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Advertising is neither science nor art; brands are using principles of decision science for years

By Anirban Roy

Isn’t it astonishing that a function like marketing and communications and its flag bearers (marketers and agencies) who spend so much time and money investigating what will work in persuading the human mind, actually spend little time investigating how the human mind works?

Consider this: Peter Kenning, a German neuro-economist, showed people photographs of brands, in pairs, while using brain imaging techniques. The pairs either included their favourite brand or it did not. Every time the favourite brand was revealed the areas of the brain that lit up were different from the regions that lit up when non-favourite brands came up. The other interesting bit is when their favourite brand was present, the brain used less energy (what neuroscientists call ‘cortical relief’) and identified immediately.

The most remarkable part about this experiment: cortical relief only happens for the respondent’s number one brand; even the brand ranked second in their heads does not trigger this intuitive decision making. Scientists call this the ‘first-choice brand effect.’

In other words, brands matter and becoming number 1 in people’s head matters even more. Being in the ‘consideration set’ is not good enough. So how do we go about it? As always, there is no silver bullet. One way to think of this problem is ‘why should the consumer hire your product/service?’ As marketer & author Phil Barden puts it, ‘Consumers don’t buy a brand’s personality traits but its expected instrumentality to achieve a certain goal.’

For example, if you look at some tea brands in our country – Brooke Bond Red Label has built its narrative around togetherness (Swaad Apnepan Ka), whereas Brooke Bond Taaza built it around ‘refreshment’ and Brooke Bond Taj Mahal tea was built around status or connoisseurship. Fundamentally, all of them are selling packaged tea and hence fulfilling explicit goals of the category (stimulating etc), but the implicit goals projected by the respective brands help drive heuristics (mental shortcuts) for the consumer. Depending on the goal which the consumer subconsciously wants to pursue, the brand becomes the automatic choice.

Another angle of decision science is that we recognize that choosing something that isn’t the default option requires effort and we are wired to be lazy (the brain is programmed to spend minimum energy/resources to get the desired output). Look at the adoption rate of Google Maps vs Apple Maps on iPhones. Although Google Maps is widely regarded as a more popular choice, users of iPhone (whose pre-installed, default option is Apple Maps) used Apple Maps 3x as often as Google Maps (Source: Verge).

While we are on the business of making things effortless, or less effortful, Amazon seems to me to be a brand that is uniquely designed to reduce effort. Regular Amazon shoppers must have noticed how it tries to upsell and cross sell. ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ feature helps people make choices without much effort. Bundling items by stating ‘frequently purchased together’ again makes sense because it reduces effort. So, if you hunt for an Ipad Pro, Amazon nudges you to buy the Apple Pencil. These may seem trivial compared to multi-million dollar ad campaigns that we so deeply care about but decision science hinges on the idea of being trivial. As Ogilvy UK’s vice chairman Rory Sutherland puts it, ‘sweat on the small stuff.’

Counter-intuitive decision making is another bed-rock of decision science. For instance, most marketers/agencies will cringe to call out their product weaknesses, but we know that in the real world, people relate to people who exhibit a weakness (Aronson termed it the Pratfall Effect). Extending that logic, people also relate to brands who display some degree of imperfection. Take the iconic ‘Ramesh-Suresh’ campaign of Cadbury’s 5 Star. In reality it celebrates the long eating experience and lands on the creative idea of ‘Jo khaye kho jaye’. Titan Raga’s recent campaign of ‘flaunt your flaw’ is another example that was inspired by the asymmetrical nature of the new Raga ‘I Am’ collection.

We tend to think of the conscious brain as the ‘oval office’ (borrowing the term from Jonathan Haidt), whereas in reality, it is the ‘press office.’ There is a difference between how we actually make decisions vs how we think we make those decisions. We need to find a way to make brands the default choice – else most advertising will be reduced to costly signaling without much results.

Advertising is neither science nor art. Brands have unknowingly been using principles of decision science for years – it is time we became more conscious about embracing and applying these principles in our daily jobs. It will make our effort more effective, unlock creativity and drive the ‘first choice brand’ effect.

The author is head of strategic planning, South, Ogilvy. Views expressed are personal.

