Wednesday, October 10, 2012

India Embarks on Universal Health Coverage

It is good news that India is embarking on an ambitious target of achieving Universal Health Coverage  (UHC) for all during 12th Plan period.
Everybody will be entitled for comprehensive health security in the country. It will be obligatory on the part of the State to provide adequate food, appropriate medical care, safe drinking water, proper sanitation, education and health-related information for good health.
The State will be responsible for ensuring and guaranteeing UHC for its citizens.
But how these targets will be met faced with the rampant corruption within the health delivery system is a question mark.

Addressing in a session of the conference on “Responsible Use of Medicine” at Amsterdam, Netherlands, on 3rd October, India's Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad, quoting the WHO's World Health Statistics 2012, said that almost 60% of total health expenditure in India was paid by the common man from his own pocket in 2009.
The Report states that 39 million Indians are pushed to poverty because of ill health every year.
Around 30% in rural India did not go for any treatment due to financial constraints. About 47% and 31% of hospital admissions in rural and urban India were financed by loans and sale of assets.

Azad pointed out that India has already enacted the Clinical Establishment Act. The Standard Treatment Guideline is part of the Clinical Establishment Act.
The Act will ensure that unnecessary drugs are not prescribed. During nationwide polio vaccination campaign, India vaccinated 172 million children through 2.3 million vaccinators in 202 million households in each campaign.
The polio vaccination campaigns had a strategy of booth vaccination in earlier years but later the programme added the component of house to house search and vaccination to reduce missed children. Transit teams were deployed at all railway stations, bus stands, markets and highways to vaccinate populations in movement.
Special teams were set up to administer OPV drops to the most vulnerable mobile and migrant populations.
Introduction of bivalent oral polio vaccine (BOPV) in India, in January 2010, was based on country's innovative research. The bivalent polio vaccine helped India to achieve its goal of polio eradication.

Azad said the recommendations of the Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) set up by the WHO on research and coordination highlights the fact that very little research is happening in neglected diseases.
Intellectual Property Rights have become a barrier to access to medicines.
We need to consider the recommendations of the CEWG and ensure that adequate financing is made available to neglected diseases so that the poor and the vulnerable do not suffer from lack of proper medicines.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Postgraduate education in alternative medicine moves forward in India

The capacity for postgraduate education in alternative medicine, covering Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) has improved in India following government efforts.
To provide higher education to graduate students of AYUSH, post graduate education was introduced in a number of AYUSH colleges in the country. As on 01.04.2011, there were 117 colleges with admission capacity of 2424 students imparting post graduate education.
Of these, 29.7% post graduate colleges with 33.8% admission capacity belonged to Government Sector, 55.8% colleges with 53.3% admission capacity to Ayurveda and 35.1% colleges with 37.7% of admission capacity belonged to Homoeopathy. 6.3% of the Post Graduate colleges with 6.4% admission capacity belonged to other systems of AYUSH.

Out of these colleges, six colleges with admission capacity of 216 students were exclusively Post Graduate institutions. One exclusive Post Graduate college each of Unani and Siddha systems with admission capacities of 38 and 46 existed in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, whereas, two exclusive Post Graduate Ayurveda college each with admission capacities of 50 and 10 existed in the states of Gujarat and West Bengal.
One exclusive Post Graduate Homoeopathy College each with admission capacities of 36 and 36 were in the states of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

There was a surge in demand for post graduate education in AYUSH systems in the country. To meet the same, the facility of getting medical education at post graduate level is now available in 18 states as on 1st April 2011.
Maharashtra had maximum number of AYUSH colleges (36%), it had also maximum numbers of Ayurveda (36.9%) and Homoeopathy (35.9%) post graduate colleges, whereas Uttar Pradesh had maximum number of Unani (40%) colleges.
Neither the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura nor any of the union territories of India except NCT of Delhi had a single post graduate AYUSH college.
Apart from these, the state of Tamil Nadu had no Ayurveda post graduate college and the states of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand had no Homoeopathy college.
The colleges imparting Unani medical education existed in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh only. Post graduate education in Siddha existed in the State of Tamil Nadu only.

