Information | Centre for Science and Environment

Information


To all our readers

YOU WILL NOTICE in this issue some big and small changes. This is our 530th issue, which means we have been researching, writing, designing and publishing Down To Earth for 22 years. Every fortnight our aim is to bring you news, perspectives and knowledge that can help you make a difference. Our objective is to prepare you to change the world. We believe information is a powerful driver for the new tomorrow.

Indian scientists: missing in action

By: Sunita Narain

I suspect Indian scientists have retired hurt to the pavilion. They were exposed to nasty public scrutiny on a deal made by a premier science research establishment, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), with Devas, a private company, on the allocation of spectrum. The public’s verdict was that the arrangement was a scandal; public resources had been given away for a song.

Battle for the Internet

By Latha Jishnu and Arnab Pratim Dutta

As the Internet turns into the public square and the marketplace of our world, it is increasingly becoming a contested terrain. Governments, corporations and even seemingly innocuous social networking sites want to control and influence the way it operates 

Indian scientists: missing in action

I suspect Indian scientists have retired hurt to the pavilion. They were exposed to nasty public scrutiny on a deal made by a premier science research establishment, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), with Devas, a private company, on the allocation of spectrum. The public’s verdict was that the arrangement was a scandal; public resources had been given away for a song. The government, already scam-bruised, hastily scrapped the contract. Since then there has been dead silence among the powerful scientific leaders of the country, with one exception. Kiran Karnik, a former employee of ISRO and board member of Devas, spoke out. He explained it is wrong to equate this deal with the scam of mobile telephony, where it was alleged that the minister fiddled with procedures to hand out spectrum at throwaway prices. The reason is that this band of spectrum called S-band, reserved for use in satellites, is different from terrestrial spectrum used by mobile operators. In the S-band the users are different, risks are higher and the customer base is smaller. Hence, the cost calculations done for terrestrial spectrum cannot be used to estimate the loss to the exchequer in the ISRO-Devas contract.

Is bamboo a tree or a grass?

The definition is contested as the answer has immense economic implications. If bamboo is a tree or timber, it belongs to the forest department and can be auctioned to the paper and pulp industry, often at throwaway rates. If it is a grass, then it would be classified as a minor forest produce and people would have the right to cut bamboo for sale or for value addition by making furniture or baskets.

Common science

A website helps people observe and understand nature while gathering scientific data

by Sumana Narayanan

If there is a neem or jamun tree in your backyard, check it regularly and note down when they flower and fruit. You may soon realise you are collecting data for scientific research.

The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), a research body in Bengaluru, plans to rope in people for creating an online database on the lifecycle of various plant species across the country and on the influence of climate change on them.

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