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23 Aug, 2022

56 Min Read

Women Scientists in India

GS-I : Social issues Women

Women Scientists in India

Recently, Dr N. Kalaiselvi was appointed as director of the country's main organization for research and development i.e. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, becoming the organization's first female director general (CSIR).

Statistics on women in R&D:

Growing Trend

  • Over the past 20 years, women have increasingly participated in scientific research across the nation.
  • Women participated in 28% more extramural R&D projects in 2018–19 than they did in 2000–01, a rise from 13% as a result of various policies adopted by succeeding governments.

A fourfold increase

  • From 232 in 2000-01 to 941 in 2016-17, there were more than four times as many female main investigators in R&D.
  • In terms of gender, researchers increased from 13.9% in 2015 to 18.7% in 2018.

Sector-specific evaluation

  • Engineering and technology had a lower percentage of female researchers (14.5%) compared to the natural sciences and agriculture (22.5% each), and health sciences (24.5%).
  • However, the proportion of female scholars in the humanities and social sciences is substantially greater, at 36.4%.
  • Biotechnology (40%) and medicine (35%) have the highest percentages of female engagement.

Participation in undergraduate and graduate programs

  • According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019 findings, women participated in science education at a rate of 53% at the bachelor's level and 55% at the master's level, which is comparable to rates in many developed nations.
  • However, men (56% of PhD graduates) outnumbered women (44%) in this category.


Family problems

  • When they get married or have kids, women frequently leave school.
  • These factors include leaving higher education early, taking a career hiatus, becoming too old for scientific positions, missing a lot of work, or even quitting.

Post-doctoral level decline

  • We have shown that (women's) participation is healthy up to the graduate level. However, there is a decline at the post-doctoral level, where the majority of research is conducted.

Involvement in IITs

  • In the five IITs in Delhi, Mumbai, Kanpur, Chennai, and Roorkee, the participation rate for women is extremely low, ranging from 9% to 14%.

Initiatives are taken by the Government and Other organizations:

Project GATI: (Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions)

  • It is modelled after the Athena Swan Charter of the UK.
  • 30 academic and research institutions have been chosen by DST for the first phase of GATI, with an emphasis on the representation of women in leadership positions, faculty, and the number of female students and researchers.

SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research)

  • For Indian women scientists involved in R&D activities, SERB-POWER offers structured support in the form of equal access and weighted opportunities.
  • Two parts, SERB POWER Fellowships and SERB POWER Research Grants, are used to assist R&D for female scientists.

Scheme of DST: "Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN)"

  • It has been established to promote female scientists through various initiatives in the field of Science and Technology (S&T)
  • Innovation and Excellence in Women's Universities to Strengthen University Research (CURIE) Program.
  • To increase women's engagement in the S & T field, only female universities are being supported in their efforts to build cutting-edge research facilities and infrastructure.

Indian-American Fellowship for STEMM Women (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Medicine)

  • It invites Indian women scientists and technicians to do three to six months of worldwide collaborative research at prestigious US institutions.

Vigyan Jyoti scheme

  • It inspires female students in grades 9 to 12 to seek careers and studies in science and technology, especially in fields where women are underrepresented.

Excellence in Women Award

  • It encourages female Academy Award winners to broaden their fields of study.
  • Program for Biotechnology Career Advancement and Reorientation (BioCARe) to support female scientists in biotechnology research.

National Science Woman Award

  • A special honour known as the "National Award for Woman Scientist" is given to one woman scientist each year on Foundation Day in order to acknowledge the contributions made by women scientists in the field of Earth System Sciences.

Program Women Entrepreneur's Quest (WEQ)

  • It was started by DST in collaboration with the USA's Anita Borg Institute to identify and support female entrepreneurs in the technology sector.

Foundation for Women's Entrepreneurship and Empowerment (WEE)

  • IIT Delhi's project to develop the women's ecosystem is the first of its type in India, and it is backed and sponsored by DST.

Way forward

Governmental initiatives and evolution

  • The increase in women's engagement, particularly in research, is the result of both government initiatives and organic development.
  • By 2030, it wants to see 30% more women working in science and technology.

Childcare services

  • There are no creche facilities in the residential communities where the female scientists live, which has expanded the participation of women in many CSIR labs.

Perspectives on girls

  • Girls are now encouraged more by parents to pursue science careers, which is another change in parental attitudes.

Growing application of AI in the sciences

  • The number of women working in science and technology is expected to increase dramatically over the next five to six years as more advanced tools for remote work—like easy access to the internet—are used by women.

