Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

2025 to be International Year of Quantum Science and Technology

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quantum Theory and related Researches, National Quantum Mission (NQM)

Why in the News?

  • The United Nations has designated 2025 as the ‘International Year of Quantum Science and Technology’ to increase public awareness about the significance of quantum science and its applications.
    • This initiative, led by Mexico and supported by nearly 60 countries, aims to promote activities at all levels to highlight the importance of quantum science and technology worldwide.

International Year of Quantum S&T

  • Growing Relevance: Quantum science and technologies, especially quantum computing, have gained prominence in public discourse due to their potential transformative impact on various fields.
  • Anniversary of Heisenberg’s Work: The proclamation coincides with the upcoming centenary of Werner Heisenberg’s groundbreaking paper on quantum mechanics, published in 1925.
  • Support from International Bodies: The proclamation has received endorsements from various international organisations, including the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

What does one mean by Quantum?

  • “Quantum” refers to the smallest discrete unit of any physical quantity involved in an interaction according to quantum theory.
  • In classical physics, many properties, such as energy and momentum, are thought to be continuous and infinitely divisible.
  • However, in quantum mechanics, certain properties, like energy levels and the behaviour of particles, are quantised, meaning they can only exist in specific discrete amounts or levels.

What is Quantum Theory?

  • Quantum theory is a fundamental theory in physics that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles.
  • Quantum mechanics differs from classical physics in that energy, momentum, and angular momentum.

Development in Quantum Theory So Far

  • Planck’s assumption: In 1900, Planck made the assumption that energy was made of individual units or quanta.
  • Albert Einstein’s theory: In 1905, Albert Einstein theorized that not just the energy, but the radiation itself was quantized in the same manner.
  • Louis de Broglie theory: In 1924, Louis de Broglie proposed that there is no fundamental difference in the makeup and behaviour of energy and matter; on the atomic and subatomic level either may behave as if made of either particles or waves. This theory became known as the principle of wave-particle duality: elementary particles of both energy and matter behave, depending on the conditions, like either particles or waves (wave-particle duality).
  • Heisenberg proposed: In 1927, Werner Heisenberg proposed that precise, simultaneous measurement of two complementary values – such as the position and momentum of a subatomic particle – is impossible. Contrary to the principles of classical physics, their simultaneous measurement is inescapably flawed; the more precisely one value is measured, the more flawed will be the measurement of the other value. This theory became known as the uncertainty principle, which prompted Albert Einstein’s famous comment, “God does not play dice.”

What is Entanglement?

  • Entanglement was another of several weird properties exhibited by these tiny particles.
  • Two particles, having ‘interacted’ with each other at some stage, were found to have got ‘entangled’ in a way that the behaviour of one produced an instantaneous reaction in the other even if the two were no longer connected in any way and were separated by very large distances.
  • The entanglement property opened up new technological possibilities first time that it was possible to ‘teleport’ the quantum states of a particle to another location without the particle moving anywhere and without a medium.

What is Superposition?

  • It’s a phenomenon where, a particle exists simultaneously at multiple locations, known as superposition.
  • The chance of finding the particle at any given place was dictated by probabilistic calculations, and once it was found, or observed, at one location, it ceased to exist at all other places.

What is Quantum Computing?

  • Quantum computing is a new and super powerful way of doing computer stuff.
  • Instead of using regular computer bits that are either 0 or 1, quantum computers use special bits called qubits that can be both 0 and 1 at the same time, thanks to a thing called “quantum superposition.”
  • This allows them to do lots of calculations all at once, making them really fast at solving certain types of problems.

Back2Basics: National Quantum Mission (NQM)

Details
Mission Duration 2023-2031
Implementing Authority Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Ministry of Science & Technology
India’s Position Seventh country to have a dedicated quantum mission after the US, Austria, Finland, France, Canada, and China
Focus Areas
  • Intermediate-scale quantum computers with 50-100 physical qubits in 5 years and 50-1000 physical qubits in 8 years
  • Quantum computation, Quantum communication, Quantum Sensing & Metrology, Quantum Materials & Devices
Development
  • High-sensitivity magnetometers for precision timing, communications, and navigation
  • Satellite-based secure quantum communications within India and with other countries
  • Design and synthesis of quantum materials like superconductors, novel semiconductor structures, and topological materials
Thematic Hubs Establishment Four Thematic Hubs (T-Hubs) would be set up in top academic and National R&D institutes on the domains of Quantum Technology:

  1. Quantum computation
  2. Quantum communication
  3. Quantum Sensing & Metrology
  4. Quantum Materials & Devices

PYQ:

[2022] Which one of the following is the context in which the term “Qubit” is mentioned?

(a) Cloud Services

(b) Quantum Computing

(c) Visible Light Communication Technologies

(d) Wireless Communication Technologies

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Open access is crucial for self-reliance in science

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Development of Science and Technology in India;

Why in the News?

As per Nature Index” India’s scientific prowess is rising but lacks essential research infrastructure. Initiatives like I-STEM aim to bridge this gap by democratizing access to advanced facilities.

The Indian Science Ecosystem:

  • Growth in Research: India ranks third globally in research output and eleventh in research quality according to the “Nature Index”.
  • Infrastructure Shortfalls: Despite an increase in the number of universities from 760 in 2014 to 1,113 in 2021, many lack essential resources such as advanced labs, instrumental access, and research literature.

Why is the Open Access Crucial for Self-Reliance in Science?

  • Open Access (OA) ensures that scientific knowledge is freely available to all, regardless of geographical or financial barriers.
  • It promotes inclusivity and allows researchers from diverse backgrounds to access the latest research findings, fostering collaboration and innovation.

Initiatives to Address Gaps:

  • I-STEM: Catalogues all publicly funded research facilities nationwide and makes them available to researchers based on need.
  • One Nation, One Subscription (ONOS): Proposes a centralized model of subscription to scientific journals to make them universally available to all publicly funded institutions, addressing the high cost of accessing commercial journals.

What is the Optimal Solution?

  • The optimal solution lies in prioritizing Open Access (OA) initiatives. With a global shift towards OA and increasing mandates from major funding bodies, India should leverage this trend to reduce dependency on costly subscriptions and ensure widespread access to scientific literature.
    • Major funding bodies and countries are pushing for OA, with the U.S. mandating immediate open accessibility of publicly funded research by 2025.
  • Challenges with ONOS: The high cost and oligopolistic academic publishing market make negotiation difficult. OA reduces the necessity of a costly unified subscription. ONOS does not ensure long-term access or global accessibility of Indian research.
  • The Green Open Access: Green Open Access allows authors to deposit a version of their work in a university repository, making it freely accessible globally. Ensures long-term preservation and accessibility of research funded by taxpayer money.

Limitations:

  • Indian funding agencies have mandated green OA, but it has not been enforced effectively.
  • Recent issues should catalyze a stronger push for green OA.

Conclusion: India should enhance its journal system, avoiding payment burdens on authors or readers. Utilise digital technology capabilities to create and share low-cost, high-quality scientific publishing infrastructure for the global south.

Mains PYQ:

India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) which has a database containing formatted information on more than 2 million medicinal formulations is proving a powerful weapon in the country’s fight against erroneous patents. Discuss the pro and cons of making the database available publicly available under open-source licensing. (UPSC IAS/2015)

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM 46)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Antarctic Treaty

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will host the 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM 46) in Kochi, Kerala.

About Antarctic Treaty

Details
Signing and Entry into Force
  • Signed on December 1, 1959 at Washington DC.
  • Entered into force on June 23, 1961.
  • 12 Initial Countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the UK, and the US.
Objective Ensure Antarctica remains exclusively for peaceful purposes, free from international discord.
Key Provisions
  • Art. I: Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only
  • Art. II: Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation
  • Art. III:  Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available

 

Territorial Claims
  • Prohibits new territorial claims.
  • Preserves existing territorial sovereignty claims.
Disarmament
  • Prohibits testing of nuclear weapons.
  • Prohibits disposal of radioactive waste
Consultative Meetings Annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM) where member states discuss treaty implementation and cooperation
Environmental Protection
  • Promotes protection of Antarctic environment.
  • Prohibits activities causing pollution or environmental damage
Mineral Resource Exploitation
  • Bans mining activities until at least 2048.
  • Requires consensus for any review or modification
Membership
    • 54 parties as of 2024.
    • 29 Consultative Parties actively participate in decision-making.
    • 25 Non-Consultative Parties.
  • India ratified the treaty in 1983.
Madrid Protocol
  • Adopted in 1991.
  • Entered into force in 1998.
  • Strengthens environmental protection measures in Antarctic.

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Why India urgently needs a Legal Framework for Genomics?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Human Genomics, Gene Editing, Genetic Surveys

Mains level: Read the attached story

In the news

  • The field of genomics has witnessed remarkable progress over the last two decades, marked by significant advancements in sequencing, analysis, and interpretation of genomes.
  • As costs continue to decline, the next decade is set to witness widespread integration of genome sequencing in clinical settings, offering unprecedented opportunities alongside new challenges.

India’s Progress in Human Genomics

  • Milestones: India has achieved notable milestones in genomics, from the first genome sequencing in 2009 to the recent completion of sequencing 10,000 genomes. These endeavours have provided valuable insights into disease prevalence and catalyzed research and decision-making.
  • Population Diversity: With a diverse population exceeding 1.4 billion, India holds immense potential for genomic research. However, realizing this potential requires ambitious yet pragmatic strategies to ensure inclusivity and equitable access to genomic benefits.

Challenges in the field

  • Lack of Data Protection Laws: Absence of robust data protection laws raises concerns about privacy and security of genetic information.
  • Fragmented Genetic Data: Fragmentation of genetic data across organizations hampers accessibility for public health decision-making.
  • Discrimination Risks: Absence of laws against genetic discrimination exposes individuals to risks in areas like insurance and employment.
  • Equity Concerns: Unregulated market forces may exacerbate healthcare disparities, particularly affecting marginalized communities.

Opportunities in Leveraging Genomics in India

  • Advancements in Genome Sequencing: Milestones like sequencing 10,000 genomes offer insights into disease prevalence and accelerate research.
  • Diverse Population Base: India’s diverse population provides a rich source of data for understanding genetic variations and disease susceptibilities.
  • Cost-effective Testing Potential: Aggregating genetic data can enable the development of affordable genetic tests for early disease detection.
  • Ethical Framework Development: Prioritizing the development of ethical frameworks ensures responsible use of genomic technologies and fosters public trust.
  • Healthcare Transformation: Genomics has the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery, offering personalized treatment approaches and improved health outcomes.

Ethical Considerations and Equity

  • Ethical Use of Technology: Ensuring ethical use of genomic technology is paramount to safeguarding individual rights and promoting equitable access to healthcare. Evidence-based guidelines and mechanisms to ensure the quality and validity of genomic tests are essential.
  • Equity and Diversity: Addressing disparities in access to genomic data and healthcare services is critical, particularly in a diverse country like India. Unregulated market forces could exacerbate existing barriers, widening disparities in healthcare access and research opportunities.

Way Forward for India

  • Role of Regulations: Effective regulations and policies foster trust among stakeholders, encouraging collaboration and innovation in genomic research.
  • Potential of Genomics: With proper oversight, genomic research can revolutionize healthcare by offering personalized treatments, disease prevention strategies, and diagnostic tools.
  • India’s Leadership Potential: India has the opportunity to lead in genomic research by enabling access to genomic technologies on a mass scale, contributing to a healthier future for its people

Conclusion

  • The advancement of human genomics holds immense potential to transform healthcare and improve outcomes.
  • However, realizing this potential requires concerted efforts to address regulatory gaps, promote equity and diversity, and ensure ethical use of genomic technologies.
  • With the right guidance and policies, India can emerge as a leader in genomic research, paving the way for a healthier and more prosperous future for its citizens.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

IndiaAI Mission launched

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: IndiaAI

Mains level: Read the attached story

IndiaAI Mission

In the news

  • The Union Cabinet’s recent approval of the IndiaAI Mission marks a pivotal step towards harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) for national development.
  • With a significant financial outlay and multifaceted objectives, this mission aims to bolster India’s AI capabilities across various sectors, fostering innovation and addressing societal challenges.

What is IndiaAI Mission?

  • Objectives: Launched under the auspices of the Digital India Corporation (DIC), the IndiaAI Mission seeks to establish a robust AI ecosystem conducive to innovation and growth.
  • Key Initiatives: From enhancing computing infrastructure to promoting AI applications in critical sectors like healthcare and governance, the mission encompasses diverse initiatives aimed at fostering AI-driven solutions.
  • Public-Private Partnership: Leveraging a public-private partnership model, the mission endeavours to synergize governmental resources with private sector expertise, ensuring effective implementation and scalability.

Core Pillars of IndiaAI Mission

  1. IndiaAI Compute Capacity: Building scalable AI computing infrastructure to meet the evolving demands of AI startups and research endeavours.
  2. IndiaAI Innovation Centre: Spearheading the development and deployment of indigenous AI models tailored to specific sectors’ needs.
  3. IndiaAI Datasets Platform: Facilitating access to high-quality datasets to fuel AI innovation and research.
  4. IndiaAI Application Development Initiative: Promoting the application of AI solutions to address challenges in critical sectors.
  5. IndiaAI FutureSkills: Fostering AI talent by expanding educational programs and training initiatives at various academic levels.
  6. IndiaAI Startup Financing: Supporting deep-tech AI startups through streamlined funding mechanisms to drive innovation.
  7. Safe & Trusted AI: Ensuring responsible AI deployment through the development of indigenous tools and frameworks.

Strategic Significance

  • National Development Agenda: The IndiaAI Mission aligns with the government’s vision of leveraging technology for inclusive growth and development.
  • Global Competitiveness: By showcasing India’s prowess in AI innovation and application, the mission enhances the country’s global standing and competitiveness.
  • Economic Impetus: By fostering AI-driven entrepreneurship and innovation, the mission catalyzes economic growth and job creation, leveraging India’s demographic dividend.
  • Regulatory Landscape: While fostering innovation, the mission underscores the need for responsible AI governance and regulatory frameworks to address ethical and safety concerns.

Integration with National Policy

  • Comprehensive Approach: The IndiaAI Mission complements existing national initiatives, such as the Digital India campaign and efforts to boost electronics manufacturing.
  • Strategic Alignment: The mission’s focus on AI infrastructure and talent development aligns with broader policy objectives aimed at fostering a conducive ecosystem for technology-driven innovation.
  • International Parallels: The government’s approach mirrors global trends, with other nations also prioritizing AI development and regulatory frameworks to balance innovation with safety and ethics.

Challenges and Regulatory Considerations

  • Navigating Regulatory Landscape: While promoting AI innovation, policymakers must navigate complex regulatory landscapes to ensure ethical AI deployment and safeguard against potential risks.
  • Balancing Innovation and Regulation: Striking a balance between fostering innovation and implementing regulatory safeguards remains a critical challenge for policymakers globally.
  • Lessons from International Models: Drawing insights from international models, India can devise a regulatory framework that fosters innovation while upholding ethical and safety standards.

Conclusion

  • In conclusion, the IndiaAI Mission heralds a new era of AI-driven innovation and development in India, offering a strategic roadmap to harness the transformative potential of AI for societal benefit.
  • By fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors and prioritizing talent development, this mission underscores India’s commitment to emerging as a global leader in AI innovation while navigating regulatory challenges to ensure responsible and ethical AI deployment.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Why sustainable funding matters for India’s ‘Science Power’ ambition?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Science Day

Mains level: RD ecosystem in India

In the news

  • National Science Day is commemorated on Feb 28 every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sir CV Raman.

About National Science Day 2024

  • Theme: “Science for Sustainable Development” underscores India’s commitment to leveraging science and technology for long-term socio-economic progress.
  • Key Driver: Science and technology play pivotal roles in India’s journey toward achieving developed nation status by 2047, aligning with global sustainability goals.

The Current Scenario: R&D Spending in India

  • Low Expenditure: India’s expenditure on research and development (R&D) stands at a mere 0.64% of GDP, a concerning figure for a nation aspiring for technological advancement.
  • Stagnant Growth: Despite calls to double R&D spending, India’s allocation for fundamental research has seen a decline in recent years, highlighting the need for enhanced investment in scientific endeavours.

science

Comparative Analysis with Developed Nations

  • Global Benchmarks: Developed nations typically allocate 2-4% of their GDPs to R&D, showcasing a stark contrast to India’s minimal spending. Moreover, even Nations like South Korea have shown significant growth in R&D expenditures, averaging 10.9% annually over 2000–10 and 7.8% for 2010–19.
  • Private Sector Contribution: In economically advanced countries, the private sector contributes significantly to R&D investment, unlike India, where public funding dominates. In leading economies, the corporate sector accounts for about two-thirds of gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD), while in India, its share is only 37%. This disparity highlights the need for increased private sector investment in R&D in India.

What is the significance of Sustainable Funding for India’s ‘Science Power’ Ambition?

  • Low Corporate Sector Investment: The primary reason for India’s low R&D expenditure is the inadequate investment by the corporate sector. While leading economies see two-thirds of R&D funding coming from corporations, in India, this share is only 37%. Increasing corporate investment in R&D is essential to boost innovation and technological progress.
  • Underestimation of GERD Data: There is evidence suggesting that India’s Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) data may be underestimated. The current method of data collection relies on surveys and secondary sources like annual reports and databases like Prowess. However, this method may not capture all R&D-performing enterprises, leading to incomplete statistics
  • Foreign Investment Discrepancy: Foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) play a significant role in R&D spending in India. However, the latest statistics indicate that foreign MNCs’ R&D spending in India is only about 10% of what U.S. firms report spending in the country. Encouraging higher foreign investment in R&D can contribute to India’s scientific growth.
  • Challenges in Data Collection: Collecting accurate data from the private corporate sector poses a challenge due to factors like firms’ reluctance to disclose information and the limitations of existing databases like DSIR and Prowess. Enhancing data collection methods is crucial to obtaining a comprehensive picture of R&D activities in the country.

