Archive for the 'science and society' Category

February 17, 2013

A post on a new project of OLPC started in Goa by Monsoon Grey

Monsoon Grey

The second Sugar-OLPC project in Goa went live today – Feb 5th, 2013 – at Nirmala Kindergarten. The first one at Merces has been running for close to 3 years now. For Nirmala KG, the planning had started a few months ago in August of 2012 (see previous post ‘Second Sugar-OLPC Project in Goa‘). We had visited the school to explore the possibility of doing an OLPC project there. Nirmala Institute of Education (NIE) is our partner for the Sugar-OLPC work that we do here in Goa, as well as the parent institute in whose premises the school is located.

After the initial discussions, we had conducted a Sugar Training Workshop at NIE in November 2012 for the teachers of Nirmala-KG (see post ‘Sugar Training for Nirmala-KG Teachers‘), and decided to start the OLPC project in early 2013. In our later discussions with the school, we…

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Have faith in your own reason! Be your own god!! Aham Brahmasmi!!!

April 25, 2011

While the nation is in grief about Sathya Sai Baba’s death, I wondered about his prediction that he would live till 96, and he will determine when he will die.  I would consider him a successful mask to see the truth, a curtain that withheld a large followers  to reason and their ability to see the truth.  All his miracles that made him famous were performed repeatedly by several rationalists around the world.

On this occasion  I cannot but use this space to spread the article written by Sanal Edamaruku here, which landed in my mailbox forwarded by a friend.

India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba

Sanal Edamaruku
President
Indian Rationalist Association & Rationalist International

When Sathya Sai Baba died this morning (24 April 2011) at the age of 85 years, he proved once again that miracles and predictions fail. He had predicted at a public gathering at his head quarters in Puttaparthy, in 2000, and repeatedly many times, that he would die at the age of 96 only. And till the last moment, many of his devotees clung to his word and waited for a miracle. May it be an eye opener for the millions of gullible people whom he misguided and deluded.

De mortuis nihil nisi bene, they say, say nothing but good of the dead. But I think Sathya Sai Baba’s case qualifies for an exception. Too great is the damage that he did to India. His devastating influence on reason and scientific temper caused huge setback to the country. At a time, when scientific progress led to great social and economic leaps and scientific awakening started spreading all over India, Sathya Sai Baba launched a “counter revolution” of superstition, supported by irresponsible politicians and other public figures who should have known better. In my judgment, this is his greatest crime. I have succeeded again and again to expose him publicly as a fraud, so did some other rationalists. But due to his political protectors he was never held responsible for his crimes against public reason. Nor was he ever booked for any other crime he was accused of. Numerous cases of alleged sexual abuse and murder are yet to be investigated, not to mention the financial secrets of his empire.

Sathya Sai Baba insisted in all seriousness that he was god, the creator of the universe, and “proved” his divinity with a couple of small “miracles”. As son of a village tantric he was familiar with the hand sleights and tricks of the trade. However, he did not only fascinate poor and uneducated villagers with his fraudulent performances. Over the years, he managed to attract a galaxy of India’s rich and powerful, among them ministers, prime ministers, presidents, chief justices, top industrialists and superstars.

Sathya Sai Baba had a special modus operandi that was the key for his astonishing success and the root of his enormous clout. Many of his high society devotees came to serve their own vested interests. Some came to rub shoulders with the prominent. Many joined the club because it was working as a powerful syndicate spreading its tentacles all over the political system. It was a way to the top jobs and a way to get things done. Others were seeking financial support or wanted to get rid of ill-gotten black money: The empire, it is alleged, was based on money laundering, using foreign devotees and branches. In fact, the huge foreign donations to Sai Baba stood in contrast to the comparatively modest number of active foreign devotees and the sometimes quite weak foreign branches, some of them residing in private homes. That is no great surprise, when one considers that Sai Baba did not speak any other language than Telugu and traveled only once in his whole life abroad – to visit his friend Idi Amin in Uganda.

On his 80th birthday, Sai Baba’s supporters announced that he would turn from a miracle man to a philanthropist. That was, after I had demonstrated his miracles so often in TV shows that many kids in the streets could imitate them. That he since spent a part of the great fortunes, swindled out of the gullible, for social development around his ancestral village, is highlighted now to present him as a saint. But as useful and welcome hospitals, schools and drinking water projects for the poor always may be: this kind of alibi-philanthropy is well known even from mafia-bosses. It cannot be weighed against his crimes and the damage he has done to the Indian society.

