mrityunjay, Dr. Parth Sarathi Roy and Harish Karnatak. Sonal and I were colleagues in 2000 and it was nice to see her seven years later. I also met Shubha, her little kid and she was quite friendly after the initial shyness which every child shows after encountering a stranger. I also had a visit to Harish's residence only to find out that he was getting ready to settle into a blissful married life. I could not however visit Dr. Roy and his family as I was getting late for the departure back to Kanpur. It was nice to catch up with old friends and get back to the old times when we worked, laughed, quarrelled and discussed together.

I completed my second year of French lessons this year. Thanks to Eugénie Duthoit, she made it quite comfortable for us to learn advanced French. She also inspired us to go ahead for DELF and DALF and also offered to train us for the same. Eugénie silently went back to France via Delhi in the wee hours of the morning one day. I had purchased a gift for her, but was not able to hand it over to her. Later, I found her as a good person discussing life on the internet over chat (We changed from vous to tu). Eugénie has also written a blog describing her experiences on her visit to India.

My supervisor Dr. Bharat Lohani has kept on pushing me for performance throughout this year. With his support I registered my name for a conference in Germany. It was to be my first international conference. I took this chance to meet the scientists and researchers working in my direction of research and gained from their experiences. Interestingly Dr. Lohani went on to attend other conferences in Austria and Switzerland and those papers won prizes.

Prof. Onkar Dikshit has been quite supportive for all the years that I have stayed at IIT Kanpur. In fact, when I took up the course Engineering Drawing for my Teaching Assistantship, he supplied me with study and support material for the programme. Although time consuming, this was one of the best Teaching Assistantship experiences I had in IIT Kanpur. In addition to the learning I had, I also got the time to interact professionally with Dr. Amit Prashant and Dr. Sarvesh Chandra.

I took up to learning German in the new semester. Although quite different from French, I am having a nice time learning it owing to my classmates whom I tease often during the class. This semester also saw Eugénie revisiting India for bidding a goodbye to her friends. She also introduced me to Amandine Almarcha, a sweet, smiling, chirpy and crazy French girl, who is here to teach advanced French. On every weekend, Amandine, I and some of our earlier classmates of the French language, meet over a cup of tea and a few snacks to discuss French culture, politics and practices.

In the month of November, I had a visit to Ahmedabad for another conference on the visualization of geographic data. In the process I had the opportunity to taste real Gujarati food at Rajwadu. Based on a theme of an original Gujarati mansion, the experience was full with Gujarati cuisine and music. Home made butter, missi roti and the other mithais still make my mouth water. It was also an opportunity to meet people who worked earlier at Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun and catch up again with the old times.

This December, I got a mail from Mrs. and Mr. GOODALL (people whom I stayed with as a paying guest at St. Jean de Brayé at 2003) regarding their visit in February 2008 to the north-western parts of India. I do feel quite excited and maybe we could meet sometime.

Culturally, this year was very fruitful. We had a delight watching and listening to people to the likes of Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan (99 yrs old!), Guru Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao, Ms Sunanda Sharma, Pt Biswajit Chowdhury and Mrs Shubha Mudgal, with the help of a group called SPIC-MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth).

Lastly, this was also a year for goodbyes. My dida (naani) left this world for the heavenly abode. She was in bed for long and had suffered a lot during her lifetime owing to her illness. Naani loved me a lot. But I hope she has reached the heavenly abode and is in no more pain. Baramaima's elder brother left this world too. I bid goodbyes to people as well, and decided to march ahead, looking for new horizons.

Over and all, this year was inspirational and I am here looking ahead for the sun to arise on the morning of the new year.

A merry Christmas and a happy new year, 2008 to all!

Suddhasheel GHOSH

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Women’s Liberty: Is it how we think about it? - I

Poets, writers and various other artists have presented the condition of women in their creations. Women have been oppressed in many walks of the society. The renowned poet Maithili Sharan Gupt wrote

अबला जीवन तुम्हारी यही कहानी
आंचल में है दूध आंखों में पानी

(O Women, your story of life is all the same, there's milk in your breasts and tears in your eyes). However, in contrast, the women of today believe that they are liberal-minded; they have the right to do what men do and of course move shoulder to shoulder with men. However, it is important to see whether they are moving together or aspire to take away the reins from men and rule the world. The men today have many boyish questions: What is the practical representation or interpretation of women’s liberty: partying, smoking, boozing, drugs or indiscriminate sexual behavior or is it just the liberty of mind or a philosophy that is being talked about?

