Science and Technology Current Affairs for Prelims 2014
Apart from the usual topics of importance like
1. Cryogenic engine( owing to the Mangalyaan mission and GSLV Mk- III)
2. Satellite communication( Different satellite orbits, technical issues, space communication etc)
3. Biotechnology ( Recombinant, protein synthesis, possible combinations)
4. Defence( Umpteen number of missile tests , acquisitions and commissions over the past 12 months)
5. Nanotechnology(Important because of Graphene’s importance as a photovoltaic cell of the future and nanotech’s use in cancer therapy)
5. Day to day application science,
The following are also note worthy.
6. Electronic Nose (e-nose) is an intelligent instrument that is able to classify different types of odours.
The e-nose applications include food quality assurance, fragrance industry, medical diagnosis, environmental monitoring, agricultural industry and homeland security. The hand-held e-nose is based on sensor selection and optimum embedded controller capabilities.
The data processing utilizes multivariate statistical analysis i.e. Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA) and Linear Discriminate Analysis (LDA).
The developed instrument was tested to discriminate the Ganoderma boninense fruiting body (basidiocarp). Initial results show that the instrument is able to discriminate the samples based on their odour chemical fingerprint profile.
It helps in quality evaluation of finished tea and detection of tea fermentation process. It uses metal-oxide semiconductor based sensors Tin and zinc oxides.
7. Department of Science & Technology under Solar Energy Research Initiative aims to initiate Nationally Coordinated Programme on Solar Energy Research synergizing strengths of leading Indian Technological Institutes to develop novel materials, devices and systems applicable to Solar Energy.
The Initiative also attempts to demonstrate hybrid solar power systems integrated on various R&D pathways and multiple technology alternatives for distributed energy use to validate their viability to meet rural energy needs under public private-partnership mode.
In addition to this major theme, the Initiative would also cover poly-generation i.e. heating/cooling and desalination which may/ may not include power generation.
8. Village Resource Centres
To demonstrate the potential of satellite technology for development of rural areas, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has so far set up 456 Village Resource Centres (VRCs), on a pilot scale, in association with selected NGOs, Trusts and State Government Departments. The number of VRCs set up, state/Union Territory wise are as follows:
Village Resource Centres have provided various space technology enabled services such as tele-healthcare, tele-education, natural resources information etc.. The major benefits of the VRC programme include advisories related to agriculture like crop pest and diseases, fertilizer/pesticides, organic farming, crop insurance etc.; live STOCK/poultry, career guidance to rural students, skill development and vocational training etc., to the rural population.
Establishing new VRCs is an ongoing process and the same is carried out based on communication technology needs, FUNDS available, proposals received from State Governments/NGOs etc.
The parameters for selecting NGOs and Trusts as partners in VRC include experience in community organisation and social work, availability of required infrastructure for housing the VRC facility, requisite manpower for day-to-day operation and capacity for conducting programmes of relevance for the development of rural areas.
9. DBT FUNDED Indo-Dutch Project “A Population Based Prospective Cohort Study to Unravel the Causes of Stroke and Cognitive Decline: A Cross-Cultural Perspective Launched at AIIMS
Union Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Shri S.Jaipal Reddy and Minister of Health Welfare and Sports, Govt. of the Netherlands Ms. Edlth Schippers launched a unique project to be conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi and supported by the Department of Bio Technology, Government of India and its institute at Manesar (Haryana), the National Brain Research Centre here in New Delhi.
Through this process not only to help people at risk but also define known or novel risk factors that place people at risk of developing health problems mainly related to brain. He expressed hope that this project will serve as a model and training ground for similar initiatives of other parts of our huge and diverse country.
This project is designed to serve as a unique model in the sense that instead of usual practice of people seeking help for cure of their diseases at AIIMS, it is the AIIMS which in this project will seek people at risk to prevent diseases. The project focuses on people above 50 years of age in one rural and one urban area. Social Workers will screen people in the adopted areas, invite them to AIIMS even if they have no symptoms, assess the health of their brain,heart and blood, ask their food habits; give them necessary advice and follow them 6-monthly on phone and physically every three years. The project’s underpinning is the oft quoted axiom “Prevention is better than cure”, he added.
