The membrane-bound nucleus is the most prominent feature of the eukaryotic cell. Schleiden and Schwann, when setting forth the cell doctrine in the 1830s, considered that it had a central role in growth and development. Their belief has been fully supported even though they had only vague notions as to what that role might be, and how the role was to be expressed in some cellular action. The membraneless nuclear area of the prokaryotic cell, with its tangle of fine threads, is now known to play a similar role.
Some cells, like the sieve tubes of vascular plants and the red blood cells of mammals, do not possess nuclei during the greater part of their existence, although they had nuclei when in a less differentiated state. Such cells can no longer divide and their life span is limited Other cells are regularly multinucleate. Some, like the cells of striated muscles or the latex vessels of higher plants, become so through cell fusion. Some, like the unicellular protozoan paramecium, are normally binucleate, one of the nuclei serving as a source of hereditary information for the next generation, the other governing the day-to-day metabolic activities of the cell. Still other organisms, such as some fungi, are multinucleate because cross walls, dividing the mycelium into specific cells, are absent or irregularly present. The uninucleate situation, however, is typical for the vast majority of cells, and it would appear that this is the most efficient and most economical manner of partitioning living substance into manageable units. This point of view is given credence not only by the prevalence of uninucleate cells, but because for each kind of cell there is a ratio maintained between the volume of the nucleus and that of the cytoplasm. If we think of the nucleus as the control centre of the cell, this would suggest that for a given kind of cell performing a given kind of work, one nucleus can ‘take care of’ a specific volume of cytoplasm and keep it in functioning order. In terms of material and energy, this must mean providing the kind of information needed to keep flow of materials and energy moving at the correct rate and in the proper channels. With the multitude of enzymes in the cell, materials and energy can of course be channelled in a multitude of ways; it is the function of some information molecules to make channels of use more preferred than others at any given time. How this regulatory control is exercised is not entirely clear.
The nucleus is generally a rounded body. In plant cells, however, where the centre of the cell is often occupied by a large vacuole, the nucleus may be pushed against the cell wall, causing it to assume a lens shape. In some white blood cells, such as polymorphonucleated leukocytes, and in cells of the spinning gland of some insects and spiders, the nucleus is very much lobed The reason for this is not clear, but it may relate to the fact that for a given volume of nucleus, a lobate form provides a much greater surface area for nuclear-cytoplasmic exchanges, possibly affecting both the rate and the amount of metabolic reactions. The nucleus, whatever its shape, is segregated from the cytoplasm by a double membrane, the nuclear envelope, with the two membranes separated from each other by a perinuclear space of varying width. The envelope is absent only during the time of cell division, and then just for a brief period The outer membrane is often continuous with the membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum, a possible retention of an earlier relationship, since the envelope, at least in part, is formed at the end cell division by coalescing fragments of the endoplasmic reticulum. The cytoplasmic side of the nucleus is frequently coated with ribosomes, another fact that stresses the similarity and relation of the nuclear envelope to the endoplasmic reticulum. The inner membrane seems to posses a crystalline layer where it abuts the nucleoplasm, but its function remains to be determined.
Everything that passes between the cytoplasm and the nucleus in the eukaryotic cell must transverse the nuclear envelope. This includes some fairly large molecules as well as bodies such as ribosomes, which measure about 25 mm in diameter. Some passageway is, therefore, obviously necessary since there is no indication of dissolution of the nuclear envelope in order to make such movement possible. The nuclear pores appear to be reasonable candidates for such passageways. In plant cells these are irregularly, rather sparsely distributed over the surface of the nucleus, but in the amphibian oocyte, for example, the pores are numerous, regularly arranged, and octagonal and are formed by the fusion of the outer and inner membrane.
