Science and Technology (S&T) Digest, 1-15April 2023, Issue 11
Dr Saroj Bishoyi, Research Fellow, VIF

In this Issue

Defence and Security
  1. Defence Exports Reaches an All-Time High of Rs. 15,920 crore in FY 2022-23
  2. India’s Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs)
  3. Defence Forces to Place Orders for Two More Units of the Pralay Ballistic Missiles
  4. HAL Generates Highest-Ever Revenue
  5. Developing Secure Maritime Communications Using Quantum Technology
  6. Government Extends Emergency Procurement Powers of Defence Forces
STI in Space Sector
  1. Approval of Indian Space Policy 2023
  2. ISRO Conducts Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission
  3. FDI in Space Sector Allowed up to 100 Percent
  4. DEWA to Launch Its Second Nanosatellite for Remote Sensing Applications
  5. India on the Military Applications of Space
  6. Nurturing Young Talents in Space Technology
  7. India Well Poised To Enter the Space Tourism Market
Emerging Technologies and Applications
  1. Allocation of Funds under the PLI Scheme for Drones and Drone Components
  2. Chips Designer Jim Keller’s Tenstorrent Sets up Office in India
  3. TDB-DST Approves Support to M/s MLIT-18 Technology Private Limited
  4. India to Achieve 50 Percent Electric Power from Non-Fossil Fuel-Based Resources
  5. Nuclear Power Reactors Generated About 3.15 Percent Electricity
  6. Benefits of Biotech-KISAN Scheme
  7. Consultation Paper on Spectrum for Space-Based Communication Services
  8. New Method of Visual Detection of SARS-CoV-2
International Cooperation
  1. India-Bhutan Space Cooperation
  2. India-Russia Defence Tech Cooperation
  3. India- Switzerland Tech Cooperation
  4. India-US Space Tech Cooperation
  5. India-US Cooperation in Emerging Technologies
Regional and Global Trends
  1. US States Giving More Financial Incentives to Attract Major Tech Companies
  2. China’s Chip Imports Dropped 23 Percent in the First 3 Months of 2023
  3. Fall out of China’s Cybersecurity Probe into US Chip Firm Micron
  4. Japan to Increase Chip-Gear Spending
  5. Kenya to Launch Its First Operational Satellite
  6. NASA Announces Four-Member Crew for Lunar Mission Artemis II
Defence Exports Reaches an All-Time High of Rs. 15,920 crore in FY 2022-23

India’s defence exports in Financial Year 2022-23 have reached an all-time high of approx. Rs 16,000 crore, almost Rs 3,000 crore more than the previous financial year. It a rise of over 10 times since 2016-17. India is now exporting to over 85 countries. Indian industry has shown its capability of design and development to the world, with 100 firms exporting defence products at present. The rising defence exports and participation of 104 countries in Aero India 2023 are proof of India’s growing defence manufacturing capabilities. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh lauded the achievement and expressed their continued support to make India a defence production hub. Click here to read...

India’s Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs)

The Indian government has set up two Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs) in order to attract total investment worth Rs 20,000 crore by the year 2024-25 for defence industries, develop domestic supply chain and strengthen defence manufacturing ecosystem in the country. In Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor (UPDIC), there are 06 nodes namely, Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Kanpur, Chitrakoot & Lucknow, and in Tamil Nadu Defence Industrial Corridor (TNDIC) 05 nodes namely, Chennai, Hosur, Coimbatore, Salem & Tiruchirappalli. The DICs have been established to develop a holistic defence manufacturing ecosystem which is a progressive and ongoing process. Click here to read...

Defence Forces to Place Orders for Two More Units of the Pralay Ballistic Missiles

The Indian defence forces are set to place orders for twomore units of the Pralay ballistic missiles at the cost of over Rs 7,500 crore.The move comes after the Defence inDecember 2022 cleared one unit of these missiles for the AirForce. The proposal for the acquisition of these missiles for ground forces is atan advanced stage and is expected to be cleared soon. The Pralay ballistic missiles can take outtargets at 150 to 500 kms and are extremely difficult to intercept for the enemy through interceptor missiles. Work is also on to increase the range of these missiles by another few hundred kilometres to give a stronger capability to forces. Both China and Pakistan have ballistic missiles which are for tactical roles. Click here to read...

