Thursday, 29 September 2016

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

1.Title: Purple Hibiscus
2.Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
3.First Published by: Fourth Estate (2004),An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.
4.Present Edition: Fourth Estate (2013)
5.Copyright: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2004)
6.ISBN: 978-0-00-727235-8
7.Genre: Fiction/literature
8.Pages: 307
9.Price :Rs.399.
Adichie is   now a known  author from Nigeria and Purple Hibiscus is her first book.It was longlisted for Man Booker Prize 2004 and shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2004.It received the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award 2004.
                     Purple Hibiscus is the story of a young girl Kmbili and her brother Jaja, brought up in a strict religious regimentation by their father  Eugene Achike (Papa).Achike  gave   up and condemned   his past  religion and became Christian.He always tried to prove how  true  Christian he was , and kept  vigil over his children so that they  also remained  strict Christians.But this is not to say that he was a monster.He was kind and thoughtful in his own ways  but when  it came to religion , he did all kinds of  awful and horrible things.He was a strict believer in  religion and  order and  himself makes  a daily schedule  for the children and pastes it  on the wall above.
                     Eugene was the publisher of a a fiercely independent newspaper the Standard.His editor  Ade Choker   was killed by the dictator of Nigeria .Eugene looks after the family of Choker.Eugene is connected  and intelligent enough to  survive  death at the hands of dictator.
           Eugene has a sister whom his children call Aunty Ifoema.They were born and brought up in Abba , but  Eugene , on becoming Christian , breaks contact with his own father (Papa Nnukou).Every year , Eugene visits his home town with his family , but his children are allowed to meet their grand father only for 15 minutes.Eugene humiliates his father as  he thinks his father is a Pagan.
                             Aunty Ifoema is a lecturer in  the University at Nsukka.When Kambili and Jaja meet her , they understand  what freedom and fearlessness means.The three children of Aunty Ifoema also breathe in a free and unregimented environment , unlike  the tight and regimented life of Kambili and Jaja, back at home where their father  beats them violently for any alleged transgression . From Aunty Ifoema’s house , Jaja brings  stalks of Purple Hibiscus and plants these in his own house .Purple Hibiscuses  symbolise  freedom and non-regimentation .Aunty Ifoema  set higher and higher jumps for  her children  in the way she talked to them .Eugene made his children jump higher  by creating terror in their minds.
                    One day , Eugene is found dead in his factory  premises at his table .I will not be spoiler by telling who kills him.But it is important to know .
                           .I recommend you to read this very powerful ,  lyrical  and touching  story by  Adichie.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Demian by Hermann Hesse

1.Title: Demian
2.Author:Hermann Hesse
3.First Published:1919
4.Harper Perrenial Classics Edition , Published :1999.
5.Translated from German by:Michael Rollof and Michael  Lebeck
7.Price;Rs 386.90
     Demian , a short novel , was first published   under the pseudonym of Emil Sinclair , its protagonist and narrator.The tenth edition was published under the name of Hermann Hesse. Hesse  applied in this book  the depth psychology of Carl Jung .Sinclair finds the meaning of his life  through his dreams and the symbols of his paintings.
             Hesse  emphasised  the uniqueness of every human being  who “represents  the unique , the very special  and always  significant and remarkable  point at which  the world’s phenomena intersect  only once  this way and never again.”
                The relationship between  Hesse and Romain Rolland  (the French Author and a Nobel Laureate) got reflected in the novel  as a relationship  between  Emil Sinclair and Max Demian.(Max Demian is the character , after whom the novel is based.)Both Romain Rolland and Max Demian believed  that  the ravages of world war  will give way to a healed future.(The novel was published  in 1919 , the third year of world war one.)
     This book exerted a great influence on the youth of Germany and other countries , and it became an instant best-seller.It gives the message that  each one of us  has to struggle to  become self –aware, to be true to our self and finally to  actualize our self , and to remain hopeful while doing so..This is our destiny and our purpose .
                I recommend you to read this novel.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Communicating Interpersonally-A Social Construction Approach

1.Title:                                 Communicating    Interpersonally                                                                                                                                                                                               
2.Authors                          John Stewart , Karen E. Zedikar,Saskia                                                                     Witteborn                                                                                
3.ISBN                               81-7992-533-1

