Read The Hindu Notes of 19th December 2018 for UPSC Civil Service Examination, State Civil Service Examination and other competitive Examination

The Hindu Notes for 19th December 2018
  • Topic Discussed: The Hindu Notes of 19th December 2018
  • The slow, tortuous path to justice

    The Delhi High Court judgment convicting Sajjan Kumar reminds the country that it must not forget mass killings

  • Sajjan Kumar is likely to spend New Year’s Day, in 2019, in prison. Thirty-four years after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the killings of Sikhs that followed, a political leader who may have electorally benefitted from communal violence has been sentenced to imprisonment for life. The wheel of history has turned ever so slowly, as some believe, but its arc may have yet turned towards justice. The assassination of Indira Gandhi, on October 31, 1984, was a national tragedy. The anti-Sikh pogrom that followed in north India, with the worst violence taking place in Delhi, was a greater tragedy. But the greatest tragedy of all was the stonewalling of investigation by the law enforcement agencies, and the seeming deafness of the justice delivery system. The judgment reconstructs the scene of violence and all the waiting that followed.
  • Maze of inquiries

  • It took years of commissions of inquiry and other inquiries before six accused, including Sajjan Kumar, a formidable Congress leader in Delhi, who was a member of Parliament at the time, were sent up for trial some time in 2010. Three years later, the trial court convicted five of the accused: three of them for the offences of armed rioting and murder, and two of them for the offence of armed rioting. Kumar stood acquitted by the trial court of all offences. Those convicted as well as the Central Bureau of Investigation appealed to the Delhi High Court. Now, the Bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel has overturned the April 2013 judgment of the trial court, and sent Kumar to prison for life. Their judgment carries the echo of the crimes committed in the days after Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination and failure to hold the guilty to account for so long.
  • The judgment finds: “The accused in this case have been brought to justice primarily on account of the courage and perseverance of three eyewitnesses. Jagdish Kaur (picture) whose husband, son and three cousins were the five killed; Jagsher Singh, another cousin of Jagdish Kaur, and Nirpreet Kaur who saw the Gurudwara being burnt down and her father being burnt alive by the raging mobs. It is only after the CBI entered the scene, that they were able to be assured and they spoke up. Admirably, they stuck firm to their truth at the trial.”
  • Staying the course

  • As a result of their testimony, Sajjan Kumar now stands convicted for conspiracy to murder and for the abetment of murder, in the deaths of Kehar Singh and his 18-year-old son Gurpreet Singh, and the killings of Raghuvinder Singh, Narender Pal Singh, and Kuldeep Singh — all members of the same family. I mention the names of the dead because the dead in communal violence should not lose their vestigial humanity by being simply reduced to a score of unnamed victims.
  • Kehar Singh’s wife, Jagdish Kaur, was one of the principal witnesses against Sajjan Kumar. The other principal witness is her cousin Jagsher Singh, whose brothers Raghuvinder and Narender Pal Singh were also killed on November 1, 1984. The high court judgment notes Jagdish Kaur’s recollection: “At around 9 am on 2nd November 1984, when she went to lodge a report at the PP, she saw that a public meeting was taking place which was attended by A-1 who was the local Member of Parliament (MP). She heard him declare, “Sikh sala ek nahin bachna chahiye, jo Hindu bhai unko sharan deta hai, uska ghar bhi jala do aur unko bhi maro.”
  • The judgment records Jagsher Singh’s recollection that “around 10 p.m., he saw an Ambassador car which stopped at the turning onto Shiv Mandir Marg. He stated that 30-40 persons gathered around the car from which emerged A-1 who enquired as to whether ‘they have done the work’. Thereafter, it is stated, A-1 approached the house of PW-6 (Jagsher Singh) to inspect it and came back and told the assembled mob that they had ‘only broken the gate of the thekedars’ house’. One of the members of the mob then allegedly informed him that ‘the thekedars are being saved by the Hindus only’. Upon hearing this, A-1 is stated to have instructed the mob to burn the houses of the Hindus who were sheltering the Sikhs. He then left in his car.”
  • The court rules: “To this Court, PW-1 [Jagdish Kaur] comes across as a fearless and truthful witness. Till she was absolutely certain that her making statements will serve a purpose, she did not come forward to do so. This is understandable given the fact that all previous attempts at securing justice for the victims had failed. The large number of acquittals in the cases demonstrated how the investigation was completely botched-up. It also demonstrated the power and influence of the accused and how witnesses could easily be won over. The atmosphere of distrust created as a result of these developments would have dissuaded the victims from coming forward to speak about what they knew. In the context of these cases, the factum of delay cannot be used to the advantage of the accused but would, in fact, explain the minor contradictions and inconsistencies in the statements of the key eye-witnesses in the present case. Nothing in the deposition of PW-1 points to either untruthfulness or unreliability. Her evidence deserves acceptance.”
  • A moment of reflection

