With 100 successful satellite launches, ISRO in new orbit
January 12, 2018 (Hyderabad)
India began its space journey in 2018 with a bang - scoring a perfect century of satellites launched into space. The PSLV C40 successfully placed the 100th satellite, Cartosat-2 series, a weather monitoring one into orbit in a smooth launch from the Sriharikota space port this morning. It also launched 29 more smaller satellites sequentially during a window of two hours of skilful manoeuvres.
The launch will be a big boost in many ways for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It marks a remarkable comeback for the PSLV, after the set-back it suffered on August 31, 2017 when the PSLV C39 mission carrying the first private sector built satellite IRNSS 1H navigation satellite failed. The second important message is the confidence that ISRO has established among global customers. That we could get 28 micro satellites on board the PSLV C40 and launch them is a clear indication, said a jubilant AS Kiran Kumar, Chairman of ISRO.
The success also gives a fitting farewell to Kiran Kumar, under whose stewardship in the past three years the Space Agency has built a strong reputation with many launches, including the record breaking 104 in one go.
In turn it also sets up a blistering pace and challenge to the incoming Chairman K Sivan, Director of the Thiruvananthapuram based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, who is expected to take over later this month.
"Launch vehicle technology is complex, tough and challenging. That's why it's called risky business. Hence, we need success to build customer confidence and grow business. Present launch has done that," said Kiran Kumar. Every launch is a fresh test of a range of technology capabilities. PSLV C40 once again proves the mastery of ISRO on many of them. Along with the Cartosat and one more mini satellite of India, the launch vehicle put 28 satellites from 6 countries into the low earth orbit.
Buoyed by the growing business that Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO is attracting for the PSLV, the Government recently announced that it will fund the space agency's efforts to develop an exclusive Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). This launcher can cater exclusively to mini and micro satellites. There is growing demand from private sector, research institutions and universities who want to put small payloads into low orbit for space data.
India offers cost competitive advantage vis-a-vis Big players like Arianespace, US, Russia, ESA etc. through PSLV. The SSLV can emerge more lucrative as ISRO can bring down its launch costs and offer better price to customers, instead of the present piggyback ride on the PSLV, which can then focus on higher payloads.
The present flight carried satellites from US, Uk, France, Finland, Korea, Finland and Canada. About 25 are nano satellites and rest are micro types.
The success also sets the tone for the hectic schedule of launches spread over the year. It will also push confidence for the upcoming GSLV Mark III Launch. GSLV is key to India's big leap into space business and long interplanetary and Moon and Mars missions in future.
India's satellite launch story did not have a great beginning. In fact, it began on a disastrous note. The first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) failed in the first attempt in 1979. The second attempt proved successful.
As it advanced into the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle, the going became tougher as both the ASLV 1&2 failed in 1987 &88. It was a only in 1992 on the third attempt, the ISRO tasted success. Then it moved on to the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV). Here again it was unlucky on its maiden flight in 1993.
However, after getting the act together and learning from failures it got everything right in 1994. There was no looking back for the PSLV and ISRO. In 42 missions, the workhorse has just failed less than half a dozen times.
On the satellite front, India's journey began with Aryabhatta Launch from the Soviet Union in 1975. The indigenous Rohini 1 was launched subsequently and it grew from strength to strength into communication, remote sensing, ocean studying, geographical data collecting satellites being placed into orbit both from Arianespace Vehicle in Kouru and PSLV.
With the PSLV firmly establishing its niche strengths, the next challenge for the ISRO will be to operationalise the GSLV at the earliest. If it can add the SSLV in a couple of years, the space agency will emerge as a formidable force in the multi-billion dollar Launch Vehicle sector, where several private players like SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and are entering in a big way.
For 2018 ISRO has ambitious plans of having one rocket launch every month, with the mission carrying different payloads and applications. The focus will be on getting increased business by Antrix and strengthening the country's own satellite based coverage.
With the firm backing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who did a quick congratulatory tweet to ISRO, the space agency hopes to get increased funding like in 2017-18, when it got Rs. 9000 crore. The future looks both exciting and competitive for ISRO.
The much awaited Final Operational Clearance of the indigenous fighter jet Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is expected to take place in 2018. Attaining the FOC will help IAF replenish its depleting squadron strength.
The FOC aircraft would incorporate Beyond Visual Range missiles, improved and better stand-off weapons and air-to-air refueling capability. Namma city will get
ample chances to prove its prowess to the world. Go for gold, Bengaluru
ISRO set to make history, again
ISRO has set itself an ambitious target for 2018 - that of launching one rocket every month. This includes putting its own satellites in space as well as commercial launches of foreign countries. This will help ISRO project itself as a reliable and competitive space agency among space faring nations. In 2017, ISRO had five launches of which four were successful and one a failure.
