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Exclusive The Nuke deal - an in depth analysis -Page4

THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE O CTOBER 29 2008

IIT K HARAGPUR

on the edge From the Editorial Board

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t's been a good couple of issues for The Scholars' Avenue with our new focus on issues concerning the nation at large being well received. Encouraging people to think outside the boundaries of our campus walls is our objective and every mail we receive only encourages us more. It never is too late to know more about what's happening in the country. With that in mind, we've focused on the nuclear deal in this issue. As we head into the fag end of the semester, it seems appropriate to reflect on the changes engulfing this campus. It's been three months of ups, downs and tricky side turns; of disaffection, dissent and disbelief. The bar brawl incident of last semester brought us and the administration to the edge of a slippery slope; one that we tumbled down this semester, the only ones hurt being student freedom, our faith in authority and the tradition of Illumination. The loss in faith and trust between the two bodies brooked no good for this campus and that is exactly what

happened. Imposed to control alcohol consumption on campus, the sizeable number of people being caught in an inebriated state has only cemented the administration's belief that the 11 p.m. rule is necessary; a stand forcefully expressed in the recent open session. Those implicated in the bar brawl got away lightly, ostensibly because

of improving student interaction and the promise of more open sessions doesn't wave it away when genuine hassles are explained away as arising due to the transient nature of the current situation. To be fair, our parents aren't very forgiving and blame the administration outright (see the Deputy Director interview in this issue) for our transgressions.

“The idiocies of a few outweigh the rationalities of many." - Vaibhhav Sinha 4th year UG

of intervention by the VP, and the entire student community was subjected to the fallout of their actions. The Deputy Director did express his belief that it is a minority that causes such problems and that they should be restrained by the majority, but the authorities' prevailing attitude showcases complete duplicity. And the talk

Consequently, they implement measures so constraining so as to preclude any chances of such incidents occurring again. Allegorically, they baby-proof the campus thinking people can't do much wrong in such a c a m p u s . H o we ve r, b a b y proofing doesnt mean that its s u b j e c t s n e ve r g e t h u r t , something that seems to have

been forgotten. Making mistakes is a part of growing up and it's best to make them now rather than later. It's how we grow up. In this light, to what lengths should our representatives go to save us from the consequences of our actions? Should such a safety net be present at all? More importantly, should our parents blame us for our actions or is it the administration that deserves the blame? Maybe it is time for us to stand up for ourselves and the decisions we make. Maybe it is time to throw away the safety net and take life as the dangerous little tightrope walking game it is. Maybe it is time for us to grow up. A rule is a rule is a rule. If we have the courage to break one, we must also have the courage to face the consequences and not look for a safety net. Recent shocking events have brought us to the edge of a similar slippery slope. At this juncture, it is all too easy to identify a solution in the form of more constraining rules. "Sir(s), let's step back. Please."

goodbye illumination?

the ecstacy of victory. the agony of defeat.


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tête-à-tête The Deputy Director speaks to The Scholars’ Avenue in the wake of recent events. need better hostels first, before a new library. DD: These two things are not related. We have enough money but need to utilize it properly. Get your Maintenance Secretary to write a complaint forwarded through the Warden and appropriate action shall be taken. I want the condition of the hostels to improve and I will ensure that this is done.

The Deputy Director Prof. Madhusudan Chakraborty conducted the open session recently which served as a platform to discuss our problems. We appreciate the endeavor and hope this is just the beginning of continued fruitful discussions with the authorities. We met the Deputy Director to follow up on some issues raised in the open session. Here's what he had to say: TSA: The institute is receiving 97 crores for the Jubilee celebrations and a number of new buildings have been planned. How is this plan being carried out? DD: A master plan for the entire institute's constructions is being drawn up by a professional Architect. We have plans to build a new library, new lecture halls and a new convention centre. We have appointed different contractors for different jobs so that work happens faster. The VP has submitted a proposal to form a committee consisting of student representatives, engineers etc. which will overlook the hall maintenance, and this is under consideration. In the end we all want to see concrete work done. TSA: Sir, some of us feel that we

