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Oct 25, 2019 (New Delhi)
CSIR conducts Whole Genome Sequencing of over 1,000 Indians for Biomedical Applications
"Programme will lead to predictive and preventive medicine": Dr Harsh Vardhan
The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has conducted Whole Genome Sequencing of 1,008 Indians from different populations across the country. Announcing details of the IndiGen Genome project, the Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the whole genome data will be important for building the knowhow, baseline data and indigenous capacity in the emerging area of Precision Medicine. The outcomes of the IndiGen will have applications in a number of areas including predictive and preventive medicine with faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases, he added.
The IndiGen initiative was undertaken by CSIR in April 2019, which was implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. This has enabled benchmarking the scalability of genome sequencing and computational analysis at population scale in a defined timeline. The ability to decode the genetic blueprint of humans through whole genome sequencing will be a major driver for biomedical science.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the benefits of this initiative include epidemiology of genetic diseases to enable cost effective genetic tests, carrier screening applications for expectant couples, enabling efficient diagnosis of heritable cancers and pharmacogenetic tests to prevent adverse drug reactions.
On the occasion, Dr Harsh Vardhan unveiled the IndiGenome card and accompanying IndiGen mobile application that enables participants and clinicians to access clinically actionable information in their genomes. He emphasized that it ensures privacy and data security, which is vital for personal genomics to be implemented at scale. Dr Harsh Vardhan elaborated that this is being pilot tested in individuals across India and has evinced interest from several Indian commercial organisations.
The outcomes of the IndiGen will be utilized towards understanding the genetic diversity on a population scale, make available genetic variant frequencies for clinical applications and enable genetic epidemiology of diseases. The whole genome data and knowhow for the analysis of largescale genomic data is expected to enable evidence and aid in the development of technologies for clinical and biomedical applications in India.
Director General, CSIR and Secretary, Department for Scientific & Industrial Research, Dr Shekhar C. Mande said that it is important to ensure that India, with its unparalleled human diversity, is adequately represented in terms of genomic data and develops indigenous capacity to generate, maintain, analyze, utilize and communicate large-scale genome data, in a scalable manner.
CSIR has led human genomic sciences in India and has made major contributions in understanding the "Indian Genome Variation". Pioneering collaborations in genomics has been fostered by CSIR both nationally and internationally. Furthermore, CSIR contributed towards the first personal human genome in India and in understanding ancestral population in India and early migrations that led to what we know today on distinct ethnic groups. CSIR also pioneered the application of genomics in clinical settings in the area of rare genetic diseases in India by means of DNA/Genome based diagnostics and interaction with large number of clinical collaborators.
More information about the CSIR IndiGen Program may be obtained from:
Oct 5, 2019 (New Delhi)
IGIB finds a protein with better precision in gene- editing
The new protein was able to correct sickle cell anaemia mutation in patient-derived stem cells
Researchers at the Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) have discovered a protein variant from a different species of bacteria that can edit the DNA with very high precision. In the tool now commonly used for editing disease-causing mutations in DNA (CRISPR-Cas9), the Cas9 protein behaves like a molecular scissors that cuts the DNA at a specific location and inserts a foreign piece of DNA to correct the mutation that causes the disease.
In addition to binding to the intended target on the DNA, the commonly used Cas9 protein from Strepotococcus pyogenes bacteria (SpCas9) and its engineered derivative tend to potentially bind to DNA at multiple unintended sites thereby leading to unnecessary alterations in the DNA.
The researchers found their new Cas9 protein, which binds and cuts the DNA, was able to correct sickle cell anaemia mutation in patient-derived stem cells. The protein (FnCas9) used by the researchers to edit the DNA is derived from a bacterium - Francisella novicida.
The Cas9 protein is supposed to bind to the DNA only when there is a perfect match between the DNA and the protein, thus reducing the chances of the protein binding at non-target sites on the DNA. But even when three mismatches exist between the protein and the DNA, the currently used SpCas9 protein binds and cleaves the DNA. In contrast, the team led by Debojyoti Chakraborty from IGIB found the new FnCas9 protein showed negligible binding when there exists more than one mismatch in the target DNA. The results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
"The high specificity of the new FnCas9 protein arises due to reduced affinity to bind to DNA when there is even a single mismatch. And when there is more than one mismatch, complete absence of binding of the protein to the DNA is seen in many cases," says Dr. Chakraborty.
"If the Cas9 protein remains bound to DNA at mismatched locations for a long time, there is a possibility that it might cut the DNA at these locations. Also, if it remains bound to DNA, the protein might block the transcription (which is the first step in gene expression) at that location. And if Cas9 is bound at multiple unintended sites then the transcription machinery gets stalled and the expression of genes at these locations might be altered," Dr. Chakraborty explains.
