In the span of one year I stayed with Professor Pandey, I became a close associate of his and a close confide and intact friend of him. Each day in the evening we would sit together at his residence and he would tell me the finer points of Archaeology and History, about problems in Ayodhya and Faizabad, about his meeting with a Cambridge University professor – Prof Dilip Chakraborty and about people in the University. I would listen to him very carefully while sipping a cup of tea.

I remember how closely he was associated with the concerns of the people in Ayodhya that when five terrorists beamed penetrated in to the disputed site. He immediately called a senior officer in the Home Ministry and narrated the whole incident and the problems. I would fight with him, debated with him but the next moment we would become good friends. He also gave me a task to translate one of his books which he wrote during the visit of his friend and Professor of Cambridge University – Professor Dilp Chakraborty. I started it and completed within a span of one month for which he appreciated me and gave me the e-mail address of Professor Dilip Chakraborty.

In a way he mentored me for a span of one year until my new job with another University in February 2006. For fone year between February 2005 and -February 2006, we shared many secrets and many stories. He died in 2010, when he met with a minor accident and was shifted to a Delhi hospital. It was purely a shock for me when I heard about professor’s untimely death, about which I have narrated in ‘Dispatch-13’ in “The Nose of the News” segment.

 

 

Terror Attacks in Ayodhya

 

Apart from lecturing in the University, I changed my routine in daily life. I tried to leave all my worries and the people of Delhi and Bangalore aside. My routine was to get up early in the morning and then to take my bicycle out and go to a gym close to my village. The gym was located near a mosque and many Muslim boys were regulars at that gym. It gave me a healthy feeling. By 10:00 am I would again ride my bicycle and go to the University for lectures. By evening I would be tired and after taking an early dinner every night would go to sleep.

It was on the morning of 5th July and when I was gymming, a group of Muslim boys came running inside and shouted, “Are Un Logon ne Attack Kar Diya Hai,”(Oh, those people have attacked). Before I could understand anything and came out of the gym, news spread like a fire. I returned to my village, and then I got to know the truth. One of my cousin brothers told me that some terrorists had entered the disputed site and a fierce gun battle was going on with security forces.

I again took my bicycle out and reached my uncle’s house in Ayodhya. Midway I heard people talking about a terrorist attack behind closed doors. It was the first of its kind in Ayodhya. Terrorists had tried to enter a certain temple before as well, but this time it was a neck-to-neck fight. As I reached my uncle’s house I saw the entire area was cordoned off and each street of Ayodhya had been occupied by security forces.

The gun battle was still going on and there was a rumor that the terrorists were staying in Ayodhya for the past seven days in the get-up of ‘Pandas’ (priests). They confided in another ‘panda’ who helped them to allow him to visit the site. However, he did it without knowing their intentions.

My uncle’s only son, who was the eldest among all of us, took me to the site where the battle had already finished. All the terrorists were gunned down. There were five. While security forces and police kept searching nearby areas suspecting if any one of them would have hidden, the media gathered at the disputed site.

All five terrorists succeeded in ramming into the disputed site by blowing off the security barricade, and while they intended to attack ‘Garb Griha’ (Sanctum Sanctorum), they came under fire by security forces deployed heavily in and around the disputed site. Security forces cleared the area and gave a ‘Press Conference’ before the media people. The security vigilance was kept on high alert for the next week and many suspects were arrested from nearby areas.

I filed two reports in the coming months about this incident, again to more than two dozen individuals and organizations.

 

Thread-1:

 

Six heavily armed terrorists, who made an attempt to storm the high-security makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya, were killed before they could make it to the shrine.

The attackers came in an ambassador car at around 0900 IST, following an explosive-laden jeep, which they rammed into the security barricade to breach the cordon.

While one militant who rammed the jeep was blown to pieces, five others were killed in the encounter with security personnel, Faizabad Commissioner Arun Sinha said.

Sources said that a woman devotee, who happened to be near the scene of blast, also succumbed to her injuries in the hospital, official sources here said.

Police sources said that the militants were disguised as devotees.