The second plan to have to examine is that of giving to each person what she deserves. Many people, especially those who are comfortably off, think this is what happens at present: that the industrious and sober and thrifty are never in want, and that poverty is due to idleness, improvidence, drinking, betting, dishonesty, and bad character generally. They can point to the fact that a labour whose character is bad finds it more difficult to get employment than one whose character is good; that a farmer or country gentleman who gambles and bets heavily, and mortgages his land to live wastefully and extravagantly, is soon reduced to poverty; and that a man of business who is lazy and does not attend to it becomes bankrupt. But this proves nothing that you cannot eat your cake and have it too; it does not prove that your share of the cake was a fair one. It shows that certain vices make us rich. People who are hard, grasping, selfish, cruel, and always ready to take advantage of their neighbours, become very rich if they are clever enough not to overreach themselves. On the other hand, people who are generous, public spirited, friendly, and not always thinking of the main chance, stay poor when they are born poor unless they have extraordinary talents. Also as things are today, some are born poor and others are born with silver spoons in their mouths: that is to say, they are divided into rich and poor before they are old enough to have any character at all. The notion that our present system distributes wealth according to merit, even roughly, may be dismissed at once as ridiculous. Everyone can see that it generally has the contrary effect; it makes a few idle people very rich, and a great many hardworking people very poor.
On this, intelligent Lady, your first thought may be that if wealth is not distributed according to merit, it ought to be; and that we should at once set to work to alter our laws so that in future the good people shall be rich in proportion to their goodness and the bad people poor in proportion to their badness. There are several objections to this; but the very first one settles the question for good and all. It is, that the proposal is impossible and impractical. How are you going to measure anyone's merit in money? Choose any pair of human beings you like, male or female, and see whether you can decide how much each of them should have on her or his merits. If you live in the country, take the village blacksmith and the village clergyman, or the village washerwoman and the village schoolmistress, to begin with. At present, the clergyman often gets less pay than the blacksmith; it is only in some villages he gets more. But never mind what they get at present: you are trying whether you can set up a new order of things in which each will get what he deserves. You need not fix a sum of money for them: all you have to do is to settle the proportion between them. Is the blacksmith to have as much as the clergyman? Or twice as much as the clergyman? Or half as much as the clergyman? Or how much more or less? It is no use saying that one ought to have more the other less; you must be prepared to say exactly how much more or less in calculable proportion.
Well, think it out. The clergyman has had a college education; but that is not any merit on his part: he owns it to his father; so you cannot allow him anything for that. But through it he is able to read the New Testament in Greek; so that he can do something the blacksmith cannot do. On the other hand, the blacksmith can make a horse-shoe, which the parson cannot. How many verses of the Greek Testament are worth one horse-shoe? You have only to ask the silly question to see that nobody can answer it.
Since measuring their merits is no use, why not try to measure their faults? Suppose the blacksmith swears a good deal, and gets drunk occasionally! Everybody in the village knows this; but the parson has to keep his faults to himself. His wife knows them; but she will not tell you what they are if she knows that you intend to cut off some of his pay for them. You know that as he is only a mortal human being, he must have some faults; but you cannot find them out. However, suppose he has some faults he is a snob; that he cares more for sport and fashionable society than for religion! Does that make him as bad as the blacksmith, or twice as bad, or twice and quarter as bad, or only half as bad? In other words, if the blacksmith is to have a shilling, is the parson to have six pence, or five pence and one-third, or two shillings? Clearly these are fools' questions: the moment they bring us down from moral generalities to business particulars it becomes plain to every sensible person that no relation can be established between human qualities, good or bad, and sums of money, large or small.
It may seem scandalous that a prize-fighter, for hitting another prize-fighter so hard at Wembley that he fell down and could not rise within ten seconds, received the same sum that was paid to the Archbishop of Canterbury for acting as Primate of the Church of England for nine months; but none of those who cry out against the scandal can express any better in money the difference between the two. Not one of the persons who think that the prize-fighter should get less than the Archbishop can say how much less. What the prize- fighter got for his six or seven months' boxing would pay a judge's salary for two years; and we all agree that nothing could be more ridiculous, and that any system of distributing wealth which leads to such absurdities must be wrong. But to suppose that it could be changed by any possible calculation that an ounce of archbishop of three ounces of judge is worth a pound of prize-fighter would be sillier still. You can find out how many candles are worth a pound of butter in the market on any particular day; but when you try to estimate the worth of human souls the utmost you can say is that they are all of equal value before the throne of God:And that will not help you in the least to settle how much money they should have. You must simply give it up, and admit that distributing money according to merit is beyond mortal measurement and judgement.