Average annual growth rate of 5.4% was registered in 2011 over 1993 in post graduate AYUSH colleges and admission capacity had grown 8.2%. Average annual growth rates of 4.2%, 5.2% and 3.9% had been attained in the number of colleges of Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha respectively during the period 1993 to 2011.
The above information was released by PIB  press release, dated 21st September, 2012.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How true is: "There is no hope for doing perfect research"

(Sometime back, I wrote an essay on Morwenna Griffith's statement, "There is no hope for doing perfect research". It has given me an opportunity to understand research with a new perspective. I am reproducing the essay with the hope it may be useful to many people).
     First and foremost, the above expression by itself is only a phrase, and does not explain full meaning of the expression. However, taking this in the context of its usage by Griffiths, this expression relates to the completeness and perfection of research. In order to dwell on the subject in some detail, let us examine this phrase to understand what it means in common terms. To do so, let us begin by examining three key words in the phrase: hope, perfect, research. According to Oxford dictionary ‘hope’  is a feeling of expectation and desire for something to happen; ‘perfect’ means having all the required elements or qualities; and ‘research’ is study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
      In the broader context of what the above phrase means, irrespective of disciplines,  methodologies, sources, data, results, conclusions, and theories propounded in any research, the expected outcome of  research is vulnerable, it is far from being lasting, and is subject to evolution, and thus it is ‘not Perfect’. I believe the statement is an outcome of substantial research, thinking and interpretation of what we observe with ongoing research across wide range of disciplines. I believe the statement “There is no hope for doing perfect research” by Griffiths, when judged in a very broad perspective of our natural word, holds true due to the very nature of the physical word, and  manifestation of diverse materials, life, systems, forces, interacting in space and time. In spite of this, a research study carried out under given conditions of facilities, budget, timeframe, etc. has met its objectives is ‘Perfect’ in its full meaning for the given research project.  
Research is ‘not-Perfect’ in broader perspective, why?
     To discuss the vulnerability of any research being ‘not perfect’, we must examine the forms of physical world and its manifestations. The world is divisible into three broader components: physical world, living and social, and any research will fall within one of these three broader domains. Now let us examine each of these domains to find why the statement ‘Research is not perfect’ holds true.
     The physical world: The physical word is a material world composed of substances in several forms which continue to be under influence of the nature’s forces, visible and invisible, in space and time. What holds true at a place in January will not hold true in June or September due to change of the position of the Earth, and thus the season; what will hold true in day will not hold true in night. Innumerable variables are at interplay giving rise to innumerable new variables, varied outcome under different sets of conditions. Any research, be it in the field of sciences or humanities, can only be held valid under a given set of variables, and the moment variables and research conditions change, the outcome may change. The physical world is governed by forces, which interact with each other, yet fundamental forces of nature do not change by themselves, like the gravity on Earth, speed of light, composition of hydrogen, density of water, and so on. But each principle can be exploited with tools and techniques for some desired outcome for human use, depending upon the sophistication of the techniques, and tools available, and used. Thus a research which is ‘not-Perfect’ in broader sense if judged in the light of its completion in a given time, budget, and has fulfilled the objective, it becomes ‘Perfect’.
     The living world: The world of living organisms is made possible due to the presence of life sustaining elements and systems on Earth. The life is under direct influence of natural forces. Anything that disturbs life sustaining forces will disturb the life on Earth. The living world is evolving and changing overtime. This provides unlimited space or opportunities to conduct research in living world to develop, evolve and grow, making it ‘not-Perfect’ in general, but being ‘Perfect’ when it serves the objective.
     The social world: Art and humanities:  The man has evolved as a social animal having capability to think, organize, plan, research, acquire knowledge, invent, adopt tools and technologies, and improve his social environment on regular basis by offsetting the existing conditions, and by evolving new societal norms and practices. This ever evolving social environment is a dynamic system, and thus at any given point the conditions are not perfect, and therefore no research endeavor is ‘Perfect’ in broader meaning. But research is ‘Perfect’ in limited sense as explained above.
     Natural world as driver of ‘not-Perfect’ research: Whatever exists in our physical word is determined by natural forces, and the influences of natural forces traverse through all spheres of human activities and pursuits, and manifest into complex sets of effects. We humans can divide our life, as it concerns us, into three domains: living, nonliving and social. Human life evolves and continues by relative understanding and exploitation, and ever changing perception of our relationship between fellow humans, elements of nature, and those complex set of influences.  
     Research is thus a very complex pursuit to follow, with an existing space provided on every frontier, as an opportunity to explore in every conceivable and non-conceivable direction, over time, an innate property of the nature. And this is what it makes it difficult to reach the end point of a given research, as new opportunities open up overtime,  linearly, or as side chains, in a branching fashion, or as parallel opportunities, or as unrelated side chain ‘spin off’ of the research with a different objective.
Research endeavors: Humanities versus sciences:
     In general, research carried out in any field, irrespective of the sciences or humanities, is an endeavor which is far from being perfect; though, research is more quantifiable in sciences than in humanities. The reason being that in humanities there is greater room for bias, individual views, opinions, role of social hierarchy leading to overall subjectivity in deciding the outcome of research and its applications. In sciences, however, the objectivity is greater due to factual findings, supported by automated machines and instruments. In sciences, standardized conditions for data collection are common, and for certain biological disciplines it is mandatory to adopt  good laboratory practices for generation of data otherwise data will not be acceptable to regulatory agencies. These set of conditions are expected to provide more accurate data.
