Monthly Archives: October 2019

10 things I didn’t know till last week

Over the last few weeks, I have been taking an effort to learn about things I knew very little about, but have a lot of interest in.

This post is an effort to make a list of terms or ideas I learnt about, so anyone who reads it can pick it up in a few minutes, or I can look it up again to refresh my memory. I am not going to attempt to explain each in detail. I will leave that to your curiosity, these are just nudges. There are a lot of these terms, but wanted to stick to my 10 things format.

National Institute of Urban Affairs

The National Institute of Urban Affairs is an institute for research, capacity building and dissemination of knowledge for the urban sector in India. It conducts research on urbanization, urban policy and planning, municipal finance and governance, land economics, transit oriented development, urban livelihoods, environment & climate change and smart cities. It was established in 1976.

Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation

BIMSTEC is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia. The BIMSTEC member states—Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan —are essentially the countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal, hence the name. It was established in 1997, it is 2019 and an FTA is still under negotiation.

Mekong-Ganga Cooperation

MGC is an initiative by six countries – India and five ASEAN countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications. It was launched in 2000. Both the Ganga and the Mekong are civilizational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins.

Generative Adversarial Network

GANs are a powerful class of neural networks that are used for unsupervised learning. It was developed and introduced by Ian J. Goodfellow in 2014. GANs are basically made up of a system of two competing neural network models which compete with each other and are able to analyze, capture and copy the variations within a dataset. A machine teaching a machine.

Members of Parliament Local Area Development Schemes

The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Division is entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of MPLADS. Under the scheme, each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector for works to the tune of Rs.5 Crores per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency. The Ministry has issued the guidelines on MPLADS Scheme including implementation and monitoring of the scheme. Every voter should go their website and see what their MP is spending that money for.

Public Enterprises Selection Board

The PESB under the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is a body to advise the government on management and top level appointments of central Public Sector Enterprises. Users can get information on vacancies, functions of the organization, guidelines, etc. A group of senior administrators recruit, select and recommend hires for senior positions in PSUs.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010

The FCRA is an act of the Parliament of India, by the 42nd Act of 2010. Its scope is to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution for any activities detrimental to the national interest.

The Chicago Boys

The Chicago Boys were a group of Chilean economists prominent around the 1970s and 1980s, the majority of whom trained at the Department of Economics of the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger. Upon their return to Latin America they adopted positions in numerous South American governments including the military dictatorship of Chile (1973–1990). The Heritage Foundation credits them with transforming Chile into Latin America’s best performing economy and one of the world’s most business-friendly jurisdictions.

Rent Seeking Behaviour

When property rights are weakened and the ownership of someone’s wealth or goods is debatable, people can gain more by trying to appropriate that wealth than by producing wealth themselves. This behavior is called rent-seeking.

1000 Grains of Sand Approach

The “grains of sand” approach refers to the practice of accumulating information from various quarters till a clearer image appears. In addition to human intelligence (HUMINT), technology plays a significant role in China’s Thousand Grains of Sand strategy. The strategy also blurs the lines between military and non-military intelligence.


Flaky millennial

This is a conversation between a millennial son and his 62 year old father in the year 2019.


Son (entering his OTP): Uber prices have gone up so much these days

Father (scrolling through WhatsApp chats): You should stop using Uber

Son: Very few buses go to my office, and the local train station is quite far. And it is so hot these days

Father: Stop giving excuses, and I am not asking you to go by bus anyway

Son: How are these excuses? These are legitimate reasons. If not by bus, how else would I go?

Father: I think you should buy a car

Son: I can’t afford a car

Father: We did so much to serve the nation, you can’t buy a car?

Son: I am not sure how that is related?

Father: How many movies did you watch this month?

Son: None

Father: Let’s go and watch Joker and War, I heard they are good

Son: I don’t think you will like either of them

Father: That is not the point. Book 4 tickets, I want a seat to keep my popcorn

Son: You don’t even like popcorn!