In nature, DNA often gets damaged and is routinely repaired through one of the two pathways. In the case of the homology- directed repair (HDR) pathway, which is relatively less error- prone, matching sequences are used to repair the DNA. "The FnCas9 protein was found to increase the HDR repair rate fourfold compared to the widely used SpCas9," says Deepanjan Paul from CSIR-IGIB and one of the first authors of the paper.
Sickle cell anaemia
The researchers tested the precision of binding and cleavage at the desired sites on the DNA using mouse cell lines (embryonic stem cells and brain cells), human kidney cell lines and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSc). In the case of human iPS cells, the FnCas9 protein was found to bind to the DNA at the specific site, cut and repair the sickle cell anaemia mutation.
"The correction process is the same for any disease-causing mutation and so our FnCas9 protein should theoretically correct any mutation in the DNA. The efficiency might vary, so we must test it for each disorder," says Dr. Chakraborty.
The efficiency of any Cas9 protein delivery as well the ability to correct mutations is generally low in the case of iPS cells. The efficiency of correction is about 1.6%. Though the efficiency to correct mutations is low in iPS cells, the corrected cells can be isolated, multiplied and converted (differentiated) into haematopoietic stem cells. Once differentiated into haematopoietic stem cells, they can be transfused into patients.
"Differentiating iPS cells into haematopoietic stem cells is not trivial. Plenty of experimental work is under way to make it efficient for clinical translation," says Dr. Chakraborty.
Recalling how he started working on FnCas9 protein for genome editing, Dr. Chakraborty recalls that he was looking for a Cas9 protein which can target RNA instead of DNA. There was one study that reported that FnCas9 could potentially target viral RNA. "We were not able to target RNA using FnCas9 proteins. So we started to investigate whether it can target DNA as well since it was not known if FnCas9 can be used for precise gene correction. We found that not only does it target the DNA but does so with very high specificity," he says.
"We are now proceeding for preclinical studies to establish the efficacy of FnCas9 protein for genome-wide binding and targeting using patient-derived cells and mouse models," he says.
Sept 26, 2019 (New Delhi)
Technology awards presented to four labs
President of India Ram Nath Kovind and Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Thursday presented the Technology Awards and other prizes for excellence in science and technology, instituted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The winners of the CSIR Technology Awards are - Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow; Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhavnagar; Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad; and National Aerospace Laboratories, Bengaluru. The awards were instituted in 1990 to foster and encourage multi-disciplinary in-house team efforts and external interaction for technology development, transfer and commercialization.
Prof. Amitabha Chattopadhyay of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, bagged the G.N.Ramachandran Gold Medal for excellence in biological sciences and technology; Cadila Healthcare Limited and Carborundum Universal Limited got the CSIR Diamond Jubilee Technology Award.
Nine young scientists were presented CSIR Young Scientist Award: Dr Bidyut Purkait of Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow; Dr Lipi Thukral of Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology, New Delhi; Dr John Mondal of Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad; Dr Sasidhar B.S. of National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram; Dr Amol Prakash of National Institute of Oceanography, Goa; Dr Bodhisatwa Hazra of Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad; Dr Divya Agrawal of Central Scientific Instruments Organisation, Chandigarh; Dr Prabhat Ranjan Prem of Structural Engineering Research Centre, Chennai; and Dr. Shikha of Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute, Durgapur.
In addition, 17 school children were awarded the CSIR Innovation Award for School Children.
The first prize went to Anmol Rathi and Harsh Agrawal, students of R.K. Sarda Vidya Mandir, Raipur for their innovation on "novel technique for early detection of pancreatic cancer through spermine level in human saliva".
The President also unveiled the first Indigenous High Temperature Fuel Cell System developed by CSIR in partnership with two Indian companies, Reliance Industries Limited and Thermax Ltd, Pune under its flagship program named "New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative".
The 5 kW system generates power in an environmental-friendly manner using methanol/bio-methane and produces heat and water as bi-products for further use. The cells have been developed based on high temperature proton exchange membrane (HTPEM) technology. They are most suitable for distributed stationary power applications such as for small offices, commercial units and data centres, where highly reliable power is essential with simultaneous requirement for air-conditioning.
This system can also help meet the requirement of efficient, clean and reliable backup power generator for telecom towers, and strategic applications in remote areas. It would replace diesel generating sets and help reduce India's dependence on crude oil.
Three CSIR laboratories were involved in the development : National Chemical Laboratory, Pune; National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi and Central Electrochemical Research Institute, Karaikudi.