The conventional wisdom says that this is an issue-less election. There is no central personality of whom voters have to express approval or dislike; no central matter of concern that makes this a one-issue referendum like so many elections in the past; no central party around which everything else revolves — the Congress has been displaced from its customary pole position, and no one else has been able to take its place. Indeed, given that all-seeing video cameras of the Election Commission, and the detailed pictures they are putting together on campaign expenditure, there isn't even much electioning: no slogans on the walls, no loudspeakers blaring forth at all hours of the day and night, no cavalcades of cars heralding the arrival of a candidate at the local bazaar. Forget it being an issue-less election, is this an election at all?
Perhaps the ‘fun’ of an election lies in its featuring someone whom you can love or hate. But Narasimha Rao has managed to reduce even a general election, involving nearly 600 million voters, to the boring non-event that is the trademark of his election rallies, and indeed of everything else that he does. After all, the Nehru-Gandhi clan has disappeared from the political map, and the majority of voters will not even be able to name P.V.Narasimha Rao as India's Prime Minister. There could be as many as a dozen prime ministerial candidates ranging from Jyoti Basu to Ramakrishna Hegde, and from Chandra Shekar to (believe it or not) K.R.Narayanan. The sole personality who stands out, therefore, is none of the players, but the umpire: T.N.Seshan. .
As for the parties, they are like the blind men of Hindustan, trying in vain to gauge the contours of the animal they have to confront. But it doesn't look as if it will be the mandir-masjid, nor will it be Hindutva or economic nationalism. The Congress will like it to be stability, but what does that mean for the majority? Economic reform is a non-issue for most people with inflation down to barely 4 per cent, prices are not top of the mind either. In a strange twist, after the hawala scandal, corruption has been pushed off the map too.
But ponder for a moment, isn't this state of affairs astonishing, given the context? Consider that so many ministers have had to resign over the hawala issue; that a governor who was a cabinet minister has also had to quit, in the wake of judicial displeasure; that the prime minister himself is under investigation for his involvement in not one scandal but two; that the main prime ministerial candidate from the opposition has had to bow out because he too has been charged in the hawala case; and that the head of the ‘third force’ has his own little (or not so little) fodder scandal to face. Why then is corruption not an issue — not as a matter of competitive politics, but as an issue on which the contenders for power feel that they have to offer the prospect of genuine change? If all this does not make the parties (almost all of whom have broken the law, in not submitting their audited accounts every year to the income tax authorities) realise that the country both needs — and is ready for-change in the Supreme Court; the assertiveness of the Election Commission, giving new life to a model code of conduct that has been ignored for a quarter country; the independence that has been thrust upon the Central Bureau of Investigation; and the fresh zeal on the part of tax collectors out to nab corporate no-gooders. Think also that at no other point since the Emergency of 1975-77 have so many people in power been hounded by the system for their misdeeds.
Is this just a case of a few individuals outside the political system doing the job, or is the country heading for a new era? The seventies saw the collapse of the national consensus that marked the Nehruvian era, and ideology took over in the Indira Gandhi years. That too was buried by Rajiv Gandhi and his technocratic friends. And now, we have these issue-less elections. One possibility is that the country is heading for a period of constitutionalism as the other arms of the state reclaim some of the powers they lost, or yielded, to the political establishment. Economic reform free one part of Indian society from the clutches of the political class. Now, this could spread to other parts of the system. Against such a dramatic backdrop, it should be obvious that people (voters) are looking for accountability, for ways in which to make a corrupted system work again. And the astonishing thing is that no party has sought to ride this particular wave; instead all are on the defensive, desperately evading the real issues. No wonder this is an ‘issue-less’ election.