On India’s new ‘Vigyan Puraskar’ awards

crop chemist holding in hands molecule model

The Government of India has replaced the 300 or so awards for scientists it used to give out until this year with the Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar (RVP), a set of four awards with 56 laureates, The Hindu has reported. Unlike in the previous paradigm, and like the Padma awards to recognise the accomplishments of civilians, … Read more

Gender equity in retractions

abstract art blur board

From the abstract of a fascinating study published in PLoS ONE on May 3, 2023: … this study investigated gender differences in authorship of retracted papers in biomedical sciences available on RetractionWatch. Among 35,635 biomedical articles retracted between 1970 and 2022, including 20,849 first authors and 20,413 last authors, women accounted for 27.4% [26.8 to … Read more

Some science prizes are only for men

a man pointing a best dad ever pin

Say Someone has won the Nobel Prize for physics, perhaps the most prestigious honour (as awards go) for a physicist. What would it mean for all the future awards given to this Someone? One thing that a Nobel Prize does, and which many past laureates have acknowledged, is turn a laureate into an institution. The … Read more

The Bhatnagar Prizes are courting irrelevance

On September 27, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced the winners of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes, considered to be India’s top state-sponsored awards for contributions to applied science. But as vice-president Venkaiah Naidu asked CSIR to be agile and “contribute to the larger good of humanity”, it is impossible to see … Read more

The Nobel intent

A Nobel Prize award ceremony underway. Credit: nobelprize.org

You’ve probably tired of this but I can’t. The Nobel Prize folks just sent out a newsletter ahead of Women’s Day, on March 8, describing the achievements of female laureates of each of the six prizes. This is a customary exercise we’ve come to expect from organisations and companies trying to make themselves look good … Read more

Social media and science communication

The following article was originally intended for an Indian publication but I withdrew from the commission because I couldn’t rework the piece according to changes they required, mostly for lack of focus. I thank Karnika Kohli and Shruti Muralidhar for their inputs. Since the mid-20th century, the news-publishing industry has wielded the most influence on … Read more

Two sides of the road and the gutter next to it

I have a mid-October deadline for an essay so obviously when I started reading up on the topic this morning, I ended up on a different part of the web – where I found this: a piece by a journalist talking about the problems with displaying one’s biases. Its headline: It’s a straightforward statement until … Read more

Limitations of the Finkbeiner test

This post was republished on The Wire on January 8, 2018. The Finkbeiner test, named for science writer Ann Finkbeiner, was created to check whether a profile of a female scientist published by a mainstream news outlet was produced in the first place because its subject was a woman. It’s a good check to make when … Read more

Why do we cover the Nobel Prize announcements?

A Nobel Prize award ceremony underway. Credit: nobelprize.org

The Nobel Prizes are too big to fail. Even if they’ve become beset by a host of problems, such as: Long gap between invention/discovery and recognition, A large cash component given to old scientists, Limiting number of awardees to three, Not awarding prizes posthumously, Not awarding prizes to women, especially in the sciences, and Limiting … Read more