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Biotechnology in India

BY SANGHAMITRA BISWAS

BIOTECHNOLOGY:
THE NEW ERA OF DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA
 

Biotechnology is a dynamic field which is inherited from various disciplines such as biology, biochemistry, genetics, pharmacology, microbiology, molecular-biology, bioinformatics and impacting important areas such as food, health care and environment. The production of high yielding, disease resistant crops, and improvement in animal livestock is provided by the advanced concept of biotechnology. Introduction of biotechnology in medicines is providing a permanent cure for diseases such as AIDs, cancer, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and many more.

India is one of the first few countries among the developing nations to have recognized the importance of biotechnology as a tool to advance growth in international trade. India has the third largest scientific and technical manpower in the world, as well as self sufficiency in view of national objectives such as food, clothing and housing, adequate health and hygiene, provision of adequate energy and transportation, protection of environment, gainful employment, industrial growth and balance in international trade. Success of biotech industry in India was a difficult one in the early stages due to the traditional education system, long research period and limited funding in the country. National Biotechnology Board (NBTB) was set up in 1982 to spearhead development of biotechnology. NBTB was formed with the specific purpose of the identification of priority areas and for evolving a long term plan for the country in biotechnology, as well as to initiate and promote such activities to further develop various areas in biotechnology. Later in 1986, NBTB graduated to a fully fledged government department called Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

Since the last decade, India has developed strengths in public sector biotechnology and has become the main attraction for global investment due to skilled and knowledgeable manpower available at low cost. In addition, the Indian sub-continent, which occupies only 2.4% of the total global surface area, has the most varied species of flora and fauna, easier to find sample and, also field research can be done much more efficiently. India has a rich intellectual capital, which is the strength of this knowledge based industry. A few more factors which contributed to the Indian biotech sector are a sizeable English speaking scientific workforce and roughly 2.5 million graduates in IT, engineering and life sciences, about 650,000 post graduates and nearly 1,500 PhDs qualified in biosciences and engineering each year, robust IT base, strong MNC presence and a huge varying gene pool.

India to this extent holds a good advantage over other countries of the world. With its large population of over a billion people there is a huge market for products and services. India has capacity in bioprocess engineering, skills in gene manipulation, downstream processing and isolation methods, competence Recombinant DNA Technology of plants, animals, microbes and stem cell research. It is estimated that the health care products would dominate the Indian biotech market, roughly 40% of the total market by the year 2010 followed by agriculture of about 30% and contract research and bioinformatics about 25% (Source: Confederation of Indian Industries).These figures clearly show the prospect of the biotech industry in India.

In short we need to build a culture of innovation and enterprises to benefit India in the global economy.

 

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