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Advances in the field of Science and Technology

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By: Dr. Shah Ubaid-ullah

February 28 is celebrated as National Science Day as it marks the discovery of ‘Raman Effect’ by Nobel Prize winner Sir CV Raman in 1928. It is an occasion to offer tribute to this great scientist and is infact a great day and moment to recognize the role of advancements of science and technology. Pertinent to mention that PM, ShriNarendraModi, launched a campaign ‘ViksitBhart @2047’ as a mission and a vision to transform India into a fully developed nation by 2047. The mission encompasses different dimensions like economic growth, social equity, environmental sustainability, human resource development, advances in science and technology and so on.

India has been doing remarkably well, particularly in the last 10 years, in the field of science and technology as it is among the top 10 countries in research publications while as in Global Innovation Index its rank is 40. This is due to the advancing science and technology ecosystems in different fields like biotechnology, space research, sustainable development, AI and other fields.

The theme for ‘National Science Day 2024’ is ‘Indigenous Technologies for Viksit Bharat’ which emphasizes upon promoting public appreciation for country’s achievements in Science, Technology and Innovation to address challenges through home-grown technologies for overall development. Therefore, let us highlight some of the achievements made by our country in these fields in last few years.

On the top of the list is, ‘Make in India’, Covid-19 Vaccine and the launch of world’s largest vaccination drive which ensured vaccination to more than 2 billion citizens. In 2020, when the whole world was facing pandemic, it was assumed that only an effective vaccine would save the world from mass deaths. The first challenge was the development and production of vaccine in sufficient numbers for mass vaccination with affordability and access. But India managed all these challenges itself setting an example of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. Access was facilitated by Serum Institute of India which manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine at an amazing scale. Bharat Biotech on the other hand produced another vaccine type COVAXIN with support from Indian Council of Medical Research.

Apart from this, different pharmaceutical companies worked simultaneously on research, development and manufacturing processes ensuring that our country was self-reliant to vaccine access. Facilitation process, coordination and collaborating between different agencies as well as between centre and the states ensured that the just developed lab product turned into real world effectiveness.

The availability was ascertained by fully transparent public distribution through different platforms like AarogyaSetu App. Our country also ran a Vaccine Maitri programme in January 2021, and exported nearly about over 170 million doses to about 96 countries. Another scientific achievement is approval by WHO to Bharat Biotech’s Rotavac 5D vaccine on 2 Aug 2021 after 30 years of research which will prevent millions of deaths due to rotavirus infections.

India also took a stride ahead in the field of space science and technology and aims to build a space station by 2035 and land the first Indian on the lunar surface by 2040. In the history of space science 2023 will be recalled as the year when Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) made history with a series of pioneering accomplishments. On 23 Aug 2023, India achieved a milestone by becoming a first country to land a spacecraft successfully on unexplored South Pole of Moon through Chandrayaan-3 mission.

It was the outcome of years of research, hard work, planning and execution making India only the fourth country after the United States, the Soviet Union, and China to achieve soft landing on moon. Chandrayaan-3 was not only about landing but paved the way for several scientific discoveries such as confirming the presence of sulfur on Moon and generating the first temperature-depth profile of the lunar South Polar region.

It carried out technology demonstration experiments, including a hop experiment on the Vikram Lander and moving the Propulsion Module from lunar orbit to Earth orbit. ISRO didn’t stop here on the Moon; it launched Aditya-L1, India’s first space-based solar observatory, on 2 September 2023. On 6 Jan 2024, the space craft was successfully placed in a halo orbit around Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, which is about 1.5 million kms from the Earth from where it will view the Sun continuously without any occultation/eclipses. It will monitor solar activities and its effect on space weather in real time.

Aditya-L1 with the help of its seven advanced instruments it carries along, will study the Sun’s corona, chromosphere, and solar wind, helping us to gain better understanding of solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and space weather. On 25 January 2024, ISRO confirmed that one such instruments i.e., magnetometer boom on the Aditya-L1 satellite has been successfully deployed in the Halo orbit at the Lagrange point L-1, on January 11, 2024. With its two state-of-the-art, high-accuracy fluxgate magnetometer sensors it will measure the low intensity interplanetary magnetic field in space. On 2 April 2023, ISRO also tested its first successful landing of Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) prototype.

The space organization also conducted first hot test on the Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS) on 19 July 2023 which will be a step closer to human spaceflight. In addition, in 2023 ISRO successfully launched two Singaporean satellites in a mission known as TeLEOS-2. India also became a party to Artemis Accords on 21 June 2023, which will open new vistas for India in research, sharing of resources and technology with global partners like NASA, JAXA and ESA.

In terms of population, in April 2023 India surpassed China to become the most populous Country in the World. Being home to 1.4 billion inhabitants, there are challenges ahead. India has a strong focus on science and technology realizing that it a key for country’s economic growth.

More focus on research and development is the way ahead to tackle the challenges like global warming, rising pollution, floods, draught, emerging antibiotic resistance. More investment in eco-friendly solar energy is required to address the growing need for electricity. Emerging field like robotics, nanotechnology, synthetic biology etc are believed to transform India’s pharmaceutical industry. To conclude, it is only through developments in Science, Technology and Innovation that country will be among the top scientific powers of the world leading to ‘Viksit Bharat @2047’.

The writer is Assistant Professor (Biotechnology) at Govt. Degree College, Pulwama.

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