Science and Technology (S&T) Digest (1-15 August 2023), Issue 19
Dr Saroj Bishoyi, Research Fellow, VIF

In this Issue

I. Defence and Security

  1. Capital Procurement of Defence Equipment for Armed Forces
  2. Technology Development Fund Scheme
  3. Achieving Self-Reliance in Defence Sector
  4. Induction of Electric Vehicles in Army

II. STI in Space Sector

  1. Aditya-L1 Mission, Solar Observatory, Gets Ready for Launch
  2. Human Space Flight Mission of India Planned in August/September 2023
  3. Russia Launches Luna-25 Mission to Moon, its First in 47 years
  4. Astronaut Undertakes HRF Veg Experiment for Enhancing Space Nutrition
  5. Euclid Space Telescope Captures First Glimpses of the Cosmos
  6. UAE Aims To Mobilise Global Tech and Space Sectors for Climate Action

III. Nuclear Technology

  1. Global Fall in Nuclear's Contribution to Clean Energy
  2. FANR 2022 Report Highlights Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
  3. Cancelling Noise for Improving Quantum Devices
  4. China’s Shift in Nuclear Strategy toward “Nuclear Triad”
  5. The US Insists on Full Compliance with the NPT Safeguards

IV. Emerging Technologies and Applications

  1. Technology Showcase Held on the Sidelines of the G20 ETMM
  2. FAME India Phase II Supports Electrification of Transportation
  3. Use of Information Technology in Agriculture Sector
  4. Funding for Commercializing Cutting-Edge Technology
  5. New Tech Transfer Arrangement for Scaling Up Indigenous Knowledge System
  6. Digital India Initiative Revolutionized Education Access in Rural Areas
  7. New Technologies to Address Air Pollution

V. International Cooperation

  1. Options of Collaborating with Foreign Countries on Development of SMRs
  2. International Collaborations for Researchers, Students, and Professionals
  3. India-Japan Skill Connect Conference Held in Tokyo
  4. Strengthening of Mineral Supply Chains
  5. ASEAN-India S&T Meeting Focused on Affordable Technologies

VI. Regional and Global Trends

  1. Sensing and Controlling Microscopic Spin Density in Materials
  2. TSMC to Build US$11 Billion Chip Manufacturing Plant in Germany
  3. President Biden Signs Executive Order Restricting Investment in China
  4. Huawei’s Consumer Business Returned to Growth as Smartphone Sales Rise

I. Defnce and Security

Capital Procurement of Defence Equipment for Armed Forces

Capital procurement of Defence equipment is carried out as per Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP 2020) with a focus on “Self-Reliance” wherein indigenisation, innovation and import substitution have been facilitated through various schemes to build a robust ecosystem based on domestic industry including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). One of the key objectives of Make in India initiative of the government is to bring MSMEs and Start-ups into the defence supply chain and thereby boost self-reliance. The government has taken several policy initiatives for promotion of MSMEs in defence and some of the DAP provisions enabling participation of MSMEs/Start-ups including reservation of delegated cases with AoN cost up to Rs 100 crores for MSMEs, provided there are at least two or more MSMEs eligible to participate in the category. Relaxation of financial parameter for recognised Start-ups/MSMEs. Click here to read...

Technology Development Fund Scheme

The Technology Development Fund (TDF) Scheme has adopted a flexible funding approach for applicants to encourage participation. Hence, two types of funding mechanisms available under the scheme: i) Reimbursement: The DRDO share of project cost is paid in a maximum of five instalments in the form of reimbursement upon successful achievement of milestones; ii) Advance: A staggered approach towards project funding in this scheme is in the form of advance funding subject to a maximum of five “Milestones” of the project. Technology Development Fund Scheme is a programme of Ministry of Defence (MoD) executed by DRDO under “Make-in-India” initiative. The Government has approved TDF Scheme to encourage participation of public/private industries especially MSMEs and start-ups to design and develop various defence technologies indigenously. A total of 41 MSMEs and 20 start-ups have been supported under the TDF Scheme. Click here to read...

