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Convocation Address 2014   

By Padma Bhushan Dr.V.K. Saraswat

I am delighted to participate in 4th Convocation of Jain University. I greet the Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor, Directors, Faculty, Students and other distinguished guests.

My heartiest congratulations to the graduating students who are passing out from the portals of this prestigious University.  As you walk into the open world, you will realize the strength you have gained through the quality education imparted to you by this dedicated faculty of world class.

I take this opportunity to congratulate all the Faculty members, Students and staff of this University and all those who have contributed in promoting good educational standards in this University.

Since I am in the midst of prospective scientists and technologists, I have been thinking around some important areas which I consider vital for India. The critical technologies for India could be strategic technologies, advanced manufacturing and process technologies, knowledge intensive technologies, bio technology, nano-electronics and nano bio-technologies. Among these technologies, my foremost thoughts are filled with advancements in aerospace technologies and their exploitation. Accordingly, I would like to share with you a few thoughts on the topic “ Challenges in Aerospace Technologies - an Indian perspective”.

I   A new - India emerging as a champion
India is in the process of becoming technological force with all round growth in all the sectors of the economy namely agriculture, product manufacturing, textiles, transport communication, power and services sector.  There is considerable advancement in our defence services’ capabilities in terms of high technology products and equipment. Today we are a leading nation in Information Technology and has strong base in software development. Similarly, there have been advancements in Aerospace Technologies and their application in different fields.

Knowledge base is indeed the foundation for leading our country into a developed nation. For this, the time is ripe because of the increasing trend of the economy, availability of great institutions for capacity building of the human resource such as IITs, NITs and excellent Institutions of higher learning like Jain University and abundant natural resources.  Further, we have a force of over 540 million youth who are determined to make the quality of life better, with prosperity and happiness.  With this background, India must take the lead in mobilizing and integrating knowledge resources for its transformation into a nation of advanced technologies bringing stability, prosperity and peace.  Towards this destination, Aerospace technologies form the backbone and vital supporting structure.

a.  Inspiration for India’s science and technology base
India had in 1950’s its first Prime Minister, the visionary Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who gave high priority and thrust for the evolution of scientific temper through establishing science and technology centers including IITs. Simultaneously, he created large number of industries in power generation, steel manufacturing, fertilizer production and initiated work in space, atomic energy and defence research. This is also the period when great scientific personalities like Sir CV Raman, Dr. K.S. Krishnan, Dr. S.S. Bhatnagar,  Dr Homi J Bhaba, Dr. Mahanolobis, Dr. D.S. Kothari, Dr. Meghnad Saha, Dr. S.N. Bose, Prof Vikram Sarabhai and Dr. Nayudamma were laying the foundations for modern Indian science. The inspiration provided by these leaders has enabled India to generate large number of scientists who are contributing to basic scientific research and also in application of science and technology for societal upliftment. I would like to share some of the major impacts of science and technology to the society in our country.

b.      Science &Technology Milestones - India"s growth journey
Prof Vikram Sarabhai’s space vision has enabled India to acquire the capability to design, develop, build and launch any type of satellite from Indian soil. Today, India has completed its journey around Moon and Mars. Prof Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar created multiple CSIR laboratories in various disciplines for developing and transferring the technology to Indian industry. Dr Kothari was in the mission of creating a chain of DRDO laboratories for promoting self-reliance in critical defence technologies and strategic systems.  This was further strengthened by the phenomenal efforts of Dr APJ Kalam’s missile program. The youth powered with computer knowledge has led to a revolution in Information Technology.  The initiatives of Pharma Industry has lead to produce internationally competitive drugs from new molecules. Similarly, capacity building in high technologies, education and research got a fillip through institutions like Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institute of Technology, National Institute of Technology, Centers of Excellence in Medical Research and other scientific disciplines. Over the years the Indian Scientific and Educational Institutions have evolved partnership in research and development with many leading institutions in various parts of the world. Indian National Academy of Sciences (INAS), Indian Science Congress, Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) are playing important role in promoting research and development among our youth.

c    Current environment & need of the hour
The path we travelled as a nation in all fronts brought us to a situation where we need to blend the results of an ascending economy, continuously rising foreign exchange reserves, controlled inflation, global recognition of our technological competence, energy of 380 million youth, umbilical connectivities of 23 million people of Indian origin in various parts of the planet, with the potential sharing capacity of knowledge and resources, and interest shown by many developed countries to invest in our engineers and scientists through setting up of manufacturing plants and establishing new Research & Development Centers through direct investments, all happening at one time. India as the largest democracy in the world has a reputation for its democracy and for providing leadership to one billion people with multi-cultural and multi-religious backgrounds. The Indian economy is growing with an average annual GDP growth rate of 6-7% (except in 2013). There is a need to ensure that our growth rate has to be increased to over 10% of GDP and sustain it at least for a decade. Simultaneously, the benefits of growth have to be equitably distributed for realizing the goals of transforming India into a developed nation. I strongly believe that science through technology enhances the comfort and quality of human life.  Hence application of science and technology is vital for accomplishing this mission.

