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CORRESPONDENCE

4. Migratory birds were killed in Miankaleh, 6. http://www.oie.int/wahis_2/temp/reports/ DAU LAL BOHRA


Iran’s Metropolises News Agency, 2020; en_fup_0000029765_20190307_135757.pdf
www.imna.ir/news/410799/ (in Farsi). (accessed on 11 April 2020). Department of Zoology,
5. Adlhoch, C., Brouwer, A., Kuiken. T. and 7. www.ramsar.org/sites/default/files/docu- Seth GB Podar College, Nawalgarh,
Miteva, A., EFSA J., 16, 1831–4732, 40; ments/library/sitelist.pdf (accessed on 11 Jhunjhunu 333 042, India
doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2018.5573 April 2020). e-mail: daulalbohara@yahoo.com

NEWS

‘Accelerate Vigyan’ – Aggregating skill development in S&T


There are several existing capacity build- art knowledge, and well-trained and The ‘Abhyaas’ component will strive
ing programmes supported by various skilled researchers, AV intends to initiate to boost research and technical skill de-
scientific departments as well as premier and strengthen mechanisms of mentor- velopment in the country by enabling
institutions/labs/organizations in the ing, training, skill enhancement, and and grooming potential students by aug-
country, which facilitate students aspir- hands-on workshops, on the national scale. menting their skills in high-end thrust
ing or engaged in R&D through regularly The overarching aim will be to transfer areas across S&T disciplines. It is further
held thousands of nationwide seminars, desired skill sets, useful knowledge, and sub-divided into two programmes: High-
symposia, workshops and other such creation of trained S&T manpower, End Workshops (‘Karyashala’) and
training events. However, there is no col- with three broad goals – consolidation/ Technical Internships (‘Vritika’). These
lective and coordinated platform to ag- aggregation of all scientific training pro- two programmes are especially vital for
gregate these efforts in order to avoid grammes, high-end workshops and creat- those who have limited opportunities to
duplication and consequent redundan- ing opportunities for development of access such learning capacities/facili-
cies. The Science and Engineering Re- research skills. The AV scheme was ties/infrastructure in their own centre of
search Board (SERB) itself, through its launched online on 1 July 2020, marking learning. ‘Karyashala’ is aimed mainly to
existing ‘Seminar/Symposia’ programme the announcement of first call for its var- give support for hands-on experience in
facilitates hundreds of such events by ious programmes through multi-modes learning operations and handling of high-
providing partial grant-in-aid to organize like press release, pan India newspapers, end scientific instruments and other pre-
them. Such funding support and confe- social media platforms, web portals of identified theme-based skills essential to
rence organization are also true for other S&T departments, mass autogenerated become a contributing member of the
departments and ministries. However, emailers, etc. The first call cycle shall be R&D ecosystem. ‘Vritika’ is the call for
the efforts toward capacity building, concluded by 31 August 2020 (refer practice in science through flexible dura-
training programmes, and skill develop- Accelerate Vigyan website http://www. tion research skill development intern-
ment by various ministries/departments acceleratevigyan.gov.in/ for more informa- ships. This capacity building is expected
often remain unnoticed by the intended tion). to be executed at premier institutions
beneficiaries for the want of an aggregat- The scheme Accelerate Vigyan has two with the help of mentors who are willing
ing data base and a well-populated web main components – ‘Skill Development’ to train students in niche tools and tech-
portal. and ‘Bring Together’, being referred in niques.
The ‘Accelerate Vigyan (AV)’ is a Hindi language as अ यास (Abhyaas) As part of this acceleration drive, we
SERB scheme conceptualized to bridge and समूहन (Samoohan). These compo- envisage to organize/aggregate ~1000
this gap. This scheme was conceived nents have been further sub-divided into high-end workshops to provide opportun-
upon the broad recommendations of the two programmes each (Figure 1). ities for ~25,000 postgraduate and
Group of Secretaries (SGO-8), to provide
a big push toward high-end scientific
skill and knowledge development by
preparing capable skilled scientific man-
power which can contribute to the grow-
ing R&D ecosystem of India, get
relevant training in niche S&T domains,
in order to contribute and participate in
knowledge-based Indian economy. This
inter-ministerial initiative of the Gov-
ernment of India would turn out to be an
effective complementary enable for the
‘Skill India’ mission launched five years
ago and is managed by the National Skill
Development Corporation.
Recognizing that modern research
stands on the foundations of state-of-the- Figure 1. Components of Accelerate Vigyan.