TSA: When the campus got flooded this year due to a poor drainage system , a portion of the perimeter wall was broken to let the water out. This flooded the living houses behind the campus. What steps are being taken to ensure this doesn't happen again? DD: We are working on a plan wherein all the drainage water shall be directed towards

plan in the open session. The work has started in all the halls. TSA: The electricity bill is being made Rs. 800/semester. Any reasons for this change? D D : M a n y h a l l s we r e complaining about the uneven distribution of charges among other things. Hence we decided from next semester onwards, every student will pay a fixed sum of money. Thereafter we will adjust depending upon the consumption. TSA: The issue of nonavailability of doctors was raised in the open session. Any progress on this, Sir? DD: Students have told me that they find it easier to consult the doctors in the hostel. Students enrolled in the School

“You are in a transitional phase of your lives. This is the best period of your life and you need to make most of it. Enjoy your life. Go out and get things done. Don't just sit back and criticize everyone.” a water body. A sewage plant will be setup nearby which will treat the water so that it can be recycled. The area around the water body can be developed into some kind of tourist place. Hopefully things will be in place before the next monsoon. Already a survey of the campus has been done and a new drainage system will be worked out for this purpose. TSA: You talked about new contractors being appointed for cleaning the hostels. When will they start working, Sir? DD: I read out the whole

of Medical Science and Technology have been assigned to hostels for duty. They are MBBS doctors and hence are competent enough. Students will be able to get medicines from the B.C.Roy Hospital with their prescriptions. They need to be available at their respective halls for a specified amount of time. I have already talked to the head of the B.C.Roy Hospital to ensure their presence. TSA: Sir, would you like to give any message the students, especially in view of the unfortunate incident of a student getting arrested recently?

Flyover dreams about to come true

You have that important interview, you need to get to Kolkata, but you just missed the last train. Why? You were held up for more than half an hour at the level crossings. Kgpians have been awaiting a solution to this perennial problem, and finally, it's in sight! After being in the pipeline for more than a year, the construction of the long awaited flyover to avoid the railway crossings on the way in or out of

the campus is expected to begin soon. According to Mr. T K Mukherjee, Superintending engineer, civil works, the tendering process is already over, although the name of the chosen company is yet to be officially declared. Apparently the company was short listed as early as the end of August. The flyover begins near the State General Hospital on the other side of the crossings and takes a turn near the IIT gate, ending up on the perimeter road somewhere between RP and RK halls of residence. A branch also breaks off in between the two level crossings to connect to the road which branches in that area. The design was primarily developed by the Railways, they having shown much enthusiasm in the project. It was

approved by the civil engineering department of IIT K G P. T h e d e t o u r t o t h e perimeter road ensures that neither the present road nor the crossings are in any way hampered or blocked. The disruption during construction process is also expected to be kept to a minimum. The project, once begun, is expected to be completed in 18 to 20 months. It is however inevitable that some of the locals will be evicted as their shops lie on the construction site. However all this land belongs to the Government and hence they have been informed to relocate. A few small shops opposite Chhedi's which lie on IIT land may also have to go.

DD: I get many calls from the press everyday asking for my reactions about this. Many parents have asked me about what is happening here. I want to now start giving feedback to your parents about what you do here on campus. Ours is a residential campus and unlike the Western Universities, we take your wellbeing as our responsibility. You have to go back and identify such errant people in your hostels. You will always have problems but that doesn't mean you should get frustrated. We need to identify the isolated students who are likely to get into such things and make sure they come out and join the mainstream. You are in a transitional phase of your lives. This is the best period of your life and you need to make most of it. Enjoy your life. Go out and get things done. Don't just sit back and criticize everyone. Whatever you do, see how it will affect your parents when they know of it. Learn self-control. What do you think we get out of teaching you and working here? It's the satisfaction that our students have done extremely well. Recently, a graduate of the 02’ batch, Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay sent me a letter saying he has won the 'New Faces of Engineering, 2008' award. I felt so proud when I received it. Use your opportunities well and make your parents and your teachers proud.

