To what do we owe?





We all want to eat food that is nutritious. But how exactly do we define the nutritional value of a food? The simplest way around this problem is to first identify what is good for our health and what is bad. Nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and essential fatty acids help promote good health. On the other hand, excess calorie intake has been shown to be not so good for our health as it leads to obesity, diabetes, and heart-related problems. So, it makes sense to define the nutritional value of a product using the formula:

Nutritional Value (NV) = Nutrients/Calories

Basically, NV is a number of nutrients contained in a food for each calorie it delivers. So, where exactly should different food items be placed on the nutrition list?

Why do we care?

Modern lifestyle has reduced the amount of physical activity performed by an average individual. This lifestyle change, combined with the easy availability of calorie dense food, has led to the widespread prevalence of obesity and associated diseases. Realising this, people have started cutting calories by reducing food intake. The potential side-effect of this behavioural change is that we are also getting less and less of life sustaining nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. For instance, one might decide to limit daily calorie intake to 1600 kcal to reduce weight. This calorie target can be achieved by drinking just the amount of cola equivalent to these many calories. But this way you will be losing on other essential nutrients and your health will deteriorate over time. Instead, you should switch to a diet that contains low calories but sufficient amounts of other nutrients. Solution: eat foods that are placed high on the nutrition list.

coke sugar

That’s the amount of sugar a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola contains

Nutritional Value of common food items


Spinach is a nutrient dense food, 100g of which contains just 23 calories, yet it is packed with tens of essential micronutrients

Each 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola has around 186 Kcal and virtually zero nutrition; hence, its nutritional value is nil. Sweetened nimbu-pani fares slightly better than cola because nimbu-pani at least contains vitamin-C, however, this home-made beverage still has a high concentration of sucrose and calories. It still fares pretty low on our list. Similarly, potato-chips, Maggi, beer, and biscuits are all at the bottom of the list. For example, 100 grams of lays has in excess of 500 kcal with very little nutrition. On the other hand, spinach is a nutrient dense food. A 100g serving of spinach contains just 23 calories, but tens of other micronutrients such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C, iron, vitamin-B6, magnesium, phosphorous, folate and so on. Similarly, carrots, onions, cabbage, broccoli etc. are the kinds of food you should be eating if you are on a low-calorie diet. The importance of protein cannot be overstated and make sure to include a good portion of protein rich foods such as lentils (dal), milk, lean meat (poultry and fish), and eggs in your diet.

apple peel

When it comes to nutritional value, the apple peel is a more nutrient dense food than the pulp inside


Not only do different foods have different nutritional value, different parts of the same fruit or vegetable may pack nutrients in different concentrations. For example, the peel of an apple has more micronutrients than rest of the apple combined and significantly less number of calories. Similarly, in a potato, the part that we eat (the pulp) is just pure starch and the part that we throw away (the skin) has most of the nutrients packed.

Long Story Short

If your goal is to lose weight or maintain weight, and you are limiting your calorie consumption to achieve it, make sure that you are not reducing your intake of other nutrients. To achieve this, you should be eating foods with high nutritional value, which is a measure of nutrients contained per unit calorie of food.

IT firms are firing. Do you have any legal safeguards?

The top burning and contentious issue of late has been the massive job losses that have been taking place in the IT sector or are anticipated to take place in near future. Recently, a controversy was sparked by an audio clip of Tech Mahindra HR executive that found its way into the public and soon became viral. In this audio clip, the executive is heard saying: “This is a corporate decision. If you read the offer letter carefully, there is a clause that states – the company reserves the right to revoke your services at any moment by paying the basic salary. I can ask you to leave the company today end of the day as per the conditions mentioned on the offer letter, which you duly accepted when you joined Tech Mahindra. Why did you sign the offer letter if you were not in agreement with the termination clause that was clearly mentioned in there?”

It might seem at first glance that the HR’s argument, although rude and insensitive, is justifiable. Because the employee agreed to the terms of employment in the offer letter, including the termination clause, out of free will and under no pressure, he/she does not have a case in his/her favour. But is it really so? I find it strange that no one has yet bothered to explore the legal options around this issue.

