PIB News 19th Sep, 2020


(General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management, Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.)

India’s first CRISPR Covid-19 test, developed by the Tata Group and CSIR-IGIB, approved for use in India
The Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) test, powered by CSIR-IGIB(Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology) FELUDA, received regulatory approvals today from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for commercial launch, as per ICMR guidelines, meeting high quality benchmarks with 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity for detecting the novel coronavirus. This test uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for detection of the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus.CRISPR is a genome editing technology to diagnosing diseases.

The Tata CRISPR test is the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a speciallyadapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus causing Covid-19. This marks a significant achievement for the Indian scientific community, moving from R&D to a high-accuracy, scalable and reliable test in less than 100 days. The Tata CRISPR test achieves accuracy levels oftraditional RT-PCR tests, with quicker turnaround time, less expensive equipment, and better ease of use. Moreover, CRISPR is a futuristic technology that can also be configured for detection of multiple other pathogens in the future.

The effort is the result of a fruitful collaboration between the scientific community and industry. The Tata Group has worked closely with CSIR-IGIB and ICMR to create a high-quality test that will help the nation ramp up Covid-19 testing quickly and economically, with a ‘Made in India’ product that is safe, reliable, affordable, and accessible. 

Commenting on the development, Girish Krishnamurthy, CEO, TATA Medical and Diagnostics Ltd, said, “The approval for the Tata CRISPR test for COVID-19 will give a boost to the country’s efforts in fighting the global pandemic. The commercialization of the Tata CRISPR test reflects the tremendous R&D talent in the country, which can collaborate to transform India’s contributions to the global healthcare and scientific research world.”

Dr Shekhar C Mande, DG-CSIR complimented the CSIR-IGIB team of scientists and students, TATA Sons and DCGI for the exemplary work and collaboration carried out during the current pandemic leading to the approval of the novel diagnostic kit and paving the path for further innovations towards making India self-reliant.   

Dr Anurag Agrawal, Director CSIR-IGIB expressed delight that work started by CSIR under the sickle cell mission for genome diagnostics and therapeutics led to new knowledge that could be harnessed to quickly develop new diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2. He emphasized that this shows the interconnectedness of scientific knowledge and technology and the innovation of the young research team led by Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty and Dr SouvikMaiti.


(General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations, Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind virtually inaugurates Visitor’s Conference on Implementation of National Education Policy 2020 in Higher Education
NEP sets the vision of developing an equitable and Vibrant Knowledge society: President Kovind
The NEP envisions an India-centred education system that contributes directly to transforming India into a Global Superpower : Education Minister

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind virtually inaugurated the Visitor’s conference of Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities, Directors of Institutions of National Importance of Ministry of Education and other Ministries here today. Union Minister of Education, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’; Minister of State for Education Shri Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre; Secretary, Higher Education Shri Amit Khare; Chairman, Drafting Committee of NEP, Dr. K. Kasturirangan along with senior officials of the Ministry, UGC and AICTE were present on the occasion.

The National Education Policy  aims to reorient the education system towards meeting the needs of the 21st century by achieving the twin objectives of inclusion and excellence. It sets the vision of developing an equitable and vibrant knowledge society by providing quality education to all, said the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind in the inaugural address of Visitors’ Conference .

Appreciating the efforts of the Education Ministry and Dr. Kasturirangan and his team, who prepared the policy, the President mentioned that the Policy has been prepared after extensive consultation with 2.5 lakh gram panchayats, more than 12,500 local bodies and about 675 districts generating more than two lakh suggestions thereby reflecting a ground-level understanding.

Encouraging institutions of higher education, President Kovind observed that these institutes have greater responsibility of making India a global knowledge superpower. The quality standards set as benchmark by these institutions would be followed by other institutions. The President emphasized that fundamental principles of the Policy include creativity and critical thinking in order to encourage logical decision-making and innovation. He drew inspiration from Bhagvad Gita and the Krishna-Arjun dialogue while reiterating the concept of free communication and discussion between the teacher and the student. The NEP also seeks to encourage critical thinking and spirit of enquiry. He opined that effective implementation of the NEP 2020 is likely to restore India’s glory as a great centre of learning as during the times of Takshashila and Nalanda.

President Kovind, describing the novel features of NEP, said that it would also introduce the system of Academic Bank of Credits. It would digitally store the academic credits earned from various Higher Education Institutions so that degrees can be awarded, taking into account the credits earned by students. This would allow students the freedom to take courses as per their vocational, professional or intellectual requirements in addition to giving flexibility of suitable exit and re-entry points. The need for strict monitoring of B.Ed., vocational and distance-learning courses is also being taken care of in this policy, he added.

During the course of the address, the President also highlighted that the target of the NEP 2020 is to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio or GER in higher education to 50 percent by 2035. He observed that the online system of education can also be utilized to reach this target especially in catering to the female students or those who do not have physical access to educational institutions as well as the international students. Citing statistics, he added that according to All India Survey of Higher Education for 2018-19, GER for females is slightly higher than that for males. However, the share of female students is extremely low in Institutions of National Importance and particularly low in technical education. Emphasizing that NEP has focus on equity and inclusion, he said that such gender disparity in higher education should be corrected. The President also observed that it would be the role of head of institutions that would have an impact on the teachers and students and hence the heads of organizations should take active interest in implementing the policy.

