Tag Archives: Science and Technology

Learnings from tale of two neighbours – India and China

Tapan Misra

The source of military conflict with China is complex. It is part military, part Chinese desire of redrawing of Chinese territory, commensurate with their perceived and concocted historical Chinese sway and probably more importantly, Chinese desire to restrict India to low end manufacturing and dominantly consumer market. Both the countries, with their similar population (India 1.3 billion and China 1.44 billion) and burgeoning and wealthier middle-class, are lucrative markets to each other and also other industrial nations.

I have sourced from World Bank data the growth of per capita GDP of both the neighbours, presented in equal footing of US$2010. If we have a look into per capita GDP of both the neighbouring nations, both countries were almost at par in poverty status in sixties and seventies. Both the countries, China under rigorous communist regime and India with hybrid of democratic and socialistic framework, established quite strong scientific base in terms of academic institutions since their independence, following second world war. But no amount of investment in scientific institutions and academia could bring prosperity to their populace. Both countries started their improvement in their lot only when they liberalized their economy, shrugging off restrictive hold of apparatchik and bureaucratic stranglehold on industrial, commercial, banking, marketing and regulatory policies.

Deng Xiaoping, unleashed opening of Chinese economy in early eighties, after consolidating his power base in post Mao transition, following demise of Mao Zedong, Chairman of PRC, in 1976. He rationalised the conflict between communistic ideology and market economy with his famous rationale: “No matter if it is a white cat or black cat; as long as it can catch mouse, it is a good cat.” India followed the path of market liberalization from license raj and era of selective patronage of businesses, in early nineties.

From the plot of growth of per capita GDP of both the countries, we see the inflection point almost took a decade after initiation of liberalization. In case of China, it was early 1990s and in case of India, it was early 2000s.

The architect of China’s liberalization could witness early fructification of his risky policy. Deng passed away in 1997. Afterall, it is no easy task to shake off the shibboleth of well entrenched political system, accustomed to sense of supremacy in everything. But one thing is clear, once a policy environment is established, successive rulers of both countries augmented their GDP in their speeds.

One interesting point is to be noted. Chinese economy got one more inflection point within almost a decade after the first inflection point, at early 2000s, accelerating their growths further. In fact, second inflection ushered in dominance of China in world economy and surprising growth in high tech, capital goods, space technology, military prowess. In case of India the second inflection point seem not to be arriving even after two decades or so after the first inflection. Our growth rate remains moderate and stagnant. We seem to be losing out in high tech and capital goods industry. Our telecom industry has huge ingress of Chinese equipment, our auto industry has less and less of India designed product, our mining industry is importing more and more heavy Chinese equipment, we do not have any respectable presence at all in semiconductor and electronics market. In space our neighbours and friends in Asia are just moving too fast. A look at our trade reveals, raw materials dominate our export against import of finished goods, naturally pushing our trade deficit upwards. You look around. We are moving but we are facing more and more catching up to do. We are good at many things, but we can hardly claim to be too good for a few things.
In my view, the first inflection is because of liberalization of overall economy, which triggered proliferation of livelihood industries with moderate technology but large job creation. This in turn fuelled higher income, and more service industries. But they do give fillip to GDP as they create present day technology base and widen job employment. But continuation of business leadership in future, high trade advantage and accelerated growth can come only when we create technology of future in todays environment. That is where innovations and innovation friendly environment play a decisive role. My presumption is: China’s second inflection is mainly due to harnessing of their large innovation potential.

One of the broad-indicator of innovation environment of any country is the number of patents granted per year. In last decade, India’s share has jumped by a factor of five. Latest number is hovering around 10800, a miniscule contribution by billion plus population. For China, the numbers jumped in almost same proportion. Only difference is Chinese numbers are around 40 times that of India, latest number hovering just a notch below 400,000, to be precise at 399,878. That is stratospheric difference. Data show, if we have to achieve the second inflection to push up the GDP trajectory, we need to rethink what urgent steps, we have to climb, in vastly pulling up our innovation environment and support system.

