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CSIR NEWS

 

 

 

ISSN 0409-7467

VOLUME 54

NUMBER 15

15 AUGUST 2004

 

 

observing them through microscope, judging them by visual observations or by comparison with standard reference images and recording the observations. However, this method is tedious and time‑consuming.  The botanist spends considerable amount of time viewing through the microscope, which leads to fatigue and low throughput. Judging the authenticity and quality by visual inspection requires considerable domain expertise. On the other hand, comparison with reference images can be tedious and time consuming considering the fact that the reference images may be available in different forms, e.g., print or photograph.

A computer‑aided microscopic inspection system, which avoids some of the shortcomings of the conventional microscopic inspection method, was developed by the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), Pilani,  with technical contributions from Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad, and Arya Vaidya Sala (AVS), Kottakkal.  It was sponsored by IICT and AVS. The system, named HERBAS (Herbs Authentication System) was successfully installed at AVS and is currently running satisfactorily.

Herbs Authentication System

 The HERBAS system consists of a computer, microscope, digital camera, printer and custom‑developed application software. The digital camera is fitted in the microscope and electronically interfaced to the computer. The microscope enables magnified viewing of the plant cross‑sections. The application software running on the computer allows the user to capture the microscopic images through the digital camera and utilises them appropriately.  The system provides for one system supervisor and several users.

The HERBAS system has capabilities for capture and viewing of microscopic images, making physical measurements on image features, comparison with standard reference images, generation of inspection report, development and maintenance of databases for reference images and inspection reports. The system offers its capabilities through several functional pages.

The above features make the HERBAS system a helpful tool for microscopic inspection of medicinal plants. The system makes the inspection procedure much simpler, faster and more convenient.  The system generates data in electronic form suitable for sharing or analysis. The reference database feature allows development of reference image databases for medicinal plants. The QC reports feature makes the system suitable for routine quality inspections on the production line.

System Specifications

Configuration

 

Operations

 

Databases

 

Viewing Area

 

Power supply

 

ISFET (Ion‑Sensitive Field‑Effect Transistor)–Based Glucose Biosensor

THE ISFET‑based glucose biosensor was developed by the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), Pilani, under the CSIR network programme on MEMS and Micro‑sensors.

This biosensor comprises an ion‑sensitive field‑effect transistor (ISFET), which is a metal‑oxide‑semiconductor field‑effect transistor (MOSFET) with the metal gate replaced by a chemical membrane (SiO2‑Si3N4) responsive to hydrogen ions, producing a solid‑state pH‑micro‑sensor.

The ISFET is an N‑channel enhancement mode device fabricated by the NMOS process. It has a high aspect ratio (channel length/channel width) ~ 400 provided by an interdigitated source‑drain geometry.

Glucose oxidase (GOD) enzyme was immobilized over the silicon dioxide‑silicon nitride dual‑dielectric gate. The 3 mm´3 mm biosensor chips were mounted on ceramic substrates and the wire bonds were protected with insulating epoxy. Fig.1 shows the device before epoxy coating.

The drain‑source current‑voltage characteristics of the biosensor were measured in the dry state in the dark and by exposing the sensor to light. Constant illumination characterizations of the sensor were carried out by pouring droplets of different glucose‑containing substances such as saturated solutions of dextrose, sugar as well as juices of apple, pomegranate, raisin extract, etc., and then recording its optical I‑V characteristics. The characteristics exhibited an upward shift, which is correlated to the glucose content of these substances, giving a qualitative estimation of glucose.

Fig. 1  ISFET device

The increase in drain‑source current DIDS) at VDS=2V varied from 2mA for carrot to 7 mA for raisin. The drain‑source characteristics for sugar solution are shown in Fig.2.

Fig. 2. Drain Source Characteristics

 The ISFET‑based biosensor combines the advantages of specificity of biological systems with those offered by solid‑state technology such as low cost, minimal sample preparation, high input impedance and low output impedance, and inexpensive mass production using IC technology.

It is a promising tool for medical diagnostics, for biotechnology in fermentation and bioprocess control, environmental control, for monitoring chemical samples in industries, in agriculture and for analysing pharmaceutical or food products.

 

CRRI signs MoU with LCPC, France, for technical cooperation in the field of Road and Transportation Sector

THE Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), New Delhi, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 7 June 2004, with the Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussees (Central Laboratory for Public Works), Paris, France for technical co-operation in the Road and Transportation Sector.

The MoU was signed by Prof P.K. Sikdar, Director, CRRI and Mr Robin Sebille, Delegate for International Affairs, LCPC, Paris, France in New Delhi on the occasion of Indo-French Workshop on Road Infrastructure.

LCPC is a French state-owned Institute under the authority of Minister of Public Works and Transport and the Minister for Research.

Prof P.K. Sikdar, Director, CRRI (left) and Mr Robin Sebille, Delegate for International Affairs, LCPC, Paris
 (right) signing MoU for technical cooperation in the field of Road and Transportation Sector

The agreement would facilitate exchange of students, researchers and research resources between the two organizations in order to promote academic, scientific and technical cooperation in the fields of their respective competencies. Under the agreement, joint collaborative research projects will be taken up on various topics such as Pavement, Management Maintenance System, High Performance Materials for Road Construction, Accelerated Pavement System, Road Maintenance Management System, Road Safety and Intelligent Transport System.

 
CBRI signs MoU with IIT, Roorkee

THE Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, on 19 June 2004 in the presence of Prof S.K. Joshi, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT, Roorkee and former Director General of CSIR. The MoU was signed by Shri V.K.Mathur, Director, on behalf of CBRI and Prof. Prem Vrat, Director, on behalf of IIT, Roorkee.

