Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - May 17, 2018

Department of Biotechnology(round the year developments)

Agriculture Farmer Zone

  • The Department is positioning itself to take the lead in developing a commercial model for the Indian farmer and her farming needs by setting up “FarmerZone”, a cloud-service with curated data.
  • This data caters to all needs of the farmer–from dealing with climate change, weather predictions to problems faced by the farmer on matters of land, soil, disease, pest, water, planting material and marketing.
  • The FarmerZone will include a MarketZone where farmers can directly sell their produce which can be picked up by directly from the farm.

LOTUSHR (Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse)

  • Being implemented in collaboration with the Netherlands, with the objective of cleaning the sewage water of the Barapullah drain – the second largest drain in Delhi, while simultaneously recovering resources from it.
  • DBT will also partner with the EU to setup pilot water cleaning units using microorganisms for cleaning water; this being a pioneering effort in India.

EduTech

  • The Department has assumed leadership role in the country by partnering with Finland, based on EduGames and EduTech for India.
  • The programme will be carried on a pilot scale and will be based on a co-creation model to reboot higher education in life sciences and conduct a pilot study for EduGaming and EduTech for life sciences.
  • Proginator ‘X’ is a game where while destroying zombies, students learn the connection between cells, tissues and organs.
  • This is the future of education, and a pilot study on life science edugaming can be a model for future education in India.

Steps taken by the Department in the field of EduTech

  • The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology organised “Edutech and EduGaming: The future of Education” at C-CAMP
  • The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and NITI Ayog partnered in the event, which allowed connecting tinkering labs supported by AIM with pilots of Finnish EduTech.
  • The Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, is working with Tekes to put out a joint call for proposals to create EduTech and EduGaming products and services for Indian schools and colleges.
  • In the meanwhile, a pilot with TeamIndus, Bangalore and Kerbal Space Program will develop an EduGame for introducing space engineering and life science in space to budding vyomanauts.
  • Once the platform is developed, TeamIndus would help spread the impact across India through various programs that run like the Moon shot Wheels or Moon shot Cadets programme.
  • The long-term strategic objective of this project is to create a bridge between India and Finland, integrating the Finnish educational excellence and the expansive education system of India in an attempt to “Reboot education for Indian schools”.

Democratisation of Science

  • Foldscope is a low-cost paper origami microscope which costs about $1 with a magnification of 125x developed by Prakash Lab at Stanford University, USA.
  • DBT has opened a call for proposals inviting schools, colleges and citizen scientists to apply for Foldscope (a frugal microscope) with application in education and research.
  • About 500 Foldscopes were distributed to students and teachers during these workshops.

Nobel Prize Series India 2017

  • The Department of Biotechnology has signed an MoU with the Nobel Media AB of the Nobel Foundation to bring the Nobel Prize Series to India from 2017 to 2022. The first Nobel Prize Series India 2017
  • It was a trilateral partnership between DBT, the State Government of Gujarat and Nobel Media AB.
  • The first edition of Nobel Prize Series was inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi on January 9, 2017 at the Science City in Ahmadabad, Gujarat as a prelude to Vibrant Gujarat 2017.
  • Nine Nobel Laureates participated in the event whose theme was “Science Impacts Lives”.
  • The Nobel Prize Series India 2017 was the biggest event organised by Nobel Media AB outside of Scandinavia and has been a trendsetter for both within the country and outside.
  • The second edition, Nobel Prize Series – India 2018, will be held in Goa in partnership with the Goa government during February 2018.

Human Resources Development

  • DBT’s skill development initiative will speed up India’s Development
  • The skill development program launched in partnership with Indian Institutions will provide high quality hands on training for 10+2 students, fresh graduates, and faculty in the areas of biotechnology.

DBT’s support will include

  • Study of demand and supply of trained skilled manpower and identification of gaps for initiating new programmes.
  • Study of available skill development programmes in the country and overseas, and adaption and adoption of suitable model.
  • Planning for training of teachers, students and entrepreneurs, framing course curriculum with duration.
  • Identification of experts and partner institutes for conducting specific technique based skill development programmes, entrepreneurship development programmes and faculty improvement programmes.
  • Conduct skill development programmes for school pass outs and undergraduate students.
  • Conduct entrepreneurship development programmes in collaboration with industry associations.

DBT participated in Smart India Hackathon 2017

  • The Department of Biotechnology along with 28 other departments participated in the Smart India Hackathon 2017 organized by the Government of India under Digital India initiative.
  • DBT was a ‘Premier Partner’ for the Smart India Hackathon event.
  • About 17 problems were proposed for students to provide digital based solutions.
  • The Grand Finale of Smart India Hackathon 2017 was held simultaneously at 26 different nodal centres across the country.
  • The Grand Finale for DBT and DST was organised at C V Raman College of Engineering, Bhubhaneshwar, Odisha.
  • DBT has also projected 26 problem statement for Smart India Hackathon 2018.