The barricade and the protective wall collapsed as a result of the explosion and the militants were able to gain entry into the campus through the Sita rasoi (kitchen), Sinha said.

He said the security personnel however intercepted them.

Police sources said that the arrested driver Rehan is a resident of Ayodhya, and he was being interrogated.

Four AK 47 and AK 56 rifles, some hand grenades and ammunition were recovered from the bodies of the slain militants, they said.

This is the first terrorist attack on the disputed complex since the makeshift temple came up after the demolition of the Babri mosque 13 years ago.

 

Thread-2:

 

On 5 July 2005, five terrorists attacked the makeshift Ram temple at the site of the destroyed Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, India. All five were shot dead in the ensuing gunfight with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), while one civilian died in the grenade attack that the terrorists launched in order to breach the cordoned wall. The CRPF suffered three casualties, two of whom were seriously injured with multiple gunshot wounds.

On 5 July 2005, the heavily guarded Shri Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid complex, the site of the destroyed Mosque and, according to Hindus, the birthplace of God Shri Ram, at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state of India was attacked by heavily-armed terrorists. The attack was foiled by security officials and the attackers were killed.

The terrorists are believed to be from the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Toiba, and are believed to have entered India through Nepal. They posed as pilgrims to Ayodhya and boarded a Tata Sumo at Akbarpur near the Kichaucha village in Faizabad. At Faizabad they abandoned the Sumo and hired a jeep driven by a driver, Rehan Alam Amsari. According to a statement by the driver, the terrorists visited the Shri Ram Mandir (Temple) at Ayodhya where they prayed, possibly to reinforce the impression that they were indeed pilgrims. The terrorists then drove the jeep into the Shri Ram Janambhoomi and forced the driver out of the vehicle, banging the jeep against the security cordon. At 9:05 am, they hurled M67 hand grenades from 50 metres away to breach the cordon fence. Ramesh Pandey, a pilgrim guide who happened to be near the site at this moment, 50 m away from the terrorists, died on the spot as a result of the grenade blast. Firing indiscriminately, the 5 terrorists entered Mata Sita Rasoi. Returning the gunfire, a platoon of 35 CRPF soldiers killed all five of the fighters in a gunfight that lasted for over an hour. Three CRPF soldiers also received serious injuries and, as of July 2008, two remain comatose. All the terrorists died within 100 meters of the site.

It is suspected that the terrorists belonged to the group Lashkar-e-Toiba. The investigating team is tracking the phone calls made from the cell phones using the IMEI numbers. The pPolice recovered a single RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher, five Type 56 assault rifles, five M1911 pistols, several M67 grenades and some jihadi documents.

Rehan Alam, the jeep driver, was detained by the police for further investigations.

On 28 July 2005, four men from Jammu and Kashmir– Akbar Hussain, Lal Mohammad, Mohmmad Naseer and Mohmmad Rafeeq– were arrested in connection with the attack. On 3 August 2005, another four men– Asif Iqbal, Mohd Aziz, Mohd Nasim and Shaqeel Ahmed– were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the bombing. A fifth man, Irfan Khan, was arrested a few days earlier.

Most of India’s political organizations condemned the attack as barbaric and requested people to maintain law and order. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, its offshoot the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared an India-wide protest and bandh on 8 July 2005. BJP president L.K. Advani called for reinstatement of the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) in the wake of the attack.

 

 

Contract Lectureship and My Marriage

 

Lectures on Space Exploration in the University, discussions with Professor Pandey on the minutest parts of Archaeology and History, and dispatches to two dozen individuals as part of “The Nose of The News” were somehow satisfying my journalistic and creative instincts, but they were heavy on my pocket. Since I seldom got any payment from the University, I had to worry about finances which I had to put out to carry the episodes. One day, one of my neighbors in the village told me about a vacancy in another University in a nearby district, Jaunpur.

