Sunday 8 July 2012

High Power Meeting on Key Initiatives in Frontier Areas of Science

A High Power meeting under the Chairmanship of Dr. Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Planning, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences was held in Planning Commission today to discuss the future road map for key initiatives in the frontier area of Science in critical sectors. 

          The purpose of the meeting was to explore and formulate an action plan to bridge scientific and technological gaps in the following amongst other areas.

1.            Concrete action plan for upgrading our super-computer capabilities.
2.            Explore steps to give further impetus to Deep Sea Mining and acquisition of the requisite technological capabilities in this area.
3.            To address issues/gaps with respect to our ability and capability to translate fundamental research into innovative products and services and commercialization/scaling of technology from Pilot Projects onwards.
4.            Big ideas for the future like – The Super Microscope, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), Ocean Acidification and Interstellar Chemistry.
In the areas of supercomputing, it was decided to create the necessary internal eco-system, human resource and demand to promote and develop high power computing/supercomputing in the country.  It has been decided:

·         To identify 200 scientists and 2000 researchers dedicated to 4 paradigm i.e. date intensive discovery. To create an ecosystem where 25% of the eco system of the country would be connected  by supercomputer activity for this purpose a proposal has been received for establishing 200 centres across the country connected over the National Knowledge  Network
·         To develop advanced scientific systems and capabilities for storage of data, development of parallel processors and a programme of hardware acquisition and indigenous development thereof.  BARC will acquire by 2014 Peta flop capability through a cluster approach connected by a fibre optic switch. This will enable modelling and simulation of high speed nuclear process including radiation modelling coupled with atmospheric changes.
·         CSIR will acquire and operationalize by 2013 a 360tera flop/16 terabytes shared memory processing system comparable to the best processors in the world. The acquisition would gradually build up a petaflop capabilities in the country.
·         Ministry of Earth Sciences will be inducting 500-600 tera flops in the systems which will make it more accurate in weather forecasting, climate change and ocean studies in pursuance of the government’s monsoon mission.
·         Structures and processors would be put in place to intensify indigenous research for creating domestic capability for production of high speed switch, thermal control and power control technologies.
·         These decisions will collectively contribute to the development of indigenous supercomputing capability at low power consumption which could have a direct bearing on space, atomic energy, missile development applications.
·         The other applications include: climate and atmospheric sciences, Monsoon Mission, Discovery of new life-saving drugs, Cancer Bioinformatics, Genome Sequencing, Discovery & Extraction of new energy sources like oil and natural gas, CFD simulations for design, Disaster Management, National Electronic Health Record Framework, Computational Structural Mechanics, Earthquake Engineering, Astronomy and astrophysics, Material Science, and Geological.

Deep Sea Mining – a critical area for sub-serving critical and strategic needs of the country, particularly in the area of access to rare earth materials like Titanium and Platinum as well as Manganese, Copper, Cobalt and Nickel, was also discussed in the meeting.

It is also known that ocean bed could be a source for Ocean Thermal Energy as well as drugs and food. Considering the importance of deep sea mining, the following initiatives have been decided upon/taken:

a)            Rapid enhancement of Human Resource and skills in this area
b)            Pooling of existing resources with NIOT, ISRO, DRDO, DAE, GSI, Ministry of Mines and NIO
c)             The Ministry of Earth Sciences has established capabilities through vessels such as SagarNidhi to explore minerals at  a depth of 6000 mtrs from sea surface
d)            A new vessel will be handed over to NIOT on July 31st 2012 for assisting exploration of minerals
e)             CSIR is also getting a vessel manufactured at Surat at a cost of Rs. 200 crore
f)              GSI  is acquiring a vessel at the cost of Rs. 550 crore from a Korean shipyard which is likely to be inducted for operations by September 2013

In the field of Translational Research Capabilities, the following proposals were discussed:

·                It was decided to ensure a much more purposive, active and commercially viable interface between academia, industry and R&D institutions
·                New initiatives will be finalised to ensure that translational capabilities are embedded in every basic research and discovery institutions.
·                Establish a technological platform for giving easy access to researches through connectivity and convergence of data and facilities of different organizations and institutions
·                To encourage creation of competencies in anticipation of future challenges.
·                Create capabilities for scaling up products and processes through incremental innovation.
·                Deepening of pockets of science.

This exercise has been undertaken with a view to obtain global leadership position which is critical for securing India’s Strategic interests and over arching national imperatives. 

The meeting was attended by Dr. R. Chaidambaram, Pr. Scientific Advisor to Government of India, Dr.Kasturirangan, Member, (S&T and E&F), Planning Commission, Dr. T. Ramasami, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, Dr. S. K. Brahmchari, Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Dr. M.K. Bhan, Secretary, Department of Bio-Technology, Shri J. Sathyanarayana, Secretary, Department of Electronic and Science & Technology, Prof. S.V. Raghavan, Scientific Secretary to PSA, Prof. Balakrishnan, Associate Director,IISc, and Prof. Rajat Moona, DG, CDAC.

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