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Government policies and initiatives : news and updates

  • 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


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  • 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”

  • National Task Force for Transparent Oxygen Allocation


    The supreme court has constituted a National Task Force for transparent oxygen allocation. It is a 12 member body constituted to guide the central government allocation of medical oxygen to the states. Further, it will also recommend a framework for broader pandemic preparedness and response.

    • The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has crippled the healthcare system in India.
    • The situation is worse in the domain of oxygen supply. Due to acute shortages, the toll of preventable deaths has increased.
    • In this scenario, the supreme court has set up a National Task Force for transparent oxygen allocation.

    About the National Task Force for transparent oxygen allocation:

    • It is a 12 member body constituted to guide the central government’s allocation of medical oxygen to the states.
    • It has 10 members who are leading clinicians, critical care specialists, and virologists. Along with this, there are 2 government officials – Secretary, Ministry of Health, and Cabinet Secretary.
    • It is established for a period of six months.
    Working and Mandate of Task Force:
    • It will work as per its 12 point terms of reference.
    • The first five points focus on oxygen supply. This includes: 
      • Deciding on a methodology for the scientific allocation of oxygen to states
      • Facilitating audits (of oxygen supply, distribution, and utilization) by sub-groups within each state and UTs.
    • The 6th point allows it to review and suggest measures necessary for ensuring the availability of essential drugs and medicines.
    • The remaining 6 points are aimed at the broader pandemic preparedness and response. This includes planning and adopting remedial measures:
      • To ensure preparedness for present and future emergencies; 
      • To facilitate the use of technology; 
      • Furthermore, to suggest augmenting the availability of trained doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff; 
      • Also, to promote evidence-based research and enhance effective response to the pandemic; 
      • To facilitate sharing of best practices across the nation to promote knowledge about management of the pandemic
      • Lastly, to make recommendations in regard to other issues of pressing national concerns. 
    • It can constitute more sub-groups in specialized areas or regions to assist in its work.
    • It can seek assistance from experts both within and outside government in areas such as clinical virology and immunology, epidemiology/ public health, etc.
    Benefits of Creating such a task force:
    • Firstly, it will facilitate a public health response to the pandemic based upon scientific and specialized domain knowledge.
    • Secondly, it will give inputs to decision-makers. These inputs will enable them to go beyond ad hoc solutions to unprecedented challenges.
    • Thirdly, it will alter the techno-bureaucratic nature of policy decisions by ensuring the participation of independent subject experts.
    • Fourthly, it will give suggestions to improve state-level public healthcare systems. As it looks at the shortage of medical oxygen through a broader lens of pandemic preparedness and response. 
      • The state-level health care system currently has:
        • Insufficient planning, delayed procurement, and weakness of supply chain management.
        • Insufficient government funding
        • absence of sufficient and trained human resources
        • high out-of-pocket expenditure (around 30-40%)
    Way Forward:
    • The members of NTF have the needed qualification and expertise to advise on clinical matters and oxygen supply. However, they may need to proactively co-opt experts from other fields for giving suggestions on broad issues in a short time. This involves experts from medical procurement and supply; pharmacology, free medicines, and diagnostics, etc. 
    • Further, the task force should refrain from giving a mere medicalized response to a public health challenge. The focus should be on creating a healthcare system that can keep people healthy and respond to future epidemics and pandemics.

    Source: Indian Express


    Centre seeks to replace EIA rules, activists rise in protest

  • The DoT gives permission to conduct “5G Technology Trials” in India

    What is the News?

    The Department of Telecommunications(DoT) has given permission to conduct trials for the use and application of 5G technology. The DoT permitted few Telecom Service Providers(TSPs) to conduct such 5G Technology trials.

    Objectives of 5G Technology Trials: The objective behind the trials is to:

    • Firstly, test 5G spectrum propagation characteristics especially in the Indian context;
    • Secondly, model tune and evaluate chosen equipment and vendors;
    • Thirdly, test indigenous technology;
    • Fourthly, test applications such as telemedicine, Tele-education, augmented/virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring, among others
    • Fifthly, test 5G phones and devices.
    Key Features of the 5G Technology Trials:
    • The Telecom Service Providers(TSP) permitted for the trials include Bharti Airtel Ltd, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, Vodafone Idea Ltd and MTNL. This means that the Chinese Telecom Providers such as Huawei will not be part of the 5G trials in India.
    • Areas: The trials will take place in rural, semi-urban and urban areas. So that the benefit of 5G technology proliferates across the country.
    • Duration: The duration of the trials is for a period of six months. This includes a time period of two months for procurement and setting up of equipment.
    • 5Gi Technology: The Telecom service providers would be encouraged to conduct the trials using 5Gi technology. This is an addition to the already known 5G technology.
    About 5G Technology:
    • 5G or fifth generation is the latest upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks.
    • 5G mainly works in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high-frequency spectrum. All of which have their own uses as well as limitations.
    • Advantages of 5G:
      • Near Instantaneous connectivity —20 times faster than 4G.
      • Reduced latency (faster response time)
      • Energy saving
      • Cost reduction
      • Higher system capacity and
      • mass device connectivity.
    About 5Gi Technology:
    • 5Gi stands for 5G Radio Interface Technology. It has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology and the IIT-Hyderabad.
    • Purpose: 5Gi technology is primarily meant to enhance rural coverage. It facilitates much larger reach of the 5G towers and radio networks. Hence, it is a major breakthrough for bridging the rural-urban digital divide in 5G deployment.
    • Approved by: 5Gi standard has also been approved by the International Telecommunications Union.

    Source: The Hindu

    5G technology in India – importance, challenges and solutions

  • “Operation Samudra Setu-II” launched by Indian Navy
    What is the News? 

    The Indian Navy has launched Operation Samudra Setu-II.

    About Operation Samudra Setu-II:
    • Firstly, the Indian Navy launched this operation with the aim to bring oxygen-filled cryogenic containers to India from abroad.
      • This is because the country is facing a severe shortage of medical oxygen in the wake of a massive spike in new Covid-19 cases.
    • Secondly, as part of the mission, Seven Indian Naval ships, namely Kolkata, Kochi, Talwar, Tabar, Trikand, Jalashwa, and Airavat, are participating. These ships will carry shipments of liquid medical oxygen-filled cryogenic containers and associated medical equipment from various countries to India.
    Operation Samudra Setu:
    • The Indian Navy launched this operation in May 2020 as a part of Vande Bharat Mission. It aimed to bring back around two thousand Indians in two ships during the first phase of evacuation.
    • INS Jalashwa and INS Magar were operated as part of efforts to repatriate Indian nationals from foreign shores.

    Source: India Today

  • “Disaster Management Act, 2005” Invoked to facilitate supply of Medical Oxygen

    What is the News?

    The Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) has invoked the Disaster Management Act, 2005 once again. This time to issue an order to ensure that the inter-state supply of medical oxygen is not obstructed for any reason whatsoever.

    What does the order say?
    • Firstly, there will be no restriction on the movement of medical oxygen between the States.
    • Secondly, no restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers. This is especially to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state/UT in which the manufacturer/supplier is located.
    • Thirdly, no authority shall force the oxygen-carrying vehicles passing through the district or areas to make supplies to any particular district(s) or area.
    • Fourthly, the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes except those exempted by the Government is prohibited.
    • Fifthly, district magistrates and senior superintendent of police will be personally liable for the implementation of these directions.
    About National Disaster Management Act, 2005:
    • The purpose of the National Disaster Management Act, 2005 is to manage disasters. The Act includes the preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and more.
    • NDMA: The Act calls for the establishment of a National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) with the Prime Minister of India as chairperson.
    • National Executive Committee(NEC): The Act provides the Central Government to constitute a National Executive Committee(NEC). This committee will assist the NDMA. The NEC is headed by the Union Home Secretary.
    Relevant Sections of the Act:
    • Section 6: It gives NDMA the powers to prepare national plans for disaster management. It also ensures the implementation of the plan through the state disaster management authorities.
    • Section 10: It allows the NEC to give directions to governments regarding measures to be taken by them.
    • Section 33: It says that the District Authority may order any officer or any Department at the district level or any local authority to take such measures for the prevention or mitigation of disaster. Such officer or department shall be bound to carry out such order.
    • Penal Provisions: Moreover, sections 51 to 60 of the Act lay down penalties for specific offenses. Anyone found obstructing any officer or employee from performing their duty will be imprisoned. The term of the punishment may extend to one year or fined, or be both.
      • Further, if such an act of obstruction leads to loss of lives or imminent danger, then the person can be jailed for up to two years

    Note: The DM Act, 2005 came into being in the wake of the Tsunami disaster in 2004.

    Section 188 of Indian Penal Code(IPC): It states that any person who disobeys an order given by a public servant will be punished with imprisonment upto 1 month. If such disobedience causes danger to human life, the term may extend to six months.

    Source: The Hindu

  • National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM)

    – Challenges and suggestion to enhance the commercial-scale operation of green hydrogen in India.

    National Hydrogen Energy Mission NHEM-

    Indian prepares to launch the National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM).

      • The global target is to produce 1.45 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2023.
      • India currently consumes approximately 5.5 million tonnes of hydrogen, which is mainly derived from imported fossil fuels. With NHEM, India will be able to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel imports.
      • Steel, chemical, and transportation industries are among the industries that will benefit from the NHEM. Owing to the amount of fossil fuels they consume, which can be directly substituted with hydrogen, they contribute to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions.
    What is green hydrogen?

    Green Hydrogen is pure hydrogen generated by using renewable energy such as solar power and wind energy. The by-products are water and water vapour.

    • Transportation cost – Majority of low-cost renewable energy resources are located far from potential demand centres. As a result, the cost of transportation from the plant to the demand centre rises.
    • High cost of production – The technology used in production of green hydrogen is still in its early stages and is costly, which raises the cost of production.
    • Storage related issues

    Recommendations for scaling up commercial scale operation of green hydrogen in India-

    • Firstly, Decentralized hydrogen production – Decentralization must be promoted through open access of renewable power to an electrolyser (which splits water to form H2 and O2 using electricity).
          • This can be done by transporting renewable energy directly from the plant to the refinery, which will reduce transportation costs by 60% compared to shipping hydrogen through trucks.
    • Secondly, Continuous access to renewable energy for decentralized hydrogen production.
    • Thirdly, Need to blend green Hydrogen into existing conventional hydrogen process-
        • This would also aid in the development of a scientific understanding of the processes involved in large-scale hydrogen handling.
    • Fourthly, Investment for R&D on green Hydrogen technology is required– Green hydrogen processing technology is still in its early stages, requiring extensive research and development to advance.
        • This requires substantial investment in the research and development of hydrogen technologies. Policymakers need to facilitate investments.
    • Lastly, Focus on domestic manufacturing –
        • Need to establish an end-to-end electrolyser manufacturing facility.
        • Needs to secure supplies of raw materials.
        • Need manufacturing strategy that integrates with the global value chain and can maximize existing strengths.
    Way forward-

    With decentralized hydrogen production, continuous access to renewable energy, increased investment in R&D, capacity building, compatible legislation, and the ability to create demand among its vast population, India can be in a unique position to benefit from the green Hydrogen.

    Source- The Hindu

  • National Super Computing Mission(NSM)

    What is the News? India is fast emerging as a leader in high-power computing with the launch of the National Super Computing Mission(NSM).

    About National Super Computing Mission(NSM):
    • Firstly, the government launched the National Super Computing Mission in 2015.
    • Secondly, the aim is to connect research and academic institutions to a Supercomputing grid all over the country. The grid consists of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities, It will increase the research capacities and capabilities in the country.
    • Thirdly, these supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN). The NKN is another program of the government. NKN connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high-speed network.
    • Implementing Agency: Department of Science and Technology and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) through the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
    Phases under the mission:

    Phase 1: Under this phase, 30% of the value addition of Supercomputers is done in India.

    • Param Shivay was the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, installed in IIT(BHU).
    • Param Shakti and Param Brahma supercomputer installed at IIT-Kharagpur and IISER, Pune respectively.
    • Thereafter, supercomputing facilities were set up in two more institutions and one more is being set up with a computing speed to 6.6 Petaflops (PF).

    Phase II: Under this phase, 40% of the value addition of Supercomputers is done in India.

    • 8 institutions are being equipped with supercomputing facilities by April 2021 with a total of 10 PF compute capacity.
    • MoUs have also been signed with a total of 14 premier institutions of India for establishing Supercomputing Infrastructure with Assembly and Manufacturing in India.
    • This phase will complete by September 2021. After completion, it will take the country’s computing power to 16 Petaflops(PF).

    Phase III:

    • This phase will take the computing speed to around 45 Petaflops. This will include three systems of 3 PF each and one system of 20PF as a national facility.

    Indigenous Development: India has developed an Indigenous server named Rudra which can meet the High-Performance Computing (HPC) requirements of all governments and PSUs.

    About National Knowledge Network(NKN):
    • National Knowledge Network(NKN) was established in 2010. Its objective is to interconnect all institutions of higher learning and research with a high-speed data communication network. It will be helpful to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaborative research.
    • Implementation: National Informatics Centre (NIC), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, is the implementing agency.

    Source: PIB

  • NITI Aayog launches “AIM-PRIME” to support science based startups
    What is the News?

    Atal Innovation Mission(AIM), NITI Aayog in association with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation(BMGF) launch AIM-PRIME (Program for Researchers on Innovations, Market-Readiness & Entrepreneurship).