Achieving Self-Reliance in Defence Sector

The government has taken adequate steps to make the country self-reliant by developing indigenous advanced technologies and complex systems. The initiatives/ steps taken by the government for indigenisation of manufacturing of technology-intensive defence equipment and weapons and for creating a domestic defence production eco-system include: Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP 2020) is promulgated to maximize acquisition of defence equipment through indigenous sources and promote domestic manufacturing. Government of India has ensured that the most preferred option for capital acquisition is ‘Buy Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM)’ category equipment followed by ‘Buy (Indian)’ category. The ‘Make’ categories aim to achieve the objective of self-reliance by involving greater participation of Indian industrial eco-system including private sector. The provisions of Government funding have been introduced for Make-I, Technology Development Fund (TDF) and Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) projects. Click here to read...

Induction of Electric Vehicles in Army

The Indian Army is planning to introduce phased induction of a limited number of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in ‘peace stations’ across the country. The aims and objectives are to adapt to the latest technological advancements, give impetus to green energy and reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The Indian Army is inducting the following EVs across the country: Light Vehicles (Electric), Buses (Electric), and Motor Cycles (Electric). This information was given by Raksha Rajya Mantri, Ajay Bhatt in a written reply in Lok Sabha on 4 August 2023. Click here to read...

II. STI in Space Sector

Aditya-L1 Mission, Solar Observatory, Gets Ready for Launch

The ISRO has announced the launch of its next big project, the PSLV C57/Aditya-L1 Mission, marking the country's mission that could revolutionise the understanding of the Sun's dynamics and space weather. The project is going to be India's first space-based solar observatory. Aditya-L1, named after the Sun's core, aims to provide unprecedented insights into the Sun's behaviour by placing itself in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, approximately 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. This strategic location will enable Aditya-L1 to continuously observe the Sun without being hindered by eclipses or occultation, allowing scientists to study solar activities and their impact on space weather in real-time. Click here to read...

Human Space Flight Mission of India Planned in August/September 2023

The first Test Vehicle mission, for the validation of crew escape system for Gaganyaan, the maiden human space flight mission of India is planned in August/September 2023. In a statement laid on the table of the Rajya Sabha, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that all subsystems pertaining to Test Vehicle TV-D1 mission have been realized and the Crew module integration is completed. He also added that Static tests of all Crew Escape System motors have been completed as also Ground testing of Crew Module Propulsion system is completed. Training of crew (Astronauts) is nearing completion. The Minister said, the objective of the Gaganyaan mission is to demonstrate the capability of conducting human space flight mission to Low Earth orbit (LEO) on-board Indian Launch vehicle. The Orbital module consists of a Crew module and a Service module. Crew module, which is a pressurized module, acts as living quarters for the crew. Click here to read...

Russia Launches Luna-25 Mission to Moon, its First in 47 years

On 11 August 2023, Russia launched Luna 25, the country's first lunar mission in 47 years. Luna-25 took off from the Vostochny launch facility in Russia’s Far East, Russia-based TASS news agency reported. The spacecraft will spend between three and seven days about 100 kilometres above the lunar surface before reaching the Boguslawsky crater area. Meanwhile, Manzinus and Pentland-A craters have been named as alternative landing sites. The primary goal of the mission will be to polish the soft landing technology. The mission might become the first spacecraft ever to reach near the South Pole of the Earth’s natural satellite, according to TASS. The spacecraft will look for natural resources, including water, and analyse the effects of space rays and electromagnetic emissions on the lunar surface. Click here to read...

