BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERs – Warriors of all time

In COVID-19 crisis, the real warriors were the Biomedical Engineers. They played an important role in medical technology in patient care. They involved themselves in making ventilators and PPE (personal protection equipment) kits to help the COVID patients. Biomedical engineers focus on inventing new devices and develop modern technologies which help in improving human health care system. With the help of the doctors and researchers, Biomedical Engineers are developing equipments to solve clinical problems. 

Electing biomedical engineering as métier is extremely rewarding. Biomedical Engineers has the ability to save lives through innovation and modern technology. That’s why experts from Human Resource Department’s planning team suggest that every doctor along with medical studies should be accustomed with biomedical engineering studies. 

Biomedical engineering, also known as medical engineering, is a form of engineering associated with the study in the fields of biology and health care system.  

The following qualities are required for Biomedical Engineers: 

  • Analytical skills 
  • Communication skills  
  • Listening skills 
  • Math skills 

Apart from these skills, they should have idea of all disciplines ranging from material science to electronics, life science to biomechanics and mathematics to computation. Because of these, Biomedical Engineering is completely interdisciplinary in nature and the Biomedical Engineers possess vast knowledge across of all domains.  

Create your future in Augmented Reality, Virtual reality and Mixed Reality

Augmented and virtual reality add a new dimension to technology-enabled teaching and learning. 

Through the use of augmented reality, we have the opportunity to see fragments of virtually inserted visuals, video, music, or GPS data and information superimposed over a view of the real environment. The GPS location on your smartphone is probably the most well-known example of augmented reality. In addition, you can have an experience of augmented reality by using other apps such as: 

  • Froggipedia
  • Augment
  • Jigspace
  • View
  • Quiver

A complete submersion into the world of computer-generated reality is what is meant by the term “virtual reality.” Although it is not always attainable at the moment, the ideal form of virtual reality will comprise the simultaneous stimulation of all five senses, namely sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. However, this is not always the case at the moment. The utilisation of virtual reality simulations can be beneficial to industries such as tourism, shopping, education, healthcare, and Industry 4.0. There are a plethora of virtual reality (VR) products currently available, including: 

  • Oculus Go
  • HTC Vive
  • Virtual Reality for the PlayStation®
  • The Hololens from Microsoft
  • Google Cardboard/daydream view

A combination of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is known as Mixed Reality (MR). Virtual reality (MR) is a technology that combines your vision of the real world with computer-generated or digitally-created images. In addition to this, it makes it easier to anchor and interact with things that have been virtually inserted into the area that you are in. Because MR and AR are now located in such close proximity to one another, this proximity may lead to some confusion. A form of augmented reality that is both more engaging and more interactive is called mixed reality (MR). The items found in Hybrid Reality are more accurate representations of their respective real-world applications. Take for example the Hololens app, which is considered a hybrid or mixed reality. 

Microsoft has designed the Hololens HMD (Head Mounted Display) with advanced sensors that detect your interaction within a mixed environment. It analyses how you interact with the digital data present in your actual view environment. The Hololens is an example of a holographic device used for mixed reality. Other Immersive devices include the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset and the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition. 

Figure: AR image
Figure: AR image

The Hololens is also considered as holographic device. Other Immersive devices include the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset and the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition. These HMDs are opaque and completely block out the outside world. In addition, they use a camera for tracking and surveillance purposes.

Hybrid Reality can be utilized for educational purposes, such as in the fields of mechanics, medicine, Biotechnology etc. It aids in worker assistance by providing clear instructions.

Figure: Mixed reality in Microsoft hololens
Figure: Mixed reality in Microsoft hololens

It interacts appropriately with the real-world scenario and generates superior solutions and practises.

AI and Metaverse: An Important Integration of Technology!

AI and Metaverse have the intention of driving and integrating various virtual transformation technologies. In addition, the future of the Metaverse is a hot issue of discussion among specialists in the field of technology. The Metaverse is a universe of virtual reality that enables user interactions by making use of a wide range of technologies, such as AI, augmented reality, virtual reality, and so on.

In addition, users are able to interact with three-dimensional digital items as well as virtual avatars by making use of a variety of technologies and solutions. AI and the Metaverse collaborate to bring out breakthroughs and advancements that herald the beginning of a new era of reality. Bloomberg predicts that the market for the Metaverse will reach $783.30 billion by the year 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.10 percent. According to the findings obtained by McKinsey, fifty percent of respondents stated that their organisations had already incorporated AI in at least one aspect of company operations. According to a study conducted by Deloitte, forty percent of employees report that their companies have a comprehensive AI strategy. Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), fifth-generation wireless (5G) networks, and blockchain are all expected to work together to create a virtual reality within the Metaverse, which is a primary component of Industry 5.0.