Also, Read - Forever Chemicals

Source: The Indian Express

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

GS-II : International Relations CPEC

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

China's recent investments in infrastructure projects under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have decreased, while it's short- and medium-term support to partner nations has increased, according to research from the Green Finance and Development Centre.

Outcomes of the report:

Reduced Investments

  • China's engagement in 147 nations through contracts and financial investments totalled $28.4 billion in the first half of 2022, an increase of 47% from the previous year.
  • From $48.5 billion in the same time in 2019, this represented a decrease.

Three distinct tendencies in the BRI were observed in the report:

  • Chinese state-owned enterprises' expanding involvement
  • Project contract sizes decreased on average last year, from $558 million in 2021 to $325 million.
  • An engagement pattern that is becoming more unequal.

Assistance for cooperating nations

  • In the first half of the year, China had no interaction with a number of nations, including Russia, Sri Lanka, and Egypt, while Pakistan had a 56% decline in Chinese engagement.
  • China's international commitment has changed from funding infrastructure to providing emergency relief in the last five years, as seen by the almost $26 billion in short- and medium-term loans it has granted to Pakistan and Sri Lanka alone.

About the CPEC Authority

A 2019 ordinance formed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority.

Its objectives included quickening the speed of CPEC-related initiatives, identifying fresh sources of growth, and releasing the potential of global value chains and interconnected production networks through regional and international connections.

Suspension grounds:

  • Local protests against the Pakistan Army over land issues have been on the rise in Gilgit Baltistan, which is occupied by Pakistan.
  • The army's "land grabbing" rampage in the name of CPEC has incensed the local populace.
  • The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which opposed Chinese investments in Balochistan, carried out a suicide attack in Karachi University in April 2022 that resulted in the deaths of three Chinese.
  • According to reports, China is pressuring Pakistan to allow Chinese agencies to provide protection for its people, but Islamabad is reportedly objecting because it would mean Chinese armed troops would have boots on the ground.
  • Due to the previous administration's modification of taxation policy in contravention of pledges made to China, the CPEC projects were also experiencing delays.

What is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor?

  • CPEC is a 3,000 km network of infrastructure projects linking the Gwadar Port in Pakistan's western region of Balochistan with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China.
  • It is a bilateral initiative between Pakistan and China that aims to improve connectivity throughout Pakistan by building a network of roads, railroads, and pipelines along with other infrastructure development initiatives in the energy, industrial, and other sectors.
  • China will be able to access the Indian Ocean through Gwadar Port, opening up access to the Middle East and Africa.
  • In exchange, China will finance Pakistani development projects to help Pakistan overcome its energy crisis and stabilize its ailing economy.

The Belt and Road Initiative includes CPEC.

The 2013 launch of the BRI intends to establish a network of land and maritime connections connecting Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf area, Africa, and Europe.

Concern for India

India's Sovereignty:

  • Since the project crosses through the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Kashmir, which Pakistan claims as its own, India has consistently opposed it.
  • It will also pass nearby Kashmir Valley, which is located on the Indian side of the border, and might lead to the rising of illicit ways of connectivity via the corridor.

Chinese Control of Seaborne Trade:

  • The East Coast of the United States relies on the Panama Canal for trade with China.
  • When CPEC is completely operational, China will be able to provide most North and Latin American businesses with a "shorter and more inexpensive" trading route that avoids travelling via the whole Western Hemisphere.
  • As a result, China will have the authority to determine the rules governing the international trade of products between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Chinese String of Pearls: As part of its "String of Pearls" initiative, China has been stepping up its presence in the Indian Ocean. A term used frequently by Indian defence strategists to describe the Chinese strategy of encircling India with a network of airfields and ports. It was originated by the Americans.

  • With a foothold already in the ports of Bangladesh's Chittagong, Sri Lanka's Hambantota, Sudan's Port Sudan, the Maldives, Somalia, and Seychelles, the Communist country's control of Gwadar port solidifies its total dominance of the Indian Ocean.

Stronger BRI and Chinese Dominance in Trade Leadership:

  • China’s BRI project that focuses on the trading connectivity between China and the rest of Eurasia through a network of ports, roads, and railways has been often seen as China’s plan to dominate the region politically.

