Science & Technology

Defence technology

  • Work begins on “Krivak or Talwar stealth frigates”
    What is the News?

    The Vice-Chief of the Naval Staff has inaugurated the construction of the second frigate of the Krivak or Talwar stealth frigates. These are being built with technology transfer from Russia by Goa Shipyard Ltd(GSL).

    About Krivak or Talwar stealth frigates:
    • Krivak or Talwar stealth frigates are a series of frigates and guard ships (patrol boats) built in the Soviet Union, primarily for the Soviet Navy since 1970.
    • Purpose: They are primarily used to accomplish a wide variety of naval missions. Such as finding and eliminating enemy submarines and large surface ships.
    • Indian Navy currently operates six Krivak class frigates weighing around 4,000 tonnes in two different batches. Such as
      • The Talwar class
      • The upgraded Teg class.
    New Procurement of Krivak class stealth Frigates:
    • In 2016, India and Russia had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement(IGA) for four Krivak or Talwar stealth ships.
    • Among four, two are to be procured directly from Russia and the other two will be built by the Goa Shipyard Ltd(GSL).
    • Features: The four ships to be built will weigh 300 tonnes more than the earlier ones. Apart from that, it will also be armed with BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

    Source: The Hindu


  • “iDEX-DIO” – Defence Minister Approves Budgetary Support
    What is the News?

    The Defence Minister has approved the budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore for iDEX-DIO (Innovations for  Defence Excellence – Defence Innovation Organisation) for the next five years.

    About IDEX Framework:
    • Innovations for Defence Excellence(iDEX) was launched by the Government of India in 2018.
    • Aim: It aims to create an ecosystem to promote innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace. For that, it will attract industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia.
      • It will also provide grants/funding and other support to them to carry out R&D. However, R&D should have a good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.
    • Objectives of IDEX:
      • Facilitate rapid development of new, indigenized, and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector in shorter timelines.
      • Create a culture of engagement with innovative startups, to encourage co-creation for defence and aerospace sectors.
      • Empower a culture of technology co-creation and co-innovation within the defence and aerospace sectors.
    • Nodal Body: iDEX will be funded and managed by Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO).
    About Defence Innovation Organization (DIO):
    • Defence Innovation Organisation(DIO) is a not-for-profit Organisation, incorporated under Section 8 of the Companies Act.
    • Founding Members: Its two founding members are Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) & Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) – Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).
    • DIO will provide high-level policy guidance to iDEX. However, iDEX will be functionally autonomous. The CEO of both DIO and iDEX will be the same. It will facilitate coordination and separation of functions also without any conflicts.
    Read Also :-Significance of Citizen-led Fact-Finding Missions

    Source: PIB


  • Hydrographic survey ship “INS Sandhayak” decommissioned

    What is the News?

    Indian Navy’s oldest hydrographic survey ship INS Sandhayak was decommissioned at Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam after serving the nation for 40 years.

    Note: Hydrography is the science that measures and describes the physical features of the navigable portion of the Earth’s surface and adjoining coastal areas.

    About INS Sandhayak:

    Read Also :USSR-era “INS Rajput” decommissioned

    • INS Sandhayak was the lead ship of the Sandhayak class of survey ships.
    • The ship operated as a hydrographic survey ship in the Indian Navy, under the Eastern Naval Command.
    • Purpose: The ship conducted shallow coastal and deep-sea hydrographic surveys. The ship also collected oceanographic and geophysical data.
      • In addition to conducting surveys, it also assisted as military transport and casualty-carrying vessels in times of war and natural disasters.
    • Developed by:
      • The ship was conceptualised by the then Chief Hydrographer to the Government of India, Rear Adm FL Fraser.
      • The ship was developed by Garden Reach Ship Builders Limited(GRSE), Kolkata.
      • The ship was then commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1981.
    • Operations: The ship has been an active participant in many significant operations such as
      • Operation Pawan (assisting the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka in 1987) and
      • Operation Rainbow (rendering humanitarian assistance in Sri Lanka post Tsunami of 2004).
    • The ship also participated in the maiden joint INDO-US HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) exercise ‘Tiger-Triumph’ in 2019.

    Source: The Hindu

    “INS Viraat” – SC ordered a status quo on dismantling

  • DAC approves building of 6 conventional submarines under “Project-75I”
    What is the News?

    Defence Acquisition Council(DAC) headed by the Defence Minister has approved a Request For Proposal(RFP) for the construction of six conventional submarines under Project-75I.

    About the Construction of Six Conventional Submarines:
    • The six submarines under Project-75I will be built under the strategic partnership model.
      • Strategic Partnership Model is a part of the Defence Procurement Procedure. The model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian strategic partner. Indian partner will collaborate with a foreign original equipment manufacturer(OEM) to set up production facilities in the country.
    • Part of: The submarines are part of the 30-year submarine-building programme approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.
    • Features: The submarines will be equipped with air-independent propulsion(AIP) systems that will enable the vessels to stay underwater for longer periods and enhance their combat capabilities.
    • The first submarine built under the project is likely to be delivered by 2030.
    • Two Indian companies shortlisted as strategic partners are Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and Larsen & Toubro.
    • The foreign manufacturers selected for the project are French Naval Group, German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau, Spain’s Navantia and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company.
    • Significance of this Project-75I:
      • This is the first project to be approved under the Strategic Partnership Model.
      • This would be one of the largest ‘Make in India’ projects. It will create an industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India.
      • From a strategic perspective, Project-75I will help reduce current dependence on imports and gradually ensure greater self-reliance.
    About Submarine:
    • A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It is the quietest military platform and extremely tough to detect.
    • Their main cover is their ability to move stealthily underwater and keep an eye on the enemy movement of vessels.

    Source: The Hindu

    What is Monetary Policy Committee?


  • Govt. report flags lapses in “filovirus study” among Nagaland bats
    What is the News?

    The government of India has concluded that there have been lapses in the conduct and protocols followed for the filovirus study of bats in Nagaland.

    What was the filovirus study about?
    • Researchers from India, China and the US had conducted a study in Nagaland on bats and humans carrying antibodies to deadly viruses like Ebola.
      • From India, the National Centre for Biological Sciences(NCBS) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research(TIFR) participated in the study.
    • Findings: The study found the presence of filovirus reactive antibodies in human and bat populations in northeast India. Hence, the study suggested that Bats in South Asia act as reservoir hosts of a diverse range of filoviruses.


    • Filoviruses belong to a virus family called Filoviridae and can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates.
    • So far, three varieties of this virus family have been identified: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus and Ebolavirus.
    Significance of this filovirus study:
    • The findings of the study became significant given the debate over the origins of COVID-19 worldwide and the handling of bat samples at the Wuhan Institute laboratory.
    • However, scientific experts and officials have made it clear that the Nagaland bat study on filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg) was in no way related to the coronavirus(SARS) studies at Wuhan.
    Government of India’s inquiry into filovirus study:
    • The Government of India had ordered an inquiry in 2020 into this study. The inquiry investigated how the scientists were allowed to access live samples of bats and bat hunters (humans) without due permission.
    • The inquiry concluded that there have been lapses in the conduct and the protocols followed by the study. The lapses include:
      • Firstly, the study did not have the approval of the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR)
      • Secondly, the Bangalore based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) is not equipped in terms of Biosafety and Biosecurity for testing samples.

    Source: The Hindu

    Read Also :-Most pollution linked deaths occurs in India

  • How to Prevent Misuse of Synthetic Biology?

    Synopsis: Synthetic biology is a double-edged sword. It is highly prone to misuse, thus there is an urgent need for international measures for monitoring and verification.

    • Synthetic biology is a revolutionary technology. It can help us manipulate biological organisms and processes for human betterment, especially in treating diseases, by re-engineering cells.
    • Till now there is no clarity over the origin of Coronavirus, but it is clear that bio-weapons can be made in labs.

    However, the preparedness of nation-states and weak global security arrangements are not sufficient in dealing with the misuse of synthetic biology.