The vacancy was for the post of contract lectureship in the department of Journalism and Mass Communication, for three years. I checked the University website and it read-

Purvanchal University, Jaunpur renamed as Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University in the honor of late Shri Veer Bahadur Singh, former Chief Minister of the state, was established on 2nd October 1987 as an affiliating university under U.P. State university University Act 1973. Continuous qualitative and quantitative growth, excellence in academic and administrative activities, transparent and efficient academic administration have been some of the distinct characteristics on the basis of which the university emerged as one of the leading universities of the state. Started with the 68 affiliated colleges, the university now has widened its spectrum of activities with 367 affiliated graduate and post-graduate colleges and students enrolment of nearly three lacs and eighty thousand in 5 Districts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh.

The university is located at 10 km from the historic city of Jaunpur on Jaunpur-Shahganj road which divides its 171.5 acres campus into two. Jaunpur is well connected by Train, Road and Air with the rest of the country. The infrastructure development, achievement of academic excellence, quality assurance in the higher education and socio-economic development of this highly backward & rural region of Eastern Uttar Pradesh are some of the priority areas for which the university is putting its best efforts.

Impressed with the credentials of the University, I immediately applied as it was a job in a governement University. My father who had been continuously advising me on the need of a good job as I he had to fulfil his responsibilities to see me married into a good, cultured Brahmin family of same status, was happy. He accompanied me on the day of the interview. Some fifty candidates, most of them were Ph.D. and UGC-NET, had come from long distances to appear for the interview.

When my turn came I introduced myself with all my emphasis on the need of a person who had both industry and academic experience. I felt I had satisfied the interview committee to the best of my efforts.

We returned to our village and exactly after one month the postman dispatched the letter for which my father was waiting more than me. I was selected and it was the second appointment letter of an academic assignment I had received, and that too in a government University. I got the job of lectureship on a contract basis on a salary of 8000/- a month. I was required to join before March 8, 2006.

My father was the happiest person on earth as he saw a hope for getting a high class Brahmin girl for me, which was now his primary responsibility. He again accompanied me to VBS Purvanchl University when the date of joining arrived. We stayed at the residence of one of my brother’s teacher, who by then had shifted to this University as the director of the engineering college of the University. He guided both of us on the paperwork required to be submitted to the administration of the university. I started with my second academic assignment from 9th March 2006. My father advised me about the people and places in the area and left for my village – all satisfied.

 

Soon I got accommodation in the PG student hostel, which was primarily occupied by most of such students who were mostly interested in politics. The Head of Department was a man who had utilized all his contacts to remain in the position, but he had an academic inclination and had somehow managed to nurture a dream to grow the department.

Parmatma Mishra a fearful man who was also selected for the contract lectureship, was one whom I trusted. He was NET qualified and was enrolled for Ph.D. His biggest problem was another young and ‘dynamic’ entrant in the lot of contract lecturers –Digvijaya Singh. We all three were staying in the PG hostel, which was meant for students. Digvijaya Singh always barged into Parmatma’s room while he would be busy talking to his would-be wife, and Parmatama would be rushing to my room to get a safe space to talk to her.

We all were happy fellows and were sure about our future and sure that like Parmatma Mishra that we would also get cultured wives. The HOD, a jack of all trades, gave me the responsibility to carry out a publication for which he allowed me to stay back till late evening. My job was to compile all the research papers which we had received from scholars in hard copy. I would read all the papers, correct them and type it them on the HOD’s computer, and on Sundays I would rush to the Jaunpur town, which was 10 kms away from the university, to find a cyber café from where I could dispatch “The Nose of The News”.

While on the other hand my father was busy looking out for a family where he could have tied my knot, I was enjoying the days at VBS Purvanchal University among lots of students who were keen to make an entry into the media. I was helping them out and assuring them that they all were capable individuals.

 

One day I received a call from my father who told me about a family who had approached him for my marriage.

In a place like eastern UP, the best way to make money is either becoming a politician or a contractor. The family who had approached my father was involved in contractorship in liaising with state government. Money was floating in that family and they were on the look out for an educated Brahmin family for their second daughter.

As in a typical higher class Brahmin family, the groom’s approval matters came last while the elders of the family were to be contacted first. So, one day an arrangement was made in a lodge to see the girl to whom I was supposed to marry, after all the elders had approved the initial stages.

From my side both my elder sisters and parents, along with me, were invited while from the girl’s side, the parents, her brother and his wife, and her younger sister welcomed us. The girl was educated up to my qualifications and the family, despite being contractors, was civilized.

