Biotechnology Education in India
There is a tremendous potential in the super speciality areas for development of high-tech products and processes.
S L Govindwar Director Department of Biotechnology Ministry of Science & Technology (Govt. of India) New Delhi
The last decade belonged to in formation technology and biotechnology and will continue to be attractive in the coming years. This century, however, will be an era of super specializations and the century of advanced technologies and environment-friendly products and processes. Biotechnology has the potential to develop new value-added products, processes, techniques/tools in the area of agriculture, human and animal health and environment protection. Biotechnology is a relatively new subject which has a vast potential for unlocking new technological combinations. It can give the solutions to the problems related to the agricultural production, human and animal health and the development of eco-friendly products as well as industrial pollution control.
Biotechnology is a knowledge-intensive field and has the potential to bring about specific manmade changes in DNA or genetic material in plants, animals and microorganisms leading to useful products and technologies. It has the potential to develop genetically modified plants, animals and microorganisms. The field of Biotechnology in the last decade has already made a significant impact in agricultural, industrial, pharmaceutical and medical sectors. For achieving these goals, trained human resource is required. This was visualized in 1982 by the then National Biotechnology Board (NBTB) and initiated an "Integrated Programme of Human Resource Development". The Department of Biotechnology was the first government body in the country to start Human Resource Development in Biotechnology program in a big way. It is known that unless the trained human resource in Biotechnology is available, no research and developmental programs/activities can be initiated for the development of new products/processes/techniques and tools. Accordingly, the Department of Biotechnology had initiated a number of schemes for HRD. These are:
• Post-Graduate Teaching program (MSc, MTech, MV.Sc and PG diplomas)
• DBT-JRF program
• Post Doctoral Fellowship program
• Short-term training program.
• Biotechnology Industrial Training program
• Biotechnology Overseas Associate ship program
• Technician training program
• Visiting scientist from abroad program
• Scholarships and awards
(a) National Bioscience Award for Career Development
(b) National Woman Bioscientist Award
(c ) Biotechnology Product, Process Development and Commercialization Award
(d) Distinguished Biotechnologist Award Biology Scholarships
• Seminars/symposia/conferences program
• Biotechnology popularization program
• Popular lecture series
• Biotechnology publications in English, Hindi and other languages.
• Biotechnology exhibitions
• National Science Day celebration in Universities/R&D institutions.
The HRD program of the Department of Biotechnology encompasses an intensive teaching and training of young students, training of scientists and technicians at various levels, research associateships to mid-career scientists, visiting scientist from advanced countries for exposing to newly developed techniques used in Biotechnology. Like Information Technology, Biotechnology is nowadays being considered as a potential subject area for the career development and hence some of the private colleges have also started post-graduate teaching courses in Biotechnology. Here I would like to mention that unless the proper teaching facilities and expert faculty are available, one should not go for the post-graduate teaching courses in Biotechnology.
While planning 'HRD in Biotechnology' the newer areas like functional genomics/proteomics, cleaner technologies, gene therapy, bio-safety, industrial biotechnology, molecular and human genetics, rational drug designing, upstream and downstream processing for recombinant products, IPR and patenting in Biotechnology etc. may be considered on top priority. DBT has already covered general biotechnology, agricultural biotechnology, medical biotechnology, marine biotechnology, bioinformatics, Industrial biotechnology, Pharmaceutical biotechnology and biochemical engineering and Biotechnology subject areas for the human resource development at the PG level. Some of the gap areas like environmental biotechnology, industrial biotechnology, proteomics/genomics, molecular genetics etc. needs attention in the coming years to cater the need of industry sector.