Compare these two sets of recent newspaper headlines.
FSU leading botanical research into 21st century
FSU professor researches new body armor
IITM scientist questions Nobel laureate's ideas
NRI scientist demonstrates new technology to improve computer chip cooling
Notice the similarity? The first set is from the Florida Flambeau, the campus newspaper of Florida State University, Tallahassee, and the second is from the Times of India, one of the leading english-language newspapers in India. Apart from self absorbed campus newspapers, the only situation when most science news portals reveal the nationality of scientists in a headline is when prestigious awards such as the Nobel are announced. These two headlines reveal a little of the ways Indians think. The first one (IITM means Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology) shows the sometimes unhealthy and exaggerated respect for seniority and labels that is now deeply embedded in our way of thinking. The nobel prize winning scientist must be right. So, for a Indian scientist to question this great achiever has to be something revolutionary. I read through the report. There was nothing that extraordinary about the research. It was one of the countless questions being raised over the importance of aerosols on global warming. The second headline (NRI means non resident Indian) is all about our obsession with staking a claim over anything Indian, however tenuous the connection. The huge outpouring of pride over astronaut Sunita Williams achievements, a first generation American with ancestral ties to India is another good example.
Science news need not be expressed in such nationalistic terms. Reporting the actual science frequently and accurately will be inspiring enough.