Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shootout At IIT Bombay

Genre: Fiction


Mumbai, 25th June, 2008

In a grim reminder of the shootout at Virginia Tech in USA last year, an undergraduate student at IIT Bombay opened fire at the campus killing the Central Human Resource Development Minister, Mr. Arjun Singh and 28 others, mostly students, yesterday morning.

According to details available, the incident occured at the Convocation Hall of IIT Powai where a function was organised with Mr. Arjun Singh as its Chief Guest. The shooter, Alok Sharma, a third year Mechanical Engineering student made his motive clear before going on the rampage. In a dramatic turn of events, Alok ran upto the stage where Mr. Singh was addressing the crowd, snatched the microphone from him and gave a short but firebrand speech before opening fire at the Minister with his .7mm pistol killing him on the spot. He later turned to a group of around 30 students present on the dias and isdiscrimantely opened fire killing 25 of them before he was shot by one of the Security guards ending the bloodbath. In the entire chaos, one Security Guard was also killed.

Before going on the rampage, Alok in his confessional speech asked the crowd, "How can you justify a process in which most of the students have to slog for more than two years and appear for one of the most difficult examinations in the World in order to secure a seat in this prestigious institution while some other students get to walk in bypassing the whole mental torture just because they have a paper declaring that their forefathers belonged to a certain caste called OBC?" As the stunned crowd sat in silence, he continued, "And the person responsible for this unjust process is here amidst us and I would like to give him what he deserves..." before shooting 3 bullets into his forehead at point blank range leaving him in a pool of blood.

Meanwhile, initial reports suggest that all the other victims were freshman students belonging to the OBC category who were called up on the dias by the Minister to allot them their admissions under the newly implemented OBC quota. This incident has sent shockwaves across the nation and fuelled large scale protests asking the Government to do a serious rethink about its Caste-based reservation policies and demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister and dissolution of the Parliament. The Prime Minister has said that it is too early to comment on the whole issue and announced a compensation of Rs 5 Lakh each for the kins of the dead students.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This Is Where It All Begins..

Genre: Science And Technology

A few years back, I had read a leading sicence magazine saying that the Greatest Invention of The 20th Century is the Transistor and had always wondered why. Now I know the answer and I have every reason to agree to what they said. And after going throught this, you will also be equally convinced.

To straightaway emphasise the importance of this little known tiny device, let me just say this- If the Transistor would have not been discovered, there would be No FM radio, No TV Channels, No Desktop Computers, No Laptops, No Mobile phones, No iPods, No Discmans , no DVD players, no XBox360s and PS2s, no Digicams... well I guess this much itself is enough to send jitters down the spines of any normal human being!

I am sure, by now you must be wondering what is the connection between all these gadgets which are as different from each other as chalk and cheese with a tiny little heard componet called a Transistor? Lets see..

All these gadgets listed above have only two things at the heart of them- RWM (Read Write Memory) and ROM(Read Only Memory), or to be more specific- SRWM and DRWM (Static and Dynamic RWM) and EPROM (Erasable Programmable ROM). In simple words, RWM is where all the working of the gadget takes place while ROM serves as the storage for the data. Apart from the fact that one is rewritable while other is not, the construction of both is very much essentially the same.

RWM and ROM are both nothing but stacks of hundreds and thousands of units called 'Registers' each of which store 8 bits (in some cases 16 bits) of data where every 'bit' is nothing but a 0 or a 1. And to store these 8 bits, every Register has 8 units called 'Flip-Flops' (not the ones you wear to bathroom). And going even more inside, what are these Flip Flops made of? Each Flip Flop is made up of 4 to 6 NAND Gates or NOR Gates (not related to Bill Gates).

If how are these Gates made? By a process called Transistor-Transistor Logic (TTL), every gate is manufactured as a circuit of 5 to 6 transistors each! Aah finally! We have ultimately reached to the very heart of everything! And one final question remains to be answered- what is this 'Transistor' after all? Well, nothing but Silica or in simple words- SAND! Yes, you heard that right. The simple sand albeit in very pure form with a little bit of Aluminium Oxide and dopings of Phosphorous and Boron and here it is ready- A Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor or MOSFET (or stick to just Transistor if all this is too difficult to comprehend!)

Pen And The Pen Drive: The Magic of VLSI allows this tiny device to hold a mammoth 2 billion bytes of data!

And how many of these Transistors do you think are packed into our devices? Ladies and Gentlemen, Hold your breath.. Thanks to a path-breaking technology called Very Large Scale Integrated Circuit (VLSIC) as many as 18 billion of these teeny weeny creatures are packed inside the little 64 MB memory card of your Digicam! Yes, you heard that right- 18 thousand million of them! At this rate, I have neither the time nor the inclination to find out the number for my 80 GB Hard Drive!

So here we are- everything from our PC and cellphone and iPods to Digicam is nothing but humble sand! Isn't it surprising how tiny insignificant things which we never bother about sometimes play such a significant role in our lives!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

India Towards Superpower!