HAL Generates Highest-Ever Revenue

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet has praised the entire team of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for highest-ever revenue generation from operations of around Rs.26,500 Crores (provisional and unaudited) for FY 2022-23 as against Rs.24,620 for the previous FY 2021-22. The Company has recorded a revenue growth of 8 percent during the year as compared to last year. In a reply to the tweet by HAL, the Prime Minister tweeted that “Exceptional! I laud the entire team of HAL for their remarkable zeal and passion.” Click here to read...

Developing Secure Maritime Communications Using Quantum Technology

Quantum technologies will soon be used to develop secure maritime communications in a joint effort by the Raman Research Institute (RRI) and the Indian Navy. RRI, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Weapons and Electronics Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE), the R&D establishment of the Indian Navy, during a ceremony held in New Delhi recently. The MoU, which is for a period of five years, was signed between Professor Tarun Souradeep, Director, RRI, and Vice Admiral Sandeep Naithani, Chief of Materiel, Indian Navy. Under this agreement, RRI’s Quantum Information and Computing (QuIC) lab will lead the research efforts towards developing quantum key distribution techniques that the Indian Navy could leverage in the nation's efforts towards securing free space communications. Click here to read...

Government Extends Emergency Procurement Powers of Defence Forces

With a majority of defence forces’ tenders to buy weapon systems under emergency acquisition powers yet to be concluded, the Defence Ministry has extended the window by another sixmonths to acquire equipment under the fast track procedures.The emergency procurement powers were given to the defence forcesin August 2022 for six months to buy moreequipment for strengthening their preparedness along the China border. The forces have around 300 proposals for weapon systems, spares and other equipment of which amajority are yet to be concluded.Under the emergency powers, the government had made it mandatorythat forces could buy equipment under 'Make in India' only with aminimum of 60 per cent indigenous content. Click here to read...

Approval of Indian Space Policy 2023

The Union Cabinet has approved Indian Space Policy 2023, which will aim to enhance the role of the Department of Space, boost activities of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) missions and give a larger participation of research, academia, startups and industry. Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh said that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a decision to open the space sector for private participation. Today because of this within 3 years, the number of startups has reached about 150 in ISRO”. The Minister added that “Today Cabinet has approved Indian Space Policy 2023 which in brief would offer clarity to the role of each of these other components which have been set up to enhance the role of the space department, to give a boost to the activities of ISRO missions. To have larger participation between the research academia, startups and industry.” Click here to read...

ISRO Conducts Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission

ISRO joined by DRDO and Indian Air Force successfully conducted the Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX) at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), Chitradurga, Karnataka on 2 April 2023. Prime Minister Modi has expressed happiness as ISRO conducts Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission. In reply to the tweet threads by ISRO, the Prime Minister tweeted, “A great team effort. This achievement takes us one step closer to realising an Indian Reusable Launch Vehicle.” Click here to read...

FDI in Space Sector Allowed up to 100 Percent

Presently, FDI in space sector is allowed up to 100 percent in the area of Satellites-Establishment and Operations through Government route only. In a statement laid on the table of the Rajya Sabha, the Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh said, Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) being the regulatory and promotional body for space activities was involved in revision of FDI policy which is presently under consideration of the Government. The specific role of IN-SPACe for channelizing FDI will evolve after approval of revised FDI policy by the Government. Click here to read...

DEWA to Launch Its Second Nanosatellite for Remote Sensing Applications

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has completed preparations to launch its second nanosatellite for remote sensing applications in April 2023. The 6U nanosatellite is part of DEWA’s Space-D programme. DEWA Sat-2 will be launched by SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. The nanosatellite was designed and developed at DEWA’s Research and Development Centre, in cooperation with Nano Avionics in Lithuania. The new satellite features a high-resolution camera (4.7 meters) that will be used for Earth observation missions. The high-resolution camera provides continuous line-scan imaging in 7 spectral bands from approximately 500km orbit. The new satellite is also equipped with Infrared equipment to measure greenhouse gases. Click here to read...

India on the Military Applications of Space

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Indian Armed Forces Anil Chauhan said that India cannot remain divorced from the military applications of space. While addressing the event, CDS Anil Chauhan said, “Space is being usedto enhance combat capabilities in other domains. So it is a domain which is enhancing capabilities, other domains of land, sea, air and even cyber. The military applications of space are the dominant discourse from which we cannot remain divorced”. He further stated that India needs to explore the field of military miniaturisation of satellites and reusable launch platforms which will help in the enhancement of our space capabilities. Click here to read...