    About AIM-PRIME:
    • AIM-PRIME Program aims at promoting science-based, deep technology. For that, it will provide training and guidance over a period of 12 months.
    • Implementation by: Venture Center – a non-profit technology business incubator.
    • Eligibility: The program is open to:
      • Technology developers (early-stage deep tech start-ups, and scientists/ engineers/ clinicians) with strong science-based deep tech business ideas.
      • CEOs and Senior incubation managers of AIM Funded Atal Incubation Centers that are supporting deep tech entrepreneurs.
    • Benefits of the programme:
      • The candidates selected for the program will get access to in-depth learning resources via a comprehensive lecture series, live team projects, exercises, and project-specific mentoring.
      • They will also have access to a deep tech startup playbook, curated video library, and plenty of peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
    About Deep Technology:
    • Deep techs are very high cutting-edge and disruptive technologies. These technologies base on scientific discoveries, engineering, mathematics, physics, and medicine.
    • Examples: A new medical device or technique fighting cancer, data analytics to help farmers grow more food, or a clean energy solution trying to lessen the human impact on climate change.

    Source: PIB


  • Union Minister inaugurates Event for “DSIR-PRISM Scheme”
    What is the News?

    The Union Minister for Science & Technology inaugurates the Event for Publicity of the PRISM (Promoting Innovations in Individuals, Startups, and MSMEs) scheme.

    About PRISM Scheme:
    • Nodal Ministry: PRISM is an initiative of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research(DSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology.
    • Aim: The aim is to help an individual innovator to become a successful technopreneur. It promotes, supports, and funds implementable and commercially viable innovations created for society.
    • Who is eligible? Under the initiative, an innovator of Indian nationality – student, professional and common citizen- is eligible.
    • Features:  Eligible candidates are provided with technical, strategic, and financial assistance by DSIR-PRISM. Assistance is provided on the stages like idea development, prototype development, and pilot scaling and patenting.
    • Sectors Covered: The proposals under the scheme will be accepted for the following sectors:
      • Green technology
      • Clean energy
      • Industrially utilizable smart materials
      • Waste to Wealth
      • Affordable Healthcare
      • Water & Sewage Management and
      • any other technology or knowledge-intensive area.
    • Financial Assistance: The grant under the scheme is given in two phases:
      1. Phase I:
        • Category-I: For proof of concept/prototype/models, a grant amount of around Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs.
        • Category-II: For fabrication of working model/ process know-how/ testing, a grant amount of around Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs.
      2. Phase II: For Enterprise incubation, a grant amount of a maximum of around Rs.50 lakhs.

    Source: PIB

  • SERB launched “SERB-PRISM Portal”

    What is the news?

    The Science and Engineering Board(SERB) launched a portal called “SERB – Project Information System & Management(SERB-PRISM Portal)”.

    About the SERB-PRISM Portal:
    • Aim: The portal aims to provide information regarding all projects sanctioned by SERB from 2011 onwards. The information includes funding details, status, research summary, and project output details such as publications and patents.
    • Further, The SERB-PRISM Portal also has search facilities to enable retrieval of information about projects.
    Significance of the SERB-PRISM Portal:
    • The portal is expected to work as a comprehensive tool. It is to help produce stronger scientist-scientist and science-society connections.
    • Apart from that, the SERB-PRISM Portal will also help researchers to look at various important things. Furthermore, it includes research trends, learning about cutting-edge science, locating critical equipment in their vicinity, and helping seek collaborations across disciplines.
    About Science and Engineering Board(SERB):
    • Nodal Ministry: SERB is a statutory body established in 2009. It functions under the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology.
    • Chaired by: It is chaired by the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Science and Technology. Further, it has other senior government officials and eminent scientists as members.
    • Mandate: It got set up for promoting basic research in science and engineering. The SERB also provides financial assistance to scientists, academic institutions, Research and Development laboratories, industrial concerns, and other agencies for such research.

    Source: Down To Earth

  • 40 Scholars awarded under “India Science and Research Fellowship(ISRF) 2021”

    What is the news?

    40 scholars from 6 countries have been awarded under the India Science Research Fellowship(ISRF) Program 2021.

    About India Science Research Fellowship(ISRF) Program 2021:

    • Launched by: the Department of Science and Technology(DST), Government of India in 2015.
    • Purpose: Awarded scientists and researchers from neighboring countries are provided an opportunity to carry out their research in Indian Institutes and Universities. They will get benefits of using state-of-the-art facilities in these places.
    • Countries Covered: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
    • Significance: The fellowship is a platform that establishes research cooperation with neighbouring countries of India. This is one of the important mandates of DST’s International Science and Technology Cooperation.

    Source: PIB

  • Indian legacy and developing Science and Technology in India

    Source: The Hindu

    Syllabus: GS-3 Science and Technology- developments and Achievements of Indians in science & technology

    Synopsis: India is celebrating National Science Day. This day should be marked by commitments of promoting science, technology, and innovation in India.


    National Science Day was celebrated on February 28 for the discovery of the Raman effect by Indian physicist Sir C. V. Raman on 28 February 1928. But the celebration has to move forward and Indians have the responsibility of taking forward our legacy of Science.

    What is the Indians legacy in the field of Science?

    1. Indians have a long tradition of illuminating the world of science. This is evident right from Aryabhata, Bhaskaracarya and Varahamihira to the great scientists of modern India.
    2. The role of women in the field of science is also unforgettable. Women like Janaki Ammal (botanist), Bibha Chowdhuri (physicist), Asima Chatterjee (chemist), and Gagandeep Kang (medical scientist) have made India proud.
    3. The contribution of C.V Raman in the field of Physics made him the most visible face of Indian science. He became the first Asian to won a noble price in Physics.
      • Dr Rajinder Singh, a noted historian of science authored six books and 28 essays on Raman
    4. Apart from that, other major contributors like Jagadish Chandra Bose (C.V. Raman’s senior), Satyendra Nath Bose and Meghnad Saha, (both were Raman’s juniors) also made major contributions in science and being acclaimed globally.

    How India is advancing in Science now?

    After Independence, the application of science in fields such as space research, atomic energy, biotechnology, and agriculture has been impressive. Many scientists believe India has the potential to become a hub for world-class scientific and technological innovation.

    The draft National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 (STIP 2020) and National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) were the two recent developments to promote science and research in India.

    Few important provisions of National Education Policy 2020:

    1. The NEP underlines the importance of mother languages for science teaching and popularisation. S.N. Bose and others had also been advocating this from the 1940s.
    2. Likewise, the setting up of the National Research Foundation to encourage and fund R&D (Research and Development) activities is also a step in the right direction.
    3. Greater and intensive involvement of Indian universities in the R&D ecosystem will also improve science and technology among Indians.

    Few important provisions of draft STIP 2020

    1. Draft STIP focus on developing a robust system for evidence and stakeholder-driven Science Technology and Innovation planning and policy research.
    2. The STIP draft also aims to promote science and technology-enabled entrepreneurship and mainstream innovation at the grassroots level.
    3. Further, the draft STIP also focuses on traditional knowledge systems (later it will be validated by modern scientific methods).


    The government has a key role to play in the development of science and technology. The government has to follow a liberal approach to promote science. But the government’s recent restriction on online conferences is not an encouraging one for science.

    So, for creating a science-enabled and science-respecting nation the government and people have to be forward-looking. Then only the purpose of National Science Day will be fulfilled.

  • Draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020

    Synopsis: The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 202o has the potential to transform the science and research in India


    The government introduced a draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 in January 2021. The draft policy aimed to address the issues in the past four science and technology policies.

    Evolution of Science, Technology and Innovation Policies in India:

    Right after independence, India realised the value of science in promoting the welfare of people. So far, India has released four policies in Science. The important

    1. The Scientific Policy Resolution, 1958
      • The policy aimed to lay the foundation of scientific temper and develop scientific enterprises around India.
      • The policy led to the establishment of many research institutes and national laboratories across India.
      • Achievement of the policy: By the end of 1980, India developed advanced scientific infrastructure along with sufficient scientific personnel
    2. The Science and Technology Policy Statement, 1983
      • This policy aimed to achieve technological self-reliance. The policy also aims to use technology to benefit all sections of society.
      • The policy aimed to strengthen the research in fields such as biotechnology and electronics.
    3. The Science and Technology Policy, 2003
      • This is the first Science Policy in India after the economic reforms in 1991.
      • This policy aimed to increase investment in research and development. The policy brought India’s investment in research to 0.7% of GDP.
      • During this policy only, the Scientific and Engineering Research Board (SERB) was established in India to promote research.
    4. The Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, 2013
      • This policy brought innovation into the science and technology policy.
      • The policy aimed to become one of the top five global scientific leaders in the world.
      • India achieved this by the following steps
        • The Centre built partnerships with State governments,
        • The government established more research and development centres throughout India
        • India collaborated in international research projects such as the Neutrino research, Large Hadron Collider, etc.

    What are the outcomes of these Four scientific policies?

    The US-based National Science Foundation released a report. The report highlighted the outcomes of the policies. They are

    1. Achievement of Policies:
      • India was the third-largest publisher of peer-reviewed science and engineering journal articles and conference papers
      • India achieved this milestone at the pace of a 10.73% annual growth rate from 2008. This is higher than the growth rate of China (7.81%)
    2. Where the policies lack?
      • India’s index score was very low in Highly Cited Articles of the world. India has a score of 0.7. This is lower than the US, China and the EU.
      • India’s Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD) is only 0.6% of GDP. This is very low compare to the U.S. and China (Both their GERD is greater than 2%).
      • According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) report, India only filed 2053 patents in 2019. On the other hand, China filed 58,990 patents and the US filed 57,840 patents.

    How India aimed to tackle the drawbacks?

    The government aimed to tackle the drawbacks holistically by releasing a new science and technology policy. The government released the draft of the fifth Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 (STIP 2020) in January 2021  

    Salient provisions of Draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020:

    1. The draft STIP aims to double the following things every 5 years.  
      1. Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) researchers
      2. Private sector contribution to the GERD
      3. Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD)
    2. Apart from that the draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy also aim to get India into the top three scientific superpowers of the world within a decade.
    3. The draft STIP 2020 also defined the Open Science Framework. The framework will provide pan India access to all scientific journals. This will be achieved by creating a “one nation, one subscription”. 
    4. The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy will improve Private sector participation. This is achieved by a strategy.
      Under it, the State governments will fund the research. The Private will participate in it. The government will provide fiscal incentives. Further, the government also support innovation in the MSME sector.
    5. The other focus areas of the draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy are:
      • The provision for supporting indigenous knowledge systems in India
      • The draft STIP provide steps to improve artificial intelligence
      • The policy will encourage the participation of Indian scientific diaspora
      • The policy will set up a special fund for research known as the strategic technology development fund. 


    The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy look good on paper and also has the potential to transform the entire science, technology and innovation in India. But the actual results will occur only if the government fulfil its role as the primary funder of research and encourage the private.

  • Science and Technology in India’s foreign policies

    Synopsis: Covid-19 Pandemic provided India with an opportunity to mainstream science and technology (S&T) in its foreign Policies. It became possible due to the past achievements by the country in the domain of S&T.


    • The roots of India’s scientific programs can be traced to the 1959 speech delivered at the Indian Science Congress by Jawaharlal Nehru.
    • He called for a focus on robust scientific research and seeking international scientific advancements.
    • Strong countries like the US tried to curb the country’s advancements in important spheres like nuclear and space programs. However, despite this, the country managed to augment its S&T potential. 

    ‘Science and Technology’ in International Relations:

    • The country gave significant support to Asian and African nations especially in the field of health. This strengthened its relation with Global South.
    • In the 1990s, after liberalization, India asserted its scientific interest in a better way. It established the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India in 1999. 
    • An improvement in Nuclear and Space programs was also seen in the 21st century. It was facilitated by growing ties with the US and their joint vision to curb China’s assertiveness.
    • It also signed strategic partnerships with countries like the UK, Canada, etc. that had substantial S&T components.
    • The country’s Science and Technology Policy 2003 and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013 clearly relate international S&T cooperation with the national interest.
    • To boost international S&T collaboration, A Cyber Diplomacy Division, an E-Governance & Information Technology Division, and a New Emerging & Strategic Technologies Division under the Ministry of External Affairs were also set up.
    • Very recently, India’s pharma firms such as the Serum Institute of India partnered with the U.K.’s Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine project. Similarly, Bharat Biotech produced an indigenous vaccine called Covaxin. 

    India’s efforts for international cooperation during COVID Pandemic:

    • Initially, India gave medicines such as hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol to over 150 countries.
    • The Vaccine Maitri program was also launched to give vaccines to other countries. 
    • India delivered vaccines to many needy countries in South Asia and South America very recently.
    • India’s response was a mark of its advancement in S&T. Moreover, responses were aligned with its Neighbourhood First, Act East, Indo-Pacific and LookWest policies.

    What more should be done?

    • India should now convert the crisis into an opportunity by launching more programs like ‘Vaccine Maitri’. This program attracted appreciation from multiple countries including Brazil, Canada, and Barbados.
    • There is a need for giving greater financial devolution towards S&T for achieving self-reliance under Aatmanirbhar Abhiyan. This can be duly leveraged in international relations.
    • Further, the participation of states, universities, and the private sector in research and development efforts should also be enhanced.
    • Scientists must be made more aware of foreign policy objectives and diplomats about the latest scientific advancement in order to strengthen the integration.

     Read also:-

    Health Related Issues

  • “Hydrogen as a Fuel”: Applications, Advantages and Disadvantages

    What is the news?