Fly like an eagle, SARAS
The SARAS aircraft test flight will be one of the most anticipated sorties of 2018.
The flight, which is expected to take place in January, will be the first flight of the aircraft in nine years. On March 6, 2009 a SARAS prototype aircraft crashed in Seshagiri Halli near Bidadi in the outskirts of Bengaluru killing three IAF Officers.The SARAS PT1N (the new aircraft) has undergone a lot of modifications.The indigenous aircraft with range of 1200 KM, altitude up to 3000 feet, and speed 500 km/h has multiple applications for Military Transportation, Air ambulance, Maritime Patrolling, Border surveillance, Commutation for regional connectivity and Special Missions.
A shot at glory
Bengaluru-based aerospace startup, Team Indus, will attempt to place its spacecraft on the moon's surface, move it at least 500 m and transmit high-definition video and images back to the Earth stations before March 31, 2018. If successful, it will win the $30 million prize from Google and earn its place in the world. The TeamIndus spacecraft will also carry 10 to 15 payloads which includes a telescope called the Lunar Ultraviolet Cosmic Imager developed by students from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and a retro-reflector device. Also accompanying the TeamIndus?s robotic rover would be another one developed by HAKUTO, a Japanese team which is one of the competing teams.
Another moon mission, the Chandrayaan-2, will be launched in the first quarter of 2018. The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is a composite module consisting of orbiter, lander and rover. Unlike Chandrayaan-1, where the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) crash-landed on the surface of the Moon, Chandrayaan-2 will soft-land its lander with rover on the lunar surface to conduct next level of scientific studies. Many new technologies are being developed indigenously to achieve the mission requirements.
For ISRO's workhorse - the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) - 2017 was a year of bittersweet memories. While it earned kudos for its record breaking feat of simultaneously launching 104 satellites, it also suffered a failure - that of PSLV-C 39 on August 31. In January, ISRO will use the PSLV for the first time after
last year's failure. The PSLV will launch the Cartosat-2 satellite along with 28
foreign satellites and hopes to get over last year's setback.
A new bird
Another multi purpose aircraft which was hitherto only used for military operations could soon be ferrying commuters to Tier-II and Tier-III cities giving a major boost to the UDAAN scheme. HAL's Dornier could be used for commercial operations. HAL Do-228 aircraft has got the unique advantage of short take-off and landing capability, high fuel & payload capacity, low maintenance cost, economical fuel consumption, high cruising speed in its class.
Sky is the limit
Modi's 'Make in India' dream will get a boost when HAL begins manufacturing the indigenous helicopter, ALH Dhruv (Civil version).
HAL has built 12 ALH Dhruv Civil variant helicopters and are being
operated by Government of Jharkhand and BSF.
Karnataka's unmanned aerial systems or drone policy will be out this year making it the first state in the country to use UAS applications extensively in its departments. Aeromodellers are demanding that a separate category be created within the UAV Classifications, for model aircraft strictly for sports and recreational and educational purposes (excluding, if necessary, all types of multi-rotors and drones) limited to non-commercial use only.
CSIR-NIO, Greenle Life Sciences partner for tech transfer
december 21, 2017 (Panaji)
The CSIR-NIO, Dona Paula, recently signed a transfer of technology agreement with Greenle Life Sciences Pvt Ltd, a Kochi based company for the extraction of non-cytotoxic melanin from sponge associated bacteria for biomedical applications. The agreement was signed on Monday, at CSIR-NIO office in Goa.
Greenle is a registered company working to translate technologies and products from laboratory to market in the fields of healthcare and life sciences.
The transfer includes the know-how for a melanin producing bacteria, medium for the cultivation of bacteria and know-how for the extraction of melanin.
The bacterial melanin is non-cytotoxic and has high antioxidant and broad photo-absorption properties.
It has commercial value and can be incorporated in lotions for topical application as a UV protectant. This melanin has the advantage of being biological in origin and was developed at NIO RC Kochi as part of an FTT project supported by CSIR. The application of sunscreens is widespread in Europe, America and Canada where the incidence of skin cancer is relatively higher.
The recent reports indicate that the bacterial melanin has good market potential in India's skin care industry too.
Being a natural UV protectant, the bacterial melanin would be an attractive and preferred option for the health-conscious markets in India and abroad.
India successfully test-fires supersonic interceptor missile
December 28, 2017 (Balasore)
India today successfully test-fired its indigenously developed Advanced Air Defence (AAD) supersonic interceptor missile, capable of destroying any incoming ballistic missile in low altitude, from a test range in Odisha.
This was the third supersonic interceptor test carried out this year in which an incoming ballistic missile target was successfully intercepted, within 30 km altitude of the earth's atmosphere by an interceptor.
