Trekking along the “Great wall of Korea” ..


Today was Chuseok (추석) and my second in Korea… The Same Day Last year was filled with pretty much everything that i could have asked for.. This year we thought of Visiting a very important historical landmark in Korea which is Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. Its pretty much a smaller version of the great wall of china covering multiple hills going up and down with occassional outposts and 4 Main Gates.. It covers an area of 1.54 kilometers with a wall in the perimeter. The wall itself is around 5.74 kilometers long. The fortress features a floodgate, four secret gates, four guard platforms, two observation towers, two command posts, two archer’s platforms, five firearms bastions, five sentry towers, four angle towers, a beacon tower and nine bastions. The whole fortress including the wall was built in just two years, 1794-1796. The total cost of building the entire structure is around 158 US dollars and 1500 sacks of rice. How inexpensive in the world we live in where high school students have MP4s and PMPs costing 200-300 US Dollars! Such a contrast….

Sergey and I decided to visit this place and go for a walk along the hilly perimeter of the fortress. We were told that it would take about 3 hours to walk along the entire length and we started off our journey from the south gate around 3:40 pm. By the time we decided to stop, it was about 6:30 pm and we still had about a quarter of the distance to cover. Since we were really hungry from the constant strenuous trekking we decided to go back to Suwon Metro Station and head back post dinner. Will upload the pictures soon @ My Photo Gallery..

I really had an amazing experience today due to lots of picturesque and serene locations in the fortress. IT caught me thinking that this marvelous structure was built just in 2 years and now… Centuries later its still standing heads up with all its prodigious glory. What a workmanship.. Even better craftsmanship… Just unbelievably wonderful.. We can see examples of many such palaces and temples in out own country, India, itself… Take Madurai Meenakshi Temple in the South, built in 1600s … Taj Mahal in the North, completed in 1648.. Hawa Mahal in the East, completed in 1799.. Sanchi Stupa commissioned in 3rd Century BCE..

All these are examples of our national treasures.. Works or art and skill we must eternally be proud of .. Each of them tells their own story of devotion and dedication…

A striking contrast which came to my mind thinking about all the ancient marvels.. The Public Roads.. Strong roadways is definitely something a country can be proud of.. It would play a pioneering role in its development and trade relations and should be having a high priority when we think of development of a state or a nation itself.. In my thought, this might be the ONE inspiration behind the “Golden Quadrilateral” project started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former PM of India..

I dont know much about other states but atleast in m hometown, undoubtedly, the best road ever built was the Swaraj Round, by Shaktan Thampuran.. Centuries after its built, it is one of the roads with minimal damage when compared to many other very recently made roads.. The latter (with a little exaggeration of course) can be seen with more craters than the moon after a strong rain.. I am sure that this is a case (to some extend without doubt) in many cities along the lengths and breadths of our country..

Coming to think of it.. Swaraj Round was constructed at least 3 centuries before these “high technology roads” and may be that is the ONLY reason why it is still intact.. I mean.. the resources meant for its construction would not have been redirected to some other “destinations”.. Man!!! If only we knew the “secret”!!!

My Eternal “Wish”: Next Rebirth as a SC/ST/OBC in India

First of all I wish to make clear that, as a person, I am indifferent to the caste system we have in India and i believe in equality of the entire humanity. Honestly, I don’t support the idea of superiority and inferiority among religions, castes and creed. I don’t think that SC/ST/OBC are in any way lesser than others. They are good humans with an equal potential just like anyone else. They have equal chances for success and have a high respect for, in my mind. This post is to vent my agony and anger ONLY ON the current reservation based educational system in India and I have tried to expose my views on the whole “Reservation based on Caste” issue that has been lingering around, ever since I can imagine. Any views mentioned in this post here are purely personal and I have tried to be as objective as possible in voicing my opinions. I sincerely apologize if this causes any kind of ill-feelings in your mind.  Though there might be many advantages arising due to the reservation system, my intention in this post is to throw some light on my the negative sides of the reservations (which many of you might already be knowing) from my perspective. Hence you should expect this post to be purely critical to the system.

