Book Reviews, Editorials

[MUST READ] – The Dilbert Principle

“A Cubicle’s Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions”

These days it seems like any idiot with a laptop computer can churn out a
business book and make a few bucks. That’s certainly what I’m hoping. It
would be a real letdown if the trend changed before this masterpiece goes
to print.
As some of you may know, my main profession is cartooning. It’s a challenge
for a cartoonist to write a whole book. Cartoonists are trained to be
brief. Everything I’ve learned in my entire life can be boiled down to a
dozen bullet points, several of which I’ve already forgotten. Continue reading “[MUST READ] – The Dilbert Principle”

Editorials

Writing Better University Essays/Common essay problems

Common Essay Problems

By following the approach of essay writing outlined in this book, you can avoid a whole range of very common essay problems: Continue reading “Writing Better University Essays/Common essay problems”

Editorials

What’s the worst question to be asked in a job interview?

If you were a Disney cartoon character, who or what would you be? Count to 11 in 3.5 intervals. How many ping pong balls fit into a 747?

These are not idle riddles to help you and your fellow layabouts while away a sunny Sunday afternoon at the pub, but genuine questions put to job-seekers by interviewers at British companies over the past year.
The third one about ping pong balls was asked at Goldman Sachs. This is an investment bank with such a fearsome reputation for intellectual superiority that its employees used to be known as Masters of the Universe. Maybe years of focusing on table tennis, rather than credit-default swaps, may explain why it – along with many fellow Wall Street banks – had to go running to the US Treasury to be bailed out.

Continue reading “What’s the worst question to be asked in a job interview?”

Editorials

D-Day: A time to remember and learn from the past

Our country’s finest hour was its fight against Nazism. When we landed at Normandy with our allies and pushed forward against the enemy fire, it was a heroic gamble for victory. The price was 4,413 Allied soldiers killed – around a quarter of them British. But the prize was a beachhead in a war that would end with the liberation of Europe and the opportunity to build a better world.
The task of honouring such sacrifice is an immense one, but yesterday’s commemoration rose to the challenge. Barack Obama’s speech at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial was interrupted by a standing ovation as he acknowledged the veterans around him. In his words, D-Day was a triumph of America’s democratic ideals. As his predecessor Franklin D Roosevelt put it, the US came “not for the lust of conquest. They [fought] to end conquest.”

Continue reading “D-Day: A time to remember and learn from the past”

Editorials, NEWS

Big problems, simple ideas..!

Inder Kumar Gujral, 12th Prime Minister of India, was the first Punjabi to occupy the top post even though only for one year (April 1997 to March 1998). His first political love was the CPI but it was the Congress – he switched to it in early 1960s – that provided the platform for his initial political roles.

He rose spectacularly because of his proximity to Indira Gandhi during her tenures as PM and the party president. Ironically, he had to leave the party because of her annoyance.

It was in the Congress governments that Gujral first occupied ministerial positions but subsequently found berths in those formed by non-Congress combines, Janata Dal and the United Front.

Gujral was politically lightweight but made up for this deficiency, partly by personal charm and the capacity to forge cordial relations with persons across the political landscape as also others, and partly by the lucky coincidence of events.

Belonging to a political family of Punjab, his father, Avtar Narain, was a prominent figure in the Congress – Inder, as he was known, was active in the students’ movement in his younger days, in the Left-backed students’ federation in Lahore.

The family belonged to Jhelum, now in Pakistan and migrated to India in 1947. Not much is known about his activities in the initial post-Partition period.

He was vice-president of New Delhi Municipal Committee but otherwise was known only for his participation in animated discussions on political events of the day at India Coffee House on Queensway, now Janpath, in New Delhi, the favourite haunt of budding politicians, artists, journalists and intellectuals.

He joined the Congress after a big gap but did not take long to get access to the household of Indira Gandhi.

According to one account, it was his younger brother Satish, a noted artist, painter, sculptor and architect who was invited by her in the first instance as part of a group for interaction from time to time. This helped Gujral to establish a crucial contact. Asked later, Satish, known for his ready wit and humour, merely said: “Inder is p.m. I am only a.m.”

At the time of the Congress split in 1969, Gujral and Dinesh Singh, a prominent member also close to Gandhi, were the top lobbyists in her camp. Known as members of her kitchen Cabinet, they were highly sought after in political circles.

