Monday, January 25, 2010

Indian Defence Research
Goes to Private Sector


NEW DELHI, Jan 25: Defence laboratories of the Government of India will transfer its technologies to private sector for commercial use. This is a landmark development for the country as this move will help industries to get high quality technologies and apply them commercially to produce quality and reliable industrial products at an affordable cost to the consumer.

DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) labs have been undertaking a large number of projects in wide-ranging areas of science & technology related to the Indian Armed Forces.

Though the end products are for military use, many of the technologies that are developed to realize these systems can have civilian applications. These technologies and products may have large commercial potential and wide application in India and abroad.

On the other hand, many industries are keen on new scientific inputs and processes for expanding their business.

The DRDO-FICCI had initiated Accelerated Technology Assessment and Commercialization (ATAC) Programme to facilitate transfer of technologies. Under this programme on Monday six Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) between DRDO and leading industry players were signed.

Indian Industry to Become Globally Competitive

The MoUs will enable transfer of DRDO developed technologies to the partner industries and, in turn, make them globally competitive.

This commercialization process is aimed at filling the technology gap in Indian industries. A proposal for providing incentives to scientists who are behind these innovations is also on the anvil and DRDO hopes to introduce it soon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bt Brinjal in India

Indian Bt Brinjal

in Difficulty

Writes Vinod Varshney

Bt brinjal passes through the same travails in India as was witnessed by Bt cotton a few years ago. Same politics, same NGOs and almost same arguments. Bt cotton got accepted initially through black-market as legitimate approval came much later. However contrary to dreary scenario many NGOs used to draw those days, farmers cherish Bt cotton today. Opposing arguments appear today just a propaganda buttressed by political motives.

It is for everybody to see that Bt cotton proved successful and farmers are happy. Yet same old drama is being enacted again with Bt brinjal.

Brinjal is the first Indian food product which will be genetically modified. Genetic modification goes on always during natural evolution, yet man-made modification is being described as something totally unacceptable. Man-made genetic modificaion in the case of brinjal is tailored to suit our requirement. It took seven years of research in India to make it suitable for commercial use. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the regulatory authority in India, has approved it already for commercial production.

Cost of Democracy

But we have to consult people also in our democratic set-up. Though cost is high as a lot of valuable time gets wasted in generating consensus. But what will you say when voice of reason is not even given a chance to be raised due to political reasons as happened last week in Kolkata when Dr Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of Environment and Forest had to walk out of the public hearing.

Government had rightly announced to go through the process of public hearing in all the seven states which together produce 80 percent brinjal in India before giving its nod for commrcial production. But the very first consultation process failed badly as the opposing groups almost torn to pieces the very spirit of free discussion. They even did not allow any other opinion to be expressed in the Stalinist bastion of India. Though it was not unexpected in Kolkata as Buddhadev Bhattacharya, the Chief Minister had already expressed deep reservation about Bt brinjal in a letter written a couple of days ago.

Anti-MNC poitics is OK, But ......

Great harm will be done by politicizing science. Anti-MNC politics may have its justification but it should not go to the extent of harming our own farmers. Indian leftists should learn from China which started commercial production of Bt cotton much earlier than India and it captured immensely the early benefit. Indian cotton farmers lost many good years of better income.

The trouble in the country is lack of scientific literacy. Much of local language media is not equipped to handle scientific issues. Thus it is very easy for politically oriented NGOs to create confusion in the minds of people.

The country's future is in taking advantage of crop biotechnology and its capability to give genetic solutions to many existing problems. But vigorous attempt is being made to retard the growth of this potential sector in India.

Bt Brinjal May be More Rewarding

Brinjal is a rewarding crop for farmers. By spending Rs 100 on its cultivation, they earn Rs 200. But to get this income they have to protect their crop by spraying insecticides 28 times. This cost them immensely and also enhance pollution so much so even mother’s milk is getting polluted with residual pesticides.

