1. RCI develops DRUVS, automated UV system to sanitise electronic gadgets

Hyderabad based Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) premier lab, has developed Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS), an automated contactless ultraviolet C (UVC) sanitisation cabinet.

DRUVS cabinet:
1. The cabinet has been designed to sanitise mobile phones, iPads, laptops, currency notes, cheque leafs, challans, passbooks, paper, envelopes, etc.
2. The DRUVS cabinet has a contactless operation, which is very important to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
3. The operation is made automatic and contactless as the proximity sensor switches are clubbed with a drawer opening and closing mechanism.
4. It provides 360-degree exposure of UVC to the objects placed inside the cabinet. After sanitizing it, the system goes into sleep mode, and hence the operator need not wait or stand near the device.

NOTESCLEAN:
In another development, RCI has developed an automated UVC currency sanitising device, called NOTESCLEAN. Bundles of currency notes can be sanitised using DRUVS. Disinfection of each currency note using it will be a time-consuming process. For that purpose, a sanitising technique has been developed, where one has to just place the loose currency notes at the input slot of the device. It picks the notes one by one and makes them pass through a series of UVC lamps for complete disinfection.

2. DBT-BIRAC approves funding for 70 Proposals for funding in Vaccines, Diagnostics

Department of Biotechnology and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) had invited applications for COVID-19 Research Consortium to urgently develop safe and effective Biomedical solutions against SARS CoV-2. The move aims to provide an accelerator approach for vaccine development.

Highlights:
1. Under the research consortium, DBT and BIRAC evaluated applications with an intent to support Industry/ Academia and Jointly Academia & Industry for developing Diagnostics, Vaccines, Novel Therapeutics, Repurposing of Drugs or any other intervention for control of COVID-19.
2. Under the move, 70 proposals of devices, diagnostics, vaccine candidates, therapeutics, and other interventions have been recommended for receiving financial support.
3. The shortlisted proposals include 10 Vaccines candidates, 34 Diagnostics products or scale-up facilities, 10 Therapeutics options, 2 proposals on Drug Repurposing, and 14 projects which are categorized as preventive interventions.
4. The participating candidates have been enhanced by providing support for the development of the Next-generation mRNA vaccine for a lipid encapsulated mRNA based vaccine.
5. In order to ensure complete indigenization of COVID diagnostics, DBT BIRAC has already provided support to the companies conducting research to scale-up the production of RT PCR kits.
6. BIRAC has created a provision to fund COVID-19 solutions that are ready for immediate deployment under a ‘Fast Track Review Process’.
7. DBT has also launched a National Biomedical Resource Indigenization Consortium (NBRIC) in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to foster indigenous innovation focused on developing reagents and resources for diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics for COVID19 which is in partnership with ABLE and CII and is being hosted by C-CAMP.

3. National Technology Day

National Technology Day is observed on 11 May. The day highlights the importance of science in daily life. It also encourages youngsters to get into the field for their career options.

Events:
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Science and Technology (DBT) is conducting a session on YouTube. Digital Conference will focus on RE-START ‘Reboot the Economy through Science, Technology And Research Translations.’ It will focus on rebooting the economy through Science and Technology.
The conference aims to bring together Scientists, Technocrats, Diplomats, World Health Organization (WHO) officials and dignitaries from national and international Industries, Research Institutions, and Academic Institutions.

History:
The observance of the National Technology Day was coined by late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The day has been designated to commemorate the major technological breakthroughs, achievements, and contributions of Indian scientists and engineers.
On 11 May 1998, India tested the nuclear tests at Pokhran. Also, on that day India conducted its nuclear missile Shakti, also known as Operation Shakti. The day aims to recognize the country’s technological advancements.

4. Indian Railways operates Shramik Special trains across the country amid lockdown

Indian Railways has decided to operate “Shramik Special” trains. The operation of the trains aims to help the migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students, and other people who are stranded at different places due to lockdown.

Highlights:
1. In these special Shramik Special Trains, a maximum of around 1200 passengers can travel observing social distancing.
2. The passengers will be screened properly before boarding the train. During the journey, passengers will be given free meals and water.
3. Also, these trains have ferried migrants to cities like Tiruchchirappalli, Titlagarh, Barauni, Khandwa, Jagannathpur, Khurda Road, Prayagraj, Chhapra, Balia, Gaya, Purnia, Varanasi, Darbhanga, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Jaunpur, Hatia, Basti, Katihar, Danapur, Muzzaffarpur, Saharsa, etc. in the country.
4. Indian Railways has terminated the operation of trains in various states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal.
5. The special Trains are being run by Railways only after concurrence is given both by the State which is sending the passengers and the State which is receiving them
6. As of 10 May 2020, a total of 366 Shramik Special trains have been operationalized from various states across the country amid lockdown.

5. Ministry of Defence approves abolition of 9,304 posts in Military Engineering Service

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved the abolition of 9,304 posts in the Engineer-in-Chief of Military Engineering Services (MES). The move was aimed to optimize more than 9,300 posts in the basic and industrial workforce as per the recommendations of the Committee of Experts, headed by Lieutenant General Shekatkar.

Recommendations of Shekatkar Committee:
1. The committee aimed to restructure the civilian workforce. As per the recommendation, the work of MES could be partly done by departmentally employed staff and other works could be outsourced.
2. A total of 13,157 vacancies were there in MES. The abolished 9,304 posts were included in the vacancies.
3. The committee recommended the closure of military farms and postal establishments in peace regions.
4. It suggested reducing the number of officers to 200.
5. It recommended enhancing the standards to recruit drivers in the army and clerical staff.

Background:
The 11-member Shekatkar Committee was appointed by the late Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in 2016. Shekatkar Committee had made a total of 99 recommendations. The implementation of the recommendation of the committee will save Rs.25,000 crores. In 2017, around 65 were approved by the Ministry of Defence.

6. MHA issues Standard Operating Protocol to facilitate movement of persons by train

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) to facilitate the movement of persons by train amid lockdown imposed to contain COVID-19 spread.

SOP:
1. As per the SOP, all the passengers entering the railway station will undergo a compulsory medical screening for COVID-19 infection.
2. Movement of passengers to & fro and entry at the railway station will be permitted only on the confirmed e-ticket.
3. During the travel and at the railway stations, Strict adherence to Health/hygiene protocols and social distancing.
4. All passengers would be provided with hand sanitizer at entry and exit points at the station and in coaches.
5. It will be ensured that all passengers wear face covers and masks at entry and during travel.
6. On arrival at their destination, the traveling passengers should adhere to all the health protocols prescribed by the destination State/ UT.
7. Movement of trains shall be permitted by the Ministry of Railways (MoR), in a graded manner, in consultation with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) and MHA.

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