 The Union Education Minister, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank gave the opening remarks of the Conference. Welcoming the dignitaries attending the Conference, he said that education is the basis of progress for any society. It is not just constitutional but moral responsibility of the government to implement a robust education policy. Shri Pokhriyal expressed hope that the NEP 2020 would be able to decentralize and strengthen our education system.

Shri Pokhriyal recalled that on September 7, 2020, the Governors’ Conference was held under the guidance of the President on same subject. The aim to strategize the implementation of this policy was initiated by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and the focus is to improve the quality of education standards in our country. This policy has given access to foreign universities to open campuses in India and vice-versa which will be instrumental in the process of making India a soft power, the Minister added.

Education is the foundation of any society and has a great role in transforming the future of our youth and the nation, Shri Pokhriyal said. Education is a medium of nurturing and producing individuals with holistic personality, who are not just an asset for the nation but also good human beings well rooted in the society and culture. Hence, the role of the education policy of any nation plays a great role in shaping and determining its future, he added.

The NEP 2020 is directed towards major reforms in both school and higher education level.  The NEP envisions an India-centered education system that contributes directly to transforming India into a Global Superpower. The comprehensive transformation through this new National Education Policy will bring about a paradigm shift in our education system and will also impact the future generations of learners and create an enabling and reinvigorated educational ecosystem for a new Atmanirbhar Bharat envisaged by Prime Minister of India.

Shri Pokhriyal further said that the policy has laid emphasis on pertinent issues which will pave the way for transformation of higher education in India. However, the key to binging about the much-needed change in the higher education system lies in the implementation of this policy.The restructuring and revamping of the education system cannot be achieved in isolation and without the contribution and commitment of key stakeholders. It will require multiple initiatives and actions to be taken by multiple bodies in a synchronized and systematic manner. Various government and education bodies including university/institutions itself will have to join hand in a jointly coordinated venture of coherent action and implementation, he added.

Emphasizing on NEP, Union Education Minister observed that all hurdles in the process of implementation of NEP should be overcome and dialogue should be established with all stakeholders. He further requested the Vice Chancellors and Heads of Institutions to take the policy to maximum number of people. The support of all sections is imperative in brainstorming about the implementing process, he added. Shri Pokhriyal in his address said synergy from all institutions, academia and the students will be helpful for expeditious implementation of NEP 2020.

 After the inaugural session various sessions on Multidiscipline and Holistic Education, Research & Innovation in Higher Education, Digital Transformation in Higher Education, Internationalization and Global Rankings, Equity, Inclusion and Capacity Building for Outreach and Excellence were organized to take New Education Policy forward.


(General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management, Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.)

Indian monsoon can be predicted better after volcanic eruptions: Indo-German research team
Volcanic matter in stratosphere blocks sunshine and impacts air circulation and rainfall dynamics: R. Krishnan, IITM Pune

Large volcanic eruptions can help to forecast the monsoon over India – the seasonal rainfall that is key for the country’s agriculture and thus for feeding one billion people. As erratic as they are, volcanic eruptions improve the predictability, an Indian-German research team finds. What seems to be a paradox is in fact due to a stronger coupling between the monsoon over large parts of South and South-East Asia and the El Niño phenomenon after an eruption. Combining data from meteorological observations, climate records, computer model simulations, and paleoclimate archives such as tree-rings, corals, cave deposits and ice-cores from past millennia of Earth history, the researchers found that a synchronization of the monsoon with the strongest mode of natural climate variability, the El Niño, makes it easier to anticipate the strength of seasonal rainfall in the Indian subcontinent.

“The tiny particles and gases that a large volcano blasts into the air enter into the stratosphere and remain there for a few years. While the volcanic matter in the stratosphere to some extent blocks sunshine from reaching the Earth’s surface, the reduced solar forcing increases the probability of an El Niño event in the next year,” says R. Krishnan from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune. “This is because less sunshine means less warmth and hence a change of temperature differences between the Northern and Southern hemisphere, which in turn affects the atmospheric large-scale circulation and precipitation dynamics. Advanced data analysis now reveals that large volcanic eruptions are more likely to promote the coincidence of warm El Niño events over the Pacific and Indian monsoon droughts – or, in contrast, cool La Niña events over the Pacific and Indian monsoon excess.”

The year-to-year variability of the Indian monsoon rainfall strongly depends on the El Niño / Southern Oscillation – a climatic phenomenon in the tropical Pacific Ocean whose Spanish name means ‘the boy’, referring to the child Christ because the water near South America is often at its warmest near Christmas. “The synchronization between tropical Pacific Ocean and Indian monsoon is changing over time, with human-made global warming being one of the factors, worsening the accurate prediction of the monsoon,” says Norbert Marwan from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “This in fact confirms a hypothesis that our colleagues Maraun and Kurths advanced 15 years ago. The new findings now suggest a novel, additional path for monsoon predictions that is crucial for agricultural planning in India.” Previous research from PIK already substantially improved Monsoon prediction for years without volcanic eruptions.

The findings can also help further developing climate models and could in fact also help assessing the regional implications of geo-engineering experiments. To reduce global warming from human-made greenhouse gases, some scientists envision solar radiation management – basically to block a portion of sunrays from warming Earth’s surface by putting dust in the high atmosphere, similar to what the natural phenomenon of a volcanic eruption does. Artificially blocking sunshine, however, might dangerously interfere with a number of processes in the atmosphere. Understanding the mechanisms at play is thus important.




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