Astronaut Undertakes HRF Veg Experiment for Enhancing Space Nutrition

On 2 August 2023, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced that astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi took part in the HRF Veg experiment on the International Space Station (ISS). Conducted in collaboration with Kennedy Space Centre (KSC), Johnson Space Centre (JSC) and NASA, the study aims to transform our understanding of space agriculture and nutrition. The HRF Veg experiment focuses on understanding the overall behavioural health benefits of having plants and fresh food in space for plants grown from the VEG-05 science investigation. The investigation involved growing dwarf tomatoes under controlled light and fertiliser conditions to comprehend their nutrition, taste, and safety. Click here to read...

Euclid Space Telescope Captures First Glimpses of the Cosmos

Designed to investigate some of the universe’s biggest mysteries, the Euclid space telescope, has captured its first glimpses of the cosmos, CNN reported. The spacecraft’s two instruments took the preliminary test images, revealing glittering starry views. Euclid project manager at the European Space Agency, Giuseppe Racca, in a statement said: “After more than 11 years of designing and developing Euclid, it’s exhilarating and enormously emotional to see these first images.” Euclid, the European Space Agency’s newest observatory, has spent the past month since its 1 July launch traveling to its orbital point, located 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometres) away from Earth. Scientists are already encouraged by the capabilities showcased by Euclid’s initial images, which demonstrate that the telescope may exceed expectations. Click here to read...

UAE Aims To Mobilise Global Tech and Space Sectors for Climate Action

The Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT), UAE Space Agency, and COP28, through the Office of the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change (OSECC) will work together to encourage organizations in the advanced technology and space sectors to share their contributions towards climate efforts at the Technology and Innovation Hub at COP28, which is set to be the most inclusive COP yet. The collaboration aims to further contribute to COP28’s inclusive ecosystem, bringing together major technology companies, global institutions, SMEs, and space agencies to promote joint action on climate targets. It will encourage technology and industrial companies from around the world to use the UAE as a base for producing new technologies that can help drive sustainable industrial development, tackle climate change, and accelerate decarbonization. Click here to read...

III. Nuclear Technology

Global Fall in Nuclear's Contribution to Clean Energy

World Nuclear Performance Report 2023, which was released on 11 August 20203 contains analysis of global nuclear reactor performance and progress on nuclear construction in 2022, using the latest data from the IAEA. The report states that in 2022 nuclear energy supplied around 10% of the world’s electricity, and around one quarter of all low-carbon clean electricity. However, the amount of electricity supplied from nuclear energy was 2545 TWh, down 4.2% on the previous year. The global fall in nuclear generation was due to extended outages in France, the shutting down of reactors in Germany, and the halting of the Zaporizhzhia plant in Ukraine. However, in Asia, nuclear generation rose by 5%. Nuclear generation in Asia has more than doubled over the last decade. Click here to read...

FANR 2022 Report Highlights Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has published its 2022 Annual Report, detailing its nuclear regulatory activities and milestones during 2022 to ensure the safe, secure and peaceful usage of nuclear energy and radiation sources in the UAE. During 2022, FANR carried out its regulatory activities at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) through its resident inspectors and other deployed inspectors from its headquarters. These activities included 34 nuclear safety inspections of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, which covered site construction, commissioning, operational readiness, power ascension testing, vendor inspection activities, and operational activities. Click here to read...

Cancelling Noise for Improving Quantum Devices

For years, researchers have tried various ways to coax quantum bits – or qubits, the basic building blocks of quantum computers – to remain in their quantum state for ever-longer times, a key step in creating devices like quantum sensors, gyroscopes and memories. A team of physicists from MIT have taken an important step forward in that quest, and to do it, they borrowed a concept from an unlikely source – noise-cancelling headphones. By characterizing how a particular source of noise – in this case, heat – affected nuclear quadrupole interactions in the system, the team was able to use that same source of noise to offset the nuclear-electron interactions, extending coherence times from 150 microseconds to as long as three milliseconds. Those improvements, however, may only be the beginning. More advances may be possible. Click here to read...