The term “Metaverse” is derived from the combination of two words: “Meta,” which refers to transcendence or virtuality, and “verse,” which is a contraction of the word “Universe.” To put it another way, the Metaverse is a digital reality that, by employing a wide range of technological methods, recreates the conditions of the physical world. In addition to this, it creates a virtual space for users by utilising various technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and so on. In addition to this, it brings together the digital and real worlds in order to provide users with the ability to purchase and sell solutions, produce things, engage with people and locations, and so on. As a consequence, the following is a list of the primary Metaverse levels:

  • Infrastructure: The data centres, central processing units, graphics processing units, cloud computing, and other technologies are used to build the infrastructure and environment of the metaverse.
  • Human Interface: Human Interface also encourages people to interact with the virtual world by utilising cutting-edge technologies in their experience. The experience can be improved, for example, by using mobile phones, smartwatches, smart glasses, and other types of wearable technology.
  • Decentralization: In addition, the Metaverse manages massive data collections, which necessitates the use of a decentralised approach to problem solving. Edge computing, blockchain, microservices, and other similar technologies all offer options for the processing and examination of data.
  • Computing in Three Dimensions: Three-dimensional computing makes it easier to digitalize Metaverse products, services, and solutions. In addition to this, it makes Metaverse interactions and activities much simpler and more effective.
  • The Creator Economy: As the popularity of the Metaverse continues to rise, it drives creators, developers, and service providers to provide improved virtual solutions.
  • Experience: Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and extended reality, as well as other technologies, are used to design the functionalities of the Metaverse in order to offer its users a one-of-a-kind experience.

What role does AI play in the Metaverse?

The purpose of artificial intelligence is to facilitate a wide range of Metaverse functions. In addition to this, it makes it easier for users to access a variety of virtual world environments. In addition to this, it helps users create content and promotes human engagement with other users while also providing support virtually.

Integrations of many types of reality, including augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality, are what AI and the Metaverse are all about. AI also broadens the possibilities of the Metaverse by enabling users and businesses to produce, purchase, and sell a wide variety of products, services, and solutions. This, in turn, creates new opportunities. In addition to this, it would encourage users to work together with both other users and businesses in order to broaden their scope of available prospects.

AI not only enables the virtual world to deploy a variety of services but also enables the Metaverse to do so by combining the virtual world with NLP, computer vision, and neural interface. Because of this, artificial intelligence plays a significant part in the Metaverse, which provides dependability and enhances performance for a more satisfying experience.

In addition to this, the building of translation systems for new AI models and virtual assistants is a necessary step in the process of developing AI for the Metaverse. In order for the Metaverse to be realized, it is necessary for AI to reach its full potential and become reliable in people’s everyday lives. In addition to this, it claims to give pictures, sounds, and sensations that are extremely lifelike.

Are we having safe drinking water?

Water is one of the most precious, integral and important aspects of almost every living organism. About 3% of the water is fresh water. This fresh water does not contain significant levels of dissolved minerals or salt and two third of that is frozen in ice caps and glaciers and is unavailable for human consumption. In total only about 0.5% of the total water of the planet is accessible for consumption[1]. So, we have a very limited amount of usable fresh water. Now one of the basic human needs is clean drinking water. Unfortunately, more than one in six people still lack reliable access to this precious resource in this developing world[2].

India covers for 2.45% of land area and 4% of water resources of the world but represents 17.7% of the world population. If the population increases with the present population growth-rate of 1.9 % per year then the population is expected to cross the mark of 1.5 billion by 2050. According to the Planning Commission, Government of India water demand will increase from 710 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters) which was in 2010 to about 1180 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters) in 2050. Domestic and industrial water usage is expected to increase by 2.5 times. Increase in urbanization in India is putting a drastic stress on civic authorities to provide basic requirement such as safe drinking water, infrastructure and sanitation[2]. Overpopulation is putting a lot of pressure on available water resources, it is increasing the demand for the portable water, which in turn therefore requires exploration of raw water sources, developing treatment and distribution systems[3]. In this era of rapid growth of population, management, maintenance and monitoring of water and its quality becomes a problem. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the water quality should be maintained at its desired level and should be monitored on regular basis so as to provide safe and quality drinking water.

As our concern is to know the quality of water, so we have gathered some reports across India to understand the recent scenario. We found that many Institutions/Organizations such as Maharashtra Public Health Laboratory, PES university, BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards), Union Government, Jal Sansthan, Ministry of Jal Shakti etc. had worked on checking the quality of water. They checked the quality of water under 28 parameters[4].

Number of parameters in which samples are failing [4]

Water Treatment Process

Different communities have different procedures of treating the water. Treatment is on the basis of quality of the source water which enters the treatment plant. Now, the water which enters the treatment plant can be from two areas either surface water or ground water. Treatment and filtration are required more in surface water than ground water. This is because streams, rivers and lakes, contain more sediments like clay, sand, silt, soil particles,chemicals,toxins and germs than ground water[7].

The basic purposes of water treatment plant or water treatment process:

  1. Production of biologically and chemically safe water for human consumption
  2. Production of water should be appealing to the consumers meaning water should be clear, colourless, pleasant to the taste, odourless, cool, none staining, neither corrosive nor scale forming, and reasonably soft.
  3. Production of water should be accomplished using facilities with reasonable capital and operating costs[2].

Unit Operations and Unit Process of Water Treatment Units

Sl. No.

Unit Operations and Unit Process

Principle Applications

1

Collection

Before the treatment, water needs to be collected from various sources such as lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, etc[8].

2

Screening

Screening is the first step in the treatment process that is needed to remove larger items of suspended materials, such as plants, rubbish, large solid chunks of different materials, plastic packets, trees, animals and other debris[8].

