Saturday, April 08, 2006

First Big Achievement of my blog

I was pleasantly surprised when I was pointed by my friend Nimish to an article in Times of India that quoted my blog. See the quote in: Times of India headlines about my article . This is the first time, a reputed print media has quoted my article and for a small blogger this is big. I'm happy about this.

Earlier, my article on Islam was quoted by a relatively bigger blog Chipmathis and my article on Iran was quoted by another group of bloggers here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Meeting with the Senators to lobby for Indian Nuclear deal

In the midst of a busy session where Condi Rice had given dramatic presentation on Indian nuclear deal to the house and the Senate and when the Congress was deciding on an important Immigration bill, I had the chance to attend the most distinguished meeting of my life, so far, at the United States of America's Capitol Hill.

It was a part of lobbying efforts done by the US-Indians Political Action Committee and a quarter of the audience were eminent Congressmen of United States, including the respected Rep. Tom Lantos, Rep. Pallone (founder of India Caucus), Sen. Obama (in charge of Asia-Pacific Region in foreign relations committee). The remaining consisted of distinguished persons like Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns (who negotiated the nuclear deal with India), Indian ambassador R.S. Jassal and trade representatives and distinguished members of the Indian American community and the small meeting room was teeming with these great men.

On the side, I was feeling odd man out being the only student and seemingly the only person in 20's, to be meeting with these people. I got the first touch of the governmental processes of the world's greatest democracy and hearing the eminent speeches of these politicians, my respect for United States has gone higher. I wish Indian politicians were like these. Let me now go over the meeting, shortly.

The nuclear deal has caught the imagination of people and I was enthusiastically reading about it for the past 2 months, in depth. Even the night before my Microsoft interview, I was ardently reading a dozen articles on the deal and so it is no wonder that when I got the invite to attend the meeting from the USINPAC, I immediately accepted it, though I had a thesis to go. I felt that I might not get such an opportunity in the immediate future, as I would be moving far away from D.C. So, today morning, I left for DC and after a 2.5 hour journey, I reached the Capitol Hill. Even after seeing it a half-a-dozen times, I'm always inspired by this great Capitol (which houses the US Senate and House of Representatives), as it represents liberty, free speech and democracy of the world. I had a leisurely walk around it and 15 min, before the meeting (at 2.45pm), I decided to move in.

I was surprized to see the gaurds allow me to go in front of the long and winding queue to enter the Capitol Hill, just on showing the email invite. I had a 2min security check and within 5 min, I got my Official Business Visitor badge and entered the pillars of democracy without any hassles. It was full of people - visitors and legislators and businessmen coming there for various purposes. Though I got the wrong roomname from the committe (by mistake), I was well directed by the receptionist and within minutes I reached the small room on the corner - HC 8. I was welcomed by the Mr. Manoj, a senior official of USINPAC, who was surprized to see a person walking in Business Casuals. He pleasantly pointed to me that the important meeting required a highly formal attire and so I missed up a opportunity to personally meet with the senior officials. Still the experience of belonging to a 40 odd eminent audience, was great.

The meeting had some scintallating minor talks: Sec. Burns had a very great speech, where he beautifully pointed out the role played by India and put it in beautiful words: "If we are following double standards, so be it. If double standards means distinguishing India from Iran and North Korea, then are proud of those double standards... India had an exceptional track record and it is great to have such a member in our regime... Given the high quality of Indian engineers they could have tripled their arsenal in the last 20 years but they didnt do it and this shows their commitment towards non-proliferation".

Rep. Lantos (I followed most of his statements in the Press and got the impression he is quite a tough guy) was surprizingly old and he had some good words for India. At the same time, as he pointed out with his meeting with Shyam Saran (Indian foreign secretary) he was highly wary of India-Iran relationships and he didnt mince words in it. Many of the senators also joked about the Indian air pollution, water problems, poverty etc. and wanted to take action for it by offering US help. One Senator criticized India for allowing research on Biotechnology while preventing US based Monsanto and other companies to export seeds to India. Others also pointed out at the pollution caused due to low quality of Indian coal. Rep. Pallone who is very close to India, criticized Prez. Bush for not lobbying with the Congressmen and also requested Indian Americans to setup a permanent "War room" to be a central point for these discussions.

But, on the whole, everyone was in high praise of India. I was the happiest person on earth to have my country recognized so much. I was waiting for years to see India going so strong. I was glad that I'm also a small speck in the great deal of things happening to India. The happy feeling that I have now, is matched by only 2 other events of 2003 - long one-on-one meetings with the Indian President at his office on Feb 26 and Aug. 13, 2003 and the greatest research presentation that I've done, at IIT Kanpur (March 2, 2003).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The beauty of Computational Science

My main interest lies in Computational Science (after all, we dont call astronomy as telescopic science or chemistry as test-tube science, then why do we call the study of computation by the dry word called computer science. We are supposed to study computation and its scientific model and dont bother about the creation of the tool called computer). I'm a die-hard fan of it, ever since I had my first Computational science class in my 8th grade. I believe that one of the greatest human work after fire and wheel lies in the invention of this field. How could I make such a preposturous statement?

Computational Science fundamentally changed how we live, work and think. It brought a new world, a world that obeys more of Discrete Math than Physics. Once, we interface a physical world element into this Mathworld, we can do a whole lot of things. We can play with time, we can play with space and we can defy gravity and so many of the physical laws!!! We can test nuclear bombs, simulate flights, design machines.... everything in this Mathworld. Thus, humans have created a new world, in the process of creating Computational science. The process of moving from physcial world to Mathematical world is not well appreciated by most people. In fact, this non-realization itself is a success of Computational science.

I believe that there are only two fields of research now: 1. How to bring the real world into Mathematical world, which is the duty of physicsts, economists, engineers.... and 2. How to play in this Math world, which is the duty of Computational Scientists?

I've heard so many people say that Computational Science need not be learnt by methodical means, and they could study by attending some non-regular courses, by offering institutes. They believe that learning C or Java or software engineering makes one, a computer scientist.

If you know to hold a brush and put colors, can you paint like Da Vinci? If you know alphabets from A to Z, can you write something like the Shakespheare's Julius Caeser? If you can clean a telescope, can you immediately become an astronomer like Galileo? Then, how can you become a Computational Scientist, just by learning a language or coding an application. Computational Scientist is a way of thought, a feeling and a way of life. It lies in the beauty of Math and philosophy. It lies in the beauty of a state transition. It is as beautiful as theoratical physics, as action-packed as organic chemistry and as elegant as Mathematics.

It is an absolute pity that students of Computational Science are not taught the beauty of this great field. Instead of dwelling in the beauty of its state, logic and information and various organization theories, people are just taught a whole bunch of languages, a lot of systems, and worst, some packages. They tarnish the whole image of computer science.

I believe that the universities should separate the beautiful core Computational Science and name it as Computational Sciences and jealously guard it from Systems, engineering and Software sciences concepts. Let us hope to see one day, Computational Sciences taught to us.