2020 was defined by the global pandemic. Throughout the long, difficult year, disease and death came in tragic waves, testing the limits of healthcare systems, especially in countries with limited resources. In India, one of the worst affected countries, significant outbreaks continue in 2021.
A positive outcome, however, has been the triumph of science. In record time, scientists rushed to sequence the genome of the virus and its variants, created affordable diagnostic and treatment solutions, and produced multiple vaccine and drug candidates to control the pandemic. We have been covering the pandemic in India and the subcontinent in depth through the lens of science. Besides our regular journalistic coverage, we produced two special issues on the COVID-19 crisis in India – one on how the pandemic was affecting life in a country of 1.3 billion people, and the other on affordable engineering solutions being developed in haste by India’s scientists to confront the virus. In our quest for disseminating trusted information during a global public health emergency, the pages of Nature India were prominently filled with information on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.
Meanwhile, despite challenges thrown up by a series of lockdowns and funding issues, science in other disciplines unrelated to the pandemic has continued to flourish. One criticism of scholarly science publishers and science magazines has been that their overwhelming engagement with the pandemic (public health, medicine, virology and epidemiology) has squeezed out other disciplines of science during 2020. In this annual volume, therefore, we are spotlighting Nature India’s coverage of all sciences, efforts around which quietly continued through 2020.
The biodiverse Himalayan region, straddling the borders of many countries in Asia, including India and China, offers immense potential for collaborative scientific research. However, the inhospitable terrain and geopolitical strife in the region, have created obstacles to a joined-up research climate. Our cover story tells of the growing call by researchers in the two countries to go beyond political differences and make the Himalayan region a hub for scientific collaborations. Migratory birds from across the region coming into India and the need for heronries to protect them are also highlighted in this issue.
The country is weighing the challenges and opportunities of an ambitious ‘one nation one subscription’ policy that aims to make scholarly knowledge freely accessible to everyone in the country. We analyse the merits of this proposed plan.
The pandemic is never far from the immediate consciousness of any of the world’s people, and our annual photo competition on the theme brought inspired images of this era, where masks, sanitation, immunisation, and innovative solutions to health needs are paramount, and the focus of our daily lives
The issue is free to download here. We will soon make all our previous annual volumes free to access.
We hope you enjoy reading the latest volume.