Friday, 10 October 2014

Cyclone Hudhud: The `bird' storm in the Indian Ocean

By Syed Akbar


Hudhud and the Holy Quran


I am a bit surprised when many people and vernacular newspapers in India misspelled the term Hudhud (name of the latest cyclone in the Indian Ocean) though they know that the storm has been named after a bird. For them, Hudhud or hoopoe is the national bird of Israel. But what many have failed to understand is that long before Israel was created, Hudhud had been the darling bird of the Arabs and the Africans. Israel had recognised the importance of Hudhud only a few decades ago. According to Muslim traditions, Hudhud is the winged messenger of Prophet Solomon (Hazrat Sulaiman) who brought the news of the existence of a kingdom ruled by a woman (Queen of Sheba). The hudhud also carried a letter written by King Solomon to the Queen of Sheba.


Hudhud (pronounced Hud-Hud) is one of the three birds mentioned by name in the Holy Quran. The other two being crow and quail. Islam holds birds in high esteem and the Holy Quran refers to birds forming communities like we human beings do. In fact, the Holy Quran refers to the term bird five times, and birds as many as 13 times. The Holy Book has also referred to tiny birds called Ababil, which had rained stones on an army of elephants and soldiers when a tyrant king named Abraha came to destroy the Holy Kaaba in Mecca.

The Holy Quran refers to Hudhud in Surah Naml or Chapter Ant, which forms the 27th chapter of the Islamic scripture. The following verses of the Holy Quran with reference to Hudhud or hoopoe, the bird, clearly shows that man can understand the language of animals and birds provided he shows interest in the things around him. The study of behaviour of animals is known as ethology and the Holy Quran had made it clear 15 centuries before the term ethology was coined that birds and animals including insects like ants can communicate with man and vice versa. Prophet Sulaiman or Solomon had pioneered the language and behaviour of animals and birds.

Here is the Quranic reference:  (Quran 27: 20-29): 

"He (Solomon) inspected the birds, and said: "What is the matter that I see not the hoopoe (hudhud)? Or is he among the absentees?

"I will surely punish him with a severe torment, or slaughter him, unless he brings me a clear reason."

"But the hoopoe stayed not long, he (came up and) said: "I have grasped (the knowledge of a thing) which you have not grasped and I have come to you from Saba' (Sheba) with true news.

"I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given all things that could be possessed by any ruler of the earth, and she has a great throne.

"I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah, and Shaitan (Satan) has made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and has barred them from (Allah's) Way, so they have no guidance,"

"Allah, (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Lord of the Supreme Throne!

"(Solomon) said: "We shall see whether you speak the truth or you are (one) of the liars.

"Go you with this letter of mine, and deliver it to them, then draw back from them, and see what (answer) they return."

"She (Queen of Sheba) said: "O chiefs! Verily! Here is delivered to me a noble letter..."

And now something about the bird as explained in the Encyclopedia Britannica:
hoopoe, (Upupa epops), strikingly crested bird found from southern Europe and Africa to southeastern Asia, the sole member of the family Upupidae of the roller order, Coraciiformes.

About 28 centimetres (11 inches) long, it is pinkish brown on the head and shoulders, with a long, black-tipped, erectile crest and black-and-white barred wings and tail.

The hoopoe takes insects and other small invertebrates by probing the ground with its long, downcurved bill. Some systems of classification recognize one other species (U. africana), found from Ethiopia to South Africa.

The hudhud had meekly served the king and prophet Solomon. Let's hope and pray the cyclone Hudhud would not cause any damage to human, plant or animal life or property. Let the cyclone Hudhud turn into a meek storm.

Monday, 4 February 2013

When the Nizam of Hyderabad sent his Ayurveda Safari Dawakhana to Kumbhmela in 1942


Biotechnology Ignition Grant: Researchers at University of Hyderabad take up project on type-2 diabetes, multidrug resistant diseases

University of Hyderabad scientists bag BIG awards

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), an interface agency of the Department of Biotechnology, has recently introduced a program to enable early stage companies, academics and entrepreneurs to take their innovations from an idea to a proof-of-concept stage in the healthcare/biotechnology sector.