    In the Budget 2021-22, the Government of India announced the National Hydrogen Mission. This mission will aim at generating hydrogen from green power sources and using it as a fuel.

    Read more about Green Energy Initiatives in Budget 2021

    About Hydrogen fuel 

    • Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number. It is the lightest element in the periodic table. Moreover, it is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe.
    • However, the most common element in nature is not available freely. Hydrogen also exists only in combination with other elements. Thus, it has to be extracted from natural compounds, like water.
    • Hydrogen is categorized by colour tabs, based on its source. We can divide it into ‘grey’ hydrogen (produced from fossil fuels), ‘blue’ hydrogen (produced from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage) or ‘green’ hydrogen (produced from renewable electricity).
    • Green Hydrogen is specifically focussed upon in the government mission.

    Hydrogen as a fuel:

    • Hydrogen is considered an alternative to fossil and other types of fuels.
    • However, Hydrogen is a carrier of energy, not a source of it. Fuel cells are required to transform Hydrogen into electricity and use it. Cells use oxidizing agents through an oxidation-reduction reaction, to convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
    • In the case of Hydrogen, fuel cells combine Hydrogen and Oxygen to generate electricity.  A catalyst, usually made from platinum is generally used for this.

    Advantages of Hydrogen fuel:

    • Readily Available: It is a basic earth element and is available in abundance.
    • Doesn’t Produce Harmful Emissions: When it burns, it doesn’t emit harmful substances. The only by-product or emission from the usage of hydrogen fuel is water. It makes this fuel 100% clean.
    • Environmentally Friendly: It is a non-toxic substance which is rare for a fuel source.
    • Fuel-Efficient: Compared to diesel or gas, it is much more fuel-efficient as it can produce more energy per pound of fuel.

    Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel:

    • Expensive: Although it is widely available, it is time-consuming to separate hydrogen gas from its companion substances.
    • Difficult to Store: Hydrogen is very difficult to store. Its transportation even in a small amount is very expensive.
    • Not Easy to Replace Existing Infrastructure: There is not much infrastructure that can support hydrogen as fuel. Also, cars need to be refitted in order to accommodate hydrogen as fuel.
    • Highly Inflammable: Since it is a very powerful source of fuel, hydrogen can be very flammable. Hydrogen gas burns in air at very wide concentrations – between 4% and 75%.

    Source: Indian express

  • New Geo-Spatial data Policy and its implications – Explained pointwise

    Recently Department of Science and Technology(DST) announced liberalised guidelines for geospatial data and mapping in India. The guidelines permitted Indian companies to access geospatial data generated by Indians. But permitting the companies alone is not enough and there is much more to do.

    What is Geo-Spatial data?

    1. Geo-spatial data (also known as “spatial data”) represents the data-linked to features or objects on the Earth’s surface. In simple terms, data is referenced to locations on the earth (some portion of data is spatial).
    2. Man-made or natural objects (or features) can get linked to location and act as geospatial data.
    3. The geospatial data can be static, like the location of a road, an earthquake event, malnutrition among children, etc. or dynamic like a moving vehicle or pedestrian, the spread of an infectious disease.
    4. The application of Geospatial data in our daily lives is increasing. For example, food delivery apps like Swiggy or Zomato, e-commerce app like Amazon, Weather apps, etc., are dependent on Geospatial data.
    5. Geospatial data combines the following information:
      • Location information
      • Attribute information (the characteristics of the object, event, or phenomena concerned): For example, in addition to the spatial information of building it also provides other information like the number of stories in the building, number of owners, etc.
      • Temporal information or the time at which the location and attributes exist

    Major applications of Geospatial data:

    Geospatial data provides various major applications. They are:

    1. Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation: This is one of the biggest applications of geospatial data. From Google Maps to product delivery at home, everything is linked with geospatial mapping today. The data can also aid in marine and aerial navigations. Further, it can provide visual and voice navigation for drivers, tourists, etc.
    2. Disaster Management: Geospatial data can help in making data-backed decisions. Apart from that, it will also help in creating contingency plans and foreseeing any obstacles the rescue team might face.
    3. Humanitarian Relief: Using Geospatial data, one can decide where change can be brought to improve living conditions, standards of living, or even spaces where basic amenities are missing. Thus, poverty, hunger, and sanitation can be identified and solved strategically.
    4. Improved efficiency in various sectors: Geospatial mapping can improve identifying and managing natural resources. They can reduce cost savings in the logistics sector, mining sector etc.
    5. Better effectiveness of services: Geospatial mapping can improve transparency in citizen services by government and private sector. The private sector can identify the potential market for their product and services. On the other hand, the government can identify the target area for a scheme. Defence sector can identify the potential targets and manpower required.

    To conclude geospatial data has a wide range of applications like agriculture, environment protection, power, water, transportation, communication, health (tracking of diseases, patients, hospitals etc.)

    How India is Governing the Geo-spatial information?

    1. Till recently, the government had a near-monopoly regarding the collection, storage, use, sale, dissemination of geo-spatial data and mapping. This was because of concerns over internal as well as external security threats.
      • For example, Only government-run agencies such as the Survey of India, Defence and Home Ministries were allowed to use geospatial data.
      • The private companies require approval from different departments as well as the Defence and Home Ministries. Then only, they were able to collect, create or disseminate geospatial data.
      • So there is a lack of private participation in Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping in India.
    2. The Kargil war highlighted the vulnerabilities of depending on foreign data and the need for indigenous sources of data. After that, the government heavily invested in Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping. For example,

    What are the new Guidelines?

    • Geospatial data will be freely available in India, specifically for Indian companies. The companies can self attest to government guidelines and start using geospatial data.
    • Restrictions under the present policy:
      • Only Indian entities can use terrestrial mapping and surveys.
      • The data generated also needs to be owned and stored in India.
      • High-resolution data—finer than 1 m horizontally and 3 m vertically—will still remain restricted.
      • Except for sensitive defence or security-related data, all other data can be accessed by Indian companies.
    • With this policy, Indian companies will be able to set up location services like Google Map in India.

    What are the advantages of Geo-spatial data liberalisation?

    1. First, deregulation will ensure a level playing field by providing more accurate data available to both the government and private agencies.
    2. Second, it will promote the setting up of new Startups and businesses especially in the sector of e-commerce or geospatial based apps. This will increase employment in these sectors.
    3. Third, it also promotes the building of indigenous apps. For example, an Indian version of Google Maps like ‘MapmyIndia’.
    4. Fourth, with data collection companies working with the Indian government on various sectoral projects are more likely to increase in public-private partnerships.
    5. Fifth, it will also boost the economy by attracting investments both in the geospatial sector and in other sectors as well.

    Challenges with Geospatial data liberalisation:

    1. Privacy, data and surveillance-related issues: The collection of geospatial mapping and data involves various privacy-related issues and violate the individual’s right to privacy. The major issues were:
      • Data of persons can be captured through geospatial tagging via social media.
      • Data generated from mobile devices can get captured by the private sector, and they might use it for profit motive.
      • There is also a possibility to capture sensitive personal information.
      • Unintended or unknown surveillance of persons.
    2. National security-related issues: Private companies by collecting data on a large scale can threaten national security. Like:
      •  Majority of the present geospatial data is in the hands of the US and European companies. Chinese also started many startups recently. They can tie with an Indian startup (or create a startup) in India and indulge in data mining activities.
      • India at present doesn’t have enough manpower to monitor the violation in Geospatial data. This can be exploited by any potential national security threat.

    Suggestions to improve India’s geospatial data handling capability:

    1. The government can make consent mandatory for companies acquiring data from the individual wherever it is relevant and feasible. Like the consents required by a mobile application requesting permissions.
    2. The government can also consider the saving of geospatial data in the form of Geo-masking techniques when the private company completed the intended project. Like the government rolled out masked Aadhar after the completion of the Aadhar project.
    3. Building privacy by design: The government has to pass the Data Protection Bill. This will make the data collecting private companies accountable if they violate data privacy.
    4. Using a risk assessment framework and making contingency plans for any violation. But for doing that India needs to train enough manpower (geospatial experts). The government can form a committee to formulate a contingency plan.

    In conclusion, liberalised guidelines on geospatial data and mapping is an essential step for India’s development. Apart from this, India will have to build capacities to prevent the misuse of geospatial data.

  • Defence Minister launches “E-Chhawani portal”

    What is the news?

    Union Defence Minister has launched the e-Chhawani portal.

    About the Portal:

    • The portal aims to provide online municipal services to more than 20 lakh citizens across 62 Cantonment Boards.
    • Developed by: The portal developed jointly by eGov Foundation, Bharat Electronics Limited(BEL), Directorate General Defence Estates(DGDE) and National Informatics Centre(NIC).
    • Features: Through the portal, the residents of cantonment areas will be able to avail basic services such as; the renewal of leases, application for birth & death certificates, water & sewerage connections, trade licences, mobile toilet locators and payment of different types of taxes and fees.

    Click here to Read about Cantonment Board

     Source: AIR

  • What is “Sandes” platform?

    What is the News?

    National Informatics Centre(NIC) launched an instant messaging platform called Sandes.

    About the Sandes platform:

    • It is an instant messaging platform like WhatsApp. It was previously named Government Instant Messaging System(GIMS).
    • The platform can be used for all kinds of communications by anyone with a mobile number or email id.
    • Initially, the platform was available to only government officers. It is now available for the common public as well.

    Why was it launched?

    • The platform built by the government to mitigate potential security risks. It allows the government employees to switch from mainstream social media applications to a secured Sandes platform.
    • The platform is also a part of the government strategy to push for use of India-made software. Thus, it will develop an ecosystem of indigenously developed products.

    Features of the platform:

    • The platform has an interface similar to many other apps currently available in the market.
    • The chats on the platform can be backed up to a user’s email. However, there is no option to transfer the chat history between two platforms.
    • It also offers features such as group making, broadcast message, message forwarding, and emojis.
    • It allows a user to mark a message as confidential. It will make the recipient aware that the message should not be shared with others. However, the confidential tag does not change the way the message is sent from one user to another.


    • The app does not allow the user to change their email id or registered phone number. The user will have to re-register as a new user in case they wish to change their registered email id or phone number on the app.

    Source: Indian Express

  • Deregulation of Geospatial Data: Prospects

    Synopsis: Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology deregulated the geo-spatial data and map-making in India.

    What is geospatial data?

    • Geospatial data is the data about objects, events, or phenomena that are located on the surface of the earth.

    Read More about Geospatial data and Geospatial policy

    What is the present policy on geospatial data?

    • Till recently, the government had a near-monopoly regarding the collection, storage, use, sale, dissemination of geo-spatial data and mapping. This was because of concerns over internal as well as external security threats.
    • Only government-run agencies such as the Survey of India, Defence and Home Ministries were allowed to use geospatial data.
    • Whereas, the private companies needed approval from different departments of the government as well as the defence and Home Ministries. Then only, they were able to collect, create or disseminate geospatial data.
    • The lack of private participation led to the underdevelopment of the Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping.
    • The Kargil war highlighted the dependence on foreign data and the need for indigenous sources of data. Only, after the Kargil war, the government heavily invested in Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping.

    Why has the government deregulated geospatial data?

    The government has deregulated the geo-spatial data to achieve the following objectives:

    1. First, it will help in the timely completion of the project without delay. Over-regulation in the use of geo-spatial data has led to red-tapism. It delayed the start of projects for both private and government agencies.
        • The Deregulation now allows the Indian companies to self-attest by confirming the government guidelines. This eliminates the need for monitoring by a government agency, thereby improving ease of doing business.
    2. Second, it will help to improve the status of data deficiency in the country. Lack of appropriate data impedes planning for infrastructure, development and businesses.
        • Also, Mapping of a country as large and diverse as India with high accuracy will take decades if it is done only by government agencies.
        • Hence, incentivizing the Indian companies in the geospatial sector and increasing investment from private players in the sector will establish India as a data sufficient country.
    3. Third, the application of geospatial data has become widespread. It is no more confined to security purpose alone.
        • An increasing number of sectors such as agriculture, environment protection, power, water, transportation, communication, health (tracking of diseases, patients, hospitals etc.) currently rely on this data.
        • Geospatial data is now crucial for the government in planning for infrastructure development, social development, natural calamities etc.
    4. Fourth, it is also in line with the global consensus for open access to geospatial data. Many countries have made their geo-spatial data freely available. The new guidelines will ensure open access, except for sensitive defence or security-related data.

    What impact is this expected to have?

    1. First, deregulation will ensure more This will result in more accurate data available to both the government and private agencies for planning.
    2. Second, it will promote the setting up of new Startups and businesses especially in the sector of e-commerce or geospatial based apps. This will increase employment in these sectors.
    3. Third, it also promotes the building of indigenous apps. For example, an Indian version of Google Maps.
    4. Fourth, with data collection companies working with the Indian government on various sectoral projects it is also likely to increase in public-private partnerships.
    5. Fifth, it will also boost the economy by attracting investments in the geospatial sector by companies and by an increase in export of data to foreign companies and countries.
  • DST announce liberalization of “Geospatial data and Mapping” Policy

    What is the News?

    Department of Science and Technology(DST) announced liberalised guidelines for geo-spatial data. It deregulates access to its geospatial data and services including maps for all Indian entities.

    What is Geo-Spatial data?

    • Geospatial data (also known as “spatial data”) represents data-linked to features or objects on the Earth’s surface. Objects can be man-made or natural on the globe.
    • The geospatial data can be static, like the location of a road, an earthquake event, malnutrition among children, or dynamic like a moving vehicle or pedestrian, the spread of an infectious disease.
    • The data combines location information, attribute information (the characteristics of the object, event, or phenomena concerned). Other than that, it also includes temporal information or the time of the location or attributes captured.
    • The application of Geospatial data in our daily lives is increasing. For example, food delivery apps like Swiggy or Zomato, e-commerce app like Amazon, Weather apps, etc., are dependent on Geospatial data.

