ONE IN every seven universities in India is a technical one, the single highest count for any kind of specialised universities. The 126 technical universities, out of 882 overall, are second only to the 500 that are listed as “general” in the All India Survey on Higher Education 2017-18 released by the Ministry of HRD. As highlighted in a series in The Indian Express in December, the mushrooming of engineering courses — 3,291 colleges not counting the IITs — has led to a devaluation of the BE/BTech degree, with poor infrastructure, low placement and other factors contributing to half the 15 lakh seats remaining vacant. At the IIT Bombay convocation Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that 7 lakh engineers graduate in India every year, while calling for improvement in the quality of technical education. In general, larger states such as UP (10), Maharashtra (7) and Karnataka (7), along with Delhi (7) have a higher number of technical universities. Next to engineering, medical universities account for the highest count for specialised universities, at 58, followed by agriculture universities at 52.
This Word Means: Space Force
LAST WEEK, US Vice President Mike Pence announced plans for the formation of a Space Force, the sixth wing of the country’s armed forces, which currently has the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Air Force (formed in 1947 and the most recent). Any such armed force, proposed to be set into operation by 2020, will not only need Congress approval but also face another potential hurdle in the Outer Space Treaty of 1966, to which the US is a signatory and which binds parties to the peaceful use of space. The plans stem from a need to protect orbiting satellites; as of now, an Air Force wing is in charge of protecting these satellites. The Associated Press cited US intelligence agencies reports that Russia and China were pursuing “nondestructive and destructive” anti-satellite weapons for use during a future war. A Reuters report, meanwhile, described former astronaut and retired US Navy Captain Mark Kelly as saying: “There is a threat out there but it’s being handled by the US Air Force today. (It) doesn’t make sense to build a whole other level of bureaucracy in an incredibly bureaucratic Department of Defense.”
In June, President Donald Trump directed the Department of Defense and the Pentagon to establish a Space Force. On Thursday, the Pentagon delivered a proposal to Congress — a Space Command to develop warfighting operations, a Space Development Agency to more quickly identify and develop new technologies, a Space Operations Force of leaders and fighters and a new support structure. In the second phase, the Pentagon would combine all the components into the new sixth branch of service, the AP report said. In the meantime, the Space Command would be led by a four-star general, and Pence said a new high-level civilian post —Assistant Defense Secretary for Space —would also be created.
Written by Harikrishnan Nair
Tip for Reading List: Science vs gender bias in science
For centuries, the scientific community has suggested that women are somewhat inferior to men physically and intellectually, with even Charles Darwin having insisted that women are at the lower stage of evolution. This is one of the examples that British science journalist Angela Saini takes up in her book on patriarchal notions that have dominated the science community through the centuries. Apart for being an account of sexism in science, Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong — and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story also uses science to counter such notions, and packs itself with data to back its assertions. “We need that ammunition to counter the weird mistruths that are circulating within and outside science about sex difference,” The Guardian quotes Saini as saying. Additionally, the book takes readers on a journey to uncover how women are being rediscovered. The Independent writes in its review: “Saini’s work also presents the rest of the scientific community with an important challenge: to acknowledge and correct a deep-rooted bias — and to help rewrite the role of women in the story of human evolution.” The Guardian article suggests that the book “could play a valuable role in breaking down gender stereotypes for the next generation of would-be scientists and mathematicians”.