    What are the concerns associated with the misuse of synthetic biology?
    1. Firstly, its misuse has national and global security implications.
      • In 2014, for instance, the U.S. Department of Defense categorised synthetic biology as one of the six disruptive basic research areas.
    2. Secondly, there is always a chance of accidental leaks of experimental pathogens.
      • Various factors such as insufficiently trained staff, inadequately safeguarded facilities, and lack of proper protocols followed during experiments might trigger the leak in the future.
    3. Thirdly, poor regulation of bio-weapons even after growing military interest in synthetic biology.
      • Bio-weapons are recognised as the ‘weapon of mass destruction’ (WMD) but nothing is done by the international community.
      • Nuclear weapons have received maximum safety and security due to attention given by the institutional arrangements.
    4. Fourthly, the attack through bioweapons takes time to show its impact. In that case, it is difficult to ensure accountability.
      • For example, in case of attacks carried out by state actors against the enemy, it would be difficult to pin responsibility as the incubation period is high, and the pathogen can be modified to hide its origin.

    Why Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention is not effective in dealing with the misuse of synthetic biology?

    1. Firstly, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) of 1972 has no implementing body and does not have a verification clause.
      • Also, it has not clearly laid down rules and procedures to guide research.
    2. Secondly, the dilemma in Article 1 of the BTWC.
      • Bio-weapons are banned, but research for medical and bio-defence purposes is allowed for peaceful purposes.
      • But the issue is that there is a thin line between bio-defense research and bio-weapons research.
    3. Thirdly, the report of an ad-hoc group to negotiate a protocol to ensure transparency was not accepted by the member states of BTWC. The Ad Hoc Group was set up in 1994 at the Fifth BTWC Review Conference in 2001.
    4. Lastly, the traditional distinction at the international institutional level between biological weapons (BTWC) and diseases (domain under the World Health Organization) is not useful anymore.
    Why India is more vulnerable to bio-weapon attack?
    • Firstly, lack of preparation and poor infrastructure.
      • India is not having a strong disease surveillance system.
      • The poor state of the healthcare system was visible during a pandemic.
    • Secondly, there is a multiplicity of bodies and the absence of an empowered coordinating body, which makes coordination difficult.
      • For instance, the implementation of biosafety guidelines is the responsibility of the Science and Technology Ministry and the Environment Ministry.
      • However, labs dealing with biological research are set up under the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, which are under the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, respectively.
    • Thirdly, the traditional ministry-wise separation is not useful in the case of zoonotic diseases as it requires one health approach”.
    • Lastly, India has porous borders with ill-trained border control institutions, and they are not prepared for defending against pathogens.
    Way forward:
    • There is a need for cooperation between health specialists and bio-weapons/defence specialists.
    • The November 2021 BTWC review conference must review advances in the field and address the thinning line between biotechnology research and bio-weapons research.

    Source: The Hindu

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  • Single dose of vaccine can’t control Delta Variant: Global Study on vaccines

    The data from clinical trials and post-vaccination study on vaccines shows that the Dominant delta variant of Covid-19 can’t be easily controlled by a single dose of vaccine. The countries must administer two doses of vaccine and should reduce the time gap between them.

    • The WHO has recently given a new classification to SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest (VOI) and variants of concern (VOC) on the basis of Greek letters. The objective was to create easy-to-pronounce and non-stigmatising labels for VOI and VOC.
    • However, the established nomenclature systems for naming and tracking of SARS-CoV-2 genetic lineages by GISAID, Nextstrain and Pango will remain in use for scientific research.
    • The new classification is as follows:
      • VOC B.1.1.7 will be called Alpha Variant. It was the earliest documented in the United Kingdom (September 2020).
      • VOC B.1.351 will be called Beta Variant. It was the earliest documented in South Africa (May 2020).
      • VOC P.1 will be called Gamma Variant. It was the earliest documented in Brazil (November 2020).
      • VOC B.1.617.2 will be called Delta Variant. It was the earliest documented in India (October 2020).
    About the Delta Variant:
    • It was first identified in Maharashtra and is believed to be responsible for the severe second wave in India.
    • It has now spread to most parts of India and also been identified in many other countries.
    • The rapid expansion has induced the WHO to graduate it from a “variant of interest” (VOI) to a “variant of concern” (VOC) category.

    Scientists have undertaken various studies to address 3 major questions surrounding the delta VOC – 

    1. Is it more infectious than the prevalent virus?
    2. Is it more lethal than the previous virus?
    3. Does the delta variant is more resistant to the effect of vaccines? 
    Data shown by various studies on vaccines:

    Read Also :-What are “Variants of Concern” (VoC)?

    • Results of Study conducted by Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC):
      • The Delta variant is the “prime reason” behind the second wave, though the wave may have been initiated by the Alpha variant.
      • The Delta Variant has become dominant even in Britain, where scientists have recently noted that it is 50% more infectious than the Alpha variant.
    • Results of study on vaccines conducted by Public Health England:
      • A single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine provided 33% efficacy against the Delta variant, while it was 51% against the Alpha variant.
      • The second dose improved the efficacy to 60% against the Delta variant and to 66% against the Alpha variant.
      • Further, two doses of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine provided much higher levels of protection than two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
    • Results of a British study on vaccines published in Lancet Journal:
      • Merely 32%of the vaccinated individuals had adequate antibody levels against the Delta variant after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. It was 25% against the beta variant.
      • The antibody levels rose after the second dose. However, they were far below the levels obtained against the initial variant of the Covid-19 virus.
    • Results of a study on vaccines conducted by the Pasteur Institute, France:
      • The Delta variant showed reduced response to both the vaccines (Pfizer and Astrazeneca). It was resistant to neutralisation by some monoclonal antibodies targeting the Spike protein.
      • The study concluded that a single dose of the Astrazeneca vaccine will not display optimal protection against the delta variant.

    Lessons learnt from the various study on vaccines:

    • First, the Delta variant is the most infectious variant in circulation. However, there is not much convincing evidence to prove it is more deadlier than the previous variants.
    • Second, vaccines have diminished efficacy against the delta variant. Further, a single dose of either the AstraZeneca or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine does not provide adequate protection against the Delta variant.
    • Third, a shortened dosing interval is recommended to deal with the Delta variant. Britain has already reduced the interval to 8 weeks from earlier 12 weeks.

    Source: The Indian Express

  • Mixing Covid-19 vaccines: Benefits and Concerns

    What is the news?

    India plans to conduct research on Mixing Covid-19 vaccines. This is to investigate if it can immunize people using a “mix and match” of different Covid-19 vaccines.

    What does mixing of vaccines mean?
    • Mixing of vaccines means following up one dose of a particular vaccine with a second dose of a different vaccine. In scientific terms, this is called “heterologous” immunization.
    Have vaccines been mixed before Covid-19?
    • Mixing and matching of vaccines have been tested for decades, especially for viruses like Ebola. However, most combinations had initially been restricted to vaccines that use the same technology.
    • In India, combinations of rotavirus vaccines have also been used and tested out.
    Reasons for mixing Covid-19 vaccines:
    • Better Immune Response: Several scientists believe that using a different vaccine for the second dose could potentially boost the immune response against the virus.
      • Example: Viral vector vaccines like Covishield use a modified and weakened chimpanzee ‘adenovirus’ (common cold virus). But using the same adenovirus could make the vaccine less effective the second or third time around. That is why Sputnik V uses two different adenoviruses to deliver the spike protein’s code to our bodies.
    • Protection against mutations and variants: Mixing and matching vaccines of different technologies such as a viral vector vaccine followed up with an mRNA vaccine-like Pfizer’s might encourage our immune system to build a wider response.
      • Such combinations could also potentially provide wider protection against certain mutations or variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
    • Can cover up the shortages of Vaccines: Current Covid-19 vaccine production cannot sufficiently cater to the existing demand, resulting in stock-outs. Hence, in the short term, mixing solves the shortage of vaccines problem.
    • Safety Concerns: Countries like Germany, UK have halted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in younger age groups due to concerns of rare blood clots. Here, mixing and matching will allow the completion of immunization while ensuring safety.

    Also Read: India needs an effective vaccine policy


    • Many unknowns: The Covid-19 vaccines in use have received restricted emergency use permissions. Hence, questions about how safe it is to mix and match and whether the approach can prompt a better immune response are still being answered.
    • Untested Combinations: Some vaccines like Covaxin have not even been administered in a mix and match scenario. Hence, more research needs to be conducted.
    • Differences in Vaccines: There are complexities in mixing vaccines which includes
      • differences in the shelf life of these vaccines
      • shipment and storage conditions
      • Some vaccines may have more side effects or may not work.
    • Side effects: Studies such as the Com-COV trials have shown that some combinations like AstraZeneca with Pfizer vaccines could lead to an increase in side effects.