In December 2005, I wrote a letter to then President Dr. Abdul Kalam, one of Sai Baba’s ardent supporters, which was never answered. I demanded criminal investigations against Sai Baba. If his social development projects are meant to be indulgence to nullify his crimes, this procedure is unprecedented and unacceptable, I wrote. It is a shame for India that well-founded accusations and numerous reputed witnesses against Sai Baba are ignored without any investigation. Do saffron clothes make an offender untouchable for the law? Do we have to tolerate that political protectionism raises its head so boldly, mocking India’s democracy?

Sathya Sai Baba caused great damage to India. His irresponsible political patrons corrupted the political culture of India. Encouraged by the clout of Sathya sai Baba, a new clan of miracle mongers imitated him. India would have been a better place without Sathya Sai Baba.

(This or other articles from the  Rationalist International Bulletin may be reproduced by journals, blogs or web sites without change or alteration in its content, and with due acknowledgment.)

Rationalist International: rationalistinternational@gmail.com

Scientific Support for Nuclear Energy

April 10, 2011

George Monbiot’s article, published in The Gaurdian and republished in The Hindustan Times provoked me to seek the truth, and look for scientific evidences for building factories for producing nuclear energy, called nuclear power plants.   I posted the following as a comment at the latter’s  site.  For the record and possibly for a ensuring more eye balls, I am reproducing the comments here.  The context may become clear if you could read the article linked above from either of the source.

Even if the anti-nuclear lobby took advantage of the Chernobyl incident and exaggerated the deaths to be 900,000, or even if Chernobyl did not occur, I still hold that factories for generating nuclear power should not to be touched by human beings on this earth. The reasons are scientific.  So, I seek scientific evidence to the
following:

  1. Artificially accumulating  radioactive substances is inviting trouble.  Even if a group of people are capable of taking care of it in a nicely sealed containers, when it leaks due to an accident it does not specifically take only those who accumulated and took control of it.  It takes the lives of innocent people.  Even if radioactive leak selectively kills the responsible nuclear engineers and policy makers, it is not justified.   Scientists cannot leave such a thing loose and say they are not responsible.  Scientists have no scientific answer to repair this damage.   A deadly poison  (like cyanide)  will have only local effects, it kills only those who take it.  Even fire kills only those who got burnt.  Nuclear material is not of this kind. Nuclear material causes non-local damage.Do we scientifically know how to repair this damage?  I want a journal publication to show that this kind of damage is repairable.  Could the pro-nuclear power lobby provide a scientific claim published in a journal that exposed accumulated radioactive material does not cause damage to lives.  At least 300 people did die at Chernobyl.  Did they die because they got crushed under the rubble of concrete?  Was the death of 300 innocent people cheap?  Are they martyrs for the crazy nationalistic patriotic nuclear scientists pursuit or the private factory that makes justifiable amount of money? I do not see any logic in the author’s argument.  Just because some anti-nuclear activist’s figures are wrong, it does not follow that nuclear energy production problem is scientifically solved.
  2. All other kinds of furnaces and boilers that we use in factories and thermal power plants work at a possible temperatures allowed at this cooled environment of earth where nuclei are mostly stable. Radioactive nuclei are present on Earth, but at a density that allowed life to happen and flourish.  Nuclear energy produces temperatures that are not suitable for this earth.  None of us scientifically know how to live or repair the perturbations caused by that scale of energy.  Even if we can produce with a lot of sophistication nuclear energy, as several nuclear power plants are doing now, there is no scientific evidence that another chernobyl or tsunami does not occur ever in the future.  Is there any scientific reason published in any journal so far that gives pro-nuclear energy gang the confidence that the probability of nuclear accidents of this kind is so low that we can go ahead with the factories producing  nuclear power.

I am still perplexed how scientists can scientifically justify and play with a factory of nuclear energy.

While I will not defend a factory of nuclear energy, I will defend a few nuclear plants for scientific research., since this is not let loose to companies and factory management.

Seeking scientific evidence for the two cases above.

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