  • Sajjan Kumar is not very different from many other politicians of this era, who use mob emotions to ride to power. However, he is probably the first to be held guilty of conspiring with the mob to cause the deaths of his constituents. It is for us as a country to ensure that mob violence yields no political dividends. If we as voters decide to electorally punish those who incite mobs, yield to them, or fail to stop their violence, the resort to politics of mass murders will simply stop. The judgment notes that “there has been a familiar pattern of mass killings in Mumbai in 1993, in Gujarat in 2002, in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008, in Muzaffarnagar in U.P. in 2013 to name a few. Common to these mass crimes were the targeting of minorities and the attacks spearheaded by the dominant political actors being facilitated by the law enforcement agencies. The criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment.”
  • It also says: “While it is undeniable that it has taken over three decades to bring the accused in this case to justice, and that our criminal justice system stands severely tested in that process, it is essential, in a democracy governed by the rule of law to be able to call out those responsible for such mass crimes. It is important to assure those countless victims waiting patiently that despite the challenges, truth will prevail and justice will be done.”
  • While the 1984, 1993, 2002, 2008 and 2013 riots are painful episodes in our history, the judgments of the Delhi High Court of 2018 in the Sajjan Kumar and Hashimpura cases shine like good deeds in a naughty world. Milan Kundera wrote that “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”. The judgment tells Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvinder Singh, Narender Pal Singh and Kuldeep Singh, that neither Jagdish Kaur nor India have as yet forgotten them.
  • Restoring the balance

    India must remain invested in strengthening democratic institutions in the Maldives

  • Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s three-day visit to India this week seems to have brought a tumultuous phase in India-Maldives ties to a close. This is Mr. Solih’s first overseas visit after becoming the President of the Indian Ocean nation of 400,000 people. He defeated Abdulla Yameen in a surprise victory in the Maldivian presidential elections in September and, since then, has recalibrated his country’s ties with India. While Mr. Yameen had drawn the Maldives closer to China and brutally crushed the Opposition, Mr. Solih’s victory has been a shot in the arm for those who favour strengthening democratic forces in the island nation.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had attended the swearing-in ceremony of Mr. Solih as the President of Maldives in November, his first visit to the nation as Prime Minister and the first by an Indian head of state since 2011. Even as Mr. Modi enthusiastically reached out to all of India’s neighbours after his election in 2014, he remained reluctant to engage Mr. Yameen. His planned visit to the Maldives, in March 2015, was cancelled as the political environment deteriorated under Mr. Yameen. In a strong endorsement of Mr. Solih’s victory, Mr. Modi underscored that the recent elections in the Maldives represented the collective aspirations of the people for democracy, the rule of law and a prosperous future. He made it clear that India desired “to see a stable, democratic, prosperous and peaceful Republic of Maldives”.
  • Points of engagement

  • Mr. Solih’s India visit has seen the two sides emphasise their traditionally close bond. He called India the island nation’s “closest friend” and “reaffirmed his government’s ‘India-First’ Policy”, committing to working together closely with India. India, for its part, announced a financial assistance package of $1.4 billion for the Maldives in the form of budgetary support, currency swap agreements and concessional lines of credit. Both have agreed to ensure that they would keep other’s security interests in mind as they consolidate cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). They have agreed to strengthen maritime security cooperation in the IOR through coordinated patrol and aerial surveillance. In an attempt to boost trade ties, Mr. Modi “welcomed the expanding opportunities for Indian companies to invest in the Maldives”. Areas such fisheries development, tourism, transportation, connectivity, health, education, information technology, new and renewable energy and communications were earmarked for enhancing bilateral cooperation.
  • The China factor

