Concerns raised about a 1969 experiment on South Asian women using radioactive chapatis

  • A UK Member of Parliament has called for a formal probe into medical research on Indian and South Asian women in Coventry.
  • To see if it heals anaemia, women of Indian heritage were fed Chapatis containing a radioactive isotope of iron, Iron-59.

The Chapati Study of 1969

  • The study, which took conducted in 1969, featured about 21 Indian-origin women from Coventry.
  • As part of an effort to cure widespread anaemia, these women were fed chapatis containing a radioactive isotope of iron, Iron-59.
  • Because of the insolubility of iron in flour, the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) stated that the study highlighted the need for greater iron consumption among Asian women.

Considerations for Ethical Behaviour

  • The 1995 release of the documentary “Deadly Experiments” raised attention to the use of radioactive chemicals in research in the United Kingdom and the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Women were uninformed of the experiment’s goal, and chapatis were supplied with no explanation of their contents.
  • In reaction to popular outrage following the documentary’s release, an independent Committee of Inquiry was formed.

Principles violated in the experiment:

  • Informed consent
  • Participant-centeredness and
  • Transparent engagement

Reflections on Previous Practises

  • Researchers made decisions on benefits and expenses without considering the well-being of participants.
  • The study’s design reflected the time’s prevalent “paternalistic nature of science” and societal beliefs.
  • The research recommended providing study materials in the languages of participants and resolving issues with informed consent.
  • Many years later, determining informed consent remains a serious difficulty.
  • The MRC no longer had the participation list, and public requests for participants were futile.

Recognising Radioactive Isotopes

  • Radioactive isotopes are unstable elements that produce radiation as they decay into stable forms.
  • Excess energy in unstable nuclei is released as radiation in the form of waves or particles.
  • Radiation exposure has different long-term health impacts depending on the type and amount of radiation.

Current Consequences

  • A member of parliament emphasised the MRC’s unfulfilled proposal to find and engage women participants.
  • Participant identification would have allowed them to share their experiences, receive assistance, and learn from the trial.
  • The MRC reaffirmed its commitment to participation, transparency, and the highest scientific standards.


  • The study emphasises ethical issues in historical medical research.
  • Reflecting on historical practises helps to inform current and future medical research efforts.
News Polity

Language Difficulties in India’s Judiciary

  • A petition to transfer a vehicle accident case from the vehicle Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) in Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh, to the MACT in Darjeeling, West Bengal, was denied by the Supreme Court.
  • The court emphasised that language should not be an impediment to communication, and that witnesses should talk in Hindi, the national language, during proceedings.

Why are we debating this?

  • Given India’s linguistic diversity, the Supreme Court’s declaration that Hindi is the national language provoked dispute.
  • While no language is officially declared as the “national language,” Hindi retains an important position as the Union’s official language.

The Constitution and Official Languages

  • Article 343: The Constitution specifies Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language of the Union, with English used for official purposes for the first 15 years following the Constitution’s adoption in 1950.
  • Article 351: The Union is directed by the Constitution to foster the spread of Hindi while respecting the forms and expressions of the other languages listed in the Eighth Schedule.

Linguistic Diversity and the Eighth Schedule

  • Eighth Schedule: The Constitution’s Eighth Schedule recognises 22 languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. The Schedule has grown over time to include languages such as Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali.
  • Inclusion Demands: Several languages, including Bhojpuri, Garhwali (Pahari), and Rajasthani, are seeking to be included in the Eighth Schedule. The MHA recognises the dynamic nature of language evolution but confronts difficulty in setting inclusion criteria.
  • Despite the fact that Hindi is an official language, the Official Languages Act of 1963 ensures that English will continue to be used for official purposes after the first 15-year period.
  • English Status in Judiciary Apex Courts: The use of English is required in Supreme Court and High Court proceedings, guaranteeing consistency in legal communication. The Rajasthan High judicial used Article 348 (2) and the Official Languages Act to integrate Hindi into judicial proceedings.

Subordinate Courts and Regional Languages:

  • The State Government has the ability to choose the language of subordinate courts within the state under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • While the language of subordinate courts is originally preserved, the State Government may define a language and character for applications and proceedings.

Same-sex marriages have the potential to undermine societal values

In the Supreme Court, the Centre expressed its opposition to same-sex marriage, citing traditional beliefs and values.

The following are the main points of the affidavit:

  • Heterosexual marriage has been the norm throughout history and is “fundamental to the state’s existence and continuation.”
  • Marriage is regarded as a “holy union,” a “sacrament,” and a “sanskar” in India, and is influenced by customs, rituals, practises, cultural ethos, and societal values.
  • Any “deviation” from the “statutorily, religiously, and socially” accepted norm in a “human relationship” must go through the legislature, not the Supreme Court.

Basis of Centre’s opposition

  • The 2018 Navtej Singh Johar judgment decriminalised homosexuality, but it did not mention/legitimise same-sex marriage.
  • A man and woman living as a family with children born from the union cannot be compared to a same-sex marriage.
  • Registration of same-sex marriage would be a violation of both existing personal and codified legal provisions.
  • The society and state have a “compelling interest” in limiting recognition to heterosexual marriages only.