Shri V.K.Mathur, Director, CBRI, (left) and Prof. Prem Vrat, Director, IIT, Roorkee,
 (right) signing MoU in the presence of Prof. S.K. Joshi, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT, Roorkee,
 and former Director General of CSIR

The MoU details the modalities and general conditions regarding collaboration between CBRI and IIT, Roorkee, for enhancing the availability of highly qualified manpower in the field of Civil Engineering, Building Science and Technology, Engineering Geology and Architecture and Planning. Under the agreement CBRI and IIT, Roorkee, shall encourage interaction between the CBRI scientists and faculty members of the IIT, Roorkee. CBRI and IIT, Roorkee, shall make provisions to share their facilities to promote academic and research interaction. The MoU provides scope for two students to be admitted to M.Tech. programme in Civil Engineering or any other branch of Engineering/Architecture at IIT, Roorkee, and students will be considered for receiving financial support from CBRI, Roorkee. The students admitted under this scheme should qualify GATE examination.

The MoU shall remain effective for a period of five years and shall be co-ordinated by a committee appointed jointly by Director, CBRI and Director, IIT, Roorkee.

CBRI, a premier research organization of the country, has made an impact on the building industry of India with its steady growth in R&D activities. The institute is also engaged in research, design, development and consultancy in the field of engineering and technology, material science and architecture and planning. IIT, Roorkee, (formerly University of Roorkee), is also known for its contribution in the fields of engineering, technology, science, management, humanities and social sciences and contributes to the rapidly growing scientific and technological knowledge and professional excellence in science and technology by undertaking industrial and applied research and consultancy.

 
A nonsense mutation associated with schizophrenia

THE Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, has reported a nonsense mutation in the synaptogyrin 1 (SYNGRI) gene in an Indian family affected by schizophrenia. The study published in Biological Psychiatry reported on a family in which all three individuals affected with schizophrenia and one asymptomatic individual harboured a novel nonsense mutation (Trp27Ter) in exon 2 of the SYNGR1 gene. The SYNGR1 gene is located on chromosome 22q13, a region implicated in schizophrenia by several studies. This finding is the result of a follow‑up study by Ranjana Verma, Chitra Chauhan, Quasar Saleem, Charu Gandhi, Sanjeev Jain and Samir K. Brahmachari who had previously reported an association of schizophrenia with a CAG repeat marker (22CH3) in the same Chromosome 22q region in the Indian population. 

There is ample supporting evidence to implicate mutation in the SYNGRI gene with schizophrenia. This gene codes for an integral membrane protein involved in synaptic plasticity and hence is a potential candidate gene for schizophrenia. The transcript levels of SYNGR1 were reduced in schizophrenic patients as compared with normal individuals.  Moreover, this gene lies within 1 million base pairs (bp) of a CAG repeat marker (22CH3) previously shown to be associated with schizophrenia in the Indian population.

The researchers isolated DNA from the blood samples of the patients. Six exons, as well as flanking splice junctions, of the SYNGR1 gene were amplified by polymerase chain reaction. Polymerase chain reaction products were then purified and sequenced. The products were run and analysed. A heterozygous nonsense mutation (Trp27Ter) was found in exon 2 of the SYNGR1 gene in one schizophrenic proband. Sequencing of exon 2 of this gene in other family members of this proband showed the presence of this mutation in three other members. The Trp27Ter mutation was not found in any of the ethnically matched normal control subjects.

SYNGR1 has three alternative transcripts: namely, 1a, 1b, and 1c. SYNGR 1c is the only transcript harbouring exon 2.  To determine whether exon 2 (in which the mutation was found) containing transcript of the SYNGR1 gene is expressed in the brain, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and Northern blot analyses were carried out.

A product of expected size (456 bp) was obtained and confirmed by sequencing. The Northern hybridisation of human 12‑lane multiple tissue Northern blot with an exon‑2‑specific probe of the SYNGR1 gene yielded a 1.3‑kb band in lanes containing RNA from brain, skeletal muscle, kidney, and liver. This 1.3‑kb transcript could be a new transcript, one not detected by earlier researchers. Its functional significance and its involvement in the normal functioning of the brain needs to be characterized.

The results revealed that the exon 2 containing transcript of the SYNGR1 gene is indeed expressed in the brain. Because the nonsense mutation found in the SYNGR1 gene was present in all three siblings diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, it is possible that this protein might be involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. The presence of mutation in the fourth sibling could be attributed to either incomplete penetrance or to the absence of mutations in other genes that contribute to the disease phenotype. The mutation was not present in two unaffected members of the same family, including a half‑sibling. However, one offspring of the half‑sibling had severe depression with psychotic symptoms though the mutation was not present. The clinical profile of this individual was quite distinct from the other affected siblings and hence is unlikely to share the same causative mutation with the other affected members of the family.

The heterozygous nonsense mutation identified could lead to haplo‑insufficiency of the functional protein in schizophrenic patients. This could be due either to premature termination of protein synthesis or to reduction in the levels of the transcript by nonsense codon‑mediated RNA decay. It is likely that defects in synaptic vesicle trafficking might be associated with specific subtypes of schizophrenia. Genes involved in these pathways are, thus, attractive candidate genes for this disorder. The nonsense mutation in the SYNGR1 gene is a rare mutation, but the possibility of other more common mutations in this or neighbouring genes cannot be ruled out. Because of the complex mode of inheritance of schizophrenia, findings from a single pedigree might also be helpful in increasing the understanding of schizophrenia. This nonsense mutation in the SYNGR1 gene, involved in synaptic function, might certainly be relevant to the understanding of schizophrenia.

