India’s contribution to the field of Biological sciences is rather minimal, especially when compared to its vast population. However it is not surprising as most of the work in initiating and developing research in biological sciences began after attaining independence in the year 1947. initial few decades were focused on the projects to minimize / eradicate poverty and hunger among the majority of population, along with focus on developing economy.
India is slowly and steadily improving in the field of biology in terms of education in schools and university level . The research performed in different universities and government run research labs is on par with many big research centers / Universities of the world.
What is Biology?
Biology is the science involving study of life and living organisms. The word biology is derived from Greek work “bios” meaning life and ” logos” is to study. The life on this planet displays tremendous diversity, ranging from single cellular bacteria to various multicellular fungi, plants and animals.
The science of biology is very vast and often overlaps with other branches of science, such as Biochemistry : Biology and chemistry , Biophysics : Biology with physics, astrobiology : Biology and astronomy.
Biology in Indian Schools :
A good solid foundation is required for anything and same holds true for biological science. The impact of teaching biology and performing research in different sub domains of it plays a crucial role in shaping up any country. In India, students starts to take lessons in biology at an early age and it is evident from curriculum of primary schools which involves some basic chapters about living beings and the diversity they exhibit. Biology forms an important aspect of teaching when students move from primary to middle school. At the secondary school level (8th to 10th standard) , biology is taught as independent subject in many schools ( governed by both state -SSC or central controlled schools- CBSE ).
The students who decides to study medicine in future, should opt for biology as a major subject at higher secondary level ( 11th , 12th standards). However, students who fail to clear all India pre-medical entrance exam conducted by government of India ( NEET exam ) or obtain a rank required for admission into a medical school , will opt of Bachelors of Science program (B.Sc) at University level. In addition to NEET, AIIMS will also conduct medical entrance for admission into medical course. In addition, some states continue to conduct separate entrance exams for admission in medical school and agricultural courses.
The B.Sc bachelors program is a three year course offered by all universities and its affiliated colleges in India. In B.Sc course, students can opt for various subjects to study. This includes Botany, Zoology, Microbiology, genetics, biochemistry , biotechnology and few more.
The completion of Bachelors course will lead into a two years masters program ( M.Sc ) and similar to B.Sc , M.Sc program is offered by many universities across India. The masters program is generally confined to major subjects such as Botany, Zoology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology. In few colleges Masters in Marine biology, forensic science, fisheries , entomology etc. are also offered.
Successful completion of Masters course allows students to look for jobs in education sector or to perform research in Industries ( sometimes in sales and marketing) or government run institutes. PhD aspirants need to appear for a common entrance test ( CSIR-UGC NET) conducted at all India level by government of India, twice a year. Candidates who clear the exam and fall into top cutoff bracket will be eligible admission into PhD at various research institutes and universities with fellowship for five years. Apart from CSIR and UGC , other funding agencies like ICMR, DBT , DST and lady TATA memorial trust also provide PhD fellowships to students after conducting entrance exams.
After completion of PhD in India students can pursue post doctoral research in India or abroad in many world class universities or research centers.
Research Institutes for Life Sciences:
Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Hyderabad
Regional center for Biotechnology – Faridabad
Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology – Trivandrum
National Centre for Biological Sciences ( NCBS) – Bengaluru
Indian Agricultural Research Institute – New Delhi
National Institute of Immunology (NII) – New Delhi
Tata Institute for fundamental Research – Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad.
Indian Institute for Technology – Kanpur