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  • K 11:23 PM on March 20, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: books, , ,   

    Swaraj by Arvind Kejriwal – A Review 

    SwarajSwaraj by Arvind Kejriwal

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Ended up reading a Hindi book after many years, ‘कथेतर’ (non-fiction, new word learnt!) on that.

    Little Background

    I haven’t followed Kejriwal’s or Anna’s movement from the beginning. I first gave serious attention when AAP managed to win a substantial number of seats in Delhi last December. Since then, I have come to admire Kejriwal’s clarity of thought, his ideas and his mission, all of which can be ascertained in any of his recent interviews or QA’s with audience where neither the interviewer nor the public leave any stone unturned to grill him.

    In a couple of months since then, I realized, he and his team have managed to gather a good amount of support at least among the young educated middle class. But I could not imagine how his ideas appeal to the larger population of the country. I decided to find out by diving further.


    This book lets one understand what Kejriwal means when he uses words like Swaraj or when he says if we let the current status quo maintain, “ये देश नहीं बचेगा” (the country won’t survive).

    Most of us reading this review can’t claim to fathom the problems faced by people at the lowest level of social hierarchy. The author describes those problems, how they came to be in the present system and how things can radically change. Both the problems and their suggested solutions are backed by facts, examples (from other democracies) and experiments demonstrating years of research.

    We have all heard that definition of democracy by Abraham Lincoln – “government of the people, by the people, for the people” – but probably never gave a thought about how that could work out in reality. By real life examples, author manages to convince how participatory democracy at the grass root level could be a solution to many of the country’s basic problems, how empowered people are responsible people.

    You read the book with a critical eye and tend to raise doubts or find flaws in the presented ideas but don’t get too surprised when you get all your answers before you reach the last chapter. Just to cite one (spoilers ahead), I was skeptic when most of the book talked about gram sabhas and not how the idea of Swaraj would play in big cities. Come the last but one chapter, and I learn why – our constitution recognizes gram sabhas but doesn’t talk about any such general meetings at city level, but experiments done at Delhi in the form of muhalla sabhas illustrate how effective these meetings could be.

    Go, read the book to understand the positive ideas behind all the ‘negativity’ spread by Kejriwal. If not for that, then just for a small, thoroughly enjoyable and hard to come by non-fiction.

    View all my reviews


    • Deepak 12:15 AM on March 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      but what about the criticism that the book is overly repetitive?

      • Kartik 7:41 AM on March 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I didn’t think so. Why don’t you read and find out? The book does back reference itself once or twice, I don’t see how that’s wrong, rather that’s a way to not repeat the points mentioned earlier.

  • K 5:55 PM on October 4, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: books, dystopia   

    Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    George Orwell, Animal Farm (Just finished reading this classic novella, couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of these last lines)
  • K 8:23 PM on July 21, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , books, , Coursera, , , Goodreads, Oracle, , ,   

    Week 1 at Bangalore and Work 

    I landed at Bangalore airport last week flying on an indiGo for the first time; found the experience better than JetKonnect from my first flight.

    Next day (Sunday) started early with a walk to Oracle Tech Park and back to get myself familiarized with the area before first day at work. A much-needed haircut followed.

    Having caught cold with the change in weather, I had to miss the Goodreads meetup planned at Brigade Road during the day, which I was eagerly awaiting to attend with a friend. The day was instead spent hunting around for a pair of Oxfords in Jayanagar/JP Nagar markets. Apparently, it’s not easy to find those classic-shaped shoes anymore, with most shoes available in a strangely long front-part which I absolutely dislike. After spending over 40 minutes at the second store I tried, I settled for a passable pair. My friends had already warned me that there is no dress code at work place and I will discard them within few days. Shopping for myself without my mom has never been an easy experience.

    The first two days were spent on induction. First day could be summarized as the practice-your-signature-a-hundred-times day; I detest manually signing anything and prefer digital security for most applications. Dunno how long it will take to transition to a world when (hard copy) paperwork will be a thing of past. Second day was much less tiring with some interesting presentations about culture and how things work at Oracle. I was impressed, better than my expectations indeed. 🙂

    Next three days were devoted on a Campus to Corporate program for college grads (it, interestingly, also had an experienced person among us for some unknown reason). I liked the program overall for it made many things crystal clear for us to move to corporate world and more so because it involved close interaction among the new hires and I got to meet many interesting people.

    I also managed to watch Bhaag Milkha Bhaag on Wednesday at an INOX for a relatively cheap ticket price (I am totally surprised over the difference in prices over here compared to other cities like Chennai), thanks to new friends Naman and Ratan who knew about a weekly offer and pre-booked the tickets before they got over. Movie had its own class and I never felt bored or found it dragging given it’s being criticized for being too lengthy (naysayers always manage to find something or other to criticize even things of perfection).

    This weekend was spent on catching up on more sleep and looking for a home to stay at a few places. Had to give up on a great deal today for just one reason – tiny size of bathroom, which could definitely induce claustrophobia in, for an otherwise perfectly sane, me. (For those living in Bangalore, I am still looking for a 1BHK OR 2/3 BHK (and flatmates) within max 4 Kms radius of my work location – IBC Knowledge Park near Dairy Circle, Bannerghatta Road, any help is definitely appreciated. Please contact me at kartiksinghal [AT] gmail and I will try to get back asap.)

