PIB Analysis : 14th and 15th July 2020

PIB Analysis for UPSC CSE

  1. World Youth Skills Day
  2. National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA
  3. Post Covid Coach to fight COVID-19
  4. Supercapacitor
  5. Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients
  6. India Energy Modelling Forum 
  7. Facts for Prelims

1 . World Youth Skills Day


Context : PM to address on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day

About Skill India

  • Skill India is an initiative of the Government of India which has been launched to empower the youth of the country with skill sets which make them more employable and more productive in their work environment.
  • Skill India offers courses across several sectors which are aligned to the standards recognised by both, the industry and the government under the National Skill Qualification Framework.
  • The courses help a person focus on practical delivery of work and help him enhance his technical expertise so that he is ready for day one of his job and companies don’t have to invest into training him for his job profile.
  • The World Youth Skills Day is celebrated every year on 15th of July, was celebrated in virtual mode this year.

Recent Initiatives undertaken by Govt

  • Skill India Mission: The efforts of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and other Central Government Department Ministries involved in skilling saw more than one crore youth joining the Skill India Mission every year, to meet demand of Skilled Workforce.
  • Increase in ITI capacity: There has been a substantial increase in the size of the ITI ecosystem, close to 5000 ITIs have been established over the last 5 years with total number of institutes close to 15,000. The enrolled candidates have increased to 27.56 lakh in these ITIs over the last 5 years. The ITI capacity has been increased to 34.63 lakhs, an increase of 85.5% over 2015. Upgradation of ITIs has been undertaken through 63 course curricula upgraded with industry consultations, 35 new trades and 11 Industry 4.0 courses being introduced.
  •  Training Under Pradhan Mantri KaushalVikasYojana (PMKVY):
    1. Under PMKVY, a total of 92 lakhs candidates have been trained so far across 37 sectors in more than 250 job roles PMKVY is a flagship scheme under MSDE.
    2. A special focus was placed on the agricultural sector and 3.42 lakh were trained in special farming. Some special projects were also taken up under which 5514 Jail Inmates and 5549 misguided youth were trained in Delhi.
  • PMKK: To improve the quality of short-term training, 720+ Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras as Model Skill Centres were opened in 704 districts in India. These are based upon Aspiration, Quality and Self Sustainable principles.
  • International Collaboration: Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurshipmet officials from counterparts working in skill development across countries like Singapore, UAE, Japan, Canada, Australia  to further build capacity for skilled workforce in the country, jointly work on transnational standards and bridging demand for skilled workforce in these countries by collaborating with them and supplying them with trained professionals.
  • Increased participation in Apprenticeship Programmes: Various initiatives taken on the Apprenticeship intervention saw a 44% increase in enrolment of apprentices and 10% increase in establishments participating in apprenticeship training, as compared to FY 18-19. A total of 8.61 lakhs people have been engaged under National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) with around 85,000 establishments hiring the apprentices.
  • Jan ShikshanSansthan (JSS) Scheme: During the last financial year, a total of 4.10 lakhs beneficiaries trained under JSS Scheme as compared to 1.67 lakhs trained during 2018-19, 2.5 times increase over a period of six months.
  • eSkill India Platform: In a technology driven environment, e-learning is pivotal in deepening the reach of skilling opportunities for the Indian youth. NSDC created an e-Skill India, a multilingual e-learning aggregator portal, providing e-skilling opportunities to the Indian youth. eSkill India leverages the skilling opportunities from Indian and global leaders in online learning, by consolidating online courses curated by leading knowledge organizations that share NSDC’s commitment of making India a Skill Capital of the World. eSkill India provides anytime, anywhere skilling —beyond the boundaries of location and time. The courses are available in English, Hindi and 9 regional languages. The learners are guided through self-paced interactive videos and quizzes. The portal has more than 500 courses and close to 2.5 lakh students have registered themselves on it
  • Vision Report 2025: MSDE has prepared its Vision Report 2025 in consultation with various stakeholders. The Draft Vision Report 2025 was discussed in multiple review meetings held under the Chairpersonship of Secretary, MSDE along with the heads of various wings of the Ministry and attached organizations viz. DGT, NSDA, NSDC and NIESBUD &IIE. 
  • Initiatives for Women: To mark the celebration of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2020, a two-year programme namely Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF) programme was launched by MSDE at IIM Bangalore, Karnataka. The fellowship programme has been conceptualized under the World Bank loan assisted Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) Programme. Out of the total 75 Fellows selected, 32 are women candidates (43 % of the total).
  • SWADES: A collaborative initiative of the Ministries of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Civil Aviation and External Affairs, SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) is a skill mapping exercise of the returning citizens under the Vande Bharat Mission. SWADES aims to create a database of qualified citizens based on their skillsets and experience to tap into and fulfil demand of Indian and foreign companies.
  • ASEEM: In order to improve the information flow and bridge the demand-supply gap in the skilled workforce market, MSDE recently launched ‘Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM)’ portal to help skilled people find sustainable livelihood opportunities. The Artificial Intelligence-based platform has been envisioned to strengthen workforce career pathways by handholding them through their journeys to attain industry-relevant skills and explore emerging job opportunities. 24 lakhs candidates trained under the PMKVY and Fee-based courses are available on ASEEM. 1.5 lakhs candidates trained in ITIs under Directorate General of Training have also been added and data captured under SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) is available for employers. Also, working on adding data of all the 1.2 Crore candidates trained under PMKVY 2.0.

