Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Farmland vs Industry

Here is a report in the Telegraph, titled "Seal on CM farm theory". It goes on to state that while the national economy is growing at 9%, industrial growth rate has just reached double digit at 10%. The share of agriculture to GDP has declined to around 18.4% while that of industry and services have increased to 26.5% and 55.1% respectively.

To quote the article "Bhattacharjee has already read the situation and believes that Bengal — which he reckons is in a transition phase — needs to slowly shift from agriculture to industry (see interview in Bengal Unbound)."

I just wonder whether this form of economics considers that food is a primary necessity for human existence. Respected CM, supporting industries in Bengal is a welcome move; stamping out agriculture is not.

To be perfectly honest, the numbers quoted in the article really dont mean anything unless somebody also comes up with stats for the %age of population engaged in agriculture, services and industry, as well as the absolute requirements from agriculture (this is the minimum level one has to ensure; a fall from this level of agricultural production is a potential minefield for a relatively poor country like India).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The best bowler in death

S. Rajesh presents some compelling stats on bowling at the death. As he says, one look at the stats and one knows where Rana Naved ul Hasan should bowl for Pakistan. Worth having in the team even if to bowl only 5 overs out of the last 10 and nothing else.

He also shows up Chaminda Vaas to be an ideal bowler at the start of an innings. Tom Moody, what are you thinking? Amazing things, these stats! :-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

... and Bermuda's captain replies

Here is what a former Bermuda captain thought about Michael Holding's comments.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Free E-Books

Here is a page with a few links to a number of free e-books, largely pertaining to mechanics and materials science.

IUCr teaching pamphlets

A series of pamphlets on x-ray diffraction and crystallography can be found here at the IUCr website over here.

"... diplomacy is war by other means ..."

K.P. Nayar writes in an interesting editorial for The Telegraph that "Carl von Clausewitz, wrote that “war is nothing more than the continuation of politics by other means”. For Pervez Musharraf, diplomacy is nothing more than the continuation of war by other means. As the United Progressive Alliance government slowly but surely blunders into an illusory peace deal with Pakistan, Musharraf is trying to achieve through niceties what he could not get through bullying in Agra in 2001."

The part on Siachen is especially alarming:

"The Manmohan Singh government would have already finalized a settlement of the Siachen dispute with Pakistan if the army and the air force had not taken the rare step late last year of expressing themselves firmly but clearly against bartering away India’s strategic advantage on the glacier for the cosmetic advantage of ticking one item off the list of bilateral disputes between New Delhi and Islamabad."

Yet another drop in the ocean of blunders by the Congress govts.

Old order changeth?

That seems to be the question on every cricket fan's mind with the Aussies losing 5 games on the trot now. Adam Gilchrist says there is too much of cricket and the Aussies didnt want to play Kiwis. While the issue of fatigue cant really be disregarded, it does appear that the famous Aussie assembly line is starting to crack, and is no longer churning out top notch replacements for the superstars like Gilchrist, Ponting or McGrath.

Michael Holding, on the other hand criticises the ICC for including too many minnows and dragging on the world cup for 2 months. I, for one, agree fully with him. At cricket's showpiece we need a short but memorable burst of high quality competitive games and not a long drawn mediocre set of contests interspersed with some quality cricket.

Each group has 2 minnows and 2 of the stronger sides. Thus, of the 6 matches played in the group, only 2 are supposed to be competitive, namely the ones between the 2 strong sides and the ones between the 2 minnows (although once again, this probably would be a game not too many would be interested in anyway). So, we have a potential humdinger only 1 out of 3 games in the intial stages.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Face Recognition

MyHeritage.com has an interesting face recognition program for matching your face with that of celebrities. These are the results I got after uploading my pics :-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wanted: top notch professors

This is how some of the premier institutes plan to retain and hire top professors. The report goes on to say "IIT Delhi is planning to “play on the emotions” of Indian scholars studying or working abroad. Faculty members travelling overseas have been told to seek out bright young Indians and encourage them to return."

Wonder whether they really believe it will work. I may be wrong, but it seems to me the two key reasons for Indian academics preferring greener pastures abroad is: 1) Better research facilities, and 2) Money (not necessarily in this order). There are other impediments as well, some of which has been listed nicely over here by Dr. Phanikumar.

