Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Nope. Not Going To Write Again."

On the morning of Monday, the 30th of March, 2015, 27-year old Freethinker-blogger Washiqur Rahman was murdered (Bangla news account here) on the streets of Tejgaon industrial area in Dhaka by three machete-wielding Islamic extremists; two of them, in their 20s, were captured by some passers-by and handed over to the police. According to news reports (Bangla), the duo stated that they didn't know, or have any personal enmity towards, Washiqur. They were told that Washiqur had insulted Islam and the Prophet, for which his life was forfeited; they were supplied with machetes and Washiqur's photo, shown his house, and given detailed instructions. They carried out the horrendous act without remorse, believing it was their duty as Muslims.

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Never A Reason To Stop Fighting To Make The World Better"

Hacked to death. Hacked. To death. Two living, breathing human beings, returning home after their day's work, set upon by murderous assailants who dragged them to the pavement and hacked away at them with machete-like sharp instruments. Two human beings, a man who has succumbed to his deadly injuries, and a woman, who sustained severe injuries to her hands and forehead as she tried to protect her companion. Two human beings, my friend and his wife.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Of Minds and Men: Some End of Year Reflections

A peculiar trait in human beings: anything we don't understand, or anything we find different from ours, we tend to put in boxes. Or, apply labels to it. Perhaps it is an aid to understanding, perhaps it makes us feel comfortable and in control over the vicissitudes of life in uncertain times. But in doing so, rarely do we consider the splash damage. Mental illness is one of those oft-used boxes, which we easily and cavalierly assign to things that we find ranging widely from grossly unpleasant to merely different.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sexual Violence in India: A Tale of Two Stories... for balance?

Some of us were shocked and outraged the other day when via CNN iReport, user RoseChasm, a South Asian studies student at the University of Chicago, shared with the world the horrifying tale of her harrowing experience of being sexually harassed, repeatedly, while in India.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Traditional Indian "Joint" Families: Are they quite the paragon of support?

In a recent post, noted Indian educationist and social commentator Meeta Sengupta has wistfully (as she herself noted) sung paeans to the traditional Indian family, also referred to as a "joint-family". Do read the eloquent essay in her blog, and I encourage you, dear reader, to interact with her. Understanding her point of view is important for another reason, too: it'd help clarify my position on this - in sharp contrast to hers. This is a matter of some significance to me, and hence I chose to respond via a blog post of my own. I think a disclaimer is important here: I greatly admire the wisdom and thoughts of Ms. Sengupta on different aspects of education, and we follow each other on Twitter. Rarely do I have an/any occasion to disagree with what she writes; however, this essay of hers seems one of those rare occasions, where I disagree with her thesis. This response is not to engender acrimony between us, but to present a viewpoint that is - as will be apparent - patently different from hers in this matter.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Noted Women Scientists of India - an attempt at enumeration

Priya Ravichandran (@binaryfootprint on Twitter), who is a program manager and writer with the Takshashila Institution, threw a challenge on Twitter the other day. She asked her followers to name top 5 women scientists of India without doing a Google search first. Easy-peesy, I thought. But as I tried to remember the names, I was mortified to discover that beyond Dr. Asima Chatterjee (a noted Chemist) and Dr. Sipra Guha Mukherjee (a noted plant biologist, who had taught us at the Jawaharlal Nehru University), I couldn't remember off-hand the names of any top tier Indian women in the pure sciences fields. Even in my dotage, this was embarrassing. So, I enlisted the help of my friends on Facebook (Viva la social media!) and asked them to come up with names. In this post, I am going to list those names that came up. One caveat: the list, understandably, may be slightly biased towards women in bioscience and related fields - since many of my friends and I are biology researchers. However, I'd love it if you, dear readers, could come up with other names, and leave them in the comments, along with a few words in description.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Towards infinity and beyond

On her newly-minted blog, my niece, a budding physician, was reminiscing the other day about the first time she set foot outside her family home, her city, her comfort zone - her first foray into the greater world beyond, in order to pursue her dream of becoming a medical professional. Under the Indian medical education system - quite different from the American system - one gets into medical schools right after graduating senior high school, what is known in India as the Higher Secondary, and represents 12 years of basic schooling. For her, then a teenager, this parting from the nest was a bitter-sweet experience, tinged equally with the fear of unknown and the determination to make her place in the world.