     In spite of the use of defined conditions for research in most disciplines, research in any field of science is far from perfect, and is under constant improvements due to new emerging technologies providing greater vision and scope for analysis in research, and advancements of knowledge. Therefore, due to the fluidity of research in general, it is not valuable to draw a line between sciences and humanities, and thus engage in discussion in more general context of research as such. To further enlarge the scope of discussion on the subject, ‘there is no hope for doing perfect research’ it is worth finding out the various types and characteristics of research, and their relationship in achieving ‘Perfect’ research. The analysis follows.
Types of research:
     Weather a research is perfect or not, dependents upon the type of research. Research can be of several types:
     Blue-sky research is a nascent or emerging discipline. Researches in such a field are never perfect due to rapid progress, due to fast changing evidence, evolving theories, and use of new tools and techniques.
     Fundamental and basic research revolutionize current and old thinking, and opens new horizons. Researches in these areas set milestones, but these are never perfect due to advances at a faster pace due to the use of new tools and techniques.
     Applied research enables utilization of fundamental and basic research for development of technologies and products for commercial application and as social goods. The technologies and products which stand in use over a period of time are examples of ‘Perfect’ research until the products are replaced by improved substitutes.
     In addition there are advances in disguise, which are more superficial research, for quick application on ground. Products of such research phases out quickly, examples, newer applications in computers, softwares, mobile versions, etc.
Characteristics of research:
     Research operates in time and space: Progress in research in any discipline depends upon the existing state-of-the-art knowledge. Thus a new discipline with no existing knowledge in the field, except the fundamental knowledge, has opportunities to grow faster, and thus every research that comes through in this field will be less perfect and short-lived.
     Research has a life-span: Any research is time-dependent, and has is a life-span depending upon the progress of research in that field. There is a beginning and an end point of any research finding, the end point, however, does not mean its death, but its reduced importance or obsolescence.
     Research value determines perfection: Perfection of a research changes with its practical use, application, technological failure, and social perception of its importance. Research leading to a drug is ‘Perfect’, as long as it is safe, but the moment it records side effects, the research becomes ‘not-Perfect’ due to technological failure, and social perception as a harmful drug.
     In the absence of democratic settings in conventional societies, top-down approach is applied in decision taking about the quality of research. Such research is meaningless as the perception of the society for which the research aims at is not the deciding force in formulating policies. For example, some government wants to establish an atomic plant at a place, based on its independent feasibility studies and research data. But, the public interest groups, armed with their own survey findings, environmental concerns, expected human suffering due to displacement of communities, damage to environment and loss of rare biological diversity, want the plant located at some other place. In such research, there is a loss of value due to non-involvement of stakeholders, and therefore it is ‘not-Perfect’ research.
      Thus, when the research perspective changes, the research value changes. A change of government can overnight reverse the decision, though the set of research findings are the same. A different viewpoint changes or reverses the research value. Some research outcome considered valuable by one government may not find appreciation by another government, and may be dubbed as a waste due to a different view point. In these situations research is ‘not-perfect’ perception moves a step further, research becomes volatile!
Measurement of research:
     In order to judge whether a research is perfect or not, there is a need to measure the outcome of research. Research is a complex multi-dimensional pursuit, and therefore it can’t be measured by any single criterion. There are several criteria in vogue to measure research; some of the criteria are explained below:
     Criteria for completion of research, and fulfillment of objectives: (i) compilation of research findings on completion of research in the form of a report; (ii) publication of research findings in peer- reviewed journals, or publication in high impact factor journals, not below a definite rating; (iii) completion of research in a given setting/population/cases/patients, etc.; (iv) achievement of objectives.
     Criteria for standards of research /publication, and fulfillment of standards: This is a practice adopted by research faculties and institutions engaged in sponsored research. Development of a technology or product of specified standard implies the research has fulfilled its objective, and the research is perfect. Similarly, the publication of research findings in a reputed peer- reviewed journals and high impact factor journals is considered as equal to perfect research.
     Criteria of Research Funding /Peer-recognition/awards/ honors: A research group that is able to draw huge funds from grant agencies and sponsors supports the view that the group is involved in conducting valuable research. Similarly, recognitions bestowed upon researchers by academies, organizations/governments are indicators of the acceptance of research, and such recognitions amount to quality research. 
  Where research satisfies the criteria of its measurements it justifiably achieves fulfillment of research objective and qualifies as ‘Perfect’ research, even though it still follows the cardinal principle of being ‘not-Perfect’ research and is subject to improvements in the future.
Factors that enable ‘Perfect’ research:
     There are several factors which determine the research output, quality, applicability, innovation and weather it is perfect or not. Factors which influence research are:
     Resources: Financial, infrastructure and facilities, human; each of the factor influence research outcome and its quality and hence, the ‘Perfect’ nature.
     Time-gap/period: Any development called ‘Perfect’ research is time-dependent, and is seldom achieved in haste.
     Existing state-of-the art: An area already having advanced field has greater chances for ‘Perfect’ research.
     An Objective: There has to be an objective for completion of a research, though some outcome may not be foreseeable and it may be serendipitous or chance finding.
In the large number of fields of research, be it sciences, social sciences and humanities, the Griffiths belief that no research is ‘Perfect’ holds true everywhere. But this is not applicable in a narrow set of conditions when the research is carried out with a defined objective and goals, with a given budget, given skilled human resource, and a time limit, and it fulfills the objectives. Such research is undoubtedly ‘Perfect’ in a limited sense. But as the objectives change, and all other conditions change, the research qualifies ‘not-Perfect’ option. Perfect research is not necessarily dependent upon large budget as required in drug R&D. A drug becomes obsolete soon needing a new drug to meet new challenges of quality, efficacy and safety. Similarly, celebrated computer software, or a research into the status of women education in a tribe, development , and so on, will change with change in perspectives, policy and demands.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Indian Contributions to Large Hadron Collider

