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.
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.
Objectives of the project
Blocking of lost/stolen mobile phones across mobile networks thus discouraging theft of mobile phones
Facilitate in tracing of such reported lost/stolen mobile phones
Prevention of mobile devices with duplicate and fake IMEIs in the network
Curtail the use of counterfeit mobile devices
Reduced health risks to the users with the control of use of counterfeit mobile phones
Improved QoS and reduced call drops with reduction in use of counterfeit mobile devices
Researchers from IISc Bengaluru have confirmed that the material they tested exhibits major properties of superconductivity at ambient temperature and pressure.
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.
For the first time, Indian scientists will be mapping every single tissue of the human body to have deeper understanding of the roles of tissues and cells linked to various diseases.
Department of Biotechnology (DBT) launched MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative towards improving knowledge on human physiology.
MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative
It is a project funded by DBT, which aims at creating a database network of all tissues in the human body from the available scientific literature.
It is a project that involves scientific skill development for annotation, science outreach along with handling big data.
It will involve gaining better biological insights through physiological and molecular mapping, develop disease models through predictive computing and have a holistic analysis and finally drug discovery.
The student community, who will be the backbone on assimilating the information, will be trained and imparted with skills to perform annotation and curation of information that will ultimately form the online network.
DBT has invested funds shared between two institutions in Pune – National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) and Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune.
Besides, Persistent Systems Limited has co-funded the project and is developing the platform.
Who can participate in this project?
The project can be signed up by students who are in their final year graduation and above.
Students from the fields of biochemistry, biotechnology, microbiology, botany, zoology, bioinformatics, health sciences, systems biologists, pharmacologists and data sciences can associate with this project.
Even participants having a science background but not necessarily involved in active scientific research can be part of this network.
The MANAV team has encouraged colleges and universities to register as teams and work in this project.
Initially, DBT will accommodate colleges that operate the DBT Star College scheme to register for this Human Atlas programme. There is no restriction on the time period set for student participation.
How has the project been designed?
Once registered, the student groups will be assigned research papers or literature to be read in a time-bound manner.
They will be given training to perform annotation and curation activities using the specialised tools developed for this project.
Student groups, led by either by the HoDs or any senior researcher at the colleges, will be evaluated from time to time and their annotations will be reviewed by the trainer scientists, hailing from NCCS, IISER and other senior scientists from the team.
Presently, there are workshops organised to impart training to the teacher community who can then lead the student groups for this project.
Students will be issued certificates for their contributions based on the levels of expertise attained in annotation and for their acquired skills.
Initially, the project will focus on curating information revolving skin tissues.
Utility of the project
The aim of the project remains to understand and capture the human physiology in two stages – in a normal stage and while in a disease stage.
Such a database on individual tissues, once ready, can come handy in tracing the causes of a disease, understanding specific pathways and ultimately decode the body’s disease stage linked to tissues and cells.
The teams will also study any potent elements or molecules that have never been used in the form of drugs, to target the specific cells or tissues.
So far, researchers and students have had little or no expertise in reading scientific literature and develop or build further information on the same.
This platform will impart key skills to the student community to read classified scientific literature, in this case, on individual tissue-basis, and perform annotation and curation.
Since all the information generated will pass through multiple levels of reviews, it will be an Atlas or a reliable collection on human body tissues.
This collated data can be useful for both future researchers and parallelly, to the clinicians and drug developers, who finally handle human bodies in disease conditions.
Genetic studies on the people of the Lakshadweep archipelago was done by a team of CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), for the first time.
It has have shown that a majority of human ancestry in Lakshadweep is largely derived from South Asia with minor influences from East and West Eurasia.
And, there was no evidence of early human migration through the Lakshadweep islands.
Findings of the study
The islands are located between Africa and southwestern part of India.
Through our earlier studies we know that early human migration from Africa to Andaman and Australia happened through western coast of India.
So it was presumed that Lakshadweep Islands might have played a major role in early human migration and expected the presence of genetic signatures of ancient people, such as Andamanese and Australian aboriginals.
