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Shivangi Swaroop is the first woman pilot in the Indian Navy
Shivangi Swaroop is the first woman pilot in the Indian Navy

Mood: How the Lounge team is feeling this week

From Shivangi Swaroop making history as India’s first woman pilot in the Indian Navy to the London-based Apostrophe Protection Society closing down in the face of the punctuation mark’s abuse

Touching the skies

On 2 December, sub-lieutenant Shivangi Swaroop created history by becoming the first woman pilot in the Indian Navy. In interviews post the announcement, the 24-year-old talked about how, as a young girl, she always dreamt of soaring in the skies after seeing a chopper land near her house. Swaroop, who is from a civilian family in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, was commissioned in June 2018 and has joined naval operations in Kochi. She will be flying the Dornier surveillance aircraft. Swaroop’s appointment comes on the heels of yet another momentous announcement—in May, flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth became the first woman pilot of the Indian Air Force to qualify for combat missions on a fighter jet. This is in line with recent efforts to enhance the role of women, particularly in combat roles, in the three defence services.—AB

Last week, the London-based Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) announced it was closing down
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Last week, the London-based Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) announced it was closing down

Save the apostrophe

With the evolution of language an army of grammar guardians, bound by their commitment to clauses, capitals and commas, has been working to present the written word at its finest. Over the years “invite" became a “noun", “like" became a button, one could be woke and still sleep as long as one liked. But as long as there were tweeples explaining the difference between “your" and “you’re", there still seemed hope. Or so one thought. Last week, the London-based Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) announced it was closing down. Founder John Richards, a 96-year-old former journalist, said he couldn’t take the egregious abuse of the punctuation mark any more. “This is a victory for the barbarians," he said. Traffic on the APS’ website has gone up 600-fold since. Even in death, the guardians continue to serve.—OK

Photo: ISRO
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Photo: ISRO

Who found Vikram?

US space agency Nasa credited Chennai-based amateur astronomer Shanmuga Subramanian for spotting debris from the Vikram lander on the lunar surface. In September, Nasa had released a mosaic of images and shared it with the public to help locate the debris. Subramanian had also submitted his findings to Nasa. But Indian space agency Isro’s chief, K. Sivan, said they had located Vikram in September. Would it have been possible for Isro to use the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter’s high-resolution camera to back their claim with visual evidence? After all, the agency did release sharp images of the lunar surface captured by this camera in October.—NS

Sundar Pichai
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Sundar Pichai (Photo: Reuters)

Looking ahead with Pichai

This week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took over as head of its parent company, Alphabet, from founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Besides heading Google’s day-to-day operations, Pichai will also be looking at larger things that Alphabet has set its sights on—“moonshot ideas" like developing smart contact lenses that can monitor the user’s glucose levels or finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. One hopes that he will also loosen Google’s monopolistic control over search and news and allow publishers to benefit from the content they create—keep in mind that in 2018, Google earned $4.7 billion (around 33.5 crore) from news while the earnings of media companies shrunk. With this new, larger role, we hope Pichai will focus on ways to create a more equitable news environment rather than killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.—SB

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