Friday, October 31, 2008

Triumph of Democracy

Democracy is very messy but it is the best we have to provide for a representative government. Though America tends to characterise itself as "young" it is now 232 years old and the longest living unbroken democracy. Ofcourse many would be quick to point out the dark ages of slavery and the fact that Afro-Americans did not get voting rights as recently as 1965. Given the age and time in which America declared its independence expecting it to have universal suffrage is asking for the moon. That America set on its journey so firmly 230 years back is tribute enough to the founding fathers. A constitution that has been amended less than 30 times (of which the first ten - the bill of rights was done at inception) is testimony to prescient wisdom.

Next week US will elect its 44th President. We would have elected either the first African-American as President or the first woman as V.P. This election is making history on all benchmarks, the most hotly contested primary involving a first lady garnering 18 million votes, spending that crosses $1 billion, the longest ad war stretching over 24 months, the highest expected turnover that may blow out all past voting patterns and in process completely re-draw the electoral map of US for a generation.

Contrary to cynics I see a healthy trend over the past 4 elections. Starting with 1996 there has been a steady increase of voters, the highest so far being 2004 . 1992 -- 104 million , 1996-86 million, 2000 - 102 million, 2004-121 million. Note the explosion of electorate in 2004. A year marked by concerns of terrorism and war. George Bush got elected with 50.7 % popular vote, nobody since 1992 had crossed 50%. Of course one could say that 48.3% who voted for Kerry did not want him and point it as evidence of the poor method of representation. Arnold Toynbee justifiably lamented at how humans, so imaginative in so many areas could not imagine anything better when it came to proportional representation.

The election will of course leave the supporters of the losers with much to grumble about. If McCain loses, as is expected, the familiar grumbling would be, economy, Bush, War, Celebrity obsessed media, spending by Obama etc. If Obama loses, the list starts with serious setbacks on race relations (unfair but true), Bradley effect, conservative America, religion clingers etc. Either of that will be unjust. Anybody who somes out of a winner in the most gruelling election season in human memory deserves to be at the Oval office. with all my misgivings on Obama, I am increasingly of the view he does deserve to win. Just today NYT ran an article how the Obama campaign, though flush in cash, is parsimonious in spending it and watches every penny. I sadly remember how Hillary who started with a huge war chest burned through it with bad planning.

For the Obama supporters who proudly point to how Obama tightly ran a campaign and say that is evidence of how he would run the country, I say 2 words "George W Bush". Bush ran a disciplined campaign as against Kerry.

The democrats cried hoarse for ages about Supreme Court handing over the presidency to Bush in 2000 but did not raise a squeak of praise when the same court (with more conservative judges today) supported Ohio state secretary (Dem) in the case against her by republicans concerning voter registration irregularities in Ohio (ACORN scandal).

As Alexander Pope says "a people gets the government it deserves". May the best candidate win.

Churchill's 'Black Dogs' - A perspective on Depression

Winston Churhcill was frequently prone to very depressive moods, he referred to depression as "Black Dog". Anthony Storr, Oxford based Psychiatrist, in his book "Churchill's Black Dog and other phenomena of the Human mind" has a very engaging chapter on Winston Churchill's much lesser known side.

Churchill, is one who has passed into history and mostly a smoky idea of him prevails in the common understanding. To the westerner he remains a bull dog warrior who, in the bleakest of times, shouldered and unfathomable burden and saved the world from tyranny "unsurpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crimes". To Indians he was the unapologetic imperialist who thundered "I've not become his majesty's first minister to preside over the liquidation of the British empire" and even more notoriously is remembered for his insulting remark characterising Gandhi as "the half naked fakir".

Lost in those images is a very colorful life, he was a biographer, historian, war time correspondent, painter, brick-layer, orator and several other. His life was peppered with moments of sheer glory and abject desolateness. Especially the years between the two World Wars. After the first War and his role in the disastrous Dardanelles campaign he wandered in sheer political wilderness for nearly 20 years. In those years he was ridiculed for his failures and labeled an alarmist for crying hoarse about Hitler. Britain had no use for him.

