Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I am always amused with the talks of new year resolutions and its impact on our achievements. Can anyone tell me if new year resolutions have really made a great impact on your life? I don’t make new year resolutions as we have 365 opportunities (if not more)  to make resolutions on any other days. I make resolutions all the time, so I don’t wait till the 1st of Jan.

Anyways, to those who  religiously followed through your resolutions  - my sincerest congratulations!

I would like to reproduce my editorial note from the Dec issue of Petri Dish and hope we could connect with each other on the issues discussed.

“THE year is coming to an end. And as usual it is time to take stock of our success and failures to improve in the coming years. A number of biotechnology related policies were launched in 2012.

The Bioeconomy Policy took the limelight, so did all the EPPs under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). The National Biomass Strategy and the various strategies to promote innovations all looked very ambitious.

It created a number of high-level positions and involved huge investments and expenses and these have to be justified and the return of investment has to be quantified in terms of number of successful biotech companies, commercialisation of research at universities and research institutes, and creation of job opportunities.

So what is on my Christmas and New Year wish list? Pointedly it is for the country to pay urgent attention to fundamental research. I am reiterating what I have always preached - if we don’t have strong fundamentals or basic research, we can never have successful commercialisation of high-end products. We will end up with herbal supplements with no global standards and markets, buying technologies from outside, luring foreign companies to set up their plants here with locals working as second-class workers, seeking assistance from outside to address national challenges such as tropical diseases, food security, managing diseases and pests in the agricultural sector, etc.

We keep encouraging our students to take up science but are the job opportunities promised a reality? How would biotech companies emerge if there is no fundamental research? Is that why a number of Bionexus companies have closed shop and none have reached global status?

There are no short-cuts in biotechnology. Just like how a building without a strong foundation would crumble, a biotech industry without strong fundamental research would not last long. Players will come and go and no legacy would be created.”

By Mahaletchumy Arujanan

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