Last month, doctoral student Mr. Dev Kumar Thapa and his advisor Prof. Anshu Pandey from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, claimed to have discovered evidence for superconductivity at a temperature much higher than ever before. The researchers have posted a preprint of their paper titled, “Evidence for Superconductivity at Ambient Temperature and Pressure in Nanostructures” to the arXiv, an online repository of pre-prints of journal papers. They have also submitted a paper outlining their findings to the journal Nature. In this particular instance, questions of various kinds have been raised about the research reported in the preprint in the public debate.
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Science in India is in interesting times. We have some of the best scientists producing world-class research working in a host of institutions within India that are largely public funded. A large scientific workforce complimented by a promising younger generation – that is often dubbed to be our demographic dividend. A learned and competent scientific administration fighting tooth and nail for increased budgetary allocations to invest in science.
It was years ago that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had said, “It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, or a rich country inhabited by starving people... Who indeed could afford to ignore science?”
Nehru was one of the first people to use the term scientific temper and advocate the promotion of scientific temper: