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S&T CRUX NOTES FOR UPSC PRELIMS 2020

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S&T CRUX NOTES

S&T CRUX NOTES MATERIAL:
Sn.No.Name of the TopicPage No
  •  
Nanotechnology2-4
Intro/ history
Application
Recent
Biotechnology5-9
Introduction
Applications
Types of Biotechnology
Biotechnology  in India
Defence Technology10-24
DRDO
Missile technology
Indigenization of Technology
Issues with DRDO
Information and Communication Technology (ICT)18-25
ICT- Introduction
Use of ICT in daily life
Generation of Networks
Net neutrality issue
Supercomputers
Nuclear Technology26-31
3 Stage Nuclear Programme
Institution Involved
Safety Standards in Nuclear Power Plants
Use of nuclear energy
Nuclear doctrine
Different treaties and India’s Stand

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NANOTECHNOLOGY: CRUX NOTES 

  • Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supra-molecular scale. 
  • It has the potential to reduce costs with its multiple applications and the inherent ability to produce new materials like non-corroding and flexible iron.

Nanotechnology has two different but important meanings. 

  • One- includes any technology dealing with something less than 100 nanometres in size.
  • The other- designing and building machines in which every atom and chemical bond is specified precisely.
  • One nanometre is one-billionth of a metre
  • The most important aspect of nanotechnology-enabled products is the miniaturization of devices and the diverse functionalities that can be integrated within a singular system.
India’s Nano Mission(S&T CRUX NOTES)
  • The Department of Science and Technology is the nodal agency for implementing the Nano Mission.
  • Capacity-building will be of utmost importance for the Nano Mission so that India emerges as a global knowledge-hub in this field. 
  • Equally importantly, the development of products and processes, especially in the areas of national relevance like safe drinking water, materials development, sensors development, drug delivery, etc.
  • The Nano Mission has been structured in a fashion so as to achieve synergy between the national research efforts of various agencies and launch new programmes in a concerted fashion.
  • International collaborative research efforts will also be made wherever required. 
Applications

(S&T CRUX NOTES)

  • Nanotechnology in medications: Nanotechnology provides new options for drug delivery and drug therapies. It enables drugs to be delivered to precisely the right location in the body and release drug doses on a predetermined schedule for optimal treatment.
  • Nano dentistry will assist in the maintenance of complete oral health by employing nanomaterials, biotechnology, including tissue engineering, and dental nanorobotics.
  • Nanotechnology in Fabrics: The properties of familiar materials can be changed by adding nano-sized components to conventional materials to increase performance.
  • Nanotechnology in Mobile technology: Morph, a nanotechnology notion device is able to charge itself from available light sources using photovoltaic nanowire grass covering its surface. 
  • Nanotechnology in Electronics field: It enabled the further miniaturization of logic and memory devices. Organic molecules have been used to hasten the development of quantum computers and nanodevices that have extraordinary computational speed. Electrodes made from nanowires allow flat panel displays to be flexible as well as thinner than current flat panel displays. 
  • Nanotechnology in computers: Nano-computers would undertake the important task of activating, controlling, and deactivating nanomechanical devices. Such technology has massive medical and dental inferences.
  • Nanotechnology in food and agriculture safety: to improve the quality of food
  • Nanotech in the defence sector: Nanotechnology holds highly promising prospects for military applications, considering its wide applicability in defensive as well as offensive operations.
  • Electronics/Computers/Sensors: The use of NT applications will drastically reduce the cost and increase the performance of memory, displays, processors, solar-powered components, and embedded intelligence systems. In sensor manufacturing, NT has larger utility because it allows the production of smaller sensors down to the size of micrometres.
  • Bio-Defence: Currently, NT is primarily being used in the development of bio-sensors. Some countries are working on extremely small machines and tools that can enter the human body. Drug and virus development costs can be reduced by using nanochips to test various medications or a combination of chemicals and vaccines.
  • Chemical defence: NT offers solutions against the usage of chemical agents like VX, HD, GD, and GB. Some nanoparticle oxides like CaO, Al2O3, and MgO interact with such chemicals much faster than microparticles and are ideally suited for fast decomposition of such chemicals.
  • Conventional Weapons/Ammunition: NT-based stronger and lighter materials would allow the building of conventional barrel-type weapons with reduced mass. The reduced mass could translate into a marked increase in speed, range, or payload and reduction in carrier size.
  • Maritime applications: Experts are of the view that nanoparticles can be used to mark ships, fishing boats, navigable channels, and delimiting safe havens.
  • Aerospace and other defence applications: Less vulnerable corrosive material is helpful in satellite manufacturing as well.
  • Space applications of Nanotech-  Nanomaterials are potential candidates for enhancing ignitors’ life and performance characteristics.
    • alternative materials to conventional solar panels/cells.
    • special lightweight suits, jackets etc. 
    • obtaining information on the ionosphere and other regions of space.
Nanotech in India’s Space and Defence Sector
  • Government of India initiated a Nanomaterials Science and Technology Mission (NSTM). 
  • In the defence arena, DRDO is working on areas like sensors, high-energy applications, stealth and camouflage, Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) attack protection devices, structural applications, nanoelectronics, and characterization.
  • ISRO also launched Nanosatellites, marking a milestone in space research and developments.
Concerns