China’s Shift in Nuclear Strategy toward “Nuclear Triad”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also the military’s commander-in-chief, this week replaced two leaders of the elite force overseeing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s conventional and nuclear missiles. The reshuffle at the PLA Rocket Force suggests a marked shift in President Xi’s nuclear strategy toward the so-called “nuclear triad” – a three-pronged force that enables nuclear missiles to be launched from the air, sea and land – under an integrated command system. That will help strengthen China’s nuclear deterrent capabilities and thus pose a greater threat to U.S. security. Click here to read...

The US Insists on Full Compliance with the NPT Safeguards

The US has said that it insists on full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguards and called on all NPT parties to raise standards wherever possible and to condemn violations where they occur. US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a press statement that “We will also work with our partners to increase access to the benefits of peaceful uses, which are not just limited to nuclear energy, but also include the application of nuclear technologies for human and animal health, water resource management, food security, and much more,” on Monday. Miller said, “The challenges we face today serve as a stark reminder of why the NPT is indispensable and remains the cornerstone of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.” Click here to read...

IV. Emerging Technologies and Applications

Technology Showcase Held on the Sidelines of the G20 ETMM

The Technology Showcase at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium in Goa held on the sidelines of the G20 Energy Transition Ministerial Meeting (ETMM) under the aegis of CEM14/MI-8, during 19-22 July 2023. The Technology Showcase was organized under three parts – Vehicle and Charging, Infrastructure Showcase by SIAM, TERI, CALSTART, and Drive to Zero, Mission Innovation by Department of Science and Technology (DST), and Clean Tech Start-up (TERI). It featured India’s cutting-edge advances, new and emerging technologies in various sectors and provided a unique experience in clean energy, and DST showcased technologies and innovations by its R&D centres and institutes spread all over the country. The Showcase was a key element of the Clean Energy Ministerial & Mission Innovation meetings. Click here to read...

FAME India Phase II Supports Electrification of Transportation

The Ministry of Heavy Industries formulated Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India Phase II (FAME India Phase II) Scheme for a period of five years commencing from 1st April 2019 with a total budgetary support of Rs. 10,000 crore. This phase mainly focuses on supporting electrification of public & shared transportation, and aims to support through demand incentive 7090 eBuses, 5 lakh e-3 Wheelers, 55000 e-4 Wheeler Passenger Cars and 10 lakh e-2 Wheelers. In addition, creation of charging infrastructure is also supported under the Scheme. Under phase-II of FAME India Scheme, 8,47,578 no. of electric vehicles amounting to Rs. 4157.00 Cr. (approx..) have been sold by the electric vehicle manufactures to consumers as on 28 July 2023. Click here to read...

Use of Information Technology in Agriculture Sector

Information technologies are finding increasing use in the agricultural value system, and farmers are increasingly becoming more informed. The government has taken various measures to provide access to technology and information across the country, through various Digital Initiatives, such as: National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGP-A) wherein, funds are provided to the State(s)/UT(s) for project involving use of modern technologies viz. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Robotics, Drones, Data Analytics, Block Chain etc. After receiving proposals from the States, funds are released for development of various solutions. The government has announced for development of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) for agriculture as an open source, open standard and inter-operable public good to enable inclusive farmer centric solutions through relevant information services for crop planning and health, improved access to farm inputs, credit and insurance, help for crop estimation, market intelligence etc. Click here to read...

Funding for Commercializing Cutting-Edge Technology

The Technology Development Board has penned an agreement with Bangalore based M/s TIEA Connectors Private Limited under the initiative “Commercialization of Indigenous Technologies through Tech Start-ups”. The Board has pledged a support of Rs. 3.81 crore out of the total project cost of Rs. 8.19 crore for the project “Commercialization of micro-electronic harsh environment connectors and terminals”. The start-up has graduated from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore incubator, the Society for Innovation and Development (SID-IISc). The initiative was launched with the goal of supporting the development of indigenous technologies and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation. Through funding such start-ups, TDB aims to empower them to expand their ground breaking solutions, which will not only drive economic growth but also enhance our nation's leadership in technological advancements. Click here to read...