    What are the new Guidelines?

    • Geospatial data will now be freely available in India, specifically for Indian companies. They will no longer be subject to restrictions or prior approvals to collect, generate, prepare, store, publish, update digital geospatial data and maps within the territory of India.
    • Restrictions: The policy restricts the use of terrestrial mapping and surveys to only Indian entities—both public and private. The data generated also needs to be owned and stored in India. Further, high-resolution data—finer than 1 m horizontally and 3 m vertically—will still remain restricted.
    • With this policy, Indian companies will be able to set up location services like Google Map in India.

    Present Policy on Geospatial Data:

    • There are strict restrictions on the collection, storage, use, dissemination of geo-spatial data and mapping. It is due to internal as well as external security concerns.
    • Individuals and private companies are required to seek approval, for use of mapping data under the Geospatial Information Regulation Act,2016.

    Source: The Hindu

  • India to formulate policy for “new battery technologies for EVs”

    What is the News?

    The Union Minister has said that India will soon come out with a policy for the next generation of battery technologies for Electric Vehicles(EVs).

    What will be the focus of the upcoming Policy?

    • The policy will look for alternative battery technologies for electric vehicles like metal-ion, metal-air, hydrogen fuel cells to replace lithium-ion batteries. It will reduce India’s dependence on other countries for its import within this decade.

    Why will this policy be crucial?

    • China is currently the leader in supplying lithium-ion batteries to the world. India’s EV industry is heavily dependent on the import of batteries. China also has stakes in strategic reserves of lithium mines in other countries. Hence, the policy to boost R&D on battery technology will be significant.

    Lithium-Ion Batteries:

    • Lithium-Ion is a type of rechargeable battery. These batteries are commonly used for portable electronics and electric vehicles. These batteries are growing in popularity for military and aerospace applications.

    Shortcomings of Lithium-Ion Batteries:

    • Protection required: Lithium-ion cells and batteries are not as robust as some other rechargeable technologies. They require protection from being overcharged and discharged too far.
    • Higher Cost: A major lithium-ion battery disadvantage is their cost. Typically, they are around 40% more costly to manufacture than Nickel-cadmium cells.
    • Transportation: A lot of restrictions are in place for the transportation of Lithium-ion batteries especially large quantities by air.
    • Ageing: Lithium-ion batteries naturally degrade, as they suffer from ageing. Normally Lithium-ion batteries are able to withstand 500 – 1000 charge and discharge cycles before their capacity falls to 50%.
    • Sensitivity to a high temperature – Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to the too much heat caused by overheating of the device or overcharging. Heat causes the cells or packs of this battery to degrade faster than they normally would.

    Possible Alternatives to Lithium-Ion Batteries:

    • Aluminum-ion Batteries: Aluminum-ion batteries provide increased safety and faster charging time at a lower cost than lithium-ion batteries. However, there are still issues with these batteries. Stanford University is a leading developer of aluminum-ion batteries.
    • Solid-state Batteries: Solid-state batteries have solid elements. It provides several advantages: less fire-related safety issues, extended lifetime, decreased need for expensive cooling systems, and operability in an extended temperature range.

    Click here to read about Lithium

     Source: Indian Express

  • Cryptocurrencies in India

    Source: The Hindu

    Syllabus: GS 3. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development, and employment.

    Synopsis: The government should ensure a smart regulation of cryptocurrencies instead of shutting them out.


    The government has given a statement to bring a law on cryptocurrencies. It is a positive step. Considering the fact that there is a doubt about the legality of cryptocurrencies in India.

    • The doubt exists despite the government has suggested that it does not consider cryptocurrency to be a legal tender.
    • The reason behind this disapproval is that such currencies are highly volatile, used for illegal Internet transactions.
    • Also, these currencies cannot be regulated as it is completely lying outside the domain of the state.

    RBI’s decision on cryptocurrencies

    • The RBI sent a circular to banks and asked them not to provide services for those trading in cryptocurrencies in 2018.
    • However, the Supreme Court found the circular to be disproportionate. This is for the reason that virtual currencies were not banned in India.
    • RBI also not able to provide strong evidence that units regulated by RBI were harmfully impacted by the exchanges dealing in virtual currencies.

    What is the challenge in regulating cryptocurrencies in India?

    The Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur highlighted the difficulty in the regulation of cryptocurrencies.

    • Regulatory bodies like RBI and SEBI etc don’t have a legal framework to directly regulate cryptocurrencies.
    • Cryptocurrencies are difficult to regulate as they are neither currencies nor assets or securities or commodities issued by an identifiable user.
    • Cryptocurrencies have a growing client base in India despite having legal uncertainty. Their attraction may only grow now as Bitcoin has hit new peaks in price and is gaining influential followers such as Tesla founder Elon Musk.

    Suggestions on cryptocurrency:

    • Smart Regulation of the cryptocurrency is a much better option than getting banned directly. Because a ban on blockchain-based technology (having scattered record) cannot be implemented practically.
      • For example, China has banned cryptocurrencies and has a controlled internet; even then trading in cryptocurrencies were happening in a small amount.
    • The inter-ministerial committee has recommended an outright ban. On the other hand, it highlighted the need for an official digital currency and for the promotion of the underlying blockchain technology. So, the government can ban the cryptocurrency and release an official digital currency.

    The way forward

    The government must resist the idea of a ban and push for smart regulation.

  • FSSAI caps Trans Fat in Food

    Source: Click here

    Syllabus: GS -3

    Synopsis: FSSAI has released new directions for Trans fat elimination. What would be its possible benefits?


    India is going to join a select group of countries by limiting industrial trans fat to 2% by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product in 2022. India would be achieving the WHO target a year in advance.

    • The trans fat content limit was reduced to 5% from 10% in 2016. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) limited it to 3% by 2021.
    • 32 countries already have some form of mandatory limits on trans fat according to a 2020 report of WHO.
    • The main aim is to restrict the use of industrially produced trans-fat for increasing the shelf life of products at less cost. However, trans-fats are also present naturally in red meat and dairy products.

    Read – After oils, FSSAI caps Trans Fatty Acids(TFAs) in foods|ForumIAS Blog

    What is the reason behind reducing trans fat content in oils?

    The government’s notification applies to edible oils and fats, that are used as ingredients. It also applies to emulsions such as margarine.

    • First, Targetting these specific ingredients only will reduce the trans fat content to 2% in all food items. These are major sources of industrial trans fat.
    • Second, edible oils and fats are the major sources of industrial trans fat. Repeated heating at a high temperature can increase the trans fat content even when the oil contains less than 2% trans fat.
    • Third, the trans fat content in food can negatively change the lipoprotein cholesterol profile. It increases the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and decreases the level of HDL or good cholesterol. It results in an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

    The way forward

    • The benefits of reducing trans fat can be seen in Denmark. It saw a reduction of about 14 deaths related to cardiovascular diseases per 1,00,000 population three years after the Trans-Fat cap.
    • Large food companies are already committed to eliminating industrially-produced trans fat from all their products by 2023. It should be possible for them to match their efforts to the FSSAI standard.
  • Concerns regarding DNA Technology (Use and Application) Bill, 2019

    Source: Indian Express

    GS-3: concern associated with technologies.

    Synopsis: DNA Technology (Use and Application) Bill, 2019 has many concerns over its use when implemented. So, it is necessary to debate the effects before finalizing the Bill.


    • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment, Forests, and Climate Change was tasked to review the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Bill, 2019.
    • In its final report, it acknowledged that the use of technologies in the criminal justice system is important. Yet, it cautioned that it should not violate the constitutional right of privacy.
    • The report has also raised concerns over the creation of a national database of genetic profiles gathered at crime scenes.

    What are the concerns raised by the committee?

    The committee has raised the following concerns in The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Bill, 2019. These concerns need to be debated extensively in the parliament before the bill’s finalization.

    • First, many countries in the world collect Genetic Information of Persons unrelated to the crime. It is a violation of their Privacy.
      • Prosecution agencies collect Flakes of skin, strands of hair, drops of blood and saliva from the crime scene. This helps the Prosecution agencies to validate the identity of an individual.
      • However, many times the footprints collected at a crime scene may not necessarily be of those individuals associated with the incident.
      • Hence, the DNA repository proposed by the Bill should exclude the information of the people who have nothing to do with the crime.
    • Second, a lack of infrastructure will lead to undesired outcomes.
      • India is lacking the infrastructure for conducting DNA tests in the country. According to the Committee, the labs in the country can fulfil only 2-3 per cent of the country’s DNA profiling.
    • Third, India’s criminal justice system is not ready for the use of DNA technology. Already, India’s justice system lacks a legal aid system especially for the marginalized sections of society.
      • Most people charged with criminal offences are not aware of their rights. This deficit will widen when technology, such as DNA profiling, is deployed to establish the crime.
      • Also, proper training is required for educating a range of criminal justice functionaries. (police, lawyers, magistrates). Then only this technology can be used effectively.

    The parliament before deciding the features of the DNA Technology Bill should recall the verdict in Malak Singh v State of Punjab. Then supreme court Judge O Chinnappa Reddy remarked that, though organised crime needs close surveillance it may not be permitted as it infringes the fundamental right to personal liberty.

  • After oils, FSSAI caps Trans Fatty Acids(TFAs) in foods

    What is the News?
    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) has amended its rules. Under new rules, it put a cap on trans fatty acids(TFAs) in food products. Previously, it tightened the norms for oils and fats in the food.

    What are the new rules?

    • According to FSSAI, Food products contain edible oils and fats. The use of industrial trans fatty acids in these products shall not be more than 2% by mass of the total oils/fats. These rules are effective from 1st January 2022.
    • The allowed limit of TFA was at 5%. In December 2020, the FSSAI had capped TFAs in oils and fats to 3% by 2021, and 2% by 2022.
    • The present amendment has been introduced to achieve the 2022 target.
    • It is in line with the WHO’s call for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply by 2023.
    • Achievement of the 2% limit is equal to elimination of TFAs.

    About Trans Fatty Acids:

    • They are created in an industrial process.  It adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. It increases the shelf life of food items and can be used as an adulterant as they are cheap.
    • Present in: They are present in baked, fried, and processed foods as well as adulterated ghee. They become solid at room temperature.
    • Harmful Effects: They are the most harmful form of fats. They clog arteries and cause hypertension, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular diseases.
    • As per the WHO, intake of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids results in approx. 5.4 lakh deaths each year globally.

    Initiatives against Trans Fats:

    • Heart Attack Rewind Campaign: It is a mass media campaign launched by FSSAI. It calls for the elimination of industrially-produced trans fat in the food supply by 2022.
    • REPLACE campaign: REPLACE stands for Review, Promote, Legislate, Assess, Create awareness and Enforce. It is a WHO campaign to eliminate industrially-produced artificial trans-fats from the global food supply by 2023.
    • Eat Right India Movement: It was launched by FSSAI in 2018. It is a preventive healthcare measure to trigger social and behavioural change among people. The movement aims to improve public health in India and combat negative nutritional trends to fight lifestyle diseases.

    Click Here for Further Reading on Trans Fats

     Source: The Hindu

  • DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019

    Introduced: Lok Sabha (8th July 2019)

    Present status: Standing Committee gave its report on 3rd Feb 2021

    Ministry: Science and Technology and Earth Sciences

    Need for such DNA Technology Bill in India:

    • First, countries having such legislation like the USA, have proved a significant increase in conviction rate. According to NCRB, India’s conviction rate is 48.8% only in 2017. The conviction rate can improve significantly if the DNA Bill is enacted in India.
    • Second,  in India, Each year more than 4000 FIRs filed for not recognising the victim’s body. Not only that, In India around 175 persons missing each day.   The bill will help in identifying them very easily with scientific intrastate co-operation.
    • Third, the Bill will come in handy during the parental disputes resolution. The Bill can also establish the identity of missing children and baby-swapping cases in hospitals.
    • Fourth, accurate and faster investigation of crime is feasible. Since the Bill maintains a database for convicts and suspects, the crime scene investigation will completely be based on scientific principles. This can result in a faster and accurate investigation by police officers.
    • Fifth, the Bill will help in research works in DNA and also create employment opportunities for skilled manpower and other non-skilled jobs.
    Significance of DNA technology:

    DNA analysis is extremely useful and accurate. DNA analysis can ascertain the identity of a person from his/her DNA sample. The DNA sample can also establish biological relationships between individuals. For example, A hair sample or blood stains from clothes taken from a scene of the crime can clearly establish whether the DNA in the sample belongs to the suspected individual or not.

    As a result, DNA technology is being increasingly relied upon in investigations of crime, identification of unidentified bodies, or in determining parentage, etc.