(S&T CRUX NOTES)

  • May harm human health or the environment
  • Change the regional/global ‘military balance’, thereby increasing threat and reduce stability.
  • Non-state actors could also develop or otherwise acquire military-related NTs.
  • Mayor may not come under existing export control regulations.
  • Violation of laws designed under Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) likely to take place.
  • More nanotech designed satellite launches and may lead to further increase in space traffic and debris.
Way Forward(S&T CRUX NOTES)
  • To prevent or at least reduce such risks and instability, limitations can be agreed upon in advance before new weapons or technology are deployed, acting mainly at the stages of development and/or testing, and sometimes at the research stage.

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BIOTECHNOLOGY: CRUX NOTES

  • Biotechnology deals with techniques of using live organisms or enzymes from organisms to produce products and processes useful to humans.
  • However, it is used in a restricted sense today, to refer to such of those processes which use genetically modified organisms to achieve the same on a larger scale.
  • The process of altering the chemistry of DNA and construct recombinant DNA is called recombinant DNA technology or genetic engineering.
Genetic Engineering

(S&T CRUX NOTES)

  • Genetic engineering involves techniques to alter the chemistry of genetic material (DNA and RNA) and thus change the phenotype of the host organism.
  • Asexual reproduction preserves the genetic information, while sexual reproduction permits variation.
  • There are three basic steps in genetically modifying an organism —
    • identification of DNA with desirable genes;
    • introduction of the identified DNA into the host;
    • maintenance of introduced DNA in the host and transfer of the DNA to its progeny.
Recombinant DNA (rDNA)

(S&T CRUX NOTES)

  • Recombinant DNA (rDNA) molecules are DNA molecules formed by laboratory methods of genetic recombination to bring together genetic material from multiple sources, creating sequences that would not otherwise be found in the genome.
  • The cutting of DNA at specific locations became possible with the discovery of the so-called ‘molecular scissors’.
  • Recombinant DNA is used to produce
    • Recombinant human insulin,
    • Recombinant human growth hormone,
    • Recombinant blood clotting factor VIII,
    • Recombinant hepatitis B vaccine,
    • Insect-resistant crops etc.
Applications

(S&T CRUX NOTES)

  • Agriculture: Plants, bacteria, fungi and animals whose genes have been altered by manipulation are called Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). Genetic modification has:
  • made crops more tolerant to abiotic stresses (cold, drought, salt, heat).
  • reduced reliance on chemical pesticides (pest-resistant crops).
  • helped to reduce post-harvest losses.
  • increased efficiency of mineral usage by plants.
  • enhanced nutritional value of food, e.g., Vitamin ‘A’ enriched rice.

GM has been used to create tailor-made plants to supply alternative resources to industries, in the form of starches, fuels and pharmaceuticals.