Challenges associated with the plan

  • Execution delays: The CPEC projects have experienced delays as a result of the previous administration's violation of obligations made to China by altering its taxation laws.
  • Failure by Pakistan: Pakistan's failure to uphold its contractual responsibilities under the CPEC framework infuriated the Chinese authorities.
  • Financial crisis: China is also concerned about the severe financial crisis Pakistan is currently experiencing, which has prompted it to regularly intervene to help Pakistan out by introducing foreign exchange loans.
  • Earlier, Pakistan criticized the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for its secrecy and uneven investment, which neglected certain of the nation's provinces.
  • India has voiced disapproval of the CPEC to China as it is being built across Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)
  • According to a report by the US-based international development research group AidData, a sizable portion of Chinese development financing under the CPEC is made up of loans with interest rates that are at or close to market rates rather than grants.
  • Lack of transparency: The government's accounts do not reflect up to 40% of China's lending to Pakistan.
  • Laxity: Only three of the 15 projects that were announced have been finished so far, and the project is behind schedule.
  • The debt trap in China: Additionally, given the high-interest rates on Chinese loans and Pakistan's weak economic indicators, critics fear that Pakistan may not be able to make its debt repayments

What India can do?

Maintain Communication:

  • According to experts, India should keep in touch with its neighbours and cultivate friendly connections with them.
  • In such a situation, India has done well to continue taking part in organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in order to keep in touch with both China and Pakistan.

Collaboration across borders:

  • It is well acknowledged that India cannot compete with China in the financing of development initiatives like CPEC in other developing nations.
  • Security worries: Developing nations, particularly those in Southeast Asia, are looking to India to challenge China's predominance in the area.
  • The Indo-Pacific region's power balance needs to be maintained, and India must build on alliances like Quad to achieve this.

Also, Read - Central Bank Digital Currency UPSC

Source: The Indian Express

Forever Chemicals

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Environmental Pollution

Forever Chemicals

  • In a recent investigation, researchers discovered that per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) are present in rainwater from various locations throughout the world.
  • They are also known as "Forever Chemicals" due to their propensity to persist for extended periods of time in soil, precipitation, and the environment.
  • Additionally, PFAs are included in the Stockholm Convention.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

  • They are synthetic chemicals used to create nonstick cookware, clothing that repels water and oil, materials that resist stains, cosmetics, firefighting gear, and several other goods.
  • During their creation and use, they may travel to the air, water, and soil.
  • The majority of PFAs do not degrade and last a very long time in the environment.
  • In addition, if people and animals are exposed to some of these PFAs regularly, the chemicals may start to build up in their bodies.

Harmful Effects:

  • PFA exposure is linked to a number of health hazards, including reduced fertility, effects on children's development, disruption of body hormones, elevated cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of some malignancies.
  • Recent studies have also shown that long-term low-level exposure to specific PFAs can interfere with the ability of people to develop antibodies following vaccination against different diseases.

What can be done to Remove these Chemicals?

  • The most popular technique for getting rid of PFAS is incineration, however, most of them are remarkably resistant to burning. They are utilized in firefighting foams because of this.
  • Carbon and fluorine have one of the strongest bonds, and many fluorine atoms are joined to a carbon atom in PFAS.
  • Fluorine resists separating from carbon, but typically the link must be broken for something to ignite.
  • The majority of PFAS will entirely degrade when burned at temperatures around 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,730 degrees Fahrenheit), but doing so requires a lot of energy and there aren't many incinerators that can handle it.

Supercritical Water Oxidation:

  • To eliminate PFAS, researchers have created supercritical water oxidation.
  • Water undergoes a state transition at high pressures and temperatures, speeding chemistry in a way that can destroy dangerous materials.
  • Researchers are experimenting with plasma reactors, which break down PFAS using argon gas, power, and water.
  • Filtration system: In a rainwater harvesting system, activated carbon can be employed as a filter.
  • Regular removal and replacement of the activated carbon will be required. Additionally, the outdated, contaminated material needs to be eliminated.
  • Other potential experimental methods exist, but they haven't been scaled up to handle significant chemical dosages.

Stockholm Convention


  • It is a global agreement to safeguard the environment and human health from persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
  • POPs are chemicals that accumulate in the fatty tissue of living things, stay intact in the environment for extended periods of time, and are dangerous to both people and wildlife.


  • Encourage the switch to safer alternatives.
  • Add more POPs to your action list.
  • Dispose of outdated stocks and POP-containing devices.
  • Together, let's create a world without POPs.

India ratified the Stockholm Convention in 2006 in accordance with Article 25(4), enabling it to maintain its default "opt-out" status, preventing the application of amendments to various Annexes of the convention to it absent the express deposit of an instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession with the UN depositary.

