Monday, May 20, 2013

Bangalore 10K - Edition 6

The trend that I noted last year - speed inflation- continues. I finished at 53:16, 2 seconds faster than last year, and yet at 634, I still ended up around 200 ranks down. I have to run a full 78 seconds faster to stay in the top 500. Sigh!

Monday, May 13, 2013

I'll never be a pundit!

I hate to admit it but my political judgment is depressingly flawed. Out of the four times I've voted in the Karnataka assembly elections I've either voted for the losing party but ended up approving the winner or picked the winning party but regretted it sorely. Let me explain. In 1999, I thought it would be a good idea if the center and the state had the same parties in power, and so I picked BJP for the state, but congress won that year. S M Krishna turned out to be, in my opinion, the best chief minister we've had in the recent past. I voted Congress in 2004, fairly confident that Krishna would come back to a second term with a full majority but instead we were stuck with a listless Dharam Singh for the next two years. In 2006, I voted Congress again, but this time Kumaraswamy was elected CM. I was sure things would go awfully wrong, but he turned out to be a surprisingly efficient leader.

In the next election I was wrong on two fronts. Firstly, I was swayed by the popular sympathy-towards-the-victim sentiment that brought BJP so many seats. More embarrassingly, I forecast Yeddyurappa to be the statesman-like leader that we longed for. Over 5 long years he made us all regret our judgment every single day.

This time I voted for Congress again and they won. I'm actually hopeful about Mr. Siddaramaiah. I'm not sure how he'll deal with the mining lobbies, and I'm certain he won't have the leeway to reverse any of the badly thought-out populist policies, but there's one thing I'm hoping he will do. Yeddy had the audacity to allocate tax-payer funds to religious institutions of his choice and he had let right wingnuts feel protected when they went about imposing their warped moral codes. Siddaramaiah, on the other hand, is vocally atheist - the second one we've had in our state. I hope he will bring back some sanity to the religious discourse around here. On every other front, given how wrong I've been in the past, I'm already prepared to be disillusioned.

Friday, May 03, 2013


My college housed classes in a dilapidated building, exposed us to practical education in impoverished labs, and inflicted on us teachers who would rather be doing something else. I always knew that my schooling was sub-standard, but having ended my education early, I had no real benchmark to compare it with. Until Coursera came along!

What’s not to like about Coursera. As a phenomenon, I find it uplifting to know that there are scholars willing to expend considerable energy in making courses for no easily quantifiable benefits. There’s a certain kick in doing courses with 60000 other people, a majority of them studying them not because they are investing in themselves, but because they were mildly curious about the topic. You don’t have entrance tests or heartbreaking rejections. There’s no opportunity cost to pay or penalty for deciding you don’t want to continue. Best of all, it has given me a reason not to hate my commute anymore. 

Students in my college, now, must be better off knowing they can use resources other than the ones we relied on, low-cost photocopies of notes from a marginally better-run university in our neighbourhood.