Promoting Science and Technology – Missions, Policies & Schemes

18th May 2021
 

National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications (NM-QTA)

About NM-QTA

  • The mission will function under the Department of Science & Technology (DST).
  • It will be able to address the ever-increasing technological requirements of society and take into account the international technology trends.
  • The mission will help prepare next-generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development.

Recent applications

  • Recently, DRDO has successfully demonstrated communication between its two labs using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology.
  • In June 2020, China demonstrated quantum communication technology using the satellite Micius, by conducting a secret conference between two ground stations about 1,120 km apart.
  • They used the satellite not to transmit the entire communication, but to simultaneously send a pair of secret keys to the two ground stations.
  • Other potential applications include secure communication, fast computers that established quantum supremacy, sensors, and quantum-inspired devices.

Quantum Technology

  • Quantum Technology is based on the principles of quantum theory, which explains the nature of energy and matter on the atomic and subatomic level.
  • It concerns the control and manipulation of quantum systems, with the goal of achieving information processing beyond the limits of the classical world.
  • Its principles will be used for engineering solutions to extremely complex problems in computing, communications, sensing, chemistry, cryptography, imaging and mechanics.
  • This key ability makes quantum computers extremely powerful compared to conventional computers when solving certain kinds of problems like finding prime factors of large numbers and searching for large databases.

What is Quantum Mechanics?

  • It is a fundamental theory in physics which describes nature at the smallest – including atomic and subatomic – scales.
  • At the scale of atoms and electrons, many of the equations of classical mechanics, which describe how things move at everyday sizes and speeds, cease to be useful.
  • In classical mechanics, objects exist in a specific place at a specific time.
  • However, in quantum mechanics, objects instead exist in a haze of probability; they have a certain chance of being at point A, another chance of being at point B and so on.

Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP), 2020

Aim: To identify and address the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian STI ecosystem to catalyse socio-economic development of the country and also make the Indian STI ecosystem globally competitive.

The philosophy behind

  • Unlike previous STI policies which were largely top-driven in the formulation, this policy follows core principles of being decentralized, evidence-informed, bottom-up, experts-driven, and inclusive.
  • It aims to be dynamic, with a robust policy governance mechanism that includes periodic review, evaluation, feedback, adaptation and, most importantly, a timely exit strategy for policy instruments.
  • The STIP will be guided by the vision of positioning India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade to come; to attract, nurture, strengthen, and retain critical human capital through a people-centric STI ecosystem

The Open Science Framework

Open Science fosters more equitable participation in science through-

  • Increased access to research output;
  • Greater transparency and accountability in research; inclusiveness;
  • Better resource utilization through minimal restrictions on reuse of research output and infrastructure and
  • Ensuring a constant exchange of knowledge between the producers and users of knowledge

Inclusion principles

  • The STIP proposes that at least 30 per cent representation be ensured for women in all decision-making bodies, as well as “spousal benefits” are provided to partners of scientists belonging to the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Among the proposals in the policy is the removal of bars on married couples being employed in the same department or laboratory.
  • As of now, married couples are not posted in the same department, leading to cases of loss of employment or forced transfers when colleagues decide to get married.
  • The policy says that for age-related cut-offs in matters relating to the selection, promotion, awards or grants, the “academic age” and not the biological age would be considered.

Funding improvements

  • At 0.6% of GDP, India’s gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) is quite low compared to other major economies that have a GERD-to-GDP ratio of 1.5% to 3%.
  • This can be attributed to inadequate private sector investment (less than 40%) in R&D activities in India; in technologically advanced countries, the private sector contributes close to 70% of GERD.
  • STIP has made some major recommendations in this regard, such as the expansion of the STI funding landscape at the central and state levels.
  • It has enhanced incentivisation mechanisms for leveraging the private sector’s R&D participation through boosting financial support and fiscal incentives for industry.

