Scientific and Technological Developments
25- SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS
THE Department of Science and Technology (DST) functions as the nodal agency to connect the science and technology sector to Government verticals. DST provides the largest extramural research and development support in the country to strengthen national S&T capacity and capability through a competitive mode to scientists cutting across institutions and disciplines. This strategically
important function mutually reinforces outcomes of our country’s educational, scientific, and industrial R&D initiatives and helps transform the S&T landscape of the country.
Department of Science and Technology
Some of the important domains in which the Department devotes its attention are:
- Strengthening the pool of scientists and technologists for carrying out globally competitive R&D in cutting edge areas of science
- Nurturing R&D institutions and building infrastructural facilities for enhancing the global ranking of India in scientific research
- Support for the establishment of multi-stakeholder mechanisms for partnerships for promoting science
- Developing the capacity of institutions and industry for technology commercialization for solving national challenges
- Providing S&T inputs to society for its socio-economic benefits
Science, Technology and Innovation Policy
- The new Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy unveiled in 2013 includes a thrust for innovations in science and technology sector.
- Science, research and innovation system for high technology led a path for India (SRISHTI) is the main policy goal.
- Integration of science, research and innovation systems and the emergence of India as one of the top five of six knowledge powers in science are expressed aspirations of the new STI policy.
- Five policy research centres in academic institutions have been established to develop and design new programmes and action plans for implementation in science, technology and innovation sector in the country.
Science and Engineering Research
- The research and development in frontier areas of science and engineering have received overwhelming support with the establishment of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB).
- Several new initiatives have been launched by the Board recently to reverse the brain drain at different stages of scientific careers such as Early Career Research Awards (ECRA) for young faculty for setting up laboratory facilities for quick launching of research by new faculty, around 300 candidates will be supported annually under ECRA.
Teachers’ Associates for Research Excellence (TARE) Mobility Scheme:
- The Scheme launched in 2016-17
- Aims: To facilitate mobility of faculty members working in a regular capacity in state universities/colleges/academic institutions such as IITs, IISc, IISERs, national labs, etc., located nearer to the institution where the faculty member is working.
- Provision of fellowship amount of ?5,000 per month, contingency grant of ?5 lakh per annum and overhead for a period of 3 years has been made.
Attracting Young Talent
- Innovation in science pursuit for inspired research (INSPIRE) is an ongoing initiative for attracting talent for science and research.
- About 3.67 lakh students in the age group of 10-15 have been provided INSPIRE awards during the last 3 years.
- Science camps are organised to provide an opportunity to class XI students pursuing science to interact with the science icons from India and abroad including Nobel Laureates to experience the joy of innovations.
- Around 40,000 students have been awarded a scholarship for higher education during the last three years.
- INSPIRE faculty awards are provided to post-doctoral researchers in the age group of 27-32 years through contractual and tenure positions for 5 years in basic and applied sciences.
- Faculty awards have been given to over 700 candidates awarded in the last four years.
Opportunities for Women Scientists
- Department of Science and Technology launched several initiatives for women in science under its flagship scheme namely KIRAN (Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing).
- Through this unique initiative, DST provides the opportunity to women scientists who had break in their career, primarily due to family reasons, to pursue research in physical and mathematical sciences, chemical sciences, life sciences, earth and atmospheric sciences and engineering technology.
Nano Science and Technology
- National Mission of Nano Science and Technology - an umbrella programme was launched in 2007 to promote R&D in this emerging area of research in a comprehensive fashion.
- Objectives: Basic research promotion, research infrastructure development, nano application and technology development, human resource development and international collaboration.
- National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) and National Mission for Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change (NMSKCC) launched under National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) are under implementation by the Department.
- As part of the deliverables of these national missions, six major research programmes have been initiated.
National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI):
- It has evolved as an umbrella scheme for a seamless innovation ecosystem booster.
