Archive for October, 2010

The Tsunami waves…

Posted by on Oct-31-2010

As a mariner my life is always tied with the ocean which makes my life incredible. The deepest oceans have many untold mysteries, legends and stories. The beauty of the ocean has been well described by many great poets and writers. The water in these oceans has made our life on earth possible. Water gives life but the same water leads to destruction. It can show its most terrorizing face with violent ‘Tsunami’ waves.
Tsunami… The word itself fills us with terror. It reminds us of the black day, when the killer waves wiped the lives of over millions of people. Tsunami is a Japanese word which means ‘harbor wave’. Tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of water. Due to the immense volumes of water and energy involved, tsunamis can ruin coastal regions. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions, landslides and other mass movements, meteorite ocean impacts or similar impact events, and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami.
Tsunami is generated when the sea floor suddenly deforms and vertically displaces the overlying water. Tectonic earthquakes are earthquakes that are associated with the earth’s crustal deformation and when these earthquakes occur underneath the sea, the water above the distorted area is displaced from its equilibrium position. Tsunamis have small amplitude offshore, and a very long wavelength. That is the main reason why the waves usually pass unnoticed at sea, forming only a slight swell usually about 12 inch above the normal sea surface. They grow in height when they reach shallow region.
A tsunami can occur in any tidal state and even at low tide. Scientists discovered that extremely large landslides from volcanic island collapses can generate mega tsunami, which can travel trans-oceanic distances.

The Battle for dams

Posted by on Oct-24-2010

Dams have always remained as a major concern. Dams and hydroelectric projects are constructed to fulfill needs of human beings but these have satisfied only a minority group. These projects are made with huge promises throwing light on the reward. But many a times the impacts of these dams turn out to be ridiculous.
The construction of large dams completely change the relationship of water and land, destroying the existing ecosystem balance which, in many cases, has taken thousands of years to create. The reservoirs held behind dams affect many ecological aspects of a river. Rivers topography and dynamics depend on a wide range of flows whilst rivers below dams often experience long periods of very stable flow conditions or saw tooth flow patterns caused by releases followed by no releases.
In china the dams have become a threat to the Biodiverse Rivers. China already four dams and it plan to construct more dams. Now it’s the Mekong River where a new dam would be constructed. The Mekong River which is world’s most biodiverse river is now under threat. It is considered as world’s largest freshwater fisheries. The rich ecosystem of this river includes the giant cat fish as well as a colony of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin. The problem for countries further down the Mekong is that dams reduce the levels of sediment and silt that carry nutrients essential for fish to survive. It causes the loss of entire ecospheres, including endangered and undiscovered species in the area, and the replacement of the original environment by a new inland lake.
The Mekong flows through China winding down through the heart of South-east Asia before emptying into a fertile delta in Vietnam. But rapid investment in the rapid expansion of hydropower dams is starting to take its toll. The environmentalists have raised serious concerns about the river’s future. Despite knowing the impacts caused by the dam the government planners have given approval for its construction. But it’s not just the Chinese government that supports the dam building. Officials in Laos are also keen to exploit the promise of hydropower, seeing it as one way to lift the country out of chronic poverty through electricity sales to energy-hungry neighbors.
Many governments only think about the economy. The existing and proposed dams on the mainstream and tributaries of the Mekong River pose tremendous threats to 20 million people living in the delta. Most of the people depend on freshwater fisheries for an estimated 80 percent of their protein intake, dams that block fish migration spell disaster for food security. Fishing which is the employment of more six million would be totally effected. But despite knowing all the consequences, battle for the construction of dams continues. It’s not just the matter of China alone but it’s the matter of all the countries.
At the end of the day, no dam is the best option for all countries.

The Anglo Indian Literature

Posted by on Oct-17-2010

The long rule of British in India quite naturally produced two types of literature called the “Indo Anglian” and “Anglo Indian”. In my last post I have discussed about the Indo Anglian Literature. This time I would like to through light on the early Anglo Indian Literature.

