Ministry of AYUSH signed MOU between with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
Ministry of AYUSH (MOA) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) have signed MOU at New Delhi today for collaborating with each other for the digitization of AYUSH Sector. MeitY has agreed to advise and give technical support to MOA for planning and development of AYUSH GRID Project.
In pursuance to the National Health Policy 2017 and e-governance initiative of Ministry of AYUSH aims to digitize the entire AYUSH leading to transformation in the field of health care delivery at all levels, in addition to greater research, education, delivery of various healthcare programmes and better drug regulations.
On the occasion of the signing of MOU, Secretary AYUSH Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha briefed about the vision and utility of AYUSH GRID Project and stated that this will be beneficial for all stakeholders of AYUSH including citizens of the country and in turn, will help to achieve various national and international goals in healthcare.
In his remarks, Secretary, MeitY Shri Ajay Prakash Sawhney informed about the various MeitY led Health initiatives such as e-Hospital, e-Aushadhi, e-Rakt Kosh, Online Registration System (ORS) and e-Shushrut for digitizing the internal workflows and processes of hospitals enabling the efficient and online delivery of Health care services across the country. MeitY has also sponsored a number of R&D projects for the development of Medical Electronics Devices and Systems such as Medical and Imaging equipment, establishing a centre of excellence in medical electronics. MeitY has also launched an online information guide called Vikaspedia, a portal for the various social sectors including Health and it offers information in 23 languages.
Secretary, MeitY concluded that high-quality technical support from MeitY to Ministry of AYUSH would lead to success in the endeavour of Ministry of AYUSH in the field of digitalization.
Cabinet clears DNA tech bill to help with investigations
June 24, 2019 (New Delhi)
Cabinet clears DNA tech bill to help with investigations
The Union Cabinet on Monday approved the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019, that allows the government to create a DNA data bank for solving crimes, tracing missing persons, and identifying dead bodies.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the molecule that contains the genetic instruction and can be extracted from samples of blood, tissue, hair, and bodily fluids. It is “somatically stable” or remains the same across all kinds of samples and can be used to identify people.
“The bill will empower the criminal justice delivery system by enabling the application of DNA evidence, which is considered as the gold standard in crime investigations and gives a fillip to the development of uniform practices in all laboratories involved in DNA testing in India,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union minister for health and science.
The bill had been tabled earlier this year and was passed by the Lok Sabha in January. It lapsed after not being passed in the Rajya Sabha.
If approved, the bill will make provisions for the government to set up national and regional DNA data banks that will maintain samples under categories such as crime scene, suspect or under-trial, offenders, a missing person, and the unknown deceased person.
Bodily samples for DNA analysis can be collected only on consent from the people, including those who have been sentenced for up to seven years. For people who have received a sentence of more than seven years, the samples can be collected without consent.
Leaking of identifiable DNA information will be punishable by up to one year of imprisonment and a fine of ~1 lakh, according to the bill. And, altering or destroying biological samples is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2 lakh.
The bill also prohibits all laboratories from conducting any DNA tests or analysis without accreditation with the DNA regulatory board, ensuring the quality and reliability of tests.
“Even now, DNA samples from crime scenes are used for identifying criminals. But, with the creation of interlinked national data banks, the investigators will be able to go through the database to trace criminals. It will similarly help in tracing missing people or the unknown dead bodies,” said Dr Anupuma Raina, a senior scientist in the forensic DNA lab, All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
“The other thing is that the DNA samples will be saved, so even if an accused is traced after five or ten years, the samples from the crime scene can be matched for conviction. Now, this can be done only if a laboratory decides to maintain the record for years,” she added.
The bill was initially proposed in 2007 and the drafting began in 2012. The NGO Lokniti Foundation filed a petition in the Supreme Court stating that India does not have a DNA database to identify nearly 40,000 unclaimed bodies every year.
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research - Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute (CSIR-AMPRI) organized interactive seminars to discuss the benefits of new technology and further innovation in the field of science. The institute has developed 'radiation shielding tiles' for x-ray and MRI rooms to prevent radiation from leaks without the use of lead tiles.