- The specific components of NIDHI are:
- Grand challenge and competitions for scouting innovations
- Promotion and acceleration of young and aspiring innovators and startups (PRAYAS)
- Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) support system to reduce risk
- Startup-NIDHI through innovation and entrepreneurship development centres (IEDCs) in academic institutions for encouraging students to promote start-ups
- Technology business incubator (TBI) - converting innovations to startups
- Seed support system (SSS) - providing early-stage investment
- Centres of Excellence (COE) - a world-class facility to help startups go global and/or scale-up.
Survey of India
- Survey of India (SOI), the national survey and mapping organisation under the Ministry of Science and Technology, was set up in 1767.
- SOI has undertaken the creation of a digital cartographic database of topographical maps on various scales.
- The digital data is being used by various agencies for planning and GIS applications.
- It also undertakes large scale surveys for various developmental projects including hydro-electric, irrigation, command area, canal area, cantt. area schemes, etc.
- The Department is responsible to fix the external boundary of India, their depiction on maps published in the country and also advise on the demarcation of inter-state boundaries.
- The Survey of India also provides support to other countries e.g., Nigeria, Afghanistan, Kenya, Iraq, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Bhutan, Mauritius, etc., in the field of mapping, survey education, transfer of technology, and various other surveying technologies under bilateral arrangements.
- Under the UN mandate, Survey of India also provides support to countries in the Asia-Pacific region for capacity building in spatial data infrastructures.
- SOI is in the forefront of providing tidal information for the Indian Ocean by observing sea level data at various ports of India and other countries.
- These are crucial for scientific study in fields including climatology modelling, analysis of sea-level changes, predicting tsunami, etc. Besides, this is also an important input for sea navigation.
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
- The CSIR constituted in 1942 is an autonomous body which is known for its cutting edge R&D knowledge base in diverse S&T areas.
- Having pan-India presence, CSIR has a dynamic network of 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach centres, 3 innovation complexes and 5 units.
- Its R&D expertise and experience is embodied in about 4000 active scientists supported by about 7000 scientific and technical personnel.
- It covers a wide spectrum of science and technology—from radio and space physics, oceanography, earth sciences, geophysics, chemicals, drugs, genomics, biotechnology and nanotechnology to mining, aeronautics, instrumentation, environmental engineering and information technology.
- CSIR is the nation’s custodian for measurement standards of mass, distance, time, temperature, current, etc.
- It maintains the Microbial Type Culture Collection (MTCC) and Gene Bank.
- The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), established in 1954 is engaged in the development of nuclear power technology, applications of radiation technologies in the fields of agriculture, medicine, industry, and basic research.
- An integrated group of organizations, the department comprises five research centres, three industrial organisations, five public sector undertakings and three service organisations.
- DAE has wide-ranging capabilities in uranium mining and mineral processing, and is self-sufficient in the production of heavy water, zirconium alloy components and other materials and supplies, for pressurised heavy water reactor.
Heavy Water Board:
- The Heavy Water Board (HWB) has contributed successfully to the first stage of Nuclear Power Programme by producing heavy water for all pressurized heavy water reactors in a cost-effective manner enabling the Department to provide nuclear power at an affordable cost.
- Presently, the Board is not only self-sufficient in meeting the domestic demand of heavy water but is also geared up to supply heavy water for the future PHWRs and AHWRs as per the envisioned nuclear power programme of DAE.
- Over a period of time, HWB has emerged as the largest global producer and a trusted supplier of this strategic material.
Mineral Exploration and Mining:
- Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) continued the accelerated pace of exploration activities by integrated, multi-disciplinary methodology and judicious utilisation of manpower with a focussed approach on augmentation of uranium, thorium and rare metals.
- This resulted in the augmentation of additional uranium oxide reserve of over 15,775 tonnes in Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Jharkhand.
R&D Support to Power Sector:
- The research and development support to the Nuclear Power Programme is provided by the research centres of DAE.
Health Safety and Environment:
- Review of safety of operating stations was carried out on a regular basis.
- It continued to maintain low radiation exposure in the public domain due to the operation of nuclear power stations.
- At all operating stations of NPCIL certified Environmental Management System (EMS) as per (SO-14001: 2004 and Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) as per IS-18001: 2007 are maintained and regular audits (internal, external and management) were carried out for continual improvement.