Two of the recipients of the Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) are Dr. Ashwini Nangia of Crystalin Research and Dr. Radha Rangarajan of Vitas Pharma. Both innovators are based at the Technology Business Incubator on University of Hyderabad campus. They are also incubatees at Life Science Incubator in IKP Knowledge Park, which provides mentorship, networking, branding, funding support, and laboratory infrastructure to start ups. IKP is the BIG Partner for both new projects.

Dr. Ashwini Nangia of Crystalin Research will test novel drug molecules designed on the GPCR receptor (G-protein coupled receptor) for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. The novelty of their approach lies in its simplicity. By modifying the functional group on an anti-psychotic drug it is expected that the change in binding to the receptor will lead to release of insulin.

The project will span the synthesis of drug molecules, their cell culture assays, and pre clinical animal trials to test the glucose level lowering efficacy of our “first in class drug”, says Dr. Nangia. He is a Professor of Chemistry at University of Hyderabad.

Dr. Radha Rangarajan is focused on identifying and developing novel therapies for multidrug resistant (MDR) infections at Vitas Pharma. MDR infections are a major public health concern in India and elsewhere, as they are associated with high levels of morbidity, mortality and treatment costs. The BIG Grant is intended for research on a novel class of compounds that target DNA replication in bacteria and prevent their growth through a unique mechanism, thus overcoming drug resistance.

The team will identify lead compounds with in vitro activity against highly resistant clinical strains and establish proof-of-concept in animal models. A successful drug emerging from this research would add to the armament of medicines for the effective management of infectious diseases.

Dr. Rangarajan has extensive research and development experience (Rockefeller University, Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories). She is on the Guest Faculty at NIPER, Hyderabad.

Rs 15,000 crore loss per year in fish and marine industry due to lack of post-harvest waste prevention methods


Post-harvest wastage causing annual losses worth over Rs 15K crore to marine & fish industry: ASSOCHAM
By Syed Akbar

The post harvest fish wastage leads to annual losses worth over Rs 15,000 crore in India’s marine and inland fisheries sector, according to an analysis by apex industry body ASSOCHAM.
“The poor post-harvest fish handling infrastructure in major maritime states in India leads to wastage of about 25 per cent of the total fisheries resources,” according to a sector-specific an analysis by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Besides, fish stocks in India’s territorial deep-sea waters also remain untapped owing to the dearth of suitable fishing vessels and also because traditional fishing communities are over-exploiting the coastal waters which is leading to fast depletion of maritime resources and shrinking the catch from the coastal zones.
The post-harvest losses are generally caused due to poor handling, processing of fish leading to quality deterioration arising out of biochemical and microbiological spoilage, inadequate packaging, marketing malpractices and lack of proper storage facilities.
“These losses result in potential income loss to fishermen community and all the stakeholders, traders, processors, involved in fishing related ancillary operations as the spoiled, physically damaged fish fetches 20-25 per cent lower price compared to the best quality catch,” said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the chamber’s analysis.
“Production of value-added fishery products should be encouraged to realize better returns for producers, besides there is also a need to develop top-notch harbor and storage facilities for development of marine products in the country,” said Mr Rawat. “Sustainable practices like eco-friendly fisheries management must be adopted in capture, cultivation, utilization and marketing of marine products and there is also a need to bring in regulations to keep a check on over-exploitation of fisheries resources.”
ASSOCHAM has suggested the government to modernize existing harbours and establish more cold storage facilities and factory vessels to aid the fish and marine industry which is worth over Rs 61,000 crore.
Besides, improved methods of fish handling and preservation facilities on-board fishing vessels must be provided through joint ventures for production and marketing of value-added fish products.
“Maximum care should be taken while catching, storing and handling of fish to avoid any damage to the catch as it would go a long way in improving the quality of India’s marine products,” said Mr Rawat. “The entire fishing community including the policy makers and other stakeholders need to find alternative sources to encourage more-sustainable practices in aquaculture otherwise it could lead to degradation of land and marine habitat.”

