; Indus writing is multilingual: a part-syllabic system at work (S Srinivasan et al, Current Science, - PDF
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Indus writing is multilingual: a part-syllabic system at work (S Srinivasan et al, Current Science, - PDF


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									                                                    In this issue
Indus writing is multilingual:             ‘o’ from Indus text. The demographic         instigating bumble-bees to move deep
a part-syllabic system at work             details of the Dravidian and Aryan           inside the labellum and the anther–
                                           presence in Mohenjodaro and Harappa          stigma column. Hence A. subulatum
Srinivasan et al. (page 147) have          are also discerned from a sub-set of         may be categorized as an obligate spe-
applied the information theory and en-     Indus corpus.                                cialist as it recruits only the bumble-
tropy concept to decipher the Indus                                                     bee as the most effective pollinator,
script left behind by the Indus Valley     Functional specialization in                 thereby giving evidence of pollination
Civilization. They mainly dwell upon       Amomum subulatum                             syndrome.
the corpus on Indus writing brought
out by Iravatham Mahadevan (IM) for        Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum             Characterization of
analysis and arrive at a conclusion that   Roxb.) is one of the important spice         inter-specific hybrids derived
the script underlying the writing sys-     crops of north eastern Himalayan             from Momordica species
tem belongs to part-syllabic and           region of India. Its productive trait
abugida type. The scripts of all Indian    (capsule) is the function of effective       Momordica L. (Cucurbitaceae) com-
languages belong to part-syllabic sys-     pollination carried out by bees. More-       prises 60 species distributed chiefly in
tem of writing. The characteristic         over pollination diversity, population       Africa and Southeast Asia, of which
features of part-syllabic, namely the      density, visitation frequency, and qua-      seven species are distributed in India.
presence of initial-vowel and medial-      lity and quantity of pollen that carries     These species have a huge potential to
vowel signs are brought out from the       to stigma are major biotic factors affect-   be exploited as alternative crops not
Indus text. Ten medial-vowel signs         ing pollination and fruit set in large       only for their nutritive value, but also
identified that do not appear at the be-   cardamom. Additionally, the role of          for improving the livelihood of the
ginning position in words from Indus       floral traits and rewards in recruiting      tribal and poor farming communities.
text. Another corpus referred to by the    pollinators and exhibition of functional     A crossing programme involving seven
authors is available online and brought    specialization are vital components for      species of Momordica and two varie-
out by Bryan Wells.                        pollination. Kishore et al. (page 193)       ties of Momordica charantia was un-
   The Identical looking texts found       report functional specialization in A.       dertaken and 56 cross-combinations
from the two major metropolitan cities,    subulatum in recruiting specific polli-      were generated. Within the sect. Mo-
Mohenjodaro and Harappa reveal that        nators and in exhibiting pollination         mordica, high crossability and pollen
a common script was in practice and        syndrome. Among diverse assemblages          fertility was observed in the inter-
used to represent a multiplicity of lan-   of animals only native bumble-bees           varietal cross, whereas low crossability
guages. The authors could trace the        (Bombus braviceps Smith and Bombus           and moderate pollen fertility was ob-
origin of the ancient and modern           haemorrhoidalis Smith) acted as effec-       served in the inter-specific cross. No
Indian language scripts from Indus         tive pollinators in terms of visitation      crossability barriers were found within
writing. They believe that the short       frequency, pollination efficiency, pol-      the sect. Cochinchinensis, except for
text bearing seals were used for the       lination potential index, pollen deliv-      the combinations, viz. M. cochin-
purpose of propagating literacy among      ery and fruit set, whereas Udapses           chinensis × M. dioica and M. cochin-
people. A judicious grouping of one or     folus and Macroglossum sp. acted as          chinensis × M. sahyadrica. M. dioica
more of these medial-vowel signs to-       nectar robbers and Apis cerena and           and M. sahyadrica showed higher
gether with other signs representing       Episyrphus balteatus were pollen-            crossability with M. subangulata
consonants yield one-to-one corre-         resource wasters. Moreover, native           subsp. renigera (both directions) and
spondence with the consonant–vowel         bumble-bees were the sole functional         M. cochinchinensis (unidirectional).
sequence for the presence of Tamil,        group that increased the plant’s fitness     Cross between the sect. Momordica
Kannada, Telugu, Prakrit and Sanskrit      by being the ‘most effective pollina-        and Cochinchinensis yielded partheno-
like orthographic features. The genesis    tors’. There was a clear indication that     carpic fruits. M. cymbalaria (sect.
of Brahmi and Kharosthi script is also     except bumble-bees, no visitor con-          Raphanocarpus) was neither crossable
traced from Indus text.                    tributed differentially to the selective     with sect. Momordica nor sect.
   The conjunct consonants made up of      pressure exerted via the reproductive        Cochinchinensis. Based on cross-
more than one consonant also occur in      success of the plant. Moreover, floral       ability, a closer relationship was found
Indus text. A comparison with the actual   traits respond differentially to selective   between two varieties of bitter melon
number of consonant–vowel combina-         pressure and contribute more towards         (var. charantia and var. muricata) and
tion in Kannada agrees with the num-       functional specialization and in turn        also between M. charantia and M. bal-
ber of unique signs that precede with      pollination syndrome. Medium tongue          samina. All dioecious species included
the medial-vowel sign in Indus text.       length and proficient nectar-foraging        in this study appear to be closely re-
An indication of script reformation that   behaviour made bumble-bees the most          lated. The results sustain the recent
took place in Harappan province is         effective pollen vectors. Whereas low        taxonomic classification of the genus
also revealed. The semblance to the        secretion rate of nectar during morning      and present evidence on species rela-
Dravidian languages is ascertained by      hours could be the strategy of plants to     tionships within the genus Momordica.
identifying the short vowels for ‘e’ and   bring about pollination effectively by       See page 178.
122                                                                            CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 103, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2012

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