Free the Children (FTC) – India Initiative

The Free the Children Initiative is a much needed social project.  It aims to free children in developing nations from bonded labor and other forms of exploitation.  The brainchild of Craig Keilburger, the project has attracted public attention in the United States and the rest of the developed world.  The relevance of such an initiative cannot be overstated, for in the era of globalization, it is grossly unjust how children growing up in different parts of the world experience markedly different standard of life. The most important message of the initiative is how children from one part of the world help their counterparts in another part of the world.  This way, a sense of global solidarity and fraternity is built into children at a very young age.

The Free the Children (FTC) – India Initiative has the basic objective of liberating children from child labor. But this cannot be achieved in isolation from social and economic factors that force children into work.  . . . Read More

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A speculation on the most valuable book lost to humanity

Much of the knowledge which the world had at one time has been lost to us now.  Natural disasters, wars, fires, have destroyed books and the knowledge in them.  We know they existed once, but they no longer exist now.Suppose you could protect and save ONE of the things we’ve read this semester so people of future generations could read it and think about it, which one would it be and why?

There are several contenders for the title of the most valuable book lost to humanity.  Homer’s Margites is a strong candidate due to its philosophical richness.  Likewise, the Lost Books of the Bible leaves Christians wondering at possibilities.  Jane Austen’s Sanditon would have enhanced the author’s already formidable reputation.   But from several such worthy contenders, my choice for the most valuable book would be William Shakespeare’s Cardenio. If I am endowed with the power to save the book through . . . Read More

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Did women have an impact on American political culture through nineteenth century?

In many ways, women are history’s largest minority.  Their voice was for most part suppressed under male domination. It is only in recent decades that they have attained legal and nominal equality with men. America has been a theatre for women’s rights going back to the late 18th and 19th centuries. The Catholic Church provided a semblance of political emancipation for women. This it achieved through allowing Sisters to assume high offices within the rigid hierarchy of the institution.  Though there was a degree of democracy and representation within the Church, in practice, “internal governments combined authoritarian and hierarchical structures with participatory and egalitarian elements.” This meant that Sisters were subject to the authority of officers, but in turn influenced the officers through elections and consultations.  In this somewhat compromised democratic system some members were disenfranchised to vote.  Even in the absence of a . . . Read More

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From the American Revolution to the Reconstruction era: A race & gender perspective

The time period between the American Revolution and the Reconstruction were one of uncertainly and instability in American socio-politics.  Having valiantly won its freedom from the British Crown, the fledgling nation was taking cautious first steps toward self-assertion. But even as America’s presence as a global power was taking root, its society was beset by longstanding issues.  The social issues could be broadly divided across the twin axes of race and gender. Racial discrimination of colored people and gender oppression of women were two chronic malaises.

At the time of the Declaration of Independence and the framing of the Constitution, blacks were considered as unequal to whites.  This is reflected in the early laws of the country where segregation and slavery were legally sanctioned.  The basis of these draconian laws was the prejudiced conception of blacks as only three-fifth human (whereby whites are the benchmark of full humanity).  Such unscientific . . . Read More

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Do Experiemental Video Art convey their message to the audience clearly? Or is it not important?

Video as a medium of communication has been in existence for more than hundred years now.  In this time the role, technology and application of the medium has evolved considerably. Experimentation is done for numerous purposes.  The obvious motivation is to stretch, test or expand the techniques of creating video art.  But the manner in which content is formatted, presented and perceived can also be experimented with.  Today, directors are empowered by the new digital technology that is available, which makes experimentation easier to carry out.  But this comes with the proviso that the audience is still able to understand and appreciate the novelty being offered them.  This essay will explore this subject in detail.

Video art is applicable to a diverse set of broadcast mediums. Chief among them are television, cinema and the Internet.  In the case of television, “the televisual public sphere disseminates and normalizes a model of split identification in which the . . . Read More

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John O’Neill: The Man Who Knew

John O’Neill’s career in service of his country is one spent in frustration and futility.  Despite valiant efforts by this sincere and hardworking law enforcement agent, the terror attacks on September 11 2001 could not be prevented.  More tragically, John O’Neill himself would perish in the attack as he was then working in the World Trade Centre as a security officer.

