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28-February-2024- Top News of the Day

1. India Unveils Astronauts for Gaganyaan Mission: ISRO Prepares for Historic Crewed Space Flight

Topic: GS3 – Science & Technology – Achievements of Indian S&T; Indigenization of technology
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This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about India’s advancements in space technology, particularly its preparations for the Gaganyaan mission.
Context:
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the selection of Group Captain Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla as the astronauts-designate for India’s first crewed space mission, Gaganyaan.
  • These Indian Air Force (IAF) officers, recognized for their extensive experience as test pilots, are currently undergoing training for the mission.
  • Modi described them as representatives of India’s aspirations and optimism.

More about the news:

Human Readiness Testing and Mission Timeline:

  • The announcement was made at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully tested the cryogenic engine’s human readiness for the Gaganyaan mission vehicles.
  • The first mission flight, Gaganyaan-1, an unmanned test flight to check technology readiness, is expected by the end of 2024.
  • The subsequent manned mission will carry a three-member crew into a low Earth orbit and return after three days.

Launch Vehicle’s Human Rating and Crew Module Development:

  • ISRO has prepared its LVM3 rocket, previously known as GSLV-MkIII, for the Gaganyaan missions.
  • The rocket, which has a liquid, solid, and cryogenic stage, has undergone reconfiguration to meet human rating requirements.
  • Tests on the cryogenic engine and other components have been conducted and certified for missions involving human transportation to space.

Preparations for Human Space Flight:

  • Preparations for the human space flight include developing life support systems, provisions for emergency escape, and crew management aspects.
  • Unmanned precursor missions like Gaganyaan-1 will demonstrate technology readiness levels before the manned mission.
  • The crew module for Gaganyaan-1 will lack an Environment Control and Life Support System but will test safe re-entry and module orientation.

Training of Astronauts:

  • The four astronauts completed generic training at Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre between February 2020 and March 2021.
  • They are currently undergoing continuous training at ISRO’s astronaut training facility in Bengaluru, focusing on subsystem functioning and design development.
  • Fitness and psychological training are also integral parts of their preparation.

Collaboration with International Agencies:

  • One of the astronauts is expected to receive training from NASA, as announced by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson during a visit to New Delhi in 2023.
  • This collaboration underscores India’s efforts to leverage international expertise in preparing its astronauts for the Gaganyaan mission.

 

Significance of the Gaganyan Mission

The human spaceflight programme has many tangible and intangible benefits as it holds potential for scientific research and advancements. These scientific research and advancements can have far-reaching implications, benefitting not only India but the entire global scientific community.

  • To achieve future technological capability: The success of the Gaganyaan project is expected to inspire further affordable human space programs to explore the solar system and beyond, sample return missions, and other scientific exploration.
  • A unique opportunity to inspire Youth: Expected milestones of Gaganyaan will inspire students toward careers in science and technology towards challenging jobs that would encourage innovation and creativity particularly in the field of space science.
  • Potent foreign policy tool: It will open doors for diplomatic collaborations with other spacefaring nations, paving the way for joint missions, knowledge exchange, and international cooperation in space exploration thereby strengthening international partnerships.
  • Scientific breakthrough: Scientific experiments in a microgravity environment facilitated by Gaganyaan can lead to groundbreaking discoveries in fields like medicine, material science, and biology.
  • Economic growth and employment generation: Gaganyaan mission can stimulate economic growth through the development of space-related industries, technology spin-offs, and job creation, contributing to India’s overall development.

PYQ: With reference to India’s satellite launch vehicles, consider the following statements: (2018)

1) PSLVs launch satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.

2) Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.

3) GSLV Mk III is a four-staged launch vehicle with the first and third stages using solid rocket motors; and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 2

(d) 3 only

Ans: (a)

Practice Question:  Discuss India’s preparations for the Gaganyaan mission, its significance in the context of India’s space exploration endeavors, and the challenges and advancements in space technology associated with crewed space missions. (250 words/15 m)