Challenges Faced by India in Achieving ‘Science Power’ Ambition:

  • Limited Research Workforce: India faces a shortage of high-quality universities and appropriate job opportunities for graduates, which impedes the expansion of its research workforce. To enhance scientific capabilities, there is a critical need to establish more top-tier educational institutions and create avenues for skilled professionals in the field.
  • Bureaucratic Hurdles: The bureaucratic red tape in India poses a significant challenge to research and innovation. Delays in fund disbursement, lengthy recruitment processes, and administrative inefficiencies hamper the pace of scientific advancements. Streamlining administrative procedures and enhancing efficiency are essential to foster a conducive environment for research.
  • Lack of International Collaboration: India has relatively low levels of international collaboration compared to other developing nations, limiting its exposure to global scientific advancements and partnerships. Strengthening ties with international counterparts can facilitate knowledge exchange, technology transfer, and collaborative research initiatives.
  • Inadequate Funding: India’s R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP is significantly lower than other emerging nations like China and Brazil, as well as established economies like the United States and Europe. Insufficient funding limits the capacity for research and innovation, hindering India’s progress in the scientific domain.
  • Infrastructure and Technological Challenges: The development of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and semiconductor manufacturing requires robust infrastructure and technological capabilities. India’s limited investment in science and technology, coupled with bureaucratic hurdles and outdated procurement systems, hinders the adoption of global best practices and impedes research progress.

Way forward

  • Sustainable funding: India is committed in making progress towards becoming a developed country by 2047 through sustainable means, including R&D funding.
  • Streamline bureaucracy: India needs to streamline its bureaucratic processes to enhance efficiency and reduce delays in funding and project approvals.
  • Increase R&D spending: India aims to increase its Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) to 2% of GDP, which is a national goal for some time.
  • Improve infrastructure and technology: India needs to improve its infrastructure and technological capabilities to drive innovation and research progress.
  • Increase in International collaboration: India aims to increase its international collaboration to facilitate knowledge exchange, technology transfer, and collaborative research initiatives.

Conclusion

  • As India commemorates National Science Day under the theme of sustainable development, addressing the imperative of sustainable funding for science emerges as a critical priority.
  • By fostering a conducive ecosystem for R&D investment and optimizing budget utilization, India can pave the way for transformative scientific advancements and sustainable socio-economic progress.

Back2Basics: CV Raman and Raman’s Effect

Details
Birth Chandrasekhar Venkata Raman born in Tiruchirappalli, Madras Presidency on 7 November 1888.
Appointment in IISc Appointed as Director of Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore in 1933, served until retirement in 1948.
Initial Research Published first research paper, “Unsymmetrical diffraction bands due to a rectangular aperture”, in 1906 while still a graduate student.
Raman Effect Discovered phenomenon where light changes wavelength and frequency upon traversing transparent material, known as Raman Effect.
Acoustics Worked on theory of transverse vibration of bowed string instruments, studied acoustics of various musical instruments including Indian ones.
Colour of Sea Water Conducted observations on sea water using spectroscope,

Concluded blue color not due to Rayleigh scattering, studied water color attribution.

Spectroscopic Behaviour Investigated behavior of crystals spectroscopically, studied composition and characteristics of diamonds and colorful materials.
Angular Momentum Discovered light photons have angular momentum, shifted to atoms that absorb them.
Scientific Institutions Established Raman Research Institute in Bengaluru in 1949, became its first director.
Awards and Recognition Awarded Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for work on scattering of light and discovery of Raman Effect, first Indian and Asian to win Nobel in sciences.

Elected member of Royal Society of London in 1924.

Honored with India’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, in 1954.

Received Lenin Peace Prize, Franklin Medal, and Hughes Medal in 1930.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Completion of Genome India Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Genome India Project

Mains level: NA

Genome India Project

In the news

About the Genome India Project

Details
Initiative Launched in 2020 by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and ISRO
Aim To sequence 10,000 Indian genomes for a reference genome.
Objective Understand Indian genetic variations for predictive diagnostics.
Scope Involves 20+ institutions to collect samples and create a reference grid.
Significance Addresses India’s genetic diversity for personalized healthcare.
Applications Advances biotech, agriculture, and healthcare for diseases like diabetes and cancer.

What is Genome Sequencing?

  • Genome sequencing involves deciphering the complete set of genetic instructions contained within an organism’s DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid).
  • It entails determining the sequence of the four nucleotide bases: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T).
  • The human genome comprises over 3 billion of these genetic letters, but current DNA sequencing methods can only handle short stretches at a time.
  • While human genomes consist of DNA, viruses can have genomes composed of either DNA or RNA (Ribonucleic acid).
  • Notably, viruses like the coronavirus possess RNA genomes.
  • Each organism possesses a unique genome sequence, making genome sequencing a vital technique for understanding genetic information encoded in DNA or RNA.

Outcomes of the Genome India Project

  • Population Complexity: India’s vast population, comprising over 4,600 distinct groups, exhibits significant genetic diversity, owing to factors such as endogamy.
  • Unique Variations: Various disease-causing mutations are amplified within specific population groups, highlighting the importance of understanding India’s genetic landscape.

Future Implications

  • Insight into Population Diversity: The project aims to provide deeper insights into India’s genetic diversity, facilitating improved diagnostic methods and medical counselling.
  • Personalized Medicine: Identifying genetic predispositions to diseases and developing personalized drugs are envisioned outcomes, enhancing healthcare interventions.
  • Biobank Establishment: A biobank housing 20,000 blood samples, located at the Centre for Brain Research, IISc, supports genome sequencing efforts.
  • Data Archiving: Data archiving at the Indian Biological Data Centre (IBDC), set up by the DBT at the Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB), Faridabad, underscores the project’s commitment to transparency and collaboration.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2017:

d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Post your answers here.
1
Please leave a feedback on thisx

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] Sangam: Digital Twin Initiative

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sangam: Digital Twin Initiative

Mains level: Digital Twin Technology

sangam

Introduction

  • Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has introduced the ‘Sangam: Digital Twin’ initiative, inviting Expressions of Interest (EoI) from industry pioneers, startups, MSMEs, academia, innovators, and forward-thinkers.

What is Digital Twin Technology?

  • A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical object, person, or process, contextualized in a digital version of its environment.
  • Digital twins can help an organization simulate real situations and their outcomes, ultimately allowing it to make better decisions.

About Sangam: Digital Twin Initiative

  • Context: The initiative aligns with the technological advancements of the past decade in communication, computation, and sensing, in line with the vision for 2047.
  • Proof of Concept (PoC) in Two Stages: The initiative will be distributed in two stages, conducted in one of India’s major cities.
    1. First Stage: An exploratory phase focusing on clarifying horizons and creative exploration to unleash potential.
    2. Second Stage: A practical demonstration of specific use cases, generating a future blueprint for collaboration and scaling successful strategies in future infrastructure projects.
  • Objectives:
    1. Demonstrate practical implementation of innovative infrastructure planning solutions.
    2. Develop a model framework for facilitating faster and more effective collaboration.
    3. Provide a future blueprint for scaling and replicating successful strategies in future infrastructure projects.

Features

  • Sangam: Digital Twin represents a collaborative leap towards reshaping infrastructure planning and design.
  • It integrates 5G, IoT, AI, AR/VR, AI native 6G, Digital Twin, and next-gen computational technologies, fostering collaboration among public entities, infrastructure planners, tech giants, startups, and academia.
  • Sangam brings all stakeholders together, aiming to translate innovative ideas into tangible solutions, bridging the gap between conceptualization and realization, and paving the way for groundbreaking infrastructure advancements.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib]  SWATI (Science for Women-A Technology & Innovation) Portal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SWATI Portal

Mains level: Women in STEMM, Various initiatives

Introduction

  • The “Science for Women-A Technology & Innovation (SWATI)” Portal was recently launched by the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India.

About SWATI Portal

  • Objective: Designed to be a comprehensive online platform, SWATI aims to showcase the contributions of Indian women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM).
  • Single portal: SWATI serves as a single online portal representing Indian women and girls in STEMM fields.
  • Database: It hosts a database that will aid in policy-making to address gender-gap challenges in STEMM.
  • Interactive Platform: SWATI offers an interactive database, a pioneering initiative in India, developed, hosted, and maintained by the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), New Delhi.
  • Faculty: Featuring faculty members from Indian universities, autonomous organizations, and key ministries such as the Ministry of Science and Technology, CSIR, DBT, DST, MHRD, UGC, GATI, and KIRAN.

Objectives

  • Scaling Efforts: The portal seeks to exponentially scale up efforts to include every Indian woman in science (WiS), covering all career stages and subjects in both academia and industry.
  • Research Facilitation: By enabling reliable and statistically significant long-term research on equality, diversity, and inclusivity issues in India, SWATI aims to develop an active search engine and searchable database.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Science Communication in India: Bridging Gaps  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Science Communication, Various initiatives mentioned

Mains level: Read the attached story

Science Communication

Introduction

  • Science communication is an essential bridge between the scientific community and the public, fostering understanding, engagement, and informed decision-making.
  • In India, the recent focus on communicating science, particularly during Chandrayaan-3 and the COVID-19 pandemic, highlights the growing importance of this discipline.
  • However, gaps and challenges persist in effectively conveying scientific information.

Role of Science Communication

  • Science communication encompasses all aspects of conveying scientific knowledge, fostering discussions on ethical, societal, and political impacts, and engaging scientists and diverse audiences.
  • In today’s context, it extends to sharing research findings, institutional outreach, and public engagement with science.

Contemporary Science Communication in India

  • Government Initiatives: In 2021, the CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR) was established. National science funding agencies and research organizations actively engage in science communication through press releases, social media campaigns, exhibitions, and lectures.
  • Growing Landscape: Science communication extends to research organizations, universities, social enterprises, non-profits, and art-science collaborations. It bridges journalism, education, outreach, and art with science.

Government-Led Efforts

India’s commitment to science communication dates back to the post-independence era. Key milestones include:

  • Publications & Information Directorate (PID): Established in 1951 under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), PID published national science magazines to disseminate scientific knowledge.
  • Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (1959): Focused on defining India’s scientific heritage and promoting science education.
  • 42nd Amendment to the Constitution (1976): Introduced Article 51 A (h), emphasizing the development of a scientific temper among citizens.
  • National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC): Formed during the sixth Five Year Plan (1980-1985), emphasizing the popularization of science.
  • Vigyan Prasar (1989): An autonomous organization set up by the Department of Science and Technology to popularize science.

Addressing Challenges and Forging Ahead

To enhance science communication in India:

  1. Formal Education and Training: Introduce masters and doctoral programs in science communication. These programs will cultivate a cadre of skilled communicators attuned to India’s diverse contexts.
  2. Integration with Scientific Process: Encourage scientists to actively participate in science communication. This includes incorporating communication as part of research and rewarding scientists for their efforts.
  3. Large-Scale Strategy: Establish a professional organization that collaborates with government departments, stakeholders, and experts to create comprehensive science communication frameworks. These frameworks must span various disciplines, media formats, and demographic groups.

Conclusion

  • Science communication plays a pivotal role in advancing scientific literacy, public engagement, and informed decision-making in India.
  • By addressing current gaps and embracing a forward-looking approach, India can build a robust science communication ecosystem that effectively bridges the gap between science and society, empowering citizens and propelling scientific progress.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

India’s ‘Deep Tech’ Policy to get Cabinet nod

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Deep Tech

Mains level: Read the attached story

deep tech

Introduction

  • The Indian government is set to approve a new ‘deep tech’ policy. Following public comments on the draft released in July 2023, the final version of the policy is ready for Cabinet approval.

Understanding ‘Deep Tech’  

  • Definition and Scope: ‘Deep tech’ refers to startups that develop intellectual property based on new scientific breakthroughs, aiming for significant impact. Ex. AI, ML, Blockchain, Quantum Computing etc.
  • Startup India Data: As per Startup India, there are 10,298 startups in various sub-sectors of deep tech as of May 2023.
  • Exclusion Criteria: Businesses based on easily replicable ideas do not qualify as deep tech startups.

Draft National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP) 2023

  • Policy Goals: The NDTSP aims to address challenges in funding, talent acquisition, and scaling R&D operations for deep tech startups.
  • Strategic Approach: The policy is designed to promote innovation, economic growth, and societal development in the deep tech sector.

India’s Deep Tech Ecosystem

  • Global Ranking: India ranks third globally in the startup ecosystem, with over 3000 deep tech businesses.
  • Sectoral Expansion: These firms are expanding into areas like agriculture, life sciences, chemistry, aerospace, and green energy.

Policy Foundations and Prospects

  • Public Consultation: The draft policy was open for public feedback until September 15, after consultations with stakeholders in the deep tech ecosystem.
  • Key Pillars: The policy focuses on securing India’s economic future, progressing towards a knowledge-driven economy, bolstering national capability, and encouraging ethical innovation.

Policy Elements and Recommendations

  • Funding and Innovation: The policy proposes financial support through grants, loans, and venture capital, along with regulatory simplifications and academia-industry collaboration.
  • Talent Development: Emphasis on STEM education, training opportunities, and attracting international talent.
  • Infrastructure and Technology Access: Establishment of deep tech incubation centers, testing facilities, and shared infrastructure resources.
  • Public Procurement and Market Opportunities: Encouraging government agencies to adopt deep tech solutions and facilitating international market access.
  • Intellectual Property Protection: Establishing a uniform IP framework and implementing cybersecurity measures.

Conclusion

  • Transformative Potential: The NDTSP is poised to guide India’s deep tech landscape, fostering technological innovation and economic growth.
  • Measuring Success: The policy’s effectiveness will be gauged by its impact on startups, innovation depth, and societal transformation.
  • Democratizing Deep Tech: The strategy aims to make deep tech benefits accessible across society, leveraging research-driven breakthroughs for national advancement.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Indian Science Congress Postponement: Significance and Implications

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indian Science Congress

Mains level: NA

Introduction

  • The Indian Science Congress, a significant annual event for scientists and science students in India, has been postponed from its usual start date of January 3.

About Indian Science Congress

Details
Headquarters Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Establishment 1914 in Kolkata
Annual Meeting First week of January
Membership More than 30,000 scientists
First Congress 1914 at the Asiatic Society in Calcutta
Recent Policy Change Speakers at future conferences to be vetted; scrutinizes content of talks due to past controversies
Notable Participants Prominent Indian and foreign scientists, including Nobel laureates
Genesis Initiated by British chemists Professor J. L. Simonsen and Professor P. S. MacMahon
Objectives Advance and promote science in India

Hold an annual congress

Publish proceedings and journals

Manage funds for science promotion

Perform acts conducive to these objectives

Sections, Committees, and Forums Grown from 16 sections in 2000 to 14 sections, including various scientific disciplines
International Interaction Represented in various foreign scientific academies/associations
Internal Challenges Discussions on corruption, need for transparency and overhaul of bureaucratic agencies

 

Historical Context and Importance

  • Consistent Occurrence: Held every year since 1914, except for 2021 and 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 108th edition took place in Nagpur from January 3-7, 2023.
  • Prime Minister’s Involvement: Traditionally inaugurated by the Prime Minister, the congress is a key event in the PM’s calendar and is often their first public engagement of the New Year.

Reasons behind the Postponement

  • Funding Dispute: The postponement is a result of a disagreement between the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) over alleged “financial irregularities” and funding withdrawal.
  • Venue Change and Withdrawal: The ISCA’s decision to move the event from Lucknow University to Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Jalandhar, which later withdrew its offer to host, contributed to the crisis.

Decline of the Indian Science Congress

  • Loss of Prestige: In recent years, the Congress has been criticized for promoting pseudoscience and failing to reflect advancements in science, leading to a decline in participation from top scientists and institutions.
  • Calls for Discontinuation: Some scientists have suggested discontinuing the event or withdrawing government support due to its diminishing scientific credibility.

Government’s Dilemma and Actions

  • Limited Influence: While the government funds the ISCA and the Congress, it has no direct role in the event’s organization, leading to challenges in addressing controversies.
  • Scaling Down Involvement: The government has reduced its involvement, such as no longer presenting awards at the inaugural session and limiting stage sharing with the PM.

Future of the Indian Science Congress

  • Potential for Resumption: ISCA general secretary Ranjit Kumar Verma expressed hope for organizing the congress before March 31, with possible attendance by the Prime Minister.
  • Continued Government Support: A government official indicated that financial support for future events might resume, despite disagreements over this year’s funding.

Way Forward

  • Alternative Scientific Forums: Scientists suggest creating alternative forums to discuss the latest scientific developments and foster scientific temper, similar to events in other countries.
  • Enhancing Indian Science: Such forums could increase the competitiveness of Indian science and encourage collaborative research with leading global institutions.

Conclusion

  • Assessing the Impact: The postponement of the Indian Science Congress reflects broader issues in India’s scientific community and the need for reform.
  • Opportunity for Revitalization: This situation presents an opportunity to revitalize scientific discourse in India, potentially leading to more impactful and globally recognized scientific forums.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

India Launches First Winter Expedition to the Arctic

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Arctic Region

Mains level: Read the attached story

arctic

Central Idea

  • Launch of Winter Expedition: India embarks on its first-ever winter expedition to the Arctic, starting this week.
  • Significance: With this initiative, India’s Himadri becomes the fourth research station in the Arctic to be manned year-round.

Arctic Region and Its Global Impact

  • Geographical Location: The Arctic Circle lies north of latitude 66° 34’ N, encompassing the Arctic Ocean.
  • Climate Change Concerns: Scientific studies highlight the Arctic’s influence on global sea levels and atmospheric circulations due to ice melt.
  • Rising Temperatures: The Arctic region has experienced an average temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius over the past century.
  • Declining Sea Ice: The Arctic sea ice extent is decreasing at a rate of 13% per decade, potentially leading to an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the summer of 2040.

Challenges in Arctic Expeditions

  • Harsh Environmental Conditions: The extreme cold, with February temperatures averaging minus 14 degrees Celsius in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, poses significant challenges.
  • Limited Research Stations: So far, only three research stations in the Arctic have had permanent staff year-round.
  • Geopolitical Constraints: The presence of multiple state jurisdictions and geopolitical tensions, like the Ukraine-Russia war, complicates Arctic exploration.

India’s Winter Expedition Plan

  • Expedition Team: A team of four scientists, funded by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, will conduct the expedition from December 19, 2023, to January 15, 2024.
  • Research Areas: The expedition will focus on atmospheric sciences, astronomy, astrophysics, climate studies, and more.
  • Himadri Station: The team will be based at Himadri, India’s sole research station in Ny-Ålesund, located 1,200 kilometres from the North Pole.
  • Special Preparations: Himadri has been equipped for polar night observations, with support from Norwegian agencies.

Evolution of India’s Arctic Interests

  • Historical Treaty: India signed the Svalbard Treaty in 1920, allowing operations in the Svalbard archipelago under Norwegian sovereignty.
  • Initial Expeditions: The first Indian expedition to the Arctic was in 2007, leading to the establishment of Himadri in 2008.
  • Research Developments: India set up the IndArc observatory in 2014 and the Gruvebadet Atmospheric Laboratory in 2016 in Svalbard.
  • India’s Arctic Policy: Released in May 2022, it outlines six pillars including science, environmental protection, and international cooperation.