The government legislation that deals with the termination of employees by firms can be found in the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 (the “ID Act”). This act deals with the ‘retrenchment’ of employees, and the term ‘retrenchment’ is defined in section 2(oo) as: ‘retrenchment’ means the termination by the employer of the service of a workman for any reason whatsoever, otherwise than as a punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary action, but does not include –

(a) voluntary retirement of the workman or

(b) retirement of the workmen on reaching the age of superannuation if the contract of employment between the employer and the workman concerned contains a stipulation in that behalf; or

(bb) termination of the service of the workman as a result of the non- renewal of the contract of employment between the employer and the workman concerned on its expiry or of such contract being terminated under a stipulation in that behalf contained therein;

(c) termination of the service of a workman on the ground of continued ill-health.”

Simply stated, retrenchment means termination of employment of a “workman” by the employer for any reason other than the ones listed above. Firing for financial reasons, poor performance etc. fall into the definition of ‘retrenchment.’

It is crucial that an employer must carry out ‘retrenchment’, as per the regulation is section 25F, ID Act. It states that no workman employed in any industry who has been in continuous service for not less than one year under an employer shall be retrenched by that employer until-

  • the workman has been given one month’ s notice in writing indicating the reasons for retrenchment and the period of notice has expired, or the workman has been paid in lieu of such notice, wages for the period of the notice:
  • the workman has been paid, at the time of retrenchment, compensation which shall be equivalent to fifteen days’ average pay for every completed year of continuous service or any part thereof in excess of six months; and
  • notice in the prescribed manner is served on the appropriate Government or such authority as may be specified by the appropriate Government by notification in the Official Gazette.
  • The condition given under section 25F(c) states requires the employer to give notice to appropriate government in addition to the other two conditions. What is important to note is that the notice must state the reason for retrenchment of the employee and the notice must be issued as is prescribed in the rules framed under the Act.

Moreover, the employers of industrial units, who have employed one hundred workmen or more on an average per working day for the preceding twelve months are required to comply with additional conditions. Unlike the notice requirements of section 25F, the employer is required under section 25N to make an application along with the reasons of intended retrenchment to the State Government for seeking its prior permission to retrench the employee. The State Government has the discretion to grant or withhold such permission after making enquiries. Hence, a simple termination as per the contract of employment can prove disastrous in the event the termination is challenged.

The definition of the term ‘workman’ is central to the ID Act because only a ‘workman’ is protected under this act. Section 2(s) defines workman as any person (including an apprentice) employed in any industry to do any manual, unskilled, skilled, technical, operational, clerical or supervisory work, for hire or reward, terms of employment be express or implied and includes any such person who has been dismissed, discharged or retrenched in connection with, or as a consequence of dispute. It excludes persons:

  1. who is subject to the Air Force Act, 1950 (45 of 1950), or the Army Act, 1950 (46 of 1950), or the Navy Act, 1957 (62 of 1957); or
  2. who is employed in the police service or as an officer or other employee of a prison; or
  3. who is employed mainly in a managerial or administrative capacity; or
  4. who, being employed in a supervisory capacity, draws wages exceeding INR 10,000 per month or exercises, either by the nature of the duties attached to the office or by reason of the powers vested in him, function mainly of a managerial nature.

The employer might try to invoke point (4) arguing that since the employee is drawing more than INR 10,000 per month in wages, he/she does not qualify as a workman, and hence is excluded from the purview of the ID Act. However, as stated in the act, only those people in managerial or supervisory roles and drawing more than INR 10,000 per month are to be excluded. All technical employees, irrespective of their income, qualify as a workman. Hence, most of the IT technical staff who have spent over one year in the company qualify as ‘workman’ and cannot be dismissed without taking prior permission from the state government. Even if permission is granted, retrenchment must be carried out on the principle of “first-in-last-out.”

It is hhardlythe case that a state will give permission to an industrial unit of a firm to retrench employees. The ‘offer letter’, which the HR executive is referring to in the leaked audio clip, has no legal binding whatsoever.  In most cases, the employers prey on the fears and ignorance of their staff members. They will usually ask the employee for resignation first, stating that non-compliance will lead to firing. Believing that “being-fired” will be a stain on their CV most of the employees concur to avoid jeopardising their career. If one can overcome this fear or has secure backup, he/she should rest assured that his/her employment cannot be LEGALLY revoked by the firm.

