Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lonely walks …

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IMG_5758

IMG_2307 (2)

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abubakr

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Nights of the Researcher

There are nights of pain. There are nights of joy. There are nights of tears. There are nights of celebration. There are nights of ignorance. There are nights of knowledge. There are nights of dumbness. There are nights of enlightenment. There are nights of humility. There are nights of arrogance. There are nights of being lost. There are nights of being in control. There are nights of despair. There are nights of achievement. There are nights of isolation. There are nights of vagueness. There are nights of clarity. There are nights of darkness. There are nights of brightness. There are nights… and there are nights… until the heart stops beating.

…that’s the life of a researcher.

There are times when I find myself most satisfied with life. Sometime back, I decided, whenever I would feel satisfied with life, I should blog down my thoughts so that I can read it when I am unhappy. Finally that moment has arrived. Some of you might know, I have started working on a research idea after a long time. For few days (rather for few months) I failed to attain certain level of concentration that was needed to do research and was feeling really disappointed with life. There were lots of promises that I had made to the people close to my heart and giving up was not the option. I tried hard… tried to shut my senses to avoid distractions. Tried to be away from social networks and people gatherings. Slowly and steadily, the focus started increasing. Few days back, I got couple of big ideas. And since then, that true satisfaction of being a researcher is reflecting in my life.

Honestly, the idea is actually very simple. But the most interesting aspect was my reaction to it. For a moment, everything in the world appeared so unimportant and useless. I felt like, I am very close to meeting God. It’s that feeling that can’t be expressed. It’s like you star breaking down the matter and get an opportunity to look at the the deeper meaning of life. And then, you find the piece of knowledge that human were never aware of. That’s pure treasure.  It’s like, God has chosen you for something. It’s like… suddenly the life has found its significance. I started talking with God and yes, I could sense the confidence. Or maybe, it’s the arrogant feeling that… O’ God, now I know your universe better than anyone else. Or maybe, when you attain that knowledge, the heart automatically becomes humble. The tears flow out of eyes… and you realize… how merciful God has been to give you that knowledge.

For those of you who find all this rather stupid, let me give you some context. There was this idea, which I first got during my engineering back in 2004-2005. I felt it had something special to it. I wrote lot of stuff about it but there was something missing. And didn’t know what that missing stuff was. I did communicate about it with lot of professors then. Few American professors did reply to my emails. But ultimately, if you have an idea… and if it’s incomplete, nobody can help you except God. I think, somewhere in between, I gave up on that idea. Few days back, I was working on possibility of finding polynomial exact solution for ‘Traveling salesman problem’, suddenly, a thought about that old idea occurred to me. Let me clarify, the old idea was nothing to do with TSP. It just that, when you are working on something… and it leads to something else. So, I put the TSP aside and started working on the old idea once again. Fortunately, as I proceeded further, the path in the woods appeared… and I just walked on. Eventually, the big picture appeared and yes, the idea was indeed profound.

Since Sunday, I have been working on the research paper to formally express the idea. Insha’Allah, the paper should be out on arXiv by end of this week. I still have to explore suitable mathematical journal for it.

Shall be posting about the paper soon! Insha’Allah. Please include me in your prayers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Circular Periodic Table–Pleasant surprise

Recently, I was searching about the articles that got published about the circular periodic table and pleasantly surprized to find hundreds of articles about it over internet. I had designed the circular periodic table during my 10th standard in 2001. Back then, I didn’t have much idea about scientific publishing. Few years later, I put it on Wikipedia. About.com:Chemistry was one of the first websites that gave credit to it.

As years passed by, I felt that I should formally publish about it. So, finally in 2009, I posted a draft paper about it on ArXiv. But to my surprise, MIT’s online magazine Technology Review broke the story about my paper, giving it a larger visibility. Subsequently, the story got covered by Slashdot, Gizmodo, PhysicsWorld, Discovery, etc.  One criticism is about orientation of the chemical symbols in the tables. Well, orientation can be changed easily and one needs not rotate the screen. 

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But the most surprising of all was, one of the school teacher had included a quick word about circular periodic table in an exam paper. I thought of sharing that portion of exam paper with you all. Though there is nothing special about it…but somehow, it gave me immense pleasure.

------------------------------

Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow.

Many people recognize the modern periodic table of chemical elements. It was first published by Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian scientist. Mendeleev’s version of the table organized the elements and left gaps for yet-to-be-discovered elements. Mendeleev first placed the elements in order from left to right based on increasing atomic mass. Then, he studied the properties of each element and noticed that the properties formed a pattern. When an element showed a repeating property, Mendeleev started a new row.

Today, the basic block-like shape of the periodic table is well-known. However, there are usable, academic versions of the table that look quite different. Timmothy Stowe created a periodic table for physicists. This table is three-dimensional and has three axes.

Paul Giguere also created a three-dimensional periodic table that looks like billboards with elements on the front and back. Theodor Benfey’s periodic table is shaped like a spiral with two arms. There is even a circular periodic table, created by Mohd Abubakr, that may actually improve on the current version.

In the space provided, write the letter of the term or phrase that best completes each statement or best answers each question.

_____ 39. Based on the information in the passage, who created the original version of the modern periodic table?

A Abubakr C Giguere

B Benfey D Mendeleev

_____ 40. Which is the purpose of the first paragraph?

A to introduce the periodic table

B to establish Mendeleev as a scientist

C to explain how the periodic table should be organized

D to show why other forms of the periodic table are wrong

_____ 41. The word academic in this passage means having to do with

A chemistry. C education.