Rewards came in various forms. He was accommodated in the Rajya Sabha and in the Cabinet. All this changed in 1975 when Gandhi imposed the Emergency. Gujral who held the charge of information and broadcasting, was found wanting – most important, by her younger son, Sanjay – in enforcing Press censorship and other restrictive measures for journalists.

He was first shifted to the Planning Commission and later sent to Moscow as ambassador. On his return, he resigned from the Congress.

Gujral held the charge of several ministries during his stints in office, but developed a special interest in foreign relations, especially dealings with neighbours.

The set of his guidelines, known as the Gujral Doctrine, put emphasis on conciliation and amity, unilateral moves without insistence on reciprocity, except on security-related matters and other core interests.

During his short spell as PM, he took some concrete steps: first, he negotiated a 30-year treaty with Bangladesh on the distribution of Ganga waters, with the concurrence of the West Bengal chief minister, Jyoti Basu; second, he achieved a sort of breakthrough with Pakistan as a result of discussions with its PM, Nawaz Sharif, on the sidelines of the 1997 Saarc summit in Male.

It helped to give shape to the specifics of the structured dialogue on outstanding issues, in particular the two-plus-six formula that helped start a positive process.

That it collapsed after some years is another story; and third, he accepted the insistent demand of Nepal for a crucial road link with Bangladesh through Indian territory.

Earlier, as external affairs minister, Gujral accommodated Sri Lanka by the decision to withdraw Indian Peace-Keeping Force from the island country. This step, however, was not liked by the Tamils in Sri Lanka and India.

Another issue that led to bitter criticism related to his visit to Iraq following the Gulf War I and, his bear hug with its ruler, Saddam Hussein, as also his trip to occupied Kuwait.

The only country with which Gujral held talks in Punjabi was Pakistan. He had a good equation with Sharif – the two were unbelievably candid in behind-the-scene, off-the record talks.

It helped avert crisis situations. Here is a notable example: one day in 1997, Gujral, on the eve of his departure for a trip abroad, telephoned me in the early morning, to break the news of Sharif’s call the previous night.

Gujral had retired and was woken up to receive the message. To convey the flavour of the conversation between the two PMs, the original version in Punjabi is given:

Sharif: “Key gal he. Ajkal jaldi so jande ho (what is the matter, you retire early these days)”.

Gujral: “Kal saware South Africa jana hey. Socheya pura aram kar lawaan. (I have to leave for South Africa tomorrow morning. I thought I should have proper rest)”.

Sharif: “Kalay kalay jande ho, kadi sano wee nal lai jao. (You go alone these days. Why do not you take me along sometime)”.

Gujral: “Rab oh din jaldi liaye jadon asi dono kathey javiye). (May God bring that day soon when we undertake joint trips)”.

Then they talked about the subject for which Sharif had called. Trouble was brewing in the Kargil region. It was a small problem as compared to the one that developed later. They decided to entrust the job of sorting out the matter to the directors general of military operations.

KK Katyal is a Delhi-based senior journalist

The views expressed by the author are personal

Editorials

IPL is back: Capital gearing up for the cricket extravaganza

The seventh season of the T20 cricket ­extravaganza is back. While this time around, the first few matches are being held in the UAE, the good news for cricket fans is that the tournament will return to India in May. And the Capital that’s rooting for their very own Delhi Daredevils (DD) team has already ­started ­hotting up with exciting deals across various segments — right from food and fitness to ­fashion.
Continue reading “IPL is back: Capital gearing up for the cricket extravaganza”

Editorials

The sad state of India’s security

Every man his own carver, wrote Jonathan Swift. It didn’t take India’s political leaders too many hours to begin slicing what profit could be had from Thursday’s train-bombing in Chennai. The BJP cast the bombing, on the basis of the flimsiest conjecture, as an attempted attack on Chief Minister Narendra Modi; Congress politicians, for their part, threw about innuendo about the perpetrators’ intentions and provenance. Questions about the extent to which the National Investigation Agency, Continue reading “The sad state of India’s security”

Editorials

US researchers develop plastic that can ‘regenerate’

Can you imagine a mangled car bumper that repairs itself within minutes of an accident? This can soon be a reality as researchers in the US have developed materials that not only heal but regenerate.

Until now, self-repairing materials could only bond tiny microscopic cracks.

The new regenerating materials fill in large cracks and holes by regrowing material.

The restorative material is delivered through two, isolated fluid streams (dyed red and blue).