The Ministry of Science & Technology of the Indian government has through a release (29th August) informed about the country's contributions to research related to the Large Hadron Collider. This will be useful information to students following Indian developents in science.
The accepted theory for the origin of Universe is the theory of "Big Bang". The  the Universe started with a gigantic explosion called For fractions of a second after the Big Bang, the Universe consisted of the most elementary constituents of matter interacting with each other through other particles which are carriers of different kinds of forces existing in nature.
And, the carriers of all forces in Nature are "bosons", named after the famous Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose. The behaviour of these elementary particles is described today by a mathematical model called the Standard Model. According to Standard Model, all particles acquire mass through their interaction with another particle called the Higgs particle (also popularly called the "God Particle" in the Media).
Named after the British physicist Peter Higgs. The Higgs particle is again a boson. It is a matter of pride for us that bosons play such an important part in the evolution of Universe and, perhaps, also in the ultimate fate of the Universe. 
Physical situations similar to what existed at fractions of a second after the Big Bang are experimentally created in laboratories through collision of particles or nuclei. That is the primary intellectual reason why high energy particle accelerators are built. The Standard Model has been tested with considerable precision in accelerator experiments so far and has come out with flying colours.
The only missing link has been the Higgs Boson. Unfortunately, the Standard Model does not predict the mass of the Higgs Boson. As the Model continued to have excellent agreement with experimental observations, the anxiety to find the Higgs Boson also kept growing, especially because it plays such an important role in the structure of the Standard Model. All accelerators in the past continued with their search and put bounds on its possible mass.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) was planned with the special aim of detecting the Higgs particle if its mass was below 1000 GeV. CERN, as a result of two experiments has recently reported discovery of a new particle, expected to be the long sought after Higgs particle.
 The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India are organizing a one-day National Meet on "India at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)" at the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), New Delhi with assistance from INSA and Vigyan Prasar, Noida. The purpose of the Meet is to showcase Indian contributions to the construction of LHC, the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) and ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) Experiments and the development of the LHC Computing Grid. 
The Large Hadron Collider  (LHC) at CERN 

