Category Archives: Feature Article

New Problem- ACTA

By: Nikhil Malankar

The Internet has defeated the SOPA and PIPA but do you know about something known as the ACTA? Well, in case you don’t know, ACTA stands for ‘Anti-Counterfieting Trade Agreement’. Let us take a look on what it is about and how it is misused by the Government to curtail our freedom of speech and expression.

What is ACTA about?
The ACTA is about protecting Trademark companies and intellectual properties. For example, you cannot start a company with the registered name of ‘Google Inc.’ or the likes. This offers a healthy protection of copyrights and provides a legally safe environment for both small and large corporations by protecting their trademarks. It is supposed to protect products against selling fake copies of branded products. For example, you cannot sell a Cola under the registered name of ‘Coca Cola’ or, say, ‘Pepsi’ because that damages the reputation of the respective companies. ACTA is supposed to protect patents and support artists to churn out high quality content. So, whats the problem? Its actually a great law. If you think about it this way then think again..

The Problem With ACTA:
Alrighty, sure ACTA is a great act for protecting copyrighted content and patents. But what will happen when the ACTA will be imposed on the Internet? Before giving the answer let me define counterfieting from the Oxford English Dictionary. Counterfieting is defined as the fraudulent imitation of something else. And when the ACTA will be imposed on the Internet you won’t be able to download files. Well, when you download a file you just download the exact copy of the original. In fact the file you downloaded is exactly the same and you have not stolen the original copy. The original copy is intact. Let me give you a more simple example. If you go to a computer class and learn some basics of computing. Now you want to share your knowledge with, say, your brother or sister. Now you are sharing your understanding of the knowledge gained from the classes with your siblings for free. But the twist here is that you are a criminal in terms of the ACTA. Since you just shared the information
that you learned from the computer classes. And also the ACTA criminalises your siblings for taking the knowledge from you.

But then this surely will help artists, right? WRONG!

An artiste will gain recognition for his/her work only when people watch them. If the act is imposed on the Internet then you would never be able to download movies for free.

Whats worse?
Social networking sites like Twitter and the likes and the video sharing giant YouTube will be the ones that will get most affected by ACTA since you would not be able to share your thoughts or upload a video expressing your views and stuff.

Its totally wrong!
Nowadays we use the Internet for almost everything. After ACTA you won’t be able to share photos, post status updates, upload/download videos. In short, the Internet will become a vast Wild West wherein you won’t be able to do anything. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even the Big G(Google) will have to shut down for the same reasons mentioned above. It violates freedom of speech and freedom of expression. If I don’t like, say ‘X’ Politician, then I have the full right to express my views on the same. The ACTA or no other act has the right to curb that.

Here is a prime example of how the author of SOPA Mr. Lamar Smith himself has violated his own act:


So, a personal request from GeneticWriters to all its readers: Please Google ‘ACTA’ and spread awareness among your friends to protest against this shit act which will snatch away our freedom of speech and expression.

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Simon Singh’s lecture@ IIT-B Techfest

By: Manas Chaturvedi

 

Date: 6th January, 2012

Event: IIT-B Techfest

Location: PC Saxena Hall, IIT campus

I had been waiting for this day to come for about a month or so. And when the day finally came, I couldn’t have been happier. It was the annual Techfest hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. Me and a couple of my friends had planned and waited for this day to come for a long time now. We studied the fest’s schedule, we studied it’s campus beforehand, and even planned how we are going to travel there and stuff like that! We WERE that excited about the Techfest. Now since Nikhil has already written an article about how the first day of the techfest fared for us, I wouldn’t waste your or my time reviewing the first day of the techfest again.

The main reason why I was so keen on attending the IIT-B Techfest was because of the star-studded lecture series hosted by the IIT. Prominent scientists, entrepreneurs and other dignified authorities were scheduled to conduct one-hour seminars or lectures during the span of the three day course of the Techfest. Those lectures, collectively called the Lecture Series, were a real crowd attractor. Students from all over the country traveled to the Techfest for a chance to see their role models up close and personal. Me too, like hundreds of other students, was excited about these Lecture Series. Although I had not planned to attend each of the lectures, I was certainly waiting eagerly to catch up with Simon Singh’s lecture on Fermat’s Last Theorem on the first day of the Techfest. The lecture was scheduled to start at 4:30pm local time, but since I was determined to not miss the lecture due to being late or due to unavailability of seats in the auditorium, me and a couple of other friends of mine reached there almost forty-five minutes before time. Now, Simon Singh is a British author who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics in an accessible manner. His written works include Fermat’s Last Theorem (in the United States titled Fermat’s Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World’s Greatest Mathematical Problem), The Code Book (about cryptography and its history), Big Bang (about the Big Bang theory and the origins of the universe) and Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial (about complementary and alternative medicine). He has also worked in the BBC for about 7 years in the 1990’s. In short, you don’t wanna miss seeing him in person if he’s about to conduct  lecture somewhere near you!