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O NLINE N EWS To read these articles online and to give your feedback on them, please visit our website at www.scholarsavenue.org. The website provides the latest Send letters to the editor at: editor@scholarsavenue.org

T EAM S CHOLSAVE Anuj Dayal, Arish Executive Editors ? Inam, Robin Anil, Sheekha Verma, Sreeja Nag, Suvrat Bafna Editors ? Anup Bishnoi, Deepak Cherian, JS Deepthi, Mithun Madhusudan, Pranesh Chaudhary, Srinath Sinha, Vinayak Pathak Asst. Editors ? AVN Murthy, Bharat Bhat, Dheeraj Golla, Mayank Kedia, Pallavi Jayannavar, Siddharth Prabhu, Siddharth Singh, Suyash Bire Reporters ? Abhirajika A, Amiya Adwitiya,Arvind Sowmyan, Chidambaram A, Ratan J S, Tiyasa Mitra, Vijay, Sumeet Mohanty


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ZONASA ‘08 Archi students return triumphant

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chitecture students of IIT KGP made their presence felt at ZONASA yet again. The ZOnal convention of the National Association of Students of Architecture, 2008 was hosted by the Department of Architecture, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Spanning over three days 17th, 18th and 19th October, this intercollegiate fest amalgamated design and socio-cultural aspects of architecture and served as a forum for the ten schools of architecture falling under the eastern zone to showcase their talents and compete with each other in three different categories of events - casual, informal and formal. This year a new approach to the conduct of casual and informal events was adopted where mixed teams comprising of contestants from different colleges were formed

to participate in these events in order to boost interaction amongst each other.

The victorious ZONASA contingent

IIT KGP, being defending champions, packed a sizable contingency of 65 students. A month long toil and perspiration fructified into a Gold in the much anticipated

Culturals when the KGP Choreo team had the crowd bowled over and left the judges spellbound by their outstanding performance on the fest theme of 'Rejuvenation'. The very prestigious Reuben's Trophy was finally bagged by KGP after a lapse of more than 10 years. This trophy is awarded to the college with the most innovative and revolutionary sessional work, and provides a meeting ground for the budding architects to compare and analyze themselves with their counterparts from different colleges. Furthermore, the major architectural design event was also won by KGP. Even the final years took some time out from their job hunting and CAT preparations to fine tune the preparations, and some

also made it to the venue to cheer the team. The sheer energy and tempo displayed by them was evident in the very fact that most of them returned with a sore throat. Their "killer attitude" and "vibrant presence" was undisputedly felt by all, and also earned a special mention on stage at the time of the valedictory function. In the overall run for the Zonasa Trophy, however, a narrow margin pushed Kharagpur to the second spot where ABIT, Cuttack emerged as the winners. But, this hasn't dampened the zeal and enthusiasm of the Archi folks at all, and they are confident about bringing home the trophy the coming year. Here's wishing them the best of luck!

UP CloSE : RGSOIPL As the long drawn construction of Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law reaches the final stages, The Scholars' Avenue takes

The Moot Court

Main Building

A Class in progress

Campus placements are going to take a huge hit following the debacle in the investment banking scene. “The meltdown being talked of here is now not restricted to the financial sector alone. Its not always whats on paper that does damage to the industry and to the country as a whole. Companies are now finding it hard to get capital to grow, banks are jittery over long term lending, investors are hoarding their cash reserves for better use later. This sounds doom for a host of sectors and engineering or 'core' areas are not an exception. The onus now is on the IIT brand equity to weather the storm.” - Varun Jain

"It might not be a big HIT, but it will not be below par. The hype about the crunch in the market is little over rated by media. The affect may be seen in the number of investment banking firms recruiting. So this time we will find our real skill tested during placement i.e. engineering The worst affected are the students (especially finance) of MBA schools across India and the outsourced software jobs searching students. These jobs are not a huge chunk in IIT placement.IIT will cushion the fall" - Anupam Majhi

KGP tends to internalize its competition to an unhealthy degree. The society, even in IITkgp cannot completely accept women as engineers.

What’s the buzz on Minekey?

We need new fests in IITKGP. Out with the old, in with the new, and all that!

Atheism, in its own right is self-denunciatory being propagated and believed in by individuals who want to deny reality.