LHC is the most ambitious project undertaken by CERN so far. The LHC is a giant particle accelerator buried underneath the ground, 27 km in circumference and crossing through Switzerland and France several times. After the feasibility study and financial assurance from various countries in the world, the construction of LHC was launched in 1996.

It is designed to produce proton-proton collisions with a centre of mass energy of 14 TeV, to be followed by collisions between lead nuclei involving a centre of mass energy of 1150 TeV. At the present time, it is producing proton-proton collisions at a centre of mass energy of 8 TeV. LHC, even at this lower operating energy at present, is already the highest energy particle accelerator ever built by mankind.

Even a greater achievement has been the extremely large "luminosity" of collision that has been accomplished by the machine. This essentially means that protons can be made to interact at the interaction points with extremely large flux. The total cost of building the LHC has been about 4.5 Billion Euro and its annual operating budget is around 800 Million Euro. The physics studies are carried out at LHC at 6 ‘collision points’, 4 of which are equipped with large detector set-ups.
These are CMS, ALICE, ATLAS and LHCb and will provide the scientists a peek into a totally unexplored micro-cosmic world. Scientists from Indiahave taken part in building the LHC machine and the first two of these four detector set-ups. Further, the data volume at LHC is a big challenge for computing and this has been tackled via the development of LHC computing Grid, a new paradigm.
LHC as an example of Mega Science

Facilities such as the LHC, by virtue of their resource requirements, technical complexity of building, and the gigantic efforts required in carrying out and analyzing the data produced by the experiments, fall into the class of research facilities which are commonly called now as "Mega Science Facilities".

The outstanding questions in Particle Physics today are at a length scale which require particle probes at extremely high energies. The physics questions that it tends to answer belong to the sub-nuclear length scales or to very early stages in the evolution of the Universe (picoseconds to microseconds after the Big Bang).

Such high energy probes are produced at particle accelerators like the LHC which are multi-billion dollar facilities. These are no more affordable for individual nations and, hence, international consortia engage in building and managing such facilities. Technologically, such facilities are engineering marvels pushing the technology frontiers to their extreme in wide range of engineering disciplines.

All of this requires that the best in the world pool not only their financial resources but also their intellectual resources to build such facilities. The coordination among scores of research laboratories spread all over the globe and participating in such efforts is remarkable. 

Such facilities have a long list of very useful technological spin-offs – the World Wide Web being one of them. WWW was invented at CERN in connection with previous generation experiments at the Large Electron Positron (LEP) collider facility. 

