Whistleblower: How Facebook’s Algorithms Promote Hate and Toxic Content

FACEBOOK is in the limelight for both the right reasons and the wrong reasons. The wrong reason is that, what was supposed to be a small configuration change took Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp down for a few hours last week. It affected billions of users, showing us how important Facebook and other tech giants have become to our lives and even other businesses. Of course, the much more significant issue is the whistleblower, Frances Haugen, a former employee, making tens of thousands of pages of Facebook's internal documents public.

Science Another Casualty in Modi Govt's Handling of Covid-19

THE New York Times (NYT) has recently published an article (September 14, 2021) detailing how politics overrode science in India's deadly second wave. It is based on the struggle of a young scientist, Dr Anup Agarwal, who sought to warn the top scientific and health agency Indian Council of Medical Research, of a second wave and that a policy based on the so-called Super Model would prove a disaster for the country. Dr Agarwal has since then left the country.

Reckless, Malafide Go-Ahead for Seven Hydro Projects

THE Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) last week filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court conveying that it has now given the go-ahead for seven controversial hydro-electric projects in the Upper Ganga region of Uttarakhand.  These projects include the 512 MW Tapovan-Vishnugarh hydro-electric project on the Dhauliganga which was almost completely destroyed in the massive floods of February 2021, killing more than 200 people including  over 150 workers and others whose bodies are probably still interred in the ruins of the project

Chip Wars or the Crisis of Late Capitalism?

WITH the US imposing technology sanctions on China, the world’s electronics industry is facing turbulent times. After the sanctions, Huawei has slipped from its number one slot as a mobile phone supplier (2nd quarter 2020) to number seven currently. Commenting on this slide, the Huawei chairman has said that right now, Huawei’s battle is for survival. On that count, Huawei is not only surviving but doing pretty well.

Self-Reliance: 75th Year of Independence

THE nation has been debating our collective achievements, weaknesses and failures over the past 74 years since Independence in relation to the vision of the republic’s founders and of the independence movement. This article discusses two key founding ideas which do not always get the attention they deserve or do so largely in an obligatory fashion. However, both ideas are crucial and may well determine the future of India, especially in the so-called knowledge age of the 22nd century in which we are situated but have not duly acknowledged.

Looking Back at the India US Nuclear Deal

MORE than 12 years have passed since the India US nuclear deal was signed. Pranab Mukherjee, then India's External Affairs Minister, and Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, signed the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in October 2008. The deal was sold to the Indian people as a magic wand to meet India's energy needs, and end India's recurring power cuts. Those who wear made-in-America blinkers refuse to recognise that the success of the India US nuclear deal has to be tested against the benchmark of whether it met any of India's energy needs.

Floods, Drought, Heat, Fire – Welcome to Climate Change!

MANY parts of the world experienced extremes of climate and their consequences during June and July 2021. Whereas definitive attribution of particular weather events to specific causes has always been difficult given the numerous variables involved, scientists have almost unanimously ascribed this summer’s events all over the northern hemisphere to climate change. Even within that context, two aspects have been noteworthy. First the intensity, indeed ferocity, of the climate events and their impacts.

Bezos and Musk: Heralding a New Space Age or a Space Grab?

THE space race was once between the Soviet Union and the United States. It is now – on the surface – between the three billionaires, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. Two of them rode their sub-orbital flights, meaning that they cannot be considered as space flights as they did not reach a stable orbit around the earth. Branson’s ambitions are limited, more for a market for developing the exotica of space tourism. Elon Musk and his SpaceX have been playing for the long haul, with a series of rockets and launches including to the International Space Station.