Mass Shootings, Gun Violence and the Pathology of the US as a Terror State

THE Las Vegas mass shooting by a lone gunman, with a death toll of 59 and 527 injured, raises many questions. Why is the person involved – a 64-year Stephen Paddock – not being considered a terrorist by the police and the US administration? Why is gun violence so much higher in the US than any other country? And for the rest of the world, does the US invasion of other countries have any correlation with its gun violence? Or does reaching for the gun to shoot so easily, also encourage violence as a mode of “solving” international problems?

Dating Bakhshali Manuscripts: Answering Important Questions in History of Mathematics

THE Bakhshali Manuscripts, a collection of 70 odd leaves of birch bark, containing a wealth of mathematical methods, have finally been dated. The oldest of the three samples tested was written as early as the 3rd-4th century, placing it almost five centuries earlier than where most scholars had placed the manuscripts. This makes the Bakhshali Manuscripts the oldest recorded use of a large dot, the precursor of our current form of zero. The other two fragments were dated as late 8th, and 10th century compositions, a gap of five to six centuries between the earliest one.

New Fighter Deal: Picking up Pace, and Cronies

BOTH the horses in the race for India’s impending acquisition of single-engined fighter aircraft have now been officially identified, with the deal to be struck under the new “strategic partnership” route incorporated into the Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) 2016. The competitors are Lockheed Martin of the US in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems for the F-16 Block 70/72, and Saab of Sweden in partnership with the Adani Group for the JAS-39 Gripen E, the latter MoU having been signed just during the past fortnight.

North Korea's Hydrogen Bomb: Will it lead to Negotiations or Descend into a Dark Nuclear Void?

ON September 3, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – or North Korea, as it is usually called by the media – tested a hydrogen bomb, with a yield estimated to be around 120 kilotons, eight times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. This, combined with the recent ICBM tests that show North Korea can reach the western shores of the US with its missiles, is not just a game changer between the US and North Korea stand-off . It is virtually game over. The US has failed in its attempts to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programme.

Draft Pharmaceutical Policy: Directionless and Inadequate

THE Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has recently circulated a draft Pharmaceutical Policy. The broad ambitions outlined in the policy are unexceptionable, and include:

1.  Making essential drugs accessible at affordable prices to the common masses;

2.  Providing a longer term stable policy environment for the pharmaceutical sector;

3.  Making India sufficiently self-reliant in end-to-end indigenous drug manufacturing;

4.  Ensuring world class quality of drugs for domestic consumption and exports;

Adani Import Fraud of 2014 and its Continuing Dividend

THE Adanis are again in the news, this time for importing transmission equipment from Japan, China and South Korea, hiking its price through an Adani intermediary in Dubai, and transferring the difference to the off-shore haven, Mauritius. According to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the foreign exchange illegally transferred to Mauritius, through a company controlled by Gautam Adani's brother Vinod Adani, was to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore.

This Independence Day, Remember the Children of Gorakhpur

SEVENTY years of independence, in normal circumstances, should call for celebrations across the nation. Unfortunately these are not normal times. For once we hoped that even this government, hard wired to proclaim its nonexistent ‘achievements’ in strident tones accompanied by incessant jingoist chest thumping, would have considered shedding a few tears for the children of Gorakhpur who did not live to see their country celebrate its 70th year after independence.

Scientists Take to the Streets for Science

THE March for Science took place on August 9 in more than 30 cities and towns in the country, involving thousands of scientists, researchers, teachers and students. These protests took place in the context of slashing funds for scientific research and education, and the promotion, with State support, of unscientific, bogus and obscurantist ideas in public life. The demands of the march were for a greater share of the GDP for science, technological research and education, and to promote scientific temper in the country, a constitutional obligation under Article 51 A.