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The Buddha Smiles: Perspectives on the Indo-American Nuclear Deal

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t was May 18, 1974. 27.095 degrees north and 71.752 degrees east was another piece of dry barren desert earth in the northwest of India. But 107 meters below this ground reposed Buddha. He had been brought here the day before hidden inside a thermos flask aboard an Indian Airlines airplane. He had been calm and unsmiling till now. Suddenly, at 8:05 in the morning, he woke up and blew a 94 meter wide hole in the desert. Upon witnessing this curious incident, an old man by the name Raja Ramanna, Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, ran to the nearest village, Pokhran, and, over an unsecured payphone line, called up Indira Gandhi. "Madam" he said, "the Buddha has smiled."

The objective of building a fearsome weapon is singular: to transcend, and the name of the weapon ought to reflect that. Armament nomenclature luckily narrows down the choice to either the phallic or the divine; bigger men or gods, cross border marauders or benevolent deities. It is sometimes reflective of the national policy too. The'Smiling Buddha' was the codename for the Peaceful Nuclear Explosive developed by India and tested that morning in the Thar. India had lost a war with China in 1962 and the Chinese had tested a nuclear bomb at Lop Nor in 1964. Buddhism is the largest organized faith in China. India, evidently, had sensed impending danger to its status as a sovereign state from its inscrutable neighbor.

suppliers of nuclear equipment came together to form the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Nations already signatories of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, signed in 1968, saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear technology. India had found the NPT discriminatory, arguing that the NPT creates a club of "nuclear haves" and a larger group of "nuclear have-nots" by restricting the legal possession of nuclear weapons to those states that tested them before 1967 without providing any ethical grounds for such a distinction, and along with Pakistan and Israel had refused to be party to it. North Korea had initially acceded to the treaty, violated it, and later withdrew. India, now, found itself in the wilderness of nuclear trade and collaboration.

The worldwide reaction to an independent fledgling state with socialist tendencies testing a home made nuclear weapon was immediate. By 1974 US-led major

Now, 34 years later, the smile has over arched into a full circle. On October 1, 2008, the US senate approved a revolutionary bilateral agreement with India and seven

days later, President Bush signed the bill into the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act. Intense lobbying saw the Bush Government get the deal through before America votes in a new administration. The very same efficient diplomatic machinery that engineered India's exclusion from the global nuclear market came into action to build consensus amongst the 45 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to make an exception for India couched under its impeccable credentials as far nonproliferation goes. India is now the only non signatory of the NPT allowed to indulge in nuclear trade globally. The natural questions arise. Why India? What is in it for America? Amidst strong denial from both camps, one of the most important factors, ironically, is the land of the Smiling Buddha.

What's the Big Deal? The Hyde Act of 2006 is the U.S. domestic law that modifes the requirements of Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act particularly to negotiate a 123 Agreement that defines the terms and conditions for bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation. The most important two amongst these are : it lets the US make a one-time exception for India to keep its nuclear weapons without signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and overturns a 30-year-old US ban on supplying India with nuclear fuel and technology. In return, India has to payback by agreeing to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities, and submit 14 out of 22 of India's nuclear reactors to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

What's in it for the United States?

What's in it for India?

Energy is one. The growing energy demands of the Indian and Chinese economies have raised questions on the impact of global availability to conventional energy. An Indian shift toward nuclear energy is in the best interest for America to secure its energy needs of coal, crude oil, and natural gas. Such a deal could bring in $150 billion in the next decade from India's purchase nuclear power plant equipment, of which the U.S. wants a share. People in the Pentagon expect India to start purchasing as much as $5 billion worth of conventional military equipment.

India has more than enough fissile material to supply its nuclear weapons program, even if it restricted production of weapon grade plutonium to 1/4 of the reactors. New Delhi thus has the capability to produce a gigantic nuclear arsenal while subsisting well within the lowest estimates of its known uranium reserves. However, because the amount of nuclear fuel required for the electricity generation sector is far greater than that required to maintain a nuclear weapons program, and since India's estimated reserve of uranium represents only 1% of the world's known uranium reserves, the NSG's uranium export restrictions before the waiver mainly affected Indian nuclear power generation capacity. Given the agreement with the US, India hopes to meet its goal of adding 25,000 MW of nuclear power capacity through imports of nuclear reactors and fuel by 2020.

