Weekly Fix: High school shooting, gender crimes, CAMPA, and more earthquake

Tribal women carry bundles of twigs and leaves near Shantiniketan, 150 km (95 miles) northwest of Calcutta on March 18, 2004. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw/Files
Source: Reuters


Parkland Shooting latest of school shooting incidents; survivors rally for gun control

On February 14, Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida, walked into the school and opened fire on students. President Trump offered “thoughts and prayers”, and spoke about mental illness, giving the country’s problematic gun control a miss. Check out the entire timeline of the shooting here.

WHO tightens guidelines to check the surge of C-Sections

Specifically, the UNO’s health wing has called for the elimination of the “one centimetre per hour” dilation benchmark, as pregnancy is unique to every woman and what applies to one may not apply to another. Details here.

Pakistan court awards death sentence for man who raped minor

Imran Ali was found guilty of abducting, raping, and murdering a 7-year-old girl in Kasur. Small step forward for womankind.

66 die in Iran plane crash

Aseman Airlines’ commercial plane went down in a mountainous region in central Iran. More here.

Earthquake of 7.2 magnitude hits Oaxaca, Mexico

A helicopter carrying Interior Minister Alfonso Navarette and Governor Alejandro Murat, who were surveying the damage, crashed immediately after, killing two people. The ministers were not seriously injured, according to officials. More here.

Baloch Republican Party protests in Munich against Pak atrocities

The Baloch Republican Party’s (BRP) Germany chapter has held a rally and a protest demonstration in Munich on the occasion of the Munich Security Conference conducted in the city (ANI). More here.


Punjab National Bank uncovers fraudulent transactions by Nirav Group, Nirav Modi evades arrest

Punjab National Bank (PNB), a PSU, has discovered fraudulent transactions to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore in one of its Mumbai branches and has filed a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) even as concern of other banks being involved is being raised. For a detailed timeline, head here.

Tripura goes to elections

This will be the first direct face-off in the country between the Left and the  Right.

Mother and daughter accused of “witchcraft”, forced to eat human excreta in Jharkhand

Their heads were also tonsured by their own relatives. Excuse me for not being able type further about this. Head here for the full deal.

Cooperative spinning mills in Maharashtra to go for privatisation

The state’s new Textile Policy allows cooperative spinning mills and powerloom societies to change the use of land, which allows them to engage in other than industrial purposes. As per the policy, cooperative spinning mills and powerloom societies will be allowed to be privatised, provided they are ready to return to the government the equity, loan and interest thereupon, a government official said.

Draft rules of the Compensatory Afforestation Act notified by Environment Ministry

As is clear from the name, the Act aims to make up for the forest cover lost due to use of forest land for non-forest purposes. A fund for this purpose will be established at the national level. 90% of the funds will be distributed among the states. Here’s an explainer.

Jignesh Mevani detained ahead of Ahmedabad rally

The Independent MLA was on his way to join a rally against the death of Dalit activist Bhanu Vankar. Full report here.


Cat meat used in lieu of mutton in roadside eateries

Yes. I shuddered too. This has been happening for nearly two decades now! An investigation, led by People for Animals (PFA) with police support after they received complaints about missing cats, led to a jarring answer to the mystery. Here‘s the full story.

Software engineer attacked late night when on her way to work, three arrested

The three men stopped her, attacked her with an iron rod, and made away with her mobile phone, gold chain, and scooter. Details here.

Kamal Haasan invites Rajnikanth to his Madurai meeting

According to The Hindu, Haasan termed the meeting as a “courtesy call” and said that it was a “meeting of friends. This is not related to politics.”

He also said, “I have been meeting people who I like before I start my journey. In the last 40 years, it is a custom in both of our families that if there is some event in my house, we will invite Rajini’s family and vice versa.”


1. The 11 cities most likely to run out of water – like Cape Town – BBC

Bangalore figures in the list 😐

2. Smart Phone Detox: How to Power Down In A Wired World – NPR

A growing number of doctors and psychologists are concerned about our relationship with the phone. There’s a debate about what to call the problem. Some say “disorder” or “problematic behavior.” Others think over-reliance on a smartphone can become a behavioral addiction, like gambling.

“It’s a spectrum disorder,” says Dr. Anna Lembke, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, who studies addiction. “There are mild, moderate and extreme forms.” And for many people, there’s no problem at all.

In this way, the phone is kind of like alcohol, Lembke says. Moderate alcohol consumption can be beneficial, for some people.


3. The Secret History of Menstruation – JSTOR

Did you cringe when you read “menstruation”? Then this one’s a must read for you.

4. Meet the most vitriolic Valentine’s Day haters around the world – Scroll.in

It’s sort of comforting to know that India is not the only country with a stick up its arse.

5. The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of “jaywalking” – Vox

An interesting history of how the advent of automobiles made a villain out of pedestrians.

Happy reading people 🙂

Lessons in Love

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

No, this is not yet another clichéd post on romance, relationships, marriage, etc. But we are creatures of habit, and there is no harm in dedicating a day to make your loved one feel special or make them smile. Besides, Valentine’s Day can be a great social equaliser: people of all sexual orientation celebrate it, take the opportunity to say it out loud. What’s to hate? So here I am, with my own dedication to the day of love.

Modern love is complicated, and needs a lot more than just mutual attraction and a promise to be there for your partner, come what may. I thought it would be a great idea to put together a collection of wonderful reads on the subject. I found these write-ups profound. Some are uncomfortable truths. I hope you like them. But mostly, I’m hoping you find them insightful, and that they help you find new ways to look at love, at how you give and receive love. I’ll leave you with the collection now. Click/tap the titles to read them.

John Steinbeck on Falling in Love: A 1958 Letter – Brain Pickings

The Nobel Laureate and renown author responds to his teenage son’s confession of having fallen in love. He puts a positive spin on the idea, with the gentleness of a loving parent. His words hold true even today.

What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage – The Cut

Long-married romance is not the romance of watching someone’s every move like a stalker, and wanting to lick his face but trying to restrain yourself. It’s not even the romance of “Whoa, you bought me flowers, you must REALLY love me!” or “Wow, look at us here, as the sun sets, your lips on mine, we REALLY ARE DOING THIS LOVE THING, RIGHT HERE.” That’s dating romance, newlywed romance. You’re still pinching yourself. You’re still fixated on whether it’s really happening. You’re still kind of sort of looking for proof. The little bits of proof bring the romance. The question of whether you’ll get the proof you require brings the romance. (The looking for proof also brings lots of fights, but that’s a subject for another day.)

So what is long-married romance? You’ll need to read to find out 🙂

The Secret to Marriage Is Never Getting Married – The New York Times

Deep observations on long-term relationships and how a marriage-obsessed society views live-in couples, coupled with lots of wit.

The 12-Hour Goodbye That Started Everything – The New York Times

Hearts and minds can be as opaque as a rain forest; only small pieces of them are ever visible. And I realized this, too: You can’t contain the people you love. You can’t contain your own love, either.

A moving story about a woman working through her break up, and the golden nugget of wisdom she is offered by her therapist (I’m not sharing that here, as that would be a spoiler).

What Is a Man For? – The New York Times

Marry out of want, not need, says Karen Rinaldi, who found her happily-ever-after, after two divorces. She delves into the politics of marriage, changing gender roles, and her recipe for the perfect marriage.

Happy reading! 🙂

P.S. I know I’ve shared three NYT links, but their Modern Love column has the best essays on the topic.

Weekly Fix: Taiwan’s earthquake, Maldives’ Political Crisis, and more

taiwan nytimes
Source: The New York Times


Taiwan hit by massive earthquake: 265 injured, 62 missing

The quake of magnitude 6.4 hit the island nation around 3:50 PM GMT on February 6. Here’s the latest update. Also, take a look at Nat Geo’s report on this event.

Maldives in deep crisis

Who would’ve thought ‘Maldives’ and ‘crisis’ would be used in the same sentence? Okay okay here’s a gist: the Maldives Supreme Court ordered the release of some Opposition lawmakers, which the President, Abdulla Yameen, refused to do. He also imposed a 15-day state of emergency. The who, why, what, and how.

China expands military bases on Indian Ocean

If an op-ed by an Australian research scholar is anything to go by, China is on its way to create a Chinese colony. Sigh.


Engineering student commits suicide

A first-year student of Bengaluru’s Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering committed suicide by hanging herself at her house on Friday. Her family alleged that she was bullied by four classmates and a faculty member for losing in class representative elections. Police are still probing the case. Details here.

Opposition demands probe in Justice Loya case

A team of leaders from 13 opposition parties, led by Rahul Gandhi, met with President Ram Nath Kovind to discuss the need for a high-level probe into the case. More here.

Man, released after 20 years in prison, asks to be taken back

Pushkar Dutt Bhatt of Uttarakhand is unable to find livelihood and a place to live, has asked to be imprisoned. No don’t feel sorry for him yet.

Brahmin outfit threatens to agitate against Manikarnika

They haven’t watched the shooting, nor been given any previews. Yet, they will fight for the honour of Brahmin queens. One word: LOL!


Hike in bus fare makes Chennai commuters switch to trains

Bus fare has almost doubled, leaving commuters to resort to the cheaper suburban railways and MRTS. More here. Also, talks on wage revision for transport workers have begun.

Chennai airport to get audited for security by UN body

Well, let’s hope the fancy glass ceilings don’t fall on ’em 😛 . More here.

Police gatecrash gangster’s birthday party, nab 75 history-sheeters

Straight out of a Gautham Vasudev Menon movie, this.

Cheating charges on Deepa

J Deepa, former CM Jayalalithaa’s niece, allegedly borrowed ₹1.12 crore from a group of moneylenders, promising them political power in return.


This is a new section, and I’ll be providing links to articles I feel are must-reads. They do not fall under any specific category. Here’s the inaugural set:

1. The female price of male pleasure – The Week

While women imagined the low end to include the potential for extremely negative feelings and the potential for pain, men imagined the low end to represent the potential for less satisfying sexual outcomes, but they never imagined harmful or damaging outcomes for themselves. [“Intimate Justice: Sexual satisfaction in young adults“]

Pain is normal, if you’re a woman. It has been normalised. Did you know most painkillers aren’t tailored for the female body? How about sex? It’s scarily common to hear “The first time will be painful, you’ll have to bear it”. A woman is brought up, conditioned to think that sex is meant for her to provide her man with pleasure, but never feel any pleasure. Oh well, eases the pressure on men to perform, why not tell women they can’t seek pleasure? Easy way out!

Read on for eye-opening facts. Especially if you’re a hetero cis man who wants to make the world a better place.

2. A game of chicken: how India’s poultry farms are spawning superbugs – The Hindu

“Colistin is the last line of defence,” said Professor Walsh, who is also an adviser to the United Nations on antimicrobial resistance. “It is the only drug we have left to treat critically ill patients with a carbapenem-resistant infection. Giving it to chickens as feed is crazy.”

An investigative piece on how the unchecked use of colistin to accelerate the growth of chickens has improved the resistance of a certain type of bacteria towards drugs, strengthening them against antibiotics.

3. Parayan, poramboku and devadasi: The dark casteist history of these common words – The Print

T M Krishna explains the original and degenerated current meanings of the three Tamil words, and sets context for Vairamuthu’s Thamizhai Aandal.

As always, do leave comments about what you think 🙂

Awaiting the Goddess

Tirlapur’s kere

DHARWAD: The mobile lens caught a woman carrying five colourful, empty, plastics pots while I was trying to capture Tirlapur’s serene kere or tank. It was a hot afternoon for winter. To get to the kere, she has to climb 20 steps, and then descend another five to get to the water. The last two steps are submerged in water and slippery as they are covered in algae.

She negotiated the potentially dangerous part of drawing water by planting her left foot firmly on the last dry step, and the right foot onto a less slippery part of the second one, and in an unhurried manner, dipped and filled her pot with just one hand. She filled all five pots, carried them back to an iron cart that had brackets for each pot to sit in, and started making her way home.

She took time off from her water schedule to talk about her routine, and how she needs to ensure her family has adequate supply of water on any given day.

“I could use a break”, she smiled when asked if she could talk for a few minutes.

Suvarna Mallad would probably do with ease what many  struggle to do at the gym every day. She pushes her cart of pots all the way to the kere from her house, which is a kilometre away. Each of the pot carries 20 litres of water. She fills up five pots every trip, and she makes around eight trips per day. This involves climbing up a flight of stairs with the heavy pot, and down another flight with it, securing it onto the pushcart, and pushing the 800 litres of water home each trip. The water thus taken home is used for drinking, cooking, washing utensils and clothes, and for the cattle.

“We get water supply through the tap at home, once a week. The rest of the days, we depend on this water”, she said.

Suvarna is one of the two daughters-in-law of her family. They run the household for all 12 (including them) members of the family. The responsibility of making sure the household has enough water lies with them.

Suvarna can be taken as a representation of most women of Tirlapur, or even rural India in general. Because cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the cattle have traditionally been their forte, the job of making sure the family has access to water has also become that of the women of the family.

The statistics released by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) for the year 2012 revealed that 54% of rural women in India travelled anywhere between 200 metres and five kilometres every day, just to  fetch drinking water. According to a report carried by the Hindustan Times, every second rural woman spent 210 hours a year to fetch water. Collectively, these women covered 64,000 times the distance between the earth and the moon, says the report.

In some regions, like in Tirlapur, children of the family also joined the women while collecting water for the household.

Suvarna has two sons and a daughter. The eldest, who is 25, works at an IT firm, she said.

“He doesn’t want to work in the fields”, she added.

The other two, a 12-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter are in school.

“They help me whenever they can, though I discourage them,” she said.

Why does she discourage them, I asked.

“They are children. They don’t have to do such back breaking work,” she said, her expression conveying her wonder at my not getting such an obvious logic.

children carrying pots
Children of Tirlapur on their way to the kere to fill their pots

On how this work has impacted her, she said, “I get very tired by the end of the day, yet I have to get on with cleaning the house, preparing dinner, and making sure the cattle are fed and watered,” the wrinkles on her forehead deepened.

She said he back hurt her every night, and she found difficult to get up if she sat on the floor.

During summer, the number of trips she makes increases.

She drew attention to another woman on her way to fetch water.


“I live only a kilometre away. But her, she lives 3 kilometres away. Her task is more strenuous,” she said.

Asked what would ease her burden, she said, “Give us our Mahadayi thaayi* ”, the wrinkles on her forehead coming alive with emotion.


*River Mahadayi, ‘thaayi’ means ‘mother’ or ‘goddess’ in Kannada. The sharing of the river’s waters has been a matter of dispute for a long time now, one of its consequences being water shortage in some of Karnataka’s districts. Here’s a 101 on the subject.

Back after an unintended break


Hello, people.

Just wanted to say sorry for the break I didn’t warn anyone about. So much has happened since my last post: multiple short-term illnesses, and an eye-opening, passion-fuelling trip to rural Karnataka being the most notable among them.

I’ll focus on the latter because there’s nothing to write home about regarding the former.

I went to Gadag, a district in north Karnataka, for what my college has termed a “deprivation trip”: covering deprivation and poverty is important for a journalist. It is also important for a country like India, where people and the media are harping about “ease of business” when the majority of the nation has almost nil access to basic necessities such as clean drinking water and primary health care.

What I saw affected me, it affected my classmates (30 of us went there).

I intend to bring their stories to light, to make people sit up and take notice.

I will be publishing the stories here as and when my prof finishes reviewing and editing them.

Some saddening and some inspiring stories lined up. There is a common thread though: these people have learnt to be happy in spite of their circumstances, and they have the largest of hearts. I do not wish to glorify this aspect, I see that as a disservice to them. But the human spirit was on display, and that moved me to tears. I hope you like them.

Wishing you all a belated Happy New Year, and belated Happy Pongal/Bihu/Lohri/Makar Sankranti! 🙂

Good sex education is a part of altering patriarchal attitudes: Paromita Vohra

Source: Wikipedia


Note: This article originally appeared on Storify. Unfortunately, they’ve decided to discontinue the platform. I didn’t like how the import-export of the content worked, so I decided to reproduce it here.

For most Indians, sex education is one vague class in high school, and it will leave us with more questions than answers. This coupled with the general discomfort around the subject gets people relying on the Internet for information, most of which are passed on to peers, unverified.

 In the Indian public sphere, the conversations around sex are mostly about crimes.
 How about positive conversations, such as the benefits of sex education, discussing consent, and representation of diverse sexual identities in mainstream art forms? How does this tie in with healthy cultural shifts, feminism, and becoming a better person on the whole?
 Filmmaker and writer Paromita Vohra, who has documentaries on gender and pop culture to her credit, decided to make these positive conversations happen, and to normalise sex. The result? Agents of Ishq (AoI), a “multimedia project about sex, love, and desire”, according to the website.

I had the opportunity to interview her on Twitter, and what emerged was an insightful conversation on patriarchal attitudes, gender issues, and sexual identities, with a sprinkling of Paromita’s Bollywood recommendations. I had fixed a time for the interview, and she was late. The unassuming Paromita apologised, as we began the chat.


Sex education, consent, and the relationship between the two

sex ed consent

She put across her points in simple terms:
sexed consent 2
Paromita believes that sex education, if well-imparted, can change a person for the better, teach them respect- for the self and for others. She believes a positive cultural shift can be effected through holistic sex education.
holistic sex ed

On the possibility of sex education facing resistance, and the Kamasutra cliché

band baaja baarat

Screenshot-2017-12-14 Good sex education is a part of altering patriarchal attitudes Paromita Vohra (with tweets) · Kirthik[...]

The Bollywood song Paromita mentioned:



About the idea of India moving from being a sexually open to a sexually repressed society

Screenshot-2017-12-14 Good sex education is a part of altering patriarchal attitudes Paromita Vohra (with tweets) · Kirthik[...](1)

Paromita also recommended a couple of articles on the subject
article recommendations
Links to the articles she recommended:
She advocates a compassionate, rather than a judgemental discourse around sex and desire. Can this idea be applied to conversations around patriarchy too?
I ask her for examples to help me understand the idea of “create and suggest” as opposed to just criticise.


On Sec 377

The undying debate on Sec 377 cannot go unaddressed when you have a conversation with the brain behind AoI:


Through Agents of Ishq, Paromita aims to create a go-to site where people from all walks of life can comfortably discuss their issues and confusions, self-discovery, and have open conversations without being judged.
You can find innovative, fun, insightful discussions on Agents of Ishq.

Weekly Fix: Ockhi hits India, Kirron Kher puts her foot in her mouth, TM Krishna kicks up a controversy


Photo by Nicola Anderson on Unsplash

First off, sorry for the late dispatch! Hectic week at college. And Chennai people, aren’t you happy we got  just the right amount of rains? Let’s hope for a wet December that doesn’t involve a deluge.

Without further ado, here’s the week in news:


Pope visits Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees from Myanmar

Also, he said “Rohingya” for the first time.

Strategic port of Chabahar inaugurated in Iran

This is important for India, as it is on the Arabian Sea and will fortify trade with Central Asian countries: we have a route and do not Pakistan’s help to get our goods to landlocked Central Asia.

US pulls out of Global Impact on Migration

Apparently, the deal, negotiated by Obama, has provisions that do not align with their immigration and refugee policies and, of course, the Trump administration’s immigration rules.

India and Nepal’s joint tiger census kicks off

“With improvements in the conservation methods, the number of tigers in this census is expected to rise by at least 50”, reported ANI.

Russia is thinking of banning American journalists from covering the Duma

Russia has been escalating restrictions on American media in response to the United States scrutiny on Russian state-funded outlets RT and Sputnik. (ANI)

India re-enters the IMO

India secured 144 votes from the member countries, the second largest majority of votes, while Germany bagged 146.


Cyclone Okchi wreaks havoc on Kerala, Lakshadweep, Goa

South Tamil Nadu also got heavy rains, Kanyakumari worst hit. Here’s more.

Kirron Kher victim shames rape survivour, takes pseudo-liberal stance to cover it up

“I want to speak a bit about the girl’s understanding, and to all girls in general, that when you see there are already three men sitting in an auto, you should not be getting inside it,” the actor-turned-politician said at a press conference in Chandigarh.

After facing backlash, Kher reacted saying, “The matter should not politicised… Aren’t there girls in your homes? You should also be talking constructive things like I am, instead of making a destructive statement,” she said.


T M Krishna says M S Subbulakshmi “Brahminised” herself, receives outrage from the community

Well, I go with him. You can’t not be opinionated about such things. We can’t deny our privilege, folks. Eh, what are you talking about?

Rape accused’s mother murdered

Daswant was jailed for raping and murdering a 7-year-old girl. He is out on bail, and police suspect him to have committed the crime and taken away jewellery and cash.


Just one last thing: today you will witness a supermoon!

How We Read


Source: Pixabay


“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
― Charles William Eliot

It is a balmy summer afternoon at Mitra Vana, a rustic farm on the outskirts of Mysore. Lying on her bed in the quaint farmhouse is Jayalakshmi Gopalan, doing what she loves most: reading. This is the third book she’s reading in the week. She had just turned 86, and had been showered with hoards of gifts from all four daughters: books, Ravalgaon candies in every shade available, bubble wrap (she loves popping them, I’m told), and a lilac Sungudi saree with maroon prints. They are neatly stacked on her bedside table, with the books up top.

“I was very excited when I saw the Ravalgaon candies, but when they brought out the loot of books, I felt like Christmas had come early!” she says.

She pauses for a moment to call out to her daughter who is seated at the dining table, also reading a book (perhaps it runs in the family?).

“I’ll mostly be done with these books by next Friday”, she tells her. “I’ll need more books.”

Books have been a steadfast companion for Jayalakshmi, ever since she was married off to an Army officer at the age of 19.

“My husband was away for the most part and would get posted in states where I did not understand the language. Reading kept me company till I could learn the language (sic)”, she says.

Those days, it wasn’t a quotidian affair for a woman of her upbringing to be a gluttonous reader, she states. Nevertheless, she did not give up on books.

“I encouraged my children to read voraciously, I tell off my grandchildren for staring at their devices more than reading some good ol’ books”, she chuckles. She also believes that e-readers come nowhere close to holding a book in hand, turning the pages, slipping in a bookmark.

She believes the reading habit is waning among the populace and believes that the Internet is solely to blame.

But what might surprise her, and most of us is the latest World Culture Score Index released by NOP, which claims that Indians read the most.


Source: Statista


Surprisingly, the UK and the USA do not figure at the top of the list.

Before delving into the nitty-gritty, here are some facts and trivia about books and book publishing:

  • The number of book titles published worldwide, since the invention of the printing press, is 150 million
  • The book publishing industry is the largest media and entertainment industry: the estimated value is $ 151 billion. Compare that with the film industry – $ 131 billion, video games at $ 63 billion, and music – $ 50 billion
  • Though India ranks first when it comes to reading, it constitutes only 2% of the global book publishing market. The USA takes the major chunk at 30%

As for the reading habits of Americans, here are some eye-opening statistics:

Source: Bookbaby.com

According to the survey, the average American read only 12 books in 2015.

But the average American adult still fares better than the average Brit: in UK, the median is 10 books in a year (2015).


Source: Bookbaby.com


Another detail that draws attention is the use of e-books for reading: In the USA, only 6% of the total reading population are digital-only readers. One would think they would have a larger number of readers consuming content digitally. Nevertheless, e-book sales are expected to constitute 25.8% of total book sales globally, in 2018. Could it be that the aversion towards e-readers held by Jayalakshmi, an octogenarian, is shared globally, even by millennials?

Some e-book statistics

Source: Bookbaby.com


In the USA and the UK, e-books are expected to surpass the sale of print by 2018. Which is still a lot lesser than you would expect, given the rapid adoption of technology in the West.

Did the world ditch e-readers for traditional books?

According to a report that was released this year by The Publishers Association, consumer e-books sales have dropped by 17%, while the sale of physical books went up by 8%.

Let us back up a bit and look at the rise and fall of Kindle:

On November 19, 2007, Amazon launched Kindle, its e-reader. In spite of the initial misgivings, Amazon sold the devices out in no time, and was forced to put up a notice that they were out of stock till December 3, due to “heavy customer demand”.

It was no surprise that it sold out so quick: there you are, travelling in a creaky Indian Railways train, lugging around a pile of precious books, and someone tells you, you can have all of that in a single, lightweight device. Having a Kindle was a marker of “cool”.

Source: The Digital Reader

“The physical book had become quite a cheap and tacky thing at the turn of the millennium,” James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones, said in an interview with The Guardian. He says that publishers “cut back on the quality of the paper, so if you left a book in the sun it went yellow. They were gluing, not sewing. They would put a cover on a hardback but not do anything with the hard case underneath. Nowadays, if you take a cover off, there is likely to be something interesting underneath it.”

The rise of Kindle also led to studies that looked into how reading habits and benefits differed between people who read from print and those who read from an e-reader. One study came to a conclusion that Kindle readers were “significantly worse” at recalling events in a story they read, in comparison with their paperback counterparts.

Anne Mangen of Stavanger University, Norway, who is the lead researcher of this study, also cautioned the world against assuming digitally natives perform better at academics.

“I don’t think we should assume it is all to do with habits, and base decisions to replace print textbooks with iPads, for instance, on such assumptions. Studies with students, for instance, have shown that they often prefer to read on paper,” The Guardian quoted her.

So how did Kindle fall from its glory?

One reason could be, as this article points out, the rabid need to tell the world you are cool. Type in “book” in the search bar on Instagram, and you find countless posts using the tag #bookstagram. To be more accurate, 1,54,49,828 posts.


One can find users posting photographs of the book they are reading. Or, photographers using books as aesthetics. The latter is more of a trend, as can be seen from the results (image on the right).

In short, books are being seen as beautiful objects, that add drama to an otherwise boring scene. They are being used as a signifier of intelligence.

“I have brains!” screams pictures of men and women, who could easily be supermodels wearing Harry Potter spectacles and carrying bulky hardcovers, in all probability for a photoshoot.

“Part of the positive pressure that digital has exerted on the industry is that publishers have rediscovered their love of the physical,” says James Daunt.

Another reason for the decline of e-books could be that children’s and young adults’ books are on the rise. There seems to be a resistance among parents towards their children using e-readers, too.

To quote The Guardian:

‘Daunt’s children “can stick their noses in a book and they are lost in that book”. But when they try to read on a digital machine, “the allure of Snapchat pinging away, it’s a disaster. They think it’s a disaster.” ’

The Indian Scene

In homeland India, parents on Senior Reading Raccoons, one of the most active and enthusiastic book clubs on Facebook, regularly hold conversations on whether or not their children should start off on Kindle. And the humble, traditional book always emerges victorious with a resounding majority vote.

What do Indian readers think about e-readers?

When it comes to how they consume, adult readers, at least as far as the Raccoons are concerned, are divided.

In India, e-readers work out cheaper than their paperback counterparts. Kindle even offers specific titles for free.

For some readers, however, this is not incentive enough.

“Paperback and hardcover. I loathe Kindle (sic)”, says Manoj Narayanan (27), member of Senior Reading Racoons. “They don’t give me the feeling that books do. I am of the old school; I like holding my books, feeling their size and storing them in my bookshelves. Also, I find it easier to read from paper than from a screen. Don’t think a screen can ever give me the same comfort (sic)”, he explains.

Manoj is also part of a book club that functions the old-fashioned way: they meet every month at a cafe or sometimes at the home of one of the members, and exchange books and book reviews.

Named “Chennai Coffee & Books Meetup”, the group has seen a steady increase in the number of members using an e-reader, he says. He has come to accept some of the benefits of e-readers. “I can read in the nights without turning the lights on. I can carry more books with me. And yes, no physical damage to the books, thereby increasing their life”, he admits reluctantly.

Solomon M, a 31-year-old HR professional, has a different story to tell. The Broke Bibliophiles’ Chennai Chapter, of which he is the coordinator, leans towards traditional books.

“The youngest member is 19 (sic) and the oldest member is 56 (sic). And all of us agree that nothing feels better than the ability to turn a page, or pass on a well-thumbed book to a friend”, he says.

Yamuna Soundararajan, 23, a member of Senior Reading Racoons, opines: “I’m a Luddite. And in this aspect alone, I don’t mind being one. I find reading on Kindle to be an awkward experience. It doesn’t feel like I’m reading a real book, you know? (sic)”

When asked to explain what she meant by “real book”, she gushes:

“Reading a paperback or a hardcover is just… nicer. They are also reminders of every journey a book takes you on. You can add notes as to who gave you a book, the occasion, the date… wouldn’t it be wonderful to pick up an old book from your bookshelf 20 years from now, see where, when, and how you got it? Personally, that would be very special.”

One thing that both sides agree on: reading is the most pleasurable activity in the world. To quote George R.R. Martin:

‘“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies”, said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.” 

Scientists too have come up with enough proof that supports the idea that reading benefits humanity:


Source: Bookbaby.com


Even if you set aside the scientific facts that rule in its favour, reading a book takes you on wondrous journeys, rich in culture and experience. The twirl of a skirt in a ballroom, the crack of a whip on a horse, the deep despair of separated lovers, the thrill of going through Forbidden Forests, the cold air blowing on your face as you ride a dragon… the number of persons you can be, and the emotions you can feel, is endless when you hold a book in your hand.

Weekly Fix: One shocking incident, more religious extremism, Trump’s goof-up, and ‘The Crocodile’ Mnangagwa



1. Mugabe resigns, Mnangagwa takes over

A development since last Saturday: Mugabe steps down, Emmerson Mnangagwa takes over. Not without paying tribute to the former of course. Here’s a rundown of the whole thing. Good luck, Zimbabwe.

2. Gunmen attack Sufi mosque in Egypt, death toll at 305

Between 25 to 30 armed men attacked the al Rawdah Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed on Friday, November 24. They set off a blast and attacked fleeing worshippers, according to reports. Investigators said that the group were carrying a flag of the Islamic State (IS) group. President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has vowed to respond with “the utmost force”, while the Egyptian military said it has conducted air strikes on “terrorist” targets.

3. March in Turkey for women’s rights

Hundreds, mostly women, gathered in Turkey today to mark a day protesting violence against women and girls. The protest has begun at Istanbul, despite Turkish police refusing permission. Slogans of “We are not afraid” and “We won’t be silent” are being raised.

4. Trump embarrasses himself. Again. Is this even news anymore?

Trump tweeted today that TIME magazine told him he might be their Person of the Year and that he took a pass. TIME magazine called him out on his lie. Twitter had fun.

5. Bangladesh blocks The Wire

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission emailed all International Internet Gateway operators, asking them to block The Wire’s domain. This move comes after the web news portal put out an article on the role of Bangladesh’s military intelligence agency in the illegal pick-up and detention of academic Mubashar Hasan.


While we were all raging over the rage over Padmavati, this is what happened:

1. Lawyer who presided over a case involving Amit Shah was possibly murdered

Justice B H Loya, who presided over the hearing of a case in which BJP President Amit Shah was the prime accused, could have died an unnatural death, as against what was reportedly the cause: a heart attack. Watch the video 101 here.

The Caravan broke this to the world.

2. Hadiya to appear before SC for hearing on November 27

“I was not forcibly converted, I need justice”, she shouted to the press people while on her way to board a flight to New Delhi.

3. Voting for <insert party name> = voting for BJP in Meerut

Voters at a polling booth in Meerut were in for a shock when one of them discovered that an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was recording votes only for BJP, irrespective of the button pressed.

4. 4-year-old sexually assaulted by classmate in Delhi

Yes. You read that right. Here’s more if you can stomach it.


1. Thideer Nagar residents get relocated

In spite of putting up a valiant fight, residents of Thideer Nagar on Greams Road were evicted as part of the Cooum River Eco-restoration Project. The full deal here.

2. Chennai Corporation to link Aadhar to its civic services.

Two words: Uh oh!

3. Yet another cave-in on Anna Salai

This time, The Hindu reports, it was the size of a manhole. The cave-in happened on Sunday (November 19) evening, near DMS subway.

4. Dead shark moves Chennai youth to clean up beaches

“We had gone to discuss the decline of fishing resources around our villages with a marine research scholar a few months ago,” K. Vinod, a young fisherman who along with friends is spearheading the movement to clean the coast, told The Hindu.  “The scientist showed us a photo of the dead shark that had washed up along Kovalam beach, and we could see the insides. We saw a whole load of plastics in the gut. He told us that the whole bunch of waste plastics weighed around 50 kg. The plastic waste was the reason for reduced catch too, he told us.”

Here’s the full story.

5. Vadapalani Metro Station to host Carnatic music concert

If you are going to be in Chennai on December 3, don’t forget to head to Vadapalani’s Metro Rail Station. Noted artistes Ranjani and Gayathri will perform there as part of a campaign to create awareness about organ donation. The concert is free for all.


Weekly Fix: Farmer Woes, Gender Crimes, and Environmental Issues


Photo by Oliver Thomas Klein on Unsplash


I thought it would be a great idea to put together important happenings every week so you folks can stay informed even if you don’t read a daily. My “week” starts Sunday and ends Saturday. So here’s the first installment and inaugural Weekly Fix:



1. Earthquake hits Tibet ahead of Tibetan New Year

An earthquake of 6.3 magnitude shook Nyingchi, a remote area in Tibet, on the disputed border between China and India. It happened in the early hours of Saturday. No casualties have been reported, though several houses have been reportedly damaged.

2. Scientists issue second warning to the world about the planet’s health

More than 16,000 scientists from 184 countries published a warning about the unsustainable lives we lead, and how we are putting the world on a fast track towards destruction. This is the second warning, the first was issued in 1992. Here’s one of the many distressing facts: ocean dead zones on Earth have increased by 75% since the publication of the first warning. Bring it on, I can handle this.

3. 19 arrested in Sri Lanka following sectarian violence

Sri Lankan elite police forces arrested 19 people today following Buddhist-Muslim street clashes. There are unconfirmed reports that suggest that the violence broke out after an incident involving a Buddhist biker and a Muslim woman. Tell me more.

4. Ruling party, Zimbabweans want President Mugabe to step down

Mugabe refused to step down as President, even as his power seems to have come under check thanks to members of his own party. The trigger is reported to be the firing of Mnangagwa, touted to be his successor, so Mugabe’s wife can take over. That’s crazy!

5. Australians vote for legalising same-sex marriage

It feels good to have some good news.


1. Ryan International murder case shrouded in mystery

Pradhyuman Thakur, an eight-year-old, was found murdered in the bathroom of his school, Ryan International, in Bhondsi on September 8. Haryana Police immediately arrested the school bus conductor, Ashok Kumar, who had allegedly confessed to sexually assaulting the boy and murdering him. Ashok Kumar later took back his confession (September 13), after which the case was handed over to the CBI (September 15). Their investigation made a startling revelation: a Class XI student had confessed to murdering the child so the school would declare a holiday and a looming PTA meeting could be postponed. The 16-year-old took back his confession on November 14. But who killed Pradhyuman?

2. Sugarcane growers struggle on in Punjab, Maharashtra

Sugarcane growers in Punjab, specifically of the Doabha Sangarsh Committee, continued to protest after talks with the Amarinder Singh-led government proved inconclusive: the farmers wanted sugarcane price to be hiked to Rs. 350 per quintal.

Meanwhile, police fired at sugarcane farmers who had taken to the streets of Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, demanding a hike in the fair and remunerative price (FRP) of sugarcane.

3. Moody’s upgrades India to BAA3 from BAA2

It’s a credit rating, and it means we are stable in terms of credit ratings. Here’s a fun explainer.

4. 401 test positive for dengue in Himachal Pradesh

The state is on high alert, and Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur on Tuesday directed the state health department to take precautionary measures to prevent further spread. Read on.

5. Hardik Patel’s former aides join BJP

Ahead of the Gujarat elections, Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel joined the saffron party this week. This comes after Hardik Patel’s “sex video” was leaked.

6. Miss World 2017 is from India

Manushi Chhillar, a 20-year-old medical student from Haryana, won the coveted title today (November 18).


1. I-T department swoops down on properties of Sasikala, her connections, and Poes Garden

The residences and business premises of Sasikala’s clan were raided for five continuous days. Looks like Poes Garden was too good to pass up too.

2. Two stalking cases within a week

On Tuesday, an engineering student was burnt alive, in her residence, by her stalker. He is her former classmate and she had rejected his romantic overtures. He has since been arrested by the police. Full story here.

On Thursday, the son of Tamil actor Bhuvaneshwari was arrested for stalking and harassing his former schoolmate.

3. In a shocker, man caught for mugging reveals that he raped or sexually assaulted 50 women

Madhan Arivalagan (28) was being questioned about a mugging case when police stumbled upon videos of him sexually assaulting women on his mobile phone. Police believe he has psychiatric issues and is currently interrogating his family and friends.

Well, that’s all for the week, I guess.

Let’s hope the next week is less depressing!