40th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica (ISEA)

  • The Indian Antarctic Program is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional program under the control of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • It was initiated in 1981 with the first Indian expedition to Antarctica.
  • The program gained global acceptance with India’s signing of the Antarctic Treaty and subsequent construction of the Dakshin Gangotri Antarctic research base in 1983, superseded by the Maitri base from 1990.
  • The newest base commissioned in 2015 is Bharati, constructed out of 134 shipping containers.

Indian mission on the Arctic

  • Himadri Station is India’s first Arctic research station located at Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway. It is located at the International Arctic Research base, Ny-Ålesund.
  • It was inaugurated on the 1st of July, 2008 by the Minister of Earth Sciences. It is followed by IndARC.
  • The United States Geological Survey estimates that 22% of the world’s oil and natural gas could be located beneath the Arctic.
  • ONGC Videsh has signed joint venture with Russia for oil exploration there.

Digital Ocean’: the Digital Platform for Ocean Data Management

Digital Ocean

  • Digital Ocean is a first of its kind digital platform for Ocean Data Management.
  • The platform will be promoted as a platform for capacity building on Ocean Data Management for all Indian Ocean Rim countries.
  • It would help share ocean knowledge about the ocean with a wide range of users including research institutions, operational agencies, strategic users, the academic community, and the maritime industry and policymakers.
  • It also provides free access to information to the general public and the common man.
  • It will play a central role in the sustainable management of our oceans and expanding ‘Blue Economy’ initiatives.

Its’ features

  • It includes a set of applications developed to organize and present heterogeneous oceanographic data by adopting rapid advancements in geospatial technology.
  • It facilitates:
  1. Online interactive web-based environment for data integration,
  2. 3D and 4D (3D in space with time animation) data visualization,
  3. Data analysis to assess the evolution of oceanographic features,
  4. Data fusion and multi-format download of disparate data from multiple sources viz., in-situ, remote sensing, and model data, all of which is rendered on a georeferenced 3D Ocean

Certification of ‘Quantum Entanglement’

What is Quantum Entanglement (QE)?

  • QE is the name given to a special connection between pairs or groups of quantum systems, or any objects described by quantum mechanics.
  • It is one of the biggest parts of quantum mechanics that makes it hard to understand in terms of the everyday world.
  • When we look at particles, we usually say that each particle has its own quantum state. Sometimes, two particles can act on one another and become an entangled system.
  • When a pair or group of particles can only be described by the quantum state for the system, and not by individual quantum states, we say the particles are “entangled”.

Going bit technical here-

  • It is the physical phenomenon that occurs when a pair or group of particles is generated; interact, in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the pair or group cannot be described independently of the state of the others.
  • Entangled states are key resources to facilitate many quantum information processing tasks and quantum cryptographic protocols.

Why decode the Entanglement?

  • Entanglement is fragile and is easily lost during the transit of photons through the environment.
  • Hence it is extremely important to know whether a pair of photons are entangled, in order to use them as a resource.
  • Verification of entanglement requires the use of measurement devices, but such devices may be hacked or compromised.

How to secure QE?

  • Device-independent self-testing (DIST) is a method that can be used in order to overcome such a possibility.
  • This method enables the verification of entanglement in an unknown quantum state of two photons without having direct access to the state, or complete trust in the measurement devices.
  • The theory relies on the application of the quantum uncertainty principle while implementing full device independence is a difficult task.

Shodh Shuddhi

Shodh Shuddhi

  • The union Ministry of HRD has launched the Plagiarism Detention Software (PDS) “Shodh Shuddhi”.
  • This service is being implemented by Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET), an Inter University Centre (IUC) of UGC.
  • PDS will significantly help to improve the quality of research outcome by ensuring the originality of ideas and publication of the research scholars.
  • Initially, about 1000 Universities/ Institutions (Central Universities; Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs); State Public Universities; Deemed Universities; Private Universities; Inter University Centre (IUCs) & Institutes of National Importance are being provided with this service.

What is Plagiarism?

  • Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.
  • Plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics.

Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)

  • International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is supposed to be a unique identity of a mobile phone device.
  • IMEI number being programmable, some miscreants do reprogram the IMEI number, which results in cloning of IMEI causing multiple phone devices with same IMEI number.
  • As on date, there are many cases of cloned/duplicated IMEI handsets in the network.
  • If such IMEI is blocked, a large number of mobile phones will get blocked being handsets with same IMEI causing inconvenience to many genuine customers.
  • Thus, there is a need to eliminate duplicate/fake IMEI mobile phones from the network.
  • Accordingly, a project called Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) system has been undertaken by the DoT for addressing security, theft and other concerns including reprogramming of mobile handsets.

Superconductivity

Superconductivity

  • Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance and expulsion of magnetic flux fields occurring in certain materials, called superconductors, when cooled below a characteristic critical temperature.
  • A material is said to be a superconductor if it conducts electricity with zero resistance to the flow of electrons.
  • Until now, scientists have been able to make materials superconduct only at temperature much below zero degree C and hence making practical utility very difficult.
  • They help build very high efficiency devices leading to huge energy savings.

Silver embedded gold matrix

  • The material that exhibited superconductivity is in the form of nanosized films and pellets made of silver nanoparticles embedded in a gold matrix.
  • Interestingly, silver and gold independently do not exhibit superconductivity.

Redefined units of measurement of kilogram, Kelvin, mole and ampere


  • The General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) at BIPM held on 16 November 2018 has unanimously adopted the resolution to redefine four of the seven base units.
  • These included kilogram (SI unit of weight), Kelvin (SI unit of temperature), mole (SI unit of amount of substance), and ampere (SI unit of current).
  • The new SI is being implemented worldwide from 20th May 2019 i.e. the World Metrology Day.

Global standards of Kg

  • The global standards for measurement are set by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), of which India became a member in 1957.
  • At BIPM in Sèvres, near Paris, stands a cylinder of platinum-iridium locked in a jar.
  • Since 1889, the kilogram has been defined as the mass of this cylinder, called Le Grand K, or International Prototype Kilogram (IPK).
  • In India, CSIR-NPL maintains the National Prototype Kilogram (NPK-57), which is calibrated with IPK.

Redifining Kg

  • The IPK was the last physical artifact used to define any of the fundamental units.
  • IPK would put on a little extra mass when tiny dust particles settled on it; when cleaned, it would shed some of its original mass.
  • Scientists have long stressed that the fundamental units should be defined in terms of natural constants.
  • On November 16, 2018 representatives of 60 countries agreed that the kilogram should be defined in terms of the Planck constant.
  • The Planck constant is a quantity that relates a light particle’s energy to its frequency.
  • Using a machine called a Kibble balance, in which the weight of a test mass is offset by an electromagnetic force, the value of the Planck constant was fixed, the kilogram was redefined.

How was this achieved?

  • The new definition for kilogram fits in with the modern definitions for the units of time (second) and distances (metre).
  • Today, the second is defined as the time it takes for a certain amount of energy to be released as radiation from atoms of Caesium-133.
  • By its modern definition, a metre is the distance travelled by light in vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second (which is already defined).
  • This is where the Planck constant comes in.
  • It has been measured precisely at 6.626069… × 10^(-34) kilograms per second per square metre.
  • With the second and the metre already defined, a very precise definition for the kilogram

Benefits of recalibration

  • What was 1 kg earlier is still 1 kg today. An updated kilogram doesn’t mean that weights everywhere will be thrown off balance.
  • All that has changed is the definition, for the sake of accuracy.
  • A mass measured as 1 kg earlier would have meant 1 kg, plus or minus 15-20 micrograms.
  • Using the new definition, a mass measured as 1 kg will mean 1 kg, plus or minus 1 or 2 nanograms.

About World Metrology Day

  • The World Metrology Day (WMD) is celebrated annually on this very day as the Metre Convention was signed by representatives of seventeen nations on May 20, 1875.
  • The Convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and in its industrial, commercial and societal applications.

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