Dr S K Sanghi, chief scientist at the Institute delivered a lecture on 'Successful Demonstration on Radiation Shielding Tiles'.
"CSIR - AMPRI has developed lead-free radiation shielding tiles, of which 2600 tiles have been installed at Saideep Hospital, Ahmednagar in Maharashtra in three X-Ray rooms, CT Scan Room and Cathlab. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of Government of India has approved shielding effectiveness of CSIR-AMPRI tiles. The technology is expected to be transferred to international agencies in the near future", he said.
Happy at the achievement he shared with TOI how the team of scientists had worked tirelessly for 10 long years to make this possible.
"All hospitals use lead in X-ray rooms to shield radiation. Lead by nature is toxic and when the para-medical staff spends too much time there, they develop skin diseases and may also develop more serious diseases. We wanted to develop a non-toxic shielding material so we made these shielding tiles with help of 'red mud' which is the industrial aluminium waste", added Sanghi.
PSLV-C46/Risat-2B mission a success, Isro places radar imaging earth observation satellite in orbit
May 22, 2019 (Chennai)
PSLV-C46/Risat-2B mission a success, Isro places radar imaging earth observation satellite in orbit
Eight years after launching the last satellite in the Risat series, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) began the expansion of its radar imaging satellite fleet in space with the successful launch of Risat-2B onboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on Wednesday morning. Risat uses synthetic aperture radar to provide all-weather surveillance.
PSLV-C46 carrying Risat 2B -- which weighs 615kg -- lifted off from the first launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 5.30am, as scheduled. It was the 48th flight of PSLV and the 14th flight in 'core-alone' configuration where solid strap-on motors were not used. It was the third launch by Isro in 2019.
Around 15 minutes after the lift-off, the four-stage rocket successfully placed the satellite in a 555km circular orbit. Isro chairman K Sivan said, “PSLV-C46 placed Risat-2B in a precise orbit of 555km with a 37-degree inclination.”
He said mission carried an indigenously made Vikram processor, made by Semi-Conductor Laboratory, and a low cost aided navigation system. Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre S Somanath said the Vikram processor would become the workhorse for all computers in the future missions.
With a mission life of five years, the radar imaging earth observation satellite with its X-band radar will provide services in the fields of agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
It will have military applications, as well. Unlike the usual remote sensing and optical imaging satellites, a radar imaging satellite can penetrate through thick cloud cover and identify hidden objects on the ground.
U R Rao Satellite Centre director P Kunhikrishnan said Risat-2B carried a 3.6-metre unfoldable and deployable radial rib antenna.
With this mission, PSLV also achieved a record of lofting 50 tonnes of payload into space by placing more than 350 satellites, Sivan said.
Risat series The first satellite in the Risat series -- Risat 2 --was launched on April 20, 2009. The 300kg satellite used an X-band synthetic aperture radar sensor made by Israel Aerospace Industries. The Risat-1 launch was postponed to prioritise the launch of Risat-2 after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Risat-1, an indigenously developed radar imaging satellite, was launched on April 26, 2012. All these satellites had a five-year mission life
Research applications of GMRT, Pune increase by 50%
Research applications of GMRT, Pune increase by 50%
According to the officials concerned, the number of applications per cycle has gone from 60-70 to 90-110
Ever since the upgraded Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) operated by National Centre for Radio AstroPhysics – Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Pune, started functioning from 2017, there has been a significant increase in the number of researchers coming to GMRT for their project work.
According to the officials concerned, the number of applications per cycle has gone from 60-70 to 90-110. GMRT is located at Khodad in Junnar, at least 80 kilometres from Pune.
“The work of upgrading GMRT started in 2012 and was completed in 2017. In an academic year, we have two cycles. The first cycle starts from April 15 and the second starts from October 15. We get applications from across the globe to get a time slot for working on GMRT. Till 2017, we were getting 60-70 applications per cycle which then increased to 90-110 applications per cycle,” professor Yashwant Gupta, director, NCRA.
