Cancellation of contracts to Chinese companies, banning of Chinese apps and now, to give another jolt, the government has started exploring ways and means of making Active Ingredients for Pharmaceuticals (APIs) from coal to reduce import dependence on China.
Chinese mouthpiece Global Times recently took a dig at the country’s heavy dependence on APIs from China. About 80% APIs, which are crucial for making affordable medicines, are imported from China. In its recent article the Chinese publication claimed: “India won’t find a cure for its drug industry if API supplies stop coming from China.
Highly-placed sources have told The Daily Guardian that the government has already started exploring the technology for coal gasification, a process that converts fossil fuel-based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The ash content from this process could be used to develop APIs. It can also be used to make methane and fertilisers. This technology is already in use by several countries.
Recently policymakers held a high-level meeting where non-availability scenario of APIs during Covid-19 for drug manufacturing was discussed. The Ministry of Coal and Coal India Ltd have already conceived gasification projects based on availability of raw coal, land, water and other infrastructure required for such projects.
Last month Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the auction process for 41 coal mining blocks. The Cabinet had also approved a policy on methodology for auction of coal and lignite mines/blocks for sale on revenue sharing basis wherein 20% rebate has been provided in revenue share for coal gasification projects.
Sources said the government initially planned for 100 MT coal gasification projects and is in the process of evaluation a suitable technology to develop pathways for projects with 40% ash content. During the meeting ways and means of indigenisation of technology for coal gasification and manufacturing of the required components were also discussed.
A senior official said there is a need for giving incentives to those who could manufacture components such as compressors, filters, etc, which incur huge costs and therefore, their indigenisation can save cost. Also, there were deliberations on the marketing aspect of the end products and incentivising manufacturers using clean coal cess fund.
Officials are now of the view that coal gasification can create “syngas islands’’ from where it can be directed towards chemical and liquid conversions for various uses. Coal to fertiliser conversation has been given a major push at Talcher Fertiliser Plant and other pilot projects for coal to methanol in technical collaboration at the Jindal Steel Plant in Angul, Odisha.
It is reliably learnt that several efforts are being made in the area of coal gasification by various departments and ministries, including Ministry of Coal, Ministry of New Renewable Energy, Department of Science of Technology, Department of Science and Industrial Research and Institute of Chemical Technology. BHEL, IOC and EIL have also been involved in the process.
A need for nodal agency to coordinate the efforts is being felt. The government is in the process of ear-marking an agency for this process. Once the country evolves the technology and indigenises components required for the manufacturing of API, it would be a major boost to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission. But this may take some time. Till the time India is self-sufficient, alternative import avenues of APIs must be explored.
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REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATIONS
The National Flag is hoisted above the Clock Tower (Ghanta Ghar) on the occasion of the 73rd Republic Day, at Lal Chowk, in Srinagar on Wednesday. ANIIndian Air Force’s Rafale aircraft leading MIG-27, MIG-29 and Sukhoi aircraft in a fly-past above Rajpath during the 73rd Republic Day parade, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIPresident Ram Nath Kovind presents the Ashoka Chakra (Posthumous) to Babu Ram, Assistant Sub-Inspector of J&K Police. The award was received by his wife Reema Rani and son Manik Sharma, at the 73rd Republic Day Celebrations, at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIA dance performance going on during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, in front of Vidhan Sabha, in Lucknow on Wednesday. ANIArtists take a selfie after the conclusion of the 73rd Republic Day Parade, in Jammu on Wednesday. ANIThe Arunachal Pradesh tableau, based on the theme “Anglo-Abor (Adi) Wars” on the Rajpath during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIIndian Army’s Akash missiles on display during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIBorder Security Force (BSF) women Dare Devils perform a stunt during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIParamilitary personnel march during 73rd Republic Day celebrations, in Leh, Ladakh on Wednesday. ANICentral Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel celebrate after winning the first prize for march past at the 73rd Republic Day function, in Patna on Wednesday. ANI
ITA Awards 2021 will be held in March this year: Anu Ranjan
In an exclusive conversation with NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List, Anu Ranjan gave us an insight into her association with ITA.