Global Research Presence in the Arctic

  • First Research Station: Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research established the first station in Ny-Ålesund in 1990.
  • International Collaboration: Ten countries, including India, have established eleven permanent research stations in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard.
  • Year-Round Human Presence: Until now, only three stations in the Arctic have been manned throughout the year.

Conclusion

  • Enhanced Research Capabilities: India’s first winter expedition to the Arctic marks a significant advancement in its polar research capabilities.
  • Global Significance: This initiative contributes to the broader understanding of climate change impacts and fosters international scientific collaboration in the Arctic region.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Centre approves fourth phase roll-out of GIAN Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: GIAN Scheme

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Education is preparing to restart the fourth phase of Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) scheme.

Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN)

  • The GIAN was initiated in 2015.
  • It is a project under the Ministry of Education.
  • Coordinating Body: IIT Kharagpur
  • Purpose: To harness the expertise of international scientists and entrepreneurs, fostering their involvement with Indian higher education institutions.
  • This initiative aims to enhance India’s academic resources, speed up quality improvements, and raise India’s scientific and technological standards to a globally competitive level.

Key Components of GIAN

  • Foreign experts receive an honorarium to cover their travel and other expenses.
  • These international experts/faculties conduct short-term courses in Indian institutions.
  • Initially aimed at fostering India-USA collaborations, the program later expanded its reach.
  • Course durations vary, ranging from a minimum of one week to a maximum of three weeks.
  • Foreign experts can receive a total payment of up to US$ 8000 (~ ₹7 lakh) for 12 to 14 hours of teaching and up to US$ 12000 (~ ₹12 lakh) for 20 to 28 hours, covering their travel and honorarium.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

India plans to develop its own ‘Sovereign AI’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sovereign AI Initiative

Mains level: Read the attached story

Sovereign AI

Central Idea

  • In a strategic move towards bolstering its technological prowess, India is set to extend its Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) model to artificial intelligence (AI), aiming for sovereign AI capabilities.

Sovereign AI Initiative

  • Strategic Direction: Minister of State for Electronics and IT has articulated India’s commitment to developing its own sovereign AI, diverging from solely relying on ecosystems driven by global tech giants.
  • Focus Areas: The government’s AI strategy is based on practical applications in sectors like healthcare, agriculture, and governance, aiming for broader economic impact.

Tech Governance Solutions so far

  • Global Positioning: India is showcasing itself as a leader in using technology for large-scale governance solutions.
  • Prominent Examples: The country highlights its Aadhaar bio-metric identity program and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as key achievements.
  • Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI): This concept involves government-backed technology frameworks that are later expanded upon by private entities for various applications.

India’s Strategy for AI Control

  • Policy Framework: The National Data Governance Framework Policy, proposed by MeitY, aims to create an India Datasets platform, aggregating non-personal and anonymized government data.
  • Empowering Innovation: This initiative is designed to provide startups and researchers with access to valuable data for AI development and research.
  • Objective: The policy’s goal is to modernize data collection to enhance governance and stimulate an AI-centric startup ecosystem.

Unified National Data Sharing Platform

  • Report Findings: A recent IT Ministry report highlighted the India datasets program as a key to enabling diverse data sharing and exchange use cases.
  • Data Monetization: The potential monetization of non-personal data is seen as a catalyst for innovation and growth in the AI sector.

Regulating AI in India

  • Legislative Outlook: India’s future AI governance laws are expected to reflect the significant role AI plays in the digital economy.
  • Regulatory Approach: The government plans a hybrid regulatory model, incorporating elements of both European and American frameworks.
  • Tech Giants’ Data Sharing: A proposed directive, part of the draft Digital India Bill, may require major tech companies to contribute non-personal data to a government database.
  • Legislative Timeline: The Digital India Bill is anticipated to be a focus for the government post the 2024 general elections.
  • Committee Recommendations: A MeitY-appointed committee suggested utilizing aggregated non-personal data for economic gains, identifying specific high-value datasets for this purpose.

Conclusion

  • In its pursuit of sovereign AI and robust digital public infrastructure, India is positioning itself as a key player in the global AI domain.
  • The focus on practical AI applications, combined with a balanced regulatory approach, aims to foster innovation, ensure effective data governance, and drive economic growth.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Evolution and Future of Fiber Optic Technology

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Fibre Optic Technology

Mains level: NA

Fiber Optic

Central Idea

  • COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the crucial role of the internet in maintaining global connectivity, facilitated largely by high-speed internet connections.
  • These connections, enabling video chats, online payments, and virtual meetings, largely depend on the technology of optical fibers.

Understanding Optical Fibers

  • Composition and Size: Optical fibers are thin strands of glass, almost as thin as a human hair, used for transmitting information.
  • Information Transmission: They carry various forms of data, including text, images, and videos, at speeds close to that of light.
  • Everyday Relevance: Optical fibers play a vital role in everyday communications like text messaging and phone calls.
  • Fragility vs. Strength: Despite their thinness, these fibers are strong and durable when encased in protective materials.
  • Versatility: They are flexible enough to be laid underground, underwater, or wound around spools.

Historical Perspective

  • Charles Kao’s Contribution: About 60 years ago, physicist Charles Kao proposed using glass fibers for telecommunications, a suggestion that earned him a Nobel Prize in 2009.
  • Replacing Copper Wires: Kao’s idea was initially met with skepticism but eventually replaced copper wires in telecommunication.

How Optical Fibers Work?

  • Light as an Electromagnetic Wave: Light, part of the electromagnetic spectrum, can be controlled and guided through optical fibers.
  • Total Internal Reflection: This phenomenon allows light to travel long distances within the fiber with minimal loss of power.
  • Fiber Optic Communication System: This system includes a transmitter, the optical fiber, and a receiver to encode, carry, and reproduce information.

Data Transmission and Resistance

  • High Data-Transmission Rate: Optical fibers can transmit data at rates of several terabits per second.
  • Insensitivity to External Disturbances: Unlike copper cables, they are not affected by external factors like lightning or bad weather.

Development of Fiber Optic Cables

  • Early Experiments: The concept of guiding light in transparent media dates back to the 19th century, with demonstrations by Jean-Daniel Colladon and others.
  • Medical and Defense Applications: Early glass objects were used in medicine and defense before their adaptation for data transmission.
  • Advancements in the 20th Century: Significant progress occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, including the development of glass-clad fibers and the invention of lasers.

Modern Manufacturing

  • Fiber-Optic Cable Production: Today, glass fibers are produced using the fiber-drawing technique, ensuring high purity and engineered refractive index profiles.
  • Loss Reduction: Modern optical fibers have significantly reduced signal loss, less than 0.2 dB/km.

Future of Fiber Optics

  • Expanding Applications: Fiber optics technology is now integral to various fields, including telecommunication, medical science, and laser technology.
  • India’s National Mission: The Indian government’s 2020 Union Budget announced a significant investment in quantum technologies and applications, highlighting the future potential of fiber optics.
  • Quantum Optics and Communication: The technology stands at the forefront of a new era, with expanding possibilities in quantum optics and home connectivity.

Conclusion

  • Impact of Fiber Optics: The evolution of fiber optics has revolutionized communication and connectivity, offering high-speed, reliable data transmission.
  • Continued Growth and Innovation: As the technology continues to advance, its applications are likely to expand further, driving innovations in various sectors and enhancing global connectivity.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

India’s Deep Ocean Mission: A Journey into the Abyss

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Deep Ocean Mission, Samudrayaan

Mains level: Read the attached story

matsya

Central Idea

  • India’s Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) is a visionary initiative aimed at exploring and harnessing the immense potential of the ocean’s depths.
  • Among its groundbreaking objectives, DOM will deploy an indigenous submersible with a three-member crew to reach a depth of 6,000 meters in the ocean, marking India’s first foray into the profound oceanic abyss.

Deep Ocean Mission Overview

  • Mission Pillars: DOM, principally led by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), encompasses six pillars:
    1. Development of deep-sea mining technologies and a crewed submersible for exploring depths of 6,000 meters.
    2. Ocean climate change advisory services, involving extensive ocean observations and modeling.
    3. Technological innovations for deep-sea biodiversity exploration and conservation.
    4. Deep-ocean survey to identify potential sites of multi-metal hydrothermal sulphides mineralization.
    5. Harnessing energy and freshwater resources from the ocean.
    6. Establishment of an advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology.
  • Strategic Significance: DOM aligns with the ‘New India 2030′ vision, focusing on a blue economy as a core objective for India’s growth. It is part of the United Nations’ ‘Decade of Ocean Science’ (2021-2030) and complements Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on sustainably utilizing the ocean’s potential for national development.
  • Collaborative Efforts: Multiple MoES institutes, including the Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE), Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), and National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), collaborate with national institutes and academia to achieve DOM’s objectives.

Progress on Pillar 1: Deep-Sea Mining Technologies and Crewed Submersible:

  • ‘Samudrayaan’ Initiative: India’s deep ocean mission, ‘Samudrayaan,’ was launched in 2021 under the leadership of MoES. It aims to reach a depth of 6,000 meters in the central Indian Ocean using the ‘Matsya6000’ submersible, accommodating a crew of three members.
  • Submersible Features: Matsya6000 is equipped with scientific sensors, tools, and an operational endurance of 12 hours (extendable to 96 hours in emergencies). The submersible’s design is complete, with testing and experimentation at a depth of 500 meters scheduled in the upcoming year.
  • Mining System: NIOT is developing an integrated system for mining polymetallic nodules from the central Indian Ocean bed. This mineral-rich region, allocated by the United Nations International Seabed Authority (ISA), includes copper, manganese, nickel, and cobalt.
  • Successful Trials: NIOT conducted deep-sea locomotion trials with the ‘Varaha’ underwater mining system at a depth of 5,270 meters in the central Indian Ocean. Varaha collected polymetallic nodules during the trial, marking a significant milestone.
  • Challenges: Deep-sea exploration faces immense challenges, including high pressure, soft and muddy ocean bed surfaces, power supply constraints, visibility limitations, temperature variations, and corrosion. NIOT and MoES are committed to addressing these complexities.

Significance of the Chosen Depth (6,000 meters)

  • Strategic Depth: Targeting a depth of 6,000 meters serves a strategic purpose. India aims to sustainably extract valuable resources such as polymetallic nodules and sulphides, with ISA allocating regions in the central Indian Ocean for exploration.
  • Resource Distribution: Polymetallic nodules, rich in metals like copper, manganese, nickel, iron, and cobalt, are found around 5,000 meters deep. Polymetallic sulphides occur at approximately 3,000 meters. By operating at 6,000 meters, India can effectively cover depths of 3,000 to 5,500 meters, spanning its Exclusive Economic Zone and the central Indian Ocean.

Challenges in Deep-Ocean Exploration

  • High Pressure: Exploring the deep oceans involves extreme pressure conditions, with water exerting tremendous force. Equipment must be meticulously designed to withstand these conditions.
  • Soft Ocean Bed: The soft and muddy ocean bed complicates landing and maneuvering for heavy vehicles.
  • Material Durability: Electronics and instruments must endure underwater conditions, unlike space where objects are designed to function in a vacuum.
  • Extraction Challenges: Extracting materials from the ocean bed necessitates significant power and energy, with the need to transport extracted minerals to the surface.
  • Visibility Constraints: Limited natural light penetration in deep waters poses visibility challenges.

Matsya-6000 and Varaha: A Vision for India’s Ocean Exploration

  • Matsya6000: India’s flagship deep-ocean submersible combines features of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous remote vehicles (AUVs). It accommodates a crew of three, is constructed from titanium alloy, and is designed to withstand high pressures.
  • Varaha: Varaha is India’s deep-ocean mining system, operating on the flexible riser technique. It successfully conducted deep-sea locomotion trials at a depth of 5,270 meters, marking a world record.
  • Unique Ecosystem: India is poised to possess a comprehensive underwater vehicle ecosystem, encompassing deep-water ROVs, polar ROVs, AUVs, deep-water coring systems, and more.

Conclusion

  • India’s Deep Ocean Mission is a pioneering endeavour to explore and harness the potential of the ocean’s depths.
  • With Matsya6000 and Varaha, India is poised to join the selective nations conducting deep-ocean exploration and mining.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

What is Bletchley Park Declaration?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bletchley Park Declaration

Mains level: Global consensus building on AI Regulation

Bletchley Park Declaration

Central Idea

  • The recent AI Safety Summit held at Bletchley Park, the historic site of World War II code-breakers, brought together nations, computer scientists, and tech leaders to address the challenges and opportunities posed by artificial intelligence (AI).
  • India, a significant participant alongside countries like the US, UK, and China, played a pivotal role in shaping the global AI governance landscape.

Bletchley Park Declaration

  • Global Agreement: The Bletchley Park Declaration aims to establish a shared understanding of the risks and opportunities posed by “frontier AI.”
  • Partners: The summit led to a groundbreaking agreement signed by 28 major countries, including India, the US, China, and the European Union.
  • Frontier AI Defined: Frontier AI refers to highly advanced generative AI models with potentially dangerous capabilities that can pose significant risks to public safety.

India’s Stance

  • Global Action: India emphasized the importance of international cooperation to address AI risks effectively, aligning with the views of other participating nations.
  • Prioritizing Safety and Trust: Indian Minister of State for IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, highlighted the need to ensure that AI represents safety and trust. India’s perspective has evolved from initially hesitating to regulate AI to actively formulating risk-based regulations.
  • Global Framework: India’s PM had earlier called for a global framework on “ethical” AI tools, signalling a shift towards proactive regulation.

Global Opinion on AI Governance

  • Diverse Responses: The AI policy response varies across nations. The EU has proposed a comprehensive AI Act, while the UK adopts a “light-touch” approach to foster innovation. The US positions itself between these extremes, focusing on safety and ethics.
  • Regulatory Scrutiny: Policymakers worldwide have increased regulatory scrutiny of generative AI tools, prompted by concerns related to privacy, bias, and intellectual property rights.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

India can now issue OIML certificates: What this means, its significance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OIML (International Organisation of Legal Metrology)

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • India has achieved a significant milestone by becoming a 13th nation as OIML (International Organisation of Legal Metrology) certificate-issuing authority.
  • The other countries are Australia, Switzerland, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, United Kingdom, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden and Slovakia.

Understanding OIML

  • The OIML, established in 1955 and headquartered in Paris, is a renowned international standard-setting body in the field of legal metrology.
  • Its primary role is to develop model regulations, standards, and related documents for use by legal metrology authorities and industries worldwide.
  • These standards are crucial in harmonizing national laws and regulations concerning the performance of measuring instruments, such as clinical thermometers, alcohol breath analyzers, radar speed measuring instruments, ship tanks at ports, and petrol dispensing units.

India’s OIML Membership

  • India became an OIML member in 1956.
  • Simultaneously, India signed the metric convention, emphasizing its commitment to international standards in metrology.

OIML Certificate Significance

  • The OIML-CS (Certificate System) is a globally recognized system for issuing, registering, and using OIML certificates, along with their associated OIML type evaluation/test reports.
  • With India’s inclusion, the number of countries authorized to issue OIML certificates has risen to 13.
  • The OIML certificate is a single document accepted universally.
  • For instance, if an equipment manufacturer in Noida wishes to export their products to the US or any other country, they no longer need to obtain certification from one of the 12 other authorized countries.
  • India’s certification is now globally accepted, facilitating seamless exports and international compliance.

Benefits for the Indian Economy

India’s newfound status as an OIML certificate-issuing authority offers several advantages for the Indian economy:

  • Increased Exports: Indian manufacturers can now export their products with greater ease, reducing trade barriers and expanding their global market reach.
  • Foreign Exchange Earnings: The certification services provided by India will attract neighbouring countries and international manufacturers. This influx of clients seeking certification services will lead to an increase in foreign exchange earnings for India.
  • Employment Generation: To meet the growing demand for certification services, India is expected to witness a surge in employment opportunities in the legal metrology sector.
  • Resource Efficiency: The streamlined certification process will reduce redundancy and save valuable resources, making the certification process more efficient.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Deep sea mining

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: deep sea mining, significance and environmental concerns

Deep sea

Central Idea

  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA), the United Nations body responsible for regulating the ocean floor, is poised to resume negotiations on deep sea mining. The potential opening of the international seabed for mining raises concerns about its impact on fragile marine ecosystems and deep-sea habitats

What is Deep Sea Mining?

  • Deep sea mining refers to the extraction of mineral deposits and metals from the seabed in the deep ocean. It involves mining operations conducted at depths ranging from a few hundred meters to several kilometres below the surface of the ocean.
  • The purpose of deep-sea mining is to obtain valuable resources, including minerals such as nickel, cobalt, rare earth elements, and other metals that are essential for various industries.
  • Deep-sea mining operations are carried out using advanced technologies and equipment, such as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), robotic arms, dredging tools, and underwater drills. These mining methods are still in the developmental stage, and technological advancements continue to evolve.
  • There are three primary types of deep-sea mining:
    • Polymetallic Nodule Mining: Polymetallic nodules are potato-sized mineral concretions that are found scattered on the ocean floor. These nodules contain valuable metals such as manganese, nickel, cobalt, and copper. The mining process involves collecting these nodules by using specialized equipment and machinery.
    • Seafloor Massive Sulfide (SMS) Mining: SMS deposits are formed around hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. They contain high concentrations of metals such as copper, gold, silver, and zinc. The mining process involves cutting and removing the deposits using robotic tools and extracting the minerals.
    • Cobalt-rich Crust Mining: Cobalt crusts are accumulations of minerals that form on the hard surfaces of seamounts and underwater plateaus. These crusts contain cobalt, as well as other valuable metals such as platinum, palladium, and tellurium. The mining process involves stripping the crusts from the rocks using specialized equipment.

