A programmer’s null and a philosopher’s nihilism

null_nihilBeing software engineers, we use null as a value that is unavailable, unassigned, unknown, or inapplicable. It is neither a zero nor a blank space. A database designer uses a null to indicate a data value that does not exist in the database. A programmer uses a null pointer for an uninitialized, undefined, empty or meaningless value. It is believed that a null reference is probably the worst mistake made in programming. I will argue otherwise. Continue reading

Does NREGA make workers lazy?

a-worker-relaxingNREGA is a social security measure that aims to ensure livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Started in 2006, for many years, the annual budget allocated to the scheme was frozen around Rs 33,000 crore. States projected an estimated 278 crore person-days of work for this year, which would amount to an estimated cost of Rs 66,000 crore. Even as the Ministry of Rural Development accepted this figure, the budget allocation was increased to Rs 34,000 crore for this financial year. Continue reading

Who is Dr Swamy?

swamyDr Subramanian Swamy is probably the only Indian politician who has more Twitter followers than voters. Every major Indian political event since the emergency has his name written on it. Here’s an analysis on why this dangerous and controversial person must be avoided. Read full article on the NRI magazine

The solution problem

gazaOver 800 deaths in Gaza and counting. Just to put it in perspective, in a land mass half the size of Bangalore, one child has been killed every hour in the past 3 days. Long after the end of colonial era, the Palestinians are one of the few national entities denied basic human rights and the right to establish an independent sovereign state in their homeland – which suffers 47 year-long Israeli occupation, where millions suffer brutal military oppression.  Continue reading

Cost of life

med-evil-2India is the world’s biggest provider of cheap and affordable medicines to the developing world. Of course, most developing countries don’t like that! This debate over global drug pricing is one of the most controversial issues between developed countries and the developing world. While poorer nations maintain they have a moral obligation to make cheaper, generic drugs available to their masses, global pharmaceutical companies claim that the profits they reap are essential to their research. Continue reading

Working ‘empowered’ women?

untitledI see a lot of glory associated with working women. We tend to take great pride when we have a women member working in our family and almost always equate it with women empowerment. Considering the state of other factors that add up to a society with empowered women, I guess an urban woman – who is unsafe on streets, has little freedom to chose her life partner, and has to pay huge dowry in order to get married – is anything but empowered! Don’t get me wrong. I am speaking strictly about the working urban middle class. Continue reading

Kaise insaan ho tum? Apna pet nahi bhar sakte?

thookThook, meaning spit, written by Sandeep Shikhar and Iravati Karnik, devised by the Indian Ensemble and directed by Abhishek Majumdar, is a play on food, trade and the prevalence of hunger in India. The play comprises of four short stories bound by a single theme, presented in documentary style. From the Bengal famine of 1943 to the aftermath of neo-liberal economic reforms, the play goes on to depict the one single theme of hunger and poverty in India from different perspectives. Continue reading