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5,000 Atal Tinkering labs to be set up by March 2019


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ATLs, AIM, etc.

Mains level: Aim of the ATLs.


Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs)

  1. The NITI Aayog will set up 5,000 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) by March 2019 covering all districts in the country
  2. Aim: To promote innovation among students
  3. The goal of the student innovator programme is to test the innovations in the community
  4. Students will be trained on business and entrepreneurship skills, including intellectual property, effective communication, making an elevator pitch and so on

Part of the Atal Innovation Mission

  1. NITI Aayog had in December selected an additional 1,500 schools for setting up ATLs under the government’s flagship programme Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) taking the total number of such labs to 2,441

The innovation marathon

  1. The NITI Aayog had recently organised the innovation marathon to identify India’s best student innovators across six different thematic areas including clean energy, water resources, waste management, healthcare, smart mobility and agri-tech

More about the ATL labs

  1. Atal Tinkering Labs are innovation play workspaces for students between grade 8 to 12, stimulating innovations combining science and technology
  2. Their aim is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in schools, universities and industry

Atal Innovation Mission

  1. NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission is among one of the flagship programs of the Government of India to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country to set up the Atal Tinkering Labs across the country

Jaipur Foot to be exhibited at the U.N.

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Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jaipur Foot, Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS)

Mains level: Various innovations in India for helping underprivileged sections of society


Exhibiting philanthropy

  1. The world-famous and most widely used artificial limb, Jaipur Foot, will be exhibited at the United Nations headquarters in New York
  2. The event will be the first of its kind in the U.N.
  3. Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) has been giving aids and appliances free of cost to the beneficiaries

About the exhibition

  1. The seminar and exhibition will highlight India’s contribution in providing mobility and dignity to the differently abled
  2. The Jaipur Foot has benefited 17 lakh people across the world and has its presence in 29 countries
  3. The BMVSS has recently entered into an agreement with the Ministry of External Affairs for holding camps abroad


Jaipur Foot

  1. The Jaipur Foot, also known as the Jaipur Leg, is a rubber-based prosthetic leg for people with below-knee amputations
  2. Designed in and named after Jaipur, India, the prosthetic leg was designed to be inexpensive, water-resistant, and quick to fit and manufacture
  3. The Jaipur Foot is made of polyurethane
  4. It is fitted free of cost by Bhagwan Mahavir Viklang Sahyata Samiti
  5. The government of India supports Bhagwan Mahavir Viklang Sahyata Samiti with financial aid to carry out the work done by the organization

[pib] Innovate in India for Inclusiveness Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Innovate in India for Inclusiveness Project

Mains level: Initiatives to promote innovation in India


  • A Loan Agreement for IBRD credit of US$ 125 for the “Innovate in India for Inclusiveness Project” was signed with the World Bank.
  • The Objectives of the project is to nurture indigenous innovation, foster local product development and accelerate commercialization process by bridging critical skill and infrastructure gaps to promote affordable and innovative healthcare products generation for inclusive development and increasing competitiveness in India.
  • The project would support consortia of public, private, and the academic institutions to overcome the key market failures currently holding back the development of an innovative biopharmaceutical and medical devices industry in India.

The project consists of the following parts:

  • Strengthening of pilot-to market innovation ecosystem
  • Acceleration of the pilot –to-market process for specific products and
  • Project Management and monitoring & Evaluation.

National portal to share research facilities soon


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indian Science, Technology and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM), Indian Nanoelectronic Users Programme (INUP)

Mains level: Encouraging research in India and initiatives related to it


Collating information about scientific and research equipment

  1. Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE) at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru is in the process of collating information about scientific and research equipment and facilities available at academic institutions and research organisations across the country
  2. Researchers in any college or institution and research organisations will be able to check, reserve and have easy access to expensive research equipment and facilities anywhere in India

About the portal

  1. The portal — Indian Science, Technology and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM) — will soon become operational
  2. The institutions and organisations that have the equipment and facilities will provide access to researchers for both academic and non-academic work through an online reservation system
  3. It will provide access to researchers to any equipment or facility that has been procured using public funds

