Friday, December 31, 2010

Absurdity of TV Censorship

Recently I was watching a movie on the TV, a movie that I had seen earlier. But then as I watched on there seemed to be scenes, dialogs and words missing from the movie. According to the new laws of censorship in cinema one cannot show cigarette being smoked on the screen and forget about liquor not to mention anything about strong language or nudity. Similar things have been adopted for the TV channels. Don't show this, don't talk about that.

I ask the question why?

 Why is that we need to censor things which according to some individuals is vile, corrupting? As a democracy Indians do have a right to elect whom they see fit to govern them, so aren't enlightened citizens good enough to select what they want to see? Because, if they are not, then even giving them voting rights would be dangerous, they might elect vile and corrupt politicians to power! And if at all the things such as cigarette and liquor, harsh language  with all the Effour letter words,love acts, nudity will corrupt the population, why not banish them from the society. One one hand the government is keen on taxing the industries which manufacture these products in the first place, on the other hand this thing happens! Also one of the arguments that is given is that closing of such industries will take away employment from a whole lot of people. So by censoring cigarettes and liquor is not the government doing exactly that? There is a contradiction which I think I will never be able to understand.

I remember there was a question raised in parliament about this some years back by somebody. It must be sometime in August the logo for a music channel had the Indian tricolor on it. At the same time late in the night [11ish] there used to be a program for dancers. PYTs used to dance on music wearing as you might have guessed a bit skimpy clothes. So some morally upright MP raised this question, that how could be such a thing allowed? In response somebody else pointed out what was the MP doing watching such a thing in the first place at such an unholy hour in the night. The story here reflects the typical attitude, they want all for themselves but when it comes to public, the public needs to be told what they should watch on media. This the Government is doing, controlling the media and trying to control your thoughts.

But fortunately for us, and unfortunately for the government, this is the age of Internet. The example of Wikileaks has shown us that even the mighty US Government cannot stop the flow of information on the Internet. But who can forget Indian Governments attempt to kill Savita Bhabhi? India's first own porn star was put to death by an Government by issuing the ISPs to not allow to access the said web site which hosted her. But that did not kill her, did it? Instead she became immortal.

Perhaps the Government should look at the implications and be practical when they are trying to implement the laws of morality over general public. Do not we see people smoking and drinking in public, isn't molesting of women and their brutal rapes a part of our daily lives, aren't children getting the worst of the things that we as a civilization have to offer to them? Then why make a facade of moral values to try to take control of the media? This is my take on it. The Government doesn't bother whether you or your children grow up as shitbags, but what it bothers about is the control, the thought control precisely.

Government wants the control.

Controlling media would also control what people think and see. And its not just about any Government, the politicians that we see are just the tip of the iceberg. The Government is a system which wants above everything else, the control. There was a time when the control was easy, but we still haven't got over the License Raj, have we? Now they want to introduce the UID, a solution for all the ills in this country. UID, at best, is a solution looking for a problem. The UID project is in place just because the industry has something to sell, and tax payers money has no guardians. They say they will monitor all the progress of an individual. And you know how safe are we when we give all the control to a central authority.

From what we have happening in India in the recent years it wont be long before we have our own version of Orwellian dystopia.

Big Brother Babu is watching you.

The UID will enter into all aspects of your life, birth, education, property, communications, death, travel. UID does not make your country safe, but makes it easier to target "the most dangerous man" as told by Spyder Jerusalem in the Vertigo comics series Transmetropolitan.

The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to
 think things out for himself, without regard to prevailing
 superstitions or taboos. Almost inevitable he comes to the
 conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and
 intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. Even
 if he is not romantic personally he is apt to spread discontent among
 those who are.

 - H L Mencken

Till then beware of what decisions that you support, as they will be paid for by your own children...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Turtle Art Galore...

Here is one for the Turtle Art!

The idea that the child should program the computer and not the other way round was initiated by Seymour Papert in his book Mindstorms. Papert calls the field constructionism instead of Piaget's constructvism. Will elaborate the detailed differnces in some other post. But we at lab  are tryingto bring that in India using Sugar as a learning platform and we are not exclusively using OLPCs for that. We conduct regular teacher training workshops throughour India. One of our basic guidelies in all this is the use of Free and Open Source Software in education.
One of the first things that we introduce to newcomes in Sugar is the Turtle Blocks.

How to define Turtle Art? Well it is a studio! It has components of mathematics. logic, and art embedded in it. Artemis Papert [related to Seymour Papert?] has a website on the art that can be created using Turtle Art here

Have a look at the amazing gallery with the source code also available in case you want to have a peek at how such lovely pictures can be made using Turtle Blocks!!

Here is mine, adopted from the cover of the Turtle Art Book 3 by Artemis Papert.

And this is how I did it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Open Letter to the Railway Minister

This is an open letter to The Railway Minister of India. Whoever it is. Though currently Mamta Banerjee aka Didi is the one who is holding the post. This post is related to the derailing and death of the Gyaneshwari Express:

The Gyaneshwari Express derailment occurred on 28 May 2010 in the West
Midnapore district of West Bengal, India. It was disputed as to
whether sabotage or a bomb caused damage on the railway track, which
in turn led to a train's derailment before an oncoming goods train hit
the loose carriages killing at least 141 passengers.[1]
Now the aftermath of this incidence is that instead of accepting that there is a problem of law and order as regards to the Maoists, the Government is steadily denying that there is a problem. As a result of that all the night running trains in the affected areas have been halted. Instead of trying to look for a solution to the problem, the Government is trying to hide it from the people. So as a result the common people are suffering. The media is supporting the Government in totally being oblivious to the delay in the trains caused by this. I don't know of any coverage, but if it is there, I have not seen it.

The trains get late everyday on an average by 8 - 10 hours! Can you believe this? Once in a while is okay, but everyday? And that too from last 7-8 months? Miss Banerjee what do you have to say for all this delay? If you and the Government is so scared of the Maoists that you cannot run trains in their dominated areas after sundown, at least admit it! You can at least change the train timings... But you are too clever to do that, as you have the state elections lined soon, so instead you will not do this, citing no reason whatsoever?

Think about the trouble it is causing to people, who have to catch trains at odd times, have to sleep on platforms, just because the trains are running late on a regular basis. The railways are there for the public, are the not? And if the public is being left out of the equation, there is something missing. Are you not ashamed as the railway minister, that trains are running regularly late? Or is it the chalta hai attitude that you want to show off? If you cannot solve the Maoist problem at least you can change the train timings so that the passengers are not left in turmoil at the railway station waiting 10 hours after the scheduled time of the arrival of their train...