Updated on 11 January 2013
Dr M K Bhan, former secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India
Dr Maharaj Kishan Bhan, former secretary of India's nodal biotechnology agency, is an eminent pediatrician and clinical scientist par excellence. His research in the area of diarrhoeal diseases and child nutrition is globally recognized. He has been the brain behind a Rota viral vaccine, which has not only created a new paradigm on health and international interaction, but also put India on the path of novel vaccine development.
During his decade long stint at DBT, he has brought in new thinking and dynamism to the area of biotechnology. It was no different when BioSpectrum recently caught up with him in the late evening at his office which was still abuzz with calls and visitors. In an exclusive interview, Dr Bhan talked at length about various issues pertaining to Indian biotechnology sector. Excerpts from the interview.
Does the growth of biotech industry in recent years match upto your forecast? How does the future of biotech in this country look like?
During last couple of years, the industry at an average has witnessed twenty percent growth. And at the moment even with the lower denominator, we must be happy as it is the time to recognize that global economies are not doing well. It is important to foresee that we are investing resources in a way that in future, the pipeline of export oriented products be the only parameter. For example how many new molecules are entering clinical trials. With the science growing deeper and broad based, pumping money into multi-disciplinary fields is a must to do.
My concern really is that science should become more inventive. I think that worries me more than anything else. As long as we keep working on the way scientific questions are asked, the inventiveness of science and the ability to grow translational capacity in a way whether it is through PPP or purely through industry or public transfers will be critical. The government is expanding health spending with thirty percent increase in government hospitals, and medical admissions.
It plans to open another thirty world class medical colleges. Moreover, there are tremendous opportunities in the other areas as well. Therefore, we should be doing lot of things to prepare for the time when the market is much bigger. We should not be hesitant in investing for future. That is how I see twenty years down the lane. The question should not be how big we will be in five years but how strong we will be in twenty years.