The President lauded the accomplishments of CSIR and its technological interventions towards the socio-economic development of the nation. He congratulated all the awardees and urged them to address the challenges facing the country.
Dr Harsh Vardhan expressed pride in CSIR contributions and said that the country has high expectations from CSIR in developing solutions and technologies towards sustainable development in the country. He released a book on on the winners of CSIR's Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards from 1958 to 2018.
Dr Shekhar C Mande, director general of CSIR, in his opening remarks highlighted the need of Science to connect to Society and called upon the scientists and students to excel in pursuit of science.
Sept 12, 2019 (Pune)
Scientists keen on setting up Cancer Genome Atlas for Indian population
Scientists are hoping to set up an Indian version of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a landmark project in the US which has provided publicly available data sets to help improve diagnostic methods and treatment standards to prevent cancer. While Dr Renu Swarup, secretary, Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology, said the government was keen on partnering with the initiative, several groups in Pune have come together to push this proposal forward.
"We haven?t had a formal discussion about India partnering in TCGA, but it is a complementary effort. We will be open to discussions on how our existing efforts on cancer genomics can bring in some value to the global initiative," Dr Swarup told The Indian Express.
In a first, the team from TCGA, led by Director Dr Jean Claude Zenklusen, is going to train 60 scientists at a workshop in Pune.
Several translational cancer scientists and onco clinicians from India and abroad will participate in the first TCGA-themed conference and workshop -- Multi-Omics Studies in Cancer -- Learnings from TCGA -- to be held from September 21 to 25 at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER). The event is also organised by the Centre for Translational Cancer Research, a joint initiative between Prashanti Cancer Care Mission(PCCM), IISER- Persistent Systems and TCGA, National Institutes of Health, USA.
TCGA, a collaboration between the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute, has generated comprehensive multi-dimensional maps of the key genomic changes in 33 types of cancer. The TCGA data set has helped the global cancer research community work towards prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Dr Santosh Dixit, a senior scientist with the PCCM and convenor of the conference, told The Indian Express that TCGA provided a gold mine of data and changed the face of cancer research. "In the world of biology, TCGA is equivalent to landing on the moon as the molecular analysis of each cancer is significant. Each cancer can be treated differently by knowing the molecular map of that cancer, studying the genes that have gone wrong and providing effective targeted drugs," said Dr Dixit.
While scientists are keen on setting up a similar TCGA for the Indian population, among the key driving forces are Dr L S Shashidhara, a developmental biologist formerly associated with IISER, Dr C B Koppiker, founder of PCCM, and Dr Anand Deshpande, founder and chairman of Persistent Systems, a technology services company.
Dr Deshpande said the project is socially relevant. "We need our own version of the cancer genome atlas. TCGA data is based on the caucasian population. We need to create our own data sets, build upon these initiatives and have our own equivalent of TCGA in India," Dr Deshpande told The Indian Express.
Persistent Systems is the software partner for IISER and PCCM and, according to Dr Deshpande, the software is among the key features of the TCGA initiative.
"We have been trying to get the team from TCGA and convince them to let us use their infrastructure, understand their methods and processes for setting up something similar in the country. They have agreed and while we will learn the same protocol and replicate them here, no biological sample will be sent out of the country. All tests will be done in India," said Dr Deshpande.
Dr Renu Swarup, CSIR director general Dr Shekhar Mande and others will be present during the workshop and participate in the discussion on creating a TCGA-like project in India.
Aug 2, 2019 (New Delhi)
New mobile app launched to assist farmers
The Ministries of Earth Sciences and Agriculture have launched a mobile application that will provide location, and crop and livestock- specific weather-based agro advisories to farmers in local languages.
To begin with, the service would be available for 150 districts in different parts of the country. It will be extended to rest of the country in a phased manner over the next one year. The Ministries will provide forecast to farmers relating to temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed and direction, which play critical roles in agricultural operations and how to take care of the crops and livestock. The information would be updated twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The app has been named Meghdoot and can be downloaded from Google Play Store and App Store. The users will have to register their name and location so that they can get area specific information. It has been developed by experts from the India Meteorological Department and Indian Institute of Tropical meteorology and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
The app would provide information in the form of images, maps and pictures to help the farmer to have a clearer picture of what is in store. It has been integrated with WhatsApp and Facebook as well to help farmers share information among themselves. It will also be integrated with YouTube in future.
In another related development, IMD has developed new website to disseminate weather and climate information in user-friendly manner. The website has less of technical information and more of important information such as district-wise weather warnings in easy to view and read formats.
