Prof. VijayRaghavan, secretary, DBT and distinguished professor, director, National Centre for Biological Sciences
There are seven major scientific departments in India's federal government including biggies such as space and atomic energy. Change of guard at these departments take place regularly, but only one of these departments, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has a thriving $ 5 billion industry watching every move in DBT with avid interest. The appointment of eminent geneticist and director of National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, Prof. Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan, as the fifth secretary of DBT since its inception in 1986 to succeed Dr M K Bhan has been widely welcomed by the industry. That the government chose to bestow the highest civilian honour of Padma Shri on Prof. VijayRaghavan for his scientific accomplishment on January 25, 2013 is an added sweetener for the biotech community.
Hours before taking charge as the secretary of DBT on Janaury 28, 2013, Prof. VijayRaghavan shared his quick thoughts on the contours of India's biotech ecosystem and how it may evolve in the near future in an exclusive interview with BioSpectrum group editor, Mr Narayanan Suresh. Excerpts from the interview:
From being a scientist, a distinguished professor, a director and now the secretary of DBT, how would you view this opportunity? How are you preparing for the role of a national policy maker?
As scientists, we are used to demanding that the 'system' serve us in our endeavours. And indeed it has done so extraordinarily well. Despite all our problems, India has been steadfast in supporting science. Therefore, when asked if we will participate in science administration, it is important that we give careful consideration to such opportunities. If the system is to serve us well, we must participate in the system.
In terms of preparation, I will be spending time in listening carefully to everyone. There are many experts and many views about what to do, but all us want to be part of evolving real solutions to complex problems.