    Source: Indian Express


IT and computer related

  • Cryptocurrency in India – Lessons from other Countries

    Synopsis: No legal classification of cryptocurrency in India should not be the reason for its ban. There are some international examples, from where India can adopt some ways to deal with Cryptocurrencies.


    El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. This shows the rising global trend of accepting cryptocurrencies with all their associated risks. Almost all countries are permitting the growth of the cryptocurrency market subject to certain safeguards.

    However, India is still thinking about whether to prohibit or regulate cryptocurrencies.  Globally, there is an inclination towards regulations that recognizes the freedom of choice of people for using a medium of exchange other than a central bank-backed fiat currency.

    How has India responded to the crypto business so far?

    The cryptocurrency market in India has advanced in a mainly unrestrictive regulatory space since the first recorded cryptocurrency transaction in 2010. 

    • Firstly, between 2013 and 2018, the government’s response to the rise of virtual currencies was cautionary. It alerted users to the potential risks posed by cryptocurrency transactions. These concerns arose from its potential use in criminal activities such as money laundering, terrorist financing, and tax evasion.
    • Secondly, in April 2018, RBI effectively banned cryptocurrency trading. However, the Supreme Court in 2020 overturned this ban.
    • The court said that RBI can take other regulatory measures instead of an outright ban through which risks associated with cryptocurrency trading can be curbed. 
    • Now, the draft Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 has been introduced. The draft Bill plans to criminalize all private cryptocurrencies while also laying down the regulatory framework for an RBI-backed digital currency.

    Minister of State for Finance stated in the Parliament that regulatory bodies do not have a legal framework to directly regulate private cryptocurrencies. Then, how these currencies should be regulated?

    What are the lessons that India could learn from other countries?

    India can take a few lessons from the U.K., Singapore, and the U.S.  UK. They have categorized cryptocurrency as property. This has made the way for cryptocurrencies to be included within a regulated legal framework in the country’s economy.

    • The U.K. wants to regulate the working of crypto-businesses while still imposing some restrictions to protect the interests of investors.
    • There is no precise legal classification of cryptocurrency in Singapore, but the flexibility of cryptocurrency transactions to the contract law framework of the country has been resolutely recognised and there is now a legal framework for cryptocurrency trading.
    • In the U.S., the authorities are taking an open approach, It led to the taxing and regulation of trade-in cryptocurrency.
    • These approaches are country-specific and cannot be directly implemented in India. However, the global regulatory attitude towards cryptocurrencies gives valuable insights into the other ways to achieve balanced regulation.
    • In India, the absence of an existing legal classification of cryptocurrency should not be the basis to ban its use. The government should use this as an opportunity to allow private individuals the freedom to harness a powerful new technology with appropriate regulatory standards.

    Source: click here

  • Factors Affecting Growth of Block Chain technology in India

    Synopsis:  There are many positive benefits in utilising blockchain technology. However, regulatory uncertainties in Policymaking have impeded the growth of Blockchain technology in India.

    • Satoshi Nakamoto created the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, in 2008, as a fully decentralised, peer-to-peer electronic cash system.
    • Since then, Bitcoins have seen phenomenal growth in market value. For instance, Bitcoin, which was traded at just $0.0008 in 2010, commands a market price of $65,000 this April.
    • Many newer coins were introduced since Bitcoin’s launch, and their cumulative market value touched $2.5 trillion. Their value has surpassed the size of the economy of most modern nations.
    • Despite its increasing acceptance globally, India has followed its usual approach of ‘bar what you can’t understand, ban what you can’t control’.
    • In 2018, the Reserve Bank barred our financial institutions. It was from supporting crypto transactions, but the Supreme Court overturned it in 2020.
    • Further, the government has circulated a draft bill outlawing all cryptocurrency activities. It has been under discussion since 2019.
    • More recently, the Reserve Bank has announced the launch of a private blockchain-supported official digital currency, similar to China’s digital Yuan.
    • However, launching official digital currency is impractical, and shows a lack of understanding of this disruptive innovation.
    Why India is hesitant to accept cryptocurrencies?

    Though Cryptocurrencies have many advantages, there are few concerns associated with them,

    • One, extreme volatility. For example, China’s recent crackdown on cryptocurrency wiped out a trillion US dollars from the global crypto market within a span of 24 hours.
    • Two, it can be used as an instrument for illicit activities, including money laundering and terror funding as there are no regulations.
    What is the significance of Blockchain technology?

    The underlying technology of Cryptocurrencies is Blockchain technology. Blockchain network performs functions such as verification of transactions and contracts and the updating and maintenance of these records in the form of tamper-proof ledgers. It serves many purposes.

    • One, currently, intermediaries (including banks, credit card, and payment gateways) draw almost 3 percent from the total global economic output of over $100 trillion, as fees for their services. Integrating blockchain into these sectors could result in hundreds of billions of dollars in savings.
    • Two, Blockchain can make every aspect of e-governance, judicial and electoral processes more efficient and transparent.
    • Three, it can make our digital space more redistributive and fairer. For instance, Tech firms, including titans like Google and Facebook, derive most of their value from their multitude of users. Blockchain could enable these internet customers to receive micro-payments for any original data they share in the digital space including ratings, reviews, and images.

    Despite its significance, regulatory uncertainty is hampering the growth of blockchain start-ups in India. For instance, blockchain start-ups worldwide received venture funding of $ 2.6 billion. Whereas, in India, less than 0.2 percent of the amount the sector raised globally have gone into the Indian blockchain start-ups

    Way forward
    • India has been a late adopter in all the previous phases of the digital revolution. Like semiconductors, the internet, and smartphone technology (4G and 5G).
    • Currently, we are witnessing the next phase in a digital revolution led by technologies like blockchain.
    • Channelizing India’s human capital, expertise, and resources supported with the right policies will help India to make the most benefit of it.

    Source: Indian Express

  • National AI Portal (INDIAai) celebrates its first anniversary
    What is the News?

    The ‘National AI Portal’ celebrated its first anniversary on May 28, 2021.

    About National AI Portal:
    • Firstly, the National AI Portal was launched in May 2020. It is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), National e-Governance Division(NeGD) and NASSCOM.
    • Secondly, Purpose: The portal works as a one-stop digital platform for sharing of resources. Such as articles, startups, investment funds in AI, resources, companies and educational institutions related to AI in India.
    • Thirdly, the portal also shares documents, case studies, research reports etc. It also has a section about learning and new job roles related to AI.
    Other Artificial Intelligence(AI) Related Government  Initiatives:
    • Responsible AI for Youth Programme:
      • Launched by: The programme has been launched by the National e-Governance Division, MeitY. It is in collaboration with Intel India with support from the Ministry of Education.
      • Purpose: The program is designed to reach out to students from the government schools pan India. It aims to empower them to become ‘AI ready’ and help reduce the AI skill gap in India.
      • Eligibility: The program is open to students from Government Schools, classes 8 – 12 across the country. It will be implemented in a phase-wise manner
    • Responsible AI for Social Empowerment (RAISE) 2020
      • RAISE 2020 has been organised by the MeitY in association with the NITI Aayog.
      • Purpose: To bring together people to exchange ideas on the use of Artificial Intelligence for social empowerment. This includes inclusion and transformation in industries such as education, smart mobility, agriculture and healthcare among others.
      • The theme for this conference is “AI for Social Transformation, Inclusion and Empowerment”.

    Source: PIB

  • Defence Minister launches “SeHAT OPD portal”

    What is the News?

    The Defence Minister has launched the ‘Services e-Health Assistance & Tele-consultation (SeHAT) OPD portal.

    About SeHAT OPD portal:

    • Firstly, SeHAT OPD Portal aims to provide tele-medicine services to the serving Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families of the three Services.
    • Secondly, the services will be provided by defence services doctors who are on regular duties.
    • Thirdly, the portal has been developed and maintained by the Integrated Defence Staff & Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
    • Fourthly, the portal has been designed on the lines of e Sanjeevani, a similar free OPD service run by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) for all citizens.
    • fifthly, Significance: As the portal provides contactless consultations in an easy and effective manner. The portal will help reduce the load on hospitals and patients from the armed services.

    Source: PIB


  • IFFCO launches world’s first “Nano Liquid Urea”
    What is the News?

    Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited(IFFCO) has launched the world’s first Nano Urea Liquid

    What is Nano Liquid Urea?
    • Nano Urea Liquid is a nutrient to provide nitrogen to plants as an alternative to conventional urea.
    • Developed by: Nano Urea Liquid has been developed indigenously through proprietary technology at IFFCO”s Nano Biotechnology Research Centre(NBRC) in Gujarat.
    • Efficacy Trials: IFFCO had conducted around 11,000 farmer field trials (FFT’s) on more than 94 crops across India to test the efficacy of nano urea. The trials had shown an average 8% increase in yield.
    What are the benefits of Nano Liquid Urea?
    • Firstly, Nano Liquid Urea can curtail the requirement of urea by at least 50%. This will in turn reduce India’s dependence on urea imports.
      • During 2019-20, the production of urea was 244.55 LMT. On the other hand, the consumption volume of urea was 336 lakh metric tonnes. This leaves a gap of over 91 LMT. India imported 91.99 LMT urea fertiliser in 2019-20 to fill this gap.
    • Secondly, nano urea liquid is significant as its use by farmers will boost balanced nutrition programs by reducing the excess use of Urea application in the soil. This will help make the crops stronger, healthier and protect them from the lodging effect.
    • Thirdly, the conventional urea is 30-40% effective in delivering nitrogen to plants while the effectiveness of the Nano Urea Liquid is over 80%.
    • Fourthly, the Nano Urea Liquid will be cost-effective as it will be cheaper. This will help in increasing farmers’ income.
    • Lastly, Nano Urea Liquid will have a positive impact on the
      • Quality of underground water
      • Reduction in global warming with an impact on climate change and
      • Sustainable development.

    Source: Indian Express

  • “Protein–Antibody Conjugates (PACs)” – A combination of biologics and Antibody-Drug Conjugates
    What is the News?

    A team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences has developed a nanoparticle. This nanoparticle has the potential to revolutionize disease treatment including for cancer. The research is based on a method known as Protein–Antibody Conjugates or PACs.

    What are Protein–Antibody Conjugates or PACs?
    • This is a new concept of combining two different approaches to drug delivery. Namely, Biological drugs and Antibody-Drug Conjugates(ADC).  Both these methods combined to produce Protein–Antibody Conjugate or PACs. This PAC can be used for targeted drug delivery.
    • Protein‐antibody conjugates(PACs) are used for antibody‐directed delivery of protein to specific cells.
    • This method ensures the precise and effective delivery of drugs to specific cells. Hence, this method could have an impact on treating diseases like pancreatic cancer.

    What are biological drugs(biologics)?

    • A biologic drug (biologics) is a product that is produced from living organisms or contains components of living organisms. The composition may include sugars, proteins, or nucleic acids or complex combinations of these substances.
    • The biological drug works by targeting a defective protein in the system by delivering proteins to it.
      • For example in case of insulin treatment. If a person is short of insulin, (which is a protein), then s/he will get an insulin shot to balance the system.
    How are Biologics different from conventional drugs?
    • Conventional Drugs are made from chemical processes to create the active ingredient compound in a traditional lab.
      • On the other hand, a biologics drug is defined as a drug derived from living cells. They are not chemically manufactured.
    • Conventional Drugs generally have well-defined chemical structures. On the other hand, biologics are complex mixtures that are not easily identified or characterized.
    What are Antibody Drug Conjugates?
    • Antibody-drug conjugates or ADCs are a class of biopharmaceutical drugs designed as a targeted therapy for treating diseases like cancer.
    • Unlike chemotherapy, ADCs are intended to target and kill tumour cells while sparing healthy cells.

    Note: Antibodies is a protective protein produced by the immune system in order to attack antigens. The antigen is a toxin or other foreign substances that induces an immune response in the body.

    Source: The Hindu


    Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines are effective against pneumonia

  • Government launches “NanoSniffer” – a Microsensor based Explosive Trace Detector
    What is the News?

    The Union Education Minister has launched a Microsensor based Explosive Trace Detector called “Nanosniffer”.

    About Nano Sniffer:
    • Nanosniffer has been developed by NanoSniff Technologies, an IIT Bombay incubated startup.
    • Purpose: It is the world’s first Microsensor based Explosive Trace Detector (ETD). It can detect explosives in less than 10 seconds. Not only that, but it can also identify and categorize explosives into different classes.
    • Key Features:
      • NanoSniffer accurately detects all classes of military, conventional, and homemade explosives.
      • The device gives visible and audible alerts with a colour display.
      • The device is a 100% Made in India product in terms of research, development and manufacturing. The core technology of NanoSniffer is protected by patents in the US and Europe.
    • Significance:
      • The device will reduce India’s dependency on imported explosive trace detector devices.
      • It will also encourage other institutions, startups and medium-scale industries to research and develop products indigenously.

    Source: PIB

  • Significance of “Nanophotonics”

    What is the News?

    Researchers from the University of Hyderabad have developed a technique named “mechanophotonics”. It has allowed them to move, slice, bend, and lift micron-sized wave guiding crystals using atomic force microscopy.

    Significance of Research: This ability to manipulate micron-sized crystals with precision and control is very useful in the field of nanophotonics. It focuses on building circuits, driven entirely by photons (light).

    What is Nanophotonics or nano-optics?

    • It is the study of the behavior of light on the nanometer scale and the interaction of nanometer-scale objects with light. It is a branch of optics, optical engineering, electrical engineering, and nanotechnology.
      • Nanometer: It is equal to one billionth of a meter. One nanometre can be expressed in scientific notation as 1×10−9 m.

    Applications of Nanophotonics:

    Solar cells:

    • Solar Cells often work best when the light is absorbed very close to the surface. It is because electrons near the surface have a better chance of being collected. Moreover, the device can be made thinner, which reduces cost. Researchers have investigated a variety of nanophotonic techniques to intensify light in the optimal locations within a solar cell.

    Optical Technology

    • Nano-Photonics can help achieve an unprecedented level of miniaturization. It is useful for all-optical-based technologies such as pliable, wearable devices. These are operated by light entirely.

    Integrated Circuits(IC)

    • Nanophotonics would make it possible to go beyond current electronics. It will build up integrated-circuits driven entirely by photons(light).


    • If a given amount of light energy is squeezed into a smaller and smaller volume (“hot-spot”), the intensity in the hot-spot gets larger and larger. This is especially helpful in nonlinear optics, an example is surface-enhanced Raman scattering.

    Source: The Hindu

Space Technology

  • China successfully launched “Shenzhou-12” manned spaceship
    What is the News?

    China has launched the Long March 2F rocket transporting the Shenzhou-12 or Divine Vessel.

    About Shenzhou-12 or Divine Vessel:
    • Shenzhou-12 is a manned mission. It is the third of the 11 missions that needed to complete China’s first Permanent space station, named Tiangong Space Station. Among these missions, four will be manned missions.
    • Working:
      • Shenzhou-12 is made up of three sections—an orbiter module, a return module and a propelling module.
      • It will carry three astronauts to the orbiting Tianhe core module. The astronauts will test the module’s technologies, including its life-support system.
      • Moreover, the men will also be monitored for how they fare in space physically and psychologically for an extended period of time.
    • Significance: Shenzhou-12 is China’s seventh manned mission to space and the first during the construction of China’s space station.
      • It is also the first in nearly five years after China’s manned mission in 2016.
    About Tiangong Space Station:
    • Tiangong is a planned Chinese Permanent space station to be placed in Low Earth orbit.
    • The operations of the station will be controlled by the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center in China.
    • Significance: The Space Station roughly will be one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station.

    Source: Indian Express


  • What is the New Shephard rocket system?
    What is the News?

    Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos’s space company named Blue Origin has concluded the online auction for the first seat on the New Shephard rocket system. It is a rocket system meant to take tourists to space.

    About New Shephard Rocket System:
    • New Shephard is a reusable rocket system that has been designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Karman line – the internationally recognized boundary of space.
    • Built by: The rocket system has been built by Blue Origin, space company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
    • Named after: The rocket system has been named after astronaut Alan Shephard – the first American to go to space.
    Significance of this New Shephard rocket system:
    • The idea behind New Shephard is to provide easier and more cost-effective access to space. This is meant for purposes such as academic research, corporate technology development and entrepreneurial ventures among others.
    • Moreover, apart from academic and research-oriented goals, the rocket will also allow space tourists to experience microgravity by taking them 100 km above the Earth.
      • Microgravity is the condition in which people or objects appear to be weightless. The effects of microgravity can be seen when astronauts and objects float in space.
    What is the Karman Line?
    • The Karman line is the internationally recognized boundary of space.
    • The line is named after Theodore von Kármán, a Hungarian American engineer and physicist.
      • He was the first person to determine the altitude at which the atmosphere becomes too thin to support aeronautical flight.
    • The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale(FAI) defines the Kármán line as the altitude of 100 kilometres (62 miles) above Earth’s mean sea level.
      • FAI is an international standard-setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics.
    • However, not all organizations recognize this definition. The US Air Force and NASA define the boundary as 50 miles (80 km) above sea level. But there is no International law that defines the edge of space or the limit of national airspace.