The need, challenges and benefits of engaging in such "Mega Science" pursuits will be discussed during the Meet.
History of CERN-India Collaboration – The Run-up to LHC
The history of Collaboration between CERN and India is a long one. It started with scientist-to-scientist and institutional collaborations in the 1960's. Scientists from TIFR won recognition for their contribution to the L3 detector in the 80's.

The collaborations gradually built up with time. In order to further increase the pace of accelerator development in our country and to give a thrust to experimental high energy physics programme, DAE and CERN signed an agreement of cooperation in 1991 for a ten year period. In the early years of this agreement, the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore successfully delivered a few sub-systems for upgradation of LEP-200 project, thereby confirming viability of such an arrangement.

The formal framework provided by this agreement was also tapped by the Indian High Energy Physics (HEP) community by participating in a frontier area of research involving the heavy (lead) ion collision programme being carried out at CERN. A number of DAE institutions and universities (supported by DST) took part in these efforts and won recognition for their scientific efforts.

So, when CERN launched its most expensive LHC project, and was looking for competent partners in this programme, in terms of ideas, hardware and manpower, our past association came in handy. A protocol was signed in March 1996 between DAE and CERN and India joined the LHC project and agreed to provide in-kind contribution in terms of hardware, skilled manpower and software to the tune of 25 million USD (equivalent to 34.4 million Swiss francs).

By 2001-02, different components identified for Indian contributions to LHC had touched 34 million Swiss francs and large-scale fabrication of many such components was well on course, with the help of large industrial enterprises in the country.

This convincingly established our credentials and ultimately resulted in (i) CERN extending the 1991 cooperation agreement with India for a further ten-year period; (ii) our in-kind contribution on the request of CERN being enhanced to 60.4 millions Swiss francs; and (iii) India being accorded the ‘Observer status by CERN Governing Council with only Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, Turkey, USA, EC and UNESCO being the other observers. The CERN-India Collaboration has reached a new height recently with India becoming an Associate Member.
Indian Contributions towards building up of LHC
The in-kind contributions that Indiacommitted to CERN involved hardware, software as well as skilled manpower support. The hardware supply opened a door for Indian industry to take up the challenge of delivering high-quality products for a cutting-edge international research project.
RRCAT, Indore with a major programme in accelerators, was the nodal DAE institution which had the responsibility to carry out necessary R&D work to prototype and develop the components, so as to meet the given specifications before their large-scale production was entrusted to industry.
The other institutions involve were BARC, VECC and IGCAR. India successfully supplied items like superconducting corrector magnets-sextupoles (MCS), decapoles (MCD) and octupoles (MCO); mechanical systems, namely precision magnet positioning system-jacks (PMPS-jacks); accelerator protection system-quench protection heater power supply (QPS), quench detection electronics (QDE) and control electronics for high current circuit breakers; vacuum system-vacuum system design for long beam transport lines for beam dumps; cryogenics-large capacity liquid nitrogen tanks and test facility for testing of Sc magnets at 4.2 K; engineering studies-analysis of cryogenic distribution line interconnects and test and analysis for magnets along with necessary technical documentation; and so on.
Indian Contribution to the CMS Experiment
One of the leading experiments/detectors at CERN is the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) Experiment/Detector. This is one of the two experiments at LHC which have led to the discovery of a new resonance, expected to be the much sought after Higgs Boson. This experiment will also probe into some other fundamental issues in physics, namely, physics beyond the Standard Model like supersymmetric particles; detailed properties of the top quark; search for new heavy gauge bosons; possible quark and lepton substructure, and so on.
Five Indian institutions have been are participating in this experiment: TIFR, BARC, Delhi University, PanjabUniversity, Chandigarh and Visva Bharati, Santiniketan (as an associate of TIFR group). Lately, SINP, Kolkata and IIT, Mumbai (as an associate of BARC group) have also joined this experiment. Participation of NISER, Bhubaneswaris under discussion. This research has been jointly funded by DAE and DST on 50:50 basis. 
 Towards hardware of the CMS Detector, the Indian groups have already contributed the Hadron Barrel Outer Calorimeter (HO-B) and the Silicon Strip based Pre-shower Detector (PSD) of the endcap electromagnetic calorimeter. In addition, the Indian groups have significantly contributed towards development of software, analyses strategy from early days of CMS and, finally, physics analyses of data. Frequent presentations of scientific results on behalf of CMS collaboration by Indian scientists in international conferences also indicate the significant role being played by the Indian scientific community in the overall functioning of CMS.
The members of Indian collaboration have also been assigned CMS-wide coordination roles. At present, Indian scientists are also deeply involved in collection of data, monitoring and certification of data as well possible improvement in the performance of various detector subsystems.
Indian Contribution to the ALICE Experiment

Apart from accelerating protons, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will also accelerate and collide heavy ions, e.g. Pb ions with a centre of mass energy of 1150 TeV.

The collision of such ultra-relativistic heavy ions is predicted to produce a new phase of strongly interacting matter at extremely high energy densities, called the Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP). This phase of matter is also believed to have existed in the very early Universe. Search for QGP is an important goal at LHC. The ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) Experiment is the only dedicated experiment at LHC which will search for QGP.
Eight Indian institutions are participating in this experiment: VECC and SINP, Kolkata, IOP, Bhubaneswar, Panjab University,Chandigarh, RajasthanUniversity, Jaipur, Jammu University,Jammu, AligarhMuslim University,Aligarh and IIT, Bombay. 4 new institutions – IIT-Indore, Bose Institute, Kolkata, Gauhati University and NISER, Bhubaneswar are expected to join this experiment very shortly. This research has also been jointly funded by DAE and DST on 50:50 basis.
On the hardware side, the Indian groups have built a Photon Multiplicity Detector (PMD) and some Tracking Chambers for the Forward Muon Spectrometer. The Indian groups have also developed a special chip for the Forward Muon Spectrometer, called the MANAS chip.
 In addition, the Indian groups have participated in development of software, experimental runs and, finally, in the physics analysis of data.

Indian Contributions to the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG)
 The 4 experiments at LHC, viz. ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb, detect subsidiary particles generated during the collision of particle beams. The number of interactions among protons when the proton beams collide every 50 nano-second is almost thousand million. A major detector like CMS has about 10 Million electronic channels to collect information of the collision.
Through judicious choice the data archival rate is reduced by many orders of magnitude and finally about few Giga bytes of data is stored for subsequent analyses in detail. In the heavy operation, each collision is expected to generate up to 2000 subsidiary particles, which is observed through 180,000 channels. The total data generation amounts to about 8-10 Petabytes (1000, 000 Gigabytes) in a year of experiment time.

CERN has used very effectively the technology of Grid Computing to carry out physics analysis with this voluminous amount of data. This has been possible due to the availability of high speed networking over large distance. The basic principle is to store, manage, monitor and make available data to a collaborating scientist at anytime, anywhere in the world. Effective use of this technology is partly responsible for quick results from the experimental runs so far.

The WLCG is a tiered structure of distributed computing resources used by all scientists working at the LHC. India hosts 2 Tier-2 Centres at TIFR and VECC and a large number of Tier-3 Centres at various institutions. 

Indian scientists at BARC have developed and deployed a number of software projects successfully in collaboration with IT Division, CERN. They have developed important software tools like GRIDVIEW and SHIVA. Gridview is a tool that is used by the WLCG/EGEE communities to visualize various functional metrics of the grid.

The members of the Gridview team in Computer Division are seen as experts in availability and reliability and are acknowledged for their experience in developing and running the very large Terabyte scale databases used by Gridview. SHIVA is a software tool for implementing problem tracking systems for software projects. In addition, all groups in the CMS and ALICE Experiments have utilized the WLCG for simulations and for analyzing the physics data. 

This research has also been jointly funded by DAE and DST on 50:50 basis. The investments in LHC-related activities since 1996 (i.e. over 15 year period) will be approximately Rs. 400 crore.  
Impact of India's engagements at LHC
 It will not be an exaggeration to say that India's engagements at CERN and LHC have made India arrive on the global Mega Science scene. Since our effective participation in LHC, several international consortia have approached Indiafor participation and Indiais now participating in the FAIR project in Germany, TMT project in USAand so on.
The number of experimental groups in experimental high energy physics have steadily grown because of our LHC involvement. Several students who completed their doctorates on LHC related projects have joined leading institutions after valuable post-doctoral experience abroad. At the national level also, our engagement with LHC has led to increased collaboration among institutions in the country. It has also led to exemplary coordination and cooperation between DAE and DST.