3

Micro strainer

It is used to remove plankton &algae from water[2].

4

Aeration

In this process water is supplied with air so as to take up oxygen form air. Aeration helps in making the water less corrosive. it helps in expelling soluble gases such as CO2, H2S and also expels volatile organic compounds. By aeration the taste and odour get improved[9].

5

Mixing

This process provides rapid& uniform distribution of gases and chemicals into the water[2].

6

Pre-oxidation

Ozone,potassium permanganate& chlorine, potassium permanganate acts as oxidizing agents in raw water. They retard the microbiological growth and oxidizes the taste, colour and odour causing compounds[2].

7

Coagulation

Coagulation is the removal of fine particles that are suspended in the water.  Rapid mixing of coagulant (positive charge) is done in this method resulting in neutralization with the negative charged particles. Lastly, fine particles come together to form flocs. Aluminium sulphate, ferric chloride, etc are the coagulants used in this process[9].

8

Flocculation

Flocculation isthe process where water is gently mixed in a flocculation tankto form larger and heavier flocs [7].

9

Sedimentation

For sedimentation process a settling tank is used in which the large flocs that are formed in the previous process will fall because of gravity and settle on the floor of this tank[9].

10

Filtration

Filtration removes dust, parasites, germs, dissolved particles, etc from the water. In this process the clear water that is above the settling tank is passed through filters with different pore sizes and are made up of different materials such as sand, gravel, charcoal, etc., [7]

11

Disinfection

This process is needed to destroy thedisease-causing organisms in water. Disinfection is done by oxidative chemicals such as bromine, chlorine, iodine, ozone &potassium permanganate, and also the ultraviolet radiation helps in disinfection[2].

  1. https://www.usbr.gov/mp/arwec/water-facts-ww-water-sup.html
  2. https://cpcb.nic.in/openpdffile.php?id=UmVwb3J0RmlsZXMvTmV3SXRlbV8xMDNfc3RhdHVzb2Z3YXRlcnF1YWxpdHlwYWNrYWdlLnBkZg==
  3. http://fubini.swarthmore.edu/~ENVS2/dan/Essay4.html
  4. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/only-mumbai-meets-drinking-water-quality-standards/article29992150.ece
  5. https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/69568
  6. https://www.ajol.info/index.php/gjes/article/view/50824#:~:text=The%20WQI%20values%20for%20the,values%20were%20less%20than%2070.
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/public/water_treatment.html

Mathematics in Operations Research and its Career Prospects

Operations research is an experimental and applied science devoted to observing, understanding, and predicting the behaviour of purposeful man-machine systems; and operations-research workers are actively engaged in applying this knowledge to practical problems in business, government, and society. – OR Society of America

Source of figure: https://images.app.goo.gl/gGkCaRsLc99RXPD98

Most of the students in our education system might wonder whether they will ever use the mathematics which they learn from the studied courses. Students frequently asked a core question, such as, is any of the analysis, algebra, calculus, combinatorics, math programming, etc. really going to be of value in our daily life?

One exciting area of applied mathematics called Operations Research (OR) may give the answer of the above question. OR integrates the knowledge of numerous disciplines, like mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering, economics, and social sciences to solve real-world problems. The notion of OR is applied from inventory to manufacturing; finance to marketing; routing to queuing; distribution to scheduling; data storage management to service measurement and reliability to artificial intelligence; agriculture to defence and among others using innovative and mathematical theories (analysis, algebra, calculus, probability, etc).

OR can be defined as the decision-making science. It is also known as Operational Research or Management Science or Industrial Engineering. There is no general process in OR to solve all the mathematical models related to real-world problems. One of the most prominent methods is linear programming which is useful to design a model with linear objective function and constraints. The techniques for solving linear programming problem (LPP) was developed by George Dantzig in the early 1950s and this is led to increasing interest of OR applications in business.

More than Mathematics:

Since the OR models are mathematical nature, people think that an OR study is always rooted in mathematical observations. But an OR technique should not be biased to start with a specific mathematical model before its proper justification of use (H.A.Taha, Operations research; an introduction, Pearson Education).  For an example, since linear programming is a successful process, people tend to use it as the tool of choice for modelling any kind of situations. Such an approach leads to mathematical model which may be take away from real situation. Thus, it is imperative that we first analyse the available data using simple processes whenever possible (e.g., aggregation, histograms, charts, etc.). Actually, most of the cases solutions are rooted in people but not in technology. Consequently, any solution that does not consider human behaviour may not be an appropriate solution.

OR with software library: There are numerous commercial software packages to solve the OR models. A few examples of such software are LINGO, AMPL, CPLEX Optimization Studio, MPL Modeling System, Gurobi. NEOS, COIN-OR, Matlab, R, Mathematica and Python, etc.