II Aerospace technologies and challenges
Development of Aerospace technologies is vital for defence and civilian applications.  They are also critical for developing products and systems required in communication, transportation and exploration of earth and its minerals and natural resources. Medical electronics is also supported through Aero Space Technologies.  The advancements in aerospace electronics are the mother of all commercial electronics.  The materials developed for Aerospace application find wide usage in commercial application.

I would like to present some of the critical technologies which can translate and structure major events in our development, wealth prosperity, strength and quality of life.

Aerospace technologies

  • Space Technologies
    The nature had given us great resources for energy. But our continuous exploitation of the resources for energy is leading to depletion of natural resources like fossil fuels. Our continuous excessive usage of hydrocarbons is leading to global warming and deprivation of energy for future. The effects of global warming associated with rise in sea level are going to threaten the existence of humanity in many continents with vast portions of earth likely to be submerged in sea. Other non-conventional sources of power are not cost effective and require huge investment. It is time that we look forward to alternate resources from space and other planets too

  • Reusable launch vehicles          
    Today, the  main  hindrance  for  exploration  of  space is the prohibitive cost of launch ($ 30,000 per Kg) of payload involved with space missions due to very low payload fractions of the space vehicles. Hence our space utilization is limited to communication, meteorology, navigation and remote sensing besides the military applications. The solar system and space have abundant resources.  It is reported that mining and energy could be viable economic options at a later date. To achieve this, the payload fractions have to be improved with cost per kg to be brought to less than $ 2000 per kg

  • Hyper Plane      
    High payload fractions at low cost would be possible only if we have single stage to orbit(SSTO) vehicles that are reusable and use atmospheric oxygen by liquefaction during flight. The vehicles can take off with scram jet engines, carry only liquid hydrogen, collect and use oxygen during the flight and return back after the mission. These vehicles would be used for multiple roles for low cost access to space for exploration and exploitation and as future executive jets for transcontinental air transportation

  • Space Solar Power
    Space solar power is the next possible energy solution being tried out by many countries. The system involves deploying satellites with large solar panels in space, transmit power through microwaves to the ground and reception at ground with receiver antennae. The space solar power would be available continuously as the system can be located at number of places to get exposure throughout and is not affected by day/ night cycles

  • Space Security
    Space is being utilized for Communication, Navigation, Surveillance, Remote Sensing Imaging, Disaster Management and many other military and civilian applications. Economic growth is strongly linked to space assets.  New changes in military doctrines viz., Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) encompassing Network Centric Warfare largely depend upon the availability of robust and reliable space based systems.  However, it also leads to vulnerability in case space assets are denied by our adversaries in the event of a conflict.  This calls for building the technologies for “Launch on Demand” with minimum reaction time, Nano and Mini Satellites with dedicated and customized functionalities with a short life span of 6 months to 1 year.  Also we need to protect our space assets against different type of attacks viz., Electronic Warfare, KE Kill of satellites and temporary disruption or denial.  Offensive technologies like Anti-Satellite Systems also are required to be developed

  • Air Transportation
    The past decade has seen unprecedented growth in air transportation. Due to higher competition, the future air travel needs to be cheaper by adopting latest technologies. Employment of lighter materials like composites and titanium would help in higher payloads for the same all up weight. Design of propulsion systems with higher efficiency with least noise and emissions would help in achieving higher utilization of air space. The advanced navigation systems with Global Positioning systems and automated guidance and control systems would enhance the air safety. Better instrumentation including automated takeoff and landing systems would help operations irrespective of climatic conditions.

    The present day aircraft rely heavily on automation. The Fly by wire and FADEC (Fully automated digital engine control) have already reduced dependency on the pilot. The centralised condition monitoring systems and Integrated Vehicle Health Monitoring Systems linked to the network helps in monitoring the health of the systems without grounding the aircraft for maintenance thus improving the profitability. One of the major areas of improvement in civil aviation is breaking the sound barrier. Though CONCORD has been in use in the past, its phase out has once again limited air travel to subsonic speeds. With changing demographics and the necessity for faster travel, the supersonic transport aircraft are must for the future. Employing the Hypersonic executive jets using the Hyper plane design concept would drastically reduce the travel time between continents with hypersonic travel being made more affordable

