Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rural Math Talent Search(RMTS) or "Gramya GaNita Medha AnyesaN"

A brief History of need of RMTS:

Since 1993 nearly 10 thousand plus students from all 30 districts of Orissa have taken part in these tests. They are not ordinary tests. They seek to unearth kids with logical minds, good for Mathematics. Mathematics is the language of science and technology like Oriya or English are the language for history, literature and other expression of human emotion/ communication. One has a history and other has a future. Rather, science is the future.

Two profound observations were made:

1. While Orissa is primarily rural(80%) there was unbelievable absence of students from rural Orissa in National Math Olympiad's Orissa state tests.

2. In 21st century of science and technology bringing more and more benefits, spotting and training of math talents is not longer a luxury but a necessity today – if any rosy future for the state is envisioned.

Prof Swadheenananda Pattanayak, director of Institute of Mathematics and others like Prof. Gokulananda Das (ex –VC of UU) and Prof. P.C. Das(Ex-Prof of Kanpur, IIT), noted these malaise and realized that something has to be done.

Simultaneously Dept of Atomic Energy (DOE) of Govt of India was looking for ways to increase in the available pool of students, so that there are some left for basic Science. Every good student in recent years is getting sucked into Engineering / Medical, with none left for pure sciences, the basic infrastructure of the society. DOE was willing to finance a talent search test and training of unearthed talent from the rural areas of Orissa..

To this combined effort was added an NRI's wish to perpetuate his father's memory.

Current scholar's benefits:

Thus RMTS was born in 2003. The Current benefits for a RMTS scholar, are:

Selected students get a scholarship of Rs.1500/ year for 5 years.
They are invited to six – week long residential camps in the next 4 years, All expenses including food, shelter and travel expenses of the scholars and their accompanying teachers are fully paid, as per actuals. The best mathematicians of Orissa teach them. ( see for full information).
RMTS scholars are exposed to modern mathematics and their accompanying teachers are exposed to modern teaching methods in the same camps.
Selection is on merit, with proper consideration of affirmative actions, to counter the disadvantages of region, race and gender.
In 2005, 55 scholarships were awarded to each of Western Orissa, Coastal Orissa and Southern Orissa. The numbers in 2004 was 102 and 45 in 2003, equitably distributed by region..
Once selected they are constantly mentored and monitored to help their full potential to bloom.

Where are we today:

The upcoming RMTS 2006 will be the 4th RMTS..
In 2005 we reached all 30 districts for the 1st time. 2006 goal is to reach all the 314 blocks..
5 students from RMTS got selected for the 1st time in the Orissa state math Olympiad's team camp and performing near the top of the crop.
Like Ramanujan who was not at the top of his class, many of RMTS scholars were not in the top of their class, but are now flourishing, once their niche talent has been found..
We have realized that we have hit upon a winning formula but our target rural talents are still not within reach. There are nearly 800 thousand students in class VI and we have reached only 5 thou.

How can you help:

Help organize centers in all the blocks of Orissa.
Help spread the word so more kids participate in the test, because we can only know who have the logical mind if only they participate. Normally these students are not in the top of their class because our system is geared to rote learning.
Spread the word: Last date of application is Aug 10 / Test date is Sept 10.
Call your friends/relatives in rural Orissa particularly if they are teachers and request them to contact Institute of Mathematics for info booklet and forms.
IMA phone: (0674) 2542164, 2540604

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Chota Sardar, Lame Sardar:

Chota Sardar, Lame Sardar
(On Narendra Modi's Bid to Fish in the Troubled Waters of Mumbai Bomb Blasts
Note: In Oriya language lame are called Chota, I thought it is more appropriate for NaMo as an adjective)