Scope of OR: OR has wide range applications in industry, government sectors, business hubs and many other organisations. Some important fields are:

  • In industry-manufacturing (production planning, assembly line, inventory control, quality control), production management (location and size of warehouse, retails outlet, logistics, transportation problem), airline industry, health-care systems, telecommunications, etc.
  • In Agriculture– Farm economics (optimal allocations of crop production, efficient production pattern), farm management (allocations of limited resources like as labour, water supply, working capital, seeds, etc).
  • In Defence-Selection of weapon system against enemy, ensuring minimum use of aviation gasoline, optimal strategy to win the battle.
  • In Marketing-Selection of product-mix, export planning, advertising and media selection, travelling salesman, sales effort allocation and assignment.
  • In Finance and accounting– Investment and portfolio management, public accounting, capital budgeting, financial planning
  • In personnel management– allocation of optimal manpower, determination of equitable salaries, skill development and retention.
  • In Government-Urban and housing problems, military, energy, economic planning, utilization of natural resources.

Job prospects: There are plenty of jobs after completion of specific programme with OR. Few of them are

  • Operations Research Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Research Assistant
  • Consultant
  • Software Engineer
  • Security Review Operations Analyst
  • Production manager
  • Optimal designer
  • Controller of network routing, transportation

Covid-19 impact:

 From the last two years, Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted all our lives, causing havoc to our health-care systems, education sectors, industries and especially economical systems. As with the early days of OR, presently multi-disciplinary and multi-locational teams of OR scientists have responded to the challenge, developing new models and methods for forecasting and tracing the spread of the epidemic, for vaccine allocation and distribution, etc. as part of the global effort to control the pandemic. (Janny Leung, IFORS News, Vol 17, No. 1, 2022).

      Recently, Bueno et al. (Luís Felipe Bueno, Antonio Augusto Chaves , Luiz Leduino Salles-Neto, Francisco Nogueira Calmon Sobral, Horacio Hideki Yanasse, IFORS News, Vol 17, No. 1, 2022) developed a web app for helping managements to plan classrooms considering social distancing by using  mixed-integer and nonlinear optimization approaches.

Why should be in course curriculum:

OR successfully provides a systematic and scientific approach to all kinds of service operations, defence, manufacturing, government. It is a splendid area for under graduate and post graduate students of mathematics to use their knowledge and skills to solve complex real-world problems in creative ways.  It has an impact on them to take critical decisions. Numerous companies in industry require OR analysts to apply mathematical techniques to a wide range of challenging questions in the said domain.

Bureaucracy: Fascination for Power

“Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible.”- Javier Pascual Salcedo 

Bureaucracy in modern India started its journey with the handholding of the British. Since, it’s initial days it is a fascination among Indians both fear and desire. During the British empire used to function through its bureaucratic setup. It connects the metros with the outpost of the empire. After the breakup of the empire, bureaucracy setup has been adopted by the former colonies. 

Bureaucrats are the office holders who serve the executive functions of the government in India. The bureaucrats are responsible for implementing the policies of the government. People working as bureaucrats face lots of challenges in their career too. Also, they enjoy various benefits from the government. Combining these pros and cons, millions of aspirants every year try their luck in respective exams with the hope of getting selected as a bureaucrat. 

The following points enlist the reasons behind the craze among the people for being bureaucrats. 

1) Secure life with a decent salary: In this competitive world, money is the most essential instrument for leading a happy and a peaceful life. The job of a bureaucrat offers a handsome starting salary with high increments along with promotions. The office holders can lead a standard life with their families. This makes the job so attractive among the people. 

2) Facilities: The government provides lots of facilities to the bureaucrats including electricity allowance, travelling allowance, telephone, internet, and so on. They get residential apartments too from the government. All these factors add security to their life and make it smooth. 

3) Attracted by the position: The volume of immense authority and power given to the bureaucrats, make the position very demanding. The bureaucrats are in the charge of complete control over an area allotted to them. They are respected and saluted by the entire population of that area. This image about the bureaucrats is created in the minds of the people who aspire for the jobs. This particular image is passed from one person to another which increases the number of aspirants every year. 

4) Willing to control the policies and administration: The society runs as per the government’s policies and interventions. So, in order to control the good and bad happenings in the society, one has to stay in touch with the respective organs of the government. The civil servants can directly stay in touch with the leaders who frame the policies and run the administration. So, they can directly influence the society through their actions and decisions. The bureaucrats can alter any malpractices rife in the society. People who are willing to take that role have craze for being bureaucrats. 

5) Influenced by the social media. The social media these days play a significant role in generating new civil service aspirants each day. The coaching institutes offering courses for preparation for civil service examinations site examples of some successful aspirants who got selected as bureaucrats. 

They add audio and visual effects to the images and videos of those bureaucrats to charge the viewers for being civil service aspirants. Then they advertise about their coaching institutes and enlist the courses offered and facilities given. All these activities generate new craze among the people for becoming bureaucrats. 

These are some of the major factors that makes people desire to become bureaucrats. Not only this field has positive sides, but also it involves many challenges, the initial challenge being the selection as a bureaucrat. So, one must choose their career option wisely and not get influenced by any external lures from friends, relatives or the people involved in the business with the aspirants. 

Comparative approach and Liberal Arts

The tide of liberal arts is now sweeping the differences between various academic disciplines all across the world demolishing the demarcations between STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and NON-STEM subjects. As a result it is also trying to break the stereotypes that are tagged with this demarcation of disciplines that are automatically getting responded as just constructed and imposed shadow lines. It also reminds us of the days of polymaths who existed in different civilization across the globe in various time periods.

