The third issue of the Nature India Annual Volume has been an exercise in introspection, what with India’s science and technology allocation continuing to be lukewarm in 2015. The year brought with it a lot of talk of jugaad (frugal innovation) being the hallmark of India’s science — a term that is met with both pride and disappointment among scientists in the country. Some think the phenomenon epitomises the Indian spirit of excelling even in a resource-poor setting while many feel it is time the country took science funding seriously to be counted among the big science faring nations.
Regardless, the year was buzzing with scientific activity making it tough to choose the events that must get into the annual volume. On the cover, we feature the story of the Indian holy basil, which caught the attention of genomic scientists, opening up the possibility of producing umpteen therapeutic molecules. The draft genomes are expected to facilitate identification of not yet identified genes involved in the synthesis of important secondary metabolites in the plant, heavily used in the Indian and Chinese systems of medicine.
The Indian Council of Medical Research got its second woman Director General in 100 years, making for a happy trend to report. In the art-meets-science genre, we featured Minnesota-based dance company Black Label Movement (BLM), which took Bangalore by a storm explaining science to common people through dance.
We looked at two intriguing tribes of India — the Sahariyas of Madhya Pradesh, who are so socio-politically stressed out that their life expectancy might be going down as a result; and the camel-rearing Raikas of Rajasthan, who baffle immunologists with a near zero incidence of diabetes.
During the year, we reported the anger of senior Indian scientists who joined scores of artists, film directors and authors to protest incidents of assault on freedom of expression. Following the April 2015 Nepal earthquake, which shook the region, Nature India also took note of an appeal by Indian scientists to lift the ban on US geophysicist Roger Bilham, who has largely contributed to the current knowledge of earthquakes in the Himalayan region.
Like its predecessors, this annual volume hopes to be an important addition to the science calendar of India — a must have for anyone interested in keeping abreast with the research highlights of the year, newsmakers, trends in R&D, careers and policy issues.
These annual chronicles of the “contemporary history of science in India” are put together by a group of editors and eminent scientists, who handpick the contents from our coverage through the year. Affiliations and research interests of some people might have changed after publication of these articles. We have mentioned the publication date on top of each article so that they make sense.
Like always, we look forward to your feedback to improve our coverage of science in India.