opinion

Are we condemned to always play out our Darwinian impulses? Will our humanity always beat out the divinity in us?

I stopped watching news on television more than five years ago. Here’s why.

I think our approach to Pakistan is messed up. Here’s why I think so.

In the conflict between free speech and morality, the former always should win. And exceptions should be made only when one person violates another person’s freedom of expression in a manner that can be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

No country or culture has been able to stop them. Is there such a thing as a ‘rapist’ gene? What are the fundamental causes? And what are the proximate causes?

A letter from an ordinary citizen of India. To whomsoever it may concern.

It’s important to understand that the UPA government is being accused of two things on the 2G scam front: corruption and incompetence. Here’s how to look at it.

On the origin of the Palestine-Israel conflict. This post has its fundamental origins in my deep rooted disavowal of patriotism and nationalism as divisive notions. There is only one thing common and binding to all of us – that is the inherent goodness of our selves that we are born with.

Time is one of the most fascinating human constructs. In the matter of cosmology and universal time scales, the Hindus have put forth a grand idea, and whether true or not, it does make the pulse quicken. My belief is that it would benefit all to take notice of this.

Creativity is divergence in thought – an ability to consider infinite possibilities in the place of one or few. We are all born with it. Tragically, it dies within most of us by the time we cross the age of ten. Why? Why are not more of us creating things? Does creativity have to involve pain and suffering? What does it mean to create?

The argument against capital punishment: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Hanging a murderer is to seek retribution and to not attempt his reformation. Death penalty is not ethical since none of us have the right to demand or take another’s life. Death penalty is not an intelligent option as it […]

There’s a fair amount of hand wringing every time an Olympics rolls around. Why does India, a nation of 1.2 Billion people, prove itself incapable of winning even a single gold medal? If there was a gold medal for not winning gold medals, we might not win even that, it seems. Why do we fare […]

I will freely admit that I’m an unabashed admirer of scientists. Well, most of them. They are practitioners of the scientific method, a means which is relentlessly objective and rational. The scientific method calls for a statement or theory to be verifiable (or falsifiable) and repeatable. Practitioners of the scientific method do not subscribe to […]

Many years back, I read a book titled simply “The Vedas.” It’s an English translation of a series of discourses given by Paramacharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati of Kanchi Mutt. I’ve read this book several times over in the last five years. Each time I’ve read it, I’ve discovered a new and intriguing notion missed in […]

I’m writing about something that happened a long time back. In fact, it was so long back that I was in 8th standard in school. My school was run by the Church of South India. The class was an eclectic mix of rich and not-so-rich, mostly Tamil, Malayali and Telugu speaking, Christian, Muslim and Hindu […]

When it comes to his own specialty, evolutionary biology, there is none better than Richard Dawkins. But the purpose of this book is not to explain science. It is rather, as he tells us, “to raise consciousness,” which is quite another thing.

Today (July 4, 2012), scientists from CERN in Europe announced that they may have found clear signs of a particle which is thought to be the Higgs boson, popularly known as the God particle. The hardworking scientists aren’t getting ahead of themselves, and are not quite confirming the existence of the Higgs boson outright. They’ve […]

Indians occupy a special place in the pantheon of insensitivity. We are a nation of uncaring, indifferent boors, whose lives are only occasionally punctuated by those (increasingly rare) Satyameva Jayate moments, when we sit down and pretend to care about our fellow citizens. Why are we a nation of dimwitted fools?

A short interpretation of a “bliss mantra” from the Taitriya Upanishad in the Vedas.

Can a perfect society exist? Is the existence of a flawless society of humans possible? Tanya Singhal, a Ph.D. student in Europe, writes about the impracticality of the Utopian ideal in this guest post for What Ho!

Empathy is the ability to view the world from another’s perspective. Of all emotions, it’s empathy that makes us human. Some would even say it’s empathy that makes us divine. So how exactly does empathy work from a neurological perspective? What triggers empathy? Can we be trained to be empathetic?

If Rome is the eternal city, Istanbul has to be the timeless city, having endured centuries of struggle and change. Notes from a recent trip to Turkey

This year, as is the case each year, there will be a crazed competition among teenagers, in which they will fight each other to the finish for a grand prize. Yes, I’m talking about the Hunger Games, also known as the Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Exam (IIT JEE).

It’s not hard to understand why Rahul Dravid is celebrated as a hero. There are obvious and undeniable reasons. Yet at some level it is hard to fathom how such a persona – one who was so unwilling to seek public attention and uncompromisingly focused inwardly – came to be a hero in these modern times.

There’s a storm brewing in this country, in the form of the alleged 2G scam, which has the potential to unseat the government. Given the complexity of this case, and our own lack of time to comprehend what’s being reported, not to mention who to believe about what, I figured I’d put together a simple dossary of facts and observations on this. Here’s everything you’ve always wanted to know about the 2G scam but were too afraid to ask.

