This evening, BBC Radio asked me what I thought were the most significant events in Indian science this year. As always, year-enders are the best way to take stock and scribble down what to follow-up on next year.
So here goes my off-the-cuff top-five list:
1. First up, Chandrayaan scored very high this year. Though India’s Moon mission took off late last year, it made a big splash when NASA and ISRO announced the water find. Most certainly, the biggest science story of the year.
2. Though not strictly science, India’s completing the nuclear triad with its nuclear submarine Arihant was keenly watched by nuclear experts, policy makers, journalists willing to give an arm and a leg for a picture of the submarine, and the common man alike. Nuclear capability of a nation always makes a good talking point in scientific circles, I noticed, and hence Arihant finds a mention here.
3. Despite his work in faraway Cambridge, India-born American scientist Venkataraman Ramakrishnan became an instant idol for many young scientists in India when he won the year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry. “When can we do it sitting here in an Indian lab?” was the question being asked in every single forum. A healthy dollop of much-needed inspiration, that!
4. Science policy wise, the government nod for researchers to have an equity stake in scientific enterprises and spin-offs while still being employed in their organisations was among the most cheered. It means, like their peers in all developed countries, Indian scientists can now enjoy the commercial benefits of their inventions and patents. This figures high on my follow-up list next year!
5. The sequencing of the genome of an Indian was widely discussed. Though some scientists thought it wasn’t such a big feat and anyone with a machine could do it, the event itself stood out as a stepping stone for more Indian genomic studies to come.
Anything else you think should figure in this list? Or something that shouldn’t?