Reasons for the opposition of the centre

  • Legal reform is required: The registration of marriage of same-sex persons also results in a violation of existing personal as well as codified law provisions — such as ‘degrees of prohibited relationship’; ‘conditions of marriage’; ‘ceremonial and ritual requirements’ under the personal laws governing the individuals”.
  • In the context of the legislative scheme of various personal laws, it is neither possible nor feasible to refer to one as “husband” and the other as “wife” in a same-sex marriage.
  • Defying cultural norms: Our country’s social order is based on religion, and procreation is viewed as an obligation for the performance of various religious ceremonies.
  • Property rights and other civil liberties: Property rights after marriage are a contentious issue in India. Same-sex marriage will not provide legal immunity, but will instead increase the complexity of interpretations.

Problems with such marriages

  • The issue of homosexual behaviour has recently come to the forefront of legal and political debate for the following reasons:
  • Morality: As a result of this, social attitudes have shifted, and the stigma associated with homosexuality has faded to a greater extent.
  • Increasing activism: Lesbian and gay rights campaigns have become increasingly radical, arguing for an end to all forms of discrimination against homosexuality.
  • Religious penalties: In Arab countries, same sex acts are punishable by death. No religion openly supports same-gender marriage. They are generally regarded as unnatural everywhere.
  • Apart from the harsh legal environment, homosexuals face social stigma as well. Same sex marriages are still unthinkable because any sexual relations between two people of the same sex elicits hatred and disgust.
  • Patriarchy: It should not be forgotten that Indian society is patriarchal in nature, and the fact that certain women and men have different choices that are not sanctioned by the ‘order’ scares them.
  • Individualism is not encouraged in our society, and any expression of homosexuality is viewed as an attempt to renounce tradition and promote individualism.

Arguments in support

  • Pursuit of happiness: Homosexuality is not an offence; it is simply a method of achieving sexual happiness or desire.
  • Right to privacy: The fundamental right to liberty (under Article-21) prohibits the state from interfering with an individual’s private personal activities.
  • Arbitrariness: Infringement of the right to equal protection under the law necessitates determining whether the classification introduced has a rational and objective basis.
  • Problems with definition: Section-377 assumes that a natural sexual act is one performed for the purpose of procreation. As a result, it labels all non-procreative sexual acts as unnatural.
  • Section-377 discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, which is prohibited by Article-15 of the Constitution. Article 15 forbids discrimination on several grounds, including gender.
  • Human rights: According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, social norms, tradition, custom, or culture cannot be used to prevent a person from asserting his fundamental and constitutional rights.
  • Many countries acknowledge: Same-sex marriages are legal in at least 30 countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and France, according to the global think tank Council on Foreign Relations.

Way ahead

  • Distancing oneself from religion: Such marriages are prohibited in almost every religion. As a result, no single religion should be regarded as impeding the development of a legal sanction.
  • Eliminating discrimination: The same-sex community requires an anti-discrimination law that allows them to build successful lives and relationships regardless of gender identity.
  • Allowing society to evolve: The doctrine of progressive realisation of rights must be instilled in society, and it cannot be forced by law.
  • Increasing awareness: This is not going to happen overnight. We live in a society where Sati and Nikah halala are considered religious orders.

3 killed, several feared trapped as multi-storey building collapses in Lucknow #watch


Congress’ Digvijay Singh demands proof for surgical strikes against Pakistan—Watch #bharatjodoyatra


Panini’s Language Machine is decoded by an Indian student at Cambridge

An Indian Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge has finally discovered the solution to a grammatical conundrum posed by Panini that has baffled Sanskrit scholars since the fifth century BC.


  • According to many sources, Panini lived in ancient India during the sixth and fourth centuries BCE. He was a respected scholar and Sanskrit grammarian.
  • Panini has been referred to as “the father of linguistics” and the “first descriptive linguist” since European academics discovered and published his work in the nineteenth century.
  • Foundational linguists like Ferdinand de Saussure and Leonard Bloomfield were influenced by Panini’s grammar.

Major literary works

  • The Astadhyayi, the founding text of the Vyakarna branch of the Vedanga, is one of Panini’s best-known works. It is a sutra-style treatise on Sanskrit grammar that contains verses or rules on linguistics, syntax, and semantics in “eight chapters.”
  • His writings drew various bhashya (comments), the most well-known of which is Patanjali’s Mahabhashya.
  • Scholars of other Indian religions, such as Buddhism, were affected by and commented on his theories.

Recent breakthrough

  • Panini had a brilliant mind, and he created the most advanced language processing system in human history.
  • He has successfully decrypted a 2,500-year-old algorithm, making it feasible to utilise Panini’s so-called “language machine” with accuracy for the first time.
  • With the use of Panini’s language generator, it is now possible to “derive” any Sanskrit word and create millions of grammatically sound terms.
  • One of history’s greatest intellectual accomplishments, according to many, is this.

What this development means?

  • The most important implication of the latest finding is that Panini’s grammar can now be run by an algorithm.
  • We might be able to teach computers this grammar.
  • Rule-based approaches were abandoned by computer scientists working on Natural Language Processing (NLP) more than 50 years ago.
  • NLP is a subfield of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Teaching computers how to connect the speaker’s intention with Panini’s rule-based language would thus be a significant turning point in the development of human-machine interaction.
And get notified everytime we publish a new blog post.