    Key provisions of the DNA Technology Bill, 2019:

    1. The Bill mentions the situations under which DNA Data will be used. Under the Bill, DNA testing is allowed only in respect of 4 matters. They are,
      • For offences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. 
      • Civil disputes and other civil matters related to paternity suits, or to identify abandoned children.
      • Offences under certain special legislations like Immoral Trafficking prevention Act, MTP Act etc. 
      • Medical negligence or unidentified human remains.
    2. While preparing a DNA profile, bodily substances of persons may be collected by the investigating authorities. There are certain conditions mentioned under which the DNA will be collected.
      • Like, For arrested persons, if the offence carries a punishment of up to seven years. Consent is needed to collect the DNA sample.  
      • If the offence carries more than seven years of imprisonment or death, consent is not required
    3. The Act establishes the DNA Data Bank.  The data banks will be established at the National and regional level. At the regional level, the data bank will be established for every state or two or more states
    4. The Bill states that the criteria for entry, retention or removal of the DNA profile will be specified by regulations. The Bill provides that the information contained in the crime scenes will be retained.
    5. The Bill also establishes a DNA Regulatory Board. This DNA Regulatory Board will supervise the DNA Data Banks and DNA Laboratories. The Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, will be the ex officio Chairperson of the Board. 
    6. The Bill also has a provision of mandatory accreditation from the Board to establish DNA Laboratories in India. The Board may revoke the accreditation for reasons such as failure to undertake DNA testing or the non-compliance of DNA Lab with the conditions attached to the accreditation. 

    Arguments against the Bill:

    First, concerns regarding the collection of DNA itself. DNA is the base of any individual person. DNA not only not just reveal how a person looks, or what their eye colour or skin colour is. It will also reveal more intrusive information like their allergies, or susceptibility to diseases etc

    Second, the collection of DNA has also seen as a violation of two Fundamental Rights. Such as Right to Privacy under Article 21 and Right against self-discrimination under Article 23. The Bill is also seen as a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    Third, science advances more quickly than law. Scientific laws if legislated, they need frequent course corrections to prevent misuse. In India, there are few legislations which are being used for centuries without any amendments. Failure to bring the amendment at a necessary stage will create a plethora of problems.

    Fourth, there are only 15 DNA profiling labs in India. DNA Training Academy also faces a shortage of manpower. Considering this situation one cannot ensure a smooth implementation like DNA profiling, etc

    Fifth, there is also a privacy concern. The DNA data can be misused just like other personal information like Cambridge Analytica scandal of Face book. For example, the Andhra government signed up with a private firm to collect DNA data from all citizens. The private firm may misuse the data for profit motives.

    Lastly, there is also a possibility of Miscarriage of Justice. Like by planting innocent person DNA in crime scenes to confuse the investigation and if a crime scene is occurred in commonplace then many innocent might be harassed.

    Arguments favors DNA technology Bill:

    First, there will be no racial and communal profiling possible. The government mentions it will store very limited information in the DNA profile. That is just 17 sets of information (from the billions of information available in DNA sample). This will not reveal any personal data about an individual. 

    Second, DNA tests are already happening without any regulatory safeguards. The PSC in its recent report mentions the importance of the DNA Bill to bring the DNA tests into the ambit of the law.

    Third, an individual’s privacy is ensured in the Bill. The Bill has very specific provisions for the collection of DNA data. The DNA is not collected from common people and it is collected from the convicts and missing person. The PSC also supported the view in its recent report.

    Way forward:

    First, the law would be better implemented if the Data Protection Bill based on the Sri Krishna Committee is passed first. Since the Data Protection Bill fixes the privacy of data protection.

    Second, there is also a need for a robust procedure and policy for collection of DNA samples, within the constitutional provisions like respecting Article 21. Apart from that the policy also has to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    In conclusion, It is much-needed legislation.  If implemented clearly then there going to be the voluntary submission of DNA. But that will be possible if the government enacts the Bill with necessary checks and balances. 

  • Finance Minister allocates funds for “National Research Foundation”

    What is the News?
    The Finance Minister allocated funds for the creation of a National Research Foundation(NRF).

    About National Research Foundation(NRF)

    • The NRF found mention in the 2019 Budget speech first. New Education Policy(NEP),2020 also proposed its formation.
    • The foundation would be an autonomous body. It will fund researches across four major disciplines –Sciences; Technology; Social Sciences; and Arts and Humanities.
    • Moreover, It will develop and build research capacity at universities and colleges through a formal mechanism of mentoring.  Experts researchers from premier institutions of the country will assist in that.
    • Thus, It will also catalyze research at universities and colleges that have until now not been big players in research.
    • The funding would be cross-disciplinary. The foundation will ensure that research already being funded by Science Ministries for instance — wouldn’t be duplicated.

    Source: The Hindu

  • “STI policy 2020” emphasising self-reliance in science

    Source: The Hindu

    Gs3: Science and Technology- Developments

    Synopsis: The recently released Draft Science, Technology, and Innovation policy has many issues and challenges that need to be addressed to promote Aatmanirbhar Bharat  in science


    • Recently, the Department of Science and Technology has released the 5th draft of the Science, Technology, and Innovation policy for Public scrutiny.
    • It contains the objectives and goals of our new science policy.
    • But it has many issues and challenges that are highlighted below, along with the required actions that need to be taken.

    What are the key objectives stated in the 5th draft of the Science, Technology, and Innovation policy?

    1. First, it proposes technological self-reliance. Which will position India among the top three scientific superpowers. (US, China, India)
    2. Second, to achieve this, it proposes developing a “people-centric” science, technology, and innovation “ecosystem”. This will help us to retain our best minds in India.
    3. Third, it proposes to double the private sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development. This is similar to the 2013 policy.
    4. Fourth, it has proposed the vision for a decentralized institutional mechanism for a robust STI Governance.
    5. Fifth, it also acknowledges the disconnect between science and society in the chapter ‘Science Communication and Public Engagement’.
    6. Sixth, it aims to impart an inclusive culture in academia. For that, the document promises to tackle discrimination based on gender, caste, religion, geography, language, disability, and other exclusions and inequalities.
    7. Seventh, the policy abides by our constitutional obligation to “develop a scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.

    What are the issues in the 5th draft of Science, Technology, and Innovation policy?

    The author has cited the following issues in the draft science policy that has been released for Public Feedback.

    1. Issues in Readability of the draft: The draft report is written with complex language. It makes the task difficult for the Public to provide meaningful feedback. This destroys the very purpose of Public Scrutiny.
    2. No data on the progress of previous policies: for example, the 2013 science policy had the similar objective of doubling the private sector’s contribution in Research and Development. However, what has been achieved till now in this regard has not been stated.
    3. Policy objectives signify neglect of government responsibility: R&D investment in science is stagnant for several years (0.5% GDP). It is despite strong recommendations by scientific bodies to raise it to 2% GDP.
        • The proposal to increase private sector investment in R&D shows that the government is shifting the responsibility of financing R&D to different agencies such as the States, private enterprises, and foreign multinational companies.
    4. Mechanism followed to institutionalise robust STI Governance is faulty: it proposes for several new authorities, observatories, and centres to instituionalise decentralization. This may end up increasing bureaucratic control which is already high in science administration.
    5. Lack of planned solutions to achieve the stated objectives: for example, the policy mentions more representation of women and the LGBTQ community in academia. But it is silent on how it will be achieved.
    6. It does not provide solutions to address issues in society that hampers scientific research: for example, our belief systems, values, and attitudes have an impact on the quality of research. This explains why Indians who have chosen to pursue research abroad are able to make path-breaking discoveries.

    What is the way forward?

    1. First, the private sector cannot be expected to pay for basic research because the return on investment in basic research takes too long. Hence, the government should finance research.
    2. Second, Decentralization of an administrative structure is essential, but it would be a better option to provide more autonomy to research and academic centres for financial management.
    3. Third, we need to control the propagation of pseudoscience in the name of traditional science. It is needed to develop a rational scientific ecosystem for young minds.

    With the advent of new disruptive technologies, global competitiveness will be increasingly determined by the quality of science and technology. Hence, the government should priorities raising the standard of Indian research/education centres and R&D spending.

  • Underwater Scientific study to determine the age of “Ram Setu”

    What is the news?

    Indian scientists will undertake an underwater scientific study. The study aims to determine the age of the chain of corals and sediments forming the Ram Setu.


    Ram Sethu is a 48-km long bridge-like structure between India and Sri Lanka. It is also known as Adam’s bridge. The Ramayana mentions the bridge but there is little scientific knowledge about its formation.

    About the under-water study Project:

      • The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa will conduct the project.
      • Objective: The project will help determine the age of the Ramayana period. Apart from that the project also focuses on the process behind the formation of Ram Setu. Likewise, the project also reveals any pre-existing submerged habitations around Ram Setu.
      • Duration: It will be a three-year project
      • Technique: The age of the sediments will be determined primarily using Carbon dating techniques.
      • Vessel: NIO’s(National Institute of Oceanography) vessel Sindhu Sadhana will be deployed for the project. The vessel will collect core samples at greater depths and perform bathymetry studies

    (Bathymetry is the study of the “beds” or “floors” of water bodies, including the ocean, rivers, streams, and lakes).

      • Planned tests: The study will conduct two planned tests namely:
        1. Side-scan SONAR: This test will provide bathymetry which is similar to studying the topography of a structure on land.  Soundwave signals will be sent to the structure for this test. The sound waves will provide an outline of the physical structure of the Ram Setu.
        2. Silo seismic survey: Mild earthquake-like tremor shocks will be sent at shallow depths closer to the Ram Setu structure. These shocks are the energized shockwaves capable of penetrating into the structure. The relevant instruments will capture the reflected or refracted signals. Based on the reflected signals one can get a clear image on subsurface structure.
      • Significance of the project: Most importantly, Scientists believes underwater exploration studies can have the possibility to trace numerous ship wreckages and remains from the past.

    Click here to further read about Ram Sethu Project

    Source: Indian Express

  • “M-Sand Policy” a policy to promote manufactured sand

    Why in News?
    The Rajasthan government has brought a policy on manufactured sand (M-sand). It will provide an industry status to the units producing manufactured sand for construction work.

    It will reduce the dependence on riverbed sand.


    What is Manufactured Sand(M-Sand)?

    • Manufactured sand (M-Sand) is a substitute of river sand for concrete construction. It is produced by crushed hard granite stone.
    • The crushed sand is of cubical shape with rounded edges, washed and graded to as a construction material. The size of manufactured sand (M-Sand) is less than 4.75mm.

    Usage of Manufactured Sand

    • Due to the fast-growing construction industry, the demand for sand has increased tremendously causing deficiency of suitable river sand in most parts of the world.
    • Hence, to avoid the depletion of good quality river sand for the use of construction, the use of manufactured sand has been increased.

    Benefits of M-Sand:

    • It is easily available and has less transportation cost.
    • It does not contain organic and soluble compounds that affect the setting time and properties of cement, thus the required strength of concrete can be maintained.
    • M-Sand does not have the presence of impurities such as clay, dust and silt coatings which help in producing better quality concrete.
    • Furthermore, it can be dust-free and the sizes of m-sand can be controlled easily so that it meets the required grading for the given construction.
    • It eliminates the environmental impact that occurred due to the lifting of natural sand from the river bed.

    Source: The Hindu

  • “Remote Voting Project” – Election Commission tries out new innovation

    Source: The Hindu

    Gs3: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

    Synopsis:  ECI is planning to implement a remote voting project. It must analyze the issues of the system before its implementation.

    Remote Voting Project

    • Recently, the Chief Election Commissioner  (Sunil Arora)  announced that it is starting trials of a “remote voting project”.
    • IIT-Madras is developing the system for the “Remote Voting Project” by using  Blockchain technology.
    • The concept of remote voting became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic to address social distancing.

    Read MoreRemote Voting Project 

    How voting technology developed over time?

    Since the beginning, EC has been facing challenges in ensuring a fair and just voting system for the country. Over the years, it has introduced many changes for that.

    • In the initial phases, ECI  used the “paper balloting” method to conduct elections in India.
    • However, the “paper balloting” method was subjected to malpractices such as ballot stuffing and booth capturing.
    • Due to this weakness, ECI introduced  Electronic Voting Machine in India (EVM). EVMs are able to stand intense scrutiny, because of their standalone single-chip device. This device is not connected to any network.
    • Recently,  Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) are added to the EVMs. It enhanced the ability to verify the voting.

    Now, ECI has started trials in the “Remote Voting Project” that uses blockchain technology. This system will definitely face the same level of scrutiny, that faced by EVMs.

    How blockchain-based voting system work?

    • This technology has been already in use for cryptocurrencies. It is used to record a list of transactions that can be used to find out who owns which bitcoins without any centralized authority.
    • The blockchain method uses an online public bulletin board that is public and available for anyone to read and verify.
    • The voting authority will have to authenticate this bulletin board.
    • Further, The public bulletin board allows for a linear ordering of data that ensures only a user can add data.
    • This allows the users to sign in to the bulletin board using cryptographic signatures to register their votes in a ledger.
    • The blockchain-based voting system with its cryptographic features, promises data security and verifiability.

    What are the issues in using a blockchain-based voting system?

    • The use of blockchain-based voting systems will depend upon a network. It will also face all the online vulnerabilities that devices are facing at present.
    • Also, a  recent draft paper by MIT and Harvard researchers pointed to serious vulnerabilities in the designs of a remote block-chain-based voting system.
    • The research paper also claims that blockchains will introduce issues related to complexity and their management.

    The ECI should be cautious before deploying this method in elections.

  • COVID Vaccine and Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP), 2020

    Source: Click here

    Syllabus:  GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education and Human Resources.

    Synopsis: The hasty Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the two COVID-19 vaccines is against draft Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020. 


    Open Science principle is a global movement. It advocates steps against unethical practices such as fabrication and falsification of data, plagiarism, unethical authorship, etc.

    Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP), 2020

    The Government has prepared a draft of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) in December 2020 based on the principle of “Open Science”.

    To implement ‘Open Science’ principles, STIP, 2020 provides for the following provisions:

    1. First, creation of Open Science Framework: It will provide everyone with access to scientific data, information, knowledge, and resources. 
    2. Second, FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) terms: Under FAIR terms, all data of publicly funded research will be available to everyone.