By Chanakya

After he was barred entry into the USA, the Gujarat Chief Minister's balloon got hugely deflated. The charade of addressing the Indian Hotel and Motel Owners' Association so distant from Indian shores was surely a face-saving act but the puffed ego of the Chota Sardar (or lame Sardar) was definitively deflated. His effort reminded me of an Indian proverb: slapping himself to look radiant. For at the time even other state BJPs had dreaded and stopped inviting him for their election rallies. I still remember his eager and anxious wait to visit Patna by air but the invitation from Nitish Kumar never came. Days were really dreary for our "Chota" sardar. No invitations, no opportunity for press interviews, no bad mouthing of Mian Musharaff, the President of Pakistan, nor even random foisting of small riots on minorities like Christians, - none of it was working. "Asmita" was a dead slogan now. He would have liked to organize riots in reaction to the bomb blast at Sankat Mochan temple of Varanasi. But there was the real risk of losing the "Gaddi". There was no longer L. K. Advani as home minister or Atal Bihari as Prime Minister to save him. The writing on his favorite box of riot tricks warned him - "Open at your own risk".
In this desperate situation of NaMo's political life came the heaven sent opportunity of Mumbai Train Bombing of 7/11. Returning home that night Modi gratefully prayed to Lord Hanuman for sending him this opportunity. Soon this man with strong common sense realized he was crediting the wrong god. He corrected himself promptly and thanked Lashkar-e-Taiaba (LET) profusely. More, he blessed them, saying "May your tribe increase", for who else would have devised such a golden opportunity for the sinking morals of the Lame Sardar? With such enemies, Modi assured himself, you don't need friends. He told himself - next time around he would play host to the LET chief. After all they are the people Mian Musharaff trusts in his hour of trial or peril. But, like Modi, LET and ISI, have their own compulsions. They were low in spirits and, last but not least, money, which comes in only when there is some "action". Who else but Modi knows it better? If you can organize something like the Self Pride Parade of Gujarat, Modi Brand, crores of rupees in "donation" pour in, which does not have to be accounted for. When one is out of power, it comes handy – does it not? One could direct the doubters to his good friend the late Pramod Mahajan, only if he were alive, alas. How else could a school teacher's son amass Rs.2000 crores in just 15 to 20 years? And with it came glitzy women, living in top class hotels, luxuriating in good food, heady wines and ecstatic drugs. Life was dandy for Mahajan till his own brother Praveen, smitten with envy and greed, found it intolerable and ended his posh life. And poor Rahul Mahajan, like the mythological Abhimanyu, did not know how to get out of the Drink-Drug Vyuha. He only knew from his father how to be inundated, but not how to be extricated. The momentous lesson "How to Commit Crimes and Escape Scot-free", was not yet passed on to his son, when he fell to his brother's bullet. Even in death he had covered his tracks so well that from Kashmir to Kanyakumari he was hailed as the great soul - a future Prime Minister, slain needlessly by a family member. Yes, the party chiefs of BJP in various states of India, like Orissa's Jual Oram, observed the funerary ritual of clean shaving their head, as befits a bereaved son or brother. All this was being gulped by naive Indians till the drama came to a sudden end. Within a month of Pramod's demise , came the death of Moitra, his personal assistant from heroin and alcohol, and the near death of Rahul Mahajan from the same.
Fatherly bachelor & ex-Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, expressed his public compassion for the drug addict Rahul, stating - "in youth, people make errors". We don't know if Atal ji did any.
Let us come back to the Lame Sardar, Modi. With Mahajan's death, the danger of being out of power was becoming crystal clear to him. The ISI's and Mushrraf's problem was India's 9.1% growth in the 1st quarter of 2006. Such growth for even 2 or 3 years would make every Pakistani want to be Indian citizens. It is like they do today by going to Saudi or Europe, and trying to be citizens there. After all people with hunger in their belly show their preferences through their feet. They don't care whether it is ruled by Sharia or not - all they want is work so they can get food. They can be used by Sardars or Mians but their primary allegiance is to their hungry stomach. This is why it was necessary for the ISI to hatch a plot of disruption. If only Mumbai had a CM like Modi - it would give an excuse to Mian Musharraf to again wriggle out of his commitments, like he did in his February 15 speech, ostensibly due to what happened in Modi's Gujarat. Soon he realized Modi is a friend Musharaff can rely on, even though in public Modi screams "Mian Musharaff" time and again to keep his troops in line.
Narendra Modi knows that better than everyone else, because people from all over India are moving into Gujarat. And they are now moving more into Maharashtra because the era of Shiv Sena / RSS disruption of Mumbai is over. Does it mean Mumbai has become a better place? May be it is tending that way and that is the rub. Like Mian Musharaff, he does not like it. But, in Modi's view, the stupid Mumbaikars don't understand what is good for them. They did not follow up with massacring innocent Muslims, they did not resort to a big strike demanding better security - which would have reduced growth by a third of a percentage point, and they did not do anything disruptive of peace and amity. Instead, they hurried to carry the injured and the dead to hospitals, cleaned up the mess, donated enough blood so that within 3 hours of the blasts all blood banks were full, proved to be compassionate human beings and went back to work.
How disappointing... So the Lame Sardar has taken courage in both hands and has come to the great Shanmukhanand Hall (named after a Congress man and a freedom fighter, a taboo in Hedgewar's time). Hedgewar had dissuaded people from participating in the Salt March. His theory: "Fighting the British would fritter away Hindu energy which should be preserved to fight the Muslims". He was totally oblivious that British were the colonial rulers of India. Well, after all, they were friendly to people like Hedgewar, Golwalkar, and Savarkar. What else would you call their letting go the Savarkar brothers, sentenced for life, from Andaman Island's Cellular Jail? Of course they had given an undertaking to do the British bidding. How else can two fiery freedom fighters turn to Hindutwa on return to the main land? In comparison, Mir Jaffar was a patriot. And Modi was trained at the feet of such patriots and had learned all the tricks of the treasonous trade as a RSS preacher. So between him, his Hindutwa brigade, Mian Musharaff, his ISI and LET, if they can start a riot in or around Mumbai, the 9.1% growth will evaporate like a pipe dream. Well, if and only if he could he knew, he would achieve his goal. People will admire him for his economic management and hate the NPA government, whose party is in charge in Mumbai and Delhi. And BJP will reap their harvest on people's frustration and misery and may be back in power. And if BJP comes back, he will outwit everyone and become the PM - after all he is closing in on being BJP's longest running Chief Minister. Thus he can again go to USA, the threat of arrest not withstanding. Because he may have been arrested in 2005, as Dr. Manmohan Singh was notified at the dead of night, which deterred him from taking the trip (a la Pinochet). He knew if he was arrested his CM ship would have ended then and there, with Patel taking charge, and he himself tossed in the wilderness like Uma Bharati. That was the risk which prevented him from going to UK and USA.
He is now not sure if he can start a riot in Mumbai, in spite of help from some Maharashtra Government insiders. He does not give a damn to what happens to ordinary Indians or Mumbaikars as a result. He can always weave a wonderful brocade of words and divert ordinary people's anger. And Mian Musharaff can have new terrorist recruits from wronged and harmed families. It will be good for everyone, except the common man. And who cares for them any way? That is why he went to Mumbai Shanmukhananda Hall. But despite his exertions, he could not inspire the common Behari in Mumbai to kill a Mian or two. As the longest running CM of a neighboring state, he could have provided the killers shelter indefinitely. They knew it - every one knew it. Yet nothing happened. Disappointed, the Lame Sardar goes back to his lair in Ahmedabad, shell shocked at the stupidity of the common folks of Mumbai or their sagacity?