Biotechnology, the science that applies the study of living organisms to engineering, technology and medicine, has become increasingly specialised over the last few years - and with it, so have the jobs.
From developing the right kind of needle and thread surgeons need to suture wounds to an artificial heart, biotechnologists have become miracle makers. What comes with such a focussed field, however, is years of intensive high- quality learning - and a recent trend shows that students want to go the extra mile.
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was one of the first six universities funded by the government to start a postgraduate and research programme in Biotechnology in 1985, to meet the country's need for trained professionals in this field.
The net was a lot wider when there was an initial demand for manpower. Now, there is a consistent need for highly qualified professionals in the research, development and practice of Biotechnology. This is not to say that postgraduates don't get jobs - they do, but, most start with tech assistant positions and have to work their way up. Considering doctors would be at a total loss without the highly sophisticated drugs, medical equipment, aids, artificial limbs and organs biotechnologists design and produce, it's no surprise that biotechnologists today are not happy with being backroom boys.
Students are much more ambitious now, and 9 out of 10 go on to do Online PhD Degree in a specialisation they choose, in India or abroad. Students are beginning to think ahead and spend four or five years really delving into what interests them. With science and marketing becoming a 'lethal combination', some students are choosing to do an Online Science Degree and MBA.
Once they come back into the workforce, 'most nail top positions as presidents and managers in pharmaceutical or technological industries at Ranbaxy, the Pan-Asian Biotech Federation and so on. Doctors have also realised the worth of clinical knowledge and are working with biotechnologists on gathering and analysing clinical data.
A recent market report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. has revealed that biotechnology is one of the leading industries in the country - one that has managed to grow in spite of the global economic downturn. However, the quality of teaching in the 30 odd private institutions that offer biotechnology as a specialised course doesn't match the sector's immense growth. Out of an estimated 3,000 students who take the All India Examination in Biotechnology, JNU gets the top 30 every year. This year's PhD batch at JNU has 10 students, the most by far since the inception of the programme in 1993. If this trend continues, these students could well decide to stick to academics and become the trained, talented science faculty that India needs.