John O’Neill has had an impressive career path covering various roles within and without the FBI. Always drawn to the allure of a special agent for the FBI, John’s first job was as a fingerprint clerk and tour guide at FBI Headquarters in Washington.  He was barely twenty years old when he started out with FBI in this modest fashion. He climbed up the career ladder steadily thereafter. His appointment as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) in Chicago is a notable milestone. But it is the World Trade Center (WTC) bombing at Oklahoma in 1993 that would prove to be a turning point in his . . . Read More

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William Shakespeare: A Question of Authorship

William Shakespeare and JS Bach are perhaps the two most important cultural figures in Western Civilization. This high pedestal that they occupy makes questions over their authorship almost blasphemous for their admirers. If Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor has come for scholarly debate in recent years, the question marks over Shakespeare’s authorship were raised four centuries earlier and cover a substantial part of his work. The Anti-Stratfordians (as those sceptical of Shakespeare’s authorship are called) prefer to attribute his works to one among the following contenders: Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Edward Dyer, the earl of Derby or especially Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford. In this backdrop, the challenge facing both the faithful and the doubters is the scarce historical record to either support or disprove their claims. If the late Baroque obscurity surrounding Bach’s primary documents lead to no definite conclusions, it is even more . . . Read More

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Report on Student Half Recital by Melissa Hight

I attended the Student Half Recital by Melissa Hight on the 3rd of November.  The program was conducted at the Mathes Hall Auditorium at 3pm. It was one of the rare occasions where I had the pleasure of enjoying classical vocal music. The solo vocalist Melissa Hight and pianist Dr. Jessica Keup brought their experience and expertise to bear on the performance.  The whole program can be roughly divided into five sections.

The first section began with Mozart’s delightfully romantic song Oiseaux, si tous les an. It was given a mellifluous rendition by Mellissa Hight, who was suitably complemented by Keup at the piano. One of the features of the song is its strong lyricism. The song begins as a quiet tribute to nature in the first verse.  It then expresses more passionate feelings in the second verse, all the while keeping the same melodic line.  The duo on stage did justice to the demands of this masterpiece from Mozart.

The second item in the . . . Read More

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The Emancipation Proclamation & the Gettysburg Address: A comparative analysis

Abraham Lincoln’s greatness as President lies in his extraordinary ability to take crucial decisions that would prove pivotal to the nation’s history.  The Emancipation Proclamation, which essentially promised blacks of their right to equality and liberty, is one of its kind – not just in American history but in political history as a whole.  The proclamation and the Gettysburg Address are two exemplary documents whose appeal is intellectual, emotional and moral.  This essay will argue that the moral force of the two documents derive from the founding doctrines of the country as well as from scriptures.

The Gettysburg Address was delivered amid very tumultuous events.  The Civil War has already brought loss of human lives and material wealth.  Even the very conception of the nation is being questioned by the two warring factions.  Lincoln was clearly a shaken man due to the tragedy unfolding under his command.  Yet he was duty bound to . . . Read More

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Huxley’s effective use of conflict and control in reinforcing the dangers of technocracy in Brave New World

Brave New World is a profound literary work that encompasses themes of philosophical discourse, projection of societies in the future, the impact of technology on human relations, etc.  The major theme in the novel, however, is the link between dystopian societies and an underlying technocratic socio-political order.  Huxley uses conflict and control in the realms of politics, human relations, culture and technology to showcase all the malefic aspects of a technocracy.  This essay will flesh out this thesis in detail.

One of the constant undercurrents in Brave New World is the dehumanizing effects of technological progress.  It would be simplistic and false to blame technology per se for the situation, for there is a political angle to it as well.  In other words, if sophisticated technology is wielded by powerful political institutions for vested gains then the results can be disastrous for humanity.  Eugenics and scientific planning are two . . . Read More

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