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December 29, 2021 (N. Delhi)
Scientists have found that air pollutants influence pollen concentration and different types of pollens have a unique response to weather conditions.
Pollens remain suspended in the air and form part of the air we breathe. When inhaled by humans, they put a strain on the upper respiratory system. They cause widespread upper respiratory tract and naso-bronchial allergy with manifestations like asthma, seasonal rhinitis, and bronchial irritation.
Airborne pollen varies in character from place to place due to diverse meteorological or environmental conditions. There is growing evidence that airborne pollen plays a crucial role in increasing allergic diseases in the urban environment. As pollen, climatic variables, and air pollutants coexist in nature, they have the potential to interact with one another and exacerbate their adverse effects on human health.
Considering this, Prof. Ravindra Khaiwal from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, along with Dr. Suman Mor, Chairperson, Department of Environment Studies and Ms. Akshi Goyal, Ph.D. research scholar, studied the influence of meteorology and air pollutants on the airborne pollen of the city Chandigarh. The group explored the relationships of temperature, rainfall, relative humidity, wind speed, direction, and ambient air pollutants mainly, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide to the airborne pollen.
The study has been financially supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and is one of the first studies in India trying to understand the impact of air pollutants and meteorological variables on airborne pollen. The study is recently published in Science of the Total Environment, a journal by Elsevier.
The study suggests that each pollen type studied had a unique response to weather conditions and air pollutants. The majority of pollen types were reported in the spring and autumn flowering period. Distinct peaks of airborne pollen were observed during favorable weather conditions, like moderate temperature, low humidity, and low precipitation. It was observed that moderate temperature plays a significant role in flowering, inflorescence, maturation, pollen release, and dispersal. In contrast, pollen grains were eliminated from the atmosphere during precipitation and high relative humidity.
A complex and obscure relationship of airborne pollen was indicated with air pollutants. The scientists plan to examine long-term data sets to establish the trends in the relationship.
Prof. Ravindra Khaiwal highlighted that in terms of the climatic future, it is expected that the urban environment will significantly impact plant biological and phenological parameters.
Therefore, the study's findings generate useful hypotheses that air pollutants influence pollen concentration and can be further explored as the data set expands in the future.
The current study's findings could help to improve the understanding of complex interactions between airborne pollen, air pollutants, and climatic variables to aid in formulating suitable mitigation policies and minimizing the burden of pollinosis in the Indo-Gangetic Plain region. This region has been identified as a hotspot of air pollution, specifically during October and November months.
December 29, 2021
India's first indigenously developed Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) protein sub-unit vaccine for COVID-19, CORBEVAXTM, developed by Biological E Limited, has received the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) approval for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and its Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), have supported Biological E's COVID-19 vaccine candidate from pre-clinical stage through Phase III clinical studies. The vaccine candidate was provided financial support under COVID-19 Research Consortium, through the National Biopharma Mission, for pre-clinical toxicology studies. Later support was provided under Mission COVID Suraksha for clinical development. CORBEVAXTM is a 2-dose vaccine administered intramuscularly and can be stored at 2ºC to 8ºC.
The recombinant protein sub-unit vaccine developed from the Receptor Biding Domain (RBD) of the spike protein on the viral surface is adjuvanted with Dynavax's CpG 1018 and alum. Comprehensive Phase III clinical trials involving more than 3000 subjects between the ages of 18 and 80 at 33 study sites across India, demonstrated the vaccine to be safe, well tolerated and highly immunogenic. The Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), an Autonmous Institute of DBT, provided key immunogenicity data for the Phase II/ III studies.
Dr Rajesh Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India said, "The EUA to CORBEVAXTM is yet another example of a successful academia-industry collaboration. This vaccine will sharpen the country's efforts in ending the pandemic. The development of indigenous vaccines to fight the pandemic will also inspire the country's scientists and manufacturers to resolve the problems of the country."
Ms. Mahima Datla, Managing Director, Biological E. Limited, said, "We would like to take the opportunity to specially thank our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for making vaccination a national mission. His vision and the advance commitments we received towards CORBEVAXTM were instrumental in our ability to scale-up and manufacture at such huge capacities. While COVID Suraksha Program's endeavour to accelerate vaccine development played a crucial role in the initial development, the mechanism that was setup with the support of Department of Biotechnology and DBT-Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) allowed us to scale up to a capacity of about 1.2 billion doses per annum making the dream of accessibility ? affordability and supply ? a reality."
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science & Technology, promotes and accelerates the development of biotechnology in India, including growth and application of biotechnology in the areas of agriculture, healthcare, animal sciences, environment and industry.
Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.
ABOUT BIOLOGICAL E. LIMITED
Biological E. Limited (BE), a Hyderabad-based Pharmaceuticals & Biologics Company founded in 1953, is the first private sector biological products company in India and the first pharmaceutical company in Southern India. BE develops, manufactures and supplies vaccines and therapeutics. BE supplies its vaccines to over 100 countries and its therapeutic products are sold in India and the USA. BE currently has 8 WHO-prequalified vaccines in its portfolio.
In recent years, BE has embarked on new initiatives for organisational expansion such as developing generic injectable products for the regulated markets, exploring synthetic biology and metabolic engineering as a means to manufacture APIs sustainably and developing novel vaccines for the global market.
December 29, 2021 (N. Delhi)
Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) NITI Aayog today released the second edition of 'Innovations for You'- a compendium of innovations focused on agriculture featuring 70 startups supported by Atal incubation Centers (AICs) of AIM and 'The Ingenious Tinkerers' - a compendium on the innovations on technology featuring 41 innovations from Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL) of India.
As the nation rejoices the 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' 75th Year of Independence, both the books are celebration of the success stories of young innovators of India. The 'Innovations For You' is a compilation of successful innovations by the entrepreneurial minds of India solving problems of present for future, while as 'The Ingenious Tinkerers' is a compilation of the top innovations created by young student innovators who participated in the ATL Marathon - which invites school students to address a problem that they see or face on a day-to-day basis.
'The Ingenious Tinkerers' leveraged the up-and-coming technologies available at ATLs to devise a solution. These young tinkerers took it upon themselves to identify their problem statements by interacting with the members of their community and designing a prototype in a manner that fits their needs and demands. Their determination to make a difference in their community has paved a way for their innovation to reach the top 41 innovations of India for the ATL Marathon 2019.
Meanwhile, the 'Innovations For You' in its second edition, focuses on the startups and innovations in field of Agriculture and Allied services. The book is a compilation of 70 Ag-Tech startups, incubated at Atal Incubation Centres spread across the country. These startups are leveraging frontier technologies such as AI, IoT, ICT and others to provide socially relevant solutions to problems of modern farming. The first edition of this book was focused on innovations in Health Care, which was launched in October, this year.
The digi-books were unveiled virtually today in the presence of Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member Agriculture, NITI Aayog, Mr. Abhishek Singh, CEO, MyGov and Dr. Chintan Vaishnav, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog.
The Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog accoladed both the tinkerers and entrepreneurs by saying? "More than ever before, its'today that we need more tinkerers and innovators, who can understand the problems and give a solution that is suited for Indian Society?
Adding to the Vice Chairman, Member Agriculture Prof. Ramesh Chand congratulated the AIM team and appreciated the efforts done in compilation of the books. Further he said "It is great to see that numerous startups in the Agri-tech domain are able to access emerging markets and attract institutional investments and other stakeholders besides the vision of supporting the society at large."
Mission Director, Atal innovation Mission Dr. Chintan Vaishnav, congratulated the entrepreneurs and the young tinkerers featured in both the books and said "I hope the stories and ideas behind every innovation inspire millions of other startups, innovators, and young tinkerers across the country to create new, promising, and sustainable solutions with socio-economic impact not just for our country but the world."
Adding to this, CEO, MyGov, Abhishek Singh said, "I am very pleased to see the grassroots innovations featured in the compendium and this is a snapshot of the way our young innovators think. I congratulate all the participants for conceiving such brilliant ideas and developing the innovations with so much of creativity and enterprise. I am sure these ideas are going to make a huge difference in already evolving market of India and the world. The featured innovators are role models for all the budding innovators of India and will motivate them to develop their ideas to make a huge impact for India through science & technology."
The digi-book series - Innovations for You by Atal Innovation Mission brings to you the best of innovations and entrepreneurs from startups supported by the Atal Incubation Centres. The subsequent editions of the series will focus on other emerging sectors like EduTech, Mobility, EV among others. 'The Ingenious Tinkerers' series captures the stories that showcase the growth and mindset of young innovators and is an attempt to celebrate and boost the students who produced exemplary solutions for problems put forth to them in Atal Tinkering Lab's nation-wide innovation challenge called ATL Marathon.
December 29, 2021
REC Power Development and Consultancy Limited (RECPDCL), a wholly owned subsidiary of REC Limited, the NBFC Navaratna CPSU under the aegis of Ministry of Power, handed over the project specific SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) formed for construction of Transmission Project viz., 'Transmission system for evacuation of power from RE projects in Osmanabad area (1 GW) in Maharashtra' to Consortium of IndiGrid 1 Limited and IndiGrid 2 Limited on 28th December, 2021.
