NATIONAL TECHNOLOGY DAY
From the days of wheel to present digital era, technologies have been at the forefront in taking humanity to new heights. We cannot imagine a world without technology. In our daily lives, we can’t take a step without coming into contact with a form of it. The world is abuzz with technology. Different tech jobs in various sectors are one of the strongest and fastest-growing divisions. Technology is at the center of most jobs these days. The revolutions brought out and still taking place in the country in different sectors including agriculture, dairy, livestock, health, industries, services and others owe it to the use of many such technologies. We use technologies to keep us organized, connected, healthy and be safe. Considering the immense importance of technology in our lives; May 11 every year is celebrated as ‘National Technology Day’.
On May 11, 1998, India successfully fired Operation Shakti missile at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan, the first among the five nuclear tests in Pokhran. Pokhran nuclear tests were a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by India at the Indian Army's Pokhran Test Range. The test was led by aerospace engineer and late President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Later, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a nuclear state, making it the sixth country to join the ‘nuclear club’ of nations. Hence, since 1999, May 11 is celebrated as ‘National Technology Day’. He also coined the term 'National Technology Day'.
The National Technology day also marks the flight of first indigenous aircraft called Hansa-3. It was flown in Bangaluru during nuclear tests in Pokhran. The two-seater plane is currently utilized in flying institutes for pilot training and surveillance, sports, aerial photography, and other projects. It is also the day when the Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) accomplished Trishul missile tests, which was later introduced into defence service by IAF and Indian Army. Trishul was a unit of IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program) which resulted in the formation of Akash, Agni, and Prithvi missile system. 'Smiling Buddha' was the first nuclear test at Pokhran which was carried out in May, 1974. The second test was Pokhran II which was a series of five tests of nuclear bomb explosions, administered by India at the Pokhran Test Range of Indian Army in May 1998. Pokhran II or Operation Shakti comprised of five detonations out of which the first one was a fusion bomb while the other four were fission bombs.
Since 1999, every year the Technology Development Board (TDB) celebrates the day by various technological innovations that have positively impacted the nation. Also, every year TDB selects a theme and on that basis several events, competitions were held in the country. The theme for this year is ‘Integrated Approach in Science and Technology for Sustainable development’
Technology and Agriculture
Father of Nation Late Sh. Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi had once said that India lives in villages. This hold true even today. This is because of the presence of a vast majority of population of the country in rural areas. A World Bank study put the percentage of total population in the country at 65.07 % in 2020. This vast percentage of population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture sector to a larger extent. Agriculture sector also remains the largest employer particularly for this majority of population still living in these villages of India. Most of the Farmers are marginal and small having less than two hectares of land. This land is also fragmented making it uneconomical and such small holdings are an obstruction for farm mechanization. The productivity of such lands is also low and the sector is thus being perceived as non remunerative by the farming community.
The low income ultimately affects the quality of life of the farm families. A chemical intensive agriculture based on the use of costly external inputs and without the necessary marketing support for the producers has make agriculture a costly affair. This has thus forced the rural youths to migrate to cities in the hope of better life which they do not get in most of the cases. Given the contribution of the agriculture in rural side, it is not possible to ensure sustainable rural development until we focus on agricultural sector. Agriculture technologies and practices which are remunerative, sustainable and empowering are thus needed.
ZBNF or Natural farming as propagated originally by Subash Palekar is a system where the laws of nature are applied to agricultural practices and is done without the use of any external inputs. This method works along with the natural biodiversity of each farmed area, encouraging the complexity of living organisms, both plants, and animals that shape each particular ecosystem to thrive along with food plants. In organic farming, organic fertilizers and manures like compost, vermicompost, cow dung manure, etc. are used and added to farmlands from external sources. Zero/No tillage basically aims to have minimum disturbance to the soil structure. With no-till practices, there is also a reduction in the cost of cultivation due to no costs on ploughing, harrowing or leveling the fields which otherwise constitute 20-25% of the actual cost of cultivation.
Zero/No till has been reported to save rupees 3000-4000 per hectare for land preparation, advances sowing in wheat by 10-12 days through direct drilling after rice harvest with 5-10 per cent yield advantage and reduction in weed infestation particularly Phalaris minor. Crop rotation: Growing the same crops year after year depletes the soil of different nutrients. Therefore crop rotation that involves growing different crops don’t rob the soil of its nutrients; instead add to the nutrient composition of the soil. Practicing crop rotation with more than two species does not allow insect/pests and weeds to be set into a rotation with specific crops. When crops are rotated, these act as a natural insecticide and herbicide against specific organisms. The rotation does not allow insects or weeds to establish a pattern and this helps to eliminate problems with yield reduction and infestations within fields. Crop rotation with legumes helps fix atmospheric nitrogen from the atmosphere in the soil thereby help build up soil infrastructure. Similarly crops like Dhiancha (Sesbaania) is grown in the fields and when they are grown up just prior to the transplanting of Paddy seedlings they are ploughed back and puddle in the soil prepared for growing paddy. With a fresh biomass of 10-12 t/ha about 15-20 kg of N/ha is being provided to the soil enriching its fertility thereby providing better yields.
Water is a very precious and scarce resource. Infact agriculture consumes the most of water. About 86 percent of Asia’s fresh water is used in agriculture, 8 percent for industry, and 6 percent for domestic purposes. India consumes 83 percent of freshwater for agriculture. Data on water use efficiency indicates that India uses 2-3 times more water than major agricultural countries like China, Brazil and the US to produce one unit of food crop. It thus needs to be conserved (Narayanmoorthy, A. 2019). As rain water s the major source of water, it needs to be conserved with the help of farm ponds, roof top harvesting, water tanks and other water harvesting structures so that it is available whenever there is water scarcity. Water also needs to be used judiciously for irrigation by using drip, sprinkler technology that increase water use efficiency. Laser Land Leveling (LLL) is another sustainable technique. Basically at the field level also there are variations in soil moisture, nutrient status and other parameters in the fields. The LLL gives us the inter field variations and then plan as per the field conditions. The technique of LLL has been reported to increase about 3-4 per cent of net cultivable area as there is fewer requirements for bunds and channels, increase water application efficiency by 50 per cent, crop yields by 15-20 per cent, increases nutrient use efficiency by 15-25 per cent and also reduces weed problems.
In recent years, the system of crop intensification (SCI) has emerged in a number of Asian and African countries, raising the productivity of the land, water, seed, labor, and capital resources that farmers invest can for growing a wide range of crops. SCI methods are particularly relevant for resource-limited, nutritionally vulnerable households because SCI like System of Rice Intensification relies minimally on purchased inputs. SCI is an agricultural production strategy that seeks to increase and optimize the benefits that can be derived from making better use of available resources: soil, water, seeds, nutrients, solar radiation, and air. The SCI includes System of Rice Intensification (SRI), System of Wheat Intensification (SWI) and System of Maize Intensification (SMI) and for other related crops.
The National Technology Day highlights and celebrates groundbreaking achievements and valuable contributions of our scientists, doctors, engineers and all others engaged in the field of science and technology. It also encourages youngsters towards technology and science and embrace it as a career.
(The author is a Scientist at SKUAST-K, can be reached at email@example.com)