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I ran the risk of opening a pandora’s box if I posted this on Facebook (with random ‘friends’ starting discussions on my timeline) so I decided to post my views here. This post is for me to walk down the memory lane by reading it in the future rather than start a fight here. Plus, it’s been a notoriously long time since I posted anything here.

Modi was unanimously elected the Prime Minister in May 2014 when BJP won the elections with an overwhelming majority. With over an year of the government being in power, issues are being raised about the growing intolerance. There are two things I would like to point out.

(1) Everything Modi and the BJP does is being scrutinized. You either love Modi or hate him; there isn’t a middle ground. Why didn’t people focus on the Congress and it’s wrongdoings? Incidents like the Dadri lynching are outrageous and bring shame to my country but they haven’t cropped up only after the BJP rose to power, they only became more visible. The problem with Indian secularism is that it works only in favour of minorities. The fact that media is no longer unbiased in it’s reporting and goes only for sensationalism doesn’t help either.

(2) As citizens with the power of (just) “one” vote, if good governance is our objective, we should vote for the party with ‘lesser evil’. That automatically gives the onus on politicians to perform. If BJP doesn’t live up to it’s standards, vote it out! If it does improve my country, re-elect Modi. With a highly active and involved ministry, I think (hope) Modi’s cabinet gets another chance. After all, don’t we all want the Uniform Civil Code re-implemented, as was promised in the BJP manifesto?

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It has been almost a week since I returned to Purdue. The past month in India passed so quickly it just felt like a week. I was glad I could meet my family and so many friends.

I attended a workshop and conference on Galois representations at the TIFR. Situated besides the sea-shore, it always feels great to visit the Tata Institute. I was very surprised Prof. Ghate recognized me although we just met  once, that too three years ago. I met Prof. Rajan (my VSRP mentor) and my Masters advisor Prof. Anandavardhanan. It was nice to finally meet Sandeep Verma, a student of my advisor Dr. Shahidi. I couldn’t meet Anand Sawant since he was making an academic visit to Germany but it was good to talk to Sachin Sharma, my old friend at IMSc doing his post-doc at Tata. Although I couldn’t meet Arghya, I made friends with his friends – Shaunak, Aditya, Vineet and Ashay – and we discussed some Mathematics. There were prominent mathematicians attending the conference including Marie-France Vigneras, Sujatha Ramadorai, Pierre Colmez, Dipendra Prasad and Chandrashekhar Khare.

http://conferences.math.tifr.res.in/photos/llc2013/

Conference photo

Back home, it was after a long three-year wait that my parents, sister and I were together. We celebrated by going on a short vacation to Jaisalmer and Jodhpur in Rajasthan. There were sand dunes around (it’s a freaking desert) and we had a camel safari. It was fun!

The vibrant colours of India

The vibrant colours of India (cloth shop inside Jodhpur fort)

Rajasthani folk dancer (Yes, they are glasses she's balancing on)

Rajasthani folk dancer (Yes, they are glasses she’s balancing on)

On the pretext of giving his iPad to his folks, I met Partha’s dad.  Fortunately he didn’t ask me usual questions Indian parents ask! Shashank is one of my best friends and he too came to India to attend Avdhut’s marriage. We went to visit Vaibhav (photo below) and had an interesting discussion on genetics and evolution. As always, it was fun meeting Amar – my roomie at IITB. He went paragliding near Pune a day before I left for the US and seeing these pics, I regret not being able to join. Yes, I also met my Purdue roommate Nikhil, who came all the way from Pune to meet me. Nikhil, Rubin and I had a great time cracking Purdue jokes here in India. Another close friend Ameya married last year and in this India visit, I met Asmita and him. (Everyone seems to be getting married 😦 I’m getting older.)

Vaibhav and Shashank

Vaibhav and Shashank

The star of the show was Avdhut, whose marriage was a pushing reason I visited India. His brothers had arranged a bachelors’ party a week before the wedding and I won’t go into details because what happens in Murud stays in Murud. But yes, I did meet Arun and have curious philosophical discussions with him. Avdhut’s marriage was a good excuse for VNITians to meet up – Raju, Tapa, Swapnil, Milind, SKS, Khan and the great Maythegod! Bless the newly wed couple!

Avdhut weds Aasawari

Avdhut weds Aasawari

My awesome dream-visit was brought down to earth after landing at Chicago. It was -27 degree Celcius cold!

Tailpiece:

* Just yesterday, I got a Macbook Pro! I promised myself I’d write this post on my new Mac.

* I was stuck up in Chicago since the interstate I-65 was dysfunctional due to heavy snowfall; shuttles were canceled and the train was overbooked. Kyle rescued me by giving a ride since he too was driving from Chicago back to WL. Hail Facebook!

Kyle gave me a ride to Purdue

Kyle gave me a ride to Purdue

* Steve Spallone is visiting Purdue next week. He is an American mathematician working in India and I’m quite the opposite. We discovered each others’ blogs accidently. Curiously, he too works in number theory and in fact is Shahidi’s collaborator. I’m looking forward to his talk!

The land of organized chaos

The land of organized chaos

It is but with a heavy heart that I take to pen down my feelings. Sachin batted in what is very likely his last international innings today. No more Sachin. And to make matters worse, Anand lost the fifth game to Carlsen after drawing the last four games.