18.2% rise in women enrolment in 5 years: Higher education survey reveals interesting facts

Enrolment of women in higher education has increased but their percentage share in professional courses is still lower than men, according to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20. Scheduled Tribes and minorities still lag in overall enrolment and the Bachelor of Arts remains the most popular course, the report said.

SOCIAL BREAKUP

  • Scheduled Caste students constitute 14.7% and Scheduled Tribes 5.6% of the total enrolment. 37% students belong to Other Backward Classes, 5.5% to Muslims and 2.3% to other minority communities
  • 92,831 persons with disabilities (PWD) are enrolled in higher education, of which 47,830 are men and 45,001 women. Women participation among PWD students is the highest in ST group with 119 women per 100 men, followed by SCs (78).
  • 49,348 foreign students from 168 different countries are enrolled in India. The highest number of students are from Nepal, followed by those from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sudan. B Tech, BSc, B.E popular courses among foreign students.

Agencies

WOMEN

  • There has been an 18.2% rise in female enrolment from 2015-16 to 2019-20. The Gender Parity Index (GPI) in higher education rose to 1.01 in 2019-20 against 1.00 in 2018-19
  • The percentage share of men is higher than women at almost every level, except M.Phil, postgraduate and certificate courses. Women participation in professional courses is lower in comparison to academic courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels
  • Share of women is the lowest in Institutions of National Importance, followed by Deemed University-Government, State Private University. Distance enrolment constitutes about 11.1% of the total enrolment
  • The man-woman ratio is similar among all social groups. In case of OBCs, its 50.5: 49.5. There are more women students than men among minorities.

Agencies

SUBJECT AND COURSE

  • About 79.5% of the students are enrolled in Undergraduate programmes and just 0.5% in PhD courses
  • Maximum numbers of students are enrolled in BA courses, followed by B.Sc. and B.Com
  • UG level: 32.7% of students are enrolled in Arts, Humanities/Social Sciences courses, followed by 16% in Science, 14.9% in Commerce and 12.6% in Engineering and Technology

POSTGRADUATION

  • Maximum students are enrolled in Social Science stream and Science comes next
  • The share of Ph.D. student is the highest in State Public University at 29.8%, followed by Institute of National Importance at 23.2%, Deemed UnivPrivate at 13.9% and Central Univ at 13.6%
  • Enrolment in professional courses is more in private institutions than in government, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels

Agencies

Six Indian companies working on COVID-19 vaccine, many challenges in finding a preventive: Experts

Six Indian companies are working on a vaccine for COVID-19, joining global efforts to find a quick preventive for the deadly infection spreading rapidly across the world, says a top Indian scientist.

Nearly 70 ‘vaccine candidates’ are being tested and at least three have moved to the human clinical trial stage, but a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is unlikely to be ready for mass use before 2021.

As COVID-19 infects more than 1.9 million in the world and claims 1,26,000 lives, Indian scientists are also part of the global fight against the disease.

“While Zydus Cadila is working on two vaccines, Serum Institute, Biological E, Bharat Biotech, Indian Immunologicals, and Mynvax are developing one vaccine each,” Gagandeep Kang, executive director of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad, told .

Kang is also vice chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which noted in a recent study that the “global vaccine R&D effort in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in terms of scale and speed”.

But it is a complicated process with many stages of testing and many challenges, explained experts. A vaccine for the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, may not take 10 years that other vaccines do but it could be at least a year before it is proven safe, effective, and made widely available, they said.

“Vaccine development is a lengthy process which often takes years, with many challenges,” said E. Sreekumar, chief scientific officer at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Kerala.

“Generally, vaccines take several months to pass the different stages of testing, and then approvals also take time. For COVID-19, we don’t expect a vaccine to come in this year,” agreed Rakesh Mishra, director of the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad.

Vaccine testing typically begins with animal and lab testing before going on to different stages of human testing.

“The human testing phase is composed of many phases,” Sreekumar told .

“Phase one trials are small-scale, usually involving few participants, to assess whether the vaccine is safe for humans. Phase two trials often involve several hundred subjects, and mainly evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine against the disease,” he said.

The final phase involves thousands of people to further assess the efficacy of the vaccine over a defined period of time, and can last several months, Sreekumar said.

“That is why we don’t see a vaccine coming in at least a year from now.”