Today we all live in an application based world, where knowledge has to be applied, and to solve this purpose we are all trying to make paths towards the practice of liberal arts in the field of education and India is not an exception in this regard. When we talk about the application of knowledge we must remember that this appliedness of knowledge is only possible if we can take education outside the boundaries of an educational institute.

In the year 1964 Sturart Hall and Richard Hoggart founded the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham with the objectives of taking education outside the university campus and encouraging the students to have a firsthand experience with the community, so that they can develop a better understanding of their respective community as a whole.

In other words this was an important step to implement the idea of Academic Social Responsibility. This new teaching and learning pedagogy once again may help us to bring science and humanities together to give shape to the academicians with the understanding of their responsibilities towards society. This also opens up the possibilities of collaborative curriculum designing, for outreach activities and also accommodates our eternal ‘quest for relevance’ as per the time and space we belong to. This may remind us of the Kenyan author Ngugi Wa Thoing o ‘, who engaged in a protest against Eurocentricism in the field of education while discussing ‘quest for relevance’. In the process he encouraged the academicians across the world to have this quest while designing the curriculum.

Thus from the above discussion it is clear that the current educational scenario is ready to welcome an interdisciplinary approach towards education. We have to remember that comparative literature has long been accommodating this interdisciplinary approach and thus giving the platform to study literatures from across the world in an interdisciplinary manner and thus may play a key role in the development of liberal arts.

Comparative literature encourages the study of literature using a comparative framework. Students under such a frame work are encouraged to study many literatures together. Thus it creates the room to read and to critically engage with the literatures produced in various languages from different parts of the world.

Boundaries of such comparative approach is absolutely fluid, it can thus make teaching learning pedagogy multimodal in nature, further breaking the barriers between various existing disciplines. According to Susan Basnett comparative approach gives us the scope to study texts in relation to one another. Thus, comparative approach is the key to practice liberal arts.  

Singular perspective focuses on a particular issue, whereas a comparative approach gives a broader spectrum of understanding. Comparative approach in a way reproaches the singular independent existence of disciplines. It sees the existence of all disciplines not in an independent fashion but in an interdependent fashion, thus provides a platform for the practice of liberal arts.

Liberal arts thus with a comparative approach makes all barriers fluid. It makes all geo political boundaries and linguistic boundaries blurred in its attempt to connect with everyone. This reminds us of the German author, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Rabindranath Thakur, who also referred to this idea of connectivity among the people across the world through the exercise of a comparative approach.

Liberal arts and comparative literature both widens our spectrum of reading texts. At this juncture we must remember that texts are not only printed books, every incident that happens around us and among us is a text. Liberal arts focus on training its students in reading these texts of which they themselves are a part. This process serves a twofold objective – firstly the students get the opportunity of a firsthand engagement with the society and secondly they go through a reality check regarding their ability to apply the knowledge that they have acquired in their educational institute.

Both liberal arts and comparative literature together investigates and questions whatever is given. Both jointly vehemently discourage a blind belief in anything given. Liberal arts is probably the only sect of knowledge that dares to question the formulation of knowledge itself. Being a part of an institution liberal arts tries to question the process of institutionalization.

Comparative approach helps liberal arts to get a wholesome, inclusive and comprehensive understanding of our society. Connection is the key component of liberal arts.  This connection that we are referring to is the connection of our work and knowledge with the humanity and human concerns.

It is not just the imagination of certain authors but different historical eras have witnessed that whenever knowledge has lost its contact with humanity and human concerns, hell was let loose on mankind, be it the violent process of colonization or be it the transformation of nuclear power into a destructive bomb.

In today’s world we are all connected at different levels, sometimes we realize and sometime we do not. We cannot exist independently anymore. Thus the academic disciplines designed by us too cannot exist and have never existed independently.

The mission of liberal arts is to break science and humanities stereotyped binaries, that are imposed on both, by showcasing the connectivity that has existed between the two since the time immoral, at the same time liberal arts has the objective to connect both the dimension of knowledge systems with the human concerns. Liberal arts with a comparative approach reminds us that human beings with their knowledge need to serve human concerns. 

 

Biomass based biofuel generation future in India

Out of some of the hottest trends that have been on the top lists for quite a while are choosing an entrepreneur as the primary occupation and doing an eco-friendly business.

The need of renewable energy is increasing in the world due to rapidly growing human population, urbanization and huge consumption of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel reserve is very limited, and the reserve is getting depleted day by day. The primary sources of energy that can be used as the alternative of fossil fuels are wind, water, solar and biomass-based energy.