Churchill suffered serious bouts of depression during those years. Anthony Storr writes, "when depression is overwhelming, the sufferer relapses into gloom and an inactivity which maybe so profound as to render him immobile". What would a man like Churchill, a man of legendary talent, soaring ego, huge reserve of creative energy do? Storr continues, "To avoid this state of misery is of prime importance; and so the depressive before his disorder becomes too severe, may recurrently force himself into activity, deny himself rest or relaxation, and accomplish more than most men are capable of, just because he cannot afford to stop."

He took to painting. He was pretty good at it. Even at that he brought a passion that was deeply colored by his dark mood. "I cannot pretend to feel impartial about genuinely sorry for the poor browns, I expect orange and vermillion will be the darkest colours".

His famous remark "we are all worms, But I do believe that I am a glow-worm", is as Storr points "revealing, it combines self abasement and self-glorification in a single phrase". When he declared Britain will face Hitler, alone, he was, " a man convinced that he had an heroic mission, who believed that, in spite of all contrary evidence, he could yet triumph". Above all he felt his destiny and that of England's were intertwined. With that conviction he convinced his fellow Britons that they would triumph just as he thought he could triumph. Anyone with a modest knowledge of History can appreciate how hopeless it was for Britain in 1939-40. France had crumbled, Poland overrun, Belgium tossed aside, Austria annexed, Russia aligned with Germany, FDR standing on the sidelines. One man stood up to say "I've nothing to offer but blood and toil, tears and sweat" and lay it out clear "Victory at all costs".

Beethoven and Churchill were creative geniuses who could fight their Black Dog's and in fact turn them into manure for their creative output. What of ordinary mortals, now that's a plight worth feeling sorry about.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Racial Quotas in American Universities And Richard Feynman

Yesterday I was reading through Richard Feynman's "What do you care what other people think". In the second chapter talking about how he entered MIT, Feynman says he was denied admission to Columbia University because of a quota "limiting" number of Jews admitted. I was shocked to read this. Today, I checked on the internet and wikipedia confirmed it.

Check . Many associate anti-semitism with holocaust and think of only Nazi Germany. Little do we realise that anti-semitism was a pan-European disease. The word "ghetto" comes from Venice, the word "pogrom" originated in Russia. Cutting off one's access to education under the guise of social justice is the most widely perpetrated villainy.

From wikipedia "Numerus clausus ("closed number" in Latin) is one of many methods used to limit the number of students who may study at a university. It can be similar to a racial quota, both in form and motivation."

Many countries adopted these policies including Ivy League universities in US.

"Although never officially legislated, between 1918 and the 1950s a number of private universities and medical schools introduced numerus clausus policies limiting admissions of students based on their religion or race to certain percentages within the college population. One of the groups affected by these policies was Jewish applicants whose admission to some New England and New York City area liberal arts universities fell significantly between the late 1910s and the mid-1930s[2]. For instance, the admission to Harvard University during that period fell from 27.6% to 17.1% and in Columbia University from 32.7% to 14.6%. Corresponding quotas were introduced in the medical and dental schools resulting during the 1930s in the decline of Jewish students: e.g. in Cornell University School of Medicine from 40% in 1918-22 to 3.57% in 1940-41, in Boston University Medical School from 48.4% in 1929-30 to 12.5% in 1934-35. "

During a speech on brain drain in 1993 I advanced the idea that many persecuted Jewish scientists emigrated to US, fleeing racist Europe. Those scientists, notably Leo Szilard and the rest with of course Einstein played a decisive role in giving US its scientific edge and of course the ultimate weapon to close the war. Wikipedia asserts "In Hungary, for example, 5,000 Jewish youngsters (including Edward Teller) left the country after the introduction of Numerus Clausus".

A memorable film by Gregory Peck is "A gentleman's agreement". Peck, portraying a reporter adopts a Jewish identity and undergoes searing experiences that lay bare the prejudices of a sick society.

All of the above might sound outlandish and plainly unbelievable because one pervading myth is how Jewish lobbies control the media and finance, by extension the US population. A shibboleth but nevertheless unquestioningly believed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

I first learnt the poem "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" by John Keats (1795-1821)in my tenth standard. In plain English it means "The lady without mercy". Back then, as it is now, our English teachers neither had the finesse to teach poetry, certainly no patience to tease out the various interpretations of a poem that lends itself to various interpretations. The other poem, very commonly interpreted one way but can be interpreted another way, is Robert Frost's "The Road not taken" ( I shall blog that seperately).

