• Current Affairs, 8 May 2020



    • The lockdown has generated several webinars on justice delivery, technology and the future. The discussions focus on the way forward in tackling the problem of social distancingwith lawyers and litigants crowding the courts even after the lockdown is lifted.
    • There are three kinds of courts in our justice delivery system. First, conventional courts located in court complexes where judges, lawyers and litigants are physically present. Second, online courts where the judge is physically present in the courtroom but the lawyer or litigant is not. This is the present arrangement, except that now the courtroom is the residential office of the judge, due to the lockdown. Third, virtual courts where there is no judge, lawyer or litigant and a computer takes a decision based on the inputs of the litigant.
    • About 15 years ago, Delhi initiated a pilot project with Tihar Jail for dealing with routine remand cases of prisoners. The procedure postulated prisoners being produced in court, not physically but through video conferencing (VC), hence an online court. The pilot project started tentatively with some hiccups but proved to be a success and now several courts have adopted the online process with varying degrees of commitment.
    • A few intrepid district judges have taken a step forward and recorded the statement of parties in cases of divorce by mutual consent. As of now, several such cases, including those involving NRIs, are dealt with through VC in online courts. Punjab and Haryana judges have gone even further ahead. The online courts record the expert evidence of doctors from PGIMER through VC. This has freed the doctors from time consuming trips to the courts and has resulted in savings of several crores for the exchequer. Similar success stories are available from other district courts, but a determined and concerted effort is necessary to popularise online courts at the district level.
    • Some high court judges in Delhi and Punjab and Haryana have completely dispensed with paper — everything is on a soft copy, through e-Filing and scanned documents. Lawyers and judges have made necessary adjustments to the new regime and the cases are conveniently heard and decided in “paperless courts”. A few other high courts initiated similar steps, but have yet to institutionalise “paperless courts”.
    • Online courts have not caught on in the absence of any compelling need to do so. The lockdown has provided that opportunity, which should be seized. The present ongoing “experiment” has, however, indicated that the major problem with online courts is unfamiliarity with the medium of communication. Judges are simply not used to consciously facing a camera generally and in particular while hearing a case.
    • Similarly, lawyers find it difficult to comfortably argue while seated. Body language, facial expressions, the tone and tenor, both of the judge and the lawyer, make for important signals and clues which cannot be captured in VC. However, these and additional skills can be developed and fine-tuned, but not overnight. Online courts introduce a paradigm that the system is today not fully prepared for, but can certainly get ready for in due course.
    • Some technical problems in conducting online hearings have also surfaced. The bandwidth is not adequate or stable enough. The picture sometimes breaks or gets frozen and the voice often cracks.
    • Ironically, in the hearing relating to restoration of 4G in Jammu and Kashmir, the link suddenly snapped. Consultations are also a problem. Lawyers occasionally need to consult their client or the instructing advocate; judges also need to consult each other during a hearing. Attention needs to be paid to these real-time issues otherwise lawyers will harbour misgivings about a fair hearing.
    • The chairman of the Bar Council of India has voiced a concern that 90 per cent of the lawyers are not computer literate or tech savvy. Law and jurisprudence are not static but mirror societal needs and often shape them. Therefore, the Bar Councils and Bar Associations must stretch every nerve to educate the district and taluka lawyers on the advantages of accepting technology. It’s a long haul for sure and the task cannot be completed in a day or so — it might take a year, but a beginning has to be made now.
    • A virtual court is a unique contribution of the eCourts Project. A pilot virtual court was launched in August 2018 in Delhi for traffic offences and it has been a great success. Virtual courts have been successfully tried out in Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. A virtual court is a simple programme through which a person can find out if a challan has been issued to him or her through a search facility. If a challan has been issued, the details are available online and the person may plead guilty or not guilty. On a guilty plea, the minimum fine is imposed and on a not-guilty plea, the case is electronically transferred to the traffic court for trial. At the end of the day, a judge reviews the cases and disposes of them electronically depending on the option exercised. One judge is all it takes to manage the virtual court for Delhi or an entire state. With the launch of virtual courts, the daily footfalls to the courts have drastically reduced and thousands have pleaded guilty and paid the fine electronically.
    • The virtual court system has the potential of being upscaled and other petty offences attracting a fine such as delayed payments of local taxes or compoundable offences can also be dealt with by virtual courts. This will ease the burden on conventional courts and therefore must be strongly encouraged.
    • Post lockdown, justice delivery will certainly undergo a transformation and judges, lawyers and litigants will need to adapt to the new normal. Social distancing is here to stay and will bring about profound changes in the way justice is administered and delivered. Open courts will remain as also open justice, but some definitions will change with a more aggressive use of technology, not only in conventional but also online and virtual courts. Several countries and courts have made adjustments not only for the period of the pandemicor lockdown, but also for the future. We should certainly not be left behind but must also make a roadmap to meet the challenge. As the Boy Scouts say: Be prepared.