But over and above these, what underlies American motivation to go through with a soft deal even when it held a strong hand is strategic: China. Those in India who marvel at how the American president could blithely walk away from 40 years of non-proliferation policy misunderstand the tectonic shift that is taking place in the bilateral relationship as a result of increasing fears in U.S. business and strategic circles about China. Giving India anything less, or insisting that it cap or scrap its nuclear weapons, is seen by Washington's neoconservatives as tantamount to strengthening China in the emerging balance of power in Asia.

Apart from the tangibles, India gains what could be called 'partial big power' clout with the very public American courting and the recognized inclusion in the non-proliferation regime without having to sign the NPT. The agreement also has potential to change the perception of a squabbler that the world has of India when hyphenated with Pakistan.

Ending Discredits After the terms of the 123 agreement were concluded, it ran into stiff opposition in India from the communist allies of the ruling UPA but the government survived a confidence vote in the parliament in the backdrop of defections from both camps to the opposite camps. When it comes to "global energy stability", Iran figures prominently as a continual thorn in Washington's side since its flaunting of the Security Council over nuclear testing, and India was keen on developing a 2600 km gas pipeline from Tehran. The US fears that the huge gas sales will reduce the West's economic leverage over Tehran that is necessary to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Critics argue that the exception made for India will weaken the NPT regime and that Iran, Pakistan and North Korea, will now demand that they too be allowed to pursue nuclear commerce alluding to the exception that is granted to India. However, while Iran has been playing a game of deception with the IAEA, North Korea has been actively proliferating despite initially signing the NPT and Pakistan was the source of the infamous A.Q. Khan network. Unlike India, they knowingly and willingly violated terms of the NPT and cannot expect the same treatment from the global community. The most concerned yet least backed voice belongs to those who contend that the Indo-US nuclear deal not only undermines the cause of nonproliferation, but actually bolsters Indian military might against a resurgent People's Republic of China (PRC) which could potentially spawn a subcontinental nuclear conflict. This may or may not have been on the minds of the Bush administration but India's diplomatic and strategic community makes it quite clear that they have do not share this goal despite their deep misgivings about the PRC's growing military capabilities and its future strategic intentions. New Delhi wishes to harbor benign bilateral ties with Beijing despite the circumstances of the genesis of India's nuclear story.


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AIESEC - In and out In Kharagpur, AIESEC is best known for those lucrative offers of foreign internships that dwelled on the notice boards in those early months of this semester. Unknown to most, it holds a far broader vision than just providing internship opportunities to third years.

organization in the world today.

AIESEC is an international organization managed by students. It aims at providing an international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential so as to have a positive impact on society. It holds conferences in any of its 105 member nations and provides leadership opportunities to the organizing teams. But what is highlighted

It aims at a better world to live in but how does it attempt to achieve it? What better way to bridge two nations than to saw off their cultural differences? Its objective to "expand the understanding of a nation by expanding the understanding of the individuals, changing the world one person at a time" has scripted its course with this adopted elixir of cultural interaction.

The interns posing in front of Insti

"Working in AIESEC allows you to travel, absorb different cultural values and implement new ideas. It also instills positive leadership qualities in you. I will return home a much different person." - Anja, Germany the most is its student exchange programme – where it offers internships to students and recent graduates in other countries, thus rendering their services to cultural interaction between nations. With its inception in 1948 as an international fraternity society amidst the sudden surge of global peace cries in the aftermath of the Second World War, it now stands as one of the f e w w h i ch h a ve a voi de d oblivion for sixty long years and is instead the largest youth

E

Practically, AIESEC provides global internship opportunities with leading organizations from the corporate, development, student and education sector in four areas: Management Tr a i n e e s h i p , Te c h n i c a l Traineeship, Development Traineeship (open to all social entrepreneurs and environmentalists) and Educational Traineeship (for budding teachers). Bagging such internships is however not as simple as joining the society. You've got to climb a ladder to

reach the desired fruits. There are responsibilities you must assume – from organizing events and managing the reception and stay of foreign interns to delivering talks and conducting seminars on AIESEC – rising in positions gradually, before you are selected! Three internships in the bag and you are an alumnus of AIESEC.

AIESEC Kharagpur is presently under the umbrella of its mother-society AIESEC Kolkata. Following two introductory sessions, the newly found sibling made pits presence felt with the AIESEC Summit (see box). It has a range of events planned up. Stay tuned for more!