As the countdown for ITA Awards 2021 begins, Producer Anu Ranjan joined NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Anu Ranjan gave us an insight into ITA, her association with ITA and the preparations for this year’s ceremony, especially amid a Covid scare.
Speaking about her association with ITA 2021 and what has the journey been like, Anu Ranjan said, “This is our 21st year. I started it and I have been there since its inception. It is just that because of what has happened the previous year, we have been running a few months late.
Talking about the inception of ITA awards, she shared, “It was an idea told to me by my friends while we were walking on the beach. They were saying that there are no TV awards and that was in 2000. I used to live in America and I moved to India after I got married. The Emmy’s was something that we had always seen so I said ‘Okay, let me try doing it’. It just so happened that TV started at the same time. All the KBCs and K Series etc all started and ITA was launched the same year.
When asked what has changed in the past 2 years considering the Covid-19 outbreak and the protocols that have been put in place, Anu Ranjan responded, “Last to last year, it was fab. There were 10-15 thousand people. We had it in Indore. It was perfect. Last year, we had to have it a studio. What we did was instead of having a 3-hour live show; we kind of extended it over 2 days. We did one act and let them all go. We had 10 awards with just 30 people and then continued.
On recognising actors who have amazed the audiences in the OTT space in ITA Awards 2021 nominations, she said, “This year, we have got OTT at par with TV. So far, TV was 80% chunk and OTT was 20%. Now, what has happened is that it has become 60-40. TV is still a little heavier. There is a lot happening here and the good thing is that all the artists, more or less, the same. Whether you are doing television, films or web, it is the same people and they are very widely recognised and accepted by all. That has made a very big difference. We started OTT 3 years ago and that time we had 14 show entries. This year, it goes into 100+. Every single network, all 8-10 of the platforms, all actively participating in the ITA awards.”
Amity Mumbai IT students win Hacktoberfest 2021
Six students of Amity University, Mumbai won Hacktoberfest 2021 challenge. Atherva Patil, MD Asshar, Ameya Gawade, Devarsh Bela, Kaustubh Kadu, Yash Sharma, all students of Amity Institute of Information Technology have participated and won the prizes. The Hacktoberfest 2021 Challenge was organised by Digital Ocean, Appwriter, Intel Devmesh and deep source to promote the open source software. Participating in Hacktoberfest leads to personal growth, professional opportunities, and community building. It begins with meaningful and quality contributions to open-source software.
On these achievements of students, Prof. A W Santhosh kumar, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Amity University Mumbai, said that, “The success of the IT Students in Hacktoberfest 2021 competition, is right step to enhance the IT Skills of the students. This participation is not only promoting the open source but also encouraging to the students to contribute into the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The young generation students have wisely selected for the Plantation of the trees, which shows their awareness towards the environment.”
Faculty mentor and Head of the Institution, Dr. Manoj Devare said that, “To have used Innovative Teaching and learning pedagogy of Indirect Gamification to involve the students in the learning of the advanced IT Tools of DevOps. This year, six students have shown their skills in the Hacktoberfest 2021. The competition›s mix of UG and PG students has created a healthy environment. It was interesting to see how the students were helping each other succeed in submitting the PRs. Students have learned from their peers and understanding the Distributed Version Controlling System, forking the repositories, and using Git and GitHub tools made them more confident to make them Industry-ready.”
The GitHub and Git Version Controlling System are important tools for the Team of programmers working on the IT Projects. GitHub is the popular tool among the programming community to submit their daily contributions into the Project Repositories. Similarly, the open-source community is involved in pushing and pulling the program code into the public and private repositories. The Automation of the software development processes in the Development and Operations (DevOps) smoothly handover the completed software modules from the Developer to the Operations Team. In Continuation to this, the Participation of the IT Students in the Hactoberfest 2021 makes them Industry ready, and also contributing into the Sustainability. Participants in Hacktoberfest came from all over the world and represent thousands of unique skills sets in programming and Software project management.