"La belle" tells a simple story of a knight who falls in love with a lady he meets, then feels deserted by her. He is convinced that she loved him and deserted him like she did many others before him. But did she? Was it love that she felt? Check for complete text.

The key line is "She look’d at me as she did love". He THINKS she gave a look of love. The important paragraphs are:

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
“I love thee true.”

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept, and sigh’d fill sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

Relish the line "And sure in language strange she said- I love thee true". The assumption is laid bare. Then she takes him home, she weeps and lets out a a sigh filled with sore. It is here that poetic intentions play with our minds. Why did she weep? Why the sore sigh? Did she weep for this yet another woeful man who mistakes her kindness or whatever she feels as romantic love or even desires to take that love to be forever while its intended only for the moment. The love struck knight shuts her eyes with kisses and goes to sleep. In his dream he sees apparitions of kings, princes and warriors who say "La Belle Dame sans Merci, Hath thee in thrall".

Lost in translation, we would say in modern parlance

Richard Feynman: Many loves in search of his lost one.

Many years back while in college I read a book review in Hindu (back when they did reviews good) I came across "Genius" By James Gleick, a biography of Richard Feynman. Those days, and now too, I was in love with physics thanks to John Gribbin's wonderful books (Especially 'In serch of Schrodinger's Cat'). The book's title "Genius" captured me. I had never heard of Richard Feynman or his QED theories or the squiggly Feynman diagrams. One friend of mine, from CBSE stream, mentioned about the famous "Feynman Lectures". Like any book review the one I read, to increase curiosity, while reviewing the book in general drew praticular attention to salacious parts of Feynman's libertinous life with sprinkling of his dalliances, includine one with his colleague's wife too.

Sometime later I came across Feynman's "Surely You Are Joking Mr Feynman". It was a collection of humorous anecdotes from Feynman's life, written by Feynman. It was a riotous read. I love the Western idea of self deprecatory humor, the humility not to take one self too seriously however high and mighty they may be. As is my trait of seeking more by the same author if I love them, I later found his sequel "What do you care what other's think? Further adventures of a curious character". Between reading these two, I had managed to read "Genius".

In the eponymously titled second chapter in "what do you care" Feynman talks of his first love, Arlene, later his first wife. Arlene contracts Hodgkin's Lymphoma while they were courting (simply, lymph gland based cancer). Feynman had independently confirmed this, while Arlene, though not completely ignorant was told it was a glandular fever. She turns to Feynman and asks "you tell me what it is". Feynman, pressured by all told a lie that it was glandular fever. Later Arlene learns the truth and confronts him. Feynman crumbles and tells it is indeed Hodgkins. Immediately Arlene melts "god what did they put you through to tell me otherwise". Feynman is left speechless "here I am telling her a fatal news and confirming that I lied yet she feels sorry that I was made to lie".

Later they decide to marry. Meantime for fear of contracting the disease they decide not to kiss each other. After marriage when the priest says "you may now kiss the bride", Feynman kissed her on the cheek. Not long after their marriage Arlene died and Feynman immersed himself in the Manhattan Project. The closing lines are poignant. He had not cried much when Arlene died. Crossing by a dress store he sees a dress and thinks "Arlene would like that".

What love, what sensitivity. Were his latter day dalliances a search to find another Arlene?

Who said scientists were boring, Einstein had his share of flings too, including writing letters of love.

Anderson Cooper's Hypocrisy - US Financial Crisis

The popular narrative has concretized and the verdict is out that a bunch of fat cat CEO's in a small street on an island town schemed to send the entire world into a tail spin making apocalypse look like picnic. Here comes Anderson Cooper in his Italian tailored suit with a shiny tie and a program titled "Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the financial crisis". The first two were AIG CEO, Lehman CEO (Dick Fuld). I did not watch the rest. I just puked and shut it off. The title of the program segment itself is a not so subtle rip off of "FBI's 10 most wanted". This was a program on supposed rogues gallery. Sort of public lynching.