Also, Read - CAROTAR, 2020

Source: The Indian Express

First HFC Bus indigenously Developed in India

GS-III : S&T Indigenization of Technology

First HFC Bus Indigenously Developed in India

Recently, India's first hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) bus was introduced by the Union Minister of State for Science and Technology.

A pilot facility for the synthesis of bisphenol-A, a crucial feedstock for the production of epoxy resins, polycarbonate, and other technical plastics, was also opened at the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL).

Key Highlights of this Innovation

  • The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and KPIT, an Indian multinational corporation, developed the HFC bus.
  • The National Hydrogen Energy Mission is in line with the release of this first HFC bus that was actually produced in India.
  • The bus is powered by a fuel cell that uses hydrogen and air to produce energy, and the only waste product is water. Consequently, it can be the most eco-friendly kind of transportation.
  • Fuel cell cars' great efficiency guarantees lower operating costs per kilometre than diesel-powered vehicles and could revolutionize freight in India.

Innovation Significant

  • This development is a component of the Prime Minister's Hydrogen Vision, which will provide self-sufficient renewable energy sources that are affordable and accessible, achieve climate change targets, and generate new businesses and jobs.
  • Green hydrogen is a superb source of clean energy that, among other things, makes it possible to significantly reduce emissions from the heavy commercial transportation sector.
  • There are nearly a million diesel buses operating on long-distance routes in India, and each one emits an average of 100 tonnes of CO2 every year.
  • Heavy commercial vehicles powered by diesel emit between 12 and 14 per cent of CO2 and particulate pollutants (which are decentralized emissions and hence difficult to capture).
  • Vehicles powered by fuel cells emit no greenhouse gases. Additionally, they operate at a cheaper cost per mile than diesel-powered vehicles.
  • India may change from being a net importer of fossil fuel energy to a net exporter of clean hydrogen energy through the use of such innovations.
  • Becoming a significant producer of green hydrogen and a provider of green hydrogen equipment, it will give India a leading position globally in the hydrogen industry.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells (HFC)

  • In a hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen is electrochemically transformed into electrical energy.
  • While fuel cells function similarly to the typical batteries used in electric vehicles, they don't run out of power and don't require an electrical source to refresh them.
  • As long as there is hydrogen available, they can keep making electricity.
  • One of the most effective fuel cells makes use of the water-forming interaction between hydrogen and oxygen.
  • HFC-powered vehicles have the benefit of emitting only water vapour and warm air from their tailpipes rather than any gaseous or particle pollutants.
  • Compared to cars with internal combustion engines, they are more efficient.
  • Hydrogen When it comes to refuelling, FCEVs have an edge over battery-powered EVs since they can fill up with hydrogen almost as quickly as internal combustion engines can with fossil fuels.

National Hydrogen Energy Mission

  • A National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM) was established to create a roadmap for the use of hydrogen as an energy source in the Union Budget for 2021–22.
  • In order to provide a cleaner alternative fuel choice, it will take advantage of hydrogen, one of the most abundant elements on earth.
  • The project has the potential to change how we travel.
  • It will concentrate on producing hydrogen using renewable energy sources.
  • Connect the hydrogen economy with India's expanding renewable capacity.
  • In addition to assisting India in meeting its emissions targets under the Paris Agreement, the use of hydrogen will lessen its reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Also, Read - Mandala Art

Source: The Indian Express

Supercharged Biotech Rice

GS-III : S&T Bio technology

Supercharged Biotech Rice

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences recently demonstrated how a transcriptional regulator can increase grain yields and speed up rice growth.

Image Source - Science

The grain output from this "supercharged biotech rice" is 40% higher.

Key Highlights of the Report

Supercharged Rice:

  • According to the study, a Chinese rice variety's yield was increased by up to 40% after receiving a second copy of one of its own genes.
  • The rice plant benefits from having a second copy of a single gene called OsDREB1C because it increases photosynthesis and nitrogen uptake, speeds up blooming, and absorbs nitrogen more effectively, producing grains that are bigger and more plentiful.
  • The adjustment increases the plant's ability to absorb fertiliser and speeds up photosynthesis and flowering, all of which could result in greater crop yields.
  • The same "native" gene was introduced once more by the researchers, not any foreign genes (as in the case of BT cotton or BT soybean). Genetic modulation is the ideal term to describe this technique.
  • Gene modulation is the act of temporarily changing gene expression levels without affecting the cellular DNA underneath.
  • It isn't a genetic modification (GM) and it's not a transgenic plant that has received genetic material from another source.

