Hello 2021

Sunday, Jan 03, 2021 09:15 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Jan 03, 2021 03:44 [IST]

Hello 2021

Mrinal Chatterjee

Window Seat
Every new entity has new potential, or at least the perception of a new potential. So does the new-year.
2020 has not been a good year. Corona pandemic impacted every aspect of our life. From economy to education, health services to employment- every aspect was negatively impacted bringing untold miseries. Free movement became a casualty as series of harsh lock-downs were enforced. Incidents of brutal rapes like in Hathras, UP and Nayagarh, Odisha shook the collective conscience. Massive farmer agitation brought into fore the problems of the farmers.
Hopefully 2021, the UN year of peace and trust will bring much needed respite from the bombardment of calamities and bad news. Hopefully we’ll have vaccine for Corona. Hopefully the new strains of the virus could be contained. Hopefully the farmer agitation would be amicably settled. Hopefully we would be able to move around freely.
Hope. That’s what can and does keep us alive and kicking.  
Mandala Art with branches
Keonjhar, Odisha based Gorbachove Pothal is a technocrat-turned artist. Recently he drew a series of mandala art, one of which I used in our campus. This one has intersecting branches. I was fascinated to know why he chose to use branches. Read what he wrote about it:
I've always been fascinated with patterns. It doesn't really matter what kind of patterns; I've played with networks, leaves and leaf venation, branches, lightning, flocking, tracing outlines of shapes, river formation, rock sediments, landscapes, slime mold, lichens, reaction-diffusion, cellular automaton, some fractals, and a few other things. I think what I enjoy the most is how complex and intricate results you can get from a set of simple rules.
Recently I've been particularly interested in biological patterns, and differential growth. My background is in numerical mathematics, not biology. So I have limited knowledge of how biological systems actually work. Even so, I've been experimenting quite a lot with recreating various biological behaviours. Part of the challenge is to try to recreate some pattern or behaviour with as few and as simple rules as possible.
Sometimes I manage to recreate the phenomenon I set out to create, and sometimes not. More often than not I get something interesting, even if it is not always what I expected.
Here, I started playing with a system where I grew connected circles that were not allowed to overlap. The way it works is that you place a seed node (circle) somewhere, and give it a radius and a direction of travel. Then you attempt to append a new node to the perimeter of the first node in the travel direction. The important part is that you need the travel direction to "wobble" a little, so you perturbe the angle randomly each time. You also make sure the radius of new nodes grows a little smaller each time you append a new node. [I wrote a Python (a widely used high-level programming language for general-purpose programming) Script for the purpose.
To get branches you can pick nodes at random and attempt to grow a new node more or less perpendicular to the branche's direction of travel. Either it collides, or you get a new branch. For interesting effects you can make the angle perturbations proportional to the width (radius) of the branch. Thicker branches are generally straighter than thin branches. And you can obviously do a lot of other things as well. For instance you get radically different results if you adjust how much more "flexible" branches grow as they grow thinner.
Another little note is that when a branch branches off from an existing branch you should make the radius considerably thinner than the parent branch. You can see this happening all the time in trees. The idea is that there should be about as much mass before and after a branch intersection.
Build New Cities
At the time and milieu we are living now, Urbanization is inevitable. Urbanization has its own benefits. It provides the potential for new forms of social inclusion, including greater equality, access to services and new opportunities, and engagement and mobilization. However, too often this is not the shape of urban development. Inequality and exclusion abound, often at rates greater than the national average.
In India, this happens because of two reasons: a. dense, unplanned and unregulated urbanisation, and b. few new cities are being built. People are coming from the rural areas and settling in the old cities- creating tremendous pressure on the amenities and resources of the existing city.
We must build new cities and the time is NOW.
Tailpiece: Covid Vaccines
Covid Vaccines will soon be available to us Indians too
I called the vaccine distribution facility to register for the Covid vaccine
Me: Hello
Reply from the other end: Thank you for calling. To continue in Hindi press 1. To continue in English press 2.
I pressed 2
Reply : For Russian Vaccine press 1.  For American Vaccine press 2 and for Indian Vaccine press 7
As I want to be atma-nirbhar, I pressed 7.
Response : If you are a man press 1 and if you are a woman press 2.
I pressed 1
Reply : To purchase vaccine press 1
for free shot press 2
I pressed 2
Reply : To be injected on hand press 1. To be injected on hip press 2 and to be injected elsewhere press 7.
I pressed 2
Reply : please type in your mobile number.
I punched in my phone number.
Reply : thank you.
For the free vaccine your name is registered and secured in our data base.
Your wait list serial number is  81 crore, 57 lakh, 66 thousand 7 hundred and 55.  
Under normal circumstances you will get a call from us after 3 years.
Till then keep washing your hands and maintain distance of 6 feet from the nearest person. Continue to wear mask till then.
Thank you for calling us.
Good Day. Happy New Year.
First App
The first app was invented in Lucknow. It was called Pehle App.
(Courtesy: Social Media)
(Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. Odia translation of an anthology of essays titled Mahatma Gandhi: Journalist and Editor, originally published in English is releasing by mid-January 2021.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi