30 June 2012

Sunday Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

If the whole world had the same proportion of overweight and obese people as America, its biomass would rise by 20%, says the Economist.

I am sure you will like this collection of Sunday reads.
  • Indian Dalits' suffering laid bare by photographer. (BBC) Also read how Dalits are still fighting untouchability
  • A Pakistani newspaper focuses on what the self-styled secular Indian media never will: the rights of the minority Hindu women in a Muslim country like Bangladesh. (Dawn)
  • Endgame Pakistan? Brilliant piece by Khaled Ahmed on how Pakistan is wilting under judicial and political onslaught. (The Friday Times)

28 June 2012

Mid-Week Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

A highly diverse set of articles for you.

  • Picture slideshow: The handshakes that shaped the modern world. (BBC)

A political farce is playing out in Pakistan, with the principal actors - government, judiciary, and the military - all enacting a tragedy of mammoth proportions. The Hindu captures the executive's dilemma in this brilliant cartoon. 

24 June 2012

Sunday Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

This is easily one of the best collection of reads I could gather for your Sunday.
  • China falsifies data to mask slowdown. (NYT)
  • Forget Edison: This is how history's greatest inventions really happened. (The Atlantic)
  • No country for armed men: Pakistan is in such bad shape, even the generals do not want to run it. (Foreign Policy)
  • Audio-Visual Slideshow: How India plans to tackle its growing water crisis. (BBC)

Eurostat estimates that 24.7 million people in the EU27 (27 members of the European Union) were unemployed in April. The Reuters graphic below breaks those numbers out on a country-by-country basis.

21 June 2012

Mid-Week Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

How China might look if the one-child policy were strictly enforced
If each woman had been allowed only one child since 1980, China’s population would have been 340m smaller than it was in 2010. If a strict one-child limit were in force for the rest of this century China’s population would shrink to less than 145m by 2100, 800m fewer than the UN projects in its central scenario.  Read more at the Economist.

Here is my collection of Mid-Week reads for you.
  • What if China annexes the Moon? (FP

19 June 2012

Datagraphic on the World's Best MBA Colleges

Data have always fascinated me. As an MBA entrance test prep teacher, almost on a daily basis I face questions on various kinds of management programs and the schools that offer them.
To give the right advice calls for access to the right kind of data (information, including figures); I believe that only if I have the right data, I can give the right advice, something that will help the MBA aspirant make the right decision. After all the choice of school and program is crucial in helping one acquire learning and skills, both of which are central to realise one’s career goal. 

Today, I am going to share a self-made datagraphic on the World’s Best MBA Colleges. The data sources have been listed; i
n this datagraphic, you will not find the names in alphabetical order. I have taken the names from The Economist Which MBA listing. However, I have collected all the relevant data from the Websites of the schools.

I have not included data on the two-year programs offered by Indian MBA colleges; maybe I will come up with one such datagraphic later. 

In case you wish to share this datagraphic, please carry the link to this page on your blog/FB/Twitter account.

Feel free to post your comments. 

Click on the graphic for a gigantic view.

17 June 2012

Sunday Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

DESPITE entreaties not to, many people choose rather predictable passwords to protect themselves online. "12345"; "password"; and the like are easy to remember but also easy for attackers to guess, especially with programs that automate the process using lists ("dictionaries") of common choices. Cambridge University computer scientist Joseph Bonneau has recently published an analysis of the passwords chosen by almost 70m (anonymised) Yahoo! users. One interesting result is shown below. The chart shows what percentage of accounts could be cracked after 1,000 attempts using such a dictionary. Source for graphic and text: The Economist

Sunday reads for you!

  • Has skin whitening in India gone too far? (BBC)
  • India and America: Less than allies, more than friends. (The Economist)
  • Limbo Land:  A journey into Azawad, the world's newest failed state. (Foreign Policy)

Sunday Slideshow Special: Pranab Mukherjee's road to Raisina Hill. (ET)

Tomorrow, I will publish an data graphic on the World's Best MBA Colleges, prepared by me, with data like average GMAT score, post-MBA salary, annual intake, and other details. Make sure to visit this blog for the graphic!

15 June 2012

The Evolution of the Internet

The Internet has changed the way we live. In the last few decades, it has evolved from an esoteric research tool to a great mass-based popular medium of communication (for business, social, and other reasons). 

Check this awesome infographic on the evolution of the Internet; sourced from

Click on the graphic for a larger view.

14 June 2012

Note on Mid-Week Reads

This week's Mid-Week Reads on the Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas will not be published.

This is due to my preoccupation with some professional commitments.

However, let me share some good news: this blog has crossed 4 lakh pageviews in just under 13 months.

Thank you!