Current Regulations on Deep Sea Mining

  • Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS: The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is an international treaty that sets out the legal framework for the use and protection of the world’s oceans, including the regulation of deep-sea mining.
  • Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs): Under UNCLOS, coastal states have jurisdiction over their exclusive economic zones, which extend up to 200 nautical miles from their coastlines. Coastal states have the right to explore and exploit mineral resources within their EEZs, including those located on or beneath the seabed.
  • International Seabed Authority (ISA): The ISA is an autonomous international organization established under UNCLOS. It is responsible for regulating activities related to deep sea mining in the international seabed area, which is beyond national jurisdiction.
  • Common Heritage of Mankind: UNCLOS declares that the seabed and its mineral resources in the international seabed area are the “common heritage of mankind.” This concept emphasizes that the resources should be managed for the benefit of all countries and future generations.
  • Licensing and Contracts: The ISA issues exploration licenses and contracts to interested entities for deep sea mining activities in the international seabed area. These licenses and contracts establish the rights and obligations of the parties involved and provide a legal framework for mining operations.
  • Environmental Protection: UNCLOS emphasizes the need to protect the marine environment and preserve the fragile ecosystems of the deep sea. The ISA is tasked with ensuring that mining activities in the international seabed area are conducted in a manner that minimizes environmental harm and adheres to strict environmental standards.
  • Development of Regulations: The ISA is in the process of developing regulations for deep sea mining. These regulations will cover various aspects, including environmental impact assessments, technology standards, financial obligations, and benefit-sharing arrangements.
  • Precautionary Approach: Given the limited scientific understanding of deep sea ecosystems, a precautionary approach is emphasized in the regulations. This approach entails taking proactive measures to avoid or minimize potential environmental harm, even in the absence of complete scientific certainty.

Environmental Concerns and Implications?

  • Ecosystem Damage: Deep-sea mining poses a significant risk of ecosystem damage, particularly in poorly understood deep-sea environments. The extraction of minerals can cause habitat destruction and disturbance, leading to potential loss of biodiversity and disruption of fragile ecosystems.
  • Noise, Vibration, and Light Pollution: Mining activities generate noise, vibration, and light pollution, which can have adverse effects on marine organisms. These disturbances may disrupt natural behaviors, communication, and feeding patterns of marine species, potentially leading to long-term ecological consequences.
  • Chemical Leaks and Spills: The mining process involves the use of fuels and chemicals that can potentially leak or spill into the marine environment. Such incidents can introduce toxic substances into the ecosystem, harming marine life and affecting the overall health of the ocean.
  • Sediment Plumes: Sediment plumes generated during mining operations can have detrimental effects on marine organisms. When valuable materials are extracted, slurry sediment plumes are sometimes pumped back into the sea. These plumes can smother filter-feeding species like corals and sponges and disrupt their feeding mechanisms.
  • Biodiversity Loss: Deep-sea ecosystems host a wide range of unique and often undiscovered species. The environmental impacts of mining activities can result in biodiversity loss, potentially leading to the extinction or decline of vulnerable and endemic species. Scientists have warned that the loss of biodiversity in deep sea ecosystems may be irreversible.
  • Insufficient Understanding: There is limited scientific knowledge about deep sea ecosystems, their biodiversity, and their ecological functions. The lack of understanding makes it challenging to predict the full extent of the environmental impacts caused by mining activities accurately. This uncertainty further raises concerns about the potential consequences of deep-sea mining.
  • Premature Mining: Some scientists and environmental activists argue that it is premature to engage in deep sea mining when there is still much to learn about deep sea biology, ecosystems, and their interdependencies. They advocate for a cautious approach and call for comprehensive research and assessment before any large-scale mining operations begin.

Conclusion

  • The resumption of negotiations on deep sea mining by the International Seabed Authority has sparked debates regarding the balance between resource extraction and environmental protection. While the need for critical materials drives the interest in mining the ocean floor, concerns over potential environmental damage and the limited understanding of deep-sea ecosystems necessitate caution. Establishing comprehensive regulations and environmental safeguards is crucial to mitigate the potential risks associated with deep sea mining

Also read:

India to launch Deep Ocean Mission

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

GMRT: India’s Largest Radio Telescope  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT)

Mains level: Not Much

gmrt

Central Idea

  • India’s Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) is part of an international effort involving six large telescopes.
  • The telescopes have provided evidence confirming the presence of gravitational waves through pulsar observations.

Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT)

  • The GMRT is an array of thirty fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes located near Narayangaon, Pune, in India.
  • It is renowned as the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope array operating at low frequencies.
  • It is operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
  • It has made significant contributions to the field of astronomy since its construction under the guidance of Late Prof. Govind Swarup between 1984 and 1996.
  • The recent upgrade of the GMRT has further enhanced its capabilities, earning it the name “upgraded Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope” (uGMRT).

Location and Specifications

  • Location: The GMRT Observatory is situated approximately 80 km north of Pune, near Khodad, with the town of Narayangaon just 9 km away. The NCRA office is located within the Savitribai Phule Pune University campus.
  • Telescope Array: The GMRT consists of thirty fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes, each with a diameter of 45 meters.
  • Interferometry Array: The telescopes are configured in an interferometric array with baselines of up to 25 kilometres, allowing for precise and detailed observations.

Science and Observations

  • Galaxy Formation and 21-cm Line Radiation: The GMRT was designed to search for highly redshifted 21-cm line radiation from primordial neutral hydrogen clouds, enabling the determination of the epoch of galaxy formation in the universe.
  • Diverse Astronomical Objectives: Astronomers from around the world utilize the GMRT for studying a wide range of celestial objects, including HII regions, galaxies, pulsars, and supernovae, as well as the Sun and solar winds.

Remarkable Discoveries

  • Most Distant Galaxy: In August 2018, the GMRT discovered the most distant known galaxy, located 12 billion light-years away.
  • Ophiuchus Supercluster Explosion: In February 2020, the GMRT played a crucial role in observing the largest explosion ever recorded in the universe, the Ophiuchus Supercluster explosion.
  • Radio Signal from the Distant Universe: In January 2023, the GMRT detected a radio signal originating from 8.8 billion light-years away, specifically a fast radio burst (FRB) known as FRB 2023L.

Recent Observations

  • Time Aberrations: The team observed time aberrations in the signals emitted by pulsars, indicating the possible presence of gravitational waves.
  • Galactic-Scale Gravitational Wave Detector: Scientists distributed ultra-stable pulsar clocks across the Milky Way to create a virtual detector sensitive to gravitational wave signals.
  • Arrival Time Variations: The arrival times of signals from pulsars were affected by the presence of gravitational waves, causing slight delays or advances.

Significance of the Findings

  • Humming Signals: Nano-hertz signals caused by gravitational waves were detected, leading to the identification of their presence in the universe.
  • Opening a New Window: The team’s results represent a significant milestone in exploring the gravitational wave spectrum, providing new insights into astrophysics.
  • Sensitivity and Timeframe: Detecting these elusive nano-hertz gravitational waves requires sensitive telescopes like GMRT and long-term observations due to their slow variations.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

What is MATSYA-6000?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: MATSYA 6000

Mains level: Samudryaan Mission

matsya

Central idea

  • Hope Dwindling for Titan Submersible: The Titan submersible lost all crew in an underwater implosion.
  • Indigenous Indian Submersible: Indian scientists are preparing to undertake a similar dive in an indigenous vehicle called Matsya-6000.

What is Samudrayaan Mission?

  • Samudrayaan is a mega mission related to the ocean/sea-launched in October 2021.
  • It is aimed to develop “a self-propelled manned submersible to carry three human beings to a water depth of 6,000 meters in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools for deep ocean exploration.
  • It seeks to carry out deep ocean exploration of non-living resources such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulfides, and cobalt crusts, located at a depth between 1000 and 5500 meters.

About MATSYA 6000

  • Developed indigenously, MATSYA 6000 is a manned submersible vehicle.
  • It will facilitate the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in conducting deep ocean exploration.
  • It has an endurance of 12 hours of operational period and 96 hours in case of emergency, according to the ANI news agency.
  • The manned submersible will allow scientific personnel to observe and understand unexplored deep-sea areas by direct intervention.

Design specifications

  • Titanium Enclosure: Matsya-6000 features a titanium casing on the front and back, chosen over carbon fiber for enhanced safety.
  • Syntactic Foam: The submersible is equipped with syntactic foam, a flotation device that helps determine its location even if it cannot resurface.

Need for such a mission

  • Huge coastline: India has a unique maritime position, a 7517 km long coastline, which is home to nine coastal states and 1,382 islands.
  • Blue Economy: The mission aims to boost the Central government’s vision of ‘New India’ that highlights the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.
  • Coastal Economy: For India, with its three sides surrounded by the oceans and around 30% of the nation’s population living in coastal areas and coastal regions play a major economic factor. It supports fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods, and blue trade.

Lessons learned from Titan Submersible

  • Precautions in Place: The Indian scientists working on Matsya-6000 assure multiple back-up safety measures for the crew.
  • Safety System Reviews: There may be reviews of the employed safety systems in light of the Titan submersible incident.
  • Test Dives and Depth Limit: Prior to the main dives, NIOT divers will undertake test dives up to 500 meters inside a steel submersible.
  • Titanium vs. Steel: Titanium, being stronger yet lighter than steel, is preferred for resurfacing ease and balancing extreme ocean depths.
  • Spherical Hull Perfection: The submersible’s hull must be perfectly spherical to evenly distribute extreme pressure at ocean depths.

Impact on Safety Measures

  • Reviewing Safety Measures: The incident involving the Titan submersible prompts a reevaluation and rechecking of safety measures for the Matsya-6000 mission.
  • Incorporating Lessons Learned: The accident serves as a learning opportunity to enhance the safety and reliability of the upcoming Indian mission.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Exploring Phonons as Information Units for Quantum Computing

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Phonons

Mains level: Not Much

phonon

Central Idea

  • Quantum computing and artificial intelligence are emerging fields in computing.
  • IBM recently published a paper demonstrating the potential of quantum computers to solve complex problems.
  • Qubits are the fundamental units of information in quantum computers.

Qubits – Basic Units of Information in Quantum Computing

  • Qubits are the building blocks of quantum computers.
  • Unlike classical computers, qubits can exist in superposition, representing both ‘on’ and ‘off’ states simultaneously.
  • Quantum physics allows particles, such as electrons, to exhibit unique properties for qubit representation.
  • The encoding of information in a quantum system enables complex calculations beyond the reach of classical computers.
  • Different types of quantum computing employ various units of information, such as photons in linear optical quantum computing (LOQC).

Exploring Phonons as Qubits

  • Researchers explore the possibility of using phonons as qubits.
  • Phonons are packets of vibrational energy, analogous to sound.
  • A recent study published in Science suggests that phonons can serve as information units in a quantum computer.
  • Manipulating phonons requires new tools, leading to the development of an acoustic beam-splitter.
  • Beam-splitters, widely used in optics research, split a stream of photons into two beams.

Behavior of Phonons and Interference Patterns

  • Beam-splitters operate on the principles of quantum physics.
  • The interaction of photons with beam-splitters creates interference patterns.
  • Interference patterns also emerge when shining photons one by one, highlighting wave-particle duality.
  • Phonons, like photons, exhibit wave-like behavior and exist in a superposition of states.
  • When a phonon interacts with the acoustic beam-splitter, it undergoes superposition and produces interference patterns.

Experimental Study on Phonons

  • Researchers developed an acoustic beam-splitter device with metal bars.
  • The experiment involved a two-mm-long channel of lithium niobate with superconducting qubits at each end.
  • Phonons were emitted and detected by the qubits, representing the collective vibrations of numerous atoms.
  • The interaction between phonons and the beam-splitter showed similar behavior to photon interactions.
  • Phonons emitted from one side were reflected or transmitted, depending on the experiment.

Implications and Future Prospects

  • The study confirms that phonons behave according to quantum mechanics.
  • Building a functional phonon-based quantum computer is a significant challenge.
  • Researchers view this as an extension of the quantum computing toolbox.
  • Future advancements and research will continue to explore the potential of phonons in quantum computing.

Conclusion

  • Phonons have shown promise as potential information units for quantum computing.
  • The study highlights the need for further research and development in this area.
  • While a functional phonon-based quantum computer is still a distant goal, the exploration of new possibilities in quantum computing continues.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

India to triple Supercomputing capabilities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Supercomputing

Mains level: National Supercomputing Mission

super

Central Idea

  • India is set to significantly enhance its supercomputing capabilities by installing an 18-petaflop system this year.
  • This development aims to improve complex mathematical calculations, particularly in weather forecasting, by providing greater processing power and accuracy.

Understanding Supercomputers

  • A supercomputer is a high-performance computer capable of processing massive amounts of data at extraordinary speeds.
  • Performance is measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) rather than million instructions per second (MIPS).
  • Supercomputers have the ability to perform trillions (peta) of FLOPS.

India’s Journey in Supercomputing

  • India’s supercomputing journey began in the late 1980s when the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) was established in response to technology embargoes imposed by the United States.
  • Since then, India has steadily progressed, unveiling the PARAM 800 in 1991, which was the world’s second-fastest supercomputer at the time.
  • The National Supercomputing Mission (NSM), launched in 2015 with a budget of ₹4,500 crore, has been instrumental in propelling India’s supercomputing capabilities.
  • The mission aims to create a network of supercomputers across academic and research institutions in the country, supporting academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups.

Current Supercomputing Infrastructure

  • India’s most powerful civilian supercomputers, Pratyush and Mihir, have a combined capacity of 6.8 petaflops.
  • Pratyush is located at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune, while Mihir is housed at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) in Noida.
  • These supercomputers became operational in 2018 after an investment of ₹438 crore.
  • Both institutions are affiliated with the MoES.

Acquisition of New Supercomputers

  • The new supercomputers, sourced from French corporation ATOS, were procured as part of a deal signed between the Indian and French governments in December 2018.
  • The Government aims to acquire high-performance computers worth ₹4,500 crore by 2025, with an estimated cost of ₹900 crore for the new earth-sciences Ministry computers.

Enhanced Capabilities and Future Outlook

  • Upgrading the supercomputing systems every 4-5 years is essential to improve performance.
  • The new system will enhance resolution from the current 12×12 km to 6×6 km, providing greater clarity and accuracy in local weather forecasts.
  • The ultimate goal is to represent areas using 1 km-square grids, enabling the prediction of rapidly evolving weather phenomena such as cloudbursts.
  • The current fastest high-performance computing system in the world is the Frontier-Cray system at Oakridge National Laboratory in the United States, with a peak speed of 1 exa-flop (equivalent to 1,000 petaflops).

Way forward

To further enhance India’s supercomputing capabilities and maintain technological advancements, the following steps can be considered:

  • Continued investment in research and development to stay at the forefront of supercomputing technology.
  • Collaboration with international partners and organizations to leverage global expertise.
  • Encouraging academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups to utilize the supercomputing infrastructure for scientific breakthroughs and innovation.
  • Strengthening the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) by expanding its network and providing adequate resources.
  • Regularly upgrading supercomputing systems to keep up with evolving computational demands and maintain competitiveness on a global scale.

Also in news

Recently, India’s AI Supercomputer ‘AIRAWAT’ has been ranked at No. 75 in the world at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC 2023) in Germany.

About Airawat

  • The supercomputer ‘AIRAWAT’ has recently been named in the 61st edition of the Top 500 Global Supercomputing List.
  • Installed at C-DAC in Pune, ‘AIRAWAT’ is an AI supercomputer implemented under the National Program on AI by the Government of India.
  • The manufacturer of ‘AIRAWAT’ is Netweb Technologies.
  • ‘AIRAWAT’ PSAI stands out as India’s largest and fastest AI supercomputing system, boasting an impressive speed of 13,170 teraflops.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Genome Sequencing and the Genome India Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Genome Sequencing

Mains level: Read the attached story

genome

The Department of Biotechnology recently said that the exercise to sequence 10,000 Indian human genomes and create a database under the Centre-backed Genome India Project is about two-thirds complete.

What is the Genome India Project?

  • The Genome India Project has been described by those involved as the “first scratching of the surface of the vast genetic diversity of India”.
  • It involves over 20 scientists from institutions including the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and a few IITs.
  • It is inspired by the Human Genome Project (HGP 1990-2003) an international programme that led to the decoding of the entire human genome.

About Human Genome Project (HGP)

Description
Description HGP was a global research effort aimed at mapping and sequencing the entire human genome, which is the complete set of genetic instructions for building and maintaining a human being.
Timeframe Began in 1990 and was completed in 2003.
Collaborators A collaborative effort involving scientists from many countries.
Coordinators Institutes of Health (NIH) and the US Department of Energy (DOE), US
Achievements Scientists were able to identify the location of many human genes and provide information about their structure and organization.
Impact It has led to the development of new diagnostic tools and therapies for a wide range of genetic disorders and has provided valuable insights into the basic biology of human development and evolution.
Fields affected Medicine, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.

 

What is a Genome?

  • Every organism’s genetic code is contained in its Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA), the building blocks of life.
  • The discovery that DNA is structured as a “double helix” by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, started the quest for understanding how genes dictate life, its traits, and what causes diseases.
  • A genome is all the genetic matter in an organism. It is defined as “an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes.
  • Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism.
  • In humans, a copy of the entire genome contains more than 3 billion DNA base pairs.
  • Each pair consists of 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46 chromosomes, which means that for 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell, there are roughly 20,500 genes located on them.

What does genome mapping tell us?

  • Some of the genes are lined up in a row on each chromosome, while others are lined up quite close to one another and this arrangement might affect the way they are inherited.
  • For example, if the genes are placed sufficiently close together, there is a probability that they get inherited as a pair.
  • Genome mapping, therefore, essentially means figuring out the location of a specific gene on a particular region of the chromosome and also determining the location of and relative distances between other genes on that chromosome.

How did it help during the pandemic?

  • Genomic sequencing became a crucial tool in the fight against COVID-19 to track emerging variants, conduct further studies, and develop vaccines.
  • In January 2020, Chinese scientist Yong-Zhen Zhang sequenced the genome of the novel coronavirus and shared it online, allowing researchers to study the virus’s genetic code.
  • India also implemented a sequencing framework, the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia (INSACOG), to scan coronavirus samples from patients and flag the presence of variants.

What is the significance of GIP?

  • HGP has a major diversity problem as most genomes (over 95%) mapped under HGP have been sourced from urban middle-class white people.
  • Thus, HGP should not really be seen as representative of the human genome.

In this context, the GIP aims to vastly add to the available information on the human species and advance the cause, both because of the scale of the Indian population and the diversity here. This diversity can be depicted by:

  1. Horizontal Diversity: The Indian subcontinent has been the site of huge migrations, where the first migrations were from Africa. Also, there have been periodic migrations by various populations from all around the world, making this a very special case of almost all races and types intermingling genetically.
  2. Vertical Diversity: There has been endogamy or inter-marriage practised among distinct groups, resulting in some diseases passed on strictly within some groups and some other traits inherited by just some groups.

