Thursday, May 12, 2016

From a bleeding heart ...

"Chief Justice of India breaks down before PM - asks for appointment of more judges" This headline almost made me cry.

When a highly disciplined, cultured, qualified individual involved in a brain-intensive profession sheds tears at a public forum - it is a sign things may be at maximum stretch. But imagine all those who choose to carry the burden of the nation for decade after decade without so much as a sign of such pressure they have to endure. For decades now, since the Republic of India came into existence they have stoically borne the burden of responsibility - and yet all the polity has offered are brickbats ... and worse!!

You may, by now, have guessed who I have in mind. I speak, of course, of our poor overburdened legislators.

In 1948 - the draft constitution envisaged 525 seats in the Lok Sabha - with an upper limit of 552 seats. Article 81(1)(b) provided that the States shall be divided, grouped or formed into territorial constituencies and the number of members to be allotted to each such constituency shall be so determined as to ensure that there shall be not less than one member for every 750,000 of the population and not more than one member for every 500,000 of the population.

So ... Minimum of 500,000 (5 Lakh) to be represented by an MP - and maximum of 750000 (7.5 Lakh) But then in 1952, for good & valid reason, the second amendment to the Indian constitution increased the stress on our legislators by removing the upper limit of 750000.

Instead of appreciating the sacrifices legislators make for the general public by accepting the responsibility for so many lakhs of people - the Indian population has chosen to increase the stress our legislators suffer by reproducing in an irresponsible fashion! An action that can only be deemed as ungrateful and apathetic!! To make things worse - the electorate at large have (or appear to have) limited their participation in governance of the nation to exercising their franchise in elections. After the elections the poor legislators are placed under the undue stress of having to *guess* what their constituents opinion/s are - this when constituents could/should have participated actively in voicing their opinion to their legislator/s. Surely we the electorate are irresponsible in placing our legislators in such stressful situations?

Consider that they (our legislators) get an office allowance of Rs 45,000 per month. This includes Rs. 28,000 for staff costs, and the balance to cover costs associated with running their office. This, combined with some support from the Parliament library, are the only resources they have to scrutinise the work and proposals of ministers who have the entire bureaucratic machinery of the government at their disposal.

Rs. 45000 per month as office-expenditure sounds like an enormous amount of money - but is it really such a large amount? Here is a simple discussion

As per the 2011 census, there are 545 Constituencies representing 1210193422 people. Approximately 2220538 (22 Lakh)  citizens are represented by 1 MP!

To put this figure into perspective - here is a very very rough calculation

There are 525600 (365*24*60) minutes in 1 year.

Let us put aside weekends - so reduce the count by (52*24*60) 74880.

Now there are only 450720 minutes available to the MP. Further we would like our MP to have some sleep - so, say, 5 hours of sleep daily + 2 hours of personal time on weekdays ... the count is further reduced by (365-52 *7*60) 131460

Now an MP has 319260 minutes available in 1 year. But the MP must spend some time in parliament - when he is probably away from his constituency. Say we make this count 60 days in a year - 232860 minutes available to his constituents.

The count is actually much less than this because there may be times when the MP is travelling, or out of the constituency for any other reason, or at a party meeting ... so on.

In other words, according to the 2011 census, it is impossible for an MP to meet ALL his constituents if they need his time! Delegation, and quality-support staff are absolutely necessary. Our legislators may not be unjustified in seeking a larger expense/office allowance!

Contrast this with our Indian Army which comprise approximately 20 Lakh people. One soldier stands for 579 citizens!

Compare this with the Police where 1 policeman stands for 761 citizens!

Whilst the good work done by Police, and Army are appreciated - the work done by our legislators goes unappreciated! Our legislators are shamed, dragged to courts ... and worse! One needs only take a look at one of the many newspapers/TV channel to see how poorly our legislators are treated!

Our poor legislators give up their personal lives, they choose to ignore the abuses heaped upon them & their near-and-dear ones by the public-at-large... They choose to construct houses, and roads, and dams, and canals, and airports, and railroads, and police-stations, and hospitals, they choose to step out from their office - and instruct the ignorant electorate on the duty it must fulfil towards the nation, when necessary they choose to stay far away from their loved ones family, friends, and well-wishers - even stay away from India for days on end ... the list is endless. Instead of appreciating the work they do - the electorate at large choose to further add to legislator's stress by continuing to procreate & then blame the lawmakers for "inadequate facilities", "poor quality government", "unresponsive government".

