(To Separate words use + sign)
July 18, 2019 (New Delhi)
Indian agreement to boost 'IP culture' in defence
Indian government agencies have signed an agreement to strengthen intellectual property (IP) rights within India's defence industry.The Ministry of Defence said on 10 July that the agreement was signed by the Department of Defence Production's Intellectual Property Facilitation Cell (IPFC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology's National Research Development Corporation (NRDC).
The MoD said the partnership between the IPFC and NRDC is ?expected to bridge a capacity shortfall and provide a major fillip to the ongoing efforts of the MoD towards promoting a culture of innovation and IP rights in India's defence industry".The agreement is intended to enable the two agencies to support domestic defence companies to file patents for defence technologies and to commercialise related products and IPs.
India's Defence Production Secretary Ajay Kumar announced in June that India's state-owned enterprises filed for 730 patents during fiscal year (FY) 2018?19 and are aiming to file 1,000 patents in FY 2019?20.Mr.Kumar said the growth was because of the success of the Indian government's campaign - launched in November 2018 - to boost the IP rights culture within India's defence industry.
This campaign is dubbed 'Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti' (MRGS) and as part of related reforms the IPFC was launched in 2018 under the DDP's Directorate General of Quality Assurance.
July 18, 2019 (New Delhi)
MoU Signed between Ministry of Health and Ministry of AYUSH for 'Tuberculosis Free India' initiative
Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare have signed MoU today to forge inter-sectoral convergence at the level of policy, planning and programme implementation for accelerated response towards "Tuberculosis Free India" initiative. The intended collaboration between the two Ministries aims at development of linkages and integration of TB care services within the infrastructure and institutional network of AYUSH. The MoU was signed by Secretary Health and Family Welfare Smt. Preeti Sudan and Secretary AYUSH, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha in the presence of Minister of Health and Family Welfare Shri Harshvardhan, MoS Health and Family Welfare Shri Ashwini Choubey and Minister of State for AYUSH and MoS Defence Shri Shripad Yesso Naik.
On this occasion Shri Shripad Naik said that Tuberculosis is not only a challenge for medical fraternity but also a serious social problems mainly hitting the populations battling with poverty, malnutrition, poor hygiene, housing and working conditions. The Minister said that AYUSH systems have potential knowledge base, qualified & trained human resources and holistic healthcare practices to help achieving the objective of TB- free India. He further said that accordingly, it is expected that multifaceted issues of the people suffering from TB can be addressed with integrated approaches, inter- sectoral convergence and meaningful involvement of AYUSH sector.
The MoU with the Central TB Division of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare outlines the scope and extent of AYUSH involvement in sensitization, awareness generation, capacity building of AYUSH institutions and health service providers in the areas of TB diagnosis, control and management. Focused activities envisaged under the MoU will cover joint planning to work with AYUSH organisations & professional bodies and promote adjuvant use of evidence- based AYUSH interventions for, TB control and management. It is also intended to facilitate research collaboration and best practices of AYUSH healthcare and build up capacities for TB-free work places and communities. Both Ministries will appoint Nodal Officers for development of implementation plan, modalities of operationalization and steering the collaboration activities outlined in the MoU.
July 16, 2019 (New Delhi)
IIT Delhi signs MoU with five CSIR laboratories to promote cooperative research
As a part of MoU, IIT Delhi plans to promote collaborative research, exchange of ideas, development of knowledge, enhancing high quality research throughput.
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 this year.
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.
July 5, 2019 (New Delhi)
HRD plans National Research Foundation
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 Minister.
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 further says.
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 says.
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 students.
"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.
July 3, 2019 (New Delhi)
Human cell atlas: An initiative for holistic understanding of human body
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 biotechnology company.
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 visualization.
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 project.
"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 way.
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.
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.
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.
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
-Translation programme for regional research
June 16, 2019 (New Delhi)
Ayush ministry to deliver services across India
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.