AIESEC SUMMIT The AIESEC Summit saw 13 international interns from Russia, Poland, Greece, Tunisia, Columbia, Turkey and Germany visit the Institute on a one-day sojourn. The Scholars' Avenue had an opportunity to interact with these interns and this is what we learnt. They are in Kolkata for a three month long stay as a part of the Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) Global Entrepreneurship Program. Alongside training, these students are working for different companies like ABC India, Anthroplace, Mani group, TCS and Thulsi. "At NSHM we do general presentations concerning cultural issues and discussions. At PwC we focus more on business matters and case studies." - Babis Makrinikolas (intern from Greece) referring to their work at the National School of Hostel Management (NSHM) The AIESEC Summit included brief presentations on a few Kgp start-ups and one on AIESEC by the senior members of its Kolkata team. A few words from the interns, the Poles with their national anthem and presentation of promotional videos by the Columbian and the Tunisian visitor sums up the rest of the session. AIESEC Kharagpur called it curtains with a performance in Classical Hindustani Music. The Summit gave the students at Kharagpur an opportunity to appreciate the way of life beyond the oceans thus, vitalizing us with the realization that we all hail from one global village. The Scholars' Avenue wishes the very best to AIESEC and hopes to witness a blooming functional society in days to come.

LIBRARY - THE RESURRECTION

ndless rows of dusty hardbound faded books in forgotten musty Halls that required a map to reach – a familiar memory to most students – our library, a little more than a year ago. The freshman awe of the 'largest Tech library in Asia' soon f a d e d a wa y w i t h a d d e d inconveniences like personal book restrictions, unsuitable working hours, long lines at the check-out counter, and a general lack of a study-friendly atmosphere. A lot has changed since then, and overseeing these changes is the Librarian, Dr. B. Sutradhar, under the Chariman, Central Library, Prof. S. Sahu.. It might be surprising to some that the Central Library held a vacancy for the 'Librarian' post for nearly 16 years. The librarian would expedite efficient working of the library and keen management of the allocated budget. Since his appointment to the post, many modifications and facelifts have truly given the

Library a swanky new look. All Halls are well-lit with bright overhead lights, and the new polished flooring accentuates this. The shelves have been strategically relocated to give the Library a spacious look, without affecting the ease of access to books required. In the Digital L i b r a r y, n o w a s p e c i a l l y redesigned and re-furnished room, the computers are now plenty in number, and all boasting top-end configurations for a surprisingly enjoyable Internet experience. The main Hall and the Gallery, with their cozy furniture is now undoubtedly a popular hangout between classes. In response to proposals suggested by the student body, students will now be allowed to take in 2 books and bound Xerox materials at any time of the day, in addition to laptops. Also, the working hours of the Library will be extended to midnight throughout the academic

sessions. These measures are slated to be in effect starting November. Extended working hours, laptops with Wi-Fi c o n n e c t i v i t y, a n d a c o z y atmosphere are definitely factors that will drastically increase Library usage, which even now is rising fast. The only other thing that a student could possibly want for a quiet and peaceful working environment would perhaps be a coffee machine. On this, however, Dr. Sutradhar remains skeptical, and says he will consider installing one if he sees a significant increase in night-time activity in the Library. The Wi-Fi connection is not always automatic and a stepwise procedure for getting connected will be put up in different sections of the library soon. The Librarian said that all development work in the Library is fueled by student need, so anyone having suggestions for improvements, should contact him directly, or at least drop a note

at the Suggestion Box at the Library entrance. There are plans to have a bigger new Library complex in the near future. He also invites students to approach the Library directly for the requisition of books not related to any technical courses in IIT, and is confident that the requests can be comfortably met from within Library funds itself. He believes that the best way to improve the library is by interaction with the users, and hence welcomes suggestions and problems from the users, i.e. students. Within less than a year, the Library has transformed from an ageing relic to a swanky modern facility that leaves very little wanting. We as students should laud not only the new product, but also the people who make this possible – the staff at the Central Library. The simplest way to show them our appreciation would be to help them improve what they've started out on. Put suggestions in the Box!