AIIMS stands to gain from this collaboration with the Netherland’s experience on running world- famous similar study at Rotterdam for last 25 years with over 1000 research papers. AIIMS plans to use data so generated to conduct several research projects to derive new knowledge that will help the country to develop preventive strategies.
It was specified during the launch that this is a unique project to develop a model and test strategies to prevent stroke and dementia as well as heart attacks; and hopefully inspire and support other similar projects in India. The Indo-Dutch collaboration capitalizes on the experience of Dutch Scientists who have been running similar projects in their country (Rotterdam study). Netherlands partners also stand to learn from unique cultural characteristics of India, from exchange visits of scientists and research workers and from the new generalizeable knowledge that emerges from this study.
10. The Government has taken several measures to make use of technology applications for drinking water, literacy, immunization, housing and sanitation in the country. Under Water Technology Initiative, technology elements such as remote monitoring of desalination systems, faster in-situ detection of contaminants as in some of the developed nations and integration of renewable sources of energy for water treatment have been introduced.
An Indo-European Commission (EC) technology applications programme for purification of water and detection of contaminants in water has been initiated. A web enabled Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) has been introduced for strengthening follow up of children for full immunization coverage in the country. The technology applications programme on water, sanitation and hygiene is involved in creating awareness amongst various stakeholders, through print and electronic media, as in the western world.
In order to introduce technology elements for enhanced energy efficiency in buildings, a joint Indo-US programme entitled “Centre for Building Engineering Research and Development (CBERD)” has been launched. Programmes for demystifying technologies and introducing new technology elements through demonstrations related to sanitation including recycling/reuse of waste water, soak pits, low cost toilets, etc, are being implemented nationally as well as globally with identified EC countries, etc, through exchange visits of scientists/engineers between India and some of the European nations.
The present level of INVESTMENT in the country for science and technology sector is 0.88 % of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As per the Thomson Reuters Report 2012, India’s share in global research output has increased from 2.2 % in 2000 to 3.5 % in 2010. Also, the plan-wise S&T allocation in the country has increased, from Rs 12,022 crore in IX Plan (1997-2002) to Rs 75,304 crore in XI Plan (2007-2012).
11. The Government has formulated a scheme Disha to encourage and promote women scientists in the Science and Technology (S&T) sector by enlarging the scope of gender parity initiatives for greater out reach of existing schemes and adding new components. The Department of Science and Technology is implementing Women Scientists Scholarship Scheme which is specifically aimed at providing opportunities to women scientists and technologists for pursuing research in frontier areas of Science and Engineering. The Department of Biotechnology under the Bio-CARe scheme provides support for women scientists, both employed and unemployed to build capacities so as to help them undertake independent Research and Development (R&D) projects. The Ministry of Science and Technology proactively holds sensitization and project formulation workshops in various parts of the country to motivate more and more women, minorities and weaker sections to take up scientific research as a career.
12. Use of Technology for Housing, Sanitation, Etc
The Government has taken several measures to make use of appropriate technologies for housing, sanitation, drinking water, and immunization in the country.
Government has been working towards transfer of cost effective, energy-efficient, environment-friendly and disaster resistant building materials and construction technologies. A few new construction technologies, like, fly-ash bricks/blocks, cellular light weight concrete, bamboo mat corrugated sheets, bagasse slabs, wood substitute doors, ferro-cement roofing channels, etc., have been developed and are being propagated for application in housing sector.
Indirect ventilated pit latrine and pre-fabricated ferro-cement toilets have been fabricated and widely popularized through demonstration at various places. Development of low cost sanitary napkins, using knitwear waste from hosiery industry, has been standardized and 8 manufacturing units were set up in various parts of the country for making such product.
Under drinking water initiative, appropriate treatment processes for removal of chemical, biological and physical contaminants, rain water harvesting systems, desalination for conversion of seawater to potable water, integration of renewable sources of energy for treatment of water and faster in-situ detection of contaminants have been developed in the field and being popularized for its replication.
