Ministry of Science and Technology Current Affairs

VAJRA Scheme: Government receives 260 applicants for visiting researcher programme

The Union Ministry of Science and Technology’s Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA) Faculty Scheme has received 260 applications from foreign scientists of whom 70 will be shortlisted.

The scheme is meant to attract top international talent to country’s research and development (R&D) ecosystem. The applicants will be screened now and the shortlisted scientists will begin work by December 2017.

VAJRA Scheme

The pilot project of the scheme was launched by Department of Science and Technology (DST) in May 2017. The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body of DST is implementing the scheme. It intends to select 1,000 scientists every year.

The DST will look for scientists with experience in fields of renewable energy, water and other technology in which Indian lack expertise. Public funded academic institutions and national laboratories are eligible to host VAJRA faculties. The residency period will be for minimum of month and maximum of three months.

These institutions should appoint them as adjunct visiting faculty and involve them in co-guiding and mentoring students and developing collaborative programmes. The faculty can also be allowed to participate in other academic activities.

The applications received from interested foreign researchers will be evaluated by Selection Committee of eminent scientists. The Committee will meet twice a year in January and July and make recommendations.

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Government plans to create FarmerZone

The Union Ministry of Science and Technology is planning to create FarmerZone, a collective open-source data platform for smart agriculture by using biological research and data to improve lives of small and marginal farmers.

It was announced by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) at recently convened Smart Agriculture Conclave in New Delhi. The objective of conclave was to set stage for “FarmerZone”. It was organised by DBT in partnership with UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Research Councils UK (RCUK) India.

FarmerZone platform

FarmerZone envisioned by the DBT aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for effective decision-making in agriculture by integrating science, technology, innovation and farm ecosystem. This platform aims to cater all needs of farmer from dealing with climate change, weather predictions and soil, water and seed requirements.

It will connect farmers and scientists, government officials, economists and representatives from global companies who work in the big-data and e-commerce space to bring about technology-based localised agri-solutions. This platform will work to collect relevant quality data related to agriculture into the cloud and also develop sites to help link with farmers and evolve PPP based enterprises for data delivery.

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