The study of major islands of Agatti, Andorth, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kiltan and Minicoy of Lakshadweep and demonstrated a close genetic link of Lakshadweep islanders with people from Maldives, Sri Lanka and India.
Why study Lakshadweep?
Lakshadweep is an archipelago of 36 islands, scattered over approximately 78,000 square km of the Arabian Sea, 200-440 kms off the south-western coast of India, with a population of approximately 65,000.
However, the genetic composition of the first human settlement of this archipelago is not clear.
The islands were known to sailors since ancient times and historical documents say that the spread of Buddhism to these islands happened during 6th century B.C. and Islam was spread by in 661 A.D. by Arabians.
Cholas ruled the islands in 11th century, Portuguese in 16th century, Ali Rajahs in 17th, Tipu Sultan in 18th before the British Raj of 19th century.
Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: District Cooling
Mains level: Optimization of energy use for govt. buildings
AP govt. is going to lay the foundation stone of India’s biggest district cooling system in Amaravati.
District cooling was first set up in India at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT).
The first phase of this system, with a capacity of 10,000 RTs, has been operational since April 2015.
What is District Cooling?
District cooling means the centralized production and distribution of cooling energy.
Chilled water is delivered via an underground insulated pipeline to office, industrial and residential buildings to cool the indoor air of the buildings within a district.
Specially designed units in each building then use this water to lower the temperature of air passing through the building’s air conditioning system.
The output of one cooling plant is enough to meet the cooling-energy demand of dozens of buildings.
District cooling can be run on electricity or natural gas, and can use either regular water or seawater.
Details of the AP Project
UAE-based company has entered into a 30-year concession with Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) to build, own, operate and transfer India’s first district cooling system in Amaravati.
The agreement is for a contracted cooling capacity of 20,000 refrigeration tons (RTs).
The district cooling system will cater to the state’s assembly, high court, secretariat and other government buildings currently being constructed, for which cooling services will start in early 2021.
Touted as a highly efficient, cost-effective form of air conditioning, district cooling uses only 50 per cent of primary energy consumption for cooling urban buildings thereby reducing carbon emissions.
Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments & their applications and effects in everyday life
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: DD Science and DD India
Mains level: National Science channel for India and its implications
Two new science communication platforms DD Science and India Science were launched by Minister for Science and Technology.
DD Science is a joint initiative of Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous organisation under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and public broadcaster, Doordarshan.
It is a one-hour slot on Doordarshan National channel, which will be telecast from Monday to Saturday from 5 pm to 6 pm.
DD Science service would be in Hindi in the beginning and efforts would be made to gradually expand its scope to have the programme telecast in other Indian languages as well.
India Science is an Internet-based science Over-The-Top (OTT) TV channel.
This 24×7 video platform is dedicated to science & technology knowledge dissemination, with a strong commitment to spreading scientific awareness.
It will be available on all internet-enabled devices.
It offers live, scheduled play and video-on-demand science programming.
Aims and Objectives
The two channels will have science-based documentaries, studio-based discussions, virtual walkthroughs of scientific institutions, interviews and short films and will be free to access.
The new initiatives are expected to be the first step in creating a national science channel for India.
It would help people understand the benefits of science and integrate it in their daily lives.
About Vigyan Prasar
Vigyan Prasar (VP) is an autonomous organization under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
The principal objective of VP is to serve India’s science popularization agenda.
This is achieved through several strategically important two – way stakeholder specific approaches to communicate about principles and practice of science and technology and implications for development and quality of life.
Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievement of Indians in science & technology
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Read the attached story
Mains level: The attached story provides a quick recap of all significant developments which were less highlighted in news
The year 2018 is ending with spectacular success of Indian scientists and technologists in space and defence sectors, with a series of high impact missions.
But that’s not all Indian scientists achieved in 2018.
Here is a collection of such stories that gives a glimpse of important developments by Indian scientists during the year.
A gel that can protect farmers from toxic pesticides
Most farmers do not wear any protective gear while spraying chemicals in fields, which often leads to pesticide exposure and toxicity.
Scientists at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Bangalore have developed a protective gel – poly-Oxime.