As a part of National Immunization Programme, Government is currently providing different types of vaccines, viz, Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), Diphtheria Pertussis Tetanus (DPT), Polio, Hepatitis B, Measles, Japanese Encephalitis, and Pentavalent vaccine (DPT+Hepatitis B+ Haemophilus Influenzae Type B).. A web enabled Mother and Child Tracking System has been introduced for strengthening follow up of children for full immunization coverage in the country.
A budgetary allocation of Rs 7360 Crore has been provided for the technology development initiatives concerning housing, sanitation, drinking water, immunization and related activities, during the 12th Plan period (2012-17).
13. The Ministry of Science & Technology has launched its new project of E-MIAS for the future Inspire Awards. It was launched during the ongoing 3rd National level Exhibition and Project Competitions (NLEPC) being held under the INSPIRE Awards Scheme of the Ministry of Science & Technology
Salient Features of E-MIAS
It will enable about 5 lakh middle and high schools all over the country to log in online and file nominations under the Scheme, which would be received electronically by the District Education authorities for further processing. The schools will also be able to view, download and print list of sanctioned awardees and their certificates.
Similarly, it will enable all the (nearly) 700 District Education Authorities and 35 States / UTs and 3 Central Educational Organizations Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan,Navodaya VidyalayaSangathan and Sainik School Sangathan) to log in online and process the proposals received from schools and submit to the National Authority i.e. Department of Science & Technology (DST) for sanction.
The State and Districts authorities will also be able to submit the proposals for FUNDS release for DLEPCs / SLEPCs online.
It will enable the National Authority (DST) to process the proposals and Awards / FUNDS so received from the State Authorities online and issue sanctions electronically, as per the approved norms.
The software will also have facilities for registration of schools, District Authorities and State Authority, sending and receiving online communications to / from these authorities, receiving utilisation certificates, summary reports, electronically generate standard and tailor-made MIS reports and so on.
It will also have the public domain home page where even public at large would be able to view not only the basic details of the scheme but also the awards sanctioned to various States / schools , various reports / documents / forms relating to scheme, submit suggestions / feedback and so on.
The service provider will also put in place a call centre, which will run six days a week, to cater to the need / grievances of stakeholders.
14. The Shanti SwarupBhatnagar Prize is the most coveted national recognition for young scientists and engineers for their R&D work done in India. The Prize was instituted in 1957 in the honour of late Dr. (Sir) ShantiSwarupBhatnagar, an eminent scientist, founder Director and principal architect of CSIR. Over 450 scientists and technologists have been so far conferred upon this Prize in various disciplines of science for their outstanding R&D contribution. Each Prize carries a citation, cash prize, a plaque and an honorarium till superannuation.
Govt announced positive results from a Phase III clinical trial of a rotavirus vaccine developed and manufactured in India.
ROTAVAC to have an excellent safety and efficacy profile.
The clinical study demonstrates for the first time that the India-developed rotavirus vaccine ROTAVAC in collaboration with Bharat Biotech under the Public-Private Partnership mode is efficacious in preventing severe rotavirus diarrhoea in low-resource settings in India. ROTAVAC significantly reduced severe rotavirus diarrhoea by more than half—56 percent during the first year of life, with protection continuing into the second year of life. Moreover, the vaccine also showed impact against severe diarrhoea of any cause.
16. Department of Biotechnology has formulated and implemented a number of programmes related to medical technologies and biodesign innovation. These include; Stanford-India Biodesign programme; Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre; Centre for Bioscience and Bioengineering; and Centre for Biodesignand in-vitro diagnostics.
17. Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) has launched “Patent Acquisition and Collaborative Research and Technology Development (PACE)” scheme in the 12th Five Year Plan with an aim to support Indian industries to acquire patented technology at an early stage, add value to the acquired technology, either independently or in collaboration with public funded research institutions in India or abroad for exploitation in Indian/foreign markets and develop “Made in India” innovative and socially relevant products for public consumption. Innovation Complexes of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) catalyze innovation eco-system in the region, incubate platform technologies in the identified areas, incubate spinoffs and nurture Micro Small and Medium Sector Enterprises (MSMEs) in the designated fields through innovative inputs. National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) encourages invention promotion, leverages innovations and inventions for competitiveness through its activities.
Source : Summary of Department of Science and Technology (DST)’s Annual Report