Consortium of IndiGrid 1 Limited and IndiGrid 2 Limited has been the successful bidder of the Inter - State Transmission Project of Ministry of Power, GoI and RECPDCL as the Bid Process Coordinator.
The SPV has been handed over by Shri R. Lakshmanan, CEO, RECPDCL and Sh. T S C Bosh, Jt. CEO, RECPDCL to Shri Bigyan Parija from IndiGrid 1 Limited and Shri Aditya Kislay from IndiGrid 2 Limited in the presence of other senior officials of RECPDCL, IndiGrid 1 Limited and IndiGrid 2 Limited.
The selection of successful bidder was carried out through Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) process for selection of Transmission Developers in line with the Standard Bidding Documents and Guidelines thereof as notified by Ministry of Power, Government of India. The work involves establishment of 400/220 kV Sub-station at Kallam and LILO of 400 kV double circuit Parli ? Pune transmission line. The project is targeted for completion in 18 months.
About REC Limited: REC Limited is a Navratna NBFC focusing on Power Sector Financing and Development across India. Established in 1969, REC Limited has completed over fifty years in the area of its operations. It provides financial assistance to state electricity boards, state governments, central/state power utilities, independent power producers, rural electric cooperatives and private sector utilities. Its business activities involve financing projects in the complete power sector value chain; different types of projects include Generation, Transmission, Distribution and Renewable Energy segments. REC's funding illuminates every fourth bulb in India.
December 22, 2021 (Thiruvananthapuram)
Don't be amazed if you find tough space exploration theories and technical jargons relating to rocket science being used in Sanskrit, the ancient language of vedas and mantras, in a film.
A science documentary in the classical language, considered to be the first such initiative in the world cinema, will soon enthrall movie buffs with the success story of India's historic 'Mars Orbiter Mission' (MOM) alias 'Mangalyaan'.
National award-winning filmmaker Vinod Mankara, known for his efforts to revive Sanskrit, which is generally considered a dead language, is coming out with the innovative docu film.
Titled "Yaanam", the proposed 45-minute movie is based on "My Odyssey: Memoirs of the Man Behind the Mangalyaan Mission" penned by former ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan.
Mankara said it would be a complete Sanskrit docu-film by all means as the entire script and dialogues would be in the ancient language.
Shooting of the movie is expected to go on floors in February and the world-premier is planned in April next year.
The director's "Priyamanasam", the third only Sanskrit feature film in the world, had won the national award for the best feature film in that language. It was also the opening movie in the feature section of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in the year 2015.
"When "Yanam" is ready, it will be the first of its kind professional documentary film in Sanskrit in the world. Science and Sanskrit may sound like an odd combination, but I have my own reasons to club them," he told PTI.
An ardent enthusiast of the classical language and Indian thoughts, Mankara said the country can boast of its achievements in space exploration as well as it's Sanskrit legacy, which is regarded as the mother of many languages.
Majority of the ancient texts of the sub-continent including that of space and astronomy were compiled in Sanskrit and so what is wrong in using that language as medium in a movie which tells about the country's Mars mission, he asked.
"The objective of the movie is to present the nation's achievements before the international community through our own language. It will be a promotion for both the language and the space achievements," the director explained.
Seeking to prove that astronomy and cosmology are not alien subjects in Sanskrit, Mankara mentioned an ancient Indian text named "Surya Siddhanta".
A Sanskrit treatise in Indian astronomy in 14 chapters, the 'Surya Siddhanta' describes rules to calculate the motions of various planets and the moon relative to various constellations, and calculates the orbits of various astronomical bodies.
"If a text, believed to have been written during the second century, can describe the exclusive scientific literature in Sanskrit verse without any hurdle, why can't we think about a science movie in that language? That thought led me to the concept of this docu-film," he said.
Asked about his choice of the former ISRO chief's book as the basis for his documentary, Mankara said it was an "amazing" book which can also be taken as a parallel history of the space agency itself.
"The book documents the over four-decades-long career of Radhakrishnan in ISRO. My film is based on one of its chapters named Martian Odyssey. It has all the ingredients of a thrilling detective novel," the filmmaker said.
The narrative text of the movie is yet to be completed and one of the major challenges in writing the script is to find out Sanskrit equivalents for technical words in space science, he said.
Not just the narration, but the dialogues of all characters appearing in the movie would be in Sanskrit.
Noting that it won't be in a traditional documentary format, Mankara said advanced visual technology and augmented reality techniques would be explored in the film.
