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India to benefit more if it jumps into fourth Industrial Revolution

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Economy of India

BY Anil K Rajvanshi

World Economic Forum concluded in Davos last month had Fourth Industrial Revolution as the major talking point. With FIR, already in action in many advanced economies, there are fears that it will create huge unemployment.

The Davos meeting was meant to discuss and allay these fears. I feel FIR for developing countries can, in fact, produce more employment and benefits.

What is FIR?

Our societies are characterised by various industrial revolutions. The first revolution started in the late 1700s when muscle power was replaced by steam – mostly produced by coal.

The second one, which can be traced to the early 1900s, was driven by electricity and characterised by big machines and assembly line manufacturing. The third, which began in the early 1960s was based on computers, information technology (IT), electronics and automated production.

The present revolution is characterised by the internet of things (IOT) — 24/7 connectivity, rapid communication, miniaturisation of design and 3D printing which allows for manufacturing and production of goods wherever they are needed. I feel that IOT and 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) have the capability of allowing countries like India to leapfrog into the FIR.

India is already a decentralised society where more than 60 percent of its population lives in rural areas and lacks the basic amenities of life. They live in one-room huts with nearly non-existent electricity; cook on primitive biomass stoves that produce tremendous indoor pollution, and lack potable water and toilet facilities.

Their lives can be improved drastically by providing livelihood opportunities and amenities for households powered by FIR.

Around 80 percent of the rural population is involved in the farming sector. At present, farming is non-remunerative and needs to be completely overhauled to make it attractive.

Thus, for increasing income for rural households, I foresee the use of high-tech precision farming which could either be land-based or container-based. In container farming, all the inputs of farming are applied in an efficient way in enclosed shipping containers.

This container-based farming, as opposed to land-based farming, can grow any food (grain, vegetables or fruits) or fodder with the use of precise levels of light, temperature, humidity and nutrients. All these inputs are controlled by smart sensors and computers. This type of farming requires very few labourers, very little soil and water and is based on the principle of hydroponics or aeroponics.

There are claims by the practitioners of container agriculture that it uses 90 percent less water than conventional agriculture and produces several times the yields that would have been obtained from land-based agriculture. Such high-tech farms are coming up in urban areas in western countries and provide a model to be emulated in developing countries like India.

Today the biggest crisis in farming in India is the lack of labour, low prices of produce, shortage of water and very poor soils. With precision land-based or container agriculture, powered by solar energy and other renewable energy systems, farming can become very efficient, high yielding and hence remunerative. To my mind, this is the future of farming.

Land-based agriculture can be used for planting mostly perennial crops like grasses for fodder and trees for fruits, timber and the like. Grasses and trees can bind the soil and stop its erosion.

Agricultural containers would eventually be owned by restaurant owners. Hence, the A-Z of food production and utilisation would be run and owned by the restaurants and may give rise to a large number of rural and urban restaurants. This will also generate huge employment opportunities.

Further, FIR based on 3D or additive manufacturing will also usher in a revolution in its own right. In 3D printing, parts or the product is built layer by layer at any place. The designing can be done anywhere in the world and it can be sent by the internet to a 3D printer.

Thus the raw material — metal powders in the case of production of metal parts, or plastic wires for plastic products — together with a suitable glue or solidification of raw material, forms the end product. 3D printing is being used to produce parts of rockets, whole machines and even body parts.

The technology of 3D manufacturing is rapidly progressing and is already becoming a mainstream technology for small, specialised manufacturing facilities.

Use of 3D manufacturing will also reduce the energy consumption in transportation of goods since they will be manufactured and made available wherever they are needed.

In most cases, prices would come down. We might, therefore, see a proliferation of high-tech small scale manufacturing facilities in rural areas. For rural mobility electric vehicles can form the backbone and could be charged with locally produced renewable electricity. And 3D manufacturing may help in the production of such vehicles in rural areas.

The FIR can usher in a decentralised and democratic society since the control of the means of production and usage will be in the hands of locals.(IANS)

(24.02.2016 – Anil K. Rajvanshi is director of Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute in Phaltan, Maharashtra. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at anilrajvanshi@gmail.com)

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India to Launch Electronic Intelligence Satellite Soon

In January, the space agency launched a defence imaging satellite Microsat R for the DRDO

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TESS, rover, NASA, mercuryKeplar, NASA
TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is shown in this conceptual illustration obtained by Reuters on March 28, 2018. NASA sent TESS into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. VOA

India on April 1 will launch an electronic intelligence satellite Emisat for the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) along with 28 third party satellites and also demonstrate its new technologies like three different orbits with a new variant of PSLV rocket, ISRO said on Saturday.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), a new variant of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket will first put the 436 kg Emisat into a 749 km orbit.

After that, the rocket will be brought down to put into orbit the 28 satellites at an altitude of 504 km.

This will be followed by bringing the rocket down further to 485 km when the fourth stage/engine will turn into a payload platform carrying three experimental payloads: (a) Automatic Identification System (AIS) from ISRO for Maritime satellite applications capturing messages transmitted from ships (b) Automatic Packet Repeating System (APRS) from AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation), India – to assist amateur radio operators in tracking and monitoring position data and (c) Advanced Retarding Potential Analyser for Ionospheric Studies (ARIS) from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) – for the structural and compositional studies of ionosphere, the space agency said.

The whole flight sequence will take about 180 minutes from the rocket’s lift off slated at 9.30 a.m. on April 1.

The 28 international customer satellites (24 from US, 2 from Lithuania and one each from Spain and Switzerland)- will weigh about 220 kg.

OSIRIS-REx, NASA, Asteroid bennu
Satellite To Conduct Biological Experiments In Space, Plans Space Kidz India. VOA

“It is a special mission for us. We will be using a PSLV rocket with four strap-on motors. Further, for the first time we will be trying to orbit the rocket at three different altitudes,” ISRO Chairman K. Sivan had earlier told IANS.

The PSLV is a four-stage engine expendable rocket with alternating solid and liquid fuel.

In its normal configuration, the rocket will have six strap-on motors hugging the rocket’s first stage.

On January 24, the ISRO flew a PSLV with two strap-on motors while in March, it had four strap-on motors.

The Indian space agency also has two more PSLV variants, viz Core Alone (without any strap-on motors) and the larger PSLV-XL.

Also Read- UAE Launches ‘Lose to Win’ Programme to Help Overweight Employers to Shed Extra Kilos

The ISRO selects the kind of rocket to be used based on the weight of satellites it carries.

The ISRO will also be launching two more defence satellites sometime in July or August with its new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

In January, the space agency launched a defence imaging satellite Microsat R for the DRDO. (IANS)