On the 60th day of Independence of India, and after many stalwarts like Mrs Indira Gandhi, Kiran Bedi and most recently Ms Mayawati and Mrs Pratibha Patil, it is time to look back and see whether women in India have understood the true meaning of freedom or otherwise. This article is not targeted to demean the status of the woman in any sense, however, it is definitely targeted to show how the sense of freedom has been interpreted in today’s context.

Feminism what we know today has undergone major changes in its philosophy, since it began in the early 20th century. The first wave of feminism dealt with the voting rights of women, the second wave with the inequalities of laws and culture, and the third wave was the continuation of the second wave and also deals with the perceived failures of the second wave. Feminists often differ in opinion over the sources of inequality, how to attain equality, and the extent to which gender and gender-based identities should be questioned and critiqued. Modern feminist political activists commonly campaign for a woman's right to bodily integrity and autonomy on matters such as reproductive rights, including the right to abortion, access to contraception and quality prenatal care; for protection from domestic violence; against sexual harassment and rape; for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay; and against other forms of discrimination.

The hue and cry about sexual harassment in the workplace arose when Anita Hill, a law professor at the University of Oklahama alleged that Clarence Thomas, with whom she had worked, while he was the head of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, has sexually harassed her with inappropriate discussions of sexual acts and pornographic acts after she refused his offer to date him (1991). An instantaneous wave of sympathy went in favour of Anita Hill in America. However, if we study the timing of the allegation, it raises our eyebrows. In 1991, Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court, decided to retire. The then president of America, George Bush, saw this as an opportunity to appoint a more conservative judge to the Supreme Court. He thus appointed Clarence Thomas, a forty-three year old, conservative, African-American from Pinpoint, Georgia. Thomas would maintain the racial makeup of the Court, yet would add another conservative voice on decisions involving Affirmative Action and abortion. Thomas’ nomination sent a panic wave throughout the women’s activist organizations and they were immediately worried that Thomas would rule against legal abortion as well as Affirmative Action. Thomas was then thoroughly interviewed by the Senate committee and he was specifically asked about his opinion on Affirmative Action. Thomas mentioned that he hadn’t formed an opinion till then. The voting process in the Senate committee was split seven-to-seven. His nomination was therefore forwarded to the Senate, without a clear recommendation. It was at this point of time, when Anita Hill appeared in the whole scenario. Thomas vociferously denied all the allegations and during the hearings, called the process as “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.” Thomas, after a few deliberations, was appointed associate judge in the Supreme Court. As a follow up to this case, rigid lines on sexual harassment at the work place were drawn, as many other women started complaining of similar behavior from their male colleagues. Men were actually worried that they could face legal hassles even if they appreciated the looks of a fellow female colleague.

Another remarkable incident in the same land was that of Bill Clinton and Monika Lewinsky. The story of Bill Clinton seeking sexual gratification from Monika was brought to light just a few months after Bill Clinton assumed his second term in office as President of the United States of America. It was said that Monika had confided about her sexual exploits with Clinton to another lady named Linda Tripp who had secretly taped telephonic conversations and released it to the press. The literatures on the internet suggest that Linda’s records in the White House were against her and she played a game to set the records straight with the US government. In this case, the last words of Monika after her interrogation were “I hate Linda Tripp”.

Could we establish a pattern here? Was it that Monika was planted in the White House as an intern? Was it that Anita Hill was a pawn of some other force? It appears from these events that these efforts by women were not only to gain political mileage but also to gain some advantage in kind.

Let us leave the stories which have happened in America and come to India. I was chatting with a female in the Yahoo Chat rooms and mentioned to her that I was doing intensive research on female behavior as a personal hobby. She expressed a genuine interest in the same. I mentioned to her that as a result of my research, males would stop teasing females. She was very happy. I further mentioned that boys would even stop looking at females. She quipped “Nahi yaar tab to mushkil ho jaayegi (No dear, that would be a great problem)”.

