In the year gone by (2016), India witnessed events that would go down in the country’s science history. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 20 satellites on board one single vehicle, a warm-up that was only bettered five times over into a record breaking 104-satellite launch in early 2017.
India’s low-cost space-faring brilliance, bolstering her sense of self-sufficiency, has attracted global attention. It has come with caveats though — the European Union (EU) recognises that with such a mature space programme (and big strides in other areas of scientific research), India can no longer be bracketed together with ‘developing countries’. The EU’s funds for Indian researchers have, therefore, shrunk to a trickle with the premise that India is
now capable of pumping in more funds for collaborative projects with the EU.
This annual volume of Nature India takes a look at the changing landscape of science and research funding in India with a series of articles.
The discovery of gravitational waves marked a high point in theoretical physics last year. It sent ripples of joy for India, which is now all set to implement a multi-institutional Rs 1200 crore astronomy project that will see one advanced LIGO detector from Hanford in Washington being shifted to a site in India. There’s a flurry of activity in India around this international project. We capture that excitement in this issue. Alongside this, India’s leading participation in making the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), in the remote Australian outback makes it to our cover.
In another investigation, we look at the mushrooming of genomic service centres in India, the lack of regulation in the country to cope with the new wave and how even now most genetic conditions remain undiagnosed at birth.
We hop on to the biodiverse Western Ghats of India to report on an ‘evolutionary museum’ of bush frogs, a forest virus that resurfaced after a decade to kill over 120 people, and to inspect why the rice genome is under threat in this unique rice growing valley.
For researchers looking to ward off work blues, a couple of articles offer practical advice on how to overcome research rut and how to make most of conferences.
Our annual volumes strive 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 mention the publication date on top of each article so that they make sense.