    One thing that bothers me after a week of work is how less time I could spend on things I wanted to do in the beginning of the week. Although the first week involved no real work, sitting at office itself and traveling to and fro could be tiring. It led me to miss homework deadlines of multiple courses on Coursera and hence deciding to drop most of them (except two). I believe it’s more of the initial hassles of settling down in a new environment than my inability to keep up. Also, I had to really think what courses were really important for me to keep doing with a shift in priorities and amount of free time available. Think, I will learn to manage time more effectively as I get used to the new life.

    Tomorrow might be a great day as we, new hires, apparently get to interact with a top executive of the company. Excitement level is high, indeed.

    NOTE: I am aware now being an employee of a company, I might not be fully open in sharing my experiences. I will keep sharing things which do not affect my employer in any way. Of course, it’s to be noted, any opinions shared from now onwards represent my personal views and do not pertain to my employer at any level (Time to update the About section of my blog as well).


  • K 12:22 AM on February 4, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: books, , , ,   

    Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth 

    This one needs to be quick, 14 minutes until midnight.


    Logicomix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    In this post I want to introduce a graphic novel which I read about a year back – Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth.

    How I ended up reading this is an interesting story in itself. Let me try to recite in minimum possible words. During that time (Sem 6) I had enrolled for a course called Computational Complexity by Murali sir. Now, as the name suggests, the course was pretty complex in itself. I had struggled to find good resources to read to ease myself into taking interest in the course. Classic CS hard cover books like Computational Complexity by Christos Papadimitriou weren’t of much help to this cause. Reading about the author, I discovered the UCB Professor had contributed to a graphic novel. I was curious and used some common pirate tricks to get the book’s PDF.

    I have been a comics fan since early childhood. This graphic novel turned out to be a good find. Scrolled through few pages of the PDF lying comfortably in my bed, and I was hooked; finished the book in a couple of nights. The book basically tells the story of Bertrand Russell and his search for the foundations of mathematics, narrated by himself. One of my early mentors, Devendra sir, had once suggested to read the works of Russell (which I still hope to be able to do sometime), this book told me why he suggested that. Also, the book takes us through the interesting history of mathematics of the late 18th century and early 19th century.

    I wrote a small review at Goodreads. FWIW the book got me interested into mathematics once again, which I had started despising since Sem 4, and led me to believe how learning the history behind development of a discipline can make it so interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone who ponders over the question – why learn theory when practice is what helps the most in our professional lives?

    And it’s already 20 minutes past midnight when I finished writing this post. Need to start early next time to meet my daily goal. 🙂

  • K 7:20 AM on September 8, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: Ayn Rand, books, , E-book, , Harry Potter, , Isaac Asimov, J.K. Rowling, ,   

    List of Books Read So Far 

    This is a list of books I used to maintain at The TechGlider Forums, imported here for keeping it updated.

    Here I list the books I have read (only those whose names I remember) so far (in finishing order):

    1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J K Rowling
    2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J K Rowling
    3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J K Rowling
    4. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
    5. Five Fall into Adventure (Famous Five), by Enid Blyton
    6. The Naked Sun, by Isaac Asimov
    7. Secret Seven Adventure (Secret Seven), by Enid Blyton
    8. Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT, by Chetan Bhagat
    9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J K Rowling
    10. One Night @ the Call Center, by Chetan Bhagat
    11. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J K Rowling
    12. George’s Secret Key to the Universe, by Stephen W Hawking & Lucy Hawking
    13. Nightfall, by Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg
    14. Ignited Minds, by A P J Abdul Kalam
    15. The 3 Mistakes of My Life, by Chetan Bhagat
    16. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, by J K Rowling
    17. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J K Rowling
    18. A Briefer History of Time, by Eric Schulman
    19. Your Happiness is Within You, by S. Devaraj
    20. Who Moved My Cheese, Spencer Johnson M.D.
    21. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
    22. Wings of Fire: An Autobiography, by A P J Abdul Kalam with Arun Tiwari
    23. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
    24. 2 States, by Chetan Bhagat
    25. Digital Fortress, by Dan Brown
    26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
    27. Anthem, by Ayn Rand
    28. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
    29. The Naked Face, by Sydney Sheldon
    30. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams
    31. The Inscrutable Americans, by Anurag Mathur
    32. Brida, by Paulo Coelho
    33. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach
    34. The One Minute Manager, by Kenneth H Blanchard

    I will no longer maintain this page, as I have found a much better way to keep track of the books I read – Goodreads.com. My list here – http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/6520743-kartik-singhal?order=d&shelf=read&sort=date_read

    Last edited: October 26, 2011, edited 11 times in total.

    Reason: Updated about my new books page on Goodreads.com.

    Kartik – The TechGlider Guy

    • Rahul P 4:05 PM on June 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Did u really understand “A brief History of Time” fully…?

      • Kartik 5:06 PM on June 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        I read it long long ago, in class 11. At that time, I assumed I understood many things. But now I have been looking for a much simpler version – A Briefer History of Time – instead of reading the Brief History again ‘understand it’ properly. 🙂

    • Rahul P 2:13 PM on July 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      haha…same wid me, in 11th as a Stephen Hawkings fan, i “tried” to read it, but in vain. Coudnt relate to certain things especially a graph between space and time, i remember it !! 😛

      • Kartik 3:14 PM on July 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t know why, but that graph is the only picture that I can completely recall and seem to have a decent understanding of in the whole book. 😉

        If everything goes right I might get my hands on the Briefer version of the book tomorrow. 🙂

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