And that is how I was engaged to a girl I hardly knew. Passing all the stages of the pre-marriage ceremony, the day came when I was supposed to be married. It was all happening within a span of one month and 18th June of 2006 was fixed for marriage.

I was the happiest person as I was getting my life-mate. Some 200 relatives from both sides participated in the marriage ceremony and in the function which lasted a day and night with the priest chanting all the hymns from the holy ‘Vedas’. I was called a responsible, happily wed married man. All invitees and relatives blessed both of us for a bright future and married life.

 

 

Letter from BBC

 

The 2005-6 sessions at VBS Provencal had ended and gave me time to be adjusted in my new married life. But the dispatches to two media organizations and individuals including Rajdeep Sardesai and Nik Gowing had not stopped. Since it was a weekly exercise that required me to go to Faizabad city to be in a cyber café, I reduced the frequency of dispatches and tried to get feedback from the individuals who were receiving it.

The one individual who was a recipient of my dispatches was BBC news presenter and producer Lucy Hockings.

Lucy Hockings is a New Zealander who is working as a television journalist for BBC World News. She joined the network as producer in 1999, just before being promoted to senior producer in 2000, and worked on Asia Today and HARDtalk. Due to viewer complaints about her accent, she went to the Royal Academy of Drama for speech lessons. She reported on the September 11, 2001 attacks, followed by the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In 2003, she became a presenter on BBC World (as it was then called) and covered such events as the 2004 tsunami, the death of Pope John Paul II and the 2005 London bombings. In 2006, she was made full-time presenter of The World Today. In her spare time, she is also a features reporter for BBC World News. Her previous assignments include Canada, Spain, Norway, and the Netherlands.

She currently presents the 1000UKT Newshour on BBC World News with David Eades, and bulletins at 1100UKT and 1300UKT. She can also be seen regularly standing in for Nik Gowing on weekdays to present The Hub from 1700UKT to 1900UKT broadcast every weekday on BBC World News.

 

I had already spoken to Nik Gowing from Thipsandara market in Bangalore. This time I was contacting Lucy Hocking. Lucy Hockings is a widely acknowledged TV presenter who appears almost daily on BBC World. The day I called BBC HQ, she was on an off day.

Now it became a routine for me to send dispatches to all the two dozen contacts every week.

And my two years effort, an unpaid ‘social work’ which cost me time and money both, got a reward. I received a letter from BBC HQ, which had asked me to stop mailing the BBC and to stop all communication with Lucy Hockings. The mail was more treating and less advising on the concerns I had for “The Nose of The News”. I replied to them and that is how I ended my all communication and phone calls to the BBC. This was an end to “The Nose of The News”, a stop to my dispatches and an end to all what I was doing in the period of joblessness which later on gave me the confidence and courage to stand tall in the market of media education. Shattered, I looked at the last communication that Tony Henningan of BBC wrote to me:

 

Wednesday, 27 September, 2006 2:54 PM

 

Tony Hennigan <tony.hennigan@bbc.co.uk> wrote:

 

Many thanks for your e-mail, Ratnesh and in particular might I thank you for your assurance that you will not be contacting ‘BBC staff’ again.  I can but hope that you prove to be a man of your word and might I provide you with the assurance that you seek that I will be more than happy never to contact you ever again.

 

Tony Hennigan

BBC

 

 

Job hunt and Dehradun

 

The next session at VBS Purvanchal University had started and we were interviewed again in order to save our contractual Lecturership, but none of us was able to retain it. Parmatma Mishra shifted his base to Banaras and Digvijaya Singh filed a case on the university that a contractual lectureship which was assured for three years cannot be broken only after completion of one year. He won the case and remained in the university as contractual lecturer.

I was married by then and had an added responsibility. The reason for which I was deported from Bangalore. My father and elder brother had fulfilled their responsibility to settle me in my life. So, as a more responsible brother, he called me and my wife both to Noida. He by then had shifted to his Noida home, while he had purchased a new house in Bangalore as well.

So we boarded a train to New Delhi and landed to in the newly purchased house of my brother in Noida, in the winters of January 2007.