It was a direct hit and grand success, Defence sources said after the test launch.
The earlier two tests were conducted on March 1 and February 11, 2017, as part of efforts to have a full-fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system.
Today's test was conducted to validate various parameters of the interceptor in flight mode and it was all success," the sources said.
The target missile - a Prithvi missile-was launched from launch complex 3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near here.
After getting signals by tracking radars, the interceptor AAD missile, positioned at Abdul Kalam Island --previously known as Wheeler Island - in the Bay of Bengal, roared through its trajectory to destroy the hostile target missile in mid-air in an endo-atmospheric altitude, defence sources said.
The interceptor is a 7.5-meter long single stage solid rocket propelled guided missile equipped with a navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator,the sources said.
The state-of-the-art interceptor missile has its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars.
A window of an opportunity: reversing Friedreich?s ataxia
December 16 , 2017 (Delhi)
Based on years of research, scientists suggest a way to reverse Friedreich's ataxia using a synthesised molecule
For the first time ever since its discovery in the 1860s, by Nicholaus Friedreich, a German doctor, there's a potential cure for Friedreich's ataxia (FA). Also called FA or FRDA, it is a disease that causes nervous system damage and movement problems as a result of an inherited, aberrant gene. It usually begins in childhood and leads to impaired muscle coordination (ataxia) that worsens over time.
Now, researchers have found a way to reverse the disease (in cell lines in the lab) using a synthesised molecule which can locate the defective gene and, akin to a prosthetic arm in an amputee, compensate for it.
The India link
The result has made been made possible after nearly two decades of research by a group led by Dr. Aseem Ansari, a scientist based at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, U.S. Scientists from the Delhi-based CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) contributed to the research by testing the efficacy of the molecule in blood cells drawn from a dozen FA patients at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi.
"Friedreich's ataxia is present mainly in patients of [an] Indo-European background and absent in people from Africa, China and Japan, for instance. It has been estimated that among Europeans, its prevalence is about 3-4 out of 100,000 people," says Dr. Mohammed Faruq, Senior Scientist from the IGIB who led the Indian group at the IGIB and a co-author of the paper published in Science. He adds, "In India we lack statistical estimates of the disease as we do not have a nationwide uniform patient registry. However, it has been noted that approximately 200 families with FA were identified at AIIMS, Delhi, and many others at NIMHANS, Bengaluru."
The disease is more likely when both parents carry defective versions of the gene, and is independent of the child's gender. Symptoms surface around 10-14 years of age; sometimes even earlier. These include a difficulty in walking, slurring of speech, loss of balance and falls due to a loss of muscular co-ordination. In people with this condition, there is a progressive degeneration of nerves of the spinal cord and cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls movement and balance. The disease also affects the heart muscles and some of those affected develop diabetes. This can lead to cardiomyopathy, leading to heart failure.
So far there is no cure, and treatment mainly consists of doctors prescribing medication to tackle the ensuing diabetes or heart conditions and providing braces to support problems of gait, etc.
The genetic origin
Genes, as we know, code for proteins that are responsible for making the cell perform various functions. The FXN gene on chromosome 9, identified in 1996, codes for the protein frataxin. Now, genes are built up by a definite DNA sequence of the four bases A, G, C and T. If the FXN gene is normal, it contains a sequence "GAA" repeated some 7-22 times. In a defective FXN gene, this sequence is repeated hundreds or even thousands of times. This triple-repeat expansion directly affects the production of a protein called frataxin that is found in the mitochondria of the cell. The mitochondria are also known as the power houses of the cell, and when they become deficient in frataxin, some cells, especially those governing the development of the peripheral nerves, spinal cord, brain and heart muscle cells are affected.
For nearly two decades, Dr. Ansari has been working on targeting genome sites using synthetic genome readers, which are molecules that can read and locate specific sequences in the genome. These molecules seek out specific DNA sequences. In this case, it is the many-times-repeated GAA sequence in the FXN gene. In an e-mail, Dr. Ansari describes this: "The major breakthrough came in 2014 when we developed a 'COSMIC-seq' approach that pinpointed the location of our GAA-targeting molecule across the genome from human stem cells." This is only part of the molecule's action - that of identifying the location where to bind.
Once it became clear how to bind the molecule, it was easy to design the second half of the molecule. This would engage the cellular machinery needed to help synthesise a copy of the gene and have it translated to the missing protein.
This molecule is a potential future drug and while other methods have been tried, this is the first time such an effective method has been proposed.
Dr. Ansari says that discussions are on with the IGIB, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Department of Biotechnology to establish a national Friedreich's ataxia registry that meets international standards
A follow-on class of 6 SSBNs codenamed S5, almost twice as big as the Arihant-class, was also approved for development. These will be able to carry up to 12 K5 intercontinental ballistic missiles with MIRV warheads.