    Source: Indian Express

  • “EnVision Mission” to Venus by ESA

    What is the News? European Space Agency(ESA) has announced a new mission with the name EnVision mission.

    About EnVision Mission:
    • EnVision is a European Space Agency(ESA)-led mission. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is working as a contributor.
    • Aim: The mission will carry instruments to study the Venus atmosphere and surface. Also, to monitor trace gases in the atmosphere, and analyze the surface composition of Venus.
    • Launch Year: The mission is likely to be launched sometime in the 2030s. It will be launched on an Ariane 6 rocket. The rocket will take about 15 months to reach Venus and will take 16 more months to achieve orbit circularization.
    Other Venus Missions:
    • Venus Express(2005-2014): It is an ESA-led mission to Venus that focussed on atmospheric research and pointed to volcanic hotspots on the planet’s surface.
    • Akatsuki spacecraft: It is a Japanese Spacecraft that has been studying the planet’s atmosphere since 2015.
    • DAVINCI+ and VERITAS Mission: These are two robotic missions announced by NASA to Venus. It will be launched between 2028-2030.
    • Shukrayaan-1: It is a proposed mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to Venus. It aims to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus. It is expected to be launched in 2023.
    About Venus:
    • Venus is the second-brightest object in the sky after the moon.
    • It appears bright because of its thick cloud cover that reflects and scatters light.

    Click Here to Read more about Venus

     Why study Venus?
    • To understand how Earth and Venus evolved so differently from each other. Whereas both planets are, roughly, of the same size and composition.
    • To understand more about the Venus thick cloud cover and the volcanoes on its surface.
    • To understand about the existence of life on Venus in its distant past and the possibility that life may exist in the top layers of its clouds where temperatures are less extreme.
      • In 2020, a team of scientists reported that they had found phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus that triggered excitement in the scientific community that some life forms might be supported by the planet.

    Source: Indian Express  


  • “CHIME telescope” detects numerous “Fast Radio Bursts”

    What is the news?

    Scientists from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) have detected 535 Fast Radio Bursts (FRB). It is the largest collection of FRB till date.

    CHIME telescope (Source: Wiki)

    • They have detected this in collaboration with India’s Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA).
    Also read: Thirty Meter telescope (TMT)


    What are Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs)?

    • FRBs are bright bursts of radio waves (radio waves can be produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields) that blaze for a few milliseconds before vanishing without a trace.
    • They are spotted in various and distant parts of the universe as well as in our own galaxy. However, their origins are still unknown, and their appearance is highly unpredictable.
    • The first FRB was spotted in 2007. Since then, scientists had only caught sight of around 140 bursts in their telescopes.
    • Source: Magnetars could be the source of some fast radio bursts(FRBs).

    What is a Magnetar?

    • Magnetar: It is a type of neutron star. The magnetic field of such a star is very powerful. It can be over a thousand times stronger than a typical neutron star’s magnetic field.
    • Neutron: The formation of a neutron star occurs when the core of a massive star undergoes gravitational collapse at the end of its life.
    Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) discovered by CHIME Telescope
    • The CHIME telescope has detected 535 new fast radio bursts in its first year of operation between 2018 and 2019.
    • Location of FRBs: When the scientists mapped their locations, they found the FRBs were evenly distributed in space, seeming to arise from any and all parts of the sky.
    • Types: The newly discovered FRBs appear to fall into two distinct classes: those that repeat and those that don’t repeat.
      • The repeater FRBs looked different. Each burst lasted slightly longer and emitted more focused radio frequencies than bursts from non-repeating FRBs.
      • These differences strongly suggest that emission from repeaters and non-repeaters is generated either by different physical mechanisms or in different astrophysical environments.
    • Significance: Scientists hope that the CHIME telescope will soon help them discover more properties of fast radio bursts and know more about the possible sources they are coming from.
    CHIME Telescope
    • Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) is a radio telescope designed to answer major questions in astrophysics and cosmology.
    • The telescope is a partnership between the University of British Columbia, McGill University, the University of Toronto and the Canadian National Research Council’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory.
    • Working of CHIME Telescope:
      • The CHIME telescope functions a bit differently from others used for radio astronomy. Most radio astronomy is done by rotating a large dish to focus light from different parts of the sky.
      • On the other hand, the CHIME telescope comprises four massive parabolic radio antennas. It has no moving parts, and it receives radio signals each day from half of the sky as the Earth rotates.
      • The telescope has a powerful digital signaling processor that works at about seven terabits per second – equivalent to a few percent of the world’s internet traffic.
      • This digital signal processor reconstructs and looks in thousands of directions simultaneously. That’s what helps it to detect FRBs a thousand times more often than a traditional telescope.
    • Location: The telescope is located at Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia, Canada.

    Source: The Hindu

Government policies and initiatives

  • Govt launches “Project O2 for India” to increase supply of medical oxygen
    What is the News?

    The Government of India has launched the ‘Project O2 for India’.

     About Project O2 for India:
    • Project O2 for India is an initiative of the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India(GoI).
    • Purpose: The project aims to:
      • Step up production of medical oxygen to meet the potential increase in demand due to further waves of the pandemic .
      • Help the stakeholders working to increase the country’s ability to meet the rise in demand for medical oxygen.
    Key Features of the Project O2 for India:
    • Under the Project, a National Consortium of Oxygen has been set up. It has been raising funds from private sector organisations, individuals among others.
    • These funds are being used by the consortium to supply critical raw materials. Such as zeolites, setting up of small oxygen plants, manufacturing compressors, ventilators among others.
    • Moreover, the consortium is also working to strengthen the manufacturing ecosystem of medical oxygen for long-term preparedness.
    • Further, a committee of experts has also been set up to evaluate critical equipment. Such as oxygen plants, concentrators, and ventilators from a pool of India-based manufacturers, start-ups, and MSMEs.
    About Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA):
    • Setup in: Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) was set up in 1999 by the Cabinet Secretariat. It is currently a Secretary level position.
    • Mandate: This office is the chief advisor to the government on matters related to scientific policy. The policies focus on critical infrastructure, economic and social sectors.

    Source: Business Today

    Read Also :-Medical Oxygen to be Imported

  • “Deep Ocean Mission” Approved by Cabinet

    What is the News? The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Deep Ocean Mission.

    About Deep Ocean Mission:
    • Deep Ocean Mission aims to explore the deep ocean for resources. Also, for sustainable use of ocean resources, it aims to develop deep-sea technologies.
    • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Earth Sciences(MoES) will be the nodal Ministry for implementing this mission.
    • Duration of the mission: The mission will be implemented over a period of 5 years in a phased manner. Its 1st phase will be of 3 years.

    Components of the Mission: The Deep Ocean Mission consists of the following six major components:

    1. Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining and Manned Submersible:
      • A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools.
      • For mining Polymetallic Nodules from 6000 m depth in the central Indian Ocean, an Integrated Mining System will also be developed.
    2. Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services: Models will be developed to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales.
    3. Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity: Bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep-sea bio-resources will be the main focus under this component.
      • Bio-prospecting is defined as a systematic and organized search for useful products derived from bio-resources. It includes plants, microorganisms, animals that can be developed further for commercialization and overall benefits of the society.
    4. Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration: This component will explore and identify potential sites of multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges.
    5. Energy and freshwater from the Ocean: Studies and detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plants are being planned under this component.
      • OTEC is a processor technology for producing energy by harnessing the temperature differences (thermal gradients) between ocean surface waters and deep ocean waters.
    6. Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology: This component is aimed at the development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering. It will translate research into the industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities.

    Read Also :-Cyber security : news and updates 

    Significance of the mission:
    • Deep Ocean Mission will be a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the Government of India.
    • The technology and expertise needed in such missions are now available in only five countries – US, Russia, France, Japan, and China. India will be the sixth country to have it.

    Read Also :-The India–Sri Lanka Fisheries Dispute

    • The United Nations(UN) has declared the decade 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
    • The Government of India’s Vision of New India by 2030 announced in 2019 highlighted the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.