NGOs say the benefit of the new type of genetically modified seeds will go to only seed making companies. This was argued in the case of Bt cotton also, but it turned out only partially correct. It is true Monsanto got immensely benefitted by high level of royalty for the technology transferred, but Indian farmers also made a killing.

What G. Padmanabhan Says ?

Please click the link below to read what one of our illustrious scientist of Indian Institute of Science has to say:
There is yet another interesting story below :

Monday, January 11, 2010

How Many Engineers

India Produces in a Year ?

Writes Vinod Varshney

New Delhi. India produces how many engineers in a year? Six hundred thousand or nine hundred thousand? Nobody knows this at least in India. We may be having Planning Commission and Ministry of Human Resource Development, but our capability is limited to telling only how many engineers the US produces.

This assertion was made by no less a person today than Mr Kapil Sibal, the HRD Minister of India, who is known for making bombastic promises, while releasing a study titled “Engineering Education in India” at Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

The study was undertaken by Rangan Banerjee and Vinayak P Muley of IIT Bombay. While giving briefly inferences of the study, Mr Rangan himself admitted that it was such a difficult task to get correct statistics. He could compile statistics only up to 2006.

Engineering PhDs So Few In India
The study puts India in a very poor light so far as the higher engineering education especially the research is concerned. It highlights that advanced countries like UK, US and Germany produce 10, 9 & 8 per cent doctorate engineers out of graduates whereas India is happy with just around .5 percent.

Indians better forget what US, UK and Germany or France do; we need to peep at what our neighbours like Korea and China do. Sibal told that China was producing 60,000 science & engineering PhDs a year while India only 8,000 though fifteen years ago India and China were alike.

Who should put their heads in shame for these statistics--people of India or the political leaders of India? The country is full of talkers and dreamers, but there is acute shortage of people who can convert dreams into reality. Sanjay Joshi of ORF rightly said, “Aspirations remain dreams unless concrete actions are taken.”

Sibal Promises to Take Bold Steps
Kapil Sibal assured that 2010 would be an important and different year. He sounded like he would be taking concrete steps. His remedy lies in involving private sector more in higher education. But know for sure currently already seventy five percent of graduate engineers are products of private engineering colleges. This is told to be one reason why Indian engineering graduates are un-employable, many feel.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nano tech to make apparels
and garments more comfortable


Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 6 : Nano technologists are coming forward to help the Indian textile industry to produce novel wears and create a niche market. The Delhi-based Indian Institute of Technology has launched a research group on nanotechnology for smart and innovative textile technology (SMITA).

Speaking at an exclusive session on nanotechnology and education of the 97th Indian Science Congress, Prof Ashwini Agarwal of Delhi IIT said : “fibres and filaments are one-dimensional structural materials for textiles. Through nanotechnolgy we can decrease its module value and increase its strength. Not only nanotechnology can be deployed for fibres and filaments and for creating composite nano fibres, but it can also be deployed for surface modifications and finishes of yarns and cloth. By this process the textile products can be made more attractive, strong and responsive to customers’ choice.”

Textiles is the major segment of the Indian economy responsible for about 17% of export earning. Indian textile industry is faced by severe competition in the global market.

According to Prof Agarwal if the diameter of the fibre is reduced, its strength increases and with the given flexibility it can be subjected to better orientation and formation. For making better nano fibres we need drawing, template synthesis, self assembly and phase transformation. Electro spinning of nano fibres can then be taken up

Nano finishes can be undertaken for making it resistant to heat, flames and also make the cloth stain repellent. Nano finishes can be of silver with varying colours. The cloth and the wear can thereby be made attractive to customers’ choice and giving more comfort to the body
Launch of GSLV-D3 Dalayed because
of Indigenous Cryogenic Engine


Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 6 : The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has finally planned to launch its Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – GSLV D3 and its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV – 16) by March 2010.

The launch of GSLV- D3 had been postponed twice, first it had been scheduled for December 2009 and then in January 2009. The launch of PSLV – 16 was planned even prior to that.