2 .  National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA)


About Quantum Technologies

  • Quantum Technology is based on the principles of quantum theory, which explains the nature of energy and matter on the atomic and subatomic level. It concerns the control and manipulation of quantum systems, with the goal of achieving information processing beyond the limits of the classical world.
  • Quantum principles will be used for engineering solutions to extremely complex problems in computing, communications, sensing, chemistry, cryptography, imaging and mechanics. Quantum field has not yet matured for commercialization, due to the extreme scientific challenges involved.
  • Quantum computers store and process information using quantum two level systems (quantum bits or qubits) which unlike classical bits, can be prepared in superposition states.
  • This key ability makes quantum computers extremely powerful compared to conventional computers when solving certain kinds of problems like finding prime factors of large numbers and searching large databases.
  • The prime factorization quantum algorithm has important implications for security as it can be used to break RSA encryption, a popular method for secure communication. Indian physicists and engineers are preparing for a deep dive into the quantum world that holds the secrets for developing exciting technologies for computing, communication, cryptography and many more.

Importance of Quantum Technology Mission

  • Quantum technology is opening up new frontiers in computing, communications, cyber security with wide-spread applications. It is expected that lots of commercial applications would emerge from theoretical constructs which are developing in this area.
  • Budget proposed to provide an outlay of ` 8000 crore over a period five years for the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications
  • Quantum technologies are rapidly developing globally with a huge disruptive potential. The next generation transformative technologies that will receive a push under this mission include quantum computers and computing, quantum communication, quantum key distribution, encryption, crypt analysis, quantum devices, quantum sensing, quantum materials, quantum clock and so on. The areas of focus for the Mission will be in fundamental science, translation, technology development, human and infrastructural resource generation, innovation and start-ups to address issues concerning national priorities.
  • Their applications which will receive boost include those in aero-space engineering, numerical weather prediction, simulations, securing the communications & financial transactions, cyber security, advanced manufacturing, health, agriculture, education and other important sectors with focus on creation of high skilled jobs, human resources development, start-ups & entrepreneurship leading to technology lead economic growth.
  • The Mission will be able address the ever increasing technological requirements of the society, and take into account the international technology trends and road maps of leading countries for development of next generation technologies.
  • Implementation of the mission would help develop and bring quantum computers, secured communications through fibre and free space, quantum encryption and crypt-analysis and associated technologies within reach in the country and help address India specific national and regional issues.
  • The mission will help prepare next generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development. By promoting advanced research in quantum science and technology, technology development and higher education in science, technology and engineering disciplines India can be brought at par with other advanced countries and can derive several direct and indirect benefits.

3 . Post Covid Coach to fight COVID-19


Context : Indian Railways has taken numerous  steps and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus infection. Sustaining the ruthless fight against COVID-19, Indian Railways’ production unit, Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, has developed a Post Covid Coach to fight Covid 19. This Post Covid Coach has design improvements in the coach like handsfree amenities, copper-coated handrails & latches, plasma air purification and titanium di-oxide coating for Covid free passenger journey.