"Beyond the technical aspects of the Mars Mission, I want to showcase the relentless effort of a group of hardworking scientists who made the feat a reality for the country, that too at an incredibly lower budget," he said.
Besides screening it for the scientific community and at the universities and colleges in the country, the director also plans a global premier of his documentary.
"I would like to screen Yaanam for the space scientists of NASA, SpaceX, the European Union space agency, the UAE space agency and so on. If everything goes as planned, the global scientists will watch the successful space saga of India through the ancient language of the sub-continent," he said, adding that it would have subtitles in English.
The 4K digital DTS movie is produced by A V Anoop under the banner AVA Productions.
Several well-known technical experts are expected to join this first science movie in Sanskrit, which is slated for released on April 12, the anniversary of the world's first space shuttle mission.
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel in space on April 12, 1961.
December 27, 2021
With an eye on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the main area of work for the Science and Technology ministry in 2021 was boosting India's entire innovation value chain comprising researchers, academic and research institutes, startups and industry.
While on the one hand, the ministry's National Supermodel Committee predicted the rise and fall of the pandemic over time, on the other hand, NIDHI (National Initiative for Developing & Harnessing Innovations), through its incubator network and its startups tried to resolve the crisis.
The institutes under the umbrella of Science and Technology ministry also played a critical role in tackling the pandemic.
A senior ministry official said that during 2021, the focus remained on boosting India's entire innovation value chain comprising researchers, academic and research institutes, startups and industry.
As variants of concern of COVID-19 emerged in the country, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), studied over 80,000 genome sequences to understand super spreader events, outbreaks and strengthen public health interventions across the country to help in breaking the chains of transmission.
The draft of the new Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy that aims to bring about profound changes through short-term, medium-term, and long-term mission mode projects by building a nurtured ecosystem promoting research and innovation on the part of both individuals and organisations was also released by the ministry this year.
To give an impetus to women to pursue science, the second phase of Vigyan Jyoti programme was commenced on the occasion of International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The programme aims at encouraging girls to take interest in science and build a career in STEM to 50 more districts adding to the existing 50 districts across the country.
The National Innovation Portal (NIP) was also launched by the ministry which is currently home to about 1.15 lakh innovations scouted from common people of the country, covering engineering, agriculture, veterinary and human health.
In a bid to augment the vaccine production during the peak of the second wave, the ministry extended its support to some public sector companies with grants under the Mission COVID Suraksha.
Several innovative solutions like AI-powered contact-free health monitor and step-down ICU, multiplex RT-PCR kit, 'saline gargle RT-PCR method' for testing COVID-19 samples, 3D-printed masks coated with anti-viral agents and high purity oxygen concentrator were developed by institutions under the umbrella of the ministry and ministry backed projects.
After the cabinet reshuffle, Union minister Jitendra Singh took charge of the Science and Technology ministry.
The official said the ministry aims to build a shared, professionally managed, and strong S&T infrastructure, readily accessible to academia, start-ups, manufacturing, industry and R&D labs to improve preparedness in tackling the pandemic-like situations and also boosting the country's innovation and science sector.
December 25, 2021 (N. Delhi)
India will soon develop and manufacture receiver modules essential for the NavIC (NAVigation with Indian Constellation), an application developed by ISRO for constellation of seven satellites that, together, provide navigation support over India and 1,500 km around it. Support for scaling up this technology, which is also essential for GPS (Global Positioning Systems)s will be a significant step in positioning India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing following the vision of the Prime Minister.
Technology Development Board, a statutory body of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, has approved financial support to Hyderabad based Manjeera Digital Systems Private Limited (MDS), a Digital Signal Processing (DSP), Research & Development company, which aims to design next-generation computing architectures for high-performance computing for manufacturing of receiver modules in bulk which will be essential for the NavIC App. This could help establish India's technological leadership in the areas of strategic importance and economic self-reliance.
The company has also designed and fabricated a baseband processor using patented Universal Multifunctional Accelerator (UMA). This UMA can be used in generic Digital Signal Processing (DSP) applications such as Server Acceleration, Edge Computing, Node Computing, Computer Vision, Signal Processing, etc.
"TDB has played a pivotal role in developing conducive ecosystems for growth of technology companies, be it Startups, MSMEs, or established companies. We, at TDB, are geared up for taking up challenges in the niche technologies of national interest like semiconductors, green hydrogen, defense, aerospace & similar sectors," Sh. Rajesh Kumar Pathak, IP&TAFS, Secretary, TDB, pointed out.