India Navy already has started working on the successor of Aridhaman Ballistic Missile Class Submarine at least a decade ago and new larger Ballistic Missile Class which will be designated as S5 and will be as big as Ohio class nuclear-powered submarines currently used by the United States Navy. It is unclear how many S5 sister class ships will be developed at this point in time but the construction of the new class of SSBN is yet to commence and it is likely will go on the floor for nearly a decade from now.
Indian Navy is concentrating on the development of current ssbn of arihant class that will give Indian Navy at least 4 submarines & after its completion around 2022-23 and then indian navy will start developing S5 nuclear Submarine.If the program sticks to its schedules and doesn't face any delays then tentatively the first lead submarine will be ready for launch by end of next decade. S5 will also require new reactor and BARC will upscale current 83MW Pressurized water reactor (PWR) from Arihant class to 190 MW to meet the power demands of the larger vessel.
Each S5 will have Average construction timeframe of 8 years and lead submarine S5 might take little longer time initially but India might start work on 2 Submarines at a time to reduce their developmental time.
India will be having a fleet of following numbers of Nuclear Submarines in near future :
1 SSBN's of Arihant Class +3 SSBN's of Aridhaman Class + 2 S5 SSBN's apart from that 6 new SSN's + INS Chakra and 1 more to be leased from Russia.
Last year Indian Navy was given go head to start design work on the development of Six new Nuclear attack Class Submarines which will be developed in parallel to the Ballistic Missile Class Submarine Fleet so that work on both the projects will continue independently.
Early this year, the government cleared a project to build six new hunter killer boats (SSN) for the Navy. A joint Navy, BARC and DRDO project, the boats will be designed by Navy's Directorate of Naval Design and be powered by a new reactor being developed by BARC. SSNs are as important as SSBNs as they can blockade important sea routes, denying the enemy access to important resources in an event of war, and shadow enemy ships
India's first line of Indigenous nuclear attack submarine will have more in common with Arihant class Ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) then Akula class nuclear attack submarines. As per report India's six new nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN) will borrow 83 MW Pressurized water reactor (PWR) from Arihant class and will have a similar surface displacement of over 6000 tonnes.. Also, India is likely to lease another Akula II for 10 years in 2018, most likely the Kashalot that is 60% complete and in need of funds.
Unnamed Six Nuclear attack Class Submarines SSN are required to be much stealthier to do sneak attack and surveillance roles and it is reported that construction of Scorpene class Diesel attack submarines in India has helped Naval Design Bureau a lot in obtaining technical know how to better understand and develop stealthier hull.
The SSN are designed to track down and defeat both, the SSBN and the enemy aggression. These submarines are used in the attack of particular targets on land by the launch of the fast missiles by use of the torpedo tubes.
The Submersible Ship Nuclear carries the cruise missile with explosives which are used to attack the assailants within the shores. The other purpose of the submarine ship is to conduct surveillance, perform and complete intelligence missions, so they can offer aid in highly classified operations. The size of this ship is moderately big. The SSN is used to make attacks to assailants in the nearby distance. It is considered war prone and looks for enemy ships to destroy them
New projects launched for real-time monitoring of air and water quality
January 16, 2017 (New Delhi)
Four new research and development projects for real time monitoring of air and water quality were today launched jointly by Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Corporate Research Council of Intel.
Among the proposed projects is an air quality monitoring test bed that would be able to report and visualise scientifically validated PM 2.5 and gas measurements from 40 locations in real time. After upscaling to 60 locations, the monitoring technology is expected to cover 500 cities and towns across India.
The project aims to collect air quality information to allow policy makers and citizens to deploy data-driven control and preventive mechanisms. The focus would be on low-cost PM2.5, Ozone, nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide sensors. The idea is to integrate hardware, communication and software stack, from local sensing to distributed analytics. For this, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur would work in collaboration with Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, IIT-Bombay and Duke University, Durham.
The second group would work on high resolution air quality monitoring and air pollutant data analytics. It would be led by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore with Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute, Pilani and University of Southern California. The researchers would aim to develop sensors as well as new techniques of sampling and calibrations to develop air quality index.
The third team would work on developing an aquatic autonomous observatory. This project is also led by IIT-Kanpur, but with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The team aims to design and develop low-cost, multi-parameter, water quality platforms with auto-sampling capabilities.
The system would measure parameters like dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature, nutrients, carbon-dioxide and select heavy metals. A novel energy harvesting system integrating solar panel, piezo electric system and micro wind turbine is envisaged.