 

Major R&D Programmes at National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur

THE annual report of the National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML), Jamshedpur, for 2002‑03, released in the recent past by Prof. S.G. Dhande, Director, IIT‑Kanpur, shows that the laboratory is participating in several CSIR networked and other major projects. In the networked project on `Custom Tailored Special Materials', NML has four major responsibilities: Development of hydroxyapatite‑based bioceramics through biomimetic route for biomedical application; Fabrication of superhard material and castings; Fabrication of advanced high temperature – Ceramic composites by hot iso‑static pressing; and Development and characterization of amorphous non‑crystalline soft & hard magnetic materials for sensors and high energy product magnets. The other network projects in which NML has major participation include: Development of New Building Construction Materials and Capacity Building for Coastal Placer Mineral Mining. In the latter project, NML is responsible for characterization and bench scale studies for beneficiation of beach placer of Kerala‑Karnataka coast, and conceptual  flow sheet development for the production of high quality beach sand minerals by column floatation. In the network project on Advanced Manufacturing Processes, NML is responsible for the development of squeeze casting technology for automotive components; and production and characterization of bulk amorphous materials. In addition, a networked initiative on `Technology for Engineering Critical Assessment' has been proposed as TFYP project. This proposal is planned to be executed by a team of engineering laboratories of the CSIR family and other R&D organizations and academic institutions, with NML acting as the nodal co‑ordinator.

The progress of the two NML mega projects: (1) `Maximising blast furnace productivity with Indian iron ore' with the Financial support of Ministry of Steel, Government of India, under the Steel Development Fund scheme and (2) `Extraction of magnesium from indigenous raw material, sponsored by Ministry of Mines, Government of India, has been quite encouraging. Under the BF project NML, jointly with SAIL and Tata Steel, is developing a knowledge base for characterizing the process dynamics of the blast furnace to improve blast furnace operations and hot metal quality. Other collaborators in this project are IIT, Kanpur; IIT Bombay; IIT, Madras; IIT, Kharagpur; CDAC, Pune; MECON, Ranchi; and RDCIS SAIL, Ranchi.

The New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative project on `Improved granular processing: towards energy efficiency in cement manufacture' supported by CSIR, is progressing well.

The laboratory in its endeavour to overcome the crisis of Agra foundry industries following the Supreme Court directives on the eco‑friendly production of foundry grade iron, developed and put up environmentally benign and energy efficient eco‑friendly cokeless gas fired melting furnace for foundry grade iron to save the Taj Mahal and neighbouring historical monuments. Trial runs were conducted in the demonstration plant of the Agra Foundry Association. The technology, ready for commercial exploitation, is intended to cater to the needs of not only of Agra foundries but also of other foundries across the country.

The laboratory continued to work on its thrust area projects of Component Integrity Evaluation Programme (CIEP). The emphasis has been to solve industrial problems through failure analysis, remaining life assessment, non‑destructive evaluation and stress analysis. During the last one year, several sponsor‑specific projects were completed. Some of the notable beneficiaries are – Tata Steel; Jindal Steel & Power Ltd; Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd; CESC Ltd; Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd; South Eastern Railways; and Central Power Research Institute. Under CIEP, several projects are being pursued as per schedule. Mention may be made of: (I) Uni‑axial creep rupture test for residual life assessment and Creep rupture test for RLA for M/s ALSTOM Power; (II) RLA of primary reformer tubes for National Fertilizers Ltd; (III) Health assessment of heater tube of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd; (IV) Creep rupture test for M/s Thermax Babcock and Wilson Ltd; (V) RLA‑creep rupture test for Tata Power; (VI) Metallurgical failure investigation of aeroengine for Indian Air Force; and (VII) Development of silt erosion resistant materials for turbines of hydrogenerators for Central Electricity Authority.

Under the bilateral co‑operations, NML continued to reinforce partnership with Indian as well as overseas organizations in the core areas of metallurgy and material science. Indian industries, academia and government organisations, namely, Tata Steel, Jamshedpur; National Aluminium Company Ltd, Bhubaneswar; Process and Product Development Centre, Agra; GMDC Research Centre, Ahmedabad; IIT‑Kanpur; IIT‑Kharagpur; Department of Science & Technology; Indian Space Research Organisation, Bangalore; Department of Ocean Development; Ministry of Rural Development and Department of Biotechnology. The overseas institutes/organizations collaborating with NML include: Iowa State University, USA; Department of Materials, University of Leeds, UK; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK; IZFP, Saarbrucekh, Germany; South Yakutia, (Russia) and Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Structural Macrokinetics and Materials Science (ISMAN), Moscow and Russian University. Under Integrated Long Term Programme (ILTP), through DST, the progress of the projects on synthesis of sintering of titanium diboride for industrial application; studies on development of floatation reagents for processing of complex ores; study on controlled adsorption of the surfactants and polymers on oxidic mineral systems for enhanced beneficiation of iron ores in their sub‑sieve range were quite encouraging.

During the year, 11 Grant‑in‑aid projects, three sponsored projects, seven consultancy projects, one collaborative project and 21 technical services projects were completed. The beneficiaries were: M/s Walchandnagar Industries Pvt. Ltd; Tata Power Ltd; Tata Steel; Thapar Centre for Industrial R&D; MECON Ltd; The Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd; Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd; Fertiliser Corporation of India Ltd; SAIL; Department of Industry, Jharkhand; Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd; Jindal Steel & Power Ltd; CESC Ltd; HAL; Central Power Research Institute; South Eastern Railways; Indian Air Force and many more. Forty‑four Grant‑in‑aid projects, seven sponsored projects, eight consultancy projects, two collaborative projects and seven technical services projects were ongoing.