4.Publisher                        Jaico Publishing House ,  Mumbai                                                                    
5.Pages                               414.
6.Price                               Rs.995.
7.Genre:                         Management ,Psychology,Sociology      
Communication  plays a very important part in all relationships .Yet , we hardly try to learn communication .This book on communication  is  written by  John Stewart  ,  Karen Zedikar  and Saskia Witteborn  , all from  University of Washington--- basically teachers and researchers.
                       I have tried to  distil ten most important points about communication  from this book of 414 pages , as below.These     statements  apply in important relationships including  friendships.
1.Understand  the other person’s  culture , value systems , beliefs and attitudes.
2.Be honest and trustworthy in communication and interaction.
3.Never use  hurtful, aggressive and violent statements.
4.Have respect for the dignity of the other person .
5.Be trusting .
6.Have transparency (open sensitivity).
a)Face the other person  when talking.
b)Maintain eye contact.
c)Make responsive sounds.
d)Select open sensitivity responses.
8.In cyberspace  including social media ,  be careful to present yourself and  relate to others.
9.Follow Universal Rules of Relationships/friendships:
a)Respect the other person’s privacy.
b)Do not discuss that which is said in confidence with the other person .
c)Do not indulge in sexual activity with the other person.
d)Do not criticize the other person publicly.
Communication is a very vast  and complex subject .If you want to read it as a  serious subject , you can read this book  like a text book .Otherwise , it can be left to  he  students of communication .

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The power of your subconscious mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy

1.Title :                                     The power of your subconscious mind
2.Author:                                   Dr. Joseph Murphy .
3.Pages                                       253.
4.First published :                      1963.
5.Present edition                        Pocket Books.(2006).
6.Genre                                      Self- help
7.Price                                        Rs. 277.

Dr. Joseph Murphy  was born in Ireland in 1898 but  moved to the USA in 1922 where he continued to  preach Divine Science and write till his death in 1981.He did his Ph. D. in Psychology from  the University of South California He The power of subconscious was one of the 30 books he wrote  but it sold over a million copies in a very  short span , and still continues to be read, over 53 years after its publication.
                   Mind has two parts : conscious and subconscious (Some people  call the latter unconscious ). The conscious mind is rational and subconscious mind   is irrational. But , Dr. Murphy says that subconscious mind is extremely powerful as compared to conscious mind , though it takes commands from conscious mind . The famous Psychologist William James said: ”The greatest discovery of the  nineteenth century was the power of the subconscious mind  touched by faith”.The book is based on  religion as well as  psychology. Dr. Murphy wants us to read it several times. Only then it will  help you to remove the mental blocks  that stand between you and your goals.
                    Among several techniques to use the subconscious   is autosuggestion .Give yourself positive suggestion before going to sleep, and counter act any negative suggestions. Your subconscious will work for you through the night.
                        Another technique is to believe that (what you desire) you have received and you shall receive. Prayer therapy is another , which combines  the function of conscious mind and subconscious mind, scientifically directed. Pray together and stay together.
                        Visualization is another technique to use the power of the subconscious mind .Use imagination and not will power. Power of sustained imagination can bring success .
             Affirmation is another technique. Affirmation succeeds  best when it is specific and when it does not produce a mental conflict or argument .
        Do positive thinking .You cannot attract what you criticise.
              You can use subconscious mind for harmonious human relations, for forgiveness ( “Forgive until seventy times seven”), for removing mental blocks, for helping in breaking or building a habit or to remove fears. r Murphy closes his book by telling how to stay young in spirit for ever.
                   Though all the miracles that  Dr. Murphy attributes to the power of subconscious  mind  may not be correct , the book is interesting  and gives you ideas about the possible uses of subconscious mind.If  you have not decided against reading self-help books ,I recommend you to read this book.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Nuclear Power and its implications for environment and human safety

