Saturday December 16, 2017

Tamil writer Perumal Murugan wins ILF award

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New Delhi: Tamil writer Perumal Murugan will be honoured with the fifth Indian Languages Festival’s (ILF) ‘Samanvay Bhasha Samman‘ award, it was announced on Monday.

The writer-poet has won the award for his novel ‘Madhorubhagan’, which earned him flak from Hindu groups, forcing Murugan to declare that he was giving up writing for good.

“The ‘ILF Award’ is a modern recognition given to Tamil, a classical language with a long and unbroken literary tradition. This recognition, bestowed on my language at an unfortunate moment, will, I hope, be a shining gem rather than an unsightly wart,” Murugan said in a statement.

Murugan will receive the award on November 28 here.

The festival aims at generating dialogue across Indian languages at various levels and has emerged as the only literature festival dedicated exclusively to Indian languages.

Murugan’s writings had opened discussions on the future of oppression of caste and enslaving conventions in modern day Tamil Nadu.

“This award for Madhorubhagan is a recognition of how a writer and his writing could serve the society and connect history with its contemporary realities and dreams,” said Rakesh Kacker, the festival director.

Murugan has written nine novels and four collections each of short stories and poetry.

Three of his novels have been translated in English: ‘Seasons of the Palm’, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Kiriyama Prize in 2005, ‘Current Show’ and ‘One Part Woman’ (Madhorubhagan).

Earlier in January, Murugan announced he had given up writing and would only be a teacher after he came under attack from Hindu groups for his novel ‘Madhorubhagan’.

Murugan had then said, “Writer Perumal Murugan is dead. He will continue to live as a teacher.”

(IANS)

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Book Review: Author Tim Harford’s “Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy” deserves Plenty of Plaudits

But economist, columnist and author Tim Harford does not only seek here to list of 50 specific inventions but also to tell us the singular stories behind their inception

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Tim Harford
Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy cover. Facebook
  • Author Tim Harford has written a new book titled ‘Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy
  • Tim Harford is also an economist and a columnist

New Delhi, August 22, 2017: The i-Phone may seem the pinnacle of human endeavour, ingenuity and technological prowess — but while Steve Jobs deserves the plaudits, the range of technologies making it possible were a collective effort, facilitated by a surprisingly unexpected benefactor. Such tales are discussed in Tim Harford’s “Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy.”

When we think of the wonders of our modern world, we may cite these flashy hand-held devices that enable us to communicate, entertain ourselves and find information instantly. But they are merely one facet, for our lives now owe to a range of inventions and discoveries stretching from the humble plough to Google, and from the elevator to intellectual property, and achieved in several unusual and unexpected ways.

And while the i-Phone does make a list of 50 such inventions, so do concrete, clocks and infant formula as well as limited liability companies, public key cryptography and the welfare state — and many others, including some which may seem surprising.

But economist, columnist and author Tim Harford does not only seek here to list of 50 specific inventions but also to tell us the singular stories behind their inception — the iPhone especially — and how they affected us socially and economically from the beginning of civilisation to workings of the world economy now. Or rather in laying its foundations.

These 50 inventions, he says, range from those “absurdly simple” to ones which became “astonishingly sophisticated”, “stodgily solid” to “abstract inventions that you cannot touch at all”, profitable right from their launch or, while others were initially commercial disasters.

Also Read: Book Review: Hinduism in Ancient India and the Various Aspects of its Traditions by Greg Bailey

“But all of them have a story to tell that teaches us something about how our world works and that helps us notice some of the everyday miracles that surround us, often in the most ordinary-seeming objects. Some of these stories are of vast and impersonal economic forces; others are tales of human brilliance or human tragedy.”

Harford, known for his “Undercover Economist” series, does stress that he doesn’t seek to identify the 50 most economically significant inventions for some seemingly obvious entrants — printing presses, airplanes, computers — are missing. And there are good reasons why.

He also promises that while zooming in closely to examine one of these or pulling back to notice the unexpected connections, will provide answers to questions like the link between Elton John and the promise of a paperless office, how an American discovery banned in Japan for four decades affected women’s careers there, which monetary innovations destroyed Britain’s Houses of Parliament in the 1830s.

Harford also explains how all these inventions have two facets — they may not be always benign — in the longer run, or ensure a “win-win” scenario for all.

While it is easy to see inventions as solutions to problems, he warns against seeing them as only solutions, for they “shape our lives in unexpected ways — and while they’re solving a problem for someone, they’re often creating a problem for someone else”.

These attributes are best shown by the case of an ostensibly well-meaning American inventor who is responsible for poisoning our environment twice-over though his two contributions were initially helpful, and then by both the beneficial and baleful impacts of the plough — or banks for that matter.

Harford also shows that there is more to an invention than its inventing, and even for any one of them, “it’s often hard to pin down a single person who was responsible — and it’s even harder to find a ‘eureka’ moment when the idea all came together”.

Dealing with such aspects in the brief interludes between the inventions, placed in no discernible chronological or thematic order, Harford also seeks to put them together at the end to pose the vital question of how we should think about that often used and often misunderstood buzzword “innovation” today.

“What are the best ways to encourage new ideas? And how can we think clearly about what the effects of those ideas might be, and act with foresight to maximise the good effects and mitigate the bad ones?” he asks.

But as his incisive but illuminating and entertaining sojourn through centuries of human activities and endeavours show, there are no easy or definite answers. (IANS)

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Google India introduces new products on advancement in machine learning for Indian Languages

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Google
Search engine, Google. Pixabay

New Delhi, Apr 25, 2017: Aiming to bring a billion people online and make the web more useful for them, Google India on Tuesday unveiled new products on advancement in machine learning for Indian languages.

Google also announced that the neural machine translation is now available for nine Indian languages — Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.

“Google wants to extend internet for every Indian. We have identified gaps that bar Indians from accessing the internet. There are 400 million internet users in India and the number is expected to reach 600 million by 2020,” Rajan Anandan, Vice President, India and SouthEast Asia, Google, told reporters here.

Look for latest news from India in NewsGram.

He added that 300 million Indians access internet on smartphones. Anandan also spoke about Google’s tie-up with RailTel to provide high-speed internet at Railway stations.

The neural machine translation is available in Chrome and Maps to make the translation process seamless and refined.

The company said it does one billion translations everyday and 95 per cent of Google Translate has its usage outside of the US.

“Of over 500 million people who use Google Translate, most of the users are in India, Indonesia, Brazil and Thailand,” it said.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

According to Google, neural networks initially took 10 seconds to translate but the company worked on it and brought down the time to 0.2 seconds in two months.

The company also launched “Gboard” in 22 scheduled languages in India. The users can now search words, meanings and even emojis in local language.

The keyboard now has a new feature by which text editing can be done on the go easily.

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

The new Gboard comes with a feature that makes it easy to resize and reposition the keyboard according to a user’s need.

Goggle also unveiled Hindi dictionary in Google Search in collaboration with Oxford University Press.

It also shared findings from a new report by Google and KPMG India, titled “Indian Languages-Defining India’s Internet”.  (IANS)