Three processes, namely, Electrolytic Iron Powder; Manufacturing of Pickling Inhibitor for descaling of steel in HCl acid solution; and Galvasalt—an improved production technology were transferred. Ten business MoUs were signed.

Seven Indian and 14 international patents and two copyrights were filed. Eighty research papers in international and 63 papers in Indian journals/proceedings were published reflecting a qualitative as well as quantitative improvement as compared to previous years.

 

Get‑togethers/Workshops

The laboratory holds periodic get‑togethers of industrialists, business people and Government officers to apprise the industries about the products and processes developed and the assistance that can be rendered for their commercial exploitation and to study and investigate the problems for the betterment of the products.

During the year, 14 workshops and seminars were held. Out of these, mention may be made of the mega events like the national level seminar/workshop on ‑ Resurgence of Metallic Materials — The current scenario; Remaining life assessment and extension of aged components of thermal power plants and Petrochemical industries; Promotion of Entrepreneurial industries; Promotion of Entrepreneurial Skills for Empowerment of Women; and Intellectual Property Assets in Business Development. As part of CSIR Diamond Jubilee celebrations, three lectures were organized: by Shri B. Muthuraman, Managing Director, Tata Steel on `Development in Steel Research', by Dr Placid Rodriguez, Chairman, Recruitment & Assessment Centre, DRDO, Delhi on `Non‑Destructive Evaluation in Science and Technology' and by Prof. K.L. Chopra, formerly Director, IIT‑Kharagpur, on `Two Dimensional Nano‑Materials — A review'.

 

Infrastructure

During the year 2002‑03 some major laboratory infrastructure has been added. NML with the help of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, is going to launch its centre for infrastructure asset management by non‑destructive evaluation techniques. The establishment of the NDT Centre is under progress. The other infrastructure components added include: a Computational Centre with a super computer `Param‑10,000', a major facility to determine melting, softening, characterization of iron ore/sinters, Precision and analytical mass comparator for NML's calibration centre, Laser flash thermal constant measuring unit, Impact Echo System, Thermography equipment, Hindhivac Sputtering Unit, Cement testing equipment.

 
Other Activities/Accomplishments

NML participated in the Technology Fair held at Zibo City, China through TIFAC, New Delhi; Jharkhand Udyog Mela held at Ranchi; Concept 2003 held at NIT Campus, Jamshedpur; and TechFest R&D Exhibition 2003 held at IIT, Bombay, with the objective of creating awareness about NML/CSIR, its achievements and supporting its business development efforts.

NML got the ISO 9001: 2000 certification, having successfully undergone upgradation audit. Unlike ISO 9000: 94 version, the revised standard lays much emphasis on Quality Management System whose bedrock is the process approach and measurability of its outputs leading to sustainable development of the organisation's business and its customer's satisfaction resulting in `Customer Delight' which is also NML's commitment.

During the year, NML's effective marketing drive could mobilize an extra budgetary sources worth Rs 66 million. NML staff had undergone training and 104 personnel sponsored by outside agencies were imparted training at the laboratory. Twelve scientists went on foreign deputation and four obtained higher degree/diploma.

Several prestigious awards and recognitions have come to NML scientists. These include CSIR Young Scientist Award; MRSI Young Scientist Award; SAIL Gold Medal ‑ 2002; Best Metallurgical and Materials Engineers Global Appreciation for RRL's Innovation

The Third World Network of Scientific Organisation (TWNSO) in collaboration with UNDP Special Unit for Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries has launched a project that aims to identify and publish innovative case studies for the development of pharmaceutical products from medicinal plants. The Regional Research Laboratory (RRL), Jorhat, was chosen amongst the best of the world class institutions to participate in the network of centres of excellence. RRL's innovation `Chiraly Pure Arteether: A Potent Antimalarial Drug from Artemisinin obtained from Artemesia annua — a naturally occurring medicinal plant', which was evolved by Dr N.C. Barua and his group in the Natural Products Chemistry Division found prestigious placement in the said global forum. According to a WHO report, over 40% of the world population is exposed to the risk of malaria with a global  death rate of over 3.5 million per year. Resistance of the malaria parasite to chemotherapeutic agents such as chloroquin has alarmingly increased for which development of new therapeutic agents were of very urgent need. The new antimalarial agent artemisinin, derived from Chinese medicinal plant A. annua is associated with several drawbacks for which artemisinin is not used clinically any longer. The ether derivatives of dihydro artemisinin such as arteether and artemether are however much better drugs than artemisinin. Arteether is a more preferred drug because of neurotoxicity associated with artemether. Synthesis of Arteether and Artemisinin results a mixture of the corresponding  a&b isomers; of which the crystalline b isomers is the actual drug. As these isomers are difficult to separate, WHO recommended a 40:60 mixture of a&b isomers for clinical use. The laboratory has developed a very efficient and ecofriendly process for production of the desired isomer of arteether with 78% yield in clinically pure form. The process was released to a private party for commercial production. So far, no other party has commercialized clinically pure b‑Arteether. Because the laboratory was selected to prepare a full‑length report on the subject, a stipend of US$1000 was granted to RRL upon publication of the case study monograph with the directive to so prepare the report that others may learn from its experience. Also, Dr Barua visited Trieste, Italy, recently to participate in an international workshop of TNNSO to share experience on the use of phyto‑pharmacuticals from medicinal plants, with the international community.