Finally, as a result of our efforts and investments, India proudly shares the results coming out of LHC which are at the very frontiers of human knowledge. There is today in the country a vibrant 150-200 strong community of scientists and research students in the area of experimental high energy physics.

And, most importantly, a large number of young scientists are in the making at any give time due to their participation in these intellectually challenging and exciting scientific ventures.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Moonlight Through the Woods on a Night

Moonlight through the woods on a night
Reading newspapers and watching news sometimes is a painful experience, because what we see and listen is not what we had wished for.

A doctor, engineer, public servant or any professional or businessperson is found involved in corruption, he  is caught and or jailed. Similarly, in some instances someone educated and experienced is found involved in crime of one or the other sort and have to face the consequences!

Had such people some vision at some stage to realise that what they had been doing, or involved in, and if had avoided such acts, would have been free from the consequences of those wrongdoings. Most educated people would probably know the difference between the right and wrong, and can avoid it. But compulsion of power and greed blind senses, and if such people lack strong  values and self respect, they lose the balance and become victims. A little advantage (a carrot?) is too motivating to them to follow anyone just for small or big  gains.

This above context is related to career. Did those people  adopt a career to meet such an end? No, they deserved better future because they were bright minds, they had secured high marks in qualifying and competitive examinations, were always first to raise hands in class, they were good presenters and managers, or what not. But they lacked one very fundamental need for a human being: sincerity to job, its requirements, that is, service to organisation, their nation, society, to their family and friends. And all this in true sense!

We tend to live in double standards: our religious and cultural ethos teach us values, sacrifice; our education teaches us to be great people by practicing the ethics of profession in letter and spirit. But in practice we side with people who breach rules, please the bosses, are on the side of powerful lobbies, make money and live in high standards. In this world we talk of high economy, high earnings, high living standards. In the same world we talk of sustainable development, equitable distribution, carbon audit, concern for wastage of food, high living  standards in few countries, and high living by few in poor and developing countries. Some loose balance of mind, and fall prey.

Development in any way, of science, technology, innovation, industrial growth, etc are good but can not be allowed if they affect environment, risk to human life, to our ecosystems, our biodiversity, ethics, and fundamentals of human freedom, dignity, life etc. Similarly individuals can progress in their career, make ,advancements in life if they follow the ethics of their profession, rules of land, and contribute to their organisations, country and the society.

For any one, especially for younger minds stepping into their career,  what should be the guidelines: always follow the basic rules, respect the laws of land, and never break them, be sincere to the requirements of a true citizen of the country and never ever flout them come what may, follow the requirements of the profession as per the required code of conduct.

When you plan a career money, power and position, lust for unhealthy competition (if competition is for better performance and effectiveness in your job it is ok, but if it is related to how you can get over it by any means like by following unhealthy practices, a group or coterie of powerful people, by bribing, by approaching power lobbies, it makes no sense; in the later case it is better to be a slow wormin than a jumping frog, for one will have to pay for this favour to the mentor today or tomorrow.

The above note is just to remind youngsters that education is to build you as useful, efficient, successful human beings in whatever profession you chose, and to be always fair and just in your life no matter what ever are the circumstances. So if you follow this principle in life you will be able to fight out geed and lust of power. But excuse me you may not become an empty rich man boasting his estate and gadgets.

If those powerful people had instead of taking the route of sycophancy, power, greed had sacrificed all this  for sincerity in service, performance, honesty, they would have not been where they are today. Many a time some professions require manipulating abilities, communication abilities to out smart competitors. It is better to say no to such careers where we have to lose our values as a good and humble human beings.

These  personal thoughts I believe are like 'moonlight through the woods on a night', but one can ignore them if not convinced!