2. DeepMind Unveils Genie: AI Model Generates Interactive Video Games from Text or Image Prompts

Topic: GS3 – Science & Technology – Development & their applications This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about Genie which represents a significant advancement in artificial intelligence technology.
Context:
  • Google’s AI venture DeepMind has unveiled Genie, a groundbreaking generative AI (GenAI) model capable of creating interactive video games solely from text or image prompts.
  • Unlike previous models, Genie can generate these games without prior training on game mechanics, representing a significant advancement in AI technology.
More about the news: Understanding Genie’s Functionality:
  • Genie serves as a foundation world model, trained on unlabelled Internet videos, allowing it to produce output from one or two inputs in the form of text, pictures, etc.
  • This innovative AI can generate a wide variety of playable worlds, including action-controllable environments, from synthetic images, photographs, and sketches.
Capabilities and Significance:
  • According to a research paper titled “Genie: Generative Interactive Environments,” Genie is the first generative interactive environment trained in an unsupervised manner from unlabelled Internet videos.
  • It enables users to conjure up and immerse themselves in generated worlds similar to human-designed simulated environments.
  • Notably, Genie’s ability to learn and reproduce controls for in-game characters exclusively from Internet videos distinguishes it from previous models, as it lacks labels about the actions or parts of the image to be controlled.
Implications and Future Prospects:
  • The standout feature of Genie lies in its capacity to create an entire interactive environment from a single image prompt, opening up new possibilities for creative content generation and virtual world exploration.
  • Moreover, Genie represents a significant step towards the development of general AI agents, which interact independently with their environments through sensory perception.
  • This advancement holds promise for revolutionizing various fields, including gaming, virtual reality, and AI research.
PYQ: With the present state of development, Artificial Intelligence can effectively do which of the following? (2020) 1) Bring down electricity consumption in industrial units 2) Create meaningful short stories and songs 3) Disease diagnosis 4) Text-to-Speech Conversion 5) Wireless transmission of electrical energy Select the correct answer using the code given below: (a) 1, 2, 3 and 5 only (b) 1, 3 and 4 only (c) 2, 4 and 5 only (d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Ans: (b)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of DeepMind’s Genie in the context of advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential implications for society and governance. (150 words/10 m)

3. Implementation Rules for Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) Set to be Notified Soon

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about understanding the process of enacting laws like the CAA and the subsequent notification of implementation rules.
Context:
  • Sources within the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have indicated that the rules for the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), passed by Parliament in December 2019, are likely to be notified within the next fortnight.
  • The notification is expected to occur before the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) comes into force, likely coinciding with the announcement of Lok Sabha poll dates.
More about the news: Delayed Implementation and Proposed Rules:
  • Despite the enactment of the CAA four years ago, its implementation has been delayed due to the non-notification of rules.
  • The forthcoming rules are anticipated to specify the evidence required for applicants to establish their credentials and eligibility for citizenship under the new law.
Key Provisions and Criteria:
  • The CAA permits non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Jain, and Buddhist communities to apply for Indian citizenship through the naturalization process.
  • The legislation assumes that these communities faced religious persecution in these three Islamic countries.
  • The rules will address the documentation needed to prove the applicant’s religion and country of origin before December 31, 2014.
Acceptable Evidence and Time-bound Application:
  • Various government documents, such as Aadhaar, school enrollment records, or any form of government documentation declaring religion, may serve as evidence of an applicant’s eligibility.
  • Additionally, there is a possibility of imposing a three-month time limit for applying under the CAA, addressing concerns raised by Assam to mitigate anxieties over the legislation’s impact in the state.
Presumption of Persecution:
  • The rules are unlikely to require evidence of religious persecution, presuming that those who migrated to India did so due to either facing persecution or fearing persecution in their home countries.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019
About:

The Act seeks to amend the definition of illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist, Jains and Christian (but not Muslim) immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation.

  • They will be granted fast track Indian citizenship in 5 years (11 years earlier).
  • The Act (which amends the Citizenship Act 1955) also provides for cancellation of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration where the OCI card-holder has violated any provision of the Citizenship Act or any other law in force.
Who is eligible?
  • The CAA 2019 applies to those who were forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion. It aims to protect such people from proceedings of illegal migration.
  • The cut-off date for citizenship is December 31, 2014, which means the applicant should have entered India on or before that date.
  • The act will not apply to areas covered by the Constitution’s sixth schedule, which deals with autonomous tribal-dominated regions in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
  • Additionally, the act will not apply to states that have an inner-line permit regime (Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram).
Practice Question:  Critically analyze the impending notification of implementation rules for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and its significance in the context of Indian polity and governance. (250 words/15 m)