The site will also act as a centralized portal to all the meteorological offices in India to update the warnings, bulletins and other data in real-time.Minister for Earth Science, Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan launched the agro-meteorology advisory application and the new website at a function to mark the Foundation Day of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
July 22, 2019 (New Delhi)
GSLV MkIII-M1 Successfully Launches Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft
India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV MkIII-M1, successfully launched the 3840 kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an earth orbit today. The spacecraft is now revolving round the earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.7 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 45,475 km. Today's flight marks the first operational flight of the GSLV Mk III.
After a smooth countdown lasting 20 hours, GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle majestically lifted off from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at the scheduled launch time of 1443 Hrs (2:43 pm) Indian Standard Time (IST) with the ignition of its two S200 solid strap-on motors. All the subsequent flight events occurred as scheduled.
About 16 minutes 14 seconds after lift-off, the vehicle injected Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an elliptical earth orbit.Immediately after spacecraft separation from the vehicle, the solar array of the spacecraft automatically got deployed and ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru successfully took control of the spacecraft.
ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan congratulated the launch vehicle and satellite teams involved in this challenging mission. "Today is a historical day for Space Science and Technology in India. I am extremely happy to announce that GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully injected Chandrayaan-2 into an orbit of 6000 Km more than the intended orbit and is better."
"Today is the beginning of the historical journey of India towards Moon and to land at a place near South Pole to carry out scientific experiments to explore the unexplored. On July 15, 2019 ISRO intelligently observed a technical snag, Team ISRO worked out, fixed and corrected the snag within 24 hours. For the next one and a half day, the required tests were conducted to ensure that corrections made were proper and in right direction. Today ISRO bounced back with flying colours," Dr. Sivan said.
In the coming days, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be carried out using Chandrayaan-2's onboard propulsion system. This will raise the spacecraft orbit in steps and then place it in the Lunar Transfer Trajectory to enable the spacecraft to travel to the vicinity of the Moon.
GSLV Mk III is a three-stage launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage. The vehicle is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Chandrayaan-2 is India's second mission to the moon. It comprises a fully indigenous Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan). The Rover Pragyan is housed inside Vikram lander.
The mission objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface. On the science front, this mission aims to further expand our knowledge about the Moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere leading to a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon.
After leaving earth orbit and on entering Moon's sphere of influence, the on-board propulsion system of Chandrayaan-2 will be fired to slow down the spacecraft. This will enable it to be captured into a preliminary orbit around the Moon. Later, through a set of manoeuvres, the orbit of Chandrayaan-2 around the moon will be circularised at 100 km height from the lunar surface.
Subsequently, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and enters into a 100 km X 30 km orbit around the Moon. Then, it will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvers to soft land in the South polar region of the Moon on September 7, 2019.
Following this, the Rover will roll out from the lander and carry out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of 1 lunar day, which is equal to 14 Earth days. The mission life of the lander is also 1 lunar day. The Orbiter will continue its mission for a duration of one year.The orbiter had a lift-off weight of about 2,369 kg, while the lander and rover weighed 1,477 kg and 26 kg respectively. The rover can travel up to 500 m (half a kilometre) and relies on electric power generated by its solar panel for functioning.
Chandrayaan-2 has several science payloads to facilitate a more detailed understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon. The Orbiter carries eight payloads, the lander carries three, and the rover carries two. Besides, a passive experiment is included on the lander. The Orbiter payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100 km orbit while the Lander and Rover payloads will perform in-situ measurements near the landing site.
The ground facilities constitute the third vital element of Chandrayaan-2 mission. They perform the important task of receiving the health information as well as the scientific data from the spacecraft. They also transmit the radio commands to the spacecraft. The Ground Segment of Chandrayaan-2 consists of Indian Deep Space Network, Spacecraft Control Centre and Indian Space Science Data Centre.
Today's successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 is a significant milestone in this challenging mission. A total number of 7500 visitors witnessed the launch live from the Viewer's Gallery at Sriharikota.
NewsSmart microscopy solution for better diagnostics from CSIR ..
Nov 18, 2019 (New Delhi)
Smart microscopy solution for better diagnostics from CSIR lab
Given the current health burden and scarcity of health professionals in rural areas, the Indian health system is in need of innovative and affordable solutions. There is lack of diagnostic labs and trained pathologists in many areas. In such a situation, it is necessary to develop smart solution for diagnostics.
To address these challenges, a smart microscopy solution has been developed by researchers at Chandigarh-based Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIO) of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). It can acquire microscopic images or use stored microscopic images of blood sample under study for the quantification of Red Blood Cells (RBC) and White Blood Cells (WBC).