  • It is important from New Delhi’s perspective that Mr. Solih succeeds in the Maldives. Under Mr. Yameen, the Maldives had veered too close to China for India’s comfort, welcoming Chinese money for major infrastructure projects and signing a controversial free trade agreement (FTA). India’s entreaties for political moderation and closer security ties were summarily ignored. China’s role in the Maldivian economy is under the scanner today amid growing concerns about the money the Maldives owes to China for infrastructure projects undertaken by Chinese construction companies. These infrastructure projects include the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, which connects Malé’s eastern edge to the western corner of the island of Hulhulé. It is now estimated that China’s loans to the Maldives total at least $1.3 billion, or a quarter of the island nation’s gross domestic product. Faced with this crisis, the new Maldivian government is looking to India for more budgetary support to help meet its development goals and is also planning to revise the FTA with China.
  • The Modi government is also trying to ensure help reaches Male in time so that New Delhi regains some of its lost space in the Maldives’ foreign policy and politics. Malé has also made it clear that while the neighbourhood will clearly be a priority for the Solih government, China will continue to play an important role as an economic partner. So China is not going to disappear from the Maldivian foreign policy matrix. Nor should India expect it to. But the logic of geography dictates that India’s role will be critical in determining the trajectory of political developments in the Maldives.
  • India’s patient handling of the Maldives crisis over the last few years has positioned it well. By coordinating its response with other like-minded regional and extra-regional players, India increased the costs for Mr. Yameen and also underscored that there are options available to the Maldives should it decide to move away from China. After a meeting of the ‘Quad’ countries in Singapore in November, the U.S., for example, released a statement expressing support for the new Maldivian government.
  • The domestic dynamic

  • Going forward, the Maldives would need the support of India as its challenges remain acute. The institutional fabric of the country has been battered under Mr. Yameen’s assault even as the threat of Islamist extremism has grown in potency. Governance will continue to be challenging as the forces which came together to bring down Mr. Yameen may not be cohesive enough in running the nation and strengthening its democratic foundations.
  • India should not be deterred by temporary setbacks. Instead of perpetually viewing the dynamics from a China-centric perspective, it must keep its eyes firmly on the long term. The more invested New Delhi is in strengthening democratic institutions in its neighbourhood, the better returns it will get in its foreign policy.
  • Bolstering Paris

    The Katowice consensus does not adequately reflect the challenge to limit global warming

  • The UN Climate Conference held in Katowice, Poland, has moved ahead with the implementation of the Paris Agreement through a rule book, reflecting strong support among citizens of all countries for urgent action to avert dangerous climate change. Public pressure has prevailed over scepticism, although the outcome does not adequately reflect the short window available to make deep greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Yet, the Paris Agreement, endorsed by 195 countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has a long road ahead before carbon emissions can be pegged at levels flagged by scientists. Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a special report, issued a stark warning on man-made emissions. It said that to cap the rise in global average temperature over pre-industrial levels at 1.5°C, a 45% reduction in emissions over 2010 levels must be made by 2030. This is a challenge for all big economies, including India, which is among the top five emitters of carbon dioxide. In the Indian context, it highlights the need for action on several fronts: scaling up solar and wind power in line with the goal of reaching 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, steadily reducing reliance on coal, shifting substantially to electric mobility and adopting green industrial processes. Taxing luxury emissions and using the dividend to give the poor energy access has to be the policy target, building on international green climate funding linkages.
  • At Katowice, Indian negotiators put forth legitimate concerns on the likely social impact of the new rules that will operationalise the Paris Agreement in 2020. After all, at an estimated 1.2 tonnes of CO2 per capita, India emits far below the global average of 4.2 tonnes. Yet, cumulative emissions determine the impact on climate, and India’s emissions grew at an estimated 6.3% in 2018. The prospect of increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and sea level rise in a warming world affecting small island states allows little room for complacency. The task now is to achieve a paradigm shift that will slow down the addition of new sources of carbon emissions. As a party to the global climate compact, India has to systematically assess its emissions and measure mitigation actions for reporting to the UNFCCC at stock-taking meetings. This is an opportunity to bring major sectors such as energy production, building, agriculture and transport on board, and make changes to regulations that favour environment-friendly alternatives. China has taken the lead in advancing electric mobility, while individual States and cities are ahead of national governments, as in the U.S., in reducing their carbon footprint. A clean-up in India will help meet emissions commitments and remove the blanket of air pollution that is suffocating entire cities.
  • Fatal fires