4. Genome India Initiative Achieves Milestone: Sequences 10,000 Genomes, Unveiling Comprehensive Genetic Map

Topic: GS3 – Science & Technology – Developing New Technology; Biotechnology
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the significance of genomic research and its applications in medicine and biotechnology.
Context:
  • The Genome India initiative reached a significant milestone as researchers successfully sequenced 10,000 healthy genomes representing 99 distinct populations across the country.
  • This accomplishment marks the creation of a comprehensive genetic map of India, offering substantial potential for clinicians and researchers.
More about the news: Technological Advancements and Significance:
  • Rajesh Gokhale, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, hailed the achievement, emphasizing the remarkable progress in genome sequencing technology.
  • Compared to the first whole human genome sequence completed in 2003 over 13 years and at a cost of $3 billion, sequencing thousands of genomes now takes mere months, signifying significant technological advancement.
Identification of Genetic Variants:
  • Analysis of a subset of 5,750 genomes enabled researchers to identify 135 million genetic variants unique to India.
  • These variations, occurring in specific population pockets or widespread across larger groups, hold crucial insights into physical traits, disease history, and drug responses.
Potential Applications in Medicine:
  • Experts highlighted the potential applications, including disease identification, drug resistance profiling, and the development of diagnostics and therapeutics.
  • For instance, mutations like MYBPC3, associated with cardiac arrest, and LAMB3, linked to a lethal skin condition, are prevalent in Indian populations but rare globally.
Need for India-Specific Database:
  • Experts stressed the necessity of an India-specific database due to unique mutations not found globally.
  • The complete genetic map will facilitate the identification of additional mutations critical for understanding and addressing various health challenges.
Implications for India’s Bioeconomy:
  • Union Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Jitendra Singh, highlighted India’s emergence as the largest genetic laboratory globally.
  • He underscored the potential of this data to drive the country’s biology sector, contributing significantly to India’s bioeconomy, which has grown from $10 billion in 2014 to over $130 billion in 2024.
Data Storage and Accessibility:
  • The entire dataset, totaling 8 petabytes of data, will be housed at the Indian Biological Data Centre (IBDC) and made available as a digital public good for research purposes.
  • The establishment of IBDC in 2022 has provided Indian researchers with a dedicated platform, eliminating the need to rely on American or European servers for hosting biological datasets.
What is Genome India project?
  • The Genome India Project is a gene mapping project sanctioned by the Department of Biotechnology.
  • It was launched with the goal of creating a comprehensive database of genetic variations among the Indian population.
  • The project aims to sequence the genomes of over 10,000 Indians from different regions of the country and establish a reference genome for the Indian population.
What is the significance of the Genome India project?
  • To learn about genetic variants unique to the Indian population
    • This project allows researchers to learn about genetic variants unique to India’s population groups and use that to customise drugs and therapies.
    • This will help unravel the genetic underpinnings of chronic diseases currently on the rise in India, for example, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer.
  • Database for 1.3 billion population
    • India’s 1.3 billion-strong population consists of over 4,600 population groups, many of which are endogamous.
    • Thus, the Indian population harbours distinct variations, with disease-causing mutations often amplified within some of these groups.
    • Findings from population-based or disease-based human genetics research from other populations of the world cannot be extrapolated to Indians.
PYQ: With reference to agriculture in India, how can the technique of ‘genome sequencing’, often seen in the news, be used in the immediate future? (2017) 1) Genome sequencing can be used to identify genetic markers for disease resistance and drought tolerance in various crop plants. 2) This technique helps in reducing the time required to develop new varieties of crop plants. 3) It can be used to decipher the host-pathogen relationships in crops. Select the correct answer using the code given below: (a) 1 only (b) 2 and 3 only (c) 1 and 3 only (d) 1, 2 and 3 Ans: (d)
Practice Question:  Critically analyze the significance of the Genome India initiative’s milestone achievement in sequencing 10,000 healthy genomes from diverse populations across the country. (150 words/10 m)