This time a reluctant me did not approach any individual or company in the media. The hurt before 2004, which made me leave Delhi for Bangalore, was still there. On the recommendation of my father’s friend (who by now had developed a circle in Noida) I found a job as an academician in a media school of a TV Channel, which kept me engaged for the next three months.

And then I applied for a permanent lectureship with a premier institution in Dehradun, and was called for interview. This was a permanent lectureship job, with the PF getting deducted. Hurt and humiliation in Delhi made me apply for the job and in June 2007. I cleared a rather tough interview and received a four page appointment letter at my brother’s residence.

This time again my father was happier than me. For the first time his son was getting a permanent job and to assure himself that I would not run away from the job, he again accompanied me to Dehradun.

The Institute of Management Studies, Dehradun was situated in the lush green area on the Dehradun–Mussoorrie road from where we could view the slope and lights of Mussoorrie. After my joining and finding a two bedroom accommodation my father had left for Noida and almost a week later my wife joined me to accompany me and to look after me. She, by then, had started understanding the problem which I had faced and I too had started listening to her. I had not been doing it so far.

We had a small department of Journalism and Mass Communication in which almost 180 students were enrolled and were taught by five faculties. All were either bachelors or newlywed or soon to be wed.

Tariq Intezar was a person who had never accepted defeat in his life. A cheerful person who had joined thein Department of Management he soon gained my confidence and became my closest friend. He had got beautiful voice and would sing ‘Gazals’ by putting his heart in to the song. He had finished his MBA from Aligarh Muslim University and was enrolled for a Ph.D.

Sushil Roy, a man with lots of information on current affairs, was the one who attracted my attention. He was my colleague in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication. He had worked in media and was newlywed.

The other two people in the department were Sheel Nidhi Pandey and Vandita Tripathi. Both were the best at their area of expertise.

Dheeraj Shukla joined a couple of month later. A man who had worked in newspapers and was keenwould always to tell the stories from his family. A typically Banarsi person I often called him.

We had enough workload beyond the UGC guidelines and could would get a chance to interact with each other only in the lunch break or when college would be closed.

Traiq had been telling me stories from Aligarh and how he had a plan to go abroad after his Ph D would be over. He was one who had a very great taste about in nature and girls. He would often crack funny jokes on colleagues and even on students, but soon would become serious. Very inclined towards research activities, he presented his research paper in the conference organized by the Institute. We would, without any intention, walk towards the ‘Shiv Mandir’ on the upper sides of the road and would come down following the slopes on the both sides of road. Midway he would sing some Gazals or crack a joke on Dheeraj Shukla. Each evening me, Dheeraj and Tariq would go to Paltan Bazar to have ‘Bun Butter’ and Tariq would crack a joke on Dheeraj Shukla’s addiction for ‘Bun Butter’.

Soon, we discovered that we had a busy and productive life and more than this we had a workload which was going beyond our control. We had a director who was more than strict and was restless until he would not ask someone to put in his papers. Tariq would often call it ‘Fall of Wicket’.

And soon the person who cracked a joke on all of us became the heart of the institute. One day when Tariq and I were having refreshments, he was called by the director. I cracked a silly joke on him when he was going to meet the director.

‘Fall of All-rounder Tariq’s Wicket’…I commented not knowing that it was the truth. The director had called him to put in his papers and the reason he gave was that Tariq had debarred a student who was the ward of some trustee.

Traiq was a tough man but he did not say anything, he did not counter. When he was leaving, he said to me, ”Bas Itne din ki roji thi bhai” (It was a company of such few days , brother).

I was not finding Dehradun comfortable to me after Tariq had left. It appeared as if the charm, the beauty and the life had vanished from the institution.

 

I visited my brother in the summer of 2008 and got to know about Amity University which was expanding like a storm in the field of higher education. It had its head quarter in Noida and somehow I collected all my courage and decided to meet the Director of the communication Communication Department.

I was finding myself restless and uncomfortable in Dehradun and more over my wife was expecting. I was willing to relocate to Noida for both of our comfort. And hence, decided to go to meet to the Director of Amity School of Communication at Amity University.