The fourth team would work towards developing sensors for real- time river water monitoring and decision making. The project is co-led led by IIT-Delhi and University of California (UCR), Riverside, along with other Indian and American partners. They would develop sensors for chemical oxygen demand, microbial indicators and water flow for determining water quality.
Launching the projects, Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, expressed hope that they would help strengthen the government's efforts to address the problem of air and water quality through missions like Namami Gange.
DST Secretary Dr Ashutosh Sharma said the projects would be conducted over a period of five years. DST and Intel Corporate Research Council would provide a total Rs. 30 crore to the four teams on 50:50 sharing basis. The programme will be administered by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum.
The use of ultraviolet lamps in water purifiers is common but the presence of mercury in these lamps could be potentially hazardous. Now a group of Indian scientists have developed a mercury-free ultraviolet lamp that can be used in water purifiers.
Scientists have engineered an optimized dielectric discharge based mercury-free Vacuum UV/UV light source for water sterilization. The lamp can produce desired level of wavelengths for deactivation of bacteria within ten seconds without the use of mercury.
The lamp has been developed by scientists from two CSIR labs - Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), Pilani, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur- working along with Birla Institute of Scientific Research (BISR), Jaipur.
In addition to being mercury-free, the lamp has a filament-less light source and there are no end sleeves. Since it uses dielectric-barrier discharge or DBD source, start-up time is negligible. It has broader wavelength coverage due to dimer radiations and medium pressure.
Naturally available water may contain pathogenic organisms and toxic compounds. UV radiation is preferable for water purification over chemical treatment. UV radiation is widely used for water sterilization as it does not create any byproduct during treatment and does not alter the taste of water. It also does not eliminate minerals. But it has several disadvantages which include start-up time, filament failure, sleeve breakage, dimensional restrictions and non-reparability. Mercury containing UV-lamps generate a considerable amount of toxic mercury waste at the end of their life as a typical UV lamp contains 20 to200 mg of mercury.
"We have engineered an optimized dielectric discharge based mercury-free VUV/UV light source with a novel structural design that produces strong spectral bands peaking at wavelengths 253 nanometer and 172 nanometer along with a weak band peaking at wavelength 265 nanometer, that has been tested on a few representative bacteria to show its usefulness for efficient water sterilization", explained Dr. Ram Prakash from CEERI.
The unique structural design of the lamp enables it to produce desired UV wavelengths. The lamp has been tested for five types of bacteria - E. coli, Shigella boydii, Vibrio, coliforms and fecal coliform. Within ten seconds, all bacteria got deactivated. "The lamp been tested further for water with turbidity level and its on-time efficiency has been found to be 200% as compared to standard equivalent mercury based UV-lamp", added Dr. Ram Prakash.
The results of the research work have appeared in journal Scientific Reports. The research team included Dr. Ram Prakash, Afaque M. Hossain, Dr. U. N. Pal, Dr. N. Kumar, Dr. K. Khairnar, and Dr. M. Krishna Mohan.
A national survey on the status of research and development in the country has shown that the gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) has more than tripled from Rs. 24,117 crore to Rs. 85,326 crore in the decade from 2004-05 to 2014-15.
It is estimated that it could have further gone up to Rs. 94,516 crore in 2015-16 and crossed the Rs. One lakh crore mark in 2016-17 reaching up to Rs. 1,04,864 crore.
The Survey conducted by the National Science and Technology Management Information System (NSTMIS) under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has also shown that the per capita R&D expenditure has increased to Rs. 659 (US dollars 10.8) in 2014-15 from Rs. 217 (US dollars 4.8) in 2004-05 and that GERD was mainly driven by the government sector with central government accounting for 45.1 %, state governments 7.4 %, public sector industries 5.5 % and institutions of higher education 3.9 %. The private industry accounted for the balance 38.1 %.
Significantly, the share of business enterprises, from both public and private sector, has been showing an increasing trend. Their share of 43.6 % in 2014-15 was found to be fairly higher than the situation in just five years earlier: in 2009-10 their share was just 34.2 %. The study has revealed that public sector R&D was led by defense related industries and fuel industry, while the private sector R&D was dominated by drug and pharmaceuticals and transportation.
However, the composition of R&D expenditure in India contrasted sharply when compared with select developed and emerging economics. The survey compared the levels of participation of the government, business enterprises, and institutions of higher education in R&D in India with those in 13 other countries - USA, UK, Spain, Russia, Korea, Mexico, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, China, Canada and Australia.
It found that India topped the list with regard to the government's participation in R&D but hit the bottom in terms of participation of institutions of higher education. Government's participation in R&D in the other countries ranged from seven percent in U.K. to 38 % in Mexico, as against India's 55 %. In contrast, the share of institutions of higher education in R&D in the other countries varied from seven per cent in China to 40 % in Canada, as compared to India?s a mere four per cent.