    However, EUA to 2 vaccine candidates without efficacy data is not consistent with this policy of the government.

    ReadDST releases Draft 5th National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (

    What are the two first vaccine candidates?

    • First, Covishield: It is developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. It is manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute in India. The overall efficacy of the vaccine:

    Major concerns on this Vaccine are 1. Limited ethnicity data in the present trials and 2. The absence of results on elderly people above the age of 55.

    • Second, Covaxin: It is developed by Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). EUA was provided to vaccine while It was undergoing Phase III trials.

    Research on these vaccines was public-funded research. The ICMR funded the clinical trial site fees for Covishield and collaborated in the development of Covaxin. Thus, these vaccines fall under the scope of the draft STIP 2020. So all data on these vaccines must have been available publicly. 

    What are the implications of non-transparency?

    • First, It may result in erosion of public trust in science and scientist.
    • Second, It hampers the Self-critical and self-correcting nature of science. It includes scientists analysing the data available on new researches.

    Way Forward 

    The government should implement STIP 2020 on a priority basis. It should make the data across the different stages of COVID-19 vaccine research public on ICMR’s open access repository, the Department of Science and Technology, or other open access repositories identified by the CSIR.

  • Underwater study to determine origin of Ram Setu

    Why in News?

    Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) has approved an underwater research project to ascertain the origins of the Ram Setu.


    • About the study: The study will be conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) Goa.
    • Focus of the study:
      • To study the process behind Ram Setu’s formation. It will also look for any submerged habitations around the structure.
      • Ram Setu’s age will also be ascertained through the study of fossils and sedimentation.  It is to see if it correlates with the Ramayana period.
    • Research Vessel: The indigenous research vessel named Sindhu Sadhana will be deployed.  It will collect samples of sediment from 35-40 meters below the water level. The vessel can stay underwater for up to 45 days.

    Ram Sethu:

    • Ram Sethu is also known as Adam’s Bridge or Nala Sethu. It is a 48 km chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island known as Rameswaram Island on the coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island on the coast of Sri Lanka.
    • The bridge separates the Gulf of Mannar (south-west) from the Palk Strait (northeast).
    • The bridge holds religious significance. A bridge is mentioned in Ramayana, that Lord Ram and his army built to reach Lanka. The location of the Lanka of the Ramayana has been widely interpreted as being current day Sri Lanka and bridge as Ram Sethu.

    Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project:

    • It is a shipping canal project proposed by the UPA government in 2005. The project aims to link the Arabian Sea with the Bay of Bengal. For this, a channel passing through the limestone shoals of Ram Setu was to be dredged in the Sethusamudram sea between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.
    • However, the project was not implemented after opposition by environmental groups as well as by the BJP.  They said that the project would damage the Ram Setu.

    Source: Indian Express

  • India’s draft Arctic policy

    Why in News?

    Indian Government has presented the draft Arctic policy. The policy is open to public comments until January 26.

    • The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Ministry of Earth Sciences is the nodal agency for India’s Polar research programme, which includes Arctic studies. The Ministry of External Affairs provides the external interface to the Arctic Council.

    India’s Arctic Policy:

    Pillars of the Policy: India’s Arctic policy will rest on five pillars:

    • Science and research
    • Economic and human development cooperation
    • Transportation and connectivity
    • Governance and international cooperation
    • National capacity building

    Key Objectives:

    • To better understand the scientific and climate-related linkages between the Arctic and the Indian monsoons.
    • To promote domestic scientific research capacities by expanding earth sciences, biological sciences, geosciences, climate change and space-related programmes, dove-tailed with Arctic imperatives in Indian Universities.
    • To put in place Arctic-related programmes for mineral/oil and gas exploration in petroleum research institutes. It also aimed at encouraging tourism and hospitality sectors to engage with Arctic enterprises.

    Significance of Arctic Policy

    Other than the benefits related to oil and exploration, the Arctic influences tropical climate also. It has an impact on the atmospheric, oceanographic and biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.

    Loss of Ice-Caps at the Arctic will lower the Ocean salinity and increase the temperature differential between land and oceans in the tropical regions.

    The Study on the Arctic will also be helpful in studying melting rates of the third pole — the Himalayan glaciers.

    Additional Facts:

    India And The Arctic – A History Of Cooperation

    • India’s engagement with the Arctic began in 1920 when it signed the Svalbard Treaty in Paris.
    • In 2007, India launched its first scientific expedition to the Arctic.
    • In 2008, India had set up a research station ‘Himadri’ in the international Arctic research base at Ny-Ålesund in Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway. Himadri is manned for about 180 days a year.
    • IndArc, the country’s first multi-sensor moored observatory was deployed in Kongsfjorden in 2014. In 2016, India’s northernmost atmospheric laboratory was established at Gruvebadet.

    Arctic Council:

    • It was formally established in 1996 by The Ottawa Declaration. It is an intergovernmental forum for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction between the Arctic States.
    • Members: a) Canada b) Denmark, c) Finland d) Iceland e) Norway f) Russia g) Sweden and h) United States.
    • India: India has received the ‘Observer’ country status in the Arctic Council in 2013 and is one among the 13 countries across the world, including China, to have that position. The status was renewed in 2018.

    Source: The Hindu

  • Co-WIN platform upgraded 

    Why in News? 

    The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has announced the upgradation of Co-WIN software. It is to cater to more sessions per site and change in site location. 


    • CoWIN App: It is a digitalised platform by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) 
    • It allows Indian citizens to apply for a Covid-19 vaccine shot and helps agencies in keeping a track of Covid-19 vaccination programmes. 
    • Modules: The Co-WIN app comes with five modules namely –  
      • Administrator module: The admins will be able to track the information provided by citizens of India. They will also be responsible for creating sessions. By this app, respective vaccinators and managers will receive relevant notifications and alerts on the relevant information. 
      • Registration Module: Citizens who are not frontline health workers can register for the vaccine via the ‘Registration Module’. Photo identity will be required for registration. 
      • Vaccination module: It will verify the beneficiary details and update vaccination status.  
      • Beneficiary Acknowledgement Module: It will send SMS to beneficiaries and also generate QR-based certificates after one gets vaccinated.  
      • Report Module: It will prepare reports of how many vaccine sessions have been conducted, how many people have attended those, how many people have dropped out etc. 
    • What are the new features in the enhanced version? 
      • The enhanced version allows planning and scheduling the sessions for the entire week and works for the enhanced safety of the beneficiaries. These new features are being enabled in the vaccinator module. 

    Article Source

  •  DPIIT launches regulatory compliance portal 

    Why in News?  

    The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has launched a portal called “Regulatory Compliance Portal”. 

     About Regulatory Compliance Portal: 

    • Objective: Portal is aimed at minimizing the regulatory burden on businesses and citizens. For that, iwill act as a bridge between citizens, industries and the GovernmentIt will also act as a first-of-its-kind central online repository of all Central and State-level compliances.  
    • Key Features: 
      • All Central Ministries and States/UTs will rationalize and simplify their regulatory processes and remove burdensome compliances 
      • All such changes would be captured and updated on the Regulatory Compliance Portal.  
      • Industry stakeholders would also be able to submit compliances and proposed recommendations. This will be assessed by concerned Government authority and suitable action would be undertaken to minimize the regulatory compliance burden. 
    • Nodal Department: DPIIT will act as the nodal department for coordinating the exercise of minimizing regulatory compliance burden for citizens and businesses. 

    Article Source

  • BEE Launches SAATHEE Portal to Track State Energy Efficiency Targets

    News: Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE) has launched SATHEE Portal and Standards and Labelling Programme for Air Compressors and Ultra High Definition(UHD) TV during the 30th National Energy Conservation Awards(NECA).


    SATHEE Portal:

    • SAATHEE stands for State-wise Actions on Annual Targets and Headways on Energy Efficiency.
    • Purpose: It is a Management Information System (MIS) portal which will facilitate real-time monitoring of the progress of implementation of various Energy Conservation endeavours at State level.

    Standards and Labelling Programme for Air Compressors and Ultra High Definition(UHD) TV

    • It has been launched on a voluntary basis and the energy consumption standards will be effective from 01st January 2021.
    • This initiative is expected to save around 8.41 Billion Units of electricity for Air Compressors and 9.75 Billion Units for UHD TV till 2030.

    Additional Facts:

    Read Also :upsc syllabus pdf

    • Standards and Labelling Programme: It was launched in 2006 by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE).
    • Objective: To provide the consumer an informed choice about the energy-saving and thereby the cost-saving potential of the relevant marketed product.
    • Targets: The scheme targets display of energy performance labels on high energy end-use equipment & appliances and lays down minimum energy performance standards.
    • Appliances covered: Presently, the programme covers around 27 equipment/appliances including 10 for which it is mandatory.

    Article Source


  • Science policy to boost journal access

    News: The Government of India has released the Draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020.


    • Prepared by: The policy is initiated jointly by the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (Office of PSA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
    • Aim: The policy aims to reorient Science Technology & Innovation (STI) in terms of priorities, sectoral focus and strategies.

    Why India needs a new STI Policy now?

    • Since 2013 when the last policy was formulated, India made some unprecedented progress in STI.
    • STI in India is undergoing rapid transformation in recent years in terms of relevance, scope and scale
    • COVID-19 is likely to have short and medium term impact on STI Resources, Strategies and Priorities
    • Prime Minister gave a clarion call for achieving a “Atmanirbhar Bharat” that might need greater focus on development of indigenous technologies and encouragement to grass root level innovation
    • Rise of disruptive and impactful technologies and challenges, opportunities
    • Strongly connecting S&T to Innovation, Industry and Society

    India’s Progress in STI in Recent Years:

    • India’s Gross Expenditure on R&D(GERD) has increased by more than 3 times during last 10 years
    • India’s per capita R&D expenditure at PPP got doubled in last 10 years
    • India is ranked at 3rd Position in terms of no of publications in SCI journals (5th in 2014)
    • Women participation in R&D got doubled in last 6 years
    • India is the 3rd Largest Higher Education System of the world. It is positioned 3rd in terms of No of Startups (~32,000) and ranked 9th rank in terms of Resident Patent filing.
    • India is ranked 48th in terms of Global Innovation Index (from 81st position in 2015).
    • India has moved up by 79 places in the last 6 years in its World Bank Global Ranking in Ease of Doing Business (from 142nd to 63rd).

    Key Features of the STIP Policy:

    Open Science

    • A National STI Observatory as a central repository for all kinds of data related to and generated from the STI ecosystem
    • INDSTA (Indian Science and Technology Archive of Research) – a dedicated portal to provide access to the outputs of all publicly-funded research (including manuscripts, research data, supplementary information, research protocols, review articles, conference proceedings, monographs, book chapters, etc.).
    • Open Data Policy for Publicly Funded Research – All data used in and generated from public-funded research will be available to everyone under FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) terms.
    • One Nation, One Subscription: The Government will negotiate with journal publishers for a “one nation, one subscription” policy whereby, in return for one centrally-negotiated payment, all individuals in India will have access to journal articles.

    Capacity Development

    • Research Excellence Framework for HEIs in India(REFI) will be evolved for research assessment to secure the continuation of a holistic, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within India’s higher education ecosystem.
    • Creation of ‘Engaged Universities’ to the needs of the community by conducting interdisciplinary projects involving scientific and technological and social science-based interventions.
    • Innovation and Entrepreneurship centres will be established at regional levels in a collaborative approach with the participation of local Academic and R&D institutions, industries, MSMEs, Startups, etc.

    Financing STI

    • Expansion of the STI Funding Landscape: Each department/ministry in the central, the state and the local governments, public sector enterprises, private sector companies and startups to set up an STI unit with a minimum earmarked budget to pursue STI activities.
    • Each State to earmark a percentage of the state allocation for STI-related activities under a separate budget head.
    • Foreign Multinational Companies (MNCs) – Partnerships and collaborations with domestic private (SMEs and start-ups) and public sectors entities (HEIs and research organizations) to work on projects aligned to national needs and priorities.
    • Incentivisation for STI investments: Boosting fiscal incentives for industries investing in STI through incremental R&D based tax incentives, tax credit for investing in facilities for commercialization, tax holidays, tax waivers, target-based tax incentive for specific domains, tax deduction, expatriate tax regimes, remodeling of patent box regime etc.


    • Joint appointments across government, academia and industry at both the national and the international levels will be facilitated to attract the best talent into the research ecosystem.
    • Research solutions should address solutions for different regions/ socio-economic strata including a focus on rural problems in the country.
    • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: An institutional architecture for integrating traditional knowledge systems (TKS) and grassroots innovation into the overall education, research and innovation system.

    Technology Development and Indigenization

    • Indigenous Development of Technology: Indigenous technologies will be promoted even if better technologies exist internationally. Key products or components imported by Indian companies for their manufacturing plants will be identified and a provision will be made to fund such product-based R&D with industry-academia collaborations
    • Technology indigenization: To strengthen India’s local R&D capabilities in the production of technologies that are largely being imported, infrastructure will be set up and existing mechanisms will be strengthened to adapt existing technologies to suit the local needs.
    • Sustainable Technology Push: Policy push for development and deployment of sustainable technologies to address major socio-economic challenges and changing aspirations of the people.
    • Set up a Strategic Technology Board(STB) to act as a connecting bridge between different strategic departments and to monitor and recommend technologies to be bought or indigenously made in the strategic departments or in private sector or in academic institutions in line with self- reliant India.
    • Set up a Strategic Technology Development Fund(STDF) to encourage the private sector and HEIs to develop strategic technologies. STDF to be managed by the independent body STB to avoid conflict of interest.

