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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.
Sept 2, 2019 (New Delhi)
IIT-Delhi will have high-level facility center for research
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), will set up a science and technology-based research facility equipped with modern technology in the capital, which can be helpful in promoting the industry, startup companies and research and development work carried out by academic institutions is.
The purpose of setting up this Center, called Sophisticated Analytical and Technical Assistance Institute (SATHI), is to provide high-efficiency technical facilities under one roof to promote research. The benefit of this facility will be available to academic institutions, startup companies, manufacturing units, industries and R&D laboratories.
This facility will be equipped with major analytical and advanced manufacturing equipment required for scientific research, which are not usually available in institutions. It will be set up at the Sonipat campus (Haryana) of IIT-Delhi. For the establishment of this center, IIT-Delhi will be given a grant of Rs 125 crore from the Department of Science and Technology.
IIT-Delhi Director Professor V. Ram Gopal Rao said that "the establishment of 'Saathi' by the government can prove to be transformative in taking experimental research work to a new height in India." IIT-Delhi has an excellent track record in the management and use of high quality research facilities. It will be our endeavor that the researchers get the benefit of this new facility for 24 hours without any hindrance. Apart from the facilities set up under this project, the benefit of other research facilities available in the institute will also be available in the 'Saathi' center. "
IIT-Delhi has been selected by a high level committee of the Department of Science and Technology for the establishment of 'Saathi'. IIT-Delhi has been selected for the establishment of 'Saathi' Facilitation Center due to its excellent R&D work, managerial and administrative capacity and availability of infrastructure.
Dean of Research & Development Department of IIT-Delhi, Prof. BR Mehta stated that "With the availability of high-capacity instruments at this facility, researchers will also be provided technical and scientific support. Faculty members and researchers of IIT-Delhi will be ready to help them in this facility center to overcome the scientific and technical difficulties associated with students, scientists and entrepreneurs. "