We entered the hall at about 4:30, the same time the lecture was scheduled to start. But I wasn’t complaining. As soon as I got myself a seat in the auditorium, I saw a mohawked guy standing in the opposite corner of the hall to where I was sitting, and that dude was on his cellphone. Yes! That mohawked guy, wearing a gray suit, was indeed Simon Singh! I was actually seeing him in person standing just a few meters away from me! He spent a few more minutes talking on his cellphone, catching a glimpse here and there of his potential lecture audience in the hall and also talking to the organizers and other members of the Techfest team. After a brief formal introduction from a student, Simon Singh was finally ready to step into the main stage and deliver his long-awaited seminar. As mentioned earlier, the topic for the lecture was ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’. For those of you who don’t know, Fermat’s Last Theorem was world’s most toughest math problem until it was solved by Dr. Andrew Wiles, a Princeton University professor in 1996. Simon Singh, the author of the bestselling book on Fermat’s Last theorem and director of the documentary on the same topic, started with the origins of this problem, going back into the 17th century when Fermat, a French mathematician, coined a theorem which would infamously be termed as the most difficult math problem of all time. Simon explained us about the Fermat’s Last theorem with the help of his critically acclaimed documentary and various Powerpoint presentation slides. The lecture ended at around 6pm, half an hour late than it was previously scheduled to end, but no one was complaining. I was eager to hear more from this guy. The lecture ended with a formal five minute question-answer session. Those sixty minutes were something which I will never forget about in my life..

P.S: As I was sitting in a corner most seat of the first column of rows in The Convocation Hall of the IIT Campus, waiting for Venky Ramakrishnan’s lecture on the second day of the Techfest, Simon Singh walked past me to catch his allotted seat in the first row! WOW! He was only about half a meter away from me when he walked past me lol.

Kashmir and Me: A Conflicted Identity

By: Niyati Bhat
I don’t know what to write about Kashmir. Almost every Kashmiri writer I know is writing about Kashmir, about their memories, the agonies, the good and the bad phases. I can’t. I was born 2 years after the migration. The rage that engulfed the valley hadn’t died down completely nor had our condition, living as refugees improved but I was too small a kid to understand what it all meant.
I never experienced the plight or the aftermath that my parents did. They didn’t give up. They made a beautiful life again, for me. Whenever in Delhi, any of my friends talked about going to their village in summer holidays, they named Rohtak or other villages in Haryana. I have grown up with Haryanavi and Kashmiri kids but I never saw a Kashmiri kid leave for his village in holidays.
When it came to me, all I could name was either Sundernagar in Himachal or Jammu. It was quite late that I understood what being a Kashmiri was. But it wasn’t the same with my upbringing. I was brought up with the Kashmiri traditions. The language, the colours, the food, the religious ceremonies, the festivals are deeply instilled in me as in any other Kashmiri.
But when it comes to Kashmir, I don’t know what to write about it. All I know is that I have a longing, restlessness, a feeling of belonging to that region even though I have never set foot on that land.
The question pops up in my head: Where do I belong?
To the Kashmir which is itself confused and engrossed in conflicts?
To the India, where my status is nothing beyond a Kashmiri migrant?
Or to the Pak, which wants Kashmir dearly but only with its Muslim inhabitants excluding the Hindus of the region?
To the history which isn’t mine or to the present which lies in daily conflict?
Maybe I’ll let the future decide a place for me. Because, now, right now, I don’t belong anywhere except for the little corner of the earth I am occupying, building an identity of my own. That little corner is my college, my small office cubicle, my parents’ house and this blog in the virtual world. And most of the times, the road, where I travel, which lets me walk despite who I am. It is the most neutral place on earth. All occupy it and none occupies it. Still, it’s also been held under the barricades of borders otherwise the road could run as far as you let it irrespective of boundaries created by humans.
I am a wanderer and this road is my constant companion. I walk on it searching for my identity every second of my life. I hope I’ll find it before these seconds run out; before time decides, ‘It’s time’! Time for me to dissolve into nothingness.
It makes me ponder over another thought. Will the identity matter then? Will it matter whether I am a Kashmiri or Indian or Hindu or Muslim when I die? The only thing that will matter is my mark that I will leave upon this earth. All that will be left is what I did in this life, what I did for this life despite my conflicted identity.
I just don’t want to be remembered as one more person who wrote about her disturbed homeland but as a human being to dared to step in and help change that disturbed homeland into the beautiful valley that was!
The Kashmir where swans swarmed in Dal lake, where shikaras were full of songs, where fields were worked upon by their owners, where knives where used only in kitchens, paddy fields and butcher shops, where no one knew what hatred was, where mothers cooked roganjosh, gushtaba, rice and other delicacies and turned every meal into a feast enjoyed by the children of the whole neighbourhood, where children bathed in streams, people walked around in pherans with kangri tucked under, where afternoons were spent on almond, apple, peach trees, where Sundays were spent playing cricket, where sounds of alif bey tey (Urdu words) were pronounced in unison by all the students in the school yard irrespective of what their religion is, where fathers returned home in the evenings to big, happy joint families, where the day was declared a holiday when the shooting of a Kapoor or Bachchan movie took place in the village, where nobody bothered about being a Hindu or Muslim, where no one was jealous of the peace of the valley, where just humans lived as occupants of a peaceful valley and contributing to a beautiful dream which looks so good to be true. Really, so good to be true, an illusion.
I don’t want to find an identity as someone who is Kashmiri Pandit or Indian but as a person who made it possible to bring back this illusioned Kashmir. Yes, I want to be that person!
And, this illusion, this dream can be turned into a reality if everyone didn’t think of themselves as an Indian, Kashmiri, Hindu, Muslim or Pakistani, but as a human being who would want to contribute his bit to restore this devastated region into the Kashmir that was.