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February 20, 2018 (Balasore)
India on Tuesday test-fired its medium range nuclear capable Agni-II missile with a strike range of 2,000 km from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast, Defence sources said.
The trial of the surface-to-surface missile was conducted from a mobile launcher at the Launch Complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at around 8.38 am, the sources said.
The Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) has already been inducted into the services and today's test was carried out by the Army's Strategic Forces Command (SFC) with logistic support provided by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), they said.
The 20-mt-long Agni-II ballistic missile has a launch weight of 17 tonne and can carry a payload of 1,000 kg over a distance of 2,000 kms.
The state-of-the-art missile, already a part of the country's arsenal for strategic deterrence, was launched as a training exercise by the armed forces, a DRDO scientist said.
Agni-II, a two-stage missile, equipped with advanced high accuracy navigation system and guided by a unique command and control system was propelled by solid rocket propellant system, he said.
The entire trajectory of the trial was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry observation stations, electro-optic instruments and two naval ships located near the impact point in the down range area of the Bay of Bengal.
Agni-II was developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory along with other DRDO laboratories and integrated by the Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad, sources said.
The missile is part of the Agni series of missiles which includes the Agni-I with a 700 km range, Agni-III with a 3,000 km range, Agni-IV and Agni-V both having long range capabilities.
The first proto type of the Agni-II missile was carried out on April 11, 1999 and last launch was a user's trial on May 4, 2017.
February 18, 2018 (Mumbai)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Fourth Container Terminal (FCT) of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Mumbai, Maharashtra. With this, JNPT doubled its container handling capacity.
The new FCT will add capacity of 24 lakh containers per year in Phase-I and after completion of Phase-II in 2022, the capacity of JNPT will be 100 lakh containers per year.
The new FCT of JNPT has been developed on Design, Built, Fund, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis for a concession period of 30 years at estimated cost of Rs. 7915 crore. The project was implemented in two Phases. i.e. Phase I and Phase II.
The indicative cost of the project for Phase I was Rs.4719 Crore. Its foundation stone was laid PM Narendra Modi in October 2015 and was completed in record time.
The terminal has deepest berths to handle ?Mother Ships. It can handle biggest container ships from quay length of 1 km and cranes that can reach 22 rows wide or greater. It can also handle three container ships at one go with sufficient yard space.
The new FCT is also linked to dedicated rail freight corridor and can receive about 350 containers per rake. The rail facilities will be largest in India with only on-dock Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) compliant facility in India. It is capable of handling 1.5km long, 360 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) container trains on completion of DFC. It also has provision for storing 1,600 reefer (refrigerated) containers to handle agricultural and horticulture produce.
February 16, 2018 (New Delhi)
The lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, under which the ISRO will for the first time attempt to land a rover on the moon's south pole, will be launched in April. Chandrayaan-2 will be ISRO's first inter-planetary mission to land a rover on any celestial body.
The lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, under which the ISRO will for the first time attempt to land a rover on the moon?s south pole, will be launched in April, Minister of State for Department of Space Jitendra Singh said on Friday. Chandrayaan-2 will be ISRO's first inter-planetary mission to land a rover on any celestial body.
"India is going to launch Chandrayaan-2 in April. It is under Chandrayaan-1 mission that the ISRO spotted water on the moon. Chandrayaan-2 is a further extension of the project and it is as good as landing a man on the moon," Singh said.
The rover of India's second lunar mission, which will cost nearly Rs 800 crore, will be made to land near the yet-unexplored south pole, said ISRO?s newly-appointed chairman K Sivan. Sivan said it the south-pole is a ?very tricky area? with rocks formed a million years ago. "It has very old rocks. This could possibly help us understand the origin of universe,? he said. ?Most of the lunar missions in the past have explored the area around the equator of the moon," he added.
Sivan noted that the window to launch the mission is between April and November this year. "The targeted date is April. In case we miss the April date, we will launch it in November," he said.
February 16, 2018 (New Delhi)
IIT Delhi has set up a Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air (CERCA) to take up research to study air pollution issues in Delhi and NCR region.
This centre will promote scientific research on clean air issues and provide sustainable solutions to the problem of air pollution.
The centre has been set up with the help of Arun Duggal, an alumnus of IIT Delhi who has agreed to extend financial assistance for research programme, according to a release.
The Center will be a platform for undertaking multidisciplinary research projects by the faculty of IIT Delhi especially focused to study and resolve clear air issues in Delhi and NCR region. Besides providing scientific information to policy makers this will also give feedback on the effectiveness of various pollution management programmes.
February 19, 2018
A private company developing a near-supersonic mode of on-ground passenger travel on Sunday signed an ?intent agreement? with Maharashtra to build a hyperloop transport system between Mumbai and Pune. The company Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), aims to bring down travel time between the two cities to 20 minutes from three hours.