It can be applied on skin and can break down toxic chemicals into safe substances
This will prevent them from going deep into the skin and organs like the brain and the lungs.
World’s thinnest material with novel technique
Pushing the envelope in nanotechnology, researchers at the IIT Gandhinagar have developed a material that is 100,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.
They synthesized a two-dimensional material of just one-nanometer thickness (a human hair is about 80,000 nanometer wide) using Magnesium diboride – a compound of boron.
This is said to be the world’s thinnest material.
It can find a range of applications – from next-generation batteries to ultraviolet absorbing films.
Gene editing applied to banana genome
Using the gene editing technique – CRISPR/Cas9 – researchers at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute, Mohali have edited the banana genome.
This is the first such work in any fruit crop in India.
Banana is a the fourth most important food crop after wheat, rice and corn in terms of gross value of production.
Gene editing could be deployed for improving nutritional quality, agronomical important traits as well as pathogen resistance in banana.
Discoveries to tackle Zika, dengue, JE and chikungunya
The National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) at Manesar has figured out cellular and molecular mechanisms that show how Zika virus causes microcephaly or small head size in babies.
Researchers discovered that envelop protein of Zika virus affects proliferation rates of human neural stem cells and promotes premature but faulty neuron formation.
Another study led by scientist at the Regional Centre for Biotechnology, Faridabad has identified a key protein which helps dengue as well as Japanese Encephalitis viruses replication inside human body by inhibiting anti-viral cytokines.
This finding could pave way for development of targeted drugs for dengue and JE.
For detecting Chikungunya, a group of researchers have developed a biosensor using molybdenum disulphide nanosheets.
Faster diagnostic tests for tuberculosis
Scientists at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad and AIIMS, New Delhi have jointly developed highly sensitive and rapid tests for detection of TB infection.
The current test uses antibodies for detection of bacterial proteins in sputum samples.
New tests use Aptamer Linked Immobilized Sorbent Assay (ALISA) and Electrochemical Sensor (ECS) for detection of a bacterial protein in the sputum.
Space weather warning model rules out ‘mini ice age’
A team of scientists from the IISER Kolkata have dismissed the speculation that the upcoming sunspot cycle is going to be stronger, based on calculations using a model developed by them.
The near-Earth and inter-planetary space environmental conditions and solar radiative forcing of climate over the upcoming sunspot cycle 25 will likely be similar or marginally more extreme.
The method makes it possible to make predictions almost a decade before the next sunspot cycle activity peaks in strength.
New tool developed for autism screening
In many cases, autism is misdiagnosed as mental retardation and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Early identification and interventions may help children with autistic disorders.
To help this process, scientists at the GMCH, Chandigarh, have developed an Indian tool for screening children for autism.
The Chandigarh Autism Screening Instrument (CASI) is designed to help community health workers to carry out initial screening for autism.
Hope for Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s
Scientists at the IISc Bengaluru, have figured out the way memory deficit develops in early stages, resulting in Alzheimer’s disease.
They have found that early breaking down of a protein, fibrillar actin or F-actin, in the brain leads to disruption in communication among nerve cells and consequently memory deficits.
This knowledge can be used to develop early diagnosis test in future.
In another study done in fruit flies, researchers at Department of Genetics at Delhi University found that it was possible to restrict the progression of Huntington’s disease by increasing insulin signaling in the brain neuronal cells.
Green technique can address Plaster of Paris pollution
A team of scientists at Pune-based CSIR-NCL has developed a technique that helps recycle Plaster of Paris waste from hospitals in an eco-friendly and economical way.
The new technique disinfects waste and converts it into useful products like ammonium sulphate and calcium bicarbonate.
The technique can also be used to disintegrate PoP waste from idols immersed in water bodies.
Stone Age tools, genetic studies throw new light on peopling of India
The Stone Age tools discovered in a village near Chennai suggest that a Middle Palaeolithic culture was present in India around 385,000 years ago.
It is roughly the same time that it is known to have developed in Africa and in Europe.
The discovery pushes back the period when populations with a Middle Palaeolithic culture may have inhabited India.
It challenges popular theory that the Middle Palaeolithic was brought to India by modern humans dispersing from Africa only around 125,000 years ago or later.