Chest infections: University of Edinburgh study reveals boys in India get preference over girls for medical treatment


More boys than girls taken to hospital with chest infections, study shows

By Syed Akbar

Hyderabad: Boys in India and South Asia who suffer from chest infections are more likely than girls to receive hospital care, according to a new global study.

Around 12 million children under the age of five are hospitalised with chest infections such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis worldwide each year, the study suggests.

Researchers discovered that boys were more likely to be hospitalised because of chest infections than girls, both because male children are slightly more susceptible to such illnesses and because families are more likely to ensure that boys receive health care.

While this gender disparity was visible across the developing world, it was most pronounced in South Asia. In some areas of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, up to four times as many boys under five receive hospital care for chest infections compared with girls. The data for India came from previous studies conducted from different areas across the country.

The study found that a substantial number of children under five who became critically ill from chest infections were not treated in hospitals. Around 38 per cent of severe cases did not reach hospitals.

Researchers also found that an estimated 265,000 children under five suffering from chest infections die in hospitals worldwide each year.

Almost all of these deaths - 99 per cent - take place in the developing world. About eight out of ten children who die from chest infections do so outside of hospital care.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who carried out the study based on 2010 data, say that the findings indicate the severity of the problem in developing nations.

Dr Harish Nair, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Population Health Sciences, who led the study, said: "Pneumonia has an enormous impact upon the lives of young children across the world. This study shows that much more could be done to reduce infection and save lives, such as by improving access to hospitals in the developing world, or by ensuring that both boys and girls receive similar health care."

The study - the first of its kind - is published in The Lancet and supported by the World Health Organization. Its results were produced by a large international consortium of 76 researchers from 39 institutions, in 24 countries.

Researchers from around the world produced the estimates by using hospital-based studies of chest infection rates and data on health-care seeking in developing countries.

The study builds on previous research, also published in the Lancet in 2010 and 2011, which found that around 34 million children develop human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-related pneumonia and 20 million children under five develop seasonal flu-related pneumonia each year.

Sequencing the genome of pigeon pea: Icrisat novel programme on chana dal helps fight hunger and poverty


First ‘orphan legume’ genome sequence to be translated to crop breeding to boost food, nutrition and income security of dryland poor
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: A comprehensive, three-year, US$2-million pigeonpea molecular breeding project was launched yesterday aimed at improving the food, nutrition and income security of millions of poor people in the drylands.

The project "Pigeonpea Improvement using Molecular Breeding" supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) India Mission, aims to assist pigeonpea breeders to develop improved cultivars more efficiently using genomic tools. It will be implemented by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) headquartered in Hyderabad, India, along with the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi; the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur, Karnataka; Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Hyderabad; and other partners in India and Africa.

In the fight against poverty and hunger amid the threat of climate change, highly nutritious, drought-tolerant crops are the best bets for smallholder farmers in marginal environments to survive and improve their livelihoods. Pigeonpea, grown on about 5 million hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America, is a very important food legume for millions of poor in the semi-arid regions of the world. Known as the “poor people’s meat” because of its high protein content, it provides a well-balanced diet when accompanied with cereals.

"I am very pleased to announce here today this new partnership between the governments of India and the United States, and ICRISAT – a partnership that will take new studies in pigeonpea genomics to the next stage of scientific research. This collaboration will improve the agricultural productivity of pigeonpea, a main source of protein for more than a billion people in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean," said Ms Elizabeth Warfield, Deputy Mission Director, USAID, New Delhi during the project launch.

Dr William Dar, Director General, ICRISAT, acknowledged USAID’s commitment to the project. “USAID has always been an advocate of the agricultural research-for-development continuum. Thus, this project has a research component in Phase I and an application component in Phase II. This project is another testament to USAID’s commitment to improve the lot of resource-poor farmers particularly in the pigeonpea growing countries of the world."