 

TKDL and the Human Development Report 2004

SHRI Jaipal Reddy, The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting recently released the Human Development Report 2004-- Cultural Liberty in Today's Diverse World commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New Delhi.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is recognized as a powerful alternative to using income as a measure of human well-being and is an important tool for monitoring long-term trends in human development. HDI is a composite index that measures a country's average achievements in three basic areas of human development, namely:

·        Longevity and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth

·        Knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate and the combined gross enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary school

·        A decent standard of living, as measured by GDP per capita in purchasing power parity US dollars.

The Report covers 177 countries (175 UN member countries) in all. Despite being included as a nation with "medium human development," India has been appreciated as an example of how "poor and diverse countries can do well with multi-cultural policies." India's efforts at preserving traditional knowledge have also been highlighted.

 

The Traditional knowledge Digital Library (TKDL)-- a prestigious collaborative project between the National Institute of Science Communication And Information Resources (NISCAIR) and the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare merited special mention. As the report points out, "Documenting traditional knowledge is often essential for protecting it as is being done by the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library in India …..Documentation does not prejudice rights. It preserves knowledge in written form and prevents others from claiming it as their own."

 
Address of Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, President of India,  at the Technology Day Awards Function

DR A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, and Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of State for Science & Technology, Ocean Development; and Vice President, CSIR addressed a distinguished gathering at a function held on 30 June 2004 at Pragati Maidan on the occasion of the National Technology Day Awards Function. Dr Kalam spoke on Technology for Societal Transformation.

 

The addresses are reproduced below.

Address of Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, President of India
Technology for Societal Transformation

I am indeed delighted to participate in the Technology Day Awards Function 2004 organized by Ministry of Science and Technology. My greetings to all the award winners, organizers, members of the Technology Development Board of Department of Science and Technology, distinguished guests and other teams.

Technology Day

During my periodical address over AIR, on Technology Day ‑ 11 May 2004, I narrated the milestones and the progress India has achieved technologically in the year 2003‑2004. It may be relevant to you. We had received hundreds of inputs from our technological community across the nation in various disciplines. For brevity, I had discussed nine technological events, which had the potential to penetrate into our economy and assist the transformation of our society. They were: Seed Cotton Productivity; Electricity Generation from Municipal Waste; A Brand in Automobile Technology; Fast Breeder Reactor; Birth of an Indian Cryogenic Engine; Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) ‑ TEJAS crossing the Sonic Barrier; Mapping the Neighborhood by the Children; Synergy Mission for Environmental Upgradation and Digital Library in every Panchayat. You may get the details from my website www.presidentofindia.nic.in.

Today I would like to focus on the technological challenges, which will enable faster transformation of India into a developed nation. What should be our essential need? How to channellize our energies? How to make use of our core competence, the human resource and physical resource to the national advantage?

 

Integrating Space, Information, Nano and Bio‑technology for Societal Transformation

The national developmental challenges are many involving integrated action namely: Agriculture and Food Processing, Education and Health care, Information and Communication Technology, Infrastructure and self‑reliance in critical technologies. As technologists, you can contribute in many areas like education, healthcare, disaster prevention & mitigation, e‑governance, urban planning, rural communication, PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) and importantly Interlinking of Rivers. It depends on the integrated application of one technology with other or in combination of multiple technologies such as Biotechnology, Information Technology, Space Technology, and Nano‑technology for innovative missions that must address pro‑actively acute problems of rapid depletion of conventional energy sources, drinking water supplies, and deliver solutions for the man‑planet conflict that has led to pollution, climatic change and degradation of ecology and the environment. Hence I am going to discuss with you about the connectivities, which are important in bringing prosperity to rural India, the foundation of our society.

 

 

Rural Prosperity through Connectivity (RUPCON)

 

As you are aware, nearly 700 million people of India live in the rural areas in 600,000 villages. Connectivity of village complexes providing economic opportunities to all segments of people is an urgent need to bridge the rural‑urban divide, generate employment and enhance rural prosperity.

 

 

Essential Connectivities

 

The integrated methods, which will bring prosperity to rural India are: the physical connectivity of the village clusters through quality roads and transport; electronic connectivity through tele‑communication with high bandwidth fiber optic cables reaching the rural areas from urban cities and through internet kiosks; knowledge connectivity through education, vocational training for farmers, artisans and craftsmen and entrepreneurship programmes; and economic connectivity through starting of grassroots level innovation driven enterprises and self‑help groups with the partnership of banks, micro credits for marketing the cost effective products for improving productivity and mass consumption.

 

 

Economic growth with Employment generation

To prevent migration of workforce from rural to urban areas, enriching the rural life, an employment generation in rural areas is essential. Teaching entrepreneurship in educational institutions and providing necessary opportunities for sustainable self‑employment backed with investment, technology will be an employment generator. The integrated chain of connectivities (Physical, Electronic, Knowledge resulting into Economic) in a time bound manner along with venture capital funding will generate economic development with large scale employment potential leading to rural prosperity. I would like to discuss two examples — tele‑education and seawater desalination, where technology infusion is needed.