Even after the vaccine is ready, he explained, there are a lot of challenges, including whether the vaccine is effective in all populations, and if it can be used for different strains of the novel coronavirus, which might start mutating as time passes.

“There are lots of vaccines which are being tested for COVID-19, some of which are in the stage 1 clinical trial,” Mishra added.

“But we still don’t know how fast they will proceed towards a vaccine and they can take several months to reach any point,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), three vaccine candidates are in the clinical testing phase, meaning they are able to be tested on humans, while nearly 70 are in the preclinical phase — either in lab testing, or animal studies.

Though Kang named six companies, the WHO has listed only Zydus Cadila and Serum Institute from India as among the global firms working on a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of April 8, 2020, said CEPI, the global COVID-19 vaccine R&D landscape includes 115 vaccine candidates, of which 78 are confirmed as active and 37 are unconfirmed.

Of the 78 confirmed active projects, 73 are currently at exploratory or preclinical stages, noted the CEPI team in an analysis published in the journal Nature reviews drug Discovery last week.

The most advanced candidates have recently moved into clinical development, including mRNA-1273 from US-based biotechnology company Moderna, Ad5-nCoV from Chinese biopharma company CanSino Biologicals, and INO-4800 from American pharmaceuticals company Inovio.

Others in this list include LV-SMENP-DC and pathogen-specific aAPC from Shenzhen Geno-Immune Medical Institute in China.

Numerous other vaccine developers have indicated plans to initiate human testing in 2020, the CEPI scientists said.

Experts believe the genome sequencing of the new coronavirus provided by scientists in China shows it shares 79 per cent of the same genetic material as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and 50 per cent of the same material as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), a species of coronavirus which infects humans, bats, and camels.

This allows developers to use groundwork already created in research for vaccines for those viruses.

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO announced earlier this month that it has begun preclinical tests of a vaccine developed by Oxford University in the UK.

A striking feature of the vaccine development landscape for COVID-19 is the range of technology platforms being evaluated, including nucleic acid (DNA and RNA), virus-like particle, live weakened virus, and inactivated virus approaches.

The CEPI noted that many of these platforms are not currently the basis for licensed vaccines, but experience in fields such as oncology is encouraging developers to exploit the opportunities that next-generation approaches offer for increased speed of development and manufacture.

( Originally published on Apr 15, 2020 )

Anjan Mukhopadhyay appointed executive director at Bhel

KOLKATA: Anjan Mukhopadhyay, 58, has been appointed as the executive director of power sector at Bharat Heavy Electricals’ eastern region, with effect from 24th November, 2016. Prior to this, he served as general manager at the same pision.

An Electrical engineer from Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology-Shibpur, Mukhopadhyay started his career in BHEL Haridwar unit as an Trainee Engineer in 1981 and has more than 35 years of professional experience in having handled perse functions in BHEL. Production, technical services, total service solution, project management, construction management & execution in different BHEL manufacturing unit and power sector sites.

Under his leadership, eastern region in BHEL created new benchmarks in project execution. He was instrumental in commissioning of the first 500 MW unit of WBPDCL successfully.

According to a statement released by Bhel, during his stint at the power pision, he has been instrumental in effectively coordinating and collaborating with all organization units of BHEL in order to achieve financial and physical turnover, cash collection, capacity addition, technical and commercial closure and various other targets.

He has effectively contributed in order to achieve continuous improvement for the region in all the four perspectives — financial, customer, internal operations and learning and innovations over the years.

Physicians try to find elusive links between diet and disease in Indians

While training to be a cardiologist in the late 1980s, Anil Kumar rarely saw a patient with heart disease younger than 40. Now, as the senior cardiologist at Aster Medcity in Kochi, he routinely treats heart patients in their 30s and 20s, the youngest so far being 21 years old. He believes that people in his native state of Kerala are prone to heart disease, but knows that genetics is not the entire story. Changing lifestyle habits are almost certainly a cause for rising heart disease rates, but it isn’t always easy to pinpoint a clear link between what people eat and their propensity to heart disease.

A look at recent statistics in meat consumption in Kerala might provide a clue. Old statistics are not available, but Keralites have been eating a lot of meat in recent times, with the production of meat increasing rapidly from 1995. Common sense suggests that there might be a link between heart disease and a meat-based diet with a high fat content.

