ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Realist Take on the Big Questions

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking, London: John Murray, 2018; pp xxiii + 232, ` 650 /£14.99.

Science in the Public Sphere

Investment in research or in scientific activity is ultimately a community decision, supported by public funds. Scientists, therefore, have the responsibility and the moral obligation of accurately communicating their ideas and results to the public. Of necessity, some of this can be restricted to an audience of peers, but it is essential to communicate the results of publicly funded research to a wider audience. Scientists and communicators of science share the additional responsibility of responding to fallacious and misleading statements on issues pertaining to science that are made by persons holding public office and those who play a prominent role in society.

India’s ‘Three Pest Campaign’

Over the last few years, the central government has declared certain species of wild animals as “vermin” in some states, thus allowing uncontrolled hunting of these animals. This removal of protection raises serious concerns with respect to its legality, constitutionality, and ethics. An analysis of notifications declaring species as vermin shows that this was done in an arbitrary manner without any scientific assessments. There is thus a clear need to review the manner in which wild animals were declared as vermin.

Deconstructing Science and the Scientific Outlook

Science as a way of knowing has advantages over other ways of knowing, but it also has certain limitations due to some underlying assumptions. Embedded in society, science is unavoidably affected by social conditions.

Becoming Waste

Colonial municipal planning discourses imagined waste as infrastructure to build Bombay city by filling creeks and reclaiming land. Waste as land was reassembled through the judiciary’s remaking of the landfill as a zone of pollution to be “scientifically” closed through waste treatment technologies. Even as science attempts to comprehend its complexity and contain it, waste possesses an agency of its own that disrupts the social, haunting reclaimed real estate with its fugitive gaseous presence.

Plotting Science

Contested Knowledge: Science, Media, and Democracy in Kerala by Shiju Sam Varughese, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2017; pp xvi + 291, ₹ 995.

What Is Happening to India’s R&D Funding?

India’s science and technology policies advocate increased investment in research and development. However, in 2017–18, the tax incentive for company expenditure on R&D was reduced. This is likely to have major ramifications for R&D at a time when India’s domestic research effort is already in decline.

Science and the Scientist in a Changing Climate

Is sustainability an idea, a science, a philosophy or a way of life? The premise of this article is that sustainability is all of these and more. Furthermore, science and technology of both today and the future must be re-visioned to understand and enable sustainability.

Scientists and Pokhran: An Untold Story

Nucleus and Nation: Scientists, International Networks, and Power in India by Robert S Anderson (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press), 2010; pp xxvi + 683, $60 (cloth).

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