March 11, 2017 2:20:50 am
GOOD TIMES seem to have arrived at least for the country’s biotechnology sector that has been awarded the highest budgetary hike in this year’s union budget. Though there has been an overall 10 per cent hike in the total budget allotted for science, biotechnology and earth sciences this year, it is the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) that has won the jackpot by being awarded the highest hike to Rs 2,222 crore as opposed to Rs 1,917 crore received last year. While Rs 37,435 crore has been allotted for science and technology this year, the same stood at Rs 33,467 crore in the 2016-2017 budget. Scientists in the city have given mixed reactions to this year’s budget as some are of the opinion that there is little clarity or specific plans mentioned for taking forward the ambitious Make in India and Start-Up India initiatives from these research fields.
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“It’s indeed a welcome move that DBT has been awarded higher amount of money this year. However, the budget is disappointing as there was no concrete plan or budgetary allocations for Start-Ups made,” said Rajendra Jagdale, director general of Science and Technology Park . The monetary allocations for the current financial year’s activities for other scientific departments are – Department of Science and Technology has bagged Rs 4,833 crore; Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) has been awarded Rs 4,446 crore while the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has been allotted Rs 1,723 crore.
However, eminent scientist and former director of CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) RA Mashelkar, lauded the government’s initiatives. He said, “ The government’s priorities in scientific research seems to be heading in the right direction.” He was particularly happy about start-ups , which according to him, will help India take a lead position in job creation. “The aim is to get to the top position in start-ups which in turn can create more jobs. So from a job-seeker role, the country is progressing to that of a job-creator,” said Mashelkar. Improving waste management, developing cost-effective bio-medical devices, improved research in scientific heritage research, electronic mobility are some of key the areas where greater emphasis is being given by DST . Industrial research will also be focusing on science and technology intervention for solving problems of common man.
According to another senior scientist, who did not wish to divulge his identity, the field of biotechnology has always been greatly dependent on the pharmaceutical industry for its survival. “This needs to change, as there is much beyond pharmaceutical, only then can better research related to real life sciences will come to the fore,” he said.
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