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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 6th November, 2015

  • November 7, 2015
  • 8
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs November 2015, National, Science and Technology, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 6th November, 2015

 

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC

  • General Studies 2 : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • General Studies 3 : Indigenization of technology and developing new technology

How to make ‘innovative India’ a reality?

  • Without a doubt, innovation is a means of creating sustainable and cost effective solutions for inclusive growth in developing economies.
  • With the availability of financial capital, technological prowess, and entrepreneurial talent, the public and private sectors are increasingly coming together to generate innovative and effective solutions to address India’s development challenges.

Global innovation index and India’s performance:

The Global Innovation Index (GII) is an annual publication which features, among others, a composite indicator that ranks countries/economies in terms of their enabling environment to innovation and their innovation outputs.

What does GII measure:

GII measure country’s performance in and promotion of

  1. Institutions,
  2. Human capital and research,
  3. Infrastructure,
  4. Market sophistication,
  5. Business sophistication,
  6. Knowledge and technology outputs, and
  7. Creative outputs.

India has dropped to 81st position, a slip of five places from last year, in the Global Innovation Index (GII) survey of 2015, well behind middle-income countries such as Brazil, China and South Africa.

The ranking dropped in human capital and research, market sophistication, business sophistication and creative outputs. However, the survey adds that India has made significant progress in institutions, knowledge and technology outputs. The space programme, Mangalayaan, is a shining example of this.

What has the government done to promote innovation?

  1. President of India declared decade 2010-20 has the “decade of innovation”. The main aim of this declaration is to develop an innovation eco-system in the country to stimulate innovations and to produce solutions for the societal needs in terms of healthcare, energy, urban infrastructure, water and transportation.
  1. Science technology and innovation(STI) policy 2013 :

Key elements of STI policy are:

  • Promoting the spread of scientific temper among all sections of society.
  • Establishing world class infrastructure for R&D for gaining global leadership in some select frontiers of science.
  • Positioning India among top 5 global scientific powers by 2020.
  • Seeding S&T based high risk innovation systems.
  1. NITI ayog initiatives :
  • Atal Innovation Mission (AIM): AIM will be an Innovation Promotion Platform involving academics, entrepreneurs, and researchers drawing upon national and international experiences to foster a culture of innovation, R&D in India. The platform will also promote a network of world-class innovation hubs and grand challenges for India.
  • Self Employment & Talent Utilization (SETU): SETU will be a Techno-Financial, Incubation and Facilitation Programme to support all aspects of start-up businesses, and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology-driven areas.

What else needs to be done?

The three key things that are going to help us adopt, implement and boost a culture of innovation are the right platform, public-private partnership, and building a skilled talent pool by promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education.

The right platform :

  • While government initiatives are a welcome development, however the growth journey requires an increased level of public-private partnership, with a greater focus on inclusive innovation.
  • The private sector will have to invest significantly in R&D.
  • This will help develop a mind-set of value growth.
  • Such a mind-set promotes experimental thinking and is oriented to solving customer problems in new ways.
  • Corporates should thus partner with research and educational institutions and create commercialisation paths for deserving projects.
  • Young innovators should be encouraged to go on exchange programmes and get internships or grants to help fuel research.

STEM is the root:

  • The bright spot is that India has one of the world’s largest educational systems with 1.4 million schools, 35,000 colleges and 600 universities.
  • However, there is a need to foster a culture of experimentation by updating the curriculum, revamping the examination system from a test of memory to a test of analytical skills, and improving the quality of teaching.
  • The private sector must step up its involvement in furthering STEM proficiency.
  • India invests just 0.88 per cent of GDP in science research compared with 7-8 per cent for the US and 3-4 per cent for South Korea. Of that, nearly a quarter is spent on basic research that has little to do with innovation or economic growth. 

The linkages between universities and businesses need to play an important role in innovation dynamics.