10 June 2012

Sunday Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

“My aim is to get to the core of violence in America.... Not just the physical violence against one another but the quiet violence of letting families fall apart, the violence of unemployment, the violence of our educational system, and the violence of segregation and isolation.”
  • Malnutrition and hunger stalks Gandhi family's bastion. (ET)
The Rae Bareli seat in Uttar Pradesh has been a Gandhi family bastion since 1967 when Indira Gandhi first stood for election from there. Sonia Gandhi adopted the constituency in 2004 and was re-elected with a huge majority in 2009. It should, therefore, be one of India's most developed districts. Right? Wrong. 
  • The world economy is in grave danger. A lot depends on one woman. (The Economist)
  • Why the U.S. will never be able to win the arms race with China. (FP)

Sunday Slideshow Special: Photos from the War Zone in Syria, from TIME.

09 June 2012

Pictorial Methodology to learn Vocabulary

As a teacher working for a CAT prep institute, students often ask if I could help them with learning vocabulary. Well, I won't claim to be an expert on this issue; there are a number of ways to learn vocab and yes, I too have one!

For Vocab, try the 
Root-Prefix-Suffix (RPS) method. Pick a word, find the RPS related to the chosen word. 

There are two important books required to acquire a degree of comfort in building vocabulary: (a) dictionary (my favourite is Concise 
Oxford Dictionary; it carries root of the word, tracing its origin and development) and (b) thesaurus (Roget’s Thesaurus of Synonyms and Antonyms)

  1. It is important that you read extensively, on a wide range of issues. This way you will come across known, and also some new, words.
  2. The next step involves finding the meaning of these words, esp., new words.
  3. As for the known words, refer to a thesaurus... here you can learn related words – both of the same meaning and opposite meanings.

The above steps involve pretty little effort; at first glance, this may appear difficult but after a week of such practice, I am sure you will feel comfortable.

Put the above to work through the below mentioned method:

  • Write the chosen word in the middle of the page (have a 100 page notebook for this purpose) and circle it. 
  • Drag four arrows on the top side and four on the bottom side of the circle; for each arrow on the top, write one synonym of the circled word. Write four such words.
  • Repeat this for the bottom arrows; in this space, write antonyms. 

For your benefit, find below one such picture I have created.

Learn one word daily, with four synonyms and four antonyms (may not be exact synonyms / antonyms but could be related).

I think this kind of pictorial method helps in word retention, especially if you look at the picture twice or thrice daily. Yes, it is true that you may forget half of these words but it is unlikely that you will forget all the mentioned words.

Start building vocabulary; this will improve comfort level with language, sentence construction, word usage, grammar, and vocabulary. And yes, this will help in knowledge building too.

Happy learning!

BJ's 15-Minute Learning Rule

07 June 2012

Mid-Week Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

  • Job losses stare Wall Street executives. (Reuters)
  • Government to blame for much of present economic woes. (ETAlso, check out how backward states are fueling India's GDP growth.
Some guards used the insects to inflict merciless punishments.
"They'd undress the prisoner and tie him up for the mosquitoes and that was worse than any torture instrument."
... one young man, enslaved on the railway because of his politically incorrect poetry, was stripped naked and tormented in this way after he refused to give the names of some prisoners who had escaped.
A 16-year-old girl, whose mother had died and whose father returned wounded from the front, was desperate to feed her four younger siblings. When she was caught stealing half a sack of beetroots she too was sent off to build the railway. 

03 June 2012

Sunday Reads - The Best of Politics, Economics, & Ideas

  • Beyond Black Hawk Down. (Vanity Fair) If you have watched Hollywood top film Black Hawk Down, then you must read this story.
  • When Hindu Meets Catholic and the Children That Follow. (NYT Blog
  • Mafia States: Organised crime takes office. (ForeignAffairs; registration required, its free!)

Slideshow Special: Mukesh Ambani's Antilla, featured in an exclusive (not really) slideshow from the pages of Vanity Fair.

01 June 2012

Douglas Adams' perspective on the World & Us

Douglas Adams is the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Here's an excerpt from a tribute article published in the Times. 

I remember him telling me once of something that, he said, had just happened to him at the railway station. He was early for a train, so he bought The Guardian, a cup of coffee and a packet of biscuits, and sat down at a table, putting the folded newspaper down so he could do the crossword. The packet of biscuits was in the middle of the table.
There was another man already sitting at the table and this man now leant calmly across, tore open the packet of biscuits and ate one. Douglas said he went into a sort of state of shock, but — determined not to show any reaction — he equally calmly leant forward and took the second biscuit. A few minutes later, the man took the third and ate it. Douglas then took the fourth and tried his best not to glare at the man.
The man then stood up and wandered off as if nothing had happened, at which point Douglas’s train was announced. So he hurriedly finished his coffee and picked up his belongings, only to find his packet of biscuits under the newspaper.
It’s actually a profoundly philosophical story. With one slight adjustment of the furniture, the victim becomes the aggressor and the aggressor the victim, and one is left with the untold story of the true victim hanging in the air. It’s exactly the sort of shift in perspective that fascinated Douglas — as a way of not just telling stories but also of looking at ideas. (End of excerpt.)
The Times link is not working; so I linked this piece to another site, which has a copy. Go read the complete piece here