Following are the salient features of the Post Covid Coach:

  • Handsfree amenities: Post Covid Coach is having handsfree amenities like foot operated water tap & soap dispenser, foot operated lavatory door (outside), foot operated flush valve, foot operated latches in lavatory door, outside washbasin with foot operated water tap and soap dispenser and forearm operated handle on compartment door.
  • Copper-coated handrails & latches: Post Covid Coach equipped with copper-coated handrails & latches because copper degrades the virus landed on it within few hours. Copper has anti microbial properties. When virus lands on copper, Ion blasts pathogen and destroy the DNA and RNA inside the virus.
  • Plasma air purification:  Post Covid Coach is having provision of plasma air equipment in AC duct. This plasma air equipment will sterilize the air and surfaces inside the AC coach using ionised air to make the coach Covid-19 and particulate matter resistant.  This provision will also improve the  ion concentration from 100 ions/cm3 to more than 6000 ions/cm.
  • Titanium Di-oxide coating:  Post Covid Coach is having Titanium Di-oxide coating in the coach. Nano structured Titanium Dioxide Coating functions as photoactive material. This is aeco-friendly water-based coating that kills viruses, bacteria, mould, and fungal growth and most importantly enhances indoor air quality. It is non-toxic and approved by food testing laboratory of the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA), CE certified.  TiO2 is considered to be a safe substance and is harmless to humans. This Titanium Di-oxide coating applied on washbasins, lavatory, seats & berths, snack table, glass window, floor, virtually every surface that comes in human contact.  Effective life of this coating is 12 months.

4 . Supercapacitor


Context : Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous organization of the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India have developed a simple, low-cost, environmentally friendly, and sustainable supercapacitor electrode derived from industrial waste cotton which can be used as an energy harvester storage device. For the first time, natural seawater is explored as an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, scalable, and alternative aqueous electrolyte, which may replace the existing aqueous-based electrolytes for the economic fabrication of supercapacitor.

About Supercapacitor

  • Supercapacitor is a next-generation energy storage device that has received extensive research attention owing to advantages such as high power density, long durability, and ultrafast charging characteristic as compared to conventional capacitors and lithium-ion batteries (LIB). 
  • Among the four main components of supercapacitor electrode, electrolyte, separator, and the current collector, the first two are the pivotal components, which directly determine the electrochemical behaviour of the supercapacitors.
  • The fabrication cost of electrode materials, as well as electrolytes, should be reduced because these two components account for major portion of the device manufacturing cost.

Details of the Research

  • In search of a cost-effective material for making affordable supercapacitor devices, scientists at ARCI have converted industrial waste cotton (Trash) into highly porous carbon fibers (Treasure) by activation process and then utilised the porous carbon fibers to make high-performance supercapacitor electrodes.
  • Scientists at ARCI demonstrated the feasibility of using seawater as natural electrolyte for the fabrication of aqueous-based supercapacitor devices which shows great potential for practical implementation.
  • The study found that natural seawater-based supercapacitor exhibited maximum capacitances at a current density of 1 Ag-1. In addition, seawater-based supercapacitor shows very good durability upon 10,000 charge-discharge cycles with 99 % of capacitance retention and 99 % of Coulombic efficiency (efficiency with which charge is transferred in a system facilitating an electrochemical reaction).

Importance

  • The research team’s new, sustainable and green supercapacitor device shows great potential for practical application, and perhaps most importantly, the integrated solar cell with seawater-based supercapacitor as low cost, eco-friendly, efficient and self-powering device. 
  • The successful demonstration of the device revealed that solar-powered supercapacitors can not only store the electrical energy but also overcome the drawbacks of the intermittent nature of the solar irradiation. Hence, the integrated solar cell with supercapacitor can be used as an energy harvester storage device due to their long cycle life and maintenance-free power supply. 
  • The large-scale use of renewable energy requires creation of matching capacity for inexpensive electrical energy storage. This study provides a solution for fabrication of super-capacitors from such abundant materials as waste cotton and seawater

5 . Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients


Context : Indigenous production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) needs to be scaled up to a level where the production is economically viable, says a report which identified a list of APIS that need prioritized manufacturing and the associated advantages.

About Pharmaceutical Industry

  • The pharmaceutical industry in India is third largest in the world, in terms of volume, behind China and Italy, and fourteenth largest in terms of value. It has a strong network of 3,000 drug companies and about 10,500 manufacturing units with a domestic turnover of Rs 1.4 lakh crore (USD 20.03 billion) in 2019, with exports to more than 200 countries in the world.

Issues in Manufacturing of API

  • Despite a very strong base, due to low-profit margins and non-lucrative industry, domestic pharmaceutical companies have gradually stopped manufacturing APIs and started importing APIs, which was a cheaper option with increased profit margins on drugs.
  • With the availability of cheaper APIs from China, the pharmaceutical industry relies heavily on imports.
  • The imports from China have been increasing steadily and now stand around 68%
  • . To address this, TIFAC has recommended policies to address the requirement of APIs in short & medium term to make our country self-reliant.