Also Read: Is red wine good for health?

A decade ago nutritionists may not have hesitated to say that a meat-based diet causes heart disease, but now they are not so keen to make a connection, as science paints an increasingly complex picture of food and disease. "There is no clear link between diet and heart disease," says Anura Kurpad, professor and head of the department of nutrition at St John’s Medical College in Bengaluru.

Heart of the Matter
For several decades, saturated fat had been implicated as a major cause for heart disease, the next worst thing to eat after trans fat. Now it is no longer considered bad in moderation, and its former role has been taken by added sugar in the diet. Ten years ago, most cardiologists would have looked at cholesterol and lipid profile as an indicator of heart disease risk. Now they look at blood sugar levels as well, and some cardiologists think that high blood sugar levels are a better predictor of heart disease risk than moderately elevated cholesterol.

"The biggest change in recent times has been in the role of carbohydrates in disease," says V Mohan, chairman of Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre in Chennai. "Till then it has always been fat, fat and fat." Recent research has upturned not just the role of fat and sugar in heart disease. It is questioning the very assumption of a link between a single nutrient and disease, with enormous implications to how we eat healthy.

Now nutritionists think that sugar is bad even in small doses, but not necessarily saturated fat. Traditional cooking oils may be all right, especially if these are being used for a long time in a region. Food supplements, especially vitamin supplements, are a waste of money in most cases, and could even do harm in the long run.

Omega-3 supplements may be good for pregnant women, but their role is not clear in preventing heart disease. Red wine has been considered good for the heart for long, but recent research has not shown a clear link between wine drinking and a reduced risk of heart disease. "We have gone from nutrients to foods and from foods to dietary habits," says Srinath Reddy, former cardiologist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, and now president of the Public Health Foundation of India.

Dietary habits have taken a central role these days because scientists have realised that nutrients can balance each other out in a varied diet, with some nutrients often cancelling the harmful effects of other nutrients. Some nutrients can prevent others from doing their jobs or being absorbed well. Nutrients also act in combination, like B12 and folate, or calcium and vitamin D. Focusing on one nutrient from a diet distorts the big picture.

Which is also why there is no need to seek an ideal combination or level of nutrients to eat. "Seeking an optimum level of nutrients is like asking for optimum level of happiness," says Anura Kurpad. Because nutrients act in combination, scientists find it hard to figure out how a specific diet is linked to chronic diseases. As all nutrition scientists have found out, it is very hard to do rigorous studies on diets and outcomes, and especially on single nutrients and outcomes. It is hard to control what people eat, and harder to separate the effects of one nutrient from another. Geography and genetics complicate matters even further, as do vested interests of the funders of many studies. So studies on nutrition often come with contradictory results.

Even when studies are rigorous, what is relevant to a particular set of people may not be relevant to another. Like in the long and complicated history of the role of dietary fats in health and disease.

Oil is not Well
The first indication of the role of fats in disease came early in the 20th century, but it was only in the 1950s that it started to be part of mainstream medical opinion. That saturated fats cause heart disease became more or less the unanimous opinion of many medical scientists, till a paper two years ago in the Annals of Medicine found no correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease.

In 2013, a paper published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease found a correlation between consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids and heart disease. Many nutritionists and cardiologists have criticised the saturated fat study as being poorly done. And say that replacement of saturated fat with unsaturated fat decreases the risk, while replacement with sugar or refined carbohydrates increases the risk.

This remains the mainstream opinion, but there is plenty of evidence to show that different people react differently to fats, and that there may be many people who can consume saturated fat without increase in risk. The Inuits of Greenland are a well-known example.

They have a diet with 50 per cent fat content and almost no heart disease.

Scientists now know that the Inuits have a genetic mutation that lets them eat high amounts of fat without leading to disease.

The Indian Eater
The Inuit diet provides enough hints about generalisation from some studies. Most diet-disease studies have been done in the West, and scientists believe that the Indian situation is different if not more complex. By and large, the Indian body type differs from the western type. "Indians do not need as many calories as a westerner does," says B Sasikeran, former head of the National Institute of Nutrition and president of the Nutritional Society of India. The difference is not just in the amount of calories Indians need. We may also process nutrients slightly differently.

