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DRDO planning to Invest Rs. 400 Crore in IIT Bombay and IIT Madras for Aerospace Defence Technology Development

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has planned to pump in Rs. 400 crore funds in IIT Madras as well as IIT Bombay for starting research and development of advanced defence-related aerospace. Reports say unique tripartite MoU signed by the two IITs and DRDO, just a few days back, is currently awaiting approval from Defence Ministry. Ministry is expected to approve the agreement in couple of months. While Rs. 180 crore will be given to IIT Madras and IIT Bombay each for research, Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 60 crore is expected to be given by DRDO to IIT Bombay for development of infrastructure.

Water Resources Minister says Current Initiative of River Ganga cleaning likely to be completed by 2020

Uma Bharti, Union Water Resources Minister, while replying to a Rajya Sabha question said that most of the proposed or initiated projects for Ganga cleaning will be completed by the year 2020. Uma Bharati went on to add that the desired results will be visible after that timeframe. She told that sanctioning of 93 water treatment projects across 55 towns have been already done at a cost of Rs. 7350.38 crore for creating 762 MLD treatment capacities. Bharti added that during 1985-2009, 902 water cleaning projects have been completed and 966 projects. National Ganga River Basin Authority was launched with a renewed vision in 2009.

Microsoft updating Voice-Activated Digital Assistant "Cortana" with Strong Local Content for India

Reports say that Microsoft is not shipping Windows 10 with its voice-activated digital assistant, Cortana, as of now because it is still updating the software with “strong” local content. Though Microsoft unveiled their own Windows 10 operating system having Cortana (which is a competitor of Apple’s Siri) globally, Vineet Durani (Director of Microsoft India - Windows Business Group) said that it will be available to Windows developers in coming weeks, followed by that to the consumers. Reports say that with Cortana, users can find data, set reminders, track information, and do many other works.  

PM Modi says APJ Abdul Kalam wanted to see his Country as a Knowledge Superpower

While praising former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam’s works, calling him “marg darshak”, and highlighting Dr. Kalam’s commitment towards strength, development, and freedom, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that ex-President wanted India to unfold itself as a knowledge superpower. PM Modi has said that India lost a “ratna” (jewel) and went on to highlight that Kalam never allowed his humble beginning to come into his way to success. Modi also said that APJ Abdul Kalam always believed in “wealth of knowledge” in scientific as well as spiritual manifestations. PM also remembered Kalam’s contribution to India’s defence programme, which brought paradigm shift in indigenous missile development.

India urges France to Facilitate Consensus to bring down Green Technology Cost

India has urged the official host of December 2015’s UN-sponsored global climate change conference (to be held in Paris) to take initiative in facilitating consensus among the developed countries so that Intellectual Property Right (IPR) issues do not drive up the green technology cost. India has said that IPR shoots up cost of green technology and France should try to build consensus so that the high cost doesn’t lead to problems for the developing countries to adopt them. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s Additional Secretary, Susheel Kumar, made this appeal while delivering speech during a FICCI organised session on the issue of 21st Climate Conference.

Parliamentary Standing Committee Expresses Concern on Yamuna River Pollution affecting Taj Mahal

Congress MP Ashwani Kumar headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology and Environment and Forest expressed concern over ever increasing pollution of Yamuna River and its ill effect on Taj Mahal. In its report the parliamentary committee has suggested formation of a water body near the Taj Mahal so that it gets back its sheen. The report pointed out tanneries around Taj Mahal to be the real reasons of increasing pollution and slammed the authorities of not taking adequate action to check it. The committee questioned why untreated sewerage is discharged into Yamuna and recommended strengthening of waste management system of Agra city.    

PM Modi calls for Revolution in Farm, Fisheries, Milk, and Energy for Making India Self Sufficient

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking at 87th foundation day of ICAR, asked progressive farmers as well as agri-scientists for carrying forward proper innovation so that India doesn’t require importing any farm commodity in the coming future. He also called for initiating revolution in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, milk, and energy so that India becomes self sufficient in these fields. While expressing his concerns on wastage of agricultural produce, PM Modi emphasized upon food processing. He especially stressed upon the urgent need of increasing per hectare yield of crop. He went on to predict that the second green revolution will take place in the eastern states.