Research-linked scholarships, paid for by both the government and the private sector, are crucial.

Policymakers must realise that possession of significant human resources in science and technology is both a national economic priority and a technological necessity.

Way Forward:

  • Even though India is ranked low in the GII, the good news is that it has a growing startup ecosystem; besides, the GII’s analysis paints a bright picture for India in the areas where it has made improvements.
  • However, with robust policy intervention, the right infrastructure, an attitudinal change towards risk-taking (accepting failures as part of the process), and ease of doing business, India will be able to make innovation a part of its cultural DNA.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically examine the provisions of Science Technology and Innovation policy 2013.
  • Critically analyse the measures taken by the government to promote an ecosystem of innovation in India.
  • Innovation is a means of creating sustainable and cost effective solutions for inclusive growth in developing economies. Critically examine the relevance of above statement wrt Indian context.

 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

 

TOPICGeneral Studies 3

  • Awareness in the fields of nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights. 

 

 

Puzzling Glances over Genetically modified Crops

  • The insecurity over access to food has gripped over the entire world facing one or the other issues largely, at regular intervals– sometimes a ‘migration crisis’ or at another, an economic downturn accelerated at a different level with the accompanying ill-effects of climate change.
  • Biotechnology claims to have come up with progressive solutions, making a point of being successful, and yet, the danger looms above us all—over the health impacts and environmental risks posed by these ‘genetically modified crops’.
  • 17 out of 28 countries of European Union (EU) have put up a strong voice against the usage of these crops in their country. In India, GM crops are certainly not a new thing and government has successfully gone ahead with ‘Cotton’ commercialization, with ‘Mustard’ not lacking far behind

Case of Gm Crops:

Promises:

  • Offers Pest resistance and a decline in the application of chemical pesticides (Cost effective)
  • Helps reduce environmental damage by reducing the amount of herbicides to be applied
  • Plant diseases can be checked
  • Unexpected frost can be avoided as the gene when inserted makes the plant tolerant to cold temperature (antifreeze gene from cold water fish)
  • These seeds can also be made drought and salinity tolerant, enabling growth of plants in inhospitable areas.
  • Additional access to minerals can be provided and thus deficiencies can be curbed (Especially in women and children)

Breakdowns:

Growth: Failure in the growth of these crops in rain-fed areas thus, showing inclination towards successful growth only with the help of irrigation. It marks a more difficult terrain, taking into consideration the vagaries of climatic changes.

Diseases in Human: In USA, the incidences of gastrointestinal tract disorders and cases of allergy have been on the rise. Chronic Toxicity has also come under the scanner. With unknown genes being inserted, the reactions and the metabolism might get altered, altogether. New allergens might come into being which may aggravate the health issues that are already on the rise.

Outcrossing: It is yet another issue that needs to be learnt about, considering the magnified ecological consequences that it may throw open. Genes from these crops may spread from these plants into conventional crops or related species found in nearby areas, leading to an increase in fitness or a decrease in genetic diversity.

 

IASbaba’s Views:

We need more food to meet today’s and tomorrow’s food requirement: Almost over 40% of the produce in our own country is wasted due to lack of proper chain of services—Procurement, storage and mismanagement. Therefore, the main concern should be in improving our supply chain operations and the condition of our storage houses/warehouses to help preserve our crops from getting destroyed.

Laxicity & Opaqueness:

  • The tests and R&D should be developed and be continuously carried out to certify the results and the changes in the overall cause and effect relationship of GM crops with the environment.
  • An independent body should be constituted and be given the responsibility to carry out these tasks
  • These reports should be made available for the public discussion and for further research in the same field to verify the results and observations made.

Connecting the Dots:

  • What are the resulting social, environmental and economic impacts of GM Crops? Suggest a way ahead
  • Over-dependency on GM Crops would mean placing the burden on the victim, not the perpetrator of this grave anagro-economic crime. Do you agree? Discuss.

 

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