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Aug 11

Commons is defined as any natural or cultural resources that can be accessed by any member of a society. This includes the air we breathe, oceans and rivers, grazing lands, fish stock, forests and even an office computer. ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, a concept which emerged in 1833 and was later revived in 1968 by Garett Hardin in an article of the same name, explores the struggle for such commons. The tragedy occurs when individuals in a society, guided by their own self-interest, would act against the common good and deplete the common shared resource.

General, Science, Society, Policy
Aug 9

The process of voting is the cornerstone of any democratic process. Be it selecting the leader of a nation or just deciding the laws that govern a nation, a democratic process allows the different participants and stakeholders of the election to have a uniform chance of having their choice win. The process of voting, sometime called the electoral system, can itself be carried out in many ways, sometimes depending on the outcome. A Plurality voting system selects the candidate with the highest number of votes as the winner.

General, Science, Society, Policy
Aug 7

Invasive plants pose a major threat to the native vegetation of an ecosystem, resulting in severe competition for resources and in some cases, complete replacement of native plants by alien plants. Lantana camara is a well-known alien plant in India that has spread like wildfire and needs better strategies to manage this invasion. Since seed dispersal plays a major role in the spread of this shrub, a new study now attempts to understand how this plant succeeds in attracting various fruit eating birds that act as seed dispersers. By understanding how Lantana attracts these birds, better strategies to manage the weed could be developed, say the researchers.

Science, Ecology, Policy
Jul 25

The Earth is a planet we share with a billion of other living animals and plants. Often, we encounter them everyday, use them as food, shelter or clothes, and interact with them as pets or pests. A new term of such interactions, at times, is called ‘conflicts’ where sharing the area we live with wild animals becomes a bane. These animals are often dangerous, causing widespread damage to crops, livestock and lives. How do we prevent this? What can people do to minimise such conflicts? A study now attempts to look at ways of addressing human-animal conflicts in the fringes of the forests in India.

Science, Ecology, Society, Policy
Jul 14

NbelLaureate Prof. Brian Schmidt

Pursuing research is one of the aspirations of many young minds stepping out of their college. Unfortunately, for many, this aspiration remains largely a dream as costs of higher education are increasing day by day. But what makes higher education so expensive? In such scenarios, should students bear the cost of research? If not, then who should bear them and why? How can different beneficiaries of university research work to help students come out of the burden of education costs and serve society at large? In a conversation with the Research Matters team, the winner of 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and the current Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University, Prof. Brian Schmidt, shares his views on the topic of research funding.

General, Science, Society, Policy, Catching up
Jul 4

Social Capital is the various networks a person can form throughout his life time, with his relatives, friends, co-workers etc, which could become economically valuable. This could be someone from your network offering you a job or a loan or just an edge in a job interview, higher the number of people in your network, higher is the chance of you getting help from one of them. Now, researchers from the University of Iowa and University of British Columbia have looked at the effects of social capital on child nutrition in India.

General, Science, Health, Society, Policy
Jun 26

Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is regarded as the premier research institution in the country and a place where most of the cutting edge research happens. But have you wondered how the institution got to where it is today? Dr. Surja Datta, a senior lecturer at Oxford Brookes Business School, tries to answer this question through the lens of history.

General, Society, Policy
Jun 19

The problem of waste management is ubiquitous. With growing cities and exploding populations, the amount of waste that today’s cities generate is at unprecedented levels. Since most of urban waste ends up in open landfills, there is a need to relook and contemplate on better, greener ways of handling waste. In a new study, researchers explore alternatives to disposing domestic waste and utilizing their by-products. By doing so, we could also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help keep the Earth green, the researchers claim  

General, Science, Society, Policy
May 27

Higher education in India has been a long debated issue. With the cost of education escalating by the day and many students opting for such courses, the need for funds and means to raise them has become a social issue. A recent study has now uncovered new trends in funding higher education in private institutions and has highlighted the phenomenon of philanthrocapitalism in higher education followed by some niche institutes. This, along with factors like neoliberalism and partnership between government and businesses herald a new wave in funding higher education in India, says the study.  

General, Society, Policy
Apr 17

What is the price of development? It is a tricky question to answer, especially for a country that is growing at its fastest pace with ambitious goals. But who actually pays this price and how? A recent study has tried to answer this touchy question in the context of small-scale hydropower projects that are increasing their presence in one of the ecologically sensitive area - the Western Ghats and points out how local communities are losing this one-sided game.

General, Science, Society, Policy