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And the rest is history

In its 133-year-long existence, the prestigious American Historical Association recognized only the third Indian historian as an honorary foreign member last week. After the venerable Mughal historian Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1952) and Romila Thapar (2009), whose area of expertise is ancient India, it is the turn of Ramachandra Guha. The author of over 15 books, most recently a biography of M.K. Gandhi, Guha is a pioneering public intellectual in contemporary India. His eclectic scholarship ranges from cricket and environmentalism to politics. —SG

John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino won the Nobel prize in chemistry for the development of the lithium-ion battery
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John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino won the Nobel prize in chemistry for the development of the lithium-ion battery (Photo: Reuters)

Nobel prize: right chemistry, surprise in literature

The 2019 Nobel prizes for chemistry, physics and medicine were announced this week. While the physics prize was shared between James Peebles for “theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology" and Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for the first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star, the prize in medicine was awarded jointly to William G. Kaelin Jr, Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to the availability of oxygen. But it’s the prize in chemistry, awarded to John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of the lithium-ion battery, that may strike a chord. Lithium-ion batteries power everything from smartphones to e-vehicles. Portable electronics run on these rechargeable batteries, which are also capable of storing energy from renewable sources. At a time when the world is facing environmental challenges, things could have been worse if not for this three-decade-old innovation that allowed us to imagine a fossil fuel-free future. —NS

Olga Tokarczuk
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Olga Tokarczuk (Photo: Reuters)

There are two recipients of the Nobel prize in literature this year—Peter Handke for 2019 and Olga Tokarczuk (pictured) for 2018. The academy had withheld last year’s award in the wake of sexual assault allegations against one of its committee members.

Handke, who writes in German, has been awarded “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience". Tokarczuk, a Pole, has been recognized for her “narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life".

The decision came as a surprise. A winner from the global south had been anticipated after the committee chair mentioned they were planning to move away from a “Eurocentric perspective" and were “now looking all over the world". —SG

The 2 August advisory that restricted the movement of tourists in the valley has been lifted
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The 2 August advisory that restricted the movement of tourists in the valley has been lifted

No internet, but tourists welcome in Kashmir

More than two months after mobile and internet services in Kashmir were blocked, the 2 August advisory that restricted the movement of tourists in the valley has been lifted. Cellphones and the internet are still not operational but the 7 October advisory from the Jammu and Kashmir home department stated that from 10 October, “the tourists desirous of undertaking visit to the State shall be provided all necessary assistance and logistical support". The move, which comes after the international media has reported incidents of violence, protests and detentions, is viewed by some as a way to further the narrative of “normalcy". For it comes at a time when Kashmiris have been finding it difficult to access healthcare facilities and several have stayed away from schools and colleges, officially open, in protest.—AB

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