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- SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
- NELSON MANDELA
- STEPHEN HAWKING
- TELEVISION : ITS MERITS AND DEMERITS
- THE USES OF COMPUTERS
- LIVE AND LET LIVE
- ARSENIC POLLUTION : ITS SOLUTION
Vivekananda whose family name was Narendranath Dutta was born at Simla in North Calcutta in 1863 His father Viswanath Dutta was an attorney. Young Narendranath was a lively and even a naughty boy was more fond of sports and games and active life than a life of contemplation and meditation.
But as a student of the Scottish Church College he became serious and showed interest in Western philosophy and became familiar with the then progressive Brahma Society of Calcutta. But none of these things satisfied his queries about the ultimate truth. So he went to Dakshineswar to meet Ramkrishna with whom he seemed to feel an immediate spiritual affinity and was drawn to him as if by a magnet. It was under Ramknishna’s mystical impact that Vivekananda felt himself to be a capable apostle of Hindu Vedanta philosophy.
He set sail for America to take part in the World Religion Congress to present to the West the authentic Hindu view of life. His profound and eloquent speech held the audience spellbound, and for the first time in modern era the West heard from the lips of the young Hindu yogi the truths of Hinduism of which they had been ignorant till then. Returning to India Vivekananda made efforts to found the Ramkrishna Mission and Belur Math. These are not merely religious and spiritual Institutions; they are meant to uplift the condition of the society from both the spiritual and material point of view. Vivekananda breathed his last at a relatively young age of thirty-nine.
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Nelson Mandela is an African leader who, like Mahatma Gandhi, fought against the white tyranny on the people of South Africa. He was educated as a barrister-at-law. But instead of living in comfort and luxury as a successful lawyer he joined the African National Congress and devoted himself to the task of establishing equality among all Africans—white and black—by fighting against the policy of apartheid or segregation of the black native Africans from all positions of power and privilege.
In 1962 the reactionary South African government imprisoned Mandela for life. But the continued struggle for freedom on the part of other leaders of African National Congress compelled the S.A. government to release Mandela on February 11, 1990 after 27 years and 9 months of imprisonment. Then in the general election on the basis of universal adult franchise introduced by the government of President F.D.H. Clarke, the African National Congress came to power, and Nelson Mandela became the first black African to become the President of the Republic of South Africa.
Mandela’s greatness does not consist only in his success in compelling the white S.A. government to abolish the hateful and inhuman apartheid, but also in his inspiring call to the blacks not to be revengeful against the whites for their past acts of tyranny, injustice and exploitation. In his political ideals Mandela was strongly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, who also started his fight against tyranny and discrimination of the whites against the coloured natives when he was a lawyer in South Africa.
Very great scientists have come and gone ; but perhaps none of them has achieved things under the circumstances that Stephen Hawking has gone through. At 21, when Hawking was in his third year at Oxford he became afflicted with the serious Motor Neurone disease that disintegrated his nerve cells and atrophied his muscles.
His speech became slurred. Other organs of communication also were lost. Doctors gave Hawking only two years more of life. Undaunted by this grim diagnosis Hawking not only completed his course at Oxford but went on to submit his Ph.D.thesis, marry and have three children. In 1974 he was made Fellow of the Royal Society, a rare honour for any scientist. Again, during a research visit to Switzerland, Hawking contracted pneumonia and his windpipe was operated upon. This caused complete loss of speech. His muscular state further deteriorated and he was tied to a wheel-chair with a specially devised computer to help him in his research.
His indomitable spirit and almost superhuman intellectual power helped him to carry on with his studies. Two books that have popularised his epochmaking theories about the Creation and the Universe are A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell. Academic honours have been showered upon Hawking and he is considered by many as the greatest physicist and mathematician after Einstein. Stephen Hawking has shown how human intellect and spirit can surmount the greatest of physical handicaps.
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TELEVISION : ITS MERITS AND DEMERITS
Television is one of the many wonders of modern science and technology. It was invented in England by the Scottish scientist J.N. Baird in 1928 and the British Broadcasting Corporation was the first to proadcast television images in 1929. Previously the radio helped us hear things from far and near. spread information and knowledge from one corner of the globe to another.