Enlighten about Smart India Hackathon -2017

  • Digital India Hackathon is about coding together to solve real world problems. Digital India HACKATHON 2017 is a pan India 36 hour nonstop digital programming competition.
  • It is a initiative of Government of India and AICTE.
  • Department of Biotechnology announced that the much awaited Smart India Hackathon 2017 Grand Finale is scheduled to be held on April 1 & 2, 2017 simultaneously at 26 different nodal centers across India.
  • Department of Biotechnology is a ‘Premier Partner’ in this initiative.
  • Launched on Nov 9, 2016 in New Delhi, Smart India Hackathon 2017 harnesses creativity & expertise of students, builds funnel for ‘Startup India, Standup India’ campaign, crowd sources solutions for improving governance and quality of life, and provides opportunity to citizens to provide innovative solutions to India’s daunting problems.

Partnering with Heidelberg University on Big Data Research

  • The Department of Biotechnology has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Heidelberg University, Germany for starting Joint DBT-Heidelberg University Graduate Programme on Big Data Research.
  • There are six Indian partner institutes like IIT Madras, IIT Kanpur, IIT Guwahati, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Allahabad University and Delhi University.
  • Under this programme, the first batch of 15-20 students will be sent for 2-3 months training during their Masters phase to Heidelberg University, Germany.
  • It is also proposed to include about 10 doctoral students per year. The programme envisages sending Indian students for 5 consecutive years.

Societal Development DBT recognizes HESCO for “Biotechnology Social Development Award”

  • Department has recognized the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO), Dehradun, Uttarakhand, for their pioneering work on creating livelihood options for rural community in the Himalayan region.
  • Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization, i.e., HESCO is based out of Shuklapur village near Dehradun in Uttarakhand.
  • It is an NGO working since 1979 and focusing on economic and developmental needs of the community.
  • It is working towards encouraging society to tap local bio-resources for self-reliance.
  • The mission of HESCO is to promote innovative and ecologically-sound solutions in the Himalayan region for sustainable utilization of local bio-resources and ultimately help the community development through their sustainable livelihood.

North-Eastern Region

  • DBT has established a dedicated ‘North Eastern Region Biotechnology Programme Management Cell (NER-BPMC)’, with an annual investment of ₹ 180 crores to evolve, implement and foster biotechnology research in the North-Eastern states.

Phyto-Pharma Plant Mission announced

  • DBT has announced a ₹ 50 crore mission aiming at conservation and cultivation of endangered and threatened endemic medicinal plants of North East India and discovery of new botanical drugs for unmet medical needs using the rich traditional ethno-botanical knowledge and biodiversity of these states.

Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat (B4)

  • DBT has announced a unique mission to construct a laboratory on a boat for doing research at different laboratories in NER.
  • Named Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat (B4), this well-equipped laboratory would contain facilities for analysis of all components of the entire ecosystem of the river and surroundings.
  • This lab will link all the local research institutions as well as national and international laboratories along the Brahmaputra.
  • B4 will have capability to analyse soil, water, environment, plant and animal life, human health and agriculture and an equal component that involves local citizens in the experimental process of science in data generation and management.
  • B4 will also have a teaching laboratory for school/college children.
  • It is also proposed to have mobile satellite boat labs, which will run along the tributaries of Brahmaputra to feed in data to the main B4.

Twinning R&D Programme

  • Twinning R&D Programme has been implemented, which made a huge impact in NE states for implementing hard core biotechnology in association with rest of India institutions.
  • Till now, more than 480 twinning projects have been implemented as collaborative projects between North East institutions and the rest of India Institutions.

NER-Scented Rice

  • North Eastern Region of India possesses a rich diversity of Aromatic Rice (AR).
  • The aromatic rice of NER especially Joha and Black rice are of premium value because of their aroma and high medicinal characteristics.
  • But these are also poor yielders and susceptible to pest attacks.
  • Hence, innovative approach was adopted using biotechnological intervention to ameliorate the agronomic characteristics of this aromatic rice and other scientific properties besides yield enhancement.
  • A similar kind of project in NER Banana on twinning mode has also been implemented recently in the regions.

Human Resources

  • Support to 11 medical colleges in NER to create an environment of training and research in Medical Biotechnology

Support to Star Colleges

  • Fifteen colleges have been recognized so far as Star Colleges in NER.
  • DBT invested more than ₹ 2.50 crores in last three years.
  • Under this programme, colleges get enhanced lab infrastructure and mentoring by leading scientists and Fellows of various National Academies.

Biotechnology Labs in Senior Secondary schools (BliSS) programme

  • DBT has established Biotechnology Labs at 88 Senior Secondary Schools from NER under BliSS programme.
  • An amount of Rs 2.20 crores has been spent to create laboratory infrastructure at senior secondary school level. This programme is first of its kind in India.

Sources – PIB, DoNER, Department of Biotechnology