Its applications

  • Personalized Medicine: Genome sequencing can help in the development of personalized medicine. By analyzing a patient’s genetic makeup, doctors can determine the best course of treatment for a particular disease. This approach can help in the early detection of diseases, identifying the risk of inherited diseases, and providing targeted therapies.
  • Disease Diagnosis: Genome sequencing can be used to diagnose genetic disorders that are caused by mutations in a single gene, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. It can also help in identifying the genetic causes of complex diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
  • Drug Development: Genome sequencing can help in the development of new drugs by identifying targets for drug therapy. It can also help in the identification of biomarkers that can be used to monitor the effectiveness of drugs.
  • Agriculture: Genome sequencing can help in the development of improved crops and livestock by identifying genes that control traits such as yield, disease resistance, and quality.
  • Forensics: Genome sequencing can be used in forensic investigations to identify suspects by analyzing their DNA. It can also help in identifying missing persons and victims of disasters.

Challenges involved

  • Fear of Scientific Racism: In India, a nation divided by identity politics, scientific work in mapping genetic groups may further strengthen the divisions in the society based on the prevalent notion of race.
  • Data & Storage: India is yet to pass a Data Privacy Bill with adequate safeguards and launching the GIP before the privacy question is settled could give rise to another set of problems.
  • Medical Ethics: In a project that aims only to create a database of genetic information poses a risk of doctors privately performing gene modification.

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Centre gives nod for National Quantum Mission (NQM)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quantum Computing, National Quantum Mission (NQM)

Mains level: National Quantum Mission (NQM)

quantum

Central idea: The Union Cabinet has approved the National Quantum Mission (NQM) with a budget of ₹6,003 crore. The mission aims to fund research and development in quantum computing technology and associated applications.

What is Quantum Computing?

Explanation
What is it? A type of computing that uses quantum-mechanical phenomena to perform operations on data.
Qubits Quantum bits, which can be 0, 1, or both simultaneously (a superposition of 0 and 1).
Computational speed It can perform certain calculations much faster than traditional computing, especially for complex algorithms and large amounts of data.
Entanglement The use of entanglement allows quantum computing to process multiple pieces of data simultaneously, further increasing computational power.
Research Governments, universities, and private companies around the world are researching quantum computing.
Challenges Building practical quantum computers is a major challenge due to the fragility of qubits and the difficulty of controlling and measuring them accurately.
Development stage Quantum computing is still in its early stages of development.

 

National Quantum Mission (NQM)

Mission duration 2023-2031
Total cost Rs. 6,003.65 crore
Leading Department Department of Science and Technology (DST)
Supporting departments Other government departments
Focus Development of physical qubit-based quantum computers
Applications Healthcare and diagnostics, defense, energy, and data security
India’s positioning Among the top six nations involved in quantum research and development

 

Key focus areas

(1) Thematic Hubs

  • The mission will be structured around four broad themes:
  1. Quantum Computing,
  2. Quantum Communication,
  3. Quantum Sensing and Metrology, and
  4. Quantum Material and Devices.
  • Thematic hubs will be established at research institutes and R&D centres already working in the field.
  • The effort is to create an ecosystem that favours quantum technology development in the country.

(2) Satellite-based Communication

  • One of the key areas of focus for the NQM will be the development of satellite-based secure communication between ground stations and receivers located within a 3,000 km range over the first three years.
  • NQM will lay communication lines using Quantum Key Distribution over 2,000 km for satellite-based communication within Indian cities.
  • Tests will be conducted in the coming years for long-distance quantum communication, especially with other countries.

(3) Quantum Computing

  • The mission will focus on developing quantum computers (qubit) with physical qubit capacities ranging between 50 – 1000 qubits, developed over the next eight years.
  • The development of computers up to 50 physical qubits will take three years.
  • 50 – 100 physical qubits will be developed in five years, and computers up to 1000 physical qubits will be developed in eight years.

Applications

  • The mission would have a wide range of applications, including in healthcare and diagnostics, defense, energy, and data security.
  • Quantum technologies are expected to be far more powerful than traditional computing systems and capable of performing the most complex problems in a highly secure manner.

Various challenges

  • Sub-zero temperatures: Current prototype systems require extremely cold (close to -273 C) conditions to work, along with developing the materials capable of such computations.
  • Still evolving: Quantum computers are still a work in progress globally, and no one has built a practical computer that can actually work and solve meaningful problems.
  • No global breakthrough: IBM, D-Wave of Canada or China’s Zuchongzhi 2.1, all of whom have prototype systems, have not built a quantum computer that can solve a problem that anybody cares about.

Conclusion

  • The NQM represents a significant step forward for India’s research and development efforts in the quantum technology sector.
  • By focusing on the development of quantum computers and related technologies, the country is positioning itself as a key player in this field, with wide-ranging applications across multiple sectors.

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

VAIBHAV fellowship for Indian Diaspora

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vaibhav Fellowship

Mains level: Not Much

The centre has launched VAIBHAV Fellowship scheme for the Indian Diaspora abroad on National Science Day.

VAIBHAV fellowship

  • The Vaibhav Fellowship is a program that invites overseas Indian scientists and researchers to work with Indian institutions and universities for a period of 2-3 weeks.
  • The program is open to individuals of Indian origin who are working in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
  • The fellowship will provide opportunities for the diaspora to collaborate with Indian scientists and researchers, participate in conferences, and contribute to the development of the country’s science and technology sector.

Objectives of the Fellowship

  • To create a platform for Indian diaspora scientists and researchers to connect with their counterparts in India and contribute to the country’s growth in the field of science and technology.
  • To foster collaboration between Indian and overseas scientists and researchers, promote knowledge exchange, and build a network of professionals who can contribute to the development of the country.

Key facts

  • Duration: The fellowship offers researchers an opportunity to work for a minimum of one month to a maximum of two months a year with a research institution or an academic institution in India.
  • Corpus: Three years with the government offering the researchers an amount of up to Rs 37 lakh for the entire period.
  • Eligibility: Researchers from institutions featuring in the top 500 QS World University Rankings will be eligible for the fellowship.
  • Who can apply: The applicant should be a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), Person of Indian Origin (PIO) or Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and she or he must have obtained Ph.D/M.D/M.S degree from a recognized University.

Significance of the fellowship

  • The fellowship provides a platform for Indian scientists and researchers to collaborate with their counterparts abroad, which can help in the exchange of ideas and knowledge.
  • It also provides an opportunity for the Indian diaspora to contribute to the development of their home country.
  • By engaging with the Indian institutions and universities, the diaspora can bring in new ideas, technologies, and expertise that can help in the country’s development.

 

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

National Science Day and CV Raman

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CV Raman, Raman's Effect

Mains level: Promoting scientific temper in India

raman

National Science Day is commemorated on Feb 28 every year to commemorate the bird anniversary of Sir CV Raman.

National Science Day

  • In 1986, the Government of India, under then PM Rajiv Gandhi, designated February 28 as National Science Day to commemorate the announcement of the discovery of the “Raman Effect”.
  • The Raman Effect was the discovery which won physicist Sir CV Raman his Nobel Prize in 1930.

Who was CV Raman?

  • Raman conducted his Nobel-prize-winning research at IACS, Calcutta.
  • While he was educated entirely in India, Raman travelled to London for the first time in 1921, where his reputation in the study of optics and acoustics was known to physicists such as JJ Thomson and Lord Rutherford.
  • The Raman Effect won scientist Sir CV Raman the Nobel Prize for physics in 1930.
  • It was also designated as an International Historic Chemical Landmark jointly by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS).
  • His speciality was the study of vibrations and sounds of stringed instruments such as the Indian veena and tambura, and Indian percussion instruments such as the tabla and mridangam.

The Raman Effect

  • In 1928, Raman discovered that when a stream of light passes through a liquid, a fraction of the light scattered by the liquid is of a different colour.
  • While Raman was returning from London in a 15-day voyage, he started thinking about the colour of the deep blue Mediterranean.
  • He wasn’t convinced by the explanation that the colour of the sea was blue due to the reflection of the sky.
  • As the ship docked in Bombay, he sent a letter to the editor of the journal Nature, in which he penned down his thoughts on this.
  • Subsequently, Raman was able to show that the blue colour of the water was due to the scattering of the sunlight by water molecules.
  • By this time he was obsessed with the phenomenon of light scattering.

Observing the effect

raman

  • The Raman Effect is when the change in the energy of the light is affected by the vibrations of the molecule or material under observation, leading to a change in its wavelength.
  • Significantly, it notes that the Raman effect is “very weak” — this is because when the object in question is small (smaller than a few nanometres), the light will pass through it undisturbed.
  • But a few times in a billion, light waves may interact with the particle. This could also explain why it was not discovered before.
  • In general, when light interacts with an object, it can either be reflected, refracted or transmitted.
  • One of the things that scientists look at when light is scattered is if the particle it interacts with is able to change its energy.

Real-life applications

  • Raman spectroscopy is used in many varied fields – in fact, any application where non-destructive, microscopic, chemical analysis and imaging is required.
  • Whether the goal is qualitative or quantitative data, Raman analysis can provide key information easily and quickly.
  • It can be used to rapidly characterize the chemical composition and structure of a sample, whether solid, liquid, gas, gel, slurry or powder.

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Reconstructing past Deep-Water Circulations of Indian Ocean

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Panama Closure Hypothesis

Mains level: Not Much

indian ocean

Studies have indicated that tectonically driven changes in the ocean gateways such as the closure of the Central American Seaway, a body of water that once separated North America from South America, since the late Miocene period, had a dramatic impact on the Indian Ocean circulation.

What is Global overturning circulation (GOC)?

  • It is the equatorward transport of cold, deep waters and the poleward transport of warm, near-surface waters.
  • It controls ocean heat distribution and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, thus playing a critical role in global climate.

Concept: Panama Closure Hypothesis

  • This news essentially talks about the Panama Closure Hypothesis.
  • Panama Hypothesis states that the gradual closure of the Panama Seaway, between 13 million years ago (13 Ma) and 2.6 Ma, led to decreased mixing of Atlantic and Pacific water Masses.
  • This led to the formation of North Atlantic Deep water circulation.
  • It strengthened the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, increased temperatures and evaporation in the North Atlantic, increased precipitation in Northern Hemisphere high latitudes.

Impact of Panama closure

  • It is thought that tectonic changes might have led to the formation of two separate water bodies — northern component water in the North Atlantic and Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) in the Southern Ocean.
  • Consequently, it is also hypothesised that there would have been large-scale changes in the Deep Water Circulation (DWC) in the oceans across the world.

Impact on Indian Ocean gyre

  • The Indian Ocean does not have any major deep-water formations of its own.
  • It acts only as a host for NCW and AABW.
  • Further, the northern parts of the Indian Ocean are located at one of the terminal ends of the GOC, far away from the deep-water formation regions and oceanic seaways.

What has the new research found?

  • The scientists have generated an authigenic neodymium isotope record from the Arabian Sea and reconstructed the DWC record of the Indian Ocean for the period from 11.3 million years ago (Miocene era) to 1.98 million years ago (Pleistocene era).
  • The record shows a clear shift from the Pacific water-dominated deep circulation system before about nine million years ago, to the onset of a modern-like deep water circulation system in the Indian Ocean.
  • It comprises of Antarctic bottom water and northern component water during the Miocene-Pliocene transition (about six million years ago).
  • This suggests a widespread impact of the late Miocene Central American Seaway closure on the evolution of ocean deep water circulation and validates the so-called Panama Closure Hypothesis.

Back2Basics: Indian Ocean Circulation

indian ocean

  • The Indian Ocean circulation/gyre, located in the Indian Ocean, is one of the five major oceanic gyres, large systems of rotating ocean currents, which together form the backbone of the global conveyor belt.
  • The Indian Ocean gyre is composed of two major currents: the South Equatorial Current, and the West Australian Current.
  • Normally moving counter-clockwise, in the winter the Indian Ocean gyre reverses direction due to the seasonal winds of the South Asian Monsoon.

How does it function?

  • In the summer, the land is warmer than the ocean, so surface winds blow from the ocean to the land.
  • However, during the winter, these temperatures reverse, making the winds blow from the land to the ocean.
  • Because most of the air pressure gradient is retained behind the Tibetan plateau, air pressure gradients over the Indian Ocean and the gyre are small.
  • This results in winds of moderate strength, due to the protection from the full-force winds blowing off the Mongolian high-pressure region.
  • Because of these moderate, dry winds, the Winter Monsoon season in the Indian Ocean region is the dry season for most of Southern Asia.
  • Due to this seasonal wind cycle, the currents of the Indian Ocean, which make up the Indian Ocean gyre, are directly affected, causing reversal.

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Indian Virtual Herbarium, biggest database of country’s flora, is a global hit

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Herbaria

Mains level: Not Much

With details of about one lakh plant specimens, the Indian Virtual Herbarium, the biggest virtual database of flora in the country, is generating a lot of interest and turning out to be an eye-catching endeavour.

Indian Virtual Herbarium

  • A herbarium specimen is consists of dried plant parts with labelled information on Scientific name and collection data.
  • It has immense use in plant identification, systematics studies and ecological studies.
  • The Botanical Survey of India has more than 30,00,000 herbarium specimens persevered in different herbaria located in different parts of the country.
  • Developed by scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI), the herbarium was inaugurated by Union Minister of Environment Forest and Climate Change in Kolkata last month.

Why in news?

  • Since launch, the portal ivh.bsi.gov.in has had nearly two lakh hits from 55 countries.
  • The portal includes about one lakh images of herbarium specimens.
  • Each record in the digital herbarium includes an image of the preserved plant specimen, scientific name, collection locality, and collection date, collector name, and barcode number.
  • The digital herbarium includes features to extract the data State-wise, and users can search plants of their own States, which will help them identify regional plants and in building regional checklists.

Significance of the herbaria

  • Scientists say that there are approximately three million plant specimens in the country which are with different herbaria located at zonal centres of the BSI.
  • About 52% of our type specimens are from foreign nations and collected from 82 countries of the world during the British-era.
  • The herbarium is also deeply linked with the botanical history of the country.
  • The portal provides most valuable historical collections of botanists like William Roxburgh, Nathaniel Wallich and Joseph Dalton Hooker, considered the founding fathers of botany in India.
  • The digital herbarium has some of the oldest botanical specimens dating as early as 1696.

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Private Sector Boost in India’s Space Industry

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: INSPACE, NSIL

Mains level: Commercial space activities in India

Principal Scientific Adviser stated earlier this month that the government would soon come up with a new space policy that could initiate the rise of India’s own “SpaceX-like Ventures”.

Prospects of the proposed Space Policy

  • The final version of the policy would soon be referred to the Empowered Technology Group for further examination.
  • The proposed move would increase private sector participation in the industry.
  • The policy document recognizes that India has not tapped into its complete potential in space sector.

Why is development in the space sector important?

Ans. Address wide range of problems

(1) Climate Change

  • Satellites provide more accurate information on weather forecasts and assess (and record) long-term trends in the climate and habitability of a region.
  • By monitoring the long-term impact of climate change at regional, territorial, and national scales, governments would be able to devise more pragmatic and combative plans of action for farmers and dependent industries.
  • Additionally, they can also serve as real-time monitoring and early-warning solutions against natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, wildfires, mining etc.
  • Real-time tracking can also serve multiple purposes in defence.

(2)  Connectivity

  • In this light, it must be noted that satellite communications, which are used to facilitate telecommunication services, are among the major categories for investment in the space technology sector.
  • Satellite communication can reach more remote areas where conventional networks would require a heavy complimenting infrastructure.
  • Additionally, as to reliability, the World Economic Forum had stated that satellite communication can help connect 49% of the world’s unconnected population.
  • Other prominent categories include spacecraft and equipment manufacturing.
  • What essentially needs to be remembered is that the strategic space avenue is an integration of the aerospace, IT hardware and telecom sectors.

Where does India stand in the global space market?

  • As per SpaceTech Analytics, India is the sixth-largest player in the industry internationally having 3.6% of the world’s space-tech companies (as of 2021).
  • US holds the leader’s spot housing 56.4% of all companies in the space-tech ecosystem.
  • Other major players include UK (6.5%), Canada (5.3%), China (4.7%) and Germany (4.1%).
  • The Indian Space Industry was valued at $7 billion in 2019 and aspires to grow to $50 billion by 2024.

Why does India matter in the global space-tech market?

  • The country’s standout feature is its cost-effectiveness.
  • India holds the distinction of being the first country to have reached the Mars’ orbit in its first attempt and at $75 million — way cheaper than Western standards.

Future prospects of India’s private ‘Space’

Ans. India may lead in space junk management

  • Almost 60-odd start-ups had registered with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) this year.
  • A majority of them were dealing in projects related to space debris management.
  • As space becomes more congested with satellites, the technology would thus help in managing ‘space junk’ (debris of old spacecraft and satellites).

Where does India lack?

Ans. Undisputedly, it is the finances

  • The US and Canada were the highest receivers of space-related investment in 2021.
  • The US’s space budget was $41 billion in 2021, $23.3 billion of which was focused on NASA.
  • India’s total budgetary allocation for FY2022-23 towards the Department of Space was ₹13,700 crore ($172 million).
  • Further, as per Tracxn data, funding into the sector’s start-ups (in India) nearly tripled to $67.2 million on a year-over-year basis in 2021.

How is the private sector’s involvement regulated in India?

  • In June 2020, the Union government announced reforms in the space sector enabling more private players to provide end-to-end services.
  • The central idea was to bring forth a predictable policy and regulatory environment for them and additionally provide access to ISRO facilities and assets to improve their capacities.

(1) Establishment of IN-SPACe

  • An announcement for the establishment of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) was made.
  • It was mandated the task of promoting, authorising and licensing private players to carry out space activities.
  • As an oversight and regulatory body, it is responsible for devising mechanisms to offer sharing of technology, expertise, and facilities free of cost to promote non-government private entities (NGPEs).
  • IN-SPACe’s Monitoring and Promotion Directorate oversees NGPE’s activities as per prescribed regulations and reports back in case any corrective actions or resolutions are required.
  • ISRO shares its expertise in matters pertaining to quality and reliability protocols, documentation, and testing procedure through IN-SPACe’s ‘interface mechanism’.

(2) Establishment of NSIL

  • Additionally, constituted in March 2019, New Space India Ltd (NSIL), is mandated to transfer the matured technologies developed by the ISRO to Indian industries.
  • All of them are under the purview of the Ministry of Defence.
  • Private sector’s involvement in the long term, as with other commercial sectors, is believed to help spur investment and expertise in the realm which is capital-intensive and demands high technology.

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Lok Sabha deferred the consideration and passing of the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 as the Opposition benches were empty due to the ongoing protests outside of Parliament.

Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

Aims and objectives:

  • To provide for national measures to protect the Antarctic environment and associated ecosystems and to give effect to the Antarctic Treaty
  • To provide a harmonious policy framework for India’s Antarctic activities through a well-established legal mechanism
  • Facilitate activities of the Indian Antarctic programme, including management of Antarctic tourism and sustainable development of fisheries
  • To prohibit carrying of certain activities without a permit or the written authorisation of another party to the protocol
  • To provide for inspection in India by an officer designated by the Central government as an Inspector and to constitute an inspection team to carry out inspections in Antarctica
  • To prohibit drilling, dredging, excavation or collection of mineral resources or even doing anything to identify where such mineral deposits occur.

Key feature: Committee on Antarctic governance

  • It will empower the government to establish a committee on Antarctic governance and environmental protection to monitor, implement and ensure compliance with the relevant international laws, emissions standards and rules of protection.
  • The panel is to be headed by the secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, as ex officio chairperson.
  • Among other roles, he/she has also been the vice-president of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research of the International Science Council since 2018.
  • The committee will have ten members from various ministries, departments and organizations of the Union government, plus two experts on the Antarctic environment or other relevant areas.

Prohibited activities

The Bill prohibits certain activities in Antarctica including:

  • Nuclear explosion or disposal of radioactive wastes,
  • Introduction of non-sterile soil, and
  • Discharge of garbage, plastic or other substance into the sea which is harmful to the marine environment

About Antarctica Treaty

  • Antarctica has a geographical area of 14 million sq. km and has had no indigenous population (i.e. “Antarcticans” don’t exist).
  • However, a few thousand people reside there, in some 40 research stations spread across the continent, throughout the year.
  • In 1959, 12 countries – Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the UK and the US signed the Antarctic Treaty.
  • Their aim was to prevent the continent from being militarised and to establish it as a center of peaceful activities.
  • Later, more countries, including India, have become party to the treaty, and today it counts more than 54 members.

Significance of the treaty

  • The treaty requires each party to take appropriate measures within its competence, including the adoption of laws and regulations, administrative actions, and enforcement measures, to ensure compliance with the protocol.
  • Countries also signed the ‘Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty in 1991, which designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”.

Need for the Antarctic Legislation

  • The growing presence of Indian scientists in Antarctica and the commitment to Antarctic research and protection prompted the government to adopt domestic legislation consistent with its obligations as a member of the Antarctic Treaty system.
  • These laws will enable India’s courts to deal with disputes or crimes committed in parts of Antarctica, and help build credibility vis-à-vis India’s participation.

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Indian Antarctic Bill Introduced in Lok Sabha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Antarctic Treaty

Mains level: Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

The government has introduced the ‘Antarctica Bill, 2022’ in the Lok Sabha that envisages regulating visits and activities to Antarctica as well potential disputes that may arise among those present on the continent.

Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

Aims and objectives:

  • To provide for national measures to protect the Antarctic environment and associated ecosystems and to give effect to the Antarctic Treaty
  • To provide a harmonious policy framework for India’s Antarctic activities through a well-established legal mechanism
  • Facilitate activities of the Indian Antarctic programme, including management of Antarctic tourism and sustainable development of fisheries
  • To prohibit Indian expedition to Antarctica or carrying of certain activities in Antarctica without a permit or the written authorisation of another party to the protocol
  • To provide for inspection in India by an officer designated by the Central government as an Inspector and to constitute an inspection team to carry out inspections in Antarctica

Key feature: Committee on Antarctic governance

  • It will empower the government to establish a committee on Antarctic governance and environmental protection to monitor, implement and ensure compliance with the relevant international laws, emissions standards and rules of protection.
  • The panel is to be headed by the secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, as ex officio chairperson.
  • Among other roles, he has also been the vice-president of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research of the International Science Council since 2018.
  • The committee will have ten members from various ministries, departments and organizations of the Union government, plus two experts on the Antarctic environment or other relevant areas.

About Antarctica Treaty

  • Antarctica has a geographical area of 14 million sq. km and has had no indigenous population (i.e. “Antarcticans” don’t exist).
  • However, a few thousand people reside there, in some 40 research stations spread across the continent, throughout the year.
  • In 1959, 12 countries – Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the UK and the US signed the ‘Antarctic Treaty’.
  • Their aim was to prevent the continent from being militarised and to establish it as a centre of peaceful activities.
  • Later, more countries, including India, have become party to the treaty, and today it counts more than 54 members.
  • The treaty requires each party to take appropriate measures within its competence, including the adoption of laws and regulations, administrative actions and enforcement measures, to ensure compliance with the protocol.
  • Countries also signed the ‘Protocol on Environmental Protection’ to the Antarctic Treaty in 1991, which designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”.

Need for the Antarctic Legislation

  • The growing presence of Indian scientists in Antarctica and the commitment to Antarctic research and protection prompted the government to adopt domestic legislation consistent with its obligations as a member of the Antarctic Treaty system.
  • These laws will enable India’s courts to deal with disputes or crimes committed in parts of Antarctica, and help build credibility vis-à-vis India’s participation.

India at the Poles

  • India maintains two research stations on the continent: ‘Maitri’ (commissioned in 1989) at Schirmacher Hills and ‘Bharati’ (2012) at Larsemann Hills.
  • It has also launched 41 scientific expeditions every year thus far.
  • Together with the ‘Himadri’ station in Svalbard, above the Arctic circle, India is among an elite group of countries with multiple research in the polar regions.

 

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] Petascale Supercomputer “PARAM Ganga” established at IIT Roorkee

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Param Ganga, Petaflops

Mains level: National Supercomputing Mission

The National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) has now deployed “PARAM Ganga”, a supercomputer at IIT Roorkee, with a supercomputing capacity of 1.66 Petaflops.

What is a Supercomputer?

  • A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer.
  • The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).
  • Since 2017, there are supercomputers which can perform over a hundred quadrillion FLOPS (peta FLOPS).
  • Since November 2017, all of the world’s fastest 500 supercomputers run Linux-based operating systems.

PARAM Ganga

  • PARAM Ganga is designed and commissioned by C-DAC under Phase 2 of the build approach of the NSM.
  • It is based on a heterogeneous and hybrid configuration of Intel Xeon Cascade lake processors, and NVIDIA Tesla V100.
  • There are 312 (CPU+GPU+HM) nodes with a total peak computing capacity of 1.67 (CPU+GPU+HM) PFLOPS performance.
  • The cluster consists of compute nodes connected with the Mellanox (HDR) InfiniBand interconnect network.
  • The system uses the Lustre parallel file system and operating system is CentOS 7.x.

Back2Basics: National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

  • NSM is a proposed plan by GoI to create a cluster of seventy supercomputers connecting various academic and research institutions across India.
  • In April 2015 the government approved the NSM with a total outlay of Rs.4500 crore for a period of 7 years.
  • The mission was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups by creating the capability design, manufacturing, of supercomputers indigenously in India.
  • Currently there are four supercomputers from India in Top 500 list of supercomputers in the world.

Aims and objectives

  • The target of the mission was set to establish a network of supercomputers ranging from a few Tera Flops (TF) to Hundreds of Tera Flops (TF) and three systems with greater than or equal to 3 Peta Flops (PF) in academic and research institutions of National importance across the country by 2022.
  • This network of Supercomputers envisaging a total of 15-20 PF was approved in 2015 and was later revised to a total of 45 PF (45000 TFs), a jump of 6 times more compute power within the same cost and capable of solving large and complex computational problems.

When did India initiate its efforts to build supercomputers?

  • India’s supercomputer program was initiated in the late 1980s, when the United States ceased the export of a Cray Supercomputer due to technology embargos.
  • This resulted in India setting up C-DAC in 1988, which in 1991, unveiled the prototype of PARAM 800, benchmarked at 5 Gflops. This supercomputer was the second-fastest in the world at that time.
  • Since June 2018, the USA’s Summit is the fastest supercomputer in the world, taking away this position from China.
  • As of January 2018, Pratyush and Mihir are the fastest supercomputers in India with a maximum speed of Peta Flops.

What are the phases of the National Supercomputing Mission?

Phase I:

  • In the first phase of the NSM, parts of the supercomputers are imported and assembled in India.
  • A total of 6 supercomputers are to be installed in this phase.
  • The first supercomputer that was assembled indigenously is called Param Shivay. It was installed in IIT (BHU) located in Varanasi.
  • Similar systems, Param Shakti (IIT Kharagpur) and Param Brahma (IISER, Pune) were also later installed within the country.
  • The rest will be installed at IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Studies (JNIAS).

Phase II:

  • The supercomputers that are installed so far are about 60% indigenous.
  • The 11 systems that are going to be installed in the next phase will have processors designed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and will have a cumulative capacity of 10 petaflops.
  • These new systems are to be constructed more cost-effectively than the previous ones.
  • One of the 11 proposed supercomputers will be installed
  • at C-DAC exclusively for small and medium enterprises so that they can train employees as well as work on supercomputers at a very low cost.

Phase III:

  • The third phase aims to build fully indigenous supercomputers.
  • The government had also approved a project to develop a cryogenic cooling system that rapidly dispels the heat generated by a computing chip. This will be jointly built together by IIT-Bombay and C-DAC.

 

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Mission Samudrayan: India’s First and Unique Manned Ocean

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mission Samudrayan

Mains level: Deep Ocean Mission

Union Minister of Earth Sciences has launched India’s First Manned Ocean Mission Samudrayan at Chennai.

Mission Samudrayan

  • The Samudrayan project has been undertaken by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT).
  • It will be a part of the Rs 6,000 crore Deep Ocean Mission.
  • It is designed to carry 3 persons in 2.1meter diameter Titanium Alloy Personnel Sphere with an operational endurance of 12hrs and systems to support emergency endurance up to 96hrs.
  • It could work at a depth between 1000 and 5500 meters.

Objectives

  • Samudrayan shall facilitate carrying out deep ocean exploration of the non-living resources such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulphides and cobalt crusts.
  • The mission would carry out subsea activities such as high-resolution bathymetry, biodiversity assessment, geo-scientific observation, search activities, salvage operation and engineering support.

Focus areas of the Project

  • Ocean climate change advisory services
  • Underwater vehicles
  • Underwater robotics-related technologies
  • Deep-sea mining: Exploitation of polymetallic nodules

Components of the mission

Some of the critical subsystems of the manned submersibles are:

  • Development of Titanium Alloy Personnel Sphere, Human support and safety system in enclosed space, low density buoyancy modules, Ballast and Trim System
  • Pressure compensated batteries and propulsion system, control and communication systems and Launching and Recovery System.

Progress till date

  • The preliminary design of the manned submersible MATSYA 6000 is completed.
  • Sea trials of 500 metre rated shallow water version of the manned submersible are expected to take place in the last quarter of 2022 and the MATSYA 6000.
  • The deep-water manned submersible will be ready for trials by the second quarter of 2024.

Why need such mission?

  • This manned submersible mission provides a feel of direct physical presence for researchers and has better intervention capability.
  • With the advancing subsea technologies, the recent Fendouzhe manned submersible developed by China in 2020 has touched ~11000m water depths.
  • With Samudrayan, India joins the elite club of nations such as USA, Russia, Japan, France and China to have such underwater vehicles for carrying out subsea activities.

Back2Basics: India and International Seabed Authority (ISA)

  • The ISA, an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, allots the ‘area’ for deep-sea mining.
  • India was the first country to receive the status of a ‘Pioneer Investor’ in 1987 and was given an area of about 1.5 lakh sqkm in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for nodule exploration.
  • In 2002, India signed a contract with the ISA, and after a complete resource analysis of the seabed, India surrendered 50%, and the country retained an area of 75,000 sqkm.
  • Further studies have helped narrow the mining area to 18,000 sqkm, the ‘First Generation Mine-site’.

 

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[pib] Revamped National Gene Bank

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Gene Bank

Mains level: Not Much

The Union Agriculture Minister has inaugurated the world’s second-largest refurbished gene bank at the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources.

National Gene Bank

  • The National Gene Bank was established in the year 1996 to preserve the seeds of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) for future generations.
  • It has the capacity to preserve about one million germplasm in the form of seeds.
  • Presently it is protecting 4.52 lakh accessions, of which 2.7 lakh are Indian germplasm and the rest have been imported from other countries.
  • National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources is meeting the need of in-situ and ex-situ germplasm conservation through Delhi Headquarters and 10 regional stations in the country.

Key facilities provided

  • The NGB has four kinds of facilities to cater to long-term as well as medium-term conservation namely:
  1. Seed Gene bank (- 18°C),
  2. Cryo gene bank (-170°C to -196°C),
  3. In-vitro Gene bank (25°C), and
  4. Field Gene bank
  • It stores different crop groups such as cereals, millets, medicinal and aromatic plants, and narcotics, etc.

What is the latest update?

  • This is the world’s second-largest gene bank located in the national capital.
  • It has the capacity to preserve about one million germplasm in the form of seeds.
  • Presently, it is protecting 4.52 lakh accessions, of which 2.7 lakh are Indian germplasm and the rest have been imported from other countries.

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Also read:

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

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[pib] What are PRIDE Guidelines?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Biotech-PRIDE

Mains level: Not Much

The Union Ministry for Science & Technology has released “Biotech-PRIDE (Promotion of Research and Innovation through Data Exchange) Guidelines” developed by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

Biotech-PRIDE

  • These guidelines aim at providing a well-defined framework and guiding principle to facilitate and enable sharing and exchange of biological knowledge, information and data.
  • They will facilitate this and enable the exchange of information to promote research and innovation in different research groups across the country.
  • They will be implemented through the Indian Biological Data Centre (IBDC) at Regional Centre for Biotechnology supported by the Department of Biotechnology.

Creating a national repository: Bio-Grid

  • Other existing datasets/ data centres will be bridged to this IBDC which will be called Bio-Grid.
  • This Bio-Grid will be a National Repository for biological knowledge, information and data.
  • It will be responsible for enabling its exchange, developing measures for safety, standards and quality for datasets and establishing detailed modalities for accessing data.

 Why need such guidelines?

  • India ranks number 4 amongst the top 20 countries contributing biological databases.
  • The Government invests a large number of public funds for biosciences to gain deep insights into intricate biological mechanisms and other processes and for translation.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

60 Years of Antarctic Treaty

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Antarctic Treaty

Mains level: Significance of Antarctic Treaty in geopolitics

The 1959 Antarctic Treaty (wef 1961) recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Antarctic Treaty

  • The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements are collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS).
  • It regulates international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth’s only continent without a native human population.
  • For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude.
  • The treaty entered into force in 1961 and currently has 54 parties.
  • The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activity on the continent.
  • The treaty was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War.
  • India is a signatory of this treaty since 1983.

Why is it significant?

  • Negotiated during the middle of the Cold War by 12 countries with Antarctic interests, it remains the only example of a single treaty that governs a whole continent.
  • It is also the foundation of a rules-based international order for a continent without a permanent population.

Key provisions

  • The treaty is remarkably short and contains only 14 articles.
  • Principal provisions include promoting the freedom of scientific research, the use of the continent only for peaceful purposes, and the prohibition of military activities, nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste.

What the treaty says about territorial claims

  • The most important provision of the treaty is Article IV, which effectively seeks to neutralise territorial sovereignty in Antarctica.
  • For the Antarctic territorial claimants, this meant a limit was placed on making any new claim or enlargement of an existing claim.
  • Likewise, no formal recognition was given to any of the seven territorial claims on the continent, by Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.
  • Russia, the United States and China — signatories with significant Antarctic interests who have not formally made territorial claims — are also bound by the limitations of Article IV.
  • And one sector of Antarctica is not subject to the claim of any country, which effectively makes it the last unclaimed land on earth.
  • The treaty also put a freeze on any disputes between claimants over their territories on the continent.

How the treaty has expanded

  • Though the compact has held for 60 years, there have been tensions from time to time.
  • Argentina and the UK, for instance, have overlapping claims to territory on the continent.
  • When combined with their ongoing dispute over the nearby Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, their Antarctic relationship remains frosty.
  • Membership of the treaty has grown in the intervening years, with 54 signatories today.

Where to from here?

  • While the Antarctic Treaty has been able to successfully respond to a range of challenges, circumstances are radically different in the 2020s compared to the 1950s.
  • Antarctica is much more accessible, partly due to technology but also climate change.
  • More countries now have substantive interests in the continent than the original 12.
  • Some global resources are becoming scarce, especially oil.

Answer this PYQ:

Q.The term ‘IndARC’, sometimes seen in the news, is the name of:

(a) An indigenously developed radar system inducted into Indian Defence

(b) India’s satellite to provide services to the countries of Indian Ocean Rim

(c) A scientific establishment set up by India in Antarctic region

(d) India’s underwater observatory to scientifically study the Arctic region


Back2Basics: Indian Antarctic Program

  • The Indian Antarctic Program is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional program under the control of the National Centre for Polar 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 1989.
  • The newest base commissioned in 2012 is Bharati, constructed out of 134 shipping containers.

Various missions

In 1981 the Indian flag unfurled for the first time in Antarctica, marking the start of Southern Ocean expeditions under the environmental protocol of the Antarctic Treaty (1959).

(1) Dakshin Gangotri

The first permanent settlement was built in 1983 and named Dakshin Gangotri. In 1989 it was excavated and is being used again as supply base and transit camp. It was decommissioned in the year 1990 after half of it got buried under the ice.

(2) Maitri

The second permanent settlement, Maitri, was put up in 1989 on the Schirmacher Oasis and has been conducting experiments in geology, geography and medicine. India built this station close to a freshwater lake around Maitri known as Lake Priyadarshini.

(3) Bharati

Located beside Larsmann Hill at 69°S, 76°E, Bharati is established in 2015.  This newest research station for oceanographic research will collect evidence of continental breakup to reveal the 120-million-year-old ancient history of the Indian subcontinent.

(4) India Post Office in Antarctica

It was established in the year 1984 during the third Indian expedition to Antarctica. It was located at Dakshin Gangotri. This post office was indeed situated in a stunning location and it was more than just a post office. An interesting fact about this place is that as many as 10,000 letters were posted and canceled in this post office in total in the first year of its establishment.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

India to launch Deep Ocean Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Deep Ocean Mission

Mains level: Various aspects of DOM

The Union Cabinet has approved the long-pending Deep Ocean Mission since 2018.

Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)

  • Nodal Agency: Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES)
  • The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean similar to the space exploration started by ISRO.
  • Underwater robotics and ‘manned’ submersibles are key components of the Mission which will help India harness various living and non-living (water, mineral and energy) resources from the seabed and deep water.
  • The tasks that will be undertaken over this period include deep-sea mining, survey, energy exploration and offshore-based desalination.
  • These technological developments are funded under an umbrella scheme of the government – called Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART).