2. Medicine

  • Gene Therapy- a collection of methods that allows correction of a gene defect that has been diagnosed in a child/embryo. 
  • Molecular Diagnosis- Recombinant DNA technology, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Enzyme-Linked Immuno-sorbent Assay (ELISA) are some of the techniques that serve the purpose of early diagnosis. 
  • Transgenic animals- Animals that have had their DNA manipulated to possess and express an extra (foreign) gene are known as transgenic animals. Transgenic animals can be specifically designed to allow the study of how genes are regulated, and how they affect the normal functions of the body and its development.
Types of Biotechnology
  1. Green Biotechnology
  • Applied to agricultural processes.
  • Three main areas of application are Plant tissue culture; Plant genetic engineering and plant molecular marker-assisted breeding.
  1. Red Biotechnology
  • Concerned with medical sciences, development of innovative drugs and treatment.
  • Application: Productions of vaccines and antibiotics, regenerative therapies, gene therapy, stem cell therapy etc. are few applications of Red biotech.
  1. Blue Biotechnology
  • Use of sea resources marine and freshwater organisms to create products and industrial applications.
  1. White Biotechnology
  • Applied to industrial processes.
  • Using enzymes as industrial catalysts, usage of moulds, bacteria, yeast etc to produce various goods are few examples.
  1. Yellow Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology with insects.
  • It also refers to the use of biotechnology in food production.
  1. Gray Biotechnology
  • Application of Biotechnology to environmental applications, maintenance of biodiversity and removal of pollutants.
  1. Brown Biotechnology
  • Related to the management of Arid Zone and Deserts
  • Creation of drought-resistant seeds, natural resources management, the creation of agricultural techniques suited to arid landscape etc. are few examples.
  1. Violet Biotechnology
  • Related to law, ethical and philosophical issues around biotechnology
  1. Dark Biotechnology
  • Related to bioterrorism, biological weapons and biowarfare which use microorganisms and toxins to cause diseases, death and disability.
Biotechnology in India(S&T CRUX NOTES)
  • In 1982, a National Biotechnology Board (NBTB) was constituted by the Government to identify priority areas and evolve long term perspective for Biotechnology in India.
  • A separate Department of Biotechnology (DBT) was set up in February 1986
  • The first autonomous institute, the National Institute of Immunology which was set up in 1981 was brought under the wings of DBT. 
  • Soon after, National Facility for Animal Tissue and Cell Culture of Pune formed in 1986 which was later christened the National Centre for Cell Science.
  • The late 1990s and early 2000 saw many other institutes like The National Institute for Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) followed, the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting & Diagnostics, Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development and the Institute of Life Sciences take shape. 
  • Subsequently, several other prominent institutes like Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THISTI), Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (INstem), National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) at Mohali, and National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG) at Kalyani in West Bengal were established.
Major Ongoing Programmes
  1. Wheat Genome Sequencing Programme
  2. Rice Functional Genomics
  3. Crop Biofortification and quality improvement programme
  4. National Plant Gene Repository at NIPGR, New Delhi
  5. Next Generation Challenge Programme on Chickpea Genomics
  6. Network project – From QTL to Variety- Marker Assisted Breeding of Rice with Major QTLs for Drought, Flooding and Salt Tolerance
  7. Root Development and Nutrition, germination, Characterisation and Use of EMS Induced Mutants of Upland Variety Nagina-22 for Functional Genomics of Rice,
  8. Identification of Candidate Genes for Enhanced Water Use Efficiency in Rice through Activation Tagging, Metabolic Engineering programme,
  9. Four Programme support for State Agricultural Universities,
  10. Accelerated Crop Improvement Programme to bring important traits into high yielding varieties of Rice, Wheat, Chickpea, soybean, cotton, mustard and Maize.
  11. Besides, nearly 300 ongoing R&D projects have been supported by the department during the last 3 to 5 years.
Animal Biotechnology- DBT supports R & D programmes for the development of affordable new generation vaccines and diagnostics against a plethora of animal diseases. 

