SCIENCE & DEVELOPMENT

Paris Climate Summit: Contradictions And Moving Goalposts

SO COP 21 (Conference of Parties) is finally here and fingers are crossed all over the world that the summit will deliver a definitive outcome. Problem is that nobody is particularly optimistic about how effective that outcome will be in terms of dealing with the clear, present and immediate danger posed by climate change. At the same time, almost everybody is sure that COP21 will end with some concrete agreement, probably named after Paris much like the Kyoto Protocol that it will replace, that will be greeted with applause and hailed as a success.

Hindutva, Mathematics, Pythagoras and Zero

THE Hindutva brigade have been continuously proclaiming that the Greeks learnt Pythagoras from India. This is what Harsh Vardhan, the BJP science and technology minister, claimed in the Indian Science Congress last year; that “we” discovered the Pythagoras theorem and gave it “magnanimously” to the Greeks. There have also been claims of vedic mathematics, which is sought to be introduced in the schools as advanced mathematics of the vedas. In this vain glorious view of history, what we miss are the real advances that India made in mathematics.

 

Vimanas, Rockets, and Tipu Sultan

THE RSS and its camp followers have a strange relationship to imagination. They take the imagination of the mythology, and present it as matter of fact history. When it comes to the scientific imagination – how to create new sciences – they fall back on the sterile claim that we having nothing new to discover, as all of it has been already done by our sages in the past. This is the Batra version of science, available in the Gujarat text books. This view of science is also endorsed by the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

Orchestrated Attack on India’s Research System

There will always be circumstances when private investment lags – when the innovation creates a public good, such as clean air, for which an investor can’t capture the value, or when the risk is too high, such as novel approaches to new antibiotic drugs, or when the technical complexity is so high that there is fundamental uncertainty as to the outcome, such as with quantum computing or fusion energy. For these cases, government funding is the only possible source to spur innovation”.

India’s INDC for Paris Climate Summit

INDIA finally announced its mitigation pledge last week, its so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC for the approaching Climate Summit in Paris in December this year which is expected to conclude an international agreement to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions so as to rein in, and hopefully in time reverse, runaway climate change. India’s INDC has been broadly welcomed including by many civil society groupings.

India-US helicopter deal

JUST in time for Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US, the cabinet approved the much earlier declared yet long-pending Indian acquisition of 22 Apache AH- 64E attack helicopters and 15 Chinook CH-47F heavy lift copters, both made by Boeing, with an option for 11 more Apaches and 7 more Chinooks, at a total cost of $3.1 billion (Rs 1900 crores).

Software Patents Refuse to Die

SOFTWARE patents are like zombies in the zombie film genre that Hollywood has made popular. They just refuse to die. As many times you kill them, they revive again and keep coming back. In India, we thought we had killed and buried software patents with the Amended Patent Act in 2005, and again in the Patents Manual, 2011, both of which effectively deny software patents.

The Dengue Epidemic & Demise of Public Healthcare

THE tragic events culminating in the suicide of the parents of Avinash, a seven year old child who had succumbed to dengue fever, largely due to the apathy of a number of private hospitals, have laid bare the pathetic condition of health care services in Delhi. Subsequent to a public outcry, the Delhi Government has announced a slew of measures to mitigate the impact of the current Dengue epidemic in Delhi. It is natural for a feeling of deja vu to engulf us as we watch the consequences of the Dengue epidemic unfold.

The Bankruptcy of Power Sector Reforms

THE CAG draft report on Delhi's Discoms describing the Rs 8,000 crore loot of consumers, follows on the heels of the Orissa Electricity Regulatory Commission's (OERC) order, cancelling the licenses of the three Anil Ambani Reliance distribution companies. OERC cancelled Reliance licenses in March, 2015 for failing to deliver on any count, and repeatedly violating its orders. With this, we have come a full circle on the electricity reforms introduced by the Electricity Act 2003, whose primary goal was to privatise the sector.

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