B ease of use. D mass.

_____ 42. The purpose of this article is to convince readers that

A Mendeleev created the only useful periodic table.

B chemical elements can be organized in more than one way.

C Mendeleev should not have left gaps in his version of the periodic table.

D a three-dimensional version of the periodic table is better than a two-dimensional version.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Hidden Pain of India

sāre jahāñ se acchā hindostāñ hamārā

ham bulbuleñ haiñ us kī vuh gulsitāñ hamārā

Better than the entire world, is our Hindustan [India],

We are its nightingales, and it (is) our garden abode

According to a legend, Mahatma Gandhi sung this stanza over hundred times to motivate himself when he was imprisoned at Yerawada Jail at Pune in 1930. Such was the effect of those sentences that powered the spirit of Indians to fight against the British. Written in 1904 by lesser known Urdu poet Mohammed Iqbal, the lines of his poem still continue to have a profound impact on the people of India. Content with first two sentences, not many Indians bother to read the complete poem written by poet. While the poem starts with over optimistic lines such as India being better than the entire world, eventually the poet finishes the poem with tragic end. The lines are cryptic and do not address the tragedy directly. The last stanza of the poem had a profound impact on me. Whenever, I read this poem, I wondered about the hidden pain of India referred in it. I shall not go in detail, but let me highlight the last three stanzas of the poem.

yūnān-o-miṣr-o-rumā sab miṭ gaʾe jahāñ se

ab tak magar hai bāqī nām-o-nishāñ hamārā

kuchh bāt hai kih hastī miṭtī nahīñ hamārī

sadiyoñ rahā hai dushman daur-e zamāñ hamārā

iqbāl! koʾī maḥram apnā nahīñ jahāñ meñ

maʿlūm kyā kisī ko dard-e nihāñ hamārā!

Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome have all vanished from the world

Our own attributes (name and sign) live on today

Such is our existence that it cannot be erased

Even though, for centuries, the cycle of time has been our enemy.

Iqbal! We (Indians) have no confidant in this world

What does anyone know of our hidden pain?

Being born in India can be the greatest gift or the worst curse, depending on how you are going to spend life. Walking through the streets and markets, there were times when one feels lost in the crowd. Sometimes, when so many people around, it is easy to misinterpret life and lose track of where you are heading. Just like every other country, in India, its culture has its positive and negative effects. Unfortunately, in recent times, the Indian society has picked up more negative effects than positive. The acute lack of development and self-confidence has transformed the society into a self-destructing monster. Majority of the people in India prefer to remain backward, unclean and cultureless. They see developing with time as burden and feel it as a threat to their so called ‘culture’. The sheer magnitude of resistance from people towards understanding change and taking responsibility has continuously pushed the country towards poverty and sickness.

Ask an Indian about community service, 9 out of 10 would not even know what it actually means. Here’s an interesting example, most Indians treat ‘India’ equivalent to their ‘mother’ and yet, India would easy top the list of world’s dirtiest nations. The sheer indiscipline among people and lack of true respect towards the nation is the cause for uncleanliness in the country. It won’t take more than few minutes to understand that, Indians are as hypocrites as one can get. Most of them won’t do anything close to what they preach (that includes me too).

So, is that the hidden pain that poet was referring? I don’t know.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Signal Processing Framework for Quantum Communication Systems

Few years back, I had applied for enrolling into Ph.D program at an Indian University. However, the university didn’t accept my proposal for a part-time Ph.D.  Below is an abstract of the problem statement I proposed. It’s titled “Signal Processing Framework for Quantum Communication Systems”. This is still an open problem and I would be glad if someone takes it up.

Abstract: Signal processing in Communication systems is based upon the classical properties of signals. In classical physics, the effects of measurement, cloning, uncertainty and detection have no or little impact on the signal. As we move from classical communication systems to the system built using quantum mechanical properties of matter, effects such as measurement, cloning, uncertainty and detection have profound impact on the way system works. In [1], quantum signal processing was studied for the two quantum mechanical properties namely measurement and detection. This thesis intends at developing a formal framework that takes into account the measurement and detection of signals, no-cloning theorem, Uncertainty of canonically conjugate variables, superposition principle and other quantum mechanical properties [2-5].

The following studies are to be aimed to be done as part of thesis

1. Impact of quantum mechanical properties such as No-Cloning theorem classical signal processing algorithms

2. Validity of Shannon’s sampling theorem for quantum band-pass signals*

3. Effects of Energy-Time uncertainty in transforming signals from Time domain to frequency domain**

4. Design of basic modulation/demodulation techniques for signal processing.

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*Original proposal of Shannon’s sampling theorem and Nyquist rate was performed on classical communication systems. The author is unaware of any study on this based on quantum mechanical properties.

**Note: In classical signal processing, theoretical signal transformations from frequency domain to time domain doesn’t impact the final result [6], whereas there is a possibility that due to energy-time uncertainty, transforming signals from time domain to frequency domain might introduce an uncertainty. This needs to be thoroughly studied from the signal processing prospective.

References:

[1] Yonina Chana Eldar, Alan V. Oppenheim, Quantum Signal Processing, PhD Thesis, MIT, 2002.

(Available at http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/16805)

[2] E.B. Manoukian, Quantum Theory – A wide Spectrum, Springer, 2006.

