Google: The Selfish Ledger

Titled The Selfish Ledger, the 9-minute film starts off with a history of Lamarckian epigenetics, which are broadly concerned with the passing on of traits acquired during an organism’s lifetime. Narrating the video, Foster acknowledges that the theory may have been discredited when it comes to genetics but says it provides a useful metaphor for user data. (The title is an homage to Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene.) The way we use our phones creates “a constantly evolving representation of who we are,” which Foster terms a “ledger,” positing that these data profiles could be built up, used to modify behaviors, and transferred from one user to another:

“User-centered design principles have dominated the world of computing for many decades, but what if we looked at things a little differently? What if the ledger could be given a volition or purpose rather than simply acting as a historical reference? What if we focused on creating a richer ledger by introducing more sources of information? What if we thought of ourselves not as the owners of this information, but as custodians, transient carriers, or caretakers?”

The so-called ledger of our device use — the data on our “actions, decisions, preferences, movement, and relationships” — is something that could conceivably be passed on to other users much as genetic information is passed on through the generations, Foster says.

Source: The Verge

Future of India Fellow

I am now a Future of India Fellow!

The four-week long fellowship program to be held in New Delhi from June 11 – July 6, 2018 will be attended by “a distinguished cohort of highly motivated individuals selected through a rigorous process from applicants across the world studying in some of the world’s leading universities…. This is an exciting opportunity for bright young people across India to come together and think through the Future of India with those at the apex of India’s policymaking.” 

About the Fellowship

“The Fellowship will focus on developing an understanding of the political considerations and implications of different policy choices to build a new generation of liberal, democratic and compassionate young leaders across India. Senior Congress leaders like P. Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Sam Pitroda, Jairam Ramesh, Ajay Maken, K Raju, Shashi Tharoor, Meenakshi Natarajan, Sachin Pilot and academics and activists have committed to teaching parts of the course. The Fellowship will bridge the gap between the theory and practice of policymaking, by facilitating interactions with leading policymakers, field visits, and simulation exercises.

The idea is to broad-base the NSUI platform to offer space for multiple forms of political activity and give bright young people an opportunity to engage with Congress leaders they may otherwise not have access to. This is an attempt too to provide space to young people who are aligned with Congress ideology but *not ready* to join the Party.” [* emphasis yours truly.* ]

Here’s what really excited me about the program:

Week 1

– Public Policy & Analysis – Role of the State in Development
– The Birth and Evolution of Indian Policy
– Governance and Public Institutions: 
Strengthening Democracy and the Current Crisis
– Reforming the State: Limits of Democratic Government
– Public Administration and Management
– Tryst with Destiny – Indian Economic Policy

Week 2


– Role of the State – Ensuring Access
– Bridging the Bharath vs India Divide
– Resource Management
– Reforming the State: Limits of Democratic Government
– Legal System
– India’s Place in the world

Week 3

– Role of State – Ensuring Equity
– Governance and Public Management
– Reforming the state: Limits of Democratic Government
– Ensuring Sustainable Development
– Power to the people
– Urban Poverty and Citizenship
– Careers in Politics and Public Policy

Week 4

– Fundamentals of Democratic Nations
– Role of State – Ensuring Justice
– Conflict Management in a Democracy
– Electoral Management and Power Politics
– India’s Place in the World
– Policy Communications

Be the change!   ️    

The City Was Missing

“The City Was Missing,” one of my city poems appear in the latest issue of Star*Line, edited by Vince Gotera, and published by SFPA: Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (America). I just received a contributor’s copy, and the cover illustration is gorgeous, also the poems!

The opening two lines of this poem will be featured in The Mumbai Collaborative Poetry Project (MCPP) — the first ever video poem themed on the city of Mumbai — curated by Vinita Agrawal. Twenty-five poets will be featured in the project, including Nabina Das and Priya Sarukkai Chabria.

Here are my notes for the poem from March 22, 2015:

“Two weeks after The New York Times asked PM Modi to speak about the mounting violence against India’s religious minorities, he broke his dangerous silence. ‘My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly,’ he assured Christian leaders. The attack on a Navi Mumbai church this Saturday showed that it would take more than rhetoric from the iron man of secular India to protect its minorities. This poem is a warning against the departure of religious tolerance and cosmopolitan spirit from Mumbai, formerly Bombay. (The city’s name was officially changed to Mumbai at the behest of a local Hindu-nationalist party because Bombay sounded so British.) Ultimately, it is about our personal relationships with cities we come to associate ourselves with.”