While the CEO's do share blame, it is just that, they only "SHARE BLAME" with others. The election cycle is rolling out this Wall Street Vs Main Street plot. However most non partisan economists are congealing around the view that the contributory factors are many, easy lending promoted by politicians to butter low-income voters, Community re-investment Act (CRA) that forced banks to lend to sub-prime borrowers, highly regulated Fannie & Freddie becoming political tools to further interests of politicians (dems and republicans), greedy consumers (who dares to name them), excess money inflow from Chinese who in turn were floating in excess investment due to export boom and finally of course CEO's. But hey its too complex a narrative, does not make a good "story line" it would affect TRP ratings of CNN.

Who cares about truth? who cares for wisdom? We are a 24 hour news cycle, sound bite obsessed generation. We want wisdom in a capsule.

Well if Anderson really wants to go at CEO's he should start at home. The AOL-Time-Warner (CNN parent) merger wrote of $100 billion in 2002. That is more than the combined write off's of all financial firms so far. Its more than the GDP of many countries. I can bet my farm that Anderson will do a double take before he goes that route.

Here is more to CNN's duplicity. At the height of Danish cartoon controversy (cartoon of The Prophet) CNN's Wolf Blitzer said "out of respect for Islam we are not showing the cartoon" (respect or fear of....) . Recent Time issue had a picture of a frog on a crucifix with a note "Pope protests against picture of frog on crucifix". If anyone wanted to understand "talking from both ends of the mouth", "hypocrisy" this is it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nobel Prize, Irving Wallace and some trivia

Its the Nobel season of the year. So far the Nobel's for Medicine and Physics have been announced. Nobel prize has done itself great proud with its unimpeachable standards over 100+ years. Of course something of this kind of prestige and glamour has had its share of controversies too.

Mostly the science prizes have been devoid of any blatant controversy. The most politicized prize is the Peace prize, the more controversial, on merits, is the prize for literature. I guess one reason could be that a far wider population feels pretty qualified to comment on these prizes as the judges panel itself. Only a fraction of the world population has the intellectual heft to comment on a prize for the sciences. Whereas, almost everyone, depending on their political stripe feels free to opine on the choice of Yasser Arafat for the Peace prize.

Irving Wallace wrote a gripping book "The Prize" about Nobel Prize based on some 14 years of research. For whatever reason the movie version, starring Paul Newman, is billed as action. Irving later wrote a book on how he wrote "The Prize". "The Prize", has an interesting character, Count Jacobsson, whose prime duty is to serve as channel to voice arcane trivia and insider secrets of past prize winners.

W.B. Yeats practically lobbied the Nobel comittee to award Tagore the prize for "Gitanjali". Anti-semitism in the judges panel made them award the Physics prize to Einstein for his theory on photoelectric effect and NOT for the theories of Relativity. Note that Einstein recieved the prize in 1922, Eddington in the most famous experiment in 1919 had proved the General Theory of relativity. By the time he recieved the prize Einstein had seperated from his wife Mileva Maric, in his divorce papers, he confidently stated that when he gets the Nobel Prize he will give the money to her. Hmmm egoistic or confidence. Beholders eye.

The most notable exception in Physics was Edison. Nobel is given primarily to theoretical physicists and not experimental physicists. Justifiably so.

The literature prize is notable for omitting Leo Tolstoy, Sigmund Freud was passed over for medicine. The most unforgivable is omitting Gandhi for Peace prize. Gandhi is anyway to large for any prize. When the comittee found Martin Luther King Jr they made amends later. MLK was deeply influenced by Gandhi who in turn was inspired by America's Henry David Thoreau.

India's Chandrasekhar won the Nobel for his work on death of stars (Chandrasekhar limit), as American citizen. America later honored its adopted son by naming a satellite after Chandra. Indian satellites are named......why go there.

Bernard Shaw when awarded the prize, commented typically, "its a life belt thrown to someone who reached the shore".

Try finding Irving Wallace's "The Prize" in some used-book store or online at (excellent place to look for out of print books).

