What does it mean to be educated?

Around June this year, a couple of weeks before my 23rd birthday, I expect to be handed my master’s degree in physics. Besides extensive specialisation and research for a doctoral degree, this is the highest honour a person can obtain to signify his mastery in a particular field. In essence, there is no doubt that I, and the many others in my graduating class, would be looked at as “educated”. Things and behaviours will be expected of us now that a formal closure has been made to a two-decade-long journey of learning. But, two decades later, what does it all mean? Continue reading

Sports guidelines v religious beliefs

Religion, being a sensitive aspect of life, and more so personal, international sports bodies have a thin line of caution to watch between their guidelines and religious practices and personal beliefs of athletes. However, and most importantly, even before we start considering sports guidelines, we should first take a keen and meticulous interest on what unifies us. What creates unity and harmonious existence in society is of more importance than that which propagates separation. The big question is, what brings us together as one? Is it religion? Is it personal belief? Or is it sports? If any of the above is not applicable, it is not usable. Continue reading

Print books or eBooks? Both.

We are going through what will presently be seen as a rather unique transition in history, perhaps comparable to the transition from stagecoaches to cars in the 1880s. As eReaders take over the market, there has been talk about whether bookstores have been driven out of business (no) or at least whether they will be (probably: it is my opinion that drones making super-fast home deliveries are a bigger threat to bookstores, as to all physical stores alike).

But that is for the future to decide. At the moment, the question on hand is a little closer to home: do people prefer print books over eReaders? Continue reading

Apple v the FBI — Apple should stand up for encryption

Ever since Snowden’s leaking of NSA data raised public awareness about encryption and government breach of privacy, everyone has been scrambling to make their devices safe. Apple has been a leading voice in improving encryption and their own encryption is top notch.

At the outset, the entire Apple v the FBI case was bound to happen sooner or later, and I would be extremely mistaken if Tim Cook had not already prepared himself for this. But it is ultimately such hard, yet necessary decisions that have shaped Apple and made it an admirable company in more ways than one. And right now, Apple is risking quite a lot to stand up for privacy and encryption, and it is doing the right thing. Continue reading

The problem with The New York Times’ Asian pricing

Trying to sell a newspaper at the price of a moped is funny enough, until you realise that The New York Times is doing just that. Although their website quotes a price of INR 49 per week, the offer cutting nearly half the cover price is valid for only the first year. Yet, this discount is also high enough a price to fall flat in the market.

If The New York Times, or the International New York Times, wishes to make any mark at all, they will not only have to set up several more printing facilities across the globe, they will also have to make cleverer ties with existing local and/or national newspapers. Continue reading

Why I love footnotes

“When thumbing a book” says Hugh Harrington, in the Journal of the American revolution, “and contemplating a purchase, I thumb from the back.” He is looking for an index, preferably, and footnotes or endnotes, most definitely. In fact, he goes so far as to say he will replace the book on its shelf for the sole reason of there being no footnotes.1

Fiction or not, footnotes have a special place in literature — and a practical one too. But I happen to like them on the web for reasons of my own. Continue reading

Dear The Hindu, it’s the 21st century

It is a pity that the only newspaper I trust (and read) in India, The Hindu, is notoriously difficult to consume in any but the most ancient format. Being made available in digital media is not an empty trend and need not divert from good journalism. It also need not — and should not — be second to it. And as our style of news consumption evolves, it will (as sad as this truth may be) take more than good journalism to stay relavant.

In this age the news and the medium we consume it in go hand-in-hand, and this fine newspaper seems to be letting things slip.  Continue reading