[3] K.T. Hecht, Quantum Mechanics, Springer, 2000.

[4] A.C. Phillips, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, John Wiley and Sons, 2003.

[5] Gary E. Bowman, Essential Quantum Mechanics, Oxford University Press, 2008.

[6] Simon Haykin, Communication Systems, John Wiley and Sons, 1983.

Distinguishing religion and entertainment

Unfortunately, at various stages of my life, I have come across many people who falls under one of the below types.

1. The people who want only entertainment in religion

2. The people who find only sacrifice in religion

3. The people who don’t care about religion

The reason I say it as an ‘unfortunate thing’ as it makes the society very intolerant. I will make a daring attempt to highlight the problems associated with each type and where our society needs to make adjustments.

A religion loses its seriousness when it becomes a mode of entertainment for its followers. And a religion which has lost its seriousness fails to receive respect from the people of other religions. Essentially, religions were created to provide guidance on spirituality and to develop harmony among people. Each religion makes an attempt to define protocols which people needs to follow. For the sake of universal benefits, certain protocols tend to be very strict. Consider for example, few religions prohibit eating of meat. While, the protocol is an imposition on the followers, it cannot be considered as suppression of rights of a person.

The most stupid thing that majority of the people across the world do is to follow the religion which their parents have followed without even understanding the rest of the religions. I call it stupid because it makes no sense to follow a religion just because you were born to a person who was following that religion. Believe me, 99.99% of the people across world do this. This also leads to a major crisis, which dictates the politics of the world.

Because, the people made no choice in choosing the religion, as they grow up, majority of them tend to pick only those protocols within the religion that gives them entertainment. For example, everybody celebrates festivals because they give entertainment. What about the other great teachings of religion? Well, they just ignore them. Which religion allows injustice? Which religion allows tyranny? Which religion allows people to kill another people? Which religion says not to help the fellow human beings who are hungry and homeless? Which religion says treat women as slaves? Which religion says to distinguish people on the basis of their color? Which religion says to snatch away the land of the people and make then live in refugees in their own homeland? Given the fact that, there is no entertainment in solutions of these questions, the world goes on without caring.

Then, there are another set of people, who again have chosen the religion purely because their parents followed that religion, over the years tend to develop a mentality that religion is equivalent to ‘sacrifice’. Over the years, these people pick only those protocols in the religions which speak of sacrifice. They consider martyrdom in fighting against people who don’t sacrifice in the name of religion. When these people come across few intelligent ‘entertainment’ hungry people, they become fooled.

And the third types of people are the ones who don’t care about religion. For them, religion doesn’t mean anything; they find it foolish to think that there is God. Given that, I don’t carry a positive opinion about atheists, I would not like to comment here as they might consider it as personal attack.

To conclude, if one has to follow religion, then the person should spend time understanding the religion. Remember, religion is neither meant for entertainment nor meant for sacrifice. Religion is way of life.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One Lakh Crore–What does that mean?

CAG report for 2G spectrum allocation scandal has highlighted that India has lost 1.7 lakh crore due to corruption by Telecom Ministry. By all means, I think, there are more than ten thousand people involved in this scandal. So, just hanging former Telecom Minister A.Raja is not enough. Yet, except for resignation of A.Raja, there has been no action from the government. What is even worse, common man of India isn’t bothered with the scale of this scandal. This is the unfortunate truth of India. To help the common man understand, what this scandal means to India, I am going to describe what 1.7 lakh crore means to us. To make the mathematics simple, I am assuming the scandal is only 1 lakh crore.

If one writes down 1 lakh crore in numbers, it is 1,00,000,00,00,000. That’s ‘1’ followed by twelve zeros.

If Government of India wanted to distribute 1 lakh crore to Indian Citizens, each one of us would have got about ~900 rupees.

With 1 lakh crore, government of India could have provided free primary education for every girl child in India for next three years.

With 1 lakh crore, Government of India could have got every heart patient in India operated.

With 1 lakh crore, Government of India could have got doubled the strength of Indian army.

With 1 lakh crore, Government of India could have increased the security five-fold for all major Indian cities, which reduces the chances of a terrorist attack five times.

With 1 lakh crore, Government of India could have reduced the Tax Rate for every citizen by 10% for one year.

With 1 lakh crore, Government of India could have planted approximately 10 lakh crore trees in India, hence reducing the impact of green-house gases by 300%.

With 1 lakh crore, Government of India could have set-up 10 million clean and hygienic public toilets across India.

With 1 lakh crore, Government of India could have increased the budget by 40 times for R&D in Indian Universities.

With 1 lakh crore, Government of India could have provided purified drinking water for every citizen of India for a period of 5 years.

With 1 lakh crore, Government of India could have provided free electricity to all the farmers in India for a period of 2 years.

I can go on and on… but what’s the point? 1 lakh crore is just the tip of iceberg. Corruption has become an industry in India. And people of India has got so used to corruption… just simply don’t care. But someday, this is going to take us down. I just hope Indians wake up before the country is sold out in pieces by corrupt Indians.