 

 

Amity

 

Amity University, Uttar Pradesh is spread in 60 acres of land on the Yamuna Expressway, which connects Noida with Agra. It is said to be one of the finest private universities duly recognized by the state government and University Grant Commission. It now has NAAC accreditation.

Amity School of Communication is one of the premier media schools in the country which now has almost 1000 students on its roll, divided in the undergraduate, Post Graduate and Ph.D. programs.

The director of the school, a retired colonel of the Indian Army and a very disciplined man, was humble enough to give me an appointment. As the head of such a great media school he might have avoided to meeting me, but a man who knew the problems of young people gave me a chance to meet him in his office. This was a Saturday, when I went to meet him with a copy of resume. I was amazed to see a director working on Saturdays, when most of the staff and faculty were on leave. He went through my resume, asked me a couple of questions on my expertise, and instructed me to appear for a demo class.

My demo was on a Tuesday. A very optimistic me saw it as a chance to change my fate. The seven years detachment with the media hub city Delhi perhaps was gearing up to absorb me finally. I wiped off all the hurt and rejection which I had got in Delhi in 2002-2004, discussed it with my elder brother and my father, who by then had shifted his base to Noida.

On Tuesday I prepared a topic of my interest, as was suggested by the director, and went to the University. It was a working day and a dozen of faculty members were sitting to examine my expertise. I was given a half an hour time, and with all my confidence presented my lecture and answered the queries of the attendees to the best of my knowledge.

 

I returned to Dehradun and awaited the results. A month later I was told to face a top interview with the founder of the University, as was the culture at that time in July 2008. Initially, I was promised by the director that all would go well, and he advised me to be mentally prepared to relocate myself.

The Fonder founder of the University interacted with me in August, when he returned from a foreign trip, and finally approved my candidature to be a part of a big educational giant as a lecturer.

This was the turning point of my life, a historical moment for which I had waited for years while going through phases of disappointment and discourage. I would say the man who motivated me was the director and the person who encouraged me was my wife.

On 29th September I said fare welled to Dehradun and to IMS, and finally, along with the my father and furniture, which my father which carried my along with my luggage, I made my way to where a great and shining future was waiting for me. My wife had already come down to my brother’s residence in Noida as she was in her last month of pregnancy.

The next month of joining Amity was fruitful to me as my wife delivered a healthy baby boy on October 10, 2008. The birth of Pragun, as we call him, was the happiest moment of my life and, for all of us in my family.

 

Amity University as expected became a turning point in my life and in my academic career. And the guiding force behind whatever I did in post the debacle days in Delhi was my mentor-like director. He brought discipline in all of us at Amity School of Communication, he brought growth and he brought happiness on each one of our faces.

Now Amity School of Communication is perhaps the largest media school in the country and has got 45 faculty members teaching almost 1000 students at the undergraduate and post-graduate level.

We work like a family and we make a team of experienced and newer group of teachers. There are some who have lots of hope, there are some who have seen the changing face of Indian media by giving their contribution to it.

Prof Kalyan Chatterjee, in whom I saw an elder brother, is an encyclopaedia of knowledge. A man with a twisting tongue, he has served both national and regional media, and came into academics just to give a change to his life and career. His political knowledge is unparalleled, his wisdom unbeaten. I continuously learn from him while arguing with him, debating with him and cracking jokes with him.

In short, Amity gave me all that I needed and gave me the courage to defeat all the failure and hurt the people and city had given me in the past. A bright day and night full of lights is ahead waiting its wings to open for me and I am ready to see the glare of success on my face.

 

 

2012 AD: End of joblessness

 

In the last four years of stay I developed myself from a budding media academician to one who had continuously grown. I kept doing research and presented myself twenty five times in international conferences, obtained membership of one dozen international bodies and took the responsibilities adhered to me by my University. It was a continuous learning process from colleagues, staff and family. The year 2012, which was predicted by some Mayan civilization to be the end of our world became a success for me and I attended four workshops and conferences of NASA. I was enlightened to be part of the International Space Station workshop and the Mars landing of Curiosity rover. In all of the rest of the conferences they clarified the false news of the end of the world on December 21 , 2012:

 

Dec 21,2012 – A Scientific Reality Check (A NASA clarification)

 

There apparently is a great deal of interest in celestial bodies, and their locations and trajectories at the end of the calendar year 2012. Now, I for one love a good book or movie as much as the next guy. But the stuff flying around through cyberspace, TV and the movies is not based on science. There is even a fake NASA news release out there… So here is the scientific reality on the celestial happenings in the year 2012.