They measure life by the moments that take your breath away. I can reminisce my life so far by the Sachin moments I can recount. He was always there all my life. I distinctly remember enjoying what would be known as the Desert Storm, watching on my our old TV, in seventh grade. Then there was Sachin’s 98 in the India-Pakistan match in the 2003 world cup, two days before my Maths exam in HSC. And how can I forget the first one-day double century ever by Sachin; frenzied IIT-B hostel-junta was all jumping on the mess tables. And there was the World Cup India won, in 2011, when Virat Kohli carried Sachin on his shoulders. Those Sachin moments I associate with the good times I had studying Mathematics at IMSc. With Sachin retired, there won’t be any more of these moments. Dhoni puts it succinctly – “With Sachin Paaji, a part of me will be gone too.”

I respected, loved, adored, worshipped Sachin but frankly, I never wanted to be a cricketer myself. But at least for a little while as a kid, I wanted to be a grandmaster. Like Sachin, I grew up seeing Vishwanathan Anand. Chess was amazing and Vishy kept winning those rapid and blindfold games and I just idolized him. He became the World Champion in 2007 and has retained the title until now. After four consecutive draws, finally blood is drawn he loses to Magnus Carlsen. With seven more matches to go, I am badly hoping Anand resurges like a Phoenix in the remaining matches and clinches the title. It doesn’t matter if Carlsen snatches the title back from him next year. It might sound silly but, for me it’s like a battle between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty; it would be the crowning achievement of Holmes’ career if he could defeat Moriarty. Not that I hate Magnus Carlsen, but it’s just that it would pain me to witness Anand fall.

I believe it’s not just the fact that they have been the best players in their respective sports that puts Anand and Sachin on the same pedestal. Of course, both are Indians and I have grown up worshiping them both. But the real similarity between them is that both have their feet firmly on the ground. They both are the epitome of humbleness, a quality too difficult to exaggerate. It comes only with immense patience and respect towards your surroundings. In 23 years of his professional career, I don’t recall a single outspoken statement Sachin made, nor the slightest harsh action on the field. Hit by a speedy bouncer, he would calmly pick himself up and continue to bat in pain. And Anand, well, I’m honoured to see him nay, play a game in an exhibition match with him. It was at the the ICM at Hyderabad in 2010. People asked random, stupid questions to him and he answered them all with aplomb. Take a bow, masters!

Why do we need idols?

My sadness at Sachin retiring and Anand losing a game to Carlsen got me thinking; why did I feel sad? Because I wouldn’t be witnessing my role models in action. And why do I need role models? I study Mathematics, neither of them are anyway remotely related to Mathematics. That’s not the reason I idolize them. I revere them because seeing them in action makes me believe I can excel in my field too. I equate myself with them. I want to be a part of their success, and even failure. If Sachin can persevere and perfect that straight drive, I too can push my cognitive limits and understand my Mathematics. If Anand can produce a masterpiece, may be one day I too can.

I hope Anand fights back tomorrow and comes up with something brilliant. He always has.

_________________________________________________

An article I wrote about Sachin long ago — here.

A moment to cherish:

Vishwanathan Anand and me

My friend Swapnil is preparing for his Civil Services exam. A recent discussion with him convinced me how we Indians are totally ignorant of so many things about our country. As an example, how many of us know Operation Cactus? It was a (successful) military operation the Indian government initiated against armed mercenaries who tried to overthrow the Maldives government. Where does India rank in terms of geographical area? Can you describe the preamble in the Constitution of India? We as Indian citizens are ignorant about our history, geography, scientific achievements, politics, international relations, our military prowess…

The country is run not so much by politicians in power but the IAS officers, those brilliant civil servants who formulate critical policies that have secured our democracy. The civil services’ exams are considered to be one of the toughest in the country. Aspirants totally devote many years in knowing so many facets of India, a crucial aspect in studying for the exam . They are expected to know obscure facts about our country. Not just that, in the interview one is also judged by her/his ability in dealing with real-life case scenarios such as ‘How would you tackle the Maoist situation?’ A lay answer might be, “Just bring in the military and shoot out the mischief-mongers”. Thankfully, the country is not left to such Hitlers or Mussolinis.

In the recent sabbatical, I am currently reading about India as much as I can lay my hands on. Unfortunately, Wikipedia gives only a superficial view or so to say, a fact-based perspective as against an opinion-based perspective. As far as documentaries are concerned, hardly any documentaries are made on important topics like the Indo-Pak wars or the Operation Blue Star. Our news channels are constantly busy in lifting their TRPs by breaking news everyday. Nevertheless, some interesting Wiki-links are given below:

About me

Abhishek Parab

I? An Indian. A mathematics student. A former engineer. A rubik's cube addict. A nature photographer. A Pink Floyd fan. An ardent lover of Chess & Counter-Strike.

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Quotable Quotes

ABHISHEK PARAB
“Do not think; let the equation think for you”

PAUL HALMOS
”You cannot be perfect, but if you won’t try, you won’t be good enough”

ALBERT EINSTEIN
“Don’t worry about your maths problems; I assure you, mine are greater”

THE BEST MATH JOKE
"A comathematician is a device for turning cotheorems into ffee"

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