.NET Exceptions: Best Practices and Performance Troubleshooting

(I would be constantly updating this post… to include as much information as I can on .NET exception handling and best practices associated with it. )
It is well known that, throwing excessive exceptions decreases the performance of the application. Yet, 4 out of 10 .NET applications continue to suffer from exception related performance problems. In this blog post, I would like to compile all the guidelines related to exception handling and also list out how to do troubleshooting the performance issues related to .NET exceptions.
Microsoft Recommended Guidelines on Exception Management:
  1. Do not return error codes. Exceptions are the primary means of reporting errors in frameworks.
  2. Do report execution failures by throwing exceptions. If a member cannot successfully do what it is designed to do, that should be considered an execution failure and an exception should be thrown.
  3. Consider terminating the process by calling System.Environment.FailFast(System.String) (a .NET Framework version 2.0 feature) instead of throwing an exception, if your code encounters a situation where it is unsafe to continue executing.
  4. Do not use exceptions for normal flow of control, if possible. Except for system failures and operations with potential race conditions, framework designers should design APIs so that users can write code that does not throw exceptions. For example, you can provide a way to check preconditions before calling a member so that users can write code that does not throw exceptions.
  5. Consider the performance implications of throwing exceptions.
  6. Do document all exceptions thrown by publicly callable members because of a violation of the member contract (rather than a system failure) and treat them as part of your contract. Exceptions that are a part of the contract should not change from one version to the next.
  7. Do not have public members that can either throw or not throw exceptions based on some option.
  8. Do not have public members that return exceptions as the return value or as an out parameter.
  9. Consider using exception builder methods. It is common to throw the same exception from different places. To avoid code bloat, use helper methods that create exceptions and initialize their properties.
  10. Do not throw exceptions from exception filter blocks. When an exception filter raises an exception, the exception is caught by the common language runtime (CLR), and the filter returns false. This behavior is indistinguishable from the filter executing and returning false explicitly and is therefore very difficult to debug.
  11. Avoid explicitly throwing exceptions from finally blocks. Implicitly thrown exceptions resulting from calling methods that throw are acceptable.
Microsoft Recommended Best Practices for Exception Handling:
  1. 1. Do not handle errors by catching non-specific exceptions, such as System.Exception, System.SystemException, and so on, in framework code.
  2. Avoid handling errors by catching non-specific exceptions, such as System.Exception, System.SystemException, and so on, in application code. There are cases when handling errors in applications is acceptable, but such cases are rare.
  3. Do not exclude any special exceptions when catching for the purpose of transferring exceptions.
  4. Consider catching specific exceptions when you understand why it will be thrown in a given context.
  5. Do not overuse catch. Exceptions should often be allowed to propagate up the call stack.
  6. Do use try-finally and avoid using try-catch for cleanup code. In well-written exception code, try-finally is far more common than try-catch.
  7. Do prefer using an empty throw when catching and re-throwing an exception. This is the best way to preserve the exception call stack.
  8. Do not handle non-CLS-compliant exceptions (exceptions that do not derive from System.Exception) using a parameter-less catch block. Languages that support exceptions that are not derived from Exception are free to handle these non-CLS compliant exceptions.
Microsoft Recommended Best Practices for improving performance
  1. Do not use error codes because of concerns that exceptions might affect performance negatively.
  2. Consider the Tester-Doer pattern for members that may throw exceptions in common scenarios to avoid performance problems related to exceptions.
  3. Consider the TryParse pattern for members that may throw exceptions in common scenarios to avoid performance problems related to exceptions.
  4. Do provide an exception-throwing member for each member using the TryParse pattern.
Microsoft Recommended Guidelines for defining Custom Exceptions
  1. Avoid deep exception hierarchies.
  2. Do derive exceptions from System.Exception or one of the other common base exceptions.
  3. Do end exception class names with the Exception suffix.
  4. Do make exceptions serializable. An exception must be serializable to work correctly across application domain and remoting boundaries.
  5. Do provide (at least) the following common constructors on all exceptions. Make sure the names and types of the parameters are the same those used in the following code example.
  6. Do report security-sensitive information through an override of System.Object.ToString only after demanding an appropriate permission. If the permission demand fails, return a string that does not include the security-sensitive information.
  7. Do store useful security-sensitive information in private exception state. Ensure that only trusted code can get the information.
  8. Consider providing exception properties for programmatic access to extra information (besides the message string) relevant to the exception.
Use the class or subclass of the exceptions listed below if possible.