    Fire safety norms for hospitals need to be strengthened and strictly enforced

  • The devastating fire at the Andheri hospital of the Employees State Insurance Corporation in Mumbai that killed at least eight people is a shocking reminder of the low priority fire safety gets in India. That a blaze could break out in a relatively new building with such deadly consequences calls into question the precautions taken by the authorities. The Maharashtra government should conduct a thorough probe and examine the claim made by the Fire Department that the hospital had failed an inspection recently and was served a notice. It would be shockingly negligent if the hospital continued to function without adhering to fire safety standards in spite of an adverse report from the statutory authority. Ironically, ESIC is a welfare organisation working to protect the health and well-being of the labour sector, and is expected to set an example through the quality of its facilities. The Andheri horror evokes memories of the AMRI hospital blaze in Kolkata seven years ago, in which 92 people died. It led to an assessment of hospital safety in all States, but evidently the impact has been patchy at best. In fact, the Justice Tapan Mukherjee Commission appointed by the West Bengal government held the directors of AMRI hospital responsible, since they actively reviewed the institution’s administrative measures. This year, critically ill patients had to be carried outside by relatives during a fire at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.
  • A strong building code with features for reduction of fire hazards is important for all structures, but it is more so for hospitals since they host people who are incapacitated and cannot be evacuated quickly. The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) goes by the National Building Code and its specific norms for hospitals, which include minimum requirements for multi-storeyed structures, such as alarms, sprinkler systems, specified-width staircases, smoke barrier enclosures and checks against storage of combustible materials in areas where patients are kept. Going forward, all State governments should require mandatory compliance with such safety features for any institution handling patients or giving care. Certification of facilities through third-party audit should be made compulsory to eliminate conflicts of interest involving official agencies. The institutions should also be insured for the highest levels of public liability. At a broader level, governments must shed their indifference and work to make all spaces safe. The situation today is depressing. In private, public or commercial buildings, official agencies tend to favour tokenism rather than high standards for the safety of occupants and visitors. They are ever-willing to “regularise” deviations in construction over time. It is time to fix responsibility for deadly accidents on a single official agency.
  • ‘There is no question of going back to the paper ballot’

    The former Chief Election Commissioner on the EVM controversy, why the Supreme Court verdict on criminals in politics is a missed opportunity, and electoral bonds