Fast Breeder Reactors:
- For the second stage of the Nuclear Power Generation Programme, the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is pursuing the development of sodium-cooled fast breeder reactors and associated fuel cycle technologies.
- Breeder reactors produce more fuel than they consume.
Thorium Based Reactors:
- Nuclear power employing a closed fuel cycle is the only sustainable option for meeting a major part of the world energy demand.
- World resources of thorium are larger than those of uranium.
- Thorium, therefore is, widely viewed as the ‘fuel of the future’.
- The Indian Nuclear Power Programme Stage-3 aims at using thorium as fuel for power generation on a commercial scale.
Kalpakkam Mini (Kamini) Reactor:
- Kamini reactor was operated successfully for neutron radiography of various pyro devices for Department of Space.
- High-temperature fission chambers required for neutron flux measurement of PFBR were successfully tested.
- The research centres of DAE are engaged in developing advanced technologies such as accelerators, lasers, advanced materials, robotics, supercomputers, instrumentation and others.
- BARC, RRCAT, VECC and BRIT are also engaged in the development of radiation technologies and their applications for better crop varieties, techniques for crops protection, radiation-based post-harvest technologies, techniques for radio-diagnosis and radiotherapy of diseases particularly cancer.
Electronics & Instrumentation:
- The Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) continued to remain engaged in the design, development, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of electronic equipment for the atomic energy, defence, aerospace, security, information technology and e-governance sectors.
- A robot-based frameless stereotactic system is developed at BARC for performing neurosurgery which has the accuracy and patient comfort level comparable to the frame-based system.
- It automates the frameless stereotaxy using a high precision robot (Parallel Mechanism-based Robot).
Radioisotopes & Radiation Technology:
- DAE has been playing a significant role in the development and applications of various radioisotopes in healthcare, industry, agriculture and research.
- India is one of the leading countries in the is otope technology today as a result of the consistent efforts of DAE.
Indian Space Programme
- Space activities in the country were initiated with the setting up of Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962.
- In the same year, work on Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) near Thiruvananthapuram was also started.
- Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was established in August 1969.
- The Government of India constituted the space commission and established the Department of Space (DOS) in 1972 and brought ISRO under DOS in 1972.
- Space Commission formulates the policies and oversees the implementation of the Indian space programme to promote the development and application of space science and technology for the socio-economic benefit of the country.
- Antrix Corporation, established in 1992 as a government-owned company, markets the space products and services.
- India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV Mklll-M 1, successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into its planned orbit with a perigee (nearest point to earth) and an apogee (farthest point to earth) of 45,475 km.
- The launch took place from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.
- It comprised an orbiter, lander and rover to explore the unexplored south Pole of the moon.
- The mission was designed to expand the lunar scientific knowledge through a detailed study of topography, seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics of top soil and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere, leading to a new understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon.
- The successful launch of GSLV-MkIII D2, the second developmental flight of India’s most powerful launch vehicle was the highlight of 2018.
- Successful launch of GSLVF11 and four PSLV launches from Satish Dhawan Space Centre were also accomplished.
- ISRO could place five Indian satellites into the orbits.
- These included one earth observation satellite, three communication satellites and one navigation satellite.
- Pad Abort Test, which was conducted in July 2018 was one of the major milestones in proving critical technologies for Gaganyaan.
- One of the unique characteristics of the Indian space programme has been the application-oriented efforts and the benefits that have accrued to the country through these programmes.
- The social services from INSAT/GSAT systems in various areas of communication in addition to tele-education and telemedicine continued.
- Remote Sensing applications projects at national, state and local levels made significant progress through a well-established multi-pronged implementation architecture of National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) in the country.
- During the year, Indian Remote Sensing Satellite constellation helped in providing vital inputs in agricultural crops inventory, agricultural drought assessment, forest fire monitoring, effective use of groundwater prospects maps, and varieties of governance applications.
- The Disaster Management Support (DMS) Programme of ISRO is continuing to provide space-based inputs for the effective management of disasters in the country.
