Curious Bends – outraged warriors, bizarre obsessions, dubious drugs and more

It’s been one year since we launched Curious Bends – a newsletter where we bring you science, technology, data and India stories from around the web, once a week (subscribe).

We’ve enjoyed serving you important and interesting stories. Thank you for being loyal subscribers!

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Starting this week, the newsletter has a new home at The Wire.

1. India’s bizarre, fascinating and occasionally horrifying obsession with urine

“Urine is one of those perennially surfacing topics in Indian media and it is difficult for a year to go by without multiple references to urine, whether of humans, cows, rhinos, tigers or elephants, of the diseased or undiseased kind, medical therapies, recipes for consumption and more. As a nation, we are obsessed.” (6 min read,

2. India has more illiterates than anywhere in the world—partly because of a preference for sons

“An extra child—which is likely had to have a trophy son—in the family reduces schooling, on average, by 0.1 years. Furthermore, that extra child reduces the probability of ever attending or being enrolled in school by up to 2%. Both numbers may seem small, but for the size of India’s young population, the upshot is that millions don’t go to school enough or at all.” (3 min read,

3. Why Indians aren’t outraged about climate change

“Astonishingly, the intensification of political activity has not led to a wider engagement with what is self-evidently the single greatest threat that humanity has ever faced: climate change. This is understandably a matter of despair for the activists and scientists who have been battling to warn the world about what lies ahead. Their mounting anguish and frustration at the world’s continuing indifference is itself an instructive commentary on our institutions and the myths they are built upon. Many scientists and activists have gone from combativeness to rage and then to a quiet resignation in the face of what they now believe to be an inescapable catastrophe – or rather a series of catastrophes which will consume tens, if not hundreds, of millions of lives.” (6 min read,

+ The author, Amitav Ghosh, is a celebrated Indian writer whose work in English fiction has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

4. World Health Statistics 2015: some achievements, many concerns

“The World Health Organization (WHO), on Wednesday, released this year’s World Health Statistics (WHS) which evaluate achievements in health with respect to targets set as part of the MDGs. While WHS lists some landmark accomplishments reported in the 15 years since the beginning of the global programme, the overall results have been a mixed bag with great variations between regions and countries.” (7 min read,

5. Most antidepressant drug combos in India are unapproved

“The health of 120 million patients in India is in jeopardy because of the proliferation in the past decade of unapproved and unregulated combination drugs commonly used as anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and anti-psychotic medication, a new study has found. The research findings are especially troubling for people who are depressed because 8-in-10 antidepressant and 7-in-10 anti-psychotic combination drugs in India don’t have the proper approval. Worldwide, depression has already taken over as the leading cause of disability but its treatment in India is largely unregulated.” (4 min read,

Chart of the Week

In the past year, Curious Bends has shared a total of 212 stories with you from 69 different sources. Of course, our selection is biased because of the places we read most. However, our effort to spread the net broad has showed us that the state of science journalism for India-related stories is not nearly as poor as we had thought going in. The problem is that, while there are a lot of sources that publish good stories that fit our criteria, they don’t do it consistently enough. That’s why we find curating these good stories worth our effort, and it is reinforced by the fact that so many people have subscribed to this newsletter.