    Equity and Inclusion

    • Institutionalising Equity and Inclusion: An Indian Centric E&I Charter will be developed for tackling discriminations in STI, based on gender, caste, geography, language, disability and other exclusions and inequalities.
    • Ageism-related issues and minimisation of career breaks are to be addressed for effective retention of trained women into the STI workforce. In this case, all professional career milestones, such as recruitment, awards and funding schemes, age cut-offs will be implemented considering academic age rather than biological/physical age.

    Science Communication and Public Engagement

    • Capacity Building and Research: Creative and cross-disciplinary platforms of Science Communication will be promoted to enable dialogue and knowledge transfer between researchers, science communicators and the public.
    • Community-centric programmes and regional science centres will be encouraged to promote science communication in regional languages with local and hyper-local contexts for last-mile connectivity.
    • Mainstreaming Science Communication: Every public-funded institution and department will have a dedicated wing set-up for science communication and public engagement in STI-related activities.

    International STI Engagement

    • Engagement with Diaspora: Fellowships and internships schemes and research opportunities in India will be expanded and widely promoted across different ministries to attract diaspora.An engagement portal exclusively for Indian scientific diaspora will be created (e.g, Pravasi Bharatiya Academic and Scientific Sampark- PRABHAS).
    • Proactive STI Diplomacy Strategy: International Knowledge Centres, preferably Virtual, will be established to promote global knowledge and talent exchange by creating avenues such as visiting fellowships, joint research schemes, training programmes, invited lectures etc.

    STI Governance

    • An inter-sectoral, inter-ministerial national level STI Governance mechanism will be set up at the highest level, for building synergy and improving coordination among various ministries/ departments/ organizations to strengthen the national STI ecosystem.
    • Standardized Research and Innovation Excellence Frameworks (RIEF) based on international benchmarks, will be formulated to ensure cohesive and transparent evaluation of all kinds of research and innovation.
    • A suitable metric will be developed to evaluate and recognize the outcome and impact of research activities with respect to its direct relevance to Indian needs, while continuing to maintain international comparability.
    • An STI Policy Institute with a strong national and international connect, will be established with a mandate to serve all aspects of STI policy governance.

    Article Source

  • World’s largest floating solar energy project in Omkareshwar Dam

    News: The Government of India has announced the construction of the World’s largest floating solar energy project.


    • Floating Solar Energy Project: The world’s largest floating 600 MW solar energy project is to be constructed at Omkareshwar dam on Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh.
    • Funding: The International Finance Corporation, World Bank and Power Grid have granted in-principle consent for providing aid for the project development.
    • Completion of Project: The project is likely to begin power generation by year 2022-23.
    • Key Features of the Project:
        • The project is to have floating solar panels of 600 megawatts of power generation capacity.
        • The solar panels are to be installed over the backwaters of the Omkareshwar Dam.
        • Solar panels will float on the surface of the water in the reservoir. It will automatically adjust upward and downward based on the water level of the Dam. The floods and strong waves will not have any effect on the solar panels.

    Additional Facts:

    • Floating solar: It refers to a solar power production installation mounted on a structure that floats on a body of water, typically an artificial basin or a lake.
    • Types: Two types of Floating Solar can be distinguished:
        • FPV or Floating photovoltaic, that uses photovoltaic panels mounted on the platform
        • Floating Concentrated solar power that uses mirrors that redirect the solar power to a tower.
    • Advantages: a) No land Occupancy b) Higher efficiency than ground mounted solar systems c) Helps in reducing water evaporation among others.

    Article Source

  • Government launched virtual toy hackathon ‘Toycathon 2021’

    News: Union Education Minister and Union Minister for Textiles and Women & Child Development jointly launched the Toycathon 2021.


    • Toycathon 2021: It’s a kind of hackathon for the toy industry. It has been organized by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), Ministry of Textile, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Ministry of MSME, Ministry of I&B and All India Council for Technical Education(AICTE).
    • Aim: To conceptualize innovative toys based on the Indian value system which will inculcate the positive behavior and good value among the children.
    • Themes: It is based on nine themes viz. Indian Culture, History, Knowledge of India and Ethos; Learning, Education and Schooling; Social and human values; Occupations & specific fields; Environment; Divyang ; Fitness and sport; Out of the box, creative and logical thinking and Rediscovering/redesigning traditional Indian toys.

    Why is Toycathon being organized?

    • Toycathon is being organized to develop India as the global Toy manufacturing hub.
    • India is home to 25% of global children belongs to the age group of 0 to 12 years.
    • India is home to several toy clusters and thousands of artisans produce indigenous toys which not only have cultural connect but also helps in building life-skills and psychomotor skills among children especially at an early age.
    • India’s share in the global toy market is estimated to be at $90 billion, which is just 0.5 per cent of the global share. Apart from that 80 per cent of the toys sold in India are imported from China.

    Article Source

  • Government kicking off Seaplane Services on selected Routes

    News: Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways has announced that it has kickstarted the process of commencing operations of the Seaplane services on select routes.


    Seaplane Services

    • What is Seaplane? Seaplanes are typically fixed-wing aircraft with a much fewer number of seats and can take off from and land on water.
    • How will it work? Sea Planes will utilize the nearby water bodies for take-off and landing and thus connect those places in a much economical way as conventional airport infrastructure like a runway and terminal buildings are not required for seaplane operations.
    • Implementation: The services will be under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) framework through potential airline operators and will be executed and implemented through Sagarmala Development Company Ltd (SDCL), which is under the administrative control of the Ministry.
    • Proposed Locations for Seaplane Services: The proposed Seaplane Services under Hub and Spoke model include islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep, Guwahati Riverfront & Umranso Reservoir in Assam, Yamuna Riverfront / Delhi (as Hub) to Ayodhaya, Srinagar (Uttrakhand), Chandigarh and many other tourist places of Punjab & HP; Mumbai (as Hub) to Shirdi among others.
    • Is there any operation Seaplane Service? One Seaplane Service which is already in operation between Kevadia and Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in October 2020.
    • Significance:
      • Seaplane Service will provide air connectivity to various remote religious/tourist places.
      • It will save travel time and stimulate localized short distance travelling especially in the hilly regions or across the rivers/lakes as well as boost tourism and business activities.
      • It will generate employment opportunities and stimulate tourism in these new locations, which will consequently contribute to the country’s GDP in the long run.

    Read  more:-Daily current affairs

  • India launches 40th Scientific expedition to Antarctica

    News: India has launched the 40th scientific expedition to Antarctica. This Indian expedition marks four decades of the country’s scientific endeavour to the Antarctica.


    • India’s Antarctic Expeditions: The Indian Antarctic expeditions began in 1981.The first trip consisted of a team of 21 scientists and support staff led by Dr SZ Qasim.
    • Research Base Stations: Indian Antarctic programme has built three permanent research base stations in Antarctica—named Dakshin Gangotri, Maitri, and Bharati. Currently, India has two operational research stations in Antarctica named Maitri and Bharati.
    • Nodal agency: The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) manages the entire Indian Antarctic program.

    40th Antarctic Expedition:

    • The 40th expedition journey will be flagged off from Goa.The chartered ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin will make this journey and will reach Antarctica.
    • Focus: The focus is to support the ongoing scientific projects on climate change, geology, ocean observations, electric and magnetic flux measurements, environmental monitoring; resupplying of food, fuel, provisions and spare; and accomplishing the return of the winter crew.
    • The expedition will duly follow all protocols for the deployment of men and material as per Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP).

    Additional Facts:

    Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs(COMNAP):

    • It is an international association formed in 1988, which brings together the National Antarctic Programs.
      • National Antarctic Programs are those organizations that have responsibility for delivering and supporting scientific research in the Antarctic Treaty Area on behalf of their governments.
    • Primary Function: To exchange practical, operational information to help all National Programs fulfill their various missions, together or independently.
    • Secretariat: Christchurch, New Zealand.

    Read  more:-current affairs for UPSC 

    National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research(NCPOR):

    • Former Name: It wasformerly known as the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research(NCAOR).
    • Ministry: It is an autonomous Institution of the Department of Ocean Development (DOD), Ministry of Earth Sciences.
    • Purpose: It is responsible for administering the Indian Antarctic Programme and maintains the Indian government’s Antarctic research stations, Bharati and Maitri.
    • Situated in: Goa

    Article source

  • PM Modi inaugurates National Metrology Conclave 2021

    News: The Prime Minister has inaugurated the National Metrology Conclave through video conferencing.


    • National Metrology Conclave: It is organized by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) which is entering into its 75th year of inception.
    • Theme: ‘Metrology for the Inclusive Growth of the Nation’.

    Key Highlights of the PM’s Address:

    • India has broken into the top 50 of the Global Innovation Ranking.
    • India ranks 3rd in peer-reviewed science and engineering publications which shows an emphasis on basic research.
    • Historically, any country has progressed in direct correlation to its effort to promote science. He termed this ‘value creation cycle’ of Science, Technology, and Industry.
      • Value Creation Cycle: Under this, the scientific invention creates technology and technology leads to industry development. Industry, in turn, invests further in science for new research. This cycle keeps on taking us in the direction of new possibilities.

    Read  more:-Daily current affairs

    Key Initiatives launched at Conclave:

    • National Atomic Timescale: It will create the Indian Standard Time with 2.8 nanoseconds of accuracy. Hence, from now on Indian Standard Time is matching the International Standard Time with an accuracy range of less than 3 nanoseconds.
    • Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya: It is a laboratory that would help the industry to make quality products in sectors like Heavy metals, Pesticides, Pharma, and Textiles by drafting a ‘Certified Reference Material System’.
    • National Environmental Standards Laboratory: It will aid self-reliance in the certification of ambient air and industrial emission monitoring equipment.

    Article source

  • FSSAI slashes limit for trans fat levels in foods

    News: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has capped the amount of trans fatty acids(TFA) levels in Food.


    • What are the new limits? It has capped the amount of trans fatty acids (TFA) in oils and fats to 3% for 2021 and 2% by 2022 from the current permissible limit of 5% through an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations.
    • Applies to: The revised regulation applies to edible refined oils, vanaspati (partially hydrogenated oils), margarine, bakery shortenings and other mediums of cooking such as vegetable fat spreads and mixed fat spreads.
    • What was the need of these regulations? These regulations come at the time of a pandemic where the burden of non-communicable diseases has risen.Cardiovascular diseases along with diabetes, are proving fatal for COVID-19 patients.

    Additional Facts:

    • What are Trans fatty acids(TFAs) or Trans fats? These are unsaturated types of fats which have adverse effects on our body. These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally.
    • Types of Trans fats:
      • Naturally-occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats.
      • Artificial trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Since they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time, and give foods a desirable taste and texture, they are still widely used despite their harmful effects being well-known.
    • Harmful Effects of Trans Fats:
      • Trans Fats are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and death from coronary heart disease.
      • Trans fats not only increases bad cholesterol but also decrease the good cholesterol level in our body.
      • According to the World Health Organization, approximately 5.4 lakh deaths take place each year globally because of the intake of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids.
      • The WHO has also called for the global elimination of trans fats by 2023.

    Article Source

    Read about FSSAI and functions

  • DST releases Draft 5th National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy for public consultation

    News: The draft of the 5th National Science, Technology and Innovation(STI) Policy has been finalized and is now available for public consultation.


    Vision of the Policy: The Science, Technology and Innovation Policy will be guided by the following broad vision;

    • To achieve technological self-reliance and position for India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade to come.
    • To attract, nurture, strengthen and retain critical human capital through a ‘people-centric’ science, technology and innovation (STI) ecosystem.
    • To double the number of Full-Time Equivalents (FTE) researchers, Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD) and private sector contribution to the GERD every 5 years.
    • To build individual and institutional excellence in STI with the aspiration to achieve the highest level of global recognitions and awards in the coming decade.
    • Read Also:-CURRENT AFFAIRS 2020

      Key Features of the Policy:
    • Open Science Framework: A future-looking, all-encompassing One Nation, One Subscription’ is proposed as part of a new Open Science Framework that will ensure free access to scientific data for all.
    • National STI Laboratory: The policy suggests the establishment of a National STI Observatory that will act as a central repository for all kinds of data related to and generated from the STI ecosystem.
      • From this Observatory, all data and information related to publicly-funded research would be made freely accessible to everyone under FAIR (Fair, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) terms.
    • Improve STI Education: Strategies to improve STI education making it inclusive at all levels and more connected with the economy and society will be developed through processes of skill building, training and infrastructure development.
    • STI Funding: With an aim to expand the financial landscape of the STI ecosystem, each department/ ministry in the central, the state and the local governments, public sector enterprises, private sector companies and startups will set up an STI unit with a minimum earmarked budget to pursue STI activities.
    • Research in STI: Research and Innovation Excellence Frameworks (RIEF) will be developed to enhance the quality of research along with promotion of engagements with relevant stakeholders.
    • Self Reliance in STI: A two-way approach of technology self-reliance and indigenization will be adopted and focused upon in alignment with national priorities like sustainability and social benefit and resources to achieve the larger goal of “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
    • Establishment of Strategy Technology Board: The policy proposes the establishment of a Strategic Technology Board that will bridge all strategic government departments and monitor and recommend technologies to be bought or indigenously made.
    • Equity and Inclusion in STI: An India-centric Equity & Inclusion(E&I) charter will be developed for tackling all forms of discrimination, exclusions and inequalities in STI leading to the development of an institutional mechanism.

