India’s “flawed” democracy and the colonial legacy

Originally posted in OpIndia The news that self-appointed guardians of world democracy, the US based Freedom House and Sweden’s V-Dem Institute had downgraded India’s democracy to “partially free” and “flawed” has captured the headlines in Indian media. In both the rankings, some interesting facts stand out. Out of the top 10 “most” democratic countries, 90%Continue reading “India’s “flawed” democracy and the colonial legacy”

Ways to improve English communication and vocabulary

English Vocabulary: The first step to expand your vocabulary is to buy the Wren and Martin “Wordpower made easy.” You will learn the linguistic origin of words and begin to look at English words in a different light. The next step is for serious learners. You need to know as many words of the Barron’sContinue reading “Ways to improve English communication and vocabulary”

Excerpt: Coming to terms with the virus within

The standard model of a virus is that it is non-living, it is a strand of RNA and is inherently destructive. While some parts of these descriptors may be correct in some scenarios, it would not be wise to tarnish all viruses with the same brush. Because our understanding of viruses is pretty recent, weContinue reading “Excerpt: Coming to terms with the virus within”

Excerpt: The deepest questions of life

Is there a definition of life? Right from childhood, we are brought up to think that it is easy to differentiate living from non-living. Living beings can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Humans are alive, but a rock or a table isn’t. Easy human-centric answers are simplistic and don’t tally with facts. One definitionContinue reading “Excerpt: The deepest questions of life”

Excerpt: A peek into the viral universe

Let us trace the history of virology. Several hundred years ago in China, people inhaled powder from scabs of smallpox sufferers in order to immunize others. By the 1700s this was a well-known practice in the Arab world. In 1717 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu observed the practice in Istanbul and attempted to popularize it inContinue reading “Excerpt: A peek into the viral universe”

Excerpt – Studying genetics and virulence

COVID 19: Coronaviruses have historically caused mild common colds, outside incidents like the SARS and MERS outbreaks. Mutations in 2019 have turned this less harmful Coronavirus into the more malevolent COVID 19 version. The COVID 19 spike proteins had evolved to effectively target a molecular feature on the outside of human cells called ACE2 , aContinue reading “Excerpt – Studying genetics and virulence”

Excerpt: Investigating the origin of pandemics

In November, doctors in southeastern China began to see the first cases of what would later be a global pandemic. Doctors had never seen the viral illness before, and at first, thought the cases they were seeing might be atypical pneumonia. Even after doctors began to realize that there was something new about the illnessesContinue reading “Excerpt: Investigating the origin of pandemics”

Essay 1: The hidden world of viruses

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu from “TheContinue reading “Essay 1: The hidden world of viruses”