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INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS: 09 OCTOBER 2014

Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)

It is a National Programme implemented by the Ministry of Science & Technology for attraction of talent amongst students to study science and pursue career with research.

INSPIRE is an innovative programme developed by the Department of Science & Technology to attract talent to the excitement and study of science at an early age, and to help the country build the required critical resource pool for strengthening and expanding the S&T system and R&D base. It is a programme with long term foresight.

The programme was launched on 13th December 2008. The implementation started during 2009-10.

INSPIRE Programme covers students in the age group 10-32 years, and has five components: INSPIRE Award (for 10-15 age group), INSPIRE Internship at a science camp with opportunity for interaction with global science leaders (for 16-17 age group), INSPIRE Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) @ Rs 80000/ per year for continuing education at B.Sc. and M.Sc. levels (for 17-22 age group), INSPIRE Fellowship for doctoral research (for 22-27 age group) and INSPIRE faculty for assured career opportunity (for 27-32 age group).

Sources: PIB, http://www.inspire-dst.gov.in/.

Digital India

Digital India is an initiative of Government of India to integrate the government departments and the people of India and to ensure effective governance. It also aims at ensuring the government services made available to citizens electronically by reducing paperwork. The initiative also includes plan to connect rural areas under high-speed internet networks. The project is stated to be completed by 2019. This is a two-way platform where both the service offerers and the consumers stand to benefit through.

The scheme will be monitored and controlled by the Digital India Advisory group which will be chaired by the Ministry of Communications and IT. It will be an inter-ministerial initiative where all ministries and departments shall offer their own services to the public Healthcare, Education, Judicial services etc. The Public-private-partnership model shall be adopted selectively. The scheme has plans also to restructure the National Informatics Centre.

 

Sources: Wiki, PIB.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

It is a law enacted by the Parliament of India aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India. Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.

The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.

Pursuant to the acceptance by Government of a unanimous recommendation of the Committee on National Integration and Regionalism appointed by the National Integration Council, the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963, was enacted empowering Parliament to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India, on the:

  • Freedom of Speech and Expression;
  • Right to Assemble peaceably and without arms; and
  • Right to Form Associations or Unions.

The Act makes it a crime to support any secessionist movement, or to support claims by a foreign power to what India claims as its territory. It includes the following:

> Unlawful activity, in relation to an individual or association, means any action taken by such individual or association (whether by committing an act or by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise),

  • which is intended, or supports any claim, to bring about, on any ground whatsoever, the cession of a part of the territory of India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession; or
  • which disclaims, questions, disrupts or is intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India; or
  • which causes or is intended to cause disaffection against India.

The Act has been amended to make the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 more effective in preventing unlawful activities, and meet commitments made at the Financial Action Task Force (an intergovernmental organization to combat money laundering and terrorism financing).

For further reference: http://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/the-unlawful-activities-prevention-amendment-bill-2011-2159/.

Sources: The Hindu, PRSindia.org, Wiki.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Two Americans and a German scientist have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for finding ways to make microscopes more powerful than previously thought possible by using glowing molecules to peer inside tiny components of life, allowing scientists to see how diseases develop inside the tiniest cells.

Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been equally divided among the Laureates Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner for having bypassed a presumed scientific limitation stipulating that an optical microscope can never yield a resolution better than 0.2 micrometres (half the wavelength of light).

Their breakthroughs, starting in the 1990s, have enabled scientists to study diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s at a molecular level. Due to their achievements the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld. Using the fluorescence of molecules, scientists can now monitor the interplay between individual molecules inside cells; they can observe disease-related proteins aggregate and they can track cell division at the nanolevel. The instrument opened a new window to studying living organisms non-invasively.

Despite the advantages, the optical microscope suffers from a major drawback — a physical restriction as to what size of structures is possible to resolve. Ernst Abbe in 1873 said that microscope resolution is limited by, among other things, the wavelength of the light (0.2 micrometres).

While Abbe’s microscope resolution limitation still hold true, the Laureates have successfully demonstrated ways of bypassing the limitation. The three have taken optical microscopy into a new dimension using fluorescent molecules. Two different principles have been able to do this and they developed independently of each other.

Using fluorescence microscopy it was possible for scientists to see where a certain molecule was located. But only clusters of molecules, like entangled strands of DNA, could be located. The resolution was too low to discern individual DNA strings.

The smaller the volume allowed to fluoresce at a single moment, the higher the resolution of the final image. Hence, there is, in principle, no longer any limit to the resolution of optical microscopes.