5. ‘10,000 genome’ project completed, says Centre

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology, GS2 – Governance – Government Policies The ‘10,000 genome’ project is crucial for UPSC as it reflects India’s stride in genomic research, impacting healthcare and scientific advancements.
Context
  • The completion of India’s ‘10,000 genome’ project, led by institutions like IISc and CCMB, aims to create a diverse genome database for personalized healthcare and genetic research.
 Additional information on this news:
  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has officially completed the ‘10,000 genome’ project in India.
  • The project aimed to create a reference database of whole-genome sequences representative of India’s diverse population.
  • About 20 institutions participated, with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, leading the initiative.
  • India’s population of 1.3 billion includes over 4,600 population groups, contributing to genetic diversity.
  • The project aimed to identify genetic variants unique to India, allowing customization of drugs and therapies.
  • Harmful mutations, often amplified within endogamous groups, were a focus of the initiative.
  • The outcomes include insights into population diversity, improved diagnostics, understanding genetic predispositions, personalized drugs, enhanced gene therapy, and insights into susceptibility to infectious diseases.
  • The initiative involved sequencing 20,000 genomes and establishing a biobank at the Centre for Brain Research, IISc.
  • Data transparency and collaboration were emphasized, with all data stored at the Indian Biological Data Centre.
  • Similar genome sequencing programs exist in the United Kingdom, China, and the United States, aiming to sequence at least 1,00,000 genomes.
Significance of ‘10,000 genome’ project
  • Genomic Diversity: The project addresses India’s rich genetic diversity, encompassing over 4,600 population groups with distinct variations and disease-causing mutations.
  • Customized Healthcare: By creating a reference database, the initiative enables personalized drugs and therapies tailored to India’s population, improving healthcare efficacy.
  • Diagnostic Advancements: The project enhances diagnostic methods, allowing for more accurate identification of genetic predispositions to diseases within specific population groups.
  • Scientific Insights: It provides deeper insights into India’s population diversity, aiding scientific research, gene therapy development, and understanding individual susceptibility to infectious diseases.
  • Revolutionary Initiative: The completion of the ‘10,000 genome’ project marks a revolutionary step, showcasing India’s commitment to genomic research on a significant scale.
  • Transparency and Collaboration: The establishment of a biobank and data archiving at the Indian Biological Data Centre reflects a commitment to transparency, collaboration, and future research endeavors.
  • Global Benchmarking: While the UK, China, and the US have similar programs, India’s project establishes it as a key player in global genomic research, contributing valuable data to the international scientific community.
  • Scientific Progress: The initiative is vital for advancing genetic research, potentially uncovering rare mutations and contributing to global efforts in understanding human genetics.
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of India’s ‘10,000 genome’ project in advancing personalized healthcare, understanding genetic diversity, and contributing to global genomic research. (150 words/10 m)

6. Similipal seeks more female tigers from other regions

Topic: GS3 – Environment – Conservation – Important Species
UPSC relevance: Highlights conservation challenges, genetic diversity concerns in Similipal Tiger Reserve, addressing inbreeding and wildlife management issues.
Context
  • Odisha urges introducing female tigers in Similipal Tiger Reserve to address inbreeding, combat pseudo-melanistic tiger prevalence.
 Additional information on this news:
  • The Odisha government is concerned about the significant number of pseudo-melanistic tigers in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) due to inbreeding.
  • The All Odisha Tiger Estimation (AOTE 2023-24) report reveals that Similipal has 13 adult pseudo-melanistic tigers, indicating a result of inbreeding.
  • STR, with 24 adult tigers, holds the largest share of the State’s tiger population, and all adult female tigers in the State are in the reserve.
  • The Odisha government has written to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) requesting the introduction of female tigers from other regions to increase genetic diversity.
  • The process will take time and be based on proper studies to address the inbreeding issue and enhance the overall health of the tiger population in Similipal.
Inbreeding – Challenge to species conservation
  • Genetic Homogeneity: Inbreeding occurs when closely related individuals reproduce, leading to a reduction in genetic diversity within a population.
  • Increased Homozygosity: Inbreeding elevates the likelihood of inheriting identical alleles from both parents, potentially exposing deleterious recessive traits.
  • Reduced Fitness: Inbreeding depression results in decreased overall fitness, manifested through lower reproductive success, survival rates, and overall health.
  • Vulnerability to Diseases: Genetically similar individuals may share susceptibilities to certain diseases, making the entire population more vulnerable to outbreaks.
  • Adverse Evolutionary Effects: Reduced genetic variation limits a population’s ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions or threats.
  • Population Decline: Long-term inbreeding can lead to a decline in population size and reproductive potential, posing a serious threat to species survival.
  • Conservation Challenges: Conservation efforts must focus on maintaining or restoring genetic diversity to mitigate the negative impacts of inbreeding on species viability.
Practice Question:  Discuss the impact of inbreeding on species conservation, highlighting the challenges it poses to maintaining genetic diversity. Propose effective conservation strategies to address the threat of inbreeding depression in the context of species survival. (150 words/10 m)

7. MSMEs should work on quality, durability: PM

Topic: GS3 – Changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
UPSC candidates should note importance of MSME quality for global integration, schemes for sector support, and electric vehicle promotion.
Context
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasizes the importance of quality in the MSME sector for global supply chain integration, launches initiatives to boost automotive MSMEs, and supports electric vehicle expansion.
 Additional information on this news:
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the significance of the MSME sector focusing on quality and durability for integration into the global supply chain.
  • He addressed MSME entrepreneurs in the automotive sector, recognizing their contribution to the industry, supplying spare parts for vehicles produced in the country and globally.
  • Modi urged MSMEs to prioritize defect-free and environmentally friendly component production.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced schemes like PM-Mudra, PM-Vishwakarma, and MSME credit guarantee to support the sector, offering low-cost loans and working capital facilities.
  • The Prime Minister assured support for technology and skill development, highlighting the need for MSMEs to expand capacities for the growing demand in electric vehicles.
  • Modi also mentioned the Rooftop Solar scheme and the ₹26,000-crore productivity-linked incentive scheme promoting advanced automotive technologies.
  • The initiatives aim to attract global investments, requiring MSMEs to expand their capacities.
Importance of MSMEs for Indian Economy
Importance:
  • Backbone of the economy: MSMEs contribute around 30% of India’s GDP, providing a substantial portion of the country’s economic output.
  • Massive employment generation: Employing over 110 million people, MSMEs are the second-largest employment sector in India after agriculture.
  • Drivers of export: MSMEs account for nearly 40% of India’s total exports, boosting foreign exchange earnings.
  • Promote inclusive growth: MSMEs foster entrepreneurship, support rural economies, and distribute wealth more equitably.
Challenges:
  • Limited access to finance: MSMEs face difficulty accessing credit due to factors like lack of collateral and complex documentation processes.
  • Outdated technology: Many MSMEs still rely on traditional methods and struggle to adopt modern technology, hindering productivity and competitiveness.
  • Marketing and reach: MSMEs often face challenges promoting their products and reaching wider markets.
  • Regulatory complexities: Navigating complex regulations and compliances can be a burden for MSMEs.
Way Forward:
  • Enhanced financial support: Provide greater access to affordable credit and develop innovative financial solutions tailored for MSMEs.
  • Technology upgrade incentives: Offer subsidies and support to help MSMEs modernize their operations and adopt digital solutions.
  • Skill development: Invest in training programs to improve the technical and entrepreneurial skills of MSME workers and owners.
  • E-commerce platforms: Promote MSMEs on e-commerce platforms to expand their reach and gain access to wider markets.
  • Simplified regulatory framework: Reduce regulatory complexities and streamline compliance requirements.
PYQ: Faster economic growth requires increased share of the manufacturing sector in GDP, particularly of MSMEs. Comment on the present policies of the Government in this regard. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2023)
Practice Question:  Explain the significance of MSMEs for India’s economic growth. Briefly highlight two key challenges faced by MSMEs and suggest one measure to address each challenge. (150 words/10 m)

8. India to have its own space station by 2035, says Modi

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies, GS3 –  Science and Technology
Crucial for UPSC as it covers PM Modi’s announcement of India’s space station, lunar exploration, and Gaganyaan mission astronauts.
Context
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces India’s plan for a space station by 2035, lunar exploration, and Venus mission.
  • Names astronauts for Gaganyaan mission, emphasizing India’s space ambitions and progress.
 Additional information on this news:
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s plan to have its own space station by 2035 during an address at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.
  • Emphasizing India’s space ambitions, Modi stated the country will revisit the moon, bring back lunar samples, and has Venus on its radar.
  • An Indian astronaut will land on the moon in the “Amrit Kaal” (Golden Era) as part of a crewed lunar mission by 2040.
  • The Gaganyaan mission’s four astronaut-designates were introduced, representing the aspirations of 140 crore Indians.
  • Modi celebrated the milestone of sending an Indian to space after 40 years, highlighting that this time, India has control over the countdown and the rocket.
  • He requested cooperation from the public and media to allow uninterrupted training for the astronaut-designates and their families.
  • The Prime Minister commended ISRO staff involved in the Gaganyaan project, noting that most equipment was made in India.
  • Modi sees Gaganyaan as a significant step to elevate India’s space sector while the nation aims to become one of the top three global economies.

