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Philosophy of the Mahatma


Mahatma Gandhi engrossed in a document, while proceeding to the Working Committee Meeting. With him are Jawaharlal Nehru and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan.

October 2 is Gandhi Jayanthi. Even after all these years, we continue to find that the Mahatma is relevant.

IIn an essay titled “Gandhiji’s political significance,” Gene Sharp, Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth looks at why the Mahatma is still relevant.

Prof. Sharp is known for his writings on nonviolent struggle, and which have had a bearing on various anti-government resistance movements across the world. He especially shot into the limelight during the first phase of the ‘Arab Spring’. He has also founded the Albert Einstein Institution, “a non-profit organisation devoted to studies and promotion of the use of nonviolent action in conflicts worldwide”.

Prof. Sharp quotes the Mahatma as saying: “‘I claim,’ Gandhiji once wrote, ‘to be no more than an average man with less than average ability’.”

“My Mahatmaship is worthless,”, he added. “I have become literally sick of the adoration … I lay no claim to superhuman powers. I want none. I wear the same corruptible flesh that the weakest of my fellow-beings wears, and am, therefore, as liable to err as any.”

But it is an undisputable fact that Gandhiji deserves a great amount of credit in getting non-violent action accepted as the technique of struggle in the freedom movement. “Nonviolence,” said Gandhiji in 1920, “does not mean meek submission to the will of the evil-doer, but it means the pitting of one’s whole soul against the will of the tyrant …. I want India to practise nonviolence being conscious of her strength and power.” Thus, we have seen non-violence being a great weapon in bringing about change. The point is, will it work in the 21st century?

A great feature of the 20th century, and as we have seen in the 21st century, says Prof. Sharp, is to follow how the technique of nonviolence has developed. It includes forms such as non-violent resistance, satyagraha, strikes, boycotts, political non-cooperation, civil disobedience and non-violent obstruction, to name a few. It also derives its strength from the truth.

Recently, the enormous success that Anna Hazare enjoyed in leading a fight against the issue of rampant corruption, led many to compare him to being a modern-day Gandhian in his technique — a non-violent fight against an issue.

There was no violence at any phase, and the government finally took notice of what he was trying to highlight. In the end, what is the significance of this movement of non-violence? Perhaps, a part of that answer, says Prof. Sharp, lies in the point that by choosing to be non-violent, it increases the strength of a mass movement by giving it “an aura of moral superiority. It becomes morally more uplifting to society and to each participant in the movement.”

It would be right to look at what Jawaharlal Nehru said, says Prof Sharp. “After seeing the movement of non-violence, I feel more and more convinced that it offers us some key to understanding and resolving conflict. Gandhiji’s way has shown achievement,” said Nehru.

That may be the final answer.

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Sensex tumbles 302 points on earnings concern, weak global cues


Stock brokers react while watching Bombay Stock Exchange index on their trading terminals in Mumbai. The Sensexfell by 302.31 points to 16,151.45 on Monday.

The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex on Monday tumbled 302 points on heavy selling in blue-chips led by Reliance Industries and banking stocks on investor anxiety over corporate earnings amid depreciating rupee and weak global markets.

The Sensex, which lost 244 points in the previous session, fell further by 302.31 points to 16,151.45 on continued outflow of foreign funds.

A weak trend in the Asian region and lower openings in Europe also dampened the market sentiment, as Greece said it would not meet the target for reducing its massive deficit, adding to the pressure on the eurozone crisis.

The National Stock Exchange index Nifty dropped 93.75 points to 4,849.50, after touching the day’s low of 4,823.90.

Brokers said high inflation and rising commodity prices have added to fears of interest rate hikes. They said the country imports more than 75 per cent of its fuel demand, and buys commodities including pulses, edible oils, natural rubber and some grades of steel from overseas.

Thus, the weak rupee spurs the country’s import bill.

The rupee weakened one per cent to 49.49 per dollar after losing 8.7 per cent last quarter.

The two heaviest stocks, with 20 per cent weight on the index — Reliance Industries and Infosys — suffered heavy losses. RIL lost 2.49 per cent and Infosys 2.27 per cent. ICICI Bank fell 4.12 per cent, SBI 2.53 per cent and HDFC Bank by 1.88 per cent.