The Indian female population of today uses the address “Bhaiya (Elder Brother)” for just anybody, whether it is the gardener, the sweeper, the street urchin or a classmate. Although looked at in a very positive attitude by the elder population, does this have very good effects on the society? I illustrate this with the following examples:

a. One of my friends, who was working in a central government organization had a female colleague who had had a major accident leading to a compound fracture. While she was recuperating from the accident, he was responsible for helping the colleague with the academics, getting regular fruits and medicines and even washing clothes. During this period the girl started calling him “Bhaiya”. At every small break after work, the boy would find some time to visit the girl in the room and talk to her; sometimes even lending her his shoulder while she cried occasionally in her loneliness remembering her boyfriend and parents. When the girl substantially recovered, and put her first step on the ground without her crutches, he was very happy that day. Surprisingly within the next few days he came to know, that the girl had complained of sexual harassment against the boy to the administration. The boy was subsequently devastated emotionally and professionally.

b. Another instance, of one of my friends who was working in a university in Bhopal about 7 years back is very interesting. A female colleague often called him “Bhaiya”. One day, when some joke session was going on, the boy put his arms around the girls shoulders. The girl reacted sharply. “Haath hataao! Yeh koi tarikaa hai? (Remove it! Do you know what you are doing?)” The boy was stunned. He replied, “Arey tum to mujhe bhaiya bolti ho. Usi rishte se to maine aisa kiya thaa! (But I thought you think about me as an elder brother. It is therefore I do it)”. “Accha behan samajh ke kiya thaa. Tab theek hai! (Oh! It's OK if you thought of me as your sister” replied the girl!

Can we say that a common Indian woman uses the word “Bhaiya” as a cosmetic? Is it self defense? Or is it that she calls somebody Bhaiya to tell him that you are not the Mr. Right for her?

A female student of a popular engineering college (unfortunately she belongs to my home town) once suggested to her junior that if there was any problem in her thesis, and she was not able to write some of the codes in MATLAB and C, she should indulge in some sweet talking with boys and her problems would be solved. In another scenario, senior girl students of a college advised their female juniors not to wear a bra for their viva-voce examinations, so that their nipples protruding from their dresses could earn them some good marks. In a country, where bridges are falling down every now and then, roads lose their load bearing capacities and potholes appear, students graduating with no problem solving ability would further aggravate the issue.

I was reading a recent copy of a popular computer magazine, which actually highlights technology and developments in the IT industry. In the “LETTERS” section, one of the readers had complained that the magazine had no business designing a cover with a young girl showing ample cleavage and sitting with a laptop. Although the editor dismissed the complaint of the reader with ease saying that the cover related technology with casual nature, it is apparent what the motto of the design was; to get more males to buy a copy of the magazine whether they read it or not. It appears like the motto of adult magazines like Fun and Fantasy, only the girl is wearing some dress. Can we establish a pattern here? Can we say that the women are still allowing themselves to be used and that they are happy doing so, till they are paid?

I have been intensely doing some studies on women and have been interacting with and interviewing many women relating this topic. An interesting response came from one of ladies travelling along with me from Delhi. I asked what “women’s liberty” meant to her. She responded “Equality with males and the freedom to choose my own partner”. “Hmmmm...” I thought and asked myself, “Do I have that freedom?” I have talked to many males in IIT Kanpur, and they said that they did not have the freedom to choose their own partner, and that their parents would kick them out of the household if they did so. I asked one my research colleagues to pose this question to his wife. Her response was “This question is irrelevant in the Indian context. Indian women are not clear about it”. I could not help but agree. Indian women who claim to be liberal, show equally “girlish” qualities as their other friends do. They use the same techniques and tools when they need to get their work done, get a free ride or get a bus pass without sufficient documents. I am reminded of a very famous film ‘Erin Brockovich’ starring Julia Roberts. I place a quote here:

Ed Masry: What makes you think you can just walk in there and take whatever you want?
Erin Brockovich: They're called boobs, Ed.

Note by the author: Women’s Liberty is a very big concept. It has not been understood properly by the Indians. I would appreciate if readers bring more positive issues to this concept. Please send your brickbats and feedback

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A tennis match: France and India - Roubaix and Kanpur

When I lived in Dehradun earlier, and it rained cats and dogs, I often joked that what would happen if we say "Hey Bhagwaan, roko ise! (Oh god stop it!)". Perhaps, god would give us a message, "Kya karoon yaar control hi nahi hotaa! (What can I do my friend, I can't control it!)"

