Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Clarity of Basics is Must for Every Discipline, Most of it, for Growth & Development of an Economic or business Entity

Just as money is at the core of every activity, so is the economics behind all of them. What goods and services we buy and what price we pay for them and when; what quality and quantity we get in return; what amount we invest and in what; what goods and services we produce for income; how do we distribute revenue realized among factors of production; and, what we consume and how are some of the basic decisions we have to make sooner or later. Our satisfaction or dissatisfaction and success or failure all depend on such decisions whether they were good ones or bad ones. While some of us happen to be impulsive buyers and investors; others, undecided; and a few, rely on high price as an indicator of quality. There are also a few who buy whatever is cheapest due to paucity of funds. 

The case with the government is also somewhat the same. Some governments introduce rationing for the weaker sections, reserve jobs for them, levy direct taxes on well-to-do-citizens, indirect or goods and services taxes on products, grant subsidies to producers for production of essential goods and services, and also resort to imports to meet the domestic demand of such essentials. Every government encourages domestic production for self-reliance and self-sufficiency, as far as possible. They also tend to protect domestic producers’ interests by introducing tariff and non-tariff barriers on luxuries so that cheaper foreign luxuries may not siphon out domestic incomes or force premature shut down on domestic industries that suffer from higher production costs of relatively lower product quality in their infancy stages. Apart from such issues, governments have to provide certain amenities, which require funds to raise which, they levy direct and indirect taxes, the extent of which, depends on the consumer and producer surpluses. All these issues are intertwined and interdependent. They can’t be viewed in isolation. That makes economics a complicated discipline. All the activities we undertake are economic activities. No one can make rational decisions easily without treating them in totality. This calls for the clarity of the basic concepts.

Microeconomics – An Advanced treatise by Prof. S.P.S. CHAUHAN (PHI) is a comprehensive self- sufficient attempt, which the author claims to provide the readers a clear insight not only into the basics but also to the heights at which they can develop independent and confident opinions about economic activities and affairs including rationing, taxation, subsidies, supplementary incomes, consumer and producer surpluses, sharing of GST between buyers and sellers, price floors and price ceilings with their consequences on production and consumption, diversification of investment portfolios, allocation and re-allocation of resources, optimality in production and consumption by individual producers and consumers, leisure and labour preferences of workers, indifference curve approaches to all these issues, with concrete numerical case-lets, costs and prices, market forms, monopoly power and its regulation, oligopolistic games, problems of efficiency , employment  growth and development, econometric estimation of economic functions, pricing in practices, decisions theories, investment decisions of individuals and capital asset pricing, linear programming, input-output decisions, theories of international trade, externalities and public goods, and , all the concepts essential to make the a reader a confident economist. The book is based on the inspiration of Prof. (Dr.) Manab Adhikary, (ex-Dean, FMS, University of Delhi), an internationally renowned economist with multiple international awards, who along with the author of the book, shares the same ideology that economics has no limits and no limitations. It can’t be limited to any syllabus or topics. 

In Dr.Manab Adhikary’s opinion, it must be developed from the ground level and must reach the highest orbits with all that makes its command simple, analytical and deterministic. There must be no uncertainty, but only the calculated risks. 

The author has intended to explain the concepts in very simple language, without resorting to the jargon of vocabulary which many authors resort to and inconsequence, encourage cramming, not grasp and command on the discipline. The third edition of the author’s book is in progress. It contains excel spread-sheets for simple econometric calculations by researchers. Try and see for yourself

Available in e-book and print book formats: www.phindia.com.

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Saturday, 10 October 2020

Book Review - A Keen Look at Groundbreaking Inventions in ICT

Many of these inventions in information and communication technology have occurred in the last 55 years.


During my school days, a computer was a machine occupying a garage space, used only by engineers. Now, within 50 years, I hold it in my pocket like a mobile smartphone, as do 50 crores other Indians! How did this revolution happen?

Do you know who invented such groundbreaking inventions in Information and Communication Technology (or ICT)? This is the theme of a remarkably informative and educative book Groundbreaking Inventions in Information and Communication Technology recently authored by V. Rajaraman, who taught at the Supercomputer Education and Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and published by PHI Learning, Delhi.

In this book, Prof. Rajaraman lists the history of 15 groundbreaking inventions and innovators who have made these hand-held fast, versatile computers possible. I believe that with computer-based education has become a part of the New Education Policy (NEP), it is vital that students and teachers get to learn the story of these 15 inventions and the innovators, not just as a part of the history and development of these innovators, but as an inspiration for the future.

As per Prof. Rajaraman: (1) The idea should be novel; (2) It should fulfill a need; (3) It should improve our productivity; (4) It should change the way in which computing is done, and computers are used; (5) It should lead to innovations; (6) The invention must have a long life and be continuously used and not be transient; (7) It should create new industries that lead to further innovations and may, as a consequence, disrupt some old industries and (8) It should transform the way we live and thereby result in societal changes. It is not necessary that a groundbreaking invention satisfy all these; it is enough if it meets a majority of these.