The point what i want to make clear is: With the kind of inequalities that is rampant in our society, there should be reservation for certain section of people, but caste should never be the criterion. (Thanks Anoop)

Before i start the post, I would like to summarize some “random numbers” that i was able to get from Central Counselling Board – Institute Wise Allotment List 2008. Let me give you the first and last ranks, with their quotas in some of the premier institutes in India (excluding IITs as I don’t have the statistics with me and IIIT Hyderabad as there is NO reservation whatsoever in the admissions to that university).

University,
Branch

First AIR
Admitted
(Quota)

Last AIR
Admitted
(Quota)

Last AIR
Admitted (OP)

NIT Trichy, ECE 219 (OP) 40808 (ST) 3807
NIT Trichy, CSE 745 (OP) 43063 (ST) 7158
NIT Surathkal, ECE 79 (OP)
44254 (ST) 4461
NIT Surathkal, CSE 756 (OP) 41886 (ST) 6848
NIT Warangal, ECE 322 (OP) 49985 (ST)
2169
NIT Warangal, CSE 159 (OP) 49015 (ST) 2854
NIT Calicut,ECE 373 (OP) 48814 (ST) 6147
NIT Calicut,CSE 2223 (OP) 43441(SC) 10134

For the uninformed international readers of my blog, AIR – All India Rank in All India Engineering Entrance Examination 2008; ECE – Electronics and Communications Engineering; CSE – Computer Science and Engineering; OP – Open Merit Admissions (100% based on AIR); SC– Scheduled Caste; ST – Scheduled Tribe; OBC – Other Backward Castes. NIT – National Institute of Technologies are the best institutes in India after IITs and IIIT Hyderabad. ECE and CSE are two of the most sought after fields of study in the engineering department for us. Hence for making the table short and sweet, I have not considered all but two of the many fields of study.

If you observe the table, especially the last two columns you can see what i am talking about. The last column stands for the rank of the student who got into that particular university/branch purely based on his rank (read hard work and a li’l bit of luck). The second last column stands for the rank of the student admitted last into the corresponding university/branch based much more on his caste than his efforts.

You can observe the ridiculous pattern. For example, lets take the case of NIT Warangal ECE (the worst case scenario among all the cases). Among the regular students, the last rank admitted in OP is 2169. It means that any student whose rank was 2170 or above (I can safely say that an All India Rank (AIR) <10000)is pretty good given that about half a million students write the same centralized exam) was not in a position to get into this university, branch.  In the place where none of the relatively more intelligent students above ranks 2170 – 10000 got into the college (and i am sure that many of them would have applied for it, unsuccessfully) when another student (with due respect to his intelligence) with rank 49 985 got into the SAME coveted seat. So its like this, there are two students for the seat, one with AIR = 2170 and other with AIR 49 985. When both of them applied to the same seat, the latter got in (thanks to his caste) whereas spite of being a much more deserving student, the former failed to get it (due to his “misfortune” in not being in the “elite” SC/ST/OBC). All his considerable hard work he had put in over the last two years of study, could not secure him his desired seat where as someone who rank is 20 times lower, was able to get it, JUST ON ACCOUNT OF HIS “LOW” caste. (Please read “” as sarcasms).

India has about 50% seats in ALL THE National Level, Government Supported Institutes (Including IITs). It means that if you are born in the privileged group of SC/ST/OBC. Oh what a life it would be.. You dont have to study as much as the unprivileged OP students, you dont have to work that hard. Still with much minimal efforts in comparison, you can still get into any decent seat you would like to get into, no matter how ridiculous your rank is.  Due to the important of the sensitive issue on Caste based reservation System in India, Wikipedia has dedicated some considerable space for a long article which can be found here. Interested may follow the link to read more on the so called “pros and cons”.