Currently biomass as a feedstock for biofuel production is gaining importance. Biomass energy is supplying about 10-15% of total energy demand of the present world. Biomass feedstocks include organic material such as wood, wood-based energy crops, grass, lignucellulosic materials like wheat straw, rice straw, sugarcane baggase, corn, microalgae, agricultural residues, municipal wastes, forest product wastes, paper, cardboard and food waste. Biomass can be converted into biofuels by thermochemical and biochemical conversion. Based on the types of feedstocks or biomass the biofuels derived are divided into different groups i.e. 1st generation, 2nd generation, 3rd generation. 1st generation biofuels mainly extracted from the food crop-based feedstocks like wheat, barley, sugar and used for biodiesel and by fermentation to produce bioethanol. But first-generation biofuels face the “fuel vs food” debate and also the net energy gain is negative.  1st generation biofuels production systems also have some economic and environmental limitations. To overcome the drawbacks of 1st generation biofuels 2nd generation biofuels have been generated from the non-food crops-based feedstocks like organic wastes, lignocellulosic biomass etc. For biofuel production from these sources rigorous pretreatments are required to make the feedstocks suitable for biodiesel production. This is the major drawback of 2nd generation biofuel production. Then the attention of the world has been shifted towards 3rd generation biofuel production entails “algae-to biofuels”. Microalgae is easy to cultivate, has higher photosynthetic rate and growth rate than other plants and there is no food vs. feed dilemma present of using microalgae as feedstock for biofuel production. Presently the attention is also given towards fourth generation biofuel. The former concept of third generation of biofuel deals with the conversion process itself from the microalgae to biofuel. The fourth generation of biofuel concept deals with development of microalgal biotechnology via metabolic engineering to maximize biofuel yield. Fourth generation biofuel uses genetically modified (GM) algae to enhance biofuel production. In comparison with third generation in which the principal focus is in fact processing an algae biomass to produce biofuel, the main superior properties of the fourth are introducing modified photosynthetic microorganisms which in turn are the consequence of directed metabolic engineering, through which it is possible to continuously produce biofuel in various types of special bioreactors, such as photobioreactors.

Biomass has the highest potential for small scale business development and mass employment. Characterized by low-cost technologies and freely available raw materials, it is still one of the leading sources of primary energy for most countries. With better technology transfer and adaptation to local needs, biomass is not only environmentally benign, but also an economically sound choice. Bio-based energy can be expected to grow at a faster pace in the years to come. 

On the Biomass Energy sector, the India government committed to increasing the share of non-fossils fuel in total capacity to 40% by 2030. India produces about 450-500 million tonnes of biomass per year. Biomass provides 32% of all the primary energy use in the country at present. A total capacity of 10145 MW has been installed in the Biomass Power and Cogeneration Sector. The Installed Capacity of Biomass IPP is 1826 MW together with the Installed Capacity of Bagasse Cogeneration is 7547 MW and the Installed Capacity of Non-Bagasse Cogeneration is 772 MW. 

The eco-friendly business has lots of benefits, by going green with your business you’re promoting the Earth’s safety from potential environmental catastrophe, you support innovation and concomitantly producing green energy.

The Government of India has been constantly bound on increasing the use of clean energy sources. This does increase a better future and at the same time creates employment opportunities too. According to The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), India’s total installed capacity of renewable energy is 90 GW excluding hydropower. Also, it states that 27.41 GW will be added. Renewable Energy in India is a great asset to Energy Contribution, yet India still needs to work a lot in Renewable Energy Sectors.

A LEGAL STUDY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COPYRIGHT LAW IN INDIA

The history of copyright is the tale of how the law has adapted to technical advancements. There have been significant technological advancements since the Rome Convention in 1961 and the final amendment to the Berne Convention in 1971. The introduction of digital technology has repeatedly put a major strain on the copyright regime. The WIPO had established two committees of experts [Committee of Experts on a Possible Protocol to the Berne Convention in September 1991 and the Committee of Experts on a Possible Instrument for Protection of the Rights of Performers and Producers of Phonograms in September 1992] to examine the effects of new technologies on copyright and neighbouring rights. These Committees, after exhaustive discussions, in which India was an active participant, drafted basic proposals for three new treaties, that is-

  1. Treaty for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works;
  2. Treaty for Protection of the Rights of Performers and Producers of Phonograms; and
  3. Treaty on sui-generis protection for Databases.

The Conference adopted two treaties, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. The database treaty was deferred for further study.

Being a WIPO member and a party to the WCT (World Copyright Treaty) and WPPT, India has repeatedly revised its domestic legislation to be in line with international copyright standards. The Copyright (Amendment) Act of 1994 and the Copyright (Amendment) Act of 2012 serve as excellent examples of the sufficient degrees of advancement in Indian copyright laws that have been repeatedly seen.

The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012’s recognition of the performers’ rights under Section 38-A and the recognition of the performers’ moral rights under Section 38-B speak volumes about Indian jurisprudential thought and intellectual development in relation to the related rights in the area of copyrights.

The 50-year protection period offered by Indian law to phonogram performers and producers is in line with worldwide norms; the duration of the protection is not just adequate but also satisfactory. It is also a nice development that the period of protection for broadcasting reproduction rights has been increased from 20 to 25 years in the case of broadcasting organizations.

Since the passage of the Copyright (Amendment) Act in 1994 and the Copyright (Amendment) Act in 2012, India’s Broadcasting Reproduction Rights and Performers’ Rights have advanced significantly. In addition to the general-statutory and other economic rights, India has made a significant advance by focusing on and incorporating the idea of moral rights—that is, rights related to paternity and integrity—into its legal framework.

India is quickly catching up to its necessary credit, as in some countries, performers, phonogram producers, and broadcasters of copyrighted works are protected by copyright alongside authors, while in others, they are protected by neighbouring or related rights because of their role in distributing copyrighted works to the public as consumer goods.