Recent History

Interestingly, many of these inventions to have occurred in the last 55 years — starting from the computer language FORTRAN in 1957 to Deep Learning in 2011. A brief history and description of these, and the innovators associated with them are given in his book. We will take up the first seven innovations here and the rest in the next article.

Programming Languages

The first is FORTRAN or Formula Translation, developed by John Backus and his team in 1957. This translated the binary language (0 and 1) of digital computers into everyday language that can be understood and used by all, using the IBM computers and later by other computers as well. (I remember how Prof. Rajaraman taught FORTRAN to all of us — students and faculty — at IIT Kanpur, and several lakhs of others elsewhere through his lectures and books). FORTRAN made computers usable by non-professionals too- to start programming and solve problems. Others designed similar programming languages for specific uses, but FORTRAN is still the language used by scientists.

The second is the introduction of what is called integrated circuits or ICs. Until they were invented, signals were amplified using vacuum tubes that were large and became hot during use. When John Bardeen and colleagues invented transistors' way back in 1947, they reduced the size and power consumption of amplifiers.

This caused a revolution in information technology because using these, Jack Kilby (and a few months later, Robert Noyce) could actually make a fully integrated complex electronic circuit on a single silicon chip.

The third innovation discussed is databases and how to manage them in an organised fashion. For example, our own Aadhaar Card contains in it a variety of data (age, sex, age, address, fingerprints, and such), put together in a compact fashion. Such a database system is what is referred to as a relational database management system, or RDBMS. Earlier, these files were stored in magnetic tapes, then in floppy discs and now in CDs and pen drives.

LAN and Ethernet

The fourth is what is known as local area networks (or LANs), introduced first by Norman Abramson’s group in Hawaii, where they used a wireless broadcast system called ALOHA net to interconnect computers across the islands to share a broadcast medium. Then Robert Metcalfe and David Boggs modified this protocol and put together what they called Ethernet, which has allowed multiple computers to share and exchange messages and files through cable connections. We now use LANs in the office to transfer hard-copies into e-files and to connect various departments in a University.

The fifth innovation is the development of personal computers, which has allowed us to work and study from our homes. The first person to design a personal computer was Steve Wozniak in the mid-1970s and brilliantly marketed by Steve Jobs. By 1981, PCs began selling like hotcakes, and by the late 1980s, Apple, IBM and its clones captured the market, with Microsoft supplying the operating system.

To open your phone or a computer, you need a passcode, which is secure and known only to you. And when a bank or a sender sends you a ‘confidential’ message, they too send a secure passcode (e.g., OTP). This aspect is what is known as an encryption system (allows secrecy between the sender and receiver). This public-key cryptography is the sixth innovation.

Your computer now has built-in programs that not only allow you to take photographs, movies and send them using applications like WhatsApp, Facetime, and such. This has come about thanks to the seventh innovation called computer graphics, which Prof. Rajaraman discusses in his book in detail. In addition, he discusses in detail the compression of multimedia data that has allowed exchanging audios and videos over the Internet.


The book is available in print book format as well as e-book format.

In case you want to reach us, visit the webpage of the book at



Write to us at phi@phindia.com

Thursday, 17 September 2020


PHI Learning is going to release a book Groundbreaking Inventions in Information and Communication Technology by V. Rajaraman on 24th September 2020. This virtual book launch event is being organized by the Computer Society of India, Chennai Chapter, ACM Chennai Professional Chapter, and IEEE Computer Society, Madras Chapter in association with PHI Learning Private Limited. 

The book will be released by Dr. Srinivasan Ramani, a Ph.D. from IIT, Bombay, who has worked as a researcher at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. He played a key role in creating India’s academic network, ERNET, which brought the Internet to India.

Following the book release, the author of this book, Dr. Rajaraman (Emeritus Professor, SERC, IISc, Bangalore) will make a presentation on Groundbreaking Inventions in ICT. An author of several well established and highly successful computer books, Prof. Rajaraman has published a large number of research papers in reputed national and international journals. A Padma Bhushan awardee in 1998, he is also a recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in 1976, the Homi Bhabha Prize by UGC, Om Prakash Bhasin Award, the ISTE Award for excellence in teaching computer engineering, Rustam Choksi Award, the Zaheer Medal by the Indian National Science Academy.

Mr. Asoke K Ghosh, CMD, PHI Learning will address the Book Launch event on 24th September 2020 at 6 pm IST. Mr. Asoke K. Ghosh is one of the pioneers of the concept of publishing low-cost editions of highly expensive books in India that are published abroad and making them affordable to Indian students. An alumnus of the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University, he is a trendsetter in the world of publishing and regarded as the Father of Indian Publishing Industry.

The event will be in virtual mode using Google Meet. All registered participants will receive a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book in pdf format at the time of receiving the Google Meet credentials to join the event. All attendees of the event on 24th September 2020 will get a special discount of 35% on the purchase of the book from www.phindia.com.  

