Biotech Education in universities

Role of Universities in making biotechnological education as a panacea for socio-economical problems cutting across the strata of fortune, region and religion

The present era is witnessing exponential growth in the biotechnology sector as its various manifestations in the form of molecular sciences, genetics, biomedical technology, biochemistry, medical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, food sciences, agricultural sciences, nanobiotechnology, environment, and energy sciences continue to progress rapidly and are marker indicators of growth and sustainability for any economy. In other words, biotechnology is that branch of applied sciences that has revolutionized every walk of life and has provided tangible solutions to perplexing problems

that arose and continue to arise due to receding natural life-sustaining resources owing to the population explosion, environment degradation, over-adherence to synthetic products and sedentary lifestyles for the past two centuries. Ergo, it is not surprising that throughout the world, concerted efforts from the public as well as the private sector are underway to augment the growth of biotechnology and its allied fields to stimulate growth and sustainability for the benefit of mankind. Particularly, the growing economies have been dedicating substantial infrastructure and resources to augment the biotechnology sector. Interestingly, however, assessing the advancement and societal impact of biotechnology is very complex, given its interdisciplinary and expansive purview. It is also logical to assume that adoption, implementation, and management of various aspects of biotechnology may also create a financial, social, and moral dilemma in certain respects as a knowledgeable check on indiscriminate use has to be instituted at all levels to maintain ethical/moral, and sustainable development. The ideation and awareness of biotechnological innovations and growth have to be carried out and monitored by a credible ‘information society' that would account for every cause, concern, and consequence of biotechnology development, including drafting biotechnological policies for economic growth. Needless to mention, the onus of development of this ‘information society’ lies in the hands of universities and other educational bodies of the society. The universities and higher education bodies of the country are run by academicians, administrators, researchers, scholars, students, and socially responsible and aware communities who ensure that the practice of biotechnology, like any other technology is safe, rational, progressive, effective, and sustaining. The higher education bodies also safeguard biotechnology from indiscriminate, immoral, unscrupulous, overzealous, and perverted biotechnological practice, thereby maintaining the extremely important balance in technology development. At the same time, these bodies also safeguard society from misleading and misguided activism, unequivocal anathema of technology development, and societal translation. In other words, Universities or higher education bodies are the focal point of knowledge development, knowledge understanding, and judicious knowledge implementation to ensure organic growth of any technology, including biotechnology, so that an optimum balance of resources between growth and sustainability can be maintained. Consequently, for a practical realization of this core objective, Universities or higher education bodies have the responsibility to create a credible workforce that is knowledgeable, well-trained, ethically, socially, and situationally aware of the power of biotechnology and its potential to curate human lives without discrimination. Universities, therefore in addition to providing UG, PG, and Ph.D. courses also need to create incubation centers wherein industries, governments, scholars, faculties, the working class (including farmers and laborers) and social organizations are all on board to usher the benefits of biotechnology for the benefit of mankind.

As the dynamic frontiers of biotechnology continue to expand at a rapid pace every day, there is a rising concern of the prevalence of technology and knowledge deficit between developed and developing economies. It is now well established that biotechnology is the next technological engine that will without discrimination provide solutions to perplexing human-life problems irrespective of the economic power of a country. This deficit directly impacts the composite growth of the global society and the benefits of biotechnological advancements fail to reach every section of the society throughout the world thereby leading to failure in achieving the objectives of global sustainable development. Consequently, to implement the benefits of this ‘biological revolution’ that promises to be the biological future of the entire mankind, novel initiatives by neutral information-laden bodies that appeal to every section and sector of society irrespective of country or region affiliation has to be taken to develop understanding among every stakeholder of the society. Higher education bodies or Universities are these neutral bodies that see to it that organic linkages between the governments, society, research community, and industries take place without hindrance and holistic growth of the entire society irrespective of economic status or cultural lineage, becomes a reality.

Universities or higher education bodies that are committed to the growth and execution of biotechnology for the benefit of mankind have the vantage that these bodies unify knowledge without discrimination, irrespective of country, caste, creed, color, economic status, or religion. Therefore, members of these sacred bodies, particularly those stakeholders involved in the deliberation, formulation, and execution of knowledge, including biotechnology can manage, integrate, and advance the novel frontiers of our biotechnological knowledge database and cater judicious solutions to the new-age societal demands. In this noble initiative of holistic resource development, a large workforce of biotechnology educators becomes absolutely essential and non-negotiable.

by Debjyoti Paul
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