Vatsap? 2020 Aug 09 Newsletter

2020 will be over in 5 more months. What a crazy year! This week I created a story structure breakdown video on a Bollywood film. If you have ever wondered how ‘stories’ work, you will like it. Even if you are a storyteller of some sort yourself, you may still enjoy my take. Should I do more of these?

My weekly update on Covid death projection is out too.

Death count (for India) as of Saturday 08 Aug 2020 stands at 42k+ and I expect it to cross 1 lakh anytime in September (as early as this month end). This week, on an avg ~860 people died per day (compared to 736 the week before).

I also read up a little on the science behind Ammonium Nitrate explosions. It was not easy. If you Google for Ammonium Nitrate, all you get are news links to the Beirut accident.

Anyway, so in a blog-post, I’ve tried explaining how even when AN is a tertiary explosive (meaning – way less sensitive than a primary explosive that can explode immediately), it still leads to such massive blasts once in a while. In short, the answer lies in the variation in acceleration of wave propagation from one explosive material to another.

Video discoveries this week

I discovered a bunch of African kids singing SRK songs – that’s just so sweet.

Anything that brings smile during such grim times, is a must watch. Play it, you will smile too – guaranteed. Even if you don’t like SRK.

And if you are by any chance into Hindi music, let me go ahead and share one more video. I found this performance mind blowing. It’s an Indian Ocean rendition of a Sneha Khanwalker song. It moved me to tears.

I have missed Sneha Khanwalker man! She is outright brilliant and I’m just so happy to see her back from her self imposed hibernation. The video above doesn’t have her performance but you can look around for that too. That’s good as well – but this Indian Ocean thing is uff – just terrific.

Books that I have been reading…

I am onto several books at the same time (some ongoing from past, others started this week itself).

Ongoing from the past:

  • The Lost Decade (TLD) by Puja Mehra – a concise summary of India’s macroeconomic policies from 2008 till 2018 (I keep jumping chapters because it’s a bit too much to read it chronologically)
  • Backstage by Montek Singh Ahluwalia – similar theme as that of TLD, just that it is from a single person’s POV which also makes it much easier to read (compared to TLD). But as one may expect, there definitely are many overlaps between insights from TLD and Backstage. This is fine with me though – I am anyway reading these two in parallel. But if you have already read TLD, then you may find Backstage a bit redundant (a lot actually – if economics is your focus area).
  • The Penguin History of Modern China by Jon Fenby – it’s just a never ending book. I’ve reached the beginning of 1900 now and Kindle tells me I’ve finished reading just 13% of the book so far. The history in the book begins from 1850. Long road ahead!

Sarted this week:

  • Overdraft by Urjit Patel – it’s a short but technical read. All it basically says is that Govt. banks suck and they should do a bunch of things (all starting with R) to become good. This week I will probably try summarizing the key learnings from the book – anybody excited about that?
  • My Country My Life by L. K. Advani – I have had this thick book since a long time. While ordering, I had not imagined it was going to be this thick! Anyway so I never read it. Till this week. With all the Ayodhya tamasha going on, I was like let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth. I don’t think I am going to read everything though. I will just read few things here and there. And then put it back in the shelf. Did you know that Advani would turn 100 in only 7 more years? Not kidding – Google kar lo.
  • Republic of Religion by Abhinav Chandrachud – it’s a short read – six crisp chapters. This one too had been lying around since quite some time. In the book, Abhinav explains how the secular nature of India was put in place by Britishers (much before the revolt of 1857) at a time when in Britain itself, the Govt. was not secular.

“For much of the 19th century, a person who merely denied the truth of Christianity in general or of the existence of God in England could find himself behind bars for committing blasphemy”.

Abhinav Chandrachud, Republic of Religion

I had ordered this book after randomly stumbling upon a Youtube video of Abhinav analyzing CAA.

Of the six chapters in Republic of Religion, one is dedicated to ‘Temple and State’ – that’s the one I am going to finish reading first.

By the way if learning more about Indian macroeconomics interests you, Puja Mehra (the author of TLD) has recently started an insightful series of podcasts.

The latest one has an interview with Rathin Roy who very nicely explains the brief history of Indian macro-economy (if you have 25 minutes and you aren’t already an expert, it’s a really useful / insightful listen).

The above video will directly play from the point where the interview begins (the part before that, where Puja gives her monologue is a bit dry; also if you are subscribed to The Economist, you already know what she is talking about in her intro).

That will be all for this week. Recommend me something to read if you want to? Have a great week. Stay safe. Create something new. And I will get back to you next Sunday. The link to subscribe to the newsletter is here, if you need it for some reason.


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