Why biotechnology hasn't picked up in India?


#1

Compared to IT the BT (short form of biotechnology) hasn’t picked up in India. Like IT, BT is under ression but unfortunately without a bloom. Why is BT having a “premature senescence” in India and world around. I see lots of colleges winding up with UG and PG courses. Even those who end up doing biotech for their UG and PG program, change their field and never come back to this field. Is it because the field is over saturated or has very less translational potential?


#2

Genuine question, is this even true? Hasnt grown as much as IT, the comparison is futile, but is BT in recession? Can you quote some figures?

There may be oversupply of mediocre talent, but there is lot of activity in BT as a whole.


#3

BT will never go in for rescission since there had never been a bloom. Coming to comparison we need to since student go in for higher studies for better jobs. Just 10 yrs back a BE computer engineer got a job by campus selection and the starting salary was around 25,000 per month. A MSc student still had to complete his PhD and PDF even to think about a job. Things have changed dramatically in IT (which is a different story). But nothing much had happened in BT. Yes there is lot of progress and excitement in BT but coming to groud reality how many BT students got a reasonable job after their B.Tech or M.Tech?


#4

Biotech students are not perceived “job-ready” after MSc/MTech. This topic was part of a panel discussion at a Teachers’ meeting we organised in Pune (though discussion was not limited to Biotech only):


What it comes down to, I think, is what we, as educators, are doing to equip students for the job market? What necessary skills are being added to their toolbox?

Your views - @susan? @cdrawat?


#5

Very aptly said. I guess part of the problem is education. For example our whole curriculum, right from school to college is basic science oriented. In the sense we are constantly stuffed with information rather than asking us to think? Again I guess it is not restricted to biotech alone. Let me give an example. In most molecular biology courses students learn anything and everything from DNA structure to replication, transcription, translation, etc etc but how many of them of aware of the experiments (atleast the important ones) which were conducted to solve these puzzles. In that way the course work at IISc is great but then since students are not exposed to these kind of stuff many find it extremely difficult to clear these subjects and hence large number of dropouts.


#7

I think we are mixing two distinct issues: one is the Biotechnology as industry and the other is Biotechnology as a subject of study at school, BSc or MSc levels. Biotechnology as an indsutry is doing reasonably well, although we would certainly have expected it to be much more diverse and successful. The problem has been with Biotechnology as a course of study. As I had discussed earlier (S. C. LAKHOTIA (2010) Hype and the reality of biotechnology. https://indiabioscience.org/columns/opinion/hype-and-the-reality-of-biotechnology
and
S. C. LAKHOTIA (2008) Are biotechnology degree courses relevant? CURRENT SCIENCE (Opinion) 94: 1244-1245, http://www.bhu.ac.in/science/zoology/scan%20paper/Lakhatia%20Are%20Biotech%20courses%20relevant%20CURR%20SCI%202008_49.pdf), the Biotechnology teaching courses were ill-planned and introduced in a flurry across the country in the name of training the much needed 'biotechnologists, but in most cases only as a ‘quickfix’ solution to earn money. Most of these courses did/do not train young minds in a manner that they would really know biology as well as technology. We need good understanding of Biology to drive the technology based on biological principles.

It is expected that the society and our academia would have learnt well from the past errors and train the young minds better.


#8

Much have been discussed in the above replies. As per my view, I have few points:

  1. Biotechnology is a very vague term. People very often don’t understand whether it is technology or science. In most of the universities abroad, there are better terms e.g. biological science, biomedical science, biological engineering and biomedical engineering. What exactly is biotechnology? The “technical” aspect what is being taught is already covered more widely in Chemical Engineering degree. The “science” part what is being taught in semester system (B.Tech Biotechnology) is being taught in detail in M.Sc courses. So where does a “biotechnology” student stand? It is a perfect mixture of exploitation, and not inspiration.

  2. People who come to B.Tech Biotechnology programme emphasize more on “B.Tech” and “technology” and not “biology”. So they want a good paying job at the end of 4 year “engineering” course (as their friends in other department get). But, they get depressed and leave the field because they don’t get that “package” and job. So who is at fault? Not any single person. The system has become a “khichdi” by B.Tech Biotechnology.

  3. Third, we should understand the difference between basic science and applied science. And what is meant by a “job”. People have started defining job the settlement they get at the end of their undergraduation course. Is academic position (faculty position) after PhD and PDF not a job? Why are we creating everything very suspicious and vague for this field?

Every research is not for getting product into market (applied research), as is a common mentality. A research can be a very well extension of an existing knowledge (basic research).

  1. People are really upset with the kind of direction academic job is getting. Since my graduation (10-12 years back), I am hearing the news that almost 40% faculty positions are vacant in premier institutes like IITs, NITs and central universities. Why is it so that this vacancy percentage is still same in 2017? Where are we losing? Are we not producing good and capable “doctorates”?? Or we are more focussed on cost-cutting by recruiting “adhoc-teachers”? So, with 40% of adhoc teachers or vacant position, how are we going to inspire the next and coming generations?? Why are we not able to inspire students?

The system of teaching needs a serious surgery.


#9

The thing is BT is growing in clusters in this country and the technology for what Indians are working under BT is for international market. A very few products are indian market oriented. The technology should stop looking westward and address Indian issues.