In the North, a population genetic study has revealed that the Rors who inhabit modern Haryana came to the Indus Valley when it was flourishing during the Bronze Age and inducted West Eurasian genetic ancestry.
Computing capacity for weather forecasting gets a boost
During the year, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) upgraded its computing capacity for weather forecasting and climate monitoring.
It took its total high performance computing (HPC) power to as high as 6.8 Petaflop.
With this, India rose to the fourth position, next only to United Kingdom, Japan and USA in terms of dedicated capacity for HPC resources for weather and climate proposes.
Scientists use silk polymer to develop artificial vertebral disc
Scientists at IIT, Guwahati developed a silk-based bioartificial disc that may find use in disc replacement therapy in future.
The group has developed a fabrication procedure for a silk-based bioartificial disc adopting a “directional freezing technique”.
The disc mimics internal intricacy of human disc and its mechanical properties too are similar to those of the native ones.
The use of a silk biopolymer to fabricate a biocompatible disc can reduce the cost of artificial discs in future.
Transgenic rice with reduced arsenic accumulation, flowering mustard
To address the problem of arsenic accumulation in rice grains, researchers at Lucknow- based CSIR-NBRI developed transgenic rice.
They inserted a novel fungal gene, which results in reduced arsenic accumulation in rice grain.
They cloned Arsenic methyltransferase (WaarsM) gene from a soil fungus and inserted it into rice genome.
In another study, TERI School of Advanced Studies has developed an early flowering transgenic variety of mustard.
Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests
From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: International Telecommunication Union
Mains level: The trend of techplomacy and changes required in India’s foreign policy
Technology usage in diplomacy
As a far more sweeping technological revolution envelops the world today, governments are finding new ways to adapt
Whether it is in using social media to influence public opinion at home and abroad, conducting espionage on other states, securing one’s critical infrastructure against foreign interference, setting terms for cross-border data flows, governing the internet, countering terrorism, or preventing the militarization of Artificial Intelligence, all major governments are reorganising their diplomatic mechanisms
To enhance the effectiveness of its voice in the new domain, France appointed a full time “digital ambassador” in 2017
Denmark has set up offices of “TechPlomacy” in Silicon Valley, Copenhagen and Beijing
A major part of their mandate is to deal with technology giants like Google, Facebook and Alibaba and Huawei
India too needs to review and reorganise its technology diplomacy
History of technology usage in foreign policy
The slow pace of long-distance communication until the 19th century meant that ambassadors acted on their own
Because they had no way to get frequent instructions from the sovereign, they were conferred with the title “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary” and given the full authority to negotiate with the sovereigns to whom they were accredited
The communications revolution ended the age of the aristocrat diplomat and turned the envoy and his staff into professional bureaucracies run from the governments at home
Beyond the process of diplomacy, the envoys had to deal with the substantive impact of new communications technologies on international affairs
In finding ways to facilitate wireless communication across territorial borders, major nations negotiated the establishment of the International Telegraph Union in 1865 that would later become the International Telecommunication Union
The ITU is one of the oldest international organisations
As the impact of science and technology on the world expanded, diplomats had to go beyond their traditional focus on negotiating peace pacts and territorial settlements
Over the last century, the diplomatic mandate on science and technology has ranged from chemical weapons to climate change and naval arms limitation to nuclear proliferation
India’s journey in technological adoption
Due to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s deep commitment to the creation of national technical capabilities through international cooperation, technology diplomacy became an important priority for independent India’s foreign policy
But Delhi’s so-called “peaceful nuclear explosion” in 1974 resulted in an expanding regime of technology sanctions against India
As Delhi reconnected to the world and embarked on a high growth path in the 1990s, options opened up for ending the international technology blockade against India
In two decades of productive diplomacy, built around the historic civil nuclear initiative with the US, Delhi has largely completed India’s integration with the international non-proliferation regime
From being a major target of technology sanctions, it is now part of the community that sets the rules for international transfers of sensitive technologies
The nuclear problem that Delhi had to address through the second half of the 20th century might pale into insignificance with the kind of challenges that the new technological revolution presents
The nuclear revolution affected only a small fraction of India’s economy and security
The current technological transformations, especially in the digital and genetic domains, will have far-reaching consequences for India’s economy, society, politics and international relations
The challenges and opportunities presented by the unfolding technological revolution are too important to be left to individual departments and ministries
What India needs is a “whole-of-government” approach to technology diplomacy led by the Prime Minister’s Office
Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: NM-ICPS
Mains level: Particulars of the NM-ICPS
The Union Cabinet has approved the launching of National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) to be implemented by Department of Science &Technology for a period of five years.