But all this was done through sound only. But television combined visual images with sound. Today we can watch games, shows and song and dance programmes from all corners of the world, while sitting at our own homes. TV can be used for educating the masses, for bringing to us latest pieces of information audio-visually and can provide us all kinds of entertainment even in colour .
But as in all things, too much of televiewing may prove harmful. In many cases the habit of watching TV has an adverse effect on the study habits of the young. When we read books, we have to use our intelligence and imagination. But in most cases TV watching is a passive thing. It may dull our imagination and intelligence.
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THE USES OF COMPUTERS
The computer is one of the marvels of modern science. Its origin may be traced to the mechanical calculating machine that was invented by Charles Babbage, an English mathematician, in 1834. The machine could not fully realise the purpose that Babbage had in mind, because of the inadequate engineering skill of the time. Today’s computers are electronic.
A computer can work very fast because it runs on a small current of electricity that flows at a very high speed. With the help of stored information and data it can do calculations of very large figures within a very short time, Within seconds a computer can add, subtract, multiply and divide very large figures. Such calculations would take even an expert mathematician a much longer time to complete. Today computers are used widely in all advanced countries in data processing which means compilation, correlation and selection of facts. In all fields of research and industry and business the use of computers is constantly on the rise. There are two types of computers: digital and analogue .
The first processes information numerically, the latter provides information in terms of quantity rather than by numerical counting. But computers can do their work only when series of clearly defined information are fed into them, which is known as programming. For this a specialised programming language is necessary. The benefits of computers are many. They economise time, speed up work, save labour and in the long run reduce costs. In all advanced countries they are used in educational institutions, industries, research laboratories, government departments and so on. In space-research they are of great importance.
In India computers are gradually being introduced to facilitate work in different fields, but not to the required extent. There is strong opposition to the wider introduction of its use because many employees in private and public Sectors fear that use of computers may lead to large scale unemployment in a country that is already plagued by this problem.
LIVE AND LET LIVE
There are similarities between a family and a society. In a family parents look after their children ; that is their responsibility. Children also should obey their parents who look after them and do everything for their day to day and future well-being. If every member in a family looks after his own interests alone there can be no peace and nothing will get done. For example, when boarding a train or a bus, we must allow first the passengers to get down.
If we try to force our way in and those who want to get down try to get out first then neither will succeed in either getting down, or boarding. We must obey systems and rules and maintain order and discipline so that nobody can complain against another person. If we honour others’ rights, others will be compelled to honour our own. Give and take, live and let live -these are the rules of decent survival in this world.
ARSENIC POLLUTION : ITS SOLUTION
Arsenic is a greyish-white element which forms a poisonous compound when heated some areas in the world including India, Bangladesh, Hungary, New Zealand and Thailand have heavy concentration of this element which when remaining under deep water is relatively harmless. But if it comes into contact with strong rays of the sun it volatises and forms the noxious compound.
This compound taken unknowingly with water causes serious skin diseases including cancer. The layer of iron sulphide abounds in arsenic when sunk in water it is not harmful. But when the water layer goes down and the iron sulphide layer comes into contact with oxygen it becomes highly damaging. Arsenic is also found in factory effluents, garbage and insecticides used in agriculture—all of which pollutes the air and water if proper precaution is not taken. Arsenic infection is initially difficult to defect. Patients suffer from cough and feels weakness. In advanced stages arsenic infection leads to cavatoline gangrene and skin cancer.
Fatal result of arsenic poisoning have also been reported. Towards the eighties of the last century only a few cases of arsenic poisoning was reported in West Bengal. But by 2005 the number of arsenic infection cases has gone up to a million or more. It is not easy to surver all the areas which are potentially arsenic prone. The only safeguard against the danger is to drink pond and canal water after purification instead of water from wells. It is the duty of the local bodies like the panchayats to determine with the help of Health Dept. to conduct a survey of the regions and make people conscious of the dangers of arsenic poisoning and its remedies.