The history of the Indian diet may provide clues about what is good for people in the subcontinent. India took to agriculture long ago, as there was sunshine the year around. In Europe, however, winters made agriculture difficult for at least a few months. So Europeans ate more meat, while Indians ate more cereals. This would have led to different genetic responses to nutrients in a diet. It has implications for the saturated fat controversy.

"The Asian population does not metabolise fat very well," says Anil Kumar of Aster Medcity.

This could mean that smaller amounts of fat — compared with the western diet — may lead to comparatively higher levels of blood cholesterol, and even lower levels of cholesterol may lead to higher incidence of heart disease. Clinical evidence tends to support this idea, but research has revealed other complexities as well. Just like the Inuits, vegetarians in India seem to have picked up genetic changes that are important to fat metabolism.

They have a mutation that allows them to make polyunsaturated fatty acids from plant precursors. This is fine in traditional diets, but recent changes have introduced an element of risk.

If the vegetarian diet does not have the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 acids, the body makes too much of arachidonic acid, a known cause of inflammation, heart disease and cancer.

As people switched to oils — like sunflower and safflower oil — with high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, they would have unknowingly increased their risk of heart disease and not reduced it. "There is too much omega-6 in Indian diet," says Kumar Kothapalli, research scientist at Cornell University, who found the mutation in Indian vegetarians two years ago.

Since the Indian population ate a predominantly vegetarian diet, discovery of this mutation would be relevant to a substantial part of the country. It also brings back to an idea increasingly finding favour with nutritionists and medical scientists; traditional diets are superior to modern diets. Kothapalli believes that this is especially true of the oils we use in India.

The oil story is a good indication of the complexities of nutrition, and the misconceptions in the general population. "Most people are confused about what is good and what is bad in oils," says Ryan Fernando, founder of the Bengaluru-based company Qua Nutrition. Popular opinion buttressed by advertisements favour sunflower and safflower oils, but nutritionists think otherwise. For example, virgin coconut oil may be better than sunflower oil that is being used now, especially to those who are used to it for generations.

In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014, scientists at the University of Kerala showed that use of coconut oil resulted in lower cholesterol levels than sunflower oil. Scientists may not quickly generalise from one study, except to conclude that there may be no need to change from traditional diets. However, very few in India use virgin oils any more. The refining process may remove nutrients that counteract the harmful effects of some nutrients that are known to be bad.

Nutritionists also think that mustard oil, traditionally used in most of north India, is very good for Indian diets. "Mustard oil is a very good source of omega-3 acids," says Shweta Khandelwal, research scientist and professor at the Public Health Foundation of India. Using mustard oil would provide a better omega-3 and omega-6 balance than sunflower oil, and probably avoid the production of too much arachidonic acid.

Khandelwal has been researching the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the Indian population, and says that the benefits of supplementing this nutrient to pregnant women are very clear. However, benefits of omega-3 supplements to adults are less clear. "Supplementing omega-3 acids for reducing heart disease risk is questionable," says Khandelwal.

Only a few years ago, the evidence for omega-3 supplements as a protector against heart disease seemed to be incontrovertible. The fish oil supplement market, however, continues to grow quickly and is set to touch $22 billion by 2022, according to the market research firm Grand View Research.

Feel it in the Gut
In the last few years, research on the microbiome has introduced new complexities into our understanding of food and disease. The microbiome is the set of all microorganisms that live in our bodies. We now know that the weight of all microorganisms in our bodies exceeds the weight of our own cells, and that they are very important in health and disease. Get the wrong bacteria in your gut, and you may be predisposed to cancer or diabetes.

Earlier this year, a paper in the journal Nature showed that imbalance of gut bacteria can lead to a higher risk for diabetes. Several factors affect the bacterial composition of the gut, one of them being diet.

Gut bacteria also differ from inpidual to inpidual. Scientists are still learning about this extraordinary phenomenon, but what we know already provides enough clues about their influence on health.

Changing diets will change the bacterial composition of the gut, and thus predispose or protect against disease. It is an entirely new way of looking at the link between diet and disease, and scientists have only scratched the surface.

