Archive for May, 2010

Liars and bankers

May 17, 2010 Leave a comment

News comes from Canada that according to cutting-edge research on child psychology, children who lie will do better in life. Apparently, the process of formulating a lie requires complex reconnections of the neural pathways in the brain, thus building an alternate reality while keeping the truth at the back of the mind. The scientist who carried out the research added `They even make bankers in later life.’

I am not sure I understood that sentence. Isn’t high finance the main place for big lies? So I would expect that those who start lying at an early age get better at it as they grow up … into bankers. Maybe he should have dropped the `even’ from that sentence.


Taxing the doctors

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

As this news report from the BBC shows, doctors in Greece have been guilty of the same sort of practices as I mentioned in an earlier post, of not giving a receipt. And as the Greek economy has crashed and the people have started rioting in protest of the `austerity measures’, the government has fined a few doctors for underreporting their income. Surely our government can do something similar, after all, the Indian economy is in a worse shape than Greece’s — at least in terms of a much higher percentage of people being without food, water, clothing, education or medical services.

Science and Hindi

May 12, 2010 Leave a comment

There is a parliamentary committee which looks after the promotion of the national language. Every now and then it visits some central government office (or a national institution like ours) and issues dicta about how much Hindi should be used in daily work and how much Hindi all employees must learn.

Today I heard a funny outcome of this. Every departmental head at our institute must issue at least five notices a month in Hindi, without an accompanying English translation. This includes the scientific departments as well. So in order to be a scientist, it is not enough to know the science or to be able to do research in it, but one has to learn a language different from one’s own, and different from the one used in research.

No wonder progress in science is so slow in India.

Update: The requirement of five notices seems to have been reduced to three.

Mines and Maoists

May 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Today’s paper carries the headlines that Maoists have asked Mittal to keep his hands off the mines of Jharkhand. I am a little surprised that this is headline news, because I thought it was obvious the tribal areas were seeing a lot of violent protests — and often Maoism — because mining activities kept displacing the tribals and destroying the means of their livelihood. There is a clear historical correlation between Maoist activity and displacement. There is no information on the MOUs signed between the state governments and the mining companies, and these are treated as secret by the governments. So it would seem that the companies and the governments have something to hide. Perhaps headlines like these will make more people want to find out exactly what is going on between the mining companies and the tribals.