Nibiru, a purported large object headed toward Earth, simply put – does not exist. There is no credible evidence – telescopic or otherwise – for this object’s existence. There is also no evidence of any kind for its gravitational effects upon bodies in our solar system.

I do however like the name Nibiru. If I ever get a pet goldfish (and I just may do that sometime in early 2013), Nibiru will be at the top of my list.

The Mayan calendar does not end in December 2012. Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period, but then – just as your calendar begins again on January 1 – another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.

 

On December 16, 1992, 8 days after its encounter with Earth, the Galileo spacecraft looked back from a distance of about 6.2 million kilometers (3.9 million miles) to capture this remarkable view of the Moon in orbit about Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL.

 

There are no credible predictions for worrisome astronomical events in 2012. The activity of the sun is cyclical with a period of roughly 11 years and the time of the next solar maximum is predicted to occur about May 2013. However, the Earth routinely experiences these periods of increased solar activity – for eons – without worrisome effects. The Earth’s magnetic field, which deflects charged particles from the sun, does reverse polarity on time scales of about 400,000 years but there is no evidence that a reversal, which takes thousands of years to occur, will begin in 2012. Even if this several thousand year-long magnetic field reversal were to begin, that would not affect the Earth’s rotation nor would it affect the direction of the Earth’s rotation axis… only Superman can do that.

The only important gravitational tugs experienced by the Earth are due to the moon and sun. There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades, Earth will not cross the galactic plane in 2012, and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible. Each December the Earth and Sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.

The predictions of doomsday or dramatic changes on December 21, 2012 are all false. Incorrect doomsday predictions have taken place several times in each of the past several centuries. Readers should bear in mind what Carl Sagan noted several years ago; “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, the burden of proof is on the people making these claims. Where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and all the passionate, persistent and profitable assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.

 

Decemeber 22,2012: 07:30 AM : I woke up in my newly purchased house. My wife was sleeping alongside me, while my four year old son was in her lap. Like me everyone else woke up healthy with the new sunrays shining bright above our heads. Like me, we all were ready to welcome a new dawn, a new morning and a new hope for all of us. The world had not ended and there was a new beginning for each one of us.

 

I tried to believe that I had done quite enough in the last four years. The phase of failure had been wiped off. Delhi had given me a new hope, a new morning, a new day and I was ready to accept it. It was an end to my joblessness and not the end of the world.

 

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Climate Change and the Power to Act: An Ethical Approach for Practical Progress

We are already living with climate change; and although countries have pledged to limit global warming to 2 °C, success seems highly unlikely. This panel explores how to advance ethical leadership on climate justice globally, nationally, and locally in the years ahead. Topics include the Paris Agreement and commitments going forward, geoengineering governance, the problems in California, and the creative ways the Seychelles are coping.

Greed, Movies, and Capitalism with Ethicist John Paul Rollert

Every capitalist economy struggles with how to come to terms with greed, says John Paul Rollert, an expert on the intellectual history of capitalism. He describes how our perspective has changed from the Christian view of greed as an unalloyed sin, to the 18th century idea that it could bring positive benefits, to the unabashed "Greed is good" ethos in the movie "Wall Street." Where do we stand now? How can we rehabilitate capitalism?

Global Ethics Forum Preview: Plutopia: Nuclear Families in Atomic Cities, with Kate Brown

Next time on Global Ethics Forum, University of Maryland Baltimore County's Professor Kate Brown details the ethical, social, and health costs of nuclear power since World War II. In this excerpt Brown, author of "Plutopia," and journalist Stephanie Sy discuss the little-known Cold War era nuclear production plants in the Soviet Union and Washington State.

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