To participate, please register using the Google Form at https://bit.ly/2QA8Fdp 

About the Book

Nowadays, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) touches every aspect of our life. When we get up in the morning, we check our smartphones for any missed calls, SMS, and WhatsApp messages that include audio clips, video clips, and sometimes computer-generated cartoons and animations. Many of us read the latest news and email on our smartphones, tablets, or laptop computers that are connected by Wi-Fi to the Internet. Researchers search the World Wide Web for relevant research papers using a search engine, usually Google. To hear an old favourite song, we turn to YouTube. Books are bought by logging on to Flipkart or Amazon and placing orders. Air tickets are booked by logging on to an airline’s or travel agent’s websites. Train tickets are booked on the IRCTC site. Banking is done from home using Internet banking. When we want to go out and need a taxi, we use Ola or Uber App installed in our smartphones to find out in a map where taxis are, and the time it will take to get one. The taxi driver uses his phone to find our location (found by GPS) from the map on his smartphone screen. The fare is automatically deducted from our pre-paid accounts with Ola or Uber. Else, we may use a digital payment App such as Paytm or BHIM. If the Internet cannot be accessed for some reason, it is extremely inconvenient as a lot of our work gets delayed. Undoubtedly almost everyone has become dependent on ICT in their daily life. ICT has spawned many new industries that employ millions of people. All this has happened in a relatively short period of about seventy years.
In a short span of seventy years, Information and Communication Technology has changed the way we live. Often, we wonder how we lived without the Internet and smartphones!

PHI’s recently released book GROUNDBREAKING INVENTIONS IN INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY by Rajaraman is written in a simple style without too many jargon terms to allow anyone with a pre-university education to understand and appreciate how ICT has developed. 
  • What do we mean by a “Groundbreaking Invention”? Some of the meanings of the word “groundbreaking” taken from dictionaries are:
  • “innovative, pioneering” (Oxford Dictionary)
  • “A very new and big change from other things of its type” (Cambridge Dictionary)
  • “Introducing new ideas or methods” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
  • “Something innovative, pioneering or that has never been done before” (Your Dictionary)

Of these four meanings, the one given by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is closest to the criteria that are used to select the fifteen groundbreaking inventions presented in this book. What then are the criteria to classify an advancement in ICT as a groundbreaking invention? The following criteria are used:
  1. The idea should be novel.
  2. It should fulfil a need.
  3. It should improve our productivity.
  4. It should change the way in which computing is done, and computers are used.
  5. It should lead to innovations.
  6. The invention must have a long life and be continuously used and not be transient.
  7. It should create new industries that lead to further innovations and may, as a consequence, disrupt some old industries.
  8. It should transform the way we live and thereby result in societal changes.

Every groundbreaking invention does not need to satisfy all the above criteria. If it meets a majority of these, the author of this book has classified it as groundbreaking.

The book identifies and explains fifteen groundbreaking inventions in ICT from 1957 to-date. The first chapter explains what is meant by the term groundbreaking invention and the criteria that have used to identify groundbreaking inventions. The second, third, and fourth chapters describe the inventions, how they were invented and the biographies of prominent inventors. The biographies are given in Boxes. They may be skipped while reading about the inventions and read afterward to get an idea about the inventors and their careers. In the fourth chapter, concluding remarks are added that discuss whether there are some common features in the inventions and about the nature of the inventors and why they succeeded.

In this book, Dr. Rajaraman has described the following for each of these inventions: 
  • History of the invention 
  • A brief biography of persons who were associated with the invention
  • Why the author considers the invention as groundbreaking
The inventions are grouped as follows: 
  • Between 1957 and 1974 (the first four inventions)
  • Between 1975 and 1984 (the middle five inventions) 
  • Between 1985 and 2011 (the last six inventions)
Each group of inventions is described in a chapter. 
This book seeks to answer the following questions lucidly to a non-specialist general reader:
  • How did this revolution happen?
  • What groundbreaking inventions led to this revolution?
  • Why are they groundbreaking inventions?
  • Who were the innovators and inventors of these technologies?
  • What led them to these inventions?
Fifteen groundbreaking inventions: Fortran, Integrated Circuits, Relational Database Management Systems, Local Area Networks, Personal Computers, Public Key Encryption, Computer Graphics, Internet, GPS, World Wide Web, Search Engines, Digitisation and Compression of Multimedia, Mobile Computing, Cloud Computing, and Deep Learning (AI) are described cogently by Professor V. Rajaraman, a doyen of Computer Science education and research in India.

About the Author

V. RAJARAMAN – A Pioneer in the Field of Computer Science Education in India
Born: 8th September 1933, Madras Presidency, British India 
Occupation: Computer engineer & Academic Author 
Known for: Computer science academics and literature 
  • Padma Bhushan 
  • Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 
  • Om Prakash Bhasin Award 
  • Homi Bhabha Prize 
  • IISc Rustom Choksi Award 
  • INAE Lifetime Contribution Award 
  • IISc Distinguished Alumnus Award 
  • CSI Lifetime Achievement Award
An interview with Dr. Rajaraman is available at http://voxiitk.com/interview-with-dr-rajaraman/ 
The Series of Books by Rajaraman, published by PHI Learning, is available for purchase from www.phindia.com.

The books are available in print book format as well as e-book format.

In case you want to reach us, visit the webpage of the book at

Write to us at phi@phindia.com

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