Fellow Citizens, before you contribute your Genes to the growth of the Nation, before you whine about poor governance - hold your peace (pun intended!!) ... spare a moment for all our legislators (Do not be partisan - cut across all party lines) since Independence who have had to bear borne (pardon the pun!) stoically the pain of your pleasures!

Be nice to your legislator - use a condom! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

... and a time to make a stand

Newspapers, perhaps across the world, carried the news of the carnage carried out at a school in Peshawar. This was punctuated by photographs of grieving families of the deceased.

Nobody can imagine a school may be target to an armed assault. Yet, in hindsight, a school serves multiple purposes for that militant mind-set.
First - a school is, relatively, an unguarded installation.
Second - children are hardly prepared mentally to recognize the mortal danger.
Third - the large casualties/fatalities would & probably did result in copius attention from the Fourth Estate.
Fourth - most parents, after such an incident, would choose to keep their little ones home rather than risk their lives.
The parents who have lost their children have my sympathy. Yet my attention is more with the parents who would attempt to protect their children by keeping them from school.
A youngling, as most parents experience, instinctively reacts when his possession is taken away from him. A new-born baby may cry, a slightly older one may throw a tantrum, a school-going child may take a more violent stand - erupt into fisticuffs, throw stones/sticks ... or stronger
In the long run a school would teach young minds to stand firm against injustice. It would teach that the law of the land may act slowly but eventually prevails. It would teach impressionable minds that a wrong is righted not by striking back immediately, but by approaching higher authority. A school environment offers a youngling opportunities to develop healthy social interactions, skills (including conflict resolution) in a moderated environment. In the long run social skills developed at school would be more useful in helping end the cycle of violent behaviours. Withdrawing a child from school may make it more likely that child would sooner be on the side of those perpetrators of this incident - therefore more at risk of avoidable injury & life!

To all parents in/around Peshawar (and all such potentially dangerous locations in the world) Children are the future. Education, and knowledge of the world around them is the one thing that can improve their lot in the future. For the sake of your children, do not stop the education of your children because of incidents like this! Stand firm!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Wanderlust: Making the War-Lord see red!

One issue with habitation of Mars is that it has a thin atmosphere. To paraphrase what this article  states - the thin atmosphere causes problems. These problems vary from an inability to contain water, breathe, and so on. Ergo it is necessary for Mars to have an atmosphere before humans may attempt to habit there.

Earth retains it's atmosphere, in no small part, because of it's magnetic field. In turn the magnetic field is generated by the liquid core deep beneath this planet we call Earth. A magnetic field is necessary for Mars to maintain an atmosphere.

So we were having these thoughts on how to kick-start Mars' magnetic field.

It just struck me (pun intended!) that a rock may be the start of an answer. Our Earth collects anywhere from 5 to 300 tons of space-dust daily to 300 tons of space-dust daily. So why restrict ourselves to a big enough rock? Make it lots & lots of littler (pardon my English!) rocks. So many that the cumulative mass of the planet increases the pressure to the extent the core liquifies again.

Another alternative could be to have an external/artificial magnetic field. Earthlings have already proven themselves capable of sending craft as emissary to meet the War-Lord. Make it several craft instead! Each in an areostationary orbit (emulating the GPS satellites here on Earth), each transmitting over a broad-spectrum omnidirectionally. Voila!

Of course both solutions are easier said than done ... and mutually exclusive. The first, of course, is the issue of motive, and electro-motive power required. But they are available options that may be placed upon the table before they may be discarded (if so!).

Monday, June 09, 2014

Wanderlust: A bum rush!

Solid bodies in the Solar System are relatively few; IMO the inner planets, asteroids, comets, and a few satellites around the Gas Giants. To the best of my knowledge, asteroids & comets lack an atmosphere - and are pock-marked to the extreme.

Out of Mars, Earth, Venus & Mercury - Mercury's atmosphere is ... mercurial, the Venerean atmosphere is lush in the extreme. Mars has a thin atmosphere, whereas Earth's is (for us humans, and a few other species) just right.

Of these 4 terrestrial planets, Earth has the greatest escape velocity at 11.2 km/s followed closely by Venus 10.3km/s, Mars 5km/s, and finally Mercury 4.3km/s.

At it's closest, Venus is around 38 Million km from Earth. Mars is around 54.6 million kilometers in it's turn.

No body is immune to impact by other bodies. Earth too is no stranger to body-play; Micro-micro meteorites accumulate by the giga-ton annually in the form of dust. Larger impact bodies such as the Chicxulub capable of delivering several as much as 100 Teratons equivalent of TNT are also out there - but less frequent. As many as 132 meteorites found on Earth are identified as of Martian origin.