What India is still to realize

  1. New media and technology give right holders new avenues for the distribution and exploitation of their works, especially online works, potentially opening up more chances for direct licensing. Systematic management of digital rights are intended to allow a greater range of terms and conditions for the use of those works while better distributing and protecting the right holder’s investment [however, India awoke to this realization and adopted Sections 65-A and 65-B by virtue of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012]. Increased market adoption of these systems is anticipated to expand consumer choice and availability of copyright works, such as digital software and entertainment products, and to permit price points that reflect the consumer’s actual use rather than an assumption that the consumer will use the product in a variety of formats. All of this must further copyrights as well as copyright-related rights, such as the rights to privacy and publicity.
  2. In the digital networked environment, creators and performers want assurances that their moral rights will be upheld, especially by third parties, and that their creations and performances won’t be unfairly influenced.
  3. Since the WIPO Internet Treaties negotiations began, audio visual performers have been calling for an upgrade to their legal status on a global scale. As a result, India should proactive begin pursuing this goal on a national level. India cannot afford to lose sight of the Rome Convention, which is now incorporated on a global level and seeks to update broadcasters’ rights in response to market changes and technical advancements.

Overall, India appears to be well-equipped to provide the allied-right-holders, such as performers, phonogram producers, and broadcasters, with the necessary protection. It is hoped that India will continue to advance and meet the challenges presented by the wave of digitalized, networked environments ‘head-on’.

THE NANO SCIENCE AND ITS CONTRIBUTION IN TREATING CANCER

Nanoscience involves the study of the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. This molecular level investigation is at a range usually below 100 nm. In simple terms, a nanometer is one billionth of a meter and the properties of materials at this atomic or subatomic level differ significantly from properties of the same materials at larger sizes. Although, the initial properties of nano materials studied were for its physical, mechanical, electrical, magnetic, chemical and biological applications, recently, attention has been geared towards its pharmaceutical application, especially in the area of drug delivery. According to the definition from NNI (National Nanotechnology Initiative), nanoparticles are structures of sizes ranging from 1 to 100 nm in at least one dimension. However, the prefix “nano” is commonly used for particles that are up to several hundred nanometers in size. Nanocarriers with optimized physicochemical and biological properties are taken up by cells more easily than larger molecules, so they can be successfully used as delivery tools for currently available bioactive compounds.

Cell-specific targeting can be achieved by attaching drugs to individually designed carriers. Recent developments in nanotechnology have shown that nanoparticles (structures smaller than 100 nm in at least one dimension) have a great potential as drug carriers. Due to their small sizes, the nanostructures exhibit unique physicochemical and biological properties (e.g., an enhanced reactive area as well as an ability to cross cell and tissue barriers) that make them a favorable material for biomedical applications. It is difficult to use large size materials in drug delivery because of their poor bioavailability, in vivo solubility, stability, intestinal absorption, sustained and targeted delivery, plasma fluctuations, therapeutic effectiveness etc. To overcome these challenges nanodrug delivery have been designed through the development and fabrication of nanostructures. Nanoparticles have the ability to penetrate tissues, and are easily taken up by cells, which allows efficient delivery of drugs to target site of action. Uptake of nanostructures has been reported to be 15–250 times greater than that of microparticles in the 1–10 um range. Nanoparticles can mimic or alter biological processes (e.g., infection, tissue engineering, de novo synthesis, etc. These devices include, but not limited to, functionalized carbon nanotubes, nanofibers, self-assembling polymeric nano constructs, nanomembranes, and nano-sized silicon chips for drug, protein, nucleic acid, or peptide delivery and release, and biosensors and laboratory diagnostics. Various polymers have been used in the design of drug delivery system as they can effectively deliver the drug to a target site and thus increase the therapeutic benefit, while minimizing side effects. The controlled release (CR) of pharmacologically active agents to the specific site of action at the therapeutically optimal rateand dose regimen has been a major goal in designing such devices. The drug is dissolved, entrapped, encapsulated or attached to a NP matrix and depending upon the method of preparation, nanoparticles, nanospheres or nanocapsules can be obtained. Nanocapsules are vesicular systems in which the drug is confined to a cavity surrounded by a unique polymer membrane, while nanospheres are matrix systems in which the drug is physically and uniformly dispersed. Biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles have attracted considerable attention as potential drug delivery devices in view of their applications in the controlled release of drugs, their ability to target particular organs/tissues, as carriers of DNA in gene therapy, and in their ability to deliver proteins, peptides and genes through a per oral route of administration. Recent advances in the application of nanotechnology in medicine, often referred to as nanomedicine, may revolutionize our approach to healthcare. Cancer nanotechnology is a relatively novel interdisciplinary area of comprehensive research that combines the basic sciences, like biology and chemistry, with engineering and medicine. Nanotechnology involves creating and utilizing the constructs of variable chemistry and architecture with dimensions at the nanoscale level comparable to those of biomolecules or biological vesicles in the human body. Operating with sub-molecular interactions, it offers the potential for unique and novel approaches with a broad spectrum of applications in cancer treatment including areas such as diagnostics, therapeutics, and prognostics.