+--System.Object  

   +--System.Exception  

       +--System.SystemException  

           +--System.ArgumentException  

           |   +--System.ArgumentNullException  

           |   +--System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException  

           |   +--System.DuplicateWaitObjectException  

           +--System.ArithmeticException  

           |   +--System.DivideByZeroException  

           |   +--System.OverflowException  

           |   +--System.NotFiniteNumberException

           +--System.ArrayTypeMismatchException  

           +--System.ExecutionEngineException  

           +--System.FormatException  

           +--System.IndexOutOfRangeException  

           +--System.InvalidCastException  

           +--System.InvalidOperationException  

           |   +--System.ObjectDisposedException  

           +--System.InvalidProgramException  

           +--System.IO.IOException  

           |   +--System.IO.DirectoryNotFoundException  

           |   +--System.IO.EndOfStreamException  

           |   +--System.IO.FileLoadException  

           |   +--System.IO.FileNotFoundException  

           |   +--System.IO.PathTooLongException  

           +--System.NotImplementedException  

           +--System.NotSupportedException  

           +--System.NullReferenceException  

           +--System.OutOfMemoryException  

           +--System.RankException  

           +--System.Security.SecurityException  

           +--System.Security.VerificationException  

           +--System.StackOverflowException  

           +--System.Threading.SynchronizationLockException

           +--System.Threading.ThreadAbortException  

           +--System.Threading.ThreadStateException  

           +--System.TypeInitializationException  

             +--System.UnauthorizedAccessException  

Perfmon counters to identify .NET Exceptions
# of Exceps Thrown
This counter displays the total number of exceptions thrown since the start of the application. These include both .NET exceptions and unmanaged exceptions that get converted into .NET exceptions e.g. null pointer reference exception in unmanaged code would get re-thrown in managed code as a .NET System.NullReferenceException; this counter includes both handled and unhandled exceptions. Exceptions that are re-thrown would get counted again. Exceptions should only occur in rare situations and not in the normal control flow of the program.
# of Exceps Thrown /sec
This counter displays the number of exceptions thrown per second. These include both .NET exceptions and unmanaged exceptions that get converted into .NET exceptions e.g. null pointer reference exception in unmanaged code would get re-thrown in managed code as a .NET System.NullReferenceException; this counter includes both handled and unhandled exceptions. Exceptions should only occur in rare situations and not in the normal control flow of the program; this counter was designed as an indicator of potential performance problems due to large (>100s) rate of exceptions thrown. This counter is not an average over time; it displays the difference between the values observed in the last two samples divided by the duration of the sample interval.
# of Filters / sec
This counter displays the number of .NET exception filters executed per second. An exception filter evaluates whether an exception should be handled or not. This counter tracks the rate of exception filters evaluated; irrespective of whether the exception was handled or not. This counter is not an average over time; it displays the difference between the values observed in the last two samples divided by the duration of the sample interval.
# of Finallys /sec
This counter displays the number of finally blocks executed per second. A finally block is guaranteed to be executed regardless of how the try block was exited. Only the finally blocks that are executed for an exception are counted; finally blocks on normal code paths are not counted by this counter. This counter is not an average over time; it displays the difference between the values observed in the last two samples divided by the duration of the sample interval.
Throw To Catch Depth / sec
This counter displays the number of stack frames traversed from the frame that threw the .NET exception to the frame that handled the exception per second. This counter resets to 0 when an exception handler is entered; so nested exceptions would show the handler to handler stack depth. This counter is not an average over time; it displays the difference between the values observed in the last two samples divided by the duration of the sample interval.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Wanderings –Part 2

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Charminar – Three days before Eid

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Took this shot yesterday night at 11:45 PM. Eid al-Adha (Eid-u’z Zuha), the festival of sacrifice is after three days… and the region around Charminar is buzzing with shopping/sales. If you want to witness, how Indian markets were about 100 years ago, you have to witness this place. Nothing has changed here… 

By the way, during daytime, Charminar region can be considered for potential candidate for the world’s most chaotic traffic.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chapters of Holy Quran in Wikipedia - Need contribution

I was searching regarding the context of Sura Al-Ghasiya (Chapter no. 88) and was shocked to find that, Wikipedia article about this chapter contains no information. Subsequently, I searched about the other Chapters such as Al-Fajr but found not much information. As we all know, understanding Holy Quran without knowing the context is very difficult and sometimes confusing.  From what I have observed, the top 10 results when you search Chapter name yields translation of that particular chapter but not the context.

In this regard, Wikipedia can play pivotal role. When the chapter name of Holy Quran is searched, Wikipedia article about that Chapter is among the top 10 results. Unfortunately, Wikipedia classifies many (80+ among 114) of the articles about the chapters of Holy Quran are classified as ‘stub’ due to lack of contribution from Muslims.  Imagine a non-Muslim trying to find information on internet about Chapter 12, Sura Yusuf… where will he first go to? Which search result will he first click?  IMHO, about 8 out of 10 would click the Wikipedia result to find information. And what does he find? Sadly, just couple of lines of information. 

I humbly ask, those of you who are knowledgeable in Islamic Studies to take some time out, prepare content on each Chapter and contribute to Wikipedia. This will not only help Muslims and non-Muslims understand Holy Quran but also be rewarding experience for you. Below, I have listed out the Chapters that have some information and the chapters that immediately need your attention. Please use http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Lail template for writing content but this doesn’t mean better template cannot be created.  Before you add the content, please make sure you get it reviewed by other knowledgeable folks, so that, there isn’t any unintentional error. 

Please do forward this information to your local mosque and appeal for contribution. 

In future, another important task would be, to review the content (related to Holy Quran Chapters) that is already available on Wikipedia. Since, Wikipedia can be easily edited, some unwanted content might also creep in. If we can find some Islamic organization that can volunteer for this activity and approach Wikipedia with content on all chapters and convince them make the chapters ‘non-editable’, it would be helpful.

Chapters that already have some info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Fatiha

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Baqara - Largest Chapter of Holy Quran but less than 1 page information available.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-i-Imran - Chapter with over 200 verses but less than 1 page context available.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Nisa - Chapter with 176 verses but less than 1 page context available.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ma%27ida – A lot can be contributed

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Isra

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Kahf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryam_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Muminun   - Good explanation; This template can be followed for other Chapters as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Nur

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ankabut

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luqman_(sura)  --à Sura Luqmaan is being redirected to article on Luqmaan. This is not correct. There needs to be two articles, one on Sura Luqmaan and other on Luqmaan the person.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Najm - Some context available but a lot can be contributed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ar-Rahman - Some context available but a lot can be contributed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Mulk - Some context available but a lot can be contributed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Lail - Very good explanation; This template can also be used for other chapters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad-Dhuha

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Tin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Alaq

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Nasr - Explanation already present. Needs some editing and aligning with the standard template.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ikhlas – Some more Contribution needed.