“The City Was Missing” first appeared in my poetry collection Khas Pidgin (Amazon, Barnes & Noble & iBooks). If you haven’t purchased or read it already and would like to receive a review copy, let me know. Happy reading! 🐘🌸😇

The Indian Experience: Three Poems

Three of my poems “At Rajiv Chowk Metro Station,” “Khas Pidgin” and “Foreign Tongue” appear in the latest Sage issue of Coldnoon, an international journal of travel writing & traveling cultures. These poems are part of my debut collection, Khas Pidgin.

PDF: https://coldnoon.com/…/12/The-Winter-is-Coming-to-an-End.pdf
Text: https://coldnoon.com/…/sage…/the-winter-is-coming-to-an-end/

I think I wrote the poem “Khas Pidgin” in 2009, and “Foreign Tongue” in 2014? I am certain that I wrote “At Rajiv Chowk Metro Station” in 2014, because I have these notes for the poem written for a poetry-challenged friend the same year:

While waiting for the train at Rajiv Chowk, I was reading Amit Chaudhuri’s essay titled “Beyond ‘Confidence’: Rushdie and the Creation Myth of Indian writing in English” from his collection Clearing House.

He writes that there was Indian writing in English before Rushdie, a fact that the arriviste India seems to have forgotten. He concludes:

That’s why Indian writing, in the last one hundred and fifty years, represents not so much a one-dimensional struggle for, or embodiment, power, as a many-sided cosmopolitan. It isn’t enough, today, to celebrate Indian writing’s ‘success,’ after having identified what its marks of success are (as if the whole tradition must only, and constantly, be thought of as an arriviste would be); one needs to engage with its long, subterranean history (as hard-earned as political freedom itself) of curiosity and openness.

When I closed the book and lifted my eyes, they caught a brief but warm reflection of a face on the glass door of the metro. I thought it was mine, but I can’t be certain now.

The Indian writing in English is a blob and its seeming triumph, perhaps a brief rupture in what the western critics (dust and chatter) consider their canon (text).

And Indian writers (brown light) writing in English can’t be blamed for not knowing exactly who they are writing for (and the question is irrelevant, Chauduri argues)—they are faceless dots in the literary world, the mirror of their times.
___

PDF: https://coldnoon.com/…/12/The-Winter-is-Coming-to-an-End.pdf
Text: https://coldnoon.com/…/sage…/the-winter-is-coming-to-an-end/

The Battles for Justice: No Country for Women

“The Battles for Justice: No Country for Women” is an illustrated dispatch from India on the women’s struggle for justice from the times of the epic Mahabharata to the rise of a Hindu government and god-men in India. It’s a personal and complicated reaction to the rare conviction of a god-man, who sexually exploited women with impunity for more than fifteen years, and had armed goons, policemen and politicians in his pocket. His conviction resulted in the death of 38 people. In 14 black and white pages, “The Battles for Justice: No Country for Women” illustrates the nation’s complex feelings about what the judgment, and the subsequent unrest and killings, mean for the women’s struggle for justice.

Our Gumroad bundle contains digital edition in three formats: Kindle (mobi), Android & iBooks (epub), and comic book (pdf): http://gumroad.com/battlesforjustice. Also available to purchase at Amazon and Smashwords.

The Story of India’s Partition: 2nd Edition!

Paperback available to order from Amazon POD.

Illustrated by Anju Shah, the newly redesigned and updated edition of “The Story of India’s Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan” is now available on Amazon and Smashwords. You can order the new gorgeous edition as a digital bundle in three formats (epub, mobi & pdf) from Gumroad: https://gumroad.com/l/partition (Recommended!)

Paperback available to order from Amazon POD. (We’re looking for mass-market publishers in India and UK to print and distribute this book so that it becomes more affordable and accessible. If you know someone, hope you’ll pass on the link. Gracias!)

About:

On July 8, 1947, Cyril Radcliffe arrived in India for the first time. He had five weeks and four judges to settle the boundary between the newly independent India and a newborn state of Pakistan. After drawing the “ Radcliffe Line,” the British officer burnt his papers, refused his fee, and left the wounded continent never to set foot on it again. Based on W.H. Auden’s famous poem, “Partition,” this is an illustrated account of the man who oversaw the controversial border settlement which left one million dead and twelve million homeless and permanently displaced.

Why Mithila Review Has Closed Submissions?

