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g n i n r o Good M Osmania Daily Lab Newspaper | Published by the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication, Osmania University | March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking, modern cosmology’s brightest star, dies aged 76


tephen Hawking, the brightest star in the firmament of science, whose insights shaped modern cosmology and inspired global audiences in the millions, has died aged 76. His family released a statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning confirming his death at his home in Cambridge. Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. “He once said: ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him for ever.” For fellow scientists and loved ones, it was Hawking’s intuition and wicked sense of humour that marked him out as much as the broken body and synthetic voice that came to symbolise the unbounded possibilities of the human mind. Hawking was driven to Wagner, but not the bottle, when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21. Doctors expected him to live for only two more years. But

Hawking had a form of the disease that progressed more slowly than usual. He survived for more than half a century and long enough for his disability to define him. His popularity would surely have been diminished without it.

Hawking once estimated he worked only 1,000 hours during his three undergraduate years at Oxford. “You were supposed to be either brilliant without effort, or accept your limitations,” he wrote in his 2013 autobiography, My Brief History.

Ambedkar’s prescription for farm distress: Rapid industrialisation T

his year marks the centenary of a landmark article by B.R. Ambedkar. Its central insight deserves attention at a time when thousands of protesting farmers touched the hearts of Mumbaikars with their quiet dignity during the long march this week. Ambedkar was a young 27-year-old economist when he published his paper on the problem of small holdings in India. He was among the first generation of trained economists in the country. He persuasively argued in his 1918 article that the solution to rural stress is rapid industrialization: “In short, strange as it may seem, industrialization of India is the soundest remedy for the agricultural problems of India. The cumulative effects of industrialization, namely a lessening pressure (of surplus labour) and an increasing amount of capital and capital goods will forcibly create the economic necessity of enlarging the holding. Not only this, but industrialization, by destroying the premium on land, will give rise to few occasions for its sub-division and fragmentation. Industrialization is a natural and powerful remedy…” It is important to remember that Ambedkar wrote these lines at a time when India had suffered famines at least once every decade between 1860 and 1910, which sometimes led to rural revolts against colonial rule. The main argument made in 1918 was repeated in the 1936 manifesto of the Ambedkarite Independent Labour Party. “In the opinion of the party, the principal means of helping the agriculturists and making agricul-

ture more productive consists in the industrialization of the province.” Indian policy thinking has since then tried to grapple with the problem of industrialization. The central intellectual challenge in the Nehruvian plans was how to push rapid industrialization under three constraints: savings, foreign exchange and food. The savings constraint was sought to be overcome through deficit financing, the foreign exchange constraint with international aid, and the food constraint through institutional changes such as cooperative farming and agricultural extension services. There is little doubt that the Nehruvian plans underplayed the food constraint. Later economists also argued how a weak agricultural sector could be a hurdle to industrial growth. There were two issues in this context. First, food shortages would push up inflation, and governments that tried to deal with the political backlash would then be tempted to cut public investment to fund the subsidy bill. Second, rural distress would ensure that the domestic demand for mass-produced industrial goods would be weak. Of course, industrial growth in the 1970s continued to be anaemic despite the emergence of surplus food, which lent credence to the view expressed by economists, such as Jagdish Bhagwati, Padma Desai and T. N. Srinivasan, that the main problem was the lack of industrial competitiveness because of the web of controls that choked the private sector. Indian governments since the economic reforms of 1991 have

struggled to figure out whether the main thrust of policy should be higher productivity or higher support prices. The UPA government tried to engineer a shift in the internal terms of trade to aid the farming sector. The result was an inflation crisis, while wages grew faster than productivity. The present government tried to cap increases in minimum support prices as part of its overall strategy to maintain macroeconomic stability, but the latest Union budget shows it could be changing course given the possibility of a political backlash in rural constituencies. The experience of the past two decades shows that India faces an impossible fiscal trinity: It is impossible for an Indian government to simultaneously keep farm prices high, retail food prices low, and overall inflation under control through a tight fiscal policy. It can attain only two of these three policy goals at a given point in time. For example, a sharp hike in minimum support prices will either mean higher consumer price inflation or an increase in the fiscal deficit because of a spurt in the food subsidy bill. These are policy conundrums that go to the heart of Indian political economy. The structural transformation of the Indian economy has been an issue that some of the best economic thinkers have grappled with, beginning with Ambedkar a hundred years ago. Experience shows that the process is far more difficult than expected, especially given the failure to create jobs in modern industry and services. (Mint)

In his finals, Hawking came borderline between a first and second class degree. Convinced that he was seen as a difficult student, he told his viva examiners that if they gave him a first he would move to Cambridge to pursue his PhD. Award a second and he threat-

ened to stay at Oxford. They opted for a first. Those who live in the shadow of death are often those who live most. For Hawking, the early diagnosis of his terminal disease, and witnessing the death from leukaemia of a boy he knew in hospital, ignited a fresh sense of purpose. “Although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research,” he once said. Embarking on his career in earnest, he declared: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” He began to use crutches in the 1960s, but long fought the use of a wheelchair. When he finally relented, he became notorious for his wild driving along the streets of Cambridge, not to mention the intentional running over of students’ toes and the occasional spin on the dance floor at college parties. Hawking’s first major breakthrough came in 1970, when he and Roger Penrose applied the mathematics of black holes to the entire universe and showed that a singularity, a region of infinite curvature in spacetime, lay in our distant past: the point from which came the big bang. (The Guardian)

GUILTY! Prof. Lawrence Liang, Dean at AUD, found guilty of sexual harassment for acts committed as PhD scholar *** In finding the Dean guilty, University panel expands jurisdiction over sexual harassment


ast October, a public list posted on a Facebook page accused several Indian academics of having engaged in sexual harassment. One of them was Lawrence Liang, a legal scholar, recipient of the 2017 Infosys Prize and dean of the law school at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD). Last week, Liang became the first from the list to be found guilty in a preliminary process conducted by the university’s official Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment (CPSH). The finding, which Liang says he will appeal, has a significance beyond AUD and universities more generally, because the committee saw its remit as extending to an employee’s conduct not just at the workplace or as an employee but to before he was hired by the organisation as well. The complainant, who accused Liang of multiple instances of forced kissing, touch, and unwelcome text messages, is not a student or colleague at AUD. The incidents she complained about took place between 2015 and 2016 – before Liang was appointed to AUD – when they were PhD students elsewhere, though Liang was much older and already an established scholar at the time.

The committee also took on board information about additional accusations of harassment – involving interns at an NGO in Bangalore where Liang worked earlier – in which the victims were not present as complainants or witnesses. The decision of AUD’s committee to broaden its ambit, and investigate cases occurring prior to and separately from Liang’s role at the university has major significance for how workplaces and educational institutions identify or investigate allegations of sexual harassment. This broadening, the committee noted in its report, was consistent with the university’s guidelines, that cover “complaints made by a third party against a member of the university”. According to the Indian law on sexual harassment in the workplace, “any aggrieved woman” can register a complaint with an organisation against an employee. This means even non-employees can approach an organisation’s sexual harassment committee. Under the law, harassment includes unwelcome physical behaviour, demands for sexual favours or sexually suggestive comments. It is this clause in the law which allowed the complainant to reach out to AUD even though she wasn’t a student or employee there. AUD’s case is also significant because it investigated cases which pre-date Liang’s employment at AUD. (

Good Morning Osmania  

A Lab Publication of the Department of Journalism, Osmania University, where I teach.

Good Morning Osmania  

A Lab Publication of the Department of Journalism, Osmania University, where I teach.