    • The disastrous leak of a toxic chemicalthat has killed several people and left hundreds sick near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh comes as a shock to a nation struggling to cope with a prolonged lockdown. Residents of habitations around Gopalapatnam, close to the site where the LG Polymers plant is located, passed out as the hazardous styrene vapour swept through the area at night. Several deaths took place as people tried to flee, and the chemical rendered them unconscious. There are horrific stories of people falling from buildings, or into wells and ditches as they lost consciousness. They have become the first victims of the exit from the lockdown, when industrial units were allowed to resume their operations. Styrene, the chemical involved in the disaster-struck plant that produces polystyrene products, is included in the schedule of the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989. The rules lay down strict norms on how it should be handled and stored. Although it will take an inquiry to establish what caused the incident, the company and the State government knew that the chemical was hazardous, characterised by poor stability under a variety of conditions that could even lead to explosive situations. It is also reasonable to assume that the safety mechanism built into the storage structures of something so hazardous was either faulty or allowed to be overridden. Was the reopening work at the factory left to unskilled people, as some city officials have said? These aspects must be probed in the inquiry to fix accountability.
    • The Andhra Pradesh government must focus immediately on the medical needs of those who have been grievously affected by the gas leak, which has inevitably led to comparisons with the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster. As a harmful chemical, styrene could have chronic effects beyond the immediate symptoms. International safety literature cites it as a substance that may cause cancer; there is thus no safe limit for exposure to it. Solatium payments and compensation for the victims and families are important, but so is access to the highest quality of health care for the victims. What happened in Gopalapatnam is also a warning for industries across India. Although some may see the incident as a consequence of the lockdown, the States have the authority under the Central government’s orders to exempt process industries. It needs no special emphasis that safety of industrial chemicals requires continuous watch, with no scope for waivers. As India aims for a wider manufacturing base, it needs to strengthen its approach to public and occupational safety. Transparent oversight is not a hurdle to industrial growth. It advances sustainable development by eliminating terrible mistakes.




    • World Water Day was observed more online than in-person this year on March 22, given the guidelines notified by the WHO in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, yet its broader aim remained constant: to raise awareness on the importance of freshwater and advocate for its sustainable management.
    • More than any previous year, there was a recognition of the importance of water in handwashing and personal hygiene practices, an action that is as important as social distancing and nationwide lockdowns in breaking the circuit of coronavirus transmission.
    • The choice of theme for the event this year, “Water and Climate Change” reflected the desire of policymakers to address the impact of climate change on the water sector. Water is the primary medium through which climate change impacts trickle down to the community and individual levels, primarily through reduced predictability of water availability.
    • More broadly, climate change and water are inextricably linked. Growing populations and their demand for water increases the need for energy-intensive water pumping, transportation, and treatment. It contributes to the degradation of critical water-dependent carbon sinks such as peatlands. Due to climate change, water cycles experience significant change, which reflects in water availability and quality. A warmer climate causes more water to evaporate from both land and oceans; in turn, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, roughly 4% more water for every 1ºF rise in temperature.
    • These changes are expected to lead to negative consequences in the water sector, with increased precipitation and run-off (flooding) in certain areas and less precipitation and longer and more severe scarcity of water (droughts) in other areas. Hence, wet areas are expected to become wetter and dry areas drier. This influences almost all aspects of the economy including drinking water, sanitation, health, food production, energy generation, industrial manufacturing, and environmental sustainability and ultimately the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In coastal areas when more freshwater is removed from rivers and aquifers, saltwater will move farther upstream into the river mouth and the aquifer, which will put pressure on the limited freshwater available on the coast, forcing water managers to seek costly alternatives like desalination plants.
    • Water is a common pool natural resource that sustains ecosystems, biodiversity, food security, economies, and society; hence, its judicious use with balancing multiple water needs is significant. In developing countries like India, a large population depends on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture, fisheries and forestry for its livelihoods. We cannot afford to let climate change-induced hydrological challenges overtake us.
    • India has come up with climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies and appropriate policy measures. The government is implementing the ‘National Action Plan on Climate Change’ through eight National Missions, including the Water Mission. However, effective policies need the support of the local governments, corporates and NGOs.
    • Water resources planning must be given due consideration while dealing with climate impacts. As tanks and ponds can store and recharge the excess rainwater to the aquifer, their rejuvenation (desilting) facilitates flood and drought management. We need to revisit our rich tradition and culture of water wisdom in water resources management. More public awareness on the need for climate-resilient actions, including protecting carbon sinks like oceans, wetlands, peatlands, and mangroves, adopting climate-smart agricultural techniques, rainwater harvesting, waste-water reuse, and judicious use of water, should be generated and inculcated in each citizen.