  • The debate on the reliability of electronic voting machines (EVMs) refuses to settle, with political parties continuing to voice their concerns about malfunctioning machines. Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi explains how EVMs work, why he is disappointed with the Supreme Court for refusing to bar politicians with serious criminal charges from contesting elections, and expresses concern over the growing number of hate speeches by senior leaders. Excerpts from an interview:
  • You were upset that the Supreme Court refused to bar politicians who face serious criminal charges from contesting elections.
  • For the last 20 years, the Election Commission, besides civil society, has been demanding that people who face criminal cases of a serious nature, which are pending, should be debarred from contesting elections. Even the Law Commission has demanded this. The standard defence of the politician is that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The second stand they take is that in politics, quite often the Opposition files false cases against opponents to defeat them judicially, if not politically, which is also a valid argument.
  • The Election Commission’s response to this has been to ensure three safeguards. One, that every criminal case will not debar you [from contesting]; only heinous offences which carry imprisonment of five years or more will. Two, the FIR should have been registered at least six months before the election so that a case is not filed on the eve of the election. Three, a court of law should have framed the charges. The court of law in case of heinous offences would be the district and sessions court, which means the highest court below the high court.
  • At one stage, the then Law Minister, Salman Khurshid, suggested that the Election Commission should change its formulation about registration of the case from six months before the election to one year. We said, no problem. Then he said, can we begin from the time the charge sheet is framed and not when an FIR is registered? We said we have no problem with that either.
  • I called the Supreme Court judgment a missed opportunity because the ball is now in Parliament’s court. Parliament has refused to act for two decades. It is unlikely that it will act now. Asking MPs to pass a bill against themselves is futile.
  • Surely it is the prerogative of Parliament to legislate?
  • Of course. But let us now examine the legal maxim, innocent until proven guilty. There are four lakh prisoners in Indian jails today — 71% are undertrials. Yet, you have taken away four of their fundamental rights: the right to liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation, and freedom of dignity. And the legal right to vote as well. If, under the presumption of innocence, you can take away their fundamental rights, what is the big deal about taking away the right to contest, which is not even a fundamental right? Why doesn’t the same presumption apply to undertrials?
  • Another reason why it was a missed opportunity was that the Supreme Court did not even touch upon the issue of fast-tracking politicians’ cases, which is very much in its domain. In fact, in 2014, the apex court had already taken the view that all such cases must be disposed of within a year, failing which the concerned court should bring it to the notice of the Chief Justices of the respective high courts. The Law Minister wrote to all the States to help enforce this judgment. But the Supreme Court did not say a word about this.
  • Often the public blames the Election Commission for its ineffectiveness in keeping criminals out. They don’t realise that disqualifying any candidate from contesting is the function of law. That is why the Election Commission is asking Parliament to legislate on the matter.
  • The controversy surrounding EVMs refuses to die down. Recently, an EVM was found abandoned on a national highway in Rajasthan and another was found in an MLA’s house. Why not go back to the paper ballot?
  • There is no question of going back to the paper ballot. EVMs are good and they have done India proud. However, they are machines — sometimes they malfunction. Out of 20 lakh machines in operation, a few hundred or thousand can malfunction. For these there is a clearly defined protocol: replace them within half an hour.
  • But that is a lot, isn’t it? Enough to switch the fortunes of a party when cleverly manipulated?
  • When there is malfunctioning, it doesn’t mean rigging or cheating. As soon as defects are detected, the machines have to be replaced within half an hour, for which reserved machines are kept in place. Twenty per cent reserve machines are on standby. In cities, these extra machines are kept in a roving vehicle so that they can reach a booth within half an hour following a complaint. In rural and remote areas, the extra machines are placed in the booth itself. Every single machine is individually tested and subjected to a mock poll thrice.
  • But isn’t it odd that EVMs are found on highways and in an MLA’s house? Shouldn’t the Election Commission be worried?
  • These were reserved EVMs which had not been used. But they are also expected to be returned intact on time. Any lapse invites strict action against the staff, including suspension and even an FIR.
  • You are saying all this is a drop in the ocean. Yet all you need to win is to ensure malfunctioning. Is there room for doubt that a party in power can manipulate an EVM?
  • Every political party has questioned these machines but they have all been winning or losing with the same machines. Every machine is guarded by the paramilitary, State police, and district police. The machine is the most observed object. And nobody is more vigilant than politicians during the time of elections about EVMs. They even sleep outside the strongrooms.
  • Despite the assurances, there are lapses. How do you explain that?
  • Eleven million people conduct elections at one million polling stations. Some can be inefficient, some extremely nervous. ‘Zero error’ effort is sought to be maintained. Yet, mistakes happen and corrective action is promptly taken. In any case, with the introduction of VVPAT, the controversy should have died down.
  • But it hasn’t.
  • Because people have not fully understood the operation. Every EVM now has a printer attached. This printer has a screen on which the selected candidate appears — his face, name and symbol — and stays there for seven seconds, which is enough time to register the correctness of the vote. Then the slip drops into a sealed box to be counted for cross-checking when required. In the last four years, nearly 800 such machines have been counted. Not one mismatch has been reported. What better proof do we need?
  • Yet, there are doubts about how the Election Commission arrived at such a small sample for every constituency.
  • I agree that counting just one machine per constituency is too little. My proposition is to have 5% VVPAT of the constituency. That would mean 10 to 15 machines in a constituency. I had mentioned this to the former Chief Election Commissioner, O.P. Rawat, in a casual conversation. He had told me that the Election Commission had written to the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, asking what sample would be scientific enough to achieve 99.99% public satisfaction. This was music to my ears. But I don’t know what response came from the institute. It must be put in the public domain.
  • The recent Assembly elections were marred by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s communal speeches. What do you think the Election Commission should have done?
  • Hate speech by senior leaders is a matter of grave concern. Unfortunately, we notice a growing tendency among senior leaders to indulge in such speech. There was a time when political leaders had evolved a code of self-discipline known as the model code of conduct. This was followed in letter and spirit for decades. But today’s leadership doesn’t seem to bother. They even test the patience of the Election Commission. Instead of respecting the model code, they repeatedly challenge it. This will have consequences: there will either be a severe backlash from the Commission or the image of the Commission will get eroded, which will be suicidal for our democracy.
  • What is your view on the dissolution of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and the role of the Governor?
  • In the present context, when Governors have become too political, the powers of the Governor should be clearly defined, according to the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission. They should invite the party with the largest numbers to form the government, failing which [they should invite] the combination of parties claiming the largest numbers. In Jammu and Kashmir it seems that a political coalition, however disparate, was coming into place. In the famous Bommai judgment, the Supreme Court had clearly held that the question of majority can only be tested on the floor of the House, not in a Raj Bhavan.
  • What do you think of electoral bonds?
  • Electoral bonds have taken away whatever little transparency there was. The only little good that has come out of it is that cash donations have been replaced by banking transactions. The Finance Minister had stated in his Budget speech that for seven decades, efforts to achieve transparency of political funding have not succeeded, without which free and fair elections are not possible. After these fine statements one expected transparency in political funding, to know which corporate has paid how much to which party so that quid pro quo could be known. Electoral bonds have made the whole transaction secretive and opaque. Only the government knows who gave how much to which party. Crony capitalism has been legalised and institutionalised.
  • According to media reports, over ₹10 billion has been donated by citizens through electoral bonds and most of the donations seem to have come in October, ahead of the recently concluded Assembly elections. What do you make of this?
  • I am not surprised. The ruling party always corners more funds for obvious reasons.
  • A case for content

