Saturday, September 27, 2014

Justice John Michael D'Cunha : Jayalalithaa's nemesis

The Special Court in Bangalore has delivered an astounding verdict against Jayalalithaa and her associates today. She is imprisoned for four years and fined Rs.100 crore. She pays the penalty for her brazen act of amassing Rs.66.65 crore, an amount totally disproportionate to her disclosed sources of income during her first stint as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister (1991 - 96).

The judge needs to be applauded for his boldness and , maybe, incorruptibility. There have inevitably been rumours that attempts were made to 'tame' him.

It is difficult to explain how a smart person like Jayalalithaa indulged in easily provable venality whereas the apparently less smart politicians in Tamil Nadu make hay without getting caught. It is possible that initial taste of power made her recklessly confident. In her subsequent stints as Chief Minister she must have become more careful, though not necessarily less corrupt.

Updated on 2nd Oct. :

Media reports point towards some possible chinks in the judgement's armour. According to a Supreme Court judgement, conviction and sentencing need to be spaced out in time and generally should not be in the same day to enable the judge to understand the arguments of prosecution and the defense regarding quantum of sentence. Has the learned judge erred in rushing to pronounce the sentence? Did he have a closed mind ?     ( A closed mind need not necessarily come to a wrong conclusion. But it is anathema to legal pundits.) Was he inadvertently conflating legality and ethicality?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mandolin Shrinivas

It is very unfortunate that the mandolin maestro has passed away at the young age of 45. The Carnatic music has suffered an irreparable loss. May his soul rest in eternal peace !

According to media reports, he died a week after a liver transplant. " Early this month (September, 2014), Shrinivas went to Apollo Hospitals with complaints of general weakness and loss of appetite. "He said he was traveling on a concert and maybe because of eating out, he felt unwell," said the doctor. "A detailed diagnosis revealed multiple problems: pneumonia, failing kidneys and acute liver failure. The problems were long-existing, but somehow he didn't realize it till it was too late." 

Through dialysis and antibiotics, doctors stabilized the lungs and kidneys and did a liver transplant. He appeared to be on his way to recovery when another bout of infection led to multiple organ failure. " (Times of India)

The transplant was performed on 12th September and he breathed his last on the 19th.

The following report is disquieting. "In a statement, Apollo Hospital said "the transplant procedure was uneventful, and his liver function showed signs of recovering. After initial improvement of five days, he developed a secondary lung infection leading to shock and multi organ failure." (The Hindu)

The uneventfulness of a transplant is not proven simply because the patient comes out alive from the operation theatre. It is only discharge from the hospital in a satisfactory state of health that would vouchsafe that the transplant was uneventful.

This is not to say that the hospital was in any way responsible for the untimely demise of a doyen of music. The chain of events however lays bare the lack of our mastery over the transplant imponderables.

Monday, September 15, 2014

"I, indeed, did my duty"

Asked to comment on Vinod Rai's criticism of his leadership, Manmohan Singh has responded with laconic  " I, indeed, did my duty". If we had thought that the prime minister's duty was to protect the constitution and the nation, we are totally misguided. PM's duty, if we understand the economist genius correctly, is to protect the scamsters from the law.

This is not the first time that Singh gives a sinister twist to meaning of duty. (Please see the post dated 5th October, 2005 on "Manmohan Singh and Bhagavad Gita".) One feels appalled that behind a misleading facade, Singh always had a crooked mind.

Singh will do well to enlighten the nation on all that he had done in pursuance of his duty.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ranjit Sinha's hospitality

A country-wide hue and cry has been raised over the CBI Director's visitors. Ranjit Sinha has answered the critics in a step by step methodical way. There was no visitors' log. Even if there was one, what was produced in the Supreme Court was not genuine. Even if it was genuine, he did not meet all of them. Even if he met all of them, he met them only to satisfy himself about the veracity of notings made against them by CBI's lower level politically-naive officials. So, where is the alleged misconduct by the Director?

Sinha wants the name of 'whistle-blower' to be made known. Who is the ungrateful / unreliable renegade who has stooped to the level of disclosing what his / her boss does? This 'namak haram' should be named, shamed and jailed. Nobody has the right to bring down the reputation of the CBI Chief.

How does the Supreme Court even think of entertaining an application against the conduct of the CBI Chief? Has it forgotten Thomas Fuller's famous dictum: "Be you ever so high, the CBI is above you"? The Supreme Court must be charged with contempt of CBI.

Let us not forget the noble role played by Manmohan Singh in ensuring Ranjit Sinha's appointment to head the CBI. He protected the 'Coalition Dharma' by favouring Lalu Prasad's saviour. It is a befitting coincidence that both Singh and Sinha have 'Sin' deeply embedded in their names.

Monday, September 08, 2014

The mystery called Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is accredited to be one of the all-time greats among physicists. His explanation of black holes and theory of expansion of universe is phenomenal. He has recently hypothesised the nagging possibility of the Higgs Boson aka the God Particle becoming extremely unstable and devouring the universe.

PTI reports:

"The elusive ‘God particle’ discovered by scientists in 2012 has the potential to destroy the universe, famed British physicist Stephen Hawking has warned.
According to Mr. Hawking, 72, at very high energy levels the Higgs boson, which gives shape and size to everything that exists, could become unstable.
This, he said, could cause a “catastrophic vacuum decay” that would lead space and time to collapse, reported.
“The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become megastable at energies above 100bn giga-electron-volts (GeV),” Hawking wrote in the preface to a new book called Starmus.
“This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light.
“This could happen at any time and we wouldn’t see it coming,” said Mr. Hawking.
The Higgs boson, also known as the God particle, was discovered in 2012 by scientists at CERN — who operate the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.
Hawking said the likelihood of such a disaster is unlikely to happen in the near future, however, the danger of the Higgs becoming destabilised at high energy is too great to be ignored."

Scientists are no doubt entitled to indulge in outlier thoughts. They need however to be cautious enough to avoid floating panic theories. Serial decay and origins of the universe are postulated in many religious scriptures. Scientists are not entitled to the luxury of ridiculing such scriptural thoughts and at the same time propagating their fancy theories on termination of universe. Stephen Hawking is not doing himself or science any favour by flip-flopping on his theories regarding black hole and expansion / contraction of universe. Sanity of thought presupposes a modicum of stability of views. Though foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, foolish inconsistency cannot be the hobgoblin of scientific minds.