Research facilities available in some of the universities abroad are still out of reach for Indian universities having a similar standing in India. So far as the salary differential goes, I guess the following set of figures might be interesting.

The avge starting salaries for undergrads from a good university in US - $60k p.a.. The avge starting salary for an Asst prof in US - $75k p.a. Compare this with Indian stats. The avge starting salaries for undergrads from a good university in India - Rs15-18k p.m. (IITians, BITSians and some of the NITians as well as a few other places like BHU, Jadavpur, etc have a better average). The avge starting salary for an Asst prof in India - Rs18K.

The avge grad student in US may end up with a stipend of $20k p.a. The Asst prof manages $75k p.a. Compare with Indian scenario. The PhD students get Rs 10k p.m. The Asst prof gets Rs 18k pm.

Then again, some of the developed countries have a large number of industries willing to engage academicians in consultancies. The apalling status (at least on the R&D front) of Indian industries preclude consultancies to some extent at least.

How much of these problems does IIT Delhi hope to overcome by "playing on emotions"?

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Tale of two players

When Sourav Ganguly gets dropped due to poor form, it is justified; he has to grind out in the domestic circuit for an year to make it back.

However, should Sehwag ever run out of steam, he would still be in for the big tournaments because he is a proven matchwinner (so what if the matchwinning performances were aeons ago?)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The Telegraph has an interesting op-ed on microcredit system over here. An interesting quote from Mohammed Yunus which gets quoted there: ... the difference between classical economies and poverty solutions was that the former sought answers from the head while the answers to the latter had to be searched from the heart.

Teraflop desktops

Good news for the computing enthusiasts. The Telegraph reports that Intel might soon be ready with teraflop desktops.

"Intel has touted a diminutive new microprocessor that it said could deliver “supercomputer-like” performance to home computers and handheld devices.
Intel said yesterday that its unprecedented programmable processor was not much larger than a fingernail, used less power than a typical home appliance and could perform more than a trillion calculations per second — a “teraflop”.
Such “tera-scale computing” could make possible artificial intelligence, real-time speech recognition, realistic video games, instant online film viewing and other stuff from the realm of science fiction, according to Intel. “Our researchers have achieved a wonderful and key milestone in terms of being able to drive multi-core and parallel computing performance forward,” said Intel chief technology officer Justin Rattner. "

Friday, February 9, 2007

Battle of Knowledgeables.

Here is an article on the spat inside the Knowledge Comission. It is interesting to note the Communist party state Pitroda does not understand the Indian ground realities". The "broad" and "indepth" understanding of "ground realities" by the CPI is there for all to see, with their recent land acquisition drive and their "superb" stewardship of Bengal over the past 3 decades.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mathematics and Materials Science

Yet again, the professor harped to a class of MSE grad students, "I know that those from an MSE background arent too familiar with the mathematical techniques..."

Wonder why is it always like that? In India at least, students get into IITs / BHU / NITs through gruelling exams which have a significant mathematical component (In fact, when I took up the state entrance exam in 2000 for admission to REC, the math paper carried 200 points, physics 100 and chem 100). Seems to me that its criminal to take in students based on mathematical aptitude and then fritter it all away by divorcing metallurgy courses from mathematics.

A couple of guys in our Metallurgical Engg Dept were also amongst the toppers in the Regional Mathematical Olympiad during high school. By the time we were through with the BTech program in Metallurgy, they (as well as the rest) were hard put to solve simple problems in calculus, probability and combinatorics. Till date, this remains my single bigggest greivance regarding metallurgy / materials science education.

Wonder when the metallurgists will wake up to the fact that math, when applied to meta, can actually be fun!!

Team India

My pick for the World Cup:
Saurav, Robin Uthappa, Sachin, Dravid, Yuvraj, Irfan Pathan (C'mon, everyone cribs that he isnt taking wickets, but the lad still averaged more than some of the established batsmen at least in the (disastrous) SA tour), Dhoni (wk), Agarkar, Kumble, Zaheer, Munaf as the first XI, with Bhajji and Dinesh Karthick as back ups. The other two slots are up for grabs though.