The realty sector index suffered the most, falling 4.59 per cent to 1,682.06, followed by metals index — 4 per cent to 10,555.54. The banking index lost 2.82 per cent to 10,544.72.

Google ranked world’s most attractive employer, again


The search giant has been dubbed the most attractive employer by more than 160,000 people from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, the UK and US looking for the right place to work. AP

Internet search giant Google has been ranked as the best company to work for by management and engineering graduates in two separate surveys, which term the company the world’s “most attractive employer” of 2011.

According to the survey conducted by global employer branding firm Universum, Google has been ranked at the top of its 2011 list of the top 50 global businesses and engineering companies to work for – the third year in a row.

The search giant has been dubbed the most attractive employer by more than 160,000 people from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, the UK and US looking for the right place to work.

“For the last three years, we have been seeing Google leading the pack and it will take a strong player with a clear talent strategy to steal this number one spot,” Universum Head (Research and Consulting) Lovisa Ohnell said.

The search giant is followed by auditor KPMG, where most B-Schools students want to work, while engineering graduates picked tech giant IBM as their second choice.

For engineering students, software giant Microsoft is the third choice, followed by car-maker BMW (fourth), chip-maker Intel (fifth), electronics company Sony (sixth), tech firm Apple (seventh), GE (eighth), Siemens (ninth) and consumer goods group Procter & Gamble (10th).

The other technology firms that were favoured by engineers are HP, Cisco, Oracle, Nokia, Dell, and Lenovo.

“The software industry is highly dependent on its human capital, hence the efforts to attract and retain the brightest minds in the world,” Universum Global Account Director Carlo Duraturo said.

“There’s a new working culture paradigm today – the relaxed and creative office – and part of it we owe to this industry. Generation Y feels very comfortable working in this new environment and it’s clearly reflected in the attractiveness of the software industry,” Duraturo added.

Meanwhile, in the list of top 50 employers for business students, KPMG is followed by rivals PwC, Ernst & Young and Deloitte at third, fourth and fifth spot, respectively.

In addition, B-Schools students seeking the best employer ranked Microsoft sixth in the list, followed by Procter & Gamble (seventh), financial services entity JP Morgan (eighth), Apple (ninth) and financial services major Goldman Sachs (10th).

Among the other notable names in the list, soft drink major Coca-Cola figured at 12th position in the list, while Citi occupied 29th place and beverages firm PepsiCo bagged 30th place in the list for business students.

“The talent market for business career-seekers is being dominated by the professional services firms, known for being great places to launch a career, and by companies that offer a new working culture in a dynamic environment,” Ohnell added.

However, irrespective of the rankings, the top 50 global employers for business and engineering students are very similar, showing that strong employer brands transcend many skill and industry groups.

Notably, financial service organisations such as JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are becoming more attractive to engineering career-seekers, while traditional IT companies such as Apple, Intel and IBM have gained ground in the business rankings.

Overall, US multinational companies dominated Universum’s list of the best companies for management (28) and engineering (26) graduates to work for. Germany is the second-most represented country in the list, with six companies named as management graduates’ top picks index and eight by engineering graduates.

Chennai face do-or-die scenario against NSW


It is high time for Chennai to live up to their reputation of being one of the strongest and well-balanced teams in the tournament and convincingly outplay NSW tomorrow to have any chance of defending their title.

Languishing at the bottom of the table, defending champions Chennai Super Kings require victory by a big margin to keep their hopes of making the semifinals of the Champions League Twenty20 alive when they take on New South Wales here tomorrow.

Despite being placed at the bottom of Group A, the Super Kings still have a chance to proceed to the next stage as their pool heads into its final round of matches with no team still assured of a semifinal berth.

Topping the group are Mumbai Indians, who have overcome a debilitating injury situation to be at the forefront with five points. However, because of their poor run rate in the series so far, even they are yet to be assured of a place in the last four berths.

Next in the list is the Australian outfit NSW with four points, followed by Cape Cobras with three.

Trinidad and Tobago, who managed to get the better of the Super Kings last night, are in the fourth place with two points.

The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK, also on two points, bring up the rear by virtue of an inferior net run rate.

