Science Monitor: 21 November 2020
Science Monitor: 21 November 2020
1. India International Science Festival (IISF) 2020
In view of covid-19 IISF will be held in virtual format from 22nd to the 25th December. This year 41 events will be organised on different aspects of Science and Technology to highlight the role of Indian science and fight against the ongoing pandemic. Recently, the curtain raiser of IISF 2020 was inaugurated by the Union Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan in New Delhi. To kick start different events of the festival and science for Aatm Nirbhar Bharat and global welfare was organised as a theme of IISF 2020.
About the Festival:
- On November 17th, the curtain raiser of the 6th IISF was organised in New Delhi. The program was inaugurated by Union Minister of Science and Technology Earth Science and Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan in the presence of all the officials of concerned ministries and departments.
- The theme of the program is Science for Self-Reliant India and Global Welfare. During the curtain raiser of the festival, website of IISF 2020 and a brochure of the mega event was also launched.
- The responsibility to organise this mega science festival in collaboration with Vijnana Bharati and all the concerned ministries and departments of GoI has been given to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and CSIR’s National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies is serving as its nodal organisation.
- To attract and engage more participants, 41 events have been planned this year. These events will bring science and technology and innovation to the forefront and highlight their role in addressing the emerging global challenges.
- To broaden the horizon of science, technology and innovation, several new events have been added to link science with the other fields and relevant issues like History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Science, Agritech, Clean Air, Energy, Waste and Sanitation, Biodiversity, Science Diplomacy.
2. A look at the IISF (India International Science Festival)’s journey so far
IISF is a unique platform to promote the spirit of science, technology and innovation. The festival is becoming bigger and better with each passing year. Launched in 2015, this initiative of Vigyan Bharati is being organised every year in collaboration with Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Science along with other ministries and departments of GoI.
About the Festival’s journey so far:
- To take the achievements of Indian scientists, technocrats and innovators to the masses, a science festival was envisaged by the Vijnana Bharati. The imagination was realised in physical for, when GoI Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences supported the idea and launched the IISF in 2015.
- Subsequently, the science festival gain more partners like Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, ISRO, Department of Atomic Energy and the Institutions related to science and technology.
- The first edition of IISF was held at the IIT, Delhi and was coordinated by the department of science and technology. For the first time, 8 events were implemented under different themes.
- The second edition of IISF was organised at CSIR’s National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi. The event was coordinated by the CSIR. In 2016, for the first time, a focal theme was decided for the mega event and the IISF 2016 was organised under the theme of ‘Science for the Masses’. The festival on 9 events built around the central theme.
- The 3rd IISF was held in Chennai. The festival was jointly organised by the IIT Madras, Anna University and CSIR’s Institute in Chennai under the focal theme of ‘Science for New India’. The IISF 2017 was spearheaded by the National Institute of Ocean Technology, Ministry of Earth Sciences and 16 events engaged the participants during the festival.
- The 4th edition of IISF was held at Indira Gandhi Pratishthan in Luchnow. The National Institute of Immunology (NII) of the Department of Biotechnology was the nodal agency for the 4th edition. 22 events was organised under IISF 2018 and the central theme of the festival was ‘Science for Transformation’.
- IISF 2019 was organised in Kolkata. 1000 of people participated in 28 events organised at the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre and science city of Kolkata under the focal theme of ‘Research, Innovation Science Empowering Nation’. IISF 2019 was coordinated by the Department of Science and Technology and implemented by Vigyan Prasar (VP).
- Though, the 6th IISF will be organised on virtual platform yet, it will retain its grandness by organising 41 events bringing science, technology and innovation to the forefront and by gaining more participants from India and abroad. The theme for this year edition is ‘Science for Self-Reliant India and Global Welfare’.
3. Efficient Catalytic Systems developed
Indian researchers have made another breakthrough to generate the best out of waste. Now, a team of researchers at IIT Guwahati has formulated Efficient Catalytic Systems to convert industrial and bio mass waste to valuable chemicals. According to the researchers, catalyst developed by them remains active over several thousand cycles without loss in efficiency.
About the Systems:
- Humans have been using waste derived from vegetation and agriculture remains as a fuel since ages. But the processing of bio-mass waste with new technology has turned this refuse into a valuable resource to gain clean fuel and organic compounds.
- Now, such waste is used to produce biogas and biodiesel. To augment its use further, researchers at the IIT Guwahati have formulated efficient Pincer Catalytic System to convert large quantities of industrial and biomass waste into valuable chemicals.
- Processing of industrial and biomass waste generate valuable intermediates such as glycerol and the ethanol. These byproducts can be converted into useful industrial chemicals by effective catalytic action.
- Such catalysts are stable and bring up the intended transformation selectively. These molecules can be used repeatedly to convert industrial byproducts such as glycerol into lactic acid and hydrogen. While more efficient butanol fuel can be gain by converting Bio-ethanol.
- The findings were published in the Royal Society of Chemistry Journal, Chemical Communication and Catalysis Science and Technology.
- Bio-ethanol is a low energy density fuel and its direct use degrades engine parts while Butanol is a more efficient fuel with high energy density. Similarly, lactic acid is used in many industries like Pharmaceutical, Cosmetics and Food. These useful chemicals can be produced on a large scale by using the catalyst system developed by the Indian researchers.
4. Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre
Satellite technology is being used by Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre based in New Delhi to assess the effect of natural disaster on crop production. The assessment done by this centre helps in developing various projects for the benefit of the farmers.
About the assessment:
- Over the years, India’s research Institutes have developed better methods and techniques to increase the agricultural yield. Yet, there is always a risk of agricultural loss from natural disasters like flood, droughts and plant disease.
- The biggest problem in managing natural disaster was to accurately assess the damage over a wide area and at the right time. For this, in 2007, National Remote Sensing Centre of ISRO prepares the National Agricultural Drought Assessment and Monitoring System (NADAMS).
- Considering its usefulness in 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare set up a separate National Crop Forecast Centre in New Delhi and named after great Indian statistician Dr. Prakash Chandra Mahalanobis. Subsequently, NRSC entrusted the responsibility NADAMS technology to the centre.
- In addition to the NADAMS, the centre also implements agricultural projects like ‘FASAL’ (Forecasting Agricultural output using Space, Agro meteorological and Land based observations), under which, the centre generates crop forecast for 9 major crops of the country.
- Another project is CHAMAN (Coordinated Horticulture Assessment and Management using geo-informatics), under which the centre generates production forecasting and area assessment of 7 major horticulture crops in selected districts of major states.
- In 2015, KISAN [C (K)rop Insurance using Space technology And geoiNformatics] was also launched. The data analysis centre of the Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre analyses satellite data received from the National and International satellites and ground data collected from centre and state institutions. Forecasts are issued based on this analysis using scientific method.
- For the assessment of draught, report is prepared on state, district and taluka at block level and assessment on forecasting of draught is declared by agriculture and other related departments based on this report.
- Using procedure developed by ISRO, MNCFC is collaborating with India Meteorological Department and other institutions to work progressively towards betterment of agriculture sector and the farmers.
- Forecasting of crop production, crop risk assessment and draught by MNCFC has helped the central as well as state governments to make quick plans for the better management of agricultural sector in the country.