Another significant finding of the survey is that as much as 81.3 % of R&D expenditures incurred by central government sources came from just eight major scientific agencies : Defence Research and Development Organisation led the table with a share of 37.8 %, followed by Department of Space (16.6%), Department of Atomic Energy (11.6 %), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (11.4 %), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (9.5 %), Department of Science and Technology (7.7 %), Department of Biotechnology (2.9 %) and Indian Council of Medical Research (2.4 %) during 2014-15.
Further, it has shown that women's participation in extra mural R&D projects has increased significantly from a mere 13 % in 2000-01 to 29 % in 2014-15. In absolute numbers, 1.301 women Principal Investigators had availed extramural R&D support during 2014-15 as against just 232 in 2000-01. In terms of personnel directly engaged in R&D activities, there were 39,388 women (13.9 %) as on April 1, 2015, out of the total 2.82 lakh personnel. It has also revealed that out of the total of 27, 327 doctorates awarded in the country, 15,246 or 56.4 % were from the S&T disciplines during 2014-15. India occupied the third rank in terms of PhDs awarded in S&T after China (30,017) and USA (26,520).
The number of researchers per million population in India has more than doubled from 110 in 2000 to 218 in 2015 and India's R&D expenditure per researcher was as much as 1,78,000 in terms of ?purchase parity price on dollar basis'. This was higher than that of Russia, Canada, Israel, Hungary, Spain and UK.
Besides, it has found that extra mural R&D support by Central Government agencies has increased from 1,358 crore in 2009-10 to 2,002 crore in 2014-15. Its share in the national gross expenditure on R&D was 2.3 % during 2014-15. The Department of Science and Technology and Department of Biotechnology were the two major players contributing nearly 66.4 % of the extra mural R&D support in the country. The academic sector received 58 per cent of the total extramural R&D support during 2014-15.
The survey, among other things, has pointed out that while India spent 0.69 per cent of its GDP on R&D in 2014-15, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa in the BRICS grouping spent 1.24 %, 1.19 %, 2.05 % and South Africa 0.73 % respectively. The ratio was less than 0.5 % for Pakistan and China, at 0.29 % and 0.1 per cent respectively.
It has also highlighted that India?s scientific publication output has shown a rising trend during the past decade with the database of SCOPUS showing that research output from India has increased by 68 per cent from 62,955 in 2009 to 106,065 in 2013 and the database of SCI showing an increase of 31.5 % from 39,672 in 2009 to 52,165 in 2015.
SCOPUS and SCI, the survey noted, have put the growth rate of scientific publications at 13.9 % and 7.1 % for the period from 2009-13, as against the world average of 4.4 % and 4.1 % respectively. Also, as per SCI database India?s share in global research publications had increased from 2.2 % in 2000 to 3.7 % in 2013 and as per SCOPUS database it has gone from 3.1 % in 2009 to 4.4 % in 2013. SCOPUS database ranked India sixth in the world in scientific publications ahead of France, Spain and Italy during 2013, it pointed out.
On patents, the survey has noted that a total of 46,904 patents were filed during 2015-16 and of them, 28 per cent or 13,066 were filed by Indian residents. As per WIPO report 2016, India is ranked 10th in terms of resident patent filing activity.
Indian Navy decommissions warships INS Nirbhik and INS Nirghat
January 13, 2018 (Mumbai)
Warships INS Nirbhik and INS Nirghat were decommissioned here, after serving the Navy for 30 and 28 years respectively.
The warships were decommissioned at a solemn ceremony at the Naval Dockyard yesterday, a Defence spokesperson said today.
The ceremony involved traditional lowering of the ensign and commissioning pendants with playing of 'Last Post'.
The chief guest for the ceremony was Rear Admiral R B Pandit, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, who had commanded INS Nirghat earlier, the spokesperson said in a statement here.
Cdr V R Naphade, (Retd) and Commodore S Mampully, (Retd), the commissioning Commanding Officers of Nirbhik and Nirghat respectively were the guests of honour.
The ships, belonging to the Killer squadron, are inheritors of a proud legacy as their original avatars were flag bearers of the naval offencive action on Karachi harbour during the India-Pakistan war in 1971.
The warships, in their new avatar, were commissioned at Poti, in the erstwhile USSR on December 21, 1987 and December 15, 1989 respectively.
They participated in many operations including Op Parakram and Vijay and were deployed off Gujarat on many occasions for patrolling, the spokesperson said.