CPS and its associated technologies, like Artificial Intelligence (Al), Internet of Things (loT), Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DP), Big Data Analytics, Robotics, Quantum Computing etc. have pervaded and is playing a transformative role in almost every field of human endeavour all most in all sectors.
It has become imperative for government and industries to be prepared to adopt these emerging and disruptive technologies in order to remain competitive, drive societal progress, generate employment, foster economic growth and to improve the overall quality of life and sustainability of the environment.
National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS)
The NM-ICPS is a comprehensive Mission which would address technology development, application development, human resource development & skill enhancement, entrepreneurship and start-up development in CPS and associated technologies.
The Mission addresses the ever increasing technological requirements of the society, and takes into account the international trends and road maps of leading countries for the next generation technologies.
It would be a Pan India Mission and covers entire gamut of India that includes Central Ministries, State Governments, Industry and Academia.
The Mission will feed the Central Ministries/ Departments and State Govts and also the Industry to effectively use the CPS technologies in their projects and schemes for the benefit of the society.
The mission implementation would develop and bring:
Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and associated technologies within reach in the country,
adoption of CPS technologies to address India specific National / Regional issues,
produce Next Generation skilled manpower in CPS,
catalyze Translational Research,
accelerate entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development in CPS etc.
The Mission aims at establishment of 15 numbers of Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH), six numbers of Application Innovation Hubs (AIH) and four numbers of Technology Translation Research Parks (TTRP).
These Hubs & TTRPs will connect to Academics, Industry, Central Ministries and State Government in developing solutions at reputed academic, R&D and other organizations across the country in a hub and spoke model.
A strategic approach involving a suitable mix of Academic, Industry and Government is proposed to be adopted.
Strong Steering and Monitoring Mechanisms in the form of Mission Governing Board (MGB), Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee (IMCC), Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and other Sub-Committees will guide and monitor the Mission implementation.
Benefits of the mission
CPS is an integrated system of upcoming technology, which in turn is being taken up on priority basis by countries in the race for development.
CPS will indeed bring a paradigm shift in entire skill sets requirement.
The proposed Mission would act as an engine of growth that would benefit national initiatives in health, education, energy, environment, agriculture, strategic cum security, and industrial sectors, Industry 4.0, SMART Cities, SDGs etc.
The job opportunities will be enhanced through the Mission by imparting advanced skills and generating skilled manpower as per the requirement of the industry/ society.
As Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Start-up Ecosystem is an integral part of the proposed NM-ICPS, the start-ups will also create a number of technology driven job opportunities in CPS and allied areas.
Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Thermal Battery working
Mains level: Alternative source of clean energy and storage.
India became home to the world’s first-ever thermal battery plant that was inaugurated in Andhra Pradesh.
This plant aims to create a new energy storage form that is expected to have commercial applications, while also maintaining a low carbon footprint, and being less dependent on external factors like weather.
The thermal battery facility is to be owned by Bharat Energy Storage Technology Private Limited (BEST) could provide energy solutions for electrical grids, transport and telecom services.
At the initial stage of commercial operations, set for May 2019, BEST plans to create a battery capacity of 1000MW. This is expected to be upgraded to a 10GW capacity by 2025.
Thermal battery technology
Thermal battery technology was patented in India by Dr Patrick Glynn in 2016.
Conventional battery technology is based on the system of charging/discharging cycles that are driven by electricity. Ex: Lithium-ion battery.
Thermal batteries use thermal energy to operate, i.e., the energy created by temperature differences.
The energy transfer in thermal batteries helps store heat when heat travels from one part of the battery setup to the other.