Six major components

(1) Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, and Manned Submersible:

  • A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean with suite of scientific sensors and tools.
  • Only a very few countries have acquired this capability.
  • An Integrated Mining System will be also developed for mining Polymetallic Nodules from 6000 m depth in the central Indian Ocean.

(2) Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services:

  • A suite of observations and models will be developed to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales under this proof of concept component.
  • This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of coastal tourism.

(3) Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity:

  • Bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep-sea bio-resources will be the main focus.
  • This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Fisheries and allied services.

(4) Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration:

  • The primary objective of this component is to explore and identify potential sites of multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges.
  • This component will additionally support the Blue Economy priority area of deep-sea exploration of ocean resources.

(5) Energy and freshwater from the Ocean:

  • Studies and detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plant are envisaged in this proof of concept proposal.
  • This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of offshore energy development.

(6) Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology:

  • This component is aimed at the development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering.
  • This component will translate research into the industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities.
  • This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Biology, Blue trade and Blue manufacturing.

Why need such a mission?

  • Oceans, which cover 70 per cent of the globe, remain a key part of our life. About 95 percent of the Deep Ocean remains unexplored.
  • For India, with its three sides surrounded by the oceans and around 30 per cent of the country’s population living in coastal areas.
  • The ocean is a major economic factor supporting fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods and blue trade.
  • Oceans are also a storehouse of food, energy, minerals, medicines, modulator of weather and climate and underpin life on Earth.

Pre-requisites to this mission

  • India has been allotted a site of 75,000 square kilometres in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for the exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).

Hunt for PMNs

  • These are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.
  • Being able to lay hands on a fraction of that reserve can meet the energy requirement of India for the next 100 years.
  • It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean.
  • India’s Exclusive Economic Zone spreads over 2.2 million square kilometers.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM)

Mains level: Need for Agricultural Mechanization

To empower the farmers through the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) scheme, the government has released funds for various activities of Farm Mechanization.

Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM)

  • The Agri ministry has launched this mission in 2014-15 with the objectives of increasing the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to the regions & difficult areas where farm power availability is low.
  • Under this scheme, it has been proposed to established Village Level farm Machinery Bank (VLFMB), Custom Hiring Centres (CHC) and High Tech Hubs (HTH) in order to facilitate easy availability of farm implements and machinery for hire by farmers.

Why need such a scheme?

  • Agricultural Mechanization plays a vital role in optimizing the use of land, water energy resources, manpower and other inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides etc to maximize the productivity of the available cultivable area and make agriculture a more profitable and attractive profession for rural youth.
  • It is one of the key drivers for the sustainable development of the agriculture sector.
  • Sustainable Agriculture mechanization growth will require appropriate and precision agricultural machinery adequately supported by the latest technology.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] National AI Portal INDIAai

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: INDIAai

Mains level: AI promotion moves by the government

The ‘National AI Portal (https://indiaai.gov.in)’, celebrated its first anniversary on May 28, 2021.

National AI Portal

  • INDIAai is the National AI Portal of India – a central hub for everything AI in India and beyond.
  • A joint initiative of MeitY, NeGD and NASSCOM, the website aims to be the trusted content powerhouse in the backdrop of India’s journey to global prominence in Artificial Intelligence.
  • It serves as a central hub for AI related news, learning, articles, events and activities etc., in India and beyond.
  • It has been set up to prepare the nation for an AI future.
  • It is the single central knowledge hub on artificial intelligence and allied fields for aspiring entrepreneurs, students, professionals, academics, and everyone else.
  • The portal focuses on creating and nurturing a unified AI ecosystem for driving excellence and leadership in India’s AI journey, to foster economic growth and improve lives through it.

B2BASICS

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI is an interdisciplinary science with multiple approaches, but advancements in machine learning and deep learning are creating a paradigm shift in virtually every sector of the tech industry.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Genome Mapping of the Indian Ocean

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Genome Mapping

Mains level: India's deep ocean mission

A team of scientists and researchers from the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) onboard its research vessel Sindhu Sadhana will work on a research project to reveal the internal working of the body of the ocean at a cellular level.

Genome Mapping of the Indian Ocean

  • The first-of-its-kind research project in the country is aimed at understanding the biochemistry and the response of the ocean to climate change, nutrient stress and increasing pollution.
  • The researchers will collect samples from various stretches of the ocean at an average depth of about 5 km.
  • Just like gene mapping is carried out on blood samples collected from humans, the scientists will map these in the bacteria, microbes found in the ocean.
  • The mapping of the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and Ribonucleic acid (RNA) will show the nutrients present in them, and also those lacking in different parts of the ocean.

Objectives of the mission

  • This project will help scientists understand the internal working of the ecosystem of the Indian Ocean.
  • The research will enable scientists to identify the factors controlling the changes in RNA, DNA in the oceans, and various stressors impacting them.
  • The ocean has several micronutrients like nitrates, sulphates and silicates, minerals like iron ore and zinc, and trace metals like cadmium or copper.
  • The genome mapping will show the presence of which these microbes have adapted to, in addition to their reaction to atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • This will help in identifying which part of the ocean has a greater concentration of which mineral or element.
  • Scientists will then use these as tracers to tackle the causative factors for excess or lack of a certain mineral or element and suggest possible solutions for their mitigation.
  • In addition, the large pool of RNA, DNA library of the oceans will be utilized for using the Indian Ocean for human benefit in the future.

Studying the interactions of trace metals

  • Trace metals are the metals subset of trace elements; that is, metals normally present in small but measurable amounts in animal and plant cells.
  • Trace metals like cadmium or copper are supplied to oceans via continental run-offs, atmospheric deposition, hydrothermal activities and continental shelf interaction.
  • They are essential for ocean productivity for having a holistic understanding of nutrient cycling and productivity of the oceans.
  • Isotopic forms of trace metals can be utilized to track the movement of water masses responsible for ocean circulation and as tools to study the biological, geochemical and ecosystem processes and food web analyses.

Also read

https://www.civilsdaily.com/news/explained-indias-deep-ocean-mission/

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Govt liberalized Geospatial Data Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Geospatial data

Mains level: Benefits of the liberalized scheme

In sweeping changes to the country’s mapping policy, the government has announced liberalisation of norms governing the acquisition and production of geospatial data.

Q.What do you mean by Geo-Spatial Data? What are its economic and strategic significance?

What is the news?

  • The Ministry of Science and Technology has released new guidelines for the Geo-spatial sector in India.
  • It deregulated the existing protocol and liberalizes the sector to a more competitive field.

What is a Geo-Spatial Data?

  • Geospatial data is data about objects, events, or phenomena that have a location on the surface of the earth.
  • The location may be static in the short-term, like the location of a road, an earthquake event, malnutrition among children, or dynamic like a moving vehicle or pedestrian, the spread of an infectious disease.
  • Geospatial data combines location information, attribute information, and often also temporal information or the time at which the location and attributes exist.
  • Geo-spatial data usually involves information of public interest such as roads, localities, rail lines, water bodies, and public amenities.
  • The past decade has seen an increase in the use of geospatial data in daily life with various apps such as food delivery apps like Swiggy or Zomato, e-commerce like Amazon or even weather apps.

What is the present policy on geospatial data?

  • There are strict restrictions on the collection, storage, use, sale, dissemination of geo-spatial data and mapping under the current regime.
  • The policy had not been renewed in decades and has been driven by internal as well as external security concerns.
  • Private companies need to navigate a system of permissions from different departments of the government as well as the defence and Home Ministries, to be able to collect, create or disseminate geospatial data.

Why has the government deregulated geospatial data?

  • This system of acquiring licenses or permission, and the red tape involved, can take months, delaying projects, especially those that are in mission mode – for both Indian companies as well as government agencies.
  • The deregulation eliminates the requirement of permissions as well as scrutiny, even for security concerns.
  • Indian companies now can self-attest, conforming to government guidelines without actually having to be monitored by a government agency- these guidelines, therefore, place a great deal of trust in Indian entities.
  • There is also a huge lack of data in the country which impedes planning for infrastructure, development and businesses which are data-based.
  • The mapping of the entire country that too with high accuracy, by the Indian government alone could take decades.
  • The government, therefore, felt an urgent need to incentivise the geospatial sector for Indian companies and increased investment from private players in the sector.
  • Large amounts of geospatial data are also available on global platforms, which makes the regulation of data that is freely available in other countries, untenable.

What next?

  • While for decades, geospatial data has been a priority for strategic reasons and for internal and external security concerns.
  • This priority has seen a shift in the past 15 years – geospatial data has now become imperative for the government in planning for infrastructure, development, social development as well as the economy.
  • More and more sectors such as agriculture, environment protection, power, water, transportation, communication, health (tracking of diseases, patients, hospitals etc) are relying heavily on this data.
  • There has also been a global push for open access to geospatial as it affects the lives of ordinary citizens.

Expected impacts

  • By liberalizing the system, the government will ensure more players in the field, the competitiveness of Indian companies in the global market, and more accurate data available to both the government to formulate plans and administer, but also for individual Indians.
  • Startups and businesses can now also use this data in setting up their concerns, especially in the sector of e-commerce or geospatial based apps – which in turn will increase employment in these sectors.
  • Indian companies will be able to develop indigenous apps, for example, an Indian version of Google maps.
  • There is also likely to be an increase in public-private partnerships with the opening of this sector with data collection companies working with the Indian government on various sectoral projects.
  • The government also expects an increase in investment in the geospatial sector by companies, and also an increase in export of data to foreign companies and countries, which in turn will boost the economy.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quantum Technology

Mains level: NM-QTA

The detailed project report for a National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications (NM-QTA) has been drawn out and finalised.

Q.Discuss various applications of quantum technology for strategic and economic development.

Story so far

  • In last year’s budget session, it was proposed that ₹8,000 crores be set aside to develop quantum science and technology.
  • The detailed project report is now ready and in the next couple of months, this mission might get approval.
  • Recognising the importance of quantum technology, the Department of Science and Technology has also initiated a programme called QuEST to explore the possibilities and engage with the researchers.

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.

Why need such a mission?

  • Quantum technologies are rapidly developing globally with hugely disruptive potential.
  • The range of quantum technologies is expected to be one of the major technology disruptions that will change the entire paradigm of computation, communication and encryption.
  • It is perceived that the countries who achieve an edge in this emerging field will have a greater advantage in garnering multifold economic growth and dominant leadership role.
  • It has become imperative both for government and industries to be prepared to develop these emerging and disruptive changes.
  • It will establish standards to be applied to all research and help stimulate a pipeline to support research and applications well into the future.

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.

Back2Basics: 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.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP), 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: STIP 2020

Mains level: india's endeavours in STI

The Department of Science and Technology has published the draft National Science Technology and Innovation Policy and has invited suggestions from the public.

Q.The STIP, 2020 contains radical and progressive proposals that could be game-changers for not just the scientific research community, but also for the way ordinary Indians interact with Science. Discuss.

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.

Other key Proposals

  • STIP will lead to the establishment of a National STI Observatory that will act as a central repository for all kinds of data related to and generated from the STI ecosystem.
  • The “One nation, one subscription” policy to establish a system whereby all researchers in India can access research published in top international journals for no cost.
  • All data used in and generated from public-funded research will be available to everyone (larger scientific community and public) under FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) terms.
  • Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs) will be established, that bring together industries, MSMEs, startups, R&D institutions and HEIs with the government.
  • Industry clusters will be encouraged and incentivized wherever necessary, to engage in collaborative R&D.
  • Opportunities for foreign MNCs to invest in the country’s STI landscape will be strengthened and made more accessible.
  • It proposes lateral entry of scientists up to 25 per cent of scientists in related ministries.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] 40th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica (ISEA)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India's polar mission

Mains level: Climate change impact on cryosphere

40th Indian Scientific Expedition is set to depart for Antarctica from Mormugao Port, Goa.

Try this question:

Q.How does the cryosphere affect global climate? (150W, CSM 2018)

Indian mission on the Antarctic

  • 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.

Its significance

  • This 40th expedition is procuring fuel from India after about 22 years. Till the last expedition, fuel was being obtained from outside the country.
  • Indian Oil Co. Ltd. has supplied aviation fuel, Jet A1 in bulk and packed form to a non-aviation customer and is delivered to an ocean-going vessel for the first time.

Why need such a mission?

  • Polar Regions are crucially important in answering key questions about global climate change.
  • It contributes towards the global sea-level rise, the background aerosol properties, variability in the sea ice cover and phenomena like Antarctic haze and ozone concentrations.
  • Attempts to address some of these issues are helping in mitigating several important problems concerning human life and well-being.

Back2Basics: India’s polar missions

  • The first Indian expedition to Antarctica sailed from Goa on December 6, 1981, and reached the shores of this polar continent on January 9, 1982.
  • India has two stations in the polar continent of Antarctica – Maitri and Bharati, which are being operated under NCPOR, Ministry of Earth Sciences.

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.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

‘Digital Ocean’: the Digital Platform for Ocean Data Management

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Digital Ocean platform

Mains level: India's deep ocean mission

The Ministry of Earth Sciences has inaugurated the web-based application “Digital Ocean” developed by INCOIS.

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.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] Knowledge Resource Centre Network (KRCNet)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: KRCNet

Mains level: Not Much

The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has planned to develop a World-Class Knowledge Resource Centre Network (KRCNet).

Note the salient features of the KRCNet. UPSC may puzzle you asking which of these is/are not a feature of KRCNet.

KRCNet Portal

  • KRCs will be connected with each other and integrated into the KRCNet portal.
  • It will be a single point entry to the intellectual world of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
  • The resources and services of the MoES system will be accessible 24X7 through a one-point dynamic, updated and integrated on this portal.

Salient features of the KRCNet:

  • Establish a Total Quality Management (TQM) system by securing ISO certification for documenting MoES knowledge resources, its maintenance, easy retrieval and dissemination.
  • Collect, collate, analyze, index, store and disseminate the intellectual resources, products and project outputs available in MoES headquarter and its institutes.
  • Develop and maintain an up-to-date meta-data of the print & digital resources available in MoES headquarter and MoES institutes, including MoES services.
  • Provide 24X7 accesses to the subscribed knowledge contents through the KRCNet portal.
  • Application of information-analytical tools & techniques like bibliometrics, scientometrics, big-data analytics, social media analytics etc., for policy formulation, report preparation and information dissemination.
  • Periodically organize training workshops to popularize the usage of electronic journals, databases, digital products, data analytics etc.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

‘Accelerate Vigyan’ Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ‘Accelerate Vigyan’ Scheme

Mains level: Research facilitation schemes in India

To provide a single platform for research internships, capacity building programs and workshops across the country, the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has launched a new scheme called ‘Accelerate Vigyan’ (AV).

Note the following things about the ‘Accelerate Vigyan’ Scheme:

1) Implementing agency/ Nodal Ministry

2) Primary objective

3) Target beneficiaries

4) Its components

‘Accelerate Vigyan’ Scheme

  • Accelerate Vigyan (AV) strives to provide a big push to high-end scientific research and prepare scientific manpower which can venture into research careers and knowledge-based economy.
  • The primary objective of this scheme is to give more thrust on encouraging high-end scientific research and preparing scientific manpower, which can lead to research careers and knowledge-based economy.
  • AV will initiate and strengthen mechanisms of identifying research potential, mentoring, training and hands-on workshop on a national scale.
  • The aim is to expand the research base in the country, with three broad goals – consolidation / aggregation of all scientific training programs, initiating High-end Orientation Workshops and creating opportunities for Research Internships.

Components of AV

1) ABHYAAS

  • It is an attempt to boost research and development in the country by enabling and grooming potential PG/PhD students by means of developing their research skills in selected areas across different disciplines or fields.
  • It has two components: High-End Workshops (‘KARYASHALA’) and Research Internships (‘VRITIKA’).
  • This is especially important for those researchers who have limited opportunities to access such learning capacities/facilities/infrastructure.

2) SAMOOHAN

  • Mission ‘SAMOOHAN’ marks the beginning of Accelerate Vigyan.
  • It aims to encourage, aggregate and consolidate all scientific interactions in the country under one common roof.
  • It has been sub-divided into ‘SAYONJIKA’ and ‘SANGOSHTI’.
  • SAYONJIKA is an open-ended program to catalogue the capacity building activities in science and technology supported by all government funding agencies in the country.
  • SANGOSHTI is a pre-existing program of SERB.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] Certification of ‘Quantum Entanglement’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Quantum Entanglement (QE)

Mains level: Quantum mechanics and its applications

Indian scientists have developed a novel protocol to find out whether a pair of electrons are in an entangled state so that they can be safely used as resources for facilitating quantum information processing tasks.

Trending in news this year is the Quantum Technology, (As it used to be until last year were- the Internet of Things (IoT) CSP 2019, Artificial Intelligence (AI) etc.)

Must read all this news in a loop:

National Mission on QC

Quantum Coin

Quantum Supremacy

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.

Back2Basics: Quantum Mechanics

  • Quantum mechanics (QM) is a fundamental theory in physics which describes nature at the smallest scales of energy levels of atoms and subatomic particles.
  • It is the body of scientific laws that describe the wacky behaviour of photons, electrons and the other particles that make up the universe.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

International Day of Light and its significance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: LASER, LIDAR

Mains level: NA

The UN marks the International Day of Light (IDL) — an annual initiative held globally to raise awareness on the critical role played by light-based technologies in everyday life.

The IDL as mentioned in the news creates no scope for a possible prelim question, but the purpose behind its celebration does.  i.e. LASER technology. LIDAR is the latest development in the LASER technology. UPSC may puzzle you here by asking the working principle of LIDAR.

International Day of Light (IDL)

  • The IDL is administered from the International Basic Science Programme (IBSP) of UNESCO, and its Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP) at Trieste, Italy.
  • The IDL highlights the contribution of such technologies in various avenues such as science, technology, art, and culture, thus helping achieve the UNESCO goals of education, equality, and peace.
  • The day selected, May 16, marks the anniversary of the first successful operation of the LASER in 1960 by physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman.
  • The LASER is a perfect example of how a scientific discovery can yield revolutionary benefits to society in communications, healthcare and many other fields.

Why is the IDL celebrated?

  • In 2015, to raise global awareness of the achievements of light science and its applications, the UN observed the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015).
  • The event helped establish links and collaborations between decision-makers, industry leaders, scientists, artists, social businesses, NGOs, and the public at large.
  • Following the success of IYL 2015, Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand and Russia placed a resolution before the UNESCO Executive Board supporting the idea of an International Day of Light.
  • It was adopted on September 19, 2016, at the Board’s 200th session at the UNESCO HQ in Paris, France.
  • The Board decision was endorsed by the UNESCO General Conference at its 39th session on November 7, 2017, and the first IDL was held on May 16, 2018.

