Whistleblower's musings... Then some trivia. Write to me at ranjanyumnam@gmail.com

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Silicon breast implants are back!

Here's a good news for the less endowed women. An FDA panel has recommended lifting the ban on silicon breast implants. Here's my report in the Times of India on this soft subject...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

eLearning: the next big thing

Here's my interview in Times of India with Vivek Agarwal, co-founder of egurucool.com, on the rising demand of eLearning.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Photo courtesy: E-pao
The burning down of State Central Library by the activists of MEELAL is an act of insanity. However justified a movement is, there is no forgiving the act of vandalisation of intellectual property by any sort of activists - sugar-coated or not. The arson has destroyed books worth 10 crores and deprived the budding scholars of Manipur of their prime source of reference. According to a news report, we have lost rare books which can never be replaced. What remains of them now is this: ashes.

I have a personal angle to this sad episode. I still remember sitting for hours in the library trying to figure out a passage from the Alice in the Wonderland. I grew up with Charles Dickens and Jane Eyre during my school days immersed in thier novels (which I borrowed from this library). To have lost this library is a loss of a part of my memory. Students and researchers have lost a precious storehouse of knowledge.

The agitators of MEELAL have made themeslevs vulnerable to public criticism, making them look like cheap publicity mongers.

Another fallout is the reinforcement of our image as a violent people. By such acts of indiscriminate violence, we are projecting an image of ourselves as a violence obsessed people. There seems hardly any difference between the tactics adopted by the civil society and the armed groups. We all look the same and do the same. Our civil society is civil no more.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Move over Kangla; now it's Manipur University!

Continued from the previous post..

The president was all smiles but the bonhomie was shortlived. We asked for a photo-op and he happily agreed. He was just about to press the buzzer to summon the official photographer when someone among us raised the issue of AFSPA. His face grew pale. He took his finger off the buzzer, probably feeling apperenhensive that the photo could be seen as presidential endorsement of our anti-AFSPA petition. He is a quick thinker. Didn't I tell you he is a rocket scientist?

So there was no photo session, instead we had a verbal marathon session. We gave him a primer on the AFSPA and the enormous powers that it gave to the armed forces to torture the innocent people of Manipur. It's no use revisiting this issue since we, as the suffering Manipuris, know from first hand expereince how draconian this ACT is. Suffice to say that we have briefed the president sufficiently - especially the controversial extra-judicial provision - enough to elicit his surprised reaction.

"I don't think the Act contains such a mindless provision," the president said, his ignorance of the Act split wide open. We respectfully but firmly challenge him on this.

But one area on which our opinions converged was the dismantling of military camps from the Manipur University Campus. The first time I heard about it, my blood boiled. Nowhere in the world has a university campus been converted into a firing range.

Even civil police personnels should be barred from entering the hallowed premises of the educational institutions. What we see in Manipur is just the opposite of this civilized convention, which proves a suspicion that ours is a military state pretending to be a democratic one.

Forget the military state for a while, if you will, but what about the psycholgical effects on the students. Clearly the presence of the armed forces in the campus has created fear psychosis among the students. Students learn best in atmosphere of peace and freedom. When blackboards and firing targets come together, education can be an act of terror. And it is.

So what is the president of India going to do? "I am going to probe into this immediately." No doubt, APJ Kalam was as shocked at such blatant rape of academic ambience on the floor of a University.

Hopefully some action will follow at His Excellency's intervention. Already, the president has recognised Sajibu Cheiraoba as a national ocassion worth giving his greetings. It is a little gesture but symbolic of the fact how engaing Indian leaders helped our cause more than mere grumbling in the dark.

So what we need now is a meaningful dialoque with the Indian leaders so that they know our issues, take appropriate actions and appreciate our culture and history. The home ministry report can never susbtitute a hearty confabulations with the central decision makers over a cup of tea in the garden.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A date with the President of India

From left to right: A. Sunil, Kapu, Ranjan Yumnam, Seram Rojesh

Our president is a cool dude

President A.P.J Abdul Kalam of India has a reputation of being a very down-to-earth person. That this is not a myth created by the media was confirmed when I, along with three other members of the Manipur Students' Association Delhi, met him on 8th April at the Rashtrapati Bhavan to discuss some issues related to Manipur.

As we were ushered to his chamber, the president flashed to us his trademark childlike grin - but nevertheless looking regal behind his large mahogany desk. His simplicity and friendly attitude disarmed us and whatever misgivings we had about His Excellency vanished into the presidential air.

But there is a thin line between simplicity and greatness. We knew that behind his outward appearance of innocence lies a great visionary of our times. Here was the man who propelled the Indian space programme. APJ Kalam is a president who is also a rocket scientist and the author of the Wings of Fire. A miniature model of a rocket taking off from the launch pad stood on his desk, in case any visitor forgets that fact about him. We didn’t.

As we sat on the chairs facing him, I introduced my colleagues and myself. The cursory introduction didn’t satisfy him though. He began quizzing us on more personal details like our educational qualifications, institutions where we studied, so on and so forth. Among us were two Ph.D students of JNU, a fact that whetted his interest. “What is the thesis of your research,” he asked A. Sunil, my friend from JNU. Ditto to the other guy.

We kept up the tempo of camaraderie by wishing him a Happy Sajibu Cheiraoba.

"Why don't you wish the people of Manipur through the media?" I asked. “The people of Manipur would be very happy by such a gesture.”

The president was game for it but wanted to confirm the date from his own calendar. I doubted his calendar mentioned anything that was called Cheiraoba. Realising this, we gave him a Manipuri calendar which he promptly looked up and placed it on top of the pile of documents lying on the desk to his left.

"Is cheiraoba a celebration of the harvesting season," he asked. "No sir, it is the New Year Day of the Manipuris," we told him. "The main reason why we came here is to wish you a happy Manipuri New Year".

The repartee continued but on the back of our mind we were waiting for an appropriate time to bring up the not-so-sweet issues that dogs Manipur today.

To be continued….

Monday, April 04, 2005

This whistleblower is a software!

I am changing the title of this blog yet again. Reason: I have just found a website that has the same name as mine: http://whistleblower.sentman.com

But after visiting this website, my surprise and excitement whittled down. The website belongs to a company that markets " a server monitor and functional testing utility".

My own weblog was briefly named whistleblower 2.0. Now that I know whistleblower + a numerical suffix is a software that could be mistaken for a software, I am restoring it to its original name.

Simply whistleblower.