The director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre-SHAR, MC Dathan revealed : “The launch of GSLV – D3 was delayed as we are reviewing the indigenous cryogenic stage. The GSLV-D3 will be powered by an indigenous cryogenic stage built for the first time by the Indian Space Research Organisation. It will put in orbit a communication satellite, GSAT-4.”

He said that the PSLV – 16 will also be launched in March to put in orbit Cartosat-2B; Alsat, a small satellite from Algeria; two nano-satellites from the University of Toronto, and another nano-satellite, Studsat (Students’ satellite), built by several Indian universities.

Dathan, who is participating in the 97th Indian Science Congress at Thiruvananthapuram said : “In January, this year we will do the ground testing of the biggest solid booster for GSLV Maitri which is scheduled to be launched in 2011. ISRO also has a programme to use reusable launch vessel to carry hygrogen to produce water in combination of oxygen extracted from the atmosphere. As we would not carry water this would help us to reduce the weight of vessel at the take off stage.” He said that ISRO was exploring the possibility of using kerosene as a fuel option..

The CMD of the Cochin International Airport Ltd, Dr CG Krishnadas Nair said that India would soon make a headway in the areospace industry by producing a light helicopter which would fly at a level of 6 km. He urged the government for a proactive aeronautic policy and setting up of adequate institutes for aeronautic study.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Second Indian Nobel Prize

goes to Prof C. R. Rao

Writes Vinod Varshney
New Delhi. Prof. Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao was today given the “India Science Award” which is the highest award for Science and Technology in the country, also known as Indian Nobel Prize. He is the second Indian who has been accorded this honour, though at a ripe age of 89.
The award fetches INR 2.5 million and was instituted in 2002. The first award had gone to Prof. C R Rao in 2006. For last two years no Indian scientist could be found worthy of this award. This blog site had first reported yesterday that somebody would be hounoured this year. There was a lot of speculation as to who could be the winning scientist.

Times India Chose Him as One of Top Ten

Prof Rao, an FRS is widely regarded as one of the greatest statisticians of all time along with Deming and Fisher. Times of India dated 31 December 1988 chose C R Rao as one of the 10 top scientists of India considering all disciplines; the list included such outstanding scientists as J.C. Bose, S.N. Bose, S Ramanujan, Harishchandra, G.N.Ramachandran and Nobel Laureates H. Khurana , C.V. Raman and S. Chandrasekhar.
C.R. Rao is purely an Indian product having received all his education in India and making original contributions to statistics while working in India at the Indian Statistical Institute for 40 years before he took mandatory retirement on attaining the age of sixty.
Among his best-known discoveries are the Cramér-Rao bound and the Rao-Blackwell theorem both related to the quality of estimators. He is the author of 14 books and has published over 400 journal publications.

Got Padma Vibhushan

Rao was awarded the United States National Medal of Science, that nation's highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research in June 2002. Government of India awarded him Padma Vibhushan.
Rao received MA degree in mathematics with a first class and first rank from Andhra University (1941) and MA degree in statistics from Calcutta University (1943) with a first class, first rank and a record of marks unbeaten till now, and a gold medal. He started working in the ISI at Calcutta as a research scholar from 1943. Based on the work he did he earned his Ph.D. in 1948 from Cambridge University. A few years later, the university awarded him the prestigious Sc.D. degree based on a peer review of his research contributions to statistics. Up to date he has received 31 Honorary Doctoral Degrees from universities in 18 countries in 6 continents.
PM allures Overseas Indians

for collaborative research


Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 3 : Government is likely to announce special incentives to encourage scientists of Indian origin currently working abroad to return to India or to associate themselves with Indian universities and scientific institutions for a short period.

The Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh inaugurating the 97th Indian Science Congress here on Sunday outlined the need to rebuild the country as a knowledge power in the 21st century through a strong capability in science and technology.