Dear reader,

I’m fielding this question a lot these days: When is Mithila Review going to open submissions again? I think there is no way of answering this question without addressing the elephant in the room: Why have we closed submissions?

Two Reasons

1. We’re severely underfunded: http://patreon.com/mithilareview

I can no longer accept work for free without feeling that I’m stealing work and its potential value from our contributors. As an editor and publisher, I know I’m failing to do my job if I can’t pay for the blood, sweat and tears that go into creation of critical and significant works of art, poetry or fiction.

If we meet our Patreon goal, I’ll open submissions soon enough. I want Mithila to be able to acquire and publish the best of speculative fiction and poetry from around the world. If we’re publishing the best work, we need to pay the best rates. If we can’t do that, I don’t think we can attract, nurture or support the best of new and emerging voices in the field.

2. Time is in short supply

Even before we founded Mithila Review in 2015, I’ve had been spending hundreds of hours reading the most diverse SF that I could find online not purely for the sake of pleasure. I’m a young writer, designer, and filmmaker, who grew up in Kathmandu, and lives in New Delhi, with very little exposure to the world of science fiction and fantasy. It took me significant chunks of time, focus and hard work to achieve a few publication credits under my belt, and that meant total concentration. Like my fellow writers, I’ve been doing ten thousand things to be able to find a way to support myself in order to find the time to read and write and film. One of the reasons for doing Mithila Review was to create an opportunity for myself to immerse deeply in the world of science fiction and fantasy. And immerse I did!

After establishing Mithila, I began reading what I would have never read otherwise: the slush pile. It’s not a part of the publishing job that anybody wants—but I’ve been reading and replying to submissions for two years now with occasional help from our coeditors.

So what’s my job like? I select and edit content, design and publish each issue, and it takes hundreds of hours. The running cost of Mithila Review is significant—I don’t know how to compromise on quality of what we publish, and it takes me away from many income-generating opportunities.

When I started Mithila Review, there was no English-language publication devoted to international science fiction and fantasy from around the world in South Asia. Today Mithila Review is the only Asian publication in English devoted to SF/F/H, if my understanding of the market is correct. Mithila Review is probably the first publication based out of India to be funded in part through Patreon. I’m extremely reluctant to consider Mithila Review an Indian or South Asian publication because over 90 percent of our readers, contributors and patrons come from America and Europe. It’s no wonder then that we’ve hardly received any outside support for our endeavors in this region except from a small pool of dedicated readers and writers.

Honestly, I do not think it’s possible for anyone to build a quality publication without significant investment. I have done well thanks to the support of family and our generous contributors, and the magazine now has a small but critical pool of patrons, but that’s not how things used to be for me financially before I got seriously involved with science fiction and fantasy. Financially-speaking, Mithila Review has been a disaster. At a tremendous personal cost, I have been able to build a platform that many people could but didn’t because it didn’t make financial sense to any one of them. Every issue of Mithila Review is available to read online, and any profit-hungry entrepreneur would not see any financial benefit in such an open project.

As you must have known by now, I’ve never been driven by financial interest. As a result, I’ve struggled to figure out ways to combine my burning passion for literature and cinema with the urgent need to make it self-sustainable. Until I can make this happen, please consider supporting this literary endeavor and help keep Mithila Review open and alive with your contribution. Help me bring the best of speculative fiction, poetry and cinema to your world.

As always, I’m counting on your support.

Thank you,
Salik

Support Mithila Review

Patreon: http://patreon.com/mithilareview
Paypal: https://www.paypal.me/mithilareview
Donate: http://mithilareview.com/donate

Connect With Me

http://twitter.com/salik
http://facebook.com/salikshah.me
http://linkedin.com/in/salikshah

New Book: The Story of India’s Partition

On July 8, 1947, Cyril Radcliffe arrived in India for the first time. He had five weeks and four judges to settle the boundary between the newly independent India and a newborn state of Pakistan. After drawing the “ Radcliffe Line,” the British officer burnt his papers, refused his fee, and left the wounded continent never to set foot on it again. Based on W.H. Auden’s famous poem, “Partition,” this is an illustrated account of the man who oversaw the controversial border settlement which left one million dead and twelve million homeless and permanently displaced.

Available to purchase on Apple iTunes Store & Amazon.com.

Sample Pages:

Back:

Available to purchase on Apple iTunes Store & Amazon.com.

Update: August 19, 2017

Yay! Our debut picture book, “The Story of India’s Partition,” is currently No. 1 New Release in Children’s Biography Comics on Amazon.com right now. Thank you for your love and support!