Gupta said that out of the total applications, 50 per cent are from Indian students and the rest from international researchers.
CSIR will prepare Ayurvedic medicines in 36 labs under MoU signed with Ayush Ministry
May 1, 2019 (New Delhi)
CSIR will prepare Ayurvedic medicines in 36 labs under MoU signed with Ayush Ministry
The Ayush Ministry is identifying at least 12,500 centres to turn them into full-fledged Ayush HWCs (Health and Wellness Centre) where all AYUSH services including treatment through scientifically-validated herbal drugs will be offered to patients under one roof.
Under the recent Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Ayush Ministry, the CSIR will prepare Ayurvedic medicines in 36 laboratories across the country. The MoU was signed for cooperation in research and education in areas of traditional systems of medicine and its integration with modern science.
The Ministry has also revealed that new Ayurvedic drugs will soon be available in the market as CSIR has already been working on them and there has been a growing interest of traditional medicines worldwide, there is a need of multipronged and innovative approaches for the acceptance of this science.
“The combination of traditional healthcare and modern basic science has a huge possibility to do innovative and path-breaking researches which can be used for the explanation of various basic concepts,” said Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH.
The Ayush Ministry is identifying at least 12,500 centres to turn them into full-fledged Ayush HWCs (Health and Wellness Centre) where all AYUSH services including treatment through scientifically-validated herbal drugs will be offered to patients under one roof. For instance, anti-diabetic herbal drugs like BGR-34 will be recommended to patients of a diabetic whose numbers is on increase due to changing lifestyle.
Composed of herbal medicinal plants like daruharidra, giloy, gudmar and bitter gourds which are known for their anti-diabetic and anti-hyperglycemic properties, BGR-34 was jointly developed after standardization and pre-clinical studies by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) two Lucknow-based labs --Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) and National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI).
Previously, CSIR jointly with Department of AYUSH (now Ministry) developed the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), a globally recognized proprietary database on Indian systems of medicine for preventing bio-piracy and misappropriation of our traditional knowledge. The constituent laboratories of CSIR and councils of the Ministry of AYUSH have also supported each other in the development of improved varieties and captive cultivation of the medicinal plants including rare, engendered and threatened (RET) species, Botanical Reference Standards and Pharmacopoeial standards, and Ayurgenomics, among many others
IIT Delhi signs MoU with five CSIR laboratories to promote cooperative research
July 16, 2019 (New Delhi)
IIT Delhi signs MoU with five CSIR laboratories to promote cooperative
As a part of MoU, IIT Delhi plans to promote collaborative research, exchange
of ideas, development of knowledge, enhancing high quality research
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, recognised by the Government of
India as an Institution of Eminence,has entered into an agreement with five of
the renowned national laboratories of by signing an MoU to promote cooperative
research. The laboratories are CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research
Institute, CSIRCentral Scientific Instruments Organisation, CSIR-Central
Electronics Engineering Research Institute, CSIRInstitute of Minerals &
Materials Technology and CSIR-National Physical Laboratory of India.
CSIR or Council of Scientific and Industrial Research works under the
Government of India as the largest research and development organisation in the
country.The MoU was signed by the Directors of the laboratories and Prof V.
Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi in the presence of Dr Shekhar C. Mande, DG,
CSIR today.Prof. Rao in his opening remarks said that IIT Delhi has been
pioneering in providing its students and faculty with world class infrastructure
and conducive environment for research.He also spoke about the plans to initiate
about 60 Interdisciplinary Research projects with the five CSIR laboratories
Welcoming the partnership, Dr Mande said that the CSIR laboratories can
benefit immensely with such collaborations that are in the mutual interest areas
of research and together it can participate more proactively in solving nation's
persisting problem in the areas of science and technology, healthcare.
As a part of MoU, IIT Delhi plans to promote collaborative research, exchange of
ideas, development of knowledge, enhancing high quality research throughput.
The MoU would also serve as a platform to students, faculty and other research
scholars equally to contribute towards research and development growth of nation
and fuelling its growth, an IIT Delhi statement said.