I believe there are a few main ingredients of innovation culture: namely, imagination, knowledge, interpersonal communication and ethical value system. We have invested considerably in knowledge system. We have rapidly expanded AIIMS, IIT, IIM, NIT, Science institutions, Engineering and Medical colleges. But we made the entry system so difficult that private tution-shops are probably having more turnover than the funding in IITs!

We created a competitive rote culture, instead of learning culture, leaving imagination to backbenchers of college classrooms.

Actually, all children are born imaginative. But society, parents, education system and knowledge accumulation gradually kill imagination. It is high time we should focus on primary and secondary schooling, quality of teachers and their remuneration. We are not able to attract bright minds for teaching, precisely because of very lopsided investment. Still our country is progressing forward and this is because of dedication of individual teachers, in spite of hardships they face. We should remember, if you give peanuts, you get monkeys. We need to refashion our education system so that learning and imagination, both are fostered.

We also need to dispense with assessing the college teachers in terms of only publications. Patents, copy rights, design rights should be given much stronger emphasis for career growth. In fact, we give away many of our hard-earned knowledge and learnings, just for free, by insisting on publication without legally securing the knowledge for future monetization.

From my long experience and being holder of reasonable number of quality patents and copyrights, I can vouch that our scientists and engineers, many times, are not able to streamline their analytical thought processes, because they lack soft skills like expressing and communicating in succinct and coherent fashion. Somehow, an idea has invaded our minds that if you want to pursue a career in science, it is ok to not to pursue language and arts courses. This phenomenon is adding to killing of the spirit of innovation.

I had an encounter with Intellectual Property Right (IPR) lawyers. I am sorry to say, interaction with them, many times kills patent initiative. They have the uncanny ability to convert a scientific phenomenon to a legalistic draft, killing the patent at the outset. I remember, in Germany I could file a patent in 15 days flat, that is the general time limit awarded there, for converting a demonstrated idea or product to patent. But in India, I find that even filing takes a year or more. By then, your patent gets leaked, as it travels through many hands and somebody else in some other country, files a patent. Patent offices also take their own sweet time.

My experience says, many institutional heads, including the top men, do not believe in patenting or pursuing an innovation to the logical ends. More often they are guided by ignorance and lack of conviction. Also, many of them have not written a single patent to their credit. Many times, our systems believe that contributing scientists and innovators are best managed by technical and scientific managers, who turn out to be more often than not expert system manipulators. The price is being paid by the country. But I must say there are some exceptions. You will find those leaders from the innovation environment and products from their institutions.

I am not telling that patents are be all of innovation. Patents ensure that the idea or product has originality and its practicability is demonstrated. Bringing an idea to a logical end and demonstrating it as a product or software is a great trainer in discipline required for innovation. All of us know, publications need not ensure originality. Even replication of an existing idea also finds avenues for publication. But patents generally ensure originality in thinking and the implementation process.
Everything is fair in love, war and international commerce. The pinpricks in different forms will be expected from our international competitors of all hues. These pinpricks may include unnecessary military engagements, cyber-attacks, currency manipulation, trade embargo, unfair tariff, one sided global institution regimes, encouragement of social and political discontent. We need to deal with them as and when they appear. We can plan for avoiding or minimising them in future. But sustaining rebuttal of these adventures is possible when we jack up our GDP and well-being of our population. Only way out is a concerted effort and conviction of seizing future economy, by building technologies and processes for future only through the sustainable route of innovation.

Tapan Misra is a distinguished scientist, who contributed immensely to India’s space programme. He has headed the Space Application Centre and was also Advisor Department of Space.

