But I wonder how much real attention Dickens’s books will get. In America at least, he seems to be an author more known than read. (Find me someone who claims to have read “Martin Chuzzlewit” and I will show you a goddamned liar.) Yet even if you’ve read only one of his books, his stamp is such that it feels like you’ve read them all. The virtues that kept him famous, prosperous and never out of print - that he is easily grasped and eternally inventive in his visuals and jokes - have served to make him iconic. His characters, of course, deserve most of the credit. They possess those funny allegorical names, behave just as fixedly, and get thrown into one melodramatic scene after another. But taken as a whole, those 989 characters make up an unforgettable universe of humanity matched only by Shakespeare, whom Dickens worshipped.
Union Carbide’s in-house investigation of the accident will probably not be completed before the end of February. But an inquiry under way in India is already reaching some initial conclusions. The investigation has identified a combination of design flaws, operating errors and managerial mistakes that helped cause the accident and intensified its effects. In addition, the accident has stirred serious questions about placing modern technology in less industrialized Third World nations.
I was recently shocked to read that several city councils in the UK are getting ready to expunge everyday Latin words from the English lexicon. Along with ‘via’ and ‘etc’ would be banished ‘viz’ and ‘i.e.’, not to speak of ‘inter alia’ and ‘bona fide’. There goes away that exotic literary advantage. It was only recently that Amrita, my 10-year-old, fighting against a tide of domestic protestations voted against romantic French and prevalent Spanish and chose Latin as her second language in middle school. I had cheered her and actually promised to help out with the homework, given that three out of five words in English are of Latin origin. Blame this vicarious decision on my formative years but growing up in Mumbai, Latin was never an option in my school, as our national language Hindi was strictly enforced. Shiv Sainiks had decreed that local Marathi was de rigueur for all citizens of the city. I therefore ended up needing to speak three additional languages, not to forget Tamil, my mother tongue.
Microfinance in India started in the early 1980s with small efforts at forming informal self-help groups (SHG) to provide access to much-needed savings and credit services. From this small beginning, the microfinance sector has grown significantly in the past decades. National bodies like the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) are devoting significant time and financial resources to microfinance.