On lockdown day 62, the Indian government pushed for faster discovery and testing of a potential Covid-19 drug by announcing an open challenge for the industry. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) are launching a hackathon to find a drug for Covid-19. The Drug Discover Hackathon is supported by the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor of the central government and will invite ideas from startups and private organisations for the vaccine.
The hackathon will be open to both national and international participants and all generated data will be available to all participants. As per the information shared by Dr Abhay Jere, chief innovation officer, HRD ministry, the drug hackathon will be held on two themes. The first is the drug design for anti-Covid-19 hit/lead molecule generation or repurposing and designing or optimisation of new tools and algorithms.
The organising committee for the hackathon includes K Vijay Raghavan, the principal scientific advisor; Dr Shekhar Mande, director general, CSIR; AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe, and Dr Abhay Jere.
Excited to share that @CSIR_IND & @AICTE_INDIA under the guidance of @PrinSciAdvGoI r launcing #DrugDiscoveryHackathon to hunt for potential drugs against #COVID.Thanks @kvijayraghavan @shekhar_mande & @adsahasrabudhe for leading this novel initiative.Details to be announced soon pic.twitter.com/TDhtmjwpCS
— Dr. Abhay Jere (@abhayjere) May 24, 2020
Indigenous Tech To The Fore
Going beyond medical innovation, the government of India has shortlisted ten companies including SaaS major Zoho and tech giant HCL Technologies, for developing a made-in-India video conferencing solution in India.
Other selected companies are PeopleLink, Aria Telecom, CyberHorizon Corp, Instrive Softlabs, PeopleLink Unified Communications Sarv Webs, Soulpage IT Solutions, Techgentsia Software Technologies and Data Ingenious.
These companies will receive INR 5 Lakh from the government to develop a prototype of a product similar to Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and other products. This is the first round of the selection. After this, the government will shortlist three startups out of 10 to build the product further. These three startups will receive INR 20 Lakh for building the video-conferencing platform.
Further, AICTE’s NEAT has announced its partnership with edtech startup Skill-Lync. Skill-Lync is first-of-its-kind engineering technical education platform that provides job leading courses for mechanical, electrical and civil engineering students in India and across the world.
This partnership is aimed at accelerating the online learning process for mechanical, electrical and civil engineering students. During Covid-19 outbreak, under this partnership, Skill-Lync has opened up its INR 50,000 worth mechanical engineers essentials programme to students from AICTE.
Also, in the retail sector, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said that retail trade lost business worth INR 9 Lakh Cr in the last 60 days, causing a revenue loss of about INR 1.5 Lakh Cr to both the central and state governments on account of GST. The traders are facing an acute financial crunch, and in the absence of any policy support from the government, they are worried about the future of their business, CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said.
60 दिन के लॉक डाउन से देश के रीटेल व्यापार को 9 लाख करोड़ के व्यापार का नुक़सान जिसके कारण केंद्र एवं राज्य सरकारों को 1.5 लाख करोड़ के ज़ीएसटी के राजस्व का नुक़सान । व्यापारी बेहद बुरी हालत में – @TEAMCAIT राष्ट्रीय महामंत्री श्री @praveendel। @PiyushGoyal @nsitharaman @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/0vM3qsKyoA
— CONFEDERATION OF ALL INDIA TRADERS ( CAIT) (@TEAMCAIT) May 25, 2020
Mumbai Under Pressure From Covid-19
Further, in Covid-19 hotspot Mumbai, which has the highest number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in India, the local authorities are keen to clamp down on any attempts to spread fake news through social media platforms and apps such as WhatsApp.
In an order issued under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code on May 23, Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Pranaya Ashok prohibited the public from disseminating incorrect or factually distorted information through messaging platforms and social media sites like WhatsApp, Twitter and TikTok.
According to the order, action can also be taken under Section 188 of the IPC against those contravening the directives. The order also says, “All persons designated as “Admin” on messaging and social media platforms, either by self or by allowing any member of the group, shall be personally responsible for any such information being disseminated from a group administered by them.”
The order said that admins of WhatsApp or other social media groups will be personally responsible for reporting such content to the police. The order came into effect from May 25 and continues to operate till June 8.