New Tech Transfer Arrangement for Scaling Up Indigenous Knowledge System

A technology transfer arrangement can help to scale two environment-friendly technologies—an indigenous herbal formulation with the potential to control Mastitis, an ailment common among dairy animals, and an indigenous herbal supplement with positive influence on growth performance of broiler chicks, for end users. The National Innovation Foundation (NIF) - India, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India has recently entered into a Technology Transfer arrangement for these indigenous technologies with Indian Genomix, a Hyderabad-based company which has W.H.O.G.M.P. certification ensuring quality assurance for medicinal products. This initiative is a step towards scaling up of outstanding traditional knowledge which has been sustained by society over generations. Click here to read...

Digital India Initiative Revolutionized Education Access in Rural Areas

The government launched the ‘Digital India’ programme with the vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge-based economy by ensuring digital access, digital inclusion, digital empowerment and bridging the digital divide. To achieve these objectives, particularly in rural, tribal and remote areas, Ministry of Education offers high quality educational programmes through DTH channels as well as web platforms under the aegis of Prime Minister e-Vidya. Some of the major education initiatives are include: DIKSHA the nation’s digital infrastructure for providing quality e-content for school education in States/UTs and QR coded Energized Textbooks for all grades (one nation, one digital platform). As on 25 July 2023, DIKSHA has clocked more than 524 crores learning sessions, more than 6,125 crore learning minutes with more than 2.2 crore average daily page hits. Click here to read...

New Technologies to Address Air Pollution

A pilot study was awarded wherein 30 buses were fitted with Pariyayantra Filtration units on bus roof top for dust collection from the environment in Delhi-NCR. Several projects were undertaken to incorporate new technologies to address air pollution: Under pilot study of WAYU, 54 Air Purification Units were installed at traffic intersection in Delhi; Pilot study on ‘Control of Dust emissions using Dust Suppressant’; Pilot study on ‘Ionisation technology for reduction in ambient air pollution’; Smog towers as medium/large-scale air purifiers to reduce particulate air pollution were installed; Pilot project on ‘Emission measurement for in-use diesel generator sets (DG sets) and evaluating the potential of retrofitting exhaust after treatment solutions for emissions reductions; and among others. Click here to read...

V. International Cooperation

Options of Collaborating with Foreign Countries on Development of SMRs

The Indian government is exploring the options of collaborating with other countries and taking up indigenous development of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that the future course of action will be finalized on the basis of the decision of the government. He also informed that the provisions of Atomic Energy Act, 1962 are being examined to allow participation of private sector and start-ups to promote SMRs technology in the country. The Minister said that SMR is a promising technology in industrial de-carbonization especially where there is a requirement of reliable and continuous supply of power. India is considering steps for development of SMR, to fulfil its commitment to Clean Energy transition. Augmentation of nuclear power capacity through large size reactors is the primary goal of the Department. Click here to read...

International Collaborations for Researchers, Students, and Professionals

The Indian government has taken several measures to support international collaborations for Indian researchers, students, and professionals. This includes creating platforms for bilateral cooperation with developed and developing countries; regional cooperation such as with ASEAN and BIMSTEC and multilateral cooperation through entities like European Union (EU), Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HSFPO), European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), Mission Innovation etc. In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Dr Jitendra Singh said that over 750 joint research S&T projects with focus on collaborative research and about 100 Joint workshops/seminars/Webinars were supported during last three years. Click here to read...

India-Japan Skill Connect Conference Held in Tokyo

Addressing the 1st India-Japan Skill connect conference, held in Tokyo at the Indian Embassy, Union Minister MeitY, Rajeev Chandrasekhar emphasized the strong partnership between India and Japan, which has expanded beyond traditional areas like security, trade, and economics to include technology and talent. The Minister said in his virtual address that today, the world is going through a deep rooted and decisive structural, global and economic change. With the tailwind of digitization and technology, supply chains are transforming around the world. India-Japan partnership is a defining partnership for the future of Asia, Indo-Pacific & the World. This partnership spans security, trade, economics and is now expanding into Technology and Talent. Click here to read...

