With a view to fulfil the ultimate objective of inclusive growth by helping in improving the quality of life of people, AcSIR has mandated that the students aspiring to obtain a Ph.D. degree from the Academy undertake a 6-8 weeks project concerned with societal/rural issues under the CSIR-800 programme. The intent is to create and nurture a sense of social consciousness and responsibility by participation in Science & Technology activities relevant to the nation.

The programme is aimed at improving the quality of lives of people through initiatives that are socially and economically relevant. Accordingly, the two major focus areas are:

Enhancing Income of the downtrodden
  • Value added Agriculture
  • Waste to Wealth
  • Energy efficiency
To Improve Quality of Life
  • Low cost housing
  • Affordable health care
  • Potable Water supply
  • Sustainable energy
  • Means of protecting environment

Under this programme, students select a scientific topic of social relevance and aligned with the focus areas of CSIR-800 and study the problem in detail. Thereafter, they are expected to suggest remediation measures which are techno-commercially viable and have the potential to be scaled up to uplift the quality of life of the population at large. Towards this direction, twenty-two AcSIR-IITR students visited various rural areas in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand for disseminating information and creating awareness on diverse problems prevalent in our society. Some of the targeted issues are pesticide contamination, deteriorating water quality (drinking water as well as groundwater), over-use of plastics, malnutrition, tobacco usage, allergic diseases, groundwater contamination due to exposure to industrial waste (fertilizer industry and pharmaceutical industry), high pesticide usage, poor sanitation facilities, microbial contamination in the water of rivers Ganga and Gomti, food adulteration, maintenance of hygiene etc.

An epidemiological study was conducted to evaluate health risks of employees working in pesticide retail shops in urban areas of Lucknow and Barabanki based on socio-economic status, family history, personal habits and work practices. The study revealed significant decrease of Motor Nerve Conduction Velocity and low Peak Expiratory Flow Rate among shopkeepers. Neurological, ocular, cardiovascular and musculo-skeletal symptoms were also found to be higher among shopkeepers. These findings provide a prima facie evidence of clinical manifestations because of multiple exposures to pesticides and poor safety culture at work place.

Monitoring of pesticide residues in market basket samples of vegetables from Lucknow City was carried out. The study assessed 48 pesticide residues including organochlorines, organophosphates, synthetic pyrethroids, and herbicides in 20 types of vegetables (including leafy, root, modified stem, and fruity vegetables like bitter gourd, jack fruit, French-bean, onion, colocassia, pointed gourd, capsicum, spinach, potato, fenugreek seeds, carrot, radish, cucumber, beetroot, brinjal, cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, okra, and bottle gourd). Twenty-three pesticides were detected of the 48 pesticides analyzed in the samples with the range of 0.005-12.35 mg kg-1. In some vegetables like radish, cucumber, cauliflower, cabbage, and okra, the detected pesticides (I-HCH, Permethrin-II, Dichlorvos, and Chlorofenvinfos) were above maximum residues limit.

In a surveillance study, Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid of turmeric responsible for its yellow color and measure of quality was monitored in loose versus branded turmeric powders. The study shows that curcumin content in branded samples ranged from 2 to 4% while non-branded samples had 0.3 to 2.7%. Almost 17% of loose powders showed presence of extraneous color-metanil yellow, in the range of 1 - 8.6 mg per g. Thus there is a need to prescribe realistic curcumin limits for turmeric powder.

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