- The Decision Support Centre (DMSDSC), established at National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), is engaged in monitoring of natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, landslides, forest fires, etc.
- National Database for Emergency Management (NDEM) continued to provide disaster-related inputs for states/UTs with the multi-scale geo-spatial database.
- IRSO is a signatory of the International Charter for ‘Space and Major Disasters’, which aims at providing a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery to users affected by disasters.
- In 2017, ISRO supported 29 disasters across 22 counties by providing around 140 sets of IRS data.
Space Science and Planetary Research:
- Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), which is India’s first inter-planetary spacecraft mission, has successfully completed three years in its orbit around Mars and still continues to provide vital information on a regular basis.
- Scientific analysis of the data being received from the spacecraft is being done on various aspects of the planet.
- During the year, an orbit maneuver was also successfully performed on the spacecraft, which removed the danger of long period eclipse till 2021.
- AstroSat, India’s first multi-wavelength observatory, completed two years in orbit.
- International cooperation is an integral part of Indian space activities and ISRO continues to lay importance on bilateral and multilateral relations with space agencies and space-related bodies.
- ISRO signed cooperative agreements with the French, UAE, Japanese, US, Vietnamese, Afghanistan and Russian agencies as well the US Geological Survey.
- Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of the Department of Space, is marketing the Indian space products and services in the global market.
- Antrix offers a wide range of services from the space-based systems through specific commercial contracts with other agencies, including foreign customers.
- Earth system sciences deals with all the five components of the earth system, viz., atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere and biosphere and their complex interaction.
- The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) holistically addresses all the aspects relating the earth system science for providing weather, climate, ocean, coastal state, hydrological and seismological services.
- The services include forecasts and warnings for various natural disasters.
Earth System Science Organization:
- The Earth System Science Organization (ESSO) operates as an executive arm of the MoES for its policies and programmes.
- It provides overall direction for the centres/units and reviews the implementation of the programmes.
- The ESSO was established in 2007 as a virtual organization, bringing all meteorological and ocean development activities under one umbrella.
- It has four major branches of earth sciences:
- Ocean science and technology
- Atmospheric and climate science
- Geo-science and technology
- Polar science and cryo-sphere
- The organisation is primarily aimed to develop and improve the capability to forecast, weather, climate and hazard related phenomena for social, economic and environmental benefits.
- ESSO is also responsible for the development of technology towards the exploration and exploitation of marine resources in a sustainable way for the socio-economic benefit of the society.
- One of the mandates of ESSO is also to promote research in polar science of both Antarctic and Arctic regions to understand the various phenomenon and processes of these regions on global climate and weather, in particularly on the Indian Ocean.
Atmospheric and Climate Research:
- A high resolution global deterministic weather prediction model was commissioned for generating operational weather forecasts at a horizontal resolution of 12 km.
- With this, MoES has attained the same capability as in USA in using high-resolution weather prediction models.
- Under the Monsoon Mission, operational dynamical model systems have been implemented for extended range and seasonal forecasts.
- For the first time, forecasts on different time scales during the hot weather season (April to May) including heat waves were issued by the India Meteorological Department.
Agro-Meteorological Advisory Services:
- The Ministry in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) provides the Agromet Advisory Services (AAS) for the benefit of farmers.
- Farmers make use of these services for planning the operations like sowing, irrigation, application of fertilizer and pesticide, harvest and protection of crops from wather disasters.
- The services have been successfully extended to the district level and operated across 608 districts of the country.
- Currently, about 21.69 million farmers are receiving crop-specific agro-meteorological advisories in vernacular languages.
Forecasts for Heat and Cold Waves:
- To provide adequate warnings about heat waves and associated health hazards, MoES for the first time started issuing forecasts for heat waves over the country.
- A few state governments like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha have initiated state action plans based on these forecasts during the hot weather season, which could help them to warn people in advance about the occurrence of heat waves and thus saving their lives.
- A Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) for short and medium-range prediction at 12 km using 21 members of the model was commissioned in 2018.
- During 2018, six tropical cyclones against the normal frequency of 4.5 cyclones formed over the North Indian Ocean (NIO).
- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) appreciated IMD for tropical cyclone advisory services during :
- Cyclonic Storm Sagar over the Arabian Sea (16-21 May),
- Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Mekunu over the Arabian Sea (21-27 May),
- VSCS Luban (06- 15 October) and VSCS Titli (08th-13th October), which helped minimize the impact and saved many lives.
- A new early warning system of air quality in Delhi was developed in collaboration with the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), USA.
- The system will assimilate data from around 36 monitoring stations and satellite data on stubble burning and dust storms.
Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science:
- O-SMART, has been put in place for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20.
- The scheme encompasses 16 sub-projects addressing ocean development activities such as services, technology, resources, observations and science.
- Currently, five lakh fishermen are receiving this information daily through mobile which includes allocation of fish potential and local weather conditions in the coastal waters.
- Implementation of O-SMART will help in addressing issues relating to Sustainable Development Goal-14, which aims to conserve use of oceans, marine resources for sustainable development.
Atmospheric and Climate Research, Observations Science Services:
- Atmospheric and Climate Research, Observations Science Services (ACROSS) pertains to the atmospheric science programmes of the Ministry.
- To provide reliable weather and climate forecast for the betterment of society.
- Improving skill of weather and climate forecast through sustained observations, intensive R & D.
- It will be implemented by the Ministry through its institutes namely India Meteorological Department (IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service (INCOIS).
Ocean Services: Technology and Observations
Potential Fishery Zone (PFZ) Advisories
Tsunami Warning System
Open Cage Culture
Remotely Operated Vehicles
Polar and Cryosphere Research (PACER)
Seismology and Geoscience Research (SAGE)
Research, Education and Training Outreach Programme
- Realising the tremendous potential of biotechnology in improving human and animal health and productivity, enhancing agricultural activity and government set up a multi-agency board namely National Biotechnology Board (NBTB) way back in 1982 with the participation of DST, UGC, ICMR and CSIR to promote activities in biotechnology.
- Subsequently, the National Board was upgraded to a fulfledged Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1986.
- The Department, in the past 30 years, has witnessed discerned maturation from a nascent sector to a sunrise industry, making outstanding achievements in the growth and application of and susceptibility of bio-resources and environment and also towards fostering among the major biotech destinations in the world and ranks third in the Asia-Pacific region.
- India has the second-highest number of US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approved plants, after the USA.
- DBT has always laid emphasis on promotion of excellence and innovation for discovery, early and late-stage translational research in varous sectors including agriculture, affordable healthcare and medical technology, food and nutritional security, animal biotechnology, environmental safety, clean energy and bio-fuel, bio-manufacturing, etc.
- To infuse momentum in the growth of Biotechnology sector in the country, DBT has formulated the National Biotechnology Development Strategy in consultation with the various stakeholders including scientists, educators, policymakers, leaders of industry and civil society, voluntary and non- governmental organisations, regulators and international experts.
- The strategy emphasizes on the need for building a skilled workforce and leadership through specialized training programmes for professionals to facilitate technology competence, creating new career options for students, supporting faculty improvement programme for continuous improvement and attracting skills for imbibing scientists and post docs.
Industrial and Entrepreneurship Development
Biotechnology Parks and Incubators
Public Sector Undertakings
- The Department has promoted new industry-academia interface and stimulating strategic research and innovation capabilities of the Indian biotech industry, particularly start-ups and SME’s, for creation of affordable products addressing the needs of the largest section of society.
- As an interface agency Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has been set up to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, promote affordable innovation in key social sectors, empowerment of start-ups and small and medium enterprises, contribute through partners for capability enhancement and diffusion of innovation, enable commercialization of discovery and ensure the global competitiveness of Indian enterprises.
- BIRAC has initiated partnerships with several national and global partners to collaborate and deliver the salient features of its mandate.
- Biotech Ignition Grant (BIG) scheme under BIRAC is encouraging scheme for the young investigators for entrepreneurial and managerial development of SME’s in biotechnology through incubators.
- The Department is also having two PSUs namely Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Corporation Limited (BIBCOL) and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
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