The setting up of a separate Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1986 gave a new impetus to the development of the field of modern biology and biotechnology in India. In more than a decade of its existence, the department has promoted and accelerated the pace of development of biotechnology in the country. Through several R&D projects, demonstrations and creation of infrastructural facilities a clear visible impact of this field has been seen. The department has made significant achievements in the growth and application of biotechnology in the broad areas of agriculture, health care, animal sciences, environment, and industry.
The impact of the biotechnology related developments in agriculture, health care, environment and industry, has already been visible and the efforts are now culminating into products and processes. More than 5000 research publications, 4000 post-doctoral students, several technologies transferred to industries and patents filed including US patents, can be considered as a modest beginning. Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has been interacting with more than 5,000 scientists per year in order to utilise the existing expertise of the universities and other national laboratories. A very strong peer reviewing and monitoring mechanism has been developed. There has been close interaction with the State Governments particularly through State S & T Councils for developing biotechnology application projects, demonstration of proven technologies, and training of human resource in States and Union Territories. Programmes with the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have been evolved. Biotechnology Application Centres in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal have already been started.
A unique feature of the department has been the deep involvement of the scientific community of the country through a number of technical task forces, advisory committees and individual experts in identification, formulation, implementation and monitoring of various programmes and activities.
In India, more than a decade of concerted effort in research and development in identified areas of modern biology and biotechnology have given rich dividends. The proven technologies at the laboratory level have been scaled up and demonstrated in field. Patenting of innovations, technology transfer to industries and close interaction with them have given a new direction to biotechnology research. Initiatives have been taken to promote transgenic research in plants with emphasis on pest and disease resistance, nutritional quality, silk-worm genome analysis, molecular biology of human genetic disorders, brain research, plant genome research, development, validation and commercialisation of diagnostic kits and vaccines for communicable diseases, food biotechnology, biodiversity conservation and bioprospecting, setting up of micropropagation parks and biotechnology based development for SC/ST, rural areas, women and for different States.
Necessary guidelines for transgenic plants, recombinant vaccines and drugs have also been evolved. A strong base of indigenous capabilities has been created. The field of biotechnology both for new innovations and applications would form a major research and commercial endeavor for socio-economic development in the next millennium.