Anglo Indian literature comprises the works written about India. There is a large body of writing on Indian life and society, history etc by Englishmen including bureaucrats and missionaries. All these Anglo Indian writers were critical, in most cases of India and Indians. All what they wrote was primarily designed to influence opinion in Britain. In those times, it was from these works that the legislators, and that narrow section of the British people which made up public opinion, acquired their image of India. They preferred the evidence for India’s depravity and backwardness. The prejudiced views of these Anglo Indian writers helped to create a climate in Britain favorable to the consolidation and advance of western ideas of government and economics in India. But there were Englishmen, who favorably disposed to India like William Sleeman. In his ‘Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official’, he has uncharacteristically painted the picture of an India damaged by contact with the west.

The fiction and poetry written during the period also reflected more or less the same urges, priorities and prejudices. Much of the Anglo Indian literature represented a growing racial consciousness amongst the British and was without merit. But there were few exceptions like Mrs. Sherwood’s children’s book. ‘Confessions of a Thug’ is a kind of novel by Meadows Taylor. It is based on the author’s experiences in the suppression of ‘Thugs’, the robber cast of northern India. ‘Oakfield or Fellowship in the East’, a novel written by the poet William Delafield Arnold, is more of a tract than a novel. It is primarily an exposure of pettiness and wickedness of his countrymen in India.

One of the most important names that come up when we discuss Anglo Indian fiction is Rudyard Kipling. He became the laureate of Anglo India for a larger audience than it could ever have considered possible. Kipling explored the shallow lives of the British in India and reflected some, but by no means all, of their prejudices. The few Indians who appear in such work as was written in India are either servants or ‘incompetent’ educated Bengalis. It was only after leaving India Kipling was able o write ‘Kim’ what is undoubtedly the best work of fiction about India by an Englishmen. Several works of Kipling are still quite popular, especially ‘The Jungle Book’, which continues to be lapped up by our children. As a novelist Rudyard Kipling is valued even today. But with his sense of racial superiority Kipling also became notorious for his pro-imperialist opinions.

As an Anglo Indian novelist E.M. Foster, the author of ‘A Passage to India’, is more important than Kipling. Though hailed by Indians for its attack on Anglo Indian society and its prejudices, is just as offensive in its drawing of Indian character as its predecessors. Foster succeeds in capturing the tensions, ambivalences and contradictions of colonial rule in India as well as the doubts and frustration and ignorance of a number of English officials and their wives in remote Indian town. Two other note-worthy Anglo Indian novelists are Flora Annie Steel and E.M. Thomson.

When we come to Anglo Indian poetry we have say that it’s worse than their fiction. Much of what they wrote was extremely awful; some reached a fairy high standard of mediocrity.

Indo Anglian Literature

Posted by on Oct-9-2010

In my previous post I have shared about the Anglo Indian Art and Architecture. This time I would like to discuss about the Indo-Anglian literature.

Indo Anglian literature is usually described as Indian writing in English. Even before the Macaulay’s Minute, Indians used to write in English. Ram Mohan Roy was the first of those notable Indian sages who have expressed themselves in English. Toru Dutt who was born in 1856 made some effective translations of French, ‘Le Journal de Mademoiselle d’ Avers, and an unfinished English novel, Bianca. Romesh Chander Dutt was a considerable scholar and translator. Rabindranath Tagore was the great name in Bengali literature.

The Indian writing in English began to get noticed and seriously discussed only with the arrival of a number of novelists in the 1930s. And their works, in its totality, contributed to the legitimation of the Indian literature written in English. There are those who argue that the effort to express one’s deepest human experiences in a foreign language is a blind alley, lined with curio shops, leading to nowhere.

It was in 1930s, that the Indian began with what has now turned out to be a substantial contribution to the novel in English, and one that particularly suited their talent. Three of these writers belonged not only to an intrinsic distinction but the peculiarly important attaching to inaugurators. They were R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao. It was these three who defined the area in which the Indian novel was to operate. They established the suppositions, the manner, the idiom, the concept character, and the nature of the themes which were to give the Indian novel its particular distinctiveness. Each of them used an easy, natural if old fashioned idiom which they succeeded in freeing from the foggy taste of the British inheritance.