'R&D spend must tackle problems of today & tomorrow'
January 10, 2018
The Infosys Science Foundation Prize, popularly known as the Indian Nobel, recognises outstanding achievements of contemporary researchers and scientists across six categories, ranging from humanities to physical sciences. The winners, one of whom was the former governor of the RBI, Raghuram Rajan, also take home ₹65 lakh which makes it the biggest in the country which is tax free. In an interaction with BusinessLine, the trustee at the foundation as well as the co-founder of Infosys, Kris Gopalakrishnan spoke about the need to take a long term view on scientific research and how corporates should drive more scientific research in business.
Infosys is one of the few corporates in the country which encourages research in the area of sciences. Why has this not been the mainstay of other Indian corporates?
Corporates are doing their bit for research but it is more in the area of applied sciences. This is because applied sciences have a direct bearing on their business. However, corporates should look at basic sciences as an area to research. One needs to bear in mind that theoretical sciences often take a long time to bear results and many times may not even result in anything fruitful. For example, physicists took a century to understand some concepts around gravitational waves! So, companies need to brace up to these sorts of things.
Corporates spend 2 per cent of their annual revenues on CSR initiatives. Will a similar directive in research help?
I always believed that the 2 per cent can be used in a smart manner. For example, 1 per cent can be used to spend on problems of today like affordable healthcare etc. The other 1 per cent can be used to tackle the challenges of tomorrow like eradicating or curing certain diseases. In this way current and future challenges can be addressed without compromising one for the other.
Why is it that more number of women don't win science awards? Is it because there is a smaller pool or is it because of the gender bias?
This time an equal number of men and women have won the awards. We believe that this will encourage more women to pursue sciences. It was not intentional though. It is entirely based on the recommendations of the jury. Interestingly, research is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary and is crossing traditional boundaries. The prize in the physical sciences went to Yamuna Krishnan, who did some ground-breaking work in the emerging field of architecture of the building blocks of life - the DNA. This category recognises work in varied branches like physics, chemistry and earth science combined.
Are there any plans to expand the field?
We want to keep the quality high and feel that the winning prize money is also testimony to the kind of quality we expect from the participants. If we diversify into more areas we will lose focus. There is a significant depth of scientific talent in this country, and this award intends to celebrate success in scientific research and stand as a marker of excellence in research. We believe that initiatives such as the Infosys Prize will certainly help recognize brilliant researchers across pure and social sciences, and related branches, thus creating role models in this field and inspiring bright young minds to take up scientific research as a career option. Ultimately the objective is to promote high quality research in the country.
If one looks at the big picture, there aren?t many world class research institutes in India. What could be the reason for this?
India spends 0.8 per cent of the GDP on research which is an abysmal amount. Out of this, government spends 0.6 per cent and the remaining is spent by private companies. In comparison, China spends 4 per cent and the US around 2 per cent. While some Indian government departments like ISRO have made terrific advances in research, along with IISc and IITs, the same cannot be said about other departments. We need to believe in our scientists and give them the freedom to work in areas of their choice, arm them with more financial assistance and do away with bureaucracy.
How much of a factor is rote learning in sciences playing in young people not wanting to take up the subject?
We need to move into experiential learning in sciences. Theory should not be the only priority for science education. We are going to launch an innovation challenge in India, in partnership with the New York Academy for Sciences for students 13-18 years old in 2018. We want to activate their science, technology, and engineering (STEM) skills, getting them to apply their scientific inquiry skills to solving defined, real world problems.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have overcome the perennial problem of power shortage after they shifted to LED lamps on a massive scale. And the man, who gave the world the highly power-saving LED lamps, is currently in Hyderabad delivering lectures to students and scientists. His visit, however, remains unsung with no official honour.
Meet Prof Hiroshi Amano, the winner of Nobel Prize in 2014 in physics for inventing efficient blue lightemitting diodes (LED). His invention has resulted in bright and energy-saving white light sources. In fact, LED lamps are the sources of efficient lighting for the 21st century.
On Thursday, Prof Amano visited IICT in connection with the platinum jubilee year celebrations. He delivered an inspiring lecture on the new lighting sources and interacted with scientists and students.
Appreciating the important research work being carried out at CSIR-IICT, Prof Amano proposed that IICT and his research group at Akasaki Research Centre, Nagoya University, Japan, should join hands for further developments of advanced semiconducting materials. IICT director S Chandrasekhar has readily agreed.
"Creation of white light involves a combination of light spectrum or red, green and blue lights. However, Prof Amano has shown the world for the first time that a low power blue light alone is adequate for generating the complex white light," said an IICT statement here.
Prof Amano later demonstrated on the stage of CSIR-IICT auditorium how he had made the invention that had changed the very concept of lighting.
"His spectacular contribution has resulted in transformative electronics for the development of sustainable smart society," said Dr Chandrasekhar.
