Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer: My first boss

VR Krishna Iyer in his office

Only very few of my friends know, or now remember, that my career, so to speak, started with a stint working for Late Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer.

Before I joined the Reserve Bank of India, I nursed for long the idea of doing my Ph.D. in Environmental Economics. With that in mind, I had been reading up on the environment, and environmental economics, apart meeting people connected with environmental issues. Continue reading

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Kappa Chakka Kandhari: Food for the Gods

For a food loving Malayali in Chennai, the number of eateries serving Kerala cuisine has increased over the years. But, my favourite to-go places have changed. For many years, from 1986 when I first came here, till around the mid-90s it was Kalpaka, a small joint in the first floor of a nondescript building, on TTK Road, behind Music Academy. It was known for serving excellent and homely Kerala food at affordable rates. For some time, it was Kumarakom. If I am not mistaken, the name was chosen sometime around 2000, soon after PM Vajpayee made it famous following a holiday retreat in Kumarakom in Vembanad Lake, Kerala. Continue reading

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M.D. Ramanathan: A Musician’s Musician

M.D. Ramanathan

When I was young, good music was heard only over the radio and from rare records that one possessed. The moments to cherish were when your favourite musician came on the radio unexpectedly. When MD Ramanathan’s rare record was played, my father would raise his hand to silence all of us, as we listened to his rendering in Nilambari or Reethigowla. I would have included MDR, as he was known to his fans, in my series of forgotten musicians, but for the fact that his following today is much more than what it was when he died. If Ramanathan were alive, he would have been 97 today, the 20th May 2020. Continue reading

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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

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University College: My brief stint, and a bit of history

College logo

Last year, 2019, University College, Trivandrum, was in the news for all the wrong reasons. It brought back memories of my own association with the College over the years. I discuss below, my association with the College, a bit of history, and some alumni. Continue reading

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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

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Forgotten Musicians: Lakshmi Shankar

This is the second in my series on forgotten musicians. It is on the life and music of Lakshmi Shankar, who was married to Rajendra Shankar, one of the Shankar brothers. Continue reading

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Reading in times of Covid-19

I read in today’s (4 April 2020) Mint, the financial newspaper (unfortunately behind a paywall, so not giving the link), what different authors are reading during the current corona lockdown. That inspired me to make my own list. My region might not lift the lockdown so soon given that the government is going in for a phased exit. I have, therefore, a modified list. Continue reading

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Blogging in times of Covid-19

Blogging in times of corona

I think it was Bertrand Russell (or maybe it was Bernard Shaw) who in the introduction to one of his books speculated as to what an exiled Greek statesman or a Chinese bureaucrat would have done in the olden days. A discredited Greek statesman, according to him, would have gathered a motley group of warriors and organized a revolt against the city state. On the other hand, a discredited Chinese official would have retired to the hills and written poetry. Continue reading

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Forgotten musicians: Mysore B.S. Raja Iyengar

My earliest recollection of listening to a music concert was sometime in 1966 or 1967. I was about five or six years old. The occasion was the inauguration of a temple built by FACT, which was set up in 1943 and is the oldest fertilizer company in India. My father was there on deputation for a second term, this time to set up the Ambalamedu Division of the company, near Kochi. When the land was acquired, one or two villages were displaced, which became the subject of a famous short story, Sakshi, by T. Padmanabhan, celebrated Malayalam celebrated short story writer, who wrote the story after six years of enigmatic silence. Continue reading

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