Chapters that demand contribution from the believers of Islam:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-An%27am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-A%27raf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Anfal - Chapter that was brought to earth after battle of Badr. Several verses are context based, yet not much context available.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Tawba

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yusuf_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ar-Ra%27d

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibrahim_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Hijr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Nahl

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ta-Ha

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Anbiya

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Hajj

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Furqan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash-Shu%27ara

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Naml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qisas

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ar-Rum

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As-Sajda

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ahzab

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saba_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatir

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ya-Seen  - Only contains couple of lines of information. This is absolutely disheartening, given that many of recite this chapter every day.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As-Saaffat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sad_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Az-Zumar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghafir

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fussilat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash-Shura

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Az-Zukhruf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad-Dukhan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Jathiya

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ahqaf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Fath

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Hujraat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qaf_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adh-Dhariyat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Tur

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qamar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Waqia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Hadid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Mujadila

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Hashr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Mumtahina

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As-Saff

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Jumua

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Munafiqoon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Taghabun

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Talaq

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Tahrim

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qalam

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Haaqqa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Maarij

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuh_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Jinn

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Muzzammil

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Muddathir

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qiyama

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Insan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Mursalat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Naba

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Naziat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abasa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Takwir

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Infitar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Mutaffifin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Inshiqaq

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Burooj

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Tariq

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ala

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ghashiya

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Fajr_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Balad

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash-Shams

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Inshirah

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qadr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Bayyina

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Az-Zalzala

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Adiyat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qaria

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Takathur

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Asr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Humaza

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Fil

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quraysh_(sura)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ma%27un

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Kawthar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Kafirun

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Masadd

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Falaq

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Nas

May Allah grant us wisdom, intellectuality and peace.

Friday, November 12, 2010

India from ‘US and China’ perspective

India, as of now

Economically Developed India

Economically Backward India

India is one of the largest exporters of raw materials to China and US.

India would be rather supplying furnished goods than raw materials.

Backward economy would create internal conflicts in India affecting the continuous supply of raw materials at lower cost.

India is dependent on US for nuclear fuel supply and technology for civilian energy needs.

India would independently develop nuclear energy facilities to meet its civilian energy needs.

Indian nuclear technology will pose a security threat to surrounding nations.

India provides educated and industrial labour to several US and Chinese companies at low wages.

Educated labour would demand higher wages.

Possibility of Global companies being financed and controlled by Indians.

India will not be able to produce educated lab or force.

India is dependent on US and its allies for providing weaponry technology.

India would indigenously develop weapons for its national security.

India will not be able to afford weapons purchase from US.

Number of patents filed by Indians is considerably less compared to US and China. Number of patents, in a way determines the technological advances made by the nation.

With better economy, more funding will be available for research, resulting in drastic increase in patents filed by Indians. Hence, US, China and India would compete for every new technology.

Not applicable.

An average American eats five times more nutritious food than average Indian.

Indians would be eating nutritious food on par with Americans. This would result in global increase in food prices.

With degrading economy, Indians will not be able to produce food for themselves, hence increasing the global food prices by importing food.

US and China are strategically partnering with under-developed countries for exploration of natural resources.

India would join the US and China in exploration of natural resources available in under-developed countries, resulting in more competition for natural resources.

Not applicable.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Does paying TAXES make you more responsible towards nation?

Soon after graduation, I took up my first full time job. A month later, a handsome amount was deposited into my bank account as my first month salary. Few days later, I found that a portion of my salary has been deducted as income tax. I remember, for the first time, I walked on the roads of my city (Hyderabad) with a sense of feeling that, now I have financially contributed to the development of the nation. It wasn’t about how much I have contributed; the feeling was more about being responsible towards development of the nation.

clip_image002[4]When I heard the news, some screwed up lady politician in India wanted to build her statues with public money, my instant reaction was ‘… whose money you are using for building your pathetic looking statues?’ I guess, almost every tax payer had a similar reaction. There is so much of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and lack of health care in India, and yet precious tax payers money in being wasted in constructing statues!

I soon realized, it wasn’t just that one particular lady politician. Several other politicians have abused the tax payer’s money in India and it’s a very common thing. It made me wonder, do these politicians care for people’s money? How can people just remain silent when their hard earning money is being wasted?

After a bit of analysis, I found that only 8% of Indians pay taxes, leaving about 92% (~1 billion people) who are either not eligible to pay taxes or found a way to escape taxes. So, we are part of a nation which has about 1 billion people who haven’t contributed even a paisa from their pocket towards the development of the nation. What is even worse, majority of these non-tax payers do not realize from where the government gets money to construct roads, irrigation projects, transport systems, etc. For them, it’s just government money. And when some political leader announces that he/she would give free electricity or gold, they jump to vote in his/her favor.

