The Office of Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA), Govt of India

Office of Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India, initiates KISAN MITR, a national digital platform, to support through technologies and scientific research for farmers to become Atmanirbhar

The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India has launched an initiative called KisanMitr. It is a seven-phase project aimed at supporting farmers to become Atmanirbhar (self-reliant). The first three phases focus on creating a repository of agricultural technologies, livestock technologies, and scientific research to catalyze modernization of farming and solve information asymmetry. The engagement stage of the platform independently helps young start-ups to showcase their agricultural technologies and easily engage with market demand. Market demand includes Industry, Incubators and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs). After the recent outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, reverse migration happened across the country, in which labours returned to their native villages. Through the KisanMitr digital platform, these migrant youths cannot just engage in farming but can also become agriculturerelated entrepreneurs, helping their communities with modernization techniques. The fourth phase focuses on creating a last-mile network for niche (nutritional, medicinal, aromatic, organic, GI-tagged) agricultural products from the fringes. Autonomous drones are being considered for development through a hub-and-spoke model of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs - land & Sky), especially in mountain states where the road networks might not have full coverage. Demand to be generated through charitable trusts for undernourished children as well as retail aggregators in metro cities. The fifth phase focuses on equipping farmers with actionable agricultural insights and early weather alerts. Data related to soil health, moisture, weather, and ecology is being aggregated and analyzed to generate personalized insights related to crop selection, fertilizers requirements, and water needs for each farmer at farm-holding level. This would be provided by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) UMANG through an Atmanirbhar App. The sixth and seventh phases look at micro-financing needs of the farmers and supplementing their incomes through off-farm products such as handlooms and textiles. The project has received support from various departments of the government as well as private sector organizations.

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Government announces an Innovation Challenge on COVID-19 Biomedical Waste Treatment

The Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) through the Office of the PSA to the Government of India has set up the ‘Swachh Bharat Unnat Bharat’ Waste to Wealth Mission to identify technology solutions for India’s waste challenges. The mission invites technology applications from start-ups, corporates and entrepreneurs from research institutions to address the challenge of safe collection, disposal/treatment of large volumes of waste being generated during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which includes the use of masks, gloves, and PPEs by not only frontline workers and airports and railway stations but also by household community individuals such as municipal sanitary workers, barbers, the food business and the general population. Eligibility Criteria: Indian industry, start-ups, entrepreneurs, research institutions are eligible to apply for innovations and solutions which can be deployed immediately. Last date to apply: 15th July 2020 Contact Info: SBUB@investindia.org.in

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Mobilising Scientific Community

The office of the PSA has played a coordinating role for government ministries/departments, scientific institutions, academia and enterprises to accelerate decisions on dealing with research and innovation-based actions to meet the COVID-19 challenges. Support has been provided to enable national, state and local bodies towards evidence-based action and to mobilise the scientific community for providing targeted solutions. To this end, the O/o PSA constituted the Science & Technology Empowered Committee for COVID-19 on 19 March 2020. The Committee was chaired by Prof Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog and Prof K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser and is responsible for coordination among science agencies, scientists, industries and regulatory bodies, and to take speedy decisions on research and developmentrelated issues to tackle the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease. The Committee has worked towards implementation of scientific solutions to meet COVID-19-related challenges. It has enabled ICMR to issue the required notification allowing institutes under DST, DBT, CSIR, DAE, DRDO and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to self-assess and prepare their BSL labs for research and testing of coronavirus through the standard and rigorous protocols as stipulated by ICMR. A mechanism has been evolved between various STI funding ministries/departments/agencies to ensure a rapid and coordinated mechanism to support various research and innovation projects for (i) A Task Force on Repurposing of Drugs (TFORD-COVID19) has been constituted to look into the status of scientific evidence, technology readiness levels, the status of IP, manufacturability in India etc. In depth information on various drug candidates will help to allow informed decision making. The regulatory/legal processes are also being addressed. (ii) Mathematical models to track the disease spread and models to predict the medical equipment and auxiliary requirements of the COVID-19. (iii) Manufacturing of test kits, ventilators, PPE in India. The Government of India on 29 March 2020 constituted 11 Empowered Groups of Officers, under DM Act 2005, to engineer a well-planned & coordinated emergency response to ensure health & economic security of millions of Indians from COVID-19 outbreak. These Groups are empowered to identify problem and effective solutions; delineate policy; formulate plans; and take necessary steps for effective and time-bound implementation for these. PSA is a member of the Group responsible for coordinating with the private sector, NGO, International bodies for response-related activities.

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Aarogya Setu links contact tracing and testing

The O/o PSA has been instrumental in the launch and outreach of the Aarogya Setu App. The App built through public-privatepartnership will help people assess themselves the risk for their catching the Coronavirus infection by tracking infected cases in the vicinity. This is a data-protected App using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence tools. The App will help the administration to take necessary, timely steps for assessing the risk of spread of COVID-19 infection and 6 ensuring isolation where required. The PSA also serves on a committee constituted by the Cabinet Secretariat to evaluate and ensure development and launch of Citizen App technology platform to help citizens and government in combating COVID-19 issues arising out of this pandemic.

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