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Reader's Digest India

Reader's Digest India December 2019

Reader’s Digest has been the world’s biggest-selling magazine for nearly nine decades. It is also India’s largest-selling magazine in English. Beneath the fun and excitement of its pages, the Digest is, above all else, a serious magazine that never loses sight of the fact that, each day, all of us confront a tough, challenging world. To the millions who read the Digest, it is not a luxury—it is a necessity. Deep within its widely varied package of humour, real-life dramas and helpful information, there is in every issue of the Digest a subtle power that guides people in every aspect of their lives.

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12 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
happiness is …

Keeping up with the Joneses has been considered kosher much, much before social media and bragging on it became a thing. The World Happiness Report, 2019 is a bit humbling for us in that context: India has slipped seven positions from last year and stands at 140 out of 156 countries. Worse, we have been pushed way below Pakistan (gasp!), China, Bhutan—and even Nepal! But seriously, we don’t need experts to tell us that we could do with a bit of happiness in the world, though there’s enough research to fill a library on the science of happiness. There are now universities in India that offer curricula and pedagogies to teach the subject. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a proponent of positive psychology, said “being in flow” brings us maximum happiness. “The best moments in…

3 min.
some questions for a brother

—Dr N. GOPALAKRISHNAN, Bengaluru Dr N. Gopalakrishnan gets this month’s ‘Write & Win’ prize of `1,000.—EDs Ina Puri’s article on the suicide of her brother foregrounds the challenges faced by millions of people suffering from mental illness around the world. Unlike physical ailments that are easily diagnosed, mental illnesses are still largely ignored or misread until patients take a drastic step, such as self-harm. It is heartbreaking that victims are often ridiculed as being lazy, inefficient or overdramatic, making it harder for them to seek help. As social beings, we should be far more tolerant towards each other rather than be judgemental. Very few of us truly understand the struggles a mentally disturbed person goes through—just to feel normal. World Mental Health Day [10 October] has gone by, but we must pledge to…

1 min.
annual reader survey

Calling all our Readers! Here’s something we don’t get to share with you often. At Reader’s Digest, you, dear reader, are the centre of our universe. That your name is part of the title of our beloved magazine should demonstrate it. Every month, when we plan our issues, we build them keeping you in mind. A lot of it is shaped by the collective wisdom of our international editors, who know the DNA of this magazine well, but we also hear you regularly through email, in the comments sections on social media and, sometimes, in person too. All this gives us an opportunity to take in your feedback and ensure continuous improvement to keep RD sparkling. However, research—at the heart of everything we do—is what we truly rely on to keep our quality…

5 min.
the power of play

For 29-year-old Matthew Spacie, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to invite a curious group of boys, watching him play rugby at the Bombay Gymkhana, over for a game. Spacie, then the chief operating officer of Cox and Kings, persuaded the reluctant staff of the elite establishment to let the underprivileged children play. For the kids, it was a welcome break, and these games soon became a regular activity. They learnt not only about rugby but also about life, teamwork, fairness and decision-making. The more they learnt, the more they became motivated to attend school. That a simple game was able to wash away the struggles of their everyday lives was startling. Spacie’s interactions with the children drove home a grim reality—millions of such children were trapped…

4 min.
data—the currency of the digital age

Last month, a controversy broke out over reports that several high-profile Indians—journalists, lawyers, opposition politicians—had been surveillance targets. The key players all diverted blame and responsibility. Pegasus, a spy software (see Quickipedia p 23) developed by NSO Group, an Israeli cyber-intelligence firm, allegedly exploited a security flaw in WhatsApp’s video-calling system, and snooped on users worldwide, including Indians. But the makers of Pegasus said they only sold the software to governments for security reasons. Our government denied buying Pegasus, and demanded an explanation from WhatsApp, who claimed they had already informed the government twice about the leaks. The government then said WhatsApp’s reports were too technical for them to understand. In Hong Kong, during the recent mass protests, demonstrators were afraid to use their metro cards to travel to gatherings, queueing…

1 min.
pegasus spyware

It installs itself on a device without its owner having the slightest inkling about it. An innocuous text message with a web-link that you may open to read or a WhatsApp call that you may or may not answer is enough for the program to infect your phone. The malicious code, then, like in a sci-fi movie, can take control of your device and snoop on mails, photos, audio, videos and text messages on it. It can record incoming and outgoing calls and listen to offline conversations by activating the microphone and even take pictures by hijacking the camera. We are talking about Pegasus, the spyware developed by the Israel-based NSO Group. The software hit headlines around the world after WhatsApp accused the company of illegally hacking the smartphones of hundreds…