  • Regional Transport Aircraft
    India is one of the growing aviation market.  Large number of civil aircrafts are being procured by increasing number of airlines.  Most of them are servicing the trunk routes.  There is a requirement to develop Regional Transport aircraft for short  haul domestic routes.  Experience of LCA and other military aircrafts development programs needs to be harnessed for development and production of RTA under Hon’ble Prime Ministr Shri Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” Program.  Participation of private industries, commercial airlines, academic institutions and funding agency in collaboration with international partner will set up a strong base in this country for design, development and production of civil aircrafts

  • Unmanned Micro Air Vehicles
    UAVs as like robots, and robots compete best for those jobs that are repetitive, hard, with a high pay-to skill ratio and perhaps dangerous. These vehicles are small in size and perform all actions with minimum or little human interaction. Though they are used mainly for military applications, their usage in other disaster recovery and reconnaissance is on increase. The challenge is in miniaturization of components with high efficiency to provide long endurance of systems. Usage of advanced materials with micro electronics has seen new generation micro air vehicles being put to use.

    The concept of rotocopters, i.e. miniaturized helicopters provides the ability to land and operate from any small place. These units would be extremely helpful in undertaking hazardous missions where human lives can not be kept at stake. However, the challenge in realisation of these vehicles is development of Micro and Nano sensors with multiple functionalities in a single unit. These should be very light, consume least power and operate at highest reliability. In future more and more applications of the UAVs are envisaged and with equal challenges in developing technologies for these vehicles

Future Technologies

  • IT and Convergence
    The Information Technology and communications have been declared as the achievements of the past century with transformation of human lives. The computational speeds have grown geometrically with compilation and storage of data in smallest possible media. We have witnessed the processor performance doubling every 18 Months, the network bandwidth doubling every year and the storage capacity doubling every nine months. It is estimated that by 2020 itself we have a computation system that have a Multicore Processors working at 60 GHz clock rates, Terra Bytes of Main Memory, Super Computing at more than 200 peta flops of operation leading to Hexa-Scale machines, Multilingual, Terabit connectivity at PC and Gigabit Wireless.  Major breakthroughs will emerge with integration of CMOS devices with Silicon-Photonics to improve the latency of every single operation, reduction in size and power consumption in Super Computers, Data Centers and Fibre-Optic Smart Networks.

    The convergence between systems has seen integration of all systems for practically all possible areas of humanity. The artificial intelligence has seen computers coming close to the human brain. The day is not far when the computer overtakes human and we have robots far superior in functions than humans with advancements in nano technology and materials, biotechnology and nano sensors

  • MEMS and Nano Technologies
     Micro and Nano devices are the electronic sensors that are miniaturized with multiple functionalities. They are realised through special fabrication techniques like sputtering, vacuum deposition etc. They are light in weight and occupy least volume. They combine many functionalities on a single chip and are integrated into a single chip. Future aerospace systems would be integrated with MEMS and Nano devices for better reliability.  Besides Aerospace, these devices have already revolutionized the medical diagnostic and surgical instruments

  • Smart Materials - Carbon Nano Tubes 
    Carbon Nano Tubes are allotropes of carbon and are of diameter of one nanometer. They are strongest and stiffest materials with high tensile strength and elastic modulus. Metallic nano tubes are super conductors with electrical current density more than 1000 times of silver and copper. They are also very good thermal conductors. They have a wide variety of uses from structural applications like concrete, polythene, ultra high speed eqpt to electro-magnetics like transistors, superconductors, ultra capacitors, solar cells, computer circuits and sensors. The advances in bio-nano technology would lead to usage of nano materials in bio-engineering leading to convergence with direct applications in medicine in terms of drug release mechanisms and tissue engineering

  • Network Centric Warfare
    The network Centric Warfare, the latest technology adopted by military derives advantages from the Information  Technology by networking all the sensors, resources and automating the processes that are spread continents across. This would help in better information sharing among the forces, better situational awareness and synchronisation of events and the optimal use of resources. This improves the effectiveness of the centralised command & control systems in dealing with complex situations in automated mode.  The system involves robust multi modal communication systems, encryption and authentication, sensor fusion and decision making systems

III Harnessing technology advancements
The universities and academic organizations are engaged in conceptualization and creation of new knowledge in terms of science and technology. Industry is the agency, which translates the science and technology into products and services useful to mankind. On analysis of our country’s requirements I would like to suggest the following areas of operation to both Academic Institutions and to industry.
  • Academic Institution to pursue directed basic research in focused areas.
  • The industry is to take lead in converting the results of basic research from academia into new products and systems.  Towards this,
    • The industry has to change & transform into a new form or new entity with a changed mind set.
    • It has to graduate from component level manufacturer to system level manufacturer
    • It also needs to invest funds and establish facilities to convert results of basic research to Applied Science & Technologies and from Applied Science & Technologies to new product development & production of the same in numbers.
    • Industry is to sponsor some of its engineers to academic institutions and also accommodate academicians in the industry. Exchange is going to be mutually beneficial.