Nurturing Young Talents in Space Technology

Ramanathapuram Collector Johny Tom Varghese commended four students of the Government School who went to the Sriharikota Space Research Center and returned after training. The students were selected on the basis of their interest in science and a science competition that was conducted at the district level. After the students were selected, they were sent to Sriharikota Space Research Center and underwent six-day training.The students were further sent to the Indian Institute of Technology and Scientific Research Institute in Chennai to meet the scientists and learn about scientific ideas. Click here to read...

India Well Poised To Enter the Space Tourism Market

‘Space tourism’, a recent phenomenon and activity that has gained significant traction is the recreational space travel on government-owned vehicles or vehicles fielded by private companies. In fact, even the central government has significantly invested in the idea to enable space tourism for its citizens as well after the recent sub-orbital and orbital flights undertaken by private companies in the US. Space tourism is an emerging industry that involves the provision of tourism services to individuals who want to visit space. In recent years, space tourism has gained immense popularity, and many countries around the world have started investing in this industry. India, with its vibrant space programme, is well poised to enter the space tourism market. It is also expected that within the next 7 years, Indians who can afford it would be able to don spacesuits, sit in a space module atop a reusable rocket and take a trip to space. Click here to read...

Allocation of Funds under the PLI Scheme for Drones and Drone Components

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has disbursed an amount of Rs. 30 crores (approximately) to the beneficiaries during FY 2022-23 under the PLI Scheme for Drones and Drone Components. To promote the indigenous drone industry, the government notified the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components on 30th September 2021. The step was widely welcomed by academia and industry experts. This scheme has multiple features to help the industry such as: The total incentive is Rs. 120 crore spread over three financial years. It is nearly double the combined turnover of all domestic drone manufacturers in FY 2020-21. A provisional list of 23 PLI beneficiaries was released on 6th July 2022. The beneficiaries include 12 drone manufacturers and 11 drone component manufacturers. Click here to read...

Chips Designer Jim Keller’s Tenstorrent Sets up Office in India

Addressing the RISC-V Technology Conference on ‘Nerds Talking To Nerds’, organised by Tenstorrent at Bengaluru in Karnataka, Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar welcomed the move by legendary chips designer Jim Keller’s decision to set up his startup Tenstorrent’s office in India. The Minister said that “within a year of the launch of the 1st Semicon India Conference by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, global semicon leaders like Jim Keller are moving to India and catalysing future design startups in the country.” The RISC-V, an open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) is being increasingly used for innovations, particularly when it comes to emerging and rapidly developing AI solutions. Click here to read...

TDB-DST Approves Support to M/s MLIT-18 Technology Private Limited

Innovative solutions that unite Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics are going to be the key stone for next generation industrial revolution. To further enable this, Technology Development Board has now entered into an agreement with the company M/s MLIT-18 Technology Private Limited for “Commercialization of Machine Vision and Robotics System for Automation in Manufacturing Industry”. The board has pledged a support of ₹4.12 Crores out of the total project cost of ₹5.89 Crores. The company is incubated at the Startup Incubation and Innovation Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. The company has indigenously developed solutions which will be a direct substitute to the Quality Assurance and Inspection system for industrial automation in manufacturing industries and railways. Click here to read...

India to Achieve 50 Percent Electric Power from Non-Fossil Fuel-Based Resources

To address and combat climate change, as well as to provide a roadmap to achieve net zero by 2070, India submitted its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) on 26th August 2022 with enhanced commitments. As per updated NDC, India has an enhanced target to reduce emission intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030 from 2005 level, achieve about 50 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030. India has also submitted its Long-Term Low Carbon Development Strategy on 14thNovember 2022 under the Paris Agreement, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Click here to read...

Nuclear Power Reactors Generated About 3.15 Percent Electricity

On 5 April 2023, Dr. Jitendra Singh informed that during 2021-22 nuclear power reactors generated 47112 Million Units of electricity, which comprises about 3.15 percent of the total electricity generated in the country. In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, the Minister said that the present installed nuclear power capacity is set to increase from 6780 MW to 22480 MW by 2031 on progressive completion of projects under construction and accorded sanction. The Government has also accorded ‘in principle’ approval for new sites to set up nuclear reactors in future. Click here to read...

Benefits of Biotech-KISAN Scheme

So far 1,60,000 farmers have received benefits of Biotech-KISAN schemeduring the period January 2022- December 2022. In a written reply to a question in the Rajy Sabha, DrJitendra Singh said that the Biotech-KISAN scheme has been launched to counsel and to provide solutions to the farmers on the problems related to water, soil, seeds and marketing. Under the scheme farmers are provided counselling and demonstrations on improved seed, planting stock of vegetable, interventions for use of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR’s)/bio-fertilizers, irrigation & protected cultivation technologies, improved livestock (goat, pig), poultry and fishery as well as health management of livestock/poultry. Click here to read...