The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry is working on a plan to
create a National Research Foundation (NRF) and is veering towards structuring
it as a commission created by an act of Parliament and headed by the Prime
The NRF's mandate is to foster research, much like the US' National Science
Foundation does, although it will do this by working almost exclusively through
universities and premier educational institutions.
Some people expect an announcement of the funding and creation of NRF to come
in the Union Budget which will be presented on Friday.
According to a senior government official familiar with the matter, a panel
of nearly 80 experts including NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, former revenue
secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Niti Aayog, principal scientific adviser to the PM, K
VijayRaghaThe van, former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan, former Infosys CEO Kris
Gopalakrishnan and top HRD officials led by higher education secretary R
Subrahmanyam, has given a detailed plan on setting up NRF to the ministry.
According to the report submitted by these experts under the ministry's
Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP), NRF may be
commission by an Act of Parliament and will aim at achieving excellence in
knowledge creation and research and innovation infrastructure.
Its operations should follow a so-called hub-and-spoke model with a network
of Centres of Excellence (CoEs) located in premier institutions, the report
NRF will fund research projects through grants. It will establish high-
intensity thematic research labs in areas of science such as oceanography,
nanotechnology, and Information & Communication Technology.
"NRF will be an apex body formed under the chairmanship of Prime Minister and
will aim for excellence in knowledge, people and infrastructure. It will focus
on promoting R&D activities in branches of science and technology, humanities
and social sciences identified through national and state missions," the report
HT has reviewed a copy of the report.
According to the panel, which was formed on the direction of the Prime
Minister's office and whose report was submitted to HRD minister Ramesh
Pokhriyal Nishank, NRF will establish and support research centres in existing
higher education institutions. It will also support and fund postdoctoral
"The overarching goal of NRF will be to enable a culture of research to
permeate through our universities. In particular, NRF will explicitly aim to
remove the current obstacles in creating a global quality research ecosystem in
the country by providing a reliable base of merit-based peerreviewed research
funding, helping to develop a culture of research in the country through
suitable incentives for and recognition of outstanding research, and by
undertaking major initiatives to seed and grow research at state universities
and other public institutions where research capability is currently limited,"
the report says.
The report also calls for an innovation fund for supporting innovative
projects at pre-incubation, incubation and start-up levels.
"It is an excellent idea. The New Education Policy draft has also called for
setting up a research foundation. However, creating it through an act of
parliament and headed by the prime minister as aspects will add to its
stature...," said former UGC member Inder Mohan Kapahy.
Human cell atlas: An initiative for holistic understanding of human body
July 3, 2019 (New Delhi)
Human cell atlas: An initiative for holistic understanding of human
A new human atlas initiative has been launched to create a unified database
of molecular network of all the tissues in the human body and to derive a
holistic picture of working of human body. The project named Manav has been
launched by the Department of Biotechnology and Persistent Systems, a
This mega project will collate and integrate molecular information on human
tissues and organs that currently lies hidden in research articles in an
unstructured and disorganized form. The project would utilize large biological
community, both students and scientists, for extracting and adding the
information from scientific literature at the level of cells and organs. The
database would eventually help researchers in identifying gaps in current
knowledge and help in future projects in diagnostics and disease biology.
The idea emerged from the success of "Smart India hackathon", a nationwide
contest in which large number of engineering students are being encouraged to
find solutions to the pressing problems. In the same way, Manav will engage
biology students to build their skills in reading scientific literature and
deepen their understanding of biological system.
"On one hand, we have large amount of published literature and on the other
hand we have few lakhs students involved in biological courses. The thought
process behind Manav was to orient our students towards an aim that will train
them to read scientific literature, analyze it and also the knowledge on how to
design experiments," explained Dr. Abhay Jere, national coordinator of the
project, while talking to India Science Wire.
In this public-private venture, DBT and Persistent Systems will invest Rs 13
crore and Rs 7 crore respectively. The project will be executed by Indian
Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and National Center for Cell
Sciences (NCCS) based at Pune. While the institutes will train students, the
technology platform and data management will be provided by the private partner.
