As per ministry officials, the Covid-19 crisis has ‘compelled us to stress on the need for innovation and research’.

 

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has sought details of active research projects and innovations which can help the government in fighting the coronavirus epidemic.

As per ministry officials, the Covid-19 crisis has “compelled us to stress on the need for innovation and research”. The ambition behind the MHRD’s exercise of gathering details of research projects is to make Indian universities more like problem-solving and research-oriented units.

A senior MHRD official confirmed that the campuses of the Indian Institute of Technology across the country have already updated about the ongoing research.

Currently, at IITs, there are 213 research projects that are functional and most of this research is focused on developing anti-Covid-19 safety gear, test kits, treatment pharmacological/non-pharmacological, data analytics, and artificial intelligence, to understand the model of the current epidemic. According to the IITs’ data, 45 research projects are focused on making unique Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). The PPEs help doctors and front-runners who are at the helm of fighting the Covid-19 crisis.

India needs large-scale production of PPEs to make them available for all medical workers, including, doctors, nurses, diagnostic technicians, cleaners, besides others.

According to the IITs’ data, 22 research projects are engaged in developing cheaper and high-tech options of Covid-19 testing kits. Due to availability of less number of testing kits, the country is not being able to conduct mass-scale Covid-19 tests necessary for determining the scale of the virus’ impact.

Besides the aforementioned two areas, 36 research projects are on to make sanitization equipment, 36 projects at IITs are dedicated to developing medical equipment and robotics, 14 projects are mainly to design the surveillance system, 30 projects are to develop treatment, pharmacological, non-pharmacological, and 30 projects are on developing data analytics and artificial intelligence to model epidemic patterns and disease dynamics.  Many innovation projects are in their last phase and the equipment made under the innovation is almost ready for use. Abhinav Goyal, a former IIT scholar, told The Sunday Guardian: “IITs have always been at the forefront in providing solutions through their innovation and research in a crisis situation, but the IITs are not alone in the field of research and innovation. Many institutions, including private and public, are engaged in developing some or other technology, equipment, and medicine to end this crisis.” A set of online questionnaires has already been sent to the universities by the MHRD. A copy of it that is with The Sunday Guardian shows that the ministry is not letting go or waste any research project which may be helpful in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

The MHRD’s questionnaire reads: “Share a brief description, if your institution is doing some Covid-related research,  Inform the outcome output results of the said research. Also, share if any future plans to do Covid-19-related research and specify the method and strategy which you want to apply for your innovation and research projects.”

The MHRD had also launched an online challenge called “Samadhan”. The motive behind coming up with the challenge was to gather information about entrepreneurship and research orientation that can help in dealing with the current epidemic.  Besides the MHRD, the Central government has also launched many campaign initiatives to give a boost to the morale of scholars linked with research and innovation projects.