“Under the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on Grain Legumes led by ICRISAT along with other CGIAR Consortium members and program as well as national partners, genomics research will play a crucial role in speeding up the development of improved varieties for smallholder farmer crops such as pigeonpea,” Dr Dar added.

Dr Swapan Datta, Deputy Director General (Crop Science), ICAR acknowledged ICRISAT’s efforts in decoding the genome sequence of pigeonpea in 2011, and now that of chickpea in 2013. He said, "A scientific breakthrough like genome sequencing excites and motivates the scientific community to find grand solutions for grand challenges. We are very excited to see the launch of this USAID project.”

“The primary objective of the project is to translate genome information into the farmers’ fields. The project team is quite confident and looks forward to working with different partners and stakeholders in enhancing pigeonpea crop productivity that will eventually help ensure food security in India and generate more incomes for farmers in Africa", said Dr Rajeev Varshney, Project Coordinator and Director, Center of Excellence in Genomics,ICRISAT.

The project launch meeting held on 30 January at the ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru near Hyderabad brought together about 70 delegates from India, Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi and private sectors.

Pigeonpea is an important crop for India’s food security, consumed in the form of dal in regular diets of majority of the country’s vegetarian population. India is the largest producer of pigeonpea in the world, largest consumer of pigeonpea and largest importer of pigeonpea. This opens great opportunities to further develop the industry in the country.

Meanwhile, sub-Saharan African countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda grow pigeonpea to export to India, making pigeonpea production critical in increasing incomes and improving the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers. As the crop is generally grown in marginal environments, crop productivity is heavily challenged by several biotic and abiotic stresses.

Although traditional breeding has generated some hybrids to enhance yield, there is an urgent need to deploy molecular breeding approaches for improving varieties and hybrids. Because of limited genetic diversity and non-availability of genomic tools, molecular breeding has not been used in pigeonpea breeding programs. With the decoding of the pigeonpea genome sequence by an ICRISAT-led global research team in November 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India (GoI) together with ICAR and ICRISAT started to develop a road map for pigeonpea improvement using molecular breeding. That road map has led to the implementation of this USAID India Mission sanctioned project.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Under-water launch missile B05: India joins the select club of nations with state-of-the art Defence technology


By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 27: The DRDO- developed under Water launched Missile B05 was successfully flight tested from Bay of Bengal off the coast of Visakhapatnam.

The Missile launched from a pontoon, was tested for the full range and met all the mission objectives. All the parameters of the vehicle were monitored by the Radar all through the trajectory and terminal events have taken place exactly as expected.
Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister Dr VK Saraswat congratulated all the scientists, gechnicians of DRDO on the successful flight test. Defence Minister AK Antony congratulated all the scientists for successful launch of B05.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Leading defence scientist Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat gets Padma Bhushan award

By Syed Akbar

Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat, one of the greatest scientists of India with more than four decades of experience in defence research. Apart from being a scientist, he is a rare combination of an innovator, technologist and visionary. Dr Saraswat has been credited with authority in indigenous development of variety class of Missiles like Ballistic Missiles, Cruise Missiles, Anti-Tank Missiles and is principal architect behind the first ever BMD development program in India by spearheading major technology breakthroughs in the areas of missile defence systems.

Born at Gwalior on 25 May 1949, Dr Saraswat completed his engineering education in Gwalior and then went to IISc Bangalore for Masters Degree in Engineering and Ph.D from Osmania University.

During the last 30 years, he actively supported the development of the engineering profession in India and stimulated public interest the potential value of self-reliance in Defence Research in a wide variety of engineering applications. His initiatives and drive have made India self reliant and placed the nation under the spotlight in the global arena.

He developed a highly successful 30 Tonne LP Engine for aerodefence applications. His contribution towards successful induction of indigeneously developed surface-to-surface missile PRITHVI Weapon system - PRIDE OF THE NATION and its variants like DHANUSH with extended range intro armed forces, made Govt of India to honour him with the prestigious national award of PADMASHRI in 1998. With the recent successes of long range missile AGNI-5 and AGNI variants, ASTRA, SHOURYA, PRAHAAR, NAG, AKASH, Dr Saraswat’s dream has come true that today, nation can boast of reaching any shores in the world with the nuclear capable missiles with different strike ranges demonstrating the self-reliance of our Nation.

