Curious Bends – Lack of scientific temper, Sikkim’s gamble, disappearing rare fauna and more

1. Will the most advanced Indian state’s gamble payoff?

“Sikkim’s own energy needs of 409 megawatts (MW) were met by 2012, and Chamling already sells 175 MW of extra power to India’s power-starved northern grid. If all 26 hydel projects come on stream, Sikkim should generate 4,190 MW of electricity. But there are a few problems.” (7 min read,

2. India has the cheapest flights in the world

“India’s airline industry is a mess. Taxes are sky-high, infrastructure is poor and profit margins are razor thin. A string of carriers have gone out of business, and many others are struggling to stay afloat. Yet the big winners might be price-conscious consumers — and any carrier strong enough to survive the price wars that have made India the cheapest place to fly on Earth.” (3 min read,

3. Scientific temper? No, thanks.

“I persuaded Professor Nurul Hasan, then Education Minister, to have the following clause included in Article 51A in the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1976: “It shall be the duty of every citizen of Indian “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform.” But India has not produced any Nobel Prize winner in science in the last 85 years – largely because of the lack of a scientific environment in the country, of which scientific temper would be an important component.” (5 min read,

+ The author, Puspha Bhargava, is the founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology at Hyderabad, and chairman of the Southern Regional Centre of Council for Social Development.

4. Why India’s healthcare remains abysmal

“The reason India’s healthcare indicators remain abysmal is not just a question of money (after all, ours is one of the fastest growing economies). The problem is a persistent rash of doublespeak that denies the people a coherent healthcare system. While successive governments have committed to various goals, no government programme has yet focused on the three most important problems facing India’s health at once: a mismanaged regulatory climate, corruption, and the caste system.” (5 min read,

5. India’s rare faunas are disappearing faster than scientists can discover them

“At the World Parks Congress in Sydney in October, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said their information on the biodiversity that the Western Ghats contained was “deficient” and cautioned that the region was under tremendous pressure from population within and without, from untrammelled resource extraction, residential and recreational development and large-scale hydroelectric projects. “We must know all that exists there before it goes extinct,” says Vasudevan. “Not that we’re not we’re doing much to prevent that.”” (4 min read,

Chart of the week

“The 2014 general elections were estimated to be India’s most expensive—and the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) broke the bank on the way to its biggest ever election victory. In all, the BJP spent Rs 714.28 crore ($115 million) on the 2014 general election campaign. But its worth remembering that this is only what the parties declare before the Election Commission—and that India’s election campaigns are awash with black money, booze and other persuasive items.” More on Quartz.

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