Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 launched

For supporting the drug discovery process, a national initiative called Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 was launched on 2nd July 2020. The initiative was launched by Ramesh Pokhriyal (Union Human Resource Development Minister) and Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare and Science and Technology).

Objective of the Hackathon

The objective of the hackathon is to identify drug candidates for the COVID-19 virus through computational methods. Further the findings from the hackathon for chemical synthesis and biological testing.

About the Hackathon

Any professional, researchers, faculty, and students can participate from across the globe. The primary focus during the hackathon will be to focus on the computational aspects of the discovery of drugs. This will be done on three tracks:

  • Track 1: From an existing database, identifying computational modeling for drug design. The identified modeling must provide resistance or inhibit the COVID-19 virus
  • Track 2: Using data analytics, new tools and algorithms will be developed. Further by using machine learning or artificial intelligence algorithms, predict a drug-like compound that will have the least toxicity and higher selectivity and specificity.
  • Track 3: Ambitious and exploratory approaches that will lead to a novel ground-breaking projects in this field. Working on out of the box problems.

The Hackathon will help in accelerating the drug discovery process in India by establishing a new model. The hackathon will have three phases: each of the phases will be of 3 months each. The Drug Discovery Hackathon will be completed by April-May 2021.

Through the Tracks above, at the end of Phase 3, the predicted drug-like compound will be taken forward at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other leading organizations in the country for experimental testing.

Defence Ministry Approves Purchase of 33 new Fighter Jets and Upgradation of existing 59 MiG-29 Aircraft

The proposal to acquire 33 new fighter aircraft was approved by the Ministry of Defence on 2nd July 2020. This will help the Indian Air Force in addressing the long-felt need for increasing its fighter squadrons. Along with the purchase of 33 new fighter aircraft, the existing 59 MiG 29 aircraft will also be upgraded. The entire purchase and up-gradation will cost Rs 18,148 crore.

Among the 33 new aircraft, procurement of new 21 MiG-29 aircraft and up-gradation of 59 existing MiG-29 aircraft will be done by Russian Aircraft Corporation ‘MiG’ (also called Mikoyan) at Rs 7418 crore.

At Rs 10730 crore, 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft will be procured from state-owned company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Since the 2017 Rafael deal, this combined 33 fighter jets will be first to be ordered for the Indian Air Force. India has purchased a total of 36 Rafael fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.

MiG 29 Fighter Jets

Indian Air Force has already three Squadrons of MiG 29 fighter aircraft in service. Russian company Mikoyan is the manufacturer of MiG 29 aircraft. All equipment and radar of the newly procured fighter jets will be as per the latest standards.

Su-30 MKI

Russian Company Sukhoi designed Sukhoi Su-30 MKI is under license manufactured for the Indian Air Force in India by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). At Present the Indian Air Force has a total of 260 Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft in service. The 12 Su-30MKI fighters will be manufactured at the Nasik, Maharashtra facility of the HAL.

Boost to ‘Make in India’

Apart from the 12 Su-30 MKI fighter jets to be manufactured by HAL, the Bengaluru based Indian state-owned company is likely to get the biggest ever Make in India project for an order of 83 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft Mk 1A this year. The order is estimated to be valued at around Rs 38,000 crore.