Nanotechnology also opens pathways to developing new and efficient therapeutic approaches to cancer treatment that can overcome numerous barriers posed by the human body compared to conventional approaches. Improvement in chemotherapeutic delivery through enhanced solubility and prolonged retention time has been the focus of research in nanomedicine. The submicroscopic size and flexibility of nanoparticles offer the promise of selective tumor access. Formulated from a variety of substances, nanoparticles are configured to transport myriad substances in a controlled and targeted fashion to malignant cells while minimizing the damage to normal cells. They are designed and developed to take advantage of the morphology and characteristics of a malignant tumor, such as leaky tumor vasculature, specific cell surface antigen expression, and rapid proliferation.

Nanotechnology offers a revolutionary role in both diagnostics (imaging, immune-detection) and treatment (radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, thermotherapy, photodynamic therapy, and anti-angiogenesis). Moreover, nanoparticles may be designed to offer a multifunctional approach operating simultaneously as an effective and efficient anticancer drug as well as an imaging material to evaluate the efficacy of the drug for treatment follow-up. In recent years, nanomedicine has exhibited strong promise and progress in radically changing the approach to cancer detection and treatment.

Crisis Communication in the Post Digitalization Era

Crisis Communication at large has undergone a massive change in the last few decades especially after the introduction of new media and digital technologies. Earlier Corporate India used to have a Public Relations (PR) department which was mainly dedicated to maintaining the image of the organization. This was done using a series of steps including maintaining healthy relationships with people both at the internal level as well as with the audience or the customers at large. This department was also responsible for looking after the crisis communication in case of crisis situations. Now, in the post digitalization era, crisis may arise from Tweets, YouTube Videos or even a song, which has the power to tarnish the reputation of an organization.

There has been a notable instance in the year 2009 where a Canadian singer named Dave Carroll who had posted a song on YouTube based on “United Breaks Guitar” after his guitar was broken while flying through United Airlines. Initially the organization claimed that it was the negligence of the passenger and tried to shrug off the blame but through this song the Carroll made it a point to explain the entire incident. This musical video became popular in no time and gained massive attention of the audience which further influenced them from taking United Airlines flights for a while. The organization had to take many efforts to counter this narrative and thereby deal with this crisis situation to get back their customers, including offering a brand new Taylor guitar to Dave.

Now, this is not just one case rather with the growing popularity of online contents we get to see many such protests coming up almost every week. This is where the major challenge lies in dealing with a crisis scenario which has the potential of getting viral and thereby causing harm to the reputation of the organization.  Here, the key lies in targeting the same medium to build up a counter narrative and reach out to similar audience for managing the crisis situation.  For example, if a false narrative is spreading against an organization through twitter then the organization will have to take up initiatives to ensure that a counter narrative is spread from their end through twitter as well. So, it is not just important to target the crisis through communication but it is also important to use the same channel of communication though which the crisis has been spread.

Earlier organizations used to have draft Press Release ready for situations like any mishap during working hour or financial crisis which the organization may face in future. This used to help them to ensure that this Press Release can be readily spread if there are any such scenarios coming up in the near future. These days the definition of crisis has gone way beyond and all thanks to new media where anyone can literally post anything against an organization. Be it grievances from a customer or any counter narrative strategy used by competitive organization, crisis can come up in any form which was not even predicted before. In this case preparing a Press Release from beforehand will not be possible for any organization due to the vast diversity of crisis situations which may arise in the digital age. Hence, this is where using the same medium of communication can actually help any organization to target the same audience who has perhaps come across the information causing crisis in real time.

Strategic Communication management is playing a key role where dynamic crisis management is actually possible according to the book “How to Communicate Strategically in Corporate World”. The book states that communication has become an integral part of the strategies designed by an organization where a Chief Communications Officer often presides over the developments taking place in crisis management and other related strategic communication. Factors like personal touch and empathy are the key players in crisis communication where it is not just restricted to Press Release rather the organizations use strategies for communicating with people.

Sometimes, incidents like a flight crash can also come up as a crisis where communication becomes the major factor using which it can be managed. In one such incident during a flight crash of Air Asia, the organization had a strong hold of the situation and handled it so well that it had further lead to a positive publicity of the organization. This was possible due to the use of personal touch and empathy from the end of the organization during crisis communication. In this case the Tweets done by the spokes person Tony Fernandez who had profusely apologized for the plane crash and expressed that the organization takes over all the charges of the accident. This acted as a turning point where the audience could understand that the organization had genuine emotions towards the family members of the injured and deceased person. It became an eye opener for many other organizations that later came up with similar strategies to deal with crisis. Having empathy in communication helps to ensure that it is not the organization v/s the customers or the audience rather there is a blend between the organization and the audience. It further helps to persuade the audience ensuring that the organization is with them and not against them, making this one of the best practices in crisis communication.

Crisis communication has undergone a huge change over the course of time and now the use of only Press Release is not sufficient for crisis communication. The preference for medium of communication among the audience has changed, the lifestyle of the audience has changed and so do the nature of strategic communication but what has still remained same is the emotion. Hence, it is through personal touch and empathy that a crisis situation can be better handled and it should be reflected through crisis communication.

Prof (Dr) Mahul Brahma (PhD, DLitt) is a Professor and Dean of School of Media and Communications, Adamas University and a Fellow of School of Art, Film and Media, Bath Spa University, UK. He is an author and TEDx speaker. His latest book The Mythic Value of Luxury has won Sahityakosh Samman recently. His first short film was screened at Cannes Film Festival.