R.K. Narayan, an extremely prolific writer, has written several fine novels such as ‘Swami and Friend’, ‘The bachelor of Art’, ‘The Guide’, ‘The Financial Expert’ and ‘Waiting for the Mahatma’. Mulk Raj Anand, is mainly known for his novels like ‘Coolie’ and ‘Untouchable’. Raja Rao, in comparison has written very little but whatever he has written like ‘Kanthapura’ and ‘The serpent’ and ‘The rope’ has turned out to be a profoundly philosophical reflection of life. There are several other novelists like Bhabani Bhattacharya, G.V. Desani, Balachandra Rajan, Aurbrey Menon, Khushwant Singh who have contributed to the Indo Anglian literature.

In poetry, after the early efforts of Toru Dutt, Sri Aurobindo, Rabindranath Tagore and Sarojini Naidu, the 1950s witnessed a remarkable upsurge, with a host of new poets emerging in the poetic scene with entirely different conception of art and life. Kamala Das, A.K. Ramanujam, R. Parthasarathy, Pritish Nandy are some the contributors of great poetry.
The 1980s witnessed another remarkable upsurge in Indian writing in English especially in fiction, with Salman Rushdie’s landmark novel ‘Midnight Children’, grabbing the headlines as well as the coveted Booker prize. Thus followed a stream of young writers pushed on by a newly emerging high visibility media hype and a publishing boom to boot. Vikram Seth, Shashi Tharoor, Namita Gokhale, Anitha Desai, Amitav Ghosh, Allan Sealy, Upamanyu Chatterjee these names signify a new found vitality in the literature written in English. And the spectacular success of Arundhati Roy’s ‘God of Small Things’ underlines the fact that this new literature is a dynamic representation of our post-colonial condition.

Anglo Indian Art and Architecture

Posted by on Oct-3-2010

There were professional and amateur artists and architects among the British in India. Tilly Kettle, John Zoffany and Arthur Davis were the pioneers who arrived in India in the second half of the eighteen century. John Smart and Ozias Humphery were arguably the most important of these early artists. They were followed by artists like George Chinnery who had great reputation among the British. All these artists painted in oils, but the most characteristic medium was water color. Most of the water-color drawings were intended as studies for engravings, aquatints and later, or lithographs. The vogue in Britain for picturesque for Nature in the raw was so widespread and profitable that it was only natural that artists visit India – an idealized and picturesque India which must have seemed oddly at variance with the description of travelers and later, of missionaries.

Captain William, Captain Grindlay and Sir Charles D’oly were some of the fairly accomplished amateur artists of the 19th century. According to Edwards the Englishmen who came after to India after 1858 did not considered drawing and paintings as “manly accomplishments” so they left it to their women. By this time, the interest in the picturesque had died down and even professional artists confined themselves to narrative paintings demonstrating some unimpeachable and easily recognizable moral precept. The art of British in India is largely forgotten, but the way it rekindled the native interest in art is of special significance.

The achievements of the British are more tangible in the field of architecture. In the beginning, the architectural style of public buildings remained classical inspiration. In art and architecture the predilection for the picturesque continued in vogue for some time. In the latter half of the 19th century the public architecture of the Indian empire began to reflect the taste of the Victorian England. A range of buildings came up, embodying most of the fashionable features of the western architecture from Neo-Gothic to Pseudo- Italian Renaissance. The Victoria Memorial Hall in marble built in Kolkata is said to be in the style of Italian renaissance with the addition of a suggestion of Orientalism in the arrangement of the domes and minor details.

When the British decided to move their capital from Kolkata to Delhi in 1912 they employed two English architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, to design the major public buildings. The result was a series of grandiose barracks incorporating classical and Mughal motifs without synthesis or sympathy. The buildings were more a gesture of defiance to growing Indian assertions than anything else, for they were and are completely unsuited to the Indian climate. New Delhi is perhaps the most fitting monument to the British in India. These building were raised not to impress the Indians but to convince the British themselves of their new status as rulers. But when British erected New Delhi, they intended it as a statement of their intention to remain in India. The result was it is a Euro-Asian architecture in which the European and Indian elements stand uneasily together.