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TECH AVENUE

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² W E D N E S D A Y , O C T O B E R 29 T H 2008

A look at DRM

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igital Rights Management (DRM) is a collective term for technologies that ensure that any digital media you buy is used without any copyright infringement. With increasing piracy chewing away at producer's revenue, DRM was brought in to lessen the blow. In order to decide whether it is a change for the better let us have a look at how DRM is likely to affect you. In order to understand what DRM means we must first understand the agreement we enter into when we purchase any digital media (movies, music, games, software etc. ). This agreement, called the End User License Agreement, stipulates what rights we have to the digital media purchased so that we do not infringe on copyrights held by the producers. DRM technologies merely enforce that agreement. This would be fine if the DRM systems were perfect, but this is not the case. Producers however can not wait around for that technological break through and deploy imperfect DRM systems. Heres how one of these works. Advanced Access Content Systems(AACS) is a rather

prevalent DRM system. The digital media (primarily of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disks) is encrypted and uses special players to decrypt and play it. AACS uses broadcast encryption to assign unique decryption keys to each individual player. This makes it possible to block any particular player that has been used for piracy. Another component of AACS is Managed

outcome of AACS now is that lawabiding customers will be inconvenienced by the unnecessary hassle of making sure that any media they buy is compatible with the current version of their players. Interoperability takes a massive blow with the introduction of such proprietary formats which is one of the reasons people turn to pirated

So... Why should I care? While the Copyright Act (1957) and societies like Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL) have served to check unlicensed public broadcasting in clubs, exhibitions, etc., India is still not ready to tackle file-sharing. However, it pays to know how our overseas counterparts are faring. Several P2P file-sharing networks in the USA (Michigan Technological U. and Princeton U. To name a few) have been exposed and severely dealt with by the RIAA. Some attempted fines are eye-popping figures like the $97bn. imposed on a single MTU student. Copy - a system by which users can make a certain number of legal copies of their media with remote authorization from the producers server. The system is however flawed and can rather easily be circumvented. BackupHD-DVD which was released about a year back automates this process and makes a DRM-free copy of any digital media. The only real

media. Do you see the vicious cycle forming? The primary concern about DRM is that the imperfect systems currently available are doing little to stop hardcore pirates while simultaneously pushing legitimate users towards piracy in the hope of enjoying a movie hassle free without having to constantly upgrade their systems as and when

the industry decides a new standard. Currently DRM technologies are anything but layuser friendly. Songs from Yahoo Music (enabled with Windows Media DRM format) will not work on an iPod (which only works with songs under a Fairplay format). One is not permitted to back up one's ebook collection. One may not, even with much application and perseverance, transfer legally bought data to a newly upgraded computer. If your graphics card manufacturer was late in getting a driver patch signed, your system won't be able to play a HD film. Some DRM technologies such as Sony's XCP(Extended Copy Protection) have been flagged for violation of privacy and even creating security vulnerabilities. To sneak in customer-surveillance in the guise of managing our 'rights' is just the kind of Orwellian concept we need to denounce.

Browser Wars 3.0 Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

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n 1874, Alexandar Graham Bell came up with a scheme for two people living far apart to be able to talk to each other in real time. The idea that it was possible to communicate from a distance caused a major upsurge of innovations, and now, we are in a time where a person can not only talk to people living far away, but also SuperPoke them, read their blogs, beat them in TypeRacer and call them a cutie. What's even more exciting that very soon we'll be able to do all of these without even making our browsers crash. This very noticeable similarity with magic is going to be the result of a very recent upsurge of innovations - something, that we like to call the Browser War 3.0 - a war to make the fastest browser on the planet. Wars have been a regular feature in the world of browsers. In the primitive no-AJAX days, Browser War 1.0 was more about acquiring a lot of Market Share than anything else. IE emerged as a clear winner marking the extinction of Netscape Communicator. Ten years later, that is, in early

