Albert Einstein on Education:
Humiliation and mental oppression by ignorant and selfish teachers wreak havoc in the youthful mind that can never be undone and often exert a baleful influence in later life.
Never regard your study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.
I found this very interesting presentation by Professor Richard Falk on International Law and the Changing nature of Security at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This presentation was organised by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation on 25 October 2002 . Prof Richard Falk discusses the origin of modern state and issues relating to maintanance of internal order and security amidst the rise of non-state actors and terrorist groups posing threat to sovereign States.
My column in the Indian Express on 13 August 2009:
My letter to the editor (in the context of G20 summit), Indian Express, 3 April 2009:
I am posting this opinion in response to Ben Macintyre’s “Mullahs versus the Bloggers”. This article was published on 23 December 2005 in the The Times, U.K. It was written in the context of the Iran Government’s intolerant stand on bloggers. Infact this was a timely attempt by Ben to cover the current scenario of repression of freedom of speech and expression and closing down of free press in Iran. Ben writes:
With almost all Iran’s reformist newspapers closed down and many editors imprisoned, blogs offer an opportunity for dissent, discussion and dissemination of ideas that is not available in any other forum. There is wistful yearning in many Iranian blogs, and a persistent vein of anger: “I keep a weblog so that I can breath in this suffocating air,” writes one blogger. “I write so as not be lost in despair.” Blogs by Muslim women are particularly moving in their bitter portrayal of life behind the veil.
Iran, may be the major thrust in Ben's article. Free press is a contentious issue in some other countries also and it is a grim fact. According to a recent Press Release of Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF):
In 2005, 63 journalists were killed and more than 1300 were physically attacked or threatened. 807 journalists were arrested and 1006 media outlets were censored. At the dawn of New Year 2006, 126 journalists and 70 cyber dissidents were in jail. Some of countries covered by RSF where Internet is under tight control is Tunisia, Turkeministan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, China, Cuba, Libya, Nepal, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Burma and Maldives.
At the outset I should say that it is a relevant article. Blogging is a fine example of media democratization. It becomes an alternative mode of expression in the absence of a Free Press. It is wise to realize the fact that suppression only leads to more expression and that too in varied forms. In an age when we are exploring the benefits of the extra computing power for harnessing growth and eradicating poverty in the developing countries, it is sad to know of Iran's stand on the issue of blogging. Instead let us focus more on how Internet can be used as a powerful tool of development. To draw from the focus of UN Development Programme and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), ‘[it is widely recognized that] Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is a powerful tool for participating in global markets; promoting political accountability; improving the delivery of basic services and [thus] enhancing local development opportunities’. Considering the advancement of newer interventions in information technology, International Organizations like the UNESCO, the ITU, the WTO, WIPO, UNCITRAL, the World Bank and OECD are all considering complex issues affecting freedom of expression and freedom of the press like intellectual property rights and content regulation. The World Summit on the Information Society(WSIS, Geneva 2003- Tunis 2005) provided an opportunity for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Many voices of mankind often result in a policy dialogue and free press is a vital component in the deliberation, dissemination, and discussion of such initiatives. This social, cultural, economic and political dialogue is a feed for the policy makers; the Government. After all the functioning of a free press and the right to freedom of speech and expression is intertwined with development. It strengthens the democratic institutions and UN also affirms that ‘No Democratic Society Can Exist Without A Free Press’. The General Assembly declared an annual observance of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) in 1993, but it affirmed press freedom as far back as 1948, when it proclaimed the right to information in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That article enshrines the individual’s right to freedom of opinion and expression and the free flow of information through any media regardless of frontiers. Therefore Freedom of expression is an inalienable human right, and freedom of the press is an indivisible part and a guarantee of other freedoms. As long as the contents covered by the media are not sacrilegious, unethical or improper, freedom of speech and expression should prevail.
Sir William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765) writes:
....The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free State; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publication, and not in freedon from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this is to destroy the freedom of the press: but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequences of his own temerity.
In a comment contributed to the International Herald Tribune, Joseph Stiglitz who is a Nobel laureate in economics and a Professor at Columbia University and Roumeen Islam, a manager at the World Bank Institute state that “Countries [have] to find ways to develop the incentives, policies, education systems, and technical expertise that will allow them to take advantage of the enormous changes brought by the rapid spread of communications and information technologies”.
Therefore is it not a Universal Responsibility of All Nations to return to free press in an age of Internet, Cyberspace, Digital and Satellite technologies?
We all arrived at that time and day in our lives in an age of internet, where in cyberspace is no more meant only for the scientists, technocrats, software engineers or techno geeks. The following quote is in the context of what positive big difference the extra computing power can bring in our lives.
“Poor people don't create poverty. The more we can use the Internet and the power of entrepreneurship to connect villagers to the rest of the world -- the more we can eliminate their sense of isolation -- the sooner they'll be able to work themselves out of poverty.”
-Muhammad YunusMuhammad Yunus is Founder and MD, Grameen Bank, http://www.grameen-info.org/ Dhaka, Bangladesh. He pioneered in business models that combine economic growth with social justice.
Recently I discovered accidentally a rare oeuvre in a voluntary organization’s kiosk in Dilli Haat. Let me be clear of what I am writing about,it is a collection of Essays written by Sir Francis Bacon. The title of the work is “ The Essays of Bacon”, with an introduction by Geoffrey Grigson. Oxford University published the book in 1937, under the theme ‘The World’s Classics’. Bacon’s ‘Essayes’ were first published in 1597 and revised in 1612 and 1625. Without further speculation I bought this book, a circa 1937 publication.
Goonj, the voluntary organization’s stand from where I bought this book assembles and resells books of all varieties in order to raise funds to support deprived people. In a way it is a small effort to buy what I need and in turn contribute for a noble cause.
Now I have in my study something that I feel is a rare and a treasured possession.P.S: Visit www.goonj.org to know more about the organization and its efforts in reaching out to the poor and needy. Goonj is an effective channel for disposing off reusable items lying in urban, well-off households.