Replicating INUP model

  1. The project is trying to replicate the Indian Nanoelectronic Users Programme (INUP) model at CeNSE and IIT Bombay that has been in operation since 2008
  2. It provides access to sophisticated device fabrication and analytical equipment to any academic researcher in the country

[pib] Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC), 2018


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC), 2018

Mains level: Initiatives for disabled persons


  • Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC), 2018” will be held in New Delhi during 8th to 11th November 2018.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed between Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Rehabilitation International Korea.
  • GITC is being held every year in Asia- Pacific region and such events were held in the past in countries like Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam etc.
  • This competition is amongst four categories of disabilities namely, Physical, Visual, Hearing and Intellectual.
  • India is co-hosting the event along with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Korea and its organising partners namely Rehabilitation International Korea and LG Group. 

India ranks 10th on new commonwealth innovation index


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Commonwealth Innovation Index, Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), World Intellectual Property Organisation, Global Innovation Index, Global Innovation Fund, Commonwealth Innovation Fund

Mains level: Resurgence of commonwealth and India’s role in renewed organization


A new index for the Commonwealth

  1. India was today ranked 10th on a new Commonwealth Innovation Index
  2. The index was topped by the UK, Singapore, and Canada

Why new index?

  1. The index was launched as part of a new Commonwealth Innovation Hub on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)
  2. It has been created in partnership with the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and its annual Global Innovation Index (GII)
  3. It is aimed at providing a tool that allows member states, organizations and citizens to benchmark themselves against 53 countries of the Commonwealth

Global Innovation Fund (GIF)

  1. The Global Innovation Fund (GIF) will work as the delivery partner to host a new Commonwealth Innovation Fund (CIF)
  2. The GIF will manage the fund and its investments, which will be targeted at innovative projects across Commonwealth countries that “save and improve lives”

Work domain & corpus of the fund

  1. The CIF will deploy grant, equity, and debt investments to support innovators across the Commonwealth to accelerate the development, testing and scaling up of evidence-based and market-tested innovations
  2. The target size of the new fund, with financial commitments from member-countries, is expected to be 25 million pounds of initial funds

What are neutrinos and how are they detected?

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Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | developments & their applications & effects in everyday life

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India-based Neutrino Observatory, Neutrino, Big Bang

Mains level: INO and its work domain


India-based Neutrino Observatory

  1. In Theni district in Tamil Nadu, the India-based Neutrino Observatory is proposed to be set up
  2. The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) will study atmospheric neutrinos only
  3. Solar neutrinos have much lower energy than the detector can detect

What are neutrinos?

  1. Proton, neutron, and electron are tiny particles that make up atoms
  2. The neutrino is also a tiny elementary particle, but it is not part of the atom
  3. Neutrino has a very tiny mass, no charge and spin half
  4. It interacts very weakly with other matter particles

Origin of neutrino

  1. Neutrinos come from the sun (solar neutrinos) and other stars, cosmic rays that come from beyond the solar system, and from the Big Bang from which our Universe originated
  2. They can also be produced in the lab

Types of neutrino

  1. Neutrinos come in three types or “flavors” – electron neutrino, tau neutrino and muon neutrino
  2. They can change from one flavor to another as they travel
  3. This process is called neutrino oscillation and is an unusual quantum phenomenon

How are atmospheric neutrinos produced in nature?

  1. Atmospheric neutrinos are produced from cosmic rays which consist of protons and heavy nuclei
  2. These collide with atmospheric molecules such as Nitrogen to give off pions and muons which further decay to produce neutrinos

Some immediately possible future applications of neutrino science

  1. Properties of the sun
  • The visible light that reaches us from the sun is emitted from the surface of the sun
  • The neutrinos which also take close to this time to reach us from the sun, known as solar neutrinos, were produced in the core of the sun. Therefore they give us information about the interior of the sun

2. What makes up the universe?

  • If the properties of neutrinos are understood better, they can be used in astronomy to discover what the universe is made up of
  • The extragalactic neutrinos may be coming from the distant past
  • These can give us a clue about the origin of the universe and the early stages of the infant universe