 

Tele‑education

When we provide electronic connectivity to the rural areas with the broadband, satellite and wireless connectivities for last mile access, it paves the way for knowledge enablement to the rural people via tele‑education. Through this, we can take the knowledge to their doorsteps with the latest innovations, digital library, experiences in value‑addition, state‑of‑the‑art practices, system oriented approach, entrepreneurial management skills, technical skills, business knowledge with the help of Universities, R&D organizations, Industries, Management and Technical institutions. It also provides a backbone for the schools where adequate number of quality teachers is not available. Tele‑Education will enable the teachings of the good teacher available to the remote corners of the nation in a two‑way tele‑education mode. A good teacher from remote rural area also can teach seamlessly from the remote location to the other parts of the country. The present systems available do not provide these facilities in full and are expensive. The infusion of technology is needed to make these systems affordable for every one of our panchayats and our villages, so that the knowledge can reach the common man in all the corners of the nation. We are advancing in this direction. I would like to give my recent personal experiences. Rashtrapati Bhavan was connected to Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA through Internet and voice over IP (Internet Protocol) in a low bandwidth configuration. I had an interactive conference with the scientists of CMU on “Digital library for every panchayat in India”. Also, during this week, I interacted with the scientists from NASA and India attending the Indo‑US space congress, at Bangalore from Rashtrapati Bhavan using VSAT. Both these technologies — the satellite based and Internet based, are complementary to each other and are needed for tele‑education. Satellite communication provides one to many connections with easy scalability to even a billion people. The Internet based technology is a connection‑less network and because of its use of IP; it is amenable to even for communicating with small form factor mobile devices. These are good for one to few interactive interactions. When we talk about remote education, we need to have a combination of intense interaction between the students and the teachers but when it comes to delivery of lectures, technologies for communication of one to many should be made cost effective and affordable. We should also create quality content so that our entire education can be remotely accessible and can work seamlessly with our collegiate and school education. These systems with certain additional medical instrumentation should provide tele‑medicine and even health awareness facility also. Tele‑medicine connects Urban hospitals, District hospitals to the Primary Health Centers in the rural areas.

 

Seawater desalination solution: technology and process

Globally, there are a few solutions to solve water shortage. I would like to give certain suggestions; definitely it may be of interest to you. The first solution is by redistribution of water. India has already started this by wide spread promotion of rain water harvesting in both rural and urban areas, but it has to be done in a mission mode as few states are already doing. In addition we need to put a stop to large‑scale wastage of water and promote water recycling on compulsory basis in urban and rural areas. It is essential to note that we get monsoon rain only for three months in most of the places, whereas the consumption is for all 365 days using the ground water. The other major programme, which is under the consideration of the Government, is the linking of rivers, which also need multiple technological inputs.

 

Desalination methods

Fortunately, we have a resource of 91% of water in the form of oceans and seas. Therefore, second solution would be to create new perennial sources of fresh water by seawater desalination. There are many desalination plants already established all over the world. Every year in our country, the drought or flood conditions are experienced damaging the habitat and certain human loss. We resort to partial solutions with large amount of expenditure. Presently in India there is certain water management for irrigation purposes useful for food production. The demand for food may get doubled in two decades. Therefore the planning of water through desalination process and interlinking of rivers has to be planned together in the development of additional water resources for irrigation and potable water for drinking.

 

Development of desalination technology

India attaches importance to technological solutions for various desalination processes. Fortunately Department of Atomic Energy, DRDO; CSIR; IIT, Madras and academic institutions are working in different processes for desalination, whereas we should recognize that there are already operational plants elsewhere in the world. Nuclear Desalination Demonstration Project (NDDP) at Kalpakkam has demonstrated the safe and economic production of good quality water by desalination of seawater comprising of 4500 cubic meter per day by Multi Stage Flash (MSF) and 1800 cubic meter per day by Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant. The plants can be scaled up many times. The design of the hybrid MSF‑RO plant to be set up at an existing nuclear power station is another solution. The MSF plant based on long tube design requires lesser energy. The effect on performance of MSF plant due to higher seawater intake temperature is marginal. The preheat RO system part of the hybrid plant uses reject cooling seawater from MSF plant. This allows lower pressure operation, resulting in energy saving. The two qualities of water produced are usable for the power station as well as for drinking purposes with appropriate blending. The post treatment is also simplified due to blending of the products from MSF and RO plants. Another approach is the use of dual‑purpose plants, where the desalination plant is connected to an electricity plant, utilizing the waste heat from the electricity plants run by nuclear energy. I understand, under favourable conditions, dual‑purpose plants decrease the cost of desalinated water below those of conventional desalination methods, primarily through energy conservation.

 

Desalination process

Last year, I visited the Umm Al Nar desalination plant in Abu Dhabi, which produces nearly 500 million liters of fresh water per day using the MSF (Multi Stage Flash) process. This one plant has totally transformed the ecology of the desert, and is an example of how large scale water supplies may be obtained from the oceans. In this process the seawater has to be flashed into steam by heat addition at low pressure. When the steam is condensed to produce fresh water, part of the energy is used to run steam turbines to produce electricity to feed back to the grid.

But for India we need new processes and new solutions like use of reverse osmosis, using solar energy and MSF using nuclear energy. It is also essential to set up the desalination plants next to the nuclear power stations to reuse the waste energy effectively. The technologists and industrialists who have assembled here should come out with unique technological solution to produce water for drinking and irrigation through seawater desalination process in a cost effective manner.

Now I would like to discuss how innovation could be nurtured through the infusion of technology and the need for instituting of a special award by Technology Development Board.

 

Innovation: key to economic strength

In the Ministry of Science and Technology there are two major schemes, which I am personally aware of: Technology Development Board, which leads to commercialization of technologies, developed by lab/industry and Technology Awards given to recognize the excellence which we are witnessing today. The same Ministry has another important scheme through National Innovation Foundation tasked with the mission of bringing out and growing national grass root technological innovations and traditional knowledge. They give awards to a few grass root innovations, which are selected, from thousands of proposals. Some of the innovations for which awards have been given in the past years are: Low cost hand pump, Coconut harvester, Portable power generating device, Convertible three wheel tractor, Self propelled weeder etc. But very rarely, these innovations are converted into a commercial proposition having a societal impact. The Technology Development Board may consider introducing from the year 2005, at least two awards exclusively for shaping the innovation into a globally competitive commercial application through technological value addition with appropriate funding mechanism. This may need nurturing of two thousand innovations to select two. Now I would like to discuss with you the law of development, which brings out the need for competitiveness in our products.