Kanpur, a city in which I have been living for the past three years, is troubled by extremities. Heat, cold and rain.

Make some dough with wheat atta (farine de blé) and put some yeast into it. Keep it for sometime .... Put it in the oven ... what do you get? Bread ... In Kanpur, you would probably save the cost of the oven in the summers. You would perhaps bake the loaf of bread even by putting it in sunlight.

Winters are equally horrible. When the Uparwallah (Le Dieu) decides to deep freeze us, answering nature's call is a terror and a task to be apprehensive of.

Come rains, and you have your rooms full of a hundred ... rather a thousand ... varieties of insects. Insects of all shapes, colors and sizes, which you might only have probably seen in your worst dreams, appear. We have fluorescent tubelights in our rooms and these attract the insects... large ones ... Ok, I decide to switch off the tubelight. After five minutes, there are creatures moving on you computer screen, and you think something is wrong with your eyes! You decide to turn off the screen as well. There are small insects biting you while you make honest attempts to sleep.

This year, rains have played a hide and seek with Kanpur. It rained once in May, and then it did not. For the past few days, it has been only humidity and no precipitation. The only things melting are seen to be human beings, who, out in the sun, sweat out more water than they drink.
It was just day before yesterday, when I was talking with a french friend of mine who lives in a city called Roubaix, and complaining about how the rains had cheated Kanpur, while it had been raining in nearby areas. She offered to send the clouds to Kanpur! I joked "Tu a fait le magic! La pluie est arrivée! (You have done the magic ... the rains have arrived)" The joke turned fortunately true after two hours. Kanpurites were happier! Today, she said that the clouds and the rain had moved away from Roubaix.

"On peut jouer au tennis avec les nuages. Tu es prête? (We can play tennis with the clouds. Are you ready?)", I asked her. "On peut utiliser les nuages comme les balles de tennis (We could use the clouds as tennis balls)!" The match has started ... let us wait for the results.

Hope, we could make rains happen and spread happiness to people.

Note: For a more poetic version (French) visit De Roubaix à Kanpur ... histoire des nuages written by the friend who lives at Roubaix.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Virginity, Dignity, Opportunity and Publicity

The year before last, I saw a caption on a T-shirt, “Virginity is not dignity, but a lack of opportunity”. Last week, in the Kanpur Times supplement of The Times of India, a Bhojpuri artist has proudly remarked – “I have had many conquests”, referring to the relationships with the women in his life. The use of the word “conquest” was, in my opinion, in bad taste and therefore in this article, I present a chauvinistic male’s perspective on the issue.

I have been a voracious user of the internet and its various utilities including chat, email, voice and video conferencing. One of my hobbies is to observe people deeply and to classify various people into many categories. The list of categories of people has been increasing by leaps and bounds over the last 10 years, since I started interacting with people of the world outside my home. My initial registration on the internet initially was on the Microsoft Chat client on Windows 95, which allowed me to connect to a host of chat servers on the world. Initially, my registration as a male user evoked a poor response. People would rarely respond to this poor boy who found 10 minutes of time to sneak into the room with an internet connection and establish a link with the chat servers. I thus bumped into an idea of registering myself as a female. Females have been generally accused of having a poor sense of humour. I, however, could not resist showing off mine. As a result there were a large number of people sending private messages and asking for my telephone number. I gave it to them … of course a fake one.

I subsequently registered myself as a user of Yahoo! Mail. Surprisingly enough, my profile got registered as a female and I was surprised by a large number of males asking me to cyber with them while I was in the Yahoo! Chat rooms. I was not pretty sure what cybering meant that time and therefore said yes to one of them. The next 10 minutes were really unforgettable. He started doing all kinds of things to me … virtually of course! I had to finally say that I was a simple male with no such intentions.

The exuberance and curiosity of youth soon got the better of me, and I found myself chatting with “girls” (Considering the fact that I had previously posed as a female, the alleged girls could well have been males) on all sorts of topics. Some girls refused to comment, some agreed and some said I was too curious. Interestingly enough, people who said I was too curious belonged mostly to the western countries. The confirmation to my previous sentence can be found in American Pie – Part I wherein the story revolves around a group of teenage students desperately making attempts to get sexually involved before their prom. Today, in 2007, Indian girls have also started giving a similar response (cf. Priyanka Chopra’s interview on the Sunday supplement of the Times of India a few months ago).

