Sunday, May 28, 2006


After weeks of insipid and simplistic commentary, the reservation debate is finally starting to kick up some interesting points, with the Hindustan Times looking into the relationship of college admittance and the attendance of elite public schools on Sunday and today running a comparison of alternative models for allocating university seats developed by Yogendra Yadav, Satish Deshpande and Purushottam Agrawal. (Link not available yet). Similarly, the HT has called for a new study of caste in India--the last was in 1931--to determine exactly what conditions prevail.

These are productive ways of looking at the problem, and a welcome substitute for the anti-reservations harangues that have taken up the edit pages of all the major dailies for weeks.

Another element that bears study: the South. In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, reservations are already in place for more than 50% of the university seats and government jobs, a fact that infuriates many high-caste southerners. On the other hand, some say that the expansion of reservations in the South has successfully ensured the empowerment and upliftment of traditionally oppressed classes. What's the reality? Why does nobody in the North care to look into it? I guess the South really is another country, albeit a far more successful one.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

visit absurdistan

Gary Shteyngart's first novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, blew me--and everybody else--away. His second effort is already winning high praise in the NYT. Somebody check it out and tell me whether it's more than a reprise of the first one.

she's just a kid

Schadenfreude has always been one of my favorite emotions--especially where writers under thirty are concerned. But it seems like the glee over Kaavya Viswanathan's plagiarism gaffe is getting out of hand. Yes, she goes to Harvard. Yes, she got a $500,000 advance for a book that we now know was plagiarized (an advance one presumes she'll have to return). But now that she's been Lewinskyed, condemned to fame-for-the-wrong-reasons ignominy, isn't it time for us to recall that she's only 19? Hell, when she committed her "crimes" she was probably a minor. Anybody who never plagiarized anything before they turned 20 raise your hand.

That's what I thought.