Back2Basics: LASER

  • A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation.
  • It is an acronym for “light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation.
  • The laser stimulates atoms or molecules to emit light at particular wavelengths and amplifies that light, typically producing a very narrow beam of radiation.
  • The emission generally covers an extremely limited range of visible, infrared, or ultraviolet wavelengths.
  • Many different types of lasers have been developed, with highly varied characteristics.
  • A laser is widely used in industrial cutting, surgical removal of tissues etc.
  • LIDAR is the most famous application of LASERs.

LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging)

  • It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.
  • It bounces pulsed laser light off the ground, revealing contours hidden by dense foliage.
  • These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
  • LIDAR systems allow scientists and mapping professionals to examine both natural and manmade environments with accuracy, precision, and flexibility.
  • A LIDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver.
  • Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring LIDAR data over broad areas.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIIT) Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: IIIT Amendment Act

Mains level: Not Much

Lok Sabha passed the IIIT Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

About IIIT Act

  • IIITs are envisaged to promote higher education and research in the field of Information Technology.
  • The IIT Act of 2014 and IIIT (Public-Private Partnership) Act, 2017 are the unique initiatives of the govt. to impart knowledge in the field of IT to provide solutions to the challenges faced by the country.
  • Every Institute shall be open to all persons irrespective of gender, caste, creed, disability, domicile, ethnicity and social or economic background.

What are the proposed Amendments?

  • Introduction of the Amendment 2020 will amend the principal acts of 2014 and 2017.
  • It will grant statutory status to five IIIT in PPP mode in Gujarat (Surat), Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal), Bihar (Bhagalpur), Tripura (Agartala), and Karnataka (Raichur).
  • It would declare them as Institutions of National Importance along with already existing 15 IIIT under the 2017 Act.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

A different fight-back

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 3- Using technology to deal with epidemics.

Context

Coronavirus crisis is an opportunity for India to build on domestic technological capabilities in artificial intelligence, big data analytics, life sciences and health technology in the private sector.

How a small tech company flagged Covid-19 outbreak?

  • What does it do? A small tech company in Canada — BlueDot — was among first outside China to spot a new epidemic spreading out from Wuhan last December.
    • BlueDot, founded in Canada by a medical scientist of South Asian origin, Kamran Khan, tracks the origin and transmission of infectious diseases around the world.
  • How could they detect the outbreak in China?  BlueDot did this by sifting through massive volumes of news reports and blogs by individuals, including health professionals flowing out of China.
    • Data analytics and medical expertise combined: BlueDot combines “public health and medical expertise with advanced data analytics to build solutions that track, contextualise, and anticipate infectious disease risks”.
    • Use of AI: BlueDot is one of the many technology firms leveraging artificial intelligence for business and policy purposes.
    • Many governments are reaching out to tech companies to cope with the corona crisis.
    • The state government of California has just hired BlueDot to help it deal with the challenge.

The growing role of technology in dealing with coronavirus

  • Across the world, policymakers see a growing role for technology in identification, tracking, and treating the coronavirus.
  • Alibaba and Tencent’s help in China: In China, the Communist Party roped in big tech companies like Alibaba and Tencent in the battle against the virus.
  • Silicon valley’s help in the US: In the US, President Donald Trump has set aside his well-known distaste for Democrat-leaning Silicon Valley to tackle what he now calls a war-like emergency.
  • India will need all the science and technology it can get hold of in overcoming the crisis that is bound to escalate by the day.
  • An opportunity to do good: For the small tech startups in related areas, this is a moment to shine. For the large tech companies, this is a huge opportunity to deploy their immense capabilities to resolve the specific problems posed by the spread of the coronavirus.
    • In rising to the occasion, they could fend off a lot of the recent negative criticism of their business practices and demonstrate that their commitment to “doing good” is not just empty rhetoric.
  • A good business proposition: “Doing good” is also a sensible business proposition at this time.
    • As governments desperately seek solutions to the crisis, the tech startups and established companies leverage the moment to scale up many technologies, develop new uses and markets.

How countries used technology to deal with the outbreak

  • How China used technology? In China, as the government moved decisively after the delayed initial response, it turned to-
    • the well-established mass surveillance system based on facial recognition technologies,
    • sensing technologies to identify those with fever in public places and
    • data from mobile phone companies to trace the people who might be infected, and limit the spread of the disease.
  • China also developed a Health Code that uses data analytics to-
    • identify and assess the risk of every individual in a targeted zone based on travel history and time spent in infected places.
    • The individuals are assigned a colour code (red, yellow, or green) which they can access via popular apps to know if they ought to be quarantined or allowed in public.
  • How Korea used technology? Many Asian democracies like South Korea have also turned to AI tools to contain the spread of the disease.
  • How the US used technology? As it copes with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the US had no option but to use surveillance to contain it.
    • Partners in dealing with outbreak: Unsurprisingly, the big tech companies in the US, based on collecting and monetising massive amounts of data from individuals, have inevitably become partners for Washington.
    • But the relationship between the government, corporations and individual citizens in the US is governed by a welter of laws.
    • There is mounting pressure now to tweak these laws to manage the corona crisis.
    • The US is also liberalising the regulations on the access to, and use of, patients’ health records.

Growing collaboration between science and the state

  • The race between China and the US: Overarching these arguments is a race between the US and China to find new vaccines for the coronavirus.
    • And, more broadly, for the mastery of new scientific capabilities — from artificial intelligence to health technologies.
    • The competition, in turn, is promoting a more intensive alliance between science and the state in both nations.
  • Collaboration could accelerate the technological capabilities: The collaboration between science and the state during past crises led to a dramatic acceleration of technological capabilities.
    • World War precedents: During the Second World War, science and the state got together to move nuclear physics from the lab to the battlefield.
    • Cold War precedent: The Cold War between America and Russia promoted the development of space technology, microelectronics, communications and computing.
  • Role of private entities: What marks out the current technological race between the US and China is the role of private and non-governmental entities.
    • That might well be the missing link in India’s effort to beat the coronavirus.

Conclusion

  • Opportunity for India: The current crisis, however, is also an opportunity for India to build on the existing domestic technological capabilities in the areas of artificial intelligence, big data analytics, life sciences, health technology in the private sector.
  • India needs stronger private sector in science: In India, the state has dominated the development of science and its organisation. That was of great value in the early decades after Independence.
    • Today, what Delhi needs is a stronger private sector in science and greater synergy with it in dealing with challenges like the corona crisis.

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[pib] Sophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institutes (SATHI) Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SATHI Scheme

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Department of Science & Technology has launched a unique scheme called “Sophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institutes(SATHI)”.

SATHI 

  • SATHI aims to address the need for building shared, professionally managed and strong S&T infrastructure in the country which is readily accessible to academia, start-ups, manufacturing, industry and R&D labs etc.
  • These Centres are expected to house major analytical instruments to provide common services of high-end analytical testing, thus avoiding duplication and reduced dependency on foreign sources.
  • These would be operated with a transparent, open access policy.
  • DST has already set up three such centres in the country, one each at IIT Kharagpur, IIT Delhi and BHU.

Objectives of the Scheme

  • SATHI will address the problems of accessibility, maintenance, redundancy and duplication of expensive equipment in the institutions.
  • This will also foster a strong culture of collaboration between institutions and across disciplines to take advantage of developments, innovations and expertise in diverse areas.

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NM-QTA

Mains level: Quantum technology

The Finance Minister in budget 2020 has announced a National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA).

What is 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 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.

About NM-QTA

  • The mission will function under the Department of Science & Technology (DST).
  • It will be able address the ever increasing technological requirements of the 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.

Why such mission?

  • Quantum technologies are rapidly developing globally with a huge disruptive potential.
  • The range of quantum technologies is expected to be one of the major technology disruptions that will change entire paradigm of computation, communication and encryption.
  • It is perceived that the countries who achieve an edge in this emerging field will have a greater advantage in garnering multifold economic growth and dominant leadership role.
  • It has become imperative both for government and industries to be prepared to develop these emerging and disruptive changes.
  • It will establish standards to be applied to all research and help stimulate a pipeline to support research and applications well into the future.

Also read: https://www.civilsdaily.com/news/quantum-supremacy/

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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[op-ed snap] Here’s looking at you

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 3- Facial recognition technique and issues associated with it.

Context

Face recognition technology calls for a more comprehensive domestic framework that promotes the use of new technologies for the public good as well as imposes necessary constraints against their abuse.

Debate on finding the balance between regulation and promotion

  • Google calls for partial ban: TheGoogle CEO’s recent support for a temporary ban on facial recognition technologies seems uncharacteristic.
    • It is not often that companies developing a technology call for its ban.
    • Their interest is in promoting the use of technology, not proscribing it.
    • Not every one of the leading tech companies agrees with Google on facial recognition.
  • Microsoft against the ban: Microsoft has questioned the idea of a ban. Calling facial recognition a “young technology”, it said “it will get better.
    • To get better the technology has to be used: The only way to make it better is actually to continue developing it.
    • And the only way to continue developing it actually is to have more people using it.
  • IBM’s precision regulation: IBM has taken a step forward in developing the policies for the use of technology by setting up a “lab”.
    • The lab will generate actionable ideas for policymakers to manage the emergence of new technologies like facial recognition that are shaping our digital future.
    • Precision regulation vs. complete ban: The idea is to develop “precision regulation” rather than enforce “blunt” instruments like the ban.
  • The EU’s plans for temporary ban: The debate on finding the right balance between regulation and promotion of emerging technologies comes in the wake of leaked plans of the EU to issue a temporary ban.
    • The ban could be up to five years.
    • Ban on use in public places only: The proposed ban is not a comprehensive one and will be applicable to the use of facial recognition in public spaces.
  • India’s own plans for law enforcement agencies: The intensifying global debate also coincides with India’s own plans to roll out a massive project on deploying facial recognition technologies, essentially for law enforcement.
    • The international discourse provides the context for developing a broad and effective Indian policy framework for the use of facial recognition.

Background of the backlash against the tech companies

  • Techlash: Well before the EU had begun to discuss a temporary ban on facial recognition, there has been a “techlash” against the companies.
    • The companies faced backlash because they have so dramatically altered our lives in the last few years.
  • The idea of “digital is different”: For nearly two decades, the idea that “digital is different” and does not need public oversight had triumphed in most capitals of the world.
  • Problems with regulations: The main argument was that regulation constrains technological innovation and retards progress.
  • AI and Big data:  The urge to regulate has triggered widespread concerns about the dangers of digitalisation, especially the use of big data and AI by private companies as well as governments.

Major concerns against facial recognition

  • Surveillance capitalism and surveillance state: The companies were seen as monetising the data generated by the widespread use of digital platforms like Google and Facebook.
    • Surveillance state:  China became the prime example of states using data and information to exercise ever more control over its citizens.
  • Accuracy: At the other end are concerns that facial recognition is not entirely accurate and could lead to punitive actions against innocent people.
  • Racial bias misogyny: There is also a concern in the US that the algorithms behind facial recognition carry the baggage of racism and misogyny.
  • Concerns in India: It also remains a fact that the Indian state has always been tempted to empower itself against its citizens in the name of collective security.
    • It has also tended to weaponise information against political opponents and dissidents.

Potential Advantages

  • In the control of crime.
  • Better border controls and countering terrorism.
  • Aid the Police: In India, a severely under-policed nation, facial recognition surely offers many benefits.

Conclusion

The foreign office must reclaim India’s place in the international discourse on AI and facial recognition and develop a productive alignment between India’s national interests and the development of new digital norms.

 

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[op-ed snap] Art of science diplomacy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CDRI-Coalition For Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

Mains level: Bilateral, regional and global groupings involving India and/or affecting India's interests.

Context:

Some of the most pressing issues and developmental challenges facing nations in contemporary times have a scientific and technological dimension. Science and Technology (S&T)-led innovation offers an opportunity to address these multifaceted challenges, which are now global in nature.

Role of S&T in national and international obligations:

  • S&T today has a national obligation.
  • For a diverse country such as India, S&T is expected to empower the common citizen, making his/her life easier and also being inclusive, which is a national obligation.
  • It has to also meet the international obligation of a responsible country.
  • Importance of S&T innovation in achieving the 2030 Agenda for UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)- points towards new opportunities for cross border collaboration.
  • Science diplomacy, thus, is a crucial policy dimension.
  • India has launched several global initiatives.

Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA):

  • It was launched by India a few years ago.
  • GITA has provided an enabling platform for frontline techno-economic alliances.
  • It is an industry-led collaboration, with the government as an equal partner.
  • It is aimed at supporting the last phase of technology-based high-end, affordable product development — which can connect to both global and domestic markets.
  • Under GITA, enterprises from India are tying up with their counterparts from partner countries.
  • Partnering countries include Canada, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, and the UK.

 International Solar Alliance (ISA):

  • It has more than 79 sunshine countries as signatories and nearly 121 prospective countries as partners.
  • The vision and mission of the ISA are to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource-rich countries.
  • ISA can make a contribution to increasing the use of solar energy in meeting the energy needs of member countries in a safe, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.

Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI):

  • It was recently announced at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.
  • CDRI is an international partnership piloted by India in consultation with 35 countries.
  • CDRI will support developed and developing nations in their efforts to build climate and disaster-resilient infrastructure.
  • It will provide member countries with technical support and capacity development, research and knowledge management, and advocacy and partnerships.
  • It is aimed at risk identification and assessment, urban risk and planning, and disaster risk management.
  • In the next two-three years, the coalition aims to have three types of impact.
  • First-impact on country’s policy framework, second-on infrastructure investments, third-reduction in economic losses from climate-related events and natural disasters.
  • Through this coalition, we can mitigate the fallouts of earthquakes, tsunami, floods.

Conclusion:

  • No nation alone has the capacity, infrastructure, and human resources to address the massive challenges that the earth and mankind face, threatening our very existence. It is inevitable, therefore, that science, technology, and innovation should increasingly become an intrinsic diplomatic tool for India.

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Private: [oped of the day] History, technology and the shackles of the present

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nothing much

Mains level: SnT policy in India

Context

The government’s ambitious push for electric vehicles (EVs) rings a bell for the historian of science and technology.

Technology governance

  • After many decades, India is witnessing the fraternisation of high technology and authoritarian governance.
  • Technologies – The government has championed EV, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and sundry technologies into acronyms.
  • Governance – It has clipped Internet access to towns and villages when confronted with non-violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

In the past

  • In 1976, as India sank deep into Emergency, a group of scientists decided to ponder the future of technology in the country.
  • Lost opportunity – While the Indira Gandhi government built a surveillance state, Silicon Valley saw the birth of “public-key cryptography”, used in modern-day encryption.
  • India had regressed into the darkest chapter of its political history, just as the world began to use technology to preserve human rights.

Batting for electric vehicles

  • NCST – The National Committee on Science and Technology (NCST) mandate is to “study the outlook for India in 2000 A.D”. The group was set up in 1973 and took seven years to submit their report.
  • “Futurology” is the use of computer models for forecasting scenarios — became fashionable after the Club of Rome published its “Limits to Growth” report in 1972.
  • The report painted a doomsday scenario of acute food and water scarcity in 2000. 
  • Sci-Fi – This period also witnessed the “new wave” of science fiction, set in dystopic lands and featuring post-apocalyptic visions. 
  • New dystopia is unfolding in India’s present — while the civil liberties of Indians were cast aside, the government was busy discussing EVs and self-driving cars.
  • The Committee on Futurology analysed long-term projections for many sectors, including transportation. 
  • Transport sector – This sector’s problems were two-fold. There were just not enough vehicles for the larger public in India. India had only 1,00,000 buses on its roads. However, the number of cars and jeeps totaled nearly 750,000.
  • The wealthy and powerful elite enjoyed vastly better mobility than the majority of the population.

The shadow of the oil crisis

  • Price rise – Rising fuel prices presented the second problem. It was in the context of the oil crisis of 1973, brought on by a crude embargo imposed by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
  • Renewable alternatives – The committee argued India was better served in the long run by developing renewable alternatives to petrol.
  • Li-ion batteries – Western laboratories had begun exploring the development of lithium-ion batteries, critical to EVs.
  • The work of John B. Goodenough, Akira Yoshino, and M. Stanley Whittingham — who were jointly awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of these batteries — was catalysed by the oil crisis of the 1970s.
  • NCST mention – The NCST mentions that it is imperative that some concentrated R&D is performed in the area of high energy-high power batteries.
  • The Committee even predicted EVs and self-driving cars – “adaptive, automobile autopilots” would be commercially available from the early 1980s.

Much politicking

  • Several autocratic regimes have tread down the same path, using technology as a totem to rally disaffected populations. 
  • While the NCST made grand claims about the future, the government was clamping down on technology in the present. 
  • Indira Gandhi’s government viewed computers with suspicion and discouraged PSUs from adopting them. 
  • The Futurology Committee’s view too was jaundiced by the Emergency. Not all technologies were “neutral” and useful to society, it declared. Doordarshan had become an instrument of state propaganda. 
  • Small scale tech – The government championed “appropriate technologies” that were small-scale — solar cookers and mechanised bullock carts. It did little to boost productivity. 

Change started

  • Computers – Indians were still beginning to embrace machines. As C.R. Subramanian has noted, the import of computers tripled during the Emergency. 
  • Automobiles – The number of automobiles plying on Indian roads in the 1980s increased by 400% over the previous decade.
  • The doubt against big technology by the government in the minds of citizens did little to not improve prospects for scientific breakthroughs.
  • If Indians had the political agency to form their own views of technology, India may have had a shot at developing EVs. 
  • One cannot aspire to a ‘Digital India’ if technologies are wantonly used for mass surveillance, or cut off altogether when faced with non-violent, democratic protests.

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Technology Vision 2035 – Putting science to Use

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.>

India2035header


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?

  • Education
  • Medical Sciences & Healthcare
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Habitat
  • Transportation
  • Infrastructure
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials
  • 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

ISCPrerogatives


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?

Bioluminescent creatures are found throughout marine habitats, from the ocean surface to the deep sea floor.
Bioluminescent creatures are found throughout marine habitats, from the ocean surface to the deep sea floor.

  • 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 design for innovation and development
  • Technology deployment by launching certain national missions involving specific targets, defined timelines requiring only a few carefully defined identified players

 

Source - PIB Features | Pic - Vision 2035
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