The company's chairman, Richard Branson, in Mumbai for the Magnetic Maharashtra summit, said the route will pass through the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport. "The hyperloop will reduce accidents. Teams are working to study the feasibility of the route," he said. Officials said the final feasibility study may be completed in six months, and construction of a test track can start in early 2019 and finish by 2021-end. If the tests are successful, it would take about four years to build the entire Mumbai-Navi Mumbai-Pune track. The estimated cost of the route is around Rs 20,000 crore, which officials say works out cheaper than other forms of highspeed on-ground travel systems.
"Individuals ports of the loop will go inside individual gates of the (proposed) airport, reducing travel time further. The project will leapfrog Maharashtra into a transport hub," said Branson. He said the system will have a capacity of 150 million passengers per year (saving more than 90 million hours of travel time), with a potential to reduce greenhouse gases by 150,000 tons a year. Hyperloop is a technology in which a passenger-carrying capsule moves almost at the speed of sound using magnetic levitation through an almost air-less tube. The technology is not yet commercially operational anywhere in the world. ?Possibly India may have this track as the first operationalized route, though Dubai is competing close,"Branson said.
VHO CEO Rob Lloyd said, "We have always believed that India would be a tremendous market for the hyperloop. The Pune-Mumbai route is one of the strongest economic cases we have seen to-date."
Officials said that under the agreement, the company will also look at potential routes and undertake preliminary studies to analyze the economic impact and technical viability of hyperloop transportation in India. The USbased company signed the Maharashtra agreement in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Apart from Branson, also present were VHO investors Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem (CEO and group chairman of DP World), and Ziyavudin Magomedov (chairman of Summa Group).
The Pune-Mumbai route could result in $55 billion (Rs3.5 lakh crore) in socio-economic benefits (time savings, emissions cuts, accident reduction, operational cost savings, etc) over 30 years of operation, according to an initial pre-feasibility study by VHO. The 100% electric system will ease severe expressway congestion.
"With VHO, we can create sustainable infrastructure that will enhance Maharashtra's competitiveness and attract new investment and businesses," said Fadnavis. "The Pune-Mumbai hyperloop route will be an economic catalyst for the region and create tens of thousands of jobs for India's world-class manufacturing, construction, service, and IT sectors, and aligns with the Make in India initiatives."
February 13 , 2018
The Economic Survey is not much read in scientific circles, and discussed even less so. But this year, a chapter on science and technology attracted attention. For the first time, the Survey acknowledged the state of India's research compared to the best in the world and stirred the hopes of scientists, especially young ones like Arnab Dutta.
Dutta was used to generous research funding when he worked in the US. Back in India a year and a half ago, as a young faculty at IIT Gandhinagar, he expected only a fraction of that money. His grant application for Rs 40 lakh elicited results after 10 months, when he got Rs 28 lakh. Fortunately for Dutta, his work did not have to wait for the money to arrive as the institute funded his research on solar cells. He remains stoic.
"When we start from scratch, we have to build slowly," he says. "Lower levels of funding helped me prioritise my own research."
Over the last five years, a large number of young Indian scientists have returned from abroad to join the expanding scientific establishment here. Most find themselves in situations like Dutta - not too much money, but not too little either. Sometimes it is delayed, but most are aware of - and prepared for - the limitations of science in India.
The Economic Survey published in January accepted India was under-investing in science and technology, especially when compared to leading economies. China had sprinted ahead roughly two decades ago, while India seemed to languish. A close analysis of the numbers has a slightly different and complex story to tell.
The past three years have been tough. Research money stopped increasing slowly around 2012, after a decade of rapid growth. In recent times, labs had to deal with arbitrary mid-year cuts in Budget allocations as well. These five years of slow growth coincided with at least a doubling of the number of young faculty returning to the country, according to an answer tabled in Parliament by the minister of state for science and technology, last December.
As the Economic Survey noted, India's spending on research and development (R&D) increased from Rs 24,117 crore in 2004-05 to an estimated Rs 1,04,864 crore in 2016-17. Even in real terms, this was a doubling in 12 years. However, as a fraction of the GDP, India's spending has remained stagnant at around 0.7% for two decades.
Developed countries are expected to spend at least 2% of GDP on technology and R&D. So, as per the government's own data, India is spending is well below international norms.
Wonder Years The decade before 2012 saw most of the increase in research funding, which had a noticeable impact on Indian science. During 2004-17, publications from India grew from 35,376 to 1,15,393, as per Scopus database. India now stands at fifth position in terms of number of publications globally. It is third in computer science, engineering and chemistry. It is clear that increased investments have had an impact on quantity. A similar increase is obvious in quality as well.
In the Web of Science database, a common measure of quality, India had no entries for highly cited papers till 2004. Since then, Indian researchers have published roughly 3,250 such papers, averaging at close to 400 a year now. Increased international collaboration is one reason, but this pushes up citations for all countries.
"There is significant increase in volume of publications, with positive trends in quality parameters," says T Ramasami, former secretary, department of science and technology, "But these positives are yet to be translated into economic impact."
"ITRA is a realisation that there is a need to improve." Ahuja is emeritus professor at University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and he has noticed a few challenges to improving India?s research institutions, namely lack of scale, teamwork and continuity in quality. Indian institutions are largely polarised into the best and the worst, with not much in between. Others have noticed this trend too.