About the Report

  • The report titled ‘Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients- Status, Issues, Technology Readiness, and Challenges’ was brought out recently by Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), an autonomous organization under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.

Details of the Report

  • Major recommendations given in the report include focus on engineering and scale aspect of technology development, need for Mission mode Chemical Engineering with defined targets for uninterrupted synthesis of molecules and to create mega drug manufacturing clusters with common infrastructure in India and the technology platform to be developed for biocatalysis towards reducing process steps for cost optimization and for fluorination,
  • Investment on priority in fermentation sector of large capacity and scale supporting techno-economic feasibility, attention to technologies like hazardous reactions, flow chemistry, cryogenic reactions, and membrane technology.
  • The report further suggests chiral building blocks through biocatalysis for production of niche intermediates involving enzymatic reactions or fermentation as an area of potential exploitation for Indian API industry and focus on antiviral drugs, which require nucleic acid building blocks – Thymidine/ Cytosine Adenine/ Guanine none of which are manufactured in India because of lack of cyanation plants.
  • The report recommends for Government encouragement of Indian companies working in chemical segments such as steroids, amino acids, carbohydrates, nucleosides, etc., to collaborate for technology development or quick technology transfer as well as the need for closer academia-industry interaction for technology development and commercialization.

Importance

  • The TIFAC White Paper titled ‘Focused Interventions for ‘Make In India’ post-COVID 19’ brought out the strengths, market trends, and opportunities in five Sectors, including Healthcare, which are critical from country’s perspective.
  • This paper strongly brought out the import dependence for APIs, especially from China. In view of changing geo-political scenario and recalibrated trade alignments, it is imperative that India become self-reliant in production of APIs.

6 . India Energy Modelling Forum 


Sustainable Growth Pillar

  • Sustainable Growth Pillar is an important pillar of India–US Strategic Energy Partnership co-chaired by NITI Aayog and USAID. The SG pillar entails energy data management, energy modelling and collaboration on low carbon technologies as three key activities.
  • In the joint working group meeting of the Sustainable Growth Pillar on July 2, 2020, an India Energy Modeling Forum was launched.

India Energy Modeling Forum

  • There exist energy modelling forums in different parts of the World. The Energy Modelling Forum (EMF) in USA was established in 1976 at Stanford University to connect leading modelling experts and decision makers from government, industry, universities, and other research organizations.
  • The forum provides an unbiased platform to discuss the contemporary issues revolving around energy and environment.
  • In India, there was no formalized and systematic process of having a modeling forum. Even then, various think-tanks/research organizations like TERI, IRADe, CSTEP, CEEW, NCAER, etc., have been consistently developing scenarios and contributing through modelling studies and analyses to provide required inputs to MoEF&CC and other relevant ministries, including NITI Aayog.
  •  NITI Aayog will initially coordinate the activities of the forum and finalizing its governing structure. The forum would include knowledge partners, data agencies and concerned government ministries.

The India Energy Modelling Forum will accelerate this effort and aim to:

  • Provide a platform to examine important energy and environmental related issues;
  • Inform decision-making process to the Indian government;
  • Improve cooperation between modelling teams, government, and knowledge partners, funders;
  • Facilitate exchange of ideas, ensure production of high-quality studies;
  • Identify knowledge gaps at different levels and across different areas;
  • Build capacity of Indian institutions.

7 . Facts for Prelims


Indian National Centre for Ocean Information

  • The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad is a globally recognized autonomous institution under Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India.
  • The Centre provides free dedicated ocean information services to the Nation, using state-of-the-art technology and research, for increasing Safety and Profit.
  • The three primary services provided are the Tsunami Early Warning Service, Ocean State Forecast Service and Potential Fishing Zone Advisory Service.​

Anabin Database

  • Germany has opened a Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) which acts as the sole authority for the evaluation of foreign qualifications in Germany.
  • As part of their service, they maintain a database called Anabin that lists foreign degrees and higher education qualifications in relation to German diplomas and degrees.

Corosure

  • Union Human Resource Development Minister e-launched the World’s most affordable RT-PCR based COVID-19 diagnostic kit developed by IIT Delhi and approved by the ICMR and DCGI
  • Diagnostic kit developed by IIT Delhi, which will be now available for use by the authorised testing labs with this launch, will significantly bring down the cost of COVID-19 RT-PCR testing. The base price of the RT-PCR assay is Rs 399. Even after adding the RNA isolation and laboratory charges, the cost per test will be considerably cheaper compared to currently available kits in the market. 
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