Now, a defeat tomorrow to either Cobras or NSW, will ensure Mumbai’s progression to the semifinal, while forming a three-way tie among NSW, CSK and T&T – all with four points each – meaning the calculation will come down to run rate.

NSW though could progress to the semifinals as group winners with six points if they manage to win in their crucial match against CSK tomorrow.

It is high time for Chennai to live up to their reputation of being one of the strongest and well-balanced teams in the tournament and convincingly outplay NSW tomorrow to have any chance of defending their title.

With only one win from three games, CSK have the sword to their throat and they would need to play out of their skins to counter NSW, who are tough customers, having a perfectly balanced unit.

Simon Katich’s side would look to take advantage of the fact that CSK are yet to find their usual rhythm and except for opener Michael Hussey, the other batsmen still look good only on paper.

The bowlers, including Ravichandran Ashwin, are yet to get into their rhythm.

Last night, the bowlers failed to arrest Kevon Cooper’s aggressive scoring of 28 runs from just 10 balls in their match against T&T and another such patchy show would mean that the doors would be shut on them.

On the other hand, NSW with two wins from three games, have put up good performances and have worked as a team despite losing to Cobras in their opening game.

In their second match, NSW made a sensational fightback by smashing 16 runs in the final over before defeating T&T via the Super Over Eliminator in a dramatic game. They then went on to register a victory against Mumbai Indians after being 28 for five, chasing 101.

A repeat of those performances would put the hosts under tremendous pressure.

The Teams (from):

Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), R Ashwin, S Badrinath, Doug Bollinger, Dwayne Bravo, Michael Hussey, Shadab Jakati, Albie Morkel, Suresh Raina, Suraj Randiv, Wriddhiman Saha, S Anirudha, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, M Vijay.

New South Wales: Simon Katich (C), Stuart Clark, Pat Cummins, Nathan Hauritz, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Nic Maddinson, Steve O’Keefe, Ben Rohrer, Daniel Smith, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner and Shane Watson.

An eager Rajini and a reluctant crew


Rajinikanth

His fans adore every “punch line” he comes up with, but the superstar has now spoken that one line that many have been desperately waiting to hear over the last few months. “I’m alright now. Let us resume the shoot for ‘Rana’.” Though actor Rajinikanth, who underwent treatment at the Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre in Porur and later in a Singapore hospital, has said he is ready to get back for the shoot, director K.S. Ravikumar and the producers have urged him to take more rest. According to a press release, Ravikumar said while Rajini has recovered fully and is keen to start the shoot again, the crew does not want him to rush back, as the film, in which Rajini plays three roles, “has some stunning stunt sequences”.

Decision on dates

Producer Sunil Lulla, Managing Director of Eros International Media, said: “We don’t mind waiting to be a part of this ambitious project with Rajinikanth, as we want him to rest for some more time. Hence, we have decided to take the decision on the shooting dates in December.” Eros International along with NextGen Films, will produce the film through Rana Production, United Kingdom.

The film opus, being made in Tamil, Hindi and Telugu, also features actors Deepika Padukone and Sonu Sood. The film marks the coming together of leading technicians, including composer A.R.Rahman, and cinematographer Ratnavelu. Soundarya Rajnikanth will be the technical director and Charles Darby of Eyeqube Studios, renowned visual effects expert, is the creative and special effects director.

Immune system discoveries earn Nobel in Medicine


Dr. Ralph Steinman has been affiliated with Rockefeller University in New York since 1970, and heads its Center for Immunology and Immune Diseases.

Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Medicine on Monday for discoveries about the immune system that opened new avenues for the treatment and prevention of infectious illnesses and cancer.

American Bruce Beutler and French scientist Jules Hoffmann shared the 10 million-kronor ($1.5 million) award with Canadian-born Ralph Steinman, the Nobel committee at Stockholm Karolinska Institute said.

Mr. Beutler and Mr. Hoffmann were cited for their discoveries in the 1990s of receptor proteins that can recognise bacteria and other microorganisms as they enter the body, and activate the first line of defence in the immune system, known as innate immunity.

Mr. Steinman, 70, was honoured for the discovery two decades earlier of dendritic cells, which help regulate adaptive immunity, the next stage of the immune system’s response, when the invading microorganisms are purged from the body.

