Curious Bends – LED Diwali, insecticide-laden uniforms, Tokay geckos and more

“Rs 400 LED bulb would be available for just Rs 10, at a steep discount of 97.5%. And it is not part of any festival special megasale offer. Instead the scheme has been formulated by the government’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL, a joint venture of public sector companies of Ministry of Power) along with electricity distribution companies. EESL would procure LED bulbs in bulk and sell them to households at Rs 10. The electricity distribution companies will then repay EESL over a period of five to eight years from the savings that accrue due to use of this energy efficient lighting technology.” (3 min read,

2. One way to fight dengue: wear insecticide-laden school uniforms

“Using data from dengue studies in Thailand, the study examined the cost-effectiveness of uniforms treated with insecticide under various scenarios. Aedes aegypti, the vector of the dengue virus, bites during the day when most children are in school. In Thailand, children aged 5–14 make up about 65% of dengue haemorrhagic fever patients. Using the WHO-definition of cost-effectiveness, intervention would be cost-effective if it could reduce dengue incidence by 50 per cent and that the uniform for each child would cost US$5.30 or less per year.” (2 min read,

3. Brain gain: how some Indian scientists in the US are being encouraged to migrate back home

“Since 2009, Young Investigator’s Meet in Boston has helped about 80 young scientists get back to India with new, independent careers. The goal is to have around 300 people in the next 5 years and about a thousand scientists in the next 15–20 years back in India. These thousand people could influence the next generation of scientists to think differently,” Parayil says. (8 min read,

+ The author of this article, Subhra Priyadarshini, is the editor of Nature India.

4. The solution to India’s sanitation crisis lies in changing behaviour not building toilets​

“India’s toilet crisis is largely about its men. Women want the safety and privacy of a toilet at home. But how do you convince a man to give up his scenic open-air loo, with its cool breeze and its ringside view of a verdant paddy field for a cramped, smelly, dark room with a hole? Dog trainers, marriage counsellors, dietitians, hypnotists — currently, Arghyam is enlisting ideas from anyone who has successfully nudged someone to make a behavioural change in men.” (7 min read,

5. Saving tigers and rhinos means losing pangolins, Tokay geckos and star tortoises?

“Come Diwali and it is not just apparel and electronic goods doing brisk business online. It is owls as well. Rummaging through difficult-to-find data and trends, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau’s (WCCB) cyber wing has noticed how the smuggling of owls picks up during Diwali-the nocturnal bird is said to be the vehicle of Goddess Laxmi. The trade is not limited to owls. There is an alarm over the sudden spurt in trade of pangolins across north India-a phenomenon that has been observed over the last six months, endangering the scaly, small mammal.” (4 min read,

Chart of the Week

China no longer has a stranglehold on the world’s supply of rare earth metals

“In the end, Gholz argues, China didn’t get that much benefit from restricting rare earths — save for the release of a fishing captain who had been detained by Japan. Japan has now adjusted and is less vulnerable to trade pressure over rare earths than once believed. The United States, too, managed to wiggle out of China’s rare-earth grip in short order. A few years ago, military planners had worried that crucial weapons systems might be at risk if China disrupted the rare earths supply. But subsequent analyses have shown that this was unlikely.” (4 min read,

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