LIFE

Sparkling like diamonds

THE CAUSE-EFFECT relationship is universal. A country owes its economic development to its scientific and technological progress.

If India has come a long way ever since Independence, making remarkable strides in technology, agriculture, genomics, etc., the credit goes to the scientists in several research units of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Keeping in view the need for creating an awareness of the progress, achieved by scientists in various fields, among the members of the public, the CSIR has been exhibiting its `60 diamonds'.

Diamonds they are, not just because the CSIR has been celebrating its 60th anniversary since September 26, 2002, and considering the translation of the major inventions into economic benefits, which cannot be quantified even virtually.

The CSIR has already charted its course from `diamond' to `platinum', anticipating changes. It has resolved to bring all its laboratories into a unified framework. It is looking into the future, according adequate importance to genomics and protection of intellectual property rights.

By identifying the backbone of the economy — agriculture and industry — and suggesting suitable solutions, the CSIR has not only created lakhs of jobs but also saved many from losing their jobs.

For instance, under the auspices of its `leather industry technology mission', the CSIR was successful in reopening 250 tanneries, which were closed due to restrictions imposed on pollution levels. About 2.5 lakh jobs were saved.

The Terai region of the Himalayas is a standing example of how wasteland could be made productive. At CSIR's initiative, high oil yielding mint plants were cultivated on four lakh hectares, resulting in 40 lakh man-days of employment. The result: India has become the top exporter of menthol mint, wresting China's position.

Sparkling like diamonds

For the CSIR, wasteland development also means converting coal dumps into aqua water body for aqua culture and converting magnesium mine spoil dumps into lush green forest, as was done at Nagpur.

Now it has its task cut out. To meet the future fuel demands, it has embarked on a mission to strike gas hydrates, a substitute for conventional gas, the production of which has stagnated at 22 billion cubic metres since 1990.

The CSIR is hopeful of extracting methane molecules locked in cages of ice crystals off the Indian shores. The preliminary studies have been encouraging.

The credit for enhancing magnesium production, which stood India in good stead during the second war with Pakistan, and the invention of `dimensionally stable anodes', for electrolytic production of caustic soda and chlorine, by developing `Titanium Substrate Insoluble Anode' (TSIA) goes to the Central Electrochemical Research Institute at Karaikudi, a vital arm of the CSIR.

In fact, the exhibition speaks much more. The five-day exhibition at the Golden Singar Hotel ends on May 23.

By Krishnamoorthy R

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