    • Recently, a gas leak has affected five villages in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
    • The source of the gas leak was a styrene plant owned by South Korean electronics giant LG located in the area.
    • The possible reason for gas leak is stagnation and changes in temperature inside the storage tank that could have resulted in auto polymerization (chemical reaction) and vaporisation of the styrene.


    • Description:
      • Styrene is an organic compoundwith the formula C8H8.
      • It is a derivative of benzene (C6H6).
      • It is stored in factories as a liquid, but evaporates easily, and has to be kept at temperatures under 20°C.
    • Sources:
      • Styrene is found in vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke, and in natural foods like fruits and vegetables.
    • Uses:
      • It is a flammable liquid that is used in the manufacturing of polystyrene plastics, fiberglass, rubber, and latex.
    • Risk of Exposure:
      • Short Term Exposure:It can result in respiratory problems, irritation in the eyes, irritation in the mucous membrane, and gastrointestinal issues.
      • Long-Term Exposure:It could drastically affect the central nervous system and lead to other related problems like peripheral neuropathy. It could also lead to cancer and depression in some cases.
        • However, there is no sufficient evidence of an association between styrene exposure and an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma.

    State of Chemical Disaster Risk in India

    • According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in the recent past, over 130 significant chemical accidents have been reported in the country.
    • Further, there are thousands of registered hazardous factories and unorganised sectors dealing with numerous ranges of hazardous material posing serious and complex levels of disaster risks.
    • There are over 1861 Major Accident Hazard (MAH) unitsspread across 301 districts and 25 states and three Union Territories in all zones of the country.
      • The Major Accident is defined as an incident involving loss of life inside or outside the site or ten or more injuries.
      • Further it also involves the release of toxic chemical or explosion or fire of spillage of hazardous chemical resulting in ‘on-site’ or ‘off-site’ emergencies leading to adverse effects to the environment.

    Laws to Protect Against Chemical Disasters in India

    • Laws Before and During Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1984):
      • At the time of the Bhopal gas tragedy, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was the onlyrelevant law specifying criminal liability for such incidents.
    • Laws After Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1984):
      • Bhopal Gas Leak (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985 :It gives powers to the central government to secure the claims arising out of or connected with the Bhopal gas tragedy.
        • Under the provisions of this Act, such claims are dealt with speedily and equitably.
      • The Environment Protection Act, 1986:It gives powers to the central government to undertake measures for improving the environment and set standards and inspect industrial units.
      • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991:It is an insurance meant to provide relief to persons affected by accidents that occur while handling hazardous substances.
      • The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997:Under this Act, the National Environment Appellate Authority can hear appeals regarding the restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
      • National Green Tribunal, 2010:It provided for the establishment of the National Green Tribunal for effective and expeditious disposal of cases related to environmental protection and conservation of forests.
        • According to PRS legislative, any incident similar to the Bhopal gas tragedy will be tried in the National Green Tribunal and most likely under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
        • If an offence is committed by a company then every person directly in charge and responsible will be deemed guilty, unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such an offence.



    • Amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, an increasing number of states that include Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat have pushed through changes to their labour laws by way of ordinances or executive orders.
    • Since labour is a concurrent subject under the Constitution of India, states can frame their own laws but need the approval of the Central government.