The students have won prizes for the T-Shirts, Stickers, and selected tree plantation to reduce carbon footprints contributing sustainable environment.
All six winners are pursuing their BCA, BSC-IT and MCA programs from Amity Institute of Information Technology. Yash Sharma, student of BCA second year and one of the winner of competition said that, “I have completed Hacktoberfest›21; indeed, it was a great month-long journey got to collaborate on new ideas, projects, and tech stacks, around the world. The best part was its learning curve, networking, adding value, and building this open-source community more strongly. I have made successful contributions to frameworks like React Native, Angular, Python, etc. also was part of an organization like Appwrite.”
BUDDHADEB’S PADMA REJECTION BECOMES A HOT POLITICAL DEBATE
As the list of Padma awardees came out on Tuesday, one of the surprise names among the list of Padma Bhushan winners was former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. However, the veteran communist leader has refused to accept the award. Bhattacharya said he was not aware that he has been named for the Padma Bhushan and that he would reject it if it was true.
“I don’t know anything about a Padma Bhushan award. No one told me anything about it. If they have given me a Padma Bhushan award. I am rejecting it,” he said in a statement.
The news of the former Chief Minister’s Padma-rejection is making rounds in the political circles. The Left camp claims that it is a political stunt of the Center. The Trinamool, on the other hand, claims that the addition of left-wingers is clear in paying homage to Buddhababu. The saffron camp (BJP) has not stopped with this. BJP state president Sukanta Majumder claims that the rejection of Buddhadeb Babu’s award is being politicized.
In the words of the BJP state president, “Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is the former chief minister of the state. Keeping in mind his social and administrative contribution, the central government felt that he should be honoured with the Padma Bhushan. There is no need for politics to reject the award. It’s unwanted.”
On the other hand, Dilip Ghosh commented, “Buddhababu’s rejection of the award is his personal matter. However, the CPM has never maintained that tradition. The communists have always insulted the culture of the country. So not taking the award is also a sign of that insult. ”
The CPM’s rejection of Buddhababu’s award was reported on social media.
CPM’s Facebook handle states, “The CPI(M)’s policy is consistent in rejecting such awards from the state. Our work is for the people, not for rewards.” Everyone mentions another former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu. Bharat Ratna was rejected by Jyoti Basu. Buddhababur refused to walk that path.
On the other hand Trinamool mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’ demands recognition of Buddhababu, recognition of crushing of land movement in general.
The Left is saying that the government which is depriving the people of their democratic rights, will not accept the reward given by that government.
On the other hand, according to the Trinamool Congress, this award has once again exposed the BJP’s secret collusion with the Left.
After the award was announced on Tuesday, Kunal Ghosh made the same demand on behalf of the Trinamool. And on Wednesday, it was said in ‘Jago Bangla’ that the BJP actually said ‘vote of thanks’ to the CPM voters out of respect for Buddhababu.
Speaker-Governor clash takes a new turn in Bengal
On Wednesday, the Speaker of Bengal Assembly said that if the governor expressed his desire to visit the assembly, then the Assembly authorities would look into the reasons for his coming.
On Wednesday, the Speaker of West Bengal assembly Biman Banerjee said that if the West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar expresses his desire to come to the assembly in the future, he would be welcomed. And that is why analysts think that the state-governor conflict in West Bengal has taken a new turn.
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar with state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Red Road, in Kolkata on Wednesday. ANI
The speaker however, said that if the governor himself expressed his desire to come to the assembly, then the assembly authorities would look into the reasons for his coming. Earlier the speaker had said that the governor could no longer come to the assembly on his own.
The argument being made by the assembly authorities is that the manner in which the governor attacked the speaker on January 25 when he came to lay a wreath at the statue of BR Ambedkar is unprecedented. The speaker claimed that the governor’s behavior was totally disrespectful. The speaker remarked that the role played by Jagdeep Dhankhar in the assembly did not suit him, at least as the governor.
