04-10 Jun, 2013
small world
Descent
What To Do During Primate Visiting Hours

BANGALORE ~ ‘Lock your fridge during simian visiting hours.’ ‘In case a monkey sits on your head, stay still as it will clear your scalp of lice.’ ‘Do not run away from the primate as it just wants to socialise.’ ‘The monkey is man’s ancestor so don’t be surprised to see it mating in public.’ These and other bizarre gems are the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) advice to panic- stricken citizens who called the civic body to help contain the monkey menace in the city.

The email has been sent by Bangalore’s honorary wildlife warden Sharath Babu on behalf of the forest cell of the BBMP. The mail says that the bonnet macaques roaming the city are social creatures and residents are to blame for their intrusions. The mail lists several reasons for the increase in monkey numbers. These include feeding of monkeys for superstitious reasons, unscientific garbage management, food wastage, milk sachets left at doorsteps and a reduction of green cover.

The mail advises that children should avoid eating in front of primates. People should not cook excess food and keep dustbins indoors, out of simian sight. It also recommends that people be armed with sticks while walking on terraces. When face to face with a monkey, it is best to keep teeth concealed. A bare dental set is seen by the monkey as a challenge. For good measure, the mail adds that initially these steps will be difficult to follow, but in a few months the monkey menace will ease.

“We have to cohabit and be careful,’’ says Sharath Babu. Asked why the mail bordered on the farcical, an aggressive Babu says, “I have not done a PhD on simian behaviour but these [traits mentioned in the mail] are common observations. In fact, many residents call and thank me for the mail. If some people take offence and feel we should capture and relocate monkeys, let me assure you it’s a long process as it involves permission from the Forest Department. Instead, the steps listed in the mail will help tormented residents.’’ Well, if you can’t beat them, befriend them.

Take Two
Regression Multiplied By Two

In a recent interview to the showbiz magazine Variety at Cannes, Mallika Sherawat said that India is a regressive nation. Priyanka Chopra, when asked to comment on this revelation, responded that as an Indian woman she was offended. It is now a micro controversy with just enough fuel to keep the tempo of the complete inanity of both their opinions going.

In the video of the Variety interview, Mallika begins by answering why she is at Cannes, which is actually a pretty good question. She says—in that strange American accent that Indians seem to get after a few months abroad—a biopic called Dirty Politics brings her to the film festival. Here, she plays a nurse involved with a politician who rapes and abuses her. She records his “misgivings and everything” and that leads to the government’s fall. In the end, the nurse dies.

These are the lines in that interview which proud patriotic Indians have found offensive: “India is such a hypocritical society where women are really at the bottom of society as compared to men”, “I made a conscious decision to divide my time between LA, America and India. Now when I experience that social freedom in America and I go back to India, which is so regressive for women, it’s depressing. As an independent woman it’s really depressing”. Lest you think that this is serious talk, it is not. On the Variety website, the interview is around two minutes and 40 seconds long and most of it is Mallika talking about Mallika with plenty of liberties taken with the truth. She name-drops Jackie Chan as usual. She name-drops working with Jessica Lynch “who is the daughter of David Lynch” without mentioning that the movie was called Hisss and she played a snake who just crawled most of the time. She lies that she was the first person to kiss and wear a bikini on screen (Raj Kapoor took care of that in Bobby and this must have been before Mallika was born). “Imagine in this 21st century. Instantly I became a fallen woman and a superstar. At the same time,” she said. She is, of course, neither a fallen woman nor a superstar.

And yet everything that she said about India is true. So self-evidently true that it is Priyanka Chopra who appears deluded in her response. “I think it’s a misrepresentation of what our great nation is on the world platform… It was upsetting for me as a woman. It was upsetting for me as a girl who comes from India,” she was quoted by IANS. India is not regressive because “it upsets me” or “it is bad for the country’s image” is the sort of argument that shows why India is regressive. It is such an obvious fact that women go through life in India bound hand, foot and mind so tightly that no one needs to go through feminist literature or sociological studies to know it. Some, like Priyanka Chopra and Mallika Sherawat, break out of the prison, but that is a ratio of one to one million. It means nothing. It is like saying that because Sonia Gandhi is the Congress chief, India has progressed enough that even Italians can be successful in politics here. To not say that India is regressive because it is unpatriotic is the intrinsic hypocritical essence of our culture.

To give instances of India’s regression would take more than the pages of this entire issue of Open. But all you have to do is take the most elite Indians—intellectually and financially—and look at their lives to see how steeped they are in institutions which go back thousands of years, like caste or dowry or non-inheritance of property by women. When Priyanka commented on Mallika’s statement, she was launching Unicef’s mobile application that will conduct a survey to identify issues that need prioritisation in this country. “The UN will then take the collective voice of the nation to world leaders,” she said. What does such tokenism mean in a country where there is a number to the minutes a young girl can stand alone at Mumbai’s CST railway station before she is whisked away to prostitution? If a mobile application is an indication of progress, then we are all blind as bats holding a tricoloured flag.

Flesh Factory
Extra! Extra! Human Tissue, Hot Off The Press

A technology that was barely heard of until a couple of years ago is now making regular news for its groundbreaking ability to print anything from a functioning gun to an invisibility cloak, and might change manufacturing trends as we know them. And the wonders of this 3D printer never seem to cease. VentureBeat reports that scientists at Oxford University have printed what could be the predecessor to usable synthetic human tissue. In their paper A Tissue Like Material, the researchers announced that they had created their own version of a 3D printer to print out a series of droplets that formed a network of humanlike cells which could act like nerves and send electrical signals across the network. According to PhsyOrg, the researchers said that while the printed cells were nearly five times bigger than normal human cells, they were certain that they could be printed smaller. The cells can live for a few weeks; long enough, that is, for some wicked purposes.