Clearly, there seems to be a ‘disconnect’ between people who are paying taxes and the people who aren’t. The task before each one of us is, to bring a change in the attitude of people. This task cannot be successfully achieved just via educational campaigns. After giving a lot of thought, I have come to a conclusion that, by making every earning individual pay taxes, automatically we can change the attitude of the nation. Before we look at the proposed actionable plan, let’s first understand, in terms of numbers, how income tax is being collected from earning individuals in India:

 

Income tax for financial year 2010-11

Rate (%)

Up to 1,60,000
Up to 1,90,000 (for women)
Up to 2,40,000 (for resident individual of 65 years or above)

NIL

1,60,001 – 5,00,000

10

5,00,001 – 8,00,000

20

8,00,001 upwards

30

As per the current rules, any individual earning less than Rs.1,60,000 annually need not pay taxes. A small tweaking to the above tax system can dramatically change the attitude of people. Not taxing the individuals who earn less than Rs. 1,60,000 (1,90,000 and 2,40,000 for women and senior citizens respectfully) definitely reduces the burden on low-earning citizens. However, it is also resulting in lack-of-responsibility among majority of people. Keeping this in mind, I propose the following change in the tax system.

 

Proposed Income tax for future

Rate (%)

Up to 1,60,000
Up to 1,90,000 (for women)
Up to 2,40,000 (for resident individual of 65 years or above)

1

1,60,001 – 5,00,000

10

5,00,001 – 8,00,000

20

8,00,001 upwards

30

The new proposed tax structure does one dramatic change. It makes sure that every citizen who is earning should pay tax to the nation. A nominal tax of 1% should be collected from every individual who is earning less than Rs. 1,60,000 (Rs. 1,90,000 and Rs. 2,40,000 for women and senior citizens respectfully). I do understand this is a burden on everyone, especially for the individuals who are struggling to meet their ends. But at the same time, this would be a critical move towards the progress of the nation.

Following are the advantages of making the tax mandatory

1. It brings a sense of responsibility among every citizen. It would automatically create an environment where people would protect the public property and protest against any wastage of money by government. Currently, this feeling is missing among 92% of the Indians. As long as they are not directly being affected, they don’t care about demanding accountability from government.

2. It will bring a sense of satisfaction among people that they have contributed towards development of the nation. This induces a feeling of demanding accountability from government and elected representatives. For every paisa collected via taxes, the government and elected representatives has to show the corresponding progress to the people. As they have directly paid an amount to the government in form of taxes, it inherently creates a feeling among citizens to ask for accountability and progress.

3. It will change the public service system in India. Public servants believe that they are being paid by Government and since 92% of the people haven’t directly contributed money to the government, they don’t hold public servants accountable. But with mandatory tax system, public servants are directly accountable to the people.

clip_image005[4]Also, there is one behavioral characteristic of Indians that needs to be changed. Generally, when people in India approach a politician, he/she always goes with folded hands, as if, they are begging for a favor from the politician. We need to change this mentality. A politician is doing a job and as a citizen of India, you have every right to demand. The part of the problem is, because majority of people in India haven’t contributed taxes, when they ask for a particular thing (ex: relief fund) from a politician, they think they are asking for a favor. This mindset would automatically change when there is a mandatory tax system in India. Given that, everyone has financially contributed, people would demand efficient use of funds and approach politicians with self-respect.

I wish to see a lady from a village walking up to Rahul Gandhi and saying ‘…I give a damn about whether you sleep at a hut for a night or not. I want my village to have better drainage systems, zero electricity cuts and proper roads. Can you get it done within a year? If not, you better not visit this place again’. And that courage would only come, when all of us pay taxes to the nation, irrespective of how much we earn.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reply to Shashi Tharoor on his article on Burma

Recently, Shashi Tharoor wrote an article titled “Burma: India’s Bad Neighbor Policy”. My first reaction after reading the article was, ‘author is so confused’. Probably, Mr. Tharoor is trying to balancing it out between his Government’s views and his own moral values. On one sides, he defends the democratic rights of people and on the other, goes on to justify that India started support military junta for the sake of economic benefits. Mr. Tharoor quotes “India’s government cannot be blamed for deciding that its national interests in Burma are more important than standing up for democracy there”. In my opinion, for a nation that aspires to be a global power, this is a very compromising statement.

Mr. Tharoor also quotes “Any Indian government’s primary obligation is to its own people, and there is little doubt that the economic opportunities provided by Burmese oil and gas are of real benefit to Indians. There is also the strategic imperative of not ceding ground to India’s enemies on its own borders. India confronts an inescapable fact of geopolitics: you can put your ideals on hold, but you cannot change who your neighbors are”.

Basically, it appears that, Mr. Tharoor wants to say, wherever and whenever there are commercial benefits, Indian government should peruse it without caring about nation’s honour, morals and dignity. Let me remind Mr. Tharoor that, economic benefits are often temporary, what stands out in the history are the values of a nation. Often, it’s the values of a nation that determine its relationships with other countries. Also, his justification that Indian government went into business with military junta of Myanmar (Burma) only after Pakistan and China doesn’t make sense. Common, if your enemies do a wrong thing, that doesn’t mean, now you are also eligible to do the wrong thing.

The other day, when president of United States Mr. Barack Obama addressed the Indian Parliament, he rightly pointed out, if India wants to become a global power, it must behave like one. India has been shying away from commenting about human rights violations in Burma and other military ruled regimes, merely for the sake of economic benefits. Isn’t that being selfish? Isn’t that against moral values of India? But then, India has well-educated public representatives like Shashi Tharoor who through the magic of words would justify what India has been doing is the right thing. By the way, at no point I am saying US is actually behaving like a global power, but yes, we can set the right precedence by doing the right thing.

India must not just see itself as a great nation but also as a great civilization. For this to happen, our policy makes should take up challenge of standing to the values of India than merely justifying their acts as commercial ventures.