2000, Mozilla Firefox entered the battlefield and very quickly became a major challenger to Microsoft's IE (5/6). Firefox improved the browsing experience with its plethora of community developed extensions. Over the next few years, Firefox ate away 1/5th of IE's market share (then 96%) and thus emerged an undisputed winner. This marked the end of the Browser War 2.0. Five more years down the line, the average internet experience went beyond static HTML pages or flash banners. People started using processor intensive web applications such as Gmail, Gtalk gadget, the Orkut scrapbook that allowed users to scrap 10 people without reload and so on. The browsers, incapable of handling such enormous complexity kept hanging every now and then, leaving users high and dry. That was when the developers went back to the drawing board to reinvent browser technology, thus

marking the advent of Browser War 3.0. The IE8 team pioneered a feature called process isolation, which ensured that if one browser window crashed, it wouldn't affect other tabs you had opened. Apple created the world's fastest HTML rendering engine and released it in their browser, the Safari. They also released its code under an opensource project called WebKit. A professor of UC, Irvine and his team boosted JavaScript execution speed using a method called tracing. They donated their code to Firefox and the new engine is now being dubbed Tracemonkey. The Opera team rewrote their code and brought forth a fast, compliant browser, the Opera "Kestral". But Google's engineers topped it all. They took the process isolation idea from IE, the WebKit rendering code and a Virtual Machine for JavaScript called V8 to create one of the slickest and fastest browsers, the Google Chrome. T h i s m o ve b y G o o g l e

prompted other developers to put themselves on steroids. Within two weeks of Chrome's release, the WebKit (Apple Safari) developers came back improving their Squirrelfish JS engine. Dubbed the Squirrelfish Extreme, the new engine outperforms Chrome in most JS benchmarks. A week after that, WebKit became the first browser to pass a complex rendering test suite called the ACID3 test. The browser war 3.0 continues. This time there are no casualties. It is a victory for all net-citizens regardless of the outcome. Firefox is going to get a speed boost with the inclusion of Tracemonkey in Firefox 3.1. Chrome recently added functionality for extensions ala Firefox. Squirrelfish Extreme and WebKit will power the Safari 4 on both the Mac and the iPhone. With the IE team churning out innovative browsing experiences like accelerators, the web is surely going to be an enjoyable place for the average Joe. With web surfing moving towards mobile devices, a faster browser will lead to desktop like experiences on them as well.


THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE

BHAAT A V E N U E

² W E D N E S D A Y , O C T O B E R 29 T H 2008

Dear Sir, SUBJECT: application for summer training project under your halloed tutelage I sincerely hope my 965th attempt to obtain your invaluable guidance in a summer project will not go unanswered. I am indeed in much appreciation of your latest research project and aspire to have some contribution to it. You may be assured of my expertise in the subject, Sir. The person who copied my answer script scored the batch highest in a related course, my poor grade being a result of righteous selflessness. I assure you that if you find me lacking in any skill, I will try my best to acquire it, failing which I will surely convince you of the futility of the same. I consider it my true destiny to be linked with your project and to be at the receiving end of your halloed tutelage.

Meanwhile, lurking in a lonely corner of one Dourojit Dotto’s email inbox...

... I take this opportunity to bring forward my achievements in related topics. The most mention worthy of these was being placed third among my peers in a science meet when in standard 2.I have also been a finalist in my class quiz in standard 5 and once I scored 99 in maths in when in grade 3. You may thus put aside any doubts about my innovative and retentive skills. Sir/Madam I would like to assist you in your invaluable research in any way you find appropriate. A meagre stipend of $20,000 will suffice for my needs. I will be ever grateful to you if you allow me to chase my dream project. I request you to consider my application,and reconsider it if necessary until you find me essential to your project. I am eagerly waiting for your positive reply, preferably before I send 1000 mails. -yours sicerely, SNEHA G. FIRST YEAR Undergrad Mining Engg. (but DepCing to Aerospace next year)

Dear Dudette, Seriously, what’s up with dishing research positions out to them coloured folk? I haven’t read your research work. I have no command over Matlab, Windows, and AutoCad. Heck! I barely know how to use Paint. I don't care two hoots about Eunux programming. I don’t know anything about Genetic Algorithms. I was high in all of my Soft Computing classes. I still think that F = ma was some equation written by the apple dude when he was feeling naughty. Basically, I’m your average white guy. But the fact remains that I ought to get the research position in your lab. Whaddya say?

*DELETE*

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THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE

² W E D N E S D A Y O C T O B E R 29 T H 2008

The Scholars' Avenue October 29, 2008 Issue  

From the Editorial Board with our new focus on issues concerning the nation at large b e i n g w e l l r e c e i v e d . Encouraging people...

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