The quality of the output from all the premier institutes in India has been rocketing downwards due to this system. You can refer to what i am saying based on the Job offers a majority of the students get.

Lemme put in my two cents at this point, WHY.. i mean WHY cant they put all these reservations and of the likes in Elementary and Middle schools. I dont oppose that since there are millions of schools in India, the case of a deserving student not getting education can be ruled out. Let all indians, regardless of their caste study together, and be in a position where they can compete with each other in the All India Entrance Examinations. Let them get the rank they deserve in that exam, and get into their dream seats with no differentiation between their ethnic background. Instead, the government targets the BEST UNIVERSTIES india to put these students in and many of them fail to cope up due to unstable foundation in their schooling.

To top it all, now that the student reservation has been a “unprecedented success”, Mr. Arjun Singh had a whim to “try out” 50% faculty reservation in IITs. Wow!! Thats an icing on the already “delicious” cake which he has made. When i say he, I dont mean to target Mr. Arjun Singh alone. I mean the entire force behind this venture of “upliftment of Indians”.

If only i was born into this “privileged section” of the society and i mean the elite group of SC/ST/OBC, my life would have been much easier, thanks to the Indian Government.. Due to the reasons stated above ,its my “wish” that I be born into that section of society where dreams come true as easily as making water from ice.

But alas!!!! I can only wish….. right?

A Movie So Phenomenal…

The visual media does have the power to move one’s mind.. I mean, honestly for the good and for the bad as well. A lot have we heard about little innocent kids enacting whats shown in the movie and endangering themselves, the freakishly significant but slow influence on an adult human mind due to the repetition of ads in TV etc. On the other hand, the visual media is also used to convey great thoughts and ideas as well, and i dont need to site any examples here to prove that.

Arguably, one of the strongest contender in the influence on us is movies and i want to dedicate this post to one of the best and touching-the-heart movies I have ever seen. The director and the artists seem so original, and I dont mean just the lead role. Every actor in the movie, whether the antagonists or the protagonists or the preys or the predators, portrayed their characters with stupendous elegance which made this movie stand 6th in the top 250 list on the Internet Movie Data Base (www.imdb.com). This movie portrays the story between the Jews and Hitler and is directed by none other than Steven Spielberg. Yes my dear readers, as many of you might have correctly guessed, the movie is Schindler’s List (1993).

Its a long movie (195 minutes) and though released in 1993, the movie is in black and white (what a wonderful thought from the makers) to give the movie its original feeling. It describes the acts of the Nazi and its affiliates to achieve the wipe-out of the Jews from Germany. The movie comes with an eye catchy tag line ” Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire”. The story revolves on a greedy and vain rich man named Oscar Schindler who tries to exploit the Jews during the 2nd world war period to earn fame and riches (just like anyone else would do.. 😛 ..) and his transformation from this despicable human being to literally a God among the Schindler Jews (as they chose to be called to honor this great man). The movie portrays the transformation from this hugry for money character into some one who saved about 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp, sacrificing all his riches. The movies shows that however bad we might be, at some point of time, there is an innate goodness in all of us. Somewhere hidden inside the depths of our heart, we have this humaneness which boils down to make us all a part of a fraternity christened as humans.

I wont write more about that movie here, since my intention here was to recommend this out of the world classic to you. If you get a chance to see it, please watch this movie and I am sure that you would agree with my opinion. The movie was made immortal with the music of John Williams (the same individual who composed music for Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, ET, Superman as well as 4 Olympics) and the one of the best violinist the world has ever seen, Itzhak Perlman (who hasn’t been able to walk since he was four, since he had contracted polio) . Watch the duo live in action below in the youtube video.. The adjective “Marvelous” would not do justice to the composition. It would just be an understatement. .

As a concluding remark, you will never regret spending three hours of your life for this movie.. Its simply splendid..