In real life, I have encountered some girls who had openly talked about their status (in the context of lost virginity) with unabashed abandon to anybody and everybody. On deeper research, it was found that they were speaking the truth indeed but were under the treatment of a psychologist or suffered from personality related disorders; owing to the fact that their families had problems and that they felt rather ignored in their childhood. In this connection, I would also like to mention the name of Tara (name changed) who was ready to get involved with a middle aged man 15 years her senior and a friend of her father, for her father had nearly beaten-up her ex-boyfriend. On deeper questioning she said that her parents were rarely at home and they were rarely able to talk or dine together.

Talking of males of today, and especially the Bhojpuri singer whom I quoted in the first paragraph, represent a case of distorted mentality and pseudo-socialistic attitude. If the same thing happens to a member of their own family, they would even go to the extent of gang-rape of a female family member, murder or other heinous crimes, the examples of which can be found in abundance in some of the states in India. It is often found that people who become famous without much of effort cannot handle the fame with ease and either resort to sexual exploits, booze or drugs (the examples from the west include George Michael, Michael Jackson, Robby Williams, Dieogo Maradona, Mike Tyson, Mel Gibson et al.) Similar examples could easily be found in the Indian community although I would restrain myself from naming them.

However, let us come down to the common man: a closer example from an ex-resident in one of the halls in this institute. One fine morning, boasting around in the corridor with a loud voice about his transition. A closer study and observation on this friend of ours lead to the fact that he was craving for attention, and was being vociferous to let yours truly know about it, for he rarely talked to him. When I was working in a university, I had two female assistants as data entry operators, and I was questioned daily as to whom I was able to entice. A female friend of mine regularly faces queries regarding her male guests from her colleagues family living 30 -40 meters away from her home in her neighbourhood. If the reply is not satisfactory, the colleague is instrumental enough people cook up stories about her in the office premises. The colleague makes such efforts as my female friend turned away his advances once upon a time.

The typical Indian female, as I have observed, is generally expected to be shy, homely, fair, and intelligent and not have fantasies when on the other hand the typical Indian male spends precious time pleasing himself to the western graphic depictions of indulgent and exaggerated behaviour available for purchase/rent at many CD shops. The presence of a similar content, if traced at an IP which belongs to the female counterparts becomes the story of the day, the week or perhaps even months. Contemplation also begins as to how the fort maybe captured, whereas in real life, the person does not even have the courage to go ahead and talk.

We are walking in the midst of a conceptual change. The American thought process is getting into our blood which is the cause of more mentally imbalanced children. Single parenting, troubled marriages, divorces which start from the mere ego clashes of the proud male and the supposedly intelligent female, come down to the children who find solace in the arms of drugs and paedophiles. Lured into sexual relationships, these children can do nothing else but feel proud and boast about their lost virginity. It reminds me of the famous story of the fox, who lost his tail and then inspired others to cut their tails off.

Readers! Your status of virginity or your girlfriend is not my business. Keep it to yourself, be happy and let me be not so frustrated!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Orkut Politics, Globalisation and the Internet Ban

Since my childhood, situations have arisen when I had not been able to chose between the options for the next course of action. Doctor or engineer, the two high school crushes, the choice of college and the choice of the PG specialization are amongst the few to name. This day, when I find myself in a generally termed “elite” institution, the situation repeats itself. The dilemma has raised its head again. Life is again at the crossroads.

The term “generation gap” is pretty common. The past generation finds ultimate solace in accusing its successor of not following the “norm” of what they practised during its prime time. For example, my past generation often kept pressurising me to read aloud whether its was English literature, language or science for that matter, which of course I did not like, for it felt that I was a parrot! The moral of the story seemed like “Memorize whatever you could, by crying yourself hoarse, and then, literally 'vomit' it out on the examination paper!” As a route for escape, I found that doing mathematics was safer, as you could not solve trigonometric problems or calculus by reading aloud.

A tool initially developed by the Department of Defence in America, the Internet took a larger leap by the end of the past century, and as expected, the audience was appalled with a continuously growing repository of information and otherwise. Terms like “information superhighway”, “distributed databases”, “digital library and cataloguing”, “e-commerce”, all came up with a boom, and courses in various universities were started. The concept of globalisation, which was the keyword in the nineties of the past century, was beginning to take shape. The progressive members of the past generation, who were often wistful about having only 24 hours during the day, were now enabled and enthralled with a tool for their day to day activities including research.

