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Research

Little to show for crores of rupees spent

Issue Date: Jun 15, 1993
MANY OF the nation's premier scientific establishments have utilised government funding poorly and failed to meet their 1991-92 objectives, complains the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). The CAG report, placed before Parliament on May 7, made its complaint on the basis of an audit of the working of 14 institutions under the control of the Union government, some of them in the Prime Minister's direct control.

Hairy potato

Issue Date: Jun 15, 1993
A NEW variety of potato has its own armour against pests and does not need a helping hand from insecticides. Its armour of hair traps and kills insects trying to feed on it (Ceres, Vol 25, No 2). The hairy potato marks the first success for plant breeders trying to produce an edible, insect-resistant potato variety. They did it by crossing the common, bald species with one of its wild cousins.

Danger in numbers

Issue Date: Jun 15, 1993
SURROUNDING a potential target by an army of bodyguards may actually increase the risk of assassination, according to researchers at Middlesex University, London (New Scientist, April 3, 1993). Too many guards increase the risk as it is probable the bodyguards may accidentally harm the person they are meant to protect. Indira Gandhi's assassination proved it is not easy to screen bodyguards for loyalty.

Relying on intrigue to survive

Issue Date: May 31, 1993
THIS IS probably one of nature's most intriguing survival games, involving two innocent players and a cunning third who eventually outwited.

Paper wasps early casteists

Issue Date: May 15, 1993
WASPS, bees and ants are known to live in highly organised colonies with an elaborate division of labour among the occupants, who are separated into different "castes", each performing specific functions, and who are also physically different and with a rank in colony hierarchy.

New fruit of jam

Issue Date: May 15, 1993
SOME HIMALAYAN species of Ficus -- the genus to which the pipal and the banyan belong -- yield fruit that have high nutritive value and are excellent for making into jams and jellies. Scientists say these species should be considered favourably for social and agroforestry programmes.

Turning on the sexually fastidious female

Issue Date: May 15, 1993
HUMANS are not the only animal species to possess a sense of beauty. Recent research bears out the controversial view of 19th century British naturalist Charles Darwin that animals have an eye for beauty. He offered this as an explanation for the preference of females for the gaudiest males.

Higher royalty payments offered as bait to MNCs

Author(s): Nitya Jacob 
Issue Date: May 15, 1993
THE GOVERNMENT has decided to allow higher royalty payments than its present 8-per cent ceiling, on a case-by-case basis, to improve the quality of technology being imported. Finance secretary Montek Singh Ahluwalia says royalty payment norms are being reviewed, indicating a change of heart that hopefully will reassure multi-national companies (MNCs) that have shied away because of the current practice of imposing the low ceiling for five years.

Rice politics ignores Asian socio-cultural base

Author(s): Bibek Debroy
Issue Date: May 15, 1993
THE SUB-TITLE of the book: Research Strategies and IRRI's Technologies Confront Asian Diversity (1950-1980) says what the book is all about.

Moon keeps Earth's tilt in check

Issue Date: May 15, 1993
WERE IT not for the Moon, the climate on Earth would be dramatically different, say French geophysicists who have studied the effect on climate of the Earth's obliquity. The term refers to the angle through which Earth's spin axis leans away from the perpendicular to its orbital plane. The obliquity influences the amount of annual solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface at a given latitude, and thus, its seasons.
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