3. Medical Imaging

  • X-ray machines, PET scans, MRI scans, etc., all came out of research into particle detectors
  • The INO detectors may have applications in medical imaging

[op-ed snap] Forging a culture of innovation


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Innovation Index, intellectual property rights

Mains level: India’s position in innovation and measures required to promote innovation culture


Innovation culture in India

  1. India ranked third in the world in the number of science and technology PhDs awarded
  2. We have improved our ranking in the Global Innovation Index, from 66 to 60

Shortcomings in the innovation ecosystem

  1. There is no Indian university in the top hundred (QS World University Rankings, 2018)
  2. Only 46,904 patents were filed in India in 2016 whereas China filed over a million patents
  3. We have enabled an ethos of publishing, but not “patenting, publishing and prospering”

R&D sector not being given ample importance

  1. Only 26 Indian companies figure in the list of top 2,500 companies globally by R&D spend
  2. Our R&D activities still seem to be conducted in an ivory tower, instead of being market-focussed
  3. India’s R&D spending, as a percentage of GDP, still lags significantly, at 0.69% in 2015

Institutional constraints

  1. Patent pendency times in India are among the highest in the major economies
  2. There is a lack of transformative innovation across industries
  3. Over 77% of Indian venture capitalists believe that India lacks unique business models or new technologies

What needs to be done?

  1. India’s intellectual property rights (IPR) policy is ripe for transformation — requiring an amendment encouraging start-ups to utilize filed patents on an initial no-royalty basis
  2. We need to push beyond metrics, papers, and patents to focus on providing solutions to development and economic challenges
  3. A focus on building an innovation culture is necessary, particularly giving the transformative shifts under way in sectors critical to India’s economy
  4. Our innovation policy has to shift beyond a focus on increasing R&D spending to inculcating a mindset of “out-of-the-box” thinking in our universities, start-ups, and corporates
  5. India’s educational policies need to be redesigned, with a focus on building cognitive abilities, beyond rote learning and focus on quantitative subjects

Way Forward

  1. The impact of R&D spending on shifting a nation’s trajectory from a commodity-based growth to one based on capital and IP is well-noted
  2. For a nation whose public debate is often given to recalling innovations in our historical and mythological past, the future state of India’s R&D activities demands significant attention

[pib] Atal New India Challenges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), Atal New India Challenges

Mains level: Promoting innovation and indigenization of technology to solve day to day problems


  • The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) of the NITI Aayog announced to launch the Atal New India Challenges.
  • Under the Atal New India Challenge AIM will invite prospective innovators/MSMEs/start-ups to  design market-ready products, using cutting edge technologies or prototypes across 17 identified focus areas
  • The programme is open to Indian companies registered under the Companies Act 1956/2013, primarily a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) as defined in the MSMED Act, 2006.
  • It is also open to Start-Ups, as defined by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Government or private R&D organizations, academic institutions, academicians, or even individual innovators are encouraged to apply, provided they partner with entities with appropriate manufacturing capabilities.
  • Applicants showing capability, intent, and potential to productize technologies will be awarded grants up to Rs. One crore.
  • This grant support will be supplemented by mentoring, hand holding, incubating and other support as needed at various stages of commercialisation. While generating wider deployment.

The focus areas are, namely:

  • Climate-smart agriculture
  • Fog vision system for road and rail
  • Prevention of Rail failure using emerging technologies
  • Predictive maintenance of Rolling Stock
  • Alternate fuel based transportation
  • Smart Mobility     
  • Electric Mobility
  • Safe transport
  • Instant Portable Water Quality Testing
  • Affordable Desalination / Recycling Technology
  • Waste management recycling / reuse
  • Garbage composition devices
  • Quality of compost
  • Decentralized composting
  • Mixing blades for composting
  • Waste in public spaces
  • Dissuading public littering

