Monday, November 15, 2010

A New Twist to the Kundu Story: Did a Government Panel Shield the Accused?


Drop everything and read The Telegraph story by T.V. Jayan.

In case you didn't know about l'affaire Kundu, here's the back story from early 2007 when the Journal of Biological Chemistry retracted a paper by a team led by Gopal Kundu of NCCS, Pune, because several experimental figures were used more than once (in two different papers) with different labels. A committee headed by Prof. G. Padmanaban (former Director, IISc) gave Kundu and his team a clean chit -- a verdict that was contested vigorously by quite a few (see this post and the links in there; the key, at least for me, was the set of animated GIF images put together by Rahul Siddharthan).

The controversy generated by this debate was reported to have led to several more "official" investigations, and it was rumoured that Kundu was exonerated by some high-level committee (whose report was never made public -- which is really, really strange), bringing a closure to this case.

Except that the Indian Academy of Sciences at Bangalore decided to re-open this case, and have it investigated by its own panel on scientific values. This new investigation found Kundu guilty.

And the guilt is serious enough that the Acadcmy has imposed some sanctions on him. [Whether the sanctions really match the seriousness of the crime is a different issue! I just want to keep this post restricted to the guilty verdict itself.]

It is this second act that's the focus of T.V. Jayan's story in The Telegraph. Jayan gets it just right when he says that the Academy's "unprecedented" action "appears to vindicate claims by some scientists that the government-appointed panel had tried to shield the accused." And, Nandula Raghuram, a member of the Society for Scientific Values, is quoted by Jayan:

This episode shows that the government mechanisms to deal with this case had been compromised.

There are several other things in the new revelations (in Jayan's report) that are worth commenting on -- I just don't have the time right for a longer post now; do read the story!

2 Comments:

  1. Guru said...

    Abi:

    The first link in the post does not point to Jayan's story but something else -- the last one does, though.

  2. Abi said...

    Oops! I've fixed it now.

    Thanks for the alert, Guru!