    Important  Points

    • The Uttar Pradesh government has approved an Ordinance exempting businesses from the purview of all the labour lawsexcept few for the next three years.
    • The labour laws related to settling industrial disputes, occupational safety, health and working conditions of workers, and those related to trade unions, contract workers, and migrant labourers will become defunct.
    • However, laws related to bonded labour, deployment of women and children and timely payment of salaries will not be relaxed.
    • The changes in the labour laws will apply to boththe existing businesses and the new factories being set up in the state.
    • Similarly, the Madhya Pradesh government has also suspended many labour lawsfor the next 1000 days. Few important amendments are:
    • Employers can increase working hours in factoriesfrom 8 to 12 hours and are also allowed up to 72 hours a week in overtime, subject to the will of employees.
    • The factory registration now will be done in a day,instead of 30 days. And the licence should be renewed after 10 years, instead of a year. There is also the provision of penalty on officials not complying with the deadline.
    • Industrial Units will be exempted from majority of the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
    • Organisations will be able to keep workers in service at their convenience.
    • The Labour Department or the labour court will not interfere in the action taken by industries.
    • Contractors employing less than 50 workers will be able to work without registration under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.
    • Major relaxationsto new industrial units are:
    • Exempted from provisions on ‘right of workers’,which includes obtaining details of their health and safety at work, to get a better work environment which include drinking water, ventilation, crèches, weekly holidays and interval of rest, etc.
    • Exempted from the requirement of keeping registers and inspections and can change shifts at their convenience.
    • Employers are exempt from penalties in case of violation of labour laws.

    Rationale Behind the Changes in Labour Laws

    • States have begun easing labour laws to attract investment and encourage industrial activity.
    • To protect the existing employment, and to provide employment to workers who have migrated back to their respective states.
    • Bring about transparency in the administrative procedures and convert the challenges of a distressed economy into opportunities.
    • To increase the revenue of states which have fallen due to closure of industrial units during Covid-19 lockdown.
    • Labour reform has been a demand of Industries for a long time. The changes became necessary as investors were stuck in a web of laws and red-tapism.

    Issues Involved

    • The labour law changes will allow more factories to operate without following safety and health norms and give a free hand to new companies to “keep labourers in service as per their convenience”.
    • Denying the rights of workers is a violation of human and fundamental rights.
    • It may create insecurity among the workers.
    • The changes may lead to desperate conditions for workers.



    • Recently, a group of astrophysicists have found that the closest known brown dwarf, Luhman 16Awhich shows signs of cloud bands similar to those seen on Jupiter and Saturn.
    • They used the technique of polarimetry to determine the properties of atmospheric clouds outside of the solar system.


    • The concept of polarimetry technique was put forth by Indian astrophysicist Sujan Sengupta, that the light emitted by a cloudy brown dwarf, or reflected off an extrasolar planet, will be polarised.
    • Polarimetry is the study of polarization. Polarization is a property of light that represents the direction that the light wave oscillates.
    • When light is reflected off of particles it can favor a certain angle of polarization. By measuring the preferred polarization of lightfrom a distant system, astronomers can deduce the presence of clouds.
      • However, in case of Luhman 16A, the researchers have found the actual structure of the clouds (not only their presence).
    • The polarimetry technique isn’t limited to brown dwarfs. It can also be applied to exoplanets orbiting distant stars, or even stars. However, light from brown dwarfs is ideal for the study.

    ·         Luhman 16

    • Luhman 16Ais part of a binary system (Luhman 16) containing a second brown dwarf, Luhman 16B. This pair of brown dwarfs Luhman 16A and Luhman 16B orbit each other.
    • It is situated at a distance of about5 light yearsfrom the Sun and the third closest system to the Sun after Alpha Centauri and Barnard’s star.
    • Despite the fact that Luhman 16A and 16B have similar masses and temperatures and presumably formed at the same time,they show markedly different weather.
    • Luhman 16B shows no sign of stationary cloud bands,instead showing evidence of more irregular, patchy clouds.
    • Luhman 16B, therefore, has noticeable brightness variationsas a result of its cloudy features, unlike Luhman 16A which has less brightness variation due to a band of clouds.
    • Understanding the cloud system over a brown dwarfcan shed light on the pressure, temperature and climate on the surface of the celestial body.

    Brown Dwarfs

    • Brown dwarfs are also called failed stars,because their masses are heavier than planets but lighter than stars.
    • Due to their small masses, they are unable to sustain fusion of their hydrogento produce energy.
    • It is believed that some of the more massive brown dwarfs fuse deuterium or lithium and glow faintly.