The preponderance of Jews and very sparse women Nobel laurates are topics of veritable controversies. The preponderance of Jews is non-issue because they are mostly winners of science prizes which are very open to scrutiny and nobody has ever questioned a prize in the sciences on merit. Nobel comittee is notorious for waiting too long until concrete proof emerges to award a science prize, some actually lose out because the prize is never given posthumously. The fact that a paltry number of women are winners is fodder for debate. I refrain from saying that they are not "represented" enough. This is a prize not an election. That goes for diversity too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Know my library -- Part 1

This week's issue of Economist carries a book review titled "Hitler's private library: Know a man by his books". As I pointed out in a recent blog these days my question is "what does he/she read". The review is about the book "Hitler's Private Library: The Books That Shaped his Life" by Timothy W. Ryback . Hitler was not only an avid reader but an avid underliner too. Painstakingly reconstructing all that information, Ryback, the reviewer says, gives a chilling portrait of who came to embody "evil"for centuries to come.

Though I'd hate to speak of myself in this same blog, I'd like to in the larger topical interest. I am a proud connoisseur of books, a veritable gatherer of many a small gem. I am, to borrow my professor's characterization of himself, "an incorrigible bibliophile".

The finest gem in my collection is Will Durant's "The story of philosophy". One of my father's friends told me about Durant's masterful 11 volume "Story of Civilization". He also, with a touch of disdain said I may not get to buy it all. Later in 1992 in a bus stand book shop selling cheap editions I saw this book on philosophy. It was priced at Rs30. I bought it. I shall write a whole blog on this book. Suffice it to say it meets Bacon's definition of that rare type of book that is to be "digested".

Much later when I came to USA, in 2002 a dear friend of mine went to great lengths to help me acquire all 11 volumes of Durant's "civilization". For that and for acquainting me with one of the best used book stores I am deeply thankful to her. Its a book store I obsessively visit during my every visit to NC. The store is While those two are well know books a very little known gem is the 'Dual Autobiography' by Will and Ariel Durant. I do not know if there are any other husband wife autobiographies.

Many know of Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierres wonderfully detailed "Freedom at midnight" about the final years of India's struggle. Little known is an accompanied slim book of series of interviews the authors had with Mountbatten. The author's were justifiably criticized for writing their book in too sympathetic a manner to Mountbatten, especially in view of how the British bungled Partition, much like they bungled Palestine. A far leser known book is by Alan Campbell Johnson wo was ADC (Aide-De-Charge) of Mountbatten.

Many know that William Shirer is the author of "The Rise and fall of third Reich". A very little known book is "Gandhi: A memoir". This is about Gandhi during the pivotal Salt Satyagraha period, filled with great journalistic traits.

The name Gorky immediately reminds us of "Mother". Very little is known to the public about his "Untimely Thoughts" which details his tormented relationship with Lenin and Stalin and plain anti-communist articles.

The names Arthur Koestler, Andre Gide, Stephen Spender remind us of great literary works very little is known of a book with chapters by each one detailing how they became communists and how they finally turned their back on communism. The book is "The God that Failed". (Thanks to Prof KGS for that intro).

Tagore is best known for his Gitanjali but little is known of his various memoirs, several translated poorly into English but still a good read on somebody who can easily be called the only Renaissance man of India.

I shall stop for now, but let me take this moment thank all those, especially my dad, who sowed in me the seeds to seek for all that is best, introduced me to these authors, mostly unknowingly themselves and those, especially my wife who never grudges my indulgence, who help me uncomplainingly to acquire these treasures.

Someday I shall bequeath these to my daughter when she proves herself worthy of it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sarah Palin is no VP material (or Prez)

It is management parlance that a manager is only as good as his employees. No manager enrolls employees who are persistent nay-sayers. Certainly they would not select sycophants either. A manager, especially at higher executive levels, looks for some resonance in a person that is being hired. However it is expected that even a manager should be challenged on ideas, open enough to take professional criticism etc. All that means the employee should have the intellectual maturity to not be cowed down by authority, the intellectual heft to shine a different light on what is discussed, give a value added advice.

Sarah Palin is an intellectual lightweight. One of my favorite yardsticks in judging how people form ideas is to ask "what do you read". I love to know how a person is influenced, what are the channels they allow information to flow through. I especially look for how does a person seek ideas of both sides, does a person "actively seek" opposing view points.