About Nobel Prize:

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in a number of categories by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural and/or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes in 1895.

The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences; the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; the Swedish Academy grants the Nobel Prize in Literature; and the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

The various prizes are awarded yearly. Each recipient, or laureate, receives a gold medal, a diploma and a sum of money, which is decided by the Nobel Foundation.

Posthumous
nominations:

Although posthumous nominations are not permitted, individuals who die in the months between their nomination and the decision of the prize committee were originally eligible to receive the prize.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Nobel Prize in Physics

This year the Nobel prize in physics goes to Isamu Akasaki, Meijo University and Nagoya University, Hiroshi Amano, Nagoya University, and Shuji Nakamura, University of California, Santa Barbara, for inventing the blue light emitting diode (blue LED) 20 years ago.

Blue LED:

The blue LED forms the long-awaited third in the set (red, green were already produced) of coloured LEDs that can together produce white light, in a way that is environment-friendly and energy-efficient. The blue LED can also be made to excite a phosphor into emitting red and green lights, with the mixture yielding white light.

LEDs basically consist of a junction of p-type (electron deficient or hole rich) and n-type (electron rich) semiconductors. When a voltage is applied across this junction, the holes and electrons flow across the junction and recombine, in the process, releasing light.

They do not use mercury or any such gas as is used in the fluorescent light. This makes them environment friendly.

They do not require a filament to get heated and glow to shed light unlike the case of the tungsten light bulb.

In contrast to the incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lamps, the LEDS directly convert electricity to light particles.

As a result, there is greater efficiency; in the other two cases, a great part of the electricity gets converted to heat.

The colour of the light emitted by the LED when voltage is applied may range from infrared to ultraviolet. Red and green LEDs have been around since the late 1950s, and these have been used extensively in digital displays and the like.

This application has advanced the technology for storing music, pictures and movies.

Today, LED lights are used in smart phones and lamps. White light from LEDs is more power-efficient than from other sources: If the amount of light flux produced per unit of power supplied is 16 for a tungsten bulb, and 70 for a fluorescent bulb, it is 300 for a LED supplied source. This would drastically lower our power consumption if LED lights are used more.

Solar-powered LED lights are also taking the world by storm. From providing illumination to possible future applications such as generating UV light for treating bacteria-infested water, the blue LED has come to stay.

Sources: The Hindu.

National Early Childhood Care & Education policy

The National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy reaffirms the commitment of the Government of India to provide integrated services for holistic development of all children, along the continuum, from the prenatal period to six years of age. The Policy lays down the way forward for a comprehensive approach towards ensuring a sound foundation, with focus on early learning, for every Indian child.

Early childhood refers to the first six years of life. This is acknowledged as the most crucial period, when the rate of development is very high and foundations are laid for cumulative lifelong learning and human development. There is growing scientific evidence that the development of the brain in the early years is a pathway that affects physical and mental health, learning and behaviour throughout the life cycle.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is an indispensable foundation for lifelong learning and development, And has critical impact on success at the primary stage of education. It therefore becomes imperative to accord priority attention to ECCE and invest adequately by providing commensurate resources.

The Government of India recognizes the significance of ECCE, which has been included as a constitutional provision through the amended Article 45 (The Constitution Act, 2002) which directs that “The State shall endeavour to provide ECCE for all children until they complete the age of six years”.

The Vision of the policy is to promote inclusive, equitable and contextualised opportunities for promoting optimal development and active learning capacity of all children below 6 years of age. It envisages to improve pathways for a successful and smooth transition from care and education provided at home to centre based ECCE and thereafter to school-age provision by facilitating an enabling environment through appropriate systems, processes and provisions across the country.

The key areas of this policy are universal access with equity and inclusion, quality in ECCE, strengthening capacity, monitoring and supervision, advocacy, research and review.

The policy also includes standards like:

  • An ECCE programme for three-four hours
  • One classroom for a group of 30 children measuring at least 35 square meters and with the availability of a minimum outdoor space of 30 square meters
  • Separate space for cooking nutritionally balanced meals and nap time for children
  • Caregiver and student ratio of 1:20 for children between three-six years and 1:10 for under three years
  • Primary medium of instruction will be mother tongue or local language

For further reference: http://wcd.nic.in/schemes/ECCE/National%20ECCE%20Policy%20draft%20(1).pdf.

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p style=”text-align: right”>Sources: PIB, The Hindu.