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.
THE government has finally approved the National Health Policy-2017, bringing to an end a two year long process. A draft of the policy was available since mid-2015 but it is believed that the government, at the Niti Ayog’s behest had been unhappy with some specific parts of the earlier draft that was critical of the private sector.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
THE ink has barely dried on the acquisition of the French Rafale fighter aircraft, and India has once again entered the international arms market with the intention to procure hundreds of fighter jets, albeit with the proviso that they be manufactured in India. The Rafale deal, for outright purchase of 36 twin-engined medium-weight multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) worth around $ 7.8 billion (Rs 50,000 crores), did not quite turn out to be ‘the mother of all defence deals’ it was once hailed as.
THE US has imposed fresh sanctions on Russia and expelled 35 of her diplomats on Russia's supposed hacking of the US elections. Obama, as president, was seen to be less prone to war unlike his predecessor George Bush (Junior) or even his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. What explains then, his almost unprecedented (or shall we call it unpresidented?) move to sanction Russia and expel Russian diplomats on such a flimsy charge?
SWATI Chaturvedi's book I am a Troll, released a few days back, blows the lid off BJP's systematic trolling of its opponents. We have always known that the trolling on the internet we see on a daily basis was an organised effort of the BJP. We now learn that there is a team, directly controlled by the RSS and BJP leadership that is at the centre of this trolling. This was the team that fed the lies, the “drip of hate”, vicious attacks on women including threats of rape, to a larger troll army.