Nine national scientific missions

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The Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council (PM-STIAC) has identified nine national missions to address major scientific challenges to ensure India’s sustainable development. Through the nine missions, the PM-STIAC aims to facilitate collaboration to solve complex problems.
Nine Missions Identified
  1. Natural Language Translation : Through a combination of machine and human translation, the mission aims to enable access to teaching and research material bilingually i.e. in English and one’s native Indian language.
  2. Quantum Frontier : This mission aims to initiate works in control of the quantum mechanical systems, with a large number of degrees of freedom, as one of the great contemporary challenges in fundamental science and technology.
  3. Artificial Intelligence : The mission focuses on efforts that will benefit India in addressing societal needs in areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, smart cities and infrastructure, including smart mobility and transportation
  4. National Biodiversity Mission : This mission involves
    • Comprehensive documentation of India’s biodiversity with the potential for cataloguing and mapping all lifeforms in India including associated cultural and traditional practices.
    • Assessment of the distribution and conservation status of India’s biodiversity.
    • Development of a cadre of professionals adept at handling large sets of environmental data for management and monitoring of biodiversity.
    • Expansion of knowledge in ecosystem functioning that will inform restoration efforts.
    • Establishment of a vibrant biodiversity based economy on a solid foundation of reliable information, engagement with the public.
    • Enhanced options for agricultural production and livelihood security and the general well-being of society.
  5. Electric Vehicles : The mission aims to reduce India’s fossil fuel emissions and mitigate emissions by making Electric Vehicles economical and scalable through focused research, development and innovation and building of indigenous capacity.
  6. BioScience for Human Health : The mission through the use of healthy and disease samples aims to understand the impact of nature and nurture on health. The mission aims to construct comprehensive reference maps of genomes and to understand the dynamics of how exposure to different environments have an impact on our bodies.
  7. Waste To Wealth : The mission aims to identify, develop and deploy technologies to treat waste to generate energy, recycle materials and extract worth. The mission will work to identify and support the development of new technologies that hold promise in creating a clean and green environment.
  8. Deep Ocean Exploration : The mission aims to scientifically explore the deep oceans towards improving our understanding of the blue frontier. The information from this mission will address issues arising from long term changes in the ocean due to climate change.
  9. Agnii : This mission aims to support the national efforts to boost the innovation ecosystem in the country by connecting innovators across the industry, individuals and the grassroots to the market and helping commercialise innovative solutions. It will provide a platform for innovators to bring their technology ready products and solutions to industry 6 and the market thereby helping propel techno-entrepreneurship which can usher a new era of inclusive socio-economic growth.

National Supercomputing Mission

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National Supercomputing Mission initiated in 2015 is being implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) at an estimated cost of Rs.4500 crore over a period of seven years.
Objectives of the Mission
  • The Mission envisages empowering India’s national academic and R&D institutions spread by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities.
  • To bring supercomputing within the reach of the large Scientific & Technology community in the country.
  • To provide a significant qualitative and quantitative improvement in R&D and higher education in the disciplines of Science & Technology.
  • To enable the country with a capacity of solving multi-disciplinary grand challenge problems.
The mission envisages installing vast supercomputing grid comprising of over 70 high-performance computing facilities spread across the county.

Improving Research Ecosystem in India

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The central government has launched the following schemes to improve the research ecosystem in India:

  • Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship : To attract the bright and meritorious students into research within the country, the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship has been initiated. Students selected for the fellowship are given fellowship for 5 years – Rs.70,000/- per month for the first two years, Rs. 75,000/- per month in the third year and Rs.80,000 per month in 4th and 5th year with an annual research grant of Rs. 2 lakh.

  • Setting up of Research Parks : The Government has approved setting up of Research Parks at IIT Kharagpur, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Gandhinagar and IISc Bangalore.
  • Impacting research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) : IMPRINT India scheme aims to provide solutions to the most relevant engineering challenges and translating knowledge into viable technology (products or processes) in ten selected technology domains.
  • Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) : Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana has been launched to promote innovation of a higher order that directly impacts the needs of the Industry and thereby improves the competitive edge of Indian manufacturing.
  • Smart India Hackathons : Smart India Hackathons are organized on yearly basis since 2017 to find out digital solutions to various problems faced by the people and gives hands-on working and research opportunity for engineering students.
  • Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC) : Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC) have been established in 960 Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) for promoting the innovation ecosystem within their campuses.
  • Trainee Teacher Scheme : A Trainee Teacher Scheme has been initiated in NITs with the objective to attract, motivate and sponsor best graduate engineers for part-time M.Tech and PhD programmes.

Further schemes like Colleges with Potential for Excellence (CPE), University with Potential for Excellence(UPE), Centre with Potential for Excellence in Particular Areas(CPEPA), Special Assistance Programme (SAP), Major Research Project (MRP) have been initiated by the government to boost the research ecosystem in the country

Young Scientist Programme

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Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced Young Scientist Programme to inculcate and nurture space research fervour in young minds. Young Scientist programme is part of ISRO’s efforts to reach out to the student community.

About Young Scientist Programme

The modalities of the Young Scientist Programme are:

  • It would be a one month programme.
  • Mostly 8th standard passed out students will be given lecturers and access to research laboratories.
  • 3 students from each of the 29 States and 7 Union Territories will be selected for the Young Scientist program
  • The students will be exposed to the practical experience of building small satellites.

ISRO also announced about setting up of an incubation centre in Tripura, Trichy, Nagpur, Rourkela, and Indore.

Defence : Norms for the manufacturing of defence items relaxed

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  • The government has relaxed norms for the manufacturing of the defence items.
  • As per new norms, manufacturing of items of defence aerospace and warships will now be covered by Industries (Development and Regulation) Act and will not require any licence from the Commerce and Industry Ministry.
  • The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has issued a clarification on the list of defence products requiring a compulsory licence under Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 (IDRA), and Arms Act, 1959.
  • The new norms together with enhancing the ease of doing business will aid in attracting investments and fasten the process of indigenisation of defence production.

National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS)

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National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS):

  • It will be implemented by Department of Science &Technology under Ministry of Science and Technology for period of five years.
  • The objective of Mission is to addresses ever increasing technological requirements of the society.
  • It also takes into account international trends and road maps of leading countries for next generation technologies.

Implementation of this mission will develop and bring

  • Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and associated technologies within reach in the country,
  • Adoption of CPS technologies to address India specific National / Regional issues,
  • Catalyse Translational Research,
  • Produce Next Generation skilled manpower in CPS,
  • Accelerate entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development in CPS,
  • Place India at par with other advanced countries and derive several direct and indirect benefits.
  • Give impetus to advanced research in CPS, Technology development and higher education in Science, Technology and Engineering disciplines.

NM-ICPS

  • It is comprehensive mission to address technology development, application development, human resource development & skill enhancement, entrepreneurship and start-up development in CPS and associated technologies.
  • It aims at establishment of 15 numbers of Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH), six numbers of Application Innovation Hubs (AIH) and four numbers of Technology Translation Research Parks (TTRP).
  • These Hubs & TTRPs will connect to Academics, Industry, Central Ministries and State Government in developing solutions at reputed academic, R&D and other organizations across the country in a hub and spoke model.
  • They have four focused areas along which mission implementation will proceed viz.
    • Technology Development;
    • HRD & Skill Development;
    • Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Start-ups Ecosystem Development;
    • International Collaborations.
  • Strategic approach involving a suitable mix of Academic, Industry and Government is proposed to be adopted.
  • Strong Steering and Monitoring Mechanisms in the form of Mission Governing Board (MGB), Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee (IMCC), Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and other Sub-Committees will guide and monitor the Mission implementation.

Significance of Mission

  • It will act as engine of growth, benefiting national initiatives in health, education, energy, environment, agriculture, strategic cum security, and industrial sectors, Industry 4.0, SMART Cities and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • It will help bring paradigm shift in entire skill sets requirement.
  • It will boost job opportunities by imparting advanced skills and generating skilled manpower as per requirement of the industry and society.
  • It will support and encourage Central ministries and departments, state governments and also industry to effectively use CPS technologies in their projects and schemes for the benefit of the society.

Draft National Policy on Electronics (NPE)

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  • Draft NPE aims to promote domestic manufacturing in entire value-chain of ESDM sector for spur economic development in the country.
  • It also aims to double the target of mobile phone production from 500 million units in 2019 to 1 billion by 2025 to meet objective.
  • It replaces existing incentive schemes like Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS), with schemes that are easier to implement such as interest subsidy and credit default guarantee etc.
  • It also takes into consideration interest subsidy and credit default guarantee in order to encourage new units and in expansion of existing units in electronics manufacturing sector.
  • The set target of $400 billion turnover under it, includes targeted production of 1 billion mobile handsets by 2025, valued at $190 billion (approximately Rs. 13 lakh crore) and also 600 million mobile handsets valued at $110 billion (approximately Rs. 7 lakh crore) for export.