The company's CEO, Dr. Venu Kandadai, said, "TDB's assistance, at this juncture, is timely and of immense help in speeding its efforts in development and commercialization of indigenous products. We, at Manjeera, plan to design and develop many such chips that will contribute to the country's initiatives for self-reliance in electronic chip design and development."
December 24, 2021 (N. Delhi)
The major role of states and union territories in developing priorities, focus, and strategies to strengthen the national science, technology & innovations (STI) ecosystem was highlighted at the Madhya Pradesh Vigyan Sammelan & Expo 2021 being held during December 22-25.
"There is dire need for states to be proactive in aligning their policies towards the larger goal of strengthening center-state coordination and collaboration mechanism in STI," Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, Senior Adviser & Head, Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, said while stressing on the need for Strengthening centre-state STI Coordination at IIT Indore.
Dr. Gupta, in his online talk, highlighted steps taken in recent years by Indian government in science technology & innovation (STI) field for realizing Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Presenting an overall picture of India?s development in S&T areas in recent years, he said that India has made remarkable progress in STI with India's Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) increasing by 3 times in 10 years, India ranks 3rd in terms of publication of SCI journals and has an impressive 2nd largest number of STEM graduates, ranks 4th in number of unicorns and 3rd in number of startups globally.
"Inspite of the good progress in key areas, there is much scope for improvement. India ranks 9th globally in terms of quality of research publications and 9th in patent filing. Women?s participation in research is only 18.7%. India has climbed to 46th position in Global Innovation Index ranking. We need to improve these further to come in top 10 in next 5 years."
He spoke about the 4 new STI related policies formulated in 2020-21-- Policy on Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR), Policy on Scientific Research Infrastructure Sharing Maintenance and Networks (SRIMAN) for facilitating creation, use, access, sharing, maintenance, and disposal of R&D infrastructure, Liberalized Geospatial Guidelines and Policy for acquiring and producing Geospatial Data and Geospatial Data Services and mapping and the 5th Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) creating India's vision for STI led economic growth.
"There has been an unprecedented progress in STI since the last policy formulation in 2013, rapid recent transformation in terms of relevance, scope and scale and rise of disruptive and impactful technologies and there is a need for bringing strong STI connects among Government, Academia and Industry for realizing the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'. We also need a focus on indigenous technologies and encourage grassroots level innovation," Dr. Gupta added, explaining the need for a new Science Technology and Innovation policy.
"The 5th STIP has been perhaps one of the largest, widest, quickest, and most intense exercises ever for any national policy formation in the country. STIP-2020 may be the first-ever policy which has directly involved states and Indian diaspora in the pre-draft consultation process. There has been well-distributed participation in terms of region, age, gender, education, economic status, etc., in the exercise. Gender balance was maintained all through the formulation process, including in the Editorial/drafting exercise with 40% of members were women," he pointed out.
Dr. Gupta informed that India's STI concerns include open access policy, reinforcing the National Data Sharing Policy, doubling or tripling Full-time Equivalent Researchers during next 5-8 years, focus on encouraging young scientists and research students, promoting technology indigenization and grass-root innovation, and taking them to market level, addressing key concerns of equity and inclusion. The challenges also include mainstreaming science communication, building synergy and alignment of STIP-2020 with NEP-2020, strengthening state-level R&D and innovation system, and building centre-state partnerships and collaboration.
He further encouraged Madhya Pradesh's Council on S&T to strengthen the centre-state STI coordination and suggested a slew of steps like helping DST, GOI in carrying out detailed mapping of STI ecosystem of MP as well as developing a draft MP-STIP through all-round consultation.
December 24, 2021 (N. Delhi)
The Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Shri Parshottam Rupala visited the JK Trust Bovegejix Pune today. This IVF centre has produced the first IVF Banni calf in the country.
On the occassion, the Minister said, "I had the opportunity to have first hand visual experience of the extraction of Oocytes from a Sahiwal breed cow at the Dr. Vijaypat Singhania Centre of Excellence for Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Livestock".
Shri Rupala expressed his appreciation on the occasion. He said "I had the pleasure of meeting "samadhi" and "Gauri" Sahiwal mother cows who have produced 100 and 125 calves. Each calf was sold at the cost of Rs. 1 lakh . Hence , I am told that these two mother cows have generated an income of approximately 1 crore in an year to the JK BovaGenix".
He underlined the immense possibilities of revenue generation and a sustainable model of production of calves through IVF technology.
The JK Bova Genix is an initiative of the JK trust. The Trust has introduced IVF and ET Technologies for multiplication of genetically superior Cows and Buffaloes with a focus on selected indigenous Cattle Breeds.