    Article source

  • Niti Aayog launches made-in India cloud storage service — DigiBoxx

    Source: Times Now

    News: Niti Aayog has launched a cloud storage service called DigiBoxx as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.


    • Digiboxx: It is India’s first indigenous digital file storage and sharing platform that provides an easy and secure way to store all the files in one centralised location.
    • Key Features:
      • Like Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud service, DigiBoxx will enable both individuals and enterprises to store, manage, collaborate, organise and share all their data online.
      • For Individuals the free Digiboxx offers 20GB of storage, a 2GB maximum file size, Gmail integration, and unlimited external collaborations, while the monthly plan comes with up to 5TB of storage and 10GB max file size.
      • For SMEs there is an 999 plan that provides up to 50TB storage with 10GB max file size, unlimited external collaborations, advanced real-time collaboration, web preview, automated backups, user management and Gmail integration. Additionally, for enterprises, there is a customised solution.
      • DigiBoxx is said to be hosted on an Indian server which means the data will be saved and encrypted in India itself.
      • DigiBoxx is available on the web and Android as of now with iOS support arriving soon
  • CoWIN Grand challenge, CoWIN platform and CoWIN App

    Source: PIB

    News: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has announced its grand challenge for “CoWIN app”.


    • Aim: To strengthen the COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (CoWIN) system.
    • Eligibility: Indian tech startups, MSMEs, companies and Limited Liability Partnerships(LLPs) registered in India under Companies Act can apply. Further, teams not registered as companies or startups or MSMEs can also participate in the challenge.
    • Areas of Focus: The MoHFW has identified seven areas to focus on- 1) High Adherence rate; 2) Portability across India; 3) Vaccine Transportation; 4) Queue management; 5) Report adverse event following immunisation and adverse event of special interest; 6) Learning Management System; and 7) Logistic Management Information System.

    Additional Facts:

    • What is CoWIN Platform?
      CoWIN: It is a digitalised platform launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to help agencies keep a track of Covid-19 vaccination programme and allow Indian citizens to apply for a Covid-19 vaccine shot.
    • What is CoWIN-20 app?
      • Government developed an app as part of CoWIN platform named CoWIN-20. for real-time monitoring of Covid-19 Vaccine.
      • The main feature of the app is that it will send real-time data from the cold-storage facilities that store Covid-19 vaccines. This is an extension of eVIN (Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network)
      • Modules: The app is divided into five modules.These are administrator module, registration module, vaccination module, beneficiary acknowledgement module and report module.
        For example, a front line worker like Health care worker can register themselves in app using the “registration module”. After the registration is done the “beneficiary acknowledgement module” will send an acknowledgement to the person
      • Beneficiary Acknowledgement module will provide QR based Certificate once the person is vaccinated.
  • Vigyan Yatra

    Source: Click here

    News: Indian Association of the Cultivation of Science(IACS), Kolkata has organised the Vigyan Yatra.


    • Vigyan Yatra: It is a promotional activity undertaken as part of India International Science Festival(IISF) to promote scientific temper and inculcate the culture of science among the masses.

    Additional Facts:

    • IISF: It is a festival launched in 2015 to promote Science and Technology and demonstrate how science could lead India towards a developed nation within a short span of time.
      • Organized by: Ministry of Science & Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences in association with Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) organizes IISF every year.
      • Theme for 2020: Science for Self Reliant India and Global Welfare”.
  • PM-WANI: Revolutionise the way India accesses the internet

    Context: PM-WANI has the potential to revolutionise the way India accesses the internet.

    What are the key features of Pradhan Mantri Wireless Access Network Interface (PM-WANI)?

    • Bring large scale deployment of Wi-Fi hotspots through the country to drive up connectivity options and improve digital access.
    • The scheme envisages setting up of public Wi-Fi networks and access points by local Kirana and neighbourhood shops through public data offices (PDO will be set up on the lines of Public Call Offices (PCOs)) that will not involve any licence, fee or registration.

    What are the needs of PM-WANI?

    • To create value for the consumer.
    • To quickly reach countrymen in the remotest areas.
    • India’s tele-density of landlines never exceeded 7 per 100 people but due to mobile it exceeded to 90 per 100 people.
    • India grew from 302 million internet subscribers to 750 million.
    • India is one of the fastest growing internet markets in the world.
    • To deliver a resilient and reliable connection to every Indian and reliable access everywhere.
    • Despite excellent advances in 4G technology, wired connections still offer superior quality, reliability and throughput.

    How PM-Wani can revolutionise access to internet?

    • UPI created common payments infrastructure that unbundled whose app you use to pay from which bank your money was in.
    • This resulted in 3 Cs — greater convenience, higher confidence and lower costs.
    • PM-WANI unbundles whose wired connection you use from who you pay to use that connection.
    • It allows them to interoperate and focus on connecting the last user. It is built on unbundling three as — access, authorisation and accounting.

    What are the dimensions along which PM-WANI has broken away from the past?

    • PM-WANI has liberalised the resale of bandwidth. Earlier only licensed players could become Internet Service Providers and resell bandwidth.
    • This has led to the top 5 ISPs owning 75 per cent of the volume of all wired subscribers.
    • PM-WANI allows anyone — a kirana shop owner, a tea-stall vendor, or a Common Service Centre to resell internet to its customers without a licence and without fees.
    • By installing a wireless router, they can get on the PM-WANI network and start selling connectivity.
    • These small vendors will be called Public Data Offices (PDOs), in a deliberate hark back to the Public Call Offices of yore.
    • Due to this deregulation, the distribution of endpoints of PM-WANI will be selected by entrepreneurs rather than being decided top-down.

    How PM-WANI is forward-looking in its design?

    • Presence of robust identity infrastructure in the form of Aadhaar and DigiLocker. It will help to authenticate its users.
    • This architecture also allows a central data balance and central KYC, that users can use inter-operably across all PDOs.
    • The network operators then settle accounting between them, much like how telecom operators settle call termination charges.
    • Indians can log in once and enjoy access on all available WiFi networks.
    • It also allows international travellers to take advantage of India’s connectivity, without paying exorbitant roaming charges to their home networks.
  • India Post Payments Bank launches its digital payments services ‘DakPay’

    Source: Click here

    News: Department of Posts (DoP) and India Post Payments Bank(IPPB) has unveiled a new digital payment app ‘DakPay’.


    • DakPay: To facilitate easy digital transactions and other banking services through the trusted Postal (‘Dak’) network across the nation to cater to the financial needs(‘Pay’) of various sections of the society.
    • Significance: The App is launched as part of its ongoing efforts to provide Digital Financial inclusion at the last mile across India.

    Additional Facts:

    small banks

    • India Post Payments Bank(IPPB): It has been established in 2018;under the Department of Posts, Ministry of Communication with 100% equity owned by Government of India.
      • Mandate: To remove barriers for the unbanked & underbanked and reach the last mile leveraging the Postal network.
  • Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility(APVAX)

    News: Asian Development Bank(ADB) has launched a $9 billion vaccine initiative—the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX).


    • Aim: To offer rapid and equitable support to its developing members as they procure and deliver effective and safe coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.
    • Criteria: If a country has to obtain finances under APVAX, then it should fulfil one of the three criteria:
      • It must be procured through COVAX.
      • It should be prequalified by World Health Organization
      • It should be authorised by a stringent regulatory authority.

    Additional Facts:

    • COVAX: It is an alliance co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations(CEPI) and WHO.It aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
    • Asian Development Bank(ADB): It is a regional development bank established in 1966 to promote social and economic development in Asia.
      • Members: 68 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
      • Headquarters: Manila, Philippines.
  • 2nd Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) 2020 Conference

    Source: Click here

    News: Minister of Science and Technology has virtually inaugurated the 2nd TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas) 2020 Conference.


    • About the conference: The Conference brings together scientists and clinicians from across the globe to build Indian Cancer Genome Atlas (ICGA).
    • Indian Cancer Genome Atlas(ICGA): It has been initiated by a consortium of key stakeholders in India led by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR), Government of India.
      • Aim: To create indigenous, open-source and comprehensive database of molecular profiles of all cancers prevalent in Indian population to better understand the underlying factors patient by patient.
    • The Cancer Genome Atlas(TCGA): It is a landmark cancer genomics program that molecularly characterized over 20,000 primary cancers and matched normal samples spanning 33 cancer types.
      • It is a joint effort between the US- National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute began in 2006 bringing together researchers from diverse disciplines and multiple institutions.

    Additional Facts:

    • IndiGen Genome Project: It is being implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB),Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB),Hyderabad.
      • Aim: To undertake whole genome sequencing of thousands of individuals representing diverse ethnic groups from India.
    • Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes(PCAWG): It is an international collaboration of the International Cancer Genome Consortium and The Cancer Genome Atlas(TCGA).
      • Purpose: The project revealed the most comprehensive gene map of the genes whose departures from normal behaviour — mutations — trigger a cascade of genetic misbehaviours that eventually lead to cancer.
  • Women in science

    Context: The new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy is currently being drafted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST)

    More on news: 

    • Its aim will be to increase the participation of women in science.
    • The DST will incorporate a system of grading institutes depending on the enrolment of women and the advancement of the careers of women faculty and scientists.
    What is Athena SWAN?
    • The Athena SWAN Charter: It is an evaluation and accreditation programme in the UK enhancing gender equity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).
    • Function:Participating research organisations and academic institutions are required to analyse data on gender equity and develop action plans for improvement. The programme recognises such efforts with bronze, silver or gold accreditation.
    • Institutions that sign up commit to:
    • Addressing unequal gender representation.
    • Tackling the gender pay gap.
    • Removing the obstacles faced by women in career development and progression.
    • Discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people.
    • Gender balance of committees and zero tolerance for bullying and sexual harassment.
    How well has it worked? 
    • In 2019, a report by Ortus Economic Research:In partnership with Loughborough University found that 93% of participants believed the programme had a positive impact on gender issues.
    • 78% said it had impacted equality and diversity issues positively, and 78% noted a positive impact on the career progression of women.
    • A study in BMJ: It found that in the five-year period since the scheme was started, participating institutions had a higher number of female leaders than non-Athena institutions, and gender diversity in leadership positions also improved.
    Why does India need such a programme?
    • GATI: In India, it will be called GATI (Gender Advancement through Transforming Institutions). India is ranked 108 out of 149 countries in the 2018 Global Gender Gap report.
    • According to DST figures: In 2015-16, the share of women involved in scientific research and development was 14.71%.
    • The DST has also found that women are either not promoted, or very often drop out mid-career to attend to their families.
    What are the challenges ahead? 
    • Institutions lack control:To get as many institutions as possible to sign up, the DST will need to manoeuvre around government red tape as most universities, barring the IITs and NITs, are run and funded by the government as well.
    • This means that these institutions don’t have direct control over institutional policies, recruitment and promotions.
    What are the steps of DST towards ensuring gender equity?
    • Gender equity:The DST has tied up with National Assessment and Accreditation Council, under the UGC, aiming to push gender equity through them.
    • Gender sensitisation: The DST plans to run intensive gender sensitisation programmes, especially for the top leadership of institutions, and work within existing rules such as pushing for women members on selection committees during recruitment processes.
    • Policy changes: In the future, the DST is likely to consider policy changes such as those brought about in the UK providing financial incentives through grants to institutes.
    Way forward
    • For the pilot, 25 institutes will be shortlisted to carry out self-assessment on gender equity in their departments. The British Council is assisting the DST and will facilitate collaboration between selected institutions under GATI with Athena SWAN-accredited institutions in the UK, with each institute here having a partner institute in the UK for guidance.

    [Answered] What is Citizen Charter? Discuss it’s purpose and effectiveness in India?

  • Digital nation: On delivery of citizen services

    Context: The true measure of digitalisation would be smooth delivery of all citizen services.

    Analyse the development of India as a digital nation.

    • Measure of digital nation: The true measure of digital nation is the readiness of governments to use technology to create open, participatory public systems that citizens consider trustworthy.
    • Result of internet access: Affordable smartphones and Internet access have made India a digital nation with an estimated 750 million connections and a thriving financial technology sector.
    • Digital platforms in Covid-19: Digital platforms providing goods and services, including online education and telemedicine, have grown vigorously during the COVID-19 pandemic, while many professionals have maintained productivity by working from home.
    • Schemes and services: Government-to-citizen services using Common Service Centres for:
    • Advice to agriculturists.
    • Digital payments of welfare benefits through bank accounts.
    • Online legal advice to four lakh people under the Tele-Law scheme.

    Discuss the sectors which has potential for developing India’s digital governance.

    • Digital method in road safety: If digital methods were applied to other sectors, such as road safety, the results could be dramatic as it can potentially reduce the accident mortality rate of about 1,50,000 deaths a year.
    • Technology in social sectors: Enhanced adoption of technology in health and education;
      • The nucleus plan is Ayushman Bharat, with a digital health identity for all.
      • It should be possible to achieve measurable progress early on at least on one UHC component such as access to free, essential prescription drugs.
    • Issuing a digital health ID: A digital health ID would help prescribe and dispense essential medicines free.
    • The Planning Commission estimated that the public procurement cost for this, in 2011, would be 0.1% to 0.5% of GDP
    • Transformation of internal process:  Efficient digital government depends on transforming internal processes, and fixing deadlines for service delivery.

    Way forward

    • If digital has to become a way of life, redefining the complex functioning of citizen-centric services would be a good place to start, with deadlines for government departments.
    • Governance must achieve is a reliable system of digital welfare.

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