9. Why science needs sustainable funding

Topic: GS2 – Government – Government policies
UPSC aspirants must grasp India’s low R&D spending, vital for science-driven sustainable development, a key aspect in UPSC exams.
Context
  • India’s research and development (R&D) spending stands at 0.64% of GDP, a decrease from 0.8% in 2008-2009.
  • Calls for increased funding, private sector involvement, and improved budget utilization highlight concerns for India’s science and development goals.
 India’s R&D Spending
  • India’s research and development (R&D) expenditure currently stands at 0.64% of GDP, a decrease from 0.8% in 2008-2009 and 0.7% in 2017-2018.
  • Government agencies have called for doubling this spending, with a national goal of reaching 2% GDP in GERD (Gross Expenditure on R&D).
  • Developed countries typically spend between 2% and 4% of their GDP on R&D, with OECD member-countries averaging 2.7% in 2021.
Challenges and Recommendations for Improvement
  • To transform into a developed nation by 2047, India is urged to spend at least 3% of its GDP annually on R&D, surpassing developed countries.
  • The primary dependence on public funds indicates an immature financing system, with private sector contribution at 36.4% in 2020-2021.
  • Developed countries receive 70% of R&D investment from the private sector, but India faces challenges such as poor capacity evaluation, regulatory ambiguity, and concerns about intellectual property rights theft.
  • The implementation of the Anusandhan National Research Foundation, aimed at addressing financial issues, has been delayed, and its budget reduced from ₹2,000 crore to ₹258 crore.
Budget Utilization Concerns
  • The Union Ministry of Science and Technology consistently under-utilizes its budget, impacting effective science outcomes.
  • In 2022-2023, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) utilized 72% of its budget, while the Department of Science and Technology (DST) used only 61%, and DSIR spent 69%.
  • Under-utilization is a recurring issue, indicating bureaucratic hurdles, lack of evaluation capacity, and unclear utilization certificates.
Sustainable Funding for R&D
  • Sustainable funding for R&D is essential for India’s growth journey, requiring political prioritization and recognition within concerned Ministries, particularly the Ministry of Finance.
  • The 2024 Budget indicates a desire for increased private sector contributions to R&D, necessitating mitigation of under-spending and under-utilization.
  • Political prioritization, incentives for private investment, and bureaucratic capacity building for project evaluation and fund utilization are crucial steps.
  • National Science Day highlights the need for sustainable funding, emphasizing its importance in achieving India’s science and development goals.
India’s research and development (R&D) spending
Challenges
  • Low R&D Spending: India’s R&D spending is below the global average, hovering around 0.64% of GDP, limiting innovation and technological advancements.
  • Limited Private Sector Participation: Majority of R&D spending comes from the government; private sector contribution is comparatively low, hindering diversified research efforts.
  • Infrastructure Gaps: Inadequate research infrastructure and outdated facilities impede effective R&D activities, requiring substantial investments for modernization.
  • Brain Drain: Skilled researchers often migrate due to better opportunities abroad, leading to a loss of intellectual capital and hindering indigenous R&D.
  • Focus on Basic Research: Emphasis on basic research over applied research limits the translation of discoveries into practical solutions, affecting industry relevance.
  • Fragmented Collaboration: Limited collaboration among academia, industry, and research institutions hampers synergies needed for comprehensive R&D outcomes.
  • Bureaucratic Hurdles: Cumbersome bureaucratic processes and delayed approvals slow down R&D projects, discouraging both public and private sector involvement.
  • Insufficient Funding for Specific Sectors: Certain critical sectors, such as healthcare and clean energy, face inadequate funding, impacting advancements in crucial areas.
Way Forward:
  • Increased Funding: Raise R&D expenditure to at least 2% of GDP, with a significant portion allocated to applied research and innovation.
  • Public-Private Partnerships: Encourage collaboration between government, private sector, and academia for a more holistic and industry-relevant approach.
  • Infrastructure Upgrade: Invest in modern research facilities and technology, fostering an environment conducive to cutting-edge research.
  • Talent Retention: Implement measures to retain skilled researchers, offering competitive salaries, research incentives, and conducive working environments.
  • Streamlined Approval Processes: Simplify bureaucratic procedures to expedite project approvals, promoting efficiency in R&D activities.
  • Sector-Specific Funding: Prioritize funding for critical sectors, addressing specific challenges and promoting innovation in targeted areas.
PYQ: Scientific research in Indian universities is declining, because a career in science is not as attractive as our business  operations, engineering or administration, and the universities are becoming consumer oriented.  Critically comment. (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2014)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of India’s current research and development spending trends in the context of achieving sustainable development goals. Suggest measures for improvement. (150 words/10 m)

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