On October 17, 2013, NASA reported, based on analysis of argon in the Martian atmosphere by the Mars Curiosity rover, that certain meteorites found on Earth thought to be from Mars were actually from Mars.

Back in the 1960s/70s, Project Orion was a theoretical study on a nuclear pulse propelled space-ship. Several devices being flung out opposite to the desired direction of thrust. Each device imparting an absurdly humongous specific impulse on detonation.

What I therefore find myself wondering

  1. How large would the impact have been on Mars to impart escape velocity to the rocks that eventually turned up on Earth?
  2. Even given the turbulent environment on Mars, is there a possibility one of the impact craters - the source of an eventual martian meteorite, may be discovered by one of the missions presently on/under-way to Mars?
  3. Is there a probability of discovering a Venerean meteorite here on Earth?
  4. Could Chicxulub, or a comparable impact may have dislodged a rock and sent it to Mars, or Venus?


Sunday, June 08, 2014

Wanderlust: Kayoed

The Solar System is comprised of the Sun, Jupiter, and other debris of creation. A portion of the debris are called planets; these are broadly classified as Gas Giants (Jupiter Saturn Uranus & Neptune ), and Terrestrials  (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars).

A planet usually has reasonably well-defined orbit. Smaller bodies have a well-defined orbit too, but are more liable to suffer perturbation from larger bodies. These smaller bodies are either comets, or asteroids.

Wikipedia has a great article on meteorites This article defines a meteorite as below

A meteorite is a solid piece of debris, from such sources as asteroids or comets, that originates in outer space and survives its impact with the Earth's surface.

But there are also the rare meteorites that may have originated on Mars. The wikipedia  article on Martian meteorite writes to say

On October 17, 2013, NASA reported, based on analysis of argon in the Martian atmosphere by the Mars Curiosity rover, that certain meteorites found on Earth thought to be from Mars were actually from Mars.

This raises a few questions in my mind

a. Do these martian meteorites contain significant quantities of extra-martian particles? (E.g. Those that belonged to the original asteroid/meteorite which impacted Mars, OR those that were collected during the course of it's journey through space)

b. How much velocity, and mass would the original meteorite have had to impart escape velocity to the rock? Is it possible to formulate these figures & say if a comet has mass X, and velocity Y it may impart escape velocity to Z mass of the impacted body?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Where could the Malaysian Airlines MH370 be?

So a great many people are wondering about the Malaysian Airlines MH370 which apparently disappeared off the face of the Earth a few days ago.

Guess I may as well as add my two-bits of randomness

Thinking aloud.
Either it pranged, or did not.

Assuming it did not prang near the specified location
  • from the absence of debris, and 
  • failure of the ELT
it went, or was taken, else-where
Reasons may be
  •  some passenger was of value to someone
  •  some cargo was of value to someone
  •  the assembly was of value to someone
  •  the response of the various nations was of value to someone
Examination of the passenger/cargo manifest would *hopefully* have revealed something along the first two possibilities. So I'll think about the last two in my list above.

If the assembly was/is of value - someone (or someones, pardon my grammar!) went to some effort to get hold of it. Either it is to be disassembled, or mothballed.

Disassembly in the ocean ... uh - the imagination boggles! So regardless of disassembly, or mothball - it is on/in Terra Firma until it ceases to be valuable. Perhaps debris may appear once it is no longer valuable.

If mothballed, at some point it may need fuel/consumables/parts - parts may be acquired/fabricated. Fuel, and consumables OTOH are perishable unless stored by trained hands in proper containers.
Ergo, it may be in a 'hangar' - near a rejuvenated (surely someone would have noticed new construction?) strip (perhaps fitted with arrestors) capable of tolerating the mass of such a large aircraft under heavy braking.

That leaves the last possibility - the response (or response pattern) of some nations to the incident may be of value. Errr ... Oops!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Extra-terrestrial dis-corporation

Last year the Mars One Foundation invited volunteers for a one-way trip to take up residence with the War-Lord. Over 200,000 humans volunteered; amongst them close to 20,000 Indians. A fraction of this number - 62 to be precise, have since made the cut for further participation as is evinced from this article. Space is known to be a hostile environment; the journey and destination environment even more so.

Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code writes to say

309. Attempt to commit suicide
Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall he punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year 151[or with fine, or with both].

The hazards involved may be considered a trade-off for a journey that attempts to take man to mars, and return safely. A one-way trip, on the other hand, may be construed suicidal - even if a technologically complex, and highly creative way to discorporate one-self.

Will any Indian in the final crew of the Mars One missions invite action under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code?