The liquid immediately gels and later hardens, resulting in recovery of the entire damaged region.

“We have demonstrated repair of a non-living, synthetic materials system in a way that is reminiscent of repair-by-regrowth as seen in some living systems,” said Jeffry S. Moore, a professor of chemistry at University of Illinois.

Such self-repair capabilities would be a boon not only for commercial goods but also for parts and products that are difficult to replace or repair, such as those used in aerospace applications.

The regenerating capabilities build on the team’s previous work in developing vascular materials.

Using specially formulated fibres that disintegrate, the researchers can create materials with networks of capillaries inspired by biological circulatory systems.

“Vascular delivery lets us deliver a large volume of healing agents – which, in turn, enables restoration of large damage zones,” said Nancy Sottos, a professor of materials science and engineering.

The vascular approach also enables multiple restorations if the material is damaged more than once.

The team demonstrated their regenerating system on the two biggest classes of commercial plastics: thermoplastics and thermosets.

They envision commercial plastics and polymers with vascular networks filled with regenerative agents ready to be deployed whenever damage occurs, much like biological healing.

The research appeared in the journal Science.

Continue reading “US researchers develop plastic that can ‘regenerate’”

Editorials

Homeopathic remedy Lycopodium Clavatum offers new hope to cancer sufferers: Study

(NaturalNews) One of the most exciting developments in the war on cancer has just been published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, where new research shows that the homeopathic remedy, Lycopodium Clavatum (a spore bearing plant from the clubmoss family), has an anti-cancer effect on infected cells while protecting normal blood cells.

The report by the Boiron Laboratory in France and the University of Kalyani in India reveals that highly diluted Lycopodium Clavatum remedies (LC-5C and LC-15C) are capable of inducing ‘apoptosis’ (cellular death) in cervical cancer cells, signifying their possible use as a supportive medicine in cancer therapy.

The $200 billion dollar per year cancer industry is desperate to convince you that chemotherapy, radiation, toxic drugs and surgery are the only proven treatments for the disease, faced as it is today, with rising demand for complementary and alternative cancer medicines.

Continue reading “Homeopathic remedy Lycopodium Clavatum offers new hope to cancer sufferers: Study”

Editorials

Global Effects of Smoking, of Quitting, and of Taxing Tobacco

On the basis of current smoking patterns, with a global average of about 50% of young men and 10% of young women becoming smokers and relatively few stopping, annual tobacco-attributable deaths will rise from about 5 million in 2010 to more than 10 million a few decades hence,1-3 as the young smokers of today reach middle and old age. This increase is due partly to population growth and partly to the fact that, in some large populations, generations in which few people smoked substantial numbers of cigarettes throughout adult life are being succeeded by generations in which many people did so. There were about 100 million deaths from tobacco in the 20th century, most in developed countries.2,3 If current smoking patterns persist, tobacco will kill about 1 billion people this century, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. About half of these deaths will occur before 70 years of age.1-4

The 2013 World Health Assembly called on governments to reduce the prevalence of smoking by about a third by 2025,5 which would avoid more than 200 million deaths from tobacco during the remainder of the century.2,3 Price is the key determinant of smoking uptake and cessation.6-9Worldwide, a reduction of about a third could be achieved by doubling the inflation-adjusted price of cigarettes, which in many low- and middle-income countries could be achieved by tripling the specific excise tax on tobacco. Other interventions recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the WHO six-point MPOWER initiative4 could also help reduce consumption7,8 and could help make substantial increases in specific excise taxes on tobacco politically acceptable. Without large price increases, a reduction in smoking by a third would be difficult to achieve.

The WHO has also called for countries to achieve a 25% reduction between 2008 and 2025 in the probability of dying from noncommunicable disease between 30 and 70 years of age.10 Widespread cessation of smoking is the most important way to help achieve this goal, because smoking throughout adulthood substantially increases mortality from several major noncommunicable diseases (and from tuberculosis).1-3,11-19

To help achieve a large reduction in smoking in the 2010s or 2020s, governments, health professionals, journalists, and other opinion leaders should appreciate the full eventual hazards of smoking cigarettes from early adulthood, the substantial benefits of stopping at various ages, the eventual magnitude of the epidemic of tobacco-attributable deaths if current smoking patterns persist, and the effectiveness of tax increases and other interventions to reduce cigarette consumption.

Continue reading “Global Effects of Smoking, of Quitting, and of Taxing Tobacco”