Students and faculty from DBT Star colleges and Biotechnology Information
network system (BTIS) network will also be involved.
The project team is in talks with other scientific agencies such as the All
India Council of Technical Education, Council of Scientific and Industrial
Research (CSIR), University Grants Commission and Indian Council of Medical
Research (ICMR) for possible collaboration.
This initiative will not only seal the gaps in knowledge on human body but
will also create a trained population of biologists. With the data curation and
analysis skills imparted during this project, students will have better
opportunities for the job in life science sector. The undergraduates and
postgraduates from the various distinct fields of biology such as zoology,
biotechnology, botany, biochemistry, pharmacology and medical sciences can
register and contribute to this project.
A similar Human Cell Atlas project was launched in 2016 as a collaborative
effort between scientists. This project is designed to generate data pertaining
to cellular and molecular activities of various cell types in the body in both
its normal and disease state using techniques such as single cell genomics. The
Indian project, on the other hand, depends on the knowledge already available in
scientific literature to derive information on cellular network.
The project will be executed in four steps. First will be creation of a
robust online data annotation platform. Second step would involve data
annotation and curation by students on the platform. Evaluation of generated
data and model by faculty and then senior scientists for quality check would
constitute third step. Finally, integration of data, model building and
Currently the project is in its beta testing mode where students are being
trained at NCCS, Pune campus to annotate and curate the molecular data related
to research on human skin and assign them to various cells, tissues and organs
via the newly created annotation platform. The information obtained will be
checked by teachers and scientists. The team says that the feedback from
students and faculty would help in fine tuning the system. The training in
future will be conducted through webinars which will ensure involvement of
larger student community from across the country can contribute to this
"The general methodology of acquiring and visualizing data methodology and
technical platform developed during this project can be extrapolated to do other
science project on biodiversity, ecology, environment etc. which may be relevant
nationally or globally," added Dr. Jere.
The information gathered in the project will help scientists to understand
the differential molecular factors which vary between diseased states versus a
healthy state of an organ.
Further, it will bring out the cross-talk of molecular factors in various
organs helping in understanding the networking between organs in a better
Government bats for sharing biological research data
July 2, 2019 (New Delhi)
Government bats for sharing biological research data
Wants better use of public funds
Draft note from the government on use and sharing of biological data requires researchers who collect such data and use public funds for the same, to ensure that this data is made public within two years at the latest.
The draft document, called the Biological Data Storage, Access and Sharing Policy of India, is primarily meant to address a long-standing peeve among many scientists, that several scientists use government funds to conduct research and collect biological specimens and data such as DNA samples, cell and tissue samples, store these details in databases and often lock them up - sometimes for good, barring access to other researchers and scientists who may be interested in them. This leads to duplication of data collection exercises, lost opportunities to access data collected over the years and wastage of public money.
Raw (Level-1) data must be shared, by placement on a database identified and approved by the funding agency of the Government of India, within one year of a generation of the data.'' If no such database is identified by the agency, then raw data must be made available to anyone working in any Indian institution, public or private, requesting for these data,'' says the draft note which is open for public comments until July 31.
While data generated from public funds will now be open to private companies too, the data has to be excised of all features that would identify individuals, the draft note adds.
Such a bill is necessary because it would bring in a culture of scientists sharing their data. However we also have to think about whether the draft bill discusses long term storage of data, who has access to preserving these databases,- said a scientist aware of the background to the Bill but who didn't want to be identified.
UGC announces new Initiative - Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India's Developing Economy (STRIDE)
July 1, 2019 (New Delhi)
UGC announces new Initiative - Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India's Developing Economy (STRIDE) to boost research culture in India STRIDE scheme will strengthen research culture and innovation in colleges and Universities - Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved a new scheme - ''Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India's Developing Economy'' (STRIDE). Broadly, STRIDE will provide support to research projects that are socially relevant, locally need-based, nationally important and globally significant. STRIDE shall support research capacity building as well as basic, applied and transformational action research that can contribute to national priorities with a focus on inclusive human development. STRIDE shall support creation, development and integration of new ideas, concepts and practices for the public good and strengthening civil society.