( Originally published on Dec 03, 2016 )

India Domino’s, McDonald’s operators hurt by bread cancer report

By Santanu Chakraborty & Bhuma Shrivastava

The Indian operators of Domino’s Pizza Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. dropped after a local research agency said that burger and pizza bread sold at the fast-food outlets contained cancer-causing chemicals. Jubilant Foodworks Ltd., a licensee of Domino’s, headed for a three-month low, while WestLife Development Ltd., which runs McDonald’s restaurants in western and southern India, slid 2% at 1:18 pm in Mumbai.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said Monday its study found that 84% of 38 brands of ready-to-eat breads sold in Delhi by fast-food chains including Domino’s, McDonald’s and Subway, contain potassium bromate and potassium iodate.

The chemicals are banned in many countries because they may cause cancer, the agency said. Jubilant and WestLife denied the New Delhi-based public interest researcher’s report.

Domino’s uses products approved by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and doesn’t treat the flour with the chemicals, Jubilant said in a statement. “The claims made by CSE in their press release and report are completely baseless,” Vikram Ogale, national supply chain director at McDonald’s India, said in an e-mailed statement.

McDonald’s doesn’t use potassium bromate or potassium iodate in the flour and other ingredients used to make its buns, he said.

“Jubilant will be hurt in short term even though they have denied the CSE claims,” said Chinmay Madgulkar, an analyst at Taurus Asset Management Co. “Britannia won’t be hurt much as its market share is small in breads.” Britannia Industries Ltd., India’s top biscuit maker by market value, dropped 2 percent, extending Monday’s 8.5 percent tumble. The company doesn’t use the two chemicals as ingredients in its bread recipes, it said in a statement.

CSE’s research samples included brands made by the Bangalore-based company. FSSAI has decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives while it is examining evidence against potassium iodate before restricting its use, the Press Trust of India reported, citing chief executive officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal.

Science flourishes where there is freedom of thought, says Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan

BENGALURU: Science prospers where there is freedom of thought and minimal interference by the government, said UK based Nobel prize winning biologist Venkataraman “Venki” Ramakrishnan.

“I personally believe that science flourishes where there is a real freedom of thought, opinion and minimal ideological interference. Although the autonomy of science remains an open question,” he said in an interactive session on “Science and Society” at Bangalore International Centre on Wednesday.

He was responding to a question on preserving the sanctity of science in times of volatility in the world. Ramakrishnan gave examples of Hitler’s Germany and Soviet Union to delineate how the government’s ideological interference had destroyed the science in the past. “Nazis practically destroyed German science and it took 50 years for the country to recover. As a result of the Soviet Union government’s opposition to genetics, Soviet Biology lagged behind by several decades.” He said China was an exception as the country is making great advances in science despite curbs on freedom of speech and opinion.

India, the professor said, despite probably being the only country with a Constitution that emphasises on developing scientific temperament, has not done enough in the research front. “Oddly, India’s spending in terms of GDP on science and technology is quite less. The country’s goals and actions are not clearly aligned. The GDP is growing, but not as fast,” he observed.

Ramakrishnan highlighted the need for private sector investment in science research and development in India. “A combination of factors have led to inadequate funding in science in India. Private sector funding is extremely low. If the private sector can match the typical 2:1 or 2:2 ratio, it will help,” the professor said.

In a word of caution to governments to allow autonomy in research and development, he said, the governments should only set priorities in funding, but they should not determine how to go about with those priorities. “No one has the knowledge about working on the priorities except for scientists in the field. Separation between the government, and the actual science, science infrastructure and establishment is quite important… to remove politics from science funding,” the scientist said.

( Originally published on Jan 15, 2020 )

Young inventors create a device that converts noise to electricity

KOLKATA: A group of students from the Philippine Science High School-Western Visayas Campus (PSHS-WVC) has created an inexpensive device that converts noise to electricity and can power bulbs.

According to a report on Manila Bulletin, the gadget was created by Grade 11 students Kirsten Dianne Delmo, Nico Andrei Serrato, Joecile Faith Monana, Frelean Faith Engallado, and Raphael Francis Dequilla.

The gadget reverses the functioning of a normal speaker which vibrates to create sound when electricity is passed through it. It uses sound and converts it to electricity. The gadget can come in handy in heavily polluted areas like roads and construction sites.

The invention won the Silver Award during the Young Inventors Challenge 2019 in Malaysia.