The bitter truth about the festival of Nag Panchami.

Actions based solely on tradition and unreasoned belief, even when done in good faith, generally cause more harm than good. The festival of Nag Panchami celebrated by Hindus sometime around July-August brings this issue to the fore. During this festival the bhakt jan worship snakes by offering them sweets, flowers, and milk. But if these were just offerings, things would not have been so bad for the snakes. As it happens, the snakes are also fed milk.

Nag Panchami

Milk is a product which is exclusively produced by mammals to feed their young ones. Members of the animal kingdom other than mammals including reptiles, birds, amphibians etc. do not produce milk and thus are very unlikely to have a liking for it. Not just non-mammals, a significant proportion of adult humans lack enzymes to properly digest milk, which is meant for the consumption by their young ones, and are lactose intolerant. Snakes are no exception. They do not possess the necessary enzymes to digest milk. In fact milk is toxic to snakes and generally proves lethal if consumed. But if snakes do not drink milk, what about those who claim to have seen them doing so on nag Panchami. As it happens, a snake is kept thirsty by the snake charmer for many days prior to Nag Panchami. The snake is dehydrated to such an extent that it will consume any liquid that is brought in its proximity.

Not just forcefully feeding milk to the snake, the entire ritual including coercing them to move around; sprinkling turmeric, flowers and vermillion; and carrying them around hordes of people is mentally traumatizing to the poor animal. The stress it go through turns out to be fatal most of the times.

The association of nags with Lord Shiva has elevated their status to the divine. We wish to get rid of evils from our lives by serving them. However, our ignorance and blind faith have clouded our thinking so much that we find it difficult to accept even the most basic facts. If we treat snakes as humble living thinks, like many other marvels of the nature, and just let them be, we would be doing them better service.

Why does the visible spectrum of light lie between wavelengths 400 nm to 700 nm?

Ask any high school kid, “What is the visible spectrum of the electromagnetic (EM) radiation” and most will correctly answer that the visible spectrum is that part of the EM radiation which can be seen by human eyes and lies in the wavelength range between 300nm and 700nm. But few ever ponder on the question, why do human eyes see between 300 nm and 700 nm. To answer this question we need to understand the relation between the black-body radiation and temperature.

Black Body 2

Every blackbody at a temperature above 0 kelvin (-273oC) emits EM radiation. Rather than emitting radiation at a single wavelength, the blackbody emits a range or a spectrum. A curve can be constructed with λ on the x-axis and intensity of the radiation on the y-axis. This is called the black-body radiation curve. The curve is bell shaped with the intensity of radiation peaking at a certain λ, called λmax. Wilhelm Wien discovered that the EM spectrum of black-body radiation shifts towards shorter wavelengths as the temperature increases. The equation describing this shift is written as:

λmax = b/T

where, T is the temperature in kelvins and b is a constant called Wien’s displacement constant.

The effective temperature of the sun’s surface is 5778 K, which puts out peak radiation at about 500 nm. This is the green portion of the light, exactly the same as the peak intensity of the human eye.

Black Body

From an evolutionary perspective it makes perfect sense for diurnal animals like humans to develop eyes that are most sensitive to that part of the spectrum which is most abundant. But not all animals need to sense the visible spectrum to survive. Snakes such as pit vipers prey on warm blooded mammals like rats which maintain their body temperatures at around 310 K, which is warmer than their surroundings. This temperature corresponds to a peak radiation at around 10 µm in the far infrared. They have therefore evolved infrared sensing organs for detecting these wavelengths to aid them in hunting.

In summary, human eyes are sensitive to the 400 nm – 700 nm spectrum of the EM radiation because this is the most abundant radiation on earth during day time. The temperature of the sun’s surface is the reason that the visible spectrum is the most abundant.

Can nutritious diet help me get rid of my eye-glasses?