Genre: Current Affairs

Some of the really pathbreaking and memorable decisions proposed by the highly intelligent and smart honourable ministers ruling India to supposedly make India a highly developed futuristic superpower-

  • Introduce caste based reservations in Institutes of Engineering and Management in order to keep aside seats for students belonging to certain castes (called OBC) who have possibly inherited extraordinary genetic traits from their forefathers which justify them skipping the tough entrance exams and walk into the IITs and IIMs where even the brightest students from other genetically deprived castes struggle to make through.
  • Ban sex education in schools so that the teenagers can learn about the birds and the bees from porn sites on the Net rather than learning the same from professional counsellers at school since this is against Indian culture.
  • Arrest and fine young couples spending some quiet moments with each other at gardens and beaches and call the entire exercise as "Moral policing" since Expression of Love is against Indian culture. (Er.. in which country is Khajuraho?)
  • Ban AXN, Star Movies, HBO and save India from obscenity since the adults in India are themselves not mature enough to know what is right and what is not. And also, ban Blogspot since blogging breeds Terrorism.
  • Treat bright engineering and medical students on par with hardcore criminals and ask the police to mercilessly bash them up (even the girls) when they approach the Governor asking for Equality in the country.
  • Declare that Mr Narayana Murthy is a traitor (for God-knows-what reasons) and deport him out of India and shut down Infosys. (After all India is agricultural country. Who needs indigenious IT companies?)
  • Year after year, keep on adding Taxes on everything that has an M of money related with it even in the slightest manner and is used by the Middle Class Indians right from Education (Whoever told Knowledge is not sold on streets?) and Doctors to Electricity and Petroleum. Very soon I am sure, I will be taxed for the number of times I go to the loo!

This is NOT an exhausitve list and will go on getting longer as more and more pathbreaking decisions are taken by the Progressive Government of India.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Incredible India-2 : The Punjabi Tadka

Genre: Travel

The Punjabi Tadka: The Jalandhar-Katra bus ride!

Its an early winter morning in Jalandhar and we set out for our journey to Katra, the base campe for the Vaishnodevi shrine. And this was gonna be one helluva journey since we had decided to take the cheap state transport to get a real feel of the place!

The Jalandhar ST depot. like any other in India, had the typical crowded and dirty look; and even at 7 in the morning, it was abuzz with activity. We got into the Punjab Transport bus to Jammu amidst curious glances from passengers, mostly localPunjabis as to why alien looking tourists are travelling in an ST bus! The condition of the bus is nothing to write about and after a typical rash ST-driver journey along the Grand Trunk Road, we reach Pathankot at around 11am.

As the driver parked his bus inside Pathankot depot, ha calmly announced that since situation in Kashmir is not good, Punjab will not risk sending its bus into J&K lest it gets damaged (as if there was something left to get damaged in this crap-on-wheels anyways!). So here we are! In alien city with nowhere to go! After much waiting, we find a JK transport ST bus which would 'risk' going to Jammu. So, again we get into another equally uncomfortable bus with same reaction from fellow passengers.

The National Highway 1 gave a smooth ride even in this quality of bus and by noon, the driver gave us a 'lunch halt' at a primitive dhaba which was nothing but a mud hut surrounded by lush green fields with a couple of cots laid out in the courtyard. The location? In the middle of nowhere! With no options around, we reluctantly agree to have what later turned out to be the best aloo paratha I have ever had! The dhaba owner was one smart ass. Seeing that there were 'ignorant' tourists (ie we) in the bus, he cooked up a fake story how Jammu was under riots that day and everything would be closed in the city. His idea ofcourse was to make us buy some more food from his dhaba! We outsmarted him and ignored his story!

Crossing the Ravi enroute.

An hour or so along of drive along barren landscape brought us into Jammu city- a far cry from what people think when they first hear "Jammu and Kashmir". Here was a bustling city, crowded and dusty like any other North Indian city and an extra long flyover snaking across the heart of the city a reminder of the progress of the city. Our journey is not over yet. The last leg involves getting transport to Katra from Jammu.

This is a monopolisitc business of local mini bus owners and they follow some kind of a time table that probably has its origin on Mars or Pluto wherein any bus gets ready to depart any time only to be later told that its someone else's turn to go! A lot of confusion and a couple of bus-driver fights later, we manage to get into a bus which would actually depart! This was probably the most comfortable bus of the three we experienced since morning, what with cushioned seats and a TV that was actually functional!

Even before we could start, the dirver showed his 'great' choice by putting up a C grade Mithun movie on the TV and the passengers happily welcomed the move! Also as I was wondering if Katra is actually 3 hour drive to enjoy the complete movie. And even as the movie was not even half over (or was it? I was not even able to comprehend the story so far), we were already at Katra. Finally the culmination of a bus journey that had disintegrated into three journeys but finally brought us to the abode of Mata Vaishnodevi. Just as I disembark, out of curiosity, I asked the driver, "What about the remaining part of the movie?". He looked at me blankly and replied, "The passengers on the return journey to Jammu will see that!"
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