According to the team and reported by Manila Bulletin, they are aware that converting noise to electricity is not a new concept but no infrastructure has been made applying this concept.

“When sound waves hit the diaphragm of the speaker, the magnet and the coil inside interact thus creating electrical energy. This is then stored in a power bank which could power up light. The gadget costs only P200 pesos or $4 which was spent on the capacitors,” Manilla Bulletin quoted one of the team members.

With this low-cost light, rural communities would be able to have access to electricity especially light to help improve their way of life. With this invention, students will be able to study in the comfort of their homes. They said that if the device is to be placed in an airport where the sound intensity reaches up to 140 decibels, this can generate enough electricity to light a 5 Watt LED bulb throughout the night.

A larger speaker with a lot more devices added can harness enough electricity for the whole community.

PM to open Science Congress in Bengaluru on Friday

Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will open the seven-day Indian Science Congress (107 ISC) on January 3 in Bengaluru. The event will be held at GKVK campus on Ballari Road.

The focal theme of the Congress is “Science and Technology: Rural Development,” according to S Rajendra Prasad, Vice Chancellor at University of Agricultural Science (UAS), Bangalore and KS Rangappa, General President, Indian Science Congress Association, who briefed the media. They expect about 15,000 people including Nobel laureates, scientists,intellectuals, academicians, police makers, researchers, students and delegates to attend the event.

The entry for the science exhibition will be free to science enthusiasts from January4 to January 7.

Lectures and discussions on more than 14 different contemporary Science areas will be the highlight in the conference. The other important events of the Science Congress are “Women Science Congress”, “Children Science Congress” and “Science Communicators Meet”. For the first time, there will be a session on “Farmer’s Science Congress”. There will also be a science exhibition called ‘Pride of India’ wherein different technologies, machineries, equipments, science models, etc., will be exhibited.

To provide complete details of 107 Indian Science Congress, the University has developed a mobile app “ISC 2020 UASB”. It contains end to end information,like lectures, venues, navigation to the conference halls, accommodation, transportation,Food courts, and emergency services. It also facilitates the participants of the conference to plan for their holidays in and around tourist places of Bangalore.

Summit to promote Punjab as global destination for innovation & research

CHANDIGARH: With a view to giving further push to its ‘Mission Innovate Punjab’, the State Government has decided to organise an ‘Innovation and Technology Summit-2019’ on November 5 with an objective to promote Punjab as the Global destination for Innovations & Research.

Disclosing this here today, Principal Secretary Science Technology and Environment Rakesh Verma said that the Department would hold this summit in collaboration with Punjab Chambers of Commerce and Industries. He said that under ‘Mission Innovate Punjab’ the State was drawing up an ambitious roadmap for developing a robust ecosystem for research & innovation to enhance competitiveness, boost economic growth and create employment.

While holding a pre-summit meeting here at Punjab State Council for Science and Technology with the heads of academic and research institutions to work out the modalities, Rakesh Verma said that steps had already been initiated to consolidate the facilitating environment through active involvement and networking of institutions having state-of-the-art research & innovation infrastructure. A Council for Punjab Research & Innovation under the

aegis

of Department of Science Technology and Environment has already been established in this regard, he added.

Various key issues included partnering organizations, dignitaries to be invited for inaugural programme, details of technical sessions, funding possibilities, felicitation of institutions/start-ups were discussed in the meeting to make this summit a grand success.

The Principal Secretary further pointed out that the inaugural session on ‘Leveraging Punjab as Land of Opportunities for Innovations’ would include launch of ‘Mission Innovate Punjab’ by the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, where the National & International elite speakers from Government, Academia, Industry, Innovation and Research Organizations would highlight the available opportunities and strengths for positioning Punjab as an emerging destination for research & innovation. He said that the Chief Minister would also release Roadmap for Mission Innovate Punjab to promote Research & Innovation in the State, Draft State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) for consultation in Summit and Partnership of DSTE, GoP with R&I Institutions (signing of MoUs).

It was also decided in the meeting to hold a session on Innovation and Academia: Boosting Research & its commercialization to throw a light on the significance of the innovation driven research undertaken by key institutions and its profound possibilities for applications in various Industrial sectors including commercialization. The session will also explore work on creating Local to Global, Global to Local network of researchers and Innovators.