Union HRD Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that STRIDE scheme will strengthen research culture and innovation in colleges and Universities and help students and faculty to contribute towards India's developing economy with the help of collaborative research. He also added that focus on Humanities and Human Sciences will boost quality research on Indian languages and knowledge systems.
Trans-disciplinary research is a team effort of investigators from different disciplines to create new conceptual, theoretical, methodological innovations that integrate and transcends beyond discipline-specific approaches to address a common problem. Trans-disciplinary research goes beyond the mere production of knowledge and extends to the practical use of the knowledge outside academic endeavour. In essence, it takes into consideration the societal impact of knowledge enunciating as what should be the main aim of the research. It creates unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives and solves problems by going beyond the boundaries of disciplines to involve various stakeholders. Trans-disciplinary research generates knowledge through the use of multi and inter-disciplinary concepts and integrates new theories among science and society.
To identify young talent, strengthen research culture, build capacity, promote innovation and support trans-disciplinary research for India's developing economy and national development.
To fund multi-institutional network high-impact research projects in humanities and human sciences.
Component-1 will endeavour to identify the motivated young talents with research and innovation aptitude in universities and colleges. The Scheme will provide research capacity building in diverse disciplines by mentoring, nurturing and supporting young talents to innovate pragmatic solutions for local, regional, national and global problems. This component is open to all disciplines for a grant up to 1 crore.
Component-2 will be mainly to enhance problem-solving skills with the help of social innovation and action research to improve the wellbeing of people and contribute to India's developing economy. Collaborations between universities, government, voluntary organizations and industries are encouraged under this scheme. This component is open to all disciplines for grant up to 50 lakh - 1 crore.
Component-3 will fund high impact research projects in the identified thrust areas inhumanities and human sciences through a national network of eminent scientists from leading institutions. Disciplines eligible for funding under this component include Philosophy, History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Psychology, Liberal Arts, Linguistics, Indian Languages and Culture, Indian Knowledge Systems, Law, Education, Journalism, Mass Communication, Commerce, Management, Environment and Sustainable Development. Grant available for this component is up to 1 crore for one HEI and up to 5 crores for the multi-institutional network. To encourage high-quality high impact research in humanities, there is a provision to identify experts and invite them to develop a proposal. UGC is also proposing to provide a grant of Rs 2 lakh for developing proposals.
An Advisory Committee has been set up by the UGC under the chairmanship of Prof Bhushan Patwardhan, Vice Chairman to oversee the entire scheme. Details of the scheme will be available on the UGC website by 8th July 2019. Call for proposals will be announced by the UGC by 20th July 2019. Applications will have to be submitted online. STRIDE web portal will be open for receiving applications by 31st July 2019.
Award of the grant will be based on the merit of the project proposal. STRIDE scheme proposals will be carefully evaluated with the help of peer review and assessment by expert committees. Shortlisted applicants may be invited for presentation.
Shri R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary HRD Ministry said that the National Innovation Foundation has a database of over 3 lakh technological ideas from over 608 districts waiting to be explored. STRIDE scheme will help students and faculty to undertake collaborative research to explore these knowledge resources for India's developing economy. The ten grand challenges facing the humanities in India described in the report to MHRD are part of thrust areas identified for funding under STRIDE.
UGC Chairman Prof D.P. Singh said STRIDE will provide support to the innovative research projects that are Socially Relevant, Locally Need-based, Nationally Important and Globally Significant.
UGC Vice chairman Prof Bhushan Patwardhan said that the three components of STRIDE will help to strengthen transdisciplinary research culture in colleges and universities. It will provide an opportunity to build multisectoral linkages between university-government-community-industry for national development and wellbeing of people. In addition, STRIDE will give a major impetus to high impact research in Humanities and Human Sciences.
Research published in pay-and-publish journals won't count: UGC panel
June 21, 2019 (New Delhi)
Research published in pay-and-publish journals won't count: UGC panel
Suggesting sweeping reforms to promote the quality of research in India, a UGC panel has recommended that publication of research material in ''predatory'' journals or presentations in conferences organised by their publishers should not be considered for academic credit in any form.