[pib] Grand Finale of the Smart India Hackathon 2018


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Smart India Hackathon,

Mains level: Schemes to promote innovation in India


Related Ministry/Department:- Ministry of Human Resource Development

  • India hosted world’s largest event of its kind– the two-day grand finale of Smart India Hackathon 2018 (Software Edition).
  • It is being held at 28 nodal centres across the country simultaneously.
  • SIH-2018 comprises of two competitions – Software Hackathon and Hardware Hackathon
  • The final round of Hardware Hackathon competition will be conducted in the month of June 2018.
  • 27 innovations made by students during the last year Smart India Hackathon are in the final stage and ready for deployment.
  • All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in collaboration with i4c, MyGov, Persistent Systems and Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhin is organizing Smart India Hackathon 2018. 
  • 27 Union Ministries and Departments and 17 State Governments having joined this grand initiative.
  • During the software edition grand finale, teams of technology students will build innovative digital solutions for problems posed by different Central Govt. Ministries/ Departments. 
  • Winners stand to get cash prizes and a chance to be part of the NASSCOM’s 10,000 Startup program.

[pib] India-Based Neutrino Observatory


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO)

Mains level: Major scientific projects in India


  • Nod has been provided for setting up of India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) surface facilities & for setting up of the National Centre for High Energy Physics-INO Centre. Accordingly, Government of Tamil Nadu had allotted land of 26.8 ha.
  • The INO is estimated to be operationalized seven years after obtaining all statutory clearances


India Neutrino Observatory (INO)

  • A world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approx.1200 m for non-accelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India.
  • The Primary aims of the INO are the following :
    Research to study the properties of neutrinos which are the second most abundant particles in the Universe.  They are elementary particles, like electrons, but not part of atoms.
    Study of matter effects through electric charge identification, that may lead to the determination of the unknown sign of one of the mass differences.
    Study of charge-conjugation and charge parity (CP) violation in the leptonic sector as well as possible charge-conjugation, parity, time-reversal (CPT) violation studies.
    Study of Kolar events, possible identification of very-high energy neutrinos and multi-muon events.
  • The project aims at carrying out These particles were created in large numbers during the Big Bang that led to the creation of the universe. They also continue to get created when the cosmic rays interact with the atmosphere. Scores of neutrinos pass through the human body without causing any harm because they hardly interact with matter.
  • Neutrinos are neutral particles and weakly interactive particles which are very difficult to detect. Therefore, they need a massive detector.

[pib] Smart India Hackathon-2018


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Smart India Hackathon (SIH), Startup India, Standup India

Mains level: Government initiatives to promote innovation


  • Smart India Hackathon (SIH) – 2018 was organized by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) under the aegis of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  • SIH- 2018 harnesses creativity and expertise of students, builds a funnel for ‘Startup India, Standup India’ campaign, crowdsources solutions for improving governance and quality of life, and provides opportunity to Students to provide innovative solutions to India’s daunting problems

MoSPI has identified the following 10 problems in different areas of Official Statistics:

  1. Consumer Price (CPI) data collection for Rural & Urban Sectors through mobile-based application software [CPIAPP(R) & CPIAPP (U)].
  2. International Comparison Program (ICP) data collection through mobile-based application software [(CPAPP)].
  3. Sub-national PPP data collection through mobile-based application software [(SNPPPAPP)]
  4. Online data dissemination and dynamic costing though web portal
  5. Engagement Management System (EMS) through an Application for Desktop as well as Mobile-phones.
  6. Estimation of trade Margins
  7. Automated Compilation of ASI Schedules (AUDYOGIC)
  8. Rural Price Collection through APP (RUPICOM)
  9. Digitization of Aerial frame using mobile application (DIGIFRAME)
  10. GPS based technique for improving Land Use Survey in ICS Scheme (LAKSHYA)

Neutrino project in Bodi hills gets environmental clearance

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Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (Infra 2), Mathikettan Shola National Park, National Board for Wild Life

Mains level: Scientic advances in India


The Neutrino Observatory project

  1. The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project has got a fresh lease of life
  2. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has taken it up as a special case and granted it environmental clearance to set up the lab in Bodi West Hills
  3. MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (Infra 2), after detailed deliberations on the proposal and submissions by the project proponent, recommended this at its meeting on March 5
  4. The previous EC granted in 2011 was quashed by the courts