For that to happen, a thermal battery consists of two parts: a cool zone known as sink, and a hot source called source.
Both these sides consist of compounds known as phase-changing materials (PCMs), which can change their state of matter on the basis of a physical/chemical reaction.
When the sink of a thermal battery receives heat, it transforms physically or chemically, thereby storing energy, while the source cools down.
During operation, the sink is cooled down, so it releases the stored energy, while the source heats up.
Depending on the nature of the battery, the system can derive heat from any source, which makes a thermal battery very versatile.
Integration with power grids
Given the positives from thermal battery technology, its main application lies in the possible integration with power grids, that can help industrial demand, while also supporting public transport systems and telecom grids.
In the field of power transmission, thermal batteries will be able to function as long as there is a heat source to drive their operation.
This could help solve power issues in remote areas, and also address rising energy requirements from regional or national grids.
Power-intensive industries will also be major beneficiaries, and the transformation will mean reduced dependence on fossil fuels for energy.
Telecom infrastructure is also a target area, as thermal batteries will help maintain signal strength and network connectivity.
This, in turn, could also improve internet penetration and ultra-fast mobile services.
Easing roadmap for E-vehicle manufacturing
Another area that could receive impetus from thermal batteries is that of electric vehicles.
Currently, Tata and Mahindra are the only domestic firms working on such transport systems.
With thermal battery technology, car makers could consider going green, and deploy clean energy at minimal maintenance costs.
At the same time, e-vehicles could also derive charging power from stations that run on thermal batteries.
In AP plant, BEST aims to setup an electric truck that can run up to 800kms on a single charge.
Mains level: Steps being taken to promote scientific R&D in India
Indian origin scientists returning back
The number of Indian-origin scientists working internationally and returning to India between 2012 and 2017 has jumped 70% from that from 2007 to 2012
This was revealed by figures from the Department of Science and Technology
Why this trend?
Long plagued by “brain drain”, India has over the last decade ramped up schemes to attract Indian- origin scientists
This trend is primarily due to schemes such as the Ramanujan Fellowship Scheme and the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Faculty Scheme and the Ramalingaswami re-entry fellowship scheme coordinated by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT)
These schemes allow “high-caliber” Indian researchers working abroad to relocate to Indian institutes and universities of their respective interest and domain
All scientists don’t get desired institutions
Of the 373 scientists, who got these scholarships between 2014 and 2016, only 125 were absorbed into their host institutions
The lack of absorption is often due to returning researchers not always getting their choice of institutions
This is due to limited institutional capacity to absorb all of them
Ramanujan Fellowship Scheme
The fellowship is meant for brilliant scientists and engineers from all over the world to take up scientific research positions in India, i.e. for those scientists who want to return to India from abroad
Ramanujan Fellowship are only for those candidates who are doing Post Doctoral abroad and not for the people who already have permanent position in a scientific organization in the country
The fellowships are scientist-specific and very selective
All Areas of Science (in the broadest terms) are covered by this Fellowship
The Ramanujan Fellowship duration is for 5 years only
The Ramanujan Fellows could work in any of the scientific institutions and universities in the country
They would be eligible for receiving regular research grants through the extramural funding schemes of various S&T agencies of the Government of India
This scheme is managed by Science and Engineering Research Board under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India
Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Faculty Scheme
INSPIRE is an innovative programme sponsored and managed by the Department of Science & Technology for attraction of talent to Science
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
A striking feature of the programme is that it does not believe in conducting competitive exams for identification of talent at any level
It believes in and relies on the efficacy of the existing educational structure for identification of talent
INSPIRE has three components:
i. Scheme for Early Attraction of Talent (SEATS)
ii. Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE)
iii. Assured Opportunity for Research Careers (AORC)
Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Indian Science Congress, pseudoscience
Mains level: Organizations dedicated to promotion of science in India
Security problems cited
For the first time in its 105-year history, the Indian Science Congress(ISC) — the largest congregation of Indian scientists — has been indefinitely postponed
This is due to “security problems” at the Osmania University, Hyderabad where the event was to be organized between the January 3 and 7 next year
Other controversies associated
In recent years, the Science Congress has also got flak for being a forum that promoted pseudoscience
Especially in 2014, when a session on mythology and Vedic-era airplanes was a highlight of the event
Indian Science Congress
Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) is a premier scientific organization of India
The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) owes its origin to the foresight and initiative of two British Chemists, namely, Professor J. L. Simonsen and Professor P.S. MacMahon
It occurred to them that scientific research in India might be stimulated if an annual meeting of research workers somewhat on the lines of the British Association for the Advancement of Science could be arranged
The Association was formed with the following objectives :
To advance and promote the cause of science in India;
To hold an annual congress at a suitable place in India;
To publish such proceedings, journals, transactions and other publications as may be considered desirable;
To secure and manage funds and endowments for the promotion of Science including the rights of disposing of or selling all or any portion of the properties of the Association
The Prime Minister unveiled the ‘Technology Vision Document 2035’ while inaugurating the 103rd Indian Science Congress on January 3, 2016. Let’s take a glance at it
<The document is dedicated to late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India.>
What is Technology Vision 2035?