Strengthening of Mineral Supply Chains

In a written reply in Rajya Sabha on 7 August 2023, Union Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi said that India has become 14th member of the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP) in June 2023. The other member countries are United States, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Commission. MSP seeks to bolster critical minerals supply chains to support economic prosperity and climate objectives. It seeks to ensure that critical minerals are produced, processed and recycled by catalyzing investments from governments and private sector across the full value chain. Click here to read...

ASEAN-India S&T Meeting Focused on Affordable Technologies

The Meeting of the Governing Council of ASEAN-INDIA Science and Technology Development Fund (GC-AISTDF-8) highlighted the importance of India's ASEAN technology partnership for prosperity of today and for the next generations. The India ASEAN S&T partnership encompasses all aspects of Research and Innovation, essential for both nations to achieve new heights together. Through the ASEAN-India Science and Technology Development Fund (AISTDF) and the Plans of Action for Peace, Progress, and Shared Prosperity, the collaboration extends to various areas like blue economy, healthcare, climate action, and sustainable development. The aim is to leverage science and technology to bridge disparities between urban and rural areas, with a specific focus on developing affordable technologies. Click here to read...

VI. Regional and Global Trends

Sensing and Controlling Microscopic Spin Density in Materials

By fine-tuning the spin density in some materials, researchers may be able to develop new quantum sensors or quantum simulations. Electronic devices typically use the charge of electrons, but spin — their other degree of freedom — is starting to be exploited. Spin defects make crystalline materials highly useful for quantum-based devices such as ultrasensitive quantum sensors, quantum memory devices, or systems for simulating the physics of quantum effects. Varying the spin density in semiconductors can lead to new properties in a material — something researchers have long wanted to explore — but this density is usually fleeting and elusive, thus hard to measure and control locally. Now, a team of researchers at MIT and elsewhere has found a way to tune the spin density in diamond, changing it by a factor of two, by applying an external laser or microwave beam. Click here to read...

TSMC to Build US$11 Billion Chip Manufacturing Plant in Germany

Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC committed 3.5 billion euros ($3.8 billion) to a factory in Germany, its first in Europe, taking advantage of huge state support for the $11 billion plant as the continent seeks to bring supply chains closer to home. The plant, which will be TSMC's third outside of traditional manufacturing bases Taiwan and China, is central to Berlin's ambition to foster the domestic semiconductor industry its car industry will need to remain globally competitive. Germany, which has been courting the world's largest contract chipmaker since 2021, will contribute up to 5 billion euros to the factory in Dresden, capital of the eastern state of Saxony, German officials said. Click here to read...

President Biden Signs Executive Order Restricting Investment in China

On 9 August 2023, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on “Addressing United States Investments in Certain National Security Technologies and Products in Countries of Concern” that authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to regulate certain U.S. investments into countries of concern in entities engaged in activities involving sensitive technologies critical to national security in three sectors: semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and artificial intelligence. In an Annex to the EO, the President identified China, including the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong and the Special Administrative Region of Macau, as a country of concern. Click here to read...

Huawei’s Consumer Business Returned to Growth as Smartphone Sales Rise

Despite US sanctions, the Chinese company, Huawei Technologies’ consumer business returned to growth after substantial decline in its smartphone sales in the past two years. The company said that its total revenue grew 3.1 per cent in the first half of 2023, reaching 310.9 billion yuan (US$43.1 billion) and higher than the 0.8 per cent revenue growth seen in the first quarter and the 0.9 per cent growth for the full year of 2022. Sales from the consumer business group, which includes smartphones and electric cars under the Aito brand, rose 2.2 per cent to 103.5 billion yuan. Click here to read...

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