Biodiversity and pollution concerns

  1. The Mathikettan Shola National Park in Idukki district, Kerala, is situated within five km from the project site
  2. The panel was informed that there was no scope for radioactivity and leaching of water
  3. Studies showed there would be no impact of blasting on any habitation in the vicinity

Further clearances needed

  1. The consent to establish and operate needs to be obtained from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB)
  2. Also, the INO team has to obtain the necessary forest and National Board for Wild Life clearances as per law

MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (Infra 2)

  1. The Expert Appraisal Committee Infra 2 of the Ministry of Environment and Forests deals with projects related to all ship breaking yard including shipbreaking unit, airport, common hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities, ports and harbours, aerial ropeways, Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP), common municipal solid waste management facility, building/construction projects, townships and area development projects


India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO)

  1. India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is a particle physics research project under construction to primarily study atmospheric neutrinos in a 1,300 meters (4,300 ft) deep cave under Ino Peak near Theni, Tamil Nadu, India
  2. This project is notable in that it is anticipated to provide a precise measurement of neutrino mixing parameters
  3. The project is a multi-institute collaboration and one of the biggest experimental particle physics projects undertaken in India
  4. When completed, the main magnetized iron calorimeter (ICAL) experiment will include the world’s largest magnet, four times larger than the 12,500-tonne magnet in the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland
  5. The initial goal of INO is to study neutrinos
  6. Neutrinos are fundamental particles belonging to the lepton family. They come in three flavors, one associated with electrons and the others with their heavier cousins the muon and the Tau
  7. Recent experiments indicate that these charge-neutral fundamental particles have finite but small mass which is unknown

[op-ed snap] Why digital protectionism will not work for India


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy & their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Intellectual property (IP)

Mains level: Rising protectionism across the world and its impact on India


Trade war on the horizon

  1. The White House is now considering punitive measures against China for its alleged theft of intellectual property (IP)
  2. This comes on the heels of an investigation by the US trade representative’s office

Does digital protectionism work?

  1. The success of Japan’s automakers and South Korea’s electronics chaebol can be seen
  2. Both were protected by their governments for many years
  3. China has made digital protectionism work thus far

Problems with protectionism

  1. It slows innovation and productivity growth
  2. It leads to inefficient capital allocation
  3. It limits consumers’ options
  4. It also promotes crony capitalism

Falling into the protectionist trap

  1. For India, it would be a mistake to fall into the protectionist trap
  2. China’s unique political and economic models make its policies inimitable
  3. Its economic heft has incentivized foreign companies to grin and bear it
  4. Any such attempt to throw up barriers would run the risk of being dangerously counterproductive
  5. With regulatory barriers and uncertainty, India would start looking considerably less attractive as an investment destination
  6. India’s information technology companies have been successful over the past few decades because of their openness to international trade and investment

What can India do?

  1. India must adopt a nuanced approach while the US and China slug it out
  2. Concerns such as user privacy should be addressed
  3. A taxonomy of data would be useful, with commercial and industrial data treated differently from private data
  4. At both the Central and state levels in India, governments could focus on Public sector research and development

Way forward

  1. Creating the appropriate ecosystems for innovation will have a far larger payoff than withdrawing into the protectionism
  2. India has the chance to get in on the ground floor of the digital economy and it should take it

[op-ed snap] First, the basic sciences


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Issues related to low investment in the field of basic sciences(in India).


Are Indians investing enough in science, and how should this investment be apportioned?