Significance in India’s Context

  • India should strive to maintain its leadership position in the world in the production and marketing of rice, hence this report is especially pertinent to India.
  • The largest exporter of rice in the world is India. In the years 2021–2022, it sent 18.75 million metric tonnes of goods abroad, earning $6.11 billion.
  • The second-largest producer of rice was Vietnam.
  • In order for India to continue and enhance its status as the world's top producer and exporter of rice, strategies must be discovered to raise rice production and exports, which must be significantly higher than the 18.75 million tonnes now exported.
  • Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, and Haryana are home to several top-notch rice researchers, and there are genetic engineers working in numerous labs all over India.
  • To strengthen India's position as the world's top exporter of rice, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare can collaborate with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and nutritionists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) can assist these researchers.

About rice

  • It is a Kharif crop that needs high temperatures (over 25°C), high levels of humidity, and an average annual rainfall of at least 100 cm.
  • India's northern and northern-eastern plains, coastal regions, and deltaic areas are all where rice is farmed.
  • The best kind of soil for cultivating rice is one that is deeply clayey and loamy.
  • West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab are the top three states for rice production.
  • Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, and Kerala are states with high yields.
  • The climatic conditions allow for the cultivation of two or three rice crops in a farming year in West Bengal and the southern states.
  • Three paddy crops—Aus, Aman, and Boro—are farmed in a year in states like Assam, West Bengal, and Odisha
  • Most Indians depend on it as their main food source.
  • India is the world's second-largest rice producer. In India, rice is grown on around one-fourth of all arable land.

Also, Read - Alpha Ship: INS Vikrant

Source: The Hindu

Mandala Art

GS-I : Art and Culture Art Forms

Mandala Art

Artists from all around the world have altered mandala patterns, adding their own interpretations and painting them as their own.

About Mandala

  • Sanskrit term that means "circle" or "centre" literally.
  • It is described by a geometric arrangement that typically includes the circular form in some way.
  • A mandala pattern is essentially continuous and can also be made in the shape of a square.


  • It is thought to have its roots in Buddhism and initially appeared in India in the first century BC.
  • Buddhist missionaries who travelled the silk road during the following two centuries spread it to other areas.
  • Mandalas were known in China, Tibet, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and China by the sixth century.
  • The Rig Veda in Hinduism is when the mandala imagery originally arose (1500 – 500 BCE).
  • One is said to be directed through the cosmic process of changing the cosmos from one of pain to one of joy by entering the mandala and progressing towards its centre.
  • The mandala contains a number of components, each of which has a distinct meaning.
  • For instance, the lotus flower symbolizes balance, the sun represents the cosmos, and the eight spokes of the wheel (the dharmachakra) represent the eightfold path of Buddhism (practices that lead to liberation from reincarnation).
  • Triangles stand for action and energy when they are facing up, and creativity and knowledge when they are facing down.

Mandala in modern Indian art

  • The mandala, which has its roots in ancient philosophy, has taken on many different forms thanks to modern and contemporary Indian artists.
  • While it still appears in Thangka paintings, mainstream artists connected to the tantric and neo-tantric spiritual movements prioritise it in their work.

Also, Read - First HFC Bus indigenously Developed in India

Source: The Indian Express

Alpha Ship: INS Vikrant

GS-III : S&T Defense system

Alpha Ship: INS Vikrant

The first indigenous aircraft carrier built in India INS VIKRANT will soon join the fleet.

By adopting the name, crest, and pennant number (R11) of India's first aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, it will join the navy force.


  • Beginning in 2007, the project continued until the keel was laid in 2009.
  • The 262-meter-long ship can sail at a top speed of 28 knots and has a full displacement of roughly 45,000 tonnes. It is powered by four gas turbines with an 88 MW capacity.


  • Nearly 30 different types of aircraft, both fixed-wing and helicopter, can be carried on the carrier.
  • The first aircraft to operate from the ship will be the MiG-29K fighters and Ka-31 helicopters.
  • INS Vikrant might receive fighters from the Rafale (M) or the F-18 Super Hornet, depending on the government's choice.
  • Once incorporated, the MH-60R multipurpose helicopters that have already been delivered to India will join the carrier's air arm.
  • The ship will be manned by nearly 1,700 personnel under the Commanding Officer (designated) Commodore Vidhyadhar Harke.


  • The significance of INS Vikrant is that it gave a fillip to the indigenization of ship-building materials and processes.

Also, Read - china-Pakistan economic corridor

Source: The Hindu

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