"It is a telepathology based technique, which can be operated by any technician and the reports can be send to the experts. It can be a very useful tool particularly for remote and inaccessible rural areas which lack diagnostic facilities," said Dr Suman Tiwari, the lead researcher, while speaking with India Science Wire.
This microscopy technique is based on the deep learning algorithm. It uses the mathematical formulation which can be used as optimised model for optimal outputs. It uses software that calculates red and white blood cells using microscopic images of blood samples. The existing methods are visual, manual methods but this technique will use automated visual method. In this, the microscope will have a camera mounted on it and from that camera images will be acquired. These images are then read in computers where the backend algorithm can produce tell the results. In this approach, detection and quantification for RBC and subtypes of WBC has shown 93% accuracy. The software can be mounted on a digital microscope developed by CSIO.
Dr Tiwari said "the system has been trained on data obtained from different clinical centers for lab-specific quantification. It can be developed an integrated approach and automated solution for real-time quantification of blood cells in diagnostic inferencing." This microscopy technique was demonstrated in the Medical Innovations category at the Health Research Conclave held recently under the India International Science Festival-2019 in Kolkata, where the technique has won first prize.
CSIO Director Prof. R. Sinha congratulated the researchers who developed this microscopy technique, saying that "limited access of equipment and experts for diagnostic testing of diseases to India's vast population and people living in remote areas is a major problem. This smart technology can be useful in ensuring access to affordable and accessible diagnostic services. "
The technology of this digital microscope has recently been transferred to a Hyderabad-based company.
Oct 31, 2019 (Kolkata)
No room for irrationality in science: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research chief
There is no room for 'pseudo-science' in any scientific pursuit, and Indian scientists are committed to methods and enquiry that have nothing to do with irrationality, according to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) director general Shekhar C Mande.
Speaking at a curtain raiser for the 5th India International Science Festival (IISF) that begins in the city on November 5, Mande - who is also secretary of the department of scientific and industrial research, Government of India - stressed that the basic principles of science can never be compromised to accommodate illogical theories.
"We believe in science and enquiry and there are methods that our scientists follow. There is no need to debate anything and you can see the way our scientists are working," Mande said when asked to comment on remarks regarding the use of science in ancient India made by ministers in the recent past.
"Everyone has the right to speak but it's also true that many great discoveries have been made in India in the past. It has taken a long time for the world to accept them. J C Bose was not credited for many of his works that he did here in Kolkata. While the zero was discovered in India, the famous dancing girl figurine of the Mohenjodaro civilization was made of cast alloy that proves India had the technology to mix metals then. There is no pseudo-science in these, and they should be known to the world," said Mande.
He added that science didn't exclude the common man. "A lay person can discover something which scientists may have overlooked. That is the true spirit of science."
The CSIR director general added that Kolkata had a great talent pool in science and the standard of science here had not gone down. "Other than great scientists from other places like Ronald Ross, JBS Haldane and CV Raman who have done great work in Kolkata, there have been stalwarts like J C Bose and S N Bose who have done the city proud. That apart, there are countless scientists from Kolkata who are not known but continue to contribute to science. This is why we have chosen Kolkata as the IISF venue," said Mande. He added that Kolkata is still a centre of excellence in science.
The IISF will feature 28 events across six venues that include Biswa Bangla Convention Centre, SRFTI, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Science City and Bose Institute. A large contingent of scientists and technocrats, and ministers are expected to attend from around the country.
A global Indian Scientists' and Technocrats' meet and an International Science Film Festival of India are among the events. There will also be a start-up conclave, a Nav Bharat Nirman conference on ideas in science and an agricultural scientists' meet. More than 250 films have been selected for screening. Several science filmmakers, science communicators and storytellers will attend the festival.
Reiterating Mande's views, Vigyan Prasar director Nakul Parashar said science was 'binary in nature' and there was no room for baseless views. "There can only be a zero or 1 in science. It's that simple and everything in science is plain," he said. Vigyan Prasar is the nodal agency for IISF.
Oct 16, 2019 (New Delhi)
Government of India committed to Safeguard IP content: Commerce Secretary
SEPC Launches India IP Guide at Cannes in MIPCOM 2019
Services Exports Promotion Council (SEPC), set-up by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, has brought out the India Intellectual Property (IP) Guide at Cannes in MIPCOM 2019, being held from 14-17, October 2019, for the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry. The guide features a catalogue of over 60 Indian IPs, popular in over 160 countries. It comprehensively breaks the narrative of only low-end work being done in India.