  1. As per data provided by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, India invests about 0.8% of its GDP on research and development, and supports 156 researchers per million of population
  2. The figures for China are 2%, and 1,113, respectively. China’s investment is now comparable to any developed country, with Germany standing at 2.9% and 4,363 researchers and the U.S. at 2.8% and 4,231
  3. In 2000, China had invested only about 0.9% of its GDP on research and development, but this was steadily ramped up and in 2010 stood at 1.71%
  4. India invested 0.74% in 2000, and increased this to 0.82% in 2010. While China took it up to 2.1% in 2016, in India it came down to 0.63% in 2015
  5. These figures ignore the reality of what science has become in the last two decades

We can learn from the History

  1. The Raman effect, discovered by C.V. Raman, the only Indian Nobel Laureate in Physics, is a widely used tool of analysis in chemistry and physics
  2. It was discovered on February 28, 1928 with relatively meagre resources available in the labs set up by Raman

Today’s situation is somewhat different

  1. Today, while there is theoretical and even experimental work that can be done by small groups with a low budget
  2. But many pressing problems in science demand larger investments, including resources, funding and human capital

Difficulties in copying ISRO’s success

  1. The Indian Space Research Organisation has quietly and efficiently carried out large projects, but such projects have not been exactly welcomed in basic sciences
  2. Bigger projects involve coordination of the work of several hundred people and international collaborations; they need physical space and funding
  3. They challenge the mindset of doing science in isolation, within labs, and as unnoticed by society as possible

The way forward

  1. To develop a meaningful and scientific handle over impending crises, India needs to invest more widely and deeply in scientific enterprise

INSPIRE: a scheme that draws scientists but leaves them in the lurch


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: INSPIRE scheme

Mains level: Problems prevailing in innovation ecosystem


Scheme having big flaws

  1. The INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research) Faculty scheme selects promising research scholars under 32
  2. It is now drawing flak with complaints of harassment, tardy fund disbursal and concerns that the scheme hasn’t catalyzed enough jobs

Why this scheme?

  1. The scheme was conceived in 2008 amid concerns that not enough talented students were opting for research careers in basic sciences
  2. It was perceived that students were being lured away by higher salaries in banking, information technology, and management

Problems in scheme

  1. The candidates are selected via a three-stage interview by the Indian National Science Academy
  2. From the 10,919 applications since the scheme’s inception in 2011, only 1,234 or about 11%, have been offered the fellowship
  3. Of these 951 joined and as of December only 394 or about 40% have landed permanent faculty positions

Systemic problem in higher education

  1. Several vacancies lie abound in colleges
  2. As per the University Grants Commission, of the 9,878 Assistant Professor positions 2,457 are vacant
  3. Universities frequently have opaque hiring procedures and “corruption” is rife at several State universities


INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research)

  1. It  is an innovative programme sponsored and managed by the Department of Science & Technology for attraction of talent to Science
  2. The basic objective of INSPIRE is to communicate to the youth of the country the excitements of creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age and thus build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R&D base
  3. A striking feature of the programme is that it does not believe in conducting competitive exams for identification of talent at any level
  4. It believes in and relies on the efficacy of the existing educational structure for identification of talent

[pib] Atal Innovation Mission selects additional 1500 schools for setting up of Atal Tinkering Labs across India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Atal Innovation Mission, Atal Tinkering Labs, Adaptive learning, Artificial intelligence, 3D printers, Robotics, Internet of Thing

Mains level: Measures being undertaken to promote innovation in India


  • NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), Government of India’s flagship program to promote innovation and entrepreneurship nationwide in schools, universities and industry, has selected additional 1500 Schools for the establishment of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs)
  • The addition of these schools will give a major boost to realize the vision of the mission to ‘Cultivate One Million children in India

Atal Tinkering Labs

  • ATLs are innovation play workspaces for students between Grade VI to Grade XII, stimulating innovations combining science & technology.
  • These open-ended innovation workspaces are equipped with state of the art technologies like 3D printers, Robotics, Sensor Technology Kits, Internet of Things, miniaturized Electronics etc enable the students to learn and solve local community problems using emerging Technologies
  • Students are encouraged to explore and experience Design Thinking and Innovation, using a do-it-yourself approach, and develop innovative solutions to India’s social, community or economic problems


  • Will transform Young students to Young Innovators
  • This will be a big opportunity for students to build the ‘New India’ of their dreams by 2022.
  • The active participation by Schools and their students in ATL will power the transformations of ‘New India’ through their creativity and innovation.
  • The labs are designed to spur the spark of creativity and go beyond regular curriculum and text book learning
  • The labs will also enable students to explore skills of future such as design and computational thinking, adaptive learning and artificial intelligence

