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On the Need for a Biotechnology Council of India:

The FBAE held a workshop, on Biotechnology Awareness and Education, on January 18, 2001, at Bangalore, where over 250 students and teachers of microbiology and biotechnology, stakeholders, as well as several laymen interested in biotechnology have participated.   Subsequently we had discussions with a number of stakeholders in biotechnology.   Several of the members of the FBAE have been in the University system for over three decades, and have first hand knowledge and experience in the institution and organization of postgraduate courses in biological sciences, including microbiology and biotechnology.   And some of our members are active biotechnologists outside India.   Our collective experience compels us to express serious concern and to act on top priority regarding 
a)      the general lack of a standard and competent curriculum;
b)      the absence of academically qualified and regularly appointed teachers, and the very poor infrastructure in institutions teaching UG and PG courses in biotechnology; and
c)      the lack of laboratory facilities to train research workers and to conduct research, in the country in general, and the state of Karnataka in particular.   
1. In view of this depressing situation which threatens to soon seriously defeat the national effort to derive benefits from biotechnology, we stress the need to put in place a Biotechnology Council of India (BCI), an independent statutory national body, on the lines of the Medical Council of India, Dental Council of India, Pharmacy Council of India, All India Council for Technical Education and the Bar Council of India.   The main function of such a body would be to ensure basic and minimum standards in biotechnology education and training in the country.   The BCI should be empowered to grant recognition for those institutions that meet such standards, set with reference to qualified and trained teaching staff, infrastructure, adequately equipped laboratories, etc., that are essential for a purposeful education in biotechnology.   The recent de-recognition of several institutions that did not meet with the minimum requirements, by the Dental, Pharmacy and Bar Councils of India, is an example of the activity, for the functioning of the BCI, when constituted.   With vested interests calling the shots, approval/recognition by the Universities and the State Governments has lost its sanctity.
2. We propose that the State Governments and the Department of Biotechnology, with the certainly feasible support from and collaboration with the Industry, establish instrumentation and training centers in a few key locations in different states, where students can get trained and research workers can get instrumentation services, on payment of prescribed charges, so that very expensive facilities required for most of education and training in biotechnology need not be duplicated.  
These measures are essential to ensure adequate numbers of properly trained personnel to cater to the manpower needs in biotechnology in the country.