Rewind 2019: Vikram made headlines but the year saw many significant developments in Indian science

Dinesh C Sharma

New Delhi: Chandryaan-2 may have dominated popular imagination during 2019 despite the lander Vikram failing to soft land on the lunar surface, but the year was marked by several significant developments by Indian scientists in fields ranging from nanotechnology to climate change.

The runup to the lunar mission with planned landing of the lander-cum-rover, the launch campaign, the journey to the lunar orbit and the landing sequence all attracted national and international attention. The year ended in triumph for citizen science when Chennai-based software engineer, Shanmuga Subramanian, discovered debris of Vikram on the lunar surface using publicly available high resolution images of the landing site. This development comes close to a rise in citizen science initiatives in the country.

Staying with space and astronomy, star of an exoplanet was named after Indian physicist, Bibha Chowdhury, and preparations are on to watch the annular solar eclipse in parts of south India on December 26. During the year, Indian software engineers got ready software that will run the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) which is slated to be the world’s largest ground-based telescope operating at optical and infrared wavelengths. Details about TMT and other international Big Science projects in which India is participating were on display in a roving exhibition called Vigyan Samagam which attracted huge crowds.

Climate change: Responding to climate change impacts being seen in the Himalayan region, Indian scientists developed a common framework for assessment of climate change vulnerability in all the states in the region, using an index based on socio-economic factors, demographic and health status, sensitivity of agricultural production, forest-dependent livelihoods and access to information, services and infrastructure. This knowledge will now be applied to develop a countrywide map of climate vulnerability.

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) found a link between warming of the Indo-Pacific Ocean and changing rainfall patterns in many parts of the globe, including India. The warming pools of the Indo-Pacific Ocean are expanding and this, in turn, is altering a major weather phenomenon known as the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO). The warming of Indo-Pacific Ocean is occurring due to man-made emissions. Another group from the Indian Institute of Science warned that as many as 55 percent of glaciers in the Satluj basin may disappear by 2050 and 97 percent by 2090 under extreme climate change scenario. Using ice thickness of glaciers as the basis, scientists also estimated that glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayas might contain 27% less ice than previously suggested.

Eco-friendly technologies: The year saw progress towards development of less polluting crackers with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) releasing first set of ‘green crackers’. A national centre to pursue R&D in clean coal technologies was also opened in Bangalore. Eight teams of innovators from different parts of the world were selected for an international competition to develop more efficient and climate-friendly cooling solutions for residential buildings. The team will get seed money to translate their ideas into prototypes. The final winner of the Global Climate Prize will be announced in November 2020.

Indian genomic data: In an important development, Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) completed whole genome sequencing of 1008 Indian individuals representing diverse ethnic groups in the country. The data will act as baseline information for developing various applications in predictive and preventive medicine.

Scientists from CCMB also found underlying genetic factors for infertility among Indian men. This knowledge could help in developing a genetic test for male infertility in near future. As part of genetic studies to trace the origins of population groups in the Indian sub-continent, it had been seen that sizeable population group of Mundas in central and northeast India shares genetic ancestry with Southeast Asian populations as well. A study revealed how and when this admixture between Mundas and Southeast Asian populations took place.

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) launched a new human atlas initiative called Manav to develop a unified database of molecular network of all the tissues in the human body and to derive a holistic picture of working of human body. This mega project will collate and integrate molecular information on human tissues and organs that currently lies hidden in research articles in an unstructured and disorganized form.

Developments in gene editing: Indian scientists developed a new variant of currently popular gene editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, and showed that it can increase precision in editing genome while avoiding unintended changes in DNA. The researchers showed that this type of gene editing can be used to correct sickle cell anemia, a genetic blood disorder. The experiments were done in human-derived cells from patients of sickle cell anemia, according to findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

New nano materials: Continuing their work in nano science and technology in 2019, scientists at the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) used gold nanoparticles and by rearranging size and gaps between them to develop a new material with unique properties like capacity to absorb light and carbon dioxide. Gold does not have these properties, therefore ‘black gold’ has been called a new material. In appearance it is black, hence the name ‘black gold.’

