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.