[pib] India ranked 60th most innovative country on the Global Innovation Index-2017


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Innovation Index (GII), India Innovation Index, Smart India Hackathon, IMPRINT, Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY), Start-Up India initiative

Mains level: Measures being undertaken to improve innovation ecosystem


  1. India currently ranks 60th out of 127 countries on the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2017 as compared to 66th rank on GII 2016.
  2. In order to make India an innovation-driven economy, NITI Aayog, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) together launched a mega initiative “India Innovation Index” that will rank states on Innovations through country’s first online innovation index portal that will capture data on innovation from all Indian states on innovation and regularly update it in real time.


  1. The Smart India Hackathon and Smart India Hardware Hackathon have been launched to improve the innovative abilities of the students in the Higher Education Institutions
  2. The Smart India Hackathon has received huge response when it was launched in 2017 and this would be continued as annual event

Other measures

  1. The Government is promoting research parks (RPs) and technology business incubators (TBIs) which would nurture and promote the innovative ideas till they become commercial ventures
  2. The projects for promoting research and innovation like the IMPRINT and Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) have brought focused attention of the scientific community on the need for promoting innovation
  3. The Start-Up India initiative of the Government has also put in place a mechanism for identifying and incubating the innovative ideas

[op-ed snap] An opportunity for India

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Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The importance of Clinical Trials, and steps taken by the government regarding the trials



  1. The article talks about the importance of Clinical Trials in India

Right time to create Clinical Trials

  1. India has a huge talent pool and growing demand for innovation in drugs and medical devices to address the rising disease burden
  2. And it is time we created a favourable environment for clinical trials in the country
  3. Why we need these trials: There is a steep rise in both communicable and non-communicable diseases in the country, across all age groups
  4. To counter this rising burden of disease, there is a compelling need for local clinical trials

India is lagging behind

  1. Despite the pressing demand for clinical trials, after a peak in 2009-2010, the clinical research sector in India is continually contracting
  2. According to the Journal of Clinical Research and Bioethics , India represents 17.5% of the world’s population but conducts only 1.4% of global clinical research
  3. This is unfortunate, considering we have all the requisite factors, such as English-speaking health-care professionals, a large number of experts, etc.

Why are we lagging behind?

  1. Because the regulatory system in India for clinical research has become increasingly a deterrent for biopharmaceutical- and device-companies which sponsor clinical trials
  2. The existing legal framework lacks credibility, in terms of predictability and transparency, in the criteria and protocols governing clinical research
  3. Data suggest that improvements in the overall policy environment can have a significant impact on attracting and securing greater investment and the associated economic gains

Misunderstanding regarding Clinical Trials

  1. Clinical trials also seem to be misunderstood in the media and have sometimes been portrayed as experimental procedures
  2. Admittedly, there have also been instances of lapses in confidentiality or non-adherence to protocols or shortcomings in getting informed consent from participants and these are to be totally condemned
  3. But everyone conducting clinical trials must not be looked at with suspicion

Efforts done by the Government

  1. Policies: Recognising the importance of local clinical trials in developing better and safer drugs, the Government of India is now working on new policies
  2. The policies can ensure swift approvals to begin clinical trials without making compromises on patient safety
  3. Steps taken: The Government has taken steps such as
    (1) recognising ethics committees,
    (2) centralising a system whereby adverse side-effects can be appropriately investigated by the Drugs Controller General of India and
    (3) formally recognising centres which are capable of conducting clinical trials in accord with regulations

The way forward

  1. To reap the benefits of clinical trials, our objective should be to bring about more clinical research in the country while maintaining high standards to ensure patient safety and accuracy of data
  2. To further speed up the availability of new and effective drugs, the Government has proposed waiving off clinical trials for those drugs that have already proved their efficacy in developed markets
  3. Hopefully, increasing political will to create a favourable environment for research by foreign investors
  4. And to give domestic research and development the essential push, we will be able to build a stronger research ecosystem