    Scientific papers should be judged by their content and not by the journals in which they appear

  • The best scientific research is not necessarily published in the most popular mainstream journals, and history has many examples to prove this. In 1986, when J. Georg Bednorz and K. Alex Müller made a breakthrough with their discovery of high temperature superconductivity in a ceramic material, they did not publish their results in the sought-after journals. They chose to publish in a journal that was not very well known: Zeitschrift für Physik B. Their discovery was awarded the Nobel prize in 1987.
  • In many cases, this is not a matter of choice. Lynn Margulis’s efforts to publish her influential 1967 paper, “On the origin of mitosing cells”, were remarkable: The paper was rejected by 12 journals before being accepted by the Journal of Theoretical Biology. Now, it is considered the work that brought to focus the endosymbiotic theory of organelle origins. This is the theory that mitochondria, the power houses of cells, were initially independent free-living cells and they got into a symbiotic relationship with larger cellular beings to form a new organism. Originally proposed by microbiologist Ivan Wallin in the 1920s, the theory needed Margulis’s tenacity to gain acceptance.
  • Personal bias can also nudge a piece of scientific work towards lesser-known journals. The landmark paper of Ronald A. Fisher, “The correlation between relatives on the supposition of Mendelian inheritance”, has been so influential that geneticists are celebrating the centenary of its publication this year. It was initially submitted to the Royal Society of London. It was withdrawn following inordinate delay and unfavourable reviews and was finally published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. “The paper laid the foundations of the field of quantitative genetics,” says evolutionary biologist Amitabh Joshi of JNCASR, Bengaluru.
  • Some important work from Russian groups was neglected because the work either never appeared in western journals or appeared only much later in translation. “One example is the work of Vadim Berezinskii on two-dimensional phase transitions, which appeared two years before the work of John M. Kosterlitz and David J. Thouless,” says biophysicist Gautam Menon of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai. “It was referred to as the KT transition, and both [Kosterlitz and Thouless] were awarded the Nobel prize close to four decades later. By then Berezinskii had died, so could not have received the prize, although the transition is now increasingly referred to as the BKT transition in his honour.”
  • The lesson that these cases underscore is that it is easy to miss important scientific works, if only the name of the journal in which they are published is considered a marker of their consequence. History suggests that it is better to judge papers by their content.