He said : “ We must make a special effort to encourage scientists of Indian origin currently working abroad to return to India, including coming to our universities or scientific institutions for a short period. In this way we can, convert the brain drain of the past into a brain gain for the future. This will require special incentives. We need to think creatively on how this can be done so that high quality minds are attracted to teaching and research.”

The prime minister’s pronouncement is significant as it come a few days before the two-day conference of Overseas Indians – Pravasi Bharatiya Divas – scheduled in Delhi from January 8. The newly formed Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians would meet for the first time on January 7.

Building upon the recent comments of the Nobel Laureate of Indian origin, Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan on the need for greater autonomy for Indian scientists from red tape and local politics, he said : “I invite you to explore all these issues and engage with us so that we can do what is needed to liberate Indian science from the shackles and deadweight of bureaucratism and in-house favouritism.” While investment of money being only one part which was needed, the change in the mindset of senior faculty and university administration was the hardest thing to do, he said.

The prime minister announced that the National Science and Engineering Research Board will start functioning before March 2010. A National Policy for Data Sharing and Accountability has been formulated. The Protection of Intellectual Property Bill focussed on sharing revenue from intellectual properties with researchers will be taken up for discussion in the parliament soon. He called for a partnership of academia, research and industry and involvement of venture funds.

The government is considering the revision of the value of doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships as well as formation of schemes that would cover all research scholars with some funding support. The government would award one student within the age group 10-15 years from each school in the country under the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Scheme

As the government has declared 2010-2020 as the “Decade of Innovations” , Singh urged scientists to find new solutions in many areas for achieving inclusive and sustainable growth like in healthcare, energy security, infrastructure, water, transportation, renewable sources of energy. Describing the outcome of the Copenhagen climate summit as “not satisfactory”, he stressed the need for a low
greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficient development path with a shift to use of renewable sources of energy.

The government has decided to launch Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission for setting up of 20,000 MW of solar generation capacity by 2020. The PAN-IIT programme for solar energy research will drive down the costs of technology options through R&D led innovations. Euro 5 million collaborative research programme on solar energy research with European Union and a similar collaborative programme with UK for pound 5 million has been launched.

The prime minister said that the technology solutions for 25 different water-related challenges being discovered by the Technology Mission for Winning, Augmentation and Renovation of Water (WAR) would be applied by 2011.

On applications of transgenic technology in agriculture, he said that Bt cotton has been well accepted in the country and has made a great difference to production. He said that genetic modification technology was being extended to food crops which raises legitimate questions of safety and these must be given full weightage with appropriate regulatory control based on strictly scientific criteria. He lauded DRDO for developing a new and rapid diagnostic method for detecting the H1N1 virus

Indian Science Congress 2010

PM steers clear of R&D
expenditure comittment

Writes Vinod Varshney

Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh steered clear Sunday from his earlier commitment to raise expenditure on science & technology R & D up to 2 percent of the GDP by the end of eleventh five year plan which will end in 2012.
While inaugurating the 97th Indian Science Congress which will deliberate on the issue of 'Science and Technology Challenges of the 21st Century -- National Perspective over the next five days, the Prime Minister did not mention this key issue which is known as the biggest hurdle for the speedy development of Indian science.
Science and Technology Minister Prithivi Raj Chavan too only made a brief mention of the need to enhance expenditure on research and development.

Performance of Man Mohan Government is Dismal

The performance of Man Mohan Singh government is apparently dismal on this count as the national expenditure on R&D is still 1 percent of the GDP and there is no possibility it can go up to 2 percent within next two years.
In fact this issue of expenditure had embarrassed government institutions immensely when former President APJ Abdul Kalam had criticized them for not being able to spend whatever little money was allotted to them in the national budget.
Last year in Shillong the General President T Ramasami had informed the delegates of 96th Indian Science Congress in his presidential address that most developed economies invest about 2.5% of GDP in research and development whereas Indian spending on R&D is languishing at nearly 1% but the government has proposed to invest about 2% of GDP into Research and Development.
Everybody agrees that the relatively weaker competitiveness of India in the world of Research and Development can be traced to the very small size of the Indian R&D base. Our R&D base may need to be at least trebled within the next five years. But where is the money?
Chennai to host 98th Indian Science Congress
Reports Vinod Varshney