Consultation Paper on Spectrum for Space-Based Communication Services

On 6 April 2023, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a Consultation Paper on “Assignment of Spectrum for Space-based Communication Services”. Earlier, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), through its letter dated 13.09.2021, had requested TRAI to provide recommendations on “Auction of spectrum in the frequencies identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) / 5G”. Through the said letter, TRAI was also requested to provide recommendations, inter-alia, on appropriate frequency bands, band plan, block size, applicable reserve price, quantum of spectrum to be auctioned and associated conditions for auction of spectrum for space-based communication services. Click here to read...

New Method of Visual Detection of SARS-CoV-2

A new sandwich based lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) for the detection of Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2(SARS-CoV-2) could provide an efficient substitute for RT-PCR tests. It can detect that RBD antigen of the SARS-CoV-2 at an early stage of infection with a visual line of detection (LOD). Popularly used gold standard techniques such as RT-PCR and ELISA are usually time-consuming, require skilled labor, specific equipment and are not feasible for on-site detection. In order to overcome this challenge, a team of researchers from DBT-National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB) and Gandhi Medical College developed a rapid and robust platform for early and on-field detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Click here to read...

India-Bhutan Space Cooperation

At the invitation of the President of India, the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck paid an official visit to India from 3-5 April 2023. During the visit, the two sides issued a Joint Statement which outlines bilateral cooperation on a wide range of areas.In terms of new areas of partnership which now encompass Startups, Space and STEM education, both sides welcomed the exceptional progress made in the space sector cooperation, including the recent launch of the first satellite jointly developed by India and Bhutan and the inauguration of the satellite’s ground earth station in Thimphu, and agreed to deepen the partnership in the space technology sector by finalizing a Joint Plan of Action expeditiously. Click here to read...

India-Russia Defence Tech Cooperation

Having already operationalised the first two squadrons of the long-range air defence system, the Indian Air Force is going to carry outthe maiden firing of the S-400 missiles soon.Senior defence officials told ANI that the Indian forces had carried outthe firing of the Russian-origin missile system during trials in Russia butit is yet to be fired in the country. The officials said, “The firing is planned to be held very soon using one of the small ormedium ranges missiles against a fast-moving aerial target”. The air defence missile system had a different range of missiles whichcan shoot down fast-moving fighter jets or cruise missiles at a maximum range of 400 kms. The first two squadrons have been deployed at different locations fromwhere they can cover the Ladakh sector, as well as West Bengal'sdelicate Chicken's Neck Corridor. Click here to read...

India-Switzerland Tech Cooperation

Ambassador of Switzerland to India, Dr. Ralf Heckner, called on Minister of Science & Technology Dr Singh where they discussed possibilities for extensive collaboration in fields like healthcare, telemedicine and technological advancements. Ambassador Heckner showed great interest in India’s growth trajectory. He said that the pace and speed with which India is growing in the field of innovation is very impressive. India’s rapid jump in the Global Innovation Index rankings is a testimony to this. India and Switzerland, both have great potential for lots of convergence in the innovation space. The Minister mentioned that there is a need to create an Indo-Swiss innovation platform and joint startup collaboration not only for research institutions but including businesses and academia as well. Click here to read...

India-US Space Tech Cooperation

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland during her official visit to the US. She was given presentations about various activities at NASA Goddard by Dr Makenzie Lystrup, Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Ray Rubilotta, Associate Center Director at NASA Goddard and Dr Michelle Thaller, Astrophysicist. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Hyperwall is a video wall capable of displaying multiple high-definition data visualisations and images simultaneously across an arrangement of screens. Recently, NISAR (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) received a send-off ceremony at NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, US. Click here to read...

India-US Cooperation in Emerging Technologies

A high level US delegation, led by US Senator Todd Young, called on Dr Jitendra Singh and sought deeper bilateral cooperation with India in areas like AI, Quantum, Cyber Security, Semiconductor, Clean Energy, Advanced Wireless, Biotechnology, Geosciences, Astrophysics and Defence, etc. The Minister told the US Delegation that Prime Minister Modi, in the last 9 years, took personal interest in Science, Technology and Innovation, and tried pro-actively to implement social sector schemes through science based solutions to bring Ease of Living for the common man. The patronage received from Modi has opened new opportunities and possibilities in all areas of scientific endeavours, but more so in areas of Space, Biotech, Geospatial and Sustainable StartUps. Senator Todd Young suggested scaling up collaboration and exploring opportunities to partner in quantum technology, ocean science, nuclear energy, semiconductors, supercomputing and other latest emerging technologies. Click here to read...

