Friday 17 February 2012


How many times have you got this email forward? Does it piss you off or leave you feeling all soft and warm and fuzzy and proud?

You may know some of the following facts. These facts were recently published in a German magazine, which deals with WORLD HISTORY FACTS ABOUT INDIA.
• India never invaded any country in her last 10000 years of history.
• India invented the Number System. Aryabhatta invented zero.
• The World's first university was established in Takshila in 700BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.
• Sanskrit is the mother of all the European languages. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software reported in Forbes magazine, July 1987.
• Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans. Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. Today Ayurveda is fast regaining its rightful place in our civilization.
• Although modern images of India often show poverty and lack of development, India was the richest country on earth until the time of British invasion in the early 17th Century.
• The art of Navigation was born in the river Sindh 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH. The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit 'Nou'.
• Bhaskaracharya calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart; Time taken by earth to orbit the sun: (5th century) 365.258756484 days.
• Budhayana first calculated the value of pi, and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem. He discovered this in the 6th century long before the European mathematicians
• Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India; Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11th century ; The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 (10 to the power of 6) whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 1053 (10 to the power of 53) with specific names as early as 5000 BCE during the Vedic period. Even today, the largest used number is Tera 1012 (10 to the power of 12).
• According to the Gemological Institute of America, up until 1896, India was the only source for diamonds to the world.
• USA based IEEE has proved what has been a century-old suspicion in the world scientific community that the pioneer of Wireless communication was Prof. Jagdeesh Bose and not Marconi.
• The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.
• According to Saka King Rudradaman I of 150 CE a beautiful lake called 'Sudarshana' was constructed on the hills of Raivataka during Chandragupta Maurya's time.
• Chess (Shataranja or AshtaPada) was invented in India.
• Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted complicated surgeries like cesareans, cataract, artificial limbs, fractures, urinary stones and even plastic surgery and brain surgery. Usage of anesthesia was well known in ancient India. Over 125 different surgical equipment was used. Deep knowledge of anatomy, physiology, etiology, embryology, digestion, metabolism, genetics and immunity is also found in many texts.
• When many cultures were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley (Indus Valley Civilization).
• The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in 100 BC.

Monday 13 February 2012

Make Blog Not War

From Anja Kovacs of the Internet Democracy Project.

A Freedom of Expression Training for Bloggers

An initiative of the Internet Democracy Project

Are you a blogger and interested in deepening your understanding of Internet censorship and freedom of expression as they play out in India? Would you like to know more about the ways in which such issues may affect you directly? As a blogger, do you see yourself has having an important stake in the freedom of expression debate?

Then this is your chance. The Internet Democracy Project is organising a training on freedom of expression and censorship for bloggers on 25 February 2012. In the course of this day-long program, a mix of short lectures and more interactive sessions will take you through:
• the history of censorship in India and its current status;
• the legal framework regarding online censorship and the ways in which it may affect you;
• debates on difficult questions such as where and how to draw the line where hate speech is concerned;
• what to do if you are served a legal notice;
• alternatives to censorship to fight problematic content;
and much more. Throughout the training, we will of course be paying particular attention to how all of this may affect your blog and yourself.

As the training aims to be highly interactive and will draw to a significant extent on participants’ experiences and inputs, there will be space for only fifteen select and experienced bloggers. They will be joined by four trainers: lawyer and law and tech blogger Apar Gupta; documentary film maker Bishakha Datta; literary critic, journalist and blogger Nilanjana Roy; and the Internet Democracy Project's Anja Kovacs.

The event will take place in Delhi, from 10 am until 5 pm. Bloggers from all over India are welcome to apply: the Internet Democracy Project will take care of the travel costs of all participants in the event as well as food for the duration of the event (as this is a day-long program, we will, however, not be able to provide any accommodation).

In return for facilitating your presence in the training, we ask that you write five blog posts on issues related to freedom of expression in India in the two months following the event. That is the commitment you make if you decide to join us.

Are you interested in being part of this program? Please send your answers to the questions below to Anja Kovacs, anja AT internetdemocracy DOT in as soon as possible and by 17 February at the latest. Selected participants will be informed on 18 February.

Where do you blog? If you are on Twitter, please do include your Twitter handle as well.
Why are you interested in joining this training?
Have you blogged on or otherwise engaged with freedom of expression issues before? If so, please share some details.
What are particular issues/questions you would like to see covered in the training?
Have you ever implemented any kind of censorship on your blog? Please expand (please note that answering yes to this question is not a reason to disqualify you from participation!).
Has anyone ever attempted to censor you as a blogger in one way or the other? Please expand.

Please note that while a demonstrated interest in one form or another (including on Twitter or Facebook) is definitely a plus, expertise in freedom of expression issues is not a requirement for participation.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday 11 February 2012

#flashreads for free speech / Feb 14th

THE IDEA: To celebrate free speech and to protest book bans, censorship in the arts and curbs on free expression

WHY FEBRUARY 14TH? For two reasons. In 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the death of Salman Rushdie for writing the Satanic Verses. In GB Shaw’’s words: “Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.”
February 14th or Valentine’s Day has also become a flashpoint in India, a day when protests against “Western culture” by the Shiv Sena have become an annual feature. In Chandigarh, 51 Sena activists were arrested by the police after V-day protests turned violent in 2011. Our hope is to take back the day, and observe it as a day dedicated to the free flow of ideas, speech and expression.

#flashreads is a simple way of registering your protest against the rising intolerance that has spread across India in the last few decades. At any time on February 14th—we suggest 3 pm, but pick a time of your convenience—go out with a friend or a group of friends and do a quick reading. If you'd like some suggestions/ selected passages, email me or leave a message in the comments and we'll send you some selections from challenged books. Or pick your favourite passage on free speech, or passages from a challenged book or the works of any writer who has faced sedition charges, a book ban or other forms of censorship.

Feel free to create your own protest.

Places where you might do public readings: subway and Metro stations, public parks, coffee shops, open areas in malls. If you’re talking about Flashreads on Twitter, please use the #flashreads hashtag.

If you have a blog, a tumblr or a website, an easy way to join in is to post Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear” (see below) on your site for a day, or choose any other passage on free speech/ censorship that appeals to you. Or write a post about free expression and what it's meant to you in your own life.
(You could do this on your Facebook / Google+ / other social site profile page too. On Twitter, consider linking to one of the many posts that contain this message. Or Tweet 'Where the mind is without fear' line by line, with the #flashreads hashtag

Where the mind is without fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

~Rabindranath Tagore