  • It also proposes to push development of core competencies in all sub-sectors of electronics including electronic components and semiconductors, automotive electronics, defence electronics, industrial electronics, strategic electronics etc.
  • It also proposes to set up 20 greenfield and three brownfield electronic manufacturing cluster projects have been sanctioned with project outlay of Rs 3,898 crore, including Rs 1,577 crore from Central Government.
  • It proposes suitable direct tax benefits, including inter-alia investment-linked deduction under Income Tax (IT) Act for electronics manufacturing sector, for setting up of new manufacturing unit or expansion of an existing unit.
  • The proposal includes increasing tax benefits on expenditure incurred on R&D, enhancing rate of duty drawback for electronics sector, reimbursement of state levies and other levies for which input tax credit is not available, allowing duty free import of second-hand capital goods for electronics hardware manufacturing etc.
  • It also proposes cess on select electronic goods resources to promote certain critical sub-sectors of electronic manufacturing such as semiconductor wafer fabrication and display fabrication units.

Technology in Administration : Examples

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  • #LooReview Campaign
    • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs + Google
    • Under Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban
    • Allows all citizens to locate public toilets in their cities on Google Maps
    • Rating of Public toilets

 

  • Rail Heritage Digitisation Project
    • Union Railway Ministry + Google
    • Aims to showcase India’s rail heritage to the national and international audience in an online story-telling platform.

Tech Giants Data Localisation

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Context

  • Indian government has asked Global Tach giants to set up local data centres.
  • In a fear that it will inhibit their growth aspirations in India with raising cost, the U.S. technology giants plan to intensify lobbying efforts against stringent Indian data localisation requirements.
  • Amazon, American Express and Microsoft, have opposed India’s push to store data locally.

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Issue Area

  • Data localisation is not just a business concern, it potentially makes government surveillance easier, which is a worry.
  • It could lead to increased government demands for data access.
  • Technology firms worry the mandate would hurt their planned investments by raising costs related to setting up new local data centres.
  • The issue could further undermine already strained economic relations between India and the United States.

Manned space mission by 2022

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Context:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of his 72nd Independence Day speech vowed to put Indian in space by 2022 under manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan’.
  • This announcement gives Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) definitive timeline for manned space mission it has been working on for the last 15 years.

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Developments till now:

  • The proposed human spaceflight programme (HSP) has been on table since 2004.
  • ISRO is still long way away, despite advancements in some critical technologies in past decade.
  • It is stilling building its capabilities and developing critical technologies required to send astronaut being into space.
  • The mission will be completed at budget of Rs 10,000 crore and some of technology components required for it already have been developed.
  • This includes heavy-lift launch vehicle (GLSV Mark-III), re-entry and recovery technology, crew module, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and astronaut training.
  • The required key technologies ISRO still has to develop for such mission are : ability to launch, recover and ensure earth-like conditions for astronauts. I

Note: If successful, India will become fourth nation in the world to send astronaut into space after US, Russia and China. Former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Rakesh Sharma was first Indian to travel to space. He was part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.

Key Features of Mission

  • The entire cost of Gaganyaan mission will be less than Rs 10,000 crore.
  • It will be totally indigenous, very cost-effective mission by Indian standards which is not viable from international standards.
  • Prior to actual launch of this manned mission by 2022, ISRO will launch  two unmanned Gaganyaan missions (first in 30 months’ time and then 36 months).
  • Launch Phase: 
    • GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has necessary payload capability for this mission.
    • The spacecraft will comprise of crew module and service module that constitute orbital.
    • It weighs approximately 7 tonnes and will be placed in low earth orbit (LEO) of 300-400 km. Crew module’s size will be 3.7 meters and of service module will be 7 meters.
  • Orbital Phase: 
    • The mission will send three-member crew to space for period of five to seven days.
    • The launch vehicle will take off from spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh and it will reach desired orbit in 16 minutes.
    • The crew will be selected by Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years.
    • It will conduct microgravity experiment during the mission.
  • Re-entry phase:
    • The velocity of whole module will be reduced and will be turned in opposite direction so that it can start to come down.
    • When it will reach distance of 120 km from Earth’s surface, service module will be removed and separated out.
    • The module carrying crew alone will come back to earth, this will take about 36 minutes to reach Earth.
    • ISRO is planning to land crew module in Arabian Sea, closer to Gujarat coast or in Bay of Bengal or even on land from where the crew will be recovered
  • Execution time: 
    • The mission may be executed six months before India completes its 75th Independence Day in 2022. It is expected to be completed before 2022.

Questions:

  • Does India need it now?

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