Unfortunately enough, the fantasy of the common youth caught up with “undesirable information” which was also available for free, and it felt that it was must easier to please its senses rather than stimulate the intellectual within. The evening cricket match, broken panes and consequent shouting which were common scenes earlier, and also a means for socialising, were replaced by Rs 20 per hour Internet cafés. Socialising therefore started restricting itself within small cabins where college students usually met while typing on the keyboard. Socialisation therefore, turned global wherein the internet chat room was a playground, where people started seeking net partners and even net spouses. I remember that in 2003, when I was a frequent visitor to the Bollywood Chat rooms, a girl who called herself Chanchal, from Mumbai, India was already “net married” to a guy from Islamabad, Pakistan and was being addressed as Bhabhi (sister-in-law) by many of the chatters. In 2005, I visited the rooms again and happened to meet the same guy. I asked him about Chanchal and he had no clue where she was. Probably some guy had hacked her profile and account and the “love” was lost in oblivion. The guy had “moved-on” as he had realised it was not the real life.

The popularity of net-based socialisation caught up with sites like Orkut, Hi5, Tagged etc, where the fantasy of seeking photographs of pretty girls and handsome hunks caught up fast. Six months after I had subscribed to Orkut, I was often asked by peers as to why my scrapbook was vacant and as to why I had deleted their scraps. People then seemed to get more closer to those who wrote a testimonial for them or became their fans. The testimonial might just be anything. Even the most disastrous grammar or SMS lingo would do. I recall one of my bengali friends had oti jaali maal (extreme fraud) written on his testimonial and he was proudly showing it off! A person from a senior batch of mine asked me to write another testimonial for her which would be pretty long and should gratify her desire to be flattered, instead of the little meaningful and nicer one line testimonial I had scribbled after a lot of thinking for 17 long hours. I also recall an incident when one Shachi (name changed), charged me of being an Utko lok (strange bloke) on the scrapbook of Yogita (name changed) based on a scrap which I had written to Yogita! Politicking based on scraps had already begun and I had to face it hard. I, of course retorted with Gandhigiri, and Shachi therefore, cannot look me in the eye currently! I have to accept that, I too have jumped in to politicking with my Orkut friends.

The above paragraph however presents a negative aspect of the picture. I have been able to connect with many friends from college, my teachers at school and the students of my teachers too. They keep on updating me about the well being of my teachers. Although I have been very choosy about selecting friends on social networking websites, restricting my friend-list to whom I know personally, occasions have arisen when people unknown to me have become very good friends sharing their happinesses and sorrows with equal fervour.

Orkut is a site powered by Google which in turn has its own share of implications. Since long, Google has been a tool for the researchers to find out research papers, material, programming code and workarounds to name a few. The recent addition of soft copies of books at Google has also given rise to the pleasure of finding free educational material for browsing. The pleasure of taking short cuts to life also comes in here. People freely pick up material or “plagiarise” from the internet and create their own material without the courtesy of acknowledgement. I am reminded of a story when a king asked Euclid whether there was an easier method to learn Geometry and he responded “There is no royal road way to Geometry”. I would like to mention the name of Kaavya Vishwanathan, a student of Indian origin, who recently earned a place in the shame list of Harvard University for plagiarising parts of a novel to write her own (How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life). Some of us are plagiarising to earn good money and fifteen minutes of fame, but are bringing a bad name to our origins and country.

We can see here that the internet with its fair and unfair implications has become an important component in the daily lives of the students and faculty. Accept it or not, the Internet tools have made us do a lot of work which were not possible earlier in a span of 24 hours. The daily life and productivity have changed their ways. The recent ban on the use of internet at hostels has drawn a lot of flak from the fraternity. Words like “unwanted parenting” and “technical prison” have been used recently in threads based on this issue. In this connection, I am reminded of a move by an American university which deleted a huge repository of “objectionable” digital images from its storage area, with a note - “If you can explain or justify how these photographs would be useful for your studies and stay in this university, and we are convinced, we would replace these photographs immediately”.

But in spite of these, I am still in a dilemma. Should Internet be banned or allowed? Life is at crossroads again. And we have to choose the right way, the hard way, to use the facilities responsibly, to become the best and to remain the best.