Sundays with Shankar

The life, work, and times of Shankar, father of Indian cartooning

cartoonist shankar
Shankar in a pensive mood

Continue reading “Sundays with Shankar”

Who will be the next President?

Ramnath Kovind, 14th President of India
President Ramnath Kovind (presidentofindia.nic.in)

The attention of the political media is currently focused on the five states going to the polls during February/March. I am jumping ahead to speculate who will be the 15th President of India to succeed Ramnath Kovind whose term will expire on 24 July 2022. As we will see, the outcome of the five state elections will play a critical role in who the next President will be.

Those who are/were in high positions fall into two broad categories. At one end are those who are/were a decoration to their posts and continue to be so in public memory. At the other end, the designations are a decoration around their neck. Some such indicator would be required to remember who they were. In between are those whose positions rub off on them over time, and they grow to become distinguished personalities. Presidents of India are no exception. On the brighter side, barring a few, the rest have done the nation proud.

Continue reading “Who will be the next President?”

The Benegal Brothers

Radhabai and Raghavendra Rao

The collective contribution of the four Benegal brothers, Sanjiva Rao, Narsing Rau, Rama Rau, and Shiva Rao, to the idea and making of India has few parallels. Sons of Radhabai and Dr. Raghavendra Rao, a medical doctor, they are a fine example of what being rooted in Indian tradition and values, but being open to modern and progressive ideas can achieve. Despite their conservative upbringing, two found their spouses from another country, and a third from another community. All could have achieved much more than what they did only if they had been ambitious, or compromised on their values or ideals. But, every one chose to serve the country in their own humble ways. In an era of credit grabbing and blame passing, the Benegal brothers remain relatively unknown and under appreciated. Continue reading “The Benegal Brothers”

Abdullah Yusuf Ali: Triumph and Tragedy

The year 2021-22 marks the sesquicentennial of Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali. His remarkable life, caught between many worlds, was chaotic and turbulent, with its triumphs and tribulations, and a lasting legacy.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali (licensed from National Portrait Gallery, London)

In December 1953, six months after Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, London experienced another severe winter. The same time, previous year, the city had suffered the Great Smog. Wednesday, the 9th, was freezing cold. Movement was difficult. In the evening, in Trafalgar Square, Westminster, the police found an old man in tattered clothes, destitute and disoriented, on the steps of a house. He had a suitcase full of papers, but no money in his pockets. They admitted him to the Westminster Hospital, which discharged him the next day. A London City Council home for the elderly, in nearby Dovehouse Street, Chelsea, took him in. The same day he suffered a heart attack, and was rushed to the St Stephen’s Hospital. He died soon thereafter. Continue reading “Abdullah Yusuf Ali: Triumph and Tragedy”

Sidney Wadsworth: A Judge in Madras

Caroline Keen, A Judge in Madras: Sir Sidney Wadsworth and the Indian Civil Service, 1913-47, Harper Collins, 2021. Rs. 699.

Most British (and Indian) officers of the Indian Civil Service diligently maintained copious diaries filled with detailed accounts of their working life in India with the hope of turning them into one or more books after retirement. Only a few of them successfully sustained the habit throughout their service. Fewer still turned them into books. One of those who wrote a manuscript after retirement, but never published it, fearing lack of demand and publisher interest, was Sir Sidney Wadsworth. Born in 1888, Wadsworth joined the ICS in Madras in 1913. Also posted to Madras, from the same batch, was Benegal Rama Rau, later Governor, Reserve Bank of India. Sidney retired in 1947 to the Isle of Man, where his father in law, Sir Robert Clegg ICS, also of Madras, spent his last years. “A Judge in Madras” is based on the draft memoirs of Sir Sidney Wadsworth. Continue reading “Sidney Wadsworth: A Judge in Madras”

Everyone’s MKK, our MD uncle: A Centenary Remembrance

MKK Nayar

This is a centenary remembrance of Late MKK Nayar (1920-1987), my father’s boss, who belonged to the first batch of IAS. Though belonging to the Tamil Nadu cadre, his significant contributions include construction of the Bhilai Steel Plant, modernisation of FACT fertilizer plants, and to the world of sports, arts, and culture, in Kerala and beyond. Continue reading “Everyone’s MKK, our MD uncle: A Centenary Remembrance”

A train journey with PKV

PKV Election Poster

Today is the 74th Independence Day. As I write this, Malayalam news media is full of discussions on the gold smuggling scandal that has been the rage for the last six weeks. In stark contrast to the jet setting life style and outlook of present day leaders, I was reminded of two incidents from a few decades back. Continue reading “A train journey with PKV”

Are we Goodhart-ed? Some questions for pandemic times

In monetary theory, Goodhart’s Law states that “when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” That is because people, and even governments and other organizations start gaming the target. Named after Charles Goodhart, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics, and a former Chief Adviser and External Member of the Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England, who had propounded it, Goodhart’s Law was originally formulated in the context of monetary policy during the Thatcher years. But its utility goes beyond monetary policy in explaining various phenomena where targets are met, but underlying performance is poor. Continue reading “Are we Goodhart-ed? Some questions for pandemic times”

Srinivasa Ramanujan: A Life in Infinity

Opened in 1901, the Victoria Students Hostel in Triplicane, Chennai, is an Indo-Saracenic structure designed in the style of residences at Oxford and Cambridge by Henry Irwin, Consulting Architect for the Madras Presidency. It was built in memory of Pundi Runganadha Mudaliar, Professor of Mathematics at Presidency College, who had died at the age of 45. The hostel housed students of Presidency College, and nearby colleges including the College of Engineering. Continue reading “Srinivasa Ramanujan: A Life in Infinity”

error: Content is protected !!