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Ways of seeing

At a conference high tea, a participant said, “It is scientifically proven that boys have monthly mood swings.” When probed about the source of this fact, he mentioned Google. Google, as a search engine, is accepted as the most reliable source of information, requiring no proof of credibility. Furthermore, words like “scientifically proven” or “scientifically estab

Build a better model

From the 1990s, a large number of engineering institutions were opened in India. Most of these institutions were churning out engineers specialising in information technology and electronics and telecommunications. Over the last decade, there was a hude demand for IT professionals for routine coding jobs. So these engineers were finding employment in the many software companies that were thrivi

Stone’s throw from Pakistan

In the 1990s in Kashmir, one could meet a militant (back then we didn’t call them terrorists) as easily as perhaps one’s neighbour. Hordes of them were returning from Pakistan, where they had gone to learn how to use a Kalashnikov and lob a grenade, many of them carrying the gun and the ammo in their backpacks. Women sang songs to welcome their ‘ghazis’ (warriors), not u

Making cancer treatment accessible

 In a world that sees far-from-perfect global healthcare systems, lack of access to cancer treatment – a disease which currently is the second leading cause of death – is the most unjustifiable fissure in the global health terrain resulting in more than 8.2 million deaths every year. The inhumanity of the situation apart, where a person dies even when medicines for her cure exi

Beyond either-or, a new mode of governance

Several myths surround empowerment of women. A popular, cultural myth in India is that women cannot handle money and power, just as men cannot take care of children. However, when women are asked what they want they say they want autonomy, livelihood options, opportunities to govern and a great future for their children.  Women in some parts of the country are more empowered than

Are we really connecting with Nature?

The internet is flooded with updates on activities planned for this World Environment Day (WED) for “Connecting People to Nature”. For years, activities in the name of WED are limited to tree-planting events and nature walks organised by and for all and sundry, and this year is no different. It deeply troubles me to see that people fail to realise the significance of this

‘The sense of preserving heritage is missing’

It’s said that to see as much of life as India can show, all one needs to do is visit Varanasi. The city, often called India’s cultural capital, has recorded continuous settlement of people since 1000 BC. But the modern city grew mostly in the early 18th century. It now has about 15 lakh residents. With about 3,300 Hindu shrines, small and big, and 1,388 Muslim places of wor

Go back to the masses

Sceptics are writing the obituary of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). First came the debacle in the Goa and Punjab assembly elections, then the rout on the home ground, in the Delhi civic elections. Soon the party’s internal disputes became public. The speculation, not without reason, is that AAP will soon die a natural death.  It may however be important to look at the AAP&rsquo

The walled city by moonlight

In 1998, as a 12-year-old, I was fascinated by the spectacle on display in the streets of Chandni Chowk, where I grew up, during the Chaudhvin Ka Chand festival, which recreated the Mughal heritage and historical grandeur of Shahjahanabad. The ageing havelis were decked up wi

Why Artificial Intelligence is scaring everyone

By their own admission, Jack Ma is uncomfortable with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Elon Musk is scared. But why? Contrary to popular perception AI is old. To be precise it’s 51-years old, widely acknowledged to have been born at a conference at Dartmouth College in 1956. That conference was attended by a diverse group of people. Three of them presented the Logic Theori

Bhutan and the pursuit of happiness

While researching a book I was writing on Bhutan, my cousin passed along Eric Weiner’s Geography of Bliss. Published in 2007, the book is a series of articles on different countries, most of whom rank very high on the happiness index, as to why they are happy. Each chapter is titled with a whimsical title, such as “Happiness is failure” and “Happiness is efficiency&rdquo

India’s halls of shame

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted the report of India’s human rights record review on May 9. There were 250 recommendations by 103 countries that had taken the floor five days earlier to comment on the human rights situation in the country.   Reviewing human rights This was India’s third Universal Peri

Populism: Its past and future

The rise of populism – the revolt of common people against the elite or the ‘system’ – has been one of the broad themes of the past decade. Till 2000, populism was confined to obscure corners of the world, in Latin America and the former Soviet Block, and was largely ignored by the developed countries. The last time populism was strong across the world was in the 1930s.

RTI rejection rate high in public sector banks

Ever since the Reserve Bank of India-appointed P J Nayak Committee submitted a report blaming RTI as one of the constraints on the governance of public sector banks (PS Banks) in May 2014, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has been analysing the RTI performance of 24 PSU Banks. RTI Performance of 24 PSU Banks: Here are main findings  

Moving into fourth gear

Sometimes, when the change is too rapid and dramatic, you might not know whether it is really happening. It is understandable, considering the fact that you simply don’t recognise it. Without you knowing, however, a dramatic change is already taking place. When Klaus Schwab talks about the fourth industrial revolution, it is not going to be too difficult for you to just lo

The carbon debate, with shades of grey

Is the world getting greener? That would be a paradox when nations are putting their heads together to find ways to fight global warming. While the world is condemning carbon dioxide (CO2) as the culprit for global warming, there are some who are fighting for the cause of CO2. And they cite scientific data to support their stand. They say that CO2 is in fact leading to an increase in gre

How to put India ‘on course’ to fight malnutrition

It is not surprising that the Global Nutrition Report 20161 places India ‘off course’ for all nutrition indicators, with some progress in stunting and underweight, and none at all in anaemia among women of reproductive age and wasting of children. India’s jinx in tackling this last unaddressed outpost in its growth and development story continues. Tho

Lokpal can be set up without LoP, yes, but who’s in hurry?

If it was needed at all, the supreme court has cleared the air. The Lokpal Act, it has ruled, is perfectly implementable even without the pending amendments. The interpretation from the apex court is welcome, but the government does not seem to be in any hurry to appoint the ombudsman in the first place. A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha on Thursday

Why India needs a bullion bank

India’s affinity for gold is a well-known fact, so is its dependence on gold imports to meet the domestic demand. More than 98 percent of the gold consumed in the country is met through import, while the rest is met through recycled domestic gold. In 2015-16, India imported 926 tonnes of gold.  Ironically, despite this huge appetite for gold and such massive imports,

Civil services day: Administrating administration

Civil services day observed on April 21 every year is according to the government “an occasion for the civil servants to rededicate themselves to the cause of citizens and renew their commitment to public service and excellence in work”. On this particular day in 1947, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, expressing his thoughts to the first batch of civil servants, pressed on



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