There are at present over 400 nuclear power plants in the world. These plants provide less than 7% of  world’s total energy supply. India’s share of nuclear power generation  is just 1.2% of world’s nuclear power generation capacity, making it the world’s 15th largest   nuclear power producer. India has  7 nuclear power plants(21 reactors) having an installed capacity of 5780 MW.(as in 2013).These nuclear power plants are located in six states  of  Maharashtra , Gujrat , Rajasthan , U.P. , Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Out of these , only one nuclear power station is located in UP at Narora. It is operated by NPCIL  and has two units of 220MW each (total 440MW).Four projects(6 units) are under construction in Tamil Nadu , Rajasthan and Gujrat ,with capacity of 4300 MW.
                    India gets under 2% of its electricity   from nuclear power with the rest coming from  coal(60%) , hydroelectricity(16%), other renewable sources (12%)  and natural gas (9%). India plans  to produce 25% of its electricity from   nuclear power in due course(9% by 2032).
                    India has had many advocates for nuclear power , the most notable in the recent past being our former President , Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam who said: ”Energy independence is India’s first and highest  priority. India has to go for nuclear power  generation in a big way using Thorium  based reactors .Thorium , a non-fissile material is available in abundance in  our country.” There is no burning of fossil fuel in nuclear power plants , no green house gases  are produced. Nuclear energy produces more  electricity on less land  than other carbon free technologies. It is under such reasoning  that India is going in a big way for setting up nuclear power plants.
             But let us go  into the safety and environment aspects of nuclear power plants. There have been three major  reactor accidents  in the history of nuclear power generation . They are :
1. Three Mile Island  (USA , 1979)
2. Chernobyl              (Ukraine , 1986)
3. Fukushima              (Japan , 2011).      
 Tem former Nobel Peace Laureates , including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Rigobata Manchu Tum  stated the following in an April  21 , 2011 open letter  to 31 Heads of State  whose countries are currently  heavily invested in nuclear power production  or are considering investing  in nuclear power: ”Choose renewable energy over nuclear power :Nobel Peace Laureates to World Leaders::
On the twenty fifth anniversary  of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine—and more than two months after the massive earthquake  and tsunami that devastated Japan , it is time to recognise that  nuclear power is not a clean , safe or affordable source of energy.
  We are deeply disturbed that   the lives of people in Japan are  being endangered by nuclear radiation in the air , in the water or  in the food  as a result  of the breakdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. We firmly believe that if the world phases out its current use of nuclear power , future generations of people everywhere—and the Japanese people who have already suffered  too much – will live in greater peace and security.
             Radiation is not just  a concern  in a nuclear accident .Each link in the nuclear fuel chain  releases radiation , starting with drilling for uranium ;  it then continues for generations  because nuclear waste includes plutonium  that will remain toxic for thousands of years. Despite years of research  , countries with nuclear energy programme such as the United States  have failed to solve the challenge of  finding safe and secure storage  for spent nuclear fuel.
                There are presently over 400 nuclear power plants  in the world –many in places of high risk  for natural disaster or political upheaval . These plants provide less than 7% of the world’s total energy supply .As world leaders , you can work together  to replace this small amount of energy  to move us towards  a carbon-free and nuclear –free future.”
                    Though there was no death , injury or adverse health effects  due to Three Mile Island accident , it shattered the  public confidence in nuclear energy , especially in the USA. As a result   , there was a major decline in nuclear  construction though the  1980’s and 1990’s .The lessons learnt were applied in a big way in all the nuclear power plants in the USA.
                            In Chernobyl accident , 30 firemen and operators were killed  within 3 months. In addition , 28 persons died as a result of Acute Radiation Syndrome(ARS) within a few weeks of the accident. 19 more died subsequently between 1987 and 2004.The Chernobyl Forum report said that   about seven million people are now receiving  or are eligible for benefits as Chernobyl Victims. In what is referred to as his Testament –which was published soon after his suicide   two years after the accident –Valery Legasov- who led the soviet delegation to  the IAEA post-accident review meeting ,wrote,: After I had visited  Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant,I came to the conclusion that  the accident was the inevitable  apotheosis of the economic system which had been developed in the USSR  over many decades.  Neglect by the scientific management   and the designers was every where with no attention being paid to  the condition of instruments or of equipment.”
                   In Fukushima accident , there were no deaths from the accident but  over one lac people were evacuated from their homes so that there was no radiation exposure. There have been over 1000 deaths from maintaining the evacuation. Evacuation orders were issued to people residing  within 20kms of the site. Fukushima accident destroyed the public confidence  in Japan  in nuclear power, particularly in earthquake-prone regions having reactors. Japan has decided to  meet its energy needs without relying on nuclear power  and  is now going  for alternatives to nuclear power .Japan is building a network of 30  solar power stations , of 2MW each.
      A disaster like Chernobyl or Fukushima , if it happens in a densely populated country like India , could have huge human , economic and environmental  consequences, as had happened in the  industrial disaster  of Union carbide , Bhopal. There have been mass protests in India against the French-backed 9900MW   Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Maharashtra. Though India has enacted 2010 Nuclear Liability Act   which puts financial responsibility and compensation  in case of a nuclear accident on  nuclear suppliers, contractors and operators. But is it enough to make provision for financial   compensation  ? We just have to look at the  precariously hanging electricity distribution lines in any city like Lucknow and ask whether we have the confidence  in the maintenance of equipments and instruments of nuclear power plants ?Where does  nuclear power  fit in the culture of neglect and indifference among public sector employees in India ?And add to this the rampant corruption  in public sector in supply of plants , materials and accessories. We need to think and re-think   hard about  our  nuclear options  and pay heed to the appeal of ten Nobel Peace Laureates  against  going in for nuclear power. India  , which has lot of land and sunshine , may opt for cost-effective, cleaner  and  safer  solar power , where location is also  not at all critical.(This article was published in Tree Take  magazine , Lucknow in its August 15,2016 issue.)