Father: Don’t argue! Why are you using cold water to take bath these days?

Son: I just said it is hot these days

Father: So? Bathe in hot water and then switch on the AC. We need to increase our electricity bill

Son: I am not sure I understand

Father: Also, don’t make any investments this year

Son: Are you ill or something?

Father: No point in putting money in PPF or FD, might as well pay more taxes

Son: Taxes?

Father: Yes. Also, sign these forms

Son: What are these? Loans? I don’t need loans

Father: You only said you can’t afford a car

Son: How can I afford a loan? And why are there so many forms? Personal loan? STUDENT loan?

Father: Yes, you are also replacing all our equipment and renovating the house for Diwali. New TV, washing machine, microwave and fridge. Can’t do this much also for your mother?

Son: But Mom didn’t tell me she wants any of these. And everything we have is barely 4 years old

Father: Not this mother

Son: I have another mother? What?

Father: We all have another mother. Don’t insult

Son: And student loan? Why do I need a student loan?

Father: You are forgetting your values. You should go study

Son: Study? Where? And what about my work?

Father: All that doesn’t matter. Just take admission somewhere

Son: Are you not getting enough sleep Dad?

Father: Yes, about sleeping, you will go and sleep in a hotel at least 1 night in a week, every week

Son: (slaps his forehead)

Father: Did you hurt yourself son? You should go to the doctor. Actually, go to the hospital, better that way, get an MRI done. Why take a risk no? Also, now that you are going to buy a car soon, you should start buying petrol, go, take this can and buy 5 liters and come

The house that Jack built

Back in the December of 2014, I finally caught the unicorn. Well, not literally. Our group of really close friends, finally managed to materialize an actual holiday – a trip – from a WhatsApp plan. *pauses for applause*

It was what we then called an ‘epic’ trip, I am not sure what the popular term now is, I am happy I don’t know. The trip was a culmination of everything we thought it would be, right from boarding the flight together, to road tripping through beautiful Kerala, to crazy amounts of laughter and a decent amount of alcohol. I reminisce this trip for a particular reason.

One evening, in Munnar, we found our poison, in one of the government controlled liquor store, in the form of Officer’s Choice XXX Rum. And in the gorgeous weather among the tea gardens, we had partaken enough to make the Officer proud. Amongst us, was a Juventus fan, and as it happened, there was a Juventus match being played which he was following on the football app on his phone. However, as the match progressed, in typical Italian fashion we did not hear any goal notification for what seemed like well over 2 hours, by when the Officer was already playing his delirious tunes in our heads. Suddenly, the phone pinged and my friend squealed as Juventus had apparently scored, evidently making the Officer in his head proud. Within a couple of minutes there was another ping and it seemed the opposition had already drawn level, he couldn’t believe it and slumped. As luck would have it, Juventus scored again within what seemed like just a minute and he literally screamed, incredulous. He exclaimed to everyone, who also followed football supporting various other clubs, ‘This has literally never happened in the history of football before!’ Just as he finished saying this, there was another ping and his eyes opened wider than the mouth of the only non-football fan amongst us, it was apparently 2-2. This seemed like the last straw and in the sheer faith that he could not have missed such a ridiculously exciting match, he wore his glasses and opened the app. Seconds later out came a stream of expletives declaring that we had been following was actually a penalty shootout, and not the actual match. But we will never forget the delirious excitement in his eyes for those 4 minutes, something even the cheap rum couldn’t match. To quote the great James Hetfield, ‘The higher you are, the farther you fall’, and eventually, my friend did literally fall on the floor, and stayed there till dawn.

2014 was the start of something similar for the entire nation, at a much larger scale. There were delirious celebrations, sky-high expectations, positivity that would put the most optimist person to shame and a sense of satisfaction that we were all a part of something that has never happened before. It is nearing the end of 2019, and we are seemingly on our way to the floor, what we don’t yet know is how far the floor is, or how hard it is.