His technological capabilities coupled with managerial excellence have led to realization of two new missiles Exo and Endo atmospheric interceptor systems along with other BMD elements viz Radars, Command, Control, Communication, Computers & Intelligence (C4I) systems and the integration of battle management resources in a record time. The successive interception of incoming target missiles at Exo and Endo atmospheres demonstrated during the last six years are a testimony to his dedicated untiring efforts and exploitation of limited technological resources. This success made India join the select nations that have the capability to develop BMD systems and the only nation that has achieved the Exo atmospheric intercept other than USA who has been spending billions of dollars on missile defence

Dr. VK Saraswat has built “Strategic Communication Network” bringing high degree of Redundancy, Robustness and Reliability through multiple layers covering command hierarchy. Under his leadership, missiles have been made available to Strategic Force Command as Vectors.

Development of new technologies which are critical under MTCR viz., Ring Laser Gyros, Fibre Optic Gyros, Electro-Hydraulic Servo Valves, Electro Mechanical Actuation System, MEMS Technology for Inertial Sensors have been realized with the rigorous efforts of Dr Saraswat. Vision of Dr Saraswat lead to initiate the programmes on Cyber Security, Directed Energy Weapons, future Materials, Space based surveillance & Security system, Nano Technologies, Low Intensity Conflict and NBC Products, Bio defence and Silicon Photonics development during the past two years.

Dr Saraswat set up the State-of the-Art facilities consisting of 100 Class Clean Rooms, Optical Processing Systems, Vacuum Units micro machining and precision manufacturing systems and high end assembly integration and testing equipments overcoming all odds of export controls including creation of an excellent industry base to support defence research. Dr Saraswat’s vision and efforts towards achieving technological self-reliance paved the way not only for development of technological systems but also generated employment opportunities and for economic development of the regions Presently, the Indian industry has graduated from the status of ‘component level’ fabricators to ‘system level’ manufacturing agencies for the defence sector.

Dr Saraswat was honored with numerous accolades during his entire career namely Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Award from Indian Science Congress (2011); Lifetime Achievement Award by Ramakrishna-Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi; Prof Jai Krishna Memorial Award by Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE); Dr Y Nayudamma Memorial Gold Medal for the year 2011 by AP Science Congress; Jawaharlal Nehru S&T Award (2009) by Govt of Madhya Pradesh; FICCI Annual Award; ARYABHATA Award (2011) from Astronautical Society of India; National Aeronautical Prize (1998); Dr Y Nayudamma Memorial Award

The Times Magazine of United States (17 Sep 2007) described Dr Saraswat as an Innovator working on New Technologies which include development of Propulsion System to accelerate to Mach 8 speed, SCRAMJET and AVATAR (Aerobic Vehicle for Advanced Trans Atmospheric Research) at low cost.

India Today (27 Dec 1999) described Dr VK Saraswat as Rocket Scientist and Missile Man II, after Dr APJ Abdul Kalam under the Title “Faces of the Millennium Sciences”

Dr Saraswat received many honorary degrees from many Indian universities and is a Fellow of numerous scientific societies, including Indian national Academy of Engineering, Aeronautical Society of India, Astronautical Society of India, Institution of Engineers, Systems Society of India, Society for Shock Wave Research and AP Akademi of Sciences; Life Member of Indian Science Congress Association and Instrumentation Society of India and Chairman of Combustion Institute (Indian Section). He has been elected as President of Aeronautical Society of India.

He was the Chief Controller R&D (Missiles & Strategic Systems) and Programme Director for Air Defence at DRDO from the year 1996-2009 before being appointed as Secretary Dept of Defence R&D, Scientific Adviser to Raksha Mantri and Director General to lead India's Defence Research & Development Organisation. In addition, Dr Saraswat is also the Chairman of Governing Council of Defence Institute of Aadvanced Technology, Pune and Motilal Nehru National Inst of Technology, Allahabad; Member of Advisory Council of BHEL R&D and Member of Scientific Advisory Committee to Cabinet under the chairmanship of Honble Prime Minister of India.