CSIR-IICT's Debendra Kumar Mohapatra, Principal Scientist of Natural Products Chemistry Division, has been received the NASI-Reliance Industrial Platinum Jubilee Award 2017 for Application Oriented Innovations in the area of Physical Sciences from Maharashtra Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao at the 87th Annual Session of NASI held at Pune University, last month.
In a bid to fight air pollution, Science and Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan has tasked the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to come up with a way to make crackers that are "environmentally friendly" and to use science to save jobs in the industry.
Girish Sahni, Director General, CSIR, in a press statement, said: "Several CSIR laboratories have come together and are putting together a robust S&T strategy for development of eco-friendly firecrackers and fireworks. The first phase will cover reduction of pollutants, while future strategies will cover removal of pollutants from the compositions."
Other than smoke-aggravating partially-burnt paper that sheaths the gunpowder in crackers, metals in fireworks such as strontium and barium are toxic to human and animal health, and the burning process produces other harmful emissions such as polychlorinated hydrocarbons.
Rakesh Kumar and Santanu Chaudhary, directors, CSIR-NEERI, presented a science plan on Friday.Internationally, research laboratories are working to reduce pollution from firecrackers.
A key ingredient in several crackers is perchlorate and replacing them with nitrogen-rich materials or nitrocellulose could make them burn cleaner and produce less smoke, according to a report in the Chemical & Engineering News, of the American Chemical Society.These however make crackers costlier.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan Launches CSIR Fast-Track Mission Mode R&D Project on Eco-Friendly Firecrackers and E-Crackers
January 07, 2018
Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, EFCC and Vice President, CSIR, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, has called for a more favorable approach in addressing the issues of pollution due to firecrackers, as well as protecting jobs and businesses in the existing value chain of firecrackers, through the power of science. Addressing a brainstorming meeting on non-polluting firecrackers held at Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) here today, Dr. Harsh Vardhan emphasised that all S&T organizations should come together to address this issue and that CSIR is uniquely positioned to provide amenable solution to this menacing problem. He urged scientists to put their heart and soul into this endeavor and give a new Diwali to the children of the country, which could be remembered in history as "CSIR's Diwali". The Minister highlighted the background issues on the matter called for focused R&D efforts on non-polluting firecrackers/fireworks. He also said that he strongly believes that science has an answer to this problem.
Appreciating the efforts of CSIR towards the development of eco-friendly crackers, Dr. Harsh Vardhan also called for comprehensive measures such as development of suitable masks to address the overall issues of pollution. He stressed the need for simultaneous action on product development, regulatory approvals and supply chain aspects.
DG, CSIR, Dr. Girish Sahni, pointed out that CSIR is committed to national priorities and towards this important societal cause. "Several CSIR laboratories have come together and are putting together a robust S&T strategy for development of eco-friendly firecrackers and fireworks", he said. Dr. Sahni stated that the first phase will cover reduction of pollutants, while future strategies will cover removal of pollutants from the compositions.
An inter-ministerial/departmental Expert Committee has been constituted by the CSIR to guide and mentor CSIR laboratories in this unique R&D endeavour. Taking the R&D ideas forward, CSIR also proposes to meet the manufacturers of firecrackers in the country to involve the concerned stakeholders in its larger action plan. Each of the members appreciated the CSIR initiative and voiced their strong support to make this endeavour a great success.
There have been widespread reports and observations of rising levels of pollution due to firecrackers/fireworks, especially during the festival time of Diwali. There have been reports of lung related disorders and upper respiratory diseases due to the high levels of pollution. One of the stringent measures recently adopted in Delhi/NCR was to ban the sale of firecrackers during the festival period by the Hon?ble Court.
CSIR Directors, Dr. Rakesh Kumar, CSIR-NEERI and Prof. Santanu Chaudhury, CSIR-CEERI gave an overview of the strategy and action plan that CSIR has put together to address the directives of Hon'ble Minister. The Directors elaborated on potential measures to curb pollution, which included preventive and post combustion measures. The viable propositions will also pay due attention to the light & visuals as well as sound factors of the newly proposed compositions. E-crackers and chemical-hybrid systems are the other options proposed for pursuit.
Besides Directors and scientists from CSIR laboratories such as CSIR-IICT, CSIR-NBRI, CSIR-IITR, CSIR-NCL, CSIR-CLRI, CSIR-CECRI, CSIR-CGCRI, CSIR-CMERI, CSIR-NPL, and CSIR-NEERI, the brainstorming meeting was also attended by senior members from High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), Pune; Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi; Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers; and DGFT, Department of Commerce, Delhi.
The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), known for its cutting edge R&D knowledgebase in diverse S&T areas, is a contemporary R&D organization. Having a pan-India presence, CSIR has a dynamic network of 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach centres, and 5 units. CSIR pursues wide range of R&D activities in various S&T domains.