Where do thoughts spring from? What is knowledge? Does it come from sensory inputs? Is there such a thing as pre-existing knowledge? So asked Immanuel Kant, one of the most influential philosophers in Western thought, who lived in 18th century Germany. Pondering the question of “if a baby were to somehow be born without eyes, nose, ears […]

We live in an incredibly fascinating world. I found more evidence of this in the last couple of weeks while reading a couple of different but related articles. The first insight came from a video by Professor Philip Zimbardo on the “The Secret Powers of Time“. The good professor posits that we, humans, tend to […]

Groucho Marx said, “I refuse to become a member of any club that’s willing to admit me”. This clever absurdism reveals the innate human tendency to desire something and yet feel unworthy of it at the same time. It’s been such a long held, gloomy Western tradition to view marriage through a Marxist lens, that […]

If I had a dime for everytime I got this question from my younger one (in fifth grade), I’d have assets so disproportionate to my income that would put the local MLA to shame. “Why do I have to learn this?” Caught off guard the first few times, I drew a blank. Quickly, I learnt to come up […]

Everyone’s talking about Pakistan. You can’t run for office, nay even step out of the kitchen these days without knowing your Waziris from your Mehsuds and your Lashkars from your Jaishes. Not everyone knows what they are talking about. After all, there are lots of guys over there doing some incredibly bizarre stuff, that it’s not […]

Light is at the core of physics. Light, its attributes and energy, define the very parameters of this amazing universe that we find ourselves in. The nature of light, also (less commonly) known by its scientific name – electromagnetic radiation (EMR) – is the most fascinating conundrum we have encountered in nature. Light is the two-faced […]

Once in a while, you have a force that arises in this universe which grows its strength only through changing the very conditions from which it arose. Gandhi. Einstein. Jobs. Yes, he belongs on that list of people we find hard to describe with words, and can appreciate only by the impact they had on our […]

Scientists in Europe claim that they have observed neutrinos traveling faster than light. What are neutrinos? Why is it surprising that they can travel faster than light? What’s the big deal? Neutrinos What are neutrinos? They are sub-atomic particles – little wisps of almost nothing, with no electrical charge. Being neutral, they are found nearly […]

What can you write about Rajnikanth that has not been already said? I guess you could start by asking how you go from a dark skinned, Marathi speaking, bus conducting Shivaji Rao Gaekwad in Bangalore to Rajnikanth, the biggest commercial movie star in India? Rajni’s Sivaji – The Boss, released a few years back, was […]

We’ve heard the prediction for years. The next billion users of the internet will skip the PC altogether and use a mobile phone to access it. It’s happening. I met one of those billion on my way from the Chennai airport earlier this week.His name is Palani. He’s 23 years old, has completed 10th standard in Tamil […]

Why is corruption such a big deal? India’s GDP is growing at 7-9% per annum, and presumably will continue to blaze along for some time. So, why fret about corruption when things are looking rosy? What are we complaining about? Don’t we have more important things to do than (Jan) Lokpal bill? We’ve been mired in corruption […]

We are witnessing a remarkable period in the history of the world’s largest democracy. In just a few months, we’ve seen the Prime Minister’s Office censured by the Supreme Court (a first), a Union Cabinet Minister sent to jail (a first) for alleged involvement in the largest scam in our history, and now the spontaneous […]

There is a lot of hand wringing about the recent downgrade of the US debt, an unprecedented event, which some say, is the beginning of the end of the amazing run of the United States of America.

Why would anyone want to give us an award? A few days back, we received a congratulatory message from the young folks (let’s pretend that they are young) at indiantopblogs.blogspot.com. Suspicious that the contents of the message might contain inflammatory materials or worse, substances of the exploding kind, we called in the SWAT team – […]

Google+ is out. In limited trials. So is it a facebook killer?  If you are not familiar with limited trials in the tech world, think of it as letting a select few people watch a movie premiere, so you can change the ending (if that’s possible) and also drum up publicity in advance of releasing […]

It’s hard to fathom a cheerful world while in the throes of existential angst. But, life’s not as bad as it looks. 3 reasons why.

Laughing Gas is now What Ho! at http://whatho.in. We are in the middle of unpacking the boxes, applying for gas and phone connections, figuring out where to put the TV and hanging pictures on the wall. Welcome to our new home!  Do stay and look around, and let us know what you think. Thanks for visiting! […]

For us fogeys at Laughing Gas, there is unlikely to be a moment rivaling the euphoria on this day in 1983, when Kapil’s Devils won the Prudential World Cup, in one of the greatest team efforts in Indian sports history. Scorecard: India won by 43 runs. India: 183 (54.4 overs). West Indies: 140 (52 overs). Man […]

What’s up with our Pradhan Mantri-ji these days? He seems as alert as a fan smoking a joint at a Grateful Dead concert. Don’t get me wrong. I think he’s an individual of high caliber, impeccable manners and faultless integrity. His pedigree is stellar. Who can argue with a London School of Economics Ph.D.? His track […]

Having lived on both sides of the pond for a good many years, I can understand both reluctance and enthusiasm on part of of Indian diaspora when it comes to returning “back” to India “for good”. I’ve known better than to be in the middle of these debates, but have gleaned enough to know the […]

What happens when we die?  What we believe in this regard, interestingly, likely plays a role in the way we live our lives. For the longest time. after-life has been a source of mystery, intrigue and anxiety for humans. Every religion has its hypothesis on what happens after death. The Judaeo-Christian-Islamic versions speak of a “transfer” to a waiting […]

Live from McDonalds, in HSR Layout in Bangalore. Folks, the super-sizing of India is well under way. It’s about 1 pm, as we enter the newly opened (well, 3 months back)McDonalds, walking past a mute and vaguely disturbing figurine of Ronald McDonald at the door. Once inside, we are greeted instantly by a bedlam of loud conversations, […]