Marginalia: On NewsClick, NYT, toolkits, etc.

brown black and white tiles

The Bharatiya Janata Party in power in India knows that the process is the punishment, that the amount of punishment imposed depends on the law invoked in the chargesheet, and that no law is as ripe for misuse in this regard as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 1967. In fact, simply invoking the law … Read more

A lotus for Modi, with love from Manipur

pink waterlily flower in full bloom

This bit of news is so chock full of metaphors that I’m almost laughing out loud. Annotated excerpts from ‘CSIR’s new lotus variety ‘Namoh 108’ a ‘grand gift’ to PM Modi: Science Minister‘, The Hindu, August 19, 2023: It’s a triviality today that the Indian government ministers’ relentless exaltation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is … Read more

Anonymity in journalism and a conflict of ethics

I wrote the following essay at the invitation of a journal in December 2020. (This was the first draft. There were additional drafts that incorporated feedback from a few editors.) It couldn’t be published because I had to back out of the commission owing to limitations of time and health. I formally withdrew my submission … Read more

The BJP’s fake news (fake?) meeting

Reuters published a very interesting report on February 2, entitled ‘Exclusive-In heated meeting, India seeks tougher action from U.S. tech giants on fake news’. Excerpt: Indian officials have held heated discussions with Google, Twitter and Facebook for not proactively removing what they described as fake news on their platforms, sources told Reuters, the government’s latest altercation with Big … Read more

Anti-softening science for the state

The group of ministers (GoM) report on “government communication” has recommended that the government promote “soft topics” in the media like “yoga” and “tigers”. We can only speculate what this means, and that shouldn’t be hard. The overall spirit of the document is insecurity and paranoia, manifested as fantasies of reining in the country’s independent … Read more

Vaccines for votes

A week or so ago, the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar released its poll manifesto, the first point on which was that should the party win, it would make a COVID-19 vaccine cleared by the ICMR available for free to every resident of the state. It was an unethical move, and Siddharth Varadarajan and I … Read more

Ayurveda is not a science – but what does that mean?

This post has benefited immensely with inputs from Om Prasad. Calling something ‘not a science’ has become a pejorative, an insult. You say Ayurveda is not a science and suddenly, its loudest supporters demand to know what the problem is, what your problem is, and that you can go fuck yourself. But Ayurveda is not … Read more

The life and death of ‘Chemical Nova’

You know how people pretend to win an Oscar or a Nobel Prize, right? Many years ago, I used to pretend to be the author of a fictitious but, blissfully unmindful of its fictitiousness, award-winning series of articles entitled Chemical Nova. In this series, I would pretend that each article discussed a particular point of … Read more

‘Science alone triumphs’: A skeptic annotates

An article entitled ‘Science alone triumphs: Providing a true picture of the world, only science can help India against coronavirus’, penned by a Jayant Sinha, appeared on the Times of India‘s editorials page on April 8, 2020. My annotated reading of the article follows… As the coronavirus continues its deadly spread around the world, it … Read more