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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat

Caste System Durable Link to this BLOG
India's Caste System

Many years ago, I had organized our People of India section by the caste. I had said that while I deplore the caste-based discrimination, the caste was an important cultural identifier. I recieved many emails protesting my stance, and I subsequently removed the caste based classification.

But the caste thing doesn't go away, just because I remove a web-page.

So with much deliberation and thought, and by popular request, I present introduction to The Caste System.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, May 03, 2004
Last Modified: 5/3/2004 11:06:39 AM

Open Access Movement Durable Link to this BLOG
Open Access Movement

In the library world, a new movement is picking up momentum called Open Access (OA).

Depending on whom you ask you get a different definition of what is OA (some say OA journals are free to readers, some say they are free to libraries, some say free back-files, I am using OA here to include all of them), but the core principles of the movement involves unrestricted access to published research.

This week, a debate on OA is being held in India that will include a librarian, a publisher, and an author. The consumers (users and researchers) are the audience. It is being moderated by a subscription agent. Very interesting.

My take on on OA

I think "Free Beer" journals and "Free Speech" journals will have to co-exist with "Exclusive and Priviledged" journals. The OA movement will be beneficial to cash-starved libraries (especially in poorer countries) in the short term, but is not a viable solution for durable content. The libraries, however, have to find a solution on how to perpetually archive e-journals (see my idea below, as posed to Garfield), because OA publishers might quickly go out of business or change ownerships. I also wonder if paying for one's own articles will result in dilution of scholarship.

The other day, I sought the expert opinion of Dr. Eugene Garfield on the matter. He is the pioneer in the world of scientific information, and a role model for me.

Question Prof. Garfield, What is your stance on Open Access Journals? Do you think it will dilute the quality of scholarship ?

Answer I have tried to avoid public comment on the Open Access issue. But a simple answer to your question is NO!!

Question: This question I ask as an entrepreneur. I wish to build a electronic-content caching/archiving product that can be used in each library to serve as an 'escrow', should the e-publisher go out of business... like a electronic "Local Holdings". Does this idea have any mustard?

Answer Who is going to guarantee that you don't go out of business?!

My Philosophical Take on OA

Gandhi said that the purpose of satyagraha (resistance or activism) is only to bring in the desired change and not to engage in everlasting conflict. Once OA activists convince the publishers of the wrong they are engaged in, the publishers have a responsibility to change. We are already seeing this change happen. Today American Physical Society actually lowered the subscription , and many publishers are bound to listen to the demands of the industry.

So the OA initiative is already successful.

But OA activists are not satisfied. They want to go all the way and make research available truly without barriers. That means free to the reader. Not a red cent is necessary to read premier research articles. They are encouraged by strong emergence of Google, who need a lot of free content they can index.

Makes me want to ponder over Garfield's quip, What happens when this super library (Google) goes out of business?

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, May 07, 2004
Last Modified: 5/10/2004 4:17:04 PM
Tags: library

Link Recommendations Durable Link to this BLOG
Link Recommendations

• BeliefNet: Fair Skin as Racism by Nandini Ramnath
• Google: Official Google Blog finally!
• NetCetra: Tennis is no sissy sport

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Last Modified: 5/12/2004 11:20:15 AM

Congress Back to Power? Durable Link to this BLOG
Few organizations in the world have as long and illustrated history as the Indian Congress, and today the party of Indira Gandhi has come back to power. The poor are rejoicing because they are promised free food, and free loans and the wealthy and the educated are panicky because of the history of Congress party (a synonym for inefficiency, favoritism, caste-based politics).

Perhaps the reality is somewhere in between. Let us not forget that it was Congress which started the economic reform in India under the leadership of Manmohan Singh and PV Narasimha Rao.

Perhaps India has no future. Some of the candidates who have won the elections, have done so because they represented the common man's caste, educational background, and ethics. The logic is as follows -"India needs to be governed by people who represent its population, and since much of the country is uneducated, an uneducated person best represents nation's interests".

I pray that common-sense will prevail and capable leaders will design policies that result in long-term revival of a poor nation.

Perhaps Congress coming back to power is great thing. New government always means new faces, and new ideas. The party has a chance to undo the damage caused by policies of previous administrations and stengthen the core of India from which it derives much of its support - sectors like Agriculture and Labor. I have always felt that unless we address these fundamentals, no economic reform or IT would bring peace and prosperity to India.

See Also:
• Nehrus and Gandhis

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, May 13, 2004
Last Modified: 5/19/2004 12:54:27 PM

Outsourcing in India Durable Link to this BLOG
Stop complaining about India and out-sourcing.

The Indians are considering outsourcing the highest position in the land (to an Italian lady).

Some jobs we gain, some jobs we lose ;-- )

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, May 14, 2004
Last Modified: 5/14/2004 4:12:44 PM

What's New Durable Link to this BLOG
Updates to Amma's Column

Sorry for lack updates here, but Amma is making up for me with lots of fascinating new entries.

My favorites are:
• Ideas of Hind Swaraj
• Manu was NOT anti-woman!

New Contents @

Title of the PageMedia
The Bhagavata PuranaArticle
Sawai Gandharva Gavayi Picture
Painting on a Peepal Leaf Picture
Janavashya of KallarasaArticle
Portrait of Goruru Ramaswamy Iyengar Picture
The Nehrus and GandhisArticle
Portrait of M. Govind Pai Picture
Rashtrakavi M. Govind PaiArticle
The Descent of GangaPicture
"Savitri and Satyvan" by Artist Ardhenduprasad Banerji Picture
Krishna Milking a Cow Picture
Portrait of H. R. Raghunath Bhat Picture
A. Sundara Picture
Girls Dancing at a Coorgi Wedding Picture
Fatherly Figure Picture
Gandhi (center) with colleagues at his Law Office, South Africa, 1913 Picture
Gandhi on influence of GeetaArticle

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, May 27, 2004
Last Modified: 5/27/2004 11:38:25 AM

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