The document foresees the technologies required for fulfilling the needs of India 2035
This is a vision of where India and its citizens should be in 2035 and how technology should help achieve this
Twelve Sectoral Technology roadmaps are being prepared by the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council, (TIFAC)
Which are the 12 sectors?
Medical Sciences & Healthcare
Food and Agriculture
Information and Communication Technology
The prime aim of the vision document
To ensure the security of every Indian, enhancing their prosperity and identity
This is stated in the document as “Our Aspiration” or “Vision Statement” in all languages of the 8th Schedule of the Constitution
The Vision document also identifies 12 prerogatives – (six for meeting individual needs and six for collective needs) that should be available to each and every Indian
How technologies could map to assure prerogatives?
Those are readily deployable
Those that needs to be moved from Lab to Field
Those that require targeted Research
Those that are still in Imagination
What type of technologies are expected in future?
Technologies could come about as a result of curiosity driven or paradigm – shattering ‘Blue-sky’ Research like Internet of Things, Wearable Technology, Synthetic Biology, Brain computer Interface, Bioprinting and regenerative medicine
Precision agriculture and robotic farming, vertical farming, interactive foods, autonomous vehicles, Bioluminescence, 3D printing of buildings, earthquake prediction, weather modification technologies, green mining etc <Here, UPSC has great scope to ask questions, as we know 3D printing technology was asked in 2013 Mains >
What is Bioluminescence?
Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism
The light emitted by a bioluminescent organism is produced by energy released from chemical reactions occurring inside (or ejected by) the organism
What are the challenges in the field of Technology?
Guaranteeing nutritional security and eliminating female and child anaemia
Ensuring universal eco-friendly waste management
Taking the railway to Leh and Tawang
Understanding national climate patterns and adapting to them
Ensuring location independent electoral and financial empowerment
Then! Are there any ways to overcome these challenges?
Technology Leadership– niche technologies in which we have core competencies, skilled manpower, infrastructure and a traditional knowledge base; eg. Nuclear Energy, Space Science.
Technology Independence– strategic technologies that we would have to develop on our own as they may not be obtainable from elsewhere eg. Defence sector
Technology Innovation– linking disparate technologies together or making a breakthrough in one technology and applying it to another. eg., solar cells patterned on chlorophyll based synthetic pathway are a potent future source of renewable energy
Technology Adoption– obtain technologies from elsewhere, modify them according to local needs and reduce dependence on other sources eg., foreign collaboration in the sectors of rainwater harvesting, agri-biotech, desalination, energy efficient buildings.
Technology Constraints– areas where technology is threatening and problematic i.e. having a negative social or environmental impact because of serious legal and ethical issues eg., Genetically Modified(GM) Crops.
Which 3 key activities were identified as a part of the ‘Call to Action’?
Knowledge creation – It says India cannot afford not to be in the forefront of the knowledge revolution, either applied or pure
Ecosystem designfor innovation and development
Technology deploymentby launching certain national missions involving specific targets, defined timelines requiring only a few carefully defined identified players