Dr K VijayRaghavan, secretary, department of biotechnology, ministry of science and technology, government of India
Q: How do you look at the importance of having international collaborations and your take especially on the Indo-Japanese one?
There are various aspects that we have to look into. Indian science in itself needs to invest substantially more in international collaborations. Because fundamentally India has many challenges. If you want to excel in science and set an example but have centers of excellence somewhere else in the world, no matter how much money you invest, you would never become a world leader rapidly. It will take you a hundred years. If we want to do it faster, we must collaborate with the best internationally. We must invest in these collaborations in a big way. Second point is that the money is not enough. There needs to be culture of friendship and a desire to interact.
The nice thing about our interactions with Japan over last 30-40 years, we have built a friendship. So it is not that we are arbitrarily interacting with them. We are infact interacting with our friends. Our collaboration with Tokyo on important programs in various areas is just an outcome of that. With so many of those now, we must push them in a big way. We must really make sure that Japan is the best destination for Indian students and post docs and vice versa.
Q: You recently talked about finding indigenous solutions for fixing our own problems. What did you actually mean by that?
I think it is a complex situation. Lets take the example of antibiotic resistance. In the west where primary healthcare is accessible, where one can test every infection to see whether there is variety of bacteria or not and then administrator an antibiotic. These kinds of solutions for antibiotic misuse are very different from the way regulations happen in India. We have the antibiotics needed to cure widespread infections, yet have to rely on collaborations with the world. What I meant was that India can be a world leader, not only in science and technology but in other areas as well but we also need to look at how we deal with such problems. So, our values will be important in defining solutions to produce world class science and in any other context.
Q: DBT had sought comments on revised national biotech policy draft. What is the latest on that?
We have received very interesting suggestions and comments, and have closed the same as per the deadline few days ago. Based on the valuable inputs, we are hopeful of formulating a much improved version of the policy.