 

Law of development

How to become competitive? I was studying the development patterns and the dynamics of connectivity between nations, especially in trade and business. As you all know, the world has a few developed countries and many developing countries. What is the dynamics between them and what connects them? Developed country has to market its products in a competitive way to different countries to remain as developed country. The developing country to get transformed into developed country; too has to market its products in other countries in a competitive way. Competitiveness has three dimensions: quality of the product, cost effectiveness and supply in time. Indeed this dynamics of competitiveness in marketing of products by developing and developed countries determines the law of development. We have to see our integrated missions for national development with competitiveness index in mind.

Friends, I have worked in many technological areas and management groups and based on certain experiences, I have evolved a definition for technology:

Of course there is a time difference between innovation and commercialization. In electronics and communication systems it takes less than five years for invention to become an application/product and about ten years for material and manufacturing fields

The integrated relationship of science, technology, and environment, manufacturing and marketing has tremendous impact on the society. I congratulate all the awardees and greet the organizers from DST.

Wish you success in your mission of promoting technology for societal change. May God Bless You.

 

Welcome Address by Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of State for Science & Technology, Ocean Development;  and Vice President, CSIR

His Excellency, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India, distinguished awardees, representatives from Indian Industry, my friends in the media, ladies and gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to welcome His Excellency, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India and all of you gathered here on the occasion of the National Awards Function, celebrating Technology Day, 2004. This annual event recognizes all those innovators who through their accomplishments have made a difference to our lives. Innovators are for the most part the unknown leaders of humanity. They contribute substantially in developing processes or products, which have the potential of changing our lives. They are the providers of sustenance and comfort to all of us. Today, we honour the innovators we know but, in a sense, we are also on Technology Day, 2004 honouring all those unknown innovators who may make a difference to our lives.

Elbert Hubbard said, “One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man”. Those who we honour today are extraordinary men. They are in the business of innovation, which is the activity of adding value to an existing process or product or conceiving of a new process or product. Their minds are our capital. In some ways they employ means to provide objects necessary for human sustenance and comfort. That is why technology is seen as a panacea for all social ills: genetics and bio‑engineering are to provide for new agricultural products and new forms of livestock thereby attempting to solve the problem of food distribution and availability, the internet and computers are apparently destined to solve crises in our educational system as also to increase productivity amongst workers; harvesting of rare tropical plants will hopefully lead to the development of pharmaceutical drugs to cure human diseases; the human genome will perhaps prevent diseases before they begin; new forms of energy will supplant the slowly vanishing supply of fossil fuels; high speed trains will hopefully make cross country travel a pleasure; improvements in telecommunications will lead to better productivity and enhance proximity, without being together, and we are told that new reproductive technologies will increase human fertility and happiness. The list goes on and on. The issue is, will new technologies increase material wealth and human freedom. While they decrease poverty, disease and obstacles to human well being, the issue is whether technology can be used successfully for just human ends or will technology enslave us. Technology according to Max Frich “[is]the knack of so arranging the world that we need not experience it.”

The fact is that every large step for mankind was taken by innovators. Today the need of the hour is to focus on the plight of the ordinary man; on poverty, lack of housing, water scarcity, non‑availability of food and of course socio‑economic and ecological problems. Science and Technology may provide the answer for these. Technology in many ways is colourless; it is without ideology. We can use appropriate technologies to generate employment, reduce poverty, help the hungry and the homeless and improve the standard of living of the common man. We can use technology to sustain growth while protecting the environment.

These national awards instituted by the Technology Development Board are a step in this direction. They anoint all those who are able to use indigenous technology for successful commercial ventures. We have a separate award for small‑scale industrial units. I might add that awards instituted by other Scientific Departments and Organizations such as the Department of Bio‑Technology, National Research Development Corporation are also to be given away today.

We are indeed honoured by the presence of His Excellency, Dr Kalam who has himself made significant contributions in the field of Science and Technology. His vision of India as a strong and vibrant nation is our cherished goal and the use of technology will go a long way to achieve it. Thank you, Sir, for honouring us by being here. You are the beacon light for all those distinguished scientists who have received the highest possible honours in the field of Science and Technology. We know of your invaluable contribution in the success of India's Space Program and Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. You are indeed a visionary and your technology vision of 2020, which will make India a developed nation, is our guiding light. I am sure that all the awardees here will be greatly motivated and inspired by your presence and I once again thank you for being here.

A word for the awardees: These awards are recognition of their having displayed initiative, imagination and innovation by using technology to serve the ends of society. Thank you for those contributions.

I am also enthused by the presence of a large number of leaders from Indian Industry. I want to reiterate that we in Government stand committed to public‑private partnerships for assuring an era of technology, which will make India strong and proud as a nation.

One last word. Emphasis on Science and Technology, I believe, will rapidly usher in an era of prosperity. We need to pursue our developmental goals forthwith. Capital and investment can only create an appropriate environment for progress. But progress can only be achieved if, as a society, we recognize that science and technology alone can take a nation forward. We need to put science and technology in the forefront of all developmental processes. Science and Technology must be at the top of our national agenda. I would like the media to recognize this. I would like to propagate that. I would like all of us to march together recognizing that the year we celebrate is the year dedicated to the spread and awareness of science. The years ahead will bear fruit. In the years ahead our nation will recognize the importance of our mission. Thank you ladies and gentlemen once again, I welcome you all.