US States Giving More Financial Incentives to Attract Major Tech Companies

States in the US are doling out more cash than ever to lure multibillion-dollar microchip, electric vehicle and battery factories, inspiring ever-more competition as they dig deeper into their pockets to attract big employers and capitalize on a wave of huge new projects.Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas have made billion-dollar pledges for a microchip or EV plant, with more state-subsidized plant announcements by profitable automakers and semiconductor giants surely to come. States have long competed for big employers. But now they are floating more billion-dollar offers and offering record-high subsidies, lavishing companies with grants and low-interest loans, municipal road improvements, and breaks on taxes, real estate, power and water. The number of big projects and the size of state subsidy packages are extraordinary, said Nathan Jensen, a University of Texas professor who researches government economic development strategies. Click here to read...

China’s Chip Imports Dropped 23 Percent in the First 3 Months of 2023

China’s chip imports dropped 23 percent in the first three months of 2023 in sharp contrast with last year’s position, amid a slower global economy and increased efforts by the Biden administration to restrict the export of advanced semiconductor technologies to China.According to data published by the General Administration of Customs, China imported 108.2 billion integrated circuits (IC) between January and March, down 22.9 per cent from the same period last year.The total value of chip imports tumbled 26.7 per cent to US$78.5 billion, down from US$107.1 billion in 2022. The larger decline in import value reflects the fact that chip prices have fallen this year amid a supply glut and a slowing global economy. Click here to read...

Fall out of China’s Cybersecurity Probe into US Chip Firm Micron

Beijing’s cybersecurity probe into Micron Technology, the world’s fourth-largest semiconductor company, could shake up the memory chip supply chain in China, but whether its bigger local rivals will benefit is still unclear. Micron’s products are being investigated on the grounds of “safeguarding supply-chain security of critical information infrastructure, cyber and national security”, the Cyber Security Review Office under the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), recently said in a statement. The probe, the first involving a US chip maker, was widely seen as a reprisal against tighter US sanctions on China’s semiconductor sector and more widely its hi-tech sector. The China market contributed about 11 per cent of Micron’s total 2022 revenue of US$30.8 billion, with products such as DRAM, NAND flash memory and SSD products. Click here to read...

Japan to Increase Chip-Gear Spending

Japan is poised to sharply raise its chip-gear spending in an attempt to boost its position in the global semiconductor market, as it tightens exports amid a US-led push to limit China’s tech ambitions. It is expected to spend US$7 billion on wafer fab equipment next year, which would mark an 82 per cent jump from this year – the largest in the world – according to data from SEMI, a global association of chip-making equipment producers. That compares with a 2 per cent increase forecast for China and the total amount would be higher than the combined spending in the European and Mideast markets.While Taiwan remains the largest spender – US$24.9 billion expected in 2024 – on chip-fabrication equipment, Japan’s aggressive investment complements a US push to reconfigure global semiconductor supply routes and sources. " target="_blank">Click here to read...

Kenya to Launch Its First Operational Satellite

Kenya is all set to launch its first operational U Earth Observation Satellite, named Taifa-1 satellite, according to the Kenya-based newspaper, The Star. Kenya’s Defence Ministry said that the mission is designed to provide precise and timely earth observation satellite data to stakeholders in the diverse fields of application including agriculture and food security. The new satellite will also provide the data for the decision support to agriculture and food security, natural resources management and environmental monitoring among other details. Further, the objective of the mission will be to “develop Kenya’s technical capacity on the whole value chain of space technology development and applications.” Click here to read...

NASA Announces Four-Member Crew for Lunar Mission Artemis II

The NASA has introduced the four astronauts, who will be a part of the lunar mission, Artemis II, next year. The four astronauts will now begin training for the historic Artemis II lunar flyby, which is scheduled to launch in November 2024. This will be the first crewed moon trip in fifty years. The astronauts are Jeremy Hansen of the Canadian Space Agency, Victor Glover, Christina Koch, and Reid Wiseman of NASA. NASA has named the first woman, who is also one the world’s most experienced spacewalkers and the first African American ever assigned as an astronaut, making the lunar mission quite special, CNN reported. Click here to read...

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