Updated on 28 January 2013
Padma Shri Prof Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan, eminent geneticist and director, National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS), is now the secretary of the department of biotechnology (DBT), India
The Government of India boasts of seven major scientific departments, covering various domains of science ranging from biotechnology to space research. Among these, the department of biotechnology (DBT), which represents the thriving $5 billion Indian biotech industry, recently saw the appointment of its new secretary.
Eminent geneticist and director of the National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, Prof Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan succeeded Dr M K Bhan as the 5th secretary of DBT (since its inception in 1986). Prof VijayRaghavan was also bestowed the highest civilian honor in India, the Padma Shri, for his scientific accomplishment on January 25, 2013.
Hours before taking charge as secretary of the DBT on Janaury 28, 2013, Prof VijayRaghavan shared his quick thoughts on the contours of India's biotech ecosystem and how it may evolve in the near future. Excerpts from the interview:
From being a scientist, a distinguished professor, and a director to now the secretary of DBT, how would you view this opportunity? How are you preparing for the role of a national policy maker?
As scientists, we are used to demanding that the 'system' serve us in our endeavors. And indeed it has done so extraordinarily well. Despite all our problems, India has been steadfast in supporting science. Therefore, when asked if we will participate in science administration, it is important that we give such opportunities careful consideration. If the system is to serve us well, we must participate in the system. In terms of preparation, I will be spending time in listening carefully to everyone. There are many experts and many views about what to do but all us want to be part of evolving real solutions to complex problems.
What would be some of your priority areas?
Ensuring the effective reach of the DBT science funding-system combining the further building of foundations and of excellence. Capacity building in our core strengths and in emerging areas. Strengthening biomedical and plant research. Ensuring a connectivity of our programs with our society: our people, our industry, entrepreneurship and our sustainable future. Much of this is feasible only through cooperation across our science agencies and with other ministries. Working together, we see opportunities and not problems.