The most common eyesight problem in young people is myopia or nearsightedness, i.e. they have difficulty in clearly viewing the objects that are far away. Hypermetropia or farsightedness is more common in older people. They can clearly see far off objects but have difficulty in reading what’s right in front of them. I myself am myopic and have been wearing glasses since I was 13. Over the years, I have met many people advising me to eat healthy stuff or to visit Dr. XYZ who could make my eyesight better with just a few months of some eye-drop prescription. But I knew better.

First, the diet that is believed to be good for eyes includes fruits and vegetables that are rich in Vitamin A – carrots, mangoes etc. But V-A helps in preventing night blindness, which results from the depressed production of light sensing carotenoids in the retina. V-A has nothing to do with the bending and focusing of the light on to the retina. This task is left to the cornea and the eye lens. Hence, nutritious diet can help you see better in low light but can’t help you get rid of your eyeglasses.

Most eyesight problems occur because the eyeball is either too long (nearsightedness) or too short (farsightedness). This results in the light being focused either in front of the retina or behind it causing blurry vision. Most myopic people have extra-long eyeballs that get even longer as you grow. This is the reason that the power of prescription glasses keeps increasing every year during the phase your height is increasing and stabilizes after puberty.

I don’t believe there is any medicine available which can change the size of your eyeball. So, I wouldn’t trust the doctors who claim to help me improve my vision through medication. Laser surgery might help because in this the doctor modifies the curvature of the cornea so that the light entering the eye is focused on to the right areas.

So, carrots, amla, and almonds won’t help you get rid of your eyeglasses. But keep eating them because they have tons of other benefits. Also, click on the link below to watch the video brought to you by SciShow if you want to know more.



Homeopathy is as fake as the statement above. There are multiple scientific pieces of evidence that prove that homeopathy is no better than a placebo in curing diseases. Quackery, nonsense, and fraud are some words that have been used in the scientific literature to describe this practice that was first proposed in the 18th century by a German physician – Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann. This pseudo-science is based on the principle that “like kills like.” The proponents of homeopathy may reason that a vaccine works in a similar fashion, but where on one hand a vaccine introduces a weakened/killed form of virus or bacterium in the body to provoke its immune response, “like kills like” makes the baseless assumption that what causes similar symptoms can cure those symptoms. If a snake bite will give you cardiac arrest, use snake venom to treat a heart attack. But the funny thing is that do not even give you

just water

the snake venom; if they did, you would surely die more easily because of the medicine than the disease. The degree to which the substance is diluted is beyond imagination. They take one part substance and mix it with ten parts water. But the snake venom would still kill you at such concentrations. So, one part of this solution is diluted with 10 parts water and the process is repeated until the solution has one part of the substance in 10^20 parts of water. Try putting a drop of ink in sea water. All the oceans in the world do not have enough water to dilute it to the levels desired by homeopaths. The concentration is equivalent to one drop of the substance in an ocean the size of our solar system. Which means that there is not a single molecule of the substance in your medicine, it’s just water or sugar.

“The continued practice of homeopathy has been criticized by many as being dangerous because it prevents the patient from seeking proper treatment that relies on scientifically proven methods.”

But could homeopathy be something beyond being just a quack? Yes, it’s dangerous! The continued practice of homeopathy has been criticized by many as being dangerous because it prevents the patient from seeking proper treatment that relies on scientifically proven methods. Some people may falsely perceive positive effects of homeopathy, but that can be attributed to the following reasons:

  • human body has self-healing abilities: many injuries and diseases will be automatically cured by our own immune system given enough time, even if no treatment is taken;
  • sometimes even fake medicines can provide relief due to the placebo effect, i.e. just a psychological benefit; and
  • some studies that have been conducted by the proponents of homeopathy may show positive effects beyond placebo just by chance. If 20 studies are conducted, one of them is likely to, just by pure coincidence, conclude that homeopathy is effective. If I ask every person on the earth to write down that they are going to die today, I could conclude in tomorrow’s paper that there were more than 1,50,000 psychics in the world who knew exactly when they are going to die. But of course, you would not believe me because this is the average number of people who die every day.

Despite the increasing evidence of homeopathy’s complete ineffectiveness in treating diseases, the multi-million-dollar industry continues to thrive, jeopardizing the lives of the people who believe in it. I would humbly beg you to talk to your close-ones about this fraud practice or to at least initiate a discussion if you are not convinced.