SCIENCE & DEVELOPMENT

WhatsApp does not Create Lynch Mobs, People Do

THE spate of lynchings related to rumours of child lifting has now affected large part of the country, with new incidents being reported every day. Clearly, this is not simply the unintended consequence of WhatsApp, as the government would have us believe. Or that some tinkering with WhatsApp, of course in close “consultation” with Facebook, the owners of WhatsApp, will solve the problem. The I&B ministry’s earlier initiative of regulating news portals, targeting critical news websites is now sought to be dovetailed into this narrative.

How Medical Myths are Propagated

ALMOST everybody has a theory on health and very often commonly held beliefs that underline such theories are irrational and unscientific. People will, however, cling to their pet beliefs with the argument that they know something works (or doesn’t work) from personal experience. Beliefs and practices are socially constructed and change over time as material conditions change.

Military Agreement with the US: COMCASA is on Again

AFTER years of wavering by India despite continuous prodding by the US, first under the UPA and then even by the BJP, it appears that another of the “foundational agreements” between the US and India on military collaboration is on the verge of being signed. Three such agreements are part of the package required to be signed by all US allies to allow the latter to acquire and effectively operate advanced US military equipment inter-operably with US forces.

The Plastics Crisis

WORLD Environment Day (WED) is observed by the United Nations General Assembly each year on June 5, to commemorate the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment in 1972. This year India is the host country and, in that capacity, has chosen “Beat Plastic Pollution” as the theme for 2018.

The choice of theme is timely since plastic pollution on an unprecedented scale, especially of the oceans, has been highlighted often during the year, and has grabbed media and public attention.

Walmart’s Acquisition of Flipkart and What it Means for India

WALMART’S 14 billion dollar acquisition of Flipkart has sent the Indian financial press into a tizzy: the biggest deal in India ever, the biggest ever global ecommerce acquisition, etc. What it means for the Indian retailers, who employ about 40 million people, having Amazon and Walmart, two of the most brutal employers in the world dominating the Indian market, does not find place in these writings. Or that the BJP government has been in clear violation of its election promise of not permitting foreign capital to enter multi-brand retail.

New Defence Production Policy: Alice in Wonderland!

THE government recently announced a long-delayed Defence Production Policy (DPP 2018), coming after many years of continually updated defence procurement policies whose emphasis was on purchase of military hardware, invariably from foreign sources. These columns have long advocated the need for a defence production policy, with an emphasis on indigenous technology development and manufacturing, without which India would continue on the path of serial imports with consequent external dependence, security risk, and erosion of sovereignty.

The Peopling of South Asia and the New Genomic Evidence

SLOWLY, but surely, the story of the peopling of South Asia is being unravelled, using genetic data and their analysis. The latest in this series, is a preprint of a paper by David Reich, Vagheesh Narasimhan and others in biological archives, The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia in www.biorxiv.org. Biologists, following mathematicians and physicists, are now uploading their papers before they are refereed and published in journals, making important results available much earlier.

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