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 119, NO. 3, 10 AUGUST 2020 423


NEWS
doctoral students in the next five years, The repository of skilled manpower the enthusiastic researchers who will not
in collaboration with mentors in premier developed across different disciplines only contribute in research ecosystem,
scientific institutions and laboratories. and the final outcomes captured in the but can also aspire to join Start-up India,
Also, central coordination of skill devel- process, through all the sub-components Make-in-India initiatives to exponentially
opment internships will provide opportu- of the Accelerate Vigyan, will be availa- expand expert base and creation of
nity to ~5000 potential postgraduate ble to all stakeholders (students, teach- knowledge-driven economy. This is
students during next five year duration. ers, researchers, science administrators important as we commit our time and re-
The current call for applications invites and policy makers) and help in planning, sources for a better future.
event organizers for the winter season conducting and participating in capacity Toward this end, Accelerate Vigyan
(December 2020–January 2021). building activities in the country. through its planned current and future
Another component, ‘Samoohan’, A bigger challenge is to ensure that outreach and awareness activities also
aims to aggregate and consolidate all interested students are offered the possi- endeavour to reach out to the entire
scientific interactions in the country on a bility of acquiring real skill development length and breadth of this country, and
common platform. ‘Samoohan’ has been with seamless involvement as well as bring the benefits of this scheme to rele-
sub-divided into two programmes: personal commitment of expert faculty/ vant stakeholders in real-time. Future
‘Sayonjika’ and ‘Sangoshti’. Sayonjika is scientists and support from their institu- will also see the launch of SERB-
an integrated, open-ended programme to tions. Thus it is important that the Accelerate Vigyan mobile app, manage-
catalogue all capacity building activities skill/technical workshop organizers ment information system, gamification
in S&T in India supported by various (mentors) have a high level of commit- modules, and much more to make this
government funding agencies. This pro- ment not only as scientists, but also scheme vibrant, user-friendly and easily
gramme is being implemented through an present themselves as defining role mod- accessible.
Inter-Ministerial Overseeing Committee els. At the same time, it is also important Accelerate Vigyan is expected to be a
(IMOC) involving all scientific depart- not to set over-didactic standards. It is game changer for developing R&D
ments/ministries and few other signifi- expected that faculties/scientists who career paths and developing skilled S&T
cant entities such as UGC. Whereas serve as their mentors would get in- manpower for the nation.
Sayonjika aims to encourage skill confe- volved and invest their valuable time as a
rence/workshop organizers to register part of scientific social responsibility.
with the Accelerate Vigyan online portal, The latter is an important and much
utilize its logo and submit completion needed paradigm to diffuse science and Rajeev Kumar Mehajan* and Sandeep
report as well as outcomes, Sangoshti is technology in the country. Verma, Science and Engineering Re-
a minor rebranding of SERB’s pre- The capacity development of such na- search Board, Department of Science and
existing programme ‘Seminar and Sym- ture, specifically on the skills acquired at Technology, New Delhi 110 070, India.
posia’, as brought out earlier. high-end equipment will create a pool of *e-mail: mehajan.rk@nic.in

MEETING REPORT

Prospective applications of artificial intelligence/machine learning


techniques in earth sciences*
Over the last decade, rapid developments technologies in improving the weather the explosive growth of data availability
in artificial intelligence (AI) and forecast generated from numerical in the field of earth sciences. He empha-
machine learning (ML) framework have models. sized the need of extracting scientific
reached a point where these techniques For kicking-off such activities at information from these data, and men-
can be used for solving complex prob- MoES, a three-day meeting on the appli- tioned that computational resources re-
lems and to bring new insights to predic- cation of AI/ML to earth sciences prob- quired for such data analysis are now
tive capabilities. Now it is an opportune lems was conducted. The main aim of the available and AI/ML can offer efficient
time to utilize these concepts in earth meeting was to gather researchers work- techniques to retrieve useful information.
sciences problems such as weather/ ing on AI/ML and scientists from differ- However, one needs to identify specific
climate forecast, climate change, geo- ent areas of earth sciences to exchange areas where these techniques could be
physics and other domains. The Ministry knowledge, and develop innovative ideas used and also the persons/groups who
of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government and strategies to demonstrate a wide can develop AI/ML tool to address such
of India (GoI) is keen to apply these range of open problems utilizing the po- problems.
tential of AI/ML. Thirty-four delegates The delegates shared their opinions
*A report Meeting on the Application of from research organizations, industry and about prospective work that could be
AI/ML to Earth Sciences held at Indian academic institutions participated in this pursued on topics related to earth
Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune dur- meeting. The meeting was inaugurated sciences. Few of these are mentioned
ing 25–27 March 2019. by the Secretary, MoES, who highlighted below.

424 CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 119, NO. 3, 10 AUGUST 2020