    Source: PIB


     More related posts

    National Adaptation FundGovernment SchemesIndian Polity news
  • Cabinet approves PLI scheme ‘National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell Battery Storage’
    What is the News?

    Cabinet approves the Production Linked Incentive(PLI) Scheme ‘National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage’.

    PLI Scheme For Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage’:

    • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises
    • Aim: The programme aims to set up facilities capable of manufacturing a cumulative 50GWh of Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) batteries.
    Key Features of the Scheme:
    • Firstly, the government will select the ACC battery storage manufacturers through a transparent competitive bidding process.
    • Secondly, the selected ACC manufacturer will have to set up the ACC facility within a period of two years.
    • Thirdly, there will be disbursement of the incentive to the manufacturer over a period of five years. The incentive amount will rise with the following,
      • Increased specific energy density and cycles,
      • Increased local value addition.
    • Fourthly, the ACC firms will also have to achieve a domestic value addition of at least 25%. They should also incur the mandatory investment of Rs 225 crore /GWh within 2 years.
    • Lastly, each selected ACC battery Storage manufacturer would have to commit to set up an ACC manufacturing facility of minimum 5GWh capacity. Further, they should also ensure a minimum 60% domestic value addition at the project level within five years.
    Benefits of the Scheme:
    • Currently, all the demand for the ACCs is satisfied through imports in India. Hence, the programme on ACC will decrease import dependence.
    • The manufacturing of ACCs will also increase the demand for Electric Vehicles (EV).
    • India can increase net savings of around Rs 2 lakh crore on account of oil import bill due to Electric Vehicles (EV) adoption.
    • Facilitate demand creation for battery storage in India.
    • The impetus in R&D can achieve higher specific energy density and cycles in ACC.
    • Promote newer and niche cell technologies.

    What are Advanced Chemistry Cell(ACC) batteries?

    • ACCs are the new generation of advanced storage technologies. They can store electric energy either as electrochemical or as chemical energy. The cells then can convert it back to electric energy as and when required.
    • Sectors: Consumer electronics, electric vehicles, advanced electricity grids and solar rooftops are major battery consuming sectors.

    Source: PIB

    [Answered]What is ‘National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage’? Discuss its importance.

  • “CSIR-CMERI” Celebrates the National Technology Day- 2021
    What is the News?

    CSIR-CMERI has celebrated National Technology Day- 2021 by interacting with the MSME Representatives.

    About CSIR-CMERI:
    • Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (also known as CSIR-CMERI) is a public engineering research and development institution. It was founded in 1959.
    • Part of: The institute is a constituent laboratory of the Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
    • Purpose: The aim of the institute is to develop national mechanical engineering technology, particularly in order to help Indian industries.
      • Currently, the Institute is making R&D efforts in areas such as Robotics, Mechatronics, Cybernetics, Manufacturing, Precision agriculture, embedded system.
    • Located at: Durgapur, West Bengal
    • Significance: This institute is the only national-level research institute in the field of mechanical engineering in India.
    National Technology Day:
    • National Technology Day has been celebrated every year on May 11 since 1999.
    • Aim: The day aims to commemorate the scientific and technological achievements of Indian scientists and engineers.
    • Theme: Technology Development Board(TDB) selects a theme for each year’s event. The theme of 2021 is “Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future”.
    • Significance of this day:
      • Firstly, on this day, on May 11, 1998, India conducted 3 successful nuclear tests at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan under Operation Shakti.
      • Secondly, the day also commemorates the flight of “Hansa-3″. It was India’s first-ever indigenous aircraft. The National Aerospace Laboratories had developed it.
      • Lastly, the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) test-fired the Trishul missile on this day. Further, it is a surface-to-air short-range missile.

    Source: PIB

    CSIR-CMERI Indigenously Developed “Oxygen Enrichment Technology”

Other Technological developments

  • “Jivan Vayu”- Nation’s first power-free CPAP device developed by IIT Ropar
    What is the News?

    Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar has developed a device named ‘Jivan Vayu’.

    About Jivan Vayu:
    • Jivan Vayu is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure(CPAP) device. It can be used as a substitute for existing CPAP machines.
    • Key Features of the Device:
      • Firstly, It is India’s first CPAP device that functions even without electricity.
      • Secondly, the device is adapted to both kinds of oxygen generation units like O2 cylinders and oxygen pipelines in hospitals.
      • Thirdly, the device can deliver high flow oxygen up to 60 Litres Per Minute (LPM).
      • Fourthly, the device has an inbuilt viral filter which ensures that the air does not bring in any pathogens from the environment.
    • Significance: This device is especially important during the present Covid-19 pandemic. Further, the power supply is the key concern for saving lives of those on medical equipment such as ventilators and oxygen concentrators.
    What is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure(CPAP)?

    Read Also :-Medical Oxygen to be Imported

    • CPAP is a treatment method for patients having breathing problems during sleep called sleep apnea. The machine uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open for easy breathing.
    • This machine is also used to treat infants whose lungs have not fully developed. The machine blows air into the baby’s nose to help inflate his or her lungs.
    • Moreover, the machine is also required during the initial stages of Covid-19 disease. This is to mitigate lung damage and help patients recover from the inflammatory effects.

    The Issue of Medical Oxygen in India-Explained, Pointwise


    Source: PIB

  • What are “Overture supersonic aircraft” and what are its challenges?
    What is the news?

    Plans to buy 15 new Overture supersonic Aircraft have been announced by US-based United Airlines. These aircrafts are planned to be open for passengers by 2029.

    What are Supersonic Flights?

    • Supersonic aircraft are planes that can fly faster than the speed of sound.
    • Usually, supersonic planes can travel at the speed of around 900 kmph, twice the speed of normal aircraft.

    Read Also :-Centre eyes seaplanes in UDAN 3 

    First Supersonic Aircraft:
    • Concorde, the British-French turbojet-powered commercial airliner, was the first aircraft to carry passengers at supersonic speed.
    • But eventually, the aircraft had to be discontinued due to cost and other concerns.
    What about the Overture supersonic aircraft?
    • The Overture supersonic aircraft would travel at the speed of Mach 1.7 or 1,805 kmph. In a single flight, it could carry 65 to 88 passengers.
    • The aircraft will also not be noisy, as supersonic planes in the past were, as it aims for “zero overland noise.
      • Zero overland noise essentially means that the aircraft will fly at supersonic speeds only overwater. Thereby ensuring no sonic boom or excessive noise reaches the surfaces where people live.
    Challenges with Supersonic Flights:
    • Environment Pollution: The costs of making sustainable supersonic planes are extremely high. This is because using excessive amounts of fuel and energy is likely to have high environmental costs.
    • Excessive Noise: Travelling faster than the speed of sound causes a sonic boom which can be heard on the ground as a loud thunderclap or explosion. This limits where and when the supersonic planes can fly.
    • High Cost: Supersonic aircraft would not be economically feasible for everyone. Only the very rich can afford supersonic planes, as a ticket is likely to be way more costlier than a first-class ticket of a regular plane.

    Read Also :-Explained: What is Bhadbhut project? 

    Source: Indian Express

  • ISRO develops 3 types of ventilators(PRENA, VaU, SVASTA) to battle Covid-19
    What is the News?

    Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) has developed three types of ventilators(PRENA, VaU, SVASTA). These three ventilators have been developed at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre(VSSC), a major space research centre of ISRO in Kerala.

    Moreover, ISRO has said that it will transfer the technology of these ventilators to industry for clinical usage as India battles the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.

    Which are those three ventilators developed by ISRO?