Clinical Trials

  1. Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans
  2. These studies also may show which medical approaches work best for certain illnesses or groups of people. Clinical trials produce the best data available for health care decisionmaking
  3. The purpose of clinical trials is research, so the studies follow strict scientific standards. These standards protect patients and help produce reliable study results
  4. Clinical trials are one of the final stages of a long and careful research process
  5. The process often begins in a laboratory (lab), where scientists first develop and test new ideas

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Task force to evolve steps to boost India’s innovation ecosystem

  1. What? DIPP has decided to set up a Task Force on Innovation comprising members from the industry and the government
  2. Why? To assess India’s position as an innovative country, suggest measures to enhance the innovation eco-system and thus improve the country’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index (GII)
  3. India’s ranking in GII-2016 rose 15 places to 66th position

Discuss: It is said that innovation is transforming the way we live and produce. Discuss the impact of innovation on production and living standards with special reference to Indian context.

Govt to set up panel for improving India’s innovation ranking

  1. Aim: To identify, and expeditiously implement, measures to improve India’s innovation ranking
  2. Context: Recently released Global Innovation Index (GII) Report 2016, which shows India jumping 15 spots to a rank of 66 (from 81 in 2015) after five consecutive years of decline

Low govt effectiveness, infra scores check India’s progress on innovation index

  1. News: Despite rising 15 places from 81 last year to 66 in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2016, India continues to lag in several areas important for growth of business and industry
  2. Govt effectiveness: Quality of civil services and independence from political pressures and the quality of policy formulation and implementation; India is ranked at 82, the same as last year
  3. Rule of law: quality of contract enforcement, property rights, the police, and courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence; India has moved down from 63 last year to 66 now
  4. Infrastructure: India has stayed put in the 87th rank, not having progressed in the use of information technology

India climbs up in innovation ranking

  1. News: India climbed 15 spots, from 81 last year, to 66 in the Global Innovation Index (GII) and maintained the top spot in the Central and South Asia regions
  2. GII: Released by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  3. India: Scored high on tertiary education and R&D, the quality of its universities and scientific publications, its market sophistication
  4. Ranks first in the world in information and communication technology service exports
  5. Ranks second on innovation quality among middle-income economies, overtaking Brazil

NITI Aayog Launches the Grand Innovation Challenge

  1. News: NITI Aayog launched Grand Innovation Challenge to seek citizens inputs on the key developmental challenges facing India
  2. It is launched on the MyGov portal, to involve citizens at the very first stage in innovating for India’s development
  3. NITI Aayog is leading this goal for India by formulating guidelines for implementing the Atal Innovation Mission
  4. Purpose: To work together with the States and every citizen as Team India to ensure progress. leaving no one behind
  5. Focus: On the social sector and the most vulnerable sections

India ranks 54th in internal policy support to global innovation

  1. Study by: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a global technology policy think tank
  2. Base: Assessing 56 countries – comprising close to 90 per cent of the world’s economy
  3. Criteria: The extent to which economic and trade policies contribute to and detract from innovation globally, on per capita basis
  4. Finding: Strong correlation between countries’ contributions to global innovation and their levels of domestic innovation success
  5. Call of the study: Leading nations should set up a Global Science and Innovation Foundation to fund scientific and engineering research on key challenges

Dept of Biotech and BIRAC to Participate in the Bharat Innovation Fund

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), along with the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), has announced its participation in the Bharat Innovation Fund.

  1. The DBT will engage with the Bharat Fund, as part of DBT’s efforts under the Startup India initiative, to help commercialize technologies from its labs and facilities.
  2. The DBT has announced to invest Rs. 50 crore over the next 3 years to support startups through this Fund.
  3. Productive innovations from the DBT can make a huge impact in people’s lives, as has been seen in the advances of medicine in recent years.

Govt. to introduce portal to support innovation

  1. A separate portal would be established under Department of Electronics and IT, aiming to push innovation in the country.
  2. It will enable innovators to seek govt. support for their ideas and products.
  3. Anyone who innovates can put up his innovation on the portal and the department will follow it.
  4. The grassroots level innovation built in such a manner will lead the way towards achieving a truly Digital India.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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