“Their work has opened up new avenues for the development of prevention and therapy against infections, cancer and inflammatory disease,” the citation said.

Mr. Beutler is professor of genetics and immunology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Mr. Hoffmann headed a research laboratory in Strasbourg, France, between 1974 and 2009 and served as president of the French National Academy of Sciences between 2007-2008.

Mr. Steinman has been affiliated with Rockefeller University in New York since 1970, and heads its Center for Immunology and Immune Diseases.

Mr. Hoffmann’s discovery came in 1996 during research on how fruit flies fight infections. Two years later, Mr. Beutler’s research on mice showed that fruit flies and mammals activate innate immunity in similar ways when attacked by pathogenic microorganisms.

Mr. Steinman’s discovery dates back to 1973, when he found a new cell type, the dendritic cell, which has a unique capacity to activate so-called T-cells. Those cells have a key role in adaptive immunity, producing antibodies that destroy infections. Once the infection has been stopped, the immune system maintains a memory that helps it mobilise its defences next time it comes under a similar attack.

The trio’s discoveries have enabled the development of new methods for treating and preventing diseases, including improved vaccines and in attempts to help the immune system to attack tumors, the committee said.

The medicine award kicked off a week of Nobel Prize announcements, and will be followed by the Physics prize on Tuesday, Chemistry on Wednesday, Literature on Thursday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The winners of the Economics award will be announced on October 10.

The coveted prizes were established by wealthy Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, except for the Economics award, which was created by Sweden’s Central Bank in 1968 in Nobel’s memory. The prizes are always handed out on December 10, on the anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896.

Last year’s Medicine award went to British professor Robert Edwards for fertility research that led to the first test tube baby.

Plan panel distances itself from poverty line definitio


Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia along with Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Monday.

Under attack over its poverty line definition, Rs. 32 per capita per day, Planning Commission on Monday distanced itself from the controversial definition presented to the Supreme Court saying it did not represent the Commission’s views.

Addressing the media, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia also said that these figures were not used for extending benefits to the deprived sections of the population.

“People allege that Planning Commission is trying to understate poverty which is simply not true…,” he said while addressing a joint press conference with Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.

‘Attempt to embarrass commission’

“The affidavit before the court is a factual affidavit in answer to questions asked by the court. Our legal representative will be there in the court to (explain our position), we will abide by what ever the court order is,” he said.

By focusing on the daily figures of (Rs. 32 and Rs. 26) there was an attempt to embarrass the Planning Commission, he said adding that this was not the criteria for giving benefits.

The Planning Commission and Ministry for Rural Development will form an expert committee which will look into the findings of socio-economic and caste census, which is currently on and is expected to be completed by January 2012, Mr. Ramesh said.

Planning Commission has come under flak following the affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court, which said that persons consuming items worth more than Rs. 32 per day in urban areas (Rs. 26 in rural areas) are not poor.

As per the affidavit, a family of five spending less than Rs. 4,824 (at June, 2011, prices) in urban areas will fall in the BPL (Below Poverty Line) category. The expenditure limit for a family in rural areas has been fixed at Rs 3,905.

Mr. Ahluwalia had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday to clarify Planning Commission’s view on the controversy.

Thai Prime Minister’s Twitter account hacked


A screenshot of Yingluck Shinawatra's twitter account page.

Thailand’s first woman Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ‘Twitter’ account has been hacked, a government spokesperson said.

According to government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng, Prime Minister Shinawatra’s account was hacked into Sunday morning, and the Information and Communication Technology Ministry is investigating into the matter.

In fact, Ms. Yingluck’s Twitter account has been used to post questions about her competence, particularly in regard to her handling of the recent floods that killed some 40 people and rendered nearly 1.5 million people homeless.

At least eight false tweets accused her of cronyism and various failures. One questioned her promise to give tablet computers to school children, suggesting she concentrate on education reform instead.

“This country is a business. We work for our allies, not for the Thai people. We work for those who support us, not those who differ with us,” another read.

The final post read: “If she can’t even protect her own Twitter account, how can she protect the country?”

Ms. Yingluck won a clear victory in July, but is accused by her critics of being a puppet of her brother, former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra who was thrown out of office in a 2006 military coup.

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