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Next 25 years exciting time for science in India: CSIR chief

🔴 Mande was speaking on 'India's S&T journey in the post Independence era' organised to mark the 33rd foundation day of the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA).

Idea Exchange with Shekhar Mande. (Express photo)

The country will see a number of fundamental discoveries made here in the upcoming 20 to 25 years, said Dr Shekhar Mande, director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), on Tuesday.

Mande was speaking on ‘India’s S&T journey in the post Independence era’ organised to mark the 33rd foundation day of the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA). This was also the first of the lecture series organised by the Pune-based university to mark 75 years of India’s independence.

“We are at a particular stage that in the coming 20 to 25 years, we are going to see a very exciting period for our country. There will be many fundamental discoveries and the future of science actually lies very firmly in the Indian soil,” said Mande.

He said India’s progress and scientific achievements, during the past 75 years, have been far ahead compared to the 50-60 contemporary countries that won independence around the 1940s and 1950s, “including our neighbours”.

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The Covid-19 pandemic and India’s response, its strategies to tackle the outbreak and being the first to identify the disease to be an air-borne one, even prior to the declaration made by the World Health Organisation, all showcase the critical situations which Indian scientists are capable of handling today, he said.

“The pandemic saw many collaborative works in the field of biology, like never before,” said Mande.

With the fresh SARS Cov-2 variant, Omicron, looming and Covid-19 cases once again beginning to see a spike in many parts of the country and world over, the CSIR chief urged people to fix concealed ultra-violet set-ups installed in their ACs to control the spread of the infection indoors. He shared that the infection spread was found to be reduced by 60 to 70 per cent with this intervention, which has been made in the Parliament and the AC coaches of trains operated by the Indian Railways.

“An effective way to inactivate the virus in closed rooms supported by ACs would be by using UV-light. I urge all universities and institutions to get this setup fixed in their offices, auditoriums,etc. The only care that needs to be taken is that UV light is not exposed to humans,” suggested Mande.

On the future challenges before the scientific community, Mande said that scientists at a number of CSIR labs were working on developing some advanced technologies to address the effective use of hydrogen, finding alternatives to fossil fuels and ways to perform carbon capture-storage-use.

Sharing the latest developments from the CSIR labs, Mande said that recently, India became only the second country in the world to use indigenously developed bio-fuel to operate its defence aircraft. By August next year, the demonstration of unmanned aerial vehicles — commonly used in disaster management, remote sensing, surveillance and telecommunications — operable at a height of about 20 km above the earth’s surface will be undertaken.

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