Indo-European Union Workshop on Marine Ecosystem and Climate to be held Next Week

India is going to organise a workshop on marine ecosystem and climate in association with European Union next week for exploring collaboration possibilities and popularising scientific works. This two-day event is being organised jointly by Nansen Environmental Research Centre (NERCI) and Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS). Reports say that the meet will be inaugurated by K Babu, Kerala Fisheries Minister. Vice Chancellor of KUFOS, B Madhusoodana Kurup, said that experts (environmentalists, oceanographers, maritime industrialists, and naval exponents from both India and European Union Members States) will discuss climatic, environmental, academic, and scientific aspects of oceans during the workshop.   

ISRO Signs MoU with Russian Federal Space Agency to Expand Space Exploration Cooperation

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has signed a new MoU with Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) for expanding cooperation in exploration as well as outer space usage for peaceful purposes. Reports say that signing of this MoU will help India space agency in further consolidating as well as augmenting space programmes in multiple domains including space exploration. MoS for Department of Space, Dr Jitendra Singh, informed media that the MoU doesn’t include space technology transfer. He also told Lok Sabha that India has earned US$ 100 million or Rs. 637.35 crore from commercial launch of 45 satellites belonging to 19 countries.      

MoS Department of Space says India will bear Building and Launching Cost of SAARC Satellite

While responding to question in Lok Sabha, Jitendra Singh (Union Minister of State for the Department of Space) said in a written statement that India will bear cost of both building and launching of the SAARC regional satellite. He went on to say that ground system expenditure will be borne by other constituent countries of the regional bloc. Singh also said that development of this satellite will help all the participating regional countries in accessing multiple services (broadcasting and telecommunications) including disaster management, tele-education, DTH, and television. He added that ISRO will commercially launch 28 satellites of 6 countries during 2015-17.

Union Department of Science and Technology hands over National Isotope Facility to Kerala

Union Department of Science and Technology (DST) has handed over National Isotope Facility to Kerala. This laboratory is believed to reinforce works of Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), established in 2004 in Kozhikode. The full-fledged state-of-the-art isotope laboratory has been provided with all kinds of advanced machines and equipments for measuring and analysing environmentally stable radio isotopes so that processes governing water cycle as well as its climatic conditions variability can be better understood. Prof. T K Chandrasekhar, Secretary of Union S&T department, handed over the concerned documents in presence of PJ Joseph (Resource Minister of Kerala).    

Environment Minister says India to Pursue Energy Efficiency Path Aggressively to Reduce Carbon Emission Intensity

Prakash Javedkar, Union Minister of Environment, said during informal ministerial consultations at Paris that India is working overtime and has taken up the climate action issue with “conviction”. The minister assured during the consultation that Indian government will aggressively pursue the energy efficiency path for reducing carbon emission intensity. However, he also asked the developed countries to pursue the same path “vigorously”. He reminded that India’s first target is eradication of poverty but the country’s contribution to Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) will indicate its seriousness towards environment. Javedkar reminded that “differentiation” is cardinal to UNFCCC mandate and no attempts should be made to dilute it.

ISRO Successfully Ground Tests High-Thrust Cryogenic Rocket Engine

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully ground tested its high-thrust cryogenic rocket engine yesterday. Testing took place at Tamil Nadu’s Mahendragiri complex. In a statement, the Indian space agency has said that the high thrust cryogenic rocket engine (indigenously designed as well as developed) was tested for checking out endurance for 800 seconds that is around 25 per cent more than the duration of engine burn in flight. Reports say that this high-thrust cryogenic rocket engine (utilising liquid oxygen as well as liquid hydrogen – both low temperature propellants) will be used for launching GSLV Mk-III vehicle, weighing around 4 tonnes, heaviest rocket in India under development. Reports also point out that 12.5 ton propellant powered smaller cryogenic engine was used on January 5, 2014, for successfully flight testing GSLV Mk-II vehicle. However, this time a bigger cryogenic engine has been tested that comes with 27 tonne fuel capacity.  

Microsoft India shows Enthusiasm in "Make in India" and "Digital India"

Microsoft India’s General Manager of Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners segment, Meetul Patel, said while speaking to the media on the sidelines of Microsoft Worldwide Conference, organised in Orlando, that Government of India is undertaking many exciting initiatives. He went on to say that his company recognises India as a growth opportunity, mainly because of the government’s push for initiatives based on technology. He also pointed out that the company is excited about the flagship “Make in India” and “Digital India” initiatives. In an interview, he also applauded Union Government’s efforts of “building excitement around India”. Interestingly, Meetul Patel said that India is on the verge of a technological explosion, where technology is getting converged with political environment. Patel went on to exude confidence in India by calling it “biggest white space” “in terms of opportunity”.