February 09, 2018 (New Delhi)
The Consumer Affairs Ministry has decided to expand the system of atomic-sync clocks at the regional level to ensure that accurate and uniform time is used across the country especially by banks, mobile and internet service providers.
The move will not just help provide accuracy at the nanosecond level but allow Indian companies in the country to save money as well since they have to pay US' National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for time calibration currently, said Consumer Affairs Secretary A.K. Srivastava on Friday.
"We have standard atomic-sync clock at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) that matches with the standard Paris time. However, there are no such corresponding time standards at regional level, which can be helpful in adjusting watches, calibrating time by manufacturers, software companies, mobile service providers," he told reporters here.
Srivastava said the time standard set by the NIST using 24 satellites is followed all over the world while India will use six satellites for the same.
Another ministry official said that the service would help in forensic crime investigations as well.
"The plan is pegged at Rs 100 crore and we have sought Rs 20 crore for 2018-19," Srivastava said.
There are five regional centres at Bengaluru, Faridabad, Ahmedabad and Guwahati. "Two new centres are going to come up at Nagpur and Benaras," he added.
February 12, 2018 (New Delhi)
Union minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said India is continuously improving its rank in the science sector and exuded confidence that one day it would lead all other countries.
About budgetary allocations to the science and technology ministry led by him, the minister hailed the "upward trend" in fund provisions to different departments under it.
Speaking to reporters, he claimed the NDA government's efforts have ensured that "brain drain" has started to convert into "brain gain" for the country as over 250 scientists have returned to India since the BJP-led alliance came to power and implemented schemes encouraging the change.
Department of Science and Technology (DST) secretary Professor Ashutosh Sharma, who accompanied Vardhan during the briefing, said the government has launched 'Accelerate Vigyan' scheme to train students and technicians in using machines in laboratories.
A web portal would also be made available to help people know the types of machines available in the laboratories in the country and how those can be booked, he said.
"We have scaled up in rankings (through science institutes). It won't happen sans any reason. We are no less than anyone... we are continuously improving and scaling up in ranks (in the field).
"And one day we will be above all, don't worry about it," Vardhan said in reply to a question on a report suggesting that the USA and China are investing more on science than India.
By scaling up in rankings, he was referring to the CSIR finding a place among 100 public institutes in the world in industry-relevant research.
Vardhan pitched for optimal use of available resources to solve the big problems that India faces.
He said budgetary allocation for science and technology is Rs 12,322.62 crore, while that for the earth science is around Rs 1,800 crore (total provision for the ministry of Rs 14,122.62 crore).
The allocation for research and development under the DST has gone up by 8 per cent (over revised estimate) compared to 2017-2018 fiscal, the minister said.
Similarly, allocation for the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), department of biotechnology (DBT) and ministry of earth sciences have gone up by 3.56 per cent, 6.7 per cent and 12.7 per cent respectively, he said.
Vardhan claimed that budgetary allocations to the departments saw a "big jump" over the last five years compared to those made between 2009-10 and 2013-14.
Sharma said the government's investment on research and development (R&D) was 0.4 per cent to 0.5 per cent of the GDP and claimed that the investment would go up once the industries invest more in R&D.
The DST secretary said least 200 workshops and training camps would be held in the upcoming financial year onwards to train students and technicians on using machines in laboratories.
Vardhan claimed that innovation and start-up activities have received big support during the NDA government's reign and business incubation facilities have almost doubled.
In 2018-19 alone, 15 new biotechnology incubators and 15 -20 new technology business incubators would be set up to incubate startups, he said.
In the 2018-2019 financial year, the agrometeorologial advisories would reach 50 million farmers from the present 24 million, Vardhan said.
"Biotech Kisan (farmer) is another such initiative which is assisting farmers in 15 agro-climatic zones. Similarly, thousands of farmers are getting benefitted under Aroma Mission for cultivation of aromatic plants," he said.
February 07, 2018 (New Delhi)
Feb 6 (KNN) In a bid to facilitate a connect between the CSIR labs and the small scale industry, the Ministry of Science and Technology has set up a mechanism in CSIR for regular interface with small-scale industry for transfer of technologies from CSIR laboratories.
The announcement of launching the mechanism was made recently by Union Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan during an interaction with members of Laghu Udyog Bharati, an all-India organisation of small scale industries here yesterday.
Harsh during the meeting with Laghu Udyog Bharati representatives informed that he had also convened an impromptu meeting with the nodal officer and representatives of Laghu Udyog Bharati.
Laghu Udyog Bharati National Secretary Sampat Toshniwal apprised the Minister of the concerns of the small scale industries. Sampat said there is a disconnect between CSIR and the small-scale industries and it should be addressed.
CSIR laboratories have patented over 1, 000 processes and technologies, which are available for commercial exploitation. Some of these technologies have been commercialised. In addition, 139 fast track translational research projects are in progress, which will address the needs of the society, that have not been met. CSIR labs are willing to work with user industries to develop applications and products to meet the needs of the market, a release from the Ministry informed.