SCIENCE & DEVELOPMENT

Rafale Deal: Govt Explanation Misleading

AFTER many months of stonewalling, hiding behind supposed confidentiality clauses, and yet putting out all manner of partial information, numbers that conceal more than they reveal, and explanations that raise more questions than providing answers, the government has filed in the Supreme Court (SC) an official document on “Details of the steps in the decision-making process leading to the award of 36 Rafale fighters order.” Copies of this document have been provided to the petitioners, namely lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former BJP cabinet ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha.

RS Sharma’s Aadhaar Challenge: Claiming Victory from Defeat

BY a sleight of hand, RS Sharma, the TRAI chief, has changed his irresponsible challenge “harm me using my Aadhaar” to “hack my Aadhaar database”. The two are completely different issues. What the ethical hacker community – yes, there is one – has shown is the immense harm that they could have done to Sharma, but did not. They only showed us the danger from Aadhaar to our privacy, and they succeeded quite convincingly.

Strategic Partnership Model for Defence Acquisitions: Ready for the Next Scam?

THE Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), the apex decision-making body for all domestic and international defence acquisitions, as well as for indigenous R&D, finalised guidelines for the vaunted Strategic Partnership (SP) Model under which foreign manufacturers would tie-up with identified Indian partners for manufacturing the concerned platforms in India. The DAC chaired by the defence minister also drew up platform-specific guidelines for the forthcoming acquisition of Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH), which would be the first project taken up under this model.

Microbes are Striking Back

THE development of new knowledge is a fascinating exercise. Since humans evolved, they have been driven by curiosity to learn more and more about nature. Over time the knowledge accumulated came to be systematised and this is what we call science. The hunger for knowledge deepened and expanded our collective understanding of nature. This knowledge is utilised to create tools and other artifacts that humans use to improve conditions of living.

Puerto Rico Hurricane: Racist Discrimination by USA

IT is now about ten months after Hurricane Maria hit the US territory of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean in September 2017. The hurricane destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, brought down electricity and drinking water systems, and communications networks. It also wreaked havoc on health facilities, roads and other infrastructure, much of which has not yet been restored. Estimates have put the total damage caused at over $100 billion (Rs 6,80,000 crores), making it the third highest economic loss due to tropical cyclones in the US since 1900.

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.

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