     PRANA(Programmable Respiratory Assistance for the Needy Aid):

    • PRANA is a low-cost and portable critical care ventilator. The ventilator is based on the automated compression of an AMBU (Artificial Manual Breathing Unit) bag.
      • AMBU is a device commonly used to provide positive pressure ventilation to patients who are not breathing or not breathing adequately.
      • Positive pressure ventilation is a form of respiratory therapy that involves the delivery of air or a mixture of oxygen combined with other gases by positive pressure into the lungs.
    • Features:
      • The ventilator has a control system that includes an airway pressure sensor, flow sensor, oxygen sensor as well as expiration and PEEP (Positive End Expiratory Pressure) control valve.
      • The ventilator supports both invasive and non-invasive ventilation modes.
      • It is capable of giving mandatory breaths (controlled by a ventilator) as well as spontaneous breaths (controlled by the patient).
      • A robust algorithm for controlled and safe ventilation of the patient is implemented in the device. This raises an alarm and opens safety valves to prevent barotrauma, asphyxia during the ventilation.
      • There are also provisions to attach bacterial viral filters at each interface to prevent cross-infection and the contamination of air.
    VaU(Ventilation assist Unit):
    • VaU is an ICU grade positive pressure mechanical ventilator. It can assist or replace spontaneous breathing problems in patients under respiratory distress.
    • Working: The ventilator is based on a centrifugal blower that draws in filtered ambient air, compresses it and delivers it to the patient to achieve ventilation. It can therefore operate without a compressed pneumatic source.
    • The ventilator has been configured to operate in a variety of patient/ventilator triggered invasive and non-invasive ventilation modes. It also has provisions to detect fault conditions and raise alarms.
    Space Ventilator Aided System for Trauma Assistance(SVASTA)
    • SVASTA is a gas-powered ventilator. It can be used for non-invasive ventilation. Hence, it is well-suited for emergency use for first-line treatment and as transit ventilators inside vehicles.
    • Working: The ventilator runs on compressed air. It is able to perform various ventilation conditions using manual mechanical settings.
    • Significance: The basic design of the ventilator is simple as the components of it can be easily mass-produced for emergency use in pandemic like situations.

    Read Also :-Other Technological developments : news and updates

    Source: Indian Express


  • “Anti-hail guns” and their application in preventing hail storm
    What is the news?

    ‘Anti-hail guns’, developed indigenously, will be tested by the Himachal Pradesh government to help out horticulturists who face crop damage due to hailstorms.

    What are anti-hail guns?
    • An anti-hail gun is a machine that generates shock waves to disrupt the growth of hailstones in clouds.
    Who has developed these anti-hail guns?

    These anti-hail guns have been developed indigenously by IIT Bombay along with Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry at Nauni (Solan). They are likely to be much cheaper than the imported ones.

    How do anti-hail guns prevent a hail storm?

    • Anti-hail gun comprises a tall, fixed structure somewhat resembling an inverted tower, several meters high with a long and narrow cone opening towards the sky.
    • The gun is “fired” by feeding an explosive mixture of acetylene gasair into its lower chamber. This releases a shock wave (waves that travel faster than the speed of sound, such as those produced by supersonic aircraft).
    • These shock waves supposedly stop water droplets in clouds from turning into hailstones, so that they fall simply as raindrops.
    What are Hailstorms?
    • A hailstorm is an unusual weather phenomenon in which balls of ice, called hail, fall from the sky. The ice balls are nothing more than solid precipitation that forms under certain conditions.
    How are Hails formed?
    • Hails are formed by cumulonimbus clouds which are generally large and dark and may cause thunder and lightning.
    • In such clouds, winds can blow up the water droplets to heights where they freeze into ice.
    • The frozen droplets begin to fall but are soon pushed back up by the winds and more droplets freeze onto them, resulting in multiple layers of ice on the hailstones.
    • This fall and rise are repeated several times, till the hailstones become too heavy and fall down.
    Previous such anti-hail guns used in Himachal:
    • In 2010, the Himachal Pradesh government had imported three anti-hail guns from the United States. They were installed in the apple-growing belt of Shimla where hailstorms in summer cause severe damage to the fruit every year.
    • Two of the machines are currently functional, while the third one was rejected by local residents.
    • State horticulture department officials maintain that since the installation of the guns, hail has occurred very few times in the villages.

    Source: Indian Express


IPR Policies

  • What is “Indemnity” and why vaccine manufacturers are demanding that?

    What is the News?

    The Union government is in talks with foreign manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines on their demand for Indemnity from liability as a condition for selling their vaccines to the country.

    However, this has already given rise to a similar demand from domestic vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India(SII). As they believe, all players should be treated the same way.

    Read Also :-The Johnson & Johnson ASR Implant Case

    What is Indemnity?
    • In simple terms, indemnity means security against a loss or other financial stress. This is commonly used in insurance contracts.
    • In legal terms, It protects the manufacturers from any potential civil-legal liability or immunity from being sued by people for any unforeseen complications arising from their COVID-19 vaccine.
    Is Indemnity defined under the law on Drugs?
    • The law on drugs in India does not have a provision for indemnity related to the grant of approval for any new drug or vaccine in the country.
    Where is Indemnity defined then?
    • Section 124 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 defines a contract of indemnity. It is defined as a contract by which one party promises to save the other from any loss caused to the latter.
    • If the government gives an indemnity to vaccine manufacturers, then the government, and not the vaccine maker, would be liable to compensate any citizen who claims to have side effects/death due to taking the vaccine.
    • In the event of a court ordering payment, the company will be in a position to recover the amount from the government.

    Read Also :-The New Vaccine Strategy May Widen Inequality

    Is the demand for indemnity a standard practice?
    • Indemnity is essentially a contractual matter between the supplier and recipient.
    • For example, Pfizer is believed to have obtained indemnity from several countries including the United Kingdom. However, it has declined to discuss the issue in public.
    What have the overseas vaccines companies got so far?
    • Firstly, the Drugs Controller-General of India has fast-tracked the import of vaccines by dispensing with the need for local trials.
    • Secondly, foreign-produced vaccines that had been granted emergency approval for restricted use by certain regulators will also be granted Emergency Use Authorisation in India. These regulators include regulators in the US, UK, European Union and Japan or vaccines included in the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing.
    • Thirdly, the New Drugs and Clinical Trial Rules, 2019 has set down stringent regulations for grant of approval as well as for trials.
      • The Rules provide for payment of compensation by the sponsor of the trial or its representative to any participant who dies or suffers disability as a result of such trials.
      • However, exemption from these trials has reduced the risk to overseas manufacturers.

    Source: The Hindu

    Challenges in Vaccine Procurement in India – Explained, Pointwise

  • Voluntary Licensing Mechanism for Vaccines Will Ensure Social Justice

    Synopsis: Other alternatives available to boost Vaccine supply are less effective. But Voluntary licensing Mechanism for Covid 19 vaccines will lead to affordable and accessible vaccines.

    • Affordable vaccination is the key to achieve global herd immunity and to prevent new strains of COVID-19.
    • To make vaccines affordable there are multiple arrangements globally. Such as
      • Voluntarily licensing: Manufacturers can place their licensing agreements for which they owned patent rights in the UN-affiliated Medicines Patent Pool.
      • Compulsory licensing: Through TRIPS Waiver on Patent rights, for Covid-19 vaccines under WTO TRIPS agreement.
      • COVAX Program: It was established to purchase vaccine doses and donate them to low-income countries but does not involve modifying patent rights
      • WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool: a patent-sharing pool for Covid-19 products.
    • However, a voluntary licensing mechanism will be more effective in achieving the target of affordable and universal vaccination. Further, it has been successfully demonstrated in making AIDS drugs more affordable.
    How voluntary licensing can make medical drugs affordable?
    • The case study of AIDS drugs can better explain how voluntary licensing can make medical drugs/ vaccines more affordable.
    • During the 1990s, the WTO started implementing a global intellectual property regime known as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement (TRIPS).
    • After that, there was anti-TRIPS activism around the globe due to fear of price rise of essential medicines because of the TRIPS agreement.
    • Responding to anti-TRIPS activism from low-income countries, some manufacturers who owned patent rights to produce AIDS drugs placed their licensing agreements in the UN-affiliated Medicines Patent Pool.
    • This allowed Several India-based companies to use the voluntary licences to manufacture these drugs on a massive scale and sell them at prices they determine.
    • This effort brought down the price of key AIDS medications in low-income countries. For instance, tenofovir, the first-line treatment for HIV/AIDS, has come down in price from $200-$500 per person per year to $39 per person per year in low-income countries.
    What are the issues in other alternative mechanisms?
    1. First, the Voluntary licensing mechanism will reduce the cost and time taken to manufacture vaccines compared to producing vaccines through a ‘Compulsory licensing agreement’.
      • Voluntary licensing enables goodwill among Patent right holding companies and general manufacturers.
      • It will enable easy flow of “technology transfer” thereby reducing the cost and time taken to manufacture vaccines.
        • About Compulsory licensing:
        • Compulsory licenses is a mechanism to override patent rights. It allows local production or import of drugs by generic manufacturers in the event of a public health crisis.
        • This right has been enshrined in the Doha Declaration addendum to the WTO’s TRIPS agreement.
        • This is what India and South Africa are lobbying for in the WTO, having recently been joined by the United States.
    2. Second, COVAX Programme faces the issue of underfunding. Also, Similar attempts like COVAX Programme during the AIDS crisis were chronically underfunded and had only minor effects on that pandemic compared to the voluntary licensing.
    3. Third, the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool too faces issues similar to COVAX Programme. For instance, no patent holders have joined this effort. This is the reason why India and South Africa called on the WTO to temporarily waive patent protections for COVID-19.
    Way forward
    • Patents are not absolute ownership rights. They are a temporary contract that balances the public interest with the claims of the innovator.
    • Further, billions of dollars are spent through public money to develop COVID-19 vaccines.
    • Considering the above facts, patent owners should enable the mass production of affordable vaccines by granting voluntary licensing for Covid-19 vaccines.