They include selection, confirmation, promotion, appraisal, and award of scholarships and degrees, the panel has suggested. The committee, which submitted its 14-page report to the UGC recently, has also recommended changes in PhD and MPhil programmes, including a new board for social sciences research.
The four-member committee - headed by P Balram, former director of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru - was formed by the UGC late last year after The Indian Express published a series of investigative reports on how India has emerged as one of the biggest markets for ''predatory'' publishers of substandard research journals.
The reports showed how over 300 ''predatory'' publishers bring out journals that claim to be international and publish papers for a ''charge'' ranging from $30-$1,800 per piece. Some of the prominent publishers featured in the investigation were OMICS, Austin, Science Domain, IAEME and IOSR Journals, which together bring out over 1,200 journals on subjects ranging from medicine to management.
Last week, the UGC launched the Consortium of Academic and Research Ethics (CARE) to approve a new official list of academic publications.
In its report, the Balram committee has recommended the creation of a board under the UGC for research in social sciences and humanities with the separate allocation of funds. It has also suggested the appointment of a Dean for research and development in every university linked to externally funded grants and projects.
On predatory journals and conferences organised by their publishers, the committee's report said: ''The mandatory requirement of publication in journals/conference proceedings for award of doctoral degrees and as a metric in evaluating faculty under the API (Academic Performance Index) score has resulted in a proliferation of predatory journals and conferences, which have abandoned classical peer review as a method of quality control.''
When contacted by The Indian Express, Balram said: ''We submitted the report recently. It is a very brief report on the improvement of the quality of research. It is up to the UGC, HRD Ministry and state governments to implement it.''
Bhushan Patwardhan, UGC Vice Chairperson, confirmed that the Commission has received the report. ''It will be considered by the UGC in its next meeting scheduled in July,'' he said.
Apart from Balram, the committee includes Sharad Deshpande, former professor and head, Department of Philosophy, Savitribai Phule University, Pune; Shridhar R Gadre, Distinguished Professor, Savitribai Phule University, Pune; and, Anitha Kurup, Dean, National Institute of Advanced Studies, IISc campus.
For the effective implementation of its recommendations, the committee has suggested that an empowered panel of eminent academicians be set up to work with UGC nodal officers for new schemes. It has also asked the UGC to revamp its regional centres and initiate capacity building programmes for its staff to build in-house expertise.
New Board, R&D Dean
Key recommendations of UGC panel:
-Papers in predatory journals won't count
-New board for social sciences research
-R&D Dean in every university
-Short-term internship in policy organisations
-100 post-doctoral fellowships per year in social sciences, humanities
The Ayush Ministry is in the process of identifying 12,500 health and wellness centres across the country to deliver traditional medicinal services at grass-root level with special focus on preventive health care keeping in view the rising instances of chronic lifestyle diseases, official sources have said.
The Central government aims at strengthening its flagship health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat by integrating traditional medicine therapy with allopathy at the primary health centres to check rising non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
It is stressing on seamless integration of two pillars of Ayushman Bharat — Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) — to achieve the “health for all” target.
According to official sources, the need for appointing AYUSH doctors has been increasingly felt at the Primary Health Centres level, particularly following the success of a pilot project launched in 2016 in three districts — Bhilwara (Rajasthan), Surendran-agar (Gujarat) and Gaya (Bihar) — ayurvedic medicines, dietary regimen and yoga classes are being used to treat non-communicable diseases.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has, for instance, developed anti-diabetic ayurvedic drug BGR 34, which has proved a milestone in curing diabetic disease, an official said, adding it's a scientifically developed drug produced by completing various medical tests and is proving very beneficial in controlling diabetes.
Replying to a written question in the Rajya Sabha a few years ago, AYUSH minister Sripad Naik had said that the BGR-34, jointly developed after standardisation and pre-clinical studies by the CSIR's two labs — the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants and the National Botanical Research Institute, is meant to be used by patients of newly diagnosed diabetes only as a measure of disease management. The drug is being sold by Delhi-based AIMIL Pharmaceuticals.