PS: Given that, Shashi Tharoor is hailed as a hero by majority of audience who follows internet blogs, let me say, I also one among those, who have liked the several works of Mr. Tharoor. But, I am not the kind of person, who would blindly accept what has been told.

Article 334: Reservation of seats and special representation to cease after twenty years

Another article of Indian constitution which I would like to bring forward is Article 334. When the constitution was first introduced on 26th November 1949, article 334 titled “Reservation of seats and special representation to cease after twenty years” stated

“Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Part, the provisions of this Constitution relating to—

(a) the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies of the States; and

(b) the representation of the Anglo-Indian community in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies of the States by nomination, shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of twenty years from the commencement of this Constitution:

Provided that nothing in this article shall affect any representation in the House of the People or in the Legislative Assembly of a State until the dissolution of the then existing House or Assembly, as the case may be.”

This meant that, reservation of SC/STs in House of the People and in Legislative Assemblies of the states should not be in effect post 1970. However, as per the 23rd Amendment which happened on 23th January 1970, article 334 of Indian constitution was amended to extend reservation for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies for another 10 years. This meant that reservations of SC/STs in the House of the People and in Legislative Assemblies of the States is extended till 1980. Basically, when constitution of India was written, the goal was set for twenty years to bring a reform among SC/STs. However, lack of accountability among politicians and creation of vote-bank politics resulted in further 10 year extension of the time-line. The worst was yet to come. On 25th Janurary 1980, article 334 of Indian constitution was again amended (45th Amendment) to extend reservation for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies for another ten years (up to 1990). 10 years later, on 20th December 1989, article 334 of Indian constitution was once again amended (62nd Amendment) to extend reservation for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies for another ten years (up to 2000). Ten years later, on 25th January 2000, article 334 of Indian constitution was amended (79th Amendment) for the 4th time to extend reservation for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies for another ten years (up to 2010).

So, basically, the concept of reservations of seats for SCs/STs in House of People and Legislative assemblies was meant for twenty years but incapable/unaccountable politicians extended it till sixty years. The most disheartening fact is, the situation of SCs/STs in India still remains as backward as it was during independence. Who is responsible for it? I would say, it’s the people belonging to SCs/STs, especially because they haven’t demanded their elected representatives to develop them. How long can the nation tolerate reservations in the name of caste when people itself want to stick to their backwardness? It appears that, by the end of 2010, the constitution will be once again amended to extend the reservations for SC/STs for another 10 years. This will continue to happen until SCs/STs wake up and demand progress and accountability from their elected representatives. Also, they need to start realizing that, their elected representative need not be from SCs/ST to understand their problems.

I hope sense prevails in India.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Know thy Constitution, Indian citizens!

Knowing the constitution of the nation helps people to realize their rights as citizens. It also keeps them aware of the power and responsibility constitution grants. I say this with deep regret that, most of us in India hardly know the constitution of our nation. Often, we neglect it as something unimportant and unnecessary. Though overview of constitution is taught as part of primary education in India, for some reason unknown, it has failed to create awareness among students and grown-ups. Did you know, constitution of India orders every citizen to develop scientific temper? Did you know, it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect the natural environment around us? There are many such things within constitution that we hardly pay attention to. In today’s age, it is critical we understand the power that constitution of India grants each and every citizen.

clip_image002Digital copy of Constitution of India can be downloaded from website of Ministry of Law and Justice

(http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/welcome.html).

I would highly recommend each citizen of India who have access to Internet to download and read it. I am not a certified lawyer, so my opinion is from a common citizen point of view.

According to article 51A of the constitution, fundamental duties of Indian Citizen are

“It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—

(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;

(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;

(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;

(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;

(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;

(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;

(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compass ion for living creatures;

(h) to develop the scientific temper , humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;

(j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.

(k) **who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.

** Ins. by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002, s. 4 (which is yet not in force, date to be notified by the government)”

Each of the fundamental duties of Indian citizens is self-explanatory. However, I would like to highlight about the fundamental duty on developing scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform. As per the values of Indian family system, children are told right from our childhood to accept whatever has been told to them. The same thing is echoed during primary education. The sense of enquiring and making a reform is never told or promoted. In fact, sense of enquiry and reform is crushed at every stage. This leads to a situation, where kids become non-creative. The non-creative child grows up and again preaches the same values to his/her children and this cycle has been continuing. That’s precisely the reason why we haven’t produced intellectual ideas and social reforms. To make things more clear, let me categorically state certain examples

- Existence of superstition in most parts of India is an example of the inability of people to enquire and reform. “My forefathers believed, so I believe it too” … That’s the answer you find from these people when asked.

- Glorification of works done by ancestors is another habit of Indians. Just because, people merely follow what has been told to them than doing something creative, some primitive work done by ancestors becomes so sacred that it can’t questioned and reformed

- Suppression of creativity and scientific ideas in the name of religion, culture and traditions is rampant in most part of the country. People still treat scientific advances as foreign invasion on their religion, culture and traditions.

I can go on and on giving these kinds of examples. Until and unless, citizens of India wake up realize the true fundamental duties defined by our constitution, things won’t change. Also, many of us who do realize this should take a hard stance, as constitution of India gives us that power. Compromising on scientific advances just because somebody’s religious and cultural sentiments are hurt is against our constitution. All citizens of India are ordered by the constitution to develop scientific temper; if they can’t then clearly they are violating Indian constitution.