    Binary Stars System

    • Binary stars are two stars orbiting a common center of mass.
    • The brighter star is officially classified as the primary star, while the dimmer of the two is the secondary star. In cases where the stars are of equal brightness, the designation given by the discoverer is respected.
    • They are very important in astrophysics because calculations of their orbits allow the masses of their component stars to be directly determined, which in turn allows other stellar parameters, such as radius and density, to be indirectly estimated.



    • Scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology(WIHG), Dehradun have found a seasonal advancement in 220 surging or surge-type glaciers in the Karakoram Range of Ladakh.
    • WIHG is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

    Important Points

    • Surging or Surge-type glaciers are a certain type of glaciers that have shown advancement in volume and lengthover a period of time.
    • Such glaciers go against the normal trend of considerable reduction in volume and lengthof most glaciers in the Himalaya in recent decades.
    • Surging glaciers represent 40%of the total glaciated area of the Karakoram range.
    • Surging glaciers do not flow at a constant speed,rather are subjected to cyclical flow instabilities.
    • The oscillation of such glaciers have been broadly classified into two phases:
    • Active (Surge) Phase-brief (months to years) rapid flow.
    • Quiescent Phase-lengthy (tens to hundreds of years) slow flow or stagnation.
    • It was inferred thatsurge during winter is more controlled because there is low amount of meltwater which flows unsteadily underneath the glaciers.
    • The surging stops in summerbecause of the channelised flow of the melted water.

    Significance of Studying Surging Glaciers

    • Surging glaciers can lead to the destructionof villages, roads and bridges.
    • They can also advance across a river valleyand form an ice-dammed lake. These lakes can form catastrophic outburst floods.
    • Therefore, monitoringof glacier surges, ice-dammed lake formation and drainage is of paramount importance.


    • Masses of ice moving as sheetsover the land (continental glacier or piedmont glacier if a vast sheet of ice is spread over the plains at the foot of mountains) or as linear flows down the slopes of mountains in broad trough-like valleys (mountain and valley glaciers) are called
    • Themovement of glaciers is slow unlike water flow ranging from a few centimetres to a few meters per day. Glaciers move basically because of the force of gravity.
    • Erosionby glaciers is tremendous because of friction caused by sheer weight of the ice.
    • The material plucked from the land by glaciers (usually large-sized angular blocks and fragments) get dragged along the floors or sides of the valleys and cause great damage through abrasion and plucking.
    • Glaciers can cause significant damage to even un-weathered rocksand can reduce high mountains into low hills and plains.
    • As glaciers continue to move, debris gets removed, divides get loweredand eventually the slope is reduced to such an extent that glaciers stop moving, leaving only a mass of low hills and vast outwash plains along with other depositional features.




    • The Oxford University has created a Stringency Indexwhich shows how strict a country’s measures were and at what stage of the Covid-19 spread, it enforced these.
    • India enforced one of the strongest lockdowns at an early phase of case growth.

    Stringency Index

    • The Government Response Stringency Index is a composite measure based on various response indicators including school and workplace closures, stay-at-home policies and travel bans, rescaled to a value from 0 to 100.
    • A higher index score indicates a higher level of stringency (100 = strictest response).
    • It is among the metrics used by the Oxford Coronavirus Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT).
    • The Tracker has a team of 100 Oxford community members who update a database of 17 indicators of government response.

    Important Points

    • The Index has found that India has one of the strongest lockdown measures in the world, at a 100 scoresince 22nd March, when the nationwide lockdown was first imposed.
    • It was slightly relaxedon 20th April after the government eased norms for certain workplaces in regions outside the red zones (zones with increasing rate of active cases).
    • Other countries with a 100 score are Honduras, Argentina, Jordan, Libya, Sri Lanka, Serbia and Rwanda.
    • Death Curve and Stringency Score:
    • The Index also provides an overlay of countries’ death curve and their stringency score.
    • Eighteen countries werecompared for the highest death count at the strongest measures.
    • Italy, Spain or France saw their deaths just begin to flatten as they reached their highest stringency
    • China’s death curve saw a little or no change after it put stronger measures.
    • In the UK, the US and India, the death curve has not flattened even after imposition of the strictest measures.
    • India’s Comparison:
    • India called itsstrict lockdown at a much earlier point on its case and death curves when compared to other countries with similar or higher case load.
    • While imposing lockdown, India had around 320 cases while others had more than 500 cases.
    • By 22ndMarch, India saw only 4 deaths while others saw more deaths.
    • Spain called for its strictest measures later in its case and death count than all others.
    • Swedenhas had the most liberal measures in this set and Iran the second most liberal.
    • Response on WHO’s Recommendations
    • The researchers also examined if countries meet four of the six World Health Organization’s(WHO) recommendations for relaxing physical distancing measures. The four of them are:
    • Control transmission to a level the healthcare system can manage.
    • The healthcare system can detect and isolate all cases (not just serious ones).
    • Manage transfer to and from high-risk transmission zones.
    • Community engagement.
    • It was found that no countries meet the four measured recommendations,but 20 are close.
    • India scored 0.7(below Australia, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea) because it scored 0 for controlling its cases.
    • The highest scorerson this index, at 9, were Iceland, Hong Kong, Croatia and Trinidad & Tobago.



