An excerpt from my forthcoming book. This is how it starts, and this is how it all started
A project for proactive transparency using mobile phones
On using academic training to express love…
The spectacular work of CCC in restoring the Adirondacks after fire gives me some dreams for NREGA in India.
NREGA presents an unprecedented opportunity for disabled persons across India to earn a living and to showcase their talents. But as things stand, NREGA is not designed for disabled people to participate in it, but we can change it all with some tweaking.
Useful links on open data and how it could be used in making governments more transparent.
During my last visit to India, I participated in a few meetings on questions such as strengthening the right information act, the role of the PDS, and other social issues. In all these meetings there was a vigorous debate on how mobile phones could be used on each of these issues given the rapid spread of mobiles in rural India. Despite periodic discussion about the use of technology, I did not hear viable ideas among my activist friends. I believe that this is in part because most of them are not advanced users of technology, and they have definitely not […]
Andhra Pradesh is now experimenting with the system of authenticating cash payments in programs like NREGA and old-age pensions using a biometric device. In an example that I saw in Tirupati district, the device was installed in a post office that disburses wages and pensions. The device had a fingerprint scanner to authenticate the identity of the user, and it also had a SIM card through which the device communicates to a centralised database, from which the post office downloads a list of people and the amount that must be paid to them. When pensioner comes to the post office, […]
After watching a news report on the appalling number of schools in India without even a building to house it in, I saw an advertisement mentioning “My classroom has no walls, I have no ceiling”. I would have thought that it were a fundraising advertisement to build schools, but for the white smiling face in the ad. It turns out in this strange world that classrooms without walls can also be sold as an opportunity.
On leaving you at the day-care for the first time.
I discovered that the papers that I had written with a lot of hard work were cited only once in the last four years. A note on the academic peril of working hard in writing what will probably be never read by any one. To publish is to perish. Read on.
Death needs preparation. Preparation, especially for those who will be left behind, and I have started preparing for the death of a close one. She has been my bedside companion for many years, and the holder of my most intimate thoughts. She has been a part of my conversations with friends, my work and my leisure. She is the one I turned to when I woke up, and she put me to sleep for many a year. It looks like she may die soon. When she dies, she will take with her a part of me – naturally. A friend […]
It is often assumed that Teaching Assistants are powerful, vested with institutionalised power to instruct, monitor and evaluate. No doubt, these represent power over the students. But this is nothing compared to the power that students have over the TA; a kind of power that is silent but brutal. When a hundred notebooks close silently, it can bring the mightiest professor to a halt. A few glances at the clock or one row of blank expressions can freeze the vulnerable TA and crush his ego at the same time. There is no experience more humbling that the knowledge that you […]
Madras is one of those conservative cities that likes to keep its boys and girls at a safe distance. Parents clamour to get their children enrolled in colleges that are rather strict about this, and colleges have responded to this with enthusiasm. One famous college made a rule that girls will sit at the front of the college bus and boys behind and there will be a firewall of teachers in between. To counter this attraction other colleges have come up with separate roads and staircases inside the campus for boys and girls. In this context of competitive conservatism, I […]
A Panchayat president I interviewed recently told me sweetly that people listen to her because she’s plump. Two years and twenty additional kilos earlier, I would have missed the import of the statement, but now I don’t. Let me give you a quick background before I start. I was very thin and was often called a skeleton, stick of a coconut leaf and other colourful adjectives. I left to the US in 2005 and after two years of Americanisation I got on the weighing machine. I pushed the scales to a familiar position and it remained upright. I nudged it […]
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