Aquaculture and Marine Biotechnology

  1. Development of diagnostics and vaccines for major diseases in aquaculture
  2. Development of culture technology in non-traditional species and front-line demonstrations to prove techno-economic viability of aquaculture production system
  3. Improved aspects on new feed development, fish nutrition, breeding and reproduction, health and sanitation, post-harvest, value addition for enhancement of aquaculture productivity
  4. Development of in vitro tissue/ cell culture system in various aquaculture species
  5. Marine pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, bio-adhesives, bio-flocculent, bio-surfactants, medical implants, biopolymers, bio-plastics, Novel enzymes, Biosensors and Bioremediation
  6. Fish transgenics for therapeutic and ornamentals
  7. Marine extremophiles
  8. Molecular biology of Indian aquaculture species, identification of useful genes for transgenesis work including genomics & proteomics studies

 

  • Seri biotechnology- DBT has established a Centre of Excellence in Genetics and Genomics of Silkworm at CDFD, Hyderabad. Transgenic lines of silkworm resistant to baculovirus (BmNPV) have been generated through RNAi technology.
  • Human Genetics- Human genetics is the study of inheritance as it occurs in human beings.
Stem Cell Research

S&

  • The classical definition of a stem cell requires that it possess two properties:
        1. Self-renewal: the ability to go through numerous cycles of cell division while maintaining the undifferentiated state.
        2. Potency: the capacity to differentiate into specialised cell types.

 

  • Stem cells offer significant potential for the generation of tissues that can potentially replace diseased and damaged areas in the body, with minimal risk of rejection and side effects.
Bioengineering
  • The multidisciplinary field of research which involves the application of engineering techniques for basic understandings and development of innovative technologies for improved quality of life. 
  • Examples- Implantable device for multifunction prosthesis hand control, Mannequin-based training simulator specifically for detection of different types of heart attacks, Fiberoptic Laser Raman spectrometer for the diagnosis of oral precancers.
  • Exploring the rich microbial diversity of India and developing biotechnological applications using this resource to address issues pertaining to the environment and energy crisis. Different areas that are being pursued are:
              1. Microbial diversity and its exploration
              2. Hydrogen and bioplastic from waste
              3. Wastewater treatment using microbes
              4. Metagenomics
Industrial Biotechnology
  • The sector is divided into five major segments: bio-pharma, bio-services, bio-Agri, bio-industrial and bioinformatics

 

Problems and Issues of Biotechnology
        1. Harm to the environment – It is very difficult to predict what will happen in an ecosystem where a new organism (GMO) has been introduced, whether genetically modified or not.
        2. Bioterrorism – Governments are worried that terrorists will use biotechnology to create new Superbugs, infectious viruses, or toxins, for which we have no cures.
        3. Laboratory/production safety – There is concern about technician safety in laboratories, even under secured conditions, when working with organisms of unknown virulence.
        4. Ethical issues – over cloning of genes, construction of genes from scratch goes against the ethical or religious beliefs of a significant number of people.
ISSUES WITH DRDO
  • Government’s lethargic revenue commitments towards DRDO have put major projects involving futuristic technology on hold.
  • DRDO also suffers from inadequate manpower in critical areas to the lack of proper synergy with the armed forces.
  • Cost escalation and long delays have damaged the reputation of DRDO.
  • Even after 60 years of DRDO formation, India still imports a large share of its defence equipment. India is the world’s largest importer of defence equipment.
  • DRDO’s list of successes is short- primarily the Agni and Prithvi missiles. Its list of failures is much longer. The Kaveri engine is running late by 16 years and the cost has escalated by around 800 per cent.
  • There is no accountability. Nobody is taken to task for time and cost overruns.
  • CAG report also revealed that not all technologies developed by DRDO were suitable for use by the armed forces. The three services have rejected 70 per cent of the products developed did not meet their standard and requirement.
  • DRDO is just tinkering with World War II equipment instead of working on cutting-edge technology.
  • Even if the systems are acquired from abroad and DRDO is meant to serve them if it fails. This leaves critical gaps in national defence.
Way ForwardSuggested by the committee chaired by P. Rama Rao in February 2007.

  • Setting up a commercial arm of the organisation to make it a profitable entity, besides cutting back on delays in completing projects.
  • Setting up of a Defence Technology Commission as well as a bigger role for DRDO in picking production partners for products developed by the agency.
  • DRDO should be able to select a capable partner company from the outset, from the private sector if necessary.
  • DRDO’s move to outsource is the right move and will open a lot of opportunities benefiting the Indian companies.

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