K C Pande
New Delhi. S.R.M. University of Chennai will host the 98th Indian Science Congress next year. This was decided Saturday evening in Trivandrum by the Council of the Indian Science Congress Association.
SRM University is a private technical university, celebrating its silver jubilee this year. It claims outstanding laboratories and infrastructure.
Osmania University of Hyderabad was a close contender for the chance to host it followed by institutes of Kolkata and Nanded.

Chennai gets this honour the Seventh Time

Chennai, the capital city of Tamilnadu would be getting the honour to host this reputed science meet the seventh time. Though Kolkata has the record of hosting the largest number of Science Congresses, ten times out of 97 so far.
The last one in Chennai was held in 1999 when Dr Manju Sharma was the General President and inaugurated by Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minster.
Chennai had traditionally been considered the second science capital of India, the first one being Calcutta. Though Calcutta now has been replaced by Bangalore.
It may be recalled the 1st Indian Science Congress was held in Kolkata 1914 and the 2nd next year in Chennai, then called Madras. Chennai had also the distinction of having organised the Science Congress in 1929 with the only Indian Nobel Laureate Sir C.V. Raman being its General President.

Prof K. C. Pande Will be the Chennai Congress Hero

The next year Chennai would be hosting the Science Congress with Prof K C Pande as the General President. This is a departure from the tradition of electing some scientist from the government establishment as the General President.
Prof Pande is purely an academician who had been Vice Chancellor of Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut. Since the focal theme of next year’s Science Congress is going to be related to Science Teaching and Quality Research in Universities, his choice as the General President seems quite appropriate.
However the theme has yet to be fine-tuned in the next Council meeting of Indian Science Congress Association within a week, said Dr G Madhavan Nair, the General President of the 97th Congress.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Indian Science Congress 2010

Indian Nobel Prize to be

announced today

Reports Vinod Varshney
The India Science Award, popularly knpwn as Indian Nobel Prize carrying an award of Rs 25 Lakh may be announced in Trivandrum tomorrow by the Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh while inaugurating the 97th Indian Science Congress, top official sources indicated.
So far only Professor C.N.R. Rao had been bestowed with this prestigious award since it was instituted six years ago. The authorities are maintaining top secrecy about the name of the awardee for obvious reasons.
The so-called Indian Nobel Prize had been instituted by Atal Behari Vajpayee in one of the Science Congresses in order to give impetus to science research in the country. In order to maintain the dignity and standard of the award very rigorous parameters had been fixed. That is why during the last six years only one Indian scientist could be found worthy of this national honour.
Meanwhile the preparations for the 97th Indian Science Congress reached at its crescendo today with SPG commandoes occupying their positions. Approximately 5000 science delegates would be participating in the Congress, according to the Dr G Madhavan Nair, the General President of the Indian Science Congress.
Two Nobel Laureate scientists from the US John C Mather and Roger Y Tsien have already reached the venue and they will be star attractions in the inauguration ceremony.
The Indian Science Congress (ISC) is the largest national science event in the country. It is a sort of national forum, where an attempt is made to decide the future direction of the science in the country. For this a focal theme is chosen. This year’s theme is “Science & Technology of the 21st Century—National Perspective”.
Traditionally, the Indian Science Congress is inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India. During the Congress, plenary lectures are delivered by eminent scientists and Nobel laureates. These lectures invariably provide broader international perspective and create awareness about the role of science in the society. One of the major attractions is a science exhibition revealing the latest scientific developments and achievements in the country.
The first Indian Science Congress was held from January 15 to 17, 1914 at Calcutta. The Indian Science Association (ISCA) owes its origin to the foresight and initiative of two British Chemists, namely, Professor J.L. Simonsen and Professor P.S. MacMahon