Boosting rice productivity:  Scientists at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) identified a gene involved in regulating the size of rice grain. The new development represents a new approach towards developing rice varieties that produce bigger and consequently heavier grains. Scientists from the Bose Institute came up with a new salt-tolerant transgenic rice plant by over-expressing a gene from a wild rice called Porteresia coarctata into the commonly used IR 64 indica rice variety.

Other important developments during the year included a new plan to establish a museum for marine archaeology at Lothal, a new satellite-based weather information service for deep sea fishers, grand challenge for cancer research to develop affordable cancer diagnostics and treatment, a white paper on e-cigarettes that led to its ban in India and new initiative to boost malaria research in the country. (India Science Wire)

Twitter handle: @dineshcsharma

We have to secure our societies against the common threat of terrorism: Narendra Modi in Israel

Newsroom24x7 Network

Tel Aviv: Narendra Modi, who is the first ever Indian PM to undertake a ground breaking visit to Israel, today said here that India counts Israel among its important partners for shared economic prosperity and cooperation to secure the societies of both the countries against common threat of terrorism.

India is an old civilisation but a young nation. We have a talented and skilled youth, who are our driving force, Modi said adding we consider Israel an important development partner.

This is an exciting journey that we will undertake together, for the good of our people and our society, Modi said.

Modi, who earlier arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, was accorded an elaborate official welcome ceremony. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, received Prime Minister Modi on arrival.

Modi inspected a ceremonial Guard of Honour. The Israeli Prime Minister began his press statement with the Hindi words “आपका स्वागत है मेरे दोस्त.” (we welcome you my friend). He said the Prime Minister is welcomed with open arms and even the sky is not the limit for cooperation between the two countries. He described Modi as a great leader and a “world leader.”

Speaking on the occasion, Modi began with the Hebrew greeting “Shalom le’kulam. He went on to add in Hebrew “I am delighted to be here in Israel.”

Ahead of his historic visit to Israel, Modi had said that india and Israel are ready to “take the relationship to a new level”.

Click here for Press Statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on arrival in Tel Aviv

23 GoI vacancies under different ministries are now being filled

Newsroom24x7 Desk

government jobsNew Delhi, Jan. 17: Twenty-three senior Government of India posts under different ministries are to be filled in the coming months.

The vacancy notifications and details of the posts to be filled are as follows:

Organisation Subject (Post Details) Post Grade
Last Date
Ministry/Department :- Agriculture and Cooperation
National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE) Filling the post of Director General in National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Rajendranagar, Hyderabad. 14300-450-22400 (PB – 37400-67000 and GP – 10000)
Click For Details http://agricoop.nic.in/imagedefault/vacancies/DGMANAGEVac212015.pdf
Ministry/Department :- Atomic Energy
Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) Appointment as Director in Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP), Kolkata. HAG – 67000-79000
Click For Details http://www.saha.ac.in/web/portal/applications/vacancy/file/For the Post Director.pdf
Ministry/Department :- Expenditure
Chief Advisor (Cost) Filling up of the post of Chief Adviser (Cost) in the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, GOI. 26000-0-26000 (80000 fixed)
Click For Details English
Ministry/Department :- Heavy Industries
National Automotive Testing and R and D Infrastructrue project (NATRIP) Last date receiving applications extended for the post of Director (Finance). 16400-450-20000 (PB – 37400-67000 and GP – 8700)
Click For Details English
Ministry/Department :- Personnel and Training
Institute of Secretariate Training & Management Three faculty posts of Deputy Director (Management services) on deputation basis including armed forces personnel on deputation or Re-employment in the ISTM, New Delhi – Reg. 10650-325-15850 (PB – 15600-39100 and GP – 6600)
Click For Details English      Hindi
Ministry/Department :- Revenue
Appellate Tribunal for Forfeited Property(ATFP) Appointment to the post of Member, Appellate Tribunal for Forfeited Property (ATFP) at New Delhi. HAG – 67000-79000
Click For Details http://dor.gov.in/sites/upload_files/revenue/files/MEMBER ATFP.pdf
Indirect Tax Ombudsman Filling up the post of Indirect Tax Ombudsmanat at Lucknow. Others
Click For Details English
Indirect Tax Ombudsman Filling up the post of Indirect Tax Ombudsmanat at Lucknow. Others
Click For Details English
Ministry/Department :- Science and Technology
Ministry / Department itself Applications invited for the post of Scientific Attache on deputation 16400-450-20900 (PB – 37400-67000 and GP – 8900)
Click For Details http://www.dst.gov.in/whats_new/whats_new14/sci_attache.pdf
Ministry / Department itself Applications Invited for the post of CEO-NSDI and Russian Interpreter 18400-500-22400 (PB – 37400-67000 and GP – 10000)
Click For Details http://www.dst.gov.in/whats_new/whats_new14/CEO&Russian Interpreter.pdf
Technology Development Board (TDB) Filling up of one post each of Director/Deputy Secretary, Deputy Legal Adviser and Accounts Officer/Asst. Accounts Officer in TDB on deputation basis. Others
Click For Details English
Ministry/Department :- Higher Education
National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training & Research (NITTTR), Chennai Advertisement for the post of Director, National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research, Chennai. Others
Click For Details http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/advertisment/DirectorNITTTRChennai.pdf
National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training & Research (NITTTR)Bhopal Advertisement for the post of Director, National Institute of Technical Teachers Training And Research, Bhopal. Others
Click For Details http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/advertisment/DirectorNITTTRBhopal.pdf
Ministry/Department :- Urban Development
National Capital Region Planning Board Deputy Director(Project Monitoring & MIS-(PB-3)Rs.15600-39100 with Grade Pay Rs.6600)Temporary Post Others
Click For Details http://ncrpb.nic.in/appoin_jobs.php
Ministry/Department :- Water Resources
Brahmaputra Board Post of General Manager and Chief Engineer (Level-I), Brahmaputra Board, Guwahati. Others
Click For Details English
Narmada Control Authority Extension of period for filling up the post of Executive Member in NCA, Indore by appointment on deputation (including short-term contract)-Notice – regarding. HAG – 67000-79000
Click For Details English      Hindi
Narmada Control Authority Vacancy circular for appointment on deputation basis for the post of Executive Member in NCA, Indore HAG – 67000-79000
Click For Details http://wrmin.nic.in/writereaddata/NCA_Vac1.pdf
Ministry/Department :- Youth Affairs and Sports
Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education, Gwalior Notice for appointment of Vice Chancellor in Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education, Gwalior – regarding. Others
Click For Details http://yas.nic.in/sites/default/files/Vice Chancellor in LNIPE.pdf
Ministry/Department :- Environment and Forests
Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) Application for the post of Project Director, Society of Integrated Coastal Management Others
Click For Details http://envfor.nic.in/sites/default/files/SICOM_12-12-2014.pdf
National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management Advertisement for the post of Director, NCSCM Others
Click For Details http://envfor.nic.in/sites/default/files/NCSCM_MoEFCC.pdf
Ministry/Department :- Power
CEA Appointment to the post of Chairperson in the CEntral Electricity Authority on deputation/short term contract basis 26000-0-26000 (80000 fixed)
Click For Details http://www.powermin.nic.in/whats_new/pdf/post_chairperson_Central_Electricity_Authority.pdf
Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTE) Vacancy of Technical Member, APTEL 26000-0-26000 (80000 fixed)
Click For Details English
Ministry/Department :- Earth Science
India Meteorological Department (IMD) Filling up of 04 (Four) posts of Scientists G in India Meteorological Department (IMD), New Delhi.
Click For Details English