Under his leadership, DRDO has transformed from a technology importer to a pioneer in providing integrated technology and process solutions on weapon delivery platforms. The principle of striving for greater-self-reliance in technology while instilling team spirit has been his motto. Dr Saraswat laid the Technology Roadmap for development of future technologies.
During the last three years, Dr Saraswat’s innovative leadership achieved - induction of first nuclear powered submarine INS ARIHANT; induction of VARUNA EW System; induction ofDIVYADRISHTI (EW software) into Services; TEJAS (Light Combat Aircraft) have Initial Operational clearance and Naval version has been rolled out after its successful demonstration; NAG(Anti Tank Missile) complete User Trials; ASTRA (Air-to-Air Missile) complete aerodynamic configuration trials; Maiden flight test of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles RUSTOM;; Induction of MBTsand PINAKA launchers; and successful launch of PRAHAR. He has guided NAG (Anti-Tank Missile) complete User Trials; ASTRA (Air-to-Air Missile) complete aerodynamic configuration trials; Successful launch of Under water Missile SHAURYA; Development of guided Glide Bomb with extended range; development of System on Chip for missile and EW applications; demonstration of RUSTOM-I; Initiated development of Surveillance Systems, Cyber Security, Nano Technologies; Development of LIC & NBC Technologies to support Security & Paramilitary forces and Induction of DIVYADRISHTI (EW software) into Services. Production of first lot of Titanium Sponge; Supply of Oleoresin Grenades, Plastic Bullets, Mini UAV NETRA, Laser Dazzlers, ROV DAKSH, Explosive Detection Kits, Multi-mode Hand Grenades, and Combo Rations for Low Intensity Conflicts; Solar Powered Modular Green Shelters

Most recently Dr Saraswat while taking our defence capabilities to greater heights brought new dimension to the national defence scenario through successful test firing of AGNI-5 an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile which has become Game Changer. Maiden success of LRSAM developed under Joint Venture with Israel is another significant achievement under his leadership.

Dr Saraswat’s recent research initiatives have taken shape into establishment of Research & Innovation Centre- RIC at IIT Madras Research Park – to focus on innovation &Research in coordination with Academia and MILIT- dedicated to training on S&T needs of officers of MoD; CERT- DRDO with the aim of reporting, auditing and handling emergency response of Information Security Incidents; CHESS with the mandate of development of High Energy Laser and Microwave devices aimed at futuristic requirements and is envisaged to become a cutting edge technology development center; and finally establishment of Kyrgyz-Indian Mountain Bio-Medical Research Centre at Kyrgyzstan. In order to advance economic development opportunities, Accelerated Technology Assessment and Commercialization (ATAC) Programme in association with FICCI has been started with a motto to bring the DRDO developed products into market for civilian applications.

Bio-Digesters for Railways and Odisha Govt for rural development and Launch of AAHAR programmes have gained larger interests which are aimed at providing DRDO developed food products for the lowest strata of Society as part of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Guiding 8 PhD Students. He has number of papers at his credit published in various journals at national and international level.
Dr Saraswat made a unique contribution to the society, for upgradation of technology in select areas, in popularizing defence research, by giving a series of lectures on Critical technological areas to Scientific community, academia, researchers and Students and providing them an insight on various scientific theories and applications. The new international airport and Aerospace SEZ at Hyderabad are a testimony of his initiatives and able guidance through AeSI since 2002.

Dr Saraswat’s rigorous efforts as Chairman Combustion Institute, led to establishment of Advanced Combustion Research Centers at IISc and IIT(M). His initiatives on research in Fuel Cell Technologies have made good progress and soon will have technologies for commercial usage.
Degree of Doctor of Science was conferred upon him by more than 15 Universities including NIT Surat and Andhra University, Visakhapatnam in recognition of his outstanding contributions towards development of Science & Technology in Aerospace and Defence fields.