If there is a mutual understanding between the two organizations, it is possible to harness all the advancements in science and technology for the benefit of our people. In this context I would like suggest two models of working together. These include

  • University - Industry direct interaction model
  • University - R&D organisation - Industry - Interaction model

 A brief on the concepts of the two models is given as under:
a) University - Industry Model
The academic institution and universities produce a continuous stream of research results and innovations.  They also act as incubators for evolution of new technologies and new products required by clusters of SMEs around them. The industry in its competitive environment needs continuous improvements in their product features, in its performance in manufacturing the product. To make these improvements, industry needs support by way of innovations. Innovations in new product design and in product manufacturing create profits and wealth for the industry. Universities and academic institutions are sources for innovation.

The industry in its competitive environment can utilize the research data for formulating its new product or new manufacturing processes.  The interaction with academic institutions can further lead to next level of working. In this, the industry needs to have an in house product development facility to convert basic Research to Applied Science and Technology and into new products and processes. If expectations of both parties are matching with existing feasibilities and constraints, this arrangement will produce enormous results beneficial to both i.e.  academic institutions and industry.

b) University - R&D institution - Industry - Interaction Model
In cases of new product development, especially in the contexts of large system level development or in the development ‘large complex product systems’ or in the cases where the technologies are ‘nascent’ in nature requiring tuning and adjustments, the combination of (i) Academics, (ii) R&D and (iii) Industry will help in system development. The R&D organization interfaces with Universities and works to convert basic research into applied science & technology and to new products and processes. The industry can take up productionisation & scaling up activities leading to economic & competitive production. The process of working will be a consortium approach. The entire process develops a coherent synergy into that region or sector.

There have been many aero space products and systems developed and produced in this manner. In this model, the R&D organization facilitates cross-fertilization of basic research into applied science &  technology on one side and also facilitate product development and production on the other side.

IV  Investment
To translate collaborative working of universities and industry, some funds need to be invested appropriately.

With the advancement of computers, modeling & simulation, the funds requirement will be minimum and confined to expenditure on materials, equipments and specific equipments for basic research. The academic institution also needs allocation of some minimum funds to build essential infrastructure to interact with outside agencies and industry.

The industry needs to plan the development of new products and associated technologies and allocate funds and time for the same.  Some of the critical technologies identified in case of aerospace industry include Carbon-Carbon composites, Parallel processing, Phased Array radars, IIR & MMW technologies, Inertial guidance systems, Fly by Wire control systems, Gallium Arsenide devices, VLSI technology & ASICs, Smart weapons, Hypersonic projectiles, Fiber Optics, Ceramic & metal matrix composites, MEMS & Nano Technologies and Scram Jet propulsion systems. Towards this, industry needs a simple structural arrangement through its R&D division or a design division to interface and interact with the academic institutions.  The R&D institution can be internal to the production agency or it can be an external agency.  In our experience, this arrangement of interfacing has reduced industry efforts towards development of new products. Government and Industry need to invest the requisite funds on development and testing infrastructure to derive benefits. I consider that an investment of Rs.1500 crores per year at the national level in the above said critical technology areas will make a lot of difference in our capabilities. Clarity in work definition and deliverables makes the interactive processes between academia and industry simple and rewarding for both parties involved.

In summary there is a minimum investment required to be made to gain larger benefits.

V Conclusion
Science and technology has in the last century made an unprecedented impact on the life of human race. It is heartening to see the rapid developments that are taking place in our country during the last three decades.  We believe in knowledge and benefits it can bring to our living. I am also aware of the aspirations and hardships of our people and the great expectations they have for improving their quality of life.

Friends, there are enough intellectual challenges ahead as we undertake several new developments and newer programs as we traverse through the passage of excellence.  The domain of Science & Technology is truly exciting, challenging and rewarding as it opens up multi-disciplinary approach to the problems.  Of course, it demands people with great intellect and even greater determination and commitment.  I see a sea of enlightened faces in front of me who definitely have those to be a part of this exciting world in some way or other.

The younger generation must play the crucial role in realising India’s aspiration for global leadership and I am sure you will rise to the occasion. Mahatma Gandhi said, and I quote:

"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world"s problems".

I strongly believe, we need to heed this message to realise our fullest potential. Let us join together in action to improve our productivity, wealth and quality of life through harnessing the results of Science and Technology explored at our National Institution.  

I would stop here.  I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities and to the most special places your heart has ever known.

Wishing you all, for a bright future and for fulfillment of your technological pursuits.

I thank the Management of Jain University, especially our beloved Dr. C G Krishna Das Nair, for having given me this opportunity to share some of my views with you.

Jai Hind!