Even Bush, given his label of being an incurious president, is actually well read. I know many might become apopleptic reading that. I give credit to a man who can plough through 1000+ pages of Roy Jenkins bio of Churchill. He invited Fouad Ajami and Bernard Lewis, two of the most pre-eminent scholars in Islam, the latter especially from archh liberal Princeton University, to discuss what he can expect out of Iraq. All of these are lost on a public that is focusing on his failures.

When I imagine Sarah Palin, sitting next to John McCain in the Oval office in a hurriedly convened cabinet meeting on analysing an economic meltdown or a crisis in Georgia or pushing for a sticky nuclear deal for India, I do not see her contributing anything in a value-added input.

What is all this crap of being folksy? What is all this "darn it" "you betcha", the barnyard diction. My foot I'll hate it for my VP to be talking like that in Davos. America, when it send out its leaders, should send out beacons of intellect and those who can command respect. Evoling hostility, as Bush does, based on ideological positions is respect too. As much we do not want a pointy headed egg-head in an ivory tower "representing" people we also do not want unvarnished plebians.

The question where she really blew was on the threat of Iran Vs Pakistan. She had no idea of the simmering cauldron that Pakistan is and how it could practically undo all the gains made in Afghanistan since 2001. Palin sought to frame the question of Iran solely within the parameters of Israel and prattled on and on about Israel as ally. I wondered if she was answering the question or campaigning in Florida for Jewish vote. Joe Biden blew that question out of the park with his command of ideas and facts.

Sarah needs to be sent home packing. Sorry McCain.

Joe Biden's Kramer Vs Kramer moment : Dads as Moms

At a key moment during his VP Debate Joe Biden said this "the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand..." ( Transcript from CNN . That was after Palin talked about kitchen table talks of financial difficulties. For those who do not know, Joe Biden lost his wife and one year old daughter in a car accident just afer getting elected to the senate. He was ready to resign it but friends and family pressured him to keep going. He made a promise to his children that he would be home every night, so he rides the Amtrak everyday from DC to Delaware everyday to be with his children. He remarried 5 years later.

How good a parent can a father be? Can a father make up for the loss of mother? Is there a special love that only a mother can give?

Those who love movies with story lines from yesteryears would know Kramer Vs Kramer. Meryl Streep shot to stardom with that. Dustin Hoffman is a very busy sales executive who is busy climbing the ranks of his company not ignoring but kind of not paying attention to family, especially his wife. One day Meryl calls it quits and plainly walks out. The problem is there is a kid, 6 years old. Dustin, shattered, then starts playing daddy care. He fumbles and stumbles on everyday tasks like making break fast, taking care of his son, keeping up with his son's schedule so much more. Work suffers. Then in comes Meryl again, now she sues him to get custody of her son. Dustin fights it. Meantime he loses his job, take a lower paying job. Finally the court decides to handover custody of the boy to the mother. In a final moment of grace Meryl decides not to enforce the ruling and walks out of their life. The movie has its high poignant moments.

I've always wondered about that story line. Dustin is not ignoring his family for some cheap escapades, he is working his butt off. When his wife deserts he steps up to the plate, incurs a huge professional sacrifice to bring up his son etc. As much as the wife walked out there is simply no justification for coming back to claim her son. The court case pivots around how good a parent can a father be? Can a father make up for the loss of mother? Is there a special love that only a mother can give?

Too much has been made of the uterine advantage of women. Yes, a mother is 100% indispensable in the early years of a child. However in the tragedy that we call life, sometimes the unthinkable happens and when a man (as in just MAN) has to fight for what he loves, boy he sure discovers untapped reserves.

As much as men are from Mars and women are from Venus we have to concede that a man's way of loving and showing love not just towards a woman of his age but even towards his own child are different from that of an instinctive love that a woman shows. Nonetheless a man's love for his child is never inferior.

I'd round up referring to another most famous widower. Jawaharlal Nehru lost his wife Kamala when Indira was 18. Nehru realising that he is mostly a dad in-absentia and more acutely realising the lack of proper education for Indira due to the Freedom struggle, he starts writing to her regularly especially during his long incarcerations. The letters were later published as "Glimpses of World History". What a tour-de-force it is, one can argue over the literary merits, the interpretations etc but it is the best education a father ever gave to his daughter. One letter very lovingly starts "Priya darshini -- dear to sight, dearer still when sight is denied".