BGR-34 is a natural DPP-4 (dipeptidyl peptidase 4) inhibitor, a class of drugs which help to lower blood sugar levels.
Scientific institutions should work for the development of nearby villages: HRD Minister
June 12, 2019 (New Delhi)
Scientific institutions should work for development of nearby villages: HRD Minister
Union Minister for Human Resources and Development (HRD) Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Wednesday made an appeal to the scientific institutions to participate in the holistic development of the country, saying that it was their responsibility to work for the development of nearby villages.
He added that the industry and education sector should collaborate so that job-oriented education could be provided.
The Minister was chairing a meeting with the directors of all the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur.
"While addressing the participants, the Minister said that NITs are one of the best institutions for providing technical education, so they have to focus on qualitative and research-based education. He said that technical education and research must be focused on the solution of fundamental problems," a department release said.
He added that a combination of scientific temperament and research will be the foundation stone for a New India. Citing the example of the USA and European countries, Pokhriyal said that technical institutions have played a major role in transforming thoughts of social and economic development into reality.
He urged for making a strong alumni network on the lines of Harvard and Yale and said this will not only encourage the students for innovative research but also help in generating resources.
"Highlighting the importance of independent competitive atmosphere in the country, the Minister said that the country needs to establish India on the global education platform. He urged for good research in basic science," the release said.
"To fulfil the expectations of 130 crore citizens, all the scientific institutions have to work with full dedication and mission mode," the release quoted Pokhriyal as saying.
Research scholars are still not satisfied and feel the revised hikes of around 20% overlook the ground realities of increasing expenditure With the UGC notifying revised fellowship amounts of Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Senior Research Fellowships (SRF) in Science, Humanities and Social Science, effective from January 1, 2019, the response from scholars and academicians are mixed while considering the ground realities.
'The revised hike should come as a relief, but since all junior and senior research fellows have to pay a consolidated fee of Rs 50,000 (which includes mess, hostel and tuition fees) per semester (where each is of six months duration) such a revision seems like a drop in ocean,' says Priyankar Chand, senior research scholar, pursuing PhD at the Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE), IIT-Bombay.
Post the hike, the JRFs will get a monthly stipend of Rs31,000 per month as compared to their current Rs 25,000 per month, while the senior research fellows would be entitled to Rs 35,000 per month from the current Rs 28,000 per month.
Additionally, the House Rent Allowance (HRA) at the revised rate of 8%, 16% and 24 % would be allowed as per the government of India norms depending on the city/location where the research fellows are working.
Priyankar feels the recent hikes may have been a result of the protests staged by research scholars from institutes across India, including the IITs, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), etc. 'But while the demand was for a hike of 50% in stipends, the revised hike comes to around 20% which is far from adequate.'
This is the second such hike in recent years. Before this, the last hike happened in 2014 when it was increased to Rs 25,000 from Rs 16,000 for JRFs and Rs 28,000 from Rs 18,000 for the SRFs.
'The burden is on scholars like us to manage our own transportation and often the lodging as well. The fellowship hike overlooks practical aspects such as travelling costs (to attend seminars, conferences, etc.) that have increased manifold,' says Rupak Kumar, junior research PhD scholar from the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
'Another tiring aspect of the JRF is the never-ending wait for the disbursal of the scholarship. It is rare that JRF amount is credited to the scholar's account timely,' says Rupak.
Contrary to the scholars' opinions, Shantanu Roy, associate dean (PG Research), IIT Delhi, says, 'The stipend is fairly good because it is tax-free. Many of the scholars stay on campus due to long working hours and receive subsidised accommodation in hostels. The government must have done due deliberations before fixing the fellowship amounts.'
Students' stipends in PhD courses, says Roy, is less all over the world. ''Stipends are money for students'' subsistence and regular needs and not a salary like in firms. They have chosen this field of their own volition. The real incentive lies in working on new-age technologies for better career prospects.'