In a message, to the industry in the India IP Guide released at 36th MIPCOM at Cannes, Commerce Secretary, Anup Wadhawan, said that the Government of India is committed to safeguard against infringement of originality and creativity of the makers to give a boost to services exports. IP is the most important asset for its creators in the media and entertainment sector and the message by Commerce Secretary further said that India firmly believes in the significance of IPR as the centrepiece of the industry's future growth.
For the second consecutive year, SEPC's India Pavilion at MIPCOM, Cannes, France, the world's largest content market, has enthused and attracted industry. Over 60 Indian delegates are part of the India Pavilion delegation. Over 115 Indian companies comprising over 250 delegates are at MIPCOM.
Sangeeta Godbole, Director General, SEPC informed that some of the top renowned Indian Media and Entertainment companies are present at MIPCOM. Exhibition space has been increased over last year and 15 media and companies are participating for the first-time through the SEPC delegation at the India Pavilion, she said.
The Indian exhibitors and visiting companies are participating to buy, sell, serve and partner with companies present at MIPCOM from over 111 countries across the world. India Pavilion is the one-stop place to meet content creators, audio visual service providers in animation, VFX, AR/VR, gaming, new media services, film production services and much more. Many of the Indian companies are here with their completed IPs or pitch for their in-production properties.
One of the key objectives at SEPC is to facilitate service exporters of India and handhold medium and small enterprises to expand their global footprint and to present IPs from India to the buyers and distributors from across the globe. The IP Guide is to illustrate strengths of the Indian content creators.
Intellectual Property (IP), especially in the innovation economy of today, is vital to a large number of SEPC's stakeholders. Creation, protection and expansion of IP products alone will bring huge benefits to the sector, informed Sangeeta Godbole.
In the coming months, SEPC plans to launch an online IP helpline, so that anybody who has simple questions can get feedback on IP related queries. SEPC will also be setting up a committee to help small and medium entertainment companies to navigate critical aspects of IP creation. The aim is to assist companies and content creators to maximise the value that IPs can provide.
Oct 6, 2019 (New Delhi)
CSIR launches eco-friendly crackers
The 'green' crackers reduce particulate emissions by 30 per cent and are available at the same cost as the traditional ones, some of them even cheaper.
Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan on Saturday launched a set of new crackers that promises to help reduce particulate emissions by 30 per cent while producing the same level of light and sound effects of traditional fireworks.
The new firework, which covers popularly used sound-emitting crackers, flowerpots, pencils, chakkar and sparklers, are based on formulations developed by a consortium of eight laboratories under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) led by Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.
Launching the 'green' crackers at a press conference, Harsh Vardhan said the crackers would be available at the same cost as the traditional ones. "Some of them may even be cheaper," he said.
He noted that about 230 firework manufacturers had signed the memorandum of understanding for using the formulations developed by CSIR scientists. Of them, 165 have gone further and have also entered into a non-disclosure agreement.
CSIR had taken up the project to develop eco-friendly crackers in the wake of directions of the Supreme Court restricting the use of fireworks to address the growing problem of pollution in different parts of the country.
The project adopted a two-pronged approach. While one stream of activity was focussed on improving the traditional crackers through reduction in the level of Barium Nitrate, which is the main villain, the second pathway aimed at replacing Barium Nitrate with a more benign Potassium Nitrate.
As part of the exercise, the scientists also set up a new facility that could be used by manufacturers to characterise the raw material and analyse the compositions of the chemicals used in fireworks.
The Minister said that the new and improved crackers had been demonstrated to manufacturers and their associations such as Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association and Indian Fireworks Manufacturers Association, besides the Central Pollution Control Board and Petroleum And Explosives Safety Organisation, which is responsible for controlling transport, storage and usage of all explosive materials.
Besides National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, the consortium consisted of Central Electrochemical Engineering Research Institute, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, National Chemical Laboratory, Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute, National Botanical Research Institute and Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute.
Harsh Vardhan said the new set of crackers would have a prominent green logo to differentiate them from the conventional ones. Further, it would carry QR code for monitoring. Scanning of the code would provide all information about the product, including the chemicals and the process used.
Sept 27, 2019 (New Delhi)
CSIR announces the winners of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize for 2019
Twelve scientists from different institutions across the country have been chosen for the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize for 2019.
The award winners include Dr. Kayarat Saikrishnan of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune and Dr. Soumen Basak of National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi (biological sciences), Dr. Raghavan B Sunoj of IIT, Bombay and Dr. Tapas Kumar Maji of Jawahar Lal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru (Chemical Sciences), and Dr. Dishant Mayur Bhai Pancholi of Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, and Dr. Nina Gupta of Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata (Mathematical Sciences).
