March for Science

EARTH Day, commemorated on April 22 each year, has always seen marches and demonstrations  highlighting dangers to life on the planet and mobilising people for the defence of the environment from wanton exploitation and profiteering. Earth Day this year was different. It saw rallies in cities round the world, especially in the US, under the banner March for Science. This year Earth Day was not about saving the planet, but about saving science and the institutions that engage in studying and propagating it. Who would have thought such a thing would happen?

Generic Prescribing of Medicines: Diktats are Not a Substitute for Sound Public Policy

IN a recent public meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the government would take steps to reduce costs incurred on purchase of medicines by making it mandatory for doctors to prescribe medicines in generic name. In itself such a step by the government would be welcome. Unfortunately past experience shows that such pronouncements are mere empty promises that have no relation to the situation on the ground.

Hyperloop in India: Yet Another Pipedream?

THERE is a new buzz in the country at the prospect of an ultra-modern, even futuristic, transportation system making a debut in India, among the first few countries to host this much-touted system. If it becomes reality, it would be yet another instance of India leading the march of highly developed tech-led countries, the dream being actively promoted among the “aspirational classes” in this country, not satisfied with just a bullet train but looking to leapfrog to the next generation transport.

Earth's Seven Sisters 40 Light-years Away

AN international team of scientists have discovered a set of seven, near earth-sized exoplanets circling a nearby star, named Trappist-1. They have reported this discovery recently in Nature. What is exciting about these exoplanets is that all of them may have water, with three falling in what is called the habitable zone. In the habitable zone, planets may have water in liquid form on their surface, and therefore the possibility of life.

ISRO’s Record Launch: Less Known Innovations

INDIA last week once again breathlessly celebrated another record-breaking feat by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in launching 104 satellites on a single flight of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-37 on February 16, 2017.  Print and electronic media in India went ga-ga with stories about how India had pulled off another “first,” beating by several times the earlier Russian record launch of 37 satellites in a single flight in 2014.

Nuclear Energy in India: From Self-Reliance To Import Dependence

India was an early entrant in the field of nuclear energy. It was Dr Homi J Bhabha who initiated nuclear science research in India by setting up the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in 1945 and later the Atomic Energy Establishment at Trombay (now known as Bhabha Atomic Research Centre or BARC) in 1954 to intensify effort to deploy nuclear technology for generating electricity. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) headed by the prime minister started functioning since then.

Who Benefits from a Compromised World Health Organisation?

THE World Health Organisation is set to elect a new director general at the World Health Assembly in May 2017, marking the completion of two four-year terms of the current director general, Margaret Chan. Three candidates were shortlisted at the recently concluded executive board meeting of the WHO in Geneva – Sania Nishtar from Pakistan, David Nabarro from the UK and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia.


Failing on Black Money, Foolish Attempt to Go Cashless

HAVING failed miserably on the black money front, the Modi government has been extolling the virtues of a cashless economy. What it seems to have forgotten is that cashless transactions require a digital  infrastructure, which we simply do not have. Without an infrastructure that makes mass scale digital transactions possible, coercive measures such as demonetisation or a penalty on cash transactions, will only boomerang.