    Source: The Hindu


    What is Compulsory Licensing?

  • What is Compulsory Licensing?
    What is the News?

    Kerala High Court has asked the Centre to respond to a plea for invoking the compulsory licensing. Other capable vaccine manufacturers will also be able to produce Covid-19 vaccines by the use of the compulsory license.

    About Compulsory Licensing:
    • Compulsory licensing(CL) is a process that allows governments to license third parties (that is, parties other than the patent holders) to produce, use and sell a patented product or process. By that, producers can manufacture patented drugs without the requirement of consent of patent owners.
    • The WTO’s agreement on intellectual property –TRIPS allows countries to issue compulsory licenses to domestic producers.
    • In India, Compulsory licensing is allowed and regulated under the Indian Patent Act, 1970.

    Section 84 of the (Indian) Patent Act,1970: It provides that after three years from the date of the grant of a patent, any person can apply for the compulsory license, on certain grounds:

    • the reasonable requirements of the public with respect to the patented invention have not been satisfied
    • the patented invention is not available to the public at a reasonably affordable price
    • Lastly, the patented invention is not used in the territory of India.

    However, compulsory licenses can also be granted under exceptional circumstances.

    Section 92 of the (Indian) Patent Act,1970: It authorizes the central government to issue a compulsory license at any time after the grant of the patent, in the case of:

    • National emergency; or
    • Extreme urgency; or
    • Case of public non-commercial use.

    After the government issues a notification under Section 92 the companies can approach the government for a license. They can start manufacturing the patented drug by reverse-engineering the product.

    Section 100 of the (Indian) Patent Act,1970:
    • It gives the central government the power to authorize anyone to use the invention for the purposes of the government.
    • Basically, this provision enables the government to license patents of the vaccine to specific companies. This is done to speed up manufacturing and ensure equitable pricing.

    What is a Patent?

    • Firstly, a patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. In other words, a patent is an exclusive right to a product or a process that generally provides a new way of doing something or offers a new technical solution to a problem.
    • Secondly, is a patent valid in every country? Patents are territorial rights. In general, the exclusive rights are only applicable in the country or region in which a patent has been filed and granted in accordance with the law of that country or region.
    • Thirdly, how long does a patent last? The protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date of the application.

    Source: Hindu Business line

    US President to Remove the Ban on “H-1B Visa”

  • Issues Associated with IPR Waiver to Covid Vaccine

    Synopsis: IPR waiver will not bring instant benefits. Thus, efforts must be made to share the excess stockpiles of vaccines lying with the developed countries.


    The Biden administration announced that it would support a waiver on intellectual property rights (IPR) for the production of COVID-19 vaccines. 

    • The original plan, for TRIPS waiver for Covid vaccines, was drafted at the WTO by India and South Africa last year.
    • During the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Joe Biden made a promise to share vaccine technology with countries that needed it if he won. He was expecting the deep gap of inequality in vaccine access.
    How has the world reacted to this stance?

    This policy stance of US has been rejected by major EU nations and met with counter-suggestion.

    • The first refusal came from Germany. They said that it would create major complications for the production of vaccines, the major pharma corporations resonated with this view. 
    • French President Emmanuel Macron was relatively less antagonistic to considering the proposal. However, he lashed out at the Anglo-Saxons for hindering vaccine availability globally by blocking the export of ingredients.
    • There is some substance to the argument that an IPR waiver may not fully resolve the vaccine shortage issue in countries suffering the worst of the pandemic now, even if it were to become a reality.
    What to do?
    • Firstly, the grant of a waiver would have to be supplemented by technology transfer. It will provide the pharmaceutical manufacturers with the required trained personnel, raw materials, and high-tech equipment and production know-how.
    • Secondly, after tech transfer, there must be a scientific criterion to test the safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy of the vaccine developed by these generic manufacturers.  
    • Thirdly, the effect on global supply chains for vaccine production should be inspected so major troubles might be avoided. 
    • Lastly, other options to instantly address vaccine shortages should be considered. Developed nations should share a considerably greater part of their vaccine stockpiles, particularly in cases where the latter exceed projected domestic needs.


    • There is a rumor that Mr. Biden’s waiver announcement might be a tactic to persuade pharmaceutical companies to accept less painful measures. This includes
      • sharing some of their technology willingly,
      • agreeing to joint ventures to increase global production expeditiously, and
      • simply producing more doses at affordable prices to donate directly to where the need is most severe, especially in India.

    Source: click here


    IPR Waiver For Covid 19 Vaccines

How to Read Science and Technology for UPSC IAS

UPSC IAS syllabus for Prelims and Mains, both include Science and technology subject. It is the subject where most of the students feel that it is not a level playing field for all. Mainly students from the non-Science background have this mentality. But this is not the reality. UPSC in all its syllabus starting from Prelims to Mains, has put focus on providing level playing field, as lakhs of students from different academic backgrounds prepare for this exam.

No matter whether you belong to Arts, Commerce or Science background, this subject is easy to understand and score well in exam (including Prelims and Mains). This subject demands simple basic understanding of science. It includes day to day happenings related to science and technology and general science. Questions are mostly application based. One does not have to master the subject. Aspirants only need to pay little attention to what all are happening around them by keeping their ear and eyes open all the time.

In this article, we will discuss about the study approach of science and technology for UPSC IAS. Before starting the preparation, it is important for all the students to see the past year trend of science and technology questions and syllabus for the same.

In the following table, we will see the total number of questions asked from science and technology in last 5 years:

YearTotal number of questions asked

Overview of the UPSC IAS Syllabus for science and technology:

UPSC Prelims- General Studies (Paper I)General Science
UPSC Mains-General Studies (Paper III)Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Study approach for science and technology for UPSC: As questions asked from science and technology are mostly application based and basic in nature, it becomes easy for the students to read this subject and score well in the exam. It is only possible when they will understand the subject rather than only mugging it up.

  • Start with NCERT textbooks:Students should compulsorily start with class VI NCERT textbook. They should read the whole book first and then in their second reading they should make short notes of them. Reading the whole book again will not be feasible. Likewise, they should complete all the NCERTs from Class VI to Class X. Notes making is very important here. Students should see if anything getting repeated.
  • Read one newspaper daily:Newspaper reading is must for an IAS aspirant. It becomes very much important for subjects like science and technology. Students must focus on science-based articles and columns.
  • Refer one current affairs magazine: To complete the current events of science and technology, it is very important to read and revise one good magazine which covers the topics thoroughly.
  • Refer Government official website:To cover schemes related to science and technology, students must refer website of Ministry of Science and Technology. They can also refer PIB website.
  • Solve Previous year UPSC Prelims and Mains questions: Past year papers will help students to understand which type of questions are asked from this subject. They will also get to know exactly what are application-based questions on science and technology. It will help them in newspaper reading and notes making as well. So, students must see the questions many times, analyze them and understand the type of the questions. In this stage they should not hurry.
  • Solve as many MCQs as possible:Solving questions of science and technology will increase their confidence as well as increase their marks. It will build their logic on how to solve application-based questions. It would be very helpful for those who belong to non-science stream.
  • Daily answer writing practice: Most of the students find it difficult to write answers on science and technology. It becomes really tough when topics are biotechnology and nanotechnology. Here is the utility of daily answer writing. If students will write answers daily, gradually they will improve. And if they will practice the same for months, then this will definitely improve their content quality as well as quality. Their speed will increase with this practice.
  • Revision is important: Students keep on revising their notes and current affairs magazines. As initially they will find the subject difficult, but with revision, they can perform well in the exam.

Science and technology is very interesting subject where most of the questions asked are of application based. So. If students will once understand the topic, they can perform well in less time period. So, no matter you belong to which background, if you want to get the success, start preparing this subject seriously with right study approach. Make a timetable and start the study. All the best for your exam.