ISRO planning "Deep Space Exploration" to Venus

Reports say that Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch “deep space exploration” missions to Venus. In fact, it is also learnt that a second Mars mission can also be initiated along with a deep space exploration on an asteroid. Kiran Kumar, ISRO Chairman, has said that they need a full proof and proper roadmap on the missions before formulating the project. He went on to say that both the Venus and asteroid missions are challenging ones and that’s why a full proof plan needs to be chalked out. Sources also indicate that USA’s NASA may also be a part of the concerned space exploration programmes of ISRO.

India to Create Strategic Uranium Reserve for Continued Supply of Nuclear Fuel to Atomic Power Reactors

Union Government has decided to create a “strategic uranium reserve” for ensuring uninterrupted supply of crucial nuclear fuel to the atomic power reactors. Reports say that reserve pool can be anywhere between 5000 MT and 15,000 MT so that it can meet the increasing uranium demand in the nuclear reactors for 5 to 10 years. Uranium stocking proposal of 5000 MT has already being sent to the Cabinet. In the past, India was not able to create such a uranium pool because of international sanctions but now USA is supporting India in developing a strategic nuclear fuel reserve in accordance with the India-US nuclear deal. In addition to uranium import by India from Russia, Australia, France, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, domestic production of uranium in India has crossed 1,252 MT, a milestone in itself as it is almost double that of the atomic reactors’ annual fuel requirement (650 MT) currently.

USA Appreciates Multi-Stakeholder Approach of India on Internet for Ensuring World Wide Web's Vitality

Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, Catherine A Novelli, in a statement appreciated India’s support for multi-stakeholder approach on Internet. While appreciating the move, Catherine referred to Telecom and IT minister of India Ravi Shankar Prasad’s announcement, a few weeks back, of supporting multi-stakeholder approach on internet by Government of India at the meeting of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Novelli also said, while delivering speech at Internet Governance Forum-USA meeting, applauded Ravi Shankar Prasad’s stance of calling to “embrace all geographies and societies” within multi-stakeholderism. Ahead of Internet Governance Forum (IGF), to be held in Brazil this year, Catherine A Novelli vouched for creating a space where every global citizen can contribute to global decision-making regarding management of the common resource - internet. Novelli said that USA looks forward to continuing dialogue with India on this matter.

Solar Energy Corporation of India to Award 15,000 MW Solar Projects in 2015 as part of Green Energy Push

Narendra Modi Government is all set to award 15,000 MW solar projects by ongoing financial year in an effort to give impetus to green energy and consequently achieve the target of installing 100,000 MW solar power capacity (at an estimated cost of $200 billion) by the year 2022. Reports say that Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will call for competitive bids from manufacturers in the near future for buying 2,000 MW. It is learnt that reverse bidding process will be followed for procurement. SECI sources say that tender for around 3000 MW has already been done by the states, followed by 2600 MW tender by NTPC. Reports say that by 31 March 2016, government will likely award 15,000 MW solar projects through competitive bidding. Rating agency ICRA in its July 14 report said that in the long run they are expecting “strong demand outlook for solar energy sector”.

PM Modi Congratulates NASA on Horizon's Pluto Flyby

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated NASA on its successful space exploration spaceship New Horizons’ flying by Pluto and consequent sending of the closest images possible of the planet. In his tweet PM Modi called it a landmark feat as the spaceship is sending back data as well as “photos of Pluto from almost 5 billion kilometres away”. He also said that these images of Pluto will increase our understanding on the solar system. This is the first of its kind mission where a spaceship from earth visited Pluto, an object on Kuiper Belt. In a video message to NASA, legendary scientist Stephen Hawking called this a success of “pioneering decade-long mission”. US President Barack Obama and Former US secretary Hilary Clinton too congratulated the NASA effort. Reports say NASA will release new images of Pluto today.

Department of Telecom Panel upholds Core Principles of Net Neutrality

A panel of Department of Telecom (DoT) has recommended upholding of “the core principles of net neutrality”. The panel has made twenty four recommendations and added that the main objective is to make internet free and fair in India. While stressing upon the requirement of adhering to the international best practices on net neutrality, the panel stressed upon formulating an indigenous rational approach that suits specific needs of Indians, keeping in mind the exponential application as well as content growth on internet. DoT panel recommended simultaneous promotion of infrastructure and innovation; facilitating "Universal Broadband", "Quality Broadband", and Affordable Broadband" for Indians; ensuring users’ rights; need of separating "network layer" from "application layer"; legitimate traffic management practices; no regulatory oversight for OTT application services, and many more.