Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo: The Nobel couple fighting poverty


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Nutrition is a conundrum in developing countries. The couple argue that things that make life less boring are a priority for the poor – a TV set, something special to eat, for example. In one location in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, where almost no one had a TV, they found the extremely poor spent 14% of their budget on festivals. By contrast, in Nicaragua, where 56% of the poor households in villages had a radio and 21% owned a TV, very few households reported spending anything on festivals.

Their work also suggested governments and international institutions need to completely rethink food policy. Providing more food grains- which most food security programmes do – would often not work and help little for the poor to eat better because the main problem was not calories, but other nutrients.

The complete article

Soutik Biswas — BBC

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Why Simone de Beauvoir didn’t believe in being ‘a strong woman’


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Whereas boys were brought up to believe that they could value their own independence and creativity and have flourishing personal relationships, on Beauvoir’s analysis, a woman’s education too often led her to feel ‘torn’ between choosing freedom and choosing love. ‘Woman’, she wrote, is ‘doomed’ to feelings of failure and guilt, because if she succeeded at conforming to mythical ideals of femininity she would be a mirage, not a person. She was expected to embody ‘an inhuman entity: the strong woman, the admirable mother, the virtuous woman, and so on’. Because femininity is so closely associated with prioritising the needs of others, with being likeable and giving, when a woman ‘thinks, dreams, sleeps, desires, and aspires’ for herself, she becomes less feminine – which, in the social currency of 1949 at least, meant she became a worse woman.

The complete article

Kate Kirkpatrick — Aeon

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The lessons of Stephen Schwarzman, boss of Blackstone


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In this age, we look up to billionaires. Well, another of those writing about how he became what he became.

Mr Schwarzman has little time in the book for the little guy. Other financiers wring their hands over the wealth gap between bosses and workers. Not him. He was a rare executive in America’s Business Roundtable not to sign a charter last month calling for an end to the shareholder-led model of capitalism. His private life appears to be one of lavish parties and glamorous schmoozing. Acknowledgments in the book stretch to 14 pages and he name-drops five American presidents, four French ones and China’s Xi Jinping.

The complete article

The Economist

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Greta Thunberg: The Crusader Kid


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The young shall change the world. Amen.

WHEN IT COMES to Greta Thunberg, people fall into one of three camps: they either love her, hate her or don’t know about her. Those who appreciate her are leaders like António Guterres (Secretary-General of the UN), US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Barack Obama. Those who dismiss her are the likes of Canadian businessman and politician Maxime Bernier, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson and climate sceptic Bjørn Lomborg. But this much is clear, she is arguably the world’s best-known 16-year-old today.

The complete article

Nandini Nair — Open

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On Good & Evil


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Swami Vivekananda’s views,

Good and evil are inextricably combined, and one cannot be had without the other. The sum total of energy in this universe is like a lake, every wave inevitably leads to a corresponding depression. The sum total is absolutely the same; so to make one man happy is to make another unhappy. External happiness is material and the supply is fixed; so that not one grain can be had by one person without taking from another. Only bliss beyond the material world can be had without loss to any. Material happiness is but a transformation of material sorrow.

The complete article

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda

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The Minnesota Murderess


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So began the trials of Ann Bilansky. There were two: the legal one and the one staged in the court of public opinion. Often it was hard to tell which was which. Newspapers across Minnesota and as far away as the East Coast wrote breathless accounts of the purported murder and subsequent courtroom drama. People read those stories, staining their fingers with ink, because they were thirsty for news of the devilish Mrs. Bilansky. Like any good gothic novel or penny dreadful, the story was thrilling—all the more because it was true.

The complete article

Christine Seifert — The Atavist Magazine

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‘Be Fearless.’ Tim Cook’s Commencement Speech at Duke University


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“We reject the excuse that getting the most out of technology means trading away your right to privacy. So we choose a different path: Collecting as little of your data as possible. Being thoughtful and respectful when it’s in our care. Because we know it belongs to you,” Cook said. “In every way, at every turn, the question we ask ourselves is not ‘what can we do’ but ‘what should we do’.”

The complete speech

Alix Langone — Time

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