Missile scientist Avinash Chander gets Padma Sri for his outstanding contribution to Agni missiles

By Syed Akbar

Hyderabad: Mr Avinash Chander, distinguished scientist, Chief Controller R&D (Missiles & Strategic Systems) and Programme Director, Agni, is the main architect behind the success of Agni-5, 5000 km ICBM class of missile and gave the country a new dimension to its defence capability.


Dynamic leadership of Avinash Chander in the development of Agni-4 and Agni-5 in a short span of time with the state- of-the- art technologies has put the country in the elite class of Advanced Nations in the world.

As prime designer of Long Range Missile Systems in the country, successfully delivered three long-range weapon systems Agni-1, Agni-2 and Agni-3 to the Indian Armed Forces. His outstanding contributions enabled India with indigenous technologies in the critical areas under severe control regimes. He has created infrastructure for production of the systems motivating and encouraging industry participation with innovative management initiatives. He joined DRDO in 1972 after completing his graduation in electrical engineering from IIT Delhi. He obtained MS in spatial information technology from JNTU, Hyderabad. He is a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineers, Fellow of System Society of India, Fellow of Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences, Fellow and Vice-President of Astronautical Society of India.

He has received numerous awards and honours in his career like DRDO Scientist of the year (1989), Astronautical Society of India Award (1997) in the field of Rocketry, AGNI Self-Reliance Award (1999), Dr. Biren Roy Space Science Award (2000), DRDO Award for Path Breaking Research / Outstanding Technology Development (2007), Outstanding Technologist Award (2008) by Punjab Technical University, DRDO Technology Leadership Award (2008) and Outstanding contribution towards National Development Award (2011) by IIT, Delhi.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A team of researchers from Visakhapatnam has developed a bio-fertilizer that will solve the problem of zinc deficiency in green gram, increase the yield and bring in profits to farmers

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 4: Green gram is a major ingredient in the Indian
kitchen, but this delicious pulse crop is hit by zinc deficiency
causing heavy loss to farmers. Now a team of researchers from
Visakhapatnam has developed a bio-fertilizer that will solve the
problem of zinc deficiency in green gram, increase the yield and bring
in profits to farmers.

Field trials conducted in Anakapalle town in Visakhapatnam district
have been successful with the bio-fertilizer solving the problem of
zinc deficiency in the green gram crop. Farmers spend huge amounts on
buying chemical fertilizers to overcome the problem of zinc deficiency
in green gram. Chemical fertilizers make the soil alkaline or saline,
robbing it of its ability to sustain future crops.

Dr L Anitha, associate professor, department of microbiology and food
science and technology, Gitam University, Visakhapatnam, told this
correspondent that the bio-fertilizer was developed from blue green
algae (Spirulina platensis). Dr Anitha and research scholar P Kalpana
developed the bio-fertilizer. According to Dr Anitha, they conducted
research to estimate zinc levels in green gram (Cicer arietinum) after
application of blue green algae by foliar spray on the plants from
germination for 45 days every fortnight.

Spirulina is rich in protein and trace metals. Spirulina was dried,
powdered, and applied to crops in four different concentrations. The
zinc levels were estimated using atomic absorption spectrophotometer.
The zinc concentration 36.83 mg per kg as against 29.45 mg/kg in
fields where the bio-fertilizer was not used.

“The foliar spray enhanced the zinc levels in green gram. The higher
the concentration of blue green algae the higher the zinc
concentration in the green gram crop,” she said.

Zinc plays a key role in the yield, quality and nutritional value of
agricultural crops. But use of zinc from chemical sources damages the
soil texture, though it increases the farm out. Zinc obtained through
natural sources like blue green algae not only keeps the soil texture
in good health, but also solves the problem of deficiency in crops.

The research study by the Vizag team gain significance, as 50 per cent
of the world’s agricultural crops are deficient in zinc.

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