    Recently, the Ministry of Human Resources and Development has carried out various amendments in the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Scheme to boost research in the country.

    Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) Scheme

    • In order to attract meritorious students into research, Government of India, in 2018 launched Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme, which offers direct admission to such students in the Ph.D programmes in various higher educational institutions in the country.
    • The scheme is aimed at attracting the talent pool of the country to doctoral (Ph.D.) programmes for carrying out research in cutting edge science and technology domains, with focus on national priorities.
    • The institutes which can offer PMRF include all the IITs, IISERs, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and some of the top Central Universities/NITs that offer science and/or technology degrees.
    • A fellowship of Rs.70,000/- per month for the first two years, Rs.75,000/- per month for the 3rd year, and Rs.80,000/- per month in the 4th and 5th year is provided under the scheme.
    • Apart from this, a research grant of Rs. 2 lakh per year is provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to cover their academic contingency expenses and for foreign/national travel expenses.

    Important Amendments

    • Now, students from any recognized university can apply for the fellowship.
    • Earlier the fellowship scheme was open only for students from Central Universities, IITs, IISc, NITs, IISERs, IIEST and IIITs.
    • The requirement of GATE score has also been reduced from 750 to 600.
    • As per new guidelines there will betwo channels of entries i.e direct entry and lateral entry.
    • In lateral entry, the students, who are pursuing PhD in PMRF granting institutions,and have completed 12 months or 24 months as per certain requirements, can also apply to become fellow under the scheme.
    • National Institute of Technologies (NITs) which appear in top 25 institutions in the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking can also become PMRF Granting institution.
    • To boost research a dedicated Division is being createdin the MHRD with the name of “Research and Innovation Division”.
    • This division will be headed by a director who will be coordinating research work of various institutions coming under MHRD.



    • Recently, scientists from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research(JNCASR) have fabricated a wafer-scale photodetector (thin slice-based) device, using gold-silicon interface.
    • JNCASR is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

    Important Points

    • The scientists have fabricatedgold (Au)-silicon (n-Si) interface, which shows high sensitivity towards light demonstrating the photodetection
    • The Au-Si interface was brought about by galvanic deposition(a technique for electroplating of metals) wherein water-based solutions (electrolytes) are used, which contain the metals to be deposited as ions.
    • nanostructured Au filmwas deposited on top of p-type silicide (compound that has silicon with more electropositive elements), which acts as a charge collector.
    • The metal nanostructures enhance the performanceof the fabricated detector through trapping the incoming light.
    • The detector exhibits arapid response of 40 microseconds and can detect low light intensities.
    • The device covers a broad spectral rangefrom Ultraviolet to Infrared and shows excellent uniformity throughout the entire active area with less than 5% variation in response.
    • Photodetectors:
    • These are an important part of an optoelectroniccircuit that can detect light.
    • These are employed for a wide variety ofapplications like:
    • Controlling automatic lighting in supermarkets.
    • Detecting radiation from the outer galaxy.
    • Being used in security-related applications.
    • However, due to high material costand the intricate fabrication processes, photodetectors become unaffordable for daily applications.

    Advantages of Au-Si interface Photodetector

    • Quick & Simple: The process of fabricating a detector takes only a few minutes, making it a quick and simple process.
    • Cost-effective: Being a solution-based technique, the method is highly economical and enables large-area fabrication without compromising the detector response.
    • Highly Capable: The device can help detect weak scattered light as an indication of unwanted activity.
    • Energy Efficient: The detector operates in self-powered mode, which means the device does not require external power for its operation.
    • Environmentally Stable: With a commonly available protective coating, the device shows a long-term environmental stability, under harsh conditions.
    • Multiple Usage: It can also be used as a prototype imaging system, lux and power meter and as a tool for security applications.


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