 

Dr Kalyan Sen takes Additional Charge as Director, CMRI

DR Kalyan Sen, Director, Central Fuel Research Institute (CFRI), Dhanbad, has taken over the charge of the Central Mining Research Institute (CMRI), Dhanbad, as its Director with effect from 30 June 2004 after the retirement of Prof D. D. Misra on attaining the age of superannuation. It will be his additional assignment till a new Director of CMRI joins.

Dr Sen (born 18 April 1945) obtained the Degree of Bachelor of Engineering (Mining) from BE College, Shibpur in 1967 and did Ph.D. in Technology from Academy of Mining and Metallurgy, Cracow, Poland in 1973.

After serving Bharat Coking Coal Limited as Design Engineer for four years, he joined CFRI as Assistant Director in 1978. Because of his hard work, dynamism and scientific excellence he was gradually elevated to the highest position of the laboratory.

He led CFRI in developing an improved process technology for recovery of low-ash prime coking coal fines from washery wastes and effluents for substitution of imported coal. This has helped the coal washeries to enhance their productivity and prevent environment pollution. Based on this technology, several Mini Flotation Plants (5 to 10 tph) have been set up with commercial success. For this significant contribution he was presented the prestigious CSIR Technology Award 2001 and NRDC Invention Award 2003.

Under his leadership, CFRI took up the challenges of developing an exclusive and globally competitive technology for economical beneficiation of low-volatile coking coals hitherto considered as unwashable. CFRI has also undertaken a major assignment to work out the optimum circuit for beneficiation of powder grade coals.

The Coal Conservation and Development Advisory Committee, Ministry of Coal, Government of India, has also entrusted Dr Sen and his team with an important project entitled `Studies on Beneficiation of Coals from Lower Seams of Jharia Coalfields' costing Rs 47.8 million. The work will be helpful in selecting the optimum beneficiation circuit for difficult-to wash lower seam coals and producing optimum cleans of desired quality through modern pilot plants, computer simulation and optimization studies.

Encouraged by the results, the Ministry of Coal (SSRC) has also granted Rs 330 million for installation of a demonstration plant of one million tonne/year capacity with CFRI know-how. This is, so far, the biggest project ever funded by SSRC to be implemented jointly by coal companies and CFRI.

Dr Sen was member of Technical Group on `Action Plan for Reducing Dependence on Coking Coals Imports' of the Ministry of Coal and also the Convenor of the Committee for BIS Guidelines for the Utilization and Disposal of Solid Waste from Coal Mining and Washery Industries. He has been the Chairman of BIS on `Coal and Coke' and also represented India for the first time in an International Standard Organization meeting on `Coal and Coke' held in Australia during November 2003.

He is associated with many national and international bodies. He is Guest Lecturer of Indian Institute of Coal Management, Ranchi; Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, and Bengal Engineering College, Kolkata. He is the author of two books and several research papers and also holds a number of patents. He has visited several countries. He visited China recently to lead a delegation on coal carbonization and utilization, and Japan for negotiating a Japanese Government grant of $2 to 8 million for installation of one million tonne/year coal washery.

The Coal Consumers' Association of India has recently felicitated Dr Sen for his outstanding contribution to the development of the coal industry in India.

 

CSIR Stall gets First Prize at Bangalore Bio-2004 Exhibition

 

THE CSIR stall at Bangalore-Bio 2004 exhibition got the First Prize amongst the Central Government organisations that participated in the exhibition. It attracted more than 50,000 visitors and entrepreneurs. More than 30,000 visitors visited the CSIR stall and most of the visitors were students and from the research and industrial community. One hundred and fifty visitors made specific enquiries about the technologies and facilities offered by not only the Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI) but also by other CSIR institutions such as Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB). Banana juice was served to most of the visitors and it was highly appreciated.

The Bangalore Bio - 2004 Exhibition organized during 11-13 July 2004 had a large participation from `Biotech Family, India.'

The Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Siddaramaiah, gave away the award at Bangalore Bio - 2004, where they also felicitated the three Padma Awardees of the year who are working in the Biotechnology area from the State of Karnataka.

 

National Interactive Meet (NIM 2004)Scope and Opportunities in Research & Business of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants

THE Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow, is organizing a National Interactive Meet during 29-30 October 2004. The meet is aimed at bringing farmers, entrepreneurs and research scientists to a common platform with a view to forging linkages, discussing present prospects in the area of research and business of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants as well as working out strategies for the future.

The theme areas proposed to be covered during NIM 2004 are:

    Further information can be had from:

    Dr S. P. S. Khanuja, (Director)
    Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP)
    P.O. CIMAP  
    Lucknow 226 015       
    Tel.: (0522) 2359623,
    FAX: (0522) 2342666
    E-mail director@cimap.res.in   
    Website: www.cimap.res.in

 
Symposium on '50 Years of Collagen Triple Helix : A Celebration of Science'

THE Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, and Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), Chennai, are jointly organizing a one-day symposium on `50 Years of Collagen Triple Helix : A Celebration of Science' on 7 August 2004 at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, to commemorate 50 years of the discovery of triple helical structure of collagen by Prof. G.N. Ramachandran, published fifty years back on 7 August 1954 in Nature.

Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, will deliver a special address, and Dr R.A. Mashelkar, Director General, CSIR will inaugurate it.

For further information please contact:
Ms. Arpita Sengupta,
IGIB, Mall Road, Delhi -110 007
Telephone: (011) 27667578,
Fax: 27667471