The other winners are: Dr. Dheeraj Kumar of International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi and Dr. Mohammad Javed Ali of LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad (Medical Sciences), Dr. Aninda Sinha of IISc, Bengaluru, and Dr. Shankar Ghosh of TIFR, Mumbai (Physical Sciences), Dr. Subimal Ghosh of IIT, Bombay (Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences), and Dr. ManikVarma (Microsoft Research India, Bengaluru (Engineering Sciences).
Director General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr. Shekhar C.Mande, announced the winners on the occasion of CSIR Foundation Day on Thursday.
The prize carries a cash component of Rs. 5 lakh each. It is awarded annually for outstanding research, both fundamental and applied. It is named after the founder Director General of CSIR, Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar.
Sept 20, 2019 (New Delhi)
Harnessing science, technology and innovation for societal benefits
Director-General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Shekhar C. Mande, has urged for greater collaboration between society, on one hand, and the scientific community on the other to ensure that there was proper promotion of scientific endeavours and effective utilisation of the fruits of science, technology and innovation for the welfare of the people.
Drawing upon examples from ancient times, Mande said the excavations at Lothal in Gujarat were an eye-opener as they showed that even in ancient times people had thought of building a seaport to promote trade. Lothal is one of the southernmost cities of the ancient Indus Valley civilization located in the Bhal region of the western state.
He referred to the newly coined term of Social Scientific Responsibility and recalled how engineering wizard and statesman M Visvesvaraya helped build a dam across Osman Sagar in Hyderabad. "Till the early 1900s, Hyderabad was always ravaged by floods during the rainy season. At the same time, people also faced a shortage of drinking water. The Nizam of Hyderabad consulted Visvesvaraya who then designed a water management system in such a way that it solved both the problems - preventing floods and providing drinking water."
Mande was delivering the 23rd lecture under Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) Forum Lecture Series organized here on Thursday by Vigyan Prasar, Research and Innovation System for Developing Countries, The Energy and Resource Institute, Centre for Science and Environment and India Habitat Centre.
He narrated the journey of science, technology and innovation in Independent India and the role of CSIR in this journey. "When the British left, our contribution to the world GDP had dropped to below 2 per cent .We could not make our clothes or provide ourselves with food. We also did not have industries. The only solution was to make science, technology and innovation as the driver to rise up. Today, we can see the result," he said.
In this context, he recalled how CSIR's Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun has developed a technology to produce wax from oil discards and has set up a plant for this in Numaligarh in Assam. "Because of this plant, the country saves around Rs.500 crore per year on wax import. This wax can have multiple applications", he said.
Noting the contributions of Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar, the founder of CSIR, he emphasised the need to keep looking out for new ideas for innovations including from one's own daily life. "For several centuries, human beings have been producing flours from grains manually. However, people living in hill areas realised that when water falls from height energy can be produced and that can be used to operate the grinders. That gave rise to Gharats, which have been in operation in Himalayan states for centuries. Remote villages in the hills still use them".
Chandrima Shaha, President-Elect, Indian National Science Academy, chaired the session, while Sachin Chaturvedi, director general, RIS, welcomed the gathering.
Sept 19, 2019 (New Delhi)
Ministry of HRD announces National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) Scheme for better learning outcomes in Higher Education
The objective is to use Artificial Intelligence to make learning more personalised and customised as per the requirements of the learner. This requires development of technologies in Adaptive Learning to address the diversity of learners. There are a number of start-up companies developing this and MHRD would like to recognise such efforts and bring them under a common platform so that learners can access it easily. Educating the youth is a National effort and MHRD proposes to create a National Alliance with such technology developing EdTech Companies through a PPP model.
MHRD would act as a facilitator to ensure that the solutions are freely available to a large number of economically backward students. MHRD would create and maintain a National NEAT platform that would provide one-stop access to these technological solutions. EdTech companies would be responsible for developing solutions and manage registration of learners through the NEAT portal. They would be free to charge fees as per their policy. As their contribution towards the National cause, they would have to offer free coupons to the extent of 25% of the total registrations for their solution through NEAT portal. MHRD would distribute the free coupons for learning to the most socially/economically backward students.
AICTE would be the implementing agency for NEAT programme. The scheme shall be administered under the guidance of an Apex Committee constituted by MHRD. Independent Expert Committees would be constituted for evaluating and selecting the EdTech solutions. MoUs will be signed with the shortlisted EdTech companies. Awareness programs would be taken up by MHRD to create awareness of the NEAT solutions to teachers and students.
MHRD proposes to launch and operationalise NEAT in early November 2019.