Incidentally, standing next to the Speaker on January 25, the Governor remarked that the Legislative Assembly was not abiding by the Constitution.
The Speaker said, “The previous Governor has inaugurated many programs in Bengal. Even then there was press, there was media. He went to the press corner and talked to everyone. But none of them behaved like that. He wanted to come to the assembly himself. We have brought him with dignity. But we did not understand, he will use this platform to make a political statement.”
“I have asked for a CD of his speech. After seeing that, I will decide what to do next. ” The speaker added.
“Let me be clear, if Dhankhar wants to come, he has to provide a reason behind his visit to the assembly. He has some constitutional obligations, for which he has to come there. We have nothing to say. But if he wants to come to the assembly voluntarily, we want to know why he wants to come. ”
Incidentally, the governors have repeatedly clashed with the state administration in the past. Such as Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who was the Governor of Bengal from 2004 to 2009. Or even earlier, Governor Dharambir dismissed the United Front government led by veteran Congress leader Ajay Mukherjee.
But this clash between the Governor and the Speaker is unprecedented. Analysts believe that this instance of attacking the authorities or the speaker while standing in the assembly has not been seen in Bengal before.
In this context, BJP leader Agnimitra Paul said, “The speaker’s statement is very sad. Which is unfortunate enough for this state to have a constitution. The Speaker does not have the power to control the motion of the Governor or to prevent the arrival of the Governor in the Legislative Assembly. It should be understood that the Speaker runs the Vidhan Sabha, it is not his house. “
ANTIBODIES FROM OMICRON EFFECTIVE AGAINST ALL VARIANTS: ICMR
The latest study conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shows that antibodies generated by Omicron, a COVID-19 strain, are not only effective against it but also other variants of concern (VOCs) including Delta.
“The individuals infected with Omicron have significant immune response which could neutralize not only the Omicron but also the other VOCs including most prevalent Delta variant,” a study by ICMR has revealed. “This suggests that the immune response induced by the Omicron could effectively neutralize the Delta variant making the re-infection with Delta less likely, thereby displacing the Delta as dominant strain. This emphasizes the need for the Omicron specific vaccine strategy,” it further said.
In this study, the ICMR has analysed the IgG and neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against B.1, Alpha, Beta, Delta and Omicron variants with the sera of individuals infected with the Omicron variant (B.1.1529 and BA.1) as currently India is facing the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ICMR has said that within a short span of time, the variant has shown high transmissibility and capability of evading the immune response generated against natural infection and vaccination. The immune escape potential of Omicron is a serious concern and further needs to be explored.
The study, where antibodies response was assessed in those who are infected by Omicron, is pre-print. And not peer reviewed.
Although COVID-19 cases are showing a downward trend in the big cities, the ICU admissions and deaths are being driven by patients with comorbidities, people who are immunocompromised, and the aged.
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospital said, “It is comorbidity which is causing ICU admissions. Even before COVID-19, people with comorbidities, extreme age require ICU admission quite a few times with any of the infections. Rather than Omicron causing ICU admissions, it is the comorbidities, because superimposed infection which happens to be Omicron is causing the ICU admission.”
“When numbers are high, deaths actually follow them. Cases have started coming down in metropolitan cities but people actually die a couple of weeks down the line. They become more serious and come up with more complications and start dying. Thus, the discrepancy occurs that when peak has already been seen and cases are reducing each day (especially in Mumbai and Delhi) the deaths have slightly risen and this what happens epidemiologically,” Dr Chatterjee said.
The regular market approval from Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to COVID-19 vaccine Covishield and Covaxin is expected soon, but only after price is fixed, official sources said on Wednesday.
Recently, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), DCGI, Drug regulators and senior officials of the Union Health Ministry conducted a meeting regarding fixing the prices of Covishield and Covaxin, but no final decision has been taken yet.
It is expected that the price of a vaccine will be fixed below Rs 275 per dose and additional service charges of 150 to make both the vaccines affordable for all.
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