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Dr Shailesh Nayak : Interdepartmental Big Data Group to start putting together ‘raw material’ for India

Sulagna Chattopadhyay, in conversation with Dr Shailesh Nayak, Chairman, ESSO_MOES Big Data Task Force, and former Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, gains meaningful insights as to why the big data technology is imperative for India and how it is the science of the future.

G’nY: Why is ‘Big Data’ important and what it will do for India?

Dr Shailesh Nayak : `Big Data’ is likely to bring a revolution that is going to transform how we think, work and live. It will put in place a large set of data that will show us hidden patterns and reveal hitherto unknown facets. There are several areas, such as public health, astronomy, genomics, climate change, and more where this technology is making a significant impact. In my view this is the reason for its importance to India

‘Big Data’ is considered as a raw material of perpetual value, a vital economic impact and will be used to develop innovative and new services. It is about applying algorithms to huge quantity of data in order to infer probabilities or likelihood.

The system needs to be built in such a way that it can itself improve itself over time and look for signals and patterns that will build upon human capabilities.

GnY: Is climate science a component of Big Data? What are the other components?

Dr Shailesh Nayak : Yes. Climate Science is a component of the ‘Big Data’ project that has been initiated in India. The other components that the current programme will look into are Astrophysics and Life Sciences.

This is only beginning. Big Data in the later years can be applied in many subjects related to public health, education, environment, genomics and more.

GnY:  What is the institutional framework of the Big Data project in India?

Dr Shailesh Nayak : In India, the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA), to the Government of India has constituted three task forces, viz. Astrophysics, Climate Science and Life Sciences. These three groups are coordinated by an Apex Committee, Chaired by the PSA.

The lead institutes, Inter-university Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics under Department of Science and Technology; ESSO-Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology under Ministry of Earth Science; and, Regional Centre for Biotechnology under the Department by the same name have been identified to take this new technology forward, in Astrophysics, Climate Science and Life Sciences, respectively.

A Lead Institute with Domain Knowledge will be primary custodian of the data with mirror site maintained in Sastri Park. The role of the Lead will be to analyze, standardize, store and visualize the useful information from the data. Also an inter disciplinary group comprising of experts from specific domain , statistics and computer software will be formed.

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