Sept 13, 2019 (New Delhi)
Five new technology missions to be launched to make India future-ready
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is all set to launch five technology missions to prepare the country to meet scientific and technological challenges of the future. The new missions would cover aspects ranging from electric mobility to quantum science and technology.
The mission on electric mobility has been formulated in the wake of growing importance of electric vehicles particularly due to climate change concerns. It seeks to promote long-term research and development in all aspects of related technologies. For instance, the current batteries based on lithium ion are expected to start fading by 2025 globally leading to the need for development of newer materials.
The mission would, among other things, focus on developing hydrogen fuel cells and come out with batteries that would have higher specific energy and energy densities, motors that would do away with the need for permanent magnets and systems to provide for two-way power transfer between the grid and the electric vehicle chargers. A new model of collaboration that would bring together academic institutions, private manufacturing and R&D laboratories would be put in place for the mission.
Under the mission methanol, centres of excellence would be established for production and utilization of methanol and dimethyl ether using various solid fuels and natural gas and develop knowledge base and trained manpower in the area. Countries across the world are working on developing what is called 'methanol economy' as a replacement for fossil fuels as a means of energy storage, ground transportation fuel, and raw material for synthetic hydrocarbons and their products.
The aim is to ensure a cleaner environment and at the same time reduce dependence on fossil fuels, which are a non- renewable source of energy. Methanol can be produced from a wide variety of sources including agricultural products and municipal waste, and wood and other biomass. It can also be made from chemical recycling of carbon dioxide.
Announcing the missions at a press conference here DST Secretary Ashutosh Sharma said the government was working continuously shape a seamless science, technology and innovation system, which was cutting edge, collaborative, inclusive, relevant and aligned to national priorities.
The new package of technological initiatives also includes a mission on promoting research and development in quantum technology and related areas of quantum computing, quantum cryptography, quantum communication, quantum metrology and sensing, and quantum-enhanced imaging. Quantum technology is an emerging field of physics and engineering based on the properties of quantum mechanics.
The fourth mission in the package seeks to promote developments in the area of cyber-physical systems, which includes artificial intelligence, robotics, sensors, big data analytics, geographical information systems and advanced materials. The aim is to give a fillip to the manufacturing sector through the development of new products and services, creation of skilled human resources at different levels, from technician to researchers and entrepreneurs. The mission outlines time-bound strategies for implementation of cyber-physical systems in various sectors such as agriculture, transport, energy, water, and health.
The fifth mission envisages the production of digital maps across the country to a scale of 1:500 with the help of satellites and drones. The entire country would be mapped within the next two years.
Sept 5, 2019 (New Delhi)
Nationwide grid to link AYUSH hospitals, labs
India's traditional medicine system is all set to go high-tech with the Union Ayush Ministry taking steps to set up a nationwide AYUSH grid connecting all hospitals and research labs to record case histories so that a huge amount of evidences can be generated through data analytics about the efficacy of Ayurveda.
"While robust research is being conducted into Ayurveda, the problem arises in implementation of integrative medicine at the level of public health. This is because Ayurveda is still not accepted as a science by the Allopathic community. Ayush Grid is expected to take care of these gaps," Dr Rajesh Kotecha, Union Ayush Secretary said.
In fact, Prime Minister Naredndra Modi too last week, while speaking at a Yoga Awards ceremony emphasised on the need to create a homogenous system by creating an "Ayush grid" on the lines of one nation, one tax and one nation, one mobility card.
The move has been welcomed by the ayush experts and manufacturers. "This would instil confidence among people as well as bring transparency and accountability in the sector at the time when the Government is focussing on universal health care," said Sanchit Sharma, executive director of the AIMIL Pharma Ltd. He agreed with the Prime Minister's view that technology intervention will eliminate silos in the area of Ayush. Modi had pitched for connecting technology with tradition in the practice of Ayush medicine as he announced the Government's plans to establish 12,500 Ayush centres across India, 4,000 of which will be set up this year. Ayush medicines will be provided in these centres.
There is already an array of Ayurveda drugs like BGR-34 for diabetes developed by country's prestigious research institutions like CSIR. Similarly, Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed herbal drug, NEERI-KFT for kidney ailments after intensive research.
The burden of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDas) is immense in the country. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), deaths due to NCDs has increased from 37 per cent in 1990 to 61 per cent in 2016. The WHO has already recognized diabetes as a growing challenge in India with an estimated 8.7 per cent diabetic population between the age group of 20 and 70 years. In India, the Global Disease Burden (GBD) 2015 ranks chronic kidney disease as the eighth leading cause of death.