On resource constraints and merit

In the face of complaints about how so few women have been awarded this year’s Swarnajayanti Fellowships in India, some scientists pushed back asking which of the male laureates who had been selected should have been left out instead. This is a version of the merit argument commonly applied to demands for reservation and quota in higherContinue reading “On resource constraints and merit”

A sympathetic science

If you feel the need to respond, please first make sure you have read the post in full. I posted the following tweet a short while ago: With reference to this: Which in turn was with reference to this: But a few seconds after publishing it, I deleted the tweet because I realised I didn’tContinue reading “A sympathetic science”

Poor Sanskrit

‘BJP MP Says Speaking Sanskrit Beats Diabetes, Boosts Nervous System’, The Wire, December 13, 2019: In a debate in the Lok Sabha on December 12 about the Sanskrit University Bill, Ganesh Singh, the BJP MP from Satna, Madhya Pradesh, cited studies conducted by some American research institution to claim speaking Sanskrit every day “boosts theContinue reading “Poor Sanskrit”

The PM’s Chandrayaan group-hug

I understand Dutt’s interpretation of the moment in question but with reservations about what it signals for the nation’s many oppressed. For starters, how many people actually gave a damn? A few hundred people – many of them mainstream journalists – have been saying that over a billion people did, or should. But even ifContinue reading “The PM’s Chandrayaan group-hug”

Moon, mission and Modi

Should Prime Minister Narendra Modi not have been in the control room during the autonomous descent phase of Chandrayaan 2? Did his presence exert unnecessary pressure on the ISRO scientists? I don’t know if the pressure was unnecessary. Irrespective of who was present where, a decade-long, Rs-1,000-crore effort is going to be high-pressure when itContinue reading “Moon, mission and Modi”

Review: ‘Mission Mangal’ (2019)

This review assumes Tanul Thakur’s review as a preamble. There’s the argument that ISRO isn’t doing much by way of public outreach and trust in the media is at a low, and for many people – more than the most reliable sections of the media can possibly cover – Bollywood’s Mission Mangal could be theContinue reading “Review: ‘Mission Mangal’ (2019)”

Finding trash in the dumpster

Just as there’s no merit in writing a piece that is confused and incomplete, there’s no merit in digging through a dumpster and complaining that there’s trash. However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt when The Quint publishes something as ass-backwards as this article, titled ‘SpaceX or ISRO, Who’s Winning the Race to Space?’,Continue reading “Finding trash in the dumpster”

For space, frugality is a harmful aspiration

Ref: ‘ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission to cost lesser than Hollywood movie Interstellar – here’s how they make it cost-effective’, staff, Moneycontrol, February 20, 2018. ∞ ‘Chandrayaan-2 mission cheaper than Hollywood film Interstellar’, Surendra Singh, Times of India, February 20, 2018. ∞ The following statements from the Moneycontrol and Times of India articles have no meaning: The cost ofContinue reading “For space, frugality is a harmful aspiration”

Why Titan is awesome #11

Titaaaaan! Here we go again. 😄 As has been reported, NASA has been interested in sending a robotic submarine to Saturn’s moon Titan to explore the hydrocarbon lakes near its north pole. Various dates have been mentioned and in all it seems likely the mission will be able to take off around 2040. In the 22 yearsContinue reading “Why Titan is awesome #11”

ISRO v. SpaceX doesn't make sense

Though I’ve never met the guy, I don’t hold Pallava Bagla in very high regard because his stories – particularly of the Indian space programme – for NDTV have often reeked of simplistic concerns, pettiness and, increasingly of late, a nationalistic pride. The most recent instance all these characteristics were put on display was FebruaryContinue reading “ISRO v. SpaceX doesn't make sense”

ISRO v. SpaceX doesn’t make sense

Though I’ve never met the guy, I don’t hold Pallava Bagla in very high regard because his stories – particularly of the Indian space programme – for NDTV have often reeked of simplistic concerns, pettiness and, increasingly of late, a nationalistic pride. The most recent instance